5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, ‘ in the Fitzroy Town Hall, on the evening of Monday, 27th October, to the effect that it was regrettable that the quarantining of Sydney should be made a party question, I wish to ask him when and by whom it was made a party question?
– The matter was brought up here by Senator Pearce, who strongly urged the lifting of the quarantine, and that has been done, too, by leading members of the Labour party in another place.
– By way of personal explanation, I wish to say that the Vice-President of the Executive Council was in error in quoting me. I do not remember that I have ever spoken on the quarantine question.
– I shall look up the matter, and, perhaps, refresh the honorable senator’s memory.
– I have spoken regarding the isolation of patients. I do not know that I have ever advocated the lifting of the quarantine.
– The honorable senator said here, a few weeks ago, that the Government should take courage and lift the Quarantine.
– Arising out of the answer, may I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether leading members of the Liberal party in the House of Representatives asked questions about the raising of the quarantine at Sydney, and, if so, will he give the names to the Senate, and, through the Senate, to the public ?
– I think that one or two members of the Liberal party also raised the question.
– Why did you not say that at Fitzroy ?
– How can it be a party question ? It is a miserable statement for any member of the Government to make.
– The matter has been brought up over and over again in another place, and the honorable senator knows it.
– And you know that leading members of your own party there have brought up the matter, too.
– Is not the VicePresident of the Executive Council aware that a leading member of the Liberal party in another place, in the person of Mr. Conroy, on a motion for adjournment, delivered a long speech against the quarantining of Sydney before any Labour man had spoken on the question?
– I am glad, indeed, to learn that it is not a party question. I understood that it was.
– You are always putting your foot in it.
– In view of the statement at Fitzroy attributed to him by the press, will the Vice-President of the Executive Council give to the Senate and the public the name of any Victorian member of the Opposition who has been opposed to the quarantine regulations in force in connexion with the small-pox epidemic at Sydney ?
– I do not know the name of any member of the Opposition
– Why do you make a broad, general statement if you cannot back it up?
– Nor yet do I know the name of any one of them who has supported the Government in the action they have taken.
– The Honorary Minister has privately given me some information regarding the case of Victor Yeo. I wish to know whether a statement on the matter will be made by the Minister of Defence, who must now have the facts of the case before him?
– The assurance given by my colleague that further inquiry would be made in the matter has been redeemed so far as I am concerned. I think that Senator Rae suggested that some supplementary information should be sought other than through the ordinary official channel. I have endeavoured, and am now endeavouring, to see if there are possible phases of the question which have not been brought under review. I hope before the Senate adjourns this week to be able to make a definite statement as to the course of action taken from the beginning to the end of the prosecution.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether, if the statement be correct, that in certain cases of fine the action of the magistrates is taken independently of the Defence Department, he will endeavour by regulations, if possible, to insure that any offences arising out of non-compliance with the Defence Act may be dealt with under Federal direction ?
– I ask the indulgence of the Senate to go outside a mere answer to the question. Senator Pearce recently said it was contemplated when he introduced the last amending Defence Bill, that certain provisions would substitute military detention for incarceration in a gaol. I am advised by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department that that good intention did not materialize as the Bill became law. The matter is now under review for the purpose of seeing whether we cannot remedy the defect which experience has shown to exist in the amending Act, and in doing so, I propose to submit to the Senate such a clause as will meet the point raised by Senator Rae, as well as the major one to which I have referred.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs lay on the table of the Library the papers concerning the resignation of Mr. J. T. Ramsay as manager of the demonstration farm at Daly River, in the Northern Territory?
– I am quite ignorant about the details of the papers. So far as I can see there is no reason why the papers should not be laid on the table, but I shall make inquiries about them this afternoon.
– I wish to ask the Honorary Minister whether, in view of the continued expressions of discontent with the Tasmanian mail contract ‘ made by a majority of the representatives of Tasmania in the Federal Legislature, the Government will, even at this eleventh hour, seek to insert in the agreement a provision that either party can terminate it by giving twelve months’ notice?
– While the question was being asked, I was endeavouring to calculate how the majority of the representatives of Tasmania in the Federal Parliament is made up. I can only assume, if Senator Ready’s statement is correct, that the majority is represented here and in another place by representatives on his own side. Unless that is so, I must dispute his statement.
– That is so; we have six out of eleven.
– I was trying to get that information.
– It is something like your own majority.
– I am sorry indeed that 1 should stir up painful reminiscences about majorities. With regard to the remainder of the question, let me state emphatically, and finally, that the Government have made up their mind, and I am glad to say that they are capable of sticking to their confirmed and well-advised opinion.
Contribution to Relief Fund
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Senate whether, in view of the fact that the fund for the relief of the relatives of the victims in the great coal mining disaster at Senghenywd, in Wales, is not confined to the United Kingdom, the. Government have yet considered the advisability of making a contribution to it?
– The Government have considered the matter, and a statement will be made almost immediately.
– Referring again to the question of the relief fund established in connexion with the mining accident at Senghenywd, I ask the Minister of Defence whether he is now in a position to make the statement which he promised in connexion with it?
– The Government have decided to forward the sum of £2,000 as a contribution to the fund.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, if his attention has been called to a paragraph appearing in the Argus of the 27th October, referring to an accident which terminated fatally, through a man being run down by a motor bus in Swanston-street. The portion of the paragraph to which I wish to direct special attention reads -
Another policeman made an attempt to telephone for a St. John Ambulance to a neighbouring hotel, but he had to wait so long for an answer from the Central Exchange that it was decided to take the man to the Melbourne Hospital in a cab. He was unconscious, and apparently seriously injured, and in less than an hour from the time of his admission to the hospital he was dead.
I do not wish to reflect upon the work of the Central Exchange, but to ask whether it would not be possible for the electrical staff of the Department to devise some method whereby a call of this kind, where human life is in danger, may be given precedence of all other calls.
– If the honorable senator will give me particulars of the case referred to, I shall bring it under the notice of the Department. I think he is quite right in saying that calls of the nature referred to should certainly be given precedence.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, in view of the announcement that the Royal assent has been given to the Navigation Act, whether he can give the House any information as to when the proclamation will issue bringing the Act into operation.
– Senator Maughan asked a question on this subject a week or so ago, and I have been supplied with the following information in reply to that question -
With reference to the question asked in the Senate on the 23rd inst. by Senator Maughan, relative to the proclamation of the Navigation Act, I beg to inform you that, as a great amount of preparatory work is necessary, it will aot be possible to proclaim the Act for some time
Four months’ notice at least will be given of the intention to bring the Act into operation.
It may be added that a special Gazette, dated the 24th inst., containing the proclamation of the Royal Assent to the Bill, has been issued.
That statement is signed by Mr. Groom, the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, if the necessary drawings have been sent to the Fitzroy Dock, Cockatoo Island, to enable the workmen discharged from the dock to be taken on again.
– I do not know whether I am right in assuming that the honorable senator’s question has reference to a paragraph which appeared in the newspapers of recent date, but, if so, I desire to say that the moment it was brought under my notice I forwarded the statement to the member of the Naval Board whose special province it is to deal with these matters, asking for a report upon the whole question. I have only to say at this juncture that the statement that the discharge of the men was due to the failure of the Melbourne office to supply plans is without foundation. I have, further, to say that such discharges as have taken place have been due to the direction of the acting manager of the Cockatoo Island works.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral if he will take steps to put an end to the unsatisfactory method at present adopted of delivering the Tasmanian mails for the Federal Parliament. A portion of the mails arrive here at 11 o’clock, and another portion at a later hour. As the return mail for Tasmania closes an hour or two later, the practice adopted is a source of great inconvenience to honorable senators. I ask whether the Minister will see that the same practice shall be adopted in the delivery of the Tasmanian mails as is followed in the delivery of mails for Parliament House from South Australia and New South Wales. I might add for the information of the Minister that I have made several complaints to the Department concerning this matter, and no later than to-day there has been a recurrence of the evil complained of.
– I shall have pleasure in communicating with the Department and in endeavouring to have the matter mentioned attended to.
Visit of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence in connexion with the visit of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice to the Commonwealth whether he has drawn up any instructions for that gentleman other than those contained in the correspondence which has been laid on the table of the Senate, and, if so, whether he will lay a copy of the additional instructions on the table?
– I have to-day forwarded to Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, to meet him on his arrival at Fremantle, a letter, a copy of which I shall be glad to lay on the table of the Senate, the purport of which is that I am, by same mail, forwarding copy of Admiral Henderson’s report, and directing the attention of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice to those portions dealing with Cockburn Sound. I make the further statement that the Government adopts Admiral Henderson’s recommendation with regard to Cockburn Sound, and seeks the advice of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice as to the best method of giving effect to it.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are : -
Motion (by Senator Gardiner), by leave agreed to -
That a message be sent to the House of Representatives requesting that the House of Representatives give leave to the Honorable Joseph Cook, the Right Honorable Sir John Forrest, the Honorable King O’Malley, Frank Anstey, Esq., David Charles McGrath, Esq., and Hugh Sincl air, Esq., to attend and be examined by the Select Committee of the Senate on General Elections 1913.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Defence Act 1903-1912. - Regulations amended, &c-
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272.
Public Service Act 1902-1911. - Promotion of T. Pittman as Clerk, 4th Class, Pensions Branch, Department of the Treasury.
Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905. - Regulations amended,&c. -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 222, 263.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon, notice, -
Why were not the original answers submitted by the successful applicants at the examination held in June last for storemen and labourers for the Queen’s Bridge Ordnance Stores laid on the table of the Library as Der motion carried in the Senate on 26th September?
– The answer to the question is: -
It appears from a report received from the Commandant, 3rd Military District, in the matter, that all . action inconnexion with the examination having been finalized and the ap pointments made, the original answers submitted by candidates at the examination held in April last were destroyed on the 30th June last.
While the orders of the Department permit of papers of this nature being destroyed after the lapse of a reasonable time, it is not considered that, in this instance, a sufficient time was allowed to lapse prior to’ the papers being destroyed, and the officer directly responsible for their destruction is being called upon for an explanation.
Motion (by Senator Ready) agreed to:-
That the original stock sheets that were made out to 31st December, 1912, and signed by the various storemen in charge of the different Departments in the Queen’s Bridge Ordnance Stores, Melbourne, be laid on the table of the Library.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Has the honorable gentleman any report to make to the Senate in regard to the alleged assault recently made upon a reporter from the staff of the Toowoomba Chronicle by military cooks engaged in the Newtown camp?
– The answer to the question is: -
With reference. to the question asked by the honorable member, a report regarding the matter has been received, and it appears that the cooks were incensed at some statements regarding the rations which the reporter made in his report on the camp, published in the Toowoomba Chronicle, with the result that, when the reporter again visited the camp, one of the men threw a bucket of water over him and several others chased him out of the camp.
Whether the criticism of the reporter was justified or otherwise, the assault upon him can only receive the severest condemnation. The only possible excuse that can be made for the men concerned is that they are mere youths of 19 years of age, who probably did not realize the seriousness of their action.
With regard to the allegation in the press that the commanding officer and other officers of the unit were fully aware beforehand that something in the nature of an assault upon the reporter was contemplated, and that no steps were taken to prevent same, it is considered that there is no evidence of this. The commanding officer apparently thought there might possibly be some trouble, and he advised the reporter to forego his detailed visit to the kitchens, but it is hard to realize what other action he could have taken beforehand to prevent something which might or might not occur. When the affair actually occurred, it took place so quickly that there was no time for the officer to intervene. The man who actually threwthe bucket of water has been summarily dealt with and punished by his commanding officer. Under these circumstances, it is not considered necessary to take any further action in the matter.
Appointment of Mr. Griffin
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will he inform the Senate as to the exact conditions under which Mr. Griffin, the designer of the Federal Capital City, has been engaged by the Commonwealth Government?
– The answer to the question is: -
Copy of the document in question will be at the disposal of honorable senators this afternoon.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator
Clemons) read a first time.
- His Excellency the Governor- General has intimated that he will be pleased to receive the AddressinReply in the Parliamentary Library at half-past 3 o’clock. I propose, therefore, to suspend the sitting until 3.40 p.m., and I hope that as many honorable senators as possible will accompany me to present the Address-in-Reply.
Sitting suspended from 8.26 till 3.40 p.m.
– I have to announce that to-day, accompanied by members of the Senate, I presented the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral, who was pleased to make the following answer: -
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Senate.
It is with much pleasure that I receive the Address which has been adopted by the Senate in reply to the Speech delivered by me on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the Fifth Commonwealth Parliament. I thank you for the expression of loyalty to the Throne and Person of His Majesty the King.
– I move-
That this Bill be now read a third’ time.
As the Senate knows, we have nearly arrived at the final stage of this
Bill, and I want to take the opportunity of offering, even though some may. think that I have said too much on the subject already, a few more remarks in connexion with it. I hope that I shall not be misunderstood, or that, any phrase that I may use will not be construed unfairly in relation to my intentions, when. I venture again to suggest to the Senate that I think we have committed something like an error of judgment in regard to our action upon one clause of the Bill as it was presented. For that I hold myself entirely responsible, if honorable senators please. Since the Bill was last before us I have gone into the question again with some of the law authorities, and I do venture to say that in my opinion - not speaking as the Minister in charge of the Bill, but as an ordinary senator - the Senate has made a mistake. I am, therefore, going to ask that the position shall be reconsidered. I say unhesitatingly that I hold myself personally responsible, because the clause which the Senate threw out is so good in itself, and so desirable to be inserted in this measure, that I feel that I must have seriously failed, having such a good case, to convince the Senate and the Committee that it ought to pass. Let me ask honorable senators to look at the matter in this way. I believe we are all agreed that there is nothing of a party nature in this Bill. It is divided into two parts, the first dealing with the question of a. month’s Supply when Parliament meets, as it often will do, in July. With regard to that, we have all agreed that it is a matter of convenience, especially for Parliament itself, that we should make the alteration which the Bill affects. We agreed to that part of the measure, which was passed without demur. When we passed that, we agreed to something which, after all, simply made for our own convenience. When we came to the second part of the Bill, what was proposed in it? It was something that, in my opinion, made for the proper conduct of our financial affairs, especially in regard to the purchasing of stores. I believe that it will be recognised by all honorable senators opposite who opposed the clause to which I refer, that the proposition was a sound one, and that it was in itself worthy of their support. What it meant we know. It was a proposition whereby we could get into more complete control, and, perhaps, under better management, all business connected- with the expenditure of Commonwealth money in the purchasing of stores. If we had passed that clause we should have done something that would have made for the welfare of the Commonwealth generally. I make that statement because just now I alluded to the fact that the first part of the Bill, which we did pass, merely made for our own convenience. In listening carefully to the remarks which were made in Committee, and in the Senate, I gathered that there were practically two objections to the clause in regard to the purchasing of stores. One was that it ought not to appear in an Audit Bill, and the second was that it gave the Government too much power in regard to regulations. Throughout what was said, those two criticisms embodied the spirit of the objections. Let me deal with them again. First, as to the position of the clause in an Audit Bill, I have been confirmed in the opinion that I expressed emphatically here that the clause ought to be in such a Bill. Subsequent inquiries which I have made confirm that opinion, which is supported by the opinion of the Law Department. Let me again remind honorable senators that what we contemplate is the securing of extra vigilance and greater care in the purchasing of stores, and in the expenditure of public money upon them. Surely it is a necessary corollary to that that the expenditure should be checked, and should in some way come under the scrutiny of the Auditor-General.
– Certainly ; no one would imagine otherwise.
– Very well; surely it follows from that that this is a very proper Bill in which to put such a provision.
– It would make the Auditor-General the purchaser of locomotives, for instance.
– There is no foundation, in any shape or form, for that proposition.
– The clause is open to that construction.
– No, it is not. The supposition is absolutely baseless. There is not the slightest chance of the Auditor-General ever purchasing anything under the clause. , The Bill does not provide that the Auditor-General shall buy anything under any* circumstances at any time.
– He would regulate, the purchase.
– Under this Bill he could not. When we submitted this proposition we had this idea in mind - to provide a more effective machinery for purchasing stores and expending public money. Who is to guarantee to the people of Australia that that money is properly expended ? In our opinion, the Auditor-General. It is just because we cannot effectively secure what, I believe, we all desire, namely, sound business system in regard to the purchase of stores, that we provided to connect the Auditor-General with that work. It is for that reason that we put the provision in an Audit Bill. Examples, I know, are not binding on any of us, but I may tell the Senate that precisely the same provision is made by New South Wales in the Audit Act of that State. But even if it were not so, we are not bound by precedent. I urge that intrinsically, on its merits, this matter of the purchase of stores and the checking of the purchases should obviously be connected in some way or other with the Auditor-General. There should be some connecting link with him.
– That is not the point. The point is that it should not be provided for by regulation.
– The matter of regulation is the second of the two points that I have mentioned. I indicated that there are two - one that the clause was inserted in an Audit Bill, and the second that the clause took power to make regulations. I am now trying to show that, in my opinion, and, I believe, in the opinion of the Senate - in the opinion of every one who thinks about the subject - it is appropriate that such a clause should appear in an Audit Bill. It must be connected with the Auditor-General in some way. Consequently, we proposed in this Bill to give him an opportunity of enforcing his supervision in regard to the purchase of stores. Let me show what happens at the present time. Honorable senators, perhaps, do not realize it. We shall presently be voting enormous sums of money under the Estimates, a considerable part of which money will be expended in the purchase of stores for the use of the various Departments.
– We have done that before.
– But, perhaps, many honorable senators do not know how it is done. There are different ways. Stores are largely purchased, as Senator Pearce knows, under Ministerial authority. They are practically purchased under the authority of the heads of the various Departments. Where does the Auditor-General come in ? He has to check all these purchases - but how? A sum is appropriated for doing something or other. As far as the Auditor-General is concerned, he has merely to know that a certain sum of money voted by Parliament has been properly expended in the purchase of such-and-such stores.
– He does more than that.
– Of course, he checks all purchases as far as he can. But he knows it, and we all know it, too.
– He has to be furnished with evidence as to what has been done with the things.
– I have already pointed that out. but that is not my point.
– You have only to read paragraphs d and e of section 45 of the Act to know that.
– The AuditorGeneral,of course, has to check stores, and see that they represent money, but, in addition, he has to satisfy himself that money has been appropriated for their purchase. He has not to investigate the manner or the method, or, if you like, the wisdom or the machinery whereby the money has been converted into goods; nor should he. What did we propose? Our proposal was that, instead of leaving the matter to Ministerial authority, that is, practically to the heads of the Departments, we should lay down, certain regulations to govern the conversion of money into stores, and we should then be able to say to the Auditor-General, “ Those are the conditions which you, as AuditorGeneral, must see have been complied with in the purchase of stores before you pass them.” That would be a most useful check. It would be an effective guarantee towards efficiency in purchasing goods on proper lines, and getting proper value for the money.
– The Auditor-General would not buy the things.
– I have said that a hundred times. We do not want the Auditor-General to buy goods, . but to see that the conditions governing the purchase of goods are carried out before he passes them.
– He sees to that now..
– He does not. The Auditor- General has no opportunity of seeing what the value of a purchase was, whether it was wisely made or not.
– How would he know the value of any purchases unless he saw the goods purchased?
– Because if the deleted provision were passed, we could lay down certain conditions which would make for a more satisfactory expenditure of public moneys.
– Surely that should be the function of the Supply and Tender Board which you seek to institute rather than of the Auditor-General.
– But my honorable friends have stopped us from gettingthe power to constitute the board.
– In the wrong way.
– Why ?
– Because it is too biga subject to be left to regulation.
– I do not think it is. Senator Mullan said we want to appoint the Supply and Tender Board in ‘ the wrong way. He cannot refer to the Audit Bill.
– I mean that the appointment of a Supply and Tender Board is not a subject for an Audit Bill.
– If, after all I have said, Senator Mullan says that the checking of purchases with Commonwealth moneys has nothing to do with the Auditor-General, my task appears to be hopeless.
– Do you think that he should be mixed -up in the preventing of purchases?
– He is not.
– You have just said that we were preventing you from permitting the Auditor-General to check purchases.
– To check pur- chases made under certain conditions. What we can do now is to say to the Auditor-General, “ Check the expenditure of certain money which has been appropriated; never mind whether the purchases have been made wisely or foolishly. If there are goods to correspond with the money, that is all you have to seek to ascertain.” I contend that we ought to go further than that. Any business man would lay down certain conditions under which his money should be converted into goods.
– A business man would look to the superintendents of Departments, and not to the AuditorGeneral.
– That is denying the whole spirit of this proposal.
– The AuditorGeneral and his staff would have to be experts in guns, horses, and everything under the sun.
– I am afraid that honorable senators opposite do not understand the Bill; otherwise they would not indorse that remark.
– - What objection Iia ve the Government to deal with the subject in a separate Bill ?
– If the Government were to bring in a separate Bill to carry out the purpose of the deleted provision, it would still have to be a Bill to amend the Audit Act.
– Not necessarily; but even if it was we could put something in it.
– Is it worth the while of the Opposition, when they can see practically the whole merits of the proposal, to say, “ We want two amending Bills; you ought not to have put the provision in this Bill, but to have brought in another Bill to amend the Audit Act in another way “ ? That would not be a wise method of dealing with legislation. I come now to the question of regulations. I think that honorable senators on the other side must recognise that there can be no subject more appropriate to be dealt with by regulation than the appointment of a Supply and Tender Board. I promise that, so long as I remain the representative of the Treasury here, I will specially draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that I am laying on the table regulations under the Audit Act, and seriously advise honorable senators to consider them, and should they contain anything debatable, to discuss them. I suggest that the present measure is a very -useful piece of legislation, and it is not worth while for honorable senators opposite to throw it out simply because they think it ought not to include a certain provision, if they approve of it, as I believe in their hearts they do. Speaking now as a senator, I would much sooner that the Senate restored the provision now than reconsider its decision when the measure is sent back from the other House. I am not speaking now as a Minister. I divest myself of that position. I think that I have done my duty. I admit that I ought to have been able to persuade honorable senators opposite to vote for the whole Bill. What puzzles me is that I have failed in my duty. I feel that I have such a good case that the Bill ought to be passed unanimously, but I find that the Opposition are all against me. If there is a chance of redeeming my fault by that means, I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he. should move the adjournment of the debate.
– You have not replied to the argument about leaving the matter to regulations.
– I have made a brief reply, but I am afraid that it is of no use. I have said that we take the power of making regulations in practically every measure that is passed. I have gone into the question, and tried to see if it would be possible to bring in a measure that would -cover all contingencies which might arise, but I am quite satisfied that it could not be done. I feel that if we were to bring in a measure to meet the case, we should still have to take that power. It is taken in all measures, and .1 do not know of any measure in which there is a greater necessity for it than there is in an Audit Bill. I do not know of any subject which would not be dealt with incompletely if we did not take that power. I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that on this occasion there is no principle involved, and that if there is a chance of the Senate reconsidering its attitude the provision asked for should be made.
– It is not a question of party, but a question of difference of opinion.
– I am anxious to try every possible means to induce the Senate to look into this matter seriously before the Bill leaves the chamber.
– In a separate Bill the constitution of the Supply and Tender Board would be defined.
– And such a Bill would have to contain a clause giving power to make regulations.. I am not suggesting anything that violates the principles of the other side, nor am I suggesting anything about which I claim we have an exclusive use. This matter is wholly apart from party. For that reason only I have occupied the time of the Senate.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.6]. - Before Senator McGregor moves the adjournment of the debate, I desire to say a few ‘words, as I have not spoken on this Bill. What has struck me is that while the debate has turned on the question of appointing a Supply and Tender Board, there is not a word about that matter in the Bill. Of course, it is implied that, in the regulations to be made, power will be given to appoint a Board. It is a marvel to me that the Commonwealth has gone on for so many years without a Board of that sort being created. I think we are all agreed that it is absolutely necessary, particularly now when the Commonwealth is undertaking a large number of very extensive public works, that there should be a Board to supervise purchases. We on this side agree with honorable senators opposite that a Board should be appointed, but not in the way proposed by the Government. We are so seized of the importance of having such a body to supervise purchases that we think that its appointment should be dealt with in a separate Bill, when we would have an opportunity of saying how it should be constituted, and denning its powers. I am inclined to agree with Senator Clemons that, even if a separate Bill is brought in for that purpose, an amendment of the Audit Act will be necessary. I should not have objected to vote for the Bill as it stands, if we had had an assurance from the Government that they would bring in. a separate measure, and so give us an opportunity of saying how a Supply and Tender Board should be created, and denning its powers. I put it to my colleagues that the proposed amendment of the Audit Act, or a similar amendment, is required, even if this Bill be defeated. I think that Senator Clemons has made out a good case for an amendment of the Audit Act on the lines of this Bill. He has made a very plausible and courteous appeal to the Senate for further consideration, but I do not think that there is any likelihood of honorable senators on this side agreeing to the Bill being passed in its present form, unless they get an assurance that a separate Bill will be brought in on the lines I have suggested.
Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) [4.10L. - I voted for the retention of the provision which was deleted. ‘ Certain matters which have cropped up quite adventitiously, and in a manner regarding: which I am not at liberty to allude, have confirmed me in the’ opinion that it is absolutely essential in the interests of the Common wealth1, that the Auditor-General should not beat arm’s length, so to speak, in regard to» the purchase of stores; that this is a matter which more directly concerns the functions of audit than I had at first? imagined. One honorable senator will, probably understand my allusion to certain matters having cropped up which*, justify my support of the provision. I appreciate the reference from the otherside to this not being a party matter. It. is a measure essentially in the interests of the Commonwealth. Evidence hasbeen disclosed to me quite recently which has confirmed me in the belief that it isessential that the Auditor-General should, be brought into the closest relationshipwith the purchase of the stores on behalf of the Commonwealth.
Debate on motion (by Senator: McGregor) adjourned.
Suspensions of Standing Orders - Small-pox in Sydney: Quarantine - State of Finances: Administration’ of the Fisher Government - Ministerial Policy: Expenditure: Cost of Living - General Elections :. Party Funds and Methods: Australian Workers’ Union - Defeat of Government: Grant of Supply - Arbitration Act: Rural Workers - Electoral Law.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and sessional’, orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill’ being passed through its stages without delay.
– Are the Government going to suspend the Standing. Orders again?
– I regret the suspension of the Standing Orders as muchas does any other member of the Senate, but honorable senators are aware of theposition with regard to the Supply BilL
– I do not regret their suspension.
– I wish to give the Senate some information under cover of this motion as to what we hope honorable senators will be able to do this week. I should like, of course, in the interests of public business, to see this Supply Bill passed to-day. I wish to move to-morrow the second reading of the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, and I trust that, in view of the extreme importance of that measure, and its bearing upon expenditure throughout the Commonwealth, the Senate will he able to pass it this week.
.- I share the regret expressed by Senator demons on the necessity for the suspension of the Standing Orders. I consider it sacrilegious of Senator Rae to rejoice at the suspension of law and order. We are the law and order party on this side, and we are at present endeavourling by every means to assist the Government in the conduct of business. Every honorable senator on this side appreciates the statement of the Honorary Minister in respect to the work of Parliament. We all hope that the Supply Bill will be carried at a very early hour, and also that the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill will be carried so as to enable the Government to go on with the development of the necessary resources of the Commonwealth .
– That will leave Ministers nothing to talk about at the week-end meetings.
– I do not think the honorable senator is very anxious
About that. I hope the Standing Orders will be suspended. The party in Opposition are doing all they possibly can to provide a quorum for the Government in order that they may suspend the Standing Orders. Ministers must admit that we are doing everything possible to assist them in carrying on the business of the country.
– I am not going to oppose this motion, but I was wondering why Senator Gould did not rise to oppose it. Hitherto the honorable senator has held that the Standing Orders should be regarded as unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, but whenever a suggestion comes from his own side for their suspension the honorable senator is mute. The proceedings to-day supply further evidence that Senator McColl, and other members of the Government have no justification at all for the statements they make repeatedly that the Opposition are blocking business in the Senate. There is evidence also that the Senate is useful to enable the Government to pass Supply Bills. The present session opened on the 9th July last, and up to to-day, 29th October, this great National Parliament has been successful in placing on the statute-book two’ Supply Bills. During that time the Senate has had to adjourn on three or four occasions, and has been called together only for the purpose of passing Supply. I shall be glad to assist the Government in their efforts to put business through the Senate. I shall be found willing to assist them every time they have business to place before this Parliament, but I hope that they will endeavour to pass some legislation other than Supply Bills.
– I rise to enter my protest against the suspension of the Standing Orders. In doing so I am merely following the course I followed when the Government I supported was in office during the last Parliament. On no occasion, when I was present, did I permit the suspension of the Standing Orders without entering my protest against that method of transacting business. The Standing Orders represent the crystallized wisdom of the Senate as to the best means to be adopted for conducting its business. We have established a Committee to devise a system for the proper conduct of our business, and it is not right that Ministers should set that system aside to suit their own convenience. The members of the present Government are no greater offenders in this respect than their predecessors have been. It would be better in the circumstances that we should have no Standing Orders at all. If we are to be consistent, in view of the practice which has so often been adopted, we should pass a resolution suspending the Standing Orders for all time. We could then go on with whatever business the Leader of the Government in the Senate might put before us without going through the farce of solemnly adopting a motion to enable us to do so. As every month comes round we are asked to set the Standing Orders aside, because they are inconvenient. If they are inconvenient, wherever a matter of urgency crops up, I should like to know what advantage they are to the Senate at all. I have risen to enter my solemn protest against the practice of thoughtlessly, and without seriously considering their importance, setting the Standing Orders aside to suit the convenience of the Government. Some members of the Government have been very active at Fitzroy, Bunyip, and other places in condemning the Opposition for obstructing business.
– That is quite wrong. I never did that.
– I have heard of a French proverb to the effect that he who excuseth himself accuseth himself. If I felt that I could command sufficient support to prevent the suspension of the Standing Orders I would call for a division upon this motion. More especially would I do so iri view of the fact that it has become a practice with a Minister in this Chamber to attend public meetings for the purpose of making deliberately misleading statements.
– :The honorable senator’s remarks have nothing to do with the proposal to suspend the Standing Orders.
– I think they have. I have no doubt that if I called for- a division we would have the representative of Fitzroy or Bunyip, or some other place, declaring at a public gathering that the Government were anxious to pay the public servants of this country, and that the Senate deliberately prevented them doing so.’ As a matter of fact, the Estimates for the whole year could have been passed ere this had the Government desired to pass them. I enter my protest against the procedure that is being adopted, and I hope that the Ministry will take the hint that they have about reached the limit of human endurance in the’ matter of suspending our Standing Orders. to. suit their own convenience.
– The honorable senator Has heard of the old adage that circumstances alter cases?
– Occasion may arise which, .will justify the suspension of our. Standing Orders, but I do -not think that Senator Bakhap will claim that this is one of those occasions. The Government could ..have introduced this Bill a week ago had they chosen todo so, and the Senate could then have, dealt with it in a proper and orderly way. If our Standing Orders are “an inconvenience and an incubus, let us sweep them aside for all time.
– The honorable senator takes off his clothes sometimes.
– If I am not very much misinformed, the honorable senator turns his coat frequently. I dohope that the member of the Government in this Chamber who so frequently accuses the Senate of blocking public business will adopt the manly course either of refraining from repeating suchstatements, or will explain whether he has been accurately reported in the press. Otherwise there are some of us who will probably turn upon him.
– Senator Gardiner claims that in order to be consistent he is opposing the suspension of our Standing: Orders. In order that I may be consistent I intend to support- the motion. In the last Parliament we frequently suspended our Standing Orders for the purpose of enabling us to do some work. During the current session we have suspended our Standing Orders because we are doing very little work. As a matter of fact, unless we suspend them we shall have no legislative record whatever. It seems to me that we might well describe the present Government as the Suspension Government. They are accustomed to suspend, officers who do not happen to agree with them in politics, to hang up public works if they are not in the right constituencies; in short, to suspend everything and everybody. They have done little else since they took office.
– Seeing that we number only seven, I think that we have accomplished wonders.
– The Government certainly have. The smallness of the volume of business which they havetransacted constitutes a record. In order that something may be done before Parliament prorogues, I am quite prepared toassist them to suspend our Standing Orders with a view to enabling this Supply Bill to be passed.
– I quite agree with Senator Gardiner that consistency is a jewel. But I do not care about wearing my jewellery always I think that consistency in little matters may sometimes lead to inconsistency in much bigger matters. It is not the mere letter of the law that we want to observe so much as the spirit of it.” I resent the unjustifiable attack that has been made upon me by my leader, Senator McGregor. He actually regretted that I was so ready at all times to break laws and regulations.
– He does not know the honorable senator. I would not say that .sort of thing.
– I am astonished at my own leader endeavouring to add to my reputation in that direction. I always consider that rules, regulations, and Standing Orders are made to facilitate action, and that when they stand in the way of progress they should be ruthlessly and remorselessly swept aside. I believe that regulations are intended to help us to get somewhere. It is a piece of ridiculous bunkum to worship rules and authorities for their own sake. If they do not accomplish a good purpose, I like to see them “ biffed “ out without ceremony. At the same time, I resent the action of the Government in pretending to value our Standing Orders when a motion is brought before us relating to any matter of concern to the vast majority. When a majority of this Senate desired to suspend the Standing Orders to facilitate the appointment of the Chinn Select Committee or of a Committee of Inquiry into the Fitzroy Dock, or into our Electoral . Administration, we had protests from the Government side of the chamber against such sacrilege.
– There was no protest this afternoon. We allowed Senator Gardiner to move a motion without notice.
– I am alluding more particularly to Senator Gould, who made a lengthy and impassioned speech, in which he pointed out the grave danger which threatened our parliamentary institutions if the Standing Orders were suspended in certain cases in which nothing more serious was demanded than . that valuable information should be supplied to the public through the medium of Select Committees. Just because it did not suit the political party opposite, consisting of three senators-
– More than that.
– Order! That matter has nothing to do with the pro?posal to suspend our Standing Orders.
– I quite appreciate that fact. It was incidentally alluded to by me; and was enlarged upon by my disorderly friend opposite. There is good reason why, when it is known that in the lapse of time another Supply Bill will be necessary, notice concerning it should be tabled by the Government. What is to prevent that being done?
– I moved the motion which we are now considering in pursuance of a contingent notice of motion which is on the business-paper.
– That contingent notice of motion which also appeared upon the business-paper when the late Government held office seems to me to be a permanent licence to break the rules of Parliament. But a more serious aspect of the matter is that we are so constantly suspending our Standing Orders, and so frequently adjourning the Senate, that we do not have an opportunity to proceed with the little business which appears upon thenoticepaper. I think that we should devote ourselves to our work until we clear the business-paper, and then have a good holiday. At any rate, we should do whatever is to be done without anyfurther adjournments of the Senate.
– I think the proper course to pursue on this occasion is to support the proposal of the Government. They are certainly advertising their inability ti carry on the business of this country, and I do not know that there is any advertisement which reflects that fact more strongly than these continual appeals for the suspension of the Standing Orders, which are invariably followed by a week’s adjournment. By their action they declare to the country how inept they are, and how incapable they are of transacting any business whatever. No sane man would for a moment say that there is any business on the notice-paper which has anything whatever to do with the development of the Commonwealth.
– What! Yet- there are six important Orders of the Day upon it.
– I would remind my honorable friend, Senator Gardiner, that he sometimes falls from his high altitude of consistency just as do most other politicians. He has already fallen during the present session. Whilst he may not have moved for the suspension of the Standing Orders, he has taken a course which bears exactly the same interpretation.
– The honorable senator refers to his action this afternoon?
– Not exactly. On a prior occasion, however, he took a somewhat similar course.
– When ?
– When he asked the concurrence of the Senate to his moving, without notice, a motion for the appointment of a select committee, he did something which was practically equivalent to asking for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– No; our Standing Orders provide for that. My motion today was submitted in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– I do not think so. The Government are doing a great service to the country in advertising the position in which they are placed, and as this Supply Bill is absolutely necessary, I see no reason why any objection should be urged to the course which is now proposed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this. Bill be now read a first time.
I am sure that the Senate does not desire that I should say anything in regard to the special contents of the Bill, because it has no special contents. I can only assure honorable senators that it is based on the same conditions as were the other Supply Bills which we have passed this session, and that it differs from them only in that it contains no provision for Treasurer’s Advance.
– What period does it cover ?
– A month.
– Honorable senators should not object to frequent Supply Bills, because they afford them a monthly opportunity of reviewing the political situation which obtains at the present time, and also of calling the attention of the Government to grievances throughout the Commonwealth. The principal work of the Ministry appears to me to consist in going from Dan to Bersheeba, and endeavouring;, to misrepresent for party parposes the action of the Opposition both here and in another place. That fact has been made manifest by the newspapers recently. We have had different Ministers at different times doing the same thing.
– The Minister of Defence did it the other night.
– The practice is becoming so frequent that it will soon be worse than the small-pox epidemic in New South Wales, and’ probably will lead to the Commonwealth being politically quarantined. To my mind, the VicePresident of the Executive Council is one of the worst offenders in this connexion, and is guilty of the most foolish utterances. For instance, quite recently he endeavoured to convey the impression that the small-pox epidemic in Sydney had been made a party question in this Parliament by the Opposition. I emphatically deny any intention of making that epidemic a party question. We have much more important matters affecting the welfare of the country to consider than to wish to make the people believe that trifling matters of that description ought to occupy our time. I hope that in the future the Vice-President of the Executive Council will refrain from such foolishness, or, if he does indulge in it, will give proof of his assertions, and not be always compelled to back down, as he has been doing in the Senate for the past few months. The other offender is the Prime Minister himself. Only within the past few days he went up to his own constituency, Parramatta, and told the people there that the late Government spent every penny it could lay hold of. When it was clearly pointed out that the late Government came into office with a deficiency from the previous Government of nearly £500,000, and went out leaving a surplus of £2,653,000, the Prime Minister, although confronted with the fact, has endeavoured to make it appear that the surplus of £2,653,000 could not be utilized by the present Government, because commitments compel them to spend the whole of it during this year. The facts are entirely against the Government. The Prime Minister ought to ascertain the truth before he makes statements of the kind. I wish to point out that the head of this Government, like some of his colleagues, is prepared to tell the partial truth, which in this, as in every other part of the world, is often worse than a downright falsehood. As for the statemem that the commitments of the late Government threw a responsibility on the present -Ministry which devoured the surplus to which reference has been made, I wish to point out that the only commitments of any great consequence amounted to £702,000, connected with the Fleet Unit. Deduct that sum from the £2,653,000, and the Government were still left with a surplus of £1,950,000. If the Prime Minister has any respect for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, he will look a little further and tell the public what the real facts are. He will admit that the only commitments to be deducted from the large surplus left by the late Government are the £702,000 to which I have referred. During the administration of the late Government, and partially within the term of the present Government, in the last financial year, there was unexpended in connexion with the ordinary annual services of the Commonwealth a sum of, approximately, £353.000. If that amount was unexpended on the ordinary annual services of. the Commonwealth last year, and if the present Government exercised the same economy in the present year - if they exercised the economy about which they have boasted so much to the people of Australia - the saving this year wouldbe still greater. Upon Works and Buildings last year there was a saving of £863,000. I admit that that sum might be deducted from the £2,653,000. But if that amount was saved in consequence of the lateness of the passage of the Estimates last year, the present Government will have the same advantage this year. Consequently, I deny that that sum ought to be deducted from the £2,653,000. There is another item to which I will call attention, in connexion with the amounts paid to the different States. I do not desire that any reduction should be made on that account. I should like to see the various States of the Commonwealth prosper and increase in population to such an extent that an item of this kind need not appear. There was a sum of £41,180, not saved, but overpaid, connected with the amounts distributed amongst the States from Customs and Excise revenue. I do not desire that that should continue. But, altogether, these sums would make up a total of £1,175,000, to be deducted from the £2,653,000, and that would leave a balance of £1,477,545 which the present Ministry received as a legacy from the late Government, and which passes over to the financial year 1914-15. Therefore, I counsel Ministers, when they again make statements about the administration of the late Government in comparison with their own works, to be charitable enough to give credit for greater ability to the late Treasurer than, so far, they have been disposed to do. I notice that there is no Treasurer’s Advance provided for in this Bill. In the last Supply Bill we were asked for an advance of £300,000. The Treasurer was accorded. that advance Will.ingly °y this branch of Parliament. Owing to no Treasurer’s Advance being asked for on these Estimates, the month’s Supply seems much less than would be the case under ordinary circumstances. I have advocated that a Government should have more courage, and ask for Supply for two, or even three, months. In the State from which I come the first Supply Bill of the year is always for three months. Consequently, there is no necessity there for suspending Standing Orders, or for continual , discussions on Supply. My experience in this Parliament has, however, driven me to the conclusion that it is a wise thing to curtail the grant of Supply to a Government, so as to afford members of both branches of the Legislature every opportunity of ventilating grievances, and advising the. Government with respect to the best manner of providing for the wants of the people of a great Commonwealth like ours. I hope that honorable .senators will take fair advantage of this opportunity of discussing Supply, and that the Government will be successful in carrying their Bill before we disperse to-day.
– I have no desire to keep the Government waiting for this Bill, but the discussion upon it affords an opportunity of asking for information, and I desire to obtain some. I wish to ask a question with respect to that far-reaching system of economy that we promised to the people of Australia during the last election. When is it to commence ? From every platform, and in every newspaper which supported the party opposite, the Fisher Government was accused of .extravagance. I am not overstating the caBe .when I <say that -from one end of the
Commonwealth to the other, when the change of Ministry took place, there were people who, misled by those speakers and reports, were of opinion that there would be, not only a change in administration, but that government would be so economically administered by the incoming Ministry that we should get down to bedrock in respect of the cost of living. We were led to believe that the condition of the worker would be improved in consequence. At present the worker who, through his union, has secured better wages, finds, nevertheless, that he is not in a very much better position than he was before, owing to the fact that the power-holding class, which has a monopoly of the food supplies, and nearly a monopoly of the housing of the bulk of the people, has so increased prices and rents that nearly all that has been won by the worker by organization has been discounted by the increased cost of living. 1 should like the Minister in charge of this Bill to tell us in his reply how it is that a Government which came in to give us cheaper administration, in spite of the fact that it had a surplus and the Trust Funds at its disposal, was not content with the £20,000,000 coming .in to the revenue, and with the £2,000,000 left by the previous Government, but at once asked Parliament to consent to a large loan.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The surplus was all ear-marked.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. The Trea-surer sought, also, to lay hands on the £7,000,000 which was capable of being borrowed as soon as it fell due on shortdated loans.
– It was not “ earmarked.”
– I did not like to contradict Senator Gould when he said that the surplus was “ earmarked:” I am pleased to have the assurance of a member of the last Government, who is in a position to know, that the surplus was not “ earmarked.” Surely a party who promised from every platform to cheapen the cost of living, who told the people that the whole cause of the high cost of living was the presence of the Labour party in office, are not going to come here month after month and ask for Supply, not on ohe same scale as their predecessors did, but on a larger scale, without taking the Parlia ment and the country into their confidence as to what steps they intend to take to make living cheaper to the people ? Will they take any steps to reduce the house rents in the cities? According to the Statistician for New South Wales, for a house which in Bathurst can be rented for 7s. 4d., a person has to pay 15s. 6d. in Sydney; for a house which in Goulburn can be rented for 7s. 8d., a person has to pay 15s. in Sydney; while for a house which in Newcastle can be rented for 7s. 2d., a person has to pay 15s. in Sydney. I appeal to the Government, who, on the hustings, held the Labour party responsible for the high cost of living, to say whether they intend to deal with that subject at all? Are they satisfied with having won the right to control the affairs of the Commonwealth, and won it, too, by the slanders of their press and their party throughout the Commonwealth ? Are they satisfied to allow the poor people to continue to labour under the great hardship of increased and increasing rents? It is the duty of the Government, when they ask for another month’s Supply, to foreshadow, in some form, what steps, if any, they propose to take to lighten the burdens of the people. Do they for a moment imagine that their mere presence at the head of affairs will bring about a sufficient change to make the people appreciate it? If ever a Government came into office pledged from every platform in every constituency to better the conditions for the people, and to make living cheaper, the present Government did. I ask the Minister in charge of this Bill has he taken any steps to bring about that reform ? One of the Bills with which we have been called upon to deal was a measure to increase the profits arising from the rich sugar lands of Queensland by paying bonuses to men who are making more money out of 1 acre of sugar land than a potato-grower can make out of 10 acres of land. Have the Government shown in any way that they are desirous of making sugar cheaper to . the people by taking off the duty ? “Do they intend to take off the duty?
– Would you support such a proposal ?
– No one knows better than does the honorable senator that I would willingly support it. No one knows better than he does that any measure that would make the cost of living cheaper to the people would have my support. No party conditions would prevent me from supporting such a measure.
– The abolition of the duty on sugar?
– The abolition of the duty on anything.
– A Free Trader?
– I am a believer in cheapening the cost of living for those who have not much money. I believe in abolishing the system by which you make a man working hard for £2 or £8 or £4 a week not only pay a huge rent to his landlord, but pay more for his sugar, his butter, his beef, and everything else.
– Is the honorable senator a Free Trader?
– In the days when the honorable senator was a youth, Free Trade may have been a burning question.
– That is what I want to know.
– I have never in any way connected myself with the socalled Free Trade parties in this country. I have been trying to get the Minister, in his reply, to indicate, not vaguely, but definitely, what steps the Government intend to take to cheapen the cost of living in this country. They not only gave such a promise to the people of the Commonwealth, but they led people, in many cases, into the belief that the high cost of living prevailed only in Australia, that the presence of a Labour Government was the cause of it, and that, with the advent of the Opposition to power, there would be a cheapening process. But what has been the result of a lengthy investigation of their charges that the Labour party increased the cost of living? According to the Budget papers we have had from Great Britain, the increase has been smaller in Australia than in other countries where this subject has been inquired into. In England. Germany, France, and America, the cost of living has increased enormously more than it has done here. If we had a further examination into the wages paid in Australia, the fact would be made apparent that the increased wages paid to artisans - not only the increased wages paid to individuals, but the increased aggregate earnings of workers - are enormously higher to-day than the wages of five years ago. The working man of Australia is in an infinitely better position than is the working man in other countries, because the cost of living to him has not increased by so much, while, side by side with that fact, his wages increased proportionately a great deal more than did those of the working man not so fortunately situated in other countries. But, notwithstanding that position, there is still room for a huge betterment in the condition of our workers. The present Government came into office pledged to improve that position. Parliament re-assembled on the 9th July, and we have been more than patient. We have sat here week after week, and, even by suspending the Standing Orders whenever asked, we have enabled the Government to bring their measures before the country as rapidly as possible. We have been content to sit here without complaining. We have given the Government every opportunity to develop their proposals, and it is about time that the Minister who now asks for Supply stated definitely what steps the Government intend to take to make living cheaper, to prevent exorbitant charges for houses in great cities, and to prevent a monopoly of the food supplies of the people. If Ministers intend to let these matters drift, if they propose to sit idly by and allow things to go on as they have done for nearly four months, it is “ up to them “ now to make a definite statement. For four months they have been in office, and nothing has been done in that direction: Not one finger has been raised to give effect to their platform pledges to the constituencies. I do not desire them to carry out their promises in a week; I did not expect them to do much in a month; but, after the lapse of four months, it is reasonable to expect a Minister, when he is asking for a month’s Supply, to give the country an indication of the direction in which they are going to move to cheapen the cost of living. If they intend to do nothing, and imagine that their presence in office has accomplished what they said they would do, let’ the Minister say so clearly, but if they have in view any scheme, whether it is one for removing duties or not, let us know what it is. I know that at the recent elections three honorable senators for New South Wales were returned chiefly because they were Free Traders. The reputation they had earned in the old Free Trade party still stood to them, and the people believed that by returning them they would get cheaper living.
– Do you contend that Free Trade does make in the direction of cheaper living?
– I am beginning to think, from recent experiences I have had, that it does not; but, so far as the Tariffis concerned, the power of the monopolist to control the cost of living has got altogether beyond its range.
– You contend that the opinion of the majority of the electors of New South Wales is wrongly based?
– Their confidence was wrongly based at the last elections. I am not in a position to criticise their decision. They were the judges of the situation.
– You twist out of it.
– I do not want to do that; in fact, I am too largely built to twist, and leave that to other senators. I rose chiefly to appeal to the Government to do something, and to do something quickly, in the way of carrying out their pledges to the people.
– There is no Government; it has gone.
– What is the use of appealing to a dead horse ?
– As honorable senators on this side appear to have their fingers on the pulse of the Government, although Senator Barker says it has gone, perhaps they might revive it to such an extent that, even at the eleventh hour, there might be a frantic attempt made to better the conditions of the people.
– They are too dead.
– While the present Government continues, there will be thousands of honest electors who voted for Liberals in the expectation of getting better conditions paying twice the rent which they should have to pay.
– Senator Gould promised them cheap houses.
– There is not the slightest question that, if Senator Gould did not make a definite promise of that kind, he spoke in such a way as to lead the people to believe that he was prepared to carry out the promise of his party to cheapen the cost of living for the people.
– All his literature was about cheap living and low rents.
– I cannot hold Senator Gould responsible for the fact that the promises made by the Government have not been carried out. But I do hold. the Government responsible, and I say that if they do not intend to carry out their promises, and will not indicate in what direction they propose to move, it will be the duty of the Senate, in view of the position which has arisen in another place, by rejecting this Money Bill, to participate with the members of the other branch of this Legislature in an appeal to the people.
– The honorable senator knows that it. will take more than that to bring thet members of the Senate to the people.
– I am very sorry that the provisions of” our Constitution should be such, that when all parties in both Houses desire a united appeal to the country, that cannot be immediately brought about. If there is one thing which more than another every member of the Senate is anxious to do, it is to go through the ordeal which some of them went through three or four months ago. As my time here will expire in a year or two it would not make very much difference to me if we went to the country immediately, and I should prefer to go to the people in opposition to a Government that is discredited : by having been in office for four months without lifting a finger to redeem its pledges.
– Oh, yes, they have. The honorable senator forgets that they have altered the postage stamp.
– I am reminded that the Minister who controls the Post and Telegraph Department has done something to show his loyalty to the Old Land by altering the design of the postage stamp which was adopted by the late Government. I understand that the discarded design was chiefly offensive to the Government because it represented a White Australia. For some time past they have been obliged to stamp all their letters with a representation of a White Australia, and they have valiantly availed themselves of the first opportunity to replace that with a representation of His Majesty.
– A poor exchange.
– I do not know whether it is a poor exchange or otherwise, but I can understand that the members of the present Government, who do not belong to an Australian party, and have little interest in the Australian national sentiment which is every day increasing in the Commonwealth,should be anxious to remove from our postage stamp anything indicative of a purely Australian sentiment.
– The Liberal party ./.-lIU the Australian nation.
– If we are to accept the statements of men of the stamp of Senator Bakhap, the Liberal party have created the Australian sentiment and everything else that is good. It would appear that they have in the past done so much to benefit the people of this country that they are tired, and now do nothing. They have claimed for the Liberal party all the good that has been done in the Old Land, but I wonder whether they will follow the great Liberal, Lloyd-George, and will deal with the land question as he proposes to deal with it.
– Would the honorable senator follow him in his insurance scheme ?
– I should not. It is suitable only for the Conservative Old Country.
– We should follow him in that, but for the fact that we are ahead of him. We should follow him if we were in Great Britain, where it is not possible at present to do what we have been able to do here. But if Mr. Lloyd-George were in Australia he would find that we have done more than the Liberals dare attempt in the Mother Country, and we should invite him to join the party that in Australia has already done so much.
– We should invite him to follow us.
– No; if we had such a great man here I should be prepared to follow him in any reform he undertook. The so-called Liberal party has been more properly named the AntiLabour party, because they are against everything intended to benefit the people. They have appealed to the constituencies in the name of Liberalism, and have induced the people to believe that they are in touch, and are marching side by side with, the great Liberal party across the water. But when the question of land taxation crops up do we find them following the great Liberal leaders of the Old Country, or opposing their policy ? What do they do when it comes to a question of dealing with house rents? They are Liberals in everything that does not affect the pockets of the wealthy people who keep their organizations going.
– I should like to find some of those people.
– I hope before many months are passed to be in a position to give the honorable senator a good deal of information as to where the wealth behind the so-called Liberal party comes from. I should like to know where the money came from to pay the many hundreds: of paid professional canvassers who were at work on behalf of the party at the last elections. Will the honorable senator deny that in New South Wales there was one, and sometimes two, canvassers, at work for weeks, prior to the election, in every town or village of more than 500 inhabitants.
– The honorable senator must be aware that one member of his party has stated that the Liberal party contains very many wealthy people.
– I do not know what bearing that has on the question I am discussing. I was referring to the wealthy section of the community that finances the organizations which sent the honorable senator, and those with whom he is associated, into this Chamber. I, of course, make no personal reflection upon the honorable senator.
– I have had no assistance.
– I refer merely to the fact that many thousands of pounds were spent in New South Wales to assist in the return of candidates representing the so-called Liberal party. That money came from somewhere.
– Where does the Labour party’s money come from?
– Prom the working men of Australia.
– If I had known that this matter would crop up I could have supplied the Senate with a long list of the names of professional organizers on behalf of the Liberal party. I do not blame these gentlemen. Their employment is as honorable and straightforward as any other. I understand that Senator Bakhap was engaged for a time in the same capacity.
– In what capacity?
– As an organizer for the Anti-Labour party in Tasmania. I am sorry if I have made a mistake, but I was under the impression that it was his skilful organization on behalf of the party that secured his election.
– I addressed the people on the benefits of organization, and my arguments were always accepted as conclusive.
– I made a reference to the section that supplies the funds for the great Anti-Labour party.
– They supplied me with no funds.
– I would not impute that any member of the Senate or another place was supplied with funds, but I do make the statement that to keep professional organizers at work for the whole year round, to print a volume of literature unheard of before, and to supply each polling booth in New South Wales with rolls containing 400 or 500 names, which scrutineers were asked to object to during the election, must have cost thousands of pounds. That money came from somewhere, and I hope I am not offensive in saying that it came from the wealthy section of the community, who have a Government in power to-day to represent them. As the Anti-Labour party’s sinews of war have been provided by the wealthy section in Australia, there is little hope that the promises of the Government to lower the cost of living to the workers will be given effect. They have had four months of uninterrupted and unharassed occupancy of office. There never was an Opposition more easy to manage than the present Opposition in the Senate, and in view of the way in which this Chamber is constituted at present, I have been surprised that the Government have not asked the late VicePresident of the Executive Council, Senator McGregor, to accept a position on the Treasury bench.
– I would not go with them.
– As the honorable senator has gone so far in assisting the Government to transact their business, I imagined that they might have gone the other half of the way and have asked him to join their councils for the benefit of the country. It is, of course, unthinkable that Senator McGregor would accept such an invitation, and I intended only to show that there has been no justification for the action taken by some’ members of the Government in complaining, ‘at outside places, of obstruction from this side, in view of the fact that Senator McGregor has met them more than half way in assisting them to conduct their business. As the Government have not been prevented . from carrying on their business in the most expeditious manner,, and have now been in office for four months, I trust that the Honorary Minister, in replying to this debate, will give the Senate and the country some indication of what they propose to do to make the cost of living in the Commonwealth cheaper.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia [5.21]. - A few moments ago, in addressing the Senate, I referred to the Government as the. “ suspending “ Government. I understand that in the interval the Government have in another place been themselves suspended. The only thing they have done since they came into office has been to suspend everything they could, and seeing that they have met with that fate themselves, I should like to know what they intend to do with this Supply Bill.
– I intend to ask the Senate to pass it.
– But why pass it? Surely we have a right to know, in view of the position of the Government, who is going to spend this money? As the Government are now a defeated Government, I do not see what claim they have to ask this Chamber for Supply. We should have a Government in office, even if they are not in power, before the Senate is asked for Supply. I respectfully suggest that we should suspend the consideration of this Bill until the Government have considered their position. We know the extremely narrow majority by ‘ which they have been clinging to office . for so many months. It is useless in the circumstances for Senator Gardiner or any other member of the Senate to be talking about the policy of the Government. To assume that they will do anything to cheapen the cost of living, or to pass any useful legislation, is to expect too much. Instead of talking about the policy of the Government, we should consider what ought to be done between now’ and the making of the announcement which the Government must make in the near future. Before granting Supply the Senat should wait events in another place. I do not see that we are entitled to pass Supply for a Government that is non-existent. They have been defeated in another place, and we know that they do not exist in this Chamber.
– In suggesting that our action should be contingent upon what occurs there, the honorable senator would subordinate the Senate entirely to another place.
– The Government have abused the power of the purse for a long time in a most autocratic and shameful manner. They have exercised the control of the money power in a manner which is little short of disgraceful. They have ‘insulted the Senate in every way they could. Having control of the public purse they have refused the funds necessary for the conduct of business which the Senate desires should be done. In face of these facts, the only course open to the Senate is to refuse to go on with this measure until we know what is to be the outcome of the situation that has arisen in another place. I do not wish to enlarge upon the matter. It requires to be considered, and if the Honorary Minister desires to make a statement, I am prepared at once to sit down in order that he may do so.
– I do not. I say that, in the interests of the Senate, and of the public servants of the Commonwealth, we ought to pass this Supply Bill.
– Is there any special urgency?
– There is urgency.
– The Government have accepted their defeat-
– On a snap division.
– A division that can occasion no surprise. When we have a Government relying, as the present Ministry has had to do from the first, on the casting vote of the Speaker, we may reasonably expect such a contingency to arise at any moment. I seriously ask the representatives of the Government whether, in the circumstances, they are going to press for Supply. I hope that we shall have a statement from them in order that we may know what to do. I do not wish to place honorable senators opposite in an awkward position, but I fail to see what claim they have upon the Senate to grant Supply in the light of what has happened in another place. I ask them to say what they intend to do.
– I have already said that I propose to proceed with this Supply Bill.
– Honorable senators opposite, when the occasion has seemed to them- to be fortui tous and satisfactory, have insisted upon the fact that the powers of this Chamber are co-ordinate with those of the other branch of the National Legislature. We have before us at the present time a measure of urgency, to which the consent of another place has already been given. The national services in the matter of proper disbursements are, to a certain extent, dependent upon the passing of this Bill, and honorable senators opposite, who, as I have said, when they think the occasion is satisfactory, will insist upon the coordinate powers possessed by this branch of the Legislature, are unnecessarily lowering the dignity of the Senate by asking us to take notice of a matter of which we have no official cognisance - of something that has transpired in another place, which may be regarded as a mere accident of political chance - and to suspend our functions because of it. Jealous as I am; as I told you, Mr. President, on a previous occasion, of the privileges of this Chamber, I decline to accept the statement that anything has transpired that should cause us to suspend the exercise of our functions.
– Is there anything in the Supply Bill to cover the expenses of the Select Committee, of which the honorable senator is a member ?
– Will the honorable senator take upon himself the responsibility of moving a request in connexion with the very matter to which he has referred? I am sure of my own position, but I am confident that honorable senators opposite are not sure of themselves in regard to the question to which Senator McGregor has very carefully alluded, and, in his allusion, to some extent avoided.
– Is this an official statement ?
– It is a statement by T. J. K. Bakhap, a senator. The Government accept no responsibility for my remarks, and I support them when I think fit. That is one of the privileges appertaining to the position with which I have been honoured. In deference to the national requirements, and to the position which this branch of the Legislature .should always maintain, it is absolutely essential for us to pass this measure, as we should certainly have done if. certain informal advices had not reached the ears of honorable senators. ‘
– Surely the honorable senator is not serious ?
– I am. This is a money matter, and I am always serious where money is involved. Money is required for the public services of the Commonwealth, and we have, without any great ado, passed two Bills of a similar character during the life of the present Parliament.
– Is there not enough money left to carry us over till tomorrow ?
– I have not had a look into the Treasury chest, but I presume that there is not enough to enable the services of the Commonwealth to be carried on for any time, otherwise this Bill would not be before us. Whatever may have happened since the passing of this Bill by another place, we cannot lose sight of the fact that it has received the indorsement of that branch of the Legislature, and the sooner we give it our indorsement, the more properly shall we discharge our duty to the citizens of the Commonwealth, and more particularly to the public servants and the national services, which must be carried on irrespective of whether or not there is a change of Government.
– I have no objection to the passing of this Bill. I do not agree with honorable senators on this side who hold the view that we ought to delay the passing of Supply whenever the fate of a Government is in danger. We must have Supply for the Public Service of the country, so that, even if the Government dropped out of office to-morrow, as it ought to do if it had its deserts, it would be necessary to grant Supply. The matter does not affect the Government as individuals, but it does affect many individual members of the community. I think this is an appropriate occasion on which to refer to a few matters of public concern. At the outset, I shall reply to an interjection by Senator Gould, in which he said that the money referred to by Senator Gardiner as having been used for the organization of the Labour forces was supplied by the Australian Workers Union. I am glad that he has a proper respect for that organization. I am prouder of my membership of the Australian Workers Union than I am of the fact that I am a member of the Senate, although the one may have, an intimate association with the other.
SenatorFindley. - It is a mighty organization.
– The organization is great in -numbers, but it has also been great in accomplishment. Its history is a credit to the Democracy of Australia. The pride that I have in my membership relates, not so much to its mere strength as to the fact that I have been associated with it from its inception some twenty-seven years ago, and that I have assisted to bring it to its present position. I did so even in that little island which has been so misguided as to return Senator Bakhap as one of its representatives. There appears to be an entire misapprehension - whether it is due to ignorance or malice I am not prepared to say - as to the position which honorable senators on this side take up in regard to contributions to party funds. I have not the slightest objection to any person who believes in that queer conglomeration of principles called “ Liberalism,” in this country, supporting the Liberal organization if it fulfils their political ideals or represents them in any way. They have the right as individuals to expend as much as they think fit in helping it to win success at the ballot-box. I am in no way averse to any statements that are true as to Labour supporters having contributed to the funds necessary to return Labour candidates to Parliament. That is not, and never has been, the point at issue. The point is that, on one hand, there are persons contributing to an organization because they believe in the political ideals which it seeks, however imperfectly, to express, and, on the other hand, bodies of men and organizations which contribute to a political party because it helps them to wring profits from the general community.
– Does not the Labour party help to wring profits from a section of the people?
– I wish that the honorable senator would not be so persistent in his interjections, which serve only to confuse the issue. The Labour party stands for legislation and administration which it believes to be in the best interests of the manhood and womanhood of Australia, whereas the majority of those who form the fighting force and provide funds for the organizations of honorable senators opposite are out as private speculators to amass wealth at the expense of the community. That is the great dividing line between thetwo parties ranged in opposite camps in this Parliament. It is not what our opinions are in regard to an Audit Act or other matters of necessary legislation which come before this Parliament. The root principles that differentiate us are that whereas this side represents the forces that are making for the general uplifting of the people and for the better distribution of the wealth of the country amongst that section of the community which creates it, honorable senators opposite, whatever their personal integrity may be, are nominees of a political force which is out to exploit the people in order to make profits and amass fortunes for the few. It is the recognition of that fact on the part of an ever-increasing number of people that makes our position as a party absolutely secure in the future, notwithstanding the temporary mishaps with which we may meet. Our contributions are given openly, and are published in our annual balance-sheets. Our contributions, instead of being concealed, are gladly stated in any of the publications belonging to our political and industrial organizations.
– And Liberals do not object to them, except in so far as they are forced contributions.
– It would be immaterial if they did. We have the power, and will do as we please with our own funds.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - And you will do what you like with the members of the Australian Workers Union.
– That is an irrelevant and a foolish gibe. We do what they like, not what we like with them. Senator Gould and many of those with whom he is associated have such a confirmed habit of misrepresenting industrial organizations and their methods of government, that I believe they are almost incapable of understanding the true position of affairs. Whether this incapacity is wilful, or whether it is their dense ignorance that blinds them to the absolute facts of the situation, I cannot say. As the result of an almost lifelong connexion with the Australian Workers Union, I can say positively, however, that every member of that organization possesses equal voting power, and that every possible opportunity is afforded for giving effect to it. Every officer must annually submit himself for election, and there is the most perfect system of voting that can be de vised, so that any change can be made according to the will of the members. Furthermore, the whole policy of the organization can be reviewed and altered annually. Any member of the organization can send along suggestions through the proper channels, and those suggestions must be dealt with by the annual Parliament of the Union. Consequently, all these stories about the use of force and coercion are inaccurate, and, if made wilfully, are absolutely false. The Australian Workers Union gives the utmost publicity to all its actions, to its financial transactions, and to its method of government. Any one, from the president of the Pastoralists Union to any honorable senator opposite, can obtain a copy of the rules and constitution of the organization whenever he desires.
– And balance-sheets showing expenditure ?
– And balance-sheets showing every penny of expenditure.
– I would like the honorable senator to Bend me a copy.
– I shall communicate with the general secretary, and ask him to do so. These reflections which have been cast on a legally-constituted body are quite beside the mark. It is part of the policy of the present Ministry to repeal those provisions of our arbitration law which permit the rural workers to bring claims before the Arbitration Court. The Rural Workers Union is now amalgamated with the Australian Workers Union, and we hope, at no distant date to bring the united forces of the organization to bear to compel a just recognition of its claims. Therefore, those who know the power of industrial organization would not be much concerned’ if the legal privileges given by the arbitration, law to the rural workers were swept away, but we must, object to any attempt, to destroy equality of industrial opportunities such as is proposed. Quite recently in New South Wales a section of the rural workers has attempted to secure, by industrial action, higher wages and shorter hours, and I believe that the movement will become so widespread that those who, by the misrepresentation of the aims and objects of the Labour party secured many votes at the last ‘election, will find that they are unable to prevent the recognition of the Rural Workers’
Log, providing for higher wages and shorter hours. In some parts of New South Wales the rural workers have taken matters into their own hands, by refusing to accept the conditions which have hitherto obtained, and there is to be united action to secure better terms. The party which is now supposed to be in power will find that the bogy which it used so successfully during the last election to frighten the farmers will no longer be of service. I have no confidence in electioneering . proposals for the reduction of the cost of living, and of rents, or the cheapening of money. The forces behind honorable senators opposite would unhesitatingly consign them to oblivion if they attempted to give effect to such proposals. I shall not flog a dead horse by blaming them for not doing what every one with the slightest political enlightenment knows that they cannot do. But the time is fast approaching when the electors will ask why the Government is not carrying its programme into effect. The people will realize that nothing can be done under the present political conditions, the Administration having no majority worth speaking of in the House of Representatives, and an immense majority against it in the Senate, and they will demand a change of Government, so that a party with a definite and substantial programme may again assume the reins of office, and continue the line of policy which has been departed from.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.47].- A good many gibes have been uttered this afternoon at the expense of the Government and its supporters, which make it necessary that the public should realize that it was the present Leader of the Opposition who, after the election, threw up the sponge, asserting his inability to carry on the business of the country any longer, and that the present Prime Minister was then sent for. If he has not given effect to any important part of his policy the reason is abundantly clear. It is farcical to talk about the Government having failed to carry out its pledges. No Government can do more than it is allowed to do, and the present Government has not a majority upon which to come and go. Parties are so evenly divided in the other House that the Government cannot pass an Electoral Bill, providing for large and important reforms which are called for in the public interest. The
Fisher Administration was in power for three years, with the support of a large majority obtained by gulling the electors with specious promises, not one of which was carried into effect. It was supported by a party hide-bound by Caucus, and composed of men who dared not exercise their independent judgments in the light of day.
– Is the honorable senator in order in saying that we on this side are not able to express our independent opinions ?
– The honorable senator is entitled to refer to the general policy of any political party in any terms that he may chose to use, provided that he is not offensive to any honorable senator.
– He is offensive to me.
– If any statement of the honorable senator is offensive to another honorable senator, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– It is offensive to me to say that I am not an independent member of the party to which I belong.
– The members of the Labour party here, and in the House of Representatives, discuss in Caucus the various matters which are to be submitted to Parliament, and when a determination is arrived at, though by a majority of only one, every one of them is bound to support it in public. The Caucus meetings are held in secret conclave, there being no opportunity for the press to give publicity to any of the arguments used for or against the conclusions that are come to. Our electoral law was amended during last Parliament, but the opposition to the proposals of the Government of the day was futile, because the Government proposals were supported by the Caucus, and the members of the Opposition were too few in number. The present Government having taken office, it is part of its policy to repeal some of these amendments, and for that purpose it has introduced a Bill in the other Chamber. Of course, we expected that that Bill would meet with opposition, but the Government have not been allowed to take a vote upon it. If it were to summon up the whole of its supporters, and get its provisions carried through the other House, what would happen when the Bill came here? Iti would be foolish to suggest that seven
Ministerialists, in a House of thirty-six, could do anything against the majority. I have no objection to it being said that the Government has not a majority entitling it to carry out its policy, and that it must get that necessary support before it can expect to give effect to its policy, but I object to the constant chiding of the party to which I belong for not carrying out proposals for which they get no assistance from the other side. It is an act of gross injustice that the sick and infirm are prevented from recording their votes. When we put the case before the people of Australia, the party that went to the country with a majority was returned in a minority. That, I hope, is the beginning of the end so far as the retrogressive and tyrannical rule of the Labour party is concerned. I am prepared to support all progressive legislation, but legislation giving privileges to one class of the community alone is as tyrannical, so far as the country at large is concerned, as was the legislation of the Tories of a couple of centuries ago. In the whole of the legislation carried into effect at the instance of the Labour party there was not a single idea calculated to benefit more than one class of the community, and that the class which happened to come within the sacred ringed fence of unionism.
– If any one outside Parliament said that, I should say that the statement was untrue.
– And I should say, in reply, that the man who denied it was what a man is usually called when he makes a false statement.
– How many members of trade unions are there throughout Australia ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - There would be a greater number if they would drop political unionism and allow men to band together for the legitimate purpose of securing fair and reasonable benefits in their own trades. But many object to being compelled to vote for a man merely because he is a member of a particular party.
– The ballot being secret, no elector can be compelled to vote for a particular candidate.
– But when a number of men who are banded together pledge themselves to a party, they cannot get away from their pledges because the ballot-box is secret;. If the honorable member belongs to a union - as I believe he does - and that union determines to support aparticular candidate, he feels compelled to vote accordingly.
– I can please myself.
– The honorable senator would do so, because he had pledged his word.
– Would not the honorable senator, ifhe had pledged his word ?
– I would not pledge my word in that way.
– The honorable senator pledged himself to the Liberal Union at the last election.
– I merely pledged myself to support men who were advocating the cause which I believe to be right.
– More than half the population of Australia are connected with unions.
.-That is no justification -for denying justice to those who stand outside. The honorable senator who last, spoke charged the Government with having been extravagant in finance. The Government, however, have simply honoured the obligations placed upon the country by their predecessors. I presumethat it is the duty of any Government tohonour obligations entered into by their predecessors and countenanced by Parliament.
– The late Government left the present Ministry the money with which to carry out the obligations.
– We must all recognise that the. defence policy which lias been adopted byAustralia must add increasingly to theexpenditure. During the elections, I admitted frequently that we were involved, in a policy that must entail considerableexpense. The Government was bound tohonour the obligations already entered into, and, as far as I can see, the demands are of such a character that more money will have to be found every year. I have seeu it pointed out by a Minister that, whilst the Labour party managed to increase the expenditure of the Commonwealth by lis. 3d. per head during each of the last two years of their term of office, the presant Government has only increased the expenditure by 2s. 6d. per head. That is a material reduction on the previous increase, and was only caused by the growing demands entailed by carrying out necessary services to the country. There is, I understand, an increase in the defence expenditure alone of something like 4s. 9d. per head. If that be taken into account, it will be seen that there has absolutely been a reduction in the general expenditure of the present Government. The naval and military expenditure is, I presume, necessary. It is our duty to protect ourselves, and to be in a position to assist the Empire to defend itself. Whilst money is wisely and prudently expended iu this direction, it will have my support, no matter on which side of the House I may be sitting. Although exception was taken to my remark that the Trust Funds money was earmarked, it is nevertheless correct. The money may not have been earmarked for individual items of expenditure, but nevertheless if a policy of earmarking had not been acted ~ upon, the money must have been paid away to the various States.
– The honorable senator knows that the £1,950,000 that was passed into the Old-age Pension Trust Fund cannot be treated in any other way.
– I know that that money has to be applied to the purposes for which it is voted. I do not object to that. But I do object to honorable senators saying that that is an amount of money that has been spent by this Government upon commitments which they have entered upon. The commitments were those of their predecessors, and such as were involved in the legislation of the country. It is unfair and unjust for the present Ministry to charge them with the expenditure of trust money. Some personal matters have been introduced in the debate to which I do not intend to allude. I hope that at the present juncture honorable senators will realize that the money asked for has to be voted in order to meet the ordinary services of the country. It would have to be voted if Ministers handed in their resignations to-morrow.
– They are not likely to do that.
– Whatever happened, there would be the same necessity for Supply to be voted to carry on public business; and Supply is just as necessary for the coming month as for the whole financial year. I am satisfied that the Senate will recognise that fact and pass the Bill.
– I wish to allude to the action of the Honorary Minister in putting up the defender-in-chief of the present Government in the person of Senator Gould.
– Senator Clemons did not even know that I was going to speak.
– At all events I am sorry that the honorable senator got up, because if anything is calculated to delay the passage of this Bill it is the speech just delivered. The honorable senator has given us a lecturette on what we should do, and has accused our party of being Caucus pledged and Caucus bound. I wish to remind him that every member of the Liberal or Fusion party must, before approaching the electors, submit to a selection ballot. I believe that he himself underwent that process. Prior to the 31st May, every man who came out under the auspices of his party had not only to’ undergo that process, but also to sign a pledge. ExSenator Sir Josiah Symon and ex-Senator Cameron refused to sign the pledge.
– Not to sign the pledge ; Sir Josiah Symon refused to submit to the selection ballot.
– I did not sign a platform.
– To what pledge does the honorable senator allude?
– To the pledge of the honorable senator’s party.
– What Colonel Cameron was asked to do was to pledge himself to abide by the result of the preselection ballot, and not to offer himself for election if rejected.
– I am glad to have that admission that there was a pre-selection ballot. That is exactly the process that we adopt. Yet Senator Gould gets up and charges us with the very same thing.
– No; I did not. I say that the honorable senator’s policy is guided by the Caucus outside.
– I shall deal with the Caucus in time. I should now like to refer to the famous Willoughby selection of a candidate for the State Parliament in New South Wales. An attempt has been made by the Liberal party in that State to secure a change of leadership, and to bring Sir William McMillan once more into the political arena. Five times in succession has Sir William McMillan vainly attempted to secure selection as a candidate under the protective wing of the Liberal party of New South Wales, and on the last occasion, according to the press, a dispute arose as to the choice of Mr. Fleming. So high did feeling run that a sort of riot or Donnybrook fair took place, and police protection had to be sought. If such an incident had occurred in connexion with the selection of a Labour candidate, the columns of the press would have teemed with condemnation ; but in this instance there was only one little paragraph in an obscure little corner.
– There were charges made of ballot-stuffing.
– That is ‘so; and it is too late in the day for Senator Gould., who has vast experience of this and another Parliament, to tell us that, because the Labour party have a selection ballot we are doing wrong, seeing that he himself is a member of a party which resorts to the same system. It is said that we on this side are bound by all the decisions in Caucus. Senator Gould was a member of- the Fusion party when Mr. Joseph Cook and Mr. Deakin joined forces. On the death of the late respected Sir Frederick Holder, it became necessary to elect another honorable member to the Speaker’s chair, and the party with which Senator Gould is associated met in secret caucus to decide the matter. I am not going to say that Senator Gould was present at the Caucus, because I do not know; but it is on record that the meeting was held, and that certain names were suggested for proposal on the floor of the House of Representatives. Mr. Agar Wynne, the present Postmaster-General said, after that meeting, that if it had not been for the fact that he was present, and that it had been determined to nominate Dr. Carty Salmon, he would have stood for the position. Thus the “chickens come home to roost,” and it is no good for Senator
Gould, like Satan preaching the wickedness of sin, to point the finger of scorn at honorable members on this side because they hold party meetings. Mr. Agar Wynne, it will be seen, was absolutely bound by the decision of the Liberal Caucus.
– What has this to do wi,th the Senate?
– We on this side are members of the Australian Labour party, and Senator Gould is a member of another party, and the charges he has made are unwarranted - that is what it has to do with the Senate.
– Do members of the Labour party in the Senate participate in the selection of the Speaker for the. House of Representatives? Will the honorable member answer that question.
– I will answer any question that is intelligent, but this one is not so, and I do not propose to answer it.
– The honorable senator is afraid to answer it.
– I am speaking as a member of the Labour party, and, as a party, we meet together. Will that satisfy the honorable senator?
– And, therefore, you abrogate your privileges as senators.
– There is a difference between the methods of the Labour party and the methods of the party to which Senator Gould belongs. We, of the Australian Labour party, whether in the Senate or the House of Representatives, when we ask the people to send us here, have a definite programme and policy to put before them, and we pledge ourselves, if returned, to do all in our power to give those pledges effect in the statute-book. Our friends opposite, on the other hand, have no platform and no policy. When a Labour man stands on a public platform, and seeks the support of the electors, he makes certain promises, and places before them a policy and a programme, and if the electors return him, that policy is no longer his own, nor that of his party, but is the policy of the people who have sent him here, and he is in justice bound to cany it into practice.
– No one objects to that.
– It has been stated by the Prime Minister that the
Liberal or Fusion Conference is superior to Parliament. Will Senator Gould deny that?
– It is news to me.
– Then it is quite evident that the honorable gentleman sometimes speaks “without his book.” If the Prime Minister says that the Liberal Conference is superior to Parliament, where does Parliament stand ?
– The Liberal Conference makes its decisions subject to the decisions of the parliamentary party.
– That makes it subject to the party in power.
– Subject to the wisdom and discretion of the Liberal members in Parliament.
– This is getting interesting. We have absolute proof now that there is a Liberal Conference and a Liberal selection ballot, and that the conference is superior to Parliament - that Senator Bakhap, Senator Gould, Mr. Joseph Cook, and all the rest must obey the behests of the Conference.
– The Liberal Conference expressly states that it makes its decisions subject to the discretion of the Liberal members of Parliament.
– The honorable senator is trying to put the matter in another way.
– I have put it the correct way.
– If the Liberal Conference gives power to members of the Liberal party in Parliament to interpret certain things, they have certainly, to use the words of Senator Gould, gulled the electors when on the platform.
– We are members of Parliament, not delegates.
– I am not a delegate; I am here as the elect of the people, and I did not come here by any surreptitious method. I desire to call attention to the statement of Senator Bakhap that although Liberal members on the platform say that they have a policy, when they come to Parliament they are at liberty to do anything they like with the alleged policy. If that be so, where do the electors come in? We have had ample evidence to-day that the Fusion party have copied the system - and it is a good system - of the Labour party, inasmuch as they have a selection ballot and a caucus, and that they come to both Houses determined to act in accordance with the decisions of their party meetings. Senator Gould has praised the Electoral Bill now before another place as a progressive measure; but I ask him whether he thinks it is progressive to compel every man or woman who goes to the polling booth to sign his or her name on the butt of the ballotpaper, thus enabling the vote to be placed at any ‘time?
– I did not say anything about that.
– The honorable senator was too clever to do so; but he praised “ the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill.” Will the honorable senator say, either here or outside, that the secrecy of the ballot can be preserved when every , voter has- to sign the butt of the ballot-paper? I shall wait an opportunity to hear the honorable senator defend that portion of the Bill. The honorable senator also attempted to justify the increased expenditure under the present Budget. If the honorable senator, when on the hustings, had been as candid as he has been to-day, probably the representation on that side of the chamber would have been even smaller than it is.
– I was just as candid when before the electors as I have been in the Senate.
– I accept the honorable gentleman’s word ; but throughout the whole of the last campaign one of the principal charges hurled’ against the Fisher Government was that of extravagance. But when honorable members opposite, and those with whom they are associated, are asked to show in which Departments expenditure could be curtailed, the reply they give us is a Budget which increases the expenditure by over £5,000,000. I admit that the increased expenditure is necessary. The expansion and the demands of Australia are such that each year we must necessarily increase the expenditure in our great spending Departments ; but it was absolutely cowardly - to use the mildest term I can get - to stand on public platforms at the last election and say that the Fisher Government were indulging in a “ financial drunk “ in their expenditure of public moneys. I said during that campaign, and I say it now, that during the years 1910 to 1913 Australia could not have been governed cheaper than it was. I find now that the present Government cannot govern Australia cheaper than could the Fisher Government. I do not cavil at the proposed increased expenditure, but I wish the people of Australia to understand clearly and distinctly that the requirements of Australia must necessarily demand in? creased expenditure. In conclusion, I hope that honorable senators opposite will be just as candid on the hustings as they are” in the Chamber, and not make the cowardly statements indulged in by some of them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time, . and passed through its remaining stages.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania,
Honorary Minister) [6. 30]. - I am. always anxious, as Honorary Minister, to consult the convenience of the whole of the Senate, and as I have received a suggestion that I should move the adjournment of the House, I accordingly do so. I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131029_SENATE_5_71/>.