4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following papers: -
Commonwealth Bank Act ign - Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 140. Papua Act 1905 -
Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 77 Statutory Rules 191a, No. 60.
Amendment of Regulation 77 - Statutory Rules igiz, No. 131.
– Will the Vice-
President of the Executive Council lay upon the table of the Senate the papers in connexion with and leading up to the appointment of Messrs. Gilruth, Jansen, and Ryland as officers in the Northern Territory ?
-I shall consult the Minister of External Affairs, and if he urges no serious objection, endeavour to have the papers laid upon the table of the Library.
– Will the Minis, ter representing the Minister of External Affairs lay upon the table all the papers in connexion with the appointment of Mr. Francis as Superintendent of Railways in the Northern Territory?
– I give the same answer to the honorable senator.
– I have to announce that I have received from Senator Long a notice that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “the mail service to the State of Tasr mania.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
.- I have taken this course to voice the protest of the people of Tasmania against the mail service to and from the mainland, It has been said that they are a long-suffering people, and that the longer they suffer without complaining the longer they may suffer. It would appear that the ships which are engaged by arrangement with the Commonweal Government to carry mails to Tasmania from Victoria and New South Wales are the kind of ships which are rejected by every other part of the Commonwealth. Seeing that the contracts are about to expire, it is time that the Commonwealth Government considered the question of securing a much more rapid and regular transportation of the mails. The ships which are now carrying the mails - the Rotomahana, the Burrumbeet, and the Wakitifu - have been prominently hefore the public for a period approaching half-a-century. I have often travelled in the Rotomahana, and,’ with the exception of two or three stoppages on each” trip to repair something, she manages to get to. her destination safely , but the odour on board is so strong that I guarantee that if would impair the constitution of the most robust sewer rat. I dodge a trip on this boat to my home as often as possible, and seek the more comfortable, and I think safer, quarters which the Loongana offers-
-Is it true that the honorable Senator has increased the insurance on his life?
– No; but if, as is contemplated, the Rotomahana is to take up the sole running for a month I shall certainly give that matter some consideration. The Burrumbeet has recently, been engaged in carrying the mails from Sydney to Hobart. During the last three or four trips she has been as much as twenty-four hours late. On 15th June she was twentythree hours late, on the 3rd July fifteen hours late, and on the 17th July, seventeen hours late. The people of Tasmania are hot getting fair treatment from the shipping companies. I am barred by the terms of my motion from calling attention to the great inconvenience which the public experience through being compelled to travel by these steamers ; but in order to give the Senate an idea of the feeling which is entertained in the southern part of Tasmania, 1 propose to quote a short paragraph from one of the leading newspapers.
– Are these vessels under contract to carry mails or are the mails put on board to be carried at poundage rates?
– I presume that the mails are put on board to be carried at poundage rates. There is no actual contract, but there is an undertaking on the part of the shipping companies to deliver the mails safely.
– There are no conditions beyond the usual navigation conditions.
– Then there is only one thing left to be done, and that is for the Commonwealth Government to seriously consider- the question of providing its own steamers for carrying the mails to and from Tasmania. In the course of a few weeks, the Department will call for tenders for the carriage of these mails, but that is a farce, seeing that there is no competition between the shipping companies. The PostmasterGeneral can only expect to receive one tender, which will have been the subject of an honorable arrangement with the other shipping company trading to the State.
– There are only two shipping companies - the Huddart Parker Company and the Union Steam-ship Company.
– Yes, but they are joint contractors for the mail service between Melbourne to Launceston and the northwest coast of Tasmania. There is, as I said before, no contract for the carriage of mails from Sydney to (Hobart. .To give honorable senators an idea- of the actual position, I shall quote the following extract -
A meeting, has been called for to-night by the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the question of the shipping facilities between Hobart and Sydney. This is a matter which affects Hobart very seriously, and for that reason we hope that there will be a large and representative attendance of citizens. Two shipping companies have a monopoly of the trade, and it is well understood that others are by private agreement excluded from coming in to share it. The Union Company and the Huddart, Parker Company work in conjunction, and so there is no chance of competition bringing about a better service. People who wish to go to Sydney must go in the steamers belonging to these companies, pay. whatever rates are demanded, and put up with whatever sort of accommodation they are offered. The alternative is to swim across. This kind of thing has been endured patiently enough, but at last we are glad to find a proper protest is to be made. The action of the companies in putting on an old boat like the Burrumbeet, which took no less than 67 hours to come from Sydney, and which has not sufficient accommodation for the passengers offering, has been the last straw. We have mentioned the position which has arisen in connexion with the lonie, which has a large number of passengers who wish to tranship at’ Hobart for Sydney. Representations have been made to the two shipping companies to induce them to provide for the carriage of these passengers, but they hare taken no notice at all.
– Order ! The honorable senator is getting away from the scope of his motion. The protest of the people in Hobart is, I understand, against the inadequate accommodation for passengers and the length of time which the boats take as far as passengers are concerned, but the motion is confined to the mail service.
– I shall not pursue that course any further, sir, as it conflicts with the procedure of the Senate.
– The position is the same-; if the boats delay the passengers they also delay the - mails.
– I am reminded that I shall have another opportunity of callins attention to the inconvenience- which passengers experience in travelling between Mel-bourne and Tasmania. Some of the. boats which are engaged in carrying the mails were registered in the maritime service of Australia as far back as 1876.
– And classed Al for 100 years.
– I do not know anything about that, but I accept the honorable senator’s statement as correct. I should like the Government to indicate what they are likely to do concerning the future mail service to Tasmania. If they intend to renew the contracts - I will not say with these floating coffins, but with these shipping companies - their action ought to evoke a very strong protest, not only from Tasmanian senators, but from all senators who are anxious to see a regular and efficient mail service established with the island State. I hope that unless a satisfactory arrangement can be made for the rapid and regular transportation of the mails by a steamer of the capacity and safety of the Loongana, the Government will seriously consider the advisability of establishing a Commonwealth-owned mail service. I move -
That the’ Senate at its rising adjourn until 9 a.m. to-morrow.
.-! congratulate my colleague upon having brought this matter forward. For many years the grumbling in Tasmania has been loud in reference to the mail service to and from the mainland. It has been said there that the Union Steam-ship Company have been running the Postal Department, and also that it is of very little use for any member of the Senate to try to bring about an alteration. I do not take that view. I have a very vivid recollection that when the Postmaster-General, Mr. Thomas, placed before that company the representations of Senators Long and O’ Keefe and myself for a better mail service, they coolly informed the Government that they could not make the alterations required, because it would interfere with their ore contracts with Tasmania. We strongly objected to this, and urged that the Commonwealth mail contracts, for which these companies receive no less than ,£13,000 a year must come before any private ore contracts. I am pleased to be able to say that the PostmasterGeneral at once wrote to that effect to the company, and it was only because a firm stand was made at the time that we secured the alteration we desired. Since then the present Government have shown every desire to give Tasmania a better mail service. I admit that freely and fully.
I have before me an extract from the Commonwealth Gazette, in which the Government called for three alternative tenders. Tender (a) is for a service as at present to Tasmania; (b) for a service as at present, with the addition of an extra trip between Burnie and Melbourne. Senator Millen. - What is the present -service ?
– Three trips each way from Launceston to Melbourne, and two trips each way from Burnie to Melbourne each week.
– Is there any timetable ?
– Yes, there is a timetable. The third tender advertised for in the Commonwealth Gazette suggests a very progressive step in some directions, because it calls for tenders for a mail service from Melbourne to Burnie, each way, six times a week. That is to say, a daily mail service.
– That would not pay.
– I shall not enter into the _ merits of that proposal, because I realize that the cost would probably be so serious as to debar the acceptance of any tender to give it effect. There is evidence that the Government are doing all they can to give Tasmania a better mail service but, as Senator Long has stated, we require, not only a better mail service, but. the employment of a better type of boats in carrying out the service [ have no hesitation in saying that the Rotomahana is an absolutely dangerous boat to travel on. I have, by questions in the Senate this session, already elicited the fact that she stopped four times during the present winter season, and on the last occasion, if it had not been for the alertness of the crew in getting out the anchor, she would have run upon the Hebe reef, just outside the heads of the Tamar. ‘
– That shows the advantage of a good crew.
– And the disadvantage of a bad boat. The Rotomahana is not only an antiquated vessel, but she is unable to go up the Tamar, except at certain states of the tide, and is, in every way, unsuitable for a fast winter service between the mainland and Tasmania. Senator Long has reminded me that it is now proposed to use this vessel for the whole service for one month, and passengers will have to put up with her on every trip made during that time. Senator Long has told honorable senators what is the opinion on this matter in Tasmania ; and I may be allowed to quote the opinion of Mr. Murdoch, who is one of the members of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce.
– Is that the opinion of Tasmania?
– No. I take it that Senator Long and myself, with the other honorable senators f rom Tasmania, are here to voice the opinion of the people of that State, and I have no doubt we can claim to .have done so fairly well up to the present time. At a meeting called by the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Murdoch said -
The Sydney service was not as good just at present as it was 25 years ago. Hobart could be made a great coaling port, and the people to take the matter up were the Union Co. and the Huddart, Parker Co., but when monopolies came into the community, then God help it. What with the steam-ship companies’ agreements not to go here, and not to do that, it seemed to him that the American trusts were nothing to the way things were getting in Australia. As if the sea was not an open highway. The Union Co. treated Tasmania as a cypher. Twenty-seven years ago he came from New Zealand in the Rotomahana, and this year he came from Melbourne to Launceston in the same old Rotomahana. She could not get up the Tamar River, but finally crept up in the dusk like a thief after ducks- She was laid up for about seven months in the year, and then when a vessel was wanted for the Tasmanian trade they said, “ Oh, put her on.”
As we are heavily subsidizing the vessels engaged in this service, 1 think the Commonwealth .Government should insist that the Rotomahana should not be employed in the service. There is another aspect of the case which requires to be considered. By giving the companies interested in this service a subsidy for the carriage of mails, we are helping to build up a monopoly that is exercising a very detrimental influence on Tasmania’s trade. Quite recently a barque called the Fingal came into Launceston from. Norway.
– Order. The honorable senator must realize that the arrival of a barque from Norway at Launceston has no bearing on the question of the mail service between the mainland and Tasmania.
– I hoped to connect my remarks with the motion ; but, in deference to your ruling, I shall take advantage of another occasion to bring this matter under the notice of the Senate. I might spend a good deal more time discussing the motion, but I feel that the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, having been d’rawn_to the importance of the matter, much good will probably result. There is a sinister aspect of the matter which I regret I am unable to refer to under the Standing Orders, and the ruling of the President.
– And under the terms of the motion which has been moved.
– And also under the terms of the motion which has been moved. We claim that, with our rapidly increasing tourist traffic and trade with the mainland, we should not be called upon to put up with vessels such as those which are now bolstered up with Commonwealth mail contracts. T hope that if nothing else can be done, the Government will adopt the suggestion of Senator Long, and, as soon as possible, establish their own line of steamers to trade with Tasmania.
– That will need an amendment of the Constitution.
– I quite admit that; but I am one of those who hope that the necessary alteration of the Constitution will be provided for by the time we meet here next year.
– And Tasmania will pay for it.
– Tasmania is quite willing to undertake her proper obligations. The service to that State from the mainland is one of the best paying services which the Union Steam-ship Company and Huddart, Parker and Company have in hand. I may inform honorable senators that, on very good authority, I have learned that the Loongana, which cost ^80,000, paid for herself years ago out of the profits earned in this service. A company earning such profits should be able to supply efficient boats for so important a service, and the people of Tasmania confidently look to the Government to see that proper boats are engaged in the service.
– I can bear out a great deal of what has been said by the mover and seconder of the motion. I believe that better boats Wil have to be employed to take the place of the Rotomahana, and other boats engaged1 in this service. It is not every kind of boat than can be taken up the Tamar River at all states of the tide. The Rotomahana is an old boat, and stops running at times because she requires new machinery. I donot know anything about her boiler capacity, but her engines have frequently broken down on a trip. She cannot navigate the Tamar unless at certain states of the tide, and passengers and mails haveto be transhipped to a tender or brought by a tender from Launceston, to the anchorage of the Rotomahana near the mouth of the river. Unless steps have previously been taken by the Government, I do not see how it will be possible for the company- to substitute for the Rotomahana a vessel of the same class as the Loongana. I think there is no other vessel of the same kind in Australia. I do not think it would be reasonable for the Commonwealth to build a steamer to conduct this service, because she would have to enter into competition with the steamers of existing companies.
– It would be a good paying proposition.
– The honorable senator must remember that the Government would be competing with companies that are trading profitably in other parts of the world, and the Union Steamship Company would be able to conduct this service with very low rates of freight. I think we should be asking too much of the Government were we to say that, in five or six weeks, they could take steps to secure the employment of a better class of boats in this service. That must be a matter for future consideration, and the shipping companies should be urged to do what is reasonable. I believe that, in their own interests, the shipping companies should put on better boats. In the summer months, one boat has to take up the whole of the service, and that means overtaxing the men, the machinery, and the vessel. T hope that the Government will make the best terms they can in the interests of Tasmania, and, personally, I should like to see two boats of the type of the Loongana engaged, and a more frequent service provided. We shall have to trust the Government to make the best terms they can with the shipping companies. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
.- I wish to briefly address myself to the motion. I indorse what has been said by Senators Long and Ready as to the comparative unfitness of the Rotomahana for the service between Melbourne arid Launceston. It is necessary, however, that we should understand that there is, perhaps, another view to be taken of the matter, and that the shipping companies may have their own reasons for the employment of that vessel. The whole subject is not disposed of by the statement that the Rotomahana is thirty years old, and has been reboilered, or had new engines put into her at any time during her career. The shipping company has to consider the service from the point of view of its responsibility to make profit. I am not speaking on behalf of the companies, but I wish to say that the prin ciple of endeavouring to secure better postal communication between Tasmania and the mainland was affirmed by the Senate previously, and its importance has been realized by. the. representatives of Tasmania since the Senate came into existence. The attitude of previous Governments iri this matter has been no less favorable to Tasmania than the attitude of the present’ Government. Senator Ready, when speaking, attributed to the present Government a disposition to invite alternative tenders in order that Tasmania might be served more effectively than it is at present. I may inform the honorable senator that alternative tenders were called for previously, and one of the alternatives proposed was of such a character that it was said that no company would be likely to tender for it. The Government postponed the time for the reception of those fenders for either four or six months, at my request, to enable possible tenderers outside of Australia to tender. I mention that in order to Show that Tasmania’s interests in this matter were not ignored by previous Governments.
– Is not this the first occasion on which we have had lenders called for a daily service?
– I think it is the first time that tenders have been called for a service Of six days a week from Burnie to Melbourne. I may be permitted to quote from a report that was adopted by the Senate as far back as 1902. Its brevity, conciseness, and application to the subject are such that I am justified in quoting it at length. A Select Committee of the Senate was appointed in the first session of the Federal Parliament to inquire into and report upon-
That is concise”, and fairly covers the whole subject. The report submitted, with a considerable quantity of. evidence, was equally concise. I had the honour to be Chairman of the Select Committee that brought up this report, which Parliament indorsed, and the Government subsequently acted upon. The report of the Committee is as follows -
The Select Committee of the Senate appointed to inquire into and report upon (1) the advisableness of the Government of the Commonwealth taking measures to improve the steam-ship communication between Tasmania and the mainland of Australia; (2) the best means to adopt for such a purpose ; (3) the estimated cost involved in the adoption of such means - have the honour to report to the Senate as follows : -
Commonwealth of the communication between Tasmania and the mainland of Australia is such as to demand an improved steam service.
– That is good, but it is a pity that nothing was done.
– This was recommended to the Government for consideration.
– The Government did not act upon the suggestion.
– No Government has done so. I am inviting the present Government to turn to the report which was adopted by the Senate as far back as 1902. The fifth paragraph of the report reads -
Your Committee recommend the Government in the meantime to invite tenders for the performance of a six days a week steam service each way between Melbourne and Tasmania, such service to be three alternate days of the week by way nf Launceston, and the remaining three days of the week by Devonport and Burnie, due consideration being given to improved passenger accommodation and increased speed.
Those were the days when the Pateena, the Flinders, and the Coogee were engaged in the service. As a result of this report, the Government calling for alternate tenders and postponing the return of the tenders to enable British or foreign shipowners to compete if possible, the Loongana came into fhe service by a special arrangement entered into by, I think, Sir James Mills and Sir Edmund Barton. The Loongana was an experiment. Every one knows that she has been a successful experiment. In regard to effecting a better mail service than that which exists at the present time, I think I can rely on the support of both Senator Long, who has submitted this motion, and Senator Ready, who has spoken to it, in asking the Government to give fair consideration to what was recommended by the Select Committee, whose report I have quoted. I am not suggesting for a moment - and I am sure that Senator Long will understand this - thatthe Government) are open to criticism for not having given effect to the proposals contained in that report. They have been standing there for any Government to act upon since 1902. It would only be a fair thing, now that we are discussing this subject, to refer to the fact that a Select Committee of the Senate did take evidence in Tasmania and elsewhere, and brought up the report which I have quoted. I believe that any Government, no matter what party be in power, would do well to give effect to the proposals implied, if not directly contained, in the report, and would obtain, by doing so, substantial support from all members of the Senate.
– While not criticising this Government, I think the honorable senator would be justified in calling attention to the fact that they have been just as negligent as all previous Governments in respect to those recommendations.
– Quite so; but what I am now arguing is that the opportunity of utilizing the recommendations is one that the Government ought not to neglect. They have a good opportunity, not only of making the service between Tasmania and the Commonwealth a Commonwealthowned service, but incidentally of utilizing such a service as, in the terms of this report, a valuable adjunct to the Australian naval service.
– The honorable senator has been a member of Governments since that report was presented. What action did those Governments take?
– The action taken was of the character that I have mentioned. We invited alternative tenders. We took no action in making the service Commonwealthowned, and as far as utilizing the opportunity of creating both a connecting link between Tasmania and the mainland, and establishing a service which would incidentally be an advantage in naval defence, we took no action. We called for tenders in such a way that we asked for the cost of a daily mail service across the Straits, but in the result came to the conclusion that the present service was, as to frequency, preferable to a daily one. A daily mail service would, of course, be very much more expensive. If the Government considered that point, the question would arise whether the Commonwealth would be justified in incurring such expenditure. In the meantime, without levelling any criticism at the Government, I would invite their consideration to the desirableness of establishing an improved service across the Straits, and their attention to the report of the Select Committee which received the indorsement of the Senate ten years ago.
– I think there is every reason for Senator Long’s motion having been brought forward to. day. At the same time, I regret that under the terms of it we are not allowed to discuss the question of the convenience of passengers, but must confine our remarks to the mail service. There is, however, much to be said as to the mail service alone. I understand that the Government have called for tenders for the 12th October. I regret to say that the time that is available will make it rather difficult for this Government to effect any alteration under present conditions. I am not going to criticise this Government or any previous Administration, nor shall I enlarge upon the present service to Hobart. But, as to the service between Launceston and Melbourne, I may be permitted to lay a few facts before the Senate. I think it will be agreed that, of the two boats running, the Loongana is absolutely satisfactory for all purposes. She is an excellent boat as far as relates to passenger accommodation, and she is a very fair boat in the matter of the delivery of mails. She is the fastest boat at present running in southern seas. She admirably suits the re- .quirements in regard to the River Tamar. I do not suppose any one desires to say a word against the Loongana. Personally, I regard her as being as good a boat for this service as we could hope to have. The other boat, however, is utterly unfit for the service. That she is so is not entirely the fault of the vessel herself. We must face the difficult facts of the position. One of the chief troubles is the state of the river. The difficulty of navigating the river is such that a boat like the Rotomahana is dependent very- largely upon tides. She cannot deliver her mails as speedily and certainly as the Loongana can, because the Loongana was specially built with a view to service in the Tamar.
– It is a question of draught.
– Yes, it is; but that difficulty could be overcome. The Loongana has overcome it entirely. That is to say, no matter what the state of the river may be, the Loongana does deliver her mails as quickly, probably, as could any boat that could be built. To state the case fairly, the trouble with which we are confronted now arises only in the winter time. In the summer the Loongana does all the running, and does it satisfactorily. I do not wish to make personal statements, but the interest I have taken in this business entitles me, I think, to point out, without going into ‘details and mentioning names, that the present arrangement for the mail service between Tasmania and the mainland - I hesitate to say this, but it is a fact - implies the recognition of a combine. Now, frankly, I do not like the recognition of combines. I do not like combines at all. I do not wish to press that point too strongly, but I will remind the Senate of what the facts are. The companies undertaking this mail service, have been two only since Federation began. Those companies are the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand, and Messrs. Huddart, Parker and Company.
– Prior to Federation, there was also the old Tasmanian Steamship Company.
– The correction is not of sufficient importance to interfere with my argument. Since Federation, the tenders for these mail services have been acquired by a combine ; because the facts to-day are that the Loongana was built by the Union Steam-ship Company, and every plank of it is owned by1 that company, whilst the Rotomahana is also the property of the Union Steam-ship Company, but is chartered by the co-tenderer, Messrs. Huddart, Parker and Company.
– They are all in the game.
– This is a state of things that I have never liked, and I have never hesitated to say so. But it is the condition of things existing to-day. As a matter of fact, the Rotomahana is utterly unfit for this service. That is no doubt the reason for this motion, which I entirely support. But dealing with the matter in a practical way, I firmly believe that there is not in Australian waters to-day another vessel which is fitted to take the place of the Rotomahana. 1 wish to deal with the position quite fairly, and, therefore, I say frankly that I do not believe that either the Union Steam-ship Company or Messrs. Huddart, Parker and Company have available to-day another vessel that is better than the Rotomahana, bad as she is. At any rate, I do not know where another vessel could be obtained. That being so, I will venture to make a suggestion to the Minister. This is not a party matter at all, and I am not criticising either this Government or their predecessors. My suggestion is this : Tasmania would, I believe, be perfectly satisfied - all of us who are interested in improving the mail service would be perfectly satisfied - and the requirements of the passenger accommodation would be met as far as the Melbourne-Launceston trade is concerned, if we had two Loonganas. Put in a nut-shell, that is what we really want.
– That would mean the Commonwealth Government paying £26,000 a year instead of ,£13,000.
– I entirely dissent from the opinion that the cost to the Commonwealth would be £26,000 a year.
– It costs us £13,000 a year for one Loongana.
- Senator Guthrie is misstating the facts. The Commonwealth Government pays a subsidy of about £13,000 for a steam-ship service, which means, not only running a service of two boats between Launceston and Melbourne, but also another one between Melbourne and Burnie. The only difference in cost that would accrue from the adoption of the suggestion which I have made would1 be, practically speaking, the difference of the interest onthe capital necessary to buy a Loongana, and the money at which- you might fairly expect to sell the Rotomahana to-day ‘; and if there is anything else of difference in the matter, also the slight additional cost of running another Loongana as compared with the cost of running the Rotomahana. That is the position. I would also suggest to the Government that, if they think this matter of sufficient importance to give it their attention - as I hope they do - in calling for these new tenders, due on the 12th October, they should endeavour to accept a tender for just that limited time which is ‘ necessary to enable one or both of these shipping companies to build a second Loongana. In other words, if the Ministry accept a tender for the usual three years’ period now, I do not think they can get a better tender so far as boats are concerned than one which would involve the continued use of the two now in the service. But I think that the Ministry might show a determination to improve the service. With that end in view, they might negotiate, and, in regard to the tenders, specify such a time as would enable a new boat to be constructed. I believe that the service requires two Loonganas. It is necessary tr» have such a service from the point of view of the delivery of mails; because the mails delivered by the Rotomahana are often very much later than they ought to be. Frequently, a mail which the Loongana would deliver in Launceston so that the post-office could have it sorted by 11 or rs o’clock in the morning will not, when carried by the Rotomahana, be delivered so as to be sorted before 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
– By the Rotomahana, you do not arrive at the wharf in Launceston till 2.30 p.m.
– When the Rotomahana delivers the mail in Launceston on Saturdays, unless a person has a private box, he does not get his letters until the Monday morning.
– That is as to Saturdays ; but in regard to ordinary days the difference between the running time of the Rotomahana and the Loongana is at least three hours. With regard to Saturdays - and one or other of the two boats always arrives in Launceston on a Saturday - the Rotomahana comes in, and her mail is not delivered until Monday morning unless, as Senator Keating says, a person has a private box. The post-office delivers no mails that are brought to Launceston on Saturdays by the Rotomahana. I think I have now brought before the Senate all the facts which I desire to mention, and I would simply reiterate to the Government the practical suggestion that they should, if possible, arrange for tenders in such- a way as to make it necessary for these companies, if they get the contract again, to put on within a reasonable time -say, fifteen or eighteen months from October next - ‘two Loonganas instead of the present Loongana plus the Rotomahana. If they do that, they will do extremely well, and will greatly improve the mail service between Tasmania and the mainland.
– I am sure that we all desire to see as good a mail service as it is possible to have established between the mainland and the island State. The present Government can claim that last year they did improve the service somewhat.
– Very materially.
– They improved it by bringing pressure to bear upon the steam-ship companies. But we all know from experience that the power of the Government is very limited in the matter of exerting pressure upon these steam-ship companies. Every time an improvement is asked for, a larger subsidy is invariably demanded. The Government cannot ask for the slightest improvement in a mail service without being met with a further demand from the contractor. It is very easy, therefore, to reach the limit of the improvements which can be got out of the shipping companies. For a number of years, the Adelaide Steam-ship Company had a contract for the carriage of the mails on the south coast of Western Australia. Every time that an improvement in the mail service was asked for, a demand was made for an increased subsidy, till at last a point was reached when the Commonwealth Government would not consent to be further squeezed. The company then started the process of squeezing the State Government, and succeeded to a considerable extent. We had the spectacle of the Commonwealth Government and t.h(_ State Government subsidizing the company for
Tunning a mail service. The company said that if their demand Were not met, they would withdraw their vessels from the service. In Western Australia we have had that experience time and again. Tasmania ought to have followed the example which was set by the Labour Government in Western Australia. When they were asked to subsidize the Adelaide Steam-ship Company to a greater degree than the previous Government had done, they would not permit, the taxpayers to be further robbed, and put a line of State steamers on the southcoast run. My advice to the Tasmanians is to go and do likewise if they wish to secure a better mail service; otherwise, I do not see how they are likely to achieve their object. The Government of Western Australia are actually running and paying for the mail service on the south coast out of the subsidy paid by the Commonwealth Government. There is an example of successful State Socialism which I recommend to my honorable friends opposite. T am sorry that Senator Keating has left the chamber, as I wished to refer to the report about which he spoke so pleasantly. He secured the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the state of the mail service between Australia and Tasmania. Ten years ago, this beautiful and brief report, which he seemed to refer to so lovingly, was drafted. For that period, the honorable senator, and the Governments which he supported, slept on the report.
– That is not quite fair, because the Loongana was a vast improvement on the boat we had.
– The Loongana does not touch this report at any point.
– She was the outcome of the report.
– Is she a Governmentowned steamer ?
– No; but she was the outcome of the report.
– I think the honorable senator will find that, long before the report was published, the Loongana was ordered to be built for this service.
– I can assure the honorable senator that she was not. She was the actual outcome of the report.
– I will take the honorable senator’s word ; but we know that neither the Loongana, nor any other privately-owned steamer, carries out the report of the Commission of which he was chairman.
– It carries out paragraph 5.
– It does not carry out the wish which the honorable senator expressed for a better service. The complaint to-day is that the mail service is not sufficiently good.
– That is not the fault of the Loongana ; she is practically perfect for this trade.
– It is the fault of the shipping companies. The whole position would have been met if the report had been carried out. My honorable friends do not like to be reminded of their sins of omission. After a lapse of ten years, the present Government proposed1 a method of getting out of these difficulties; but, at the referendum, Senators Keating and Clemons, as well as other honorable senators opposite, opposed the finding of a remedy.
– Do you suggest that the Constitution requires amendment to enable the Postal Department to build its own mail vessels?
– I suggest nothing of the kind; but, as a practical proposition, we know that it is of no use to take on a mail contract only. We want something more than a mail service, but the Constitution will not allow that something else. The Government have not the power to bring about a radical alteration, and I hope that when my honorable friends get another opportunity to assist us in providing a better mail service, as they will get within a year, they will not repeat their blunder, but will try to act up to the terms of that beautiful concise report to which Senator Keating so lovingly referred, and which was drawn up ten years ago.
– I am not sorry, in a measure, that this matter has been brought up to-day by Senator Long. Yesterday, three or four questions appeared on the noticepaper in the name of Senator Ready, and, apparently, the answers were not to the satisfaction of himself and other senators. I cannot see in what way they were unsatisfactory.
– There was one way.
– In looking over the proof this morning I noticed that Senator Clemons put it in his way - that the PostmasterGeneral said’ “ No “ ; that the Rotomahana was not forty years old, and did not break down.
– No; the Minister in his answer said that the Rotomahana was suitable tor the trade, because the word “unsuitable” was used in the question. She is nof suitable.
– What I wished to convey was that, according to the information I had obtained, the RotomaJiana was suitable for the mail service between Melbourne and Tasmania.
– She would be, if you were not particular as to what time she got there.
– We are particular in regard to the time, because speed is one of the conditions of the contract. We have a contract for three years, which will expire at the end of September. For the conveyance of mails between Melbourne and Launceston, a subsidy of£11,000 is paid; and for the conveyance of mails between Melbourne and Burnie, an additional subsidy of£2,000 is paid, making a total of £13,000. The mails between Tasmania and Sydney are carried on the poundage basis, namely,1s. 4d. per lb. for letters and post-cards, and 2s. 8d. per cwt. for other postal articles.
– The speed conditions only apply as between Williamstown and Tamar Heads. They do not apply to the rivers.
– The second condition of the contract reads -
That the steam-ships Loongana and Rotomahana, or such other steam-ships as may be approved for that purpose by the PostmasterGeneral, shall be regularly and continuously employed in the said service, and that one of the said steam-ships shall be capable of maintaining a speed of 17 knots per hour, and shall, unless excused by the Postmaster-General for any good reason shown by contractors, maintain an average speed of at least 16 knots per hour in average weather between the Gellibrand pile light in Hobson’s Bay in the said State of Victoria, and Low Head in the said State of Tasmania, and between Low Head and the said Gellibrand pile light, and that the other steamship shall, unless excused by the PostmasterGeneral as aforesaid, maintain an average speed of at least 14 knots per hour in average weather between the said Gellibrand pile light and Low Head, and Low Head and the said Gellibrand pile light. Provided, however, that the said steam-ship Loongana, or such other steam-ship capable of maintaining a speed of 17 knots per hour as shall be approved for that purpose by the Postmaster-General, shall be solely employed in the said service during the period commencing on the first day of October, and ending on the thirtieth day of April in each year during the continuance of this contract.
– Now the Minister sees something as to the suitability of the Rotomahana.
– No member of the Government claims that the Rotomahana is as speedy as the Lovngana. I think that there is a general agreement that the latter is one of the most up-to-date boats in Australia, and that the Rotomahana is an outofdate boat, but capable of maintaining a speed, according to the conditions of the contract, of 14 knots an hour.
– While her engines keep going.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that any Government would permit a contract to be violated if they knew that a boat was absolutely incapable of carrying out the conditions?
– You cannot sleep at night owing to the noise which the engines make.
– The Government are extremely anxious to facilitate in every possible way the conveyance of the mails from the mainland to Tasmania. I believe that there is little or no competition between the so-called shipping companies. There is an arrangement, or honorable understanding, between a number of them in regard to all the tenders advertised for in connexion with the Commonwealth or other services.
– Calling for tenders is a farce.
– In all probability, something will be done later to give that satisfaction which is anxiously looked for. Senator de Largie incidentally mentioned that not long ago the Western Australian Government purchased a steam-ship for a mail service. While I was acting for the Postmaster-General during his official visits to different States, the contract for this mail service was about to expire. The Commonwealth called for fresh tenders, and when the tenders were opened it was found that an increased price of £[2,500 was asked for supplying the same kind of service. Negotiations were opened with the Western Australian Government, with the result that they agreed to purchase a steamer, and to carry the mails that were formerly carried by the Adelaide Steam-ship Company, and by so doing the Commonwealth was saved an additional expenditure of £2,500. The steamer now engaged in the service is owned by the Western Australian Government, on behalf of the people of- that State, and the Commonwealth mail service conducted by it is as good as it ever has been. General satisfaction has been the result up to the present time, whilst the Commonwealth has been saved the expenditure of a substantial sum of money. I do not see any difficulty in the way of the Tasmanian Government opening up negotiations with the Commonwealth Government for a similar service between Tasmania and Victoria.
– Tasmania did not object to the proposal to connect Western Australia with the eastern States.
– That is so. I respect the opinion Senator Clemons has expressed in regard to monopolies and such questions. I know that the honorable senator is an out-and-out opponent of monopolies, rings, and trusts. He has no respect whatever for such institutions. He has incidentally stated that there is a shipping combination in Australia at the present time.
– And so say all ot us.
– Yes, and the majority will agree that such a combination is inimical to the interests of Australia. That it is not in the best interests of the passenger trade and mail service between the mainland and Tasmania has been fully demonstrated by the speeches delivered this afternoon. Every honorable senator from Tasmania has expressed a strong desire for a better service, meaning thereby that a better class of steam-ship should be used in the service than those at present engaged in it. I say that the time is opportune for Senator Clemons, in conjunction with other senators from Tasmania, to try to persuade - if they need persuasion - the Government of Tasmania of the advisability
– Order ! The question is not as to the action of the Tasmanian Government, but as to the improvement of a mail service which is entirely in the control of the Commonwealth Government.
– I very much regret, sir, that you did not permit me to finish my sentence. I believe I should have been able to make it clear that what I was saying was quite relevant to the motion.
– Order ! I have permitted the honorable senator to give as an illustration a statement of what was done in another State. That was without any solicitation from members of the Senate. The honorable senator must recognise that the notice given to me of the motion now being discussed deals solely with the mail service to Tasmania. The honorable senator was proceeding to advise honorable senators from Tasmania to approach the Government of that State, and ask them to do something to provide a mail service.
– Am I to definitely understand that I shall be out of order if, by way of illustration, I attempt to show that a better service between the mainland and Tasmania might be brought about by the adoption of a certain course?
– - Why does not the honorable senator show it?
– Because the President has ruled me out of order.
– I allowed the honorable senator to give an illustration of what was done in another State to afford facilities and provide the Commonwealth Government with the improved mail sendee, for which they are responsible. I think the honorable senator was gratuitously giving advice to honorable senators from Tasmania as to the action they should take in dealing with the Government of that State, and, in doing so, I consider he was out of order.
– Very well, sir, I shall not proceed any further on those lines. I shall conclude by assuring honorable senators who raised the question this afternoon that I shall take the earliest opportunity to bring their representations before the Postmaster-General. I shall make it my business to see him personally as soon as possible, and talk over the conditions of a future contract, to see whether it win be at all possible to bring’ about a better service between the mainland and Tasmania.
– The honorable senator might, induce the Postmaster-General to confer with some of us.
– A promise that he would do so was made yesterday afternoon.
– I have listened with interest to the debate on the motion submitted by Senator Long, with a desire to secure a better mail service between Tasmania and the mainland. I congratulate the honorable senator and Senator Ready upon having ventilated this matter. I realize the necessity for a better mail service with Tasmania. Tasmania, like Western Australia, is somewhat isolated from the rest of the Commonwealth, and, in my opinion, we cannot do too much to increase the facilities of communication between the mainland and Tasmania. We have to remember that the Government have a contract with the shipping companies for the delivery of mails at a certain time and place, and, while that contract endures, no alteration can take place. According to the representative of the Postmaster-General, in the Senate, a subsidy of £13,000 a year is being paid to a shipping company for the carriage of mails between Melbourne and Tasmania. I understand that the contract will expire about the end of September of this year. Senator Clemons has praised the Loongana, and condemned the Rotomahana, or “ the rotten banana,” as some people call it.
– I made a comparison.
– I have travelled by both vessels, and everything that Senator Clemons has said is perfectly true. So far as speed and accommodation are concerned, the Loongana is about the most suitable vessel for the trade that we have in Australian waters. I desire to recommend to the Government that, prior to the expiration of the present contract, they should notify the shipping companies, or combine, ring, or monopoly, that, unless they provide better vessels for the service than the Rotomahana, the subsidy will be reduced.
– They could not possibly do it in less than eighteen months.
– That is just the interjection I was looking for. I say that they could. The Western Australian Government did not wait to build a vessel to conduct their south-eastern mail service - they bought a vessel.
– They bought some tanks.
– Apart from the jest of my nautical friend, Senator Guthrie, I say that it is possible for the State Government of Tasmania to purchase a vessel.
– I do not believe that a suitable vessel for the purpose is afloat in English waters at present.
– They could obtain vessels from England to-day as good as the Loongana, and built on similar lines, and could have them out here within four months.
– Why did not the Western Australian Government get such a vessel?
– The Western Australian Governmenthas to-day a vessel suitable for the trade in which she is engaged.
– The Loongana was specially constructed, and I suppose there is not another boat of her description afloat anywhere to-day.
– The honorable senator, on reflection, will agree that the Tasmanian Government could purchase a vessel built on similar lines to the Loongana to take up this service. The honorable senator made a reference to the Shipping Combine apparently infear and trembling. There is no doubt whatever that there is such a Combine, and I think it is time the Commonwealth Government told these shipowners that, unless they provide proper vessels for the carriage of the Commonwealth mails, no subsidy for the carriage of mails will be granted. It will then be left to the State Governments to do one thing or another, pending the time when this National Parliament can secure the powers it seeks in order that it may conduct its own commerce and its own mail services.
– 1 think that honorable senators from Tasmania are to be congratulated upon the way in which they have pushed the claims of their State. I am prepared to help them as far as I can to improve the mail service between the mainland and Tasmania. When the existing contract was let, three years ago, the representation made to the Senate and to another place was that it was necessary to give a very fair subsidy, not for the purpose of the carriage of the mails, but for the purpose of conducting one of the chief industries of Tasmania, namely, her tourist traffic. The Loongana was built, to a very large extent, to induce people to travel from the mainland to Tasmania during the summer months, and, for the purpose, she is equal to any boat running in any part of the world.
– What about the boats running across the Irish Channel ?
– They are not to be compared with the Loongana for speed and convenience.
– They have a greater speed by 5 knots. “
– I was on the Loongana when she did the measured mile from Gellibrand, and she went at the rate of 21 knots.
– The steamers I refer to do up to 26 knots.
– The summer trade with Tasmania is admittedly a profitable trade, and the Loongana no doubt pays during the summer months, but it must not be forgotten that she is an expensive boat, in view of her coal consumption, and the extra stokehold hands required to run her. When we asked for a 16-knot service between the Gellibrand and the Tamar, some persons might consider that it meant that the service should be 16 knots over the whole distance between Melbourne and Launceston. But no one would expect that the boats would go 16 knots up the Yarra, when we know that notices are posted at intervals along the banks, under harbor regulations, requiring vessels to go “dead slow.” The question has been raised as to what the State Government might do in the matter, but I do not think that the Tasmanian Government are prepared to conduct a mail service between that State and the mainland. I do not think there is the least chance of them doing so. It is true that the Western Aus tralian Government have undertaken to conduct a particular service. The real reason why the shipping companies previously engaged in that service asked for an increased subsidy was that the boat carrying the mails ran to a port in a mining district. The bottom has since fallen out of the mines, and the smelting works have been closed up. The contractors then told the Government that if they had to carry the mails only, and could carry no cargo either way, they must be paid something more than the subsidy previously paid.
– They wanted nearly double the amount.
– They wanted a considerable sum in addition to what was previously paid. This was because the mines at Hopetoun had ceased working, the smelting works were closed down, and there was virtually no trade between Albany and Hopetoun.
– There is increased trade with Esperance and other places.
– The Western Australian Government’s boat will not do a very big trade. In my opinion, in any new contract made for the carriage of mails between the mainland and Tasmania, there should be some stipulation that a second boat equal to the Loongana should be used. It has been said that such a boat could be got out in four months’ time. I do not know of any trade similar to that between Tasmania and the mainland. There is shallow draught at each end of the trip, and a fast boat with shallow draught is required. Usually shallow-draught boats are cargo boats, without any passenger accommodation at all. It must not be forgotten that the Loongana was specially built for this service, and if another boat is tobe used in the service, it will have to bespecially constructed. The existing contract makes provision for one boat at 16- knots and another at 14 knots ; but we know that accidents will happen on board the best, regulated boats, and it may be necessary at any time to withdraw the Loongana from the service.
– She has to go intodock at intervals.
– That is necessary every six months. It is a strange thing that, ten months ago, Senator Gardiner was journeying to England on the Ormuz, and he posted a letter to me, addressed from Colombo to Fremantle, which I received here. In that letter he said that, during the passage of the Red Sea, the-
Ormuz broke down a number df times. It is almost a necessity to have a duplicate of any boat that may be run to provide for a breakdown. A catastrophe may take place at any time. Tubes burst, machinery proves defective, boats sometimes run on rocks or shoals in a fog, and so forth. The best suggestion that I have heard made is that we should have another boat of the type of the Loongana running in this trade.
– I have to thank the Minister representing the Postmaster-General for his assurance that the representations made to-day, not only by Tasmanian senators, but also by the representatives of other States who have given us their very kind support, will be placed before the proper authorities. I also have to thank the Minister for his further assurance that the Postmaster-General will be glad to receive suggestions from the Tasmanian senators regarding the renewal of existing contracts in the course of a month or two. I am very pleased indeed to have had the assistance of representatives of other States, because that will show to the people of Tasmania that those representatives are just as active in their desire to see fair play and justice done to Tasmania as they, are to their own particular States. We are all indebted to Senator Guthrie for his advice, and I can assure him that if there had been two Loonganas on the service between Launceston and Melbourne there would have been no necessity for me to take this action to-day. Regret was expressed by Senator Keating that my motion is somewhat restrictive in its terms. That was necessary j because, in order to comply with the forms of the Senate, only one subject could be introduced in a motion for the adjournment. If we wish to discuss shipping generally it must be done under cover of another motion. Shipping generally is, I may remark, a very important matter to the people of Tasmania just now. and may form the subject of discussion later on, so as to make those interested in the shipping business understand that Tasmania has had quite enough of the kind of service that has been extended to her during the last two or three years. We have nothing but praise and commendation for the service which has been inaugurated and maintained fairly well between Launceston and Melbourne by the Union Steam-ship Company’s Loongana. As far as comfort, speed, and accommodation are concerned this ship leaves nothing to be desired. But the time has arrived when a vessel of the type and character of the Rotomahana ought to be banished from the mail and passenger service altogether. I have nothing further to say, and ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government during the present session of Parliament to take any steps towards the development of the rich mineral and other resources of the southern portion of the Northern Territory I
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The matter will be brought to the notice of the Director of Mines and Government Geologist for the Territory, who has recently been appointed, and is coming to Melbourne next week to confer with the Minister before taking up his duties in the Territory. When that officer has studied the situation, and made recommendations, the Minister will give this important subject full consideration.
Motion (by Senator Givens) agreed to -
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Stewart on account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That Senator Gardiner be a member of the Printing Committee in the place of Senator Wm. Russell, deceased.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– During the debate on the second reading of this Bill considerable argument arose in regard to one portion of it. T should like to fake the present opportunity of making a few remarks on what was then said. A most important portion of this Bill, it will be readily conceded, is that which repeals a part of the principal Act dealing with trade marks intended to protect working men engaged in various industrial occupations in the Commonwealth. In due course, after sections having that object in view were embodied in the principal Act, they came before the High Court. The High Court, rightly or wrongly - I am not going to express an opinion upon their decision - ruled the sections to be ultra vires. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in moving the second reading of the Bill, criticised, as he had a perfect right to do, that decision of the High Court. In doing so, he happened to make the remark that some of the Judges, at any rate, if not all of them, were in the habit of putting the narrowest construction upon the Constitution, and that their decisions had the effect of confining us within the severest limits that could be read. into it. For that statement, and one or two others of a cognate character, Senator McGregor has been severely taken to task by several honorable senators opposite - notably by Senator Symon. That honorable senator elevated himself upon a pedestal - or to vary the simile, rode his high horse - looking down with the utmost disdain upon any one who even dared to criticise the High Court at all. While listening with a great deal of interest to Senator Symon, and admiring the noble indignation with which he seemed to be fired, I was forcibly reminded of a previous occasion when the same honorable senator made use of his position in this Chamber for the purpose of criticising in scathing terms the same High Court that he denounces Senator McGregor for having dared to mention. The honorable senator, if he did not actually say, certainly insinuated - as I will show by reading a portion of his speech - that the High Court Judges not only disobeyed the Commonwealth Judiciary Act, but’ actually disobeyed the Constitution, flouted it, and in one or two instances were practically dishonest. I should not have mentioned this matter at all, except for the very high and mighty attitude assumed by Senator Symon last night. His observations should not be allowed to go forth to the country without a reference to what he himself said on a previous occasion. After the lapse of seven years people are -inclined to forget things of thi? kind, and perhaps not many, even amongst honorable senators, recollect that this very same gentleman, who occupied such a lofty pedestal last night, used his influential position in this Senate to criticise the High Court far more severely than Senator McGregor ventured to do in the observations to which so much attention has been called. Before proceeding to read extracts from the speech I have mentioned, I desire to controvert, as far as I can, one statement made by Senator Symon. It was that the very fact that the Bill which we are now considering repealed a portion of the principal Act was proof positive that the High Court was right in declaring that portion to be ultra vires. But, sir, it did not prove anything of the kind; and with all due respect for the trained judicial mind of Senator Symon, I will venture to remark that I should not have much respect for his judgment if he were to enunciate an opinion of that kind from any Bench to which he might in the future be elevated. Merely to propose to repeal a portion of a principal Act because to retain it might be fatal to the whole measure does not prove whether the High Court was right or wrong.
– Nor that we think they were right.
– Nor does it prove whether we think them right or wrong. I do not wish to labour the matter, but I do think that it is rather late in the day for any one to come along now and endeavour to establish the proposition that any individual or any human institution is infallible. I have never heard it claimed for any Court that it is infallible, and that its Judges must necessarily be right when they give a ‘decision. In fact, in quite a number of cases the decisions of Judges are reversed, which is proof positive that Judges themselves do not regard each other as infallible. I am now about to quote from volume 29 of the Commonwealth Hansard, page 5836, for the 28th November, 1905. On that occasion Senator Symon took occasion to speak on the Estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department. It was a very long speech, occupying several pages. I do not propose to read more than one or two extracts from it. But I want to show what sort of criticism Senator Symon indulged in in respect to the High Court on that occasion. I may say, quite frankly, that I agree with a great deal of what he said. I am not quarrelling or cavilling at anything in his speech. But I ann justified in quoting from it now, in view of the honorable senator’s attitude last night, when he appeared to deprecate the idea of any one venturing to say a word against the High Court. It is just as well to remind him that on this occasion he was one of the most severe of its critics. It appears to- me, sir, that these lawyers are like a family who, amongst themselves, are ever ready to squabble and abuse each other ; but immediately any one else dares to say a word against them they are all up in arms, and with tooth and claw proceed to rend them. In the course of his speech, Senator Symon said that under our Constitution there are three co-ordinate and distinct bodies - first the Parliament, secondly the Executive Government, and thirdly the Judiciary, each of which is absolutely independent of the other two. I asked last night whether the Executive is independent of Parliament, and the honorable senator said that it was in regard to the carrying out of its functions, although it might be removed by Parliament. But he said it was independent of Parliament, and the Judiciary was independent of the other two. With regard to that point, this is what the honorable senator said in November, 1905 -
The High Court is not cut adrift from the Executive and all Executive control, and it cannot be. If it were it might be a menace to the working of the Government and to the Constitution, instead of occupying the position which it ought to occupy as guardian of the rights of the States and of the Commonwealth, and the arbiter of the Constitution. As I say, the Watson Government found that the arrangements in respect to the establishment were not in accord with the Judiciary Act, and, following their footsteps, I came to the same conclusion, which to this day I hold. The arrangements as now carried out are not only, it seems to me, not in accordance with the Judiciary Act, but not in accordance with either the spirit or letter of the Constitution.
That was his opinion of the way the High Court was carrying on its business at that time. Did Senator McGregor say anything nearly so severe about the High Court as that? Mr. Garran, secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, by direction of the honorable senator, wrote to the Judges, and practically charged them with dishonesty.
– Was not that about a domestic matter between the AttorneyGeneral and the High Court?
– It was a criticism, uttered in the Senate by Senator Symon, of the High Court Bench, and its arrangements.
– On its domestic side; not on its judicial side.
– If there is any domestic side to a public official like the At- - corney- General charging the Judges of the :.High Court with trying to defraud the
Commonwealth, I want to know what “ domestic “ means. Does the honorable senator say that it would be domestic for me to charge a member of his family with fraud? It would be a very undomestic act if I did that.
– Was not the dispute over a matter of high finance, not of law?
– I have already quoted the passage in which Senator Symon pointed out that the Judges were acting contrary to the Judicature Act, and contrary to the spirit and the letter of the Constitution. Mr. Garran wrote the following letter -
The second reason is made up of several parts, and the Attorney-General desires me to say he is scarcely able to follow it. In the first place, the Attorney-General is informed that the Chief Justice’s staff did’ not travel with him from Sydney to Hobart.
Further on he said -
In the next place, it is the duty of all public servants to travel by’ the most expeditious and economical route, and if travelling bv sea to Hobart was for the staff more economical than by rail, it was their duty to travel by that route. Any saving in that way belongs to the Commonwealth, and the Attorney-General cannot Tecognise the right of the Justices to apply and use these Commonwealth savings in paying their own steamer fares, when their fares for the land route, to enable them to discharge judicial duty, have already been paid. The AttorneyGeneral regards it as being too plain for argument or doubt that the Commonwealth ought not to pay both.
It will be seen that the then AttorneyGeneral practically charged the Judges with trying to defraud the Commonwealth of the amount paid for their associates and other officials of the Court travelling by sea, trying to apply that money to their own purpose, and he said that the Commonwealth should be protected against fraud of -that kind. In one portion of the speech the word “ fraud “ is actually used.
– I thought that the dispute was not in connexion with a matter of law.
– For the benefit of the honorable senator I will read Senator Symon’s opinion of the way in which they conducted the High Court, which is a purely judicial matter. On page 5843, he said of the Judges -
It was, in my judgment, highly improper that the statement referred to should have been made from the High Court Bench.
He criticised their action on the bench.
– Not in connexion with a matter of law.
– With regard to the travelling expenses of tipstaffs, this is what Senator Symon had to say -
In order to save that very heavy expense, on the 26th April a direction was given that one associate and one tipstaff at the public expense was enough to accompany the Full Court on circuit when the Court went to any other of the States, and that this should apply to the Brisbane sittings. Railway tickets were applied for and obtained for one associate and one tipstaff, but not one word was said as to the intention to’ disregard the request of the Government to discontinue this retinue; but the three associates and three tipstaffs were taken as before.
– By the way, this is very enlightening on the Trade Marks Bill.
– I am not a transgressor in this case, as the honorable senator should know. I would be the very last to introduce a subject of this kind were it not necessary to do it in order to take down Senator Symon from his very high pedestal and place him in the position which he occupied here seven years ago. He continued -
No intimation was given that that was intended, and what was done was simply to send in, about the time the late Government left office, the vouchers for travelling expenses, one of which was about £15 higher than the others, and evidently included additional expenditure incurred, not by using vouchers, but bv paying the expenses of the associates and tipstaffs, in rather unworthy defiance of the directions given by the Ministry of the day.
Senator McGregor never used the word “ unworthy “ in reference to the Judges ; he never used language nearly so strong as that. Will it be astounding to the Senate to find that this very Court, according to Senator Symon - these very people who are continually denouncing workmen for all their trade disturbances, who are continually holding forth against industrial strife - went on strike itself ? Why ? Was it because the Judges were not getting enough wages ? No ; but because, as Senator Symon said, they were not allowed a sufficient retinue to maintain their dignity and importance - a lot of useless tipstaffs and others who were of no earthly use to the Commonwealth, whom it did not require, and who were merely personal attendants. On page 5845, Senator Symon went on to say -
The result of my proposal in regard to the limitation of travelling expenses was that in the first place, as I was informed, communications were made without my knowledge, and behind my back, to high personages, politicians and others, to whom no such communications ought to have been made. Communications were made to the Prime Minister, and influence, which ought never to have been exercised, was brought to bear upon him in various ways. All these influences were unavailing, and the next step - taken on the 29th April - was to suspend duty in respect to the Court fixed to be held in Melbourne on the 2nd May. This was done absolutely without warning, notice, or previous demand to me upon any matter in respect of which it was either before or subsequently suggested that any request was to be made. From the telegrams printed with the correspondence, it will be seen that when that unfortunate incident took place I endeavoured to ascertain the reason for this serious and unprecedented step, which I hope will never be repeated. But my request for reasons was first evaded and then refused.
He charged the Court with going on strike without notice, and without warrant, and when he, the official head of the Department, asked for reasons for their conduct, he said that his request was first evaded and then refused. I could go on reading very interesting matter out of this speech for a very long time, and show that Senator Symon has been a far severer critic of the High Court than the Vice-President of the Executive Council attempted to be. I fail to see why he should have adopted such a superior attitude last night in rebuking the Minister for his very pertinent and cogent remarks in regard to the action of the High Court. I do not desire to weary the Senate by further discussing the Bill. I think it is patent to everybody why the Government have taken the wise course of dropping from the Act certain provisions which, in the circumstances, and in view of the decision of the High Court, must be absolutely futile, and, therefore, surplusage. We did not know that this particular portion of the Act was unconstitutional ; we do not know it yet, but we do know that the High Court has declared that it is.
– A majority of the Judges.
– That is the High Court, as the Minister knows.
– Some of the _ Judges have declared this portion constitutional.
– It is a very arguable matter yet. We know that the High Court, or a majority of the High Court, have declared this portion of the Act unconstitutional, and as they are the final arbiters, we have to bow to their decision; but it is to be hoped that the day is not far distant when the Commonwealth will find itself freed from the shackles which bind it in that way, and able to protect the workman as well as the trader, to protect the artisan as well as the manufacturer. Until it does so it is not, and cannot be, in a position to give that fair deal all round which every Parliament ought to be able to mete out to every one of the citizens.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill deals with the acquisition of park lands in the town of Port Augusta in South Australia. The Lands Acquisition Act does not give us power to resume park lands. Section 19 of the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta Railway Act, which deals with the resumption of any land required to be resumed, does not give the Minister power to resume park lands. The park lands, which it is proposed to resume, amount to about 25 acres. They shut off the railway from the town of Port Augusta. The local people do not object; in fact, they are willing to consent to the acquisition of these lands, because to them it means bringing the railway right into the town. The Government of the State offer no objection. There is no opposition on the part of any person; in fact, the people of the State are quite willing that the lands should be taken.
– Are you asking power to take the whole of the park lands ?
– No; it is a general power, but it is not proposed to take more land than is necessary for the purpose of the railway, that is, 25.8 acres. This is merely a formal Bill, which passed the other House without dissent, and I trust that it will have a speedy passage here.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from the Committee without amendment ; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 19th July (vide page 1050), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I think that Senator Keating intended to speak on the second reading of this measure, and probably the despatch which the Senate has been giving to business is the cause of his absence. I did not intend to criticise the Bill, because it appears on a fairly close inspection of its pro visions that the object is to make the Act more effective for the very purpose which it was intended “to effect. I have much pleasure in congratulating the Government on one amendment, which I hope will be effective in expediting, as far as can possibly be done, the process of bringing to book those persons to whom I think the term “ scoundrels,” or worse, might be very properly applied. I refer to those who leave their wives and childrendeserted and helpless. I notice that the Bill is an attempt, and I hope that the attempt will be entirely successful, to enable the State jurisdictions to get their hand more quickly and more effectively on these scoundrels. We all know that penalties are provided for the punishment of offences, but I am not quite sure whether the Federal Government should not seriously consider the question of penalizing these social pariahs by disenfranchising them. 1 hope that the time will come when the Federal Government will declare that these persons are unworthy to be allowed the privileges of citizenship, but possibly that is outside the Bill. So far as it seeks to go in the direction of providing for the speedier arrest of these individuals, I wish the measure a hearty success.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I can safely say that, no matter what differences may exist between honorable senators in respect of subjects debated here from time to time, the question of quarantine can be discussed entirely apart from party considerations. There is a general desire on the part of honorable senators on both sides for a thoroughly comprehensive Quarantine Act, as clear and definite as it is possible to make it. Every well-wisher of Australia, which is essentially a clean country, so far as infectious and contagious diseases are concerned, must desire for the Commonwealth a system of quarantine as good as, if not better than, any similar system in any other part of the world. Senator Chataway may smile, but that is my wish, and I trust, also, the wish and hope of every true Australian. In order that we might be made acquainted with the quarantine systems in force in other parts of the world, a few months ago the Department of Trade and Customs, which administers quarantine, commissioned Dr. Norris, the Director of Quarantine, to visit different parts of the world. Before he set out, Dr. Norris was commissioned by the Minister of Trade and Customs to inquire into and report upon the most advanced methods of quarantine against the introduction of contagious or infectious disease from oversea, with a view to economy and public expenditure on quarantine equipment, so far as such economy would not be inconsistent with efficient administration and the proper protection of Australia from the diseases with which quarantine is concerned. During the time he was abroad, Dr. Norris availed himself of opportunities to inspect the quarantine systems of the United States, Canada, England, Germany, France, Egypt, Aden, Colombo, Singapore, Japan, Honolulu, and Manila. Almost immediately upon his return he set to work on the preparation of a report, which is in print. I am not aware whether it has yet been circulated, but I have here an advance copy. It is an extremely interesting report, and it describes clearly the systems of quarantine adopted in other parts of the world, comparing the advantages of one system with another. The result of Dr. Norris’ investigations goes to show that the most uptodate methods of quarantine are those adopted in the United States of America. He says -
The quarantine organization for the prevention of the introduction into the United States and its dependencies of disease from oversea, and its spread from State to State must, in my opinion, be admitted to be the best conceived and most complete in the world. It exemplifies the most logical application of the principles of quarantine. The organization comprises not only a system of inspection and examination at all ports of entry, the provision of a number of large well-equipped quarantine stations on all sea-boards, but also includes a system of sanitary supervision by specially qualified medical officers at foreign infected ports of all vessels leaving for the United States and its dependencies. In other words the quarantine organization, as the first line of sanitary defence, is pushed out from the coast line of the United States so as to touch all those oversea ports in foreign countries where quarantinable disease is prevalent, and the conditions are such as to favour the introduction of disease into the United States. Thus during my tour I found specially qualified medical officers of the United States Public Health Service stationed at Marseilles, Genoa, Naples, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Kobe, and Yokohama, and I am informed that there are officers at Calcutta, Amoy, Libau (Russia), Mexico, Cuba, and numerous Central and South American ports.
He says further -
As an example of the operation of these sanitary outposts, the work at Naples and at Hong Kong may be instanced.
Cholera having during the past two years become widespread in Southern Italy, two medical officers and the necessary lay sanitary officers have been attached to the local American Consulate at Naples. All vessels about to leave for United States are inspected, and, if found in any way insanitary or unclean, are cleansed and disinfected. All steerage passengers about to leave by such vessels must reach Naples at least five days before the date of sailing, and are detained in barracks or on isolation ships fitted for the purpose. The passengers are inspected daily, and any suspicious cases are examined bacteriologicallly. At the request of the shipping companies, the passengers are also examined from the stand-point of the Immigration Restriction Acts. Passengers other than those in the steerage must satisfy the Quarantine Officer as to where they have been during the five days prior to shipment, or, if circumstances warrant, may be detained under observation for that period.
The luggage of the passengers is also disinfected, and articles (especially food products) likely to convey cholera, are not allowed to be taken on board.
At Hong Kong, another port at which a Federal Quarantine Officer is attached to the Consulate, all steerage passengers are bathed, and their effects steam sterilized under bis supervision before shipment. Small-pox being prevalent, the passengers are required to be vaccinated before admission to the United States or its dependencies.
These are the precautions taken by the American authorities in different parts of the world, in order to prevent, as far as possible, the introduction into the United States of infectious or contagious disease. Even after these preliminary precautions have been taken, very rigid examinations are made before the people are allowed to land in the United States. Dr. Norris goes on to say -
On arrival at any port of entry in the United States or its dependencies a medical inspection on lines similar to those now practised in all Australian ports is carried out.
I do not intend to quote at great length from this report j but there is something which will be of interest to Australians in what Dr. Norris has to say with respect to Japan. As the result of his visit to Japan, he passes a rather high compliment on that country, so far as quarantine is concerned. He says -
As exemplifying the confidence of the Japanese medical authorities in quarantine, mention may also be made of the measures organized by the Quarantine Service in connexion with the Japan- China war, and the more recent Japan-Russia war. It was proved in the former war that, by the establishment of military quarantine stations at convenient posts through which troops had to pass on their way back to Japan, and by their inspection - and, where necessary, their detention and isolation, and the disinfection of person and effects - the spread of disease by returning troops was practically prevented.
The cost of the Quarantine Service during the Japan-China war (1894-5) was over ^110,000, and 30,000 troops were handled.
At the inception of the Japan-Russia war arrangements were made on a larger scale in anticipation of the greater demands which were expected to be made on the service.
Three large quarantine stations were organized at Ninoshima, Dairi, and Wadanomisaki. Each station was complete and self-contained.
He continues -
The total number of beds in the three stations was nearly 7,000, of which 4,500 were for detention purposes, and 2,400 for the sick. As the entire army was vaccinated and re-vaccinated, there was no need to make special provision against small-pox. The number of troops which passed through the stations was 1,250,000, or more than five times as many as that during the previous war. The cost of the year’s operations (1904-5) was ^190,000. No figures are available as to the capital cost, which must have been very great, even allowing for the relatively cheap cost of construction in Japan.
The stations and buildings are traversed throughout by light railways, and it was only by this means that it was possible to handle so many persons and their effects.
I have been fortunate enough to obtain full particulars of the special steam formalin system of disinfection which was employed so extensively in 1905, and propose to adopt it as being effective, and at the same time relatively inexpensive. The system is already installed on a small scale at Portsea, but its success in Japan amply warrants its extension on a large scale at al] stations in the Commonwealth.
Having made these brief references to this rather voluminous report of the Director of Quarantine, I have a. few words to say with respect to the Bill itself. Honorable senators are aware that, up to 1908, quarantine in Australia was controlled by the State Governments under varying systems. In 1908, the Commonwealth Parliament, in the exercise of its powers, passed the Quarantine Act, which its framers no doubt thought would be sufficiently elastic to enable the Department intrusted with its administration to carry it out in a way satisfactory to the majority of the people. Our experience, and the knowledge gained by the Director of Quarantine, have shown that the present Act is not all that could be desired. I hope it will be made a workable measure by the passing of this Bill. The powers provided for will certainly be marie more clear and definite. A number of amendments of the existing Act are proposed in this Bill, but I am safe in saying that nearly all are non-contentious. One or two may appear at first sight to be somewhat far-reaching ; but I ask honorable senators who will give their attention to the measure to remember, when considering such provisions, to take into consideration also section 14 of the principal Act.
– The honorable senator might suggest what those far-reaching amendments are.
– One which may be considered so, and to which attention is called in one of to-day’s newspapers, provides that in future, unless ship-owners can satisfy the Minister that every possible precaution has been taken by the owners or masters against the introduction of contagious or infectious diseases into Australia by ships or passengers when the ships and passengers are quarantined, the expenses incidental to quarantine are to be borne by the shipping company. At first sight this may appear to be a far-reaching provision, but it need not be enforced if it is shown that a shipping company or the master of a ship has taken every precaution to prevent the introduction of disease. I have been asked whether we have any precedent for compelling shipping companies to pay these expenses. Yes, we have. Prior to the Commonwealth taking over quarantine all expenses incidental to it were, as I am informed, borne, not by the States, but by the shipping companies.
– Who bears the expenses under the present Commonwealth law ?
– In our opinion the Commonwealth bears more than its fair share of the expenses incidental to quarantine. The Commonwealth has a fairly large staff of qualified medical men and officers j it has, in various States, substantial buildings which need to be kept in a proper state of repair; and when persons are quarantined there are expenses, such as nursing and the ordinary necessaries of life, which have to be provided.
– Those expenses are not borne by the Commonwealth to-day.
– We wish to remove any doubt about the matter. Time after time the Commonwealth has had to bear expenses which, in our opinion, it was not entitled to bear.
– When the honorable senator speaks of shipping companies having to bear the whole cost of quarantine, surely he does not mean the expenses to which he has just referred?
– Certainly, I do.
– Does the Minister mean to say that a ship has to bear the whole cost of the Commonwealth staffs and of building maintenance?
– No, not the cost of our staffs, but the expenses connected with nursing, and so on. ‘
– That is paid by the shipping companies to-day.
– I do not know that it is. At all events, the shipping companies are complaining because this Bill contains a provision under which the expenses will have to be borne by them.
– Ask the members of this Senate who were quarantined, who paid the expenses.
– Over and over again, when people are quarantined, the shipping companies go to them for the money.
– If that be so, there is not much contentious matter in the Bill. If the shipping companies are satisfied with the provision that unless they take reasonable and proper precautions against the introduction of infectious and contagious diseases they must bear all the expenses incidental to quarantine, there is nothing in the objections which they are raising.
– The whole point is as to what the Government mean by “ the expenses.” At present the shipping companies are liable for the maintenance of quarantined passengers. The Minister says that the Government propose to put additional expenses on them. I want to know what the additions are.
– When it is necessary to engage nurses, and so forth, the Commonwealth ought not to be called upon to pay for them. These incidental expenses will have to be borne by the shipping companies unless they can satisfy the Minister that every possible precaution was taken against the introduction of disease. Most of the amendments in the law, proposed in this Bill, are of minor importance. An amendment has been suggested in regard to the first port of entrance. To-day the first port of entrance means a port open to all vessels. It is proposed to amend that provision so as to allow the first port of entrance to be open to some vessels, and, perhaps, closed to others. That is to say, at the present time vessels coming from clean ports cannot enter small ports without first calling at larger ports and getting a clearance. Under this Bill provision will be made for such vessels coming from clean ports to go into smaller ports, and get the necessary clearance there. Provision is also made for animals and plants to be kept under observation on being introduced into Australia without necessarily being quarantined as they “are to-day. At present imported animals are quarantined for a certain period. It is proposed to give power to the Director of Quarantine, if he is satisfied that the animals imported are free from disease, to allow them to go off the ship and be, in a measure, isolated - say, in a stable, or other suitable premises - at the expense of the owner.
– Is that going to give an official the right to decide about the introduction of dogs without requiring a certain period of quarantine?
– Then we shall have hydrophobia in the country before we know where we are.
– I do not think so. Complaints have been made by the owners of dogs and horses about being obliged to suffer great inconvenience and expense, because of our quarantine laws.
– All quarantine is inconvenient to somebody.
– This Bill will permit horses and dogs, if they are free from disease, to be taken from the ship and kept on the owner’s premises under quarantine supervision, the expense being borne by the owner. The same arrangement applies to plants. Power is given to permit plants, which are absolutely free from any kind of disease, to be kept under observation without being quarantined as they are to-day. There is another provision giving power to take statements on oath. It has been found that when persons make statements verbally to the quarantine officers they do not always exercise the same caution as they do when called upon to make their statements on oath. A large number of the amendments proposed in the Bill are comparatively trifling, though they will tend to strengthen the principal Act, and, at the same time, to make it more elastic. Other amendments make clearer the powers given to the Department to administer quarantine. The amendments upon which I have touched are, in my opinion, the principal ones, but when we get into Committee I shall endeavour to give as fairly and fully as possible any information which honorable senators may desire.
– Before this Bill is allowed to be read a second time, I think it deserves a little more discussion. No matter what any one may think of the contents of the Bill itself the subject is highly important, involving as it does the health and well-being of the whole continent of Australia. A casual glance through the measure seems to me to indicate that it is pretty comprehensive, and covers the whole ground fairly well. As far as modern science will allow it is likely . to be effective. But it does not matter how effective our legislation may be, nor how good an Act which authorizes any course of procedure may be, if the administration of it is not good, if the provisions of the law are not faithfully carried out, if the necessary arrangements are not made to give effect to the intentions of Parliament, it might as well not be cn the statute-book at all. From recent experience which I have had I can truthfully say that if Australia has hitherto escaped a very bad epidemic it has been undoubtedly due more to luck than to good management. That statement I will endeavour to prove. I want to say further that if the administration of quarantine lemains as at present, and a city, situated as Sydney is, escapes a very bad outbreak of small-pox, it will be in spite of the want of proper protection, and not because of it. That is a pretty strong statement to make, but I shall back it up. As honorable senators are aware I was a member of a Royal Commission not very long ago, and in common with a number of other members of Parliament, had some experience of quarantine. We took evidence in Thursday Island. We had to get back to Melbourne in time for the opening of Parliament, and in consequence of that I did what I have never done in my life before - I travelled by a Japanese steamer, the Yawata Maru, Thursday Island being one of her ports of call. This_was the first time that a Japanese vessel coming to Australia had ever been quarantined, and unfortunately for us we happened to strike that first time. We were all taken down to Sydney, and put into quarantine there in consequence of a passenger having developed small-pox.
– Was the passenger a Japanese?
– No; she was a white lady. Honorable senators will not accuse me of being unduly prejudiced in favour of Japanese administration ; but I want to put on record my opinion that everything possible was done on board that ship for the well-being of the patient, and for the safeguarding of the health of the other passengers by minimizing the outbreak as much as possible. I have much pleasure in putting, that acknowledgment on record. That passenger developed small-pox almost immediately after we left Thursday Island, and was forced to remain on board the boat until we arrived in Sydney. The patient was in charge of a Japanese doctor, and that the journey was endured and the patient recovered was a very good indication that she was in no way neglected whilst on board the ship. At Townsville the case was diagnosed, and pronounced to be distinctly one of smallpox.’ Everybody on board was subjected to the danger of contagion between that port and Sydney, because no arrangements existed foi landing the patient at Townsville. The worst feature of the whole case was that the life of the patient was endangered by being compelled to remain on board without proper nursing and attendance, which ought to have been available in that town. The patient was isolated on the after-poop, and the only person whom the captain of the ship could get to attend to her was a male steward, because there was only one stewardess on board. Therefore, from the time the case was diagnosed to be smallpox until the ship arrived in Sydney that lady was without any female attendance whatever. If proper arrangements had existed, the patient would have been landed at Townsville, where she could have obtained adequate nursing facilities, and all the attention required to meet the situation.
– If there had been proper quarantine arrangements at Townsville, the other patients would not have been subjected to so much danger and inconvenience.
– No; and not only those passengers, but the people of Sydney and of other ports at which the vessel called afterwards would have had the clanger of an outbreak of small-pox minimized. When, however, we arrived at Sydney, through a want of proper arrangements, we were compelled to remain a day longer on board the vessel than we ought to have done. We arrived half-an-hour after daybreak, and had to remain on the vessel until after lunch the next day, when we were allowed to land at the quarantine station. I want to know why that was. No matter what legislation we pass, :it will be useless unless we have effective administration. The danger to Australia arises from bad and defective quarantine arrangements. The disinfecting carried on on board the vessel was absurd. When patients were landed the disinfecting of their clothes was an absolute, howling farce. The mail bags were brought up, placed in a hatch-way around the deck, and a pretence was made of disinfecting them by spraying. But I venture to say that many of the bags never got even a “spattering” of the spray. It may be contended that there is no danger of any infection being taken ashore in the mail-bags, seeing that the hold will not have been open all the time. If there is r.o danger to be feared, why should’ the mailbags be disinfected at all? My contention is that, if disinfection is necessary, it should be thorough and effective. If it is not necessary, why make any pretence of disinfecting things? What should happen under an effective quarantine system, and what is required by the regulations in force, is that every individual on the ship should send ashore, ahead of him, a complete outfit of clothes from hat to boots; that these clothes should be thoroughly disinfected; that every person, when he goes ashore, should strip, have a disinfecting bath, immediately step into the disinfected clothes, and never touch the discarded clothes until they have been completely disinfected.
– Every one cannot afford a new suit.
– Every one has a change, more or less. Nothing of that kind occurred at’ the quarantine station. Every person walked ashore in the clothes which he usually wore. Everybody walked into the room assigned to him, sat down on. .the bed or the furniture, and threw down his clothes. Unless the passengers had insisted, their clothes would not have been disinfected. As I did not wish to bring infection to my wife and family, I tried by every means in my power to have a thorough disinfection of myself and my belongings. Before I went into any room, I had to wait for two or three hours, and then I had to practically tip the attendant to get my clothes disinfected. Is it conceivable that, in a civilized country, the administration of quarantine should be so lax !
– Is it not a fact that in the United States and Great Britain there is no such thing as quarantining a whole ship-load of passengers because there is disease on the ship?
– I am not prepared to say ; I have not looked into that matter thoroughly. With ships trading constantly to the East, where small-pox and plague are constantly in evidence, we in Australia are in danger of an outbreak unless proper precautions be taken by the quarantine authorities. No precautions were taken in this case. Every one of us could have gone ashore without a single article being disinfected. No proper provision is made for disinfecting baths. The general crew have to wash themselves in hot water in something like a lot of horse-feed troughs. There is no provision to enable them to enter bodily into a proper bath, as there ought to be. The baths provided for the use of passengers are a miserable pretence. I am credibly informed that last year the quarantine authorities were expected to put up twelve hot baths at the enormous expenditure of £20. At that price, you could not get one really good hotbathroom, and everything else necessary to insure privacy to lady passengers. It would cost £20 to provide one bathroom. But, pursuant to a parsimonious policy, the noble sum of £20 was provided for putting up twelve baths in the principal quarantine station in Australia. For the safety of the Commonwealth, I think it is essential that, in addition to having clothes thoroughly disinfected, proper disinfecting baths should be taken by every person on the ship. On this quarantine station, the only place where one could have a hot bath was immediately at the landingstage. In common with all the passengers and members of the crew, I was vaccinated. I had not been so sick for thirty years as I was then,. If small-pox is any worse than vaccination, Jit must be a terror. I was in a high fever for a week as the result of the vaccination. Both the ship doctor and the quarantine doctor said that it would be exceedingly good if I could get a hot bath; but I would have had to get out of bed, walk down the hill for a quarter of an hour, and return in a state of high fever. I could not get a hot bath without running a great risk. No matter how good any Act may be, if proper arrangements are not carried out, it will be ineffective. Thursday Island is a small island, which is mainly occupied as a garrison for the Commonwealth troops, a fort, and a port for those engaged in the pearl-shelling industry. Its area is only about 850 acres.
Although there are numerous islands lying all round, yet, when it was proposed to establish a quarantine station, instead of selecting one of those islands as a basis for the station, where those who might be landed would be quite isolated from everybody else, a portion of the small island I referred to was chosen. That small area, on which there is’ a little town, a considerable number of residents, a garrison, and a fort, must be cut up in order to have a quarantine station on the other side of it, to be an ever-present danger of the introduction of an epidemic amongst the people ; while, within a stone’s throw, there are other islands on which quarantine patients could have been absolutely isolated without danger to themselves or to anybody else.
– Why was the small island chosen ?
– I will explain presently. Thursday Island has not nearly so bad a climate as its latitude suggests. For eight or nine months of the year there is a constant trade wind blowing from the southeast, which is sometimes pretty strong, and renders the air cool and pleasant, even in times of the year when it might be expected to be unpleasantly hot. That is only in evidence on the south-east side, because the island is divided by a high ridge. The authorities selected a site for the quarantine station on the other side of this ridge, where the patients will never get a breath of the south-east trade wind, but where they will get only the north-west wind, which is hot. There were a dozen islands to choose from within a stone’s throw, but the authorities would take this unsuitable site.
– There is one palpable reason ; the site was chosen by the medical officer for his convenience. He wanted to have the quarantine station under his nose, so that he would not have to go across the water on a squally day to another island. The Department allowed itself to be pulled by the nose by an officer all the time.
– Is there not a medical station or a lazarette on Friday Island?
– There used to be. There were available, Hammond Island, Prince of Wales Island, and an island immediately opposite, whose name I cannot recall.
– And Goode Island.
– That is to be a fortification also. Although there were a dozen places where the quarantine station could have been put, yet it was put on a small island which is already fully occupied, to the great danger of bringing infection amongst its inhabitants, and put, too, in a place where the temperate wind will never reach the unfortunate patients who may be isolated there.
– Has any money been . spent there?
– A contract for the erection of a jetty, at a cost of, I think, £2,500, has been let. I pointed out that it was a shame that such expenditure should* be undertaken, and that before they went too far the work should be stopped.
– Is the work still going on ?
– So I understand. The same sort of thing is going on in regard to quarantine stations in various parts of the Commonwealth. They are put up to suit the convenience of the doctors, and not for the protection of Australia or the welfare of patients. That should not be allowed. The doctor, perhaps, would have a little unpleasantness, and might get a dash of spray occasionally if he had to go across by boat to the island near Thursday Island ; but what would that be in comparison with insuring the safety of the whole of the people of Australia with whom the residents on Thursday Island are continually trading? Then, again, for the sake of convenience, why should patients be put absolutely on the other side of the ridge, where they will never get the tempering south-east wind? I went twice to the proposed quarantine station. On the town side the day was beautifully pleasant, but as soon as I crossed the hil] and approached the quarantine station I was put into a lather of sweat, which was most unpleasant, even in the month of May. That will be the condition in which patients will have to live all the time, and it will be very much worse in the hotter months. When we have a quarantine station there it will be possible to land patients, and not subject larger centres in the southern parts of Australia to the violent danger of infection which they now have. I do not know what arrangements have been made in regard to the old quarantine station at Townsville. lt had a fairly well-equipped station for a very long time. I expected that the Commonwealth authorities, when they took over quarantine, would have taken over the station. There certainly ought to be a station at Townsville, or somewhere near there, because it is quite possible that after a steamer leaves Thursday Island a case may develop before her arrival at Townsville. Provision should be made for the isolation, nursing, and care of cases which may occur on vessels, and landing them at intermediate quarantine stations, such as may be established at Townsville or elsewhere. Unless these precautions are taken, it will be absolutely useless to pass a measure of this kind. The quarantine law in force would be fairly effective if it were properly carried out, but carried out with all the defects of administration that seem to exist, the danger of spreading a disease throughout Australia is very great. I have been able to see the defects of the present system, and I say that this measure, nf? matter how good it may be, and I am inclined to believe that it will be good, will be absolutely useless unless we have effective administration. When all is said and done, it is only by the careful administration of a law that the chief benefit it is designed to confer on the people who have to live under it is assured. If the administra.tion is bad, even a good law may be made detrimental to the people. I hope that when the Bill is passed weshall have no such happygolucky, slip-shod methods of administration as obtain at present. We could afford to send our new Director of Quarantine on a twelve months’ trip at the public expense all over the world, to do what? - to learn his business. Before I can get a billet, it is necessary for me to have my business at my fingers’ ends. This officer had the benefit of a twelve months’ trip, and let us hope that none of the defects of administration which have characterized the Department in recent times will be manifested again.
– You are out by six months.
– I have no desire to discuss the details of the Bill at this stage. Having had the advantage of recent unfortunate experience, I wanted to place at the disposal of honorable senators the knowledge which I reluctantly obtained during that experience. It is not the mere passing of this Bill which will safeguard Australia against the ever-present danger of violent outbreaks of an epidemic which may decimate our population, but it is careful administration. If anything can be done in the way of tightening up the administration by the wording of the different clauses. I shall be prepared to do that in Committer, and I trust that honorable senators will assist me.
– I hope that the Honorary Minister will not misunderstand me in the few words I wish to say regarding his speech. I must express a feeling of disappointment that he did not tell us a little more as to the contents of the Bill when he addressed himself to its provisions. I admit at once that I have not had an opportunity of looking through it. I rarely do look through a Bill until the Minister has explained its provisions. I looked to him to explain the purpose and effect of the various amendments. But he dismissed a number of the proposals with a general statement that they are non-contentious, and designed to improve the administration. That may be one way of dealing with a measure, but it surely would have assisted honorable senators in dealing with this Bill if the Minister had indicated the purpose of its provisions. He has. not seen fit to do that.
– I told the honorable senator that, in my opinion, nearly all the amendments proposed are non-contentious, and any information that may be required will be given in Committee.
– The Minister must see that that does not help the matter.
– It is the usual practice to give details in Committee.
– It is the usual practice for a Minister, in moving the second reading of a Bill, to explain, not detail, but the general purpose of the proposals it contains. We have not had that advantage, as the honorable senator has recognised by his interjection. I am not in a much better position to discuss the Bill now than I was before I heard the honorable senator’s speech. I pass from the Bill to two matters introduced by Senator Givens. I have no doubt they have received Ministerial attention, but they demand an instant Ministerial pronouncement of some kind. The first was the disclosure of the position of the quarantine station in which, unhappily for himself, Senator Givens was incarcerated for a period. No one will doubt the honorable senator’s statement, and the facts he placed before the Senate justify me in stating that the station is a discredit, not merely to Australia, but to the Department administering our quarantine laws. Senator Givens did not speak from hearsay, but gave us his personal experience.
– Every word I said can be borne out by my colleagues.
– We need not go beyond the honorable senator’s statement. It is clear that he did no more than state the plain facts of. the case as they presented themselves to him by actual experience. They reveal a condition of affairs discreditable to Australia, and to those who are charged with the administration of our quarantine law. I refer to this, in the hope that what has been shown, to be wrong will be promptly put right. I have no doubt that that was the object that Senator Givens had in view in bringing the matter under notice. The other matter to which we are indebted to Senator Givens was his statement as to the condition of affairs at Thursday Island, lt calls for some explanation from some one. We have the statement that, as it appears to a layman, the worst possible position has been selected for the quarantine station at Thursday Island. On the facts as related by Senator Givens, he has made out a case which requires an official answer. The honorable senator has assured us that a more suitable site might be selected for the establishment of a quarantine station on islands at a convenient distance from Thursday Island.
– There are many such islands close to Thursday Island.
– The s:te selected for the station on Thursday Island is undesirable, because its geographical position precludes it from the advantage of a favorable wind, and insures the. disadvantage of an unfavorable wind. Immediately at hand there are islands which the Government might have selected for the establishment of a quarantine station under favorable conditions. Though a few thousand pounds may have been spent on the site selected, it’ would appear that it would be better that the whole work should be revised, and the station established at a more suitable place, and one more fitted for the purposes for which this Bill is designed.
– - There can be no two opinions as to the necessity for a strict Quarantine Act to preserve the health of the people of Australia. We cannot doubt that if Australia is going to progress, a large portion of our trade will be done with the Eastern countries; and there will be considerable traffic in passengers, goods, animals, and plants between eastern tropical countries and Australia. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary, in the interests of public safety, that we should have strict quarantine laws to prevent the introduction of disease. I very seldom agree- with’. Senator Givens, but I do agree with his statement that the success of our quarantine system must depend, to a very great extent, upon its administration. The Minister cannot be expected to have the technical and scientific knowledge necessary, and he must depend upon tnt scientific knowledge, and administration of his officers. Unfortunately, many officials possessing high scientific qualifications, have no powers of management. It seems an impossible task to drive into the heads of scientific officials the A, B, C of administration. On the other hand, we find that men who are past-masters in administration, are incompetent on the scientific side. I “refer to both cases, because the officials of this Department may shelter themselves under one qualification or the other. In view of recent happenings, as narrated by Senator Givens, it is about time that our Quarantine Department was thoroughly overhauled from top to bottom I do not say this because of Senator Givens’ remarks alone. A similar outbreak to that which occurred on the Yawata *Maru occurred some time previously. I put some questions on the subject to the Government. Those questions were intended to elicit definite and explicit information on the facts reported to me that, about a fortnight before the Yawata Maru arrived at Townsville, the Changs ha arrived at that port with a small-pox case on board. I have reason to believe that the Changsha came from the same port, by die same route, and belongs to the same class of steamers as the Yawata Maru. The difficulty is that the Quarantine Department, with that warning of a fortnight before the report of the case on the Yawata Maru, seems to have failed to recognise the importance of the matter. It must have been very dead when, with such a warning only a fortnight previously, no attempt was made to make adequate provision to prevent a repetition of so serious a danger to Australia. . If my information with respect to the Changsha be correct, that is an additional reason why the officer in charge of this Department should come down from the. clouds of his recent trip and set to work upon the scientific administration of a quarantine system. I have been informed, also, that some time ago the special attention of the Department was called to the unsatisfactory condition of the quarantine station at Townsville. I have also addressed a question to the Minister on that point. I hope he will not take sides in the matter, but will do his duty as between myself and the officials. I hope that, in answer to my question, we shall learn whether it is a fact that, some twelve months ago, . information was given to the officials of the Quarantine Department that the station at Townsville was in a disreputable state of repair, and required attention. If no notice was taken of that report from Townsville, the Department is very seriously to blame. We may regard it as providential that Townsville and the eastern States of Australia have not had to suffer from a very serious epidemic of disease. I am prepared to admit that the subject is a remarkably difficult one. I recognise that when a steamer, with its passengers and cargo, is held up by quarantine officers, the Department is regarded as the common enemy of every one interested. It is an almost impossible task for any official to satisfy the objections and the clamour raised in such circumstances. My criticism, and that of Senator Givens, are not offered with the intention of paralyzing or weakening the administration of the Department, but with the object of calling, by a reference to recent incidents, special attention to this important question. Senator Givens has not spoken to me. nor have I spoken to him, upon this matter. He has made his speech from actual observation, and I have made my remarks from information received from entirely different quarters long before the incident to which Senator Givens has referred took place.
– The honorable senator does not require any one to prompt him.
– I ask the Government to treat this matter seriously ; but J believe that if the Vice-President of the Executive Council were sentenced to death, and was walking to the scaffold, he would not take that seriously, nor possibly would any one else. It was with the object of securing reliable information on these matters that I directed my inquiries. The unsatisfactory feature of these matters is that, when one does make inquiries, he is bumped about from Department to Department, and put off with one excuse and another, until a private member of this Parliament is inclined to wash his hands of the whole business. I hope that it will be possible for the Department to refute my statement; but I am informed that the officials had ample warning long ago of the unsatisfactory condition of affairs at Townsville, from one of the ablest of their medical Ok cers. The danger which was threatened in the case of the Changsha, and which actually arose in the case of the Yawata Maru, was due to the fact that warnings administered from Townsville over and over again have not been attended to. Senator Givens has informed us, from actual experience, that the quarantine station at Townsville was not in a proper state of repair.
– It is in’ the same condition, evidently, as the post-office.
– Exactly. If the quarantine buildings at Townsville are in no better condition than the post-office there, it would be no wonder if an epidemic of small-pox occurred. The Vice-President of the Executive Council apparently wishes to side-track me by his reference to the Townsville post-office, because, on a former occasion, I directed attention to the discreditable state of that building. I spoke of that from actual observation ; but I speak of the condition of the quarantine station from information received from a reliable and scientific authority. For the purposes for which it is required, it is in comparatively a disreputable condition, and the attention of the Department was called to the fact long before the discovery of the case of small-pox on the Yawata Marti. When the Vice-President of the Executive Council meets such statements with silly interjections, it is almost hopeless for honorable senators to expect that their complaints will be attended to; but this is much too serious a matter to be dealt with in any such way. The Quarantine Department must surely recognise that Townsville is the most important port in Australia in this connexion, since it is the first port of call for our trade with the Eastern countries. The Government should have recognised that long ago, when the Commonwealth took over quarantine from the States, and they should have at once seen that a properly equipped station was established at Townsville, in charge of competent officers properly paid for the services required of them. If Ministers will make inquiries, they will find that the trade of Townsville with the East is veryconsiderable, and is increasing in volume The danger of the introduction of disease from the East is increasing proportionately, and so is the necessity for greater vigilance on the part of the Quarantine Department. I hope that, in Committee, we shall, find that improvements are proposed in our legislation to deal with quarantine. The rest depends upon administration.
Time after time, however, the officers of the Department have turned a hostile ear to the requests of their subordinate officers. Under these circumstances we can hope for little improvement. If I thought that this condition of affairs arose through the advice given by the officers of the Department to the Government in the past I should say that there was only one thing to do, namely, to get rid of those officers from top to bottom. There can be no doubt from the direct testimony that we have before us that the arrangements in regard, to the Changsha and the Yawata Maru were a disgrace to the Department. It is our duty to make this Bill effective, and to enable the officers to be clothed with ample powers. I, at all events, welcome the Bill. The cost of the administration of quarantine will probably increase, but in a matter affecting the public health this Parliament is not going to spare reasonable expenditure. I hope that it will be shown that my information is incorrect, but inasmuch as it has been confirmed by the personal experience of some members of Parliament, I think I am justified in making my speech somewhat warm in order to direct attention to several examples of weak administration in connexion with quarantine.
– lt was quite unnecessary for Senator St. Ledger to tell us that he had spoken warmly. The weather would have to be pretty cold when Senator St. Ledger could not generate some amount of heat. He has succeeded on the present occasion, as on several others, in throwing warmth into the subject. We have to iemember that the chief quarantine officer has just returned from a tour of inspection on which he has been able to study many different systems of quarantine and the methods adopted by other countries to prevent the spread of disease. This measure has been introduced according to the advice given to the Government by the chief quarantine officer. It is a fairly comprehensive measure, and one calculated to improve our< quarantine system. It will bring our methods into line with the most up-to-date methods for the prevention of disease that have been adopted anywhere. It is a very necessary measure.
– We all think that.
– Then I cannot understand what Senator St. Ledger’s complaint was. The most curious criticism of all was that of Senator Millen. He complained that the Minister in introducing the Bill had not given a sufficient explanation. I listened to Senator Findley’s second-reading speech, and thought that be had gone rather fully into details. I was inclined to remark that the explanations he offered were such as would be more suitable for Committee.
– What does the Bill propose then?
– That is a piece of pretty cool cheek, if I may be excused for using that word. Just fancy honorable senators opposite admitting that they have not even read the Bill, and yet venturing to criticise the Minister because he has not explained it fully.
– Is it not the Minister’s business te explain Bills to us?
– The Minister did explain it, entering into minute details. Now we have Senator Millen admitting that he has .not even read the measure. We know Senator Millen’s methods fairly well. I have not sat with him in this Chamber for eleven years without learning how he works. He waits to discover some loop-hole in order that he may find fault with a Government Bill, or with the Minister who has introduced it.
– It cannot be alleged that Senator Millen is not industrious in his political work.
– I do not say that he is not, but there is good reason to find fault with his criticism when he admits that he has not read a Bill, and yet complains of another senator who undoubtedly has shown a great deal of industry and understanding in presenting it. We must remember that only the general principles of a measure can be dealt with at this stage. In a country like Australia, with a great number of seaports round its 8,000 or 9,000 miles of coastline, to supply properly-equipped and administered quarantine stations with doctors, nurses, and medicines of all kinds at every place where a ship having on board cases of quarantinable disease might put in, would involve an enormous expenditure of money - a much larger sum than Australia with its present population is able to afford.
– What would a bad outbreak of small-pox cost Australia?
– I grant that it would cost a great deal ; but it must be recognised that whatever precautions we take to safeguard the public health they must always be commensurate with the money available to us.
– Does the honorable senator think that two or three properlyequipped quarantine stations on each coast would be too many?
– I do not think that that would be a bit too much. It might not be quite enough in some circumstances. But nevertheless it is true that we are limited in our power of spending public money.
– Would the honorable senator limit expense in methods for safeguarding the public health?
– The amount of money at our disposal must regulate the equipment of the various quarantine stations.
– I would increase taxation rather than limit the means of safeguarding the public health.
– There are some enormously rich countries which seem to get along with no quarantine stations at all.
– That is the extraordinary thing.
– I grant that it is extraordinary. A country that, for a large number of years, has been immune from epidemics, is inclined to take things rather easily, and to become somewhat careless as to precautions.
– Countries are usually inclined to think that their system is the best system.
– Australia is about the only clean country on earth in regard to small-pox.
– I should like to challenge any honorable senator to point to any other country which does not suffer from periodical epidemics. There is not one. We must remember that small-pox is not the only epidemic against which we have to guard. There are other fevers.
– Small-pox is about the most dangerous one.
– It is.
– I see that Dr. Norris has now supplied the honorable senator with an argument to go on with.
– The Minister has handed me a piece of information which I wanted.
– I knew what a recent outbreak in Great Britain cost, and have supplied Senator De Largie with the figures. Is that a crime?
– There is no offence in quoting what Senator Findley has handed to me. Honorable senators opposite can see the paper if they like. It simply states that, in the year 1902, a small-pox outbreak in London cost £500,000.
– I do not want to know so much what it cost in money as in lives.
– You cannot put the cost in lives into L.s.d. There is not the slightest doubt that this London outbreak cost a considerable number of lives. Our country, with its warmer climate, in which microbes are germinated much quicker than in European countries, certainly runs greater danger than they do, unless our quarantine arrangements are good. Moreover, we are much nearer to Asiatic countries, from which these diseases often start. The money we spend on quarantine is enormously greater than that spent in older countries, with much larger populations. I have often wondered how it is that a country like Great Britain, which has ships from every part of the world entering London, Liverpool, and other ports, does not suffer more from epidemics against which we in Australia take so many precautions.
– We who live in the north, and have malaria in our bones, come down to Melbourne, and almost die from cold.
– Surely the honorable senator does not say that malaria is an epidemic disease introduced into this country from abroad. It may be generated by the apparently harmless, though really deadly mosquito. I quite agree that we cannot be too careful in taking every precaution to see that the public health is preserved. Good health is a greater heritage than wealth. We often see wealthy men in indifferent health, and they are poor creatures indeed. If they could exchange their wealth for good health, poverty would be an easy load for them to carry. We cannot take too great pains to see that the health of Australia is safeguarded in every possible manner. It is the object of this measure to carry out that intention. The Bill has been framed on the advice of a gentleman who stands very high indeed in the estimation of his profession. As the usual time for adjournment has arrived, I ask leave to continue my speech on another occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is desirable to amend the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act, with a view to authorizing the Government to render assistance to beneficiaries under the Act.
Like many other members of the Senate, I am suffering from a cold, and I ask honorable senators to bear with me while I am dealing with this subject, and not to heckle. It is a matter which I brought under the notice of the Senate in 1908. First of all, without wishing to trespass on party matters, I want to refer to a statement which was made at the AVerriwa election by Mr. Roberts, as reported in the local newspapers. He said that -
Owing to the statements made by Mr. W. H. Irvine and Mr. Joseph Cook, in his opinion, the moment the Liberal party got into power they would immediately reduce old-age pensions.
So far as I am concerned; so far as the Liberal organization in Queensland is concerned ; and so far as the Liberal Union of Australia is concerned, that statement was absolutely false, and a deliberate lie.
– I rise to order. I understand that the honorable senator has stated that a deliberate lie was uttered in making a certain statement regarding the attitude of Mr. Joseph Cook and others about oldage pensions. I wish to know whether he was in order.
– The statement, 1 understand, was not made in Parliament, or in the precincts of Parliament, but was made by some person connected with a contest which was going on in Werriwa.
– The attitude which I, and, I think, a very large number of honorable senators on the Liberal side, and, I am sure, most of the senators on the other side of the Chamber, if the opportunity occurred, would take up, is that there should be two rules underlying all old-age and invalid pensions. One rule is that the people shall need the pensions, and the other is that there shall be no differentiation between one class of people and another class. If we are going to give pensions, whether invalid or oldage, they should be given because the people require them. The idea of giving pensions to Mrs. Brown-Jones and Mrs. Jones-Robinson, who are left widows, or who have reached the age of sixty- five years, and have, perhaps, a quarter of at million of money to their names, is not, I think, what Parliament intended; at any rate, I do not’think that is what the people wanted.
– The Act does not allow it to be done.
– I am not dealing with the Act at all, but with the principle of the thing. At present the Act does not allow it; but, whether right or wrong, I have seen it in print that, so soon as the finances will allow it, the Prime Minister hopes that the system will come into force.
– And pensions will be universal.
– Just so. That is exactly where my honorable friend and I differ. My own view is that pensions should be given where it is proved that people want them.
– People might not want pensions, perhaps, but need them.
– I said once to my honorable friend, when I was dealing with a subject, that he was one of those men who try to make party capital out of everything that is done. I reminded him that he is one of those who, like Wordsworth’s philosopher -
Upon his mother’s grave.
I ask him to leave me alone when I am trying to develop a thesis which may be of some value to the country. I am not endeavouring to make any party capital out of it. but to lay down certain general principles on which I think our old-age pension system should be carried on in future. I think we should aim, as far as we possibly can, to prevent people relying upon the Government for what one might call eleemosynary assistance.
– Do you call oldagepensions eleemosynary assistance?
– At the present time it appears to be a sort of free business.
– It is something to. which they can look forward as an absolute right.
– The only thing the pensioners can look forward to is their ten “bob” a week. I am referring to. those who are still earning their living. I would remind my honorable friend that no one was stronger on the point than John Burns. According to a book by Joseph
Burgess, which was published in 1911, and is hostile to John Burns, the latter, referring to his earlier days, said -
They lie in their teeth when they tell you that unemployment is caused by drink. Here I stand, a skilled artisan, teetotaller, vegetarian, nonsmoker, and Malthusian. I have not tasted food for twenty-four hours. I have been out of work for four months. There stands my wife. She is turning the ribbons of her bonnet to make it look more respectable. That is my position, a killed artisan. What then must be the position of those who have not skilled trades, and have a family to support?
After he entered office in 1905 - six years afterwards - and was called upon to discriminate between the men who wanted work and the men who asked for work and did not want it, he thus spoke -
What was the kind of day’s history in the life of such a man in search of a day’s work? Between g and 10 in the morning he went to Birdcage Walk, and listened to the Army Band. Aftex this he walked across the Park to Soho or Piccadilly, and got his luncheon at some one’s expense at a cheap restaurant. “ What shall we do next?” was the question of one companion to another. “ Oh, let us walk across the Park and see Old Burns go to the levee.” At 5 o’clock came tea at a cabmen’s shelter; sit 10 o’clock there was not money enough for a lodging, but the night being fine, this man and Ins companions elected to go to the Embankment, and get soup and shelter.
He went on to say -
Was that a discriminating kind of charity ? When a man knew that this sort of thing took place, what kind of incentive was being held out to any sturdy vagrant, getting probably 6d., 8d., or9d. a day from certain sources, with a loo indulgent wife or mother, which should prevent him coming up to London and swelling the ranks of the unemployed.”
I have made that quotation from John Burns mainly for the purpose of showing that even a man who has risen from the Tanks, as he has done, realized that a large number of persons are not honestly entitled to any help, because they are hopeless loafers ; that, under any system of pensions which is to be any good, we must differentiate between the man or the woman who deserves a pension, and the person who does not. We get down, then, to the question of necessity.
– What about the rain falling on the just and the unjust?
– I notice that we in Queenslnad get very much more than they do in South Australia. I suppose it proves that the Queensland people are more just than the people of South Australia. Having shown that we must discriminate between what one might call the just and the unjust, I want to point out what I think should be done in connexion with the old-age pension system. I do not say that we should deal with people as is done in the Old Country, because we know that it costs more to put them into barracks than it does to follow the Continental system, and put them, if they want to go, into cottage homes. I dealt with this matter in June, 1908. On page r2oi4 of Hansard, volume 46, I said-
As we cannot have such a system as I think we ought to have, in view of our advance in civilization, we must take what is offered,, and I can only hope that this measure will not be held to represent the Ultima Thule of our aspirations in the direction of making provision for the aged poor.
That statement I followed up later by various inquiries andinvestigations. The idea underlying my motion is one which, I think, will be accepted. I have here a monumental report on old-age pensions by the late Senator Neild. I have been through the report very carefully, and 1 find that in the Continental Acts there is a provision which might almost be considered to resemble the section in our own Act, though the provision in the Denmark Act is very much more distinct and decisive. I refer to the provision dealing with the good conduct of pensioners. It corresponds with sections 43 and 44 of our Act. Section 43 reads - 43. (1) Whenever the Deputy Commissioner is satisfied that, having regard to the age, infirmity, or improvidence of a pensioner, or any other special circumstances, it is expedient that payment of any instalments of the pension be made to any other person, a warrant to that effect should be issued by the Deputy Commissioner, and transmitted to the person authorized therein to receive payment.
Section 44 provides -
Where, in the opinion of a Registrar -
It seems to me that we do not go fat enough. What we ought to do is to resort to the system which obtains in several countries in Europe, especially as is mentioned in Colonel Nield’s report, in Denmark, where the authorities are the judges as to whether a man is making, or is able to make, the best possible use of his pension, and if, in their opinion,- he is unable to do so, they look after him. It is enlarging the use of the pension system, and not restricting it. When I spoke on the subject before, many points were raised, including the cost of the system. I have spent a good deal of time in inquiring into the cost of a comparatively small system in Melbourne called the Old Colonists’ Homes. The old people have a beautiful garden. Every old lady and old gentleman have a home. Within the last hour or so I have received a report which I asked for prettywell a month ago. During my visit I found that the old people were proud of” living in the homes. They receive, if I understand aright, no old-age pension, but get 8s. a week. Some extras are given to them at Christmas time in the form of a load of wood or coal, and, possibly, a bonus.
– This is the time cf the year when they should get the wood and the coal.
– I wish that my honorable friend would allow me to develop my argument.
– I was only trying to help you.
– No; what the honorable senator desires is to prevent these old people to whom I am referring from getting a little extra help. I have worked out the figures, so far as I could, and I find that, by paying these old people 8s. per veekj and allowing for reasonable interest on the cost of buildings and the cost of management, the total cost runs to from i is. 6d. to 12s. a week for each person throughout the year. That amounts to from is. 6d. to 2S. per week more than the old-age pension we pay at the present time. The difference is that these old people are living in the greatest comfort. One lady was good enough to entertain me to afternoon tea. The houses are absolutely separate, and surrounded by beautiful gardens. What I saw would be an eyeopener to those who think that the only way to deal with the aged poor is to take some decrepit man or woman and say, “Here is I OS. a week. You -could not live comfortably on 30s. or £2 a week before; now go and live as best you can on 10s. a week.”
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Government should do what the association he refers to is doing, and build homes for the old people?
– No; the honorable senator has missed my argument. There is a certain class of people who do not deserve assistance of this kind. But the class of people whom we all desire shall receive old-age pensions should, in my opinion, be treated in this way. I do not object to the Government providing homes for old-age pensioners; but they should be managed decently. I asked the Commissioner of Police in Victoria to give me a list of persons described as old-age pensioners who had been discovered dead in gutters, outhouses, and so forth. I am sorry to say that he could not do so. The Police Department had never thought about the matter at all ; but such information is now being collected. Any honorable senator who lives in Melbourne must have read almost daily in the newspapers of cases of old-age pensioners found either dead or dying in miserable and most objectionable circumstances.
– That is an exaggerated statement.
– My honorable friend is only saying that the newspapers here are guilty of exaggeration. Such cases have occurred over and over again. It has been argued that the system which I am strongly in favour of is one which would reduce people to practically a starvation level. It is assumed that if people are put into barracks or cottages, they must be very badly treated. I shall give some quotations which go to show that, even in this glorious country of Australia, we do not know everything. Referring to the treatment of aged people in the Old Country, the late Colonel Neild, at page 430 of his report, stated -
But the comparison between English workhouses and Colonial asylums does not end here. What is there in common between “ the wretched barrack institutions of this Colony,” and the workhouses of Shoreditch and White-chapel described in paragraph 125 of this report?
What provision is there in this Colony for the purchase of “ books, magazines, newspapers, and games (such games as draughts),” or the spending “ for some years of many pounds in the purchase and binding of books,” such as exists in England for the use and recreation of workhouse inmates, under the direct authority of the Local Government Board - paragraph 127?
What is there in this Colony’s procedure analogous to the authorized supply of tobacco and snuff to workhouse inmates (paragraph 126), or to the grant, by order of the Local Government Board, of the necessaries for the making of “afternoon tea” by the aged female occupants of English workhouses!
What is there analogous to that in the method we adopt . in Australia to-day of giving an old man 10s. a week, and telling him to look after himself?
– Does the honorable senator propose to increase the pension?
– No ; but I say that the amount of pension now paid might, in many instances, be spent to very much greater advantage. It is often said that the diet supplied in these homes is far inferior to what people could get outside. I will give the menu for an ordinary week day of one of these cottage homes in Vienna, which were originally established by the Empress of Austria about 120 years ago. I quote from Edith Sellers’ work Foreign Solutions of Poor Law Problems -
For breakfast they have coffee, cocoa or soup, and bread and butter ; for dinner, soup, meat, vegetables, and pudding; for “Jause,” coffee and cakes; and for supper, soup and some light dish. The materials used are of the best quality ; everything is beautifully cooked and nicely served. Such of the inmates who wish to cater for themselves, however, are free to do so, provided they are not on the invalid list, and can be trusted to cater prudently. In this case an allowance of 52 heller a day - about 5¼d - each is made to them,, and they are free to spend it either at the home restaurant, where everything is sold at cost price, or elsewhere, if they choose.
At page 127 of the same work, a reference is made to one of the municipalities’ oldage homes -
This home is a delightful retreat, quite a model of what such a place should be. Although it is in the centre of the town, with windows looking on to a busy street, it has behind it a large garden, with great trees, under which the inmates can spend the whole day if they choose. There they receive their visitors, as a rule, although they have well-furnished, comfortable rooms in which to receive them, if they prefer it. These old people are fed, too, as well as they are lodged, the food provided for them being not only good, but quite dainty. They have coffee and rolls for breakfast -
– And Frankforts for supper.
– It is a great deal better than the Government are supplying to the men on the torpedo-boats, if we can believe the statements appearing in the newspapers. This is private members’ -evening, and Ministers might permit a private member to tell his own story. If they do not do so, they must expect me to make remarks about the way in which they feed the men on our torpedo-boats. I continue the quotation - soup, meat, and vegetables for dinner ; coffee, with something to eat in the afternoon; and soup with vegetables or a pudding for supper. And such of them as smoke receive also tobacco, cigarette paper, and matches. Yet, thanks to good management, the cost per head is only 6d. a day.
I have quoted two cases.
– What about the Queensland practice?
– I do not like the Queensland practice. I should put an end to it to-morrow if I could.
– What is wrong with it?
– The system followed at Dunwich is practically the barrack system. I prefer our old-age pension system to the barrack system ; but I believe we could improve our system in such, a way that people who are not able to look after themselves might be looked after properly for the same amount of money.
– Would that include all classes ?
– I have said that two tests must be put to a man who demands an old-age pension. Those are the tests we have provided for in our Act, though whether we enforce them or not I do not know: The applicant must show that there is a necessity for the pension, and that he is a decent and respectable man. I believe that at present we give an old-age pension to any one who has reached a certain age in life, and who is not in receipt of an income of £1 per week. The pension given is sufficient to bring the amount up to £1 per week. If a man is iri receipt of an income of 15s. a week, he is entitled to a pension of 5s., and if he has an income of 10s. a week he is given a pension of ros. a week.
– That is not the case.
– That is the principle of the present system. I am not dealing with all who receive pensions, but with those who receive pensions and do not know how to spend them. I would go so far as to say, in certain cases, “ You are incapable of spending your pension to advantage. You are being robbed and swindled, and it will in future be spent for you.” I remind honorable senators that a case was reported in the newspapers some time ago of an old-age pensioner who was kept in a shameful condition by some one who made a profit of 7s. 6d. a week out of his misery. We want to stop that sort of business, and should do something more than say to an aged person, “ Here is 10s. a week; go and spend it.” One is faced at once with the question, of cost. I quote the following from Helen Bosanquet on the Poor Law Report, of 1909 -
But unless a community is to become bankrupt it must keep steadily in view the importance of enforcing upon the individual the primary duty of being self-supporting.
I have said that the applicant for a pension should establish his necessity. I am sorry the late Senator W. Russell is not with us; but I remember that he brought forward a case which is typical of quite a number such as I have had to deal with myself, where people write to members of Parliament pointing out the hardships of their case because they cannot get oldage pensions. On inquiry, it has been found that they have given away their property by deed of gift to their sons, daughters, or wives, in order to secure old-age pensions. Such cases go to show that we must differentiate between the applicants for pensions. Denmark affords the best illustration in the world of how to deal with what I call the deserving aged poor. They are also properly dealt with in the Balkans, and in Vienna. Here we deal only with the fringe of the question. We have a haphazard arrangement by which a Deputy Commissioner, or someone else, hands the pension to a hospital, charitable institution, or benevolent society if the pensioner is a drunkard. My contention is that we should keep under our own control the money expended upon the aged poor. There are people entitled to oldage pensions who are well able to look after themselves. I say that they1 should be allowed to. do so; but we should go further and adopt some means by which the recipients of pensions may get a fair deal for their money. It is affirmed, I shall not say with how much truth, that in certain parts of Australia men are living alongside billabongs, and practically spend the whole of their time in going backwards and forwards to a neighbouring township to draw their old-age pensions, the bulk of which they spend in drink, and are thus gradually killing themselves. If we. are going to give these old-age pensions, we should do something to see that they are worth what they ought to be worth to those who are in receipt of them. These old people should not be “taken down.” All that I am urging is that the Government should take some steps to improve and amplify the system so that the old-age pensions may be of full value to a class of thecommunity who cannot look after themselves when they reach the age of sixty or sixty-five, as the case may be, and are in receipt of this money from the Government.
– I have listened with a. good deal of attention to the speech which has just been delivered by Senator Chataway in support of his motion; but I feel that the honorable senator, whatever his motives may be’, has not done himself justice, nor made his position clear as to the alteration that he desires to effect in our present invalid and old-age pensions system. That the system is not all that we could desire will be admitted by every honorable senator. That it could be made much more comprehensive, and, perhaps, give greater joy and comfort to numbers of old citizens, goes without saying. But Senator Chataway, though armed- with much information, did not illustrate in what way he desired specifically to alter the Act. He pointed out that he had quite recently paid a visit to the cottages in connexion with, the Old Colonists’ Homes, in MelbourneThere he saw a number of satisfied and1 well-cared for inmates, who are livingamidst comfortable surroundings, and arein receipt of a weekly sum. But when ‘ I asked “him whether he desired’, that the Government should do for the oldage pensioners what the Old Colonists Association does for a small number of people,, he was quite indefinite, and said he was in doubt. He did not know whether he desired that or not. He went on to point out what was being done in other countries. What object had the honorable senator in quoting from well known and highly interesting works unless he had in his mind a desire to bring about a specific alteration in the present Act or its administration?1 He also said that as a reader of the daily newspapers he knew that it was quite a common thing to see reports about old-age pensioners who have either been found dead, or in a dying condition, in the streets of the metropolis. I interjected that I thought that was an exaggerated statement.. I repeat that.
– And I repeat that: the Chief Commissioner of Police in Melbourne is now having an investigation madeto find out what truth there is in the published statements.
– Suppose the statements are true that some men or women in receipt of pensions, to which they are justly entitled, happen unfortunately to die in the streets of the metropolis. What has that to do with the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act? Men and women who were not in receipt of old-age pensions have also been found dead in the streets of Melbourne. Does the honorable senator want to try to prevent people from dying in the streets? I want to know what is in his mind. He told us that he had been to the Police Department in order to obtain statistics to show, if possible, the number of those of a certain age in receipt of old-age pensions who had unfortunately met their death in the streets of the big cities. It is well nigh a matter of impossibility to prevent such occurrences. The honorable senator said that he does not desire to see our old-age pensioners imprisoned, so to speak, by being put in barracks. He surely would not deprive old people of their liberty. Would the honorable senator deny an old man or woman his or her liberty on account of being in receipt of ah old-age pension? If he is anxious, as 1 feel sure he is, that citizens who are in receipt of pensions should be at liberty to walk about in any part of the city, as long as they conduct themselves properly-
– Senator Chataway meant people who are incapable of looking after themselves.
– Are we to understand that the honorable senator desires an alteration of the Old-age Pensions Act in this way - that there shall be a certain section of those receiving old-age pensions who shall be housed by the Government, and who shall not be at liberty to go about as they please?
– The honorable senator is absolutely misquoting and misrepresenting me.
– If we house the old-age pensioners, and do not decide to imprison those whom: we house, we must allow them to go outside their tenements.
– Why should they not go outside?
– Then would it not be just as possible for them to die in the streets of Melbourne, or elsewhere, as it is for old-age pensioners to die in the streets to-day?
– They would not die of starvation.
– Then do we understand that honorable senators opposite believe that the present pension is inadequate to support numbers of people in Australia?
– The honorable senator desires, then, .to increase the pension?
– Where required, yes.
– Then there is to be discrimination. Some are to get a minimum, and there is to be a graduated scale of pensions.
– That is the case now. Some people do not get the full amount of the pension. They get a mere charity dole.
– I hope the time will come when no person in this community will be in receipt of a charity dole.
– That is all many of them are getting under the Old-age Pensions Act.
– If aged persons are without any means, they get 10s. a week. They are also allowed to earn 10s. a week.
– If they are not able to earn’ anything, what is the use of “allowing ‘ ‘ them ?
– That is the full amount they get, as far as Government aid is concerned.
– Where do the deductions come in?
– They come in regarding earnings and house property.
– I will show the Senate differently.
– We all -know what the deductions are. There i’s “£i for every £10. If a person has £-300 worth of property, he gets no pension at all.
– Is there no deduction from the pension on account of life assurance, even if the amount of the assurance is small ?
– There is a deduction for every solid asset, as the honorable senator knows. He is just as familiar with the Act as I am with respect to the deductions made regarding property. Senator
Chataway made the remark that consideration was given in other countries to the deserving poor. The inference was that there are some old people in receipt of old-age pensions who are not deserving.
– Under the Old-age Pensions Act we recognise that now.
– Yes, in a sense. ButSenator Chataway would lead the readers of Hansard to believe that there were no restrictions at all in regard to those who would become recipients of old-age pensions. As Senator Millen knows, and has just said, a person must be of good character before he can get the pension. A person who is not of good character cannot legally obtain it, although it may be that in some instances persons of bad character have managed to obtain it. I am one of those who believe that there should be no cjbweb line of distinction in regard to oldage pensions - that the system should be made universal. I do not believe that it should be a charity dole at all. But I am not with any of those who want to make a distinction between what they call the deserving poor and the undeserving ; who would discriminate between this person and that. Some would make such fine distinctions that they would convert the pension absolutely into a charity dole.
– Who wants to do that?
– There are many persons belonging to so-called Liberal organizations in the Commonwealth to-day who, if they had the power, would so amend the present Old-age Pensions Act that they would make the amount received absolutely and essentially a charity dole.
– There may be some individuals like that.
– There may be, and there are. A prominent gentleman in another House not long ago-
– The honorable senator is not electioneering, surely?
– No, I am not electioneering. A prominent gentleman belonging to the party of which the honorable senator is a member, in a recent speech, made pointed reference to our Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act.
– The honorable senator makes many statements himself.
– I stand by them, too; and I believe that this gentleman will stand by his statements.
– He is “on his own.”
– I take him to be one of the prominent members of the Fusion party. I also take him to mean exactly what he says.
– Then quote what he says.
– He said, in effect, that if he had an opportunity, he would! amend the Act, and would discriminate between the payments that are made to-day in regard to old-age pensions to such an extent that in all probability - these are my words - it would be an Act similar in essence to the Act that was on the statute-book in the State of Victoria up to the time when the Commonwealth took over old-age pensions.
– He has a perfect right to believe that.
– He does not want any of their “gelatinous compound.”
– No. We know of a certain gentleman belonging to the socalled Liberal party who introduced an amendment of the State Old-age Pensions Act. It was made absolutely a charitable dole. We know that married men, with large families, in some cases in receipt of only £2 per week, were brought up before the Courts, exposed to the public gaze, and had orders made against them to the extent of 3s. or 4s. a week to provide for their fathers’ and mothers’ keep.
– They were very bad sons if anything like thatrequired to be done to them.
– Now we are getting it ! There is not a son or daughter worthy of the name who does not cherish fondness for his or her father or mother y but I say that this is not a question of fondness or affection for parents. It is a question of absolute justice on the part of the community to see that the father or mother is not a drain or burden on a son or daughter, but that the community itself shall recognise its duties and obligations to its old citizens. The receipt of this pension should be a citizen’s right, and not. a charity dole.
– I suppose . that the honorable senator knows of people with incomes of £500 a year who would not give a penny for the support of their fathers and mothers?
– If I had my way I would make no distinction whatever. I would say that the pension should be there for every person who liked to take it.
– But that is not the law.
– I know that it is not.
– It is not the point either.
– It is difficult to know what the point is in regard to this motion.
– The honorable senator is not trying to know.
– I feel sure that Senator Millen is as much in doubt as I am. Senator Chataway did not during any portion of his speech state what his real desire was. Indeed, he said, “ I have no fixed ideas in’ regard to this matter, but something ought to be done.” In justice to himself and to his own side he should not submit a motion of this nature without being prepared to tell us what is in his mind, and what is his desire.
– He should not, in justice to the whole Senate.
– Quite so. We are discussing something of a very indefinite nature, but if anything can be gathered from the remarks of the honorable’ senator it is this - that be does not believe in the present old-age pension system.
– He did not say so, and that is not a fair inference.
– He does not believe in the present method.
– He does not believe thai the present method is the best.
– Senator Chataway is concerned about those old-age pensioners who for some reason or other are not able to husband their pensions.
– And because he says there are some old-age pensioners who are living near billabongs, and who occasionally walk to an adjacent public-house for a glass of liquor or two, he holds that that is a reason why an alteration is desirable in our old-age pension system.
– No; only in regard to that class who are not able to look after themselves.
– Then the issue is being narrowed down. The Opposition are only concerned with the class who are not able to look after themselves. Would Senator Millen, as Leader of the Opposition, be kind enough to tell the Senate what his desire or the desire of his party- is in respect to that section of old-age pensioners who, according to Senator Chataway, are not able to look after themselves? Does he desire that the Government shall build cottage homes for them similar to the homes of the Old Colonists’ Association - that the Government shall house these people, provide them witha weekly sum, and with the necessaries of life, and when they are allowed to go abroad, if they are not able to look after themselves, that the Government shall police them or provide them with protection to see that no harm befalls them ?
– He never mentioned any such desire.
– What did be mention ?
– It did not suit him to mention anything definite.
– Honorable members opposite are apparently not altogether satisfied with the Old-age Pensions Act.
– There is only one honorable senator on this side who has spoken yet.
– I know that Senator Sayers is going to speak. I am extremely anxious that honorable senators on the other side shall express themselves, and tell us definitely and emphatically in which direction they desire the Act to be amended, and in order to afford them an opportunity I shall resume my seat.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sayers) adjourned.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 9.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 July 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19120725_senate_4_64/>.