4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General transmitting a letter from His Majesty the King in reply to the address of congratulation passed by the Senate on the occasion of his Coronation. Letter read by the Clerk as follows: -
Commonwealth of Australia.
Governor-General’s Office, Melbourne, 11th December, 191 1.
Referring to your letter of the 7th September latt, forwarding an Address to His Majesty the King, which waa agreed to on the 5th idem by the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, I now have the honour to transmit herewith a copy of a despatch which I have received from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the subject.
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient Servant,
The President of the Senate,
Commonwealth of Australia.
Downing-street, 10th November, 191 1.
I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that I have duly laid before the King the Address from the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth on the occasion of His Majesty’s Coronation forwarded in your despatch, No. 173, of the 25th September.
His Majesty was pleased to receive the Address very graciously, and to command that his thanks should be conveyed to ‘ the Senate and House of’ Representatives for their congratulations and assurance of loyalty to his Throne and Person.
I have, &c, (Sgd.) L.Harcourt.
His Excellency the Right Honorable
Lord Denman, G.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., &c,&c, &c.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Bill.
Post and Telegraph Kates Bill.
Purchase Telephone Lines Acquisition Bill.
Message reported from the House of Representatives stating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendment.
– In view of a statement appearing in the press as to some decision having been come to with respect to wireless telegraphy, I wish to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster- General whether any steps have yet been taken with regard to the installation of wireless telegraphy in Queensland?
– I sent the Han sard clipping of the honorable senator’s last question on this matter’ to the Post-. master-General, but have not received any further information from him on the subject.
– It is three weeks since I first asked the question.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Act 1903-1910 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulations 153 and 157. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 198.
Cancellation of Regulation 5, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 199.
New Regulations 78A, 78B, and 78c. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 200.
Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth - Amendmentof Regulation 36. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 201.
Public Service Act 1902 - New Regulation (Provisional) No. 158A. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 202.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906- Perth, Western Australia - Return of land disposed of under Section 63.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th December, vide page 4080) : Clause 5 - (2.) The Public Service Commissioner and the Minister of any Department of State affected by the claim shall be entitled to be represented before the Court, either jointly or separately, in the hearing and determination of the claim.
– I notice that the Public Service Commissioner and the Minister of any Department affected by a claim are to be entitled to be represented before the Court. If honorable senators will turn to clause 12 they will find that it provides -
No organisation or person shall in any proceeding under this Act be represented by counsel or solicitor.
So far as I can see, there is nothing in the Bill which will prohibit the Public Service Commissioner or the Minister of a Department affected by a claim being represented by counsel or solicitor.
– Senator Stewart will understand that it is a principle of this Bill that no one. shall be represented before the Court by counsel or solicitor. Clause 12,. as the honorable senator has shown, provides that no organization or persons shall be represented before the Court, under this Bill, by counsel or solicitor, and surely the Public Service Commissioner, or the Minister of a Department affected by a claim will come under the meaning of “person.” The Public Service Commissioner, or the Minister, or both, might be away when a claim was being considered by the Court, and they must necessarily have the right to be represented by some other person, but no one under this Bill will have the right to be represented by counsel or solicitor.
– Could the clause not be made more clear? In what way would the Public Service Commissioner, or the Minister, be represented?
– By an officer of the Department affected, just as an organization would be represented by one of its officers.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 -
No costs shall be allowed in respect of any proceedings under this Act.
. -It seems to me that this provision is not altogether fair. The Public Service Commissioner, or the Minister in charge of a. Department affected by a claim, who will be in the position of an employer, will have his costs paid by the country, but the organization of employes making a claim must put their hands in their own pockets.
– Will they not be in employment all the time, and be supported by the country in just the same way as the Public Service Commissioner?
– If a man is not earning his living in the Public Service, he has no right to be in it; and, if he is, he cannot be said to be supported by the country.
– Will this not be a case of each side paying its own costs?
– Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, an outside employer, or the organization behind him,has to find the money to contest a claim ; and in a big case, such as that in which my own union, the Australian Workers Union, was concerned, the amount was so large as to involve a considerable levy upon each employer concerned. But in this case it is the general body of taxpayers who will bear the costs of the Commissioner or any departmental officers. A number of the employes in some of the Departments, particularly in the Postal Department, have made objections to the non-payment of increments, and also to the way in which some branches have been favoured as against others, and in order to get an adjustment, those who are aggrieved must put their hands in their pockets to find the necessary money. But the Commonwealth, which stands in the position of employer, will have the public purse to dip into.
– It will dip into its own purse the same as a private employer does.
– What I mean is that if the Commissioner or the Minister objects to a claim he will not have to dip into his own purse.
– Because he will only be representing the country.
– Nor does the secretary to an employers’ organization.
– The analogies which my honorable friends seek to draw do not work out in practice. It is technically correct that these persons will employ the public money in looking after the interests of the country. But the Commissioner may, in order to uphold his view of things and vindicate his attitude in certain matters, fight a claim quite apart from any question of wages which is raised by the employes, and he will be in the position of having a free hand. The employes will not be in a corresponding position because they will have to foot their own bill. The positions of the two parties to a case will be quite dissimilar. I do not consider that this is a fair clause. In my opinion the costs ought to go to the victor. I also think that in a trade union case the costs should go to the victor, and that the men should not go back to work until they have made the bosses pay the damages. That principle ought, I hold, to be applied to a case between public servants and the Commissioner.
– I hope that Senator Rae will not persist with his opposition to the clause, which is intended for the convenience of the employes, as well as the employer. The object is to give no encouragement to the creation of costs. No one is to go to the Court with the expectation that he can incur whatever expense he likes in connexion with the claim and come upon any person for the costs. Lawyers are to be kept out of the Court for that very purpose.
– Can there be no costs, then?
– Very little. What costs can there possibly be beyond the ordinary expenses of bringing the case before the Court? There will be no witnesses to pay, because the complainant; will be the witnesses in common with the Commissioner and the Minister. The parties will be in exactly the sameposition towards each other as are an ordinary em ployer and a body of employes. To gran in such legislation the power to claim cost: would be only to offer inducements to persons to go before the Court for the purpose of running up a bill of costs.Seeing that the real object of legislation of this kind is to settle disputes with aslittle expense as possible to both parties, no encouragement should be given in that direction.
– I have no doubt that the Vice-President of the Executive Council means well, and, of course, by excluding the legal profession the costs will be diminished. But his arguments are not sound. There certainly will be no encouragement to employes to go into litigation if they cannot get their costs. But the other side will not be in the position of being deterred by the fear of having to pay costs, because their costs will not be borne by them, as in the case of private employers. lt is not a fact that the services of members of the legal profession will not be employed. In private cases considerable costs are involved in the preparation of documents. For instance, a fee of three or four guineas is charged for each copy of an award. If the Australian Workers Union had to sue in a local Court for the enforcement of an award, then, in order to prove that it was a registered association, and had obtained an award, it would have to produce, not an ordinary printed copy, but a signed copy of the award. There might be proceedings in a hundred Courts, and in every case those concerned would require to be provided with a signed copy of the award, involving an expenditure of several pounds. That is only one instance of where all sorts of formal documents in connexion with the prosecution of cases help to considerably swell the costs in private actions. Doubtless all these formalities and red tape will have to be complied with by any branch of the Public Service prosecuting a claim. Very heavy costs may be incurred in procuring necessary witnesses, framing necessary plaints, and in connexion with other matters.
– I think that there is a great deal of force in the contention of Senator Rae, because, if the Commissioner, or the Minister is cited to appear, he will get legal assistance to prepare his side of the question, and whatever costs are incurred in that regard will have to be defrayed by the Commonwealth. On the other hand, if any organization of public servants goes before the Court, they will have to seek legal advice to prepare their case, even though no solicitor is allowed to appear for them. I reckon that a solicitor will have to prepare the whole of their case and fortify them for appearance before the Court. I think that if the cost of the Commissioner and the Minister are to be paid, the other side has an equal claim for costs.
– I think that the Committee ought to have an assurance that no lawyer shall be allowed to assist the Commissioner or the Minister in connexion with any pro>ceeding before the Arbitration Court.
– We cannot bar the Crown Law authorities.
– I have always recognised that this difficulty would arise. Of course, the Commonwealth will have all the resources of the Treasury at its back.
– Is not that right?
– I am not finding fault with that. Here is a Court for the purpose of deciding what is fair and reasonable as between the Commonwealth and its employes. I think that if the employes are put to any expense in preparing a case for submission to the Court, that expense ought to be defrayed out of the public purse, too.
– Although the Court might hold their claim to be unreasonable?
– Why not defray the expense of all other unions which appear before the Arbitration Court?
– We are not dealing with other unions just now, but with a particular union. We are dealing with a state of affairs altogether different from that which prevails in private employment. There we have the employers on the one hand, and the employes on the other, who are fighting each other tooth and nail to get an advantage. But in this particular case we have the Commonwealth, which I presume wishes to act fairly and squarely by its employes - at least, that is the mandate which the people have given to this Parliament - and I do not see why the servants of the Commonwealth should be put to any expense in preparing a case. The Government has every year an enormous surplus to dispose of which may be frittered away in employing lawyers to defeat the claims of employe’s of the Commonwealth. It is only fair that when a case is submitted by the men, their reasonably fair expenses should be met by the Commonwealth. It has been said that there will be no expense incurred in regard to witnesses. We do not know whether that will be the case or not. The Court may sit in Sydney, and it may be necessary to call witnesses from
Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville, Rockhampton, indeed, from the uttermost parts of the Commonwealth. Now, if men are called from Townsville to Brisbane - and it is a fairly reasonable assumption that they may be, who will pay their expenses - the organization, which calls them, or the community, in whose interests they are called? We ought to have a clear understanding of what is going to be done in these matters. I hope that there will be some statement to that effect. We know that, no matter what the Bill says, the Commonwealth will have the advantage of legal advice, and, in all probability, if the Commissioner, or one of his officials, appears in the Court, he will have prompting him and instructing him all the time some member of the legal fraternity. If that is done on the one hand, it will tempt the employes to do it on the other. I would go even further than say that no counsel or solicitor should appear for either of the parties. I would say that a counsel or solicitor should not be permitted to enter the Court except as a spectator, and that he should not be allowed to have any intercourse with those engaged in the suit on the one hand or the other. If that is not done, the whole intention of the measure will be defeated.
– Do you know what you would bring into existence - a number of men who had qualified as barristers, but who would refrain from being called?
– I do not know what would happen.
– Leave the clause as it is if you have any doubt.
– It is a matter of talking for talking’s sake.
- Senator Henderson seems to know a great deal mon:’ of what I think than I do. If his power of thought-reading is as great as he would have the Committee believe, then he is in the wrong place. There is a vast and much more profitable field awaiting him outside this Chamber.
– We call them “ quacks “ when they practise it outside.
– I do not care what they are called, and I do not know that Senator Henderson would object to that name, so long as the profession proved a profitable one.
– I do not speak for obstructive purposes, but I do not think that this Bill has been framed in the interests of both parties. Believing the clause to be unfair, I intend to test the feeling of the Committee upon it, and, therefore, I move- r
That the word “No” be left out.
I believe that costs should be allowed ; and I have heard nothing - not even in Senator Henderson’s attempted sarcasm - to lead me to suppose that there is anything like a complete analogy between the position occupied by private employers in their relation to their employes and that occupied by the Commonwealth in its relation to its public servants.
– Do not use that argument, for common-sense sake.
– It has not been replied to.
– It is not worth replying to. It is so absolutely illogical.
– What Senator Stewart stated is obvious, namely, that officers employed in any branch of the Public Service may have to be brought considerable distances to give evidence as witnesses before the Arbitration Court. Let us suppose, for example, that the Court sits in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. It can scarcely be suggested that it will visit little centres, where valuable evidence may be forthcoming. Consequently, witnesses will be obliged to journey from distant centres, and the Bill does not provide that they shall be allowed even their travelling expenses. Indeed, there is nothing in it to suggest that they may not have their salaries stopped whilst they are attending the Arbitration Court.
– Does not the honorable senator think that expenses might be fixed by regulation ?
– I am not going to assist in the passing of a Bill which leaves everything to regulations.
– The honorable senator has assisted to pass a good many Bills of that description this session.
– They were measures of an intricate character, in which every detail could not be set forth.
– Is not the travelling allowance to which every public officer is entitled already prescribed by regulation ?
– I take it that there is nothing in any regulation which affirms that an officer shall be deemed to be engaged on public business during the time that he is attending the Arbitration Court. I do not see why public officers should be placed in a more favoured position than that occupied by any other body of employes ; but I do say that they should be placed in an equally favoured position. To say that their salaries shall be “ docked “ while they are attending the Arbitration Court would be an act ot terrorism.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia - -Vice-President of the Executive Council; [3.35]. - The omission of the word “ No” would make the clause read that “ costs shall be allowed.” I am surprised that men of the evident intelligence of Senators Stewart and Rae should talk nonsense by attempting to institute an analogy between the position occupied by private employers in relation to their employes and that occupied by the Commonwealth in relation to its employes. They have said that the Government will, no doubt, act reasonably towards our public servants.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator never says anything which is calculated to give his case away. But he has given evidence of that inclination before now. When the men about whom he knows most were experiencing a difficulty with their employes, is he not aware that every pastoralist throughout Australia was interested in the rate of wages awarded to them? Was he not directly concerned, seeing that a portion cf any increased wage would have to come out of his pocket? But, what a different position is that occupied by the Minister or the Public Service Commissioner. If any increase of wages be awarded to any branch of our Public Service, that increase will not come out of the pocket of the Minister or of the Public Service Commissioner. Consequently they are not directly interested in the matter. They have as much desire to see fair play meted out to our public servants as has Senator Rae or Senator Stewart. To talk about the position of the Commonwealth in relation to its employes being analogous to the position occupied by private employers in their relation to their employes is utter nonsense. The two things are entirely different.
– That is what I say.
– If Senators Rae and Stewart are anxious to put our public servants in a much better position than that occupied by ordinary private employes, they will experience very great difficulty in achieving their object. The Governmentwill do everything that they can to avoid the necessity for any expense being incurred by either side. I hope that the clause will be retained in its present form.
– - I merely desire to point out that the effect of Senator Rae’s amendment would be to throw upon a branch of the Public Service the costs of the Government if their representative was the respondent in an appeal. Why should the pub-‘ lie servants be penalized to that extent? Why should they be called upon to foct the’ costs of the Public Service Commissioner ?
– If my amendment be carried, I intend to move the deletion of the word “ shall,” with a view to insert the word “ may “ in lieu thereof.
– Under the amendment, if any body of our public servants contested a case before the Arbitration Court, and failed to obtain an award, costs would be given against them, and thus they would be called upon to pay the costs of the Public Service Commissioner. I fail to see why they should be penalized in that way, and I am surprised at the frankness with which Senator Rae has disclosed his desire here.
– I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ No employee appearing as a witness iri any case before the Court shall be deprived of his pay during such attendance.”
If the Committee be agreeable to the principle which is involved in lily amendment, I shall be only too happy to have it drafted in proper form. In the absence of such a provision, our public servants will not be secured that full liberty which they ought to enjoy in a matter of this kind.
.- I do not like to characterize the efforts of Senator Rae to make legislation of this description difficult in the way that I am tempted to do. Let me put to him a suppositive case-: Suppose that a man was in the employ of so honorable a gentleman as Senator Fraser, and that a difficulty arose in connexion with the pastoral industry, the employe’ being stationed in Queensland. Would Senator Rae ask Senator Fraser to pay that employe his wages whilst he attended the sittings of the Arbitration Court in Sydney, with aview to securing a higher rate of wages or improved conditions of employment? Or would he expect Senator Fraser to pay his travelling expenses?
– Somebody has to pay them.
– But the question which we have to consider is, “ Are we going to put the members of our Public Service in a better position than that which is occupied by ordinary employes outside the service ? “ I say that difficulties are not likely to arise in connexion with our public servants, because it is to the interests of the Public Service Commissioner, and every member of the Commonwealth Government, to see that things in that service run smoothly. But if a difficulty does arise, and officers have to attend the Arbitration Court to give evidence, they will certainly obtain leave of absence, and their pay will continue.
– That is all I am asking for.
– The Bill already provides for that. Senator Rae is merely attempting to muddle the Bill.
– I do not see why the Vice-President of the Executive Council should accuse me of a desire to muddle the Bill because I seek to get a common-sense provision inserted in it. Are we to understand that every Bill which is submitted for our consideration is to be regarded in the same light as a passage in Divine Scripture?
– It is a question that depends on circumstances, and should not be in the Bill at all.
– I cannot see what circumstances the question depends upon. It would not be fair to make fish of one and fowl of the other. It seems to me to be so obviously a matter that should not depend on circumstances, butshould be the subject of even treatment all round, that I cannot see what objection there can be to the amendment. I have no doubt that if some exalted member of the Opposition, like Senator Symon, had moved the. amendment, the Government would have agreed to incorporate it in the Bill forthwith.
Question - That the new sub-clause proposed to be added be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 -
No organization or person shall in any proceeding under this Act be represented by counsel or solicitor.
– I am very much in favour of this clause, but I consider that it does not go far enough. It would have been a good thing if under all our arbitration laws we had kept lawyers outside the Court altogether. But a way has been left open for a more undesirable class of people than practising lawyers to represent an organization. There is a certain class who have had law experience, but for some reason or other are no longer allowed to practice. Such persons have been permitted to act for organizations. Under the clause, as it stands, such a person would be permitted to go into Court and act for an organization. In New South Wales we have a number of such people. It is unfair that a practising solicitor or barrister should not be permitted to appear in the Arbitration Court, whilst a person who is unregistered is permitted to do so. I intend to submit an amendment which will insure that a member of an organization appealing to the Court may appear in the Court, but that a person who is not a member of the organization shall not be allowed to appear. The most successful cases under our arbitration laws have been those in which lawyers have not appeared. But we ought not to allow a worse class of persons to do so. I move-
That the following words be added : - “ or agent not being a member of the organization.”
– I hope, for ‘the credit of the Senate, that the Minister will not accept the amendment, even if he is prepared to adopt the idea that Senator’ McDougall is aiming at. Surely the honorable senator has not considered the purport of the words which he desires to add. The clause provides that “ no organization or person shall in any proceeding under this Act be represented by counsel or solicitor.” The proposed amendment would affect the Minister’s right to be represented. How can it be said that the Minister is an organization, and how can we provide that the Minister shall be. represented by a member of the organization which is appearing in a particular case? Both the Minister and the Commissioner are entitled to be represented.
– Yes ; as representing the Commonweal th .
– Whatever may be the object aimed at, Senator McDougall’s words are grotesque, and will have to be altered.
– We might say “ or agent not being a member of the appealing organization.”
– That is lovely! The Minister and the Commissioner, who are called upon to defend an action, cannot be represented except by a member of the organization which is taking action against them ! That reduces the thing to an absurdity. It would be tying the hands of the Commissioner, and providing that he could only be represented by one of the very men who were fighting him.
– It is not so at all ; the honorable senator does not understand the position.
– I admit that I do not. As to the object in view, in my opinion, nothing that Senator McDougall can put into an Act of Parliament will have the effect of keeping out that very class of persons to whom he has referred.
– Is there anything in the measure which would prevent an organization making such a person a member of the organization?
– Nothing at all. Senator McDougall would leave the door open for the appearance of what he be lieves to be a still more undesirable class. There is nothing to prevent an organization from making a disbarred solicitor a member.
– Yes, there is.
– That shows that the honorable senator knows nothing about trade unionism.
– If an organization made up its mind to open its doors to thisclass of persons, it could do so. A danger arises out of our efforts to penalize the lawyers. If our arbitration laws remain on our statute-book, we shall have appearing in our Arbitration Courts a body of men who will act in all respects as if they were lawyers, and will, in fact, be lawyers, except that they have not submitted themselves to legal examination. They will become experts in arbitration matters, and the only difference between them and fully-equipped lawyers will be that the latter have passed, examinations and been formally admitted to practice.
– Just like land agents under the New South Wales land laws.
– That is a good case in point. An effort was made to put intoour land laws in New South Wales a prohibition against lawyers appearing in connexion with applications for land, and inregard -to everything else pertaining to land. Land agents, however, became far more expert than ordinary lawyers were in regard to the Land Acts. That is exactly what will happen in connexion with the Arbitration Acts. We shall create a special’ class of men, expert in arbitration law. We cannot prevent employers or employe’sfrom getting advice from lawyers beforetheir case goes into Court. This amendment simply means that you are going to have the lawyer’s advice in the office before the case goes into Court, and a special’ class of persons - called “ arbitrationagents,” if you like - to represent the parties in the Court. The words, now proposed to be inserted are insufficient and rather ridiculous, because they mean that the Minister or Commissioner would haveto be constituted an organization. How can the Commissioner call himself an organization ?
– - Suppose the Commissioner appoints the Deputy PostmasterGeneral to represent him in an arbitration case, would he not be an agent?
– Under this amendment the Commissioner could not do that. There would have to be two organizations,. one representing the employes on the one side, and the Commissioner or Minister on the other. It is quite different in the case of private employes. There is always more than one employer in a given trade or calling. But in the Public Service there cannot be an organization on more than one side. The employes can be organized, but on the other side there is only the Minister or Commissioner.
– Is not the Government an organization?
– The Government is not entitled to be represented as such. An organization involves the banding together of two or more persons to form it. It is clear, therefore, that if the Commissioner is to be allowed to appoint as his agent only a member of his organization, he will not be able to appoint any one as an agent, and must himself appear in every case. If that were insisted upon his time would be wholly taken up in dealing with these matters.
– I should have risen to reply to Senator McDougall had not Senator Millen risen before me. I do not think that the amendment would improve the Bill. I do not object to the principle that the honorable senator desires to give effect to, as I do not care for blackleg lawyers any more than for blacklegs from any other union. The honorable senator must agree that the Public Service Commissioner, or the Minister in charge of a Department affected by a claim, may be ill when the matter is under consideration, and provision must be made to enable them to be represented by some one else. We are providing in this clause that they shall not be represented by counsel or solicitor. I do not see any necessity for it, but the honorable senator might move to add the words “ or paid agent “ to this clause, which will be found in the section of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act dealing with the same question. That would accomplish what the honorable senator desires, because we know that the people who, without being lawyers, possess legal knowledge and desire employment of this kind in the Arbitration Court will not do the work for nothing. Such an amendment as I suggest might not do any good, but as it would do no harm, I would not oppose it.
– Senator Millen has quite misunderstood the position. I take it that the object of the clause is to cut down the heavy bills of costs which might otherwise be piled up against the Government or an organization of civil servants. Senator Millen has said that there would be no difficulty about one of these agents becoming a member of the organization making the claim. But he forgets that these persons would not be members of the Public Service. The letter-carriers, for instance, could not appoint the honorable member or any other person outside the service as their agent, if he had to become a member of the organization. Quite recently one of the best awards yet given by an Arbitration Court was secured by the secretary of an organization at a cost of 3s. 6d. It was a better award than that procured by the Australian Workers Union at a cost of thousands of pounds. I think that a member of an organization can explain its case better than can any lawyer. My object is to reduce costs of applications to the Court, and as I am satisfied with the amendment suggested by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I am willing to accept it.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I have not had time to look up the wording of the section of the Conciliationand Arbitration Act referred to by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, but I direct the attention of the Minister to what would follow the insertion of the words he proposes. It would mean that the Public Service Commissioner would be absolutely debarred from sending any member of his staff to the Court to represent him.
– No, that is not the sense in which the words “ paid agent “ are used.
– That is just the point. I take it that what is meant by the amendment is that no one shall be specially paid for this purpose, but any person paid for his services while representing the Public Service Commissioner in the Arbitration Court would probably be regarded as a paid agent. If that were so, the Public Service Commissioner could not send1 any one to the Court to represent him, and’ he could not carry out his own duties if he had always to be inthis Court dealing withmatters of this kind.
– He might be represented by the Public Service Inspector of a State.
– Exactly; but that officer would be paid for every moment he spent in the Court. The Bill is not mine, and if the Minister cares to accept the amendment it is his own look out. ‘ I suggest that he would do well to hesitate before he accepts it, with a view to having an amendment drafted which would make it clear that no ordinary member of the Public Service would be debarred from representing the’ Crown on the ground that he was a paid agent.
– Sub-clause 2 of clause 5 provides that the Public Service Commissioner, and the Minister in charge of a Department affected by a claim, may be represented in any proceedings before the Court either jointly or separately.
– But under this amendment they would have to be represented gratuitously.
– Not necessarily. I take it that if this clause is amended as proposed, it will be governed by sub-clause 2 of clause 5. I believe that the words “ or paid agent “ would be interpreted as only referring to a person specially paid for this particular purpose, and would not apply to an officer whose payment for other services would continue while he was doing this particular work.
– The amendment might impose a limitation upon the men whom the organizations could select for this work.
– In New South Wales recently men who have, for one reason or another, been struck off the rolls are trying to do business as experts in this kind of work. I need not mention any names, but I know of one or two such persons as I have referred to who have made a practice of this business for some time. If the attendance of a lawyer is undesirable, the attendance of a man who has been untrue to that profession - easy as it must be to be true to it considering its character - would be still more undesirable.
– I think that Senator McDougall will be overreaching himself by accepting the amendment suggested by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. No one is, perhaps, better fitted to represent an organization of employes than is their own secretary, and if these organizations are in the habit, as I think they ought to be, of paying their secretaries some honorarium for the services they render in that position, they may be objected to as paid agents, and may not be allowed to appear before the Court.
– While I sympathize with Senator McDougall’s desire, the amendment proposed may impose an undue restriction upon organizations. I can mention a case in point. The cleaners in the Postal Department some time ago considered rhat they had a grievance. I believe that they had a genuine grievance. They ‘ formed a union, but, as they are all females, they might have considerable difficulty in getting any member of their own organization to appear for them in the Arbitration Court. T personally should like to see women representing women, but this might not always be possible.
– Several ladies have represented unions in New South Wales.
– That may be so, but I do not think there is any member of the organization to which I have referred who would be capable of appearing before the Arbitration Court. When they desired to form their organization it was found impossible, within their own ranks-, to get any woman capable of forming thi* union and acting as its secretary, and ! think that the women who did the work should not be debarred from appearing on their behalf before the Arbitration Court. The telegraph messengers might form a union, and we know ‘that a lad of sixteen or seventeen years could not appear on their behalf before the Court, although they might have a genuine grievance. Honor: able senators may be aware that in connexion with the City Council of Melbourne there have been half-a-dozen strikes of lads employed in sweeping the streets, and we may have trouble with the boys in the Public Service as well. Though I am in full sympathy with the object sought to be obtained, I fear that the amendment would impose limitations upon the organizations.
– - I do not think that such, a difficulty as Senator E. J. Russell has suggested is likely to arise. In New South Wales we have-already had three ladies representing unions before Wages Boards. I think we should find plenty of women capable of this work,’ but whenever a proposal of the kind is made there is always ssome objection made to it. My idea is simply to keep certain people out of the Court, but under the clause, they will come in.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added (Senator McDougall’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 - (2.) The Court may, where it thinks it proper to do so, make an award which, in the opinion of the President of the Court, is not, or may not be, in accord with a law or regulation of the Commonwealth relating to the salaries, wages, rates of pay, or terms or conditionsof service or employment of employees ; but in that case the President shall send to the Prime Minister, and to the Attorney-General, with the certified copy of the award, a statement of the laws or regulations of the Commonwealth with which, in his opinion, it is not, or may not be, in’ accord.
– This seems to be rather a strange clause. It appears to me that the regulations, may be so framed as to take all power out of the hands of the Court. If the President of the Court thinks that the award is out of harmony with the regulations, he can stop the whole business; he can declare it unconstitutional, so to speak. I think that we ought to have an explanation of how the clause is going to work.
.- I should like to get some information about the provision, which, in subclause 2, gives the Court power not to interpret the law, but actually to legislate. I do not think that we ought to give the Court the power to override the law. Surely if the law is defective in any way, it is for Parliament to alter - the law. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be prepared to strike the words “law or” out of sub-clause. 2, so that if the Judge violates a regulation, it may be altered in any way, but if the law of the Commonwealth is violated, the Parliament will have to make the necessary alteration. I hardly think that it could have been intended to give such power to the Judge.
– This question was fully argued on the previous clause, and it was pointed out that in some cases it might be considered advisable, and absolutely necessary, by the Court to go beyond some law or regulation, and that when the Court did it was to send with the award a notification, pointing out where it had gone beyond the law or regulation. It is provided that in these circumstances the award shall lie on the table of each House for thirtydays, that is more than double the number of days prescribed for an ordinary award and that if within the period of thirty days either House passes a resolution disapproving the award it shall not come into operation. On the other hand, if Parliament thinks that the Court had a sufficient justification for its action, that it was necessary for the peace, order, and good government of the Public Service, and it does not veto the award, thatwill mean that it ratifies the departure from’ any law or regulation. I think that with the previous clause this one should be allowed to pass in its present form.
– I am not at all satisfied with the explanation of the Minister. If theCourt wants to point out that the law is defective it should be done, and then Parliament should be left to amend the law, instead of it being amended in this irregular fashion. In order that the Judge may violate a regulation, but not the law, I move -
That the words “ law or,” line 4, be left out.
– This matter hasbeen gone into by the law officers.
– It seems a peculiar thing to give powerto the Judge to break the law.
– It is not breaking the law. to be inconsistent with it sometimes.
– Of course, it isbreaking the law. Every Judge has to take an oath to administer the law, and it is; not within his province to say that a law is right or wrong. That is the privilege of Parliament.
– We are saying that in the clause.
– No. What we say is that the Judge can break the law, and that after the law is broken the award shall lie on the table of each House for thirty days, and that if no objection is taken within a certain time his action is validated.
– That becomes the law.
– Does the honorable senator wish to put the Judges above Parliament ?
– They are, and you know it.
– Before the award of the Court can take effect it will have to be tabled in each House.
– Before the award can take effect the President of the Court must break the law. The award will have to lie on the table of each House for thirty days, and unless some exception is taken, Parliament will be deemed to have condoned the violation. The proposal is most absurd.
– You have not read the clause.
– In my secondreading speech I referred to this provision, which, I think, I have read as often as has the honorable senator. The Bill is an absurdity from the beginning to the end. Practically, in this clause power is given to the Judge to break the law. I do not think that any suggestion from this side has been accepted, except one, which came from Senator Symon, and, of course, it is the exception which makes the rule. On the second reading Senator Vardon called attention to this provision, and so did other honorable senators on this side. Honorable senators supporting the Government were prepared to swallow the Bill as it stood, but in Committee Senators McDougall and Rae consider that it is in need of amendment. I do not intend to labour this matter, because I realize that to do so would be simply to waste time. The Government are not prepared to accept any suggestion from this side, and upon them and their followers let the responsibility for this legislation rest.
– If any award made by the President of the Arbitration Court is not in accord with a law or regulation of the Commonwealth relating to the “ salaries, wages, rates of pay, or terms or conditions of service, or employment of employes,” and is not objected to by either branch of the Legislature within thirty days of its being laid upon the table of Parliament, that award will become operative. Now, I desire to point out that if an award be contrary to regulation, the Government will have power to alter that regulation the very next day, and thus to avert trouble. But a law is made by Parliament-
– And a regulation is made law by Parliament. What is the difference?
– There is a great difference. This clause practically seeks to override the Public Service Act, and as Parliament passed that Act, Parliament obviously is the body which should amend it. It ought not to be amended by the President of the Arbitration Court. He may point out any defects in the measure, but his function is to administer the law, and not to legislate.
– This clause embodies one of the crucial points of the Bill. I desire to know the definition of the word “employes.’’ I quite appreciate the remarks of Senator Vardon as to the danger of clothing any Court with legislative powers, 6ut I intend to deal with that question upon the motion for the third reading of the Bill. The clause refers to “ salaries, wages, rates of pay, or terms or conditions of service or employment of employes. “ Now, the “ terms or conditions of service or employment of employes “ involve a very important point. Apart from salaries, wages, and rates of pay, which are comparatively simple matters to understand, “ the conditions of service or employment of employes “ should always be under the control of the Executive. Nobody ought to know that better than Ministers themselves. But I would ask what constitutes an “employe “ under this Bill, which contains no definition of that term?
– Look at clause 3.
– I am aware that the term “employe” is defined under the Public Service Act. But there are two classes of employes in our Public Service:
There are those whose conditions of employment are regulated by the Public Service Act, and those whose conditions of service are absolutely controlled by Parliament, and whose salaries are secured by Statute.
– We shall never have any trouble with them.
– I ask, “Are these employes to be removed absolutely outside the scope of the Bill?” If all employes are not to be considered employes under the Public Service Act, we shall have confusion right away, because the term is’ not sufficiently denned in clause 3 of the Bill. That clause reads -
Employes in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, or any division, class, grade, or branch thereof, or in any calling, service, handicraft, occupation, or avocation in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, or any division, class, grade, or branch thereof, shall be deemed to be employes in an industry within the meaning of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-11.
I repeat that there are employes whose conditions of service are regulated by Parliament, and whose salaries are a. charge upon the Consolidated Revenue. According to the interjection of Senator Guthrie, these officers will all come within the definition of the term “employes” contained in clause 3 of the Bill. In that case, to which Act will this special class of employes be subject ?
– There will never be any trouble with those officers.
– From the opinion which has been expressed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I take it that those officers whose terms and conditions of service are defined by Statute and whose salaries are charged to the Consolidated Revenue will not be affected by this Bill.
– No public servant will be affected by the measure unless he makes a complaint.
– I am glad that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has assured me that the Bill will not touch this class of officers. But if the Government are going to exempt them, why do they make this distinction, seeing that they are always talking about universal equality ? However, I have discharged my duty by drawing attention to the awful absurdity and inequality which are contained in the Bill.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) gentleman like Senator St. Ledger gets off the chain. I do not know what he has been raving about.
– That is not his fault.
– I do not say that it is. He has argued as if every employe’ in our Public Service would come under this Bill, and would be dealt with by the Arbitration Court. I would point out to him that no officer will be dealt with by the President of that Court unless a section of the employes of the Commonwealth has a grievance.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is wrong. If he will look at clause 9 he will see that the Court may exercise any of its powers on its own motion.
– But only when trouble arises. For instance, if a difficulty occurred between the letter-carriers, the telegraphists, the letter-sorters, or even between the Judges themselves, and the Government
– Or between the men engaged on the transcontinental railway.
– Yes, or between the men engaged in the construction of the transcontinental railway ; and if no appeal were made to the Court for its settlement, the President of that tribunal could, if he thought it would be in the interests of the Commonwealth for him to do so, interfere on his own motion. But nothing of that kind can occur until a difficulty arises, and no public servant, so long as he has not a grievance, will seek to come before the Court. Consequently, the President of that tribunal can inflict no disability. Senator St. Ledger will recognise that our Judges, and the heads of Departments, whose salaries are fixed by Parliament, cannot have any grievance, because they, have only Parliament to deal- with, and they have accepted the decision of Parliament before being appointed to their present offices. But there are dozens of places in our Public Service where difficulties may arise, and the Bill ‘is intended to meet those difficulties. Consequently, I do not think that Senator St. Ledger need be in the least alarmed. It is unnecessary for me to argue in favour of the retention of the clause at any greater length. Senator Vardon knows very well that, when the Public Service Act was passed, certain wages and conditions of employment were laid down ; and if, in dealing with the complaint of any particular section of the Public Service, the President of the Arbitration Court thinks that in making his award he should go beyond that Act, he will be quite justified in doing so. But to the extent to which his award does exceed the law, that award will be laid before Parliament, and either House will be at liberty to disagree with it. If both Houses are in consonance with his decision, it overrides the law ; and that will be an indication to Parliament that the sooner the law is amended the better.
– Senator McGregor’s rejoinder surely overlooks the main contention of Senator St. Ledger. Every one knows that there will be no cases before the Arbitration Court under this Bill unless there is a real or imaginary grievance. But that is not the point. Senator St. Ledger’s point, as I understood it, was not as to how cases are going to get before the Court, but whether everybody paid out of the public purse will have the right to go to the Court. We know that the great army of public servants employed under the Public Service Act clearly have that right under the Bill. But a great number of persons who are paid out of the public purse are outside the Public Service Act. Senator St. Ledger wants to know whether they will have the right to go to the Court. Take the attendants and others employed in and about the Houses of Parliament. They are outside the Public Service Act. They are not under the control of the Public Service Commissioner. But under subclause 3 we are not merely giving to the public servants whose employment is controlled by the Act and the Commissioner the right to go to the Court, but we are giving that right to everybody who receives his pay out of the public Treasury.
– If the honorable senator will read clause 4, he will find that it is there stipulated how persons are to go before the Court.
– It is not a question of how they are to go. but of who are to go-
– They cannot go unless they organize.
– The Minister himself said the other day that if there were five public servants of one grade or class, three of them could go to the Court as an organization. Suppose that there are five attendants at Parliament House, and that three of them decided to form an organization and appeal to the Court. Is it intended that they should do so? I am not saying whether it is desirable ornot ; but this ambiguity is in the Bill. When the
Bill was originally drafted, I have no doubt that it was intended to apply only to those individuals who are paid out of the public Treasury, and whose employment is controlled by the Public Service Act. But, as it stands, it covers everybody who is paid out of the public Treasury, whether he is under the Public Service Act or not.
– Why should it not?
– Is it intended to do that?
– It is not prevented.
– If that be so, we are not merely passing over to the Court the right to determine wages for public servants properly so called, but we are also annulling two or three other Acts.
– Is the honorable senator afraid of the Judges forming a union ?
-I am not afraid of anything..
– They could do it.
– We can leave the Judges on one side. We have quite a number of little grades of employes who are expressly excluded from the Public Service Act. There was a good reason for excluding them. Honorable senators know the reason for excluding the attendants at Parliament House. It was thought that Parliament itself has an intimate knowledge of what is going on here, and was far better able to deal with such officers than any outside authority could. But now this Bill says that while these officers are excluded from the Public Service Act and the authority of the Commissioner, they shall, nevertheless, be allowed to go to the Court. I venture to say that when this Bill was drafted the class of people to whom I refer was lost sight of. It was never intended to bring them in. The very reference to the Minister and Commissioner being parties to a claim shows that the ordinary Public Service was intended to be referred to. Who is going to represent the paymaster, Parliament, if the attendants employed in this building choose to appeal to the Court ? No Minister has any authority over them. The Public Service Commissioners has nothing to do with them.
– Who controls them: now ?
– The President and Mr. Speaker deal with all these officers.
– Is there any probability of such a dispute arising?
– The Bill makes provision for it, and Senator McGregor tells us that it is intended that they shall be covered by the measure. It is of no use to say that they are to be covered unless we assume that they are going to make use of the provisions of the measure. If, on the other hand, that is not intended, it should be made quite clear.
– It is quite clear. Under the definition clause, everybody employed by the Commonwealth except the Naval and Military can appeal to the Court.
– But who is going t6 represent the President and Mr. Speaker in responding to a claim advanced by the employes of Parliament House? This Bill says that the only persons to be represented before the Court, apart from the employes, are the Minister and the Commissioner. Those officials, however, have nothing whatever to do with the class of servants to whom I refer. What Minister would represent the Commonwealth?
– They are under the Treasurer.
– They are not; they are under the President and Mr. Speaker.
– Parliament is under the Treasury.
– We are only under the Treasury to the extent to which we are under the painful necessity of going there for payment. The class of public servants to whom I referred are absolutely free from Ministerial control. They are entirely under the President and Mr. Speaker. Are the President and Mr. Speaker to be entitled to be represented in this Court ? No Minister will have anything to do with the matter. Then, again, the Commissioner will say, “ I have nothing to do with it; I have troubles enough of my own ; you have removed these officers from my jurisdiction, and must settle your troubles with them yourselves.” If it be intended that everybody who is paid out of the public purse shall be entitled to come under this measure except the Naval and Military, we ought to alter the clause which says that the only persons entitled to representation shall be the Minister and the Public Service Commissioner.
– Does not the honorable senator think that we shall be quite safe in allowing the clause to pass as it stands, allowing the parliamentary attendants to wait a little while?
– Suppose they get in ahead of us?
– If they do, what will happen?
– I have only referred to the attendants about Parliament House, but they are not the only body of employes, apart from public servants in the ordinary sense, who would be brought under the operation of this measure. I know the natural desire of the Minister to hurry this Bill through, and appreciate the wish of honorable senators who support its general principles to get rid of it as rapidly as possible. But a defect has been pointed out, and should be remedied. I am not responsible for the Bill, and if the Minister and those who support him are content to pass legislation concerning which there is the doubt which has been pointed out, it is their responsibility, not mine.
– As I had not an opportunity of speaking on the second reading of this Bill, I want to say right here that I do not think very much of it. It requires alteration, or, at all events, a good deal of explanation. In my opinion, the clause under consideration ought to go a little bit further. I shall not move an amendment, but I think the clause ought also to say, ‘ ‘ or State where the employe is employed. “
– State employes do not come under the Bill.
– I do not say they do. Perhaps the VicePresident of the Executive Council does not know that his Government is the only employer in New South Wales to-day which is not recognising the law of that State in reference to an Arbitration Court award.
– In what branch of trade ?
– I am referring to the farriers’ award. The Commonwealth Government are not complying with that award, simply, as I am informed, because it is said that the wages of farriers are provided for by regulation. Something is wrong if a Commonwealth regulation is allowed to interfere with the operation of an Arbitration Court award. In my opinion, this clause is wrongly drafted, though I know that it is useless to move an amendment. I did not intend to mention the farriers’ matter, but an interjection drew it out of me. I have brought this matter under the notice of the Government, calling attention to the fact that these men are not getting as high wages as are other men who are employed in the farriers’ trade in New South Wales.
– If Senator McDougall had paid attention to what I have already said, he would have known that this Bill provides for the very difficulty that he has pointed out.
– The Bill makes it worse; that is what I say.
– The honorable senator does not understand the measure, or he would not say so. He complains that the farriers in New South Wales are not receiving the wages and conditions allowed by an award of the Arbitration Court. But under clause 15 of this Bill the Court can give an award even if it conflicts with a Commonwealth Act or regulation, and that award will have the force of law if it is not objected to by Parliament. The farriers referred to could form an association under this Bill, and could appeal to the Court. They could get an award for wages other than those stipulated in the Public Service Act. That would be an indication to Parliament that the Act ought to be amended.
– I do not think that too much emphasis can be laid on the fact that this is not a Bill to amend the Public Service Act, but to give public servants a chance to appeal against unjust treatment. Under the Public Service Act no Minister in charge of a Department has any control over the wages paid to the officers of that Department. It is the Public Service Commissioner who exercises this control. Time and again, since 1902, awards have been, given by State Arbitration Courts and industrial agreements entered into in every branch of trade represented in the Commonwealth service, and yet, in many cases, the Commonwealth Government are paying wages lower than those which have been provided for in those awards and agreements. That is so, because the Public Service Commissioner is the final arbiter, and this Bill is introduced to give public servants an opportunity to appeal to a higher tribunal than the Public Service Commissioner.
– There is nothing to prevent the Government giving them what they desire without making it necessary for them to appeal to the Court at all.
– The Public Service Commissioner has control under the Public Service Act, and though Ministers may have been willing to pay the wages which are paid to employes outside the service, they do not dare to do so. Though I approve of this Bill, I still say that, if we cannot secure an amendment of the Public Service Act this session, we should have it next session, to divest the Public Service Commissioner of some of the powers he has in this direction. The case mentioned by Senator Millen is not singular. Many such cases have cropped up since 1902, and the public servants have had no appeal against the dictum of the Commissioner, who has held their destinies in his hands.
– Senator Needham has said that this Bill does not propose to amend the Public Service Act, but the clause we are now considering gives the Judge of the Arbitration Court power to set aside the provisions of that Act, or of any regula- tions under it.
– No, it gives that power to Parliament.
– It could not do so; Parliament already has the power.
– Under this clause the Judge of the Arbitration Court may give an award which may not be in accord with any law or regulation of the Commonwealth relating to salaries, or terms, or conditions of service of employes in the Public Service. That is not a power which should be given to any Judge. No legislative power should be given to a Judge. It should rest with this Parliament, and should not be vested in any servant of the Commonwealth.
– We are not giving the power to the Judge.
– Then let us say that we are permitting the Judge of the Arbitration Court to suggest an alteration of the Public Service Act, and Parliament is to say “ Yes “ or “ No” to what he proposes afterwards. That is a wrong position in which to place any Judge. We should give him all the powers of administration necessary to enable him to interpret the law in a proper way ; but it is quite improper to propose that he should be at liberty to make an award which is not in accord with a law or regulation of the Commonwealth. I should not objectto permitting him to go so far as to violate a regulation, because the Government have, the power to alter regulations themselves, whilst Parliament is the only authority that can alter a law. I protest most strongly against delegating our power in any way to a Judge.
– I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to show me in this Bill what provision is made to protect a public servant who, under an award of the Court, may be given a lesser rate of pay than is paid to other employes in the same State. The honorable senator has said that the Bill deals with the matter to which I refer, and I now ask him to refer me to the clause in which it is dealt with.
– I say that the public servants of the Commonwealth are, under this Bill, given an opportunity to put their grievances before the Arbitration Court, and have them remedied. If the honorable senator asks me whether the President of the Arbitration Court may not make an award which will involve the payment of lower rates in one case than in another, I am unable to answer the question. That is a matter which will be within the discretion of the Court.
– Then the Bill does not meet the difficulty I have suggested.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 - (1.) The office of Industrial Registrar under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1 904-191 1 shall be an office in the Administrative Division of the Public Service and the salary of the office shall have a minimum of six hundred pounds per annum and a maximum of eight hundred and fifty pounds per annum. (2.) The Industrial Registrar holding office at the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to have been appointed to his office as classified by this section as from the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and eleven, at tie minimum salary. (3.) The Industrial Registrar shall receive an annual increment of fifty pounds per annum until the maximum salary of his office is reached, but so that a year shall elapse from the time of his appointment before the first increment becomes payable and a year shall elapse from the time of the last increment becoming payable before another increment becomes payable. (4.) The Consolidated Revenue Fund is hereby appropriated for the purposes of any payments in pursuance of this section.
– I am opposed to this clause. It makes provision for the creation of a new office, merely in order to enable the public servants of the Commonwealth to go before the Arbitration Court. It makes provision for the appointment of an Industrial Registrar, who is to be given a salary commencingat £600, and rising to £850 a year. Many of the special and stipendiary magistrates before whom these cases will have to be tried do not get anything like that salary. This is a proposal involving an utter waste of money. It. is a piece of gross extravagance. Is there not an officer in the Commonwealth to whom these duties might be intrusted without putting us to the additional expense of, it may be,£850 a year. I protest against this clause altogether.
– It is not proposed to appointan Industrial Registrar for the purposes of this Bill alone. In looking up the history of industrial legislation, I find that it has already been recognised that some officer is required to act as Registrar, and we have had acting in that capacity an official of the High Court. It has been found that it is impossible for one man to do the work of both Courts, even under the industrial legislation we have already passed. This provision is made for the purpose of transferring the work from an officer of the High Court to an Industrial Registrar, who should have been appointed many years ago. The work, even under our present industrial legislation, has become so great and so urgent that it fully occupies the time of one officer. When we come to consider the work which the Industrial Registrar will have to do in connexion with not only this measure, which is a small matter, but the principal Act, and amending Acts, we must recognise that it is only reasonable to create the office. He has to see to the registrations and the work of the Court, and no one who has the slightest conception of the work which he has had to do in the past, and who knows that the volume of work is increasing every day, will say that the appointment is being made a day too soon ; in fact, it has not been made in time. The salary which is allotted to the office is only commensurate with the work which Mr. Stewart has to do.
– It must be evident that if it is intended to pay an extra officer£600 a year, the Government anticipate that he will be pretty busy. Why do they anticipate that? The proposed salary rising from , £600 to£850 is a very large one. It should only be commensurate with the duties - more or less arduous and difficult - which the officer is going to perform. The very reference in this clause to an increase of the salary to£850 indicates that the Ministry anticipate that there will be a great deal of trouble arising out of the provisions of this measure. Let them take the consequences.
– Senator St. Ledger can scarcely have any idea of the work which has to be done by the gentleman occupying this position. His deputy in New South Wales receives a salary of£850 a year, and he is to commence at a salary of , £600.
– What is he getting now ?
– I cannot say exactly what Mr. Stewart is getting as an officer of the High Court, but it is time that he was dissociated from that position. No abler man than Mr. Stewart, I am led to understand, has ever taken up this work.
– The title of the Bill is - an Act relating to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and the Public Service of the Commonwealth, and clause 1 provides that it may be cited as “The Arbitration (Public Service) Act.” Any person who reads the long and short titles of the measure would naturally say that this officer is appointed under, and for the purposes of, this Bill.
– Oh, no. That is’ not the case.
– I think that the clause ought to have been worded so as to show that the Bill is an amendment of the original Act, instead of making it appear that the duties of the officer will be solely the carrying out of the provisions of this Bill. We were not told before that he was to take over the whole of the work of Registrar in connexion with the Arbitration Court.
– I think I mentioned that in my second-reading speech.
– I do not say that if there is a great deal of work to be done, the proposed salary is too much, but taking the title of the Bill, and the first clause, any one would be justified in assuming that the duties of the officer are to be confined to the carrying out of the provisions of this measure, and nothing more.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if there is’ any of our legislation which contains a provision committing Parliament to the payment of a. certain salary ranging between a minimum and a. maximum? There is no doubt that it is desirable that an office of this kind should be created, and that somebody should be appointed to the position. I should also like to know from the Minister whether Mr. Stewart, whose capacity and application I recognise equally with him to be very great, is in the employ of the Commonwealth solely ?
– He is doing no work for the State of Victoria?
– Not that I know of ; he is employed in the High Court.
– We should also know the present scope of Mr. Stewart’s duties; how much he is receiving ; how far will the scope of his duties be increased by the passing of this measure, and to what extent we shall be justified in increasing his present salary.
– What is he getting now ?
– That is what I want to know. These are matters which should really be discussed on the Estimates. I do not think it is fair that Parliament should consider this matter, and say, “ This is an office created by Parliament, and a person is appointed thereto, and his minimum salary is so much, and his maximum “so rauch.” This is a totally different position from that of the High Commissioner. It is an ordinary position in the Public Service, and why should we be asked to ^commit ourselves not merely to the establishment of an office, but to the granting of a minimum salary? In the case of nearly every other public servant, his salary appears on the Estimates, and it is competent for a member of either House to question whether Parliament is justified in passing a certain sum per annum for the performance of the duties associated with the position. Why then should we be compelled in connexion with this particular appointment to an office for the performance of duties, the measure of which we cannot possibly estimate - whether they be large or small - to say that all future Parliaments shall be bound to give the occupant not less than so much, or not more than so much? It is a distinctive case, I think, in connexion with our legislation, and we should have some justification for the provision. I do not for one moment question Mr. Stewart’s qualifications for the duties of the office ; but I do say that we should know more about the work associated with, the office than we do know at present, if we are to be asked to commit this Parliament, as well as future Parliaments, to the payment of a salary ranging between the amounts named.
– We are not committing future Parliaments.
– We are, because an amendment of this measure would be required.
– Future Parliaments will be elected to repeal and pass Acts.
– I think that there can be no sympathy with any idea of having an underpaid officer in this position. It is a very onerous and important office, and one which should command a good salary, in order that a good man may be obtained. According to repute, and judging from what I hear, no better man than the present occupant could be chosen for the position. At the same time, I must express my astonishment that a Bill which is practically introduced for one purpose - that of bringing public servants under the provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act - contains several clauses dealing with the status, salary, and increments of this officer.
– Why not let the salary come up on the Estimates every year?
– I should very much prefer that course to be taken. No argument has been offered why this position should be treated differently from other onerous and important positions in the service. Whatever the qualifications of the present occupant may be - and I believe that they are of the highest grade - life is short, and we do not know when a person very much less capable may have to be appointed to the position. I certainly dissent from this method of making provision for an office in a measure which was brought forward for another purpose. It would be much more advisable to leave this, with other offices of a similar character, to be dealt with on the Estimates. I do not wish to delay the progress of the Bill. I think that the Government will carry the provision ; but, in my opinion, it is out of place in a Bill of this kind.
– - I wish to disabuse the minds of honorable senators of any idea that there is not sufficient work to employ the time of any gentleman occupying the position of Industrial Registrar. Those who have had anything to do with the Arbitration Court are well aware of that fact. Senator Keating has asked if there is any precedent for this provision. I do not know that there have been other instances where a minimum and a maximum salary have been fixed in an Act of Parliament ; but I do know that there have been instances where the salary has been fixed in an Act of Parliament.
– As in the case of the Auditor-General and the High Commissioner.
– Why was the salary of the Auditor-General fixed by Act of Parliament? To put it beyond party influence. Why should the Industrial Registrar, who has to deal with the registration of organizations, and who has, in many instances, to act judicially, be treated differently ?
– Surely he cannot act in a judicial capacity ?
– Oh, yes. He has to exercise a good deal of judgment when he is permitting the registration of certain associations. He has power to refuse to register, and sometimes he has had as many as five counsel appearing before him in connexion with an application for registration. It is a position of far more importance than many honorable senators seem to imagine. The question of creating this office and fixing the salary has for some time engaged the consideration of the Government, and, recognising that the sooner it was done the better, this provision was inserted in the Bill. I have given all the explanation which I think ought to be required with respect to its insertion. There is not anything irregular about the matter, lt is quite open and above-board. The appointment of an Industrial Registrar is necessary, and we consider that the work he has to do justifies the salary he is to receive. We also think that the increasing volume of work justifies the statutory increase which is proposed for him. I do not think that I have left unanswered any of the points which have any serious bearing on the clause. As regards the gentleman who occupies the office, I have already explained that he is an officer of the ‘High Court, and the salary he receives is between ^350 and ^400 a year. But the experience not merely of this Government, but of every other Government which, has come into contact with this gentleman in his work, has justified the opinion that no more eligible officer can be found anywhere.
– I am surprised at the explanation of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Apparently, he fails to recognise that the salary payable to the occupant of this office does not depend upon the officer himself. Next year, a fresh officer may be appointed to the position. Throughout the whole of this debate, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has taken- up the attitude that the grievances of our public servants cannot be inquired into. Yet one officer has been picked out for a good fat salary by a Labour Government, which is always proclaiming its desire to safeguard the interests of members of the lower grades of the service.
– That is a nice sort of argument.
– Hansard will prove that my statement is correct.
– The honorable senator is a nice champion of the lower-paid men in the service.
– I am a little better champion of their claims than is the honorable senator, as my acts prove. Senator De Largie’s professions are mere words. Here is a gentleman who has been receiving a salary of .£350 or £400 a year, but who, under this Bill, will be appointed to a position with a minimum salary of £600, and a maximum, of ^850 per annum. I have not one word to say against his ability. But it seems absurd that a special clause should be inserted in the Bill making this provision. Evidently, this officer. can be dealt with by Act of Parliament, whilst the r!ank and file of our Public Service must go to the Arbitration Court to secure justice.
– They will not look to the honorable senator for justice.
– They will look to Senator de Largie only for a lot of wind. I consider that this act on the part of a Labour Government will be criticised from one end of Australia to the other. I do not know why this gentleman has been appointed. We have been told that he is a good servant. But surely he is not the only officer in our Public Service who is possessed of ability. I cannot understand the reason underlying the action of the Ministry; and I feel convinced that quite a number of our public servants will place upon it a construction which- is, perhaps, not justified. The appointment looks fishy. It does not seem straightforward. No other officer of the Public Service is dealt with by an Act of Parliament, with the exception, perhaps, of the AuditorGeneral. Officers receiving an equal salary to this gentleman are not treated in the same way.
– Yes they are.
– This officer may be a pet of the Vice-President of the Executive Council for all that I know to the contrary. But I object to the principle underlying his appointment. The action of the Government in this matter is indefensible.
– I am somewhat surprised at the celerity with which some honorable senators jump to conclusions, Senator Sayers has sought to convey the impression that, by assenting to this clause, a certain gentleman, who now discharges the duty of Industrial Registrar, will straightway be appointed to this new office. Now, the VicePresident of the Executive Council has made no such statement, nor is any such intimation contained in this clause, which reads -
The office pf Industrial Registrar under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1911 shall be an offce in the administrative division of the Public Service.
The clause then goes on- to fix his salary. Now, .the reason for creating such an office must be obvious. It is due to the fact that the work of the Arbitration Court is growing rapidly. But no member of the Government has intimated that, if we pass this clause, the gentleman who now occupies the position of Industrial Registrar will forthwith be appointed.
– What does paragraph 2 of the clause mean ?
– He will have the same right as every other public servant to apply for appointment to the position when it is created.
– Paragraph 2 of the clause reads -
The Industrial Registrar holding office at the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to have been appointed to his office as classified by this section as from the 1st day of July, One thousand nine hundred and eleven, at the minimum salary.
Where does the right of anybody else come in?
– It does not necessarily follow that the gentleman who is at present discharging the duties of the office will be appointed.
– The provision which I ‘have read appoints him.
– But suppose that before this Bill becomes law the gentleman in question is non-existent? That is the point to which I desire to direct attention. We have no control over the life of any officer. That is controlled by a higher power than this Parliament. On the other hand, if this officer lives, and receives the appointment, what of that? There is none who is more deserving of it. I think that the minimum’ salary which is fixed by the clause- 7-no matter who may be appointed Industrial Registrar - is little enough for the work which he is called upon to perform.
– What work is there?
– If my honorable friend had had any experience of arbitration law, he would know there is a good deal of work. I think that the Industrial Registrar should be classed as a judicial officer, and should be placed on the same level as the Auditor-General, the Judges of our High Court, and our High Commissioner.
– Good gracious ! A purely clerical position.
– I would like to remind Senator Stewart that the Industrial Registrar has to meet representatives of organizations on the one hand, and legal gentlemen on the other, each advocating their own claims, and to decide whether he will refuse the registration of any organiza- tion. This officer is practically the “ open sesame” to the Court itself, and consequently he must be possessed of a judicial mind.
– Does the honorable senator think that an ‘ ‘ open sesame ‘ ‘ is worth £850 per annum ? .
– The position is worth the salary proposed to be paid. Before the door to the Court can be opened, a vast amount of work has to be done by the Industrial Registrar.
– I thought that the door was freely open.
- Senator St. Ledger knows as well as I do that certain formalities must be complied with before an organization of employes or employers can reach the Arbitration Court.
– Under this Bill?
– Under this Bill the public servants of the Commonwealth will be placed in the same category as employes outside that Service. Consequently, the work of the Industrial Registrar will be increased. I care not who that officer may be - whether he be Mr. Smith, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Jones, or even Mr. St. Ledger - I say that the minimum salary provided in this clause constitutes only a fair wage.
– - The statements made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council were very interesting; but I would suggest that they were not very informative. I asked him if this officer was employed solely in the service of the Commonwealth, and he assured me that he was. I then asked him to inform the Committee of the salary which this officer was receiving, and of the extension of his duties which is contemplated by the Government, so that we might be in a position to estimate whether the increase of salary was proportionate to the increase of duties. I occupy, perhaps, an embarrassing position in connexion with this matter, because, unlike the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I happen to know the officer in question. .1 knew him before he undertook these duties. I can speak personally of his qualifications, as to which, as I said before, I do not express the slightest doubt. But by this Bill we are proposing to take a course of action for which, as far as I remember, we have no precedents. We are establishing an office and securing the appointment to that office of a particular person. At the same time, we are providing a regular salary with a minimum and a maximum range, instead of - leaving this particular officer and his office to be subject to the same annual criticism as is applicable to practically everybody else whose salary appears upon the Estimates. I believe that until comparatively recently the whole of the work done by this officer was performed by an officer in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. This particular officer was doing certain work, for which some allowance was made. He had occupied a position in the State Public Service. Recently - I am not prepared to say on what date - the work was taken out of the control of the Attorney-General’s Department, and away from an officer who was getting little or no allowance for doing it, and was given to this particular officer. I am not sure what salary he is at present getting. It is now proposed to jump up a comparatively junior officer to this position over the heads of others, as far as amount of salary is concerned, who are performing equally onerous duties, and have been doing so for many years under the Commonwealth. We are going further than that, notwithstanding what Senator Needham said, by providing the position and the salary in connexion with it for a particular officer.
– Is the honorable senator putting the office up for auction?
– I do not know that any office was ever put up for auction by any Government in the Commonwealth. Is it to be assumed that amongst 14,000 or 15,000 officers in the Public Service there is nobody else who is equally competent ? Why are we to depart from the principle which has prevailed in connexion with the appointment of officers in the past? The Minister has given no justification for this course, and I can see none. In the interests of the Government, and of Mr. Stewart himself, it would be better that an explanation should be given than that it should be withheld, because in the absence of explanation I do not see how it is possible for any senator reasonably to support this proposal.
– - The first explanation which the Vice-President of the Executive Council gave for this increase was to point out that the work of this officer had increased. But in almost the next breath he gave another explanation. He said that we ought to remember that this officer had to decide important matters between litigants, and that because of that it was necessary that a high salary should be given to him. But since 1904, when the first Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed, this officer has been acting in a position where his duties were responsible. For six years he was not apparently receiving a salary commensurate with the importance of his office. How is it that it has suddenly been discovered that the office is highly responsible, that the officer’s duties are exceedingly onerous, and that his salary ought to be greatly increased? These explanations are highly unsatisfactory. The Minister asks us to believe that the officer has to be a sort of tribunal between litigants and the Court, and that, therefore, he must be in a position in which he mav be free from influence, and impartial. We might admit that if it were not for the fact that a stipendiary magistrate, who may have matters referred to him under this measure, will not receive much more than half the salary that is to be paid to the Registrar. This officer is to have a salary ranging between £,600 and ^850 a year secured to him by Act of Parliament. He can only exercise administrative functions, and whether he is right or wrong in the exercise of them is a matter that will probably, in the first instance, be determined by a stipendiary magistrate. The more the position is criticised the more unsatisfactory it appears to be. But we have had another lively explanation from a supporter of the Government who asked us to. remember the trouble, difficulty, and care that will have to be exercised at the very door of the Arbitration Court by those who wish to knock and enter. The impression was sought to be created that the functions that are to be imposed upon this officer are so great that he will have to be one whom we can thoroughly trust to keep the door barred if necessary. That is just what the public servants are saying. They allege that this Court will show a repetition of the troubles and technicalities that have beset the Arbitration Court throughout its procedure. It’ is because of that belief that 4,000 of them have petitioned Parliament against this Bill. If the door of the Court is to be guarded by an officer who is’ to know a great deal of law, and to exercise important functions, and if that officer is to watch carefully before any body of public servants can enter, the measure will be an even greater farce than many public servants have foreseen that it will be.
– - I nave nothing to say as to whether the amount proposed to be paid to this officer is reasonable or otherwise. Nor do I know the officer personally. Therefore, I shall speak entirely as to the principle which has been brought under notice by the present proposal. That principle is that, if this clause be passed, Parliament will have deprived itself, except by the exercise of a very cumbersome and roundabout process, of the power of annually reviewing the salary paid to this public servant. If we turn to the Constitution we shall see that those who framed that document were extremely careful to secure to Parliament the full and complete power over annual appropriations. Section 54 says that -
The proposed law which appropriates revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal only with such appropriations.
That section was so framed in order to prevent the practice known as “ tacking.” I submit that this Bill, which was brought in nominally to confer upon public servants the right to take their grievances to the Arbitration Court, does contain a “ tack “ according to that section. There is tacked on to it a proposal for the making of a new appointment, and for the payment of the officer’s salary, which is thus placed beyond the annual review of Parliament itself. I do not, however, propose to raise formally the point as to whether, in that respect, this Bill violates that section of the Constitution. I shall rest my appeal to the Committee on other grounds. It is useless to appeal to the Government, but I ask this Committee not to take away the right which Parliament should exercise of reviewing annually the payment made to a public servant. It must be remembered that some of the salaries paid are much larger than it is proposed to pay to this officer. Take the salaries of the Secretaries of our Departments. They amount to £1,100 and ,£1,200 per annum. Those salaries are open to be reviewed every time the Estimates are under consideration. I am compelled to draw the conclusion that there is some favouritism in this matter, and that a desire exists to assist this particular officer. Why should we single out one officer for this special treatment? There is a higher principle involved than the mere amount of the salary. That principle is that Parliament should have the right to review the officer’s salary, and his manner of discharging his duties, every year in connexion with the Estimates. In view of the importance of that principle the matter of the amount to be paid is of secondary importance altogether.
– It must also be remembered that the Bill takes away the opportunity from every one else in the Public Service of securing this position.
– That is another objection which will appeal to the officers of the Public Service more than it does to me. I am asking Parliament in this matter not to shirk its responsibility, or to forego its rights.
– Is not the Industrial Registrar largely a judicial officer?
– The hesitating way in- which the question has been asked, and the use of the word “ largely,” shows that Senator Guthrie is not prepared seriously to contend that this officer’s position is a judicial one.
– Most decidedly it is.
– The name of the officer answers the honorable senator. He is described as the “ Industrial Registrar,” and is nothing more than a highly responsible clerk.
– If the position be a judicial one, why is not a legal man appointed to it?
– If it is contended that this is a judicial position, let me ask any member of the Committee to point to a single instance in which a Bill has been brought down for a particular purpose, and there has been sneaked in at the end of it a provision for the appointment of a Judge. We all know that appointments to judicial positions are made by specific enactments dealing with those appointments only.
– Is it not just as reasonable to propose the’ appointment of a Registrar in an Arbitration Bill as it is to propose the appointment of a Public Service Commissioner and five Public Service Inspectors in a Public Service Bill?
– Certainly not. The officers referred to by Senator McGregor were necessary as part of the machinery of the Public Service Act, and because Parliament decided to place the Service beyond political control. The question is whether this appointment should be made by this Bill, and the officer removed from parliamentary review. I have stated the reasons which induce me to vote against the clause. The amount of salary proposed may be sufficient or excessive. I do not offer any opinion on that point. If it were proposed in the ordinary way on the Estimates I should not cavil at it. I shall vote against the clause as placing the officer in question beyond the annual review of Parliament, and, as Senator Keating has pointed out, giving the position to a particular officer, and to that extent favouring him above other members of the Public Service who might be equally qualified to fill the position.
– I shall vote for this clause, because I believe that this officer is worth the salary it is proposed to give him. It does not matter to me whether it is by Statute or regulation he receives the salary so long as he gets it. Senator Millen does not know whether the salary proposed is sufficient or excessive, but I claim that I do know. I have been before the Registrar on several occasions in connexion with the registration of unions, and I have found that this man understands his business. Personally, I was always under the impression that he had a salary as large as that mentioned in this Bill. Senator McGregor has said that in future the work’ of this gentleman will increase. I do not hold that opinion. My view is that his work is likely to become very much less than it is at present, because the Constitution debars more than half of the unions in Australia from the benefits of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When the last amending Act was passed, it was believed that the union to which I belong would come under it, and application was made for the registration of that union under the Act. Only the other day the Industrial Registrar told us that if we came under the Act we should have to take the risk that if we made an application to the Court, we might be ruled out altogether. I have advised my union and other unions similarly placed that it is of no use to seek registration under the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act until the constitutional powers of this Parliament to deal with industrial legislation are enlarged. Until the Constitution is amended in this way, the unions, by registering under the Commonwealth Act, will be placed in a worse position than they have occupied before. Though a number of counsel were present to oppose the registration of a union, it was left to a layman to point out that, even if it were registered, it could not get an award from the Court. The Registrar said that it would be taking that risk, and when I asked him why he registered unions, if they would be taking such a risk, he said it was not his place to tell them that they were taking a risk, but only to carry out the law as he found it. In the circumstances, it was plain to those concerned that it was of no use for ‘them to register under the existing Federal Act; and I predict that one-half of the unions registered under that Act will cancel their registration and trust to the laws of the States to secure for their members better conditions and wages.
.- There can be no question that this clause will confirm the gentleman who now occupies the position of Registrar of the Arbitration Court in his position, and at the increased salary set down. I do not think any better officer could be appointed to the office, and I have nothing but approval for the appointment. That view will be held by any one who has the slightest acquaintance with the Arbitration Court. The officer deserves the salary that it is proposed in this clause to pay him. Having said so much, I am compelled to call a halt, and ‘ to inquire why this Parliament should go out of its way to place this officer, excellent though he be, in a position superior to that occupied by other officers of the Public Service and beyond parliamentary control ? With very few exceptions, notably the Judges of the High Court, the conduct and salaries of officers of the Public Service come under the review of Parliament every year in the discussion of the Estimates. Despite what has been said, this officer does not occupy a judicial position, nor is he at the head Of a great service like the Public Service Commissioner, which should make it necessary for him to be placed beyond parliamentary control. As Registrar of the Arbitration Court, he is subject, first of all, to the direction of the Judge of that Court. I fail to see any reason why he should be placed in such a favoured position as is here proposed. It is a most salutary rule that the Public Service should, with the exceptions referred to, have everything connected with their officers brought under the review of Parliament every year. If this precedent is to be followed, and other officers appointed in this way, beyond parliamentary control, Parliament might just as well be moribund, so far as its power to deal with public servants will be concerned. The Government would be well advised to withdraw this clause, which is a blemish and a blot upon the Bill, and would vitiate the principles upon which we have hitherto been guided in the management and control of the Public Service.
– If Senator Givens had given the matter more consideration/ he would have known that there are the best of reasons why the Registrar of the Arbitration Court should not be subject to the control of any party in Parliament. We have adopted the principle of putting our Judges beyond the control of Parliament, and the principal duties performed by this officer are essentially of ‘ a judicial character. Party feeling should have no influence in the fixing of the salary paid him. Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act he has duties to perform which are as much of a judicial character as those performed by Mr. Justice Higgins himself. He is called upon, for instance, to decide whether the rules of an association are in accordance with the Act. On this decision their registration, and the question of whether they shall be given the advantages of the Act or not may depend. He is given full power, to say whether a union shall, or shall not, be registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– Is there no appeal from him?
– I think so.
– His opinion in the matter is not a decision. It is a mere say-so. The “decision is left to the Judge.
– The honorable senator might just as well contend that the opinion of the President of the Court is not a decision because it may be appealed from to the High Court. We claim that the position of this officer is partly judicial.
– Why should the Registrar of this Court be considered a judicial officer any more than the Registrar of any other Court?
– Because he has the settlement of questions which are not dealt with by the Registrars of other Courts. Party feeling cannot be dissociated from industrial legislation of this kind, since we have Capital and Labour contending against each other in the Arbitration Court.- In the circumstances, we should not permit the salary of this officer to be increased or reduced at the will of a party Government. If we left the question open, we should commit a very grave error of judgment. It is only right and proper that the salary of this officer should be fixed in the Bill just as the salaries of the Judges of the High Court have been fixed. It is well known that the work of the Arbitration Court has been increasing, arid it has increased so rapidly as to require that an increment should be given to the gentleman who performs the work of this office. I have no doubt that the Government took all these points into consideration when they fixed the salary of the position at the amount which is mentioned in the Bill. I expect that they satisfied themselves on the point as to whether the salary was commensurate with the increase of the duties of the office.
– It is not a question of the amount, but a question of whether it ought to be made a statutory obligation on the Commonwealth.
– I think that the salary should be appropriated in the measure seeing that the office is one of a semijudicial nature.
– Do you think that any Government, or any party would, for party reasons, play battledore and shuttlecock with the salary of any officer?
– Party spirit may be quite strong enough, at any time when it has been found that the officer has been deciding in favour of one side or the other, to recognise his merits accordingly. Ve should not leave the door open for such a possibility to arise. I think that the Government are doing right in submitting this clause.
– I compliment Senator de Largie on the very ingenious speech which he has made in favour of the clause as it stands. But I have heard nothing to convince me that the views which I expressed somewhat hurriedly before are wrong. I agree with those who have contended that the salary of this officer should come under annual review. Indirectly, I have gained considerable knowledge of his duties and his capabilities. The amount of the salary is not a matter which we should consider in this connexion. From what I have heard. I believe that Mr. Stewart is fully worth the proposed salary in comparison with other officers who receive anything like that remuneration. I believe that his qualifications are of the highest description. I consider that he possesses the judicial faculty, and has judicial functions to fulfil, to a certain extent, though not to such an extent as have some other officers.
– He has no judicial functions to discharge.
– He has semi- judicial duties.
– No ; if he had, he would not be called a Registrar.
– You might say the same thing about a policeman.
– Yes; but to a lesser extent. It is very difficult, I admit, to draw the line where judicial functions cease and other functions begin.
– Take the case of a police magistrate, whose salary appears on the annual Estimates.
– A police magistrate is supposed to exercise judicial functions. I have taken occasion to severely criticise, and I have heard others criticise, the administration of justice by police and other magistrates. I am very sorry indeed that sometimes we cannot have a slap at some of the Judges. I do not believe in making anybody sacrosanct, or beyond criticism. My idea is that even though a person might perhaps be actuated by personal or party feeling, and sometimes slash into the occupant of a high position, the common sense of the vast majority who are not personally interested will always be on the side of doing justice, and not inflicting a grievous disability upon anybody. Nevertheless, their actions should be subject to criticism. I am sorry that we cannot criticise a Judge when he does wrong. I do not believe in elevating any person into a position of, as it were, omnipotence. I think that we spoil men when we put them above criticism. It may be argued that we can criticise public officers whose salaries are not the subject of annual appropriation by bringing in Bills to amend the Acts under which they hold their appointments. But that is such an elaborate and complicated method of proceeding that it is practically impossible for private members to bring the conduct of such officers before Parliament in an effective way, unless, of course, the officers have committed a serious dereliction of duty, when the Government would have to take action. In the nature of things, Mr. Stewart will not hold the office of Industrial Registrar for all time. Suppose that the party on the other side were in power, and that some person were appointed to this office who, in our opinion, was not fulfilling his duties in a judicial manner, what could we do with him?
– Sack him.
– You could not unless you repealed the Act.
– The Government of the day might favour the officer, but, in our opinion, he might be grossly partial. In that case, what position could we take up? We should be told by the Government that we created the office by Act of Parliament, that they were going to stand by the Act, and that we had no power to alter it. I like to legislate, not for a day, but on principles which, although the legislation may not stand, will last. I cannot vote for this clause.
– I think that if we needed an argument as to the necessity for bringingin this Bill the time which has been wasted on this discussion furnishes a really good sample. For upwards of an hour we have been discussing the appointment of an officer. There are 30,000 officers, I understand, who are paid out of the public purse. If we subjected each officer to like treatment, then, according to a calculation I have made, it would take Parliament twenty-two years and some months to deal with the Public Service.
– We are not dealing with the officers now.
– While we have heard a note of alarm sounded, especially from the Opposition side, about the folly of robbing Parliament of its power, I am sure that honorable senators who sounded the note would contemplate with horror the possibility, or even the suggestion, of Parliament wasting so much time in settling this very vexed question. Senator Millen has stated that Parliament has no right to fix the salary of the Industrial Registrar, and thereby depart from the purpose of the Bill. Unfortunately, he has set an example to the Government. When he held the office of Vice-President. of the Executive Council he brought in a Bill to appoint an InterState Commission, and he sought to acquire for the existing Parliament the sole right to fix the value of the services of the officials. The salary of the Chief Commissioner was fixed at . £2,500, while the salaries of the subordinate Commissioners were fixed at a lesser amount. If we needed art example of a Parliament taking to itself the right to assess the work of public officials, we have here an example set before us by the very gentleman who is criticising this provision.
– Did our side vote against that Bill ?
– Solidly, to a man.
– For very good reasons, too.
– The Bill was brought in to save the face of the Government.
– If this is right that was right.
– There is one objection which, perhaps, bulks more largely, and has some foundation, and that is that we have no right to interfere with the power of Parliament. I say, “ Amen “ to that. But when is Parliament going to exercise that power? Is not the opportunity before us now ? Will Senator Givens say that this Parliament is not as good a judge as will be any succeeding Parliament?
– We should not deprive succeeding Parliaments of equal power.
– Would Senator Lynch apply this principle to every man in the Public Service?
– Every public servant is not concerned just now. We are applying the principle to one of the central figures in the working of this measure just as Senator Millen applied the principle to the central figures in the working of the Inter- State Commission Bill.
– Do you not see that if you single out one member of the Public Service for special treatment it is an act of favouritism?
– This measure will right a long and an enduring wrong to the official about whom we are concerned. He may be underpaid. I believe that he has been.
– There is another way to increase his pay.
– Dealing with, the point that Parliament has no right to rob itself of power my view is that we are as fit now as we would be during the next or anyother session to express our will on this point. I would remind honorable senators that, on the Estimates, no special opportunity is vouchsafed to Parliament to fix the rates and conditions of the Public Service - certainly no more than the opportunity which is afforded on this occasion. Under this measure we are loading an officer with extra duties - duties more arduous and onerous than he has had to discharge hitherto - and Senator Rae, I am sure, will be the first to admit that we should take that circumstance into account.
– I said nothing about the salary of the officer.
-. Would Senator Lynch place in that position the stipendiary magistrate who has todecide a matter?
– I do not know that a stipendiary magistrate is such a lofty individual that he should be placed on a higher pedestal than the Industrial Registrar.
– Do you not see that the Industrial Registrar may have to send a matter on to a police magistrate to be tried? Will you treat the one in the same way as the other?
– I understand that one of the qualifications of the Industrial Registrar is that he must possess a knowledge of law; in fact, he must be a barrister.
– Certainly not.
– I believe that, as a matter of fact, he is a barrister.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– This official appears to be a sort of hybrid. Nobody seems to know exactly the section of our Public Service to which he ought to belong - whether he should be a Judge wearing ermine, or whether he should be classed as a clerical officer. During the suspension of the sitting I took the trouble to look up the list of permanent employes of the Commonwealth, and I find that he entered the Commonwealth service on the 1 st March, 1901. At that time he was getting a salary of £200 a year. He came from the Victorian Public Service, in which he filled the office of telegraph operator. Up to last year the position which he now fills was described as “ Clerk and Industrial Registrar,” and the salary attaching to it was£335 per annum. The provision in the Bill, which is intended to insure his salary and status, seems to be a mere afterthought. Upon the Estimates for the current financial year I find that provision is made to the extent of£600 for an. “ Industrial Registrar.” I repeat that the old office which I believe Mr. Stewart held was that of “ Clerk and Industrial Registrar,” and up to the 30th June last he was in receipt of . £335 per annum. The salary for 1911-12 for the same office is set down at£420. This gentleman apparently held the position of
Clerk and Industrial Registrar for a number of years, so that it has taken the Government a long time to discover his judicial qualifications.
– Does the honorable senator say that the provision made on the present Estimates for the office is £420 ?
– No ; it is £600. Notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary, I hold that this officer fills a clerical position. It may be that now and then he has to exercise semi-judicial functions, just as many other public servants have to do. But taking the position as a whole, it is neither more nor less than a clerical one, and Has been so considered by the various Governments up to the present time. If this gentleman was able to fill the position of “ Clerk and Industrial Registrar “ to the Arbitration Court for £335 per annum, it seems a tremendous jump_ to pay him £600 per annum for discharging the duties of the one office of “Industrial Registrar.” The only reason which has been urged for making provision in the Bill for his position is that he occupies a judicial office, and consequently ought to be placed outside the realms of ordinary discussion in Parliament.
– It is absurd to say that he occupies a judicial position.
– I say that it is. I believe that he is a clerical officer, who has only routine duties to perform, and duties which are likely, as time passes, to become more and more routine in character. Therefore, his position ought not to be dealt with in this Bill. He ought not to be singled out from the other members of the Public Service as an officer who should be dealt with specially in an Act of Parliament. I think, too, that something ought to be said in respect of his salary, which is fixed at £600 a year, with annual increments up to £850 per annum. I say that this salary is out of all proportion to the duties attaching to the position. Hitherto these duties have been discharged by him for £335 a year. How has the sudden discovery been made that the position is one of such importance that it ought to be removed from the arena of ordinary parliamentary discussion? The whole thing has been sprung so suddenly upon Parliament that, on the face of it, it looks as if everything was, not as it ought to be.
– A bit “ fishy,” eh?
– The -honorable senator may apply to it any term that he pleases. I do not think that the responsibility attaching to the position of Registrar of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court is at all to be compared with the responsibility attaching to ari official like the Auditor-General. In five years’ time, this Industrial Registrar will be receiving £850 per annum, or within £100 a year of the salary paid to one of the most important officials in the Commonwealth, namely, the Auditor- General. Then, again, the Crown Solicitor receives £1,000 per annum. His position is a very important one. He has to advise the Government on a multitude of different matters. His advice is very largely acted upon, and, consequently, he is an officer who holds a very responsible position’. Yet he receives £1,000 per annum, or -only £150 more than the Registrar of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court will get.
– In five years.
– If the position be worth ,£850 per annum in five years, it is worth that salary now. If the work is of such a judicial and important character as to warrant that payment five years hence, the office ought to carry that salary now. Some honorable senators have said that this officer will have a large increase of work. But no provision has been made upon the Estimates for any such increase. Deducting the ,£600 which this officer will be paid from the total amount provided on the Estimates for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, the amount left is £200 less than the amount provided for the previous two years. That circumstance does not indicate that the Government expect any great increase of business, and there is not a single clerk provided for in the Estimates. So far as I can discover, the Industrial Registrar himself will be doing the whole of the work of the office. I do not know that he will have the services even of an office boy. A sum of £20 is set down for “ temporary assistance, “’ but that is all the office help for which I can discover any provision on the Estimates. So that, from whatever point of view we regard this matter, the inclusion of the office in this Bill is a mistake. The official cannot be said to hold a judicial position. He is an ordinary clerical officer, who is employed mainly on routine work, and is, therefore, not entitled to be specially provided for in the Bill, or to get the very large salary which has been set apart for the position.
– Senator Stewart has fallen into the error of assuming that, because this officer is not a qualified legal practitioner, he is not called upon to discharge judicial functions. But I have seen men placed in important legal positions who were not at all qualified to fill them from a legal standpoint.
– I did not mention that at all. I said that the position is not a judicial one.
– In Western Australia, I saw a man who had been only a miner nearly all his life filling the office of the Attorney-General in the first Labour Ministry there; and I can assure Senator Stewart that he was a thorough success.
– But no AttorneyGeneral exercises judicial functions.
– That gentleman had been a miner all his life, and yet, when he had charge of’ the administration of the Mines Department of that State he was not nearly so successful as when he filled the office of Attorney-General.
– According to the honorable senator’s argument, the shoemaker ought not to stick to his last.
– I am giving an example which goes to prove that there are exceptions to the rule.
– But no AttorneyGeneral can exercise a single judicial func- tion. Almost any schoolboy knows that.
– A wellconducted schoolboy would make no such interjection. I am pointing out a case of a man who was not legally qualified for the office of Attorney-General, but who, nevertheless, efficiently discharged the duties of that position. The Industrial Registrar, whose office we are now considering, has had very important duties to perform. We all recollect the important Jumbunna registration case. He had to give a decision upon that. It was argued by some of the most prominent King’s Counsel in the State, including Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Gavan Duffy. The Registrar had to decide whether that union was entitled to registration or not. Another important case - the Railway Servants’ case - also came before him. That case afterwards went before the High Court, which held that the State railway servants could not be brought within the purview of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbi tration Act. That matter, too, was argued before some of the most prominent legal men in Australia, including Mr. Shand, K.C. ; Mr. Mitchell, K.C. ; Mr. W. H. . Irvine, K.C; Professor Harrison Moore, and Mr. Holman, the present AttorneyGeneral of Western Australia. I think I have shown conclusively that the Industrial Registrar has work of a semi-judicial character to perform, and that, consequently, the provision made for his office in this Bill is abundantly justified.
– One does not like to intervene too often in debate, especially at this stage of the session. But when we hear the Registrar of a Court described as an officer who exercises judicial or semi- judicial functions, it is about time that somebody protested, lest others should be misled. They’ simply exercise certain administrative powers under an Act of Parliament which prescribed their duties for them. Whether they properly exercise those powers has not to be determined by them, but by a judicial authority. We give power to this officer to register an organization. We prescribe his duties with regard to registration. We confer upon him administrative power, just as we confer administrative power upon Deputy Postmasters- General. The question whether such an officer has exercised his functions properly or not has to be determined, if a case arises, by a judicial tribunal. Let me illustrate the point by an analogy from the electoral law. The Electoral Office of the Commonwealth has informed the public of Australia that if they do not return the electoral cards a fine will be inflicted. Both the Minister and the office are exercising powers in that respect which, in my opinion, they do not’ possess. Suppose that some individual says, “ We will not obey this injunction ; we deny that the Minister has power to compel us to fill up and return these cards.” That question has not to be determined by the electoral officers, but by a judicial tribunal.
– Has not the Registrar certain judicial functions to discharge?
– No, he has not. He will simply act as an ordinary public servant. He will receive, in the ordinary way, applications for registration, and will act accordingly. Here is the dilemma in which the Government find themselves. During the last five or six years this Registrar has been exercising under the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court important functions by way of registration, filing plaints, and listening to arguments as to whether he ought or ought not to register and to file plaints. Those are purely administrative duties. During the whole of that time no request was made by any Government or any party or any individual member of Parliament to place the Registrar’s salary beyond the reach of the criticism1 to which all public servants are liable. We left him there, as Senator Stewart has pointed out, and as he has proved from official documents, with his salary fixed in such a way that year after year we could deal with him as we chose. Does any one say that whatever functions he was exercising - say, in the Harvester case - they were not of a very grave administrative character? Naturally, the question arises why, when we are giving to this officer merely mechanical duties to perform under this Bill, the Government should seek to protect him by a special appropriation? We are expressing the opinion that Parliament has not done justice to the public servants in the past, and cannot be trusted to do justice to them in the future. We are, further, setting ‘up machinery’ ‘that will afford an easy method of rectifying their grievances. Yet we are told that the duties of the officer in connexion with this simple procedure will be so difficult that he must be surrounded with safeguards. If the process is to be so simple and easy, how is it that the Government have suddenly come to the conclusion that we have to extend special protection to the Registrar under an Act of Parliament? If he is exercising judicial functions to-day, as urged by the Minister and by Senator de Largie, he has been exercising judicial functions ever since he has been in this position. We have never heard before that any improper pressure was brought to bear upon him while he was exercising his functions. We are entitled to say that the proposal looks “ fishy “ from top to bottom. Although the party opposite have been twice in office, they never before proposed, either as a Government, or through any individual member, to afford special protection to this officer. Not a single member of the public, not a single newspaper, not a single trade union, has asked that he should be singled out for particular treatment.
– Some may have seen the necessity for it, but did not say anything.
– I cannot understand an individual recognising the necessity for this protection being given and not having the courage to ask for it. Senator Givens himself is the last man who would neglect to do a thing of that kind. We all know him very well, and we are well aware that if he thought that any individual member of the Service required special protection in the discharge of his duties he would have had the courage to stand up and say so. But the Government have only discovered the necessity for this step at the end of an arduous session. The matter cannot be a party issue.
– Did not the Opposition discuss it in caucus?
– Surely my honorable friend has caucus on the brain.
– No; his brain is in the caucus.
– That is the place where plenty of brain is to be found.
– If it were not that the whip had been shaken, such a provision could have had no hope of going, though any deliberative assembly.
– I did not think that it would be necessary for me to rise again and give a short resume or history of the business under discussion. A great many misleading statements have been made, whether deliberately or without knowledge I should not like to say. Every one must recognise that when industrial legislation of this kind was first enacted the work of the Registrar was very light. It was done by an officer of the Attorney-General’s office for over two years - namely, by Mr. Gordon Castle. As soon as the work began to grow, Mr. Castle found he could not do it, in addition to his other duties. He therefore appealed to be relieved. Then the duties were carried out by an officer of the High Court. They continued to grow, and it has been found at last that to do justice’ to the work itself, and to the officer, something ought to be done of the description which we are attempting under this Bill. Senators St. Ledger and Millen have questioned the responsible nature of the duties of this officer. They have contended that his functions are not of a judicial character at all. It would be well for both these honorable senators to learn something more of the matter on which they have sought to mislead others* 1 remind them that, by a statutory rule No. 102, of 1909, signed by Mr. Glynn, the Attorney-General of the Government they supported, the duties of the Registrar are laid down. He is empowered under that regulation to summon witnesses, to take evidence on oath, and to give costs to either party according to his discretion and the evidence given before him. Yet these honorable senators stand up, and for hours question a fact which has been apparent years ago to leading members of Cabinets which they either belonged to or supported.
– When I said that this officer did not fulfil judicial functions-
– Oh, apologize, and shut up !
– That is not a remark which the honorable senator should be allowed to make.
– Order ! I ask Senator McGregor to withdraw the remark.
– I very humbly and respectfully withdraw it.
– In answer to our objections, Senator McGregor has quoted a statutory rule of an AttorneyGeneral of a Ministry I supported to show that the Industrial Registrar can summon witnesses, take their evidence on oath, and do certain other things. Then he claims that, on that ground, he is a judicial officer. There is not a Land Board Commissioner in any of the States who has not the same power to summon witnesses and put them on oath, but no one outside this Senate has so far had the audacity or the ignorance to contend that a Land Commissioner exercises judicial functions. Judicial functions can only be exercised by Courts of law under direct jurisdiction laid down in Acts of Parliament. It is to be hoped that when the Vice-President of the Executive Council next offers to reply-
– He will go to a dictionary and discover the difference between the words “administrative” and “ judicial.”
– When the honorable senator wishes to get out of a difficulty of this kind, involving the explanation of legal terms, it is to be hoped that he will consult some one having legal experience, and not some office lawyer.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) :(8-35]- - Senator St. Ledger was very sensitive in taking exception to a remark made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, but he forgot the insult which he hurled at this side when he said that there was something “ fishy “ about this proposal. It is despicable to offer such a suggestion in connexion with a simple proposal for assessing the value of the services of a public officer.
– That is not the point. The objection is that it is proposed to fix the salary by an Act of Parliament.
– The great objection urged against this clause has again been mentioned by Senator Givens, and that is that it is proposed to increase the salary of this officer by an Act of Parliament. I refer honorable senators who have urged this objection to the Public Service Act. They will find that the Parliament of 1902 adopted the course of binding future Parliaments by fixing the salary payable to officers of the Fifth Class, and making provision that they should be increased automatically.
– We were not dealing with individuals there.
– If the principle was sound as applied to a section, why is it not equally sound as applied to an individual? Honorable senators complain that the Government are seeking to fetter future Parliaments in assessing the value of the services rendered by this officer, and in reply I say that the Public Service Act of 1902 very effectively fettered the hands of future Parliaments, so far as the Fifth Class of the Public Service is concerned. It is set down in that Act that a young man, on passing an examination, as I presume Mr. Stewart has already done, should receive a salary of £60 per annum, and that that salary should, with increments of £20 a year, be increased until it reaches a maximum of ^200. Many of these officials would still occupy, the same position, and be discharging the same routine work, when they had reached the maximum salary of their class. The Public Service Act of 1902 can be repealed only by an Act of Parliament ; and this Bill, if passed into law, can .only be repealed in the same way. Senator Stewart has referred to the fact that this official started at a salary of £200 a year, and he has suggested that it is marvellous that his salary should now be suddenly raised to £600. The provisions of the Public Service Act to which I have referred permit of a similar threefold increase upon the salary paid upon admission to the service, on an automatic basis. If honorable senators contend that this proposal is objectionable on the ground that it will fetter future Parliaments, my answer is that they have agreed to a similar proposal in the Public Service Act. I question very much whether higher qualifications are required for the office of Registrar of the Supreme Court in some of the States than are required for this office, and yet in Western Australia the Registrar of the Supreme Court receives a salary of£700 a year.
– In New South Wales the Registrar receives £850 a year.
– Is the salary of the Western Australian officer included in the annual Estimates?
– Yes, it is ; and I am thankful to the honorable senator for reminding me of that matter, because I am able to inform him that the Registrar of the State Arbitration Court in Western Australia receives £315 a year, but that official has told me that he is just about embarking for himself in private business, as he is not satisfied with the salary paid to him in the Fublic Service. Upon the proper conduct of the duties of this office the interests of a very large number of our public servants and the smooth working of the arbitration law must depend, and in the circumstances we should not be niggardly in assessing the value of the services to be performed by the gentleman holding this office. It should be our aim to make our public officers satisfied with their positions. They should not have the feeling that they are ill-treated in the Public Service. Nothing can tend more to the unsatisfactory working of the Service than to have men in leading positions feeling that they might do better for themselves outside. This clause, in my opinion, proposes to put this office on a fair and reasonable basis, and I shall support it.
– It would not be necessary for me to speak on this subject again were it not for the wilful blindness or misunderstanding of some honorable senators regarding the whole position. Senator Lynch has talked strongly about niggardliness, and has suggested that this officer is worth the salary proposed. That is not the matter in dispute at all, and tends merely to cloud the issue. The complaint is that the Government propose to do for this officer what no other Government in Australia has deemed it necessary to do for any ordinary officer of the Public Service. We are asked to fix his salary by a specific statutory enactment, and, to that extent, to put him beyond the control of Parliament. Some of us, in this and in another place, are battling for the supremacy of Parliament with regard to the position of this officer as well as of others in the Public Service. We are accused of niggardliness, although the question of the amount of salary to be paid does not arise at all. I have already said that I consider the appointment of this officer an excellent one, and that he has carried out his duties admirably. But I still contend that we should insist on the supremacy of Parliament and its control of the Public Service. We should be in a position to review every action of our Public Service when we are discussing the Estimates. Senator Lynch has said that we are being, asked to do in this case what Parliament did before in passing the Public Service Act of 1902. Nothing of the kind. That Act does not take a single one of the public servants under it away from the criticism and control of Parliament. Their salaries have to be voted every year, and their conduct comes under review. If this Bill be passed, this officer will be made independent of Parliament. His salary will be secured to him by a specific statutory enactment, and need not appear on the Estimates. Every Collector of Customs is charged with much more judicial functions every month ; but we do not hear a single word about putting these officers under a special Act of Parliament. Is it not a fact that in Customs cases, which are not regarded as serious enough to be taken into Court, the Collectors of Customs, or other highly responsible officers, hold inquiries, take evidence, and impose fines? Yet we are told that the Industrial Registrar is a judicial officer, and that the other officers are not. If the functions are judicial in one case, then, undoubtedly, the Customs officers should also be regarded as exercising judicial functions, and their salaries should be provided by a specific enactment. I do not want to labour the question any further. What I am going to vote for is to maintain the supremacy of Parliament. I am not cavilling at the appointment of an Industrial Registrar, or at the salary to he paid. I approve of the appointment. I believe that Mr. Stewartis an excellent officer, who has carried out his work admirably. But we have a duty to perform to the people of the Commonwealth, and that is to preserve the power of Parliament to review, from year to year, the conduct of its public servants. I think that the rights of the public should be supreme, and I hope that the vote of the Committee will go accordingly.
– In my opinion, Senator Lynch has earned the very warm thanks of the Committee for having directed our attention very forcibly to the marked difference between the Public Service Act and this Bill. That was, I take it, the sole purpose of his remarks.
– The similarity between the two measures.
– In the Public Service Act we dealt with groups of public officers, and laid down a general principle. But this Bill deals with an individual officer. I challenge Senator Lynch, or anybody else, to show me any provision in the Public Service Act, or any other Act which we have passed, where an increase of salary has been given retrospectively. Some exception has been taken to the suggestions from this side that there is something about this appointment which requires explanation. We have a Bill brought in ostensibly to place the Public Service under the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court, and it is made the excuse and the means of paying an increased salary to an officer for some months which have elapsed ; in other words, to make his appointment retrospective. In view of these circumstances, those who oppose the clause, quite apart from the merits of their opposition, are entitled to ask for a more ample explanation than has been forthcoming, as to why this officer, out of the hundreds in the employ of the Commonwealth, has been singled out for such remarkably singular treatment?
– Because the position is exceptional.
– I am glad that Senator Givens has brought the Committee back to the basic principle of this discussion. We do not want to discuss any particular officer. No officer is named in the clause, only an office is mentioned.
– Nor is there in the Public Service Act.
– The Public Service Act refers to the whole of the Public Service. This Bill was brought in to enable the Public Service to get the advantage of the machinery of the Arbitration Court. When all the clauses referring to that proposal were passed, we. found tacked on to them what is really an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - a provision to create the office of an Industrial Registrar. I would not have said anything about that provision only that it fixes the salary of the office, prescribes the increments, and, as Senator Millen has pointed out, acts retrospectively. What would be said if we appointed a Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs and fixed in a measure his salary and the increments to it? We might do just the same thing in regard to every important office which is held under the Commonwealth, and provide what the salaries of the officers shall be at the commencement, and what the increments shall be, knowing that the amounts could not be altered except by a special Bill. I do not say a word against the officer who is to be appointed Industrial Registrar. I do not know anything about him. He may be the best man in the world for the position, and fully entitled to the highest salary which we could give him. But I contend that his salary should be submitted on the annual Estimates in just the same way as is the salary of the head of any Department, and that Parliament should have the right to say “ Yes “ or “ No” to it year by year.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
Message reported from the House of Representatives, asking the concurrence of the Senate in a resolution.
– I ask leave to submit a motion.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the Vice-President of the Executive Council have leave to move a motion now ?
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
– Leave granted.
– I move-
That the Senate concurs in the following resolution transmitted by message No. 24 of the House of Representatives : - “ That this House approves of the purchase of the following site, and the erection of a permanent building thereon for Commonwealth Offices, viz. : - That part of the London County Council’s property included within the Strand, Aldwych, and Melbourne-place, London.”
It will be remembered by honorable senators that some years ago a proposition was placed before the Senate for the purchase of a site at Charing Cross, and defeated. Ever since then the feeling has been growing, not only amongst members of this Parliament, but also amongst the general public, that some step ought to be taken to secure in London offices in keeping with the importance of Australia. Nearly all honorable senators know that Canada, through her offices m London, advertises to a very great extent her great Dominion. We ought to endeavour to place the Commonwealth, sooner or later, in a similar position. I might also mention that New Zealand and Victoria are doing good work in that direction in London. All those who were delegated by this Parliament to go to London at the time of the Coronation, and had the privilege of seeing the site which is covered by this motion returned almost unanimously of the opinion that it is the most suitable site in London for our purpose. It is situated at the eastern end of a peculiarly shaped piece of city property. Aldwych goes in almost what might be termed a semicircle from the Strand in the east to a point farther west. At the eastern extremity of this semicircular area there is a piece of land cut off by Melbourne-place, forming what, if the lines were straight, would practically be an equilateral triangle, but as Aldwych forms a section of a circle of course it cannot be a straight line. Then coming down Melbourne-place there is a rectangular turn towards the southwest, and a straight line in the Strand, whilst at the eastern extremity the block is cutoff by a straight line about 40 feet in length. So that really this block of land is contained by four straight lines and one curve. It comprises an area of 24,326 superficial feet, or thereabouts. Of course, honorable senators will recognise that in London the value of land is not measured by the acre or rood or yard, or by the number of feet frontage which it possesses, but by the superficial foot. At what is regarded as a reasonable valuation, namely, 14s. per superficial foot, this block is worth £364,000. Upon a portion of it the Victorian offices have already been erected, and if this motion be carried the Government propose to erect upon the site a building valued at ,£223,000, thus making a total outlay of some £587,000. It will be recognised, therefore, that this proposal, if adopted, will involve a considerable expenditure. But everybody who has inspected the site will admit that it is one of the most central which could be obtained. It is only about a mile from the great Parliament Houses of England, whilst in an opposite direction it is about the same distance from the Bank of England. It is also in reasonable proximity to several railway stations. Without any further attempt to elaborate the great part which the offices we propose to erect will play in the future development of the Commonwealth, I submit the resolution.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) [9.5J. - I have very great pleasure in supporting this proposal. When, some little time ago, it was proposed to purchase a site in Northumberland-avenue, I opposed it, not because I objected to that site, which was a very good one, but because I objected to the buildings which were upon it, and to the price which was asked for it. But the site which it is now proposed to purchase was personally inspected by most honorable senators who were present at the Coronation festivities.
– All of us inspected it, I think.
– Practically the whole of the members of this Parliament who were in London at the time inspected the site for themselves. Iri the first place, it has a decidedly advantageous situation. It is located right in the Strand, it is open upon all sides, and’ no more suitable spot could be obtained upon which to erect Commonwealth offices, either from an advertis- ing point of view, or from the stand-point of providing accommodation for the Commonwealth in time to come. It is vacant land with the exception of a little block of buildings on one corner, which has been erected by the Victorian Government, and which, I suppose, can be merged into a general plan for Commonwealth offices.
– That block of buildings was erected with that end in view.
– At any rate it may easily form part and parcel of a plan for general offices to be erected there. We have nothing to destroy. The land is vacant, and thus we shall be able to adopt the plan which is best suited, not only to the requirements of the Commonwealth itself, but to those of the various States. Though so far no communication has been opened up with the States, I feel certain that they will be so impressed with the site and with the advantage to be derived from having the entire Commonwealth represented under one roof, that they will very soon fall in with it. An immense amount of traffic is passing this spot during every minute of the day, and, therefore, from an advertising stand-point, a better site could not be obtained in London. We know, too, that in that city Canada has adopted a vigorous policy in the matter of advertising her resources, and in procuring substantial offices so as to make the best possible show. But at the present time we have Commonwealth offices in Victoriastreet, Victorian offices on the corner of the site which is now under consideration, Queensland offices in another part of the city, and South Australian offices away in the east end of London. Thus Australian offices are scattered all over the city.
– And lost in the scattering.
– Exactly. If we can get all these offices concentrated at one point, it will be an immense advantage from the stand-point of advertising Australia. Anybody who desires to obtain information in regard to any part of the Commonwealth will then be able to secure it by visiting one building. Moreover, I take it that the project of the Government will provide us with an excellent opportunity to exhibit the products of Australia, so that instead of an inquirer having to visit one place to ascertain what Queensland produces, and to see the splendid timber which she grows, or being compelled to visit an other portion of the city to see South Australia’s exhibits in wheat and fruit, he will be able to obtain all the information available at the one spot. Personally, I do not think that the price asked for the site is at all out of the way. We have to recollect that in London - especially in this particular locality - the value of land is bound to increase largely as the years go by. Consequently, as a matter of investment, the undertaking is sure to pay. Even if it does not yield the full rate of interest upon the capital outlay at the beginning it will do so before long, and ere many years have passed we shall find that these offices are not only a very great convenience to the whole of the people of Australia, but that they are a paying proposition. Having seen the site, and satisfied myself of the advantages of it, and having looked at the whole question from every stand-point, I have the greatest confidence in supporting the resolution.
– I was one of the party which inspected this site, and I am glad to know that the Government are taking steps to procure it. In London, access to the High Commissioner’s office has to be gained by means of a lift, and if that be out of order one has to climb a staircase. I am sure that a stranger would not know where to find his office. Indeed, I had some dfficulty in finding it myself. As a result, I suggested to the Prime Minister that if the Government desired to do anything at all in the way of securing office accommodation in London they should do it on a scale befitting the importance of the Commonwealth. I would like to see all the Australian offices in that city concentrated under one roof. Although Canada has not a large building there, such as we propose to erect, she has very large windows, in which are exhibited samples of all her exports. But the only place at which any Australian exports are exhibited is on the ground floor of the office of the AgentGeneral for Queensland in the Strand. I can confirm the statement of Senator Vardon that the proposed site is a splendid one. Considering its position, I think that it is fairly cheap, and that the Commonwealth, in purchasing it, will be making a good business deal. I believe that it will increase in value as time goes on, and I have no doubt that any portion of the buildings which we may not require for Commonwealth offices will readily let to private individuals. Although the expenditure proposed is large, I feel confident that ere long the people will realize that we have made a good bargain.
– I compliment the Government upon their recognition of the soundness of the policy of securing the freehold of the site which they propose to purchase.
– We are setting out to nationalize the United Kingdom ! The honorable senator does not realize what this means 1
– We must take it that by the carrying of this resolution the Government are announcing to the people of Australia that even if a person takes up only 50 acres of land in Commonwealth Territory, and desires to get the freehold, the Government will, as far as possible, meet his wish. There is another matter upon Which I heartily congratulate the Government. It is almost personal to myself. I am glad that they have adopted the principle which I have again and again advocated in the Senate: that they should .not charge to one year’s revenue the whole cost of their permanent works. For advocating that policy I have been denounced time after time by honorable senators opposite as though I were an individual who had escaped from a lunatic asylum, or who ought to be placed in one. I have pointed out repeatedly that when a permanent work like a post-office, costing anything from £5,000 to £50,000, has to be erected, we should not charge the whole sum to the current year’s revenue, but should spread the cost over a number of years. Now, I am glad to observe that the Government have committed, so to speak, an act of political larceny, by stealing my financial policy, and have asked the London County Council to meet them in regard to the terms which I have described. I am unselfish enough to suppress on this occasion, in the interests of the country, any indignation which I might feel at the action of the Government in stealing out of my pocket, so to speak, a piece of policy, and carrying it away to London with them, where they have made magnificent use of it in dealing with the County Council. But it will now, I trust, be admitted that when I advocated that policy in regard to Commonwealth affairs I was something more than a Saul among the prophets. Notwithstanding, however, that in these two respects I have found strong reasons for congratulating the Government, I intend to vote against this proposal. They propose to spend upwards of £500,000 in erecting a magnificent building in London, which is intended to be worthy of this Commonwealth. I admit that. I believe those who have seen the site, and who tell us that it is admirably suited for the purpose. Probably we are getting very good value for the money. We are led to believe that the building is to be used as a centre for a most vigorous compaign carried throughout the United Kingdom and the Continent of Europe for advertising the resources of Australia, with a view of inducing a large and continuous stream of immigration to flow into the Commonwealth.
– More immigrants are coming now than ever came when the honorable senator’s party was in office.
– I am aware of that ; and I am also aware of the fact that Her lamented Majesty Queen Anne is dead. I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the information that some difficulty is experienced at present even by those immigrants who are prepared to pay the whole of their passage money in securing berths. But that seems to me to be the result of the policy of the Government now occupying the Treasury benches.
– People had to be paid to come to this country while the honorable senator’s party was in power.
– A tu quo que is the last resource of an individual who has no other argument at his command. The example of Canada has been pointed out as a precedent. Senator Vardon has had the advantage, not only of examining this site, but of studying the Canadian example on the spot. But what was Canada doing for years before she invested her money in palatial offices in London? .She was conducting a vigorous immigration campaign. It is true that the Canadian Government did not take out immigrants from the United Kingdom to Canada, but it spent large sums in advertising the resources of the Dominion. For the past five or six years, and even, for a longer period, the Canadian Government have spent from £160,000 to £200,000 a year in advertising Canadian resources. The whole reason for appointing a Canadian High Commissioner, and installing him in palatial offices, was to develop Canada by promoting an immense stream of immigration. The reason why I take exception to this proposal now is that it appears to me to be like putting the cart before the horse. There has never been placed upon the Estimates of the Commonwealth a sum of more than £20,000 in any one year to promote immigration. Compare that paltry sum with the large amount spent by Canada for this purpose. In point of fact, we have never spent anything like £20,000 in one year. Sometimes we have spent less than half that amount. It is useless to go to the expense of providing palatial offices, no matter how favorably they may be situated, and no matter how well calculated they may be to serve as a central rallying point for Australian interests in the United Kingdom, unless the Government are prepared to place on the Estimates a sum of money commensurate with the work which ought to be done, and will soon have to be done, in promoting immigration.
– Would the honorable senator’s party pursue that policy if it were in power?
– I believe that no party that has been in power in the Commonwealth has done enough in this regard. When my own party was in power I said very much the same as I am saying now. I said that I would not give them my support unless they altered in some respects their financial proposals with regard to the method of charging for permanent works, and also unless they increased the amount to be spent in promoting immigration. That wish of mine was never realized.
– We cannot get ships enough to bring immigrants to Australia now.
– I have not the slightest doubt but that if Australia were spending £100,000 a year for this purpose it would not be very long before ship-owners would make provision to bring immigrants in the same num’bers to Australia as they have been taken to Canada in recent years. But as long as we have a party ‘ in power that will only put down £20,000 on the Estimates, and spend less, we shall never do what ought to be done, however advantageous the policy may be from other points of view. The central purpose and reason for such an office in London must be to enable us to promote a vigorous developmental policy for Australia. I regret that I am called upon to vote for a motion to spend over £500,000 on Commonwealth offices in London, manifestly for the purpose of advertising Australia, when I know that no more than £20,000 has been placed on the Estimates to carry out the most important work which can be done from those offices. So far as the real interests of Australia are concerned, I believe that the money so far spent on advertising Australia might just as well have been thrown into the Yarra. Knowing the amount that is to be spent, or is likely to be spent, this year upon what I consider the main purpose of the establishment of the London offices, I must regard this proposal as a beginning at the wrong end, and for that reason I strongly appose it.
– We shall require to have a line of ships of our own.
– That suggestion has some reason in it, and if that be our only resort we must, of course, adopt it. I shall not follow the interjection further. The Minister has referred to some correspondence which has passed between the Commonwealth and State Governments in connexion with this matter, and it has been represented in another place that, with the exception of the Queensland Government, all the State Governments have responded more or less favorably to the proposals made by the Commonwealth Government. It would scarcely lie with any State Government to interfere in a matter of this kind, beyond, it may be, a formal protest, or a suggestion that the proposed expenditure is unnecessary. I do not know that the Queensland Government are opposed to this proposal, but it is only fair that it should be mentioned that they are under an obligation, by their lease of the premises occupied by the State Agent-General, to continue to occupy those premises until 1943. That may be a reason for the statement that the Queensland Government do not accept this proposal as readily as do the Governments of the other States. But even if the Queensland Government were heartily in accord with the proposal, I should still oppose it, for the reasons I have mentioned. Possibly from a financial point of view, it represents a sound business transaction, and if it were accompanied with another to spend £100,000 on advertising Australia, I should be willing to vote for it. I should be willing to vote for the expenditure of another ,£500,000 in connexion with a similar proposal if a further ,£100,000 was to be spent in promoting immigration to Australia. Believing as I do that Commonwealth offices in London will be of little or no use until the Government have initiated a vigorous immigration policy, I shall oppose all such proposals as this, until steps are taken to put such a policy into effect.
– Senator St. Ledger appeared to derive considerable amusement from the fact that the Government propose to secure a freehold under this motion.
– To get a freehold, and to ask for one, too.
– I have never had two opinions as to the advantage of a freehold to the investor, because, with the freehold, he secures any future increase of value. 1 am glad that, in this matter, the Government are proposing to do what any shrewd investor would do by securing a freehold, so that the people of Australia may benefit by any increase in its value in the future. That is a sound business proposition, and it is ridiculous upon such a proposal to twit honorable senators on this because of our desire to prevent private individuals securing freeholds. I think that it is the duty of the Government to prevent private speculators securing the unearned increment by investments in land and property. I do not know whether Senator St. Ledger can distinguish the difference in the two cases, but I certainly can very clearly. The honorable senator gave us to understand that he would be prepared to support a much larger expenditure than is here proposed if the Government, at the same time, decided to expend money largely in advertising Australia. I hold the opinion that at the present time Australia requires very little advertising in the Old Country. From one end of Great. Britain to the other the feeling prevails that it would be a wise thing for the people to come to a country governed by a Labour Government.
– Is that the reason so many are coming to Victoria?
– I am truly stating what I believe to be the feeling in the Old Country. If the present Government live up to the expectations of Labour enthusiasts, we need spend no further money in wasteful advertisement of Australia. The Government have the matter in their own hands, if they wish to secure the pick of the people leaving Great Britain. _ The chief obstacle in the way of immigration at the present moment is to be found in the wealthy capitalists and employers of Great Britain itself. I remember that on one occasion, when an Australian representative was replying very ably to the toast of the Commonwealth, he pointed out what excellent opportunities there were in Australia for men of brains, energy, and possessing a little capital. The chairman of the meeting, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, replied most effectively by saying that there were just as many openings in Great Britain for the same class of people, and that that was where they were required. I am glad to find that the Government propose to invest Australian money safely in the purchase of this huge block of land ; but I question whether the money might not be put to better use in establishing depots in which Australian produce might be sold as such. I believe that something might be done to prevent Australian produce being; robbed, as it now is, in Great Britain of the reputation to which it is entitled. Whether it be beef, mutton, fruit, or butter, Australian produce is at the present timepurchased by men who distribute it under the names which enable them to reap themost profit from it. What are we to do when we have spent this money, in orderto house the High Commissioner in a way worthy of Australia? I think that we areall agreed that that should be done.
– Is it contemplated tohouse him in this building, or merely his. officers ?
– I am speaking; in a public sense, and the reference is tc« the accommodation for the High Commissioner’s office. We have to consider whether the State Governments will agree that their Agents-General should occupy portions of the proposed building. If they donot agree to do so, the Government are proposing here to acquire a larger site than is necessary. In my opinion, the Trafalgar Square site would be infinitely superior tothe large site near the Strand, if we were considering merely the accommodation required for the High Commissioner’s office.! If it be said that the Trafalgar Square site is not sufficiently large, the answer is, that there will be plenty of room on top, and we could easily erect a building on that sitewhich would be ample for offices for the High Commissioner.
– The height of buildings is restricted in London. We could not do the same there as is done in America.
– We could find ample room for Commonwealth offices on the Trafalgar Square site without reaching the limit of height prescribed. I consider that there is no comparison between the advantages of the two positions, that the Trafalgar Square site is infinitely superior asa site for Commonwealth purposes.
– That site was turned down before, and if the honorable senator had heard the discussion upon it, he would probably have voted against it also.
– That may be so ; but I am honestly giving my opinion of the relative merits of the two sites. It will not be denied that there is ample and unoccupied room on the site proposed to be acquired under this motion. That should speak for itself as to the value of the site from a business point of view. Why, if it is such a great site as it is made out to be, has it been permitted to He unoccupied until the Commonwealth came along as a purchaser? lt has remained unoccupied for years, and would probably remain unoccupied for a long time yet, if the Commonwealth did not take it off the hands of the London County Council. There is not only ample room on the site proposed to be acquired, but a larger block might be taken up at the same place, if that were desired. I do not recommend that, because I do not wish the Government to enter into the business of land speculators in London, even though it should be for the purpose of housing the State Agents-General. I am not sure that, in view of the existing jealousy and rivalry between the States, their officers could all be comfortably housed in the same office. It should be borne in mind, also, that, if they were housed in the same office, it might occur to the Governments of the different States that their business could be managed by the High Commissioner. We cannot look forward with any degree of certainty to the State Governments consenting to occupy portions of the proposed building. I have seen the designs of the building, and I think the Government would do well to reconsider them. If a Commonwealth building is to be erected on this site, I think it should of itself be such as to attract attention. The present designs make provision for comfortable and substantial offices, but for nothing out of the way. If we are to spend .£500,000 in acquiring the freehold of this site, we might spend more than is proposed upon the erection of the building, because the best way in which to secure a good return from a costly investment in freehold land is to utilize it to- the utmost. I have already said that I, personally, consider the Trafalgar Square site infinitely superior to the Strand site for Commonwealth offices.- I have said that the fact lhat the Strand site is not fully occupied speaks for itself as to its value as a good situation from a business point of view, and I have also said that we might, perhaps, with greater advantage, spend double this amount of money in establishing depots for the sale of Australian produce. In this respect, I am disposed to agree with Senator St. Ledger, that, in this proposal, the Government are commencing at the wrong end. I believe that in order to make the possibilities of Australia better known, it will be the duty of the Government to have placed upon the British market its produce, and the only way to achieve that object honestly will be by doing the work themselves.
– I desire to say a few words, although the honorable senator to whom I wish to specially refer has left the chamber, as usual.
– It is not as usual. Senator St. Ledger is just as good an attendant here as is any one else.
– I do not know that the honorable senator needs to interject. I think that Senator St. Ledger is still able to speak for himself.
– I did not think that the remark was quite fair.
– It was quite as fair as the honorable senator’s interjection, because all I wished to say was that, after he had fired off his speech, he left the chamber. The chop logic in which he habitually indulges was displayed more than ever on this occasion, when he gave us a dissertation on the value of freehold as against leasehold, and also some remarks as to his colossal knowledge of financial management. On one matter he unduly enlarged, and it is a matter about which we have heard too much altogether, both here and in another place, that is, what Canada has done and is doing. We get Canada quoted to us morning, noon, and night by honorable senators opposite, when a question crops up as to what Australia is doing, or proposing to do. Only the other day, a cable message appeared to the effect that thousands of immigrants to Canada were rushing back to Great Britain, and that they were actually battling with one another for room to get away, so that that magnificent country, full ‘ of’ snow and ice for three-fourths of the year; is not such a wonderful paradise as it is made out to be, and has evidently been over-boomed by advertising.
– It is not a patch on Australia.
– That is what I should imagine from what I have heard of the one and know of the other. It is belittling our country for honorable senators to be continually preaching that Canada does these things better than we do them. As a matter of fact, there is a lot of advertising which would be much better left alone. We have noticed that false statements and glaring inaccuracies have been published broadcast to induce persons to come to Australia under various pretences, but I do not think that this is the time to enlarge on the general question of immigration. I think that Senator St. Ledger was absolutely wrong in stating that we had better devote a large portion of this money to immigration, and that we are starting at the wrong end. If he believes so keenly in advertising, then the possession of a fine site, carrying a magnificent building, will of itself prove a big advertisement for Australia. I understand that there will be room, and that provision will be made for exhibiting a great many of our products, which will be a further means of advertising of a most practical and convincing character. I think, therefore, that it was only a matter of fireworks for Senator St. Ledger to make out that he was justified in opposing the motion on the score that the immigration vote should be larger. I think that the fact that we are continually told in our own newspapers, unfavorable as they are to our party and our policy, that immigrants find themselves unable to get passages to Australia, even when they are prepared to pay for them, shows of itself that the desire to come here is not only fairlywidespread, but is continually growing in volume. Whether we can rightly claim that that is entirely due to the existence of a Labour Government in the Commonwealth, or not, at any rate it shows-
– A coincidence.
– It is certainly a coincidence worthy of record. It is clear that, despite the Labour party, the hearts of people at a distance have not been filled with apprehension, as our opponents would have the public believe. I have very much pleasure in supporting a proposition which, at any rate, is a bold one - one which involves a considerable outlay, and which, if the representations made are at all correct, will amply repay the Commonwealth in the near future.
– I have no desire to occupy the time of the Senate very long. It is very gratifying to the Government that, after so many attempts have been made to pass a motion of this description, the end is so near, and that it has been left to a Labour Government to give effect to a policy which will afford to Australia - to its prospects and possibilities - the biggest advertisement it has ever received in London. A great deal has been said about the advertising proclivities of Canada, and the great results achieved. I am sure that if we make the people who come here comfortable, happy, and prosperous, they will very soon send such messages to their friends, not only in Great Britain, but in parts of Europe, that the Commonwealth will, as was stated by one of the Ministers in Victoria, have to build ships to bring out all those who want to emigrate to this country. In making comparisons between Australia and Canada, Senator St. Ledger, and others, should remember that it was in the sixteenth century that the latter was established, whereas it was only at the beginning of the last century that Australia really began to grow. Canada was, in large measure, a flourishing settlement when it was taken by Great Britain, and it has had time to grow ever since. Seeing that at the census taken ten years ago, the population of Canada was 5,300,000, and that the population of the Commonwealth of Australia was only about 3,700,000, the latter had approached pretty rapidly to the position of the former, which, let me repeat, had a start of a couple of hundred years. Notwithstanding all her advertisements, notwithstanding her proximity not only to the swarming population of Great Britain and Europe, but also to the immense population of the adjoining country of the United States, notwithstanding all her expenditure, and her advertisements, from 1901 to the end of 1909, Canada had increased her population by only 1,800,000. That was not a great achievement when it is remembered that the Dominion started the century with a popu- lation of 5,300,000. In Australia, we started in 1901 with a population of 3,700,000, and in ten years we had increased the population by600,000 which is nearly as great an achievement when we recall the difficulties which existed at the inauguration of Federation, and the disasters which almost overtook the whole of Australia in the shape of a drought, when hundreds of people were unemployed, and no one was urging persons to come out here. Prosperity returned with the advent of a Labour Government, and prosperity remains under a Labour Government. The ships which could have brought out all the emigrants who desired to come here ten years ago would not bring one-hundredth part of them to-day, and there is a Labour Government in power. That may only be a coincidence, but still the fact remains that people arc eager to come to Australia where a Labour Government is in power. I hope that the Labour party will give those who are anxious to settle in this country opportunities to do so. Not only do we hope that, but we hope also that adequate provision will be made in connexion with land settlement and other kinds of development, so that those who do come here will be able to establish themselves in happy and prosperous homes. We have not the slightest doubt that when we are of the same age as Canada is, we shall have double her present population, or even double the population which she may have a hundred years hence. To my mind, Australia is first every time, and the more we can do to show other parts of the world the greatness and the importance of the Commonwealth, by establishing in London offices for our High Commissioner, and the Agents-General for the States, and exhibiting our produce, the more we shall do in the interests of our fellow countrymen. I hope that the motion will be carried.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 December 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111212_senate_4_63/>.