4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 2) presented by Senator Henderson, and read by the Clerk.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he will lay on the table of , the Library a copy of the contract which was recently entered into by the Commonwealth Government for the conveyance of mails between the mainland and Tasmania ?
– I will consult the. Postmaster-General on the matter with a view to furnishing the honorable senator with an answer as soon as possible.
Population Statistics and Electoral Enrolment.
– I have received an intimation from Senator Millen that he proposes to move the adjournment of the Senate, under standing order 63, for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, namely, “ The discrepancy between the population statistics and the electoral enrolment.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their placet,
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrowat2 p.m.
I have taken this course because the matter which I desire to bring under notice is one, not merely of parliamentary importance, but of very considerable importance to the people of Australia. In the first place nobody, least of all those who are privileged to occupy a seat in this Chamber, will dispute the necessity for our having absolutely reliable electoral rolls. Now it will be clear to honorable senators as I proceed that if these rolls are correct there must be something radically wrong with our statistics. Having demonstrated that, I shall again bring under review what is an extremely important matter, seeing that the representation of every State in this Parliament depends upon those statistics as does also the amount to which each State is entitled under the financial agreement. I should like to have been able to give the Minister a somewhat longer notice of my intention to move in thismatter, but until I arrived at Albury this morning I was not aware of the fact that the officials had published a sort of reply to my previous statements’ in this connexion. I endeavoured to send an intimation to the Minister by telegraph, but was unable to do so because the officials could not change the only money in my possession, namely, a sovereign. It was suggested to me that the difficulty might be solved by my going without the change, but my sense of public duty did not prompt me to resort to that extreme. The point which I wish to bring before the Senate is that undoubtedly a serious discrepancy exists between the population figures of New South. Wales and the enrolment figures for that State. Not only does it exist there, but it obtains also in one other State of the
Union. I am entitled to rest my case entirely upon the figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Knibbs, seing that they determine the share of representation enjoyed by any State in this Parliament and also the amount which the Commonwealth returns to each State under the financial agreement. Until they are repudiated, therefore, they are the only official figures of which we can take notice. I wish in the first instance to point to the great discrepancy between the enrolment figures, for New South Wales and the population statistics of that State according to Mr. Knibbs. I then propose to show that there is a serious discrepancy even between the State Statistician’s figures and the figures relating to the enrolment of electors in New South Wales. If I take the figures which have been supplied by the Chief Electoral Officer in a. communication which has evidently been made to the press, I venture to say that no exception can be taken to my action, at any rate by the Department which is responsible for the compilation of the electoral roll. The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied me with his own estimate of the adult population of New South Wales on the 31st March last, namely, 909,000. I am, of course, excluding, the odd hundreds.
– The honorable senator is referring to the census figures?
– No. The census was taken last year. I am quoting what Mr. Knibbs himself calls the “ census figures corrected to the 3rst March” of the present year. Yet Mr. Knibbs’ estimate of the adult population is 909,000, excluding those ‘who,, from the want of a better term, I may call ineligible; that is, those who are either unnaturalized or incarcerated in the asylums or the gaols of the State. I notice that in a communication sanctioned by the Chief Electoral Officer it is stated that Mr. Knibbs’ figures are 909,000 or 912,000. I do not know where that extra number comes in. All that I know is that I have above Mr. Knibbs’ own signature his estimate of 909,000. On the same date - the 31st March last - the State Statistician’s estimate of the adult population was 921,000. Here, again, I see that Mr. Oldham puts in 921,000 or 924,000. I do not know where the alternative totals come from. All that I know is that the Statisticians have supplied me with two sets of figures. The rolls for New South Wales were collected over a period extending to some months at least, and terminating in the early days of July. It is quite clear that, when the collection is spread over three months, the figures for those districts in which it is made at a later period will be more accurate on the completion of the work than will the figures for those districts where the work was commenced a little earlier. If I bring the figures down to 30th June, seeing that the collection was completed within a fortnight of that date, I at least make a concession to the accuracy of the State rolls. For that, purpose I have had to find out what was the estimated increase in the population for the three months from 1st April to 30th June, and to ascertain what percentage of that increase would include persons over twenty-one years of age and eligible to vote. According to Mr. Knibbs, the estimated increase of population for the previous twelve months was 41,000, and I will assume that the rate of increase continued over the following three months. There may be, of course, some slight variation, and what it is I cannot say, but it will be so small on these totals as to be really a negligible quantity. On that assumption, I find that to Mr. Knibbs’ total has to be added 5>745 additional personseligible to be enrolled, making his total of the adult population entitled to vote as at 30th June 915,000. Similarly, I turn to the figures of the State Statistician. His estimate of the adult population on that date was 921,000, but, adopting the same method of calculation, I have to add 10,080, because he estimated an increase of 18,000 persons for the three months. Fifty-six per cent, of 18,000 gives a result of 10,080. Adding that number to the State Statistician’s original estimate, according to him there were 931,000 persons eligible on the 30th June to be enrolled. Let me now see how many persons have been enrolled. The enrolment for the State is 935,744 = that is, it is 21,000 in excess of the Commonwealth Statistician’s estimate of those who are eligible for enrolment, and nearly 5,000 in excess of the State Statistician’s estimate. If there is any one whose business it is to see that the figures are presented in the most favorable light possible, consistent, of course, with accuracy, it is the State Statistician, because on his figures is based the State’s claim to the Commonwealth endowment. It is part of his duty to see that the figures are as accurate as he can make them, bearing in mind that the State’s representation in the Federal Parliament may depend upon them.
– Up to what date do you bring the estimate in both cases ?
– Up to the 30th June. The collection of the electoral rolls commenced in April, and terminated early in July. We have to bear in mind, by the way, that the redistribution scheme for New South Wales was carried out under these rolls, perfect or not.
– The figures here go a month beyond that date.
– Yes, but I have dealt with that. I treated the departmental figures with extreme generosity. By May the collection of the rolls was in full swing. The time when the rolls are most perfect is immediately after the collection has been concluded, and from that time on they become more and more incomplete or imperfect. I have not taken, as I might have done, the 31st May, and decided that as that was the mean of the period over which the collection was spread to rest my case on the figures at that date, but I have given a month in to the Department and given them all that they can reasonably ask. What more they can claim from the few collections made after July will be more than met by the deductions I could make for those which took place prior to the 30th June. I have endeavoured to show that, on these figures, there was an excess of 21,000 on the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures as to those who were entitled to be enrolled, and an excess of nearly 5,000 upon the State Statistician’s figures. It should be remembered that, in order to keep these totals at that, we have to proceed on the assumption that every qualified man and woman was enrolled. Does any one believe that an electoral roll anywhere has been so perfectly collected that not a single man or woman has been missed ?
– We have never met a case of that kind in Australia.
– No; and we never shall. I do not want to let my case rest solely upon that. I have shown that on these figures there are more persons enrolled than according to two Statisticians are entitled to enrolment. Let us now see what percentage we ought to allow for those who are not enrolled, and here I get some guide on turning to the figures for the other States. I find that in Victoria there is a deficiency of 6½ per cent. - in other words, out of every 100 adults entitled to enrolment in the State six and a half are not enrolled.
– That is if your statistics are correct.
– If the Government will say that they are prepared to throw Mr. Knibbs to the wolves it will clear away, at any rate, the Commonwealth statistics, and throw me back upon the State Statistician.
– Are they any more reliable ?
– It is for the Government to make their choice now.If they stand on Mr. Knibbs’ statistics they must tear up the Commonwealth electoral roll. If they stand on the electoral roll, they must tear up his statistics and pay New South Wales the 25s. per head to which it is honestly entitled.
– Do you know if these rolls have been compared, and if there are any duplications?
– I shall come to the matter of duplications directly. My purpose is to show that there is a discrepancy. It is not my business to say where the error arises if there is one. That is for the Department to do. Let me see what happened in Victoria. When I turn to the figures of the State Statistician I still find that there is a deficiency of 5 per cent. That, I venture to say, would not come as a surprise to anybody who has had any experience of electoral matters. When I turn to the other States I find that in South Australia the deficiency is 5½ per cent., in Queensland per cent., and in Western Australia per cent. I am leaving out Tasmania for a reason which I shall disclose presently. Taking the four States I have mentioned, the mean of the discrepancy between those enrolled and those entitled to be enrolled is 4½ per cent. May I take that as a fair guide as to the discrepancy in other States? Is there any reason to believe that the rolls in New South Wales were collected with greater accuracy and completeness than in those four States? I submit that, if in the case of four States there is a discrepancy of 4½ per cent., I am entitled to assume that a similar state of affairs exists in New South Wales. If I do that it means that there are 45,000 electors left off the rolls for the State. If you add that number to the total enrolment you will see that there are no fewer than 980,000 adults in the State entitled to enrolment, hut only 931,000 according to the State Statistician, and 915,000 according to the Commonwealth Statistician. Let me assume that, in New South Wales, for some reason or other, a more complete roll has been compiled. Will any one get up here, or elsewhere, and say that it is conceivable that the roll has been collected nearer than 99 per cent. ? Surely every one will admit that, at least,1 per cent. of those who were qualified have been left off? If I take that percentage it means that there are 10,000 persons qualified who are not enrolled. If they were on the roll it would make, according to the Electoral Office, 946,000 persons enrolled, or entitled to bo. enrolled ; but Mr. Knibbs says that the number is only 915,000.
– Is it not a fact that the New South Wales rolls were collected later than the Victorian rolls?
– It is not necessary to compare the two States. I have compared the New South Wales enrolment with the New South Wales statistics.
– There may have been a lot of duplications eliminated in Victoria, but not completed yet in New South Wales.
– Does the honorable senator think that they would run into thousands? We must never overlook the fact that the redistribution scheme is based upon the rolls as they are, and not as they would be after the honorable senator had carried out this revision.
– It could run into thousands, and then be a very small percentage on 915,000.
– If the electors who move from State to State would transfer immediately they settle down. But I do not think that any allowance of that kind can divert attention from the fact that on a certain date in New South Wales there was still an excess of enrolment over the adult population as disclosed by two Statisticians. Further than that, if the allowance of 1 per cent. were made for those who fail to get on the rolls, it would disclose an excess of 15,000 who are entitled to enroll, as compared with the State Statistician’s estimate, and of 31,000, as compared with the Commonwealth Statistician’s estimate. When we turn to the fact that in four of the other States, instead of there being more people enrolled than the Statisticians disclose as being entitled to enroll, there is a deficiency on an average, of 4½ per cent., I submit that the assumption is that the same incompleteness of enrolment is operating in New South Wales as in the other States. If you take anything like the average of 4½ per cent., it means that 45,000 electors are enrolled in New South Wales who ought not to be enrolled. I turn now to the State of Tasmania. Here a curious position is disclosed. A few minutes before I came into the Senate chamber I obtained from Mr. Knibbs his estimate of the population of Tasmania on the 30th June this year. There is no conflict between State and Commonwealth Statisticians as far as I know in regard to the population of that State. Mr. Knibbs gives the adult population entitled to vote in Tasmania as 101,000. But the Commonwealth electoral officers have enrolled 103,527. In other words, they have enrolled 3,000 more people than are entitled to be enrolled. It is curious that in two States of the Union there is an excessive enrolment as compared with population, whilst in four States there is what we should naturally look to find - a deficiency of enrolment as compared with population.
– Does the honorable senator want to purify the rolls or adjust the finances?
– I am in the happy position that I must have one or the other, and though Tasmania has been generously treated by the Commonwealth, nevertheless, if I can help my friends from that State to obtain their undoubted rights, I am prepared to do so. It is for the Government to say upon which of these two horses they will take their seat. I notice in this statement by the Chief Electoral Officer an assertion from which he draws a certain amount of comfort, namely, that the rolls are collected by the police, as the result of a canvass ; that the police officers are experienced, and zealous in the discharge of their duty; and that he has no doubt that they have carried out their task to the best of their ability. I am prepared to believe that. I have not a word to say against the police. They have all my sympathy, because this piece of work which is cast upon them is outside their regular duties, and it is work for which they are not adequately recompensed.
– They do not get a far capita payment.
– They do not. There is also another statement made which I am prepared to believe. It is said that there can be no duplicate enrolments. It is obvious that if the card system is carried out properly one individual cannot get upon the roll twice in the same name. He must ultimately be detected, if the Department does its duty properly. But there is nothing whatever to prevent placing myths upon the electoral roll.
– Not myths, but the same person under another name.
– He would be a myth as far as our law is concerned. I understand that the practice pursued is this : When a police officer calls at a house in the discharge of electoral duty, he asks how many people are living in the establishment, how many are entitled to vote, and how many cards he has to leave. Having received an answer, he hands out the requisite number of cards. He does not go into the house and pry about, and search into family history. He simply ascertains how many people there are there who require electoral cards, and hands out the stated number. Those cards are called for, or posted in due course. An acknowledgment is later on sent to the persons whose names are upon the cards. So long as that acknowledgment is posted and delivered, the Electoral Office is satisfied. But they have no knowledge as to whether a particular card pertains to a living entity, to a person who is entitled to go on the roll, or not. There is a name upon the card, but whether the card is legally filled up, they do not know. The responsibility is upon the electoral registrars to satisfy themselves about the matter. What does that mean? When an electoral registrar receives two or three hundred cards, he cannot know anything about the majority of the persons from whom they are supposed to come. He naturally puts all of them on to the roll. Obviously, the matter calls for further inquiry. But there is a penalty of j£io upon a registrar who fails to enroll a person who is entitled to go on the roll, and we must remember that, as regards the majority of them, he can have no knowledge whatever. Honorable senators will see what opportunities for irregularities in enrolment this practice affords. I want to show that the Department is itself aware that irregularities exist in this matter. I make that statement on the strength of a paragraph furnished apparently by the Department to the newspapers in my own State -
Enrolment of Electors. - It has come under the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth that notwithstanding the explicit directions contained in the enrolment cards, several electors have allowed other persons to sign enrolment claims on their behalf, and that the persons so signing the claims have actually certified as witnesses that they have seen the claimants personally make their signatures. The Department points out that irregularities of this character cannot be permitted, and where disclosed will involve the prosecution of the offenders. A claimant who is unable to sign his name in his own handwriting may make his mark as his personal signature, provided that such signature is made in the presence of the person who signs as witness, and in these circumstances only may the name of the claimant be written by the witness after the words “ personal signature of claimant” in the form of claim.
There is a statement showing that it has come to the notice of the Department that several electors have allowed other persons to sign enrolment cards. If people .are going about this country signing for other persons who really exist, it does not require much of an exercise of imagination to satisfy one that cards will be- signed for persons who do not exist. There is no more difficulty about signing cards in fictitious names for fictitious individuals than about signing for those of whose existence a person is aware, but for whom he has no right to sign. Whatever may be said in behalf of the Department, I think I have made out a case for inquiry. Every one of us has a distinct interest in seeing that the electoral rolls, which are the basis of our electoral machinery, shall be kept as complete and pure as we can possibly make them. These figures disclose that there is something wrong somewhere. It is not my office to say whether this discrepancy is due to error or fraud. I have attempted to show that the figures disclose that a number of people are enrolled who are not entitled to be enrolled. It is the business of the Minister responsible for the Department to probe this thing, and to show whether the discrepancy is due to inadvertent error, or to systematic fraud on the part of persons anxious to enroll mythical voters, whose votes can be utilized when polling-day comes along. Further than that, I submit that these figures disclose some very useful information with regard to the matter now under discussion between the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government, as to the accuracy of our statistics themselves. I do not propose to go further into that point, but I submit that it is impossible for the Government at one and the same time to maintain that these enrolments are free from error, and to. dispute the statement that the statistics of population, as put forward by Mr. Knibbs, are entirely misleading.
– I think we shall all agree that the speech of Senator Millen has ventilated a matter that was worthy of ventilation; a subject, also, which is of considerable interest both to the Commonwealth and the States. It seems to me that the honorable senator is in what may be called a winning position; he is bound to win either way. That is to say, if we can destroy his estimate from the electoral point of view, we stand to lose from the financial point of view ; and if we can show that his position is unsound from the financial point of view our electoral position will appear to be somewhat weak. But I think a little investigation will satisfy honorable senators that the case is not quite so black as the honorable senator has tried to make out. There is a dispute at present between the Commonwealth Statistician and the New South Wales State Statistician as to estimated population. The estimates, of course, are based upon the records kept since the census was taken. The State is claiming that the Commonwealth Statistician’s estimate of the population of New South Wales on the 30th June, 191 2, is below the right figure. The honorable senator has quoted figures in order to show that the electoral enrolment is an inflated one. He has given two sets of figures from which we can draw that conclusion ; one based upon the statistics supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician and the other upon those supplied by the State Statistician. But while those figures are undoubtedly put forward by responsible authorities, it has to be borne in mind, when you take what they give as an estimate of the number of adults who would be entitled to enrolment, that if you cannot show that the estimate upon which they have based their conclusion as to the number of adults comprised in the total is a reliable basis, there is not much weight in the argument. Let us say that the Commonwealth Statistician’s estimate is correct when he tells us that out of the total number of people in the State 909,000 are of adult age; or, to put it as the Commonwealth Statistician does, that 909,000 to 912,000 are of an adult age.
– He did not put it in that way to me.
– That is the way in which the figures before me are put. It shows that you cannot fix any arbitrary number. We have to ask ourselves, there- foreshow do the Statisticians arrive at their ‘‘figures ? Obviously they do not arrive at them by taking the census statistics showing the age groups.
– That is just the way in which they do arrive at their figures, if the honorable senator will pardon me.
– Not as far as the estimate is concerned. They take the census figures as a basis, but as far as the figures for 1912 are concerned they must perforce base their calculations upon past experience and the figures of the census. Past experience is, however, a moving quantity. It is affected by all sorts of varying conditions. It varies in different States. Let me indicate what I mean. I do not think that the group statistics of the census for 1911 are yet available, but I can take the group figures for 1901. which are just as good to illustrate my point. At that time, Western Australia had a total population of 184,124. Of that number, 114,705 were persons over the age of twenty-one, and only 69,000 were under that age. In other words, twothirds of the total population of Western Australia at that time were over the age of twenty-one. In South Australia, on the other hand, out of a total population of 363,157, only 186,406 were over the age of twenty-one; whilst 175,751 were under the age of twenty-one. Whereas in Western Australia two-thirds of the population were over the age of twenty-one, in South Australia one half the population were adults, whilst the remainder were minors. If you had formed an average for the Commonwealth, and applied the honorable senator’s reasoning, you could have demonstrated that a great injustice was being done to South Australia, because she was not given credit for the percentage of adults- which she had. It must be remembered that the figures quoted by either the Commonwealth Statistician or the New South Wales Statistician are not such figures as are collected by the census, showing age groups, but are based upon past experience, and the statistics, so far as they can be secured, of the excess of births over deaths, and of immigration over emigration.
– The Minister will admit that the estimate I referred to, being for the twelve months immediately following the census, is likely to be approximately correct.
– It may be approximately correct, but I have shown that the figures quoted by the honorable senator cannot be accepted as more than approximate.
– The honorable senator means that the average for the whole of the Commonwealth cannot be used as the basis of the argument.
– I do not say that. I say that the figures, even for one State, are liable to considerable fluctuation because of the varying conditions. If, for instance, there is a considerable increase in immigration, it will follow that the proportion of adults to the total population will be increased; and, on the contrary, if there should be a falling-off in immigration, the proportion of adults to the total population will show a decrease.
– Has the Commonwealth Statistician, in ascertaining the number of adults in New South Wales, adopted the adult average for the whole of the Commonwealth, or the adult average for New South Wales?
– He has adopted the average for New South Wales.
– Then his estimate should be correct, and the honorable senator’s arguments from the figures for Western Australia fails.
– I have pointed out that the figures for each State are liable to fluctuation, and are affected by the movements of immigration, and by the increase or decrease of the birth rate. I am given to understand that the State Statistician takes the view that the total enrolment to which New South Wales is entitled is not, as given by the Commonwealth electoral authorities, 935,000, but is 940,000. I propose to read to the Senate the following memorandum which has been compiled by the electoral authorities as bearing upon this matter -
According to the census figures of 3rd April, 1911, the population of New South Wales, exclusive of those coming within the disqualifications for the purpose of fixing the representation of the States (section 29 of the Constitution) was 1,646,734.
The corresponding figures for Victoria were
– The honorable senator will permit me to say that, while the note is that most, and not all, are probably adults, all are added to make the total.
– That is so. The memorandum continues -
The totals as at the 31st March, 1912, as estimated by the Commonwealth Statistician, were : -
The population of New South Wales was thus held to have increased during the twelve months by 41,034, and of Victoria by 60,962.
These figures have been questioned by the State Statisticians, who, it is understood, hold that the actual population of New South Wales is substantially in excess of the estimate, and that of Victoria substantially below the estimate; and that some error may have arisen through incorrect figures being supplied to the Commonwealth Statistician.
Assuming the population figures as at the 31st March, as estimated by the Commonwealth Statistician, to be correct, the electoral population of New South Wales - after making all deductions for disqualified and unqualified persons - will probably be from 909,000 to 912,000, or on the State Statist’s estimate 921,000 to 924,000.
The electoral collection, however, for the New South Wales rolls - representing 935,744 electors - includes names up to the end of July, 1912, and, therefore, for purposes of comparison with enrolment a substantial addition, must be made to the adult population figures as at the 31st March, representing persons coming of age, immigrants becoming qualified, &c.
Briefly, the enrolment figures were obtained as the result of a canvass by experienced police officers acting under clear instructions, and the number of duplications occurring as the result of persons changing their places of living during the period covered by the canvass may be taken to be relatively small. These duplications will be discovered and removed in due course, when the Card Index now in course of preparation is arranged.
I understand that a conference has recently been held between the State Statistician of New South Wales and representatives of the Statistical Branch of the Home Affairs Department, and that the discrepancy between the two sets of figures, as regards the census population, is being threshed out. But, even accepting Senator Millen’s figures as based upon those of the New South Wales Statistician, and adding 10,000, as he said, bringing the State Statistician’s figures up to 931,000, we have to add also the figures for the month of July, which the honorable senator did not include. It will then be seen that the figures are practically those of the Common wealth electoral enrolment.
– The Minister must, on that basis, assume that every adult in the Commonwealth entitled to be enrolled, is enrolled.
– There may be some duplication which the card system will reveal, and that might account for much of the excess of the enrolment figures as compared with the estimated number of adults. I venture to say it will not represent the difference which Senator Millen suggests, because, when the honorable senator refers to the percentages of enrolment of the estimated adult population in the different States, he overlooks the fact that the card system has not been in operation for a sufficiently long time to bring about a complete roll. It is claimed by those who have made a special study of the system that it will give surprisingly good results, not only in providing a complete roll, but also a roll that will not be stuffed.
– It depends on how it is worked.
– The results from any system of the kind must, of course, depend on its administration. But I have stated what is claimed for the card system, and Senator Millen has himself admitted that if it is administered as it should be, it should provide a very complete roll.
– No; I said it should prevent duplicate enrolment.
– Yes; and honorable senators must bear in mind that we have made provision for compulsory enrolment.
– Which the Government are not game to enforce.
– The honorable senator should not make any mistake about that. It has never been in existence before, and the card system, combined with compulsory enrolment, should not merely prevent duplication, but should give us a practically complete roll. If the census can be made complete, there is no reason why, for electoral purposes, we should not have a complete roll.
– Why have we not got it in four States out of the six?
– Because, as I have said, the card system and the compulsory enrolment have not been in force for a sufficient length of time. The enrolment figures given are based upon the latest roll compiled under the card system.. The police, under instructions from the State authorities, have now for some time been collecting the rolls. They have no doubt perfected their system, and in those States where we have a thorough house-to-house canvass by the police, we should, in conjunction with the compulsory enrolment provision, get a roll which will be as complete as is the census. Whilst I agree that Senator Millen is doing his State and the country a service in bringing forward this matter, and whilst it is complicated by the dispute between the Commonwealth Statistician and the State Statistician of New South Wales, which a conference is being held to decide, there is still reasonable ground for the belief that the figures given by the Commonwealth Electoral authorities, upon which the redistribution has been made, are approximately correct.
. -I do not know whether Senator Millen is concerned about the 25s. per head of population for his State, or the purity of the electoral roll ; but he has, in any case, done excellent service by the facts he has brought out to-day. I have not been surprised by the discrepancies disclosed, nor will I be surprised if they are shown to be still greater in the future. 1 do not believe that the card system will afford a complete check, and I think that the provisions with respect to absent voting will be so manipulated as to make the figures unreliable. When I was in the country districts a few months ago, it came under my knowledge that in two small townships there had been returned to the post-office, in one case 150, and in the other 200, cards, for which no owners could be found. These cards were sent out by the Electoral Department in response to applications for enrolment ; yet no owners could be found for them. Shortly afterwards I submitted a question to the Government, desiring to know how many of these cards, approximately, had been returned to the various post-offices in Victoria. The answer I obtained was that no fewer than 30,000 had been returned to the post-offices, and that owners could not be found for them. That seemed to me to be a very extraordinary condition of affairs. It shows that there must have been either gross carelessness in preparing the rolls, or an amount of duplication which must have been the result of design. On further inquiry I was informed that it was the intention of the Department to make a further effort to find owners for the cards, and, if they were not successful, steps would be taken to hold a Revision Court, or to take such proceedings as might be necessary for striking the names on these cards off the rolls. The statements which have been made to-day by Senator Millen emphasize the necessity for great care on the part of the Electoral Department if we are to have pure rolls. The Minister of Defence said that it was somewhat unfair to challenge the rolls in New South Wales, as the card system has been in operation there for only a very short time. That is not the case in Victoria, where it has been in operation since September last. That is twelve months ago, and should give time for a proper checking of the rolls. Still, I have been informed that 30,000. cards have been issued for whom owners cannot be found.
– The honorable senator misunderstood my statement as to the card system. What 1 said was. that it should provide us with a complete roll. I did not apologize for it.
– My remarks are prompted by a desire to impress upon the Department the necessity which exists for instituting a very searching inquiry into this matter.
– The closing remarks of the Minister of Defence are calculated to induce the belief that what the Government desire is a large enrolment and small financial payments to the different States. He seems to hope that the electoral rolls will prove to be correct, and his attitude suggests that, as the Commonwealth has to pay the States upon the basis of our census statistics, he is perfectly prepared to allow the discrepancy which exists between the rolls and statistics to continue without any adequate explanation. To a certain extent, the issue would be clouded if we attempted to investigate the accuracy of the estimates which have been made either by the Commonwealth or the State Statisticians. Nothing would be more disconcerting to those officers than to discover that there was unanimity amongst them. They want something to show that they differ from somebody else.
– Then this ought to be a land of Paradise to them.
– Probably it is. I am more concerned with the obvious discrepancy between the census figures of the Commonwealth Statistician and the figures which are supplied by our electoral rolls. I admit that I do not know upon which side the burden of inaccuracy rests. If we take the collection of the electoral rolls by the police officers, we find that the number of adults who figure there is in excess of the number of adults whom Mr. Knibbs estimates ought to appear there. Now, nobody who has any practical knowledge of the collection of our electoral rolls will hesitate to say that those rolls do not contain the name of every person whose name ought to appear there. Excellent as the card system may be, it fails to collect everybody’s name. But, in spite of that fact, the electoral rolls contain many more names than Mr. Knibbs estimates they ought to contain.
– And more than the State Statisticians estimate they ought to contain.
– The estimates of the State Statisticians agree more closely with the figures disclosed by the rolls than do those of the Commonwealth Statistician. But I am chiefly concerned with the collection of the rolls. There are many obvious ways in which those rolls may be inaccurate. I do not hesitate to say that on those rolls appear the names of many persons who are not twenty-one years of age - an error which might very easily creep in, whilst crediting Australians with every regardfor the truth. I consider it is extremely probable that, on our rolls to-day, there are the names of many persons who are not twenty-one years of age. On the other hand, it is always possible for the names of electors to appear upon the rolls under different aliases. These considerations naturally induce one to imagine that our rolls contain more names than they ought to contain. On the whole, however, I agree with Senator Millen that the percentage of voters whose names appear there is probably from 90 to 92 per cent. of the total adults who are qualified. I do not think that the rolls can attain a greater measure of accuracy than that. But when we considerthat there is a discrepancy of 30,000 actual, and of 40,000 estimated, in New South Wales alone, the position becomes a very serious one. Mention was made by the Minister of Defence of a difference, which it is difficult to explain, between New South Wales and Victoria in respect of the census estimates. I was told the other day that the method adopted for ascertaining the migratory population between Victoria and New South Wales by rail - and we know that a tremendous number travel in that way - is not that of checking the tickets issued, but is that of employing a porter to count heads at 11 p.m., or probably at some early hour in the morning, at Albury. In other words, a porter is detailed to check off the people changing at Albury.
– Call him a ticket collector, then.
– An official at Albury is expected to count heads. ‘If that be so, it is certainly a very loose method of attempting to ascertain statistics, and is bound to permit of a very considerable percentage of error. The discrepancy in my own State between the census statistics and the electoral enrolment is almost as great relatively to population as it is in New South Wales. I do not know where the error lies. But if I were to express my own opinion, I would prefer that the electoral rolls should be stuffed rather than that Tasmania should be robbed financially. My reason for making that statement is that if the States are robbed financially, it is an absolute loss to us all, whereas, if the electoral rolls are stuffed, the result is uncertain. I hope that this matter, which has been very properly brought forward by Senator Millen, will result in a close investigation into its financial bearing upon the different States.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.39]. - I am sure that honorable senators feel indebted to Senator Millen for having brought this matter under their notice. Upon a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, it necessarily attracts more attention than would otherwise be bestowed upon it. It is hardly necessary for me to say that our electoral rolls should not contain the names of fictitious individuals. We have provided that every person who is entitled to vote at elections shall exercise his or her franchise. But we do not want an elector to vote early and often. We do not want fictitious names to appear upon the rolls, so that one man may vote quite a number of times under different aliases. I recollect some time ago that an enormous number of votes were recorded from the cemetery. A man recorded a vote as Mr. A., who had departed this life - a short time previously, and a little later registered another vote as some other person, who was also dead. I recollect that a prosecution was instituted in connexion with these cases, and that, as a result, certain enterprising individuals were sent into seclusion for some months at the expense of the Crown. I come now to the question of the census figures. I know it is very freely stated that the census was collected in a most careless manner, and that many persons whose names should have been recorded were omitted from the enumeration.
– One could not obtain the necessary forms. I can prove that.
– Whatever may be the cause of the difficulty, it is evident that it requires a very searching examination. But how the difficulty is to be overcome by getting rid of the possibility of a duplication of names on our electoral rolls I do not know. Nor do I know how we can ascertain the names of those persons under twenty-one years of age who have managed to get their names upon those rolls. Senator Millen has rendered good service to the country by bringing this matter forward, and no doubt he would be only too glad to find that a larger number of persons were entitled to record their votes in New South Wales. But he also desires to see that State fairly dealt with by the Commonwealth from the stand-point of the latter’s financial obligations, such obligations being based upon our census statistics. It has been pointed out that in the case of New South Wales” and Tasmania a discrepancy exists which does not exist in the other States. Are we to assume that that position is due to the superior methods of collection adopted in the other States? Where cards are left at various houses throughout the States, and the opportunity is given for those cards to be filled up by one person, under two or three different names, there is always the possibility of fraud.
– And there is no check upon him.
– I do not see what ingenuity can be exercised by the electoral authorities which will enable them to discover where this, improper enrolment has taken place. I am not one of those who believe that by means of the card system, or -any other system, we shall succeed in enrolling every individual who is entitled to vote and nobody who is not entitled to vote. Very great carelessness has been exhibited, I admit, by many people. T know of caseswhere the cards have been left at the’ houses with an instruction that they should be filled in, but the cards have not been filled in or returned, and there has not been a single inquiry made at the houses as to the reason for the omission. That shows that we cannot rely upon- everybody who is entitled to enrolment being enrolled. It causes a very grave doubt as to the purity of the rolls, and also as to the possibility of purifying the rolls in such a way as to make sure that at an election every qualified person will have an opportunity to vote, and at the same time that no individual will be able to record two or more votes by any ingenious method of dealing with the cards and securing enrolment in various electorates.
– I am very pleased, indeed, that Senator Millen has brought this matter before the Senate, and I think that the thanks of every honorable senator, and of the country, are due to him. I do not believe that any one here wishes anything to be done which is wrong. I believe that it is to the interests of both parties to see that the error is rectified, because, if you find enthusiasts on one side, you are bound to find enthusiasts on the other side. I do not intend to make any charge which will not affect all members of the Senate. We have heard a great deal to-day of how perfect the electoral system is. I called attention to its imperfection while the Electoral Bill was under consideration. I have in my possession very nearly a score of forms- that were sent to me by persons in Queensland who desired to know what they should do with them. I have them handy, and can produce them in the course of a few minutes. It shows that many persons do not know what to do with the forms when they are supplied. Any person who likes can obtain forms, because a surplus number is left at every house, and get people to fill them in, and send them in to the Electoral Registrar. When the census was taken I happened to be flood-bound in the far north, and there were scores of persons who could not get a form to fill in. A member of the Queensland Ministry was there at the time, and he can vouch for the accuracy of my statement. He could not get a form, but I suppose that he took other means afterwards to return his name.
– What other means?
– I suppose that when he got to another place he obtained a form to fill in. He was travelling when 1 met him at the town, but, at that date, no local resident would have been able to get a form. I think that any one who has had much experience of elections will agree with me that a great many more might be added to the number which Senator Millen mentioned.
If you are at an election in a town of 2,000 or 3,000 inhabitants you will always find scores of persons coming in whose names are not on the roll. How is the omission to be accounted for ? If that sort of thing occurred in New South Wales it would swell the number from 30,000 or 40,000 to 60,000 or 70,000.
– If a citizen of twenty-one years of age is not on the roll who is to blame?
– It is the system which is to blame, though, of course, to some extent, the man is to blame, seeing that the police make a canvass from house to house. What Senator Millen has drawn attention to is the fact that there are 30,000 or 40,000 more persons on the electoral roll for New South Wales than the Commonwealth Statistician says are in the State, and about 5,000 more than the State Statistician says are in the State. His statement simply amounts to this, that a number of persons have been enrolled more than once. In making up their averages the Statisticians do not allow anything for the number of persons who are not on a roll ; so that there must be a great many more than 40,000 persons on the roll who are not entitled to be enrolled. I think that every honorable senator will admit that, at every election, it is found that the names of scores of persons have been left off the roll. I believe that many cases of that kind occurred in Melbourne the other clay. I was in Queensland when the last State election was proceeding. People came in, not by ones or twos, but by scores, made a statutory declaration that they had filled in a form and handed it to the police, but their names never appeared on a roll. At one house a family of eight persons found that their names had been left off the roll. They were not on my side in politics, but I felt sorry that they were not entitled to record a vote. What I want the Government to do is to take steps to see that the rolls are purged. I do not know how the State rolls are worked in Victoria, but in Queensland, when I used to live there, there was a Quarterly Revision Court field, at which new names could be put on, and the names of persons who had left the district could be expunged. I do not know whether there is any scheme for’ taking a man’s name off a Commonwealth .roll-
– If it is wrongly there, yes.
– Who is the authority ? Who is going to prove that the man is wrongly enrolled?
– The electoral authority.
– How does he get the knowledge?
– In a number of ways ; he can compare the Federal roll with the State roll.
– Men might be on the Federal roll, but not on the State roll, and it would not do to knock their names off the Federal roll for that reason.
– There is an objection lodged.
– Of course, it is the duty of the public to lodge an objection to a name which wrongly appears on a roll, but that is not done, because what is everybody’s duty is nobody’s duty.
– It is also the duty of the Electoral Registrar.
– I have never seen anything of that sort done. I have looked up the Federal roll for the last ten years, but I have never known any official to take any step until the card system was introduced. I can take any honorable senator to an adjacent room and show him at least a dozen cards which any man can fill in. The cards have been distributed very loosely. If any one can obtain a dozen of these forms and fill them in, it confirms what Senator Millen has stated here.
– You must admit that these cards have been returned to you by those who did not perform their duty.
– I know that a larger number of the cards was left at the boardinghouse than was required.
– Is that a fair criterion of the administration of the Act?
– I am not making an accusation, but stating a fact.
– I am afraid that these cards have been sent to you by people who ought to have filled them in.
– The point is that the cards have never gone back to the Department. Surely they should be able to find out where the forms are ! If they allow the forms to be distributed broadcast, they open the door for the commission of fraud. I ask the Minister to see that stricter instructions are given that the Act shall be carried out. What we all desire is purity of elections.
– Iread with a little interest the statements in the press regarding this matter, but I understand that at present it is receiving attention at the hands of those who ought to be best able to deal with it, because, after all, it is purely a matter for the Statisticians. The fact which Senator Millen has brought forward, that in two States we have more persons on the rolls than the estimated adult population, is a very serious matter. It seems to me that we have a perfect piece of machinery, as far as the enrolling of people is concerned, but, unfortunately, there are many weaknesses for which I do not think that any of the officers can be held responsible, because, unhappily, it has to be worked by human beings. I do not know whether the fault lies with the Electoral Office or the postal officials. With the divided control, it is only too true that a very large percentage of the persons in charge of postoffices do not attend to their electoral duties as they should do. In fact, in some cases they are absolutely ignorant of their duties. It has been my business to call in and ask whether they had exhibited the rolls, but I found that they did not know that there was such a regulation. Again, in regard to forms, they will ask, “ If people come to me for a transfer, which form shall I give them?” These officers are loaded up with State and Federal forms, and when a person asks for information, unfortunately in many cases he cannot get it. It would be a great advantage if the State or the Commonwealth took the trouble to see that every individual in a post-office who handles forms is competent to give reliable information. The complicated or differingsystems lead to a lot of trouble. I heard a man, quite openly, ask another man how he could get on the roll. When he was asked, “ Where were you when you were last enrolled ?” he replied, “ I am not quite sure,” and then he was advised to send in a new application right off. These men had no desire to do anything wrong; they merely thought that they could leave it to the electoral authorities to strike off the man’s name from the old roll. The trouble was that he did not know the exact spot where he was residing when he was previously enrolled. I have no doubt that the electoral authorities will be able to tell us that there are thousands of such cases. In the cases of New South Wales and Tasmania, it is possible that the rolls and the signatures on the cards sent in have not yet been compared.
It may be that the Commonwealth electoral officers still have thousands of names to strike off. There will be duplicated applications, and will not indicate any intention to commit fraud. The question of getting our rolls into a perfect state is quite above party considerations. We want to know that we are getting a fair deal when we go into an election. Those who have charge of this inquiry at present have been conferring about it ; and I trust that the whole question will be gone into fully. In the end, everybody should be satisfied that things are above-board. I have no doubt that there is really nothing which investigation will not clear up. But if there is anything wrong with our rolls cr methods, we cannot have too much inquiry. As one who is going into an election next year, I am bound to say that the purer the rolls are the better it will be for all of us.
– Senator Millen is to be commended for having brought this matter before the Senate. It is undoubtedly very important. We are all interested in seeing that our electoral rolls are made as pure as possible. At the same time, I do not think that we can have a. perfect system. I am not sure, from inquiries which I have made, that it is thoroughly understood that persons making application to be placed on a roll are bound to sign their names. I have heard of one person in a household signing cards for all the people in the house. That ought not to be allowed. It may be right to sign for a person who cannot read and write, but other persons should sign their own names on the application form. Later on, it may be necessary to compare absent-vote signatures with signatures on application cards. It must be remembered that our population is a constantly changing one. Only a week or two ago a man said to me, “ I must go and send in my electoral claim.” I said to him, “ Surely you are enrolled already?” He replied, “But I have shifted.”’ I said, “You ought not to send in a new claim, but apply for a transfer.” I believe that he sent in a new card altogether. Perhaps it is a commonpractice to send in new claims when they change their residences.
– That would not mean putting two names on a roll for the same person. Under the card system, one of the names would be removed.
– Do the electoral authorities go through all the rolls to see whether new names duplicate old ones?
– The cards go to the Central Office and are then checked. When two names are found to be enrolled for the same person, the error is detected.
– I think I could bring a roll to show the Minister that there have been duplications. I am not casting, blame upon the officers. The blame rather rests with electors who do not carry out the law properly. There is no excuse for not knowing the law in this matter. Every man should know what he has to do to get his name on the roll and secure the right to vote. Perhaps the Minister can tell me how the electoral authorities obtain information with regard to deaths. Do the registrars of births and deaths send in lists in order that the names of deceased persons may be removed from rolls?
– We get a return quarterly from the Registrars-General of all the States.
– Are they bound to send that information?
– That ought to be sufficient. I know that some duplication has taken place, and the total number of instances may be considerable. I cast no blame upon our electoral officers, believing they are doing their best. We should, as far as possible, help them in carrying out their duties. A pure and clean roll is a matter of great importance; and I am satisfied that the officers desire to make our rolls as perfect as possible.
– We can all echo the concluding sentence of Senator Vardon in connexion with this matter. Like Senator Millen, I feel that, if an error has been made, it is our duty to probe it as speedily as possible, in order that the wrong may be righted. But I am wondering whether Senator Millen has not been “ a little previous.” In the compilation of the figures which he has quoted, it is quite conceivable that such mistakes as those referred to by Senator Sayers have been made. That honorable senator told us that he has in his possession something like a dozen electoral forms that have been sent to him from Queensland. It is quite possible that, in consequence of their error in sending the forms to Melbourne, those persons are not on the roll at all. Again, it is quite likely that, through their peregrinations through the Commonwealth, a number of persons have been enrolled in two or three places.
– The electoral officers tell us that that is not so.
– The officers may not, up to the present moment, have checked the whole of those enrolments and compared them with the signatures. As long as we have rolls there will always bo a possibility of error. Unless we can obtain a method by which enrolment can be abolished from our electoral system, it will not be possible to bring about such a condition of things as will prevent the inflation of rolls. I would also point out that people are not always in a position to make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the requirements of our Electoral Act. I believe it to be true, though the statement may sound strange, that no Commonwealth law has been so little noticed by the public press as our electoral law. The only information that has gone to the people through the medium of the press on that subject was the fact that the law was passed. At our post-offices and other buildings we have notices informing people how they are to sign forms; but probably only a small percentage of our population make themselves acquainted with that particular information.
– What the honorable senator is saying applies to nearly every Federal law in respect of the press of all the capital cities, except Melbourne.
– The fact remains that scarcely any information has been disseminated concerning our electoral legislation.
– Should not the Commonwealth Electoral Office do that?
– The officers have published a good deal of information, but their publications do not reach all the electors. There are thousands upon thousands of people who are beyond the reach of information of the kind. Therefore, very many are ignorant of the law. Surely the persons who sent to Senator Savers from Queensland their application forms must have been ignorant of the law.
– They did not know what they had to do.
– I doubt whether it is possible for human ingenuity to devise an application form more simple than that which has been devised by the Commonwealth Electoral Office.
– I was informed that the forms were issued broadcast, and any one could get them and fill them in.
– I do not know how that could be. I am astonished to hear the statement. I know that my form was sent to me with the usual instructions. I filled it in, and sent it on to the Department. Every one was privileged to do the same.
– It is compulsory.
– That is so; it was the duty of every citizen to do the same. I do not know whether any other honorable senator has had an experience similar to that of Senator Sayers, but I know that I have not.
– Senator Millen stated that when the cards were being left, if the head of a household asked for ten, he would be given them.
– I do not know whether thatis so or not. In my own State, the very greatest care has been exercised. It should have been exercised, if it was not, in every other State. What we desire, and have always contended for, is a roll representing the voting power of the adult population of Australia. Nothing less will satisfy the people, and anything that will tend to provide us with such a roll will receive our strongest support. If anything can be done to rectify whatever may be wrong in the existing rolls, I hope it will be clone in the best interests of the community.
– The debate appears to be taking the form of a debate upon the conduct of the electoral law and the facilities given for enrolment. I think it necessary to remind honorable senators that Senator Millen’s motion was submitted to discuss a matter of urgency, namely, the discrepancy between the population statistics and the electoral enrolment.
– I have only one observation to make in reply to the debate. I must express very considerable regret that the Minister of Defence did not give the Senate an assurance, which I anticipated would come very readily from him, that, in view of the figures I put forward, and which he does not challenge, there is a call for some inquiry which will be made. I would even now ask the honorable senator to say whether it is not due to the Senate and to the electors that some assurance should be given that the matter will be looked into. I am not suggesting that the whole of the rolls for New South Wales shall be checked over. There are many ways known to the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department of checking the figures for certain localities in. certain divisions, and, as people purchase goods by sample, the electoral officers, by checking the figures for one block, may arrive at a fair test of the accuracy of the figures given for the whole electorate. I again urge on the Government that the matter does call for inquiry, and I ask the Minister of Defence to say whether he will communicate with the Minister immediately charged with electoral affairs to see whether it is not possible to have some experimental check of the kind I have indicated. I feel confident that Senator Clemons was very near the mark when he said that a number of people who are under twenty-one years of age are being enrolled. I have reason to believe the statement, though one cannot deduce a general practice from one’s own experience, which is necessarily limited. I know of two or three households in which young people, who had not reached the age of twenty-one years, but who would have reached that age before it was anticipated that an election would take place, or even before the roll was printed, were enrolled. That is irregular under the law, and though it might not be a serious matter if an election were not precipitated, it might result in circumstances not contemplated by the electors. I have put my figures forward, and they speak for themselves. I again ask the Minister of Defence to communicate with his colleague, and see if it is not possible for the officers of the Department to institute some check. I am certain that they will not do so unless the Minister instructs them to do so. There is an inherent belief in the officers of every Department that the system for which they are responsible, and under which they work, is unimpeachable. If there were anything wrong with it, they would themselves suggest a remedy, and the fact that they have not done so is, with them, sufficient proof that the system is perfect. I submit that I have made out a case which calls for inquiry, and I again ask the Minister of Defence to communicate with the Minister of Home Affairs and see whether it is not possible to institute in the two States Ihave referred to some check to discover whether the rolls have been inflated, as the figures given suggest?
– I can promise to mention the matter to the Minister of Home Affairs.
– The honorable senator will admit that there is a serious aspect of the matter. It is not a question of which of the Statisticians is right, but of whether the rolls are inflated. I believe that a simple inquiry into the figures for densely-populated localities would show whether the rolls are inflated in the way suggested by the figures, or not. I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Northern Territory? What is the total average daily attendance?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– The answers supplied to the honorable senator’s questions are - 1 and 2. The matter is under consideration.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators who have been following what has been done in another branch of the Legislature, and the correspondence, leading articles and other matter which has appeared in the daily press, not only of Victoria, but of other States as well, will by this time be fairly familiar with the legislation proposed in this Bill. All who have studied the history of the past must know that, from century to century, and from year to year, the position of women in the world, as civilization has advanced, has received greater attention. As time goes on, there is ever this plain and increasing disposition to do something to improve the lot of the female portion of the community, and particularly of those who are embraced in the motherhood of the world. There is an increasing desire that they should be given consideration, assistance, and compensation for the great trials, difficulties, and dangers they have to encounter. In the early ages, the position of women in the world was a very disagreeable one. But civilization is altering that, and the higher the civilization of any country, the more important part in the life of that country do women play. Therefore, I do not think it need occasion surprise that it has fallen to the lot of the Labour Government in the Commonwealth to introduce this Bill, which provides for a maternity allowance. Of course, there are persons in the world who object to legislation of almost any kind. They would like the world to stand -still. Their position is secure, and no alteration could improve their condition. But that is not the position which is occupied by the great mass of humanity. There are others, again, whose objections to legislation of a humanitarian description are more defined. The objections which they urge against a measure of this kind are of a varied character. Some declare that the more we do to assist people in trial and difficulty the more we shall be liable to sap the fibre of the nation, and to make its units weaklings who are always anxious to lean upon the Government for support. But what has been achieved by legislation already is sufficient to show that that is not the result in all circumstances, and, very possibly, under any circumstances. A great deal has already been done in Great Britain and other European countries, and even in Australia, to provide against hardship and suffering. Humanitarian legislation has been enacted in Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, France, the United States, and Australia. Its effect has certainly not been to make the community less able to bear any of the burdens which the duties of citizenship may impose upon them. In all these countries, the people are as sound to-day, from a patriotic and national stand-point, as they ever were. Consequently, there is nothing in the argument that such legislation will have a tendency to weaken the race. Then there are others who object, not altogether to humanitarian legislation, but to this particular Bill, because they hold that the scope of its operation is too wide. They urge that we should hedge it round with such restrictions that there could be no possible interference with the present moral state of the community. I am very sorry to see sections of the people who are connected with religious bodies - persons who are no doubt honest, upright, and sincere in their demonstrations - declaring that, because the Bill makes no distinction in favour of the married state, the Government are doing something to imperil the marriage tie, and to encourage an immoral condition of society which may ultimately prove to be detrimental to the citizens of the Commonwealth. I venture to differ from these good persons. I believe that they are wrong. It does not matter whether they belong to the Council of Churches, or whether they are merely voicing their own opinions, they do not exhibit that broad practical outlook which characterized the Founder of their religion. If we compare their professions with the expressions used by the Founder of Christianity, we cannot fail to come to the conclusion that their attitude is a wrong one. Everybody will acknowledge that the position of a mother who has had the advantage of being married is very different from that of the poor unfortunate young woman who may have been deceived and wronged by some unscrupulous individual. When Our Saviour himself was teaching us the way we ought to go, one of his first declarations was, “ They that are whole need no physician, but they that are sick.” Those who are in a more favorable position in life are not as likely to require assistance as are persons who are differently circumstanced. We also know that when the sinner merited the sentence of death, and was brought out to be executed, the first words of the Founder of Christianity were, “ Let him that is without sin cast the first stone,” whereupon nobody attempted to proceed with the execution. Wo know, too, that when later that poor sinner appealed to him, his reply was. “ Go thy way and sin no more.” That, I think, is the extent of the retribution which religious persons ought to attempt to inflict under circumstance’! such as we are now discussing. Then, I might call history to witness that in the past a number of women who have fallen have been reclaimed, and have risen to the highest positions in the world. That is evidence of the fact that indiscretions of this kind must not be regarded as placing women altogether outside the pale of justice and of human sympathy whenever that sympathy can be of benefit to them. To those persons who are so particular in their objections with respect to legitimacy and illegitimacy I would like to address a few words. I do not desire either now or at any time that any citizen of the Commonwealth should be able to say that the Labour Government did something which would tend to destroy the morality of the nation, or to weaken the righteous institutions that exist in a civilized country like Australia. But in the experience of this world, how many young women have been placed in unfortunate circumstances by reason of their own deliberate choice? Very few, if any. In fact, 1 do not believe that there are any cases in which they have sinned deliberately. Their indiscretion is probably the result of some promise which they have believed. Those who raise objections of this kind should go a little further. Let us suppose that a woman is fortunate enough to obtain a husband, and that within a few weeks of her marriage a child is born. According to the opinions of some of these good people she ought to be entitled to this maternity allowance. I say that no more guilt attaches to another young woman who is less fortunate, but probably equally good, if not better, who finds herself in a similar condition, her seducer having deserted her, or perhaps having died in the interim. Consequently there should be no need to argue this question at very great length. I desire to make one other assertion in order to show that poor young women in this unfortunate position pay a very heavy toll to nature for their indiscretions. There are nearly double the number of deaths amongst young women who give birth to illegitimate children that there are amongst women who give birth to children in wedlock. Consequently it would be inhuman’ to exclude the former from humanitarian legislation of this description.
– And if they live they pay another toll to society.
– This Bill is intended to preserve the women of the country, so that they may further fulfil the duties which they owe to the nation. Incidentally it must accomplish something in the way of protecting the infant life of the community. Other arguments may havebeen adduced against the Bill, but I think I have dealt with the principal one. When it was first submitted to the other branch of the Legislature there were Members of Parliament and individuals outside of it who were in a hurry to express views, which, when challenged, they were reluctant to give effect to. Thus it came about that when a vote was taken -upon, the Bill not one of its opponents had the courage to call for a division.
– Order ! The VicePresident of the Executive Council must not reflect upon the members of the otherbranch of the Legislature..
– I did not intend to reflect upon them. I merely mention the matter with a view to showing how, in the course of a few weeks, publicopinion has so acted upon those who wereinclined to oppose this legislation that they are now almost silent upon it. Regarding the assertion that the measure will encourage illegal practices and fraud, I ask honorable senators to look carefully through it, and they will then see that every necessary precaution has been taken. 1 am sure that the Government will be only too pleased if, even at this late stage, any honorable senator can show a weaknesswhich cannot be met, to listen to any argument.
– Senator McColl will challenge the reasoning, surely. Hehas decried the measure in the country.
– Senator McColl will speak for himself.
– I am only dealing with statements which I have heard-
Although what appears in the press may have some influence, yet it is not always reliable, and we can only judge by the actions of honorable senators here. The Government are anxious that this legislation should be given effect to as speedily as possible, and the reason for their anxiety is obvious. It does not make a great deal of difference whether a Bill, for the survey of a .railway is passed to-day, to-morrow, or next week. A Bill to amend the Bounty Act is almost in the same position; in the case of all legislation of an ordinary character a delay of a day or two makes very little difference. But I would remind honorable senators that 80 or 90 per cent, of the people of the Commonwealth are looking to this Parliament to decide the fate of this measure. Seeing that there are being born in the Commonwealth about 300 children every twenty-four hours, they will realize that every day’s delay will make a great difference to many a needy mother; and if the delay is increased by weeks, it will mean a grievous disappointment, not only to hundreds, but to thousands- for every State in the Commonwealth bears its proportion. Those who have had to labour for their living must know the conditions of the majority of the people in these cases. Both in the Old Country and in Australia I have been associated with the working classes all my life, and I know that where large families have been the rule of the clay, every time a great anxiety was placed, not only on the mother, but on the father, as to how they were to get over the difficulty, and very often the worry caused to the poor mother in her serious condition was- more injurious to her than the actual birth of the child. It is for the purpose of giving this relief just at that particular time that the Government are anxious that this legislation should be carried as speedily as possible.
– Is that why you waited for two and a half years before you brought it in?
– I do not think it is fair that an insinuation of that kind should be made against the present Government by representatives and senators who have been in the Commonwealth Parliament for eleven years, and have never attempted to do anything in this direction. I hope that it is not an indication that, even at this eleventh hour, when the legislation is brought in, we shall not have the assistance of the honorable senator , to carry it into operation as speedily as possible.
– Their cry is that we have no right to bring it in, even now..
– I believe that Senator Millen, when he is properly appealed to, will be found to have as much sympathy as has any one of us. I feel sure that he and the other senators on the Opposition benches will not raise any unnecessary obstruction to the passage of this legislation.
– He does not want to destroy votes at the next election.
– Is this a votecatching Bill?
– He says that it is, and you say that it is.
– I shall leave the people to judge Members of Parliament with respect to their actions. I do not think that we need be unnecessarily cruel to each other by making insinuations which, very probably, when sifted, will be found to have no foundation. I was pointing out, when I was interrupted, the seriousness of any delay. Once you raise the hopes of any section of the community ; once you give encouragement for hope to any individual, the sooner you bring about the realization of such hopes, the better it is for the Legislature and the people themselves. Every one must acknowledge that. Some objection may be raised to the attempt of the Government to proceed forthwith with this measure.
– Do you propose to proceed straight away?
– Certainly. 1 would remind the honorable senator that when the Prime Minister finished his second-reading speech in another place they carried the measure right through, without a break, and that is all that we ask here. If the Leader of the Opposition in another place was prepared to get up at the conclusion of the Prime Minister’s speech and take his part in the debate, I feel sure that Senator Millen, with his ability and versatility, will not give second place to any legislator in Australia.
– You will admit that there was a big gap between the time of introducing the Bill and the time they went on with it.
– I feel sure that if the honorable senator desires a few minutes for preparation, he has only to give a wink to Senator St. Ledger, who is always prepared to occupy the time of the Senate to the best advantage. There are other members of the Opposition who, during the last few weeks, have been studying this measure, and giving expression to their opinions at little tea parties and other functions of that kind. I feel confident that they will be ready to plunge into a discussion straight away. As the debate was initiated and carried right through in another place, and the Bill passed through its third reading without delay, I hope that no objection will be raised to its speedy passage here. I might, if I chose, deal with many other minor objections, which have been raised in connexion with this legislation. But, as I have indicated that it is our desire to get through with the Bill as quickly as possible, it would be of no advantage to the Government or the Senate for me to attempt to” stone- wall “ it at any length. I shall content myself with explaining that it is a very short measure, consisting of twelve clauses, of which only two or three are really debatable. Like every other measure, it has a short title. Clause 2 provides that the Bill shall be brought into operation by proclamation. When the necessary officers are appointed, and when the regulations are framed, and everything is ready, a proclamation will be issued, and the people will receive the benefit of this legislation. Clause 3 deals with the officers for administrative purposes. We all know that there must be a Commissioner, an Assistant Commissioner, and a Deputy Commissioner in different parts of the Commonwealth to carry out the administration of the Act, and their appointment is provided for. Clause 4 provides for an allowance of £5 to the mother of every child born in the Commonwealth, or even in a vessel travelling from one port in the Commonwealth to another port therein, or any Territory in connexion with the Commonwealth. I feel sure that no one can raise much objection to this, although it is really one of the vital clauses. Clause 5 deals with the cases where the allowance can be granted. It also provides that the allowance may only be given to white women. It does not extend to Asiaticsor aborigines. The aborigines are wards of the State, and this legislation, like other legislation that we have passed, does not apply to Asiatics. It applies to every mother who, on the presentation-
– And that, by the way, is the Christianity which you were preaching a short time ago.
– I dare say that it may not be perfect Christianity.
– I should think not.
– The allowance is to be paid to every mother on the birth or registration of a live child. In case the infant should die before twelve hours, a medical certificate must be furnished showingthat the child was a viable child. That is a precaution against malpractices or fraud ; it is also intended to protect the legitimate mother. In a case where the doctor’s certificate cannot be obtained, the discretion of the Commissioner may be exercised. Of course, every precaution will be taken to see that the measure is administered in a legitimate manner. The time within which a claim may be made is limited to three months. The Government do not think it wise to keep a contingent liability hanging over the Treasury for a longer period. A person who does not. make application within three months cannot afterwards sustain a claim. Provision is also made, where the mother of a child dies, for the Commissioner, within his discretion, to pay the amount to representatives of the mother. The three last clauses of the Bill provide for penalties against fraud. They impose a penalty of £100, or twelve months’ imprisonment, for obtaining a maternity allowance which is not legally payable, or for making false or misleading statements. There is also a penalty for aiding and abetting. Clause 12 provides for power to make regulations. There are only twelve clauses in the Bill, and not more than two or three of them are debatable. Honorable senators can, I am satisfied, within a few hours make up their minds as to the direction in which they wish to vote. The Government will feel very pleased if they have the assistance, not only of their own supporters, but of members of the Opposition, in carrying the measure into law as speedily as possible.
– I am sure that I can speak for all members of the Senate when I say that we sympathize with the object of this Bill. I also congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council on having given us an excellent description of the measure and its tendency. The only point connected with administration that strikes me is that it might be well for the Government to employ State agencies to distribute the money, because the States have means of ascertaining much more readily than the Federal Government can do where the applicants are situated. It would be a simple- matter for the States to furnish a return of how many mothers there were monthly within a State, and then the Government could hand over the proper sum of money for distribution.
– Why resort to that roundabout method of doing the business?
– For the reason that the Federal Government have not the necessary machinery. I totally dissent from those who would attempt to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate children in a measure of this description. Perhaps it might be well, however, where a mother has a second or third illegitimate child, for the money to be paid over to a maternity home. We all know that many unfortunate girls are seduced under a promise of marriage. Surely after a first experience of that sort, a woman ought to have some check kept upon her. There are many persons who seem to hope that Federation will end in unification. I am rather sorry that this measure appears to be a step in that direction. It undertakes functions which properly belong to the States. It trenches upon the sphere of State legislation. Another point that does not seem to be considered is what is to be paid to a mother who has twins. Surely she should receive ^10 instead of £5.
– She does not want two doctors and two nurses to attend her because she has twins ; this is not a bonus for babies, but for maternity.
– If a mother is so prolific as to give birth to twins, surely this Bill should pay special regard to her. Something has been said about this being a Christian measure. I point out, however, that sub-clause 2 of clause 6 prevents a maternity allowance being paid to women who are Asiatics, or are aboriginal natives of Australia, Papua, or the islands of the Pacific. I hope that in Committee an amendment will be made to modify that clause. In Queensland at the present time there are some kanakas who were given certificates of exemption when the great bulk of the kanakas «were deported. A little while ago I was staying in the Blackall Range, and came across a married couple, of whom the woman was as black as she could possibly be, though she was born in Queensland. She is a well-educated woman. She can read and write, and keeps the books of the farm on which she is employed. She has children, and why should she be deprived of the maternity allowance?
– Why should not the State Government look after such a woman ?
– She is able to earn her own living, and is a valuable person on the farm.
– Then she does not want any assistance under this Bill.
– Ministerial supporters profess that they do not desire to make a distinction between rich and poor in respect of the maternity allowance. I heartily congratulate the Government 011 identifying themselves with this excellent idea, and on taking a .step to prevent some of the misery which is attendant upon unfortunate women, especially those who have to endure a first confinement. I still think that we could improve the machinery by utilizing the States for distributing the allowance, because State officers know more about » their population than Federal authorities can possibly do.
– I am somewhat surprised that this Bill has been received with so much calmness by my honorable friends opposite. I expected that the Leader of the Opposition would be game enough to follow the Vice-President of the.Executive Council in the debate.
– Senator Millen was kind enough to let me speak first, because I am not very well and may have to leave.
– Had Senator Millen shown a desire to follow Senator Walker I would have given way. I am glad that we have one convert to the Maternity Allowance Bill in the person of Senator Walker. I venture to think that the measure is one of the most important that has yet been discussed in this Parliament. Furthermore, no Bill that has been fathered and thought out by this Government has received more condemnation in Parliament, in the press, and in the pulpit than has this proposal to grant ^5 to the mother of every child born in Australia.
– Not every one; there are a good many exceptions.
– The exception: for the most part are such as are necessary for maintaining our White Australia policy. Strange to say, those people who have condemned the Bill in Parliament have not had the moral courage to attempt to defeatit. I am reminded of what the poet said about those who came to scoff remaining to pray. When the Bill was introduced by the Prime Minister in the other branch of the Legislature, the Leader of the Opposition received it with maledictions. But when the Bill left the other Chamber it had the benedictions of Mr. Deakin bestowed upon it. I always like discussion to take place in matters of this kind, and when public men condemn a measure in public, I like them to have the courage to vote against it when they have an opportunity.
– I have read Hansard, and I do not understand that the Leader of the Opposition gave the Bill his benediction.
– - He did when the measure left another place.
– The honorable senator had better try to understand what he said.
– I will not dispute about the meaning of the King’s English with Senator Millen. Senator St. Ledger and Senator McColl have been visiting various centres of this State, and have criticised the measure. Senator McColl, in particular, has described it as a vote-catching Bill, a dirty political dodge, and a measure that will encourage immorality. I am replying to the honorable senator in a place, where my words will !« taken down. I wish the honorable senator was in his place now. If he has been correctly reported in the Australian press, he said that this Bill was a vote-catching Bill, a dirty political dodge, and that it would encourage immorality. 1 wish to know what is the value of such statements. Presuming that the honorable senator was correctly reported, 1 would ask whether lie was serious when he made them. Is that the idea the honorable senator has of Australian womanhood? Is not such a statement a gratuitous insult to the womanhood of Australia? Can Senator McColl, or any other man in Australia, stand up and say conscientiously that £5 is the price of what is dearer to the womanhood of Australia than life itself, namely, honour, chastity, and virginity? Surely we have a higher standard for Australian womanhood than that. Is it to be left to public men to say such things? We have seen similar statements repeated in a section of the Australian press. Let me say here and now (hat there is one exception I should make. During the time the Bill has been before Parliament two articles appeared in the Age which remove that newspaper from the section I have referred to. In those two leading articles the Age. put the position very well. I come now to the attitude of the Church. I have said that in the press, in the pulpit, and in Parliament, this Bill has been condemned. The Council of Churches have condemned it.
– They are a very insignificant part of the Church.
– I do not care whether they are insignificant or not. I wish to lay emphasis on the fact that this measure has been condemned from the pulpit. No honorable senator can deny that.
– Some of the churches have since objected to the ^statement of the deputation from the Council of Churches.
– If it were proposed that this maternity allowance should be given only to the mother of a child born in wedlock, then the Council of Churches would not condemn it. I ask Senator Walker to say whether that is the true doctrine of Christianity.
– No, certainly not.
– We know it is not. We have read of the Divine Founder of Christianity. We have Tend of a Magdalene. The Council of Churches have evidently forgotton that such a woman ever existed. Did the Divine Founder of Christianity condemn the Magdalene?
– He did not exclude Asiatics, anyhow.
– I ask Senator St. Ledger to follow my argument intelligently, if he can. I am now speaking of the condemnation by the Council of Churches and by public men, including Senator McColl, of the grant of a maternity allowance to the mother of an illegitimate child.
– Can the honorable senator find that I said that anywhere?
– I shall tell the honorable senator what he said. I shall repeat for his edification the statement I made when he was absent from the chamber. I said that if the honorable senator has been correctly reported in the press, he said that the maternity allowance is a dirty political dodge; that this is a vote-catching Bill ; and that it encourages immorality.
– No ; I did not say that it encourages immorality. I will tell the honorable senator what I did say. I said it was a “ low-down” political dodge, but I never said that it would encourage immorality. I am not going behind what I said.
– We are agreed upon two points. The honorable senator admits that he said it was a low-down political dodge, and a vote-catching Bill ; but he denies that he said that it would encourage immorality. If so, the honorable senator has been misreported.
– It is the last thing I would think’of saying.
– I was saying that the Divine Founder of Christianity did not refuse the Magdalene. That is well known to those of us who read our Bible, and it should be known to those who preach so much about it. Why should the poor unfortunate woman who has been betrayed, and has not had the sacred sacrament of matrimony to assist her prior to the birth of her child, be further dishonored ? Why should her lot in life be made much worse by excluding her from the proposed maternity allowance? I challenge honorable senators on the other side to give a reason why she should be excluded. As Senator McGregor has very well said, births sometimes take place before the recognised time after marriage. Some persons, in this matter, would make a distinction between a case where a man who has been guilty of betraying a woman has tried to redeem his manhood and save the honour of the woman, and a case in which the betrayer has refused to redeem his manhood. If, apart from any political view, we consider the matter from the true Christian stand-point, no argument can be adduced against the granting of the proposed allowance of £5 to the mother of the child born out of wedlock. With respect to the principle of the Bill, we have been told that we are going to rob the race of its self-reliant spirit. We have been told that, because we propose to assist the mother of a future Australian citizen in the moment of her supreme need, we shall take from her that self-reliance of which every Britisher is so proud. I hope that, during the course of the debate, honorable senators opposite will endeavour to show how that can possibly be. They might just as well tell me that, when we grant subsidies to certain shipping companies and other commercial concerns we take from the people who derive the benefit of them the selfreliance of which we should be proud. If that be the only argument that can be submitted against this Bill, it must go by the board. I have here a clipping from the Age. It refers to a meeting of the State Children’s Council, in Adelaide. The meeting was presided over by Lady Way, who, I understand, is a prominent lady in South Australia. I quote the following from the report of the meeting -
The President, Lady Way, said that to make the grant applicable to rich and poor alike was uncalled for, and imposed an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer.
That deals with another phase of the question, to which I desire to direct attention. One of the objections to the measure has been that the allowance should not be given to the mother of an illegitimate child. Another objection is, that every mother in Australia ought not to receive the allowance. Are we, in the National Parliament of the Commonwealth, to make a distinction by legislation between rich and poor? I do not think we were sent here for any such purpose. I should be very sorry if we were. Let us suppose, for instance, that Mrs. Smith, whose husband receives £2 10s. per week, is about to become a mother, and that Mrs. Brown, who lives next door to her, and whose husband receives £6 or £7 a week, is also about to become a mother. Because her husband receives about £5 per week more than Mr. Smith, Mrs. Brown will not apply for, nor will she accept, the allowance. There is, at times, one thing that stands between people, and particularly our womenfolk, and poverty, and that is their sense of selfrespect. Very often this honest pride stands between the mother and poverty. She would refuse to apply for the allowance °f £5 if the woman next door was not entitled to receive it. That is why, in this Bill, it is proposed that the allowance shall be made to every mother, irrespective of her condition in life. Lady Way, if she had her will, would like to see the allowance given only to the poor mother, and would thus place the brand of pauperism on the poor mother’s brow.
– Is poverty a disgrace.?
– By no means; but if such people as Lady Way had control of this matter, they would place the brand of pauperism on the brow of the poverty-stricken mother.
– The disgraceful thing is to be rich, not to be poor.
– It is for the reason I have stated that no discrimination is made in this measure between the wife of a millionaire and the wife of a peasant. That is one of the chief reasons for which
I am proud to support the Bill. Lady Way is further reported to have said’ -
To extend the payment to parents of illegitimate children was dangerous. They surely did not desire to stimulate moral degeneracy and its attendant miseries. Should the proposal become law they must be prepared for a considerable increase in the expenditure for the care of illegitimates.
There is a direct statement that, because the National Government of Australia are going to assist the womanhood of Australia at the crucial moment of their lives, there will be a greater number of illegitimate children born in the Commonwealth than there have been in the past.
– Who made that statement ?
– Lady Way, of South Australia. She is thus leading the people who to-day are gratuitously insulting the women of Australia. She went on to say -
When it was considered that a great many parents were so wanting in principle that they made no effort to provide for their offspring, they might expect a large influx of pauperism.
Here is another statement which ought to be revised. What about the number of parents in Australia who are endeavouring to provide for their offspring but who have no chance of doing so? Imagine the position of the father of a family of four or five who is in receipt of a wage of only £2 per week. What chance has he of providing for his offspring in every sense of the word? Yet Lady Way, secure in her own position, knowing that her offspring will be well provided for, hurls insults at the men of the Commonwealth as well as at its women. She continued -
There could be little doubt that the marriage tie would be greatly weakened and the sanctity of the home life would be invaded.
These are the sort of statements with which the National Government have to contend in endeavouring to grant assistance to the mothers of Australia at the most critical period of their lives. I quote them because they are typical of what we have heard from the pulpit, the platform, and in Parliament, from the very moment that the Prime Minister announced his intention to introduce legislation of this character. But, despite the fact that such statements have been made, no man has been able to prove the insinuations which are contained in them.
– Is the honorable senator sure of that?
– I defy the honorable senator to prove them. LadyWay continued -
The amount of£400,000 was large enough, but, large as it was, it was as nothing compared with the pernicious incitement to vice which the Bill would engender.
I hope that Senators McColl and St. Ledger, who have condemned this Bill at public meetings in the country, will at least have the courage to call for a division upon the motion for its second reading. If they have not that courage, I can only conclude that all their statements have been merely vapid, and that they have really been talking for the mere sake of talking. I know that the Bill will be carried, and I hope that members of the Opposition in this Parliament will be at least as courageous here as they have attempted to be outside.
.- I am pleased to know that this measure will soon be the law of the land. Considering that but a few weeks have elapsed since its introduction was first mooted by the Prime Minister, it is most interesting to note the volte face which has been executed by Senators McColl and St. Ledger.
– I have not said a word yet.
– When the Bill was first brought forward by the Prime Minister, there was a howl, a whoop, and a shriek from those so-called ladies like Lady Way who belong to the Women’s “ Fashionable” League. Apparently, Senators St. Ledger and McColl were anxious to ascertain how the cat jumped, and, accordingly, they fell into line with those persons who uttered these shrieks According to the press reports of their addresses in the country, they denounced the Bill in the most scathing terms.
– I did not wait for an utterance from anybody.
– In another place, the members of the Opposition had not the moral courage to call for a division upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill, and I think that the same thing may happen in this Chamber. Before the Opposition held a caucus meeting last week, when it was decided to support the measure
– I was not present at any caucus meeting.
– Nevertheless, the honorable senator is bound by its decision. He is reported as having said, in a speech delivered in the country, that the Bill represented a dirty, low-down, political dodge.
– I did not say “ dirty.”
– I confess that the honorable senator is a past-master in the art of political dodgery, so that he can speak on that aspect of the matter with some degree of authority. I hold in my hand what is apparently a verbatim report of certain statements which were made by Senator St. Ledger at a public meeting that was held in the western portion of this State. In referring to the maternity allowance, he said-
When speaking in Ballarat about three weeks ago he characterized the maternity bonus, so far as they knew its administration and policy, as a sop to profligacy, both in the moral and economic sense. He had weighed his words, as every one could see and hear, before he said them again that’ night. He now deliberately and solemnly, and with a sense of all the responsibility and conclusions that might attach to it, repeated again, so far as they knew of the policy of that Bill it was a sop to profligacy in the moral and economic sense. The Prime Minister and his colleagues glorified in the utterance that in the distribution of that bonus the question of legitimacy or illegitimacy would not be taken into consideration. That was where the sop to profligacy came in.
– That report is absolutely correct.
– I am very pleased that the Government have not attempted to differentiate between legitimate and socalled illegitimate children. We should be doing a wrong to the women of the Commonwealth if we sought to draw a dividing line between those who have been unfortunate enough to become mothers before they are married and those who have been differently placed.
– Does the honorable senator really mean that?
– I do. I hope that honorable senators opposite will not be so cruel as to deny to the women who are most in need of assistance the allowance which is provided for in this Bill. The statements of certain opponents of the measure have been backed up by the Council of Churches, by those who are supposed to stand up for Christianity - by disciples of the carpenter of Nazareth, who took Mary Magdalene into his confidence-
– Is the honorable senator prepared to base his whole argument on those premises?
– I am endeavouring to deal with the statements which have been made on public platforms by Senators
McColl and St. Ledger. Apparently, they spoke before they had fully weighed their words.
– I had weighed my words, and I will repeat them.
– I hope that the opponents of the Bill will have the temerity to divide the Senate upon it. If so, they are apparently going in opposition to their colleagues in another’ place.
– Does my honorable friend really believe that he stands in the same position as Jesus Christ?
– Order !
– Why should I not say that?
– I am not by any means the Simon Pure of the Senate. From the experience I have gained as a man of the world, I know that it is absolutely essential that this allowance should be given to the sisters of the submerged tenth. Yet, if we can accept the press report of a deputation to the Prime Minister from the Council of Churches, we find this legislation denounced by whited sepulchres. These men, who are supposed to be disciples of the doctrines taught by the Founder of Christianity, are a disgraceful laughing stock for the broad-minded people of the Commonwealth. When we find a man such as Professor Adam, or a so-called reverend gentleman like Worrall, who is not a Christian, but a churchman, whose god is more the god of Mammon, who chases the three-penny bits more than anything else; when we find gentlemen who are supposed to be acting in the interests
Df humanity- and Christianity, and to be uplifting the submerged brothers and sisters who have fallen in the battle of life, going to the Prime Minister, and smugly and glibly talking with their tongues in their cheek, it is no wonder that the proletariat of the Commonwealth do not take any notice of them, or the statements that they make in connexion with the doctrines of Christ and Christianity.
– We are not talking of the doctrines of Christ.
– Order ! Senator Blakey is addressing the Chamber, and has a right to be heard without interruption.
– I know quite well what I am saying on this question. I am speaking clearly and deliberately, knowing that my remarks will be recorded in Hansard, and in the press of this State. The men who approached the Prime Minister, and made utterances such as
Professor Adam is reported to have made, when he alluded to the woman who had fallen as “ that kind of woman,” are a disgrace to the so-called Christianity of the twentieth century. It is a pity that these men, who designate themselves representatives of the Council of Churches, should be so lacking in Christianity, if not in Churchianity, that they should make these statements in cold blood. I am glad to know from the reports in the daily press that these gentlemen, who call themselves the mouthpieces of the Council of Churches, did not represent many of the great Christian or ecclesiastical organizations of the State. Apparently, there were at the deputation no representatives of the Anglican Church or the Catholic Church. I notice that the Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church have repudiated the representations that were made to the Prime Minister by that deputation last month. There is another argument why this bonus should be granted indiscriminately to women, whether married or not. In Victoria, and I think in the other States, there is no restriction placed upon the education of a child when it has attained the age when, under the law, it is necessary that it should go to a State school. We find that the education laws do not place any bar or restriction upon the education of a child, whether it be illegitimate or legitimate. Why, then, should any restriction be placed upon a mother who brings a child into the world out of wedlock ? Why should any restriction be placed upon any woman who has to suffer the same pains, pangs, and penalties, whether married or single? A few moments ago, Senator Needham read an extract, as published in the Age, from a statement made by Lady Way at the School Children’s Council. She used the same old gag that has been the stockintrade of honorable senators on the other, side since the inception of the Labour party -
There could be little doubt that the marriage tie would be greatly weakened, and the sanctity of the home life would be invaded.
Honorable senators on this side have been used to this parrot-cry. We know quite well that it is one of the arguments which are used throughout the Commonwealth. Yet. we find an individual - I could not say a woman - who is addressed by the title of Lady, saying that, if this maternity bonus is enacted, there is no doubt that the marriage tie will be greatly weakened, and the sanctity of the home will be invaded. That has been the battle-cry of the Jezebels of the Australian Women’s “ Fashionable” League since 1901. It is their battle-cry to-day.
– It has been said that every woman of genius in the history of the world has been a prostitute.
– I am not dealing with statements made by any person unless they are strictly apropos to the Bill. I am dealing with statements which appeared in the newspapers from so-called leaders of society, who are trying to influence the public mind in a particular direction. We find this so-called lady trying to inflame the minds of the good mothers, the .good daughters, and the good sisters, of the Commonwealth, and to lead them to believe that, if this Government has the audacity to bring in or put through this legislation, whereby a Magdalene will benefit exactly the same as a woman who has been married, there is something strictly wrong. I wish to raise my voice in protest against that suggestion. It is a pity that, in this enlightened community, there should be found so-called disciples of Christianity who are advocating that a ban should be placed on the Scarlet She ; that a woman who has sinned and suffered should be placed as something apart, and not allowed to participate in the benefits that may fall to the lot of her more- favoured sisters.
– May I ask who advanced that proposition against her?
– It was advanced by some of the principal speakers at the deputation from the self-designated Council of Churches, who waited upon the Prime Minister. It was also, in effect, advanced by Senator St. Ledger when he said that this allowance was nothing more or less than a sop to profligacy.
– I did not say that.
– He is not telling the truth.
– Order f I must ask Senator Chataway to withdraw his interjection that Senator Blakey was not telling the truth.
– I withdraw it, sir. I still hold my opinion on the point.
– Order I The honorable senator must withdraw the statement unconditionally.
– I withdraw it unconditionally. It will come in useful another time.
– Before Senator Chataway was so properly called to order for making an unseemly interjection, Senator St. Ledger stated that he had never made the statement that the maternity allowance was a sop to profligacy.
– No; you are not quoting me correctly.
– I read the whole of the statement which the honorable senator made at Hamilton, on the 2nd August.
– Yes, but that is not quite correct.
– And which he accepted as being accurate. He now says, “ I never made that statement.” I do not want to be tedious.
– He said more. He said that he gloried in the fact.
– I hope that Senator St. Ledger will accept the full responsibility of his words. Senator McColl has characterized this measure as “ a low-down political dodge.” The logical sequence of these remarks is that these honorable senators cannot honestly vote for a Bill of this kind. I do not think that they are game to oppose its passage. When they made these statements early in August, when they got out under the aegis of the Women’s “ Fashionable “ League, screeched and raved on the platform, and denounced this proposal with all those scathing terms of which they are past-masters and experts, they did not know that a wave of public opinion was going to arise in favour of the Bill. I am glad to say that public opinion is strongly in favour of the grant of this allowance, because there are many men, and infinitely more women, who know that it will be a means of salvation and succour in the hour of direst need.
– Oh, rubbish.
– It is not rubbish.
– How do you know that it is not?
– I may not know from personal experience, but from conversations with others, and from my knowledge of what is going on in the under world, I know that it will not be rubbish to these poor unfortunate women who, whether married or single, are going to receive some assistance to get the necessaries of life at the time when they are linking one generation to another. Yet we find the president of the Liberal League of South
Australia interjecting that it is rubbish, that these women do not want the assistance.
– I say so again.
– They do want the money, and I trust that the Labour party will pass more legislation in this direction. I would sooner vote to spend . £400,000 or£500,000 a year under a Maternity Bonus Bill than vote to spend £2,000,000 or , £3,000,000 on defence.
– Maternity allowance.
– The interjection reminds me of the fact that the moment this idea was promulgated there was a cry of “ A Baby Bonus Bill.” It is nothing of the kind, because, as has been pointed out, the Bill, which was introduced in another place, is a Maternity Allowance Bill. It is a maternity allowance, not a bonus, to a woman at the time when she needs assistance, whether it be financial or otherwise. I feel pretty sure that this Bill - one of the most humane measures which have been introduced in this session - will be carried without a division. I. think that I can throw down the gauntlet to honorable senators on the other side, and say that, although they may stand up here and say, as was said in another place, that they do not favour this measure, because it does not embrace the question of national insurance, and those various questions which they are so capable of craftily embodying in amendments, they will not be game, knowing what the opinion of the people is to-day, to oppose the measure. Even if Senator McColl and Senator St. Ledger, under the domination of their party, may have to eat their own words, they know perfectly well that they will be losing votes if they oppose the measure. Apparently, honorable senators opposite have given the matter very careful consideration. They know perfectly well that they dare not, as Senator McColl has done, denounce this Bill as a “ dirty dodge to catch votes.”
– Be careful.
– Well, perhaps what he said was a “ low-down political dodge.”
– That is right; I stand to everythingI said.
– I fail to see much distinction between “ dirty “ and “ low down.” If this is a “ low-down dodge to catch votes,” why are honorable senators opposite prepared to support it? As a matter of fact, there is no ulterior motive behind this Bill. The whole of the legislation of the Labour party has been directed towards doing something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
– “ Suffering humanity !” That is a nice phrase !
– Of course, we know that the honorable senator does not care for suffering humanity. He stands for black labour every time. At all events, honorable senators opposite are satisfied by this time that the measure is in accordance with the cherished principles and wishes of the great majority of the people of this country. I am glad to know that the trend of Australian thought is working in the direction of assisting those who need it, and. of raising taxation from those who can best afford to pay it, with the object of assisting in the enactment of humane legislation.
– With reference to the remarks which have been attributed to Senator McColl, I feel disposed to say that much that has transpired this afternoon in the Senate has justified them, seeing that we have had two speeches from the other side which contained as little as possible about the Bill, and endeavoured, as far as possible, to make political capital out of the attitude, alleged or real, of honorable senators who sit in opposition.
– Is Senator Millen apologizing for Senator McColl’s remarks?
– They do not require an apology. The last two speeches which we have had from the other side have disclosed the fact that those who delivered them have been striving to demonstrate, not that this measure is a humanitarian one, or to justify it on economic grounds, but to use it as an electioneering device. They have shown how bitterly they regret the fact that honorable senators on this side are not disposed to oppose the Bill. That is their trouble. They lay themselves open to the accusation of gross insincerity in view of the utterances to which we have listened. The attitude of the Opposition has been pretty well indicated by its action elsewhere.
– Hear, hear ! By Senators St. Ledger and McColl.
– When I came to the Senate to-day, I did not anticipate having to speak upon the Bill. I had every right to assume that an opportunity would be given to continue the debate on the second reading to-morrow. That is the usual practice adopted here. But in view of the appeal made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council - an appeal the force of which I recognise - I felt at once that nothing ought to be done to delay the measure. For that reason, I did not submit the usual request for an adjournment. I intend to be remarkably brief in what I have to say, and may as well indicate at the outset that whatever views the Opposition may have regarding this measure, they do not feel disposed to throw any unnecessary obstacles in the way of meeting the wishes of the Senate concerning it. I should like to say, speaking not merely for myself, but, I believe, for every member of the Opposition, both here and elsewhere, that we absolutely approve of the objects of this Bill, and find fault only with the methods by which those objects are sought to be attained. There is not an honorable senator on this side who will not indorse that statement. That, I say again, is really the trouble with honorable senators opposite. They brought in this Bill on the eve of an election, and they regret exceedingly to find that they cannot use it as an electioneering placard from one end of the Commonwealth to the other.
– The honorable senator’s party was very late in expressing its approval. “
– I repeat that the members of the Opposition approve of the objects of the Bill, and find fault only with the methods by which they are sought to be attained.
– Senator St. Ledger said that the Bill was a sop to profligacy.
– When I say that we approve of the objects of this Bill, I mean those objects which are designed to extend aid where aid is needed; aid not merely to the mother, but also aid in the direction of reducing that infant mortality which at present marks the statistics of this country. It does not require argument to support that position; and I am inclined to say, in the face of the extraordinary things which have been said by honorable senators opposite, that I extremely regret that any member of this Senate, or any one in this country, should think that there are some of us who would not subscribe to the two principles which I have just laid down. They are, if I may repeat them, the desirableness of extending aid to mothers who need it, and, as far as it is within the power of the Government, to reduce the unsatisfactory infant mortality which is at present disclosed. Something has been said to-night as to the humanitarian side of the question. May I be permitted to say that I am becoming rather tired of measures which cannot be justified on other grounds than that ? That term “ humanitarianism “ has been hackneyed and knocked about so much that, to my mind, it furnishes room for some suspicion.
– I think the honorable senator used it in his opening sentences.
– This measure, and the object at which it aims, can be defended on economic grounds, if it is to be defended at all.
– Does the honorable senator say that anything that cannot be defended on economic grounds is not justified?
– I do not/ What I say is that when we hear so much said about humanitarianism, such appeals, made to sentiment rather than to reason, induce me to say that we are overlooking very important factors in dealing with questions of the kind. To define humanitarianism, what I mean by it is the indiscriminate extension of public charity. No one will more quickly recognise the difference between that and the defence of this measure on economic grounds than my honorable friend Senator Givens.
– It is not charity.
– There are many objects of charity which would be desirable, and one is the removal of Senator Needham from this Chamber. I am quite certain that the objects of this Bill can be defended on economic grounds. Personally, I do not know any more desirable policy to which a country like Australia could apply itself than one which would make for the preservation of the infant life of this country. But when I have said that, I have said all I can say in support of this Bill ; and perhaps it will afford a little comfort to honorable senators opposite if I proceed now to show why I dissent from the methods by which they are trying to attain their object.
– Is the honorable senator going to vote against the Bill ?
– I am going to submit an amendment which will indicate the attitude of the Opposition. The methods adopted by this Bill do not seem to me to be either sufficient or satisfactory. The paying of a bonus is one of the easiest things in the world. If the highest hopes of statesmanship were to commence and end with the paying of bonuses, not only for maternity, but for every other event in human life, it would be quite easy to deal with those social questions which every one of us desires to see successfully handled.
– Is this a bonus?
– If honorable senators can find very much comfort in disputes about terms they are welcome to do so. Perhaps they will understand me better if I call it an allowance. I say again that if it be a great effort of statesmanship, if it marks the last word in social legislation, to make an allowance for a purpose of this kind, we might just as well make an allowance for anything else that we desire to accomplish.
– There is not the same need in other cases.
– I venture to say that there are other cases that call for the same help. There is sickness, which always makes an appeal to us. There is also the case of distressed widowhood. There are many other instances of the same character; but if we attempted to deal with these matters merely by a system of allowances, we should simply be piling up commitments on account of objects and problems which make claims upon our consideration. It appears to me that we ought not to rest upon doles from the Treasury as though they constituted in themselves a satisfactory solution. I look forward, as I am inclined to hope that honorable senators on both” sides do, to a state of things when it will not be necessary for the breadwinner and the head of the family to suffer from anxiety concerning not only making provision for the day, but for the needs of his family in the future.
– Pure, unadulterated Socialism.
– It is the reverse, because I am supposing a social conditionwhere the head of the family would be able to do these things for himself. As Senator Givens is so busy in interjecting, perhaps he has not time to remember the things which he and other members of his party before the last election told the people would be secured if the Labour party were returned to power. Perhaps, I may remind him that the housewives were told that they would always have a few pounds in their pockets, and the breadwinners that they would always secure employment at high wages. If that state of things were brought about, it would not be necessary to cast longing eyes on measures of this kind. But, instead of that state of things having been accomplished, we have Senator Givens and others drawing pictures of poverty existing in this country after three years of Labour rule, which makes it necessity for a measure of the kind to be introduced. Having indicated that, I look forward to the ideal - not to be attained at once, but towards which we should steadily strive - of the self-supporting home, where the heads and members of the family have confidence in their own capacity to provide for all their wants without looking to the State for assistance, 1 want to ask what is the first step we ought to take to attain that ideal. Certainly no proposal for an allowance from the Treasury can be regarded as a step in that direction. I believe in some form of contributory insurance by which provision may be made, not merely for the assistance required at maternity, but on all other occasions.
– Is this not a contributory scheme?
– I do not know whether the honorable senator wishes to say that, because the party to which he belongs, have imposed a tax upon the wealthy landowners of the country, they submit this proposal as a means of giving back to the landowners some of the money they have taken from them.
– They have been robbing me, in common with the rest of the community, for centuries
– If they have tried to rob Senator Givens they excite my admiration. I did not think it was possible to do it.
– The honorable senator always expresses an overwhelming admiration of the wealthy man ; the poor man never excites his admiration.
– I at once admit the honorable senator’s impeachment. It is wealthy men like himself who excite my admiration, but they do it by their ability and not .by their wealth. I have explained the main ideas which animate me in the attitude I adopt towards this Bill. I had expected that some time would be allowed to elapse between the introduction of the measure and the debate upon the second reading. I had proposed to go somewhat lengthily into the various proposals adopted in other countries in the way of contributory, insurance schemes, but as I did not anticipate that this matter would come on to-day, I am not prepared to pursue that topic now. I have indicated as briefly as I could my attitude towards the measure, and I believe that it fairly represents the attitude of every honorable senator on this side.
– Does it represent the attitude assumed by Senator McColl a month ago?
- Senator McColl is here to speak for himself, and is quite able to do so. I venture to say that when he has spoken, honorable senators opposite will regret their inability to find anything in his remarks out of which they can make political capital. That is their trouble today.
– Who answers for the Women’s National League?
– Yet another honorable senator justifies my remark that what the party opposite are seeking to do by this Bill is not to carry comfort to the homes of the distressed, but to make political capital and secure votes for themselves. Every interjection we get from the other side shows that. Any other reason which honorable senators opposite may have put forward for the introduction of the measure disappears entirely when we find them seeking to use is merely as a lever to gain some political advantage, and ‘not to give effect to the lofty ideals which they have professed. I propose to conclude by submitting an amendment which represents the views I have expressed and generally the ideas of honorable senators associated with me. The amendment is not novel. It has been discussed elsewhere, and is indicative of the attitude on these questions of the party to which 1 belong.
– As agreed to in the Caucus ?
– Honorable senators opposite are very hard to please. I abstained from speaking when I might have been expected to speak, and gave place to another honorable senator, for a very good reason, which Senator Walker has been kind enough to announce. I was immediately met with the gibe that I did so because I was afraid to speak. There may be some differences of opinion on this side as to the methods by which such a proposal should be given effect, but when Senator Pearce speaks about the Caucus, I challenge him to read the debates in another place and this debate in the Senate, when it is concluded, and then to say whether the amendment I intend to propose does not express the views of honorable senators on this side.
– Will the honorable senator deny that it was drafted at a meeting of the Opposition?
– I will. That it was considered at such a meeting may be true, but that it was drafted at the meeting is quite another matter.
– A distinction without a difference.
– Senator Pearce put a question to me, and I felt in duty bound to answer it. Perhaps I had better not submit the amendment at this stage, because the subsequent debate will be confined to it.
– That is not so.
– Inthat case I shall submit the amendment now. OtherwiseI should have withheld it and invited some other honorable senator who shares my views to submit it.
– I doubt whether an amendment from the Caucus of the honorable senator’s party will be in order.
– If Senator de Largie had his way, the whole of the party on this side would be ruled out of order; but he happens not to be the sole arbiter in these matters. I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “no provision for maternity which does not form part of a national insurance scheme providing for sickness, unemployment, and medical attendance as well as maternity, and subsidized by an appropriation to the ex- tent necessary to make the benefits immediate and adequate, will be effective satisfactory and consistent with the spirit of the Federal Constitution.”
That is clearly indicative of what is in the mind of the Opposition. So far as I am personally concerned, I do not intend to oppose this Bill. If I had the choice of voting for the scheme outlined in the amendment, instead of the Bill, I should do so, as I shall attempt to do when I vote for the amendment. But, knowing that the solid majority behind the Government can carry the Bill and reject any amendment, I have to ask myself what is the best thing that can be done in the circumstances. Should we entirely reject this imperfect contribution towards a laudable object? I am not prepared to do so. While it does not conform to my idea of what ought to be done, I admit that it does represent a grant of some assistance where assistance is needed. It goes too far in giving assistance where it is not needed, and it gives assistance in a rather per nicious form. That, however, does not affect the main question. I propose to vote for the amendment; but, if it is not carried, I shall not vote against the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 15th August (vide page 2210), on motion by Senator Sayers -
– The Government have no intention of opposing this motion, because I hope that the course of action which it outlines will form a part of their future policy.. But it must be recognised that we have just appointed a mining expert in the Northern Territory, in the person of Dr. Jensen. He is seeking to obtain all the information that he can, is now engaged in inspecting existing mineral fields, and generally is taking such steps as will enable him to report to the Government, and to make suggestions with respect to mining development there. Consequently, I do not intend to debate this proposal. The Government are quite prepared to allow it tobe put to a vote. They will not oppose it.
– I do not think that the motion will be pressed to a division, because I believe that honorable senators upon both sides of the chamber are in favour of it. I am glad that the Government have -agreed to offer a reward for the discovery of minerals in the Northern Territory. They have wisely accepted the proposal of Senator Sayers that every possible encouragement shall be given to the mineral development of that Territory. I strongly support the Minister, who has declared that the Government will subsidize mineral discoveries there.
– That is the law of the country to-day.
– If my honorable friend has never seen the Northern Territory, I am not responsible for that.
.- I do not intend to occupy much time in discussing this proposal, because honorable senators appear to be unanimously in favour of it. But, in reply to the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the Government have already appointed a mining expert in the Northern Territory, in the person of Dr. Jensen, I wish to say that that circumstance has no bearing whatever upon my motion. I know that there are parties of men in Queensland to-day who are prepared to go out and prospect the Territory if the Government choose to offer a suitable reward. They are men of the best type, being thorough miners andgood bushmen. They are ready to go out into the Territory for the purpose of trying to discover new mineral fields. If payable gold were discovered there, the Commonwealth, in reality, would not be called upon to contribute a single shilling in that connexion. We know that at one time the discovery of gold at Gympie practically saved Queensland from a great financial trouble. We know, too, what the gold-fields of Western Australia have accomplished for that State.
– What about the Palmer and the Hodgkinson fields?
– Exactly. But the discover) of gold at Gympie happened at a time of great distress, and consequently was the more welcome. My own idea is that we should offer a reward of £10,000, to be paid at the end of one year after the discovery of a payable gold or mineral field, if there be 1,000 people then upon it; and that if, at the end of two years there be 2,000 inhabitants upon it, we should grant the successful prospectors an additional sum of £20,000. If that course be adopted, we shall open up the Northern Territory by leaps and bounds. There are hundreds of men who are willing and eager to go out there and prospect for gold and other minerals if the Government will only offer a substantial reward in case they are successful. I need scarcely point out that Dr. Jensen will report only upon existing fields. It is quite possible that if a suitable reward be offered, a payable goldfield may be discovered in the Territory before his report reaches this Parliament. Such a discovery would solve the problem with which the Government are faced much more rapidly than would anything else. Any honorable senator who knows anything about gold or mineral fields knows that very frequently the pioneers do not secure the best ground. But they have blazed the track for others to follow. More has been accomplished by offering rewards for the discovery of gold and other minerals than has been achieved by all the Government prospecting parties which have yet been equipped. It is our bounden duty to offer an inducement to men to go out into the Territory, and to prospect for minerals there. I recollect a discovery which took place at Port Darwin nearly forty years ago. But, unfortunately, there was no stable Government there at the time. It was practically a no-man’s land. I hope that the Government will take immediate steps to offer a suitable reward for mineral discoveries in the Territory, and, if they do that, I believe that within six weeks of the proclamation being issued, prospecting parties will be seeking to earn it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from page 3783.
– The amendment of Senator Millen strikes me as amusing, not to use a stronger term. He based his grounds of objection to this Bill upon the fact that it only gives relief in cases of maternity, instead of giving relief in other cases, such as sickness and unemployment. Yet the walls of this chamber are still ringing with the cries of the honorable senator and his friends sitting behind him against Federal extravagance. The echoes of the cries of all the members of the Opposition who have so far spoken on the Budget are still resounding through the walls of Parliament House. They have complained that the Government have not told the country how they are going to find the money to meet its enormous commitments, that it is launched upon a sea of extravagance.
– So it is.
– On every platform during the last few months, honorable senators on the other side have been talking about Ministerial extravagance. Yet we have moved to the motion for the second reading of this Bill - which, mark you, only involves an expenditure of about £600,000 a year, according to a fair estimate, and not more than £850,000 a year if every woman who bears a child applied for the allowance, accord- ing to the latest statistics - an amendment which would commit the Commonwealth to an enormous expenditure at once.
– No ; it is contributory.
– I admit that the amendment moved here, like a similar amendment moved in another place, provides for contributions from the recipients. But whether it is a contributory insurance schemeor not, my honorable friends on the other side will not deny that, if the amendment were carried and put into effect as soon as this Bill could be brought into operation, it would mean an enormous increase upon the expenditure outlined therein.
– It would save millions in other directions.
– That is a very late cry to come from members of the Liberal party. It shows the most utter inconsistency on their part to come forward at this eleventh hour with a proposal that the Federal Parliament should provide at once, not only for this small measure of relief to women in their hour of trial, but also for relief in all cases of sickness and unemployment. What would have been said by our opponents in politics, not only in this Parliament, but in every corner of Australia, if the Government had proposed such a thing this session? We know perfectly well that the Government are committed to an enormous expenditure on its many great national projects which the electors gave it a mandate to carry out. We know very well that there would not have been the slightest assistance received from the Opposition in the Federal Parliament if the Government had seen its way clear financially to bring down a scheme, not only for a maternity bonus, but for insurance against general unemployment and sickness. Not only would we have received no assistance from our honorable friends on the other side, but we would have been met with the most bitter opposition, on the ground of financial inexpediency. The cry is that the time is not ripe.
– We say that your idea is more than ripe; it is rotten.
– When this pro posal was first mooted at the beginning of this session, the cry from the other side was that the time was not ripe.
– Who said so?
– My honorable friend says a good deal, but he does not say everything. He must allow Senator
St. Ledger and a few others to say a few things, and they have done so on the platform.
– Who said that the time is not ripe?
– It has been said by many supporters of the Liberal party that the time for this legislation is not ripe. That statement was made by our opponents at the beginning, until they thought that this proposal was going to become popular in the eyes of the public, and now, even at the eleventh hour, I am glad to say that very many of them have become converted. Two of them have stated that they do not intend to support the Bill ; others have not yet spoken. We know that members of the other House, after bitterly decrying the proposal before Parliament met, from a. thousand platforms in Australia, carried their opposition to such an extent as not to call for a division and vote against it.
– What about Mr. Fisher ?
– What about the Hobart Conference?
– I am asked, what about the Hobart Conference?
– Order ! I ask Senator Chataway to cease this continuous fire of interjections. Interjections generally are disorderly, but a continual fire of them is unfair to the honorable senator who is addressing the Chamber.
– When Senator St. Ledger speaks he may tell us something about the Hobart Conference. This question was spoken of there, and it was decided that it would be a good thing; but so far as my memory serves me there was a doubt as to whether it was constitutional or not. However, this doubt in the mind of the Attorney-General should not have existed. Whether the proposal is constitutional or not, I do not know. I do not think that any member of this Parliament, in these days of the upsetting of verdicts by the High Court, will venture to say whether anything is constitutional or unconstitutional. I think that he would be a very brave man indeed, and a very experienced politician, who would give a hard-and-fast opinion as to whether any of the measures which are supposed to be on the borderline are constitutional or not, remembering how in recent times verdicts have been upset by the High Court. Senator Millen was rather inconsistent in his speech this afternoon. It is very seldom that he is caught tripping, but this afternoon he was certainly very inconsistent. Almost his first sentence was that the senators on this side who had spoken had not tried to justify the measure on humanitarian grounds, but that they had devoted their speeches mainly to the argument that it was only political opposition that the other side was- showing.
– I can assure the honorable senator that that is not what I said ; or, if I did use the word inadvertently, it will be quite clear from the context of my speech that it is not what I meant.
– I can assure the honorable, senator that he did use the word, but I accept his assurance that it was inadvertently used. Later, he complained because honorable senators on this side who had spoken had defended the Bill on humanitarian, and not on economic, grounds.
– That was my argument.
– I accept the honorable senator’s assurance. He stated that he and the senators on his side approved of the object of the Bill, but they did not approve of the method. Whenever there has been any attempt in this or any State Parliament to alleviate some of the hardships, which portions of the community have to suffer, the cry has always been, “ I believe in the principle; I believe that your object is good, but I do not approve of the method.” We heard that cry here more than once when the old-age pensions scheme was brought forward. We heard it, too, when an appropriation was asked for to pay invalid pensions. There is always something that, they do not approve of. It has been stated over and over again during the last few months that this is only a political dodge. Senator McColl has stated, and I am sure that he will tell us again when he speaks that it is a low-down political dodge..
– Yes, and I shall give my reasons, too.
– Another honorable senator who sits at his back, with his usual smiling face interjected this afternoon that it is “a sop to profligacy.”
– In, a moral and, economic sense.
– Yet our honorable friends, through their leader, at least, say that they do- not object to the principle of the Bill, hut to the method. But it is rather late in the day for them to come here and make that statement. We have had a Federal Parliament for eleven years, and every State has. had self-government for nearly fifty years, but the supporters of our friends in the country have never brought forward a proposal in. a State Legislature, and the Opposition in this Parliament has never brought forward any proposal containing a principle of this kind. If my honorable friends approve of the principle of the Bill I would, remind them and the public, too, that for many years they were in power in this Parliament. Why did they not bring forward a measure containing this principle of which they now approve? I find just the same silence now as we had during the whole of the time that they were in power. It is idle for them to say that they approve of the object, because it is a wellknown fact that in the State Legislatures the party to which honorable senators opposite belong is buttressed by the Legisttive Councils. Does not the history of legislation in every State of Australia show that every proposal of this kind that has been attempted to be passed has been turned down by the Legislative Councils?
– The Legislative Council in Victoria passed an Old-age Pensions Bill long before the Commonwealth dealt with the subject.
– We have had selfgovernment in Australia for a very long time, and the fact is indisputable that the party with which honorable senators opposite are associated has never yet made a proposal of this kind in Australia. Senator Millen this afternoon made the statement that we are supporting this Bill on humanitarian, and not on economic grounds. In my humble judgment that is a very great mistake. The measure can be justified on economic, as well as on humanitarian, grounds. Some of the greatest statesmen, and some of the greatest writers have declared that the State’s greatest asset is the child. That is the generally accepted view nowadays. If we are to look after the State’s greatest asset, surely we make a very good beginning by doing something to give the child a start in life.
– The State of Victoria is looking after 16,000 children, at present.
– There are some States in Australia which are doing very little, and Victoria is not looking after its infants as the Federal Parliament proposes to look after them when this measure is put into effect. If our friends opposite are right in saying that this is a political dodge, why have they brought forward an amendment which surely, in the eyes of the public must be a still more palpable political dodge ? Senator Millen knows perfectly well that this country, at the present juncture, is not financially able to go in for a scheme of insurance against unemployment and sickness. The country will have no difficulty in seeing through their political dodge. The amendment has been moved, as it was moved in another place, only with the object of delaying the passage of this measure or killing it. The Opposition recognise that this is only a portion of a scheme of reform.
– Would the honorable senator like the High Court to rule it ultra vires? Then his party would have a good cry at the next election.
– Perhaps my honorable friend is hoping that that will be the result. Probably we shall have a measure of all-round insurance against unemployment and sickness sooner than the Opposition like; because, if the party at present in power is returned after the next election, it will probably be found that there will be proposed another and larger instalment of the policy embodied in this Bill. If that be so, we shall learn whether our friends who are now so anxious about this “ political dodge”,” as they call it, will be prepared to give to every individual in Australia who is out of employment, or who is suffering from sickness, the aid that he needs.
– Will that be a contributory scheme?
– A contributory scheme will still cost the Commonwealth a vast sum of money. I hope that the time will come when Australia will see her way to put on the statute-book a measure such as that, cost what it may. But it is surely bad policy to wait a few years before making a start. We have to make a start at some time, and this is a very good beginning. We are told by some of the opponents of the measure that the object is good, but that we are proceeding to attain it in the wrong way. We hear people in every town we visit say, in conversation, that they know of a better way. It is a splendid thing to do, they say, but there is a better method of doing it. Why did we not hear of these better ways before the Bill was brought in? Why did not these persons submit their proposals before to-day? Why were they not submitted to Parliament before the Labour party came into power, and when the Commonwealth was returning to the States an enormous sum of money which we were not constitutionally bound to give back? If they knew of a better way, then why did they not propose it?
– Why did not the Labour Government, when it was in power before, bring in such a Bill?
– Our party in those days, though in office, was not really in power. Moreover, we had no time then to bring forward a scheme of the kind. We had not a majority, but were dependent on the votes of a few political indescribables. I do not know what their policies were. Our party was dependent entirely on the votes of two or three people who did not belong to us. The situation became so intolerable that Mr. Watson, like the true statesman he was, went out of office because he would not be a Prime Minister in name, and not in reality.
– Mr. Fisher also was in office.
- Mr. Fisher was in office for twelve months, but he also was dependent on the votes of two or three political indescribables, who could never be relied upon. Senator Vardon made an interjection in the earlier part of my speech as to which party put old-age pensions on the statute-book. The party which accomplished that reform was a combination of the Labour party and the Deakin party. But the Labour party had double the strength of the party which it supported ; and the Deakin Government did not bring forward an old-age pensions scheme until the Leader of the Labour party, Mr. Fisher, held a pistol at his head, and said, “This measure of political reform has been promised long enough, and unless it is brought in at once, out you go.” That is stale and ancient history now, but it is well known that, although old-age pensions were nominally introduced by the- Deakin Government, they were actually brought forward by the Labour party.
– Passed under compulsion.
– That is so. When it was mooted that the Commonwealth should also pay invalid pensions, the country had to wait until the Labour party came into power. 1 should not have referred to these matters, except for Senator
Vardon ‘s interjection, but it is well that the public should be reminded of the facts. We have heard a great deal about the wrong methods of this Bill. No one who supports the measure claims for a moment that it is perfect. All that we claim is that it is good enough to begin with, and, if, as has been the case of other measures, time and experience show that it can be made more perfect, it will be the duty of this Parliament, whatever party is in power, to effect amendments. No one claims that this Bill is the end of our political desires and efforts to assist distress, where we may be well expected to assist it. But the party opposite not only have never sought to attain this object by better methods, but have never proposed anything in the nature of the Bill now be>fore us. A number of objections have been urged against it on the ground of morality. Senator St. Ledger has gone so far as to say that it is “ a sop to profligacy. “ In saying that, the honorable senator inflicted an insult on the motherhood of Australia, because, even if it be true that a certain number of unfortunate unmarried women will receive advantages under the Bill, is it not a fact that for every one of those unfortunates there will be Hundreds of married mothers who will benefit from it? In calling the measure generally “ a sop to profligacy “ the honorable member laid a stigma on the whole motherhood of Australia.
– It is not the mother, but the father, the scoundrel, that I was speaking of.
– I am not going to deal with the objection urged by some clergymen that the allowance should not be paid to unmarried mothers, except to say that, in my humble opinion, speaking as a layman, that is a very narrow-minded, pharasaical view to take of the subject. It is not for us to say to poor women who have met with misfortune, “You shall not be assisted in your time of trouble, because you have not complied with the conventions of society.” Surely it is not for us, in a measure like this, to make any “such distinction. What have we to do with the question of legitimacy or illegitimacy ?
– Does the honorable sector say that those who condemn, the Bi!’1 are Pharisees?
– I say that those who condemn the Bill on those grounds, as so many clergymen have done, display a narrow-minded Phariseeism, I am as much entitled to express that opinion as Senator St. Ledger is to express a contrary opinion.
– Would the honorable senator set his opinion against that of a “ saint “?
– Perhaps it is because Senator St. Ledger is fortunate enough to be a “ saint “ that he has felt justified in adopting that attitude. We shall perform, a higher and a nobler duty by considering this proposal on its merits as a maternity allowance. We say that when a child is born in Australia, the mother shall be relieved to the extent of £S-
– Provided she is not an Asiatic.
– There is some ground for contention, on that point. Objections have been, and will be, urged against the Bill because it excludes Asiatic mothers who bear children in Australia ; but whatever may be said against the proposal on that account, it will be admitted that it is, in that respect, consistent with our former legislation. We have already gone so far as to refuse a vote to Asiatic children, born! in Australia.
– The Government consider the children of Asiatics born in Australia as undesirable immigrants, and desire that they should be deported right away.
– I do not think that they are as desirable as are other immigrants. Rightly or wrongly, we have in all our legislation decided that this shall l>e a White Australia. Is Senator McColl opposed to the White Australia policy ?
– The honorable senator knows what my views are upon that question.
– We have decided for a White Australia, and all political parties in the Commonwealth have subscribed to that policy. We are determined that this country shall be kept for the white races. We have passed an Immigration Restriction Act, under which we exclude Asiatics from this country. We have gone further, and declared in our electoral law that we will not give a vote to a child born of Asiatic parents in Australia, or to any Asiatic except those who, prior to Federation, possessed votes under a State law.
– The Government have put women in a certain condition in the same position.
– Senator Shannon has not very long been a member of the Senate. He had not been, I will not say elected, but appointed to the Senate when the legislation to which he refers was carried. I should contravene the Standing Orders if I were to refer to it now, but I have done the honorable senator at least the courtesy of replying to his interjection. It will redound to their credit for years to come in Australia that a great many clergymen of all denominations have utterly condemned the stand taken by those who formed part of the deputation’ that waited upon the Prime Minister. They have repudiated the contention that the allowance should not be given to unmarried mothers. When Senator Millen tells us that we should justify this proposal, not only on humanitarian, but on- economic grounds, the position he takes up is a very weak one. In one sentence it can be justified on economic grounds. By assisting the mothers of our home-bom immigrants even in this small way we shall be doing something to build up a better Australia in the future. But -will any honorable senator opposite contend that the introduction of this Bill cannot be justified on humanitarian grounds alone? Almost every member of this Parliament has had some experience of travelling in the back-blocks of Australia, and must have come across numerous instances in which the proposed allowance would have been a veritable godsend to a mother in the time of her trial. Even in my own small State of Tasmania I have come across dozens of cases where this little gift of £5 at such a time would have been regarded as a godsend by women who were about to become mothers. What is the position of the wives of bush-workers who receive only a miserable pittance of about £x a week and miserable rations ? It is strange to say that the extent of the family of many women seems to be in inverse ratio to the incomes earned by their husbands. Generally speaking, the largest families are those of men whose earnings are the lowest. A bushworker may have a family of five or six children, ranging from two to ten years of age, and they are often running about illfed and ill-clothed. The mother may be expecting to pass through her hour of trial, and may not have a shilling of ready cash with which to secure any of the comforts we should all like women to have at such a time. Surely, from our own knowledge, we can justify, on humanitarian ground’s, this proposed small allowance of £5 to the mothers of future Australians, so that those who are poverty-stricken may know, and be the happier for the knowledge, that when they go down into the shadows they will be supplied with the wherewithal to secure some little necessaries and comforts. It is, perhaps, only natural that the outcry against this measure should have come from those whose wives have never known what it was to want at* that time.
– And the honorable senator is going to give them the allowance also.
– If they apply for it. If they do not want it they will not apply for it.
– I should not have the slightest hesitation in applying for it on behalf of my wife.
– Owing to the measure not being retrospective, I might claim to have been robbed of ,£30. When we listen to utterances such as those of Lady Way, the wife, I believe, of Chief Justice Way, of South Australia,- which were read this afternoon by Senators Needham and Blakey, we must wonder what sort of a mind such a person can have. I suppose that such women have never known what it is to want a cheque for ,£100, let alone a cheque for £5. Even if we could not justify our support of this proposal on economic grounds, it is sufficient for us to say that we wish to do something for the women of Australia, who at present suffer silently because they have not the means to secure even the necessaries which women require when they become mothers. I am reminded of an historic sentence of one who was, perhaps, the greatest statesmen we have ever had south of the equator. I refer to the immortal Dick Seddon, the author of so much Social legislation to relieve the poverty of the people of his country. In his last semi-public speech, on the occasion of a function tendered to him in this building only two days before he died, he said -
The silent martyrs of the world are the wives of the working classes who keep their cradles full.
– When did he say that?
– In the Queen’s Hall in this building, when he was entertained by the Labour party. I was greatly struck at the” time by the sentence which I have quoted. There never was a greater truth uttered. We know that it is true from our own experiences, and consequently it is “up to us “ to see whether we ‘cannot do something for the mothers of Australia. It is impossible for the wives of the lowerpaid members of the working classes, to whom Mr. Seddon referred, to provide for this period of trial in the way that it ought to be provided for. A maternity allowance of ^5 will not be sufficient to make the necessary provision. But at least it marks a beginning in the” right direction. It is with very great pleasure that I find myself a member of the party which is responsible for the introduction of this Bill. I am glad to know that before the end of the year it will be the law of the land, and that the future mothers of the Commonwealth who may require it will be able to obtain some little assistance from their country - an assistance which has never been proposed by any other party in Australia.
– In opposing this Bill one has to recollect at the outset that he has to combat the influence of 500,000 sovereigns, and that those 500,000 sovereigns will soon increase to 1,000,000. Strong reasons, and stronger convictions, are therefore required to induce one to enter the field against such a formidable foe. Immediately after this Bill was foreshadowed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, I characterized it at more than one public meeting as “ a sop to profligacy in the economic and moral sense.”
– A most disgraceful statement.
- Senator Blakey has reminded honorable senators of my utterance. He quoted a newspaper report of my speech at Hamilton, which was substantially correct. It must have been evident to everybody who listened to me at the meeting which I addressed there that I had weighed, every word that I uttered, and that when the measure came up for discussion in this chamber I would not turn my back upon my platform statements.
– Repeat them now.
– There is a higher tribunal which I shall shortly have to face-
– The High Court?
– This Bill is certain to occupy the attention of the highest tribunal in the land
– The honorable member will be non- suited.
– Whether I will be non-suited or not does not weigh with me, because in a matter of this kind, which is so closely associated with the moral and social welfare of the people, even if my constituents did not approve my action, I should unhesitatingly stand by my convictions. Let me deal now with the first part of the proposition which I advanced at Ballarat, and subsequently at Hamilton. I said that the expenditure which the Bill seeks to authorize is “ economic profligacy.” The measure proposes to give out of the public funds money to persons who do not need it. Now to hand money out of the public Treasury to individuals who do not require it is economic profligacy, whatever fancy names honorable senators opposite may attach to it.
– The honorable senator is now getting behind his statement.
– Order ! Senator St. Ledger has a right to be heard so long as he keeps within the Standing Orders.
– I say again that to give out of the public funds money to those who do not need it is economic profligacy, although honorable senators opposite may call it by whatever fancy name they may choose, or cover it under whatever vesture of cant they may please. That is my deliberate opinion, and no interruption, no coercion of any kind, will make me qualify it one tittle.
Senator- O’Keefe. - Was that the only sense in which the honorable senator used the term “ a sop to profligacy “ ?
– It was one sense. I take this opportunity to explain that expression and the sense in which I used it.
– The honorable senator is climbing down.
– I will not take back the words which I uttered on that occasion.
– The sense in which the honorable senator used those words just now is not that in which he used them at Hamilton.
– My explanation hits honorable senators opposite so squarely that they do not like it. They are squirming under my criticism because, in the sense in which I used the expression, there is no answer to the stigma which. I attached to the Bill when I described it as “a sop to economic profligacy.”
– The honorable senator is twisting now. This is another chapter.
– When the Bill was first mooted, we were told that members of the Opposition did not dare to oppose it ; that there was a Caucus which terrorized them and made them toe the line.
– The honorable senator will not challenge the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– That sort of criticism is so far beside the issue that I will deal with it from my own personal stand-point. I have said that this measure is inexplicably mixed up with the social and moral welfare of the people. In a matter of this kind, I will submit to no coercion from any political party ; and, even if the judgment of the electors themselves were against me, I should still hold fast to my opinion. I am opposed to the Bill upon the two grounds that I have mentioned. I wish now to reply to the taunting inquiry as to whether I shall give a direct negative to the motion for the second reading of the Bill, or whether shall submit for consideration a far more beneficial and effective way of dealing with this question, if it be thoroughly and disinterestedly handled.
– The honorable senator has done a beautiful twist already.
– Honorable senators opposite thought that because of the statement which I made at Ballarat I was like a football player who was hemmed in by the opposing team. They imagined that I could not get through. They forgot that I had an opening through which I could, so to speak, kick the ball right through to the goal. Hence their disappointment. I have been told that, because I oppose this measure, I am insulting the womanhood of Australia. I think it was Senator Needham who went so far as to suggest that I ought to be ashamed of myself.
– I said so.
– I shall not take my ideas of what is shameful from the honorable senator, but shall form my own judgment. Others who have urged similar objections to the Bill have had the same accusation levelled against them. They have been told that they are insulting the womanhood of Australia. It is very difficult to distinguish between the political malice of this kind of defence and the pharisaism of it. It is the refuge of those who feel that they hold an untenable position, because, when you find in the community a large number of individuals in every circle of life - in the church, the street, the market place, and elsewhere - condemning a Bill, arid others in similar positions in life upholding the Bill, it ought to be within reason and judgment to hold that, however much they may differ, they differ honestly. When ,we differ on those questions which are so closely connected with the social development of the people, what is the argument which our honorable friends opposite address to us? They say that we are the representatives of the interested classes; that we have some sinister motive; that we have, by a sort of original instinct, a hatred of anything done for the masses. That is simply hypocrisy. Honorable senators on the other side know in their hearts that we express our opinions as honestly as do those clergy who speak on the other side. This method ought to be banished from the arena of discussion, and this matter should be decided solely on the weight of the arguments which can be advanced by the respective parties.
– Would you like to read the Hamilton newspaper?
– Senator Blakey read the report to the Senate. I listened to it, and gave Senator Blakey the satisfaction of saying that substantially it was a correct report, and with regard to the somewhat strong phrase I used it was absolutely correct in its purport. It is not the womanhood of Australia-
– Which 3-011 have insulted already.
– Not for a moment. It is not the womanhood of Australia whom I have been considering, but the relation of the man to the woman with regard to what may happen when this Bill is passed. Nine times out of ten where maternity occurs before marriage, the woman is the victim of a poltroon and blackguard, who, having completed her ruin, leaves her a victim to something which is worse than death.
– And then you are going to desert her, too.
– That is not. the point. Either I. did not reason sufficiently far, or the honorable senator is reasoning too far, or in a vicious circle.
– But this Bill will not prevent the application of the State law in a case of that kind.
– The law wants altering.
– I would strongly support some drastic legislation, if necessary, by the Federal Parliament, to bring down a heavy hand on those poltroons and blackguards, of whom there are too many in the community, and whose number is too largely increasing. If the payment of £100,000,. or even , £500,000, could bring these poltroons and blackguards to a sense of their duty, and compel them to perform their responsibilities, I should support very strongly a measure for that purpose. That is where the mischief, for the most part, lies in this country. With same of the comments that have been made about this Bill increasing illegitimacy, I do not agree. I do not believe that this grant of £5 will materially increase the rate of illegitimacy, because the causes of the illegitimacy of children are not financial, but mostly moral. They are not connected with a grant of five or ten sovereigns, or the withholding of it. It is almost wholly a moral problem, and especially is that the case with regard to the woman. We may rely on the womanhood of Australia - and thank God that we may rely upon the womanhood of Christianity - that it is not a consideration of £5,or £10,or £20,that helps her to slip from the path of virtue. She slips because in her trust, innocence, and youth, she comes in contact with a poltroon and a blackguard. It may be that this grant may offer an inducement to some poltroons and blackguards, in this way : that when they deliberately intend before and during the commission of these acts to evade their responsibilities, they may lay the devilish unction to their soul that after all the victim will be left to the consolation of a £5 note as a grant from the Federal Government.
– You are coming out now in your true colours.
– That is a point of view which has been presented by more critics than myself. In very many cases the poltroon and the blackguard, who will deliberately plan the ruin of a young woman, knowing that he will so far as he can evade his responsibilities, may take that consolation to himself. As a rule, he is not deterred, except by the fear of the State law. He has no sense of any moral or spiritual obligation, and he is the kind of man who would misappropriate a grant of charity if it came direct from Heaven.
– Did you not say at Hamilton that a grant of a similar kind, under the poor-law of England, increased illegitimacy?
– Here are your words.
– Well, that part of the report is not substantially correct.
– You are saying the opposite thing now.
– I am not going to be led off the track to discuss something about the poor law which has no relation to this measure. If the honorable senator will pardon me, I did say this in a letter to the Argus, which he can turn up-
– And you do here.
– Probably that is some reflection from the letter.
– It is the substance.
– Now that the honorable senator refreshes my memory, I can say, as probably some honorable senators know, that the poor law administration of Great Britain, which was largely founded on humanitarian and. sympathetic ideals, was so twisted that a great report presented to the House of Commons in 1832, showed that in one aspect it created, if I may be pardoned for using the expression here, a hot-house for the propagation of bastardy. We have to be very careful how humanitarian measures are framed, and still more careful how they are administered. After that report was made, the poor law of England was swept from the board. That aspect - I do not care to refer to it, because the subject is a very disagreeable one - was probably in my mind when I was speaking at Hamilton. It certainly was in my mind when I wrote to the Argus.
– That unfortunate Hamilton speech you cannot explain away.
– Not a bit. How can that taunt be thrown at me, when so far as the substance of it is concerned, I am justifying and defending it, as I intend to do before my constituents.
– How does the existence of the poltroon or blackguard, with whom you are so well acquainted, make it any easier for the poor unfortunate woman ?
– If that is the only reason which my honorable friend is giving for the Bill, my answer is the old proverb, “ Prevention is better than cure.” If you can get hold of and restrain the man who may commit the crime, you are to that extent preventing the commission of it. This subject is fairly wide, and I intend to deal with the aspect which has just been suggested by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. While on the one hand you may with this grant in a few cases relieve the need of the mother, you are, unfortunately, by the administration which is foreshadowed to some extent, making the path of these poltroons and blackguards easier. It ought to be quite possible to so frame legislation that while a maternity grant might be conferred upon women in a certain set of circumstances, you could by the same machinery, prevent the men, whom I have described, committing the greater wrong. We have heard a good deal about the attitude of the Council of Churches. Because it has condemned this measure some very strong language has been used condemnatory of its attitude.
– Did not the Scribes and Pharisees crucify, Christ ?
– So they did. There were Scribes and Pharisees who used to be always saying that they were not like other men, and that is the worst kind of Scribes and Pharisees. Is not much of the criticism which has been directed heN against the Council of Churches, a setting up of superior righteousness and superior charity on the part of the speakers? What right have they to assume that they in their hearts are more sympathetic towards the claims of poor women, and to condemn those who point out the grave dangers, in legislation of the kind?
– It was they who in effect said, “ Thank God, we are not like other men.”
– Nothing of the kind- I shall deal with the resolution which one of the great Churches has passed. It will speak for itself, and I urge, by anticipation, that if any attempt is made to proceed upon the system of a miscellaneous, wholesale distribution of grants, irrespective of legitimacy or illegitimacy, the result will be dangerous to the social and moral welfare of the people. We are told that the members of the Council of Churches are, on this matter, not worthy followers of Him in whose footsteps they profess to tread. I say again that that argument reminds one of the incident of. the image and superscription on the penny. It is a method of evading the difficulties in which the Government fmd themselves concerning the economic profligacy involved in this measure. I take the present opportunity of saying that, on the whole, I indorse both the reasons and the conclusions expressed by the Council of Churches in their protest against this Bill.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he owes the Prime Minister an apology for saying that he gloried in giving the allowance where the children are illegitimate?
– So he did. Do not the whole of his party make it their boast that they will not distinguish between legitimacy and illegitimacy? What was wrong.’ then, when I made this criticism on more than one occasion? I said, and I say it now - and honorable senators opposite have given me ample reason for saying it - that I do not think that I am misrepresenting the Prime Minister one tittle when I say that he gloried in the view he expressed.
– Is the honorable senator going to vote for the Bill?
– I am going to oppose the Bill all the time, here and outside, and if Senator Russell cannot understand that declaration, he must make his apologies to his Maker, not to me. What does this Bill do, according to the proud boast of the Prime Minister? In some respects it casts a disparagement on the marriage contract and on the sanctity of marriage. There is no doubt about it. .
– Rot, man !
– That is the kind of interjection to which one gets accustomed. I may be quite wrong. I may be using language which, when the subject is more thoroughly probed, may not appear to be justified. But at present that is my deliberate opinion. I have given the subject a great deal of thought. Sometimes my thoughts upon it were so strong that I felt that I ought to retreat from them. But every time I have considered them in relation to what I may . call the miscellaneous relations sanctioned by this Bill, I have come to the conclusion that those who have warned the Government in regard to this matter of illegitimate children are in the right. There is strong ground for issuing those warnings, and there is no reason, when they come from the Churches, for stigmatizing them as they have been stigmatized by honorable senators opposite. Upon this matter I feel justified in expressing an opinion fearlessly. Behind me I have some of the ablest, strongest, most fearless, and most unflinching of the clergymen of Australia, backed up by a sense of their responsibility. When a legislator finds that an opinion which he holds is shared by such bodies as the Council of Churches and the Presbyterian Assembly, he is justified in expressing that opinion as openly and fearlessly as they have done. But more than that, a leading ecclesiastic of the church to which I belong has spoken in words as strongly condemnatory as those used by the Council of Churches. I refer to Archbishop Kelly.
– Who is he?
– He occupies the highest and most responsible position in the Catholic hierarchy of Australia. Whilst the clergymen who have expressed these views have been condemned, I wonder how it is that honorable senators opposite have said nothing about the views of one of the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries of the greatest ecclesiastical organization on earth. Why has he not been similarly attacked? I will read what Archbishop Kelly has said. I believe this deliverance was made about three weeks ago in Sydney, and was reported in the Daily Telegraph -
Another point, and I think I will here acquit myself of a public duty. God said to Eve, “You will be subject to your husband, and in sorrow you will bring forth your children.” But when her child is born the woman rejoices because a man has been brought into the world. In other words, her sorrow is changed into joy by religion. One of the Apostles said to women in general that it was their duty to rear children who would serve and love God on earth and be with Him in eternity. Now, look at our wise statesmen, giving us a legislative project of giving £5 to every mother, because she is a mother. There is the basis on which the fundamental bond of society is to rest - not on the fear and love of God ; not on the perfection of natural love. No ; they looked to political and material motives in all things. Australia has seen the acme of her improvement if such notions are ever adopted. They should be scouted in every family in the land. Let them appeal to those who don’t know God ; to those who are fallen, towards whom we must exercise compassion. It is only when people have lost all conscientious sentiment that they are to be spoken to as some of the projects of law speak to the people of Australia at the present moment. I indorse that. Am I to be told, because I do so, that I do not understand or appreciate the relation of this Bill to the morals and welfare of the people? Is Archbishop Kelly, when he puts that grave warning before the people, to be classified as amongst the Pharisees, and as one who does not understand how deeply interwoven with its safety and progress are the morals of the nation, inspired by the Christian religion? He has not said one word stronger than has been said by Professor Rentoul or the representatives of the Council of Churches. Are we on this side, who venture an emphatic “ No “ upon this Bill, in common with these men and with the Council of Churches, to be condemned as insulting the motherhood of Australia, and as not being sympathetic to the legitimate claims of the women and children of the Commonwealth ? It is the most stupid cant in argument I have ever listened to. A Bill which has to be supported by subterfuges of that kind, and which has to rely upon such inducements to commend itself to Parliament and the people, stands selfcondemned.
– Can the honorable senator quote any statement by Archbishop Kelly to the effect that this Bill is an insult to women?
– I have given the honorable senator enough on that point. Let us understand clearly the attitude of the Presbyterian General Assembly on this matter. 1 have taken the report from the Argus. After considerable preliminary debate, a motion was submitted to the effect that the Assembly regarded the proposal of the Bill to give the same legal recognition, countenance, and status to motherhood out of wedlock as to motherhood within wedlock as dangerous to morals, tending, as it does, to ignore the importance of marriage, which is the foundation of the family, and ultimately of the State. That motion was submitted, before he left the Chair, by the gentleman who was Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly of Victoria during the whole of last year, for the consideration of the Assembly this year. After he left the Chair, the new Moderator, Professor Rentoul was appointed, and it was under his presidency of the Assembly that the motion was discussed. It was amended, and ultimately passed by a large majority of the Assembly in this form -
That, whilst sympathizing heartily with every assistance, whether by the State or by the individual, towards giving effectual relief to those who become mothers, the Council regrets the proposal to give the same legal recognition, countenance, and status to motherhood outside as within wedlock as dangerous to morals, tending as it does to ignore the importance of marriage, which is the foundation of the family and ultimately of the State, and holds that if the maternity bonus is to be given the amount to be paid to unmarried mothers should not be given directly to such mothers, but should be used for their assistance through suitable agents.
There is no one on the other side, however strongly he may be in favour of the Bill, who is game to find fault with the attitude of the Presbyterian General Assembly as defined in that resolution. They base their objection to the proposal on the ground that the status of marriage is not sufficiently recognised in the Bill, and point to the grave, social, and moral dangers consequently involved.
– Marriage is ignored in the Bill.
– Of course it is, and the Government glory in the fact. They say that they cannot recognise it, because, if they did, it is possible that certain mothers who need assistance would not receive it. This contention seems to have been entirely overlooked. It was only very briefly mentioned by Senator Walker. I wonder what answer the Vice-President of the Executive Council will make to it? . I can appreciate the force of an argument that in the matter of a grant from the State there should be no distinction made between the mother of an illegitmate child and the mother of a legitimate child. If a maternity allowance is to be given, it would be with some reluctance that I would draw the line between a mother on the birth of her first illegitimate child and the mother of a legitimate child.
– Is any child really illegitimate ?
– Certainly, I think so.
– Nature does not think so.
– That may be. That is always the argument which is brought forward to support the materialistic view. Is Senator Givens prepared to contend that in our sexual relationships generally we should follow the law of nature? He should, if he bases his argument upon that. No Ministry dare enunciate such a principle. When the honorable senator asks me whether nature makes any such distinction, let me answer by asking whether he is prepared to accept the principle involved, and say that men and women should live according to the law of nature? The honorable senator knows that there are natural instincts suggesting moral obligations and justifying the strong condemnation of this proposal by representatives of the Churches, from Archbishop
Kelly downwards. The answer given in every pagan and corrupt era of civilization was, “It is according to the law of nature,” and the answer to that is that it is riot according to the law of religion. With the birth of a second or third illegitimate child, a mother may be said to be slipping slowly down the slopes of concubinage to a state which’ is unmentionable. That in some cases unfortunately happens, and yet the Prime Minister says in this Bill that, so far as a State grant of this kind is concerned, the concubine has equal claims with the married mother in the eye of the law upon the public funds for assistance. Whether the Government or their supporters admit it or not, I contend that it must, in the long run, tend to the weakening and loosening of the sanctions and obligations which every Christian church, and even paganism, has imposed upon the married state. Ministers may console themselves as they choose in connexion with this Bill, but I say that to claim that in the matter .of a grant from the public funds of the State a woman living in voluntary concubinage, or in a worse condition, is to be regarded as equal in the eyes of the law with a lawful mother is a serious, startling, and most dangerous proposition to advance. I contend with the Churches that it offers a dangerous blow at the Christian fabric of marriage, upon which our civilization depends. One of the great arguments advanced against the whole foundation and superstructure of Socialism was that hurled at it by His late Holiness Leo XIII. in his famous encyclical. In that encyclical he based the right to property on the family. He said that property could only be claimed because of the claims of the family. There is a certain school of political thought that denies the right of the individual to private property. When Leo XIII. struck at the fundamental basis of Socialism, he pointed out that the denial of this right would ultimately strike at the family itself. The family is, according to every Christian teaching, inseparably connected with the question of marriage. Whether it is a religious or sacramental union, the highest importance must be attached to it. . That is the grave objection to this Bill. If honorable senators opposite are to hurl at those who oppose the Bill the statement that their opposition is an insult to motherhood, I can retort that in one sense this proposal is an insult to the whole motherhood of Australia, because it puts the married woman, who has preserved her virtue for her marriage, and is bringing up her children under difficulties, upon the same level in the eye of the law with the woman who, before or after marriage, is slipping slowly down the slopes of concubinage. If we are going to talk of insults to anybody, that is an insult to the wifehood and motherhood of Australia. When the Churches are being assailed for directing the attention of the public to this important principle, we should consider our bearings. Honorable senators opposite sometimes bravely and boldly call themselves Socialists and members of the Labour party, and it is time that attention was drawn to the fact that some of their official organs are giving utterance to opinions which are not repudiated by a single member of the party opposite. Some of these official organs of the party are putting forth dangerous principles with regard to the marriage tie. There is a newspaper published in Victoria called the Labour Call. Upon its title page it is called the official organ of the party. I find that there is ;i close connexion between this Bill and the utterances which appear in this particular organ. On the 18th April last the Labour Call published the following plain and disgusting statement upon the subject of marriage : -
The sanctity of the marriage tie is one of those pretences which really ought to be exposed in the interests of public morality, for the sooner we cease to live in a fool’s paradise the better it will be for all concerned, and the sooner we recognise that the preaching of the Churches and the posings of the Purists is scornfully ignored by the mass of the people, who simply follow the impulse of their natures regardless of the awful warnings of the pious pretenders, the better it will be for all concerned. . . We learn that the so-called sacrament of marriage is based upon flagrant immorality and loose sexual relations which the Church and clergy sanctify and indorse.
There seems some justification, therefore, for saying that the Bill entirely ignores the marriage state-
– If the honorable senator would think more, and point his ringer less, his speech would be better.
– Listen to Demosthenes instructing us. It has been said that we seek to disparage the women of Australia, and that we do not sufficiently recognise the claims of the poorer women in their supreme hour of trial. I have some knowledge of the women of Australia, and, in reply to that taunt, I wish to say that I was not born with a silver spoon hi my mouth. On the contrary, I was born in a household where, for many years, every shilling had to be carefully husbanded. Consequently, I claim to know the women of Australia of all classes, and I have no hesitation in saying that the vast majority of the strong, virile womanhood of this continent do not want the measurewhich we are now considering. In confirmation of my statement, I would direct attention to the following letter which was published in the Argus of 28th September, and which is signed “ A Proud Young Mother”:-
Though we have read a lot about the “ right “ of women to this dole in the great trial of their lives from certain Federal members, my husband and I, though we are not blessed with a large amount of this world’s goods, feel that the offer of an indiscriminate bonus of is nothing more than a deliberate insult to the young manhood and womanhood of this country, and no matter to how many our family may grow, nor what straits we may be reduced to (and we are dependent solely on what is earned by personal exertion), I would rather put up with anything, or work any hours, than exercise this “ right,” and accept £5 from such a source. Not even if ^50 was offered would any one be able to tell my children that we had to accept a bonus (if it is not a “ charity dole “) to pay the expenses incurred through their coming into the world. And, sir, if Mr. Fisher thinks his party will get my vote at the next election through the offer, he is mistaken : and this is ( the view of nearly all the women I know, as they look upon it, as I do, as an insult to our sex.
I agree with that letter to a. very large extent. It is mothers of that stamp who will carry the nation forward, and who will stand by it in its hour of peril. But if we inculcate amongst our people a. feeling that they must lean upon the State at all times, we might as well write Ichabod over every Parliament - State and Federal - in Australia. Our glory will have departed. There is only one way in which greatness can be achieved by any nation, as is clearly shown by the teachings of the history of 4,000 years. It can become great only by its manhood and womanhood resolutely .facing the difficulties of rearing families, and the difficulties of the nation itself. I propose now to quote the opinion of one of the most eminent ecclesiastics in Australia upon this Bill - I refer to Professor Rentoul. Shortly after taking the chair at the Presbyterian Assembly in Melbourne, he embraced the opportunity, in that strong and fearless manner which is characteristic of him, to deal with the wholesale hypocrisy in which some persons had indulged. He said -
It was still the workers of the Christian Church who pierced into the slums with hands of rescue, making no distinction between white and brown, and who laid down their lives in disease-haunted lands to save and uplift the darkened. Over against such practical purifying pity how empty a thing seemed the compulsory charity of an Australian Government framed into a Maternity Bill, which put the Government to no trouble or cost. He protested against the ruthless lines drawn, not at morality, not as against the seducer of girlhood, ‘but to rigidly exclude and ban any woman who was cursed by any tinge of colour and shade save that of a European. The mother pangs, the mother love, were in their case to evoke no pity and secure no succour. What a hollow farce in the name of charity ! What a too transparent trick to catch votes at the coming political scramble !
When Senator McColl made a somewhat similar statement, no language was too strong to denounce his action. What axe has Professor Rentoul to grind? He owes no obligation to any political party. The only obligation binding upon him is that between his Maker and his congregation: He knows his people, Eis church, and the community. His is one of the most fearless intellects in Australia, and he is a man whose judgment upon a subject of this kind is, perhaps, as clear as that of any person in the community. Yet he declares that the Bill is a political dodge, which is brought forward for the purpose of catching votes.
– The honorable senator has said that time and again.
– I am glad to find that I have on my side the clergyman of a church to which I do not belong. Those who have hurled gibes at Senator McColl because he declared the Bill a political dodge, will scarcely charge Professor Rentoul with prostituting his duty to his church. Moreover, I do not think that the professor would flesh his sword in such political carrion. I wish now to otter some objections to the measure. When the Bill was foreshadowed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, it was suggested that the birth rate of Australia was alarmingly small, and that steps should be taken to increase it. But anybody who is acquainted with statistics bearing on this matter knows that no bonus of ^£5, £10, or £15 will materially increase the birth rate.. Senator O’Keefe recognised that fact, hut missed the only deduction which could be made from it. The maternity allowance will not increase the birth rate, because the birth rate is lowest amongst those classes which have the largest means. It is the families of the rich which perish, and those of the poor which survive. That is the teaching of history. Therefore, the pretence that a grant of £5, or £10, will increase the birth rate has no foundation whatever.
– I made no such statement.
– Nor did I attribute it to the honorable senator. I said that he recognised a fact, but had missed the deduction to be made from it. I freely admit this proposition, that charitable and scientific assistance may, in certain circumstances, decrease the mortality in the first years of life; and it is the only ground on which this Bill can be defended. But what precautions are being taken to see that there is proper scientific application, proper care, proper administration of that comfort and relief which are to be given to the mother ? The allowance can be given on no other ground than that it may enable her to procure skilled assistance. We know that the pretence about the birth rate has all gone. The Government have entirely changed their ground. It is on the basis of sympathy and charity only to the woman in what is so often called her supreme hour of need that the Government can now rest this measure. No matter what you may do with the grant, the experience of hundreds of years shows us that it will not increase the birth rate. But there is one thing that it will do for the Government who hand out the money. It certainly will bring votes for a time. The Federal Government, who tell us that they are going to spend a million in this way in a short time, come down with a Bill to fling, practically, 500,000 sovereigns or more into the lap of one official, without any administrative machinery to control or guide him in the proper scientific application of the grant, or in seeing that the women shall be properly guarded. On what ground can we make this grant at all? It is only on the ground that private charity, subsidized by State contributions, has proved insufficient for the purpose. But what evidence to that effect have we? We have not a shred of legal or parliamentary evidence that private charity, subsidized by Stale grants, has not met this need.
– We have the evidence of past experience.
– Let us have the evidence placed before us in proper, form. “ Five hundred thousand sovereigns” is an expression which can be easily rolled off the tongue, but it is a large sum.
– Would it not be splendid if it grew into 3,000,000?
– Of course it would. It is a magnificent thing, for the time being, to scatter half-a-million, or a million, sovereigns to the masses. It was a magnificent thing in Rome. That was how the despots bought their way into power, and, as Juvenal pointed out, it was the cause of the decline of the. Empire. The moment that the political parasites and the leaders in those days began to scatter their sovereigns in the streets in this kind of way, to distribute to the populace of Rome bread, and give them circuses, from that moment it began to decline. As Juvenal said, “ You once possessed legions, but now they are going back and never returning. All you are looking for is bread and circuses.” That was the expression of the politicians when Rome was ruled by despots, and starting on its decline. And, when Senator Henderson used the expression just now, he was not conscious at the moment that he was joining hands with the rabble who stood in the streets of Rome 2,000 years ago and said to their despots, “ Fling us sovereigns and give us circuses, and let the Empire go hang.” I believe it is almost inevitable that the attitude I have taken on this Bill will be misrepresented or twisted on many a platform. It has been my misfortune, or good fortune, in a time of difficulty, to have had a text invented for me. It has been still oftener my fortune to have had a text perverted and distorted for me. So far as man can possibly guard himself against political calumny or wilful misunderstanding I shall do so, and I conclude my speech with the laying down of some clear principles which, if embodied in a Bill dealing with this subject, I should heartily indorse. I assert the following principles -
Of this there is no real evidence in the legal or parliamentary sense, and no attempt to investigate the question of need, or the causes which lead to that need -
The claim of the mother to assistance is, in certain circumstances, binding both on the individual and the State. But no grant from the public Treasury and no legislative enactment dealing with the grant can benefit society which does not recognise and determine -
This Bill not only infringes, but flouts and scorns, every one of these principles; and, therefore, I oppose it. I shall oppose it elsewhere. I shall say “No” here, and I shall say “ No” elsewhere, and I shall say “ No “ all the time.
– For once, Senator St. Ledger has been somewhat candid, though I think that he was very involved as he endeavoured to tell us what he intended todo. I took it for granted that he intended to oppose this Bill at every stage. I believe that he will oppose it. I think that he will at least act consistently on this occasion if he has never done so previously. I intend to support the measure, for the very substantial reasons placed before the Senate by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I think he made it quite clear that its main object is to assist those who really require help, to assist women in their hour of need, without regard to whether a child was born in wedlock or not. I think this measure, with a provision of that character, is one of the closest attempts to get to practical Christianity of which I know. I am not going to discuss whether the Council of Churches have lost their reason, or to debate whether they have lost their Christianity, or ever had any Christianity. As a man and a father, with the responsibilities and commitments of life on my shoulders, I believe this measure is an attempt to reach the highest principles inculcated by the Founder of Christianity when He used the expression quoted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council to-day. Senator St. Ledger did not quite make it clear whether he is prepared to shut out the child of the unfortunate girl ; but every man of spirit is as bitterly antagonistic to the “ poltroon “ who deceives a girl as Senator St. Ledger can be. Every man must regard with repugnance a cur of that character; but our antipathy to his ruthlessness will not assist the girl in her time of trouble. Senator St. Ledger apparently, however, wants, as a legislator, to escape the responsibility of relieving the necessities of. the poor girl because her child is not born in wedlock. Consequently he would leave her in infinitely worse case than she would be in under the provisions of this Bill. Every State has laws to deal with men of the character spoken of by the honorable senator ; but if the States do not administer their laws properly, that cannot have any effect upon the attempt of the Federal Government to do something for the relief of wemen who at a critical stage in their existence require all the help that it is possible for us to give them. 1 am somewhat sorry that’ the allowance is not ten guineas. The proposal is quite as easily justified from an economical as from a humanitarian point of view. Every child born in the country is a valuable asset to it, and everything we can do for its preservation, nurture, and culture, adds to its value. Several people connected with the Churches have taken a very narrow and decrepit view of this measure, but in most cases the Churches are the very places where you will find narrow-minded men and even narrowminded women, who tuck up their skirts, and would make themselves appear to be angels of purity. Again the introductory remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to come very forcibly to our minds. “ Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone.” That is the best way to look at all these questions. While some of these ministers of religion have taken what “they probably think to be the right view, I think their attitude is entirely wrong from the humanitarian and economic points of view, and it is equally wrong from the point of view of that Christian spirit which ought to actuate every man in the land. There are others connected with the Churches who take a very sensible view of the position, and I want to put the opinion of one of them on record in ilansard, in order to show that everybody in the Churches has not lost his reason, and thai some men have retained the highest principles of Christianity. The following letter appeared in the Argus of 16th September, under the heading of “ Maternity Bonus “ - to the editor of the argus.
Sir, - The criticism levelled at the proposed bonus largely misses its mark through inattention to the object of the Government. It is not a bonus for babies, or for motherhood, at all, but an allowance for maternity towards the cost of nursing, &c, with a view to preserving the health of both mother and child. Moral considerations do not enter, for they are already provided for by the requirement to register the ex-nuptial child as such, and by the stigma on 4he parents that such registration implies. This allowance, like the grace of God in nature, descends upon the just and the unjust, not as obliterating moral distinctions, but as emphasizing human compassion on the basis of our common solidarity. - Yours, &c,
ARTHUR J. PROWSE.
The Manse, Scarsdale, Sept. 16.
The writer puts in the most precise fashion the exact position of the Bill in regard to the women of Australia. The man who talks about the moral or immoral effect of the measure must have forgotten that his own mother was a woman. He has failed to recognise that in life’s pathway, there are so many turns that lead to unsuspected spots that all our womanfolk are in danger at some period of their lives. It is because we rejoice and believe in the morality of our people, and are endeavouring at all times to teach the highest standards of morality of which we know, that we are so successful in avoiding these mistakes.
– It is because we can rely on their morality that there is no need to make invidious distinctions.
– Precisely. Nb one can persuade me that, for the sake of a paltry £5, the innocent are going to lose that which nature has given as her greatest gift. The man who suggests such a thing-
– No one has suggested it.
– Arguments making suggestions in that direction have undoubtedly been raised. As a man and a father, I wish to repudiate the idea. Those who set up such a doctrine ought to be ashamed of themselves.
– Why does the honorable senator make the suggestion?
-^-1 have not made it. I am simply replying to a statement that has been made in the Senate this evening. It has been suggested that we are going by this Bill to do something that will add to the profligacy of our race and lead to the degeneracy of the womanhood of Australia. What we are endeavouring to do, and what I hope we shall succeed in doing, is to assist every woman who needs our assistance. Whether the required assistance be under the one condition or the other, I hope that we shall have but one broad view of human nature, and that every daughter of Australia will be equally the care of the Australian. people and their Government. .
Debate (on motion by Senator McColl) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.39 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 October 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121003_senate_4_66/>.