5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Senate met at 2.30 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
VERNOR-GENERAL entered the chamber and took the chair. A message was forwarded to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber, who being comb with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech : -
My stay in Australia has been a most pleasant and useful one to me, and I would fain hope it may have been of some slight service to Australia. My relations with both Governments and people have been of the happiest kind, and Lady Denman and I shall leave Australia with feelings of the deepest regret.
My Advisers are confident that a workable scheme for carrying out and financing this desirable object will result from its deliberations.
The construction of Naval Bases is proceeding on lines laid down by Admiral Henderson, and, pending receipt of the final report of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice regarding Cockburn Sound, it is intended to proceed with such preliminary work as is justified by the information already available.
HisExcellency the GovernorGeneral having retired,
The President took the chair at 2.52 p.m., and read . prayers.
Assent to the following Bills of last session reported: -
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 191 112.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1912-13.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1911-12.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1912-13.
Norfolk Island Bill.
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Bill.
Commonwealth Public Service Bill.
Defence Lands Purchase Bill.
Committee of Public Accounts Bill.
Commonwealth Public Works Committee Bill.
Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Bill.
Tasmania Grant Bill.
Post and Telegraph Bill.
– Pursuant to standing order 31, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators Henderson, Russell, and McDougall a panel to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees or when he is absent.
– Pursuant to standing order 38, I lay on the table my warrant appointing the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications: - Senators de Largie, Gould, Keating, Long, Lynch, Oakes, and Turley.
– I ask the Minister of Defence if the following paragraph in a Sydney newspaper, of the 12th instant, has been brought under his notice : -
Sir Ian Hamilton was surprised to find at Liverpool yesterday that the Australian military horses are fed on oats which are imported from the Argentine. He is not the only person who is surprised. Putting aside all patriotic motives, it would seem to be economically sound that Argentine oats should be cheaper to purchase than those which are grown in Australia. It is certain that they are not in any way superior in nutritive value. It is a matter which must have the serious attention of the Minister of Defence. Australia must be selfsupporting. It is ridiculous for a country exporting so much grain to have to import the oats used by the Defence Department.
I desire to know whether the Minister has noticed that paragraph, and, if bo, whether it is correct? Is it the policy of the Government to support the foreign farmer against the taxpaying Australian farmer ?
– I have not seen the paragraph in question, and I have no knowledge of the facts which are alleged to exist in that paragraph. In reply to the honorable senator’s third question I wish to say that, since I have been connected with the Defence Department, I have endeavoured in every possible circumstance to see that Australian goods and commodities are utilized in carrying on the Defence Forces of Australia.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence if his attention has been called to the following paragraph, which was published almost simultaneously in a number of newspapers throughout Australia -
The following cable message to Sir Edward Carson has been despatched on behalf of a number of Ulster sympathisers, who also propose forming an Ulster Association in this State:- “ West Australian Unionists guarantee £1,000, and more if required, to support you in resisting Home Rule. Also prepared to send contingent of volunteers.”
I desire to know if this paragraph has beenbrought under the notice of the Minister, and whether any action has been taken in regard to it. If not, is it intended to take any action against those persons who propose to raise a contingent of volunteers - an action in direct conflict with section 118 of the Defence Act which reads -
Any person who induces or attempts to in duce any other person to enlist or engage to serve in any other naval or military force the raising of which has not been authorized by the Governor-General shall, upon conviction, be liable to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any period not exceeding six months.
– I cannot say wither or not I have seen that particular paragraph. As a newspaper reader I have seen a good deal of comment on a matter which is exercising the minds ofthe people throughout the Empire. I can only assure the honorable senator that ifoccasion arises for this Government to act, it will do so fearlessly.
– Will the Minister ofDefence lay on the table of the Senate a copy of his memorandum in reply to a speech made in London by the Right Honorable Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, in respect to the naval question, and move that it be printed ? Senator MILLEN. - I shall be only too pleased to do so if, as I gather, there is a desire that the memorandum be made a parliamentary paper.
– Is it the intention of the Government to purchase any additional aeroplanes for use at Point Cook ; and, if so, when ?
– If the honorable senator wishes to know whether it is the immediate intention to do so, the answer is” No.”
– Seeing that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has had charge of the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department for some months, I wishto know whether the honorable senator has initiated, or intends to initiate, prosecutions against the many thousands of persons whom he accused of wrong-doing in connexion with the electoral law.
– It is not the province of the Minister directing electoral affairs to institute prosecutions; that matter is in the hands of theofficers of the Department.
– Is the VicePresident of the Executive Council serious in his reply to Senator Russell, that the duty of prosecuting people for breaches of the Electoral Act lies entirely with the officers of the Department, and not with the Minister in charge of that Department.
– So far as I am aware, it lies entirely with the officers of the Department.
– That is strange information. Does the honorable senator mean to say that the Minister in charge of the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department is not responsible for the prosecution of people who break the electoral law?
– If the honorable senator will kindly give notice I shall get a legal opinion for him.
– I wish to ask whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council has found any of the dead men who, according to his own statement, voted at the last general election ?
– Has the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is now in charge of the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department, been called to three cases of prosecutions under the Electoral Act in South Australia in which three men were fined £7 each, with £1 16s. costs? In one case a man filled in his claim before he was twenty-one years of age under a misapprehension, having celebrated his twenty-first birthday in error. In another case, the elector asked a policeman whether he would be right in filling in his electoral claim before he was twenty-one years of age, and the policeman advised him that he would be perfectly safe in doing so. The third case was that of an immigrant who filled in his claim through ignorance, and who had been only five months and nineteen days in the Commonwealth . This man had a wife and six children, and the magistrate decreed that he should pay the enormous fine of £8 16s. I ask the Minister whether his attention has been called to these three cases, and, if so, whether he proposes to take steps to reduce these fines by a very substantial amount?
– My attention was not called specially to the cases referred to bv the honorable senator, but I saw a paragraph in a Melbourne newspaper in which it was stated that certain persons were brought up and fined. The matter did not come before me, but I shall be glad to ascertain particulars of the cases, and will look into them.
-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.- A statement was made before the Electoral Commission in Adelaide to the effect that one individual admitted that, in direct contravention of the Act, while in one of the places provided for recording his vote, he deliberately removed the partition between that and another, and looked in to see what was being- done there, and that another witness admitted that without a scrutineer’s paper he was illegally within a polling-booth. Has the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council been called to this evidence, and, if so, will he see that these people are prosecuted for infringements of the Act?
– I know nothing whatever of the incident to which the honorable senator has referred.
– Will the Minister of Defence lay on the table all reports submitted by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, together with any correspondence received since that gentleman’s departure, on the subject of the Naval Bases?
– I have them here to lay on the table now.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 3 p.m.
– Will the Minister of Defence seriously consider the advisability of endeavouring to reach an agreement by which the two Houses may meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and so allow members to go home on Fridays, instead of the present arrangement by which the members- of one House leave for their homes on one day, and members of- the other House on the following day ?
– That means asking the other House to work one day less than at present. So far as thisHouseisconcerned, the matter is entirely in the hands of honorable senators.
– To meet the. convenience of honorable senators, Iwill suspend the sitting until 5 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 3.24 to. 5 p.m.
The PRESIDENT laid . upon the, table the following paper: -
Commonwealth Bank, Balance-sheet -made up to 31st December, 1913, and Auditor-General’s report thereon.
MINISTERS laid upon the- table-
Audit Act 1901-1912-
Transfers of amounts approved by the, Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1913-14, dated - 5th February, 6th March, 25th March, 1914.
Naval Account Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 18-
Treasury Regulations’ amended, &c.-
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 297, 334; 1914, No. 6.
Bank (Commonwealth) Act 1911 -
Savings Bank Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 333.
Beer Excise Act 1901-1912 -
Regulations. - Statutory Rules’ 1913, No. 317.
Bounties Act 1907-1912-
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 306.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1903 -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 347.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1911 -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 331.
Copyright Act 1912 -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 338.
Customs Act 1901-1910 -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 346.
Defence Act 1903-1912. - Regulations amended, &c. -
Landing, of Sailors and Soldiers from Foreign Men-of-War and Transports. - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 325.
Military College - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 320.
Military Forces -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 312, 313, 322, 323, 327; 1914, Nos. 3, 13, 27, 29.
Financial and Allowance Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 321, 324, 332; 1914, Nos. 1, 2, 15, 20, 23, 28.
Universal Training - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 311, 328, 329; 1914, Nos. 4, 14, 16, 19, 24.
Distillation Act 1901 -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 343.
Dominions Royal Commission -
First Interim Report.
Second Interim Report.
Minutes of Evidence taken in London during October and November, 1912. Part I. - Migration.
Minutes of Evidence taken in London during October and November, 1912. Part II. - Natural Resources, Trade and Legislation.
Minutes of Evidence taken in New Zealand in 1913.
Minutes of Evidence taken in Australia in 1913. Part I.
Minutes of Evidence taken in Australia in 1913.Part II.
Minutes of Evidence taken in London in November, 1913, and papers laid before the Commission.
Electoral Matters -
Royal Commission’s Interim Report. Excise Act 1901-
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 345.
Federal Territory. - Report by Messrs. D. J. Mahony and T. Griffith Taylor, on a Geological Reconnaissance of.
High Court Procedure Act 1903, and Judiciary Act 1903-1912. - Rule of Court - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 330.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1912. - Regulation - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 10.
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1912 - Regulations amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 335. 337 1914, No. 5.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Land acquired under, at -
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Bligh, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Burnic, Tasmania - For Postal purposes.
Camberwell, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Crystal Brook, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Daylesford, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Doodlakine, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Dorrigo, New South Wales- For Defence purposes.
Dowsing’s Point, Hobart, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
East Perth, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Finley, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Friezland, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
George Town, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Ginninderra, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Jervis Bay, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Land acquired under, at -
Kilkenny, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Latrobe, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Marrickville, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Maryborough, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Molong, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Newmarket, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Pentland, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Prospect, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Rosewood, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Ryde, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Sydney, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Wallendbeen, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Wallsend, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Wallumbilla, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Manufactures Encouragement Act 1908-1912. - Iron Bounty Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 316.
Maternity Allowance Act 1912. - Regulations -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 298 and 299. Naturalization Act 1903. - Return of Number of Persons to whom Certificates of Naturalization were granted during 1913.
Naval Defence. - Reports on Naval Bases, &c., by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice.
Naval Defence Act 1910-1912. - Regulations amended, &c. -
Naval College - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 308.
Naval Forces - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 21.
Ordinances of 1913 -
No. 6 - Quarantine.
No. 7 - Noxious Plants.
No. 8 - Printers and Newspapers.
No. 9 - Evidence and Discovery.
No. 10 - Weights and Measures.
No. 11 - Probate and Administration..
No. 12 - Succession Duties.
No. 13 - Real Property.
No. 14 - Papuan Antiquities.
No. 16 - Customs.
No. 17 - Plants Diseases.
No. 18- Dog.
No. 19 - Supplementary Appropriation,. No. 1, 1913-14.
Ordinances of 1914 -
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1912.- Regu lations amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 309, 314, 318, 319, 320, 348, 349, 350; 1914, Nos. 9, 11, 12, 17, 22, 25, 26, 30.
Powellised and other Timbers. - Royal Commission’s Interim Report.
Public Service Act 1902-1911-
Appointments, Promotions, &c. -
Department of Prime Minister -
Department of the Treasury -
Attorney-General’s Department -
Department of Home Affairs -
Department of Home Affairs -
Public Service Act 1902-1911-
Appointments, Promotions, &c. -
Department of Defence -
Postmaster-General’s Department -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 341.
Spirits Act 1906. - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 344.
Telegraphs and Telephones Special Works Account Act 1911 -
Transfers of Amounts Approved by the Governor-General in Council - 17th December, 1913. 5th March, 1914.
Trade Marks Act 1905-1912. - Regulations -
Statutory Rules 1913, No. 339.
Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905. - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1913, No. 351.
Workmen’s Compensation Act 1912. - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1913, No. 336.
– I have to report that I have received a copy of the Speech with which His Excellency the GovernorGeneral was graciously pleased to open this Parliament to-day. I have given instructions for each honorable senator to besupplied with a copy of the Speech, and consequently I do not propose to read it.
– I move: -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to: -
To His Excellency the Governor-General.
May it Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I am sure that I am expressing the view of everybody in the Senate, as well as in the other House, and, perhaps, the view of the people ofAustralia, in saying that we all regret that the Governor-General has seen fit to resign his office for good and valid reasons, more particularly on account of his health. I think I can safely say - and it is a sentiment which I believe will be indorsed - that His Excellency has endeared himself to the people of the Commonwealth as no previous Governor-General has done. We, at any rate, are sorry to lose him, and hope that the remarks he has made about the Commonwealth will be carried to England, and that he will maintain the same kindly feeling and interest in Australia as long as he lives. This is the first opportunity I have had of expressing to honorable senators on the other side, as well as to the bereaved relatives, my sorrow that two members of the Labour party should have so unfortunately died during the course of last session. I did not have a personal acquaintance with those gentlemen, but I knew of them by repute, and it seemed to me a great pity indeed that promising as they were on their particular side of politics, they should be put off almost in the prime of life. I sincerely trust that death will not come again as “sharp and sudden “ as it did in those cases. I also wish to say that Senator Clemons who, owing to the strain of parliamentary work, was stricken down last session, is now away recuperating. I am sure we all hope that he will soon be found again sitting on the Ministerial bench thoroughly restored in health. Coming to the Governor- General’s Speech ; I venture to say that while it is not a lengthy Speech, still it is one of the most important documents that have ever been submitted to this Parliament, because it is fraught with most momentous issues.
– It is a pity that it did not refer to the postage stamp.
– The postage stamp worries the honorable senator. All that I can hope is that our honorable friends on the other side, who are pleased to be somewhat hilarious over this matter today will, when the time comes to face the test questions, be in just as good a humour. From His Excellency’s Speech we learn that the two test Bills that were submitted to the other House last session, and sent up to the Senate for its approval or refusal are now, after an interval of three months, to be sent back for an expression of our opinion one way or the other. The Speech also announces that an agreement was arrived at in conference between the State Premiers and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and that as an outcome of the agreement two Bills are to be submitted to this Parliament. The purpose of one Bill will be to abolish the dual control of Savings Banks, while the purpose of the other will be to provide for the control of the waters of the Murray River. There will be proposals submitted, too, for dealing with the question of a uniform gauge for the railways and also with the question of immigration, and certain proposals are foreshadowed in relation to combines and trusts. Regarding the Bill for abolishing preference to unionists, I wish to put before honorable senators a phasewhich, I think, is a perfectly reasonable one. By what right or condition does any Government, whether State or Commonwealth, arrogate to itself the power to say that ansection of the community shall be denied employment in the Public Service? If my honorable friends opposite spoke for a majority of the people in the community, and they had effective legislation behind them, there would be something in favour of their action.. But there was no parliamentary mandate given to any Ministry to impose such a, condition in regard to the administration of our Public Service. I quite recognise that our honorable friends on the other side are. distinctly favorable to closing, so to speak, the ranks of unionism so as to force every man who wants to earn his living into a union, and one of the steps in that direction would be to impose the condition that a man could only get employment in the Public Service provided that he first acquired membership of a union. That position can only arise when there is an unmistakable majority of the workers in this community in unions, and they instruct Parliament by their votes to take that course, but they have not given that instruction yet. I might point out to honorable senators, without labouring the question too much, that at a meeting of the Trades and Labour Council quite recently Mr. W. L. Duncan, who is a prominent Labour member in New South Wales, made an interesting admission.
– He is not a Labour member now.
– Well, he is a prominent Labour worker if the honorable senator prefers that description. At a meeting, when there was a motion proposed to appoint an organizer on behalf of the Trades and Labour Council, Mr. Duncan said -
Only 50 per cent. of the male workers of this State (New South Wales) were unionists, whilst only a little over9 per cent. of women workers were organized. The proportion of unionists to the total number of workers was only 44 per cent.
Here we have an admission from a prominent member of the Trades and Labour Council that less than half of the workers of New South Wales are in the unions; but it is only a little over twelve months ago that the State Parliament issued an edict that no man should get employment unless he happened to be in a union.
– When did the State Parliament issuethat edict? Never !
– The edict was issued by an instruction.
– What is the reason of the row that our honorable friends on the other side are making in regard to the test Bill on the subject? We shall see, when it comes forward, whether they will stand in the way of giving fair play and justice to every man in the community, whether he is a unionist or not. That is the point at issue.
– Where is the necessity for bringing in a Bill when preference to unionists in the Public Service has been abolished by regulation?
– I believe I am correct in assuming that if the Labour party got control of the Treasury bench tomorrow they would issue an edict that no man should get employment in the Public Service unless he was a unionist. We are putting that beyond the pale of my honorable friends, or any Parliament.
– Could not an Act be repealed just as well as a regulation?
– Exactly. So long as this Parliament takes action, no man in the community can complain, because the Parliament speaks for the people. But the establishment of this principle by a Ministerial edict, that can be brought about so readily, is too serious an act to be passed over.
– Is not the Senate a part of this Parliament?
– Exactly. I do not see that the executive officers of this Parliament have any right to issue an edict of such a nature. But if the Parliament itself establishes this principle by a law, then the people have to look to it for a redress of the wrong. However, when the test Bill comes before the Chamber, there will be an opportunity of threshing out the principle in detail. Therefore, I do not intend to speak on the subject at greater length. I also recognise that there is. another Bill which is just as palatable to my honorable friends opposite, and that is the Bill to restore postal voting. It seems to me that, during the last few years, they have changed their views very considerably in regard to the value of the postal vote. The tendency of modern politics, more particularly in a democratic country like Australia, has been to widen the opportunity for voting, and to widen the franchise.
– Who widened it more than did the Labour party ?
– I presume that you did, as you are such a smart sort of chap.
– Order ! Will the honorable senator address the Chair 1
– I think it will be admitted that the general trend of democratic legislation has been to widen the franchise and offer the greatest facilities for voting. Amongst the conditions laid down in the platform of the Labour party, and one which they thought was going to benefit Democracy, was the condition of postal voting. I venture to say that my honorable friends, in the main, were in agreement with postal voting, and so, too, were many honorable members of their party in the other House.
– Subject to certain restrictions.
– The honorable senator reminds me very much of the Labour platform. When our opponents put in something in the way of a principle, and the Liberal party give effect to it, at the next Conference they say, “ a proper system” of this or that. Closer settlement was a case in point. The Labour party had a closer settlement condition in their platform ; but, when the late Liberal Government in New South Wales gave effect to the principle, the Labour party could not afford to cut it out of their programme, and so they turned round and put in the programme “ a proper system of local government.” My honorable friend who interjected just now is on the same ground. -He said, in effect, “ We are in favour of postal voting on proper conditions.”
– You want things on an improper basis.
– I want postal voting based on conditions which will safeguard the right of the people to exercise the franchise.’ I do not intend to labour this point longer, because there will be another opportunity to express . our opinions. I desire to remind the Senate that the Postmaster-General ‘of the late Labour Administration expressed his opinion on the subject in these terms -
If in this community a number of people are so unfortunate as not to be located in a great city or at a convenient point for recording a vote at the ballot-box, it is only reasonable that special facilities should be provided for thom. People in the back-blocks who do not enjoy the conveniences afforded to those living iii the centres of population deserve special consideration from Parliament.
Mr. Fisher, in the Queensland Parliament, said ;
I regard this provision as a necessary corollary of the universal franchise. Because certain persons may have misused the privileges conferred by an Act of Parliament we ought not to deprive even one eligible voter of the opportunity to exercise the franchise.
– What is the date of that statement in the Queensland Parliament by Mr. Fisher ?
– I shall give it to the honorable senator later; When Mr. King O’ Malley was asked to speak about the abolition of the postal vote, he made this remark -
The abolition of the postal vote has been decided upon after much prayer and meditation. ‘
– Would you mind reading what Mr. Cook said about postal voting ?
– I am quite satisfied that Mr. Cook can .explain any opinion he gave on postal voting. In any case, I am not responsible for his opinion on the subject. I am here tonight to speak in defence of the general principle, and as a believer in it. It is a sound, democratic system, and, in my judgment, it was wiped off the statutebook only because it did not pan out exactly as my honorable friends opposite expected it would do. There was no other reason in the world for abolishing the system. We have had a like experience in New South Wales with the second ballot. If it had proved in any way dangerous to the Holman Government, it would have been wiped off the statutebook “ quick and lively,” but, as it proved- useful to them, and was effective in keeping them in office, the Labour party intend to retain the machinery on the statute-book. On the other questions submitted in His Excellency’s Speech-
– Before you get away from that subject, will you give us the date of that quotation from a speech by Mr. Fisher in the Queensland Parliament?
– I will give the honorable senator that information before he goes away. He need not worry. The Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral sets out that two measures are to be submitted to us for the purpose of testing the constitutional difficulty in which we find ourselves to-day. I desire to point out as dispassionately as possible that we are all interested in seeing the Federal parliamentary machine run upon safe and sound democratic lines. I need scarcely recall the fact that when the people of Australia decided to federate, they did not act hastily. After many years of discussion, and after the public had been educated through the press up to an understanding of all that Federation meant, a popular Convention was elected for the purpose of framing a Federal Constitution. The very best intellects that Australia could produce were represented on that Convention, and, as the result of its deliberations, our present Constitution was finally adopted. The delegates to that Convention had before them the Canadian, the Swiss, the German, and the American systems of Federation. They selected the best features of those systems, and adapted them to suit the democratic needs of Australia. I need hardly remind honorable senators that the most eminent constitutional authorities - men who spent their lives in studying constitutional history - have spoken of our Constitution as the best and most perfect instrument of government ever devised by the brain of man.
– Then the honorable senator does not agree with the leaders of his party, who advocate the abolition of the Senate?
– I do not. I am not tied down to the views expressed by my leader, or to those expressed by any other man. If I joined the party opposite, I would not be allowed to hold the opinions which I hold to-day. I would have to obey the mandate of the Caucus. No matter what my individual views might be, when I entered the National Parliament of Australia I would have to pocket those opinions and vote in accordance with the decision which had been arrived at by a majority of that party. I have never done that in my life, and I never will do it. I differ from many things which are done by the Liberal party, but I have a right to express my opinion upon those things.
– Will the honorable senator vote against the measures which are outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech when they are brought forward here?
– I will vote against anything in which I do not believe.
– I do not think that the honorable senator meant it, but he said that his opinions were pocket opinions; surely they are not.
– I do not understand what the honorable senator means. I would like to quote the opinion of Bryce upon our Commonwealth Constitution. He says -
As an expression of true Federal powers, the Australian Constitution stands out on a higher plane for skilful draftsmanship and necessary powers than even the American.
We adopted the American system because we thought it was most suitable to our conditions as a democratic country. We have since been told by Mr. Hughes and others that we ought not to have adopted that system - that we should have adopted the German system, which they urge is more adaptable to our needs. But I would point out that the American system meets with the approval of the very best authorities on democratic Constitutions. Professor Dicey, in the Law of the Constitution, says -
The Commonwealth is in the strictest sense a Federal Government. It owes its birth to the desire for National Unity which pervades the whole of Australia, combined with the determination on the part of the several States to retain as States of the Commonwealth as large a measure of independence as may be found compatible with the recognition of Australian nationality. The creation of a true Federal Government has been achieved mainly by following, without, however, copying in any servile spirit, the fundamental principles of American Federation. .
Lord Acton, the famous English jurist, says -
That in view of increasing Democracy a restricted Federal system is the only possible check on centralization.
The late Right Hon. W. E. GladstoneI suppose one of the best men who has ever taken part in English politics-
– This is ancient history.
– It is none the less valuable, just as the works qf Shakspeare are valuable. The Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone described the American Constitution as - the most perfect instrument of civil government ever devised by the intellect of man. If time permitted I could quote numerous other authorities, even down to men like Mr. Holman, Mr. McGowen, Mr. Beeby, and Mr. Neilson, who occupy commanding positions in the Labour movement in New South Wales.
– What! Mr. Beeby?
– I consider that Mr. Beeby is a very able man, who is worthy of a seat in any Parliament. But, unfortunately, if a man who has agreed with honorable senators opposite up to a certain point ventures to disagree with them on a vital matter of principle, and leaves their party, they cannot pursue him far enough with words which they deem to be sufficiently harsh and bitter.
– The honorable senator wants to hear what the Tasmanian Liberals say of Mr. Whitsitt.
– I would rather hear what they say of the honorable senator. Although we adopted a Constitution which we thought was the best instrument of government that could be devised, after a few years of trial we find that it has lamentably failed in certain directions.
– The framers of our Constitution embodied in it certain provisions for the purpose of coping with deadlocks. It is strange that in no other Federal Constitution does any such provision appear. It is strange, too, that after an experience of a hundred years the American Federation - which embraces some forty odd States - has never been faced with a similar position to that in which we find ourselves to-day.
– The Government here can carry on onlyby the casting vote of a shackled Speaker.
– For all purposes of government a majority of one is just as effective as is a majority of fifty. No one will attempt to deny that the Cook Government are constitutionally in power by virtue of the fact that they have a majority of one in the other Chamber. But they have been unable to redeem their hustings’ pledges by reason of an adverse majority in the Senate. In this Chamber we have twenty-nine Labour representatives as against seven Liberals. When our Constitution was framed,the idea underlying the creation of the Senate was that it should represent the States, and the States alone. But how has that Constitution worked out? On the opposite side of the Chamber is to be found a solid phalanx, which acts as a mere phonograph of the views expressed by the Opposition in another place. So long as that condition continues, we shall have nothing but a deadlock. I do not wonder at the press and the public demanding that such a position shall be altered as speedily as possible. They have a right to ask - if the difficulty cannot be settled by this Chamber recognising its proper functions as the guardian of State Rights - either that the Constitution shall be altered, or that the representation of the Senate shall be changed.
– If the twenty-nine in this Chamber, who are in a majority, were on the opposite side, would the honorable senator ask for a change?
– My argument would be none the less effective then.
– Would the honorable senator advancethat argument?
– I could not advance a better one. We have misunderstood the position that we occupy here. We should have viewed this matter only from the stand-point of State Rights.
– Will a double dissolution alter the position?
– It may. The people created the deadlock, and it is the people who must remove it. The very fact’ that my honorable friends occupy the Opposition benches is a sufficient proof that we are in the majority in the other Chamber.
– We allow honorable senators opposite to sit there, although they are in the minority.
– It is perfectly honorable for the Liberal Prime Minister to say that the experience of last session has convinced him that he cannot carry through Parliament the Bills which he was elected to carry, and that, therefore, he proposes to send up to this Chamber two test measures for the purpose of bringing about the position which is contemplated in the Constitution, and which will permit of the electors settling the deadlock.
– It will be settled if we get another Macartney as GovernorGeneral.
– I have often heard these great Democrats opposite say “ Trust the people.” If they are sincere in that cry, let them assist us in getting a double dissolution.
– We are going to do so.
– Then why are we wasting so much time? It is proper to ask the people of Australia to alter the present position at the ballot-box. When we see that no parliamentary work can be carried on by the Cook Government because of the hostile majority in the Senate, we have a perfect right to go to the electors and tell them that we want them to alter the position. If the electors say that they believe that Labour should govern, why should they not have the opportunity to send Labour back to power? We are asking that the people of Australia should be given the opportunity to say definitely and clearly, if they think in that way, that the Labour party should have a majority to enable them to govern in both Houses of the Federal Parliament. If, on the other hand, they say, as they have already said, that the Liberal party should govern, we have a right to look to them to send a number of Liberals to the Senate who will assist us in putting Liberal legislation upon the statute-book. Passing to another matter, I notice that there is foreshadowed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech certain legislation to deal with combines and trusts. Speaking as one who has had some experience of political affairs in New South Wales, I quite recognise that our friends opposite will rely during the next electoral campaign upon their old cry about combines, trusts, and monopolies. I quite understand that combines and trusts will be dressed up in a new garb by our friends opposite, and the people will be invited to look upon them as hideous monsters that are prepared to devour them. That is the story the electors were told at the last elections in New South Wales, but it did not help the party very much, because when people are properly educated as to the true position of combines, trusts, and monopolies they are able to see how far the cry against them is genuine, and how far it is a sham. I hold that there should be just as much interference with an individual carrying on a business injurious to the community as with a combine carrying on a similar business. It is just as necessary to pass legislation to prohibit an individual from bleeding the public as it is to pass legislation prohibiting a trust from doing so. We have laws on ihe statute-book to deal with individuals who do wrong, and we have a right to pass laws to enable us to deal with combinations or trusts that do wrong in the same way. Our friends opposite, in the course of their electoral campaign, always refer to the operations of trusts, combines, and monopolies. The three great bogies which they trotted out at the last Federal election were the Sugar Bogy, the Tobacco Trust, and the Coal Vend.
– Do not forget the Beef Trust.
– The Beef Trust has developed quite recently.
– And the honorable senator’s side brought out the poor widow.
– I have not done so yet, but I may bring her out next time. The accepted plan of our friends on the other side is to inform the electors that the increased cost of living is due- to combines, trusts, and monopolies.
– Not wholly, but very largely.
– On this point I should like to read to my honorable friends what Mr. Hughes said in regard to who can sell the cheaper, the combine or a private individual. On the 21st November, 1912, he made this states ment -
Who to-day is able to sell the cheapest? The small man in a humble way or the great Combine or’ Trust that controls” not only the inlets and outlets of industry, hut tins’ products and the markets in which they are to be distributed, the sources from which are drawn the raw material, and the most uptodate machinery for dealing with all these that the civilized world can supply? Obviously not the isolated trader. The individual who has nothing but his brains and a few pounds of capital cannot hope to compete in such circumstances.
– Does that not show that he was not one-eyed?
– I quite grant that. That was the speech of Mr. Hughes when in a position to give an honest and free expression of his opinion; but when he was before his constituents in the electoral campaign he talked quit-e differently. He further stated in an article which he wrote-
It is sufficient here to point out that the Labour party views with equanimity the development of the Trust, regarding’ it as a necessary stage in industrial and social evolution, and preparing the way for a more complete systematization of production and distribution by society for the benefit of the whole people.
– We all say “ Amen.” to that.
– Then my friends opposite indorse that statement. Here is a leader of the Labour party making two as strong statements as could possibly be made to the effect that a combine can sell cheaper than anybody else.
– It can do so, but does not.
– Mr. Hughes says that it does.
– What the combine does is to sell cheaply to drive out the individual and then to sell for whatever it can get.
– That is the generally accepted theory. Does the honorable senator say that the sugar company did that?
– Undoubtedly; it has been robbing us for years.
– The last Government appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the great sugar monopoly, and after taking evidence in every capital in Australia from every person who was likely to be able to give them any evidence, the Commission brought up to Parliament a report in which they strongly recommended that the industry should not be nationalized, and told the public in effect that they could not get a better product than they were getting from the sugar company. When the Coal Vend was being trotted out by our friends opposite, who were glad to refer to it as another instance of combinations and trusts, who were the men who squealed most?
– Who instituted the. Coal Vend?
– Peter Bowling. Senator Guthrie knows something about it.
– The honorable senator’s side opened it.
– What we know is that the Coal Vend was created in 1906, when coal was selling in Newcastle as low as from 8s. to 9s. a ton. Who was it that was being sweated when coal was selling at that price? It was the coal miner. I say “Good luck” to him if he saw that by some arrangementhe might get a better wage through an increase in the price of coal. The result was that the Coal Vend was created on the basis that the price was to go up to 9s., 30s., and11s. per ton, and that for every increase of1s. over 9s. per ton the miner was to get 4d. of the shilling as an extra hewing rate.
– Why should he not?
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. That was a good and sound proposition to enable the coal miner to secure a rise in wages. The price of coal was at the same time not an outrageous price for the public to pay. It went up to11s. per ton, and the coal miner got 8d. out of the extra 2s., and so was enabled to earn a decent wage. The Coal Vend went on selling coal at 11s. per ton, on board at Newcastle.
– The price was raised, and the wage stayed as it was.
– It did not stay as it was, as my honorable friend knows perfectly well.
– The honorable senator is dealing with the Australian trade - what about the foreign trade?
– I am dealing with the Coal Vend?
– But only with one part of their business.
– The Coal Vend was selling coal at the time at11s. per ton. It was created for the purpose of giving the coal mine proprietors a reasonable price for their coal and to stop the cutthroat internal competition that was going on prior to its creation. I want to point out to my friends opposite that when the Fisher Government came into power they prepared to treat the Coal Vend as a capitalistic greedy concern, and proposed to take action in the interests of the community. Who squealed when this was done? Did honorable senators find Liberal members going around complaining about the Coal Vend being prosecuted ?
– A Liberal Government first took action against the vend.
– If honorable senators will turn up the records of the daily press of Newcastle, they will find that the first to squeal was Alf. Edden. He complained that to break the Coal Combine would bring down the price of coal again to 8s. or 9s. per ton, and the miner would suffer as a result. So not very much was done, and the Coal Vend went on its way swimmingly.
– A Liberal Government took the first steps to prosecute the Coal Vend.
– The honorable senator is right, and “ Billy “ Hughes tried to take the credit for it.
– I, as a member of the Wade Government, in New South Wales, know something of a combine that was formed there, and which I think Senator Guthrie was interested in. Was he not a party to an interesting document which emanated from Peter Bowling and “Billy” Hughes? Did the honorable senator not sign that document?
– No; the honorable senator is “up a tree.”
– No, I am not; I know that no bigger combine was ever formed in Australia than was formed during the Newcastle strike. The community generally were crying out for coal as an absolute necessity to carry on the industries of the country, and the miners’ representatives thought that they could spring a big coup by running two mines.’ They decided to combine the Ebbw Main and the Young Wallsend. They were going to make a profit of £5,000 or £6,000 per week by the operation of _ these mines. I think that Senator Guthrie’s name appeared on the document dealing with this matter.
– No, it did not.
– The result was that, directly the coal was being worked and the coal trucks were drawn up to the side of the mine to receive it, we took it on behalf of the people of New South Wales, and of Australia generally. ‘We took the coal as fast as it was produced from the mine. The price which our friends hoped to realize for the coal was £3 per ton. That is what they expected to get.
– It was the biggest conspiracy ever launched in Australia to fleece the public.
– It was certainly the biggest combine ever created in Australia.
– And a member of the Wade Government was one of the conspirators.
– He was a conspirator on the side of the public. We held that the public had a right to that coal, and, as we controlled the railways, as fast as the coal was put into the trucks we commandeered it in the interests of the public, and broke up that combine inside of twenty-four hours.
– According to the honorable senator’s reasoning, the Labour party are the friends of the combine. If that be so, why do not the combine support the Labour party ?
– I think they do.
– Yes, they do. Why did not the honorable senator’s party interfere with the Tobacco Trust?
– How is it that not one of the directors of these combines are on the side of the Labour party ?
– In the State of New South Wales, we have a provision which deals, in a perfectly, effective way, with combines and trusts operating within the State. That provision was copied by Mr. Holman in his recent legislation upon industrial matters. We do not find the State Government, putting it into operation any more than we found the Fisher Government attacking one combine, trust, or monopoly during their term of office. Although there was an inquiry by a previous Commission, who brought up a report, the Tobacco Trust was never touched. A member of another place gave notice of motion for an inquiry; that notice was on the business-paper for a fortnight, and then was taken off just as mysteriously. Why ? Can anybody tell me? I cannot, but some honorable senator may be able to enlighten me. The fact remains that the Tobacco Trust was never attacked, in spite of all the declarations and declamations of the party then in power about the evils of combines.
– The Government could not touch the trust until they had passed the referenda proposals.
– These are very good clap-traps and gags, but the public are becoming enlightened. When a danger exists in connexion with a combine or trust, it is right to point it out, and it is proper to have machinery on the statute-book to deal with such a danger ; but it does not follow that every combine is injurious to the public any more than may be a private individual. There are plenty of individuals who have given good service to the community, but who are just as anxious to rob the public if they can do it. These are the days of great combines, trusts, and monopolies. Senator Guthrie is president of the Seamen’s Union, I understand .
– Hear, hear !
– And he does not care if the Steam-ship Combine gives the men another £1 a week?
– As long as the combine get the money out of the public he does no.t care. The honorable senator is in the biggest combine in Australia if he is in the Shipping Ring.
– I admit it.
– But all the honor.orable senator is concerned about is that the men shall get more wages?
– AH they are asking for is living conditions, and they have got them.
– The honorable senator does not care who pays the piper, and if he could get another £1 per week for the seamen he would do so.
– Do you think I would be a fool, and refuse it ?
-I only desire the honorable senator to admit that. The position is that we have on the one hand a combination of capitalists, and on the other hand combinations of workers; and if the latter can bring to bear on the employers pressure strong enough to make them give the workers what they want, and the employers in turn can pass the burden on to the great mass of the public, I do not call that Democracy.
– You are absolutely wrong. The seamen submitted their case to an absolutely impartial tribunal, and by that tribunal their wages were fixed.
– But you came to an honorable understanding before you went to the Court?
– We did nothing of the kind. That interjection is absolutely out of order.
– All interjections are out of order, but if Senator Guthrie takes particular exception to the remark of Senator Millen I must ask the honorable senator to withdraw the remark in accordance with the usual practice.
– Certainly, I will withdraw the interjection.
– When these matters, which are being talked about by our friends opposite are sent to an impartial tribunal we get a fair’ indication of what the true position is in regard to trusts and combines. Mr. Justice Powers, as a Judge of the High Court, reported, on the 15th August, 1913, that out of twentysix cases brought before him for inquiry there were only two in which he could recommend the taking of legal proceed ings, and those two were the Coal Vend and the Confectionery Vend. Yet Mr. Hughes has been going throughout thecountry saying that there are twenty-six combines fleecing the public.
– Mr. Irvine said there were thirty-three.
– If there were only two, should we not stop them?
– Even if there were never a murder in the community we should have legislation on the statutebook to deal with murder, and it is; equally necessary to have legislation todeal with trusts and combines. I hope and trust that honorable senators will receive the Governor-General’s Speech in the spirit in which it has been tendered by His Excellency, and that there will be no undue discussion upon it, for thesimple reason that senators opposite have said that they are just as anxious to go’ before the electors and get a decision on these matters as we are.
– They might easily be that.
– If there is a genuine ring in the statement that they are anxious to go to the people, I ask that the business of Parliament shall be facilitated, that reasonable discussion shall ensue on all measures submitted, and that when the two test Bills come before us we shall range ourselves on either side according to our conscientious beliefs, yea or nay, and so give the people an opportunity to decide between us.
– Will the honorable senator now give us the date of the speech by Mr. Fisher from which he made a quotation ?
., - I rise to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, and, in addressing myself to the motion, I hope I shall escape any censure on the part of the mover by not indulging in any undue discussion of the matters mentioned in the Speech. Several measures have been indicated as likely to come forward for consideration during the course of this session. It is not my intention at this stage to traverse the arguments for and against, the principles that will be embodied in. those measures. I hope to give full consideration to all proposed legislation, and, to add my quota, of discussion upon it when it comes forward for enactment. For the present I will not neglect the opportunity of making a few remarks in regard to some of tho matters referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech, not so much in relation to the legislation that is foreshadowed, and which we shall have an opportunity of dealing with later, but more particularly in regard to other matters of administration. At the outset, I desire to join most cordially with the mover, and, I believe, with every member of this Parliament, in expressing the deepest regret at the impending depar-tura of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, and equally deep regret at the cause of his departure. I think I am also safe in saying that I am voicing the opinions of all the members in this Chamber and in another place, and of the people of Australia generally, when I ex-i press the hope that His Excellency’s successor, and a long line of successors, may discharge the duties appertaining to their high office as satisfactorily as our departing Governor-General has done during his term of office. It is indicated in the Speech that His Excellency’s advisers propose to submit to Parliament two “ test Bills.” That is the way in which they are referred to by the mover of the motion.
– They are called “ test Bills “ by courtesy.
– I am using the phrase as a matter of convenience, because we do not know yet what will be contained .in those measures. As I said before, I do not intend to discuss the principles of those Bills at this juncture, but I hope that when they come before us I shall find the whole of the Senate in a much better frame of mind than it was in during last session. Reference is made in the Speech to the Premiers’ Conference. This Conference has become, as it were, an established institution in the Comm on wealth .
– Another sort of Parliament.
– It is not another sort of Parliament, but when these Conferences were first held, and it became apparent that they would be of regular occurrence, I viewed with a great deal of apprehension the permanent establishment of such a body - apprehension, not on account of any idea in ray mind that as Premiers of the Stages they would approach the consideration of these problems in any improper spirit, . but apprehension because I believed that there was a tendency on the part of some of the State Governments, and of many of the citizens of the States, to overlook the fact that to this branch of the Federal Legislature is especially assigned in the Constitution the responsibility of legislatively representing in our Union the States as States. If this bodydid its duty consistently and continuously, as we are depended upon to do it, there would be no occasion for the establishment as a permanent institution of any such assemblage or convention as the Premiers’ Conference. It was for that reason that I viewed with apprehension its establishment in the first instance, and the accompanying indications that it was to be an annually, recurring body.
– Does the honorable senator admit that beyond equality of members there is nothing especially to constitute this a States House?
– That is the key of the position of this House in the Constitution. There is also the fact that this House is elected on precisely the same franchise as the other House, and that if we had not equality of representation here as States, this House would be practically a replica of the other. There are, therefore, the two features: The Senate is elected on the same franchise as the other House, but the basis of representation is different. Senator Oakes referred to several authorities upon the value of the Federal system of government, notably to Mr. Gladstone. The Federal system of government, as weknow, differs from all other forms of government for several’ ‘ communities which have decided to come under one ‘. common government with regard to certain matters, in this one feature, that it. is a dual form of union - a union of the people of the several communities, and also a union of the several States as States. The other House is the legislative expression of the union of the people of the six States into one, and this House is the expression of the union of the six separate and distinct States.
– A beautiful theory.
– It is the principle underlying federalism, and it is in this that it differs from all other forms of composite government.
– Do you still believe in each of the six States having six senators ?
– I believe in the Federal principle, and whether the number is six or any other number there should be one House in which each of the six States is equally represented.
– Then you differ from the Attorney-General when he says that a Tasmanian voter has seven times the representation of a New South Wales voter in the Senate?
– If he says that in condemnation of equal representation, I do differ from him, and also from members of the honorable member’s own party, who have said the same thing, in New South Wales for instance. I am sure that I have also heard in this Chamber from Labour members, as well as others, expressions of opinion inimical to the principle of equality of representation. We have adopted a Federal rather than any other form of composite government, and so it is essential to have one House in which each of the component parts of the Federation as territories or States is equally represented. When we proceeded to draft our Constitution, each State, whether little and scantily populated Tasmania or large and populous New South Wales, was equally represented by seven delegates each in the Convention of 1891, and ten each in the Convention elected by the people which sat in 1897-8. Each State was then regarded as equal for the purpose of forming a union. This House expresses by its equality of representation from each State the fact that each of the six component States of the Federation is still a separate entity for a number of purposes, and those are not the purposes with respect to which this Parliament has legislative control.
– Then the honorable senator will not indorse the sentiment that the Senate is useless?
– Certainly not.
– The Attorney-General proposes to radically alter that provision.
– I find nothing of that sort in the Governor-General’s Speech, with which I am dealing. I do not propose, at present, to deal with any other speech. I have been led to this by reference to the prominenceof the Premiers’ Conference as one of our recognised institutions.
– Do you believe in the National Parliament being merely a recording chamber for the Premiers’ Conference ?
– I do not support anything of the kind, nor did I dream of such a thing. I have already said that when the first Premiers’ Conference assembled there was every indication that it would become an annual conference - a permanent institution. I viewed this tendency with apprehension, because I believed that those conferences were likely, to some extent, to usurp the functions of the Senate, although my apprehensions have been dispelled to some extent by what has taken place. I am pleased to notice there has been a rapprochement to a greater extent during the last Premiers’ Conference, as between the Commonwealth and State authorities, than has hitherto been the experience at any previous meeting of that body.
– Birds of a feather.
– It may be so; but there seems to be a better feeling between the Government of the Commonwealth to-day and those who constituted the recent Premiers’ Conference than there has been at any previous time between the Government of the day, no matter which it has been, and the annual gathering of that body.
– On certain questions.
– It seems to be so, generally speaking ; and, as a result of that, we are given to understand that it is contemplated to make provision for the handing over to the Commonwealth of the responsibility for the State debts. To put it more correctly, it is proposed to consolidate the State debts, and it is hoped that effect will be given to the proposal. We should all welcome that, and, personally, I am very glad to see that Sir J ohn Forrest is in control of the Treasury at the particular time that this matter is being dealt with, because I know personally, and the people of Australia know generally - although, perhaps, not so intimately as I do - how much attention the Treasurer has devoted to the subject, both in Australia and in the Old Country, and how he has, time after time, given up a considerable amount of his energy, ability, and application to the discussion and solution of the problem on lines that will be conducive to the best interests of the Commonwealth and the States. Another matter referred to at the Conference was the proposal to prevent the overlapping of the State and Commonwealth Savings Banks. I sincerely hope that effect will be given to this, particularly as Tasmania was the first to lead the way in bringing about an amalgamation between the Savings Bank of that State and the Commonwealth Savings Bank, avoiding dual control, lessening the expenses of management, and benefiting the taxpayer generally. I am glad to see that the Commonwealth is likely to follow Tasmania’s lead in this matter. If it does, it will not be the first time by any means that Tasmania has given the lead, not only to her sister States, but even to the outside world. Another important matter that I was glad to see that the Premiers’ Conference dealt with in conjunction with the representatives of the Commonwealth was that of a uniform railway gauge. It is astonishing how long this matter has lagged upon the stage of Australian politics, seeing that every day we have an increasing mileage of railway in several of the States.
– Was it not settled by a Conference of State civil engineers some years ago?
– I believe it was; but I do not think their recommendations were unanimous. I do not profess to be in any way an expert, or to controvert the opinions of the persons summoned to conference to deal with these matters. But, as a layman, I desire to state my views.-
– What right have we to deal with the- gauge?
– Only in relation to our powers -over the railways of the States. Under section 51 of the Constitution we have power over the railways in so far as the States commit it to us. We have, also, without the consent of the States, power over the railways in connexion with defence, and these powers we can exercise without reference to them.
– Even to the extent of building.
– As far as gauge is concerned, I am inclined to think that there has been a disposition on the part of various Conferences to not give enough consideration, even favorable consideration, to the broader gauge of 5 ft. 3 in. I think it has been accepted from the first almost as an axiom that it is desirable that 4 ft. 8$ in. should, if possible, be the gauge, because it is called a standard gauge. Again, it is suggested that an alteration from 4 ft. 8$ in. to 5 ft. 3 in. would involve a considerable amount of expenditure at railway stations, in widening cuttings and tunnels, and probably in alterations of bridges.
– Estimated at £14,000,000.
– I believe that the estimated cost is much greater than in the adoption of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. The question is whether the increased tractive capacity which is given to locomotives by the broader gauge would not, in the long run, compensate for an additional outlay of that character at this stage. At any rate, there is another matter which I think is well worthy of consideration in connexion with the question of the gauge, and that is the consideration of the practicability of adopting in Australia the Brennan mono-rail, or some modification of it. When I was in office, there came before my Department a proposal for the acquisition by the Commonwealth of the rights in the Brennan mono-rail, and from a succeeding Government, some years ago, I asked in the Senate particulars as to how the matter stood. When I asked for the production of the papers, I was informed - I think in error - that there -was no proposal in any of the Departments in reference to the matter. I am thoroughly convinced that that statement is not correct.
– A year ago, I received an answer to the effect that the Government turned down the rail because it is not good enough.
– I think that the fullest consideration might be given to the practicability of adopting such a scheme, and perhaps it might serve to solve many very difficult railway problems in Australia. It has been suggested by the Commonwealth authorities that this matter should be turned over to the InterState Commission, and that suggestion is likely to be adopted. To me, it seems that much of the really important work for which the Inter-State Commission was destined under the Constitution will have to be left undone, at any rate for a considerable time. I think that to the Commission the responsibility of investigating the Tariff in such detail as it is doing has produced a very undesirable chock of business with that body, and large and important matters in relation to the promotion and the maintenance of proper Inter-State Free Trade will have to await consideration, and many evils which are being complained of at the present day will have to be borne with patience by the public while the Commission is, to a large extent - I do not say it disrespectfully - frittering away its time in dealing with petty technical matters in relation to the Tariff which had far better be dealt with by some other body.
– By what other body?
– Perhaps by the Minister or the Department.
– What about this Parliament ?
– Of course, the duties could not be altered without reference to Parliament. I believe that many of these inquiries could be made by the Department of Trade and Customs, and the result of such a proceeding would be to indicate a course of action to the responsible Minister, and to his colleagues, who would submit their proposals to Parliament. It seems to me, however, that using the Inter-State Commission to inquire into all these petty details in regard to various industries, is like using something in the nature of a steam hammer to smash an egg shell.
– The Commission is double-banking, because Parliament will have to go over the same ground.
– Yes, because with Parliament alone will rest the alteration of the Tariff in any respect.
– Do you not think it is a most beneficent provision to prevent the Fusion from splitting on the fiscal rock?
– I do not know that. It seems to me that the Inter-State Commission is being diverted from its principal course of duty. In regard to main features of the Tariff or important items, or matters such as the establishment of an iron industry, it might be very well to relegate to the Inter-State Commission the responsibility of inquiring most fully into a project and reporting as to the best means of doing the thing whether by bounty or Customs duty, or both, or by nationalization, or by any other means. But to investigate every detail which comes up for consideration will prevent the Commission from considering matters of much graver consequence to the whole of the community.
SenatorGuthrie. - Are you prepared to vote for the restriction of its powers?
– Will you move in that direction?
– I am not prepared to answer the honorable senator at this moment, because the Government may takesome action. They may be influenced by what I say here, or by what some of my honorable friends opposite may say in support of my remarks; they are very amenable to reason, I can assure my honorable friend. Reference has been made to the fact that reports have been received in regard to the Northern Territory, and that it is proposed to circulate them amongst honorable senators, and also proposals for the development of the Territory. Here, again, I do not think that we can be a day too soon in regard to this matter. The Northern Territory is a daily menace to the people of the Commonwealth. It is all very well for us to try to develop our more populated States, to try to increase the population of our larger centres by Millions Clubs, and other things of that kind, but if we have this large open space, fertile as we see it, capable of settlement, susceptible of sustaining a large population, it may be that not only the space itself, but all its facilities for production and provisioning people, may be used, not by us or for us, but against us, by those who have no regard for Australia, no affection for its laws or institutions, but who would come here as most undesirable immigrants, against our will, and with no other idea than that of conquest, acquisition, and settlement. I think that connexion with the Territory, so far as railways is concerned, should proceed as rapidly as possible, not only from the coast inland, but from the south to the north - that population should go into the Territory from the State Capitals of Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Hobart, that our people should, as it were, be an advancing line on the Territory which belongs not to South Australia, not to the Imperial Government, but to the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, and that, as far as possible, the railway should go through the Territory. That is the country which it is our responsibility to populate, and every mile of that railway should, therefore, be pushed within the Territory from the south to the north as well as from the north to the south. I have no objection to branches of the line through Queensland and New South Wales, but that is a matter to us of secondary consideration, and one for which the States particularly concerned can very well assume the responsibility in the first instance. I do not wish to deal further with anything that is contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech.
– Give us a constitutional opinion.
– If the honorable senator will submit a case, I shall be prepared, in due course, to do so. I trust that, during the course of this session, the matters which will come before us. will receive fair and honest consideration at the hands of honorable senators. I am inclined to think that in Australia we are on the threshold of a system of party political warfare which many Australians of to-day may, and certainly many of the future will, regret.
– I differ from my honorable friend.
– From which side of party politics is the honorable senator speaking?
– I am speaking of party politics. There is too keen a desire to consider the interests of a political party before the interests of the whole community.
– Does not the honorable senator draw a distinction between party politics and party government ?
– To a large extent party government is responsible for this evil. I have never been a very great believer in party government from the stand-point of its suitability to young countries, or to a Federation of any kind. I share the opinion which was expressed by the late Sir Richard Baker, that it was quite on the cards that party government would kill federalism-
– Not party government, but responsible government.
– He said that responsible government would kill federalism, or federalism would kill responsible government, and I am inclined to agree with him. There isno doubt that party strife has become very keen. Very frequently, upon both sides of the Chamber, the interests of. party are made primordial, and those of the country are relegated to second place.
– What is the honorable senator’s opinion of a double dissolution ?
– I feel fairly indifferent about it. I hope that we shall not find in Australia anything that will savour of what mightalmost be called political tribal warfare. I feel sure that, in this short session, full attention will be given to these matters; and I join with His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, and with his advisers, in the hope that our labours will be productive of good to the people of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie Railway: Mr. Swinburne’s Report on Small Arms Factory Dispute.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence a question in regard to the industrial trouble which now exists at the western end of the transcontinental railway. A disputeexists between the Government and the men who were in its employ, and it has existed for some weeks. I would like to know if there is any possibility of the Government conferring with representatives of the men with a view to bringing about a settlement of the trouble. The longer it lasts, the longer will the construction of the line be delayed. I am aware that overtures have been made by both sides, and I would suggestthe desirableness of bringing about a meeting between the representatives of the men and of the Government, with a view to terminating the difficulty.
– I should like to know if it is a fact that Mr. G. Swinburne was sent to the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow to inquire into an industrial dispute there, and, ‘if so, whether his report will “be made available to honorable senators ?
.- In regard to the question which has been raised by Senator Needham, and which, ordinarily should have been addressed to my colleague, Senator McColl, I wish to say that the Government are keenly anxious to bring to an end the unfortunate dispute which exists in the locality referred to. I am not able to state definitely the stage which negotiations have reached, but if the honorable senator will repeat his question to-morrow, no doubt my colleague, Senator McColl, will be able to supply him with the desired information. In reply to Senator Rae’s question, I wish to say it is quite true that Mr. Swinburne, a member of the Inter-State Commission, undertook, at my request,, to proceed to Lithgow - thereby forfeiting his Christmas holidays - for the purpose of endeavouring to settle a dispute which exists between two unions there as to the allotment of work. He has made a report, and I shall have very much pleasure in making it available to honorable senators. But I would point out that that report has no legal force behind it. Mr. Swinburne did not stand there clothed with the authority of an Arbitration Court, or of any judicial tribunal. The facts are that a dispute had occurred, and I was anxious to get somebody with knowledge who could inquire into it with a view to arriving at a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. Mr. Swinburne’s name appealed to me in the first place, and I am glad to say that it also appealed to the men there. They accepted him as a thoroughly impartial man, charged with the task of inquiring into the trouble. Eis report was submitted to me, and I thought upon its receipt that my troubles, and those of the Small Arms Factory, were over. Unfortunately, however, a difficulty has arisen in regard to the interpretation to be placed upon his report. But, at a recent conference with the men, we were able to arrive at an interim agreement, which will carry us on till the time when we can obtain an award from the Arbitration Court itself. I shall have’ pleasure in making Mr. Swinburne’s report available to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 April 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19140415_senate_5_73/>.