6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. de Largie took and subscribed the oath of allegiance as a senator for the State of Western Australia.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs any further report or information to offer in connexion with the question of the lighting of the waters in the north of Australia to which I drew attention a few days ago?
– The following information has been supplied to me by the Department : -
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence a question about a paragraph in yesterday’s daily newspaper, stating that travelling kitchens cannot be procured in Australia, and that, therefore, he had placed an order for them in England. I desire to know whether the statement is true, and, further. whether tie Minister is aware that travelling kitchens are made in Ballarat, and can be procured there at the rate of halfadozen a fortnight, if ordered.
– The statement that travelling kitchens are being obtained in England because they cannot be procured in Australia is not correct. No such statement has been made by me or by any officer of the Department. But the statement was made that, for the First Expeditionary Force, it was impossible to get travelling kitchens here in the time available, and it was decided to obtain a supply for that Force in England. Travelling kitchens are now being obtained for the Second Expeditionary Force in Australia, and it is anticipated that the whole equipment for the remaining Expeditionary Forces will be supplied locally.
– I desire to acquaint the Senate that His Excellency the Governor-General has appointed a quarter-past three o’clock to-morrow as the time when he will receive, in the Parliamentary Library, the AddressihReply.
– In accordance with the intimation made by the Leader of the Senate, I desire to inform honorable senators that at a quarter-past three o’clock to-morrow I will proceed to present the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General, and shall be glad if as many honorable senators as can find it convenient will accompany me when I do so.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act .1901-1910.- Proclamation (dated 14th October, 1914) prohibiting the exportation of coal.
Inter-State Commission Act 1912. - First Annual Report of Inter-State Commission.
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-12. - Remissions of penalties for late payment of tax granted during period 30th June, 1913, to 31st May, 1914.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Land acquired under, at Dubbo, New South Wales. - For defence purposes.
Public Service Act 1902-1913.- PostmasterGeneral’s Department. - Promotion of J. E. Monfries as Chief Clerk, 2nd Class, Correspondence and Inspection Branch, Adelaide. [ll]-2
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following information has been furnished : - 1, 2, and 3. None. Parts manufactured in Australia have been ordered from certain Australian firms for two wireless sets.
So far as the Department of Defence is concerned, it is not considered advisable to make public any information respecting wireless plants purchased for defence purposes. The Minister of Defence will, however, inform the honorable member confidentially.
In view of the number of unemployed in South Australia owing to the drought, failure of the harvest, and the closing of mines and other industries, can the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs give any information as to the position on the east to west railway, and the possibility of absorbing some of the unemployed on these or other public works?
– The answer is-
Considerably over 1,000 men are employed at the Port Augusta end of the east to west railway; this number will be increased as the work develops. The employment of large bodies of men has been rendered difficult owing to the scarcity of water along the railway route. The possibility of absorbing labour in connexion with other Commonwealth works in the State of South Australia will also receive very careful and sympathetic consideration.
– It is with a good deal of diffidence that I rise to move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I should feel a good deal more diffidence were I not confident that it will have a sympathetic reception and careful treatment by the Senate, and- that I shall receive generous consideration from both sides. The Bill itself proposes to carry out nothing new. Its provisions have already been tested by different methods and different procedures in the various States. The authority by which Parliament has the power to legislate on this subject is contained in paragraph XVII. of section 51 of the Constitution. This is practically a consolidating measure to bring within the two covers of one Act the six separate Acts of the States. We have the Bankruptcy Acts of Tasmania, Western Australia, and New South Wales, the Insolvency Acts of Victoria and Queensland, and the Insolvent Act of South Australia. To make at the present time any departure which would suddenly alter the procedure under which people in the States are accustomed to deal with questions affecting debtors and creditors would, perhaps, not be altogether desirable. This Bill, therefore, introduces no new principles, and proposes no experimental legislation. We are following largely, and. I might almost say- closely, the well-beaten track laid down chiefly in the English Bankruptcy Acts, and the Acts related thereto. We are also following closely, as will be seen by the marginal notes, the procedure of the various State Acts. There is being circulated for the convenience of honorable senators a table which will enable them to make comparisons between the Bill and the State Acts. The chief change that the Bill will bring about will be to substitute one .complete measure for the six separate Acts operating at present within the boundaries of the States. Honorable senators will recognise the immense advantage that will be to commercial concerns, to those conducting big businesses, and large traders generally, whose business operations cause them to have creditors in all the States.
– A similar measure has been in contemplation ever since the inception of Federation.
– Exactly. I am prompted to reply to the honorable senator’s interjection by relating a very early experience of mine as a legislator. It happened in the old days, before the active and vital forces of the party with which I am proud to be associated had done so much to brush aside old methods and introduce a more active system of. dealing with legislation. At the particular time I speak of we were visiting an orchard where the orchardist, a good, plain, practical man, was pointing out all the difficulties with which he had to contend, because, although he worked his orchard in the most up-to-date manner, he was much troubled with pests, which were continually attacking his trees, and for which the unused orchards in the district formed prolific breeding grounds. One asked why legislation had not stepped in and put an end to that sort of thing - I am pleased to say that it has since done so - and the old gentleman replied in a way to which no offence could be taken, “ Members of Parliament are so busy that they have no time for useful legislation.” Although it has been the intention of the Commonwealth Parliament from the very inception of Federation to pass such a measure as this, I think it can be fairly claimed that, in the past, members have been so busy that they have had no time for useful legislation of this character. I am pleased that, at the beginning of this Parliament, one of my first duties is to move the second reading of a Bill which, from the stand-point of its public utility, will compare very favorably with any measure that we have hitherto been called upon to consider. As I have already remarked, the Bill contemplates no very great departure from the procedure which is laid down in the various State Bankruptcy Acts. As a matter of fact, in this measure we propose to follow the wellbeaten track that is followed by Imperial Acts and by the Acts which have been in successful operation in the different States. The principles and procedures of bankruptcy are so closely related and correlated that although it has been suggested that the Commonwealth would do well to legislate only in regard to principles - leaving the States to follow their separate procedures - we think it would be wiser to deal at once, and, I hope, effectively, with both. Indeed, we believe that if the Commonwealth were to legislate only in respect of general principles, allowing the States to follow any procedure at their own sweet will, we would only add to the existing confusion instead of making legislation of this character simpler and easier to follow. I have no desire to discuss the details of the Bill at this stage, because, to a large extent, it is a machinery measure whose details can be much better dealt with in Committee. It is, however, only fair that I should point out where departures - even in a slight degree - are made from the existing State Acts and from the English practice. Those departures are embodied in clause 7 of the Sill, in which it is proposed that statutory rules and regulations - rules and regulations which will be safeguarded in that they will require to be approved by both Houses of this Parliament - shall take the place of what is provided for in other measures by fixed schedules. The advantage of this procedure will be that slight alterations for improving administration may be brought about without the necessity for those alterations being dealt with in an amending Bill. I heartily sympathize with the well-grounded opposition that obtains in this Senate to legislaing too much by means of statutory rules and regulations. But I can assure honorable senators that we do not contemplate taking any further powers in this connexion than are absolutely necessary, and that whatever changes may be projected from time to time, this Chamber will be kept fully informed of them. So far as the question of administration is concerned there has been a tightening up, and perhaps an enlargement, of the powers of officials and of the Department, which, in itself, may look- like a trespass in the direction of the granting of extensive powers. But these additional powers have been granted because of admitted defects in the .existing legislation of the States. Complaints as to slackness in administering the estates of debtors and in satisfying creditors, have generally been due to the want of sufficient powers on the part of officers and trustees in the various States. If there has been a tightening up in the direction suggested, it has been effected with a view to getting away from the usual routine of red tape, which is responsible for so much delay and worry to business men in their dealing with these matters. I have mentioned these two points in which the Bill contemplates a very slight departure from the well-beaten track. I come now to that for which the measure really provides. For dealing with debtors and creditors in matters of bankruptcy the Bill has been divided into four parts. It provides four methods in which the affairs of a debtor may be administered, and those methods may be divided into two classes - administration in bankruptcy and administration without bankruptcy. Taking the first of these classes, the method to be followed will be that of a composition or a scheme of arrangement; and the second, that of a general arrangement and distribution by « trustees. These two methods are adopted in England and in all the States with slight differences as to details. .In regard to administration without bankruptcy, the Bill provides that the debtor shall not be made bankrupt, and that a sequestration order shall not be made out. The two methods of procedure provided’ in this contingency are those of compositions and deeds of arrangement. These are the methods adopted in South Australia and “Western Australia, although other States have not followed their lead. But the whole of the four methods of procedure I have enumerated have been in force in some or in all of the States. In this measure, which is a consolidating one for the Commonwealth, it has been considered desirable to retain all these methods. When the Bill becomes law, Courts will be constituted under it; but, so far as existing bankruptcy is concerned, no interference will be made in the procedure of any of the States. The necessary Courts will be constituted by the Governor-General, and the Judges of the State Courts will be appointed by him to deal with bankruptcy cases at whatever stage they may have reached at the time.
– It is proposed to utilize the existing Judges and officers as much as possible?
– That is the intention of the Government. .
– Practically it is intended to supersede the State Courts?
– They will practically be superseded by Courts which will be given Commonwealth jurisdiction within the States. The whole of the changes I have outlined do not constitute any very great or drastic departure from State law. The four methods with which I have dealt pretty -well cover all theforms of procedure followed in the States, so that when the change is effected it will, not be of so radical a character as to causeundue embarrassment.
– It makes a uniform law for the whole of the States.
– It is really aconsolidating Bill providing uniform; principles and procedures for the whole; of the States. I have said that I feel diffidence in submitting such a measure to the Senate. I have briefly touched upon its salient features, but honorable senators may consider that they have reasonable ground for complaint, because I have not gone much more into detail in my -explanation of the measure at this particular” stage at which, under the Standing Orders, the opportunity is afforded to supply honorable senators with the fullest information concerning the measure. I repeat, however, that this Bill specially lends itself to fuller and more detailed consideration at the Committee stage. The Government, of course, invite discussion on the second reading, and while I do not promise on their behalf to accept amendments moved indiscriminately in Committee, I hope (hat the various provisions of the Bill will be given careful consideration, and that the result will be the passage of one of the most useful pieces of legislation which could occupy the time of the Senate.
– Can the honorable senator say whether the main principles of the existing Bankruptcy Acts of the different States are fairly uniform?
– I can say that the main principles of the Bankruptcy Acts of the States are closely related. We have followed in this Bill first of all the Bankruptcy Act of 1869 of Great Britain; then the Bankruptcy Act of 1883, which represented a great step forward in this legislation. The different State Parliaments in their legislation on the subject of bankruptcy have followed very closely the principles and procedure of the English. Acts referred to, and Acts related thereto. In the four methods of procedure which I have outlined, there is little or no departure in the Bill from the procedure followed in the different States. The Insolvency Act of South Australia enables small insolvent estates, where the assets and liabilities do not amount to over £200, to be dealt with very effectively. South Australia, in the provision made for dealing with small estates, set a very distinct lead, and, although with the exception of Western Australia, the other States have not followed the South Australian lead, I have concluded, as the result of the consideration I have been able to give to the matter, that the legislation of the other States, in this respect, is not as effective as is that of South Australia, and, consequently, the provisions of the South Australian Act for dealing with small estates have been adopted in this measure almost in their entirety. I hope that when the Bill becomes law the result will be that we shall have made provision for dealing with the affairs of debtors and creditors in the most expeditious and economic way. I hope that, under this legislation, where there is no evidence of fraud or fraudulent intent, it will be possible to expeditiously and economically settle the affairs of an estate to the advantage of debtors and creditors alike. Because of the difficulties, dangers, and delays of the law in regard to bankruptcy, many business men are prepared to accept almost any compromise offered by a debtor, rather than go through the difficulties and delays of the Bankruptcy Court, unless in cases where the amounts involved are very large. This should not be, and the Bankruptcy Court should offer facilities of advantage to debtors and creditors alike. Where there is evidence of fraud or fraudulent intent on the part of the debtor, the offender should be dealt with, I will not say unrelentingly, but with sternness, and his offence should be punished severely. Where a debtor:, because of misfortune, is unable to meet his liabilities, a method of sympathetic and rapid administration should be adopted in the interests of debtor and creditor alike.
– Can the Ministersay whether, under the” Bill, a debtor is compelled to apply for his discharge?
– Debtors or creditors may apply under the Bill. A fixed time is made within which i debtor shall apply for discharge, and his application must be heard in open Court, in the same way that the statement of hisaffairs is given in open Court, and he ia subject to examination by his creditors.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keating) adjourned -
TRADE Markets and RECIPROCITY
p. 36]. - I move - That the Senate do now adjourn.
In submitting the motion, I may say that the Bill covering the grant in aid to Belgium has not reached the .Senate from another place, as was anticipated. We hope to have it before us to-morrow. We are pressing forward the preparation of other Bills for presentation to the Senate. We propose that the Bankruptcy Bill, the second reading of which has just been moved- by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, shall be gone on with to-morrow, and taken in the Committee stage. In the circumstances, I ask honorable senators who wish to speak on the second reading to come prepared to do so to-morrow.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs to the fact that in the Argus of to-day there appears a list, obtained from official sources, of goods for which British manufacturers wish to find a market in Australia. The statement is made that the war has robbed British manufacturers of many markets for these particular goods hitherto open to them. It is considered desirable that information with respect to these goods should be circulated as widely as possible in Australia, in order that, if possible, a market may be found for them here.
– The honorable senator might mention the kind of goods he is referring to.
– I have the list before me. I wish to say that, while no one can object to what is suggested, it is, in my opinion, only fair that the Government, through the High Commissioner, should take similar steps to inform manufacturers in the Old Country as to the raw materials which Australia has been in the habit of supplying to countries now engaged in war, and for which she has been robbed, of a market to a great extent, by the war.
According to the Board of Trade Journal just to hand, British manufacturers are seeking markets for the following: -
Bottles, glass, for chemists and doctors.
Brassware, plumbing, and water fittings.
Card clothing, for textile industry.
Cheap leatherette papers.
Clocks and watches, general and electric.
Clothing, tailor-made costumes, rubberless rainproof goods.
Cotton cloths ( sometimes called “ velours” or “Duvetyn”).
Dyes, aniline and vegetable.
Electrical hair dryers.
Electrical massage vibrators.
Embossing and stamping machines for paper.
Glassware, bevelled mirror plates.
Gloves and chamois leather.
Lamps, metal filament, arc, and vaporized oil.
Machinery for making lace, boots, and paper.
Motor-car fittings and accessories.
Paints, varnishes, red and white lead, &c.
Paper, grease-proof bags, packing, insulating, &c.
Photographic appliances and accessories.
Polishes, boot, floor, and metal.
Australian firms interested in any of the above-mentioned articles are invited to communicate with His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (Mr. G. T. Milne), Commerce House, Flinders-street, with a view to being put in touch with the manufacturers in Great Britain.
That is all right, but I think it is worth while for the Ministry to consider whether they should not take immediate steps, and as effective steps as may be possible in the circumstances, to make the fact known widely to Great Britain, other parts of the Empire, and other parts of the world where there may be a likely market for those classes of raw material which Australia has been sending out in very large quantities hitherto, and for which we have lost a considerable portion of our markets owing to the war. I bring the matter under the notice of the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, because it seems to me that if the war is to have this effect, and we in Australia are to be asked to assist in this way the manufacturers in Great Britain and at the other side of the world, we might also look for a quid pro quo, and expect them to assist us if they can by absorbing certain quantities of our raw material, which we are able to supply, and, as I said, the markets for which we have been robbed of very largely owing to the war.
– So far as time is concerned, this would be a splendid opportunity for us to start a debate on the fiscal question. I suppose that nothing is surer than that the present Government will bring in a Tariff in the near future. It is quite obvious from the demands which are being put forward, I suppose, by the Board of Trade, on behalf of the British Government, that they are asking a market for quite a number of things in the Commonwealth. It should be remembered that we have already made an approach to the British Parliament. Many years ago we gave a preference to goods coming here from the Old Land, but there has been no approach on their part as to the giving of preferential treatment to Australian goods. Consequently, until there is something in the nature of a return or quid pro quo, I think there is very little need for us to trouble about entering into communication with the people at Home. Whether the present disturbance in Europe will bring about a difference in the opinion of the people at Home regarding fiscal matters, or not, remains to be seen. A war makes such an upheaval in the ordinary business of that country, as of any other country, that I dare say it will have an educative effect in fiscalism as well as in finance, but as regards approaching the British Government in the way suggested by Senator O’Keefe, I am afraid that it would be a waste of effort. We on our part, I hope, will have an opportunity in the near future to deal with the fiscal question, and I have no doubt that we shall renew the offer we already have on the stocks, namely, preferential treatment to the Old Country as against goods from other countries.’
– Will it be of any value to the Old Country?
– It should be.
– -How can you have preference and Protection too?
– We can have both. We can have a preference to the imports from one country as against the imports from another country. I do not mean to say that it may be quite as effectual when we increase our duties as it has been in the past. We know, however, that the 10 per cent, advantage given to a number of imports from the Old Country has undoubtedly been of very great benefit to that country.
– Is not the object of an increased Protective Tariff to nullify that?
– I gave the honorable senator an answer to his direct question, and now he asks another question.
– You believe in preference to Australia first, do you not?
– Undoubtedly ; and our Protective Tariff has always shown that, whilst we were prepared to give a preference to imports from the United Kingdom as against imports from other countries, we have erected a barrier against the goods from the United Kingdom. I do not see how the Protective policy can be worked out unless we do so. However, it is a matter for the future asto how far we are going to carry thequestion of preference. Unless the people at Home are prepared to give some consideration to the articles we can produce here, and supply them with, I certainly shall not be inclined to go any further with the principle of preference than we have already gone.
– Are you prepared to support a policy of Free Trade within the Empire ?
– I am not even prepared to support the principle of Free Trade between the United Kingdom and Australia.
– What is the use of talking about preference then?
– We can give a preference without going that far. I am quite satisfied that all our talk of Protection would go by the board if we-
– All the talk of preference is humbug.
– I am quite sure that it is not. As I have said, the preference to the United Kingdom as against other countries is a very good proof that the principle has been of undoubted advantage to people at Home. However,, that is not exactly the point raised by Senator O’Keefe.
– My point is that,, in fairness, we should have the widest possible markets found for the raw materials which we cannot use in Australia.
– Quite so; and there is no better market in the world for us than the United Kingdom. If it is prepared to give us that amount of preference which we extend to its products, I am satisfied that a great deal of good will result to both countries.
– In that list, they are asking us to assist them, and we might as well ask them to assist us.
– I have not the slightest doubt that advantage will be taken of the present unfortunate situation to create a public feeling in favour of .trade reciprocity between Australia and Great Britain, and if that can be accomplished without any injury to the development of Australian industries, I, for one, will be quite willing to give my adhesion to it. But, looking the matter squarely in the face, I do not see how it is possible for the people of Australia to give preference to England, or to any other country, if they desire to carry out what has been declared to be their industrial policy, namely, Protection.
– Well, the preference will be valueless.
– What is our object when we talk about Protection ? Our object is to create industries in Australia - industries in which those who are employed will have the benefit of humane conditions. I have no doubt that many persons in Australia at the present time will think it unfair and unpatriotic on the part of any one to cavil at the greatest measure of preference being shown to Great Britain. But I want to point out to members of the Senate, and to citizens of the Commonwealth, that, if we give to England any preference which is to be of the slightest value to her, then the industrial conditions of our own people must sink to the level of the British conditions, and every one knows what they are. Why, sir, they are the most scandalous on the face of the earth.
– That is too strong.
– The condition of poverty which exists, and which did exist, in Great Britain is something dreadful. At one end of the social scale in that country we have a number of people who are so wealthy that they do not know how to spend their money - they have recourse to the most curious expedients to get rid of it - while at their very gate are people starving from the want of the common necessaries of life. That is a kind of thing which we do not desire to come about in Australia.
– Is not that more accentuated in other nations than the British?
– I am not concerned with other nations; my business is not with other nations, but with the nation of which I am a member and a subject. I am a British subject, and I am interested principally in the people of my own blood, race, and nationality. I see in Great Britain a condition of shameful and avoidable poverty; therefore it behoves us to be very careful what steps we take in connexion with the matter which has been mooted here this afternoon. I can very well believe that honorable senators who have not lived in Great Britain are deluded by the idea that the condition of the people there is just about as good as it is in Australia.
– Oh, no.
– Let me tell honorable gentlemen that it is nothing of the kind. There is a condition of poverty there which is a shame to our civilization. It is not necessary poverty; it is -wholly unnecessary poverty. Look at the condition of society people in Great Britain; look at the commercial magnates, at the kings and princes, at the dukes, earls, marquises and baronets, at the whole hierarchy of the aristocracy ; look at them, consider their habits, consider their lavish, useless, and iniquitous expenditure. On the other hand, go down to the submerged tenth, and see how they live. I advise my honorable friend, Senator Senior, to go Home, and spend twelve months amongst the poor people of Great Britain.
– I know more about it than you do.
– I think that if the honorable senator survives the ordeal, and comes back to Australia, he will be a much chastened and wiser man than he seems to be at the present moment. No matter how the war cloud may hang over us, we might just as well be the serfs of some other country as industrial serfs. What does it matter to anybody here who governs a country, so long as its people are humanely treated?
– At the same time, you agree that it is a little mean to restrict the Imperial market in time of war.
– I can see perfectly well that there is a tendency to capitalize the war. I saw the drought of 1902 - one of the greatest misfortunes that ever befel Australia - capitalized, and I have not the slightest doubt that the gentlemen who sit in the high places of commerce are prepared to capitalize this or any other misfortune which may befall the country; but I trust that the people of Australia will not be led away by any idea of that kind. What we want here is more people, and we want them quickly. We cannot get them unless we develop industries and multiply the opportunities of occupation. For that reason, if for no other, we ought to be particularly careful not to do anything which will injure or retard or obstruct the development of that policy. I say, therefore, that we ought to take no steps at present. I trust that the whole fiscal question will be before Parliament at a very early date. The people have demanded a Protectionist policy, and I hope that policy will be placed upon the statute-book by this Parliament. If it is, I believe the result will be momentous so far as Australia is concerned.
– As regards the paragraph brought under my notice by Senator O’Keefe, I would inform the honorable senator that most of the matters are dealt with in paragraphs 10, 11 and 12 of the Governor-General’s Speech, but I shall bring the subject under the Minister’s notice. It is under the consideration of the Cabinet at the present time. I believe it will receive sympathetic consideration, and trust it will receive the same sympathy when it reaches this House.
– I desire, by leave, to withdraw the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, as the Belgian Grant Bill has now arrived.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Belgian Grant Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
As the Senate has already affirmed the principle of the measure, which merely gives effect to the resolution already passed by the Senate, I shall content myself by formally moving the motion.
– I do not desire to say anything on the present occasion against giving £100,000 as a grant in aid to the Government of Belgium. The matter hasbeen threshed out here already, and a. majority of the Senate and of the Parliament came to the conclusion that the grant should be made; but I would direct the attention of the Government to the fact that there is no Government of Belgium so far as I have been able to discover. Nobody knows where it is,, or who composes it. Besides, I read in the newspapers that the Kaiser had asked the President of the United States to recognise him as the ruler of Belgium.. I would impress on the Government the desirableness of seeing that the money does not get into the hands of the Kaiser or any other crowned head. I should like them to be extremely careful as to its destination. The people and Parliament of this country desire, I take it, that the poor homeless refugees should be relieved by application of the grant, and I am sure the Government will take every precaution to see that’ the money does not find its way into the wrong, hands.
– While I am a whole-souled supporter of the grant to the Belgian people, I think Senator Stewart has very properly spoken on the subject on which I touched when the question was previously under discussion. It is certainly incumbent upon the Administration to see that the money is handed to some effective Belgian authority.
– What do you think the Government are going to do with it? Do you think they are going to throw it into the sea?
– I hope they will take a great deal of care in handing the money over to the authorities of the people over whose country there is no effective Government at the present time.
– They would not be worthy of the name of Government if they did not.
– They might, in their generosity, make a mistake through being anxious to give the money to the Belgian people quickly. I would be one of the last to condemn them if they did, but I would urge them to exercise great care in the matter. I am not actuated by any parsimonious motive in making these remarks. I hope the money will reach the Belgian people, and help to relieve their personal and national distress, because I believe that their conduct is beyond all eulogy. Many of them have been dispersed; thousands have died gloriously at the post of honour, and I do not grudge the money. But we are the custodians of Australia’s finances, and surely it is not beyond the province of an honorable senator to ask the Government in a friendly way to be very careful to hand the money over to some authority competent to disburse it properly.
– I can assure Senator Stewart and Senator Bakhap that the Government will take steps in the direction they have indicated. At the same time we read in the press that the Belgian Government is established at Havre, in France. We should be the last to recognise in any way that it has ceased to exist. We do not think it has, nor has the identity of Belgium as a nation ceased to exist. This Bill bears on the face of it the affirmation by the Australian Government that we recognise still that there is a Government of Belgium. At the same time we shall take all necessary steps to see that the money roaches the distressed and starving people of Belgium for whom it is intended.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a. second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Senate adjourned at 4.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 October 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19141021_senate_6_75/>.