6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask permission to move a motion in regard to the death of Major-General Bridges.
– I move-
Yesterday, at about mid-day, we received from the Head-Quarters in Egypt a cablegram intimating that Major-General Bridges passed away on board ship on the 18th inst. As honorable senators know, the General was wounded in action, and, although at first some hope was held out, a later cablegram indicated that the worst had to be feared. Unfortunately, that has occurred, and we have lost the services of one of our most distinguished soldiers. I believe that it is the only loss of a General on the British side during the present war. It brings home to one the severe nature of the operations in which the deceased General took such a prominent part. I had an intimate association with him for many years, and an opportunity of seeing and admiring his many brilliant and soldierly qualities. He was a man who was not easily approachable, and did not make many friends, but he was one of whom it can be said that he would give an honest opinion whether it was a pleasant one or not. He was a scholarly soldier, who made a life study of his profession, and his merit was acknowledged, not merely in Australia, but over sea as well. He rendered distin guished service in Australia.His record stands out from the records of all our officers as a distinguished one. He took a leading part in the re-armament of our coast defences. He was a member of the Committee that went into the question of our coast defences after Federation, and made recommendations which led to the abolition of the multitudinous forms of armament which we then possessed, and brought our Forces up to a modern condition, armed with modern guns. When, later, the Forces developed, the time came for the inauguration of a genera] staff, Major-General Sir John Hoad was the first Chief of the General Staff, but I think it is no injustice to his memory to say that a great deal of the pioneering work in the inauguration of that system which is such an important part of our defence policy was carried out by the late Major-General Bridges. When the General Staff in Australia was linked up with the Imperial General Staff in London, Major-General Bridges was chosen by the Government, of which I had the honour to be a member, to take that important position, and there, for some time, in association with the War Office he acted as our representative in military matters in England, and received the highest encomiums from the War Office for the work he did there. He was recalled by the Cook Government, through Mr. Cook, as Minister of Defence, to take the position of Commandant of the Royal Military College, and the work he did there entirely justified the choice which was made. It will live as a lasting memorial to his name. He set a high standard to the staff which has spread to the cadets, and, so long as the College exists, the memory of Major-General Bridges, and the standard he set there, will live with it. The College, of course, has played, and will play, a very important part in the defence system we have adopted, and it is fortunate that the Commonwealth was able to find amongst its own officers an officer of the calibre of Major-General Bridges to take such an important position in that branch of our defence system. When the present war broke out, and the late Government decided to send troops to the front, my predecessor. Senator Millen, selected Major-General Bridges to take command of the First Division, and the splendid way in which he carried out the inauguration of that
Division, and the leadership he showed when it was in Egypt and in the field at the Dardanelles, proved that the choice was a wise and proper one. We have very little information as to the details of those operations; but, as I said yesterday, I believe that when the story is written it will be one of the most stirring stories in the history of the British Empire. It will stand alongside the most brilliant achievements of the British Army. Whilst, of course, for its success it depended greatly upon the initiative, the courage, the dash, and the resource of the Australian soldiers, still all that would have been wasted if there had not been associated with it a wise generalship and courageous leadership. That MajorGeneral Bridges was stricken down on the battlefield should bring home to the people of Australia the fact that practically the whole of that Force is operating on land which is under shell fire, and therefore they should have some patience with the difficulties which are being met with in regard to news from the front, and things not being done which they, perhaps, think should be done. It is made plain to us that the General Staff, which usually in warfare is at a safe distance in the rear, is itself under fire. That being so, we can form some faint conception or the difficulties and the dangers in which Major-General Bridges and his staff carried out their multifarious duties in directing the operations of the Force, and those conditions, it must be remembered, still obtain. I am pleased to be able to render this tribute to a gallant soldier, a distinguished Australian, a man whose name will live in our history. I may add that to-day we received from Alexandria the following cablegram dated yesterday, 20th May: -
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces, telegraphs - “ Please transmit the following message to Governor-General, Australia: - Bridges died on passage to Alexandria. Whole force mourns his irreparable loss, avenged yesterday in brilliant action by his own troops, who inflicted loss of seven thousand on enemy at a cost of less than five hundred to themselves. - Ian Hamilton.”
I am sure that the words, contained in the message are true, that Major-General Bridges’ loss will be as deeply mourned and as keenly felt by the soldiers under his command aa it is by the people throughout the Commonwealth.
– It was avenged.
– It was promptly and efficiently avenged. I am sure that I only speak what is in the mind of honorable senators when I say that our hearts go out in deepest sympathy to the widow and family. They have lost, as I know personally, a loving husband and a loving father. He was all that a husband and a father should be. The extent of their loss no words of ours can express, but if our sympathy will be any assuagement of their grief we tender it, though we feel that the greatest comfort they can have is the knowledge that he died at the post of duty ; that he gave everything that a man can give to his country, and that his name will live in its history. I beg to submit the motion.
– It is with both a sense of personal loss and a recognition of national loss that I rise to second the motion. In the early days of the war, which broke upon us with such dramatic suddenness, I was naturally brought into very close and constant touch with the deceased and gallant officer. ,1 do not know of any testimony which could be adduced as to the recognition of his capacity and worth so striking as that unanimity which was evinced by all sections of the community when his appointment was announced. Parliamentary circles, the public and the press equally approved of the appointment, because, I believe, they recognised that Major-General Bridges was the one man for that particular and serious responsibility. . May I remind honorable senators as to what that responsibility was? Up to that time no Australian officer had been called upon to lead or to handle anything but an insignificant number of troops- possibly 2,000 or 3,000, or at the outside 4,000 or 5,000 troops were the most that had ever been placed together under the command of an individual officer in Australia. Suddenly Major-General Bridges was called upon to organize for the grim realities of war a Force much larger than ever he had had previously an opportunity of handling, even in the mimic battlefields on our training grounds, and we know how he discharged that duty. From the beginning to the end, during my official association with him, he proved himself as tireless as he was resourceful, as thorough in matters of detail as he was wide-visioned in larger ones. From the beginning to the endbe displayed a tenacity of purpose which enabled himself and the Department to overcome difficulties as numerous as they were varied. There were no precedents to guide and much to extemporize. It was largely due to the resourcefulness and enterprise of Major-General Bridges, and may I say his thorough and loving care of the soldiers under him, that the Force was organized as well as it was when it left Australia. In these days, momentous as they are, our minds are naturally swayed between two sets of conflicting feelings. At one moment we are elated with pride at the unflinching heroism of our soldiers; at the next moment we are depressed with grief at the loss of the valiant fallen. I am sure that the keen regret which Major-General Bridges must have experienced, when he knew that recovery was hopeless, was due not so much to the fact that he had surrendered his life for his country’s good as to the knowledge that the leadership of the machine he had striven so strenuously to fashion was to pass to other hands, that he was not to be allowed to complete the good work he had so excellently and well commenced. This motion very rightly makes reference to those whose sorrow is greater than our own. As the Minister of Defence has stated, no words of ours could do much to soothe the crushed and broken hearts of the immediate relatives of the deceased General. But we may hope that even in a home so depressed and stricken as that must be today our words will carry some small measure of comfort. In future years, when ‘ time has done something to relieve much of the present suffering, this motion passed by the National Parliament in recognition of the valuable services to his country rendered by the husband and father will no doubt be treasured as some slight recompense for the sense of loss which must now be endured.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I have no official information to that effect, but I have seen the press notification that the Italian. Chamber of Deputies has, by an overwhelming vote, declared for war on the side of the Allies.
– On the 29th April last Senator McDougall asked a question about the launching of the destroyers Derwent and Warrego. I should like to know whether the Minister of Defence is in a position to give the Senate any further information upon the matter?
– I regret to say that, owing to a clerical error, some of the information I gave in answer to Senator McDougall’s question was not correct. I stated the cost of launching the Derwent at £791. The figure should have been £691. In replying to the question about the Warrego I said at the time that no figures were available, but steps were being taken to obtain them. The information then sought has since been supplied to me in a letter from the General Manager of the Dockyard, in which he says that the costs accounts of the torpedo boat destroyer Warrego have been obtained, and they give the cost of launching that vessel, as charged against the Commonwealth, as £719. To this figure must be added some other incidental expenditure to cover the cost of banquet, invitations, and special steamers for the launching.
Casualty Lists: Correspondence
– I have noticed that since the casualty lists of our Expeditionary Forces began to appear in the Age and Argus there has been a discrepancy between the total number of casualties announced in those newspapers. Can the Minister of Defence explain the reason for that discrepancy, and can he say which of the newspapers has published the correct number ?
– I am not responsible for what appears in the newspapers. I can only say that the lists are issued to all newspapers.
– Yesterday I asked the Minister of Defence if he would look into certain statements in a newspaper paragraph referring to the delay in the despatch of letters and telegrams to soldiers at the front. I now ask that, in making that inquiry, the honorable senator will inquire concerning the following letter from the sister of a soldier at the front, which appears in the Age of this morning : -
I have a brother in Egypt who has not received a letter from us yet. We got letters saying how terribly disappointed he was at never hearing from us. He should have had a lot of letters, books, and papers. I would like to know why he has not got them. Imagine our feelings and his also at never hearing from us. Now he is in Turkey. Will he ever get them? I think when they give up everything they should at least get letters from home.
I ask the Minister whether it is not possible to take some steps to prevent a delay in the despatch of correspondence, which must be very harrowing to those intimately concerned, and which, I am sure, is extremely disappointing to the general public ?
– I have received a letter from my son in precisely the same terms.
– In view of the number of complaints of this kind which have been made, I have asked the officers of the Defence Department to get into touch with the authorities of the Post and Telegraph Department, and arrange for a conference between the two Departments, to see whether they cannot find out the cause of these delays, and provide some remedy to prevent them. I should be glad if any honorable senator who has complaints of this kind to make will send them along to the Secretary of the Defence Department, so that particular cases may be laid before the conference to assist in discovering the cause of the numerous delays, and the best remedy to adopt to prevent them in future.
The following paper was presented: -
European War : Note from United States Ambassador to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs respecting Restriction of German Trade.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to replace the lost trawler Endeavour?
– The matter has not yet been considered.
Motion (by Senator Blakey) agreed to -
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Barker on account of urgent business.
Motions (by Senator Grant) agreed to-
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Watson on account of urgent business.
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator McDougall on account of urgent business.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Gardiner) read a first time.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I recognise that this is perhaps one of the most far-reaching measures which the Senate has yet been called upon to discuss. At the same time it contains nothing which calls for unnecessary delay in its consideration. The principles of the measure are set forth fully and distinctly, and the Government desire that it should- be clearly understood that its purpose is to remove any uncertainty which may now exist in regard to contracts with alien enemies. There are various forms of contract, and amongst them some the conditions of which are suspended during the time of war. In certain instances it is provided that should the war last three or four years, then, upon the declaration of peace, the term of the contract is to be extended for the length of time during which the war lasted. Those who are concerned, particularly in companies producing articles which they wish to place in other than German markets, are in considerable doubt and uncertainty as to whether other countries would be prepared to take their products at the present time. That this uncertainty exists we can gather from the general discussions on the subject which have appeared in the press, and also from the representations of different companies themselves. I shall refer honorable senators to one or two of the clauses of the Bill. Clause 3 provides that an “ enemy contract ‘ ‘ means any contract to which an enemy subject is a party ; in which an enemy subject has, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, a material interest; or which is, or is likely, to be for the benefit of enemy subjects, or of enemy trade. There may be some objection to intrusting this duty to the Attorney-General, but when we take into consideration the fact that under our Constitution the AttorneyGeneral is so closely in touch with and responsible to Parliament, and Parliament is so directly responsible to the people, I think we shall agree that the matter could not be left in fairer hands. There is another provision of the measure to which I desire to direct attention, and that is sub-clause 6 of clause 3, which deals with the cancellation of contracts in this way -
Every enemy contract made before or after the commencement of this Act, during the continuance of the present war, is hereby declared to be null and void and of no effect whatever.
That sub-clause effectively and clearly establishes the position that so far as such contracts are concerned they are declared null and void. Very good reasons may be advanced as to whether legislation of this kind is wise in view of its far-reaching effects, but I take it that such legislation is intended to protect our own interests. That is the end which the Government have in view. Their object is to encourage great Australian industries, the development of which might be retarded if we failed to take effective steps at this stage to set at rest any doubts as to the rights of persons engaged in those industries, which may require the investment of large sums of money if they are to be carried on successfully. I am referring more particularly to the question of ores in which the Broken Hill Proprietary and other companies are interested. I have no intension of entering into a long speech on the Bill. As honorable senators know, there was a somewhat lengthy discussion in another place, but I think I am perfectly safe in saying that although fears may have been expressed as to the wisdom of the measure, there was no doubt as to the unanimity of opinion that legislation of this kind was desirable. I therefore leave the matter in the hands of the Senate.
– Can the Minister give us any idea as to the aggregate number of contracts that will cease before the end of December?
– No. I have no knowledge what number of cancellations will be asked for. I simply know that as far as the development of certain industries is concerned, the companies and those interested are not prepared to enter into arrangements for the treatment of zinc concentrates and lead concentrates unless they can be assured that, at the termination of the war, they will not be in the same position as they were prior to the war. The Bill is to give the power to cancel contracts, and I am asking honorable senators to allow it to go through without delay, because it is urgent, and the Government are anxious to have it passed at the earliest possible moment.
– With regard to the urgency of this legislation I would point out that it is about a fortnight since copies of the Bill were circulated. The measure was under discussion elsewhere, and was subjected to a very critical investigation, but even that discussion was not continuous. We all know that from time to time the Bill was put aside to enable other matters of urgency to receive attention. In the earlier part of his remarks the Minister stated that the object of the Government was to remove existing doubt and uncertainty on the part of persons who were parties to contracts existing now, or in existence at the commencement of the war. It is very desirable that that object should be achieved, but we should be careful that in any endeavour to achieve it we do not go beyond our objective. I am inclined to think that this Bill does go beyond the needs of the occasion. In the first place it is not a Bill relating to enemy contracts purely and simply. It is styled a “Bill for an Act relating to contracts.” I am aware that the style or title of the Bill need not necessarily have very much bearing on the subject-matter of the Bill itself, but still we have to regard what is the general scope and purport of the measure, and it is not as a matter of fact confined to enemy contracts. I am not using the words “enemy contracts” in the comparatively narrow and restrictive sense of the Bill itself. Clause 3 defines an enemy contract, and the Bill ia not restricted to that. At first blush we might imagine that this Parliament has no jurisdiction whatever to legislate with regard to contracts. There is nothing in the Constitution which expressly vests in this Parliament the power to legislate in that direction, but there are, of course, implied powers which arise from the exercise of our expressed powers. I do not think that section 51, which sums up the powers of this Parliament, makes reference to any jurisdiction reposed in this Parliament to legislate in regard to contracts, directly and expressly so stated in that section. Whatever power we have in that direction is, as I have said, the power implied in exercise of our expressed powers. Now we have powers with regard to the defence of the Commonwealth, and if in the exercise of those powers to maintain an effective defence of this country, we find it necessary to deal with certain classes of contracts, it may be true - it very likely is - that we have the power to do so.
– Inferentially only.
– They are the implied powers, and if I remember rightly, in the exercise of our power in regard to trade and commerce between the States and with outside countries, we have, I think, at times, made certain contracts null and void. Allowing that we have certain undoubted powers to legislate in regard to contracts between our people and alien enemies, to secure the effective defence of the Commonwealth, I still wish to point out that this Bill goes further than that. It deals with contracts which may he contracts between two Australian persons. Clause 4 of the Bill is very comprehensive, and it may be very far-reaching in its effects, for it is provided that “ either party to the contract” - not an enemy contract - “ to which this section applies may, by notice in writing to the other party, terminate the contract.” The contracts to which the clause applies are referred to in paragraph as a contract which “ is by operation of law, or by the terms of the contract, suspended.” The Minister was right when he said that there were certain contracts in existence which should be suspended during the war, but there may be contracts entered into by Australians with persons in other parts of Australia for the delivery of certain commodities subject to termination dur ing the war. There may be contracts on the part of exporters and merchants to Hong Kong in the East, or elsewhere, also subject to termination during the war, and they may not be enemy contracts at all. A man might find it convenient on account of the high prices of commodities in Australia to cancel his contract. Ordinarily it would be immoral for him to repudiate his responsibility, but here in clause 4 we are affording him the opportunity statutorily of evading his obligations which otherwise he would be expected to fulfil. Another class of contract to which this power applies is one, the performance of which -
I can quite understand that notice to a party who may claim suspension though the contract need not necessarily be an enemy contract at all, and, therefore, the question arises, “ howfar have we jurisdiction to deal with such contracts?” Suppose one party in theexercise of the power conferred by this clause turned to the other, and said, “ The contract with you is by its terms suspended during the war. Now I terminate it absolutely.” Litigation would follow, and the question that would at once come before the Court would be - “ Was the Commonwealth exercising a. power given to it by the Constitution? “’ Therefore, while we may be removing doubt and uncertainty in regard to enemy contracts, it is quite possible that this measure will, by clause 4, breed a. greater crop of doubts and. difficulties amongst those who are not our enemies at all, but amongst our own citizens and those with whom they have contractual relations. That is a danger I see in this measure. We are going beyond the needs of the occasion. I shall do anything I can personally to help to establish here industries now existing abroad in relation to our primary products, and which, if established here, should furnish employment for our own people. I refer to the baser metals, and particularly to low-grade ores. We produce them from the soil, and ship practically all the raw product abroad. I. have always stood for the legislative doctrine that all the operations associated with these products should be carried out within the Commonwealth, and so far as this legislation will achieve that end, it has my most cordial support. But when we go beyond enemy contracts, and attempt to legislate, as we do in clause 4, in regard to contracts which need not be with an alien enemy at all, we are going beyond the needs of the occasion. Paragraph b of clause 3 defines an enemy contract as a contract - first, to which an enemy subject is a party; and, secondly, “in which an enemy subject has, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, a material interest.” The Bill, as introduced in another place, defined an enemy contract as, secondly, a contract “ in which an enemy subject has an interest.” The amendment made in another place was to insert the words “ in the opinion of the Attorney-General a material “. I doubt if we are doing the correct thing in throwing this judicial responsibility on the Attorney-General. I quite recognise that if every case of an enemy contract had to be determined judicially, the decision might, in many instances, be long delayed, owing to the pressure of other business on some of the Judges, and no doubt one of the main reasons for investing the AttorneyGeneral with this jurisdiction is to insure expedition; but the Attorney-General himself has a great number of functions, and that expedition in this matter may be secured at the expense of efficiency in some of his other duties. These remarks apply, not to the present AttorneyGeneral, but to the officer as an officer, whoever he may be. I fear we are crowding too many functions on him. It is only from that point of view that I criticise this provision. Under the original Bill, the interest might be large or small, important or unimportant, and nobody was named whose duty it was to determine whether an enemy subject had it. We ought to be very careful to ascertain whether we are not doing a hardship to the Attorney-General himself in imposing this extra responsibility on him. It is quite possible that we can get a decision on these matters from somebody who has judicial authority for the purpose. We might have somebody in the particular State in which the party or parties live endowed with jurisdiction to determine the matter. The position of some parties who have contracted with alien enemies, and are still parties to con tracts that might be suspended during the war, will be doubtful after the war without some legislation of this character. I can quite understand that in their present state of uncertainty and doubt as to the future they are very hesitant about the investment of capital. So far as we can remove those doubts, or relieve their apprehensions, we shall be doing excellent work, but clause 4 goes outside that region altogether, and will probably sow a crop of doubts, difficulties, and uncertainties for our own citizens in the future. Generally speaking, clause 4, as a whole, and more particularly paragraphs a and i of sub-clause 1 of clause 3, should receive the very closest investigation in Committee. This legislation as it stands is likely to generate difficulties for our own people, and to put parties to contracts with our own people in a position which they are not morally entitled to occupy. Further, we are venturing in this matter upon an uncharted sea, and it is quite possible that our legislation, so far as the clause is concerned, may - in relation to some of the contracts to which it applies - be assailed as being beyond the powers conferred upon this Parliament. I merely mention these matters now so that hereafter, if the Bill is passed, it will be seen that the Senate gave consideration to the limitation of its own powers, and did not legislate in a mistaken belief by us all that it was not going beyond those limits.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 - 3. ( 1 ) In this section, “ enemy contract “ means any contract -
which is or is likely to be for the benefit of enemy subjects or of enemy trade.
Senior SENIOR (South Australia) [11.55]. - I take exception to the clause on the grounds stated by Senator Keating. It makes the Attorney-General judge and jury in the matter of enemy contracts. It goes much further than was really intended, because the contract might be a civil one to which one of the parties was a person allowed to live in Australia, and still permitted the privileges due to human beings. Thus a contract might be made with a person who was not interned or under surveillance, and the clause would give the AttorneyGeneral power to violate it. The Bill was really intended to deal with contracts overseas, but that intention is no longer expressed. Where is the line of demarcation between a material and an immaterial interest? It might be material to one party, but not to the other. In passing legislation of this sort our aim should be to frame so clear a definition as . to preclude the possibility of mistake. I expected to hear from the Minister in introducing the Bill stronger arguments than he put forward to justify me in assenting to it in its present form. We had not the slightest hint from him to guide us in judging how far an enemy has or has not a material interest in a contract. An enemy subject may possibly be a shareholder in a company of which the other members are not enemy subjects, but the mere fact of his presence in the company will give the Attorney-General power to say that material interests are at stake, and annul a contract accordingly. We know that that state of affairs does exist in the case of several companies concerned. There is nothing to show where the action of the Bill is to begin or where it will stop. As Senator Keating says, “ We are simply sailing on an uncharted sea.” I grant that that remark applies to very much of the legislation that we have to pass in times of war, but even in these times we ought to examine the compass or consult some chart that will guide us, at least as to the outlines of the sea over which we have to sail. The Committee should have some guidance as to what contracts may be terminated, so that we may gather to what extent the Bill will affect our commerce with enemy subjects overseas. I think I am right’ in saying that under this Bill a contract, which from the German side will be absolutely voided by the war, will be merely suspended from the Australian side. If that be so, we have more justification for agreeing to the clause than we should otherwise have. We might reasonably have expected the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in moving the second reading of this Bill, to furnish us with information on this point. Then I would like to know what is meant by “ material “ interest. We have nothing before us in the nature of a guide at the present time. We do not know whether, under this clause, contracts will be affected merely on one side or on both sides. Tho Bill requires careful consideration at our hands, and as it has only been put before us this morning, I think that we should be afforded an opportunity of closely studying its provisions.
– I am really sorry that I have not at my disposal the fund of information that would be required to satisfy Senator Senior. In moving the second reading of the Bill I stressed its general principles. I pointed out that the word “ material “ had been inserted in another place for the purpose of empowering the Attorney-General to decide between the interests of an enemy subject in a contract and a “ material “ interest. This Bill will not merely annul contracts with enemy subjects, but contracts in which enemy subjects have an interest. The amendment to which I have referred vests a discretionary power in the Attorney-General.
– It introduces the personal equation..
– Yes; and at a time like this we must depend upon that equation. We may be- embarking upon an uncharted sea so far as navigation records are concerned, but I venture to say that the action taken by the AttorneyGeneral in regard to trusts and companies controlled by German interests and German capital has conclusively proved that he at least is familiar with all the rocks and sand banks/
– He can read the compass.
– It is because I have implicit confidence in the man at the helm to-day that I am prepared to take these risks. I recognise that we are enacting legislation of a character which has never before been enacted by a British Parliament. But such legislation is necessary in the interests of our own people. Under the Bill we do not propose to confiscate enemy goods-
– Yes. It is proposed to confiscate enemy interests.
– It is proposed to confiscate the material interests of an enemy subject.
– It is true that the measure deals with the material interests of an enemy subject, but not in the direction of taking from him something to enrich ourselves. It merely seeks to prevent him from engaging in industrial pursuits, which, in the absence of this Bill, we could not prevent him from embarking upon.
– The Government propose to take away from him the means by which he lives.
– No, but merely the means by which enemy subjects prevent us from living industrially. In other words, we contemplate the annulment of contracts which would prevent us from developing our own resources. I recognise that I am not making myself as clear as I would like upon this point. The definition of “material interest” rests with the Attorney-General. The operation of the Bill will be limited by the principal Act to the period that is covered by the war. It is essentially a war measure.
– How can it be when it is proposed to annul contracts absolutely. Under ordinary circumstances, enemy contracts would be revived at the end of the war, but in this Bill it is proposed to annul them permanently.
– The AttorneyGeneral will deal only with those contracts which it is necessary to annul and void at the present time. Although the effect of annulments which may be made now will be for all time, the increased labour that will be thrown upon the AttorneyGeneral will be limited to the duration of the war. I venture to say that there will not be a large number of contracts dealt with by him. Even if some other authority could do this work more effectively than the Attorney-General, I have no hesitation in affirming that no man in Australia is so thoroughly equipped with a knowledge of the different German interests in the Commonwealth as is the present occupant of that office. I hope that Senator Senior will recognise the difference in a contract between an “ interest “ and “ a material interest “ by an enemy subject. The amendment was inserted in another place to avoid the cancellation of contracts in which the interests of enemy subjects are not deemed to be sufficient to warrant the adoption of that course.
– I must compliment the VicePresident of the Executive Council on the great skill with which he has succeeded in conveying to honorable senators a minimum of information with a maximum of work. He resumed his seat with quite a glow of conscious triumph in having achieved the purpose for which he set out. He absolutely sat down without having told the Committee anything.
– I have a great master to study in the person of the honorable senator.
– My honorable friend is a very apt pupil. I listened carefully with a view to seeing whether he attempted to deal seriously with the points which were raised by Senator Keating and Senator Senior. The matter at issue is a very simple one. There is no disguising the fact that this Bill proposes to take away from enemy subjects something of value to them, which they possess to-day. With the desire expressed in the measure to terminate enemy contracts, I am heartily in accord. But I deprecate very much the attempt which is being made to play upon the national and patriotic feelings of honorable senators for the purpose of inducing them to accept the Bill merely because it will have a detrimental effect on the enemy. On* of the principal objections which we have to our enemies to-day is based upon their absolutely barbarous methods of warfare. Indeed, we have plumed ourselves on dealing with them more in accordance with the dictates of civilization than they deal with us. This Bill deals, not with enemy interests, but with enemy subject interests. There is a great distinction between the two things. We draw that distinction very sharply in the case of vessels which are seized. When an enemy vessel is seized there is no question raised, but when an enemy subject vessel is seized what happens ? It is not left to the AttorneyGeneral to say what should become of her. German vessels were in Australian ports when war was declared, and they were detained here. But it is not for the Attorney-General or the Minister of Defence to say what should become of them. We said in effect, “ These are the property of enemy subjects, and, therefore, we will refer them to a Prize Court to determine what should be done with them.” So determined were we that there should be no suspicion of our methods, that when it was suggested we should utilize these vessels for public purposes, the Court said, “ Until we have adjudicated upon them even the Government cannot take these vessels from our control unless they first deposit with us the cash value of them.” But under some ambiguous reference to trusts, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has attempted to make us believe that the Attorney-General is the proper authority to deal with them. If he is, why should he not deal with the property of all enemy subjects - a proposal which nobody would entertain for a moment. I ask Senator Newland whether, if his property were endangered in a conflict with somebody else, he would not prefer to have his interest adjudicated upon by a Court rather than by the AttorneyGeneral 1
– Under present conditions I am inclined to trust the AttorneyGeneral more than I would under other circumstances.
– But we are dealing with the machinery by which the provisions of this measure are to be given effect.
– Can the honorable senator suggest anything better?
– Yes. I can suggest a dozen courses which would be better. I could not possibly suggest anything; worse than that a question affecting private property should be dealt with in the privacy of a Minister’s room. The better suggestion is that the determination of enemy contracts should be left to theCourts.
– But the war will finish some time.
– I know that it will. Senator Keating has suggested thepossibility of a Judge having other matters to attend to, and that possibly if these contracts had to be adjudicated upon by a Court delay would result. But surely it is possible to create a special Judge to undertake this particular work. Anything would be better than to allow Ministers to wrangle in a private room over assets which might be worth thousands of pounds. The possibility of mistakes being made there is so appallingthat I am simply surprised that theMinistry should insist upon saddling one of their number with this responsibility. My main objection to the measure is that.” when we are dealing with the private property of enemy subjects we should immediately tura round and say that a starchamber form of procedure should beadopted, notwithstanding that we recognise that the only honest method of dealing with such property in other directionsis by means of the Court. I would like, also, to draw attention to another matter. In my opinion, this Bill does not go far enough. It will not annul a contract when only one of the parties to it desires - that it shall be annulled. Suppose that one of the parties to a contract wishes tohave it suspended during the war, but hopes to see it revived at the termination’ of the war. Nobody will file a complaint with the Attorney-General in such circumstances, and the contract will go on just the same. I say that it ought not to be left to the discretion of anybody to declare whether such a contract should be determined. If this Bill be necessary to terminate private contracts,, the Minister ought to see the desirableness of making its provisions absolute rather than* conditional. The honorable senator has referred torocks and so on about which the AttorneyGeneral is supposed to have a prophetic knowledge. If he knows of the schemes aud intrigues of the men of commerce it will not be difficult for him to imagine- that there may be such cases as I have referred to, and that parties will desire that the contracts should not be terminated. We are not here in the interests of private individuals, but in the interests of Australia. I submit that no individual in Australia has the right to turn round and say, ‘ ‘ I will keep that contract in existence by failing to lodge a complaint.” 1 believe that the Minister is as sincere as I am in the belief that this is legislation on the right lines, and, therefore, I ask him if he has a sufficient answer to the case I have endeavoured to make out.
– Senator Millen has pointed out, very effectively, a point in which I think that the clause is defective. The Bill leaves it purely optional with a contractor, at any rate in Australia, as to whether he shall apply for the annulment of his contract or not. I have no doubt that in Australia there are many persons - shareholders in mining propositions and other commercial undertakings - who are not anxious to have a contract annulled. We know, unfortunately, that persons are very largely guided in matters of this kind by their personal interests. Therefore, I think we would have no difficulty in finding here plenty of persons who would not be very keen to terminate a contract with an enemy country.
– Look at sub-clause Tj, of clause 3..
– I am not satisfied with the sub-clause, and intend to indicate exactly where, in my opinion, it is defective.
– The proof that subclause 5 is not sufficient is that there are other sub-clauses. If it were allembracing, the clause would not contain the others.
– It embraces the point which you brought up.
– I am anxious to secure the insertion of some words which will compel every person who has entered into a contract with an enemy country to come under the provisions of the Bill, and not to leave it optional to one party to terminate a contract, and to another party to continue a contract, or to have the contract restored when the war is over. Every person who comes under its operation should be placed on precisely the same footing. Senator
Millen referred to the present method of dealing with interned vessels, and he objected to this matter being left in the hands of the Attorney-General. The Prize Court has been well established for many years, but this is the first time, so far as my reading goes, that a Parliament in Australia has been asked to consider a measure of this kind. I have no fear in handing over to the AttorneyGeneral the right to void an enemy contract; I believe that the interests of contractors would be safeguarded to a greater extent by leaving the matter in his hands than otherwise they would be, because the Parliament could always exercise over the Attorney-General a control which it would not have over a Prize Court or a Judge.
– And it would be a cheaper process, too.
– It would be a cheaper, and, I think, a safer process, because, if the Attorney-General was likely to do anything detrimental to the interests of Australia, or of any of its people, Parliament would call him to book very quickly, whereas in the case of a Prize Court or a Judge, Parliament would not have that power. I see no danger in intrusting to the Attorney-General the duty of dealing with enemy contracts as set out in the Bill. In clause 2 an enemy subject is defined, and in subclause 1 of clause 3 we have a definition of what constitutes an enemy contract. But in sub-clause 2, for the first time in the Bill, an enemy contract is referred to as “a contract.” Senator Keating has raised the point that in every portion of the measure a contract should be defined as an enemy contract, because he, as a lawyer, knows that immediately an Act is placed on the statute-book, certain persons will want to take advantage of it. If a loophole is left in this measure for an individual in Australia to get out of an unprofitable contract with another individual, he will come under its provisions if he can. Senator Keating will agree with me, I am sure, that such a person will employ the best legal talent in the Commonwealth to attain that object. I am at one with the honorable senator in endeavouring to stop the gap. In subclause 2 we can make a beginning in that direction, and I suggest to the VicePresident of the Executive Council that the word “enemy” be inserted before the word “contract” in the first line, and so deal with a contract as an “ enemy contract. ‘ ‘
– No; it does not become an enemy contract in law until after the Attorney-General has declared it so.
– That is so. The difficulty I see is that one person may apply to the Attorney-General to have a contract annulled, and another person may oppose the application because of certain interests he has in the contract. I am, of course, willing to defer to the opinion of legal gentlemen as to whether the insertion of “enemy” in sub-clause 2 is necessary or not; but I fail to see how the Bill can be made to apply to enemy contracts only unless there is a specific reference to enemy contracts in its provisions. In the same line I think that “ may “ might with advantage be altered to “ must.”
– “ May “ is always construed as mandatory.
– I do not think it is. At any rate, here is a door through which persons who do not desire to annul their contracts may escape, thereby putting one section on a better footing than the other. If, however, “must” was substituted for ‘ ‘ may ‘ ‘ it would compel every contract entered into with an enemy country to be dealt with under the provisions of the Act. I am most anxious that every such contract shall be absolutely annulled, and I desire that the Bill shall not leave the Senate until we have effectively annulled every enemy contract whether those who entered into the contract desire its annulment or not. That is my only object in addressing the Committee. The duty of the Minister, I think, is to leave no loophole whereby any person can escape. I am sure that Senator Keating will give us the legal assistance he has indicated he is anxious to give in perfecting the measure in the direction I have indicated. I am not finding fault with the Minister for introducing the Bill in the manner he did. My complaint is that it is not as emphatic and clear as I would like it to be in doing what I desire and that is annulling every enemy contract in the country.
– I may answer Senator Millen and Newland by merely directing their attention to the clause of the Bill which annuls enemy contracts. But I cannot allow to pass without a word the former’s compliment in attributing to me the courage to stand ‘ up here and say nothing. I recognise that I am a very crude pupil of an able master. I could not possibly have sat for some years in a State Parliament with the honorable senator without getting some of the lustre which attaches to that kind of quality. But, unfortunately, I have fallen into the habit without knowing it. I always thought that I had a rather bluff and blunt way of telling the truth. That may be strange to Senator Millen.
– It will from you.
– I would direct the attention of Senators Millen and Newland to sub-clause 5, which reads -
Every enemy contract made before the commencement of the present war is hereby declared to be and to have beennull and void -
I direct the attention of my honorable friends to that provision, because both of them want the matter settled finally. Then sub-clause 6 reads -
Every enemy contract made before or after the commencement of this Act, during the continuance of the present war, is hereby declared to be null and void and of no effect whatever.
I can scarcely conceive of a form of words which would make more clear what is the admitted intention of the Bill. I thought that the intention was made so plain in the provision that it need not be referred to by me. At the beginning of this clause we find a definition of “ enemy contract.” There is a great deal more difficulty in defining what an enemy contract is than in declaring null and void such a contract. The definition of enemy contract is contained in three paragraphs. The term means any contract -
That definition is as clear as it is possible for it to be made.
– He will be a wonderful man who will be able to see through a brick wall.
– Exactly ; and it will be well for honorable senators to recognise that we are up against a brick wall.
– Sub-clause 3.
– It is possible for the proprietors of a huge German company to have their interests conserved by simply handing the company over to British subjects. Therefore, I do not wish this Bill to be marred in such a way that they would be able to find a loop-hole of escape after we had tried to block it to every one. I wish to make myself thoroughly clear, because on three occasions I have failed to do so. Sub-clauses 5 and 6 of clause 3 clearly make of no effect whatever any enemy contract entered into before or during the con- , tinuance of the war.
– No; any contract which the Attorney-General has supervised and has declared to be an enemy contract.
– Sub-clause 5 is quite distinct from the sub-clause to which the honorable senator refers.
– It is subsidiary to the previous sub-clauses.
– It provides that any enemy contract made before the commencement of the war shall be null and void. In sub-clause 1 we have a provision defining what an enemy contract is. It is first of all defined as a contract to which an enemy subject is a party.
– No; under subclause 2 it has to be declared by the AttorneyGeneral to be an enemy contract.
– That is the mistake which honorable senators are making They overlook the fact that in sub-clause 1 there are three paragraphs, each of which defines an enemy contract.
– It may be any one of those three definitions.
– That is so. The first definition is not mixed up with the others. The Bill in the plainest possible language makes null and void contracts to which enemy subjects are parties. Then we come to the second definition, which deals with contracts which will present more difficult cases, and in connexion with which an enemy subject might transfer his interests and rights to a British subject and still continue to participate in the profits of the company. In dealing with such contracts it is necessary to give some authority the power to prevent that kind of thing being done, and so, in sub-clause 2, the Attorney-
General is given power to declare whether certain contracts are or are not enemy contracts. I hope that I have satisfied Senator Newland that by sub-clauses 5 and 6 we make void and of no effect enemy contracts made before or during the continuance of the war, and by paragraph a of sub-clause 2 all contractsto which an enemy subject is a party. The Bill does exactly what Senator Newland desires that it should do, and what Senator Millen believes it will not do.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council has convinced me, first of all, that he is as anxious as I am myself to terminate enemy contracts, and next, that he is not well posted in his brief. The definition clause means nothing, unless we take into consideration the machinery by which it is to be measured against the facts of the cases submitted. Sub-clause 5 would be perfectlysatisfactory if it stood alone, but it does not. Sub-clause 1 provides a definition of an enemy contract. It docs not mean that absolutely and without any further procedure, every contract coming within the definitions given shall fall to the ground, because sub-clause . 2 goes on to provide that the Attorney-General, upon the application of any party to a contract, shall say whether that contract comes within the definition sub-clause.
– Not at all. An enemy contract is definitely defined in paragraph a of sub-clause 1.
– There are three alternatives.
– That does not affect my argument. The three alternatives referred to define what an enemy contract is, but the Bill goes on to provide in sub-clause 2 that any person who assumes that he is a party to such a contract can go to the Attorney-General for a declaration as to whether it is or is not an enemy contract. Under sub-clauses 3 and 4, if the Attorney-General declares a contract to be an enemy contract, then, upon the publication of his declaration in the Commonwealth Gazette, it is deemed to be an enemy contract. It is after the publication of that declaration that sub-clause 5 becomes operative. If that were not so, honorable senators must see that sub-clauses 2, 3, and 4 would be ineffective. If we provided that the
Attorney-General should declare a contract to be an enemy contract, and should publish his declaration in the Commonwealth Gazette, and stopped there, nothing would follow as a consequence of his declaration. Sub-clause 5 is therefore introduced to provide that when the AttorneyGeneral has published his declaration that a contract is an enemy contract, it shall be terminated. That is as plain to me as it is to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the Bill means something else.
– Does the honorable senator believe that every contract must be so defined?
– I do. I believe that, under the Bill, until we have the Attorney-General’s declaration that a contract is an enemy contract, it cannot be assumed to be one.
– That declaration refers to contracts in which, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, an enemy subject has a material interest.
– Sub-clause 2 provides that -
Any party to a contract may file with the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth a copy of the contract, and apply to the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth for a declaration that the contract is or is not an enemy contract within the meaning of this section.
– “Would not that be where the applicant would have some doubt about Ids position?
– It might be where he had some doubt, or where he had no doubt at all.
– He would not be bound to do that. It is only out of what is known as abundant caution that it is provided he may do so.
– I repeat that if we stopped at the provision enabling the Attorney-General to declare a contract an enemy contract the Bill would be ineffective, and therefore sub-clause 5 is inserted to provide that once the AttorneyGeneral has declared a contract to be an enemy contract it is annulled. If there is no such declaration the contract is not an enemy contract, and there is nothing but that declaration to make it an enemy contract. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council, who is a layman, Like myself, is in this matter as anxious as I am to stop every loophole, he will confer with the legal ad visers of the Government, and see whether they are satisfied that the Bill meets my contention. If the legal advisers of the Government are satisfied that the Bill, as it stands, is complete, and will annul any enemy contract, whether the AttorneyGeneral has made a declaration upon it or not, I shall be satisfied. The VicePresident of the Executive Council supplied the strongest argument in support of my contention that there should be no option given when he referred to case3 in which German interests may, during the continuance of the war, be transferred to the nominal keeping of British subjects. Admitting the patriotism of our people generally, we know that we have to guard against cases of that kind. It is because of the possibility of that that I do not think there should be an option given to any of them; and I hope the Minister will sanction the insertion of words to permit others than those interested in a contract to lodge an application with the Attorney-General for a declaration that it is an enemy contract. I think that, as well as any party to a contract, some public officer should be empowered to lodge such an application. We know in a general way that such contracts are in existence. The Law Courts have already brought us face to face with some very slim efforts to continue trading with the enemy, and we may assume that such efforts have not y. t ceased. Now that we are legislating upon the matter, every precaution should be taken to see that our legislation will accomplish the objects we have in view.
– I recognise the force of Senator Milieu’s contention; but I am satisfied that the Bill will effectively cancel all enemy contracts. When the honorable senator refers to sub-clauses 2, 3, and 4, to indicate that there is some doubt as to the effect of sub-clauses 5 and 6, I have to say that there are other interests which have to be considered in connexion with this Bill. Let me take the case of a contract under which one firm supplies something to another firm, and some of the materials required by the first firm to complete their contract have hitherto been obtained from Germany, and cannot be obtained from that country now. It may be necessary to have the power to cancel such a contract as that, because it is impossible for those who have entered into it to carry it out while the war lasts. The sub-clauses to which the honorable senator has referred deal with cases of that kind. I know that we are all equally anxious that no mistake should be made in legislating upon this matter. I ask honorable senators to deliberately consider the wording of sub-clauses 5 and 6.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that if a contractor required certain articles of German manufacture to fulfil his contract, he might apply to have it declared an enemy contract, notwithstanding the fact that it was between British subjects ?
– His contract might be with a British subject; but he would be unable to secure the materials which have to be obtained from a German source during the continuance of the war.
– If he was obliged to secure German materials for the fulfilment of his contract with a British subject, he could apply to have the contract declared an enemy contract?
– He might under certain conditions. I recognise that that would be an unusual case; but a company might enter into a contract to supply goods, some parts of which have to be obtained from a German source, and it might, in consequence, be necessary to void such a contract. A person entering into such a contract might in reason apply to have it voided under this Bill. I again direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that the Bill distinctly annuls enemy contracts entered into before or during the continuance of the war. The fact that an alteration has been made in the- Bill as originally introduced in the definition of an enemy contract does not affect the cancellation of such contracts, but affects merely the definition of what constitutes an enemy contract. Paragraph a of sub-clause 1 distinctly defines an enemy contract as one to which an enemy subject is a party. It is there stated that an enemy contract is one in which an enemy subject has, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, a material interest. Such contracts stand by themselves. They are contracts which are likely to be for the benefit of the subjects of an enemy.
– Would a contract involving enemy material be- an enemy contract, although not made with an enemy ?
– Yes, I suppose: it would in that case. . But the point I want to’ get at is that in the Bill we aretrying to express, in the clearest language possible, the fact that we want to. haveenemy contracts annulled. If any honorable senator has a suggestion to make the language more distinct, it will be for the Committee to consider it; but, personally, I think confusion will follow. There may be room for doubt as to whether it is wise to give the AttorneyGeneral power to say what is an enemy contract, but it is the best way that we have discovered up to the present of dealing with a difficult problem.
– I have been listening, expecting to get enlightenment from the Minister in charge of the Bill, but I have not been successful. Sub-clauses 5 and 6, which deal with enemy contracts, should come immediately under sub-clause 1. As Senator Millen has pointed out, it will be for the Attorney-General to say whether contracts come under the definitions a, b, or c and, according to the Minister’s own showing, the arrangement of the sub-clauses should be in the order I have suggested. Paragraph a states that an enemy contract means any contract to which an enemy subject is a party, and b says that an enemy contract is one in which an enemy subject has, in the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral, a material interest. Therefore sub-clauses 5 and 6, which specifically refer to enemy contracts, should come in there. The reasoning would then be clear. But we have to take the clause as we find it in the Bill. Every contract is not an enemy contract until the Attorney-General has so declared it to “ be, notwithstanding that it may have been made by parties in Australia and parties in an enemy country before the commencement of the war. That is the reading of the clause. Now there is another point. I ask the Minister how this measure will stand with regard to these contracts and international law at the close of the war. We are up against a bigger thing than appears on the surface.
– We can only deal’ with Australian affairs.
– Where Australian interests conflict with the Empire interests or international interests the greater interest will certainly prevail, and we would have to regard this legislation in the light of circumstances that might arise at the termination of the war. I am quite as earnest as the Minister is to protect the interests of this country, but we must not lose sight of the possibilities that are before us. The Minister has said nothing so far to guide the Committee regarding the position between Germany and Australia. I think I am correct in saying that German contracts with Australia are made void by the act of war, but that Australian contracts with Germany are to come under the purview of this Bill before they can be voided. Can the Minister say if that is so ? Before we pass this clause I would like to hear the Minister on this position.
.- Anything that I may say concerning international law would have very little weight; but I think I can say that, so far as these contracts are concerned, we are in a better position than the British Parliament for dealing with Australian interests. I want to impress upon honorable senators the fact that, in seeking to avoid these contracts, we are not doing so with the intention of taking anything from alien Germans, but in order that we may be able to develop important industries in Australia.
– I am far from satisfied yet that the Bill will be as effective as we hoped it would prove. The Minister has stressed the point again and again that sub-clause 5 makes the purport of this Bill clear. Now the sub-clause says -
Every enemy contract made before the commencement of’ the present war is hereby declared to be and to have been null and void as from the commencement of the present war.
Now here is the difficulty. We have the preceding sub-clause giving the AttorneyGeneral the right to say what contracts shall or shall not be annulled, and therefore confusion arises with regard to 5 and 6. If the reading of the Minister in charge of the Bill is correct that these two sub-clauses definitely and clearly cancel every contract made from Germany to Australia or from Australia to Germany, what right has the Attorney-General, and where will he be called upon to say that contracts are null and void ?
– Might there not be a dispute between contractors as to whether certain contracts come within the purview of this Bill, and in those circumstances, would not the Attorney-General be called upon to decide?
– It is possible; but. there is no loophole left for doubt in this clause. I agree with Senator Senior that . sub-clauses 5 and 6 should precede sub-clauses 2, 3, and 4, and if they were so placed, I would be better satisfied with the measure. The Bill does not compel persons interested in contracts to come before the Attorney-General with their case. The Attorney- General is expected to hunt from Dan to Beersheba for any contract in which an enemy subject may be interested.
– And all his hunting would be of no avail unless one party lodged an application.
– Yes ; that is the position. I hope the Minister will put this matter before the Attorney-General and his legal advisers. I do not want the Minister to think that we are attempting to stop the passage of this measure. On the contrary, we are anxious to have it made as effective as possible. We do not want any doubt to exist as to the position of important interests that may be affected by the Bill. We are not passing panic legislation, or doing the thing hurriedly. We are proceeding slowly and deliberately, and we are anxious to have the Bill passed in the best form possible. I ask the Minister to let this matter stand over until he has had a chance to consult the legal authorities, and see if something cannot be done to close up those gaps which appear to exist in the Bill.
.- If I had any doubt in the matter, I would not mind postponing it; but let us see what the Bill does. It cancels all contracts.
– That is the point. We think it does not, and I made a fair suggestion to you just now that in the luncheon adjournment you should consult with the legal advisers of the Government.
– The Bill cancels all enemy contracts. That is expressed in language that is unmistakable. There may be many doubtful contracts, and there should be some authority to decide whether they are enemy contracts or not. As we have nearly reached the time at which the Senate will suspend its sitting, I will take advantage of the opportunity, as suggested by Senator Millen and Senator Newland, to fortify myself with the opinion of the legal advisers to the Commonwealth.
Sitting suspended from 1 till 2.30 p.m.
– I had the opportunity during the lunch-hour of bringing under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral the points raised as to various sub-clauses, and have returned perfectly satisfied, as is the Attorney-General himself, that the Bill as it stands is free from the objections urged against it here. He made it quite clear that under paragraph b he has no discretion in the matter of enemy contracts. . It merely gives him discretion as to what is a material interest in an enemy contract. “With regard to the question raised by Senator Senior, Senator Needham, and Senator Millen, as to whether the Bill definitely cancels enemy contracts if, on the face of it, it is quite clear that it is an enemy contract, immediately the Bill receives the assent of the Governor-General the contract is null and void. Sub-clauses 2, 3, and 4, giving the parties to a contract the right to apply to the AttorneyGeneral as to whether it is an enemy contract or not, have been put in because there may be a dispute in the matter. Honorable senators will therefore see that the Bill definitely cancels all enemy contracts; paragraph b gives the Attorney-General power only to say what is a material interest in the contract, and sub-clauses 2, 3, and 4 appear only in order that the parties to a contract which may or may not be an enemy contract may have a definite, effective, and economical method of settling the doubt.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It covers payments amounting to £389,097 made from the Treasurer’s Advance Account to supplement the annual appropriation for the financial year 1913-14. The whole of the money was spent by our predecessors, and the Bill has been brought down to give the payments proper statutory authority. The principal Department is Defence, with £120,000. There are no other large items.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stageswithout request.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
– In moving,
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I desire to explain that it consists mostly of small items in regard to works as to which the vote authorized by Parliament has proved to be insufficient. In such cases the deficiency has been made up out of the Treasurer’s Advance. It is really to give statutory authority for this additional expenditure that the Bill has been introduced. The whole of the money, I may add, was spent prior to the 30th June by our predecessors.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Thursday next.
Senate adjourned at 2.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 May 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150521_senate_6_76/>.