6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Assistant Minister controlling the wheat pool whether he is aware that in Tasmania the wheat and flour market is considerably disturbed at the present time owing to the fact that the wheat-growers of the State are unable to sell their wheat at favorable prices, the same thing applying to those who have flour to sell. Will the Minister consider the advisability of permitting the producers of Tasmania to ship a certain portion of flour to England together with the flour which the Wheat Board is shipping to the Old Land? Will the Minister undertake to place this matter before the Wheat Board for consideration ?
– There are one or two difficulties in the way of what the honorable senator proposes. After all. the Wheat Board is controlling a cooperative scheme between the several States, and unfortunately Tasmania is not represented on the Board. The States to whom it is necessary to appeal through the Wheat Board, if the desire of the producers of Tasmania is to be granted, are particularly keen upon selling their own wheat, but I shall bring the matter under the notice of the executive officer of the Wheat Board. It may be possible to make some suitable arrangement, if not to give effect to all that the Tasmanian producers desire, to at least help them on their way.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs lay on the table of the Library all papers relating to the re-appointment of Mr. W. B. Griffin as Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction?
– I do not think there will be any objection to the laying of these papers on the table of the Library, and I shall endeavour to have them produced.
– Is the Minister of Defence able to give the Senate an answer to the question I addressed to him a day or two ago concerning a permanent central address of Australian soldiers in France ?
– We have sent a cable to the War Office authorities asking for the information. We have not yet received a reply, but I will make it available as soon as it is received.
– Is the Minister of Defence in a position to reply to my question concerning the right of Australian soldiers to appeal from sentences of courts martial?
– I have not the information in answer to the honorable senator’s question, but as soon as I get it I will make it known to the Senate.
Report of the Joint Committee on Public accounts on the stationery, printing, and advertising accounts of Commonwealth Departments, presented by Senator Stewart.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, in view of the number of married men with large families who have heavy mortgages on their homes, and who are at present at the front or in camp prepared to go to the. front when called upon, the Government have taken into consideration the advisability of paying interest on mortgages on the homes of these soldiers whilst absent fighting for Australia? If the Government have not given the matter consideration, will the Acting Prime Minister bring it before the Cabinet, pointing out that these volunteers are fighting, not only in their own interests and the interests of their families, but also in the interests of those who command and control the wealth of this great Commonwealth?
– I will bring the matter suggested by the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Government for consideration.
– Following upon the last question and answer, will the Acting Prime Minister at the same time bring under the notice of his colleagues in Cabinet the fact that there is legislation in Great Britain which protects the interests of the soldier at the front who, by reason of his being there, makes default or is unable to make periodical payments in connexion with a building society or other obligation undertaken to make provision for himself and his family ? Will the honorable senator bring this fact under the notice of his Cabinet with a view of affording similar protection to Australians at the front?
– I will have pleasure in bringing that fact also under the notice of the Cabinet.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs lay on the table of the Library all papers in connexion with the appointment of Mr. Butler as a third class clerk in the High Commissioner’s Office in London ?
– I have no objection to lay the papers on the table of the Library.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act 1901-1912 - Regulations amended, &c.- Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 70, 71.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 224.
Commonwealth Bank Act 1911-14 - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1916, No. 72.
Customs Act 1901-1914. - Regulations amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1915, No. 222.
Statutory Rules 1915, No. 259.
Statutory Rules 1915, No. 264.
Statutory Rules 1916, No. 28.
Statutory Rules 1916, No. 36.
Proclamations prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions of -
Butter (dated 1st December, 1915).
Precious stones (dated 22nd December, 1915, and cancelling proclamation of 14th October, 1915, relating to the exportation of diamonds).
Raisins, lexias, sultanas, and currants (dated 12th January, 1916).
Tallow and other animal fats (dated 26th January, 1916).
Tallow, fats, oils, caustic soda, and other materials usable for the manufacture of glycerine (dated 15th March, 1916 and cancelling proclamation of 26th January, 1916, relating to exportation of tallow and other animal fats.
Waste paper (dated 29th March, 1916).
Pepper and capsicums (dated 5th April, 1916).
Proclamations prohibiting the exportation of goods (except under certain conditions) to -
China and Siam (dated 12th January, 1916).
The Netherlands (dated 19th January, 1916).
Proclamation relative to prohibition of exportation of goods packed in bags or sacks (dated 15th December, 1915).
Defence: Report on State Rifle Associations, District Rifle Club Unions, and Rifle Clubs, for year ended 30th June, 1915.
Iron Bounty Act 1914-1915. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 52.
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1914. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 77.
Lighthouses Act 1911. - Regulations amended, &c.- Statutory Rules 1916, No. 55.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
What is the amount of rent being paid for premises and office accommodation for the various Departments which have been removed temporarily from the Customs House, Sydney?
– The answer is-
The rent being paid is at the rate of £4,150 per annum.
Contribution of Australian Troops
Debate resumed from 10th May(vide page 7761), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the paper (Ministerial Statement) be printed.
– I am safe in saying that the Senate enjoyed to a very great extent the two speeches we heard yesterday, the one from the Leader of the Opposition, and the other from Senator Ferricks. They were delivered from opposite standpoints, and, on that account, naturally aroused a considerable degree of interest concerning a subject that is at present engaging serious public attention in Australia. I was rather pleased with the way that the Leader of the Opposition dealt with the subject. Of course, his style was different from that of Senator Ferricks. I suppose this was on account of their difference in temperament. -He dealt with the subject in a way that threw more light on it than had previously been shed. Hitherto this particular question has been responsible for a great deal more heat than light. We must keep our tempers, as well as possible, under subjection, if we are to record_ a reasoned and seasoned judgment in relation to it, because when passions are inflamed it is impossible to arrive at a clear decision. Therefore, I would plead that, in the present case, we should be indulgent to the last degree concerning opinions expressed by all who take part in the debate.
I have always been in favour of a system that will insure the very best effort being put forward by this country in the present struggle. I have totally disagreed with the policy that has been in operation up to the present, though on former occasions, when I have had the temerity to express my views, my voice has been like that of one crying in the wilderness. The developments of the past five or six months have brought home to us the necessity of seriously considering whether or not the policy pursued by the Commonwealth is best calculated to insure success for the Allied armies so far as the contribution of this country is concerned. This is the paramount question to every man who has a home in Australia; and arising out of that question is a further one that we, as a component part of the Empire, should realize that we are expected to make an adequate effort to maintain unimpaired the strength of the Empire, and the influence it wields in the councils of. the nations. We admit, of course, that there have been times in the history of our Empire when its record has not been of the cleanest. The best that we can do with those black pages which disfigure the story of the Empire’s career in the past is to draw over them a merciful veil of forgetfulness. Prominent statesmen have always been ready to admit this fact, but, notwithstanding those blemishes, there is the compensating reflection that to-day our Empire stands for a higher and greater measure of justice and human freedom than any other Power on the surface of the globe. The present, in my opinion, is the most perilous and momentous hour in the history of our country. Our national existence is threatened, and it behoves us as thinking men to fashion in our minds the best policy to guide us through this dark valley of depression and lead us to the open plains where victory shall be ours. Australia to-day is menaced. Some people may delude themselves that we, as a remote people surrounded by vast and friendly seas, are removed from the danger that might be ours if we were not so situated. ‘ But we have to recall the immediate past to satisfy ourselves on that point. The ocean may be on occasions no protection if the enemy possesses a navy which can attack our coast-line. What has happened in Russia from successful Japanese attacks may happen here. We must secure our position. If we want to put up the best fight possible for the security which we enjoy, and which we obtained practically without a stroke, we must stretch our arms and exercise our minds to devise the best possible weapon to deliver a deadly blow which will bring the brute abroad to-day in Europe into subjection.
The issue of the war involves the safety of Australia. We have in our possession an island continent, with a small population and vast empty spaces - a tempting bait for an overcrowded, old-world country. Our power to absorb a vast alien population constitutes our greatest danger. If we were an old-world country, with an overflowing population, the risk of invasion would not be nearly so great, because if the German standard were triumphant Germany would not then look in that direction for an outlet for her congested millions. She would be on the lookout for a country like our own where her influence and her surplus population could be permanently planted, and this young country offers the very field that she requires. If we are determined to be free, we must hold Australia against all-comers, but determination and courage have never won a battle, any more than strength of numbers has done so. To insure success we must have a combination of the three. To any one who has studied the change in German thought in the last twenty-five years our danger from German aggression must be plain.
The present policy of Germany, in the words of Bernhardi, is “worldpower or downfall “ ; but years ago, when the ownership of the South Sea Islands was still undecided, and it was resolved to make Fiji a British possession, Bismarck, then the mouth-piece of Germany, when approached by diplomats on the subject, replied, “ Where the devil is Fiji?” That contemptuous utterance was typical of German thought at the time, just as Bernhardi’s arrogant saying exemplifies the German policy of to-da’y. Only a few years ago, through the weakness of the then British Government, Germany gained a foothold in New Guinea, and I would ask those who have still some lingering admiration for things German or for German rale to tell me whether an Australian pioneer or prospector would have received a cordial welcome in that country while the German flag flew there ? He would have been told to get out, or, if allowed to land, would have been so hedged in with conditions that any discovery he made would not have been worth a brass farthing to him. If the fate of Germany is world-power, andnot downfall, the conclusion is irresistible that we shall be subject to attack, perhaps in the earliest hours of that nation’s activity. One portion of the Empire is safe, because of the existence of the Monroe Doctrine, but our national existence may at any time be threatened, and even wiped out at a blow. The writings of the present day publicists and speakers of Germany supply a full answer to the question whether we would be better off under German rule. All the leaders of thought of that nation urge that the State should be made supreme at the expense of the individual, and particularly at the expense of the masses. They are prepared, and have been for years, for the purpose of inculcating in the German mind the belief that Germany is destined to be the supreme ruler of the world, to sacrifice even the virtues which enrich the human character in every country. Nietzsche, described by Frederic Harrison as one who stood at the finest summit of modern learning in Europe, preached one doctrine alone - that the power of the State should be supreme, even if it crushed all independence and all virtue out of the individual. His doctrine was that everything of which the human mind and heart were capable should be subordinated to the idea of making the German
State and German rule supreme throughout the world.
Let us now see what that rule stands for. Nietzsche, as I have remarked, in common with another publicist, Treitschke, said some remarkable things, and it is well to remember that one of Germany’s leading men, Gerhert Hauptmann, a few years ago affirmed that a copy of Nietzsche’s masterpiece, “ Thus Spake Zarathustra,” was to be found in the knapsack of every cultured German soldier. What did Nietzsche say? I only wish that his opinions were better known. He said -
War and courage have done greater things than love of one’s neighbour. Not your pity but your bravery has hitherto saved the unfortunate.
He then went on to invert the beatitudes - to invert the Sermon on the Mount, and every virtue and every precept that any person claiming to be a believer in civilization to-day reverences so much in his heart. He said -
They say “ Blessed are the peacemakers,” but I say unto you, “ Blessed are the war-makers,” for they shall be called, if not the children of Jehovah, the children of Odin, who is greater than Jehovah.
This writer then went on to refer to the military state in the following terms : -
The military state is the last means of adhering to the great traditions of the past. By means of it the strong and superior man is preserved.
Then he touched upon Christianity. Christianity, I am happy to say, does not need any advocacy in this Chamber. But Nietzsche, with an egotism which almost borders upon insanity, in speaking on Christianity, said -
I pronounce my sentence. I condemn Christianity. I call it the one great curse, the one great extrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, mean. I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.
His final allusion is to the inculcation of those natural virtues such as charity, forgiveness, and courage, which, in a civilized state, we so much desire to foster. Referring to these virtues he said -
They guarantee the contemptible species of well-being dreamt of by shopkeepers, Christians, cows, women, Englishmen, and other Democrats.
Then he proceeds to give a final testimony as to the character of that noble race which his philosophy would be capable of producing. Here I may mention that in his philosophy there are to be two divisions of mankind. The first is to consist of the servile, the humble, the impossible, the common herd. These are to be left to the devil and statistics. There is to be no hope for them. But in regard to the higher species he says : -
Deep in the nature of all these noble races there lurks the beast of prey, the blonde beast restfully roving in search of beauty and victory.
Is there not a very strong resemblance in that picture by Nietzsche with the terrible pathway which has marked the advance of the German Army through Belgium to its present front in France? Has not his teaching been carried out to the very letter in Belgium and the north of France?
Now I turn to the man who has been allowed by a spurious Democracy to continue at the head of Germany. The marvel is that such an individual has been permitted to occupy such an important position for so long. The Emperor Wilhelm, in referring to the destiny of his country and his own allotted sphere in particular, said -
Remember that the German people are the chosen of God. On mc, the German Emperor, the spirit of God has descended. I am his sword, his weapon, his vice-regent. Woe to the disobedient and death to cowards and un believers.
If an occupant of the British Throne uttered anything so arrogant and blasphemous of that kind, I would give very little for his crown, and still less for his life. That is the difference between the order of things in the British Empire and the order of things which has been approved and applauded in the German Empire. Treitschke, who figures very largely as one of the teachers of German policy, in speaking of the Army, says -
It is the one institution which brings the citizens together as citizens. To relegate the army to a subordinate position in the State or make it a mere instrument of diplomacy is old-fashioned political’ science.
That statement throws a lurid side-light upon the methods that he would have adopted in making the Army the dominant force in the Empire. Then a final word as revealing the inward meaning of this hell-hatched policy of frightfulness. A recent German Army order set forth -
By the favour of God we have been provided with a new weapon - poison gas.
– Is not Germany a country in which there is compulsory military service?
– Yes; and I believe that we have compulsory military service here.
– - For home defence.
– In what defence are we now engaged ?
– Home defence.
– Then why do we not supply the men that are required ? I will have a word to say upon that aspect of the matter presently.
– The honorable senator is a long time coming to it.
– I feel that what I have said was very necessary to prove that the problem which we are up against today is one which necessitates our digging to the very root of things, instead of merely scratching the surface, as Senator Needham has apparently done. The last quotation I shall make to snow the feeling of the central nation at present against us is from the War Lord Von der Goltz. He has said that the - inexorableness and seemingly hideous callousness of warfare is’ necessary to him who would achieve great things in war.
All these quotations go to show that in Germany, in the philosophic sphere, as well as amongst those actually engaged in carrying on war, there is the one intention and opinion prevailing. They all recommend the employment of force, utterly regardless of all the hardship, ruin, and distress which the use of that force may be directly responsible for.
Why are Ave engaged in this war, and how do we intend to deal with it? From my study of human events in the past, it is my belief that war was inevitable. Nearly every measure of human freedom which has been wrung from tyrants in the past, has been .wrung from, them by one means, and one means alone, and that is by war; if not by war in its generally accepted sense, by means quite as effective and calling quite as loudly for the exercise of all the sterner qualities of human nature. Looking into the genesis and essence of war, it must be admitted that in the past it has been, and possibly in the future it will be for a very long time to come, an absolutely necessary condition. A lot is heard about appraising the value of human life. But it has to be remembered that there is something more precious and priceless than mere life itself,, and that is life worth living. To secure that state and preserve it inviolate, awful as it may seem, life would have to be sacrificed. The surrender of life in the past by lovers of liberty has been the direct means of conferring upon us in Australia the very measure of liberty that we are enjoying to-day. Some people say that they do not want war, merely hecause they will not go to the trouble of trying to understand what life and liberty really mean. War is not necessary to servile races who are satisfied to lie down and be kicked like whining dogs, and to lick the hand that smites them. The wars of the past, such as the French Revolution, the revolution in England, the American War, and the Boer War, have been necessary. Viewing the wars of the past, it must immediately occur to our minds that tyranny and injustice on the one side have had to be opposed by all those finer qualities which, fortunately, are inherent in human nature still. _ Peoples governed by unbridled ambition, by pride, selfishness, and the greed of empire, by the desire that more scope might be given for the exercise of the meaner qualities of human nature, have found themselves pitted against the finer minds that have resisted the imposition of the will of those possessed of such feelings, and war has always been the result. The French Revolution was a civil war of vast proportions ; and am I to be told by persons who speak of the horrors of war that those who shared in that revolution, which shook Europe to its centre, were not entirely justified in tearing from those who had so long used it for their own purposes the tyrannical power which they possessed ? Let me say that those who participated in that war, as well as in the British war under Cromwell, could have done nothing else if they looked to secure the life and freedom, peace and happiness that all our hearts are set upon. Of the American and other Avars, the same things may be said, and in the case of most of the historical wars to which I might refer, it may be said that they were waged against tyranny, injustice and aggression by those who believed in freedom and the standards of justice and liberty which we in Australia prize so much. We may very well in our better judgment detest war. It is all right to detest it, but we cannot stop war by hating it. If we meet a poisonous reptile in the street we cannot exterminate it by any merely pious aspiration. We cannot deal with a poisonous reptile we meet in our pathway, or that gets into our bed at night by merely saying with Buddhistic resignation that we consider it hateful and wish, it away. We must use some measure of force to get rid of it. The only way to exterminate it is to get a stick, knock it on the head and kill it, and when we find the human viper abroad we must adopt the same means to deal with him. The only way in which we can make sure that there will be no detestable condition of war in the future is for us to war against those people who make war a reality. We must war against those who war against peace.
– That is very like Nietzsche.
– This may not appeal to Senator Senior, but I would remind him that whether we view this matter of war amongst communities of men, or in the scientific world, we find that under certain conditions it is inevitable. There is war going on at the present time within Senator Senior for the preservation of his life. It is a wellattested scientific fact that disease in the human body can only be coped with by a form of warfare upon the elements which are the cause of it. The invasion of the human body by small-pox is prevented by the injection into a healthy person of the attenuated virus of some disease. So the destruction of Senator Senior’s body by small-pox might be prevented by the use of the very elements that were employed in the actual warfare of the disease in another person. I am glad that the honorable senator is living to-day in good health, but if he is it is only because the benevolent bacteria in his system has been able to wage a successful warfare against the invading malignant hordes that would make an attack upon his life.
– What has this to do with conscription?
– The elements in Senator Senior’s system engage in a war which they bring about themselves, but in a war amongst nations that is not the case.
– I know that Senators Ferricks and Senior are very prone to go back to mother nature for inspiration and advice, and in what I have just said I was merely taking Senator Senior back to .that guide and cherished monitor. I was pointing out that though Senators Ferricks and Senior may have been victims in the past to the warfare of elements unfriendly to their life, their present healthy condition is due to the warfare waged against those elements by more friendly elements that have succeeded in pulling them through and making them living examples of what successful warfare means.
I was asked just now by Senator Blakey to say what all this has to do with conscription. I invited consideration of the essence and genesis of war, and I came to the conclusion that war in the past has been inevitable, and may be inevitable for many a long age to come. It is our duty at the present time to discover the best means to enable us to achieve victory in the present inevitable war. “We have two systems to consider - the voluntary system and the suggested system of national service. I do not wish to go back to the origin of voluntary service so far as the British Empire is concerned. If I did we should find it associated with very unworthy practices. Those of us who have given any study to history know when, partly by accident and partly by necessity, voluntary service came into use so far as our Empire is concerned. We know also that many of the greater wars in which the British Empire has been engaged were not won by the operation of the voluntary system at all, but that the British went to impecunious rulers of tin-pot European principalities to obtain hirelings to help them in their wars. The lessons of history in the past do not show the voluntary system to have operated in such a way in Great Britain as to give us cause for pride. The voluntary system was not effective in securing men in sufficient numbers to meet the situation in the American and other wars. It led to the creation and encouragement of that brutish human specimen, the buccaneer, the hired man-butcher, who killed for pay. The Empire has not been called upon in any war of note to depend solely on the voluntary system. It is true that in the inconsequential wars and periodical struggles of the last twenty-five or fifty years Great Britain has been able to muddle through under the voluntary system, but Ave are now engaged in a campaign in which it is necessary that we should put forth our greatest effort and discard all shibboleths. We have to look around and see just where we stand. We are forced now to inquire into the system and judge it on its merits. We have to say whether as sensible men we are satisfied to continue. We have arrived at a time when in this country we are engaged in a fight for our national existence, and that being so, we have to appeal to our manhood to come forward and “ toe the scratch.” It is quite true that under the operation of the voluntary system quite a respectable number of men have come forward. It is true that they recognise the nation’s danger, and have come forward to play a manly part in the struggle; but it is equally true that very many of our men are not seized of the imminence of the peril which’ surrounds Australia and the Empire at large. This peril needs to be brought home to them so that they may be compelled to do their duty to their country. I have been told that the present system has proved successful. In what way? It is a spineless policy that appeals to certain of our men simply because they have more spirit than their fellows. The voluntary system will never receive any kind of support or encouragement from me. If we look into the sphere of civil activity we find that in every case the interest of the individual is subordinated to the interest, of the people. Take the education of our children as an instance. Or take sanitation and other civil activities. In all of those activities, which are the sum of our social fabric, the central principle is that the individual is subordinated to the national will. If Australia were threatened with an invasion of disease to-morrow, honorable senators who are now interrupting me would be in favour of a common policy which would make the individual merge into the community and humble himself to the whole in order that the health of the community should be safeguarded by common action; but in the higher sphere of action, in the face of the supreme danger of invasion, they are prepared to allow the citizen to please himself whether he will come forward and fight for his country or leave it alone. This voluntary system represents a shiftless, spineless, soulless, stupid policy, and we must now consider our position, apart altogether from past predilections, and decide what is best to be done to win this war, and win it soon.
– Do not you admit that we have done very well under the voluntary system compared with other Dominions ?
– Comparatively speaking we have, but I will say no more on that point. We had the figures given to us the other day by the Acting Prime Minister, showing what has been done, and we have learned lately that Great Britain has abandoned her voluntary system. Speaking of the relative efforts made by Australia and the Mother Country, we have it on the authority of Mr. Asquith that 5,000,000 men have been enrolled, and we understand that that vast number is independent of the number which Lord Derby has been the means of calling to the country’s aid. In Great Britain the proportion of men called to the colours is about one to five or six of the population. Have we done likewise here ? We have, roughly speaking, about 286,000 men, whereas, if we had numbers in the same proportion as in Great Britain, we would have mustered about 700,000 men.
– Your figures are all wrong.
– They are given on the authority of Mr. Asquith, and it is a simple question to compare the populations of the two countries. Compulsion, in my opinion, is a sensible system, entirely fitting in with democratic ideals. I fail to see why any Democrat should be wedded any longer to this voluntary system, which has proved such a sham, a fraud, and a delusion. We were told that we should wait until the Mother Country had acted in the direction of conscription before doing anything in Australia. Well, the Mother Country has acted, and now those who took that stand in Australia are probably Hunting for another excuse to evade the issue here.
SenatorReady. - The Mother Country has not included Ireland in the scheme.
– I am not responsible for what the Mother Country has done.
– I think you are rather glad that Ireland was not included.
– I am not, and if my position on that point needs to be defined it is that I believe that Ireland should be included. I do not believe that. Ireland or any other country should loaf upon another Power in a crisis like the present. If any part of an organized society stands to gain immunity from a common danger through united effort, then that part should shoulder its full share of that effort. If you want my straight opinion on that subject, there it is for you. We have been told by the Minister of Defence that Dr. Springthorpe’s statement concerning the effect of campaigning on youths of immature age is not substantiated by the opinion of other medical officers who have been to the front. But we do not need any further corroboration of Dr. Springthorpe’s statement than is to be found any day in our streets when we may see immature young men in the ranks. Dr. Springthorpe told us that boys of seventeen and eighteen years of age, by reason of their immature physical condition, have suffered so severely that they will never be the same men again. That is what the voluntary system is doing for the manhood of this country.
– Have you noticed what has been done in Germany?
– Yes, I am aware that common sense is practised there in spite of lapses in other respects. That the German authorities are calling up young men of eighteen years of age, but side by side with that we have the statement of Colonel Repington, that among all the German prisoners of war in England he found none under twenty years of age. Conscription in our enemy country is putting the mature men into the firing line. Why are we not doing the same thing? We are not doing it because we are holding fast to the stupid voluntary system, which takes young men who are not physically fit, and makes of them physical wrecks. Another point to be observed is the fact that under the voluntary system we are making serious inroads upon our married population. When our Forces had reached the strength of about 100,000 the proportion of married men was about 7 per cent., so that if the same proportion is being main tained - and I think it has been rather increased - the married men will probably represent about 10 per cent. now. On that reckoning we must have between 35,000 and 40,000 fatherless homes in Australia, because under this beautiful voluntary system single men are allowed to parade the streets and look at the married men marching off to fight (their country’s battles for them. Do honorable senators feel satisfied ? Are they proud of it? I am not. I have raised my voice before, and my vote will be cast later, against the present system. Our best men are going to the front. Even those who are opposed to the compulsory system admit that the best are being wrenched from our midst. We are making a deep draft upon our richest blood, and, having regard to the fact that we may have to fight for our very existence in the near future, I ask every member of this Chamber if it is in the highest interests of the safety of this country to allow this to go on, while the inferior spirits remain to propagate our race ? If Australia is called upon to fight for its liberty, will not the spirit that won us imperishable renown on the slopes of Gallipoli, as shown by our best sons, tell more than the spirit of those who have so far refused to go?
– Ask the boys who are there whether they believe in voluntaryism or conscription?
– With one accord they would say, “ Change your system, and get sensible; use that uncommon commodity, common sense, to get Australia’s manhood marshalled and mustered to push this task to a final conclusion.” I have met scores of them, and they will tell you nothing else. The present system has nothing to recommend it from the standpoint of economy, or Democracy, the future of the race, or the safety of the country. While I impute no motives to individual advocates of the opposite view, I am here to condemn as strongly as possible a system which is capable of producing so much mischief, and which cannot put forward the nation’s best effort.
We hear a lot about the conscription of wealth. It is a very taking phrase, yet when we get those gentlemen down from the clouds, to put the terms of their proposal in black and white, where are they going to draw the line ? Wherever they draw it a manifest injustice or favour will be done to those below or above it. Is it necessary for me to say that I am in favour of the conscription of wealth? I am here to give all the power that any Government want to put into effect the right which they have at present to conscript wealth, but I entirely disagree with those who advocate the taking of wealth without interest. Their policy is for the present generation to take on its shoulders the full burden of the war, and pay cash for it, leaving no burden to future generations. If only from the point of view of preventing future wars, this would be a most ill-advised course. A man estimates an advantage in proportion to the price he has to pay for it, and if future generations find that this war has cost them nothing, the foolish generation of to-day having paid cash for it over the counter, leaving them only a memory, and no interest bill to meet, they will not be restrained from entering into wars on their own account, as otherwise they might be. But if they have to pay part of the cost of this war, it will make them, count the cost of another. I would, therefore, point out that the conscription of wealth, without interest, is a course which may encourage, instead of prevent, the recurrence of disastrous wars in the future. From every standpoint a change of policy and system is called for, and we can push this conflict to a successful conclusion only by supplying all the men and munitions possible. As the freedom of choice given to the individual in the past has led to numbers holding back, we must devise some means of depriving those men of their freedom in this vital struggle.
– How many more men could we send to the front in the next six months with conscription that we cannot send under the voluntary system ?
– That is simply postponing the difficulty. If it is only to get the men and make them fit to take their part, we must change the system, because training is indispensable to the soldier: The policy of drift advocated in some quarters will no longer serve our purpose. Ian Hamilton’s cry was for men, and more men. He told us that if he had had man-power enough, he would have been in Constantinople. The British War Office authorities long ago saw the necessity for more men, but the conscription measure in the Old Country was postponed to the last, owing to the inability of the leaders of public opinion to come together and adopt that very necessary policy. It is the extra horse in the team that we want to get over the brow of the hill. We are depending now on a system that supplies us only with driblets; and to make the final push, we must muster without delay every man capable of rendering military service to his country. At present we are as foolish as the man who attempts to put out his burning house with a garden squirt, instead of tapping the 6-in. main alongside his fence. If we want to save our house from being burnt down, we must drop our respect for ancient shibboleths, and, as sensible men, take steps to enable Australia to do its full part, following the admirable example set on the hills of Gallipoli, and putting forward our utmost efforts to insure that victory shall rest on the banners of the Allies when a glorious and enduring peace shall be ours.
– After listening with great pleasure and considerable interest to the able speech of Senator Lynch, I have no desire to enter into the arguments for or against conscription, as the subject has been exhaustively treated already. My own opinion is that during a period of war every resource of the country ought to be at the disposal of the Government for purposes of defence. We all hope that before long the war will have ended successfully for the Allies, and then the various problems which interest the people of Australia will again come up for treatment. Indeed, some of those problems are so serious that it is high time we began to consider them. At the end of the war a large number of men will be suddenly thrown on our labour market, and we shall have on our hands considerable numbers of pensioners and others partially or wholly disabled. In fact, we shall have a new problem before us when the war is finished, and it is high time that we began to take stock of how this difficulty is to be met. I was very sorry to notice in the Treasurer’s Budget speech a statement to the effect that the Government have no desire that the present high return, from Customs taxation shall continue.
– Order ! I would point out to the honorable senator that the paper to which the motion under consideration relates deals only with one subject, namely, the Army we have raised for service abroad. Honorable senators will have ample opportunity of discussing other matters when the Budget is under consideration.
– I thank you, sir, for your reminder. I was under the impression that the whole political situation was now open to review. In any case, I have said all that I desire to say on the particular subject that is before us. My creed is “ When the country is at war, every resource should be placed at the disposal of the Government.”
– Now that the standing order has been suspended, the motion under consideration affords honorable senators an opportunity of dealing with one subject which is agitating the public mind at the present moment more than is any other. That subject is : Have the Government adopted the best method which could be adopted to enable us to successfully prosecute our share of the war? Yesterday I listened with a considerable amount of pleasure to the able and temperate speech of the Leader of the Opposition. I also followed closely the remarks of Senator Ferricks; and this afternoon I heard with much enjoyment a deliverance by Senator Lynch, in his usual fiery and emphatic style. To my mind, it is only fair that any honorable senator who feels very strongly upon this question should be afforded an opportunity of explaining the reasons which underlie his belief in compulsory military service. We are all very proud to share in the reflected glory of our sons and relatives who fought so valiantly in Gallipoli, and who may be trusted to acquit themselves equally well in any other part of the world in which they may be called upon to fight. But whilst we are prone to pat our chests and say “ These are the kind of men we breed in our country,” we ought to ask ourselves whether we are bearing our fair share of the burden and doing all that we can to assist our fighting Forces abroad. Since this disastrous war broke out, I have done my very best to make the voluntary recruiting system a success. Australians have a natural leaning towards that system. We detest conscription in any shape or form. I repeat that I have done- my best to make the voluntary system a success by offering my- self for service abroad. The Minister has long had my offer in his possession, though unfortunately I am over the military age ; but having offered myself as a vounteer, I felt perfectly free to go out and invite every man of eligible age to enlist. I have taken part in every recruiting campaign that has been initiated in South Australia since the inception of this momentous struggle. During the past month or so, two recruiting trains traversed that State, one going north and the other south. I travelled on both of those trains, and assisted in urging eligible young men to join the colours. South Australia, like most other portions of the Commonwealth, has done remarkably well in raising recruits for service at the front. But in the recent country campaign I was everywhere met with the inquiry, “ Why do you not spend your time and efforts in the cities ? Why tour the rural areas in search of recruits?” Then when I visited the cities I was met with the cry, “ The cities have done remarkably well in the matter of recruiting. Why do you not confine your appeal to the country?”
– Which contention is right ?
– They are both right and they are both wrong. But I do not intend to set country against city, or vice versa. I say that our best efforts should be put forward in the prosecution of this war, and that every eligible man should be called upon in his turn. There is no service which a man should regard as being higher than that of serving his country when it is in danger. Our voluntary system has not been a failure in the number of men recruited, but it has been a failure in the sense that our pluckiest have gone from among us whilst the others have stayed at home.
– Is not it better that the plucky men should go?
– It seems to me that there can be no logical argument adduced in favour of sending the plucky men abroad to fight the country’s battles -
– What would be the use of sending the other kind of men ?
– Then let us take the cowards and put them in positions of responsibility in Australia, whilst we send our brave men out of the country to be killed. We can then proceed to raise a race of cowards in the
Commonwealth. Is that what Senator Henderson desires?
– Under the compulsory system we should have the expense of sending cowards abroad and of returning them home invalided.
SenatorNEWLAND. - I have never yet met a soldier who was sent back because of cowardice, but I have met quite a number of men who have been returned to Australia because of physical defects, and who ought never to have been sent away.
– That remark does not apply to the whole lot.
– I am not saying that it does. Many soldiers have been returned to Australia because of physical disabilities which ought to have prevented them going abroad. The explanation is to be found in the fact that owing to the shortage of men we were bound to accept all who approached the military standard. I know of young lads who have gone to the front and who should never have been permitted to do so. Youths under seventeen years of age have enlisted - they have told the authorities that they were eighteen years old. Their action was a testimony to their pluck, and some of them have actually withstood the test. On the other hand, I know men considerably over the military age who have enlisted. I know that one man who departed with the first contingent was nearly sixty years of age. Unfortunately,he was killed early in the engagement connected with the landing of our forces in Gallipoli. Another man who is quite sixty years of age, and who probably told the military authorities that he was considerably younger, is to-day walking the streets of Adelaide in khaki. He cannot possibly stand the strain to which he will be subjected before his training is completed. I have no hesitation in saying that a system which permits of a condition of things such as I have outlined should be abandoned as early as possible. Much as I dislike the idea of compulsion, I believe that we should institute a system of recruiting under which all eligibles would have to go in their turn. If ever there was a time in the history of a nation when a fair system of compulsion could be introduced, it is the present time, seeing that there is a Labour Government in power in the Commonwealth. It does not matterwhat sort of compulsory measure may be submitted to Parliament, because we know that it will be bound to leave the Legislature in a form which will bear upon its pages the imprint of the Labour party. We may be sure that no measure will pass in this Parliament to-day that will not be as fair as it is possible for Parliament to make it. There is no need to fear that our industries will be interfered with. There is not the slightest reason why a trade union or any other organization should be interfered with.
– That is the aim of the conscriptionists.
– I tell my honorable friend again that no Bill can leave the Senate except in such form as we please. No measure will leave this chambercontaining anything objectionable to the industrial community. If the opposite political party were in power, we might be more timid about the introduction of legislation of this kind; but surely, with our own party in power, we cannot fear that any measure will be allowed to pass the Senate or the House of Representatives that would in any way be injurious to our industrial organizations? Conscription is objectionable to many members of industrial organizations because, I am afraid, they do not quite understand the meaning of the word. It has a nasty ring about it, and many do not know what it really means.
– Let us hope we never shall.
– I can tell the Minister that, unless the war be terminated very quickly, there is reason to believe that we shall know what it is. I am confident that if a vote weretaken of the people of Australia on thesubject, there could be no doubt as to what their verdict would be.
– How manyof them would understand it?
– Senator Henderson offers that objection now ; but if it were proposed to take areferendum on some other subject, the number of people who would understand it would not trouble himvery much. I have said before that if honorable senators asked the boyswho foughtat Anzacwhat system they believed in there would be no doubt as to what theiranswer would be.
– What about the belief of the mothers who have sent sons to the war ?
– There are thousands of mothers in Australia who have given their only son for their country, and there are thousands of other mothers who have several sons and have not given one for the country. That is most unfair, and a system that permits that kind of thing cannot be defended here, or anywhere else.
– How can a mother give her son ?
– The honorable senator knows very well what I mean, and he knows that mothers have given their sons for the country.
– Has not the son to consent, himself ?
– That is so; but every son who has gone away has just as truly been given to the country by his mother. The honorable senator knows, too, that the mothers who have given their sons are very sore at heart when they think of the mothers whose sons have not gone to the front.
– There are sons who have gone against their mothers’ will.
– I am aware of that; and even in those cases the mothers have given their sons, and in many cases their hearts are breaking because of the loss of their sons.
– The honorable senator would rob the mother of her pride in giving her son.
– The mothers will have to give up their sons just the same under conscription.
– There will be no pride in giving them.
– We can take far less pride in the fact that, under the existing system, the sons of many mothers are not going to the front at all. Apart from all questions of sentiment, the voluntary system is neither fair nor just, and it is not economic, whether viewed as a means of securing men, or regarded in the light of the future of the nation. Many married men having large families have gone away, and if they get killed the country must provide pensions for their wives and children. This is taking place every day, whilst the census cards have shown that 120,000 men in Australia have refused to go and fight for their country. If there isone man who, more than any other, ought to be conscripted, it is surely the man who has refused straight out to fight for his country when asked to do so. I do not think that such a man should receive sympathy or consideration from any section of the community. Senator Ferricks last night was very interesting in saying what the pioneers of this country had to do in order to secure political and social freedom, and a decent wage. As the result of the work of th”ole pioneers, this country has become one of the best countries on the face of the earth for working men to live in. I do not say that it is as good as it might be made, or as we hope it will be in the near future, but we have reached a stage here when we are able to say that the working man has more liberty and better conditions than any other country on earth offers. Surely if that be so, these liberties which have cost so much to gain are worth fighting for. Under conscription the wealthy neighbours of the working men will be called upon to fight with him for the country. It is the boast of Labour men that a splendid response has been made by the members of industrial organizations. We’ boast of the fact that the percentage of workers who have gone to the war is greater than that of any other class in the community. If that be so, then the workman who is not a unionist, and who is content to sit behind those who are members of unions, and are prepared to fight for their country, should also be sent to the front. There is no method by which this man can be sent to the front unless we alter the existing system of enlistment. Senator Ferricks told us of the hardships, difficulties, and disadvantages under which our forefathers lived in the older lands. The honorable senator knows only of those hardships by report, but I happen to know of them by personal experience.
– So do I.
– I did not know that my honorable friend had had personal experience of those difficulties and hardships. Everything that he said on that point was perfectly right. The conditions of the workers in older lands will not bear comparison with the conditions of workers in Australia. Deep down in every man’s heart there is inherent a love for the land of his birth, and whether the young Australian be born of Irish, English, or Scotch parents, he has a higher regard for their country than for the countries of other men. That is a sentiment that we all like to encourage. I know of a spot in Scotland, near where I was born, where the people were simply ordered off the land, and the fertile glens and hills were depopulated, in order that the wealthy landlords might rear deer and grouse, and the German baron or the American multi-millionaire might later have the pleasure of enjoying the slaughtering of the animals reared on those lands. Fortunately, the people were allowed to go back to those glens and hills after a time; but to-day they are again depopulated because the men who were there have gone to the war, and, unfortunately, the bulk of them have been killed, and will never return. If that land is worth fighting for, and if, under the conditions existing in the Old Country, men are prepared cheerfully to die for the country, whether under a voluntary system or under conscription, surely we in Australia, who have a better country to fight for, because of the greater liberties we enjoy, should take all the steps that are necessary to defend this Commonwealth which, without doubt, is one of the objectives of the German Hun, and one of the places on which he longs to set his foot and raise his standard. It is for every man in Australia who is saddled with responsibilities to see that the method adopted for sending our men to the front is the most economical and the one which will give the best results. I feel confident that if the question is viewed in this way, the result will be that a measure of compulsion will be introduced that will insure that every man will go to the front who ought to go there. We can be confident that the measures of the kind adopted will absolutely prevent any favoritism, and will make it impossible for the rich man to stay at home if the poor man has to go. That is a possibility under the existing system. I make no charges against the rich men, but it is now left to every man’s own choice to go or to refrain from going. Those who have the necessary courage and love their country go, and those who are indifferent or cowardly stay at home. I am not urging compulsion upon the Government at the present time. I have sufficient faith in them to believe that when, in their opinion, the requirements of this country and of the Old Country are so great that it becomes necessary for them to deal with enlistment in a different way, they will be prepared to do so. My object in speaking this afternoon is to let it be known exactly where I am in this matter. I have done all that I have been able to do for the existing system, and am prepared to continue to do all I can for it, but I believe that a system of compulsion for enlistment is the fairest and most effective system to enable this country to carry on the war.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Order of the day called on for the resumption of the debate adjourned from 10th May(vide page 7720), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Estimates of revenue and expen diture for the year ending 30th June, 1916, and the Budget-papers 1915-16. laid on the table of the Senate on 10th May, 1916, be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Imove -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the measure is to amend section 4 of the War Precautions Act by inserting a new paragraph in sub-section 3 to the following effect: - (aa) require that any person approved by the Minister shall have access to any such factory or workshop at such times as the Minister either generally or in any particular case directs; and.
This is to deal with an anomaly created in the case of a factory the whole output of which has been taken over by the Commonwealth. Such a case could never occur in the United Kingdom, and it supplies an answer to those people who say that we have all the powers that we require under our existing Constitution. This is the position : In Victoria we have taken over the whole output of a factory, and in such a case there is no contract, so our conditions of contract do not apply. We asked the State Government to apply the conditions of their Factories Act as to wages and conditions of labour, but they informed us that as we had taken over the entire output of the factory the State law could not control the factory. Therefore we have, in this time of war, a set of circumstances under which we cannot apply our ordinary conditions of contract, because the whole output of a factory having been taken, there is no contract, and because it is a Federal matter, the State authorities have no control. This amendment is to give the Minister power to authorize an inspector to see that the proper conditions are observed. I trust there will be no delay, as the matter is urgent, and has been urgent for some time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 4).
– Under section 31a provision is made for an inspection of all military contracts. Is it the intention of this amendment to give the Minister similar power in cases where the output of a factory has been taken over ?
.- The amendment will give effect to the section referred to. It will not override it.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment. Standing and Sessional Orders suspended ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I hope honorable senators have been taking interest in the establishment of this fund, the purpose of which is to give those who have been unable to fight for their country an opportunity to fulfil their obligations to our brave troops by assisting soldiers to gain a permanent livelihood after the war, either on the land or in other occupations. It will apply not only to soldiers, but also to their dependants. The Bill creates a board of trustees to administer the repatriation fund, gives them a status in law, and lays down their duties. It also contains provision for the safeguarding of the fund. If there is one regrettable feature in connexion with the various patriotic funds, it is that they have not Deen regulated by the laws of the States or of the” Commonwealth. It would have been better if, at the outset, these funds had been so provided for, because a lot of duplication, and probably a lot of waste, would then have been avoided. This fund is proposed to be a combined fund, in connexion with which the Commonwealth and the State Governments will make an appeal to the people of Australia. There are those who think that the duty of reestablishing our soldiers in occupations when they come back is one for the whole people. This is recognised by the fact that the Commonwealth Parliament will be asked to vote a sum of £250,000 towards the fund. That expenditure will have to be borne by the general taxpayers of this country, and it is probable that the State Premiers will also ask the Parliaments of the various States to supplement the fund, their contributions being borne by the taxpayers of the respective States. I believe, also, there are many wealthy people, and even those who are not wealthy, who would like to, and who will, contribute to this fund. Some have already done so. The Messrs. Baillieu, of Melbourne, contributed £25,000, a magnificent donation, and others have given in like manner. I remember Mr. W. L. Baillieu in the Melbourne Town Hall saying that many people could not go to the war, but they should have an opportunity, as others were suffering for them, of making such a contribution as would not mean merely the giving of what they could spare, but would entail some sacrifice. There is a noble sentiment in that utterance, and I believe the gentleman who made it has given practical expression of it. Six of the trustees were selected by the Federal Parliamentary War Committee, which represents both parties in the two Houses, and the other eight have been nominated by the Commonwealth Government, who tried to secure men wellknown in business and commercial circles, so as to give a guarantee to the people that the money would be wisely invested and spent, and at the same time to give each section of the community representation on the Board. The members of the Board have entered on their duties most enthusiastically, and I am glad to say that they have all willingly assented to the request of the Government that they should act. Preliminary meetings have been held, but no legal business can be transacted until this Bill is passed. I look foward with confidence to the fund amounting to a considerable sum, although so far it has scarcely been started. As soon as the Bill is passed, and the trustees are authorized to act, a secretary and a publicity agent will be appointed to push the appeal in every possible way. We look to the various State War Councils for assistance in their respective spheres, and also to the various recruiting agencies spread throughout different districts. Just as these bodies have given their time to induce recruits to volunteer, we believe that they will use their best endeavours to induce people to contribute funds for the benefit of the soldiers when they have returned. When the money is available and gifts can be made in kind as well as in money, the same organizations will be used to transmit the assistance to the soldiers. We wish under this fund to work on the local patriot. We want each district to feel that the men who have gone from it are its peculiar and particular charge. While the fund is national, the trustees will endeavour to apportion it, as largely as they can, to the districts from which, the soldiers have come, and in which the fund has been raised. Some districts, however, are rich in men and poor in money. Others have plenty of money, but have not given many recruits, and the advantage’ of having a central fund with a board of trustees is that, where a great number of soldiers have to be provided for, and there is not a very wealthy community to provide for them, the trustees can equalize the fund so as to help them from the richer districts of the Commonwealth. To those who believe that no appeal should be made to the private benevolence of our citizens, but that the whole of the money should be raised by some Government agency, I would point out that there is a value in what is called the civic virtue of a community. There is a value in cultivating in the minds of our people a spirit of generosity and a recognition of our responsiblity to our brother men. This cannot be calculated in £ s. d., but that .the cold payment of taxation does not cultivate it is certain. We believe that appeals to private benevolence do cultivate it. There will be no charity-mongering in this scheme. No soldier will feel that he is accepting charity when he accepts assistance from the fund. It will not be handled in that way. There will bo another advantage in having the fund disbursed in the way proposed. A pension can be paid through a Government Department, because io that case hardandfast rules can be laid down, but no Government Department can conveniently handle the problem of the varying needs of the units who apply for assistance under this proposal. One man with a certain family and certain obligations may need assistance to go on the land. In that case we need, the human calculation as to how much assistance he should get. Another is unfitted to go on the land, but can start a small business or run a motor car for hire, and the trustees can advance him £50 or £100 to start in business for himself. A woman who has lost her husband may be helped to open a little business for herself; and it is impossible to lay down by regulation the lines on which this money is to be disbursed. It can be done only by means of the human element, with local committees with a knowledge of individual needs, and by giving the assistance, not as a charity, but as a right. I would ask those who believe that all this work should be done through a Government Department to contemplate the spectacle of a Department dealing with cases such as I have described. It could lead only to endless friction and dissatisfaction. Even in State-managed pension schemes, where the lines are clear cut, injustice and harshness in administration are frequently complained of. How much more so would this be the case where such varying sets of circumstances have to be met? The clauses of the Bill are almost entirely machinery.
– Is the Minister quite satisfied that in the event of a trustee dying there will be no need to alter the Act to make another appointment ?
– Sub-clause 5 of clause 4 meets the case. Under clause 6 the question of disposing of the securities arises. Paragraph b provides that the trustees shall be charged with the duty of investing in securites of the Commonwealth or a State, or on fixed deposit or in current account in the , Commonwealth Bank, such part of the fund as is not immediately required for the purposes for which the fund has been established. This question has given me some concern, because when the fund was being established I placed myself in communi cation first with the Commonwealth Bank,” the Governor of which offered to undertake the care of any sums of money, and give 3 per cent, interest on all current accounts in his bank, and to transmit money from one branch to another or one State to another free of exchange. The other banks throughout the Commonwealth afterwards, practically all agreed to do the same, and it may seem that we are not dealing quite fairly with them in stipulating that the accounts shall be kept only in the Commonwealth Bank. The difficulty is that this is a national fund, and the head-quarters will be in Melbourne. If we had to draw on a number of separate current accounts all over the Commonwealth, in various banks, we might have a most complicated system of bookkeeping, and so I endeavoured to arrange that the working account of the fund should be in the Commonwealth Bank only. But I feel the force of the objection that we should not cut the other banks out of any connexion with the fund other than being merely collectors of the money. I have no desire to do so, especially as they have promised to give us 3 per cent, on current accounts, and transmit money free of exchange, and I shall be, therefore, quite prepared to accept an amendment, if one can be framed, allowing the working account to be in the Commonwealth Bank, but not excluding the other banks from holding money with the consent of the trustees on fixed deposit in their various branches. It has been pointed out to me that the difficulty I thought I saw could be obviated by the very simple arrangement which the private banks now have, under which all their branches, at stated intervals, send to headquarters statements showing all the balances in their charge. It could be arranged that all the balances of this fund should be sent, every week, to the head-quarters of the bank, which could inform the secretary of the fund accordingly. One consideration which would influence me to agree to bring the private banks into the scheme is that, whereas the Commonwealth Bank has not branches in all parts of Australia, there is a branch of some bank almost everywhere in the Commonwealth, and we could transmit money to almost any part by utilizing the private banks as agents of the Commonwealth Bank. Members of Parliament can do a great deal to make the appeal for this fund widely known, to push it publicly, and make it a great success.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
This Act may be cited as the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund Act 1916.
– It appears to me that the title of this Bill is susceptible of improvement. The word “ repatriation,” as we know, signifies a process of restoration to one’s native country. That is its purely dictionary meaning. But seeing that the central idea of this Bill is to acknowledge the service which our soldiers have rendered to Australia, the term does not seem to be strictly applicable to it. In my judgment the object of the measure is to place on record our gratitude to the members of our Forces who have fought for the ‘Empire. Its title, therefore, might be improved by substituting the word”gratitude” for “repatriation.”
– Why not call the measure “ The Australian Soldiers’ Recognition Fund Bill?”
– It is often asked, “What is in a name?” But in my opinion there is a good deal in it. I know that one Act of this Parliament, by reasonof its unfortunate title, caused Australiato occupy avery invidious position in theeyes of the world . I refer to the Immigration Restriction Act. For years this Statute was used for the purposeof pointing to Australia as the one country which did not desire immigration. To my mind itis advisable that we should select some more suitable name for this Bill. The term “ repatriation “ might beapplied with equal force to anyperson who had left Australiaupon a mission much less honorable than that in which our troops have been engaged, and who was returning to this country. Before we pass this measure something should be done to make the title more consistent with the intention of Parliament. I would suggest that the consideration of its title should be postponed for the present.
– I hope that the suggestion of Senator Lynch willnot be agreed to. I would point out that an appeal has been launched for the fund under this particular title, and it would cause endless confusion if an alteration were made in it now. At the present time it is somewhat difficult to keep track of all the funds that are in existence, and if we were to coin still another name for one of these funds it would necessitate a fresh appeal being made to the public, and would involve us in a good deal of explanation. I would remind Senator Lynch that a considerable sum has already been contributed to the “ Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund “ under that name.
– Does not the Minister think that the word ‘ ‘ recognition ‘ ‘ would be a better one than “repatriation?”
– No. It is not the first time that this particular title has been used in connexion with a similar fund. After the South African war the British Government lent South Africa £25,000,000 for the purpose of reinstating the Boer farmers on their farms. That was called the “ repatriation grant.”
– But many of the Boers had lost their farms during the war, whereas we do not say that our soldiers have lost their citizenship.
– Technically speaking, I admit that the term “ repatriation” is not correct. “Repatriation” implies arestoration of nationality, and out Australian soldiers have not lost their nationality. But whilst that is so, I venture to say that in the present instance the word is clearly understood to mean the re-establishment of our troopsin civil life. Asthe fund has already been launched, and as considerable subscriptions have been made to it in all the States, it would be most unwise to change its title now.
– I entirely agree with the remarks of Senator Lynch that an unfortunate choice has been made in applying the term “ repatriation “ to this Bill. But from what the Minister has said, the choice was not that of the Government. It appearsthat a fund has been established known as the “Repatriation Fund,” and this Bill does not propose to go further than to effectively safeguard the proper disposal of that fund. If at this stage we substitute for the word “ repatriation,” some more appropriate expression, it may suit our aesthetic taste, but it will certainly lead to considerable confusion in the mind of thecommunity.
– Not when it becomes known.
– But it will be difficult to make it known. To-day there are in existence regulations of the greatest importance under the War Precautions Act, and yet those regulations are very little known indeed. Only yesterday and to-day the Minister has been asked certain questions with a view to causing him to quote certain regulations the provisions of which ought to be better known. As the Minister has pointed out, there are quite a number of patriotic funds in existence at the present time. These include funds of a general character, of a national character, and of a State character. If the term “repatriation” as applied to this fund were a new term which was being introduced for the first time in this Bill I should be found supporting the contention of Senator Lynch. But seeing that there is already in existence a soldiers’ repatriation fund, it is necessary that we should provide means by which that fund shall be administered in order that effect may be given to the wishes of its contributors.
– Whatever differences of opinion may exist in respect of the name that has been applied to this fund, it would be a serious mistake to alter it at the present juncture. As a member of the War Council of this State, I have had a fair amount of experience in connexion with most of the patriotic funds in existence, and I say that much confusion exists in the minds of contributors as to the objects for which some of those funds have been established, and as to how they are to be allocated. But whilst that is undoubtedly the case, I venture to say that there is scarcely any person in Australia who does not know the reason why the soldiers’ repatriation fund was called into existence. It is a fund which is primarily intended to assist our returned discharged soldiers. Arrangements have been completed between the Commonwealth and State Governments for settling suitable discharged soldiers upon the lands of this country, and for assisting them from this fund during their initial difficulties there. With this end in view they will be granted non-interest bearing loans.
– For how long?
– Until they have tided over their difficulties.
– If they cannot repay the loans what will happen?
– I do not know. The fund will also be utilized to assist other returned soldiers in other spheres of activity. Already the public have been informed that the Commonwealth intends to donate the sum of £250,000 to the fund. To now alter the name of the fund would lead to endless confusion ; and, to be consistent, if we alter the title of the Bill, we must alter the name of the fund.
– That is to say, if we take one false step we should follow it up with another.
– It would be a very serious mistake to alter the title of the Bill in the way proposed. Parliament, of course, is supreme, and could alter the name of the fund ; but it would not be a wise thing , to do. The fund has already been launched, the public are aware of its existence under a certain name and are subscribing to it, and returned discharged soldiers know exactly what the object of the fund is. In common with every other member of the Committee, I hope and believe that this fund will prove to be the most substantial that has ever been raised in Australia.
– A mistake has been made, and we should continue it?
– I do not admit that a mistake has been made. The Government have contributed £250,000 to the fund, and the public are contributing to it. For the substantial reasons advanced by the Minister, and those also advanced by Senator Keating, I trust that honorable senators will not agree to any alteration of the title.
– In my opinion, the word “ repatriation “ in the title of this Bill is entirely out of place. The title ought to be “ The Australian Soldiers’ Loan Fund Act.”
– What is the “Australian Soldiers’ Loan Fund?”
– I understand that it is constituted of moneys to be given, or loaned, for the assistance of returned soldiers.
– If the title of the Bill be altered to “ The Australian Soldiers’ Loan Fund Act,” its provisions will apply to a fund that does not at present exist.
– As a matter of fact, the £250,000 proposed to be contributed to the fund by the Commonwealth Government has not yet been voted by Parliament. The amounts proposed to be voted by the State Parliaments to the fund have not yet been passed. With the exception of a few substantial donations, the fund is at present in its infancy. There is no word in this Bill, from first to last, which would lead any one to suppose that it is intended to lend this money to returned soldiers. I was under the impression, when I first read the Bill, that the intention was to give a donation to a returned soldier to enable him to recommence civil life. There does not appear to be any provision in this Bill for the repayment of advances from the fund. In all the circumstances, the word “ repatriation “ is entirely out of place in the title of the Bill, and I therefore move -
That the word “Repatriation “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word ” Loan.”
– This is a machinery Bill for the administration of a certain fund which has already been created by the public under the title of “ The Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund.” If we alter the title, as proposed by Senator Grant, we shall be passing a Bill to operate a fund that does not exist. A fund is in existence at the present time under a certain name, and the Government in this measure are asking Parliament to provide machinery for its operation.
– I agree with Senator Grant and disagree with Senator Shannon on this question, for the reason that so far as it is known to Parliament the fund does not exist, and this Bill brings it into existence in supplying the machinery for the working of the fund. Surely in the circumstances we can call the fund by what name we please. In South Australia we have an Act known as the “ Advances for Workers’ Homes Act,” under which advances are made to workers to assist them in building their homes. Provision is made in that measure for the repayment of amounts advanced. There is nothing in this Bill to say whether the moneys of the fund are to be loaned or given. If this is to be a Loan Bill, then we ought to say so. We should adopt a title which will cover the provisions of the Bill. By the unfortunate use of the word “ repatriation “ the moneys of the fund might be restricted to defraying the expenses of bringing soldiers back to Australia from Turkey or from other countries in which they may have been imprisoned.
– There is power to make regulations under the Bill.
– That is so; but the regulations must be in harmony with the spirit of the Bill, the object of which is entirely different from what is suggested by the title. The regulations would have to specify whether the money is advanced as a gift or as a loan. Senator Shannon will remember another South Australian measure known as the “Advances to Settlers Act.” That measure sets out in its title what its purpose is, but here the title is foreign to the purpose of the Bill. I hope that the Committee will select some title for the measure which will enable the public to know what its object is.
– Is it not the purpose of the Bill to provide machinery for the distribution of a certain fund?
– It provides machinery for dealing with a fund only the nucleus of which at present exists, and which was initiated before the legislative machinery to deal with it was prepared.
– If we do not use this title we shall not identify the fund.
– The honorable senator means to suggest that if the word “ repatriation “ is not used in the title we shall fail in this Bill to recognise the money that has already been contributed. But I point out that the money has been contributed, not for the purpose of the repatriation of soldiers, but in order to assist soldiers in this country. The word “repatriation” may have been used in South Africa, but it had a literal meaning there, because people there had been dispossessed, and were being brought back and reinstated. In the opinion of ninety-nine people out of every hundred in the Commonwealth “ repatriation “ will not mean assistance to soldiers who are already here. We need a title for the Bill which will give the public some idea as to what its purpose is.
– I cannot support Senator Grant’s amendment. I do not see any mention in the Bill of the lending of money to soldiers, and the substitution of the word “ loan “ for the word “ repatriation” in the title would only make the position worse than it is at the present time. I do not approve of the use of the word “ repatriation.” I entirely agree with Senator Lynch that as used in this Bill it is misleading. The figures submitted by the Minister of Defence show that since the outbreak of the war, about 251,000 men have responded to the call of the Empire. A number of those, I am sorry to say, are lying on the field of honour. We must not, by this Bill, imply that those who have survived the grim ordeal of war shall have to be again initiated into all the privileges of citizenship. That is what the word “ repatriation “ means. It has been adopted probably because such a word was used in connexion with the Boer War, and, as Senator Senior and Senator Lynch have indicated, there was probably justification for its use, but I am sure that the Government did not intend that that should be the case now. These men have volunteered their lives as a holocaust on the altar of the world’s liberty, and some will come back maimed and unable again to engage in the callings they were following prior to the Empire’s call. The object of this Bill is to assist them in entering upon some occupation which they can follow, and, in my opinion, the title should be altered by striking out the word “ repatriation “ and inserting the word “ recognition.”
– How would the word “ assistance “ do?
– I would accept the word “assistance” if the word “recognition ‘ ‘ were not acceptable to the Committee. The returned soldier does not owe us anything, but on the contrary we owe him everything. I do not think there is much in the objection by the Minister that if an amendment of the title were made it might lead to confusion, because certain generous citizens have initiated the fund. If an alteration were made the people who are connected with the various local funds would readily adopt the new term.
.- I cannot agree to the proposal to alter the name of the fund, because it has been published throughout the Commonwealth, and it is known as the “ Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund.” Considerable contributions have been made in the name of that fund. It is astonishing what small matters sometimes engage great minds. At present we have a division of opinion concerning the dame of a fund, but no difference of opinion concerning the Bill itself.
– We want to say what we mean.
– I am quite sure that the people quite understand what is meant by the term. The duty of the trustees will be to assist returned soldiers, and replace .them in a condition whereby they may be able to earn their living either upon the land or in some other avocation. Owing unhappily to the condition in which they will return, many of them will lose the opportunity of resuming their former occupations, and it will be the duty of the trustees to assist them to earn a living in some other way. A large amount of money has been subscribed towards the fund under its existing name, and I shall vote for its retention in the Bill.
– I agree with some of the previous speakers that the word “ repatriation “ is not the best that could have been found; but I should like to point out that this scheme has been advertised throughout Australia as the “ repatriation scheme,” and at every meeting which I addressed in Western Australia during the recess I referred to it in that way. A great many residents in every part of that State said they were pleased to hear that such a scheme had been originated by the Federal Government, and when the machinery was perfected they would be prepared to pay in, either of money or kind. In the Bill there is no mention of loans to soldiers, and I assume, therefore, that if Senator Grant’s amendment were carried, it would not be in conformity with the title. It is. the intention of the Government and the War Council, I believe, to ask the general public to contribute, not only in money, but in kind, including stock or implements; so, if a returned soldier required a certain implement to work his farm, the Board could not let him have it, because, .under the altered title of the fund, assuming the amendment were carried,, they would be compelled to lend it to him. We must not lose sight of the fact, also, that this great struggle is not nearly ended yet. Before the conclusion of the war we may have to say to the Old Country - “We are a young and undeveloped” land, and we cannot afford to send men away from our primary industries. It would pay us better, seeing that you are a country with an excess of population, to have recruiting agents in Great Britain or in Russia recruiting certain numbers of men to provide for reinforcements for our troops. Australia will pay them their wages, also the cost of training, and after the war will bring them to Australia and place them on the soil in the same position as the men who have left Australia to fight for their own country.” There is a probability that we may be in that position before the war is over, and, that being so, “ repatriation “ will be the correct word to apply to this Bill.
– From the tone of the debate, it appears that the proposed amendment would not meet with the approval of the Committee. Therefore’, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Needham) proposed -
That the word “Repatriation” be left out, and the word “ Recognition” inserted.
– I appeal to Senator Needham not to press his amendment, because if it were carried I should have to drop the Bill, as there is no such fund in existence. We would have to appeal to each donor, asking him. if he would be prepared to agree to the name of the fund being changed.
– Is it as vital as that?
– The Bill will have no effect if the name is changed, as there will be no such fund in existence. The fund is not named by the Bill - the measure only provides machinery for its control.
.- Whilst I do not like the word “ repatriation,” in view of the statement by the Minister of Defence that the amendment would imperil the Bill, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– The Minister has practically told the Committee that it must agree to the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill.
– No. I said that if the amendment were carried, I might as well drop it, as it would not apply to the fund.
– What Parliament and the people want is to do for the soldiers something more than for anybody else, but repatriation might be offered to the humblest individual not a soldier, and therefore the title does not expressour meaning. It should be “Australian Soldiers’ Recognition” or “Recognisance Fund.” If we want the label to correspond with the contents of the tin, we must alter the label radically. The Minister has already admitted that the present title is inappropriate. An appeal to subscribe to a soldiers’ repatriation fund will not move anybody, but an appeal to subscribe to a soldiers’ recompense fund might well do so.
– You cannot change the title of the fund.
– We can change the title of the Bill, and, to give time to devise a better term, I move -
That the clause be postponed.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Trustees).
– Are the trustees appointed for a fixed term?
– How are they to be removed from their positions?
– Any trustee can be removed by Parliament in the same way as he is appointed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The trustees shall be charged with the duties of -
– I move -
That after the word “ deposit “ the following words be inserted: - “in any bank incorporated or carrying on business in the Commonwealth.”
– Will that cover semiState Savings Banks such as exist in New South Wales and Tasmania ?
– Yes; they are incorporated banks. The amendment will allow fund moneys to be placed only on fixed deposit in banks other than the Commonwealth Bank. The trustees will be able to have their working accounts only at the Commonwealth Bank or its branches.
– Moneys are to be allocated to the different States, and it is possible that not only the State War Councils, but the District Committees, will be intrusted with their distribution.
– The State War Councils will distribute them in their own way after getting them from the trustees.
– I think we should be acting wisely if we allowed the Savings Banks to be utilized for the purposes outlined in the Bill. Suppose, for example, that a soldier were settled on land at Renmark. He would be a long distance removed from the central council, and he might desire to pay into the local Savings Bank a sum in part payment of his loan.
– He could do that.
– Savings Banks are not mentioned in the Bill, and for that reason, I take it, are practically excluded.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, no further sums of money should be placed on the Estimates for advertising the Commonwealth in the United States of America.
This motion has been on the notice-paper for some time, and I am glad tobe afforded an opportunity of speaking in support of it. I have observed in certain newspapers - mainly newspapers published in Great Britain - quite a number of advertisements relating to the Commonwealth and its resources, which stress the great opportunities which are offered here to intending settlers. Most of those advertisements were of a grossly misleading character, but whether they were con certed by private persons or by Commonwealth officials I do not know. I have -not seen the last advertisements that were inserted in the American newspapers, but, in my opinion, no necessity exists for spending any further money in this direction. I am aware that on the last occasion some £5,000 was spent under this heading. I am glad to know that there is no specific item on the present Estimates relating to expenditure for advertising our resources in the United States of America. There is, however, an item of £5,000 for “ advertising the resources of the Commonwealth,” and if it is intended to spend this money in the direction I have indicated, the position ought not to be tolerated. The advertisement which Australia has recently gained by reason of the war renders the payment of any money for advertising our resources quite unnecessary. I hope, therefore, that this motion will be carried, and that it will be regarded as an instruction to the Government not to spend any more money under this heading.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) negatived -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– When it is proposed not to spend any more money in advertising the Commonwealth in the United States, I must raise my voice in protest. I feel that at the present time the resources of this country cannot be made too widely known. Especially is this the case in English-speaking communities, and if we were influenced by no other consideration than a desire to cultivate a brotherly feeling between Australia and the great Republic of the West, that consideration alone would be a sufficiently strong reason why we should expend some money in advertising there. I do not knowwhat Senator Grant has in his mind, but I do know that when the visit of the American fleet was first projected, not a single voice here was raised in opposition to it. We were all anxious to get that fleet into our waters, and the central purpose we had in view was the cultivation of a closer friendship between this “ giant young Commonwealth of the south,” as ex-President Roosevelt described it, and America. I do not suggest that we should appeal to American sentiment on any ground other than that of mutual good fellowship. I believe that if this country were in danger to-morrow, America would come to its assistance - that she would not allow Australia to go down and be deprived of the freedom it enjoys today without some very effective protest.
– The expenditure of 10s. a week in advertisements in the United States would not do much to prevent that.
– It would indicate our desire to cultivate a closer friendship with America. If we are so low in spirit and pocket as to feel the expenditure of 10s. per week in American advertisements, it is the flimsiest of reasons upon which to propose the discontinuance of that expenditure. The Englishspeaking races of the world, in view of what is happening to-day and of the ominous outlook in the immediate future, cannot cultivate too close friendships with each other. Any attempt to induce Australia to take up an isolated position would, in my judgment, be a foolhardy one. I hope that the common sense of honorable senators will allow the ordinary policy to be pursued, so that we may continue to make known to the uttermost, the resources of this Commonwealth. If Americans come here what harm will be done? Those who know Americans as I do, know that we shall benefit if we can induce them to come here as the result of advertising our resources.
– We have not gained much from those who did come.
– Senator Barker may speak from the limited knowledge which he possesses, and as one who does not know the extent to which Australia has benefited by the introduction of American brains and American enterprise. Take the case of the mining industry in Tasmania. Is not that in a flourishing condition by reason of the superior judgment and enterprise which has been brought to bear by Americans? This country is possessed of vast resources which must remain undeveloped if we adopt the policy of that foolish person of old, who buried his talents in the ground. We shall be very shortsighted in our day and generation if we are unable to perceive the advantage we may gain from the application to the development of our resources of the experience of men in other lands. We have gained materially in the matter of irrigation in this country by making use of the experience of America where it is practised on a large scale. We have in this way been able to make fertile and fructifying vast areas of arid plains which were previously unproductive. What was Mr. Mead brought here for?
– He has gone away home in disgust.
– It is quite true that he has gone back to America, but he laid here the foundations of a system from which great benefit will yet be derived by this country. Senator Grant would have us allow our lands to remain idle and unproductive, when, by making use of the experience of a man like Mr. Mead, we might develop them. America sent us a man like Dr. Peters to assist us to solve problems presented by our mining industry, which, but for the knowledge such men are able to apply to them, might remain unsolved. I am astonished that Senator Grant should make such a proposal seriously and expect the Senate to indorse it. We cannot afford to hide the resources of this country. If it is our desire to advance it, we can only do so by making its resources known, and that cannot be done without the expenditure of money. At this juncture, I stress particularly the necessity incumbent upon the English-speaking nations of the world to draw more closely together rather than to continue in isolated existence, because of the unpromising outlook for the future. We have the highest standard of civilization in Australia to-day. We have a system of government that is unknown in the rest of the world. We possess the means to fashion as best we can our own destiny, and, possessing that inestimable power, we require the active co-operation of all English-speaking people whose experience may be of value to us. A proposal of this kind, which means practically to cut the painter, in a social sense, with other English-speaking communities in the world, is a most mistaken one. I oppose it.
– So does everybody else. Why should the honorable senator waste his energy?
– I am pleased to learn that it is the almost universal opinion of members of this Chamber that the foolish course proposed by Senator Grant should not be taken.
– I have listened with interest to the passionate appeal made to the Senate by Senator Lynch to vote against Senator
Grant’s motion. I agree with, a great deal that the honorable senator said. It is extremely desirable that the Englishspeaking communities of the world should be drawn more closely together. No one would be more ready than I to spend even a much larger sum on -advertising in the United States than has already been spent by the Commonwealth if conditions were as they ought to be. I find that in 1914-15, the sum of £5,000 was appropriated for this purpose, and £5y449 was spent. But this year there is no sum down on the Estimates for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth in the United States.
– There was an Exposition in America when the money voted last year was spent.
– Then, apparently, the Government are exactly of the same opinion as Senator Grant. We all know that Australia is a country of great undeveloped wealth. But the mischief is that we have little or no control over that wealth. I take the lands of Australia and I ask whether we can offer the lands of this country to people coming from America. Can we issue flamboyant advertisements telling the people of the United States that if they come here they will get huge areas of virgin soil for next to nothing ? We may tell them that, but if we do we shall be telling a falsehood. My one .and only reason for objecting to the expenditure of money for this purpose is that if we told the people of America such tales they would not be true.
– The honorable senator says that there is no money to be spent.
– I say that my only objection to the spending of money for this purpose is that if we tell the people of America about our resources, and invite them to come here and share them, we shall be telling them something that is not true or is not wholly true. If the lands of Australia were available to the people of America when they came here, I should say by all means spend not only £5,000, but £25,000 or £100,000 upon advertising the fact. The sooner we can people this continent the better it will be for Australia,, for the British Empire, and for humanity generally. Senator Lynch talked of our fine system of government, but we know as well as he does that Australia is the best -governed country in the world, and is the freest of all countries. Yet, with all our good government and all the intelligence that has gone to build up our system, we had not the common horse-sense to keep the lands of Australia in our own hands. I have said here a hundred times before, and if I live long enough and remain a member of the Senate, and something is not done, I shall say it a hundred times again, that there is a condition of land monopoly in Australia that has no parallel in the world.. It is a standing disgrace to the people of Australia, and more especially to the Labour party, who hold the reins of government, that this condition of affairs should be allowed to last for a single moment longer than is sufficient to break it up. I have no intention to labour that question now. We nave begun in a tentative fashion to tickle the hide of this huge rhinoceros by a mosquito-like operation.
– I ask the honorable senator whether he considers that a discussion on the question of land taxation is permissible on this motion.
– The question I am discussing is the advertising of the resources of Australia. I have had so many surprises lately that I am beginning to wonder where I am, but I did think that the lands of Australia are amongst its resources.
– The honorable senator will see that I allowed him to make a lengthy reference to land monopoly, but to discuss this motion in the same way as if it were a specific motion relating to land taxation would clearly be an abuse of the Standing Orders.
– It seems to me that the framers of our Standing Orders, of set purpose, endeavoured to tie up disnusion into such an untieable knot that it often becomes scarcely possible.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to reflect upon the action of the Senate in passing the Standing Orders, unless he is prepared to mora for their amendment. I point out .to Mm .that he missed an opportunity this afternoon to go over the whole gamut of the question he now desires to discuss.
– With all deference to you, sir, I still maintain that I am entitled on this motion to discuss all the resources of Australia.
– I do not rule against that, hut I point out to the honorable senator that he has been allowed to make an extended reference to the lands of Australia and to what he believes to be land monopoly, but to go into a discussion of the various remedies which might be suggested for that state of things would clearly be an abuse of the ordinary procedure of the Senate.
– Very well, I shall content myself by saying, with regard to our lands, that the people of Australia cannot get land for themselves. Every piece of land that is thrown open is rushed by a number of applicants, and hundreds have to go away without being satisfied.
– The honorable senator thinks that land is an exhausted resource in Australia?
– No, I do not. We have the lands here, but they are locked up in the hands of monopolists. Senator Lynch knows that as well as I do. I can refer honorable senators to the report of the Scotch Commission. They came out here looking for land, and anxious to get it, and they went back with a report that all the available lands in Australia had already been snapped up.
– By a number of Scotchmen who came here before them.
– The fact remains that the Scotch Commission cam* here looking for land, and could not find it. They went away empty. If our resources were available, no one would be more willing to spend money in advertising them in the United States of America or in Canada, as well as in Europe generally, than myself, because I have always claimed that Australia wants people, and still more people. Surely, if anything were required to convince us of the truth of that assertion, this war does. Why are we in such a. helpless position, depending upon the good offices of other countries to preserve our independence for us ? Every honorable senator ought to make it the aim of his political existence to so regulate the laws of Australia with regard to the resources of the country that a large addition to our population could be admitted in the very near future. At any rate, that is one of the points to which my political compass is directed, and I am not going to allow myself to be deflected from that purpose, for I consider the one thing that Australia requires is to have her great natural resources made so available that people from overseas will come here in their thousands and tens of thousands. The war must have taught many of them the misf ortune of having to live under an autocratic Government, and I aim sure that many people, especially in Europe, would be glad of the opportunity to come to Australia. I am certain, also, that we would welcome them if they did come. Our policy, I think, should always be directed in such a way as to give every inducement to people to come here. The inducement, however, is of a very minor character, because our lands are locked up, and our secondary industries are few m number, also unprofitable to a large degree, simply because they are not sufficiently protected against the attacks of low-wage manufacturing countries. That also requires to be remedied. Then, with regard to our mines. No doubt we have great mineral resources, but I am not sure that the attraction to American capitalists is sufficiently great. The whole tendency of thought in Australia is to develop our resources, not by means of private enterprises, but by public effort, and Americans know that just as well as we do. For that reason they fight shy of Australia. They will not embark their money. In any case, these big capitalists would not embark their money unless the trend of political thought was very definitely changed.
– Have they ever done anything regarding Australian mining except send out an expert or two ?
– Not that I have ever heard of. The men we want here are the small land-holders - those men who will cultivate comparatively small areas, rear big families, and thus add considerably to the population of Australia. I do not wish to continue this discussion any longer, except to say that until the resources of Australia are made available, until the landa are liberated, and a number of other things are done, it will be unwise for us to represent to the people of the United States of America that we have great resources available to them when they com© here, when exactly the opposite is the case
– I am going, to ask the Senate to treat this motion seriously, and I ask Senator Grant to withdraw it. The
Government have no intention of placing on the Estimates any sum of money to advertise Australia anywhere at the present time. This motion was placed on the notice-paper twelve months ago, and at that time there appeared on the Estimates a sum of money that had been expended in advertising Australia. The matter is too serious for the Senate to pass’. A bald resolution standing by itself could easily be misinterpreted as an expression of illfeeling towards America, and I will ask Senator Grant to avoid a vote upon it.
– I listened with attention to the outburst by Senator Lynch, and I say distinctly and definitely that the motion is not directed against the United States of America in a spirit of animosity at all. I believe there is no necessity whatever for the expenditure of money in that country to advertise the resources of Australia. I agree with the remarks made by Senator Stewart that until such time as the lands are opened for settlement it would be most unfair to people who contemplate coming here to misrepresent the position. With regard to the request made by Senator Gardiner, I would rather that the motion went to the vote, and were carried unanimously, but I have no desire to conflict with the Government in this matter. I merely remind Senator Lynch that when I placed this notice of motion on the business-paper there was a sum of £5,000 on the Estimates for this purpose. The Government have not placed any money on the Estimates for this year, and, consequently, they would have no right to expend money in this direction. I have no hesitation in complying with the request of the Minister to withdraw the motion on the understanding that no money will be expended in advertising the resources of Australia in the United States of America without the consent of the Senate.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from this day, vide page 7818) :
Clause 6 -
The trustees shall be charged with the duties of -
investing in securities of the Commonwealth or a State, or on fixed deposit or in current account in the Commonwealth Bank, such part of the Fun3 as is not immediately required for the purposes for which the Fund has been established; and
Upon which Senator PEARCE had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ deposit “ the following words be inserted : - “ in any bank incorporated or carrying on business in the Commonwealth.”
– I would like to know if the Government are prepared to accept the suggestion that the Savings Banks be also included, because of their utility in connexion with’ this matter. There is a large number of these banks all over Australia. Very often a soldier may not be located near to a branch of the other banks, so that it would be a convenience if payments could be made through the Savings Banks. Those who have had experience of State legislation know it .is necessary to provide means by which those who are indebted to the State may pay at the township near which they reside.
.- Since the honorable senator raised this point I have looked into the matter, and find that the Commonwealth Bank includes the Commonwealth Savings Banks’ branches which are established at all the post-offices. With regard to the State Savings Banks, we cannot impose this duty upon them, but we have written .to the Premiers of each State asking of they will consult the trustees of those banks to see if those institutions will take up the same position as the other Associated Banks have done.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 -
The sums or property from time to time allocated by the trustees to a State War Council shall be hold by the State War Council upon the trusts following, namely: -
To apply such sums or property (subject to such conditions as the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the trustees, from time to time prescribes, and after payment of all proper expenses of and incidental to the receipt and expenditure by the Council of the sums or property allocated to it for such purposes, being purposes for the relief assistance and benefit of Australian soldiers and of their dependants, and in such manner as the Council in its discretion thinks fit.
– We have not had a statement yet from the representative of the Government to indicate whether the payment under this clause is to be by way of loan or to be regarded as a direct gift.
– The scheme was drawn up at a meeting of the Federal War Committee, and was referred to a conference of the Federal and State Governments and representatives of the Federal War Committee, which passed a resolution stating that in order to provide for the subsidiary requirements of returned soldiers, the citizens should be asked to subscribe in cash or kind to a special repatriation fund to be vested by Act of the Commonwealth Parliament in a body of trustees, the fund to be distributed subject to conditions to be prescribed by the Federal Parliamentary War Committee, and advances from it to be made to returned soldiers, or their dependants, for maintenance or by way of general assistance to returned soldiers and their families as distinct from ameliorative aid, such advances to be loans without interest. When the question arose whether we should put that in the Bill, it was pointed out that some things could not be offered by way of loan, especially gifts in kind. It was therefore decided not to stipulate in the Bill whether it should be by loan or gift, bub to deal with the question by regulation. The regulations will have to conform, as far as practicable, to the resolution of the Conference, because that is practically the agreement on which the fund is based.
– When the Bill is passed, it will not be possible to go behind it to a resolution of the Conference.
– Yes; in framing the regulations.
– That will be legislation by regulation.
– In this case it is necessary.
– Why not put in “ either by loan or gift “ ? If it is left to regulation, the administration of the fund will be liable to change with every change of Government.
– If the trustees decided to set aside portion of the money for scholarships for the dependants of soldiers, that would be neither a loan nor a gift, but still very desirable.
– If the Minister is satisfied that the clause will not tie the trustees down, I am also.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 and 9, and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Its object is to suspend, during the war and for six months after, the operation of section 87a of the Patents Act, which provides that, if the High Court or Supreme Court is satisfied that a patented article or process is manufactured or carried on exclusively or mainly outside the Commonwealth, it shall, failing satisfactory reasons from the patentee, make an order declaring that the article or process is not manufactured or carried on to an adequate extent in the Commonwealth. The reason for the suspension of that provision is that, during the war, a patentee may be prevented from operating his patent owing to lack of material or other causes. That has happened already in certain cases, and we do not want the holders to find their patents voided because of causes outside their control. The Bill will prevent what might otherwise be an injustice.
– Section 87a was put in the amending Act of 1909 as what was described in this Chamber at the time as a “ measure of protection.” It provides that where a patent is not worked to an adequate extent in the Commonwealth, it may be voided. I take it that, owing tothe dislocation of trade, and the difficulties with which many patentees would be faced in trying to give effect to the underlying principle of that section, the Government regard it as unfair to require them to do so during the period of the war. I suppose the Government find it difficult, or invidious, to give particular instances, and having regard to all the circumstances, we are not being asked to do too much in suspending the provision, so long as that suspension is only for the period specified.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Suspension of the Patents Act 1903-1909).
– I would suggest that in the ultimate print of this Bill it would be advisable to insert a marginal note showing that the suspension of section 87a of the principal Act is merely of a temporary character.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I wish to say that it is intended to constitute an addition to the War Census Act 1915. In the return of the cards which were sent out under the war census, certain difficulties have presented themselves in connecting the statements made on those cards with the writers. The Bill therefore provides that a returned card containing certain statements shall be deemed to have been filled in by the person who is presumed to have signed it, in the absence of proof to the contrary. On the other hand, the statement of the Statistician that no card has been returned to him by a person to whom a card was sent will be regarded as proof that it has not been filled in by the individual concerned unless he can establish the contrary.
– Suppose that the Postal Department is to blame?
– Then the simple explanation of the individual will exempt him from responsibility, and the filling in of the card will avoid a prosecution. Honorable senators must see that it would be impossible to initiate proceedings against persons who have not complied with the law if they merely had to affirm that they had returned their cards. The position is difficult, I admit, and renders it necessary for an accused person to prove his innocence. But in that respect it merely follows the lines which have been laid down in connexion with our Customs legislation.
– Will a man be fined before he has had an opportunity to prove that he is not guilty of any offence ?
– If he made a statement on oath to the effect that he had posted his card, his statement would be accepted as proof that he had done so. In view of the difficulty which exists in enforcing legislation which was enacted last year, a Bill of this description is necessary. I can assure honorable senators that there is no intention on the part of the Government to use it for the purpose of persecuting anybody.
– I perceive considerable danger in this Bill, which provides that the statement of the Statistician to the effect that any individual to whom a census card was forwarded has not returned that card, is to be regarded as proof that an offence has been committed.
– The onus of proof is upon him.
– What evidence can a man bring forward to prove that he has posted a letter?
– His sworn statement will be sufficient.
– Will that be accepted as evidence ?
– If a man whose card had not been received by the Statistician refused to fill in another card, the position would be entirely different.
– In connexion with our Customs legislation, a man is called upon to establish his innocence.
-Since my honorable friend became a War Lord, he has developed into quite a defender of the Government. I would invite the attention of honorable senators to the far-reaching effects of this proposal. There are infinite possibilities of War Census cards having been miscarried through the post. Let me mention a case to illustrate my point. Only last week I discovered in my letterbox at Parliament House, Adelaide, a communication from a person at Lameroo dated 1912. Where that letter had been in the interim, I cannot say.
– What about the postmark upon it?
– The postmark corresponded with the date inside the letter. I repeat that if a man is unwilling to fill in his War Census card when requested to do so, he may fairly be deemed to be guilty of an offence; but I do not think that it would be right to penalize him because he is unable to prove something which it is admittedly difficult to prove.
– As the Vice-President of the Executive Council has remarked, this form of legislation is not novel. It was first introduced into our Customs Act during the first session of the first Commonwealth Parliament. It was pointed out then that a Department labours under considerable difficulty in the administration of an Act if it is called upon to prove certain offences against that Act. It was only after much misgiving on the part of some honorable senators that that legislation was agreed to. But experience has shown , that no great hardship has resulted from it. We are now asked to amend the War Census Act of last session. That Act provides that certain persons shall furnish certain returns. Forms were sent out to them through the post - forms which they were requested to fill in and return. Failure to do so was constituted an offence against the Act. Now Senator Senior thinks that some difficulty might be experienced by an accused person in establishing his innocence. Consequently he contends that where an individual has failed to furnish a return he should be asked to fill in a second card, and only if he refuses to do so should he be deemed to have committed an offence. If we adopted that method of reasoning, we should be practically inviting every person in the community to ignore the provisions of all our legislative enactments. Arewe to say that a man shall not be held to have offended against the Act until he has been interviewed by some one and asked to perform a duty which he ought to have performed in common with his fellow citizens?
– He may not have failed to perform it.
– If he has not performed his duty under the Act, why should he be treated differently from those who flagrantly fail to perform that duty? I think that the provision objected to will work no hardship. A circular or form is sent to X. In the ordinary course of post he should receive it. Every Court in the land presumes as a matter of law that if an article is put into the post addressed to X with the appropriate postage upon it it will be received by him in due course. The posting of articles is a matter of frequent proof in our different Courts. An individual comes forward and says that he posted an article addressed to X at such a number in such a street on a certain date, and put the proper postage on it.
– He may not, after a lapse of time, be able to say that.
– That is so, and, as a matter of actual practice in every lawyer’s office and in many other offices, the clerk who posts letters, or the principal himself if he posts a letter, writes in the stamp-book the address on the letter, the date, the postage placed upon the letter, and his initials, so that years afterwards the posting of a particular letter can be proved in any Court.
– Sometimes even where that is done a letter is subsequently discovered in a drawer.
– I do not think that would occur very frequently.
– That will not apply to the average man. That is, where system is adopted.
– That is so ; but I am explaining how the Courts accept proof of the postage of a letter. It is not required that a man shall go into Court with his stamp-book and show that a clerk signing himself C. E., posted a letter addressed to Jones on a certain date. But evidence of the posting of a letter in the ordinary way is accepted as proof that the person to whom it was addressed received it. If a witness gave evidence that he posted a letter addressed to Senator Senior, Melbourne, and affixed the proper postage to it, any Court, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, would assume that the honorable senator received the letter in due course.
– What evidence to the contrary could there be except a denial ?
– The honorable senator might deny that he received the letter, and there being a conflict of evidence on the point, it would be for the Court to say what its decision as to the fact should be. All that the first paragraph of the proposed new section 17b proposes is that where a person who is included amongst those who should make a return under the War Census Act is prosecuted for not having made the return, and it is proved that notice was sent to him, and that no return was received from him, it shall not be open to him to suddenly adopt the defence that it has not been proved that he is one of the persons to whom the proclamation under the Act applies. Under this paragraph the averment of the prosecutor is proved, but that will not dispense with proof of the essence of the offence. The object of the provision is to avoid the possibility of a defence, not on the merits of the case. If the defendant is not amongst the class of persons liable to make the return he will be at liberty to prove that. The second paragraph makes provision that - a certificate in writing, signed by the Statisti cian, certifying that no form,filled up and signed by the defendant in accordance with this Act, has been received by the Statistician, shall be primâ facie evidence that the defendant had failed to transmit the form to the Statistician.
The Court is asked to presume from the certificate signed by the Statistician that the defendant failed to transmit a return as required by the law. The defendant may go into Court and prove, in the manner I have indicated already, that he did post the return, and if he gives evidence to that effect the Court will weigh that evidence in conjunction with the surrounding circumstances. The Court, like Senator Senior, or any other member of the Senate, will take into consideration the fact that, although the Post Office is a remarkably efficient institution, no human agency is absolutely proof against error. If the Court sees that the defendant is transparently sincere, and has no doubt whatever that he did post a return, it will conclude that some accident happened to the return, and be very reluctant indeed to find the defendant guilty. But if the defendant shuffles and hesitates, gives one date now and another a little later, and contradicts himself in various ways, the Court may justifiably come to the conclusion that he failed to send in a return, and is merely trying to make out that he did do so.
– He might say that he had already posted a return, and that if it had not arrived he was prepared to fill in a form there and then.
– That would be taken into consideration. He might say, “I remember posting a return. I stamped the letter, and took it out for the purpose of posting it, and I have not seen it since. If it has not been received I am prepared now to fill in a form and sign it.” In such a case it is probable that an adjournment of the matter would be made; the defendant would fill in another return, and the prosecution would go no further. These provisions do not throw any great disability upon the defendant. If a man does not appear at all at the hearing, the certificate of the Statistician that no form filled up and signed by the defendant had been received will be before the Court, but there will be nothing else before it, and the Court can only come to the conclusion that he did not forward a return. If this provision were not included in the law, and twenty prosecutions were launched against twenty different individuals, not one of whom turned up at the trial, some official would require to be called away from probably important work to go into the witness-box in each case, and prove what, under this provision, would be set out in the certificate signed by the Statistician. One of the advantages of such a provision would be that it would obviate the necessity for the adoption of that course. Senator Pearce, Senator O’Keefe, and other members of the Senate were here when legislation of this kind was first introduced, and will remember that it was viewed with a certain amount of apprehension. Nothing, however, has followed from its operation which will justify an attitude of hostility to what is proposed in this Bill. This kind of legislation has not worked any great injustice or harshness such as was anticipated, with a reasonable amount of justification, would follow from its operation when first introduced. I think the Government are well advised, if the War Census Act is to be carried out effectively, in introducing these provisions, which find their analogy in so many of the Acts upon our statutebook.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
After section 17a of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 17b. In any proceedings for an offence against this Act -
the averment of the prosecutor contained in the information that the defendant is included among the persons or classes of persons specified in any proclamation under this Act shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary; and
a certificate in writing signed by the Statistician, certifying that no form, filled up and signed by the defendant in accordance with this Act, has been received by the Statistician, shall be primâ facie evidence that the defendant has failed to transmit the form to the Statistician.
– I listened with a great deal of attention and interest to Senator Keating’s explanation of this clause. While, speaking generally, the conclusions at which he has arrived may he perfectly correct, we are dealing in this proposed amendment of the War Census Act with specific cases that do not come within the sweep of the general law. We set aside the manythousands who do send in returns, and propose to deal with those whom the Statistician says have not forwarded returns. It may be very easy for a merchant who keeps a letter -book to prove that he posted a particular letter, but ordinary people do not keep letter-books. The posting of their letters is done sometimes directly by themselves, sometimes by a neighbour, and very often by a child. A man may be perfectly honest in the performance of his duty, but if the Statistician has not received a card from him, and makes a statement to that effect, it will be regarded as primâ facie evidence of neglect.
– Surely it is easier for a man to prove that he did return his card than for the Statistician to prove that he did not?
– A man will be placed in a very difficult position if called upon to prove that, on a certain date, and at a certain time, he had performed a particular duty in regard to the War Census returns.
– What do you suggest?
– I will come to that presently. I have not had very much experience in Court business; but I have known of cases in which a perfectly innocent person under cross-examination has been’ so confused as to leave an impression in the mind of the Court that he was in the wrong. If a man charged under this Bill found himself in such circumstances, it might be regarded asprimâ facie evidence that he was trying to deceive the Court. We want to deal with this matter from a common-sense standpoint, and not regard a man as a criminal simply because it may be alleged that he has failed to perform a certain duty required of him. I do not wish to see this Bill passed in a form that will inflict hardship upon any individual, or involve the Commonwealth in any loss.
– Do you not think that the Courts will deal with this matter from a common-sense stand-point?
– My desire is to safeguard the interests of the individual. Some time ago, when a Bill containing a similar provision was introduced, the Minister in charge remarked that it was a departure to throw the onus of proof upon the person in charge; but it appears to me that it is the tendency of legislation of late to do that.
– Then what do you suggest ?
– I would suggest, in a case like this, that if a man, after having had his attention called to the fact that a card had not been received from him, refused to fill in a card, he should be guilty of an offence.
– You would require to employ a great many officials of the Statistician’s office to carry out that policy.
– But surely a man shouldbe notified of any failure, or of the fact that a return has not been received from him. A summons would then be issued against him. In my opinion, that would be far more costly, assuming that the action failed, than for the Department to issue a notification that, after a certain date, he would be charged with having failed to comply with the requirements of the War Census Act. Comparatively few have failed to furnish returns, and they should be given an opportunity to do so. Our legislation should be so precise in its terms as not to leave action to depend on the temperament of any Government or the disposition of any official. It is rather too far to go to say that, because a card had not been received from a man, it should be regarded as primâ facie evidence of an offence against the Act. I have in view, of course, the residents of the back-blocks, who may find it difficult to furnish the necessary proofs that they have complied with the Act.
– I think Senator Senior is stretching his imagination a very great distance to bolster up a fancied grievance which exists, probably, in the minds of Only a few people. When these cards were printed, it was made known all over Australia that each person had to fill one in and forward it to a stated address; and we may take it that the introduction of this Bill is necessary because some persons have failed to do so. The Government are not anxious to be vindictive, or to do any person an injury; hut the obligation was on everybody to do his or her duty in regard to the War Census returns. Senator Senior says that if we pass the Bill in its present form, the onus of proof will be on the person charged, and that it would be much easier for the Statistician to prove that he had not received a reply from a person expected to furnish one than it would he for that person to prove that he had posted a card. It might or it might not be. But if the person who is charged with not having complied with the War Census provisions can satisfy any intelligent Court that he has filled in and posted a card, no penalty will be imposed. Senator Senior seems to think that we should employ the clerical staff of the Statistician’s office to send out special forms to persons who were so careless or indifferent as to ignore the provisions of the War Census Act. The honorable senator argues that they should be treated differently from those persons who had forwarded their cards. There cannot be any real harm in passing the Bill in its present form. It is not new, because such a provision has been in the Customs Act ever since that measure has been operative, and I can assure Senator Senior that if such a provision had not been in that Act, many prosecutions for evasions of the law would have failed. This provision is only proposed to be inserted now because it is absolutely necessary in the interests of the people and the Commonwealth.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The existing law as to the promulgation of regulations by means of Statutory
Rules provides alternative methods. The normal method is to give sixty days’ notice in the Commonwealth Gazette of the intention to make certain regulations, and at the expiration of that period to make the regulations in permanent form. The other method, which was intended to be used only in cases of urgency, is to make regulations provisionally, without notice, to come into operation at once, and to confirm those regulations after the expiration of sixty days by the issue of other regulations superseding the provisional ones. The confirmation of provisional rules is not obligatory, as the provisional rules have full force so long as they are not superseded by the confirmatory rules. It has been found in practice that the method of making regulations by giving sixty days’ notice is seldom adopted, recourse being usually had to the provisional system on account of its greater expedition. In many cases regulations need frequent amendment owing to changing circumstances, and it has not been found advisable to issue the confirmatory regulations. When confirmatory regulations1 are issued the expense of double printing is involved. Under these circumstances it has been thought advisable to abolish the alternative methods provided in the Act, and to have one system of making regulations. Under the proposed law, the necessity for giving notice, which has been open to objection on account of delay, and the necessity of confirming regulations, which resulted in duplication of printing, will be abolished. Henceforth all regulations will be made to come into immediate operation and continue so until repealed.
.- I have no objection to the Bill, but I do object to the way in which regulations are at present sent to members. They come by post in ones and twos, and it is almost impossible for the average member to grasp what they mean. Could they not be sent out in pamphlet or booklet form quarterly or half-yearly? One often discovers that a big principle is affected only after a regulation has gone through.
.- The regulations up to 1914 have been printed in book form, but owing to the pressure of war legislation on the Attorney-General’s Department, the 1915 volume cannot be brought out.
A simple and methodical plan for honorable members to follow with regard to regulations is to interleave them in the Acts to which they apply. If the Department held back the regulations until they had a number to send out, as Senator Findley suggests, they might delay the posting of an important regulation for two or three weeks, and honorable members would complain about being kept in the dark. The honorable senator can hardly expect the Department to follow the regulations up and paste them in hie Acts for him.
– Under the sixty days’ notice provision it was open to anybody interested to write to the law-making authority on seeing the notice of a new regulation in the Gazette. The other system was to introduce regulations as provisional, making them permanent at the end of sixty days. I see no objection to the course now proposed; in fact, the present practice will be more in accord with the Bill as proposed to be amended than it is with the Act as it now stands; but it is desirable, if the Bill is passed, for the Government to make all possible efforts to have the purport of regulations brought under the notice of the persons to be affected by them. A certain date was fixed by regulationas the last day on which returnsunder the Federal Income Tax had to be filed. A day or two before that date I was asked by all the accountants of the largest firms in Tasmania for information about the provisions of the Act and regulations, and the only way I could get it was by telegraphing to Melbourne for a copy. There was not one available in the north of Tasmania. These gentlemen had been endeavouring for more than a week prior to their approaching me to secure a copy of the Act and of the regulations. In another part of the Commonwealth important prosecutionswere launched under legislation which was enacted during the present long session and counsel on either side had no copy either of the Act or of the regulations under which those prosecutions were instituted.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that the Government should notify every person who is interested?
– No. But in this particular case counsel for the Commonwealth asked me if I could assist him by providing him with a copy of the Act and the regulations. These prosecutions were launched very shortly after the Acthad been passed and the regulations had been promulgated. Had it not been for the fact that the hearing of the case was adjourned, neither the Act nor the regulations would have been available before it was determined. It very often happens that regulations are the flesh and blood of Acts of Parliament, which merely represent the skeletons of our legislation. I think that the Government might very well make use of the post-offices and of other Commonwealth instrumentalities by providing that copies of Commonwealth Statutes and regulations should be kept on hand there for sale to the public.
Debate (on motion by Senator Senior) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 May 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1916/19160511_senate_6_79/>.