6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
SenatorFINDLEY.- Will the Minister controlling food commodities cause inquiries to be instituted immediately in respect to statements appearing in today’s Age, under the heading “Trade and Finance,” to the effect that hags, the vendors of which pretended to be cornsacks made in this State, do not comply with the requirements, either as to measurement or weight, and are in all respects inferior to the standard ; that the full fixed price, 9s. 6d. per dozen wholesale, has been exacted from them, andthat thousands of them have been palmed off upon unsuspecting farmers, whose misfortune has been accentuated by the fact that the Wheat Board has prohibited the. use of these sacks for the conveyance of wheat sent to the pool ? If the inquiries made prove the statements to be true, will the Minister or the Government give an assurance that the farmers who have bought the bags in good faith will not be penalized, and that if there is any punishment to be meted out it shall fall on those who palmed off the bags on them ?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter: We have already done something with a view to the protection of the farmer, but I am not clear as to our powers in this matter. If they are not complete enough, I shall have the matter brought under the notice of the Government.
– I ask Senator Russell, as a member of the Wheat Board, if representations have been made as to the need for acquiring wheat for Tasmania, and the terms on which it may be obtained 1 If so, has anything been done in the matter ? If the Minister has any information regarding it, will he make a statement to the Senate?
– I have had inquiries made, and find that the Tasmanian farmers are in rather an unfortunate position so far as the pool is concerned, because they must be charged 6d. a bushel extra, as compared with the Victorian farmers, to pay for transport. I have brought the matter before the Wheat Board, and I hope to secure finality regarding it at the next meeting of the Board, which will be in a few days.
– Will the Minister for Works, in the interests of economy, take into consideration the desirability of suspending the work of the expensive staff now engaged in assisting Mr. . Griffin and the advisability of paying to Mr. Griffin the amount that should come to him for the remainder of the term of his engagement, allowing him henceforth to, devote the whole of his time to private work ?
– Mr. Griffin was appointed Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction, under a very definite contract with the Government, and he could not carry out the duties of his office without a staff. Under the circumstances, I cannot agree to the dismissal of the staff.- As to dispensing with Mr. Griffin’s services, I shall refer that matter to the Cabinet for discussion.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th December, vide page 10214).
Clause 11 (Special deductions).
– There was some objection to this clause last night, on the ground that it unduly increased the taxation of small income. The increase objected to arises from the fact that, in addition to the imposition of a super-tax of 25 per cent., there has been an alteration of the exemptions. This has resulted in some cases in increasing the amount of the tax paid by a little over 100 per cent. Last year, the exemptions allowed in regard to incomes from personal exertion began to decrease with an income of £500, and ceased altogether with an income of £1,020, the exemption in regard to, an income from property dying away between incomes of £156 and £546. This year, however, the tax is much more equitable, because it is arranged more scientifically. The exemptions of last year make the percentage comparison inapplicable to the lower incomes. Some honorable senators seem to think that the taxation of the lower incomes has been enormously increased without a proportionate increase of the taxa tion on the higher incomes, but that is not so. The Bill adjusts the burden of taxation more equitably and uniformly in respect of incomes than the Act does. On an income from personal exertion of £200 a year the rate of the tax to the taxable income would be½ per cent. On a similar income from property it would be ½ per cent., and on a similar income with £100 from personal exertion and £100 from property the rate would be½ per cent. On an income of £300 from personal exertion the rate would be1¼ per cent. ; from property,1½ per cent. ; and a mixed income of £150 from personal exertion, and £150 from property,1½ per cent. on each. For an income of £400 from personal exertion the rate would be 2 per cent. ; from property,2½ per cent. ; and from the mixed income2¼ per cent and 2 per cent. I come now to an income of £500, which is one of the low incomes that has been referred to by honorable senators. I ask them to consider what the tax was last year, and whether the tax now proposed can be considered extreme in such a case in war time 1 On an income of £500 from personal exertion the rate will be 2¼ per cent. That is 6d. in the £1. No one will say that that is too much to ask any citizen of Australia to pay at a time like this.
– No one objects to it. The objection is to the lower rate of increase on higher incomes.
– The objection is to the unfair incidence of taxation.
– The increase upon the tax of last year is not, in the circumstances, an argument against the soundness of the proposal made this year.
– We were told last year that the tax proposed was the most scientific on earth. ,
– We thought it was, but none of us were able to prove it. We all got tangled up in the curves.
– There is too much curve about this, and not enough straight line.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable senator. The tax on an income of £500 from personal exertion would, under the Bill, be2½ per cent., or £12 10s.
– What would have to be paid on a taxable income of £1,500 from personal exertion ?
– The tax on an income of £1,500 from personal exertion would be, under this proposal, £67 7s. 7d., or 4.4 per cent. On an income of £1,500 from property the tax, at the present rate, would be £92 15s., and under this Bill it would come to £117 3s. 9d.
– Does the Minister say that on incomes from personal exertion, under this Bill, the tax would be £12 10s. on £500 and £67 odd on £1,500?
– Yes, that is so. This taxation represents an increase upon the taxation proposed last year, and while the tax may be doubled on the smaller incomes, that is due to the deliberate act of Parliament in refusing to allow the exemption that was allowed last year. I feel sure that every member of the Parliament regrets the necessity for imposing this additional taxation at all.
– Why not double the tax in the case of the higher incomes?
– Let us consider what the tax would be in the case of the higher incomes. I find that, on an income of £4,000 derived from personal exertion and property, the tax would amount to 16½ and 13 per cent. Surely that will be considered a reasonable tax? I am afraid that this is not going to be the lastof taxation in Australia.
– The real point is that the bulk of the taxation will be raised from people having middle-class incomes. I suppose that if the whole were taken in the case of the large incomes, the aggregate would not be sufficient to meet the needs of the nation.
– The real point is that, in considering the previous income tax measure, there was a unanimous desire on the part of Parliament to grant as high an exemption as possible in the case of family men receiving from £156 to £500 a year. That was a very good thing to do, but we have to remember that we are not to-day proposing taxation for the carrying on of the ordinary government of the country, but to meet the expenses of the war. I believe that there is no citizen more willing to make some sacrifice for this purpose than is the family man receiving an income within the amounts I have mentioned. The only argument to suggest that the tax here proposed is not apportioned fairly is based upon the abolition, in connexion with this measure, of the exemption granted in the case of the smaller incomes last year. I wish to put on record a few figures to show what the proposed tax will amount to. Honorable senators may be interested to learn that, under this proposal, the tax upon an income of £600 derived from personal exertion would be at the rate of 2¾ per cent. If the income were derived from property, the rate would be 3 per cent. ; and if from personal exertion and property, 3 per cent. and 2¾ per cent. On an income of £700 from personal exertion, the rate would be 3 per cent. ; and from property, 4 per cent. On £800 from personal exertion, 3 per cent.; and from property, 4½ per cent. On £900 from personal exertion, 3¼ per cent. ; and from property, 5 per cent. On £1,000 from personal exertion, 3½ per cent. ; and from property,5½ per cent. On £1,500 from personal exertion, 4½ per cent. ; and from property, 7¾ per cent. On £2,000 from personal exertion, 5½ per cent. and from property, 9¾ per cent. On £3,000 from personal exertion,7½ per cent. ; and from property, 13½ per cent. On £4,000 from personal exertion,9½ per cent. ; and from property, 16½ per cent. On £5,000 from personal exertion,11¼ per cent. ; and from property, 19¼ per cent. On £6,000 from personal exertion, 13¼ per cent.; and from property, 21 per cent. On £7,000 from personal exertion, 15¼ per cent. ; and from property,22½ per cent. On £8,000 from personal exertion,17¼ per cent. ; and from property, 23½ per cent. The more honorable senators investigate the figures the more readily they will appreciate the fact that the taxation now proposed is much more scientific and equitable than any previous income tax that has been imposed. If, in Committee, honorable senators should require to know what the tax will be on a particular income, I shall be glad to supply the information.
– We have seen all the figures in the newspapers this morning.
– The percentages I have given were not stated in the press. The position is that, whilst this taxation would never be deliberately imposed without a strong reason, it is clear that we must have money to carry on the war. Every one knows that we are committed to war loans to the extent of £140,000,000. The interest on all this money must be found, and the Government have tried to distribute the responsibility of finding the money required to carry on the war equitably between the whole of the citizens. The proposal made has the indorsement of the Government, and has received the approval of another place. I hope that, in the circumstances, h onorable senators will permit clause 11 to go through.
Question- That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the Committee have leave to sit again on the next day of sitting.
– To meet the convenience of the Senate, I suspend the sitting until 4 o’clock p.m.
Sitting suspended from 11.31 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.
– It has been intimated to me that there is a general desire on the part of the Government and of honorable senators to conclude the business of the session as rapidly as possible, and, therefore, at the request of the Government and to meet the convenience of honorable senators, I have taken the liberty of having the bells rung halfanhour before the period for which the sitting was suspended. If, however, any honorable senator, either for himself or on behalf of another honorable senator, objects, I will not resume the chair till 4 o’clock. In the absence of any such objection the business will proceed.
Motion (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the order of the Senate, “ That the Committee have leave to sit again on the next day of sitting,” be rescinded.
– Ordinarily such a motion could not be moved without notice, but as our Standing Orders have been suspended to permit of this Bill being passed through all its stages without delay, it is in order.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Lynch) agreed to -
That the Income Tax Assessment Bill be further considered in Committee forthwith.
Clauses 12 to 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Section twenty-eight of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (1) the following paragraph : - “ (a) in the case of a person who is not married, has no dependants, and is not an absentee, the total income from all source’s in Australia amounts to the sum of One hundred pounds or upwards.”
– I should like the Assistant Minister to explain the effect of the amendment of the principal Act which is proposed in this clause.
– The clause relates to single men resident in Australia who have no wives or relatives dependent on them, and fixes the exemption in their case at £100.
— How does that compare with the provisions of section 28 of the principalAct ?
– Under the principal Act an exemption of £156 is granted in all cases.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 and 17 agreed to.
Section 58 of the principal Act is amended by adding thereto the following sub-section : - “ (2) A prosecution in respect of an offence against paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) of this section may be commenced at any time.”
– This clause provides that a prosecution may be instituted for an offence by any person against the provisions of section 58 of the principal Act at any time. 1 should like to know why there is no limitation of fame imposed in this connexion. If the principle that is now proposed be a good one, why is it not made applicable to all offences against the parent Act. Ordinarily, offences are the subject of prosecution only within a limited period. We all know that many of the members of our community frequently visit other parts of the Empire. Under this clause it is quite conceivable that a man may visit Canada, the United States of America, or England, and before his departure hence may quite inadvertently omit to discharge some obligation that has been cast upon him either by the Commonwealth or the State Parliament. He may leave Australia quite innocently and without attempting to defraud the revenue, and upon his return, twelve or fourteen months later, he may find himself immediately dragged before a Police Court. I ask the Assistant Minister to reconsider this clause. We are living on the edge of the world, and we are accustomed to visit other countries in order to pick up the best ideas prevailing there, with a view to making use of them upon our return here.
– The offence provided for in paragraph a of sub-section 1 of section 58 of the principal Act is that of failure to send in an income tax return. Under the Crimes Act a limit of twelve months is imposed within which a prosecution may take place. But the provision immediately under consideration is chiefly intended to apply to visitors who come to Australia, make a good deal of money here, and then leave our shores suddenly, although they may subsequently return. We know that prize-fighters, actors, and actresses do that, and sometimes it becomes necessary that we should follow them in order to collect the revenue which is due by them.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 19 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of considering a new clause to follow clause 10 of the Bill.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 10 : -
Section 19 of the principalAct is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead : - “ 19. (1) In the case of a person (other than a company, an absentee, or a person without a dependant) there shall be deducted, in addition to the sums set forth in the last preceding section, the sum of £156, less £5 for every £11 by which the income exceeds £156.
When the total taxable income consists partly of income from personal exertion and partly of income from property the deduction under ‘this section shall be apportioned pro rata between the income from each source.
In the. case of a person (not being an absentee) without a dependant there shall be deducted, in addition to the sums set forth in the last preceding section, the sum of £100, less £1 for every £4 by which the income exceeds £100.”
I am grateful to honorable senators for having permitted me to secure a recommittal of the Bill, and I now wish to appeal to them to allow this clause to pass in its present form. I am confident that those who take the trouble to investigate its merits will find that the incidence of the proposed tax is most equitable. The responsibility of managing and financing Australia’s share of the war rests on whatever Government is in power, and involves a question much bigger than the interests of any party, or Government, or individual member. After mature consideration and deliberation by all parties in the other House, the Bill was practically carried on the voices.
– It got no consideration there.
– No exception was taken to any part of clause 11. We can, therefore only judge the attitude of the House by its actions. Unless some improvement can be suggested, I would urge the Committee to accept the Bill, which the Government believe to be in the best interests of the country. I know there is very little time left for reconsideration before the Houses rise for Christmas, but we are particularly anxious that the money shall be collected, and if the clause is knocked out and the Bill dropped - I do not use that in any way as a threat - an exemption which we desire to give to another section of the people will be lost. I refer to the increase of the exemption of a family man from £13 to £26 for every child under sixteen. He is the man who is struggling to-day against the increase inthe cost of living, and honorable senators will recognise that that increased exemption is of great importance to him. Owing to the position of the war and our financial necessities, I urge the Committee to give their best consideration to this question, and to permit the clause to go through, if they feel it is at all possible, in order that we may carry on the government successfully during the recess.
.- I take it that this is the old clause 11 which the Committee deliberately struck out this morning.
– Under a misapprehension.
– That is just one of the points I wish to bring home to the Government. When the Committee reached the clause last night, I had no misapprehension as to the temper of the Committee regarding it. I therefore advised the Government to report progress, and assisted them in that direction in order that they might try to meet the “wishes of the Senate. This they failed to do, and this morning the Senate expressed its opinion by knocking the clause out. The same fate is in store for the clause now. I regret the Government have not brought down an amended clause which might have been acceptable. The increase of tax, in the opinion of a number of honorable senators, is too abrupt on mediumincomes running from £300 to £800, as compared with incomes from £1,500 upward. It was a simple matter for. the Government, having heard the discussion on the clause, to prepare an amendment to remove that objection, for it is a genuine objection. Honorable senators have reasonable grounds to object to a clause which will increase the income tax by 100 per cent. on the small man, and by only 25 per cent. on the more wealthy man. Personally, I had very good grounds for complaint, because I was given to understand by Senator Pearce before he left for Western Australia that the Bill was not coming on before Christmas. I hope the Government will, even now, introduce a provision more acceptable to this and another place. Otherwise it seems certain that the clause will meet the same fate as it met this morning, because I have seen no indication that any honorable senator has changed his mind on the subject.
– It is possible that in the course of the discussion which may follow the action taken by the Senate, some people may seek to throw a measure of responsi bility on this Chamber for any consequences that may ensue. I wish to place on record that this Chamber is not at all responsible for the position in which we find ourselves now. The measure came to us at quarter-past 10 o’clock last night, and no one with any knowledge of parliamentary procedure, or of this Bill, can pretend that that was affording this Chamber a fair and reasonable opportunity of considering its provisions. We have for years suffered from the chronic and pernicious habit of Governments, irrespective of their party complexion, and also of the other House, thinking that at. the last moment of the session they can throw a heap of complicated legislation at our heads, expecting it to be rushed through, and afterwards infer that if we do not comply with their wishes the responsibility of holding that legislation up must rest with us. I have always protested against that view, and direct attention to the fact that we have not had a sufficient opportunity of considering this Bill. We have been told by the Minister that practically it is a case of the whole Bill or none at all. I ask him to reconsider that position. The determination by a strong majority in this chamber was clear. The Senate showed itself resolutely opposed to clause 11. If the Minister is equally determined to insist on it, then in view of the period in which we stand there is a serious prospect of the Bill standing over until we meet again. That would be a public disability, and I, therefore, suggest to the Minister, and for the consideration of my fellow senators, that, in the circumstances, and not because we approve of any compromise, we should, as practical men, try to find a via media to meet a difficulty which is not of our creating. To do that I suggest - but will not move at this juncture, because I do not want to move if the Senate is against me - that the amount of exemption, instead of evaporating at the rate of £5 for every £11 by which the income exceeds £156, shall evaporate at the rate of £5 for every £20. I understand, after consulting the officers of the Department, that that is half way between this clause and the present law.
– Is it not more than half way?
– I am told that it is half way, but I have not studied the mysteries of those mathematical curves about which we hear so much, and which, 1 venture to think, have done more to confuse legislation and legislators than anything else.
– That is generally the result of not going straight.
– The honorable senator is quite right. I shall not move the amendment I have suggested, if the Committee has made up its mind to stand by its original determination.
– I hope Senator Millen will not move the amendment he has suggested. The position is very clear. The measure came to us at 10.15 last night, and we were asked to pass it, so to speak, in a few moments. Another place had had it before them for some time, although, perhaps, actually not under discussion for long, and to ask the Senate in a few moments to pass a taxing measure of this far-reaching importance was, in the vernacular, “ over the odds.” In speaking to this clause last night, more than once I spoke, perhaps, somewhat strongly, but I still feel strongly about it. The whole purpose of this measure is to increase the amount of income tax. We were told that the purpose of the Bill, if effected, would result in 25 per cent. more revenue coming into the Treasury through the tax than previously. We find, however, that by clause 11 those earning incomes from personal exertion from about £300 to £700 would pay, in many instances, 112 per cent. more than they did previously, while those receiving incomes from about £1,000 up to £3,000 or £4,000 would pay 10 per cent., 12 per cent., 15 per cent., and up to 30 per cent. more, with the average result that 25 per cent. more revenue would be received. But the people of the middle class, those who have constantly to make sacrifices to bring up and educate their children, and place them in life, are asked to pay even up to 120 per cent. more than they paid last year. Is that fair, reasonable, or equitable? The Senate agreed this morning that it was not. The clause was negatived, and immediately the
Minister reported progress. Last night, when the clause was under discussion, I voted against the motion of the Minister to report progress, a thing which I have never done before, although I have been in the Senate since the beginning of its sittings. I did so last night because I felt that we could finish the Bill, with the excision of this clause, in another few minutes.
– The only reason I moved to report progress was that I heard the other House had risen, and did not want to keep honorable senators here all night.
– There was no need to do so. The remaining clauses of the Bill would have been passed very quickly, and it was comparatively early in the evening. I voted against the reporting of progress then because I believed that the Minister had, in a fit of pique, taken the stand that he was going to throw the Bill under the table.
– The only motive that actuated me was that it was near midnight, and I thought there was going to be a big debate.
– We were ready to strike out the clause, and the remaining clauses would have gone through faster than they have done this afternoon. The Bill could then have gone back to another place, and we need not have met here until 4 o’clock this afternoon. We met at 11 o’clock this morning, and the Senate, by seventeen to nine, threw out the clause. Before we met the Government could have reconsidered the position, but all they did was to bring the measure up again. As soon as the clause was defeated the Government reported progress, and for all we knew the measure might have been thrown into the waste-paper basket. We had to wait until another place met at 2.30 this afternoon, and now we are brought here at this hour, a little earlier than 4 o’clock, for the convenience of honorable senators, and the Government ask us to reinstate the clause which we threw out by such a large majority. I hope honorable senators will adhere to their previous attitude. If any amendment is to be moved it should coma from the Government. They had plenty of time to prepare one between last night and now, but they brought down no amendment at all, and I hope Senator Millen will not take upon himself the responsibility of preparing one, because that responsibility rests upon the Government, which moved for the reporting of progress on two occasions.
– I would point out to the Senate the necessity that exists for a thorough understanding of the proper standards to be adopted in regard to income taxation. If judged by the standards of the previous measure, it would certainly appear that some sections of the taxpayers are being treated unjustly, but that is not to say that the standard in the first Income Tax Act was a correct one. If that standard was faulty, there is no reason why, in the present measure, we should adhere to a standard that is not in mathematical accord with right principles. I would urge Senator Keating to study the revised standard proposed in this Bill. If he will do so he will find that the principle of taxation laid down by economists, from John Stuart Mill to the present time, and the essence of which is that taxation to be just must be in proportion to the ability of the person to bear it, has been observed in this proposal. The scheme starts from a definite point, a taxable income of £100 in the case of a single man without dependants, and £156 in the case of a married man, or a single man with dependants; and it proceeds by regular gradations to the highest incomes receivable in this country. The percentage of the tax to taxable income proceeds by gradations from per cent to 20 per cent. It is on the principle of a ramp, and if Senator Keating places a straight edge along the incline plane, I defy him to discover any depression or hollow in the scale of taxation. It is all very well for him to talk about convex and concave curves. The measure is an attempt to straighten the line of taxation, and deal fairly with all taxpayers.
– To straighten the curve, you mean.
– If Senator Keating reconsiders the clause he will find that throughout an unvarying line has been maintained, without any departure from the general principle laid down. In the case of a person receiving £200 of taxable income the percentage increase is only per cent. That is the starting point, and then it increases to . 1¼ per cent. in the case of a man with a taxable income of £300, to 2½ per cent. on a taxable income of £500, to3 per cent. on a taxable income of £700, and so on. The whole purpose of the Bill is to lay the burden of taxation equitably upon the shoulders of those who can bear it, and I invite every staunch Democrat to support the clause. If Senator Keating’s argument has any value at all it proves that a number of taxpayers, enclosed between the two points I have mentioned, have not been overtaxed in the past, but that they have escaped taxation. It indicates that hitherto, instead of paying enough in the way of income tax, they have been paying too little, and because they are now called upon to pay their share, Senator Keating raises an objection. In support of whatI am saying, I might furnish the Senate with a homely illustration, which, while it may not be on all fours with Senator Keating’s argument, will demonstrate the fallacy of his contention. I remember that, in the daysof my boyhood, a farm was worked by two boys, the elder of whom was about eighteen years of age, and the younger twelve or thirteen. In those days eggs counted for something, each egg being worth1d., and it was the mother’s custom to give the elder boy two eggs, and, the younger one egg each day. But as time went on, and the younger boy became stronger, and was able to take on his shoulders a larger share of the farm work, the mother in her kindness, and with a sense of equity, advanced the younger boy’s allowance to Wo eggs. The elder boy then suddenly found that he had a grievance, and thought that instead of only getting two eggs as formerly he should get four.
– That is an old chestnut.
– It was never heard before here, and it is a homely illustration to show that when a person is so situated that justice is done to another, he frequently fancies he has a grievance. In the case to which I refer, the elder boy imagined that because the younger was given the same allowance, he ought to get 100 per cent. more.
– I am more concerned about modern legislation than about ancient eggs.
– The illustration I have quoted bears upon the case set up by Senator Keating, who argues that because certain persons escaped taxation in the past, now that they are raised to their correct position they have reason to complain, instead of congratulating themselves that they had escaped their full share of taxation in the past. Senator Keating’s argument exhausts itself if carried to its logical conclusion, because a person who under the former scheme escaped taxation and now has to pay, cannot measure his proportion of increase by any arithmetical calculation. However,
I maintain that this measure has been based on a truly scientific basis, and it contains noneof the inequalities attributed to it.
– I am disposed in general, and in particular, to assist the Government by voting for their financial proposals; but this measure rushed upon the Senate so suddenly seems, upon a superficial examination, to contain inequitable provisions that will justify any chamber of review holding it up for the time being. This is not an imaginary tax to be paid in imaginary bank notes, and a careful reading of the comparative tables published in this morning’s press will bring any reasoning senator to the conclusion that he would be hard put to it to justify an increased imposition representing in pounds, shillings, and pence over 100 per cent. on certain fixed incomes, while allowing persons in receipt of incomes running into thousands of pounds to escape with practically the same addition of extra taxation.
– The same additional taxation, but not the same percentage of increase.
– I understand that this is a graduated tax, but when we find that a man with an income of £600 per annum more than another has to pay practically only the same amount in additional taxation, I think we would be avoiding our responsibilities as members of a chamber of review if we did not hold the measure up for further investigation. Judging from the remarks made by the Minister for Works, the existing Income Tax Assessment Act contains an immoral principle. That measure is being reviewed for the first time, and I do not think we should attempt to impose on one section of the community taxation of the character demonstrated by the tables published in the press this morning. There can be no humiliation involved by a reconsideration of the measure.
– I do not think your statement is quite correct.
– Let the Minister look at the tables, then, and he will find that a man with a taxable income of £1,000 a year has to pay just about the same additional amount of taxation as a man in receipt of £600 a year.
– The table shows that a man with a taxable income of £1,000 a year will pay £35 3s.1d., while a man with a taxable income of £600 will pay £16 8s. 7d.
– What did those taxpayers pay under the last Act? That is the question.
– The middle-class man is bearing the bulk of the increase.
– I am disposed to help the Government if possible, and if they are wise they will reconsider the measure, taking heed of the fact that the possessors of a certain amount of income - notwithstanding that we have been told that the tax is increased by only 25 per cent. - are being called upon to bear increases of over 100 per cent.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment to reinsert clause 11.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move—
That the following new clause be inserted, to follow clause 10: -
Section nineteen of the principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead : - “ 19. - (1) In the case of a person (other than a company, an absentee, or a person without a dependant) there shall be deducted, in addition to the sums set forth in the last preceding section, the following sums : -
– In plain language tell us what it all means.
– It practically means that the exemption will disappear at £780 in the case of income from personal exertion, and at £500 in the case of income derived from property.
– That is a compromise between the existing law and the original proposal.
– I understand that it is just about half way. I trust that the new provision will be accepted. Of course every Government is very keen about preserving in their entirety taxation measures. I hope that honorable senators will see their way to accept this proposal, and permit us to get away in peace.
– I hope that the Committee will not accept the proposed new clause. I think that the opportunity for the Minister to propose an amendment on an important matter like this has gone. It should have been done last night or this morning, but if it is done now at least honorable senators should have had an opportunity of seeing the amendment in print..
– It is better late than never.
– That reminds me of some of the remarks made by the Minister for Works a few moments ago, when he asked the Committee to reinstate the original clause. I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee by quoting what I said on the original measure in November of last year. But, briefly stated, I said that there was not a member of the Senate, and not a member of the Government, who understood the significance, the value, or the effect of the particular curve which was adopted as the mathematical indication of the right ratio of taxation for each individual. We were told then that this was a parabolic curve which had been drawn by Mr. Knibbs, and that it was so exact, so mathematically and scientifically accurate, that the income of everybody would be drawn upon in the most just and equitable proportions. I said that I accepted the statement of the Government, although I wag not able to check it. I can lay some little pretension to certain mathematical knowledge, but I could not understand exactly what was meant by this parabolic curve which Mr. Knibbs had drawn. But now the present Government come down, and instead of it being a parabolic curve it seems to have been a paralytic curve. Instead of this curve being what Senator Lynch spoke of, one that nobody can find any variation in, it seems to me that it is, according to this proposal, a curve which is being modified by having a number of kinks put into it. The kinks are to become concave in so far as the curve applies to individuals in the community who are receiving an income of from £300 to £800, but it is to become convex when it applies to incomes of larger amounts.. What is the effect of this new proposal ? I venture to say that Senator Russell is not prepared, as Minister, to give us an exact definition of the results of the amendment. We complained last night because we had not clean prints of this Bill. The President suspended the sitting until 10.45 o’clock, until we could be provided with clean prints. As a matter of fact, a supply was sent along, and the sitting was resumed at 10.15 o’clock. We are now presented with an amendment which touches the whole root of this measure, namely, the increase in the tax, and who is to bear it. We are asked to consider the proposal without a copy of it having been put in the hands of a single senator. I hope that honorable senators will adhere to their decision, and decline, at this late hour, on a suggestion from any Minister or any Government to pass an opinion on an amendment in the circumstances in which we are asked to act now. I did it last year; but I found that I fell in. I do not want to fall in again. I am not going to vote for any amendment which has not been circulated amongst honorable senators.
– I wish to remind honorable senators of where we stand, and the fact that we have to take into consideration something more than the logic or the theoretical accuracy of any particular proposal. This amendment is frankly a compromise submitted by the Government. It puts the point at which the exemption will disappear approximately half-way between where the Committee wanted and where it is under the existing law. It will disappear under the new proposal at about £780, whereas it disappears under the existing law at £1,020, and would have disappeared under the proposal of last night at £500. We would be foolish if we overlooked the fact that we now have a reasonable opportunity to get that compromise. If we adopt the proposal we may assume that the Government will father it and invite the support of another House to it ; but if we reject this compromise there is a great probability that we may lose everything. The old fable of the boy with the pitcher of nuts is one which I hold up as being as much entitled to consideration as Senator Lynch’s story about the eggs. I ask the Committee to bear in mind that we can get a very substantial portion of that for which we fought, and, having got it, we ought not to risk it by endeavouring to get more.
– I voted against the Government this morning on clause 11, realizing that it was asking of us a great deal more than we were led to expect before the Bill was sent here. I recognise that the compromise which has been placed before the Committee by the Government is a reasonable one, and I can now see my way clear to vote for their proposal. I trust that honorable senators will realize that the Government are in need of funds, and that this proposal is a fair compromise between the clause we knocked out and what we expected. Therefore, I ask them to go with the Government, and vote for the amendment.
– I think that the Government will be well advised if they withdraw this amendment, because, whilst there was much doubt last night as to the meaning of certain provisions of the Bill, I do not think that any one is too clear, or too well satisfied, that the amendment just submitted will carry out that which Senator Russell has stated. We know that once we insert an amendment in a Bill, especially a machinery measure for taxation purposes, the alteration sometimes materially affects other provisions. Last night the discussion arose because the Committee were satisfied that there were unfair disparities; that the proposals would affect some sections of the community, and those sections, too, who are not in receipt of large incomes, to a much greater extent than they would affect those in receipt of very large incomes. I have no desire to occupy much more time. It was not with any desire to block the Government in their efforts to get money for the furtherance of the war, to stand up against the Government vote for opposition purposes, but to do what I considered a fair thing, that I raised this question last night. The Government can take my assurance for that. If I want to fight the Government, I will fight them in another way. I think that, in the circumstances, the Government would serve their purpose better if they were to withdraw this amendment and bring forward the Bill for consideration at another period in the session.
– So far as the discussion has gone, I am sure that no one can find any fault with its tone.
– I sat down in order that honorable senators might catch their trains.
– Sit down.
– Do you think that I will sit down because of that remark?
– No, we do not.
– I can assure the honorable senator that it is the very language which would encourage me to stand up.
– It will affect us.
– It only means that you will bump out the whole lot. You have settled the thing now, so get all that you want.
– Very good. I will take the honorable senator at his word. I will go on with my remarks. It is quite evident that the , opposition is coming from the corner - from the very individuals who were howling for a big income tax. Now that those honorable senators find that the income tax proposed will hit them a little harder than they expected, it meets with their opposition, and they are anxious to turn down the proposal by the Government. Tax the other fellow is the cry now; but for heaven’s sake don’t touch my salary ! It is because I do not desire that any honorable senator should miss his train, and out of no consideration to honorable senators in the corner, that I resume my seat.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Bill reported with a further amendment; reports adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act 1901-1912. - Regulations amended, &c.- Statutory Rules 1916, No. 302.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Land acquired under, at -
Abbotsford, New South Wales - For Quarantine purposes.
Kensington, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Launceston, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Public Service Act 1902-1916- PromotionsDepartment of the Treasury- R. J. Mair. Department of Trade and Customs - E. P. Geraghty.
– As I assume that we have completed what may be termed the formal business of the Senate, before we adjourn for the holidays, I should like, following an old-established, and, I think, commendable custom, to extend on behalf of honorable senators, first of all to you, sir, our good wishes for the festive season and the new year. I feel that I may say that as another year has passed by you have added to the opinion which honorable senators had formed of your fairness and firmness, your desire at all times to assist them, and the success with which you have discharged your not always easy or pleasant duties. I wish, on behalf of honorable senators not attached to the Government, to extend to the Govern ment and their supporters our best wishes. During the last few weeks we have had some changes here, but I hope that they did not extend to any alteration of the good personal feeling that has always hitherto marked the relations between one member of the Senate and another. I should like, also, to include in these references the officers of the Senate. We have been again under obligations to them, and I am sure that honorable senators generally wouldnot like to close the session without some recognition of those obligations.
– May I, sir, join with Senator Millen in the good wishes he has expressed to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May I express the hope that the new year will bring an honorable peace. I wish to extend to the Governmentquite heartily and freely our best wishes for their enjoyment of the Christmas season, and also a happy and prosperous New Year. To the other members of the Senate I wish the compliments of the season, and to the officers, who by their efficiency and ability, have made our work so much lighter than it would otherwise be, I extend the congratulations of the party to which I belong. I hope that when we meet again in the New Year it will be under conditions satisfactory to us all.
– I wish to reciprocate to the full the kindly feelings expressed by the Leaders of the two Oppositions. It is quite clear that the present Government is well opposed, and if a Government ever succeeded by opposition, the present Administration should have a really prosperous term of office. This being the time when peace and good-will should reign amongst men, I wish to convey through you, sir, to Senators Millen and Gardiner and their followers, as well as to the supporters of the Government, my heartiest good feelings on the present occasion. Those of us who have homes to go to are about to retire to them to enjoy the festive season. As we cannot enjoy peace and good-will ourselves unless we are at peace with our fellow-men, I want to assure those who have trespassed against me that I am only too willing to forgive their trespasses, so long as they forgive me mine. I am well aware that in carrying on the work of Parliament persons are liable to become heated, though, for myself, I never could understand the reason why any man should become heated. As a close student and follower of the stoical school, I never allow myself to become ruffled. It is for that reason I can sympathize so heartily with those who during temporary ebullitions of feeling permit themselves sometimes the use of a little extravagant language.
– All this seems very hypocritical.
– I am sure that Senator McKissock does not mean anything of the kind. I am satisfied that, in common with other members of the Senate, the honorable senator does not permit politics to dictate his friendships. For my own part, I can claim that I have never allowed politics to dictate my friendships. We are now about to enter upon a season of peace and good-will, and we cannot be ready in mind or in heart to do so unless we are prepared to forgive and be forgiven. I have already undertaken to forgive those who have trespassed against me; if they forgive me in return. I wish, sir, to confirm everything that has been said about yourself. As a humble member of the Senate, I have always enjoyed your advice, and have obeyed your ruling implicitly,, for the reason that I found it better and more profitable to obey it than to do otherwise. I wish to convey to the officers of the House, through you, my own appreciation and the appreciation of every member of the Senate, for their uniform courtesy in attending to the wants of members of the Senate generally. On behalf of my absent colleague, Senator Pearce, to whom, I am sure, the greetings of honorable senators are extended, I have pleasure in wishing every member of the Senate, and of the staff, my heartiest good wishes for the festive season. I hope that when we meet in this chamber next year the dove of peace will have reached Australia’s shores, and that, instead of a terrible war raging, we shall have, within the next twelve months, a conclusive peace, with victory resting upon the banner of the Allies.
– Before the close of the session, and of this discussion, I desire, on my own behalf, on behalf of every member of the Senate, and of the officers in the service of the Senate, to reciprocate the kindly good wishes expressed by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Millen, the Leader of the Official Labour party, Senator Gardiner, and the Minister for Works, on behalf of the Government. We at times have heated debates here. Having strong convictions occasionally, we speak strongly; but I think I can say for myself and for other members of the Senate that the most generous and kindly feeling always exists amongst us, and especially at this festive season. T desire on my own behalf, as well as on behalf of honorable senators generally, to extend our cordial good wishes to the officers and servants .of the Senate. They have been exceedingly courteous and kind to honorable senators generally, and have done all that could be expected of them to facilitate and make pleasant the performance of our’ duties. The members of the Hansard Staff are, I think, particularly to be congratulated upon the way in which they have always done, not only justice, but often more than justice, to the speeches made by honorable senators. For myself, I desire to express my deep appreciation of the uniform kindness, courtesy, and consideration I have always received from every honorable .senator, which has rendered the discharge of my duties as President more of a pleasure than a task.
I regret more than I can say that I have to inform the Senate that one, who has ever since the inception of the Senate been a valued officer of this Chamber - I refer to the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. C. B. Boydell - has found it necessary, owing to failing health, to make arrangements for hia retirement. Some years ago, Mr. Boydell was stricken down with a very severe illness, so severe, that many of us feared that he would be unable to return to. his duties. However, an extended rest had the effect of restoring him, if not fully, at least partially, to health, and since then he has been able to give many years of good and valued service to the Senate. He is a gentleman to whom we all owe a deep debt of gratitude. He has always been at the service of honorable senators. Unfortunately, he finds himself stricken down with his old complaint, and it has become necessary for him to take an extended rest. As he has reached the retiring age, and there is not much possibility of ‘him being able to take up his duties again, he has resolved to retire. In retiring he has sent me the following letter, which I desire to read to the Senate.
In forwarding to you my request for permission to retire, in accordance with my rights under the Constitution, from the position of Clerk of the Senate, I desire to take the opportunity of thanking you for the uniform kindness and consideration you have extended to me during the term I have had the honour to serve under your presidency. I desire, also, to similarly express myself in regard to your predecessors; and to honorable senators generally I can only tender my appreciation of the very pleasant associations we have enjoyed during the many years I have worked with them. It is with feelings of much regret that I contemplate a severance of the old ties; but my health does not permit of my continuing in the position which for about ten years I have had the honour to occupy.
With the whole of the official staffs of the Parliament my intercourse has been of the most pleasant character; and to those immediately under my control I tender my thanks for the assistance they have one and all rendered to me.
In bidding farewell to you and honorable senators, I trust that the friendships which have matured between us may long endure, and that I may still meet many of my old friends in time to come.
Yours very truly,
Clerk of the Senate.
Senator the Honorable Thomas Givens, President of the Senate.
In accordance with the usual practice, and because* of the consideration which he so richly deserves, I have recommended the Governor-General to grant him six months’ leave of absence on full pay prior to his retirement. Of course, other arrangements will have to be made to fill his place. I think that I am expressing, not only my own feelings, but those of honorable senators generally, of the officers of the Parliament and officials throughout the Commonwealth, when I say that we all regret the cause of his retirement, and hope that the rest which he is about to take, will have the effect of restoring him to robust health.
I trust that the approaching festive season will find every member of the Senate, and every officer of the Parliament, enjoying a happy time. I further desire to express the hope that the approaching year may be crowned with the glad tidings of an honorable conclusion of the war, by means of an enduring peace - a peace which will insure to the Empire and its Allies a realization of the ideals for which they are fighting. To meet the convenience of honorable senators, I will now suspend the sitting until a quarter past 5 o’clock, or such other time as may be convenient for the resumption of business, of which honorable senators will be notified by the ringing of the bells.
Sitting suspended from4.53 to 6.20 p.m.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with the message that the House had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Lynch) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on a day to be fixed by Mr. President, which day of meeting shall be notified by Mr. President to each honorable senator by telegram or letter.
Inter-State Steam-ship Fares - Kal- goorlie to Port Augusta Railway: Extension to Fremantle - Export or Horse Flesh - Horse BreedingSlaughter of Female Sheep and Cattle - Navigation Act - Mercantile Marine - Naval Reserve and Compulsory Service - Senator Russell and the Victorian Political Labour Council. - Public Service Holidays.
Motion (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to draw attention once more to the fares on the steam-ships plying on the Australian coast. A large increase has been brought about on steamers running between Melbourne and Western Australia. The matter affects the working class in Western Australia, perhaps, to a greater extent than any other section of the community, and it is time a remedy was found for it. During the Christmas holidays, a large number of people, mostly of the working class, leave Western Australia for the eastern States, and the substantial increase that has taken place in the fares means a considerable tax on them. The change has been brought about by the abolition of the return-ticket system, which has been in vogue, to my knowledge, for the last twenty years. By that means, £4 has been added to the fare. Thus, where it formerly cost £14 return from here to the West, it now costs £18 on the Australian coastal boats. On the last trip of the Zealandia, belonging to theHuddart Parker Company, it was estimated that the increase meant that something like £1,000 was collected from the passengers on the one trip more than the company would have been entitled to charge under the old system. If the increased price of coal is pleaded, it can be pointed out that that would not amount to much more than £150; but the company, instead of collecting £150 extra, which we would, perhaps, not be justified in cavilling at, extracted £1,000 from the passengers. The people travelling between here and the West have, therefore, a substantial grievance. I understand that the Government have power, under the War Precautions Act, to control these matters, and I hope they will prevent this extortion going on. I can assure them that, knowing they have the power, the people will look to them to do so. The Minister has on several occasions asked for particular instances of the kind, and I therefore quote this as a specific case to show that it is time the Government interfered. I understand the same thing obtains right round the coast.
– It applies between the mainland and Tasmania.
– And all the State railways have abolished return tickets.
– Even if the Government railways nave done so, that does not justify the shipping companies in doing it. Two blacks do not make a white.
.- Will the Minister for Works state if any progress has been made in the negotiations between the Government of Western Australia and the Commonwealth Government regarding the continuation of thetrans- Australian railway from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle? Although there has not been much time for anything more definite to have taken place, I would suggest that now the Government have a few weeks to spare they should raise that very important question.
– They have to attend to the recruiting campaign.
– The gap dividing the eastern and western railheads is rapidly being shortened, and we hope it will soon be closed. It is therefore important to the Commonwealth to make arrangements sothat there may be no break for transhipment at Kalgoorlie in the journey from Port Augusta to Fremantle. That line is just as important to the Commonwealth, from a defence point of view, as the recruiting to which Senator Guthrie referred by interjection.
– Recruiting is for the present; that line is for the future.
– I am speaking of the present. The continuity of the railway, and the question of who shall bear the cost, has to be decided. When’ the Minister is replying, I shall be glad if he will inform the Senate that the negotiations will be continued, in orderthat when we re-assemble we may learn from the Government their intention in regard to the continuity of the transcontinental railway from Port Augusta to Fremantle.
Sitting suspended from 6.33 till 8 p.m.
– Before the House adjourns I wish to refer to a matter of very great importance to a number of our pioneers in Central Australia, and to the Commonwealth. To some extent we are suffering from a scarcity of meat, beef being now at a high price, partly on account of the recent drought, and partly because of the restrictions on the export of cattle by one of the States. However, it is not upon beef that I desire to talk, so much as upon horse flesh, which is a staple article of meat diet in France, Belgium, and, I believe, in Germany also. A cablegram published recently in the press stated that the price of horse flesh in Germany had reached 3s. per lb. Now in the centre of Australia a large number of stock-raisers breed horses for the Indian market. They have to travel their stock long distances to reach the railway, and thus entrain the horses for the Adelaide market, where, as a rule, the Indian buyers operate. The Indian buyers will only take the best horses and no mares, and the local buyers, knowing that the owners cannot afford to send the stock back to the stations, take advantage of the position, and offer only a low price for horses not fit for export, and for mares. Thousands of mares of rather an inferior breed, and termed “ culls,” in good condition are running on these stations, and recently, one of the owners requested me to ascertain if there was any objection to the export of these inferior horses and mares as food for the Belgian and French people. I made inquiries, and I found that there seemed to be an objection on the part of the Customs authorities to allow this to be done, though I pointed out that these horse-owners did not ask the Commonwealth Government or the Customs authorities to do anything except to give them permission to export the horse flesh, which would be in great demand in France and Belgium, and would assist materially in feeding the people of those countries. I was, however, met. with the objection that there was a prohibition against the export of horse flesh. The owners of these inferior horses and mares have to be satisfied with about £3 per head in the Adelaide market, whereas, if they could be exported as horse flesh they would probably return to the owners from £8 to £10 per head. It would be a good thing for Australia if we could export in this way 10,000 head of inferior stock at a profit of £8 or £10, because additional revenue would be received, and, incidentally, the breed of horses in Central Australia improved, because if the Customs Department would only allow the horse-owners to export the culls, only mares of a superior type would be left to breed from, with the result that a more uniform standard of remounts for India, and a better class of horses for use in Australia, would be raised.
– Surely the people of those countries would not consume horse flesh if they could get beef ?
– Horse flesh is their staple article of meat diet, and I understand that the people prefer it to beef. I hope the Government will give this matter careful consideration, and that if there is only a sentimental objection against the export of horse flesh, because Australians do not eat it themselves, the restriction will be removed.
– This was recommended to the Minister for Defence by a committee of experts recently.
– I was not aware of that, but I do say that the Government at a time like this, and for the reasons I have stated, should not continue the restriction on the export of horse flesh to the countries named. I have been assured by two of the owners that unless they can get permission to export horse flesh they will have to destroy a verylarge number of mares on their property ; thus there will be a loss of money and a waste of a staple article of meat diet to the people of allied countries, simply because the Customs authorities have some silly sentimental objection to the idea of exporting horse flesh to other countries.
– Will the honorable senator explain what shipping arrangements could be made?
– That has nothing to do with the request I am making. The people concerned will see to the shipping and the marketing of the horse flesh. They are perfectly willing that the Government authorities should supervise the killing and export of the meat, and that there should be an examination similar to that over beef for export. They do not ask the Commonwealth Government to do anything except give permission to export horse flesh; and this course, I maintain, would be of very great advantage to Australia. We have a good name all over the world for the type of horses we breed. Recently letters were received from Egypt, where Australian horses were sent, stating that they were far superior to either the English or Canadian horses. “We have magnificent country in Australia on which we could breed hundreds of thousands of horses, and members of the Senate will remember that ten years ago I urged upon the Government the desirability of so utilizing the vast areas in the centre of Australia. I pointed out then that we had millions of acres of land eminently suited for horsebreedingstations. Horses bred in that country have better feet and better legs than those raised in any other part of Australia. I have urged the importance of horse-breeding upon at least three Governments of the Commonwealth, and I have pointed out that at the various telegraph stations on the overland line , a depot could be established under the control of one or two white men who understood the business, leaving native labour to do all the rest of the work, so that the Government, at the cost of a few hundred pounds, could breed thousands of splendid animals. I hope the Government will give this matter their favorable consideration.
.- A subject in a way allied to the matter raised by Senator Story has for some time given me considerable thought. For a long time I have held the opinion that the various State Governments of Australia should have endeavoured by legislation to prevent the slaughter of female sheep and cattle. If action is hot taken in this direction, we shall be face to fade with the difficulty that meat, which is so largely used by Australians, will have become too dear for the Australian wage-earner to buy. I think that to a great extent it might be remedied if the State Governments would, by legislation, prevent the indiscriminate slaughter of female stock. But the matter touches the powers of the Federal Government to some extent. I take it that under the War Precautions Act, while the war continues at least, it is within the province of the Federal Government to exercise some control. When we consider that within a year or so, if the war ends, as we hope it will, all the countries engaged in the war whose stocks have been depleted to an enormous extent will be looking to the stock-raising countries of the world to replenish their flocks and herds, we are brought face to face with the fact that a gradually increased demand for meat supplies will arise. Australia will share in that increased demand. All parts of America, which at present are supplying other portions of the world with tinned meats, will also be brought under that levy. This leads to the inevitable conclusion that the meat supplies of Australia will become scarcer and scarcer, and consequently dearer and dearer. That being so, I ask the representative of the Government - if they think it is not worth while to move under the War Precautions Act, because the war may not last long, and we all hope thatit will not - to immediately get into direct communication with the State Governments and ask them to take some steps in this direction. The constant slaughter of female stock has been going on for some years, since the flocks and herds of Australia were largely depleted owing to the drought. You can travel through any part of Australia and see splendid feed everywhere, but the paddocks containing the grass are almost empty. In many parts of Australia feed is available, but there are no stock to consume it.
– Is not the depletion in stock due to the drought of three years ago?
– It is attributable to the drought to some extent. But it is also attributable to the fact that the State Governments are not taking action to remedy the disastrous results of the drought. It seems to those who have made a study of this question that there is only one way to do that, and that is to try to conserve the female stock. I suggest to the Government, this being a big. national question, which is well worthy of their attention, that they might get into instant communication if they; in their wisdom, think it desirable, with the State Governments, to see whether something could not be done at once, because, if it is not done, within a year or two in Aus- , tralia, meat will be 50 per cent., if not 100 per cent., dearer than it is, and heaven knows that it is dear enough today for the man who is not getting much wages. I think that this question might well occupy the consideration of the Government even during the recess.
.- We are all in agreement with the sentiment expressed by Senator O’Keefe that it is the duty of the Government to see that unnecessary waste does not take place as regards stock products. It is all very well for a member of Parliament to tell the producers what they ought to do, but it is a very different thing indeed if a man is a producer himself, and is trying to do the best that he can, not only to provide stock for the people of Australia, but also a means whereby he can earn a livelihood. It is rather amazing to a man who knows something about the conditions under which the farmer or the dairyman, or the stock-producer lives to-day—–
– We always want his produce at the very minimum price.
– We require his produce at the minimum ; but we want the wages that he shall pay to his employees at the maximum. So we are gradually closing down upon people who are engaged in this industry.
– Do you not think that if something were done on the lines I have indicated it might very soon be to the benefit of the man himself?
– Honorable senators are confined largely to their experience in their own States. In this Senate, which ought to be a Chamber representing the whole of the interests of Australia, we forget too frequently that we are not here as the representatives of certain sections in our own States.
– You may speak for yourself. I never have forgotten it, and I never will., I speak as one with a knowledge of stock conditions all over Australia.
– I am not speaking for myself. I am speaking from the honorable senator’s stand-point; and I want to tell the Senate that if there is a chance of him securing anything for the benefit of his own State he is not backward in asking that the concession or privilege shall be. extended to it.
– Surely you are not bringing this to the level of a State matter! I did not.
– I am not referring to the question in that way. We are here to represent the whole of the States. We are f ar and away too much inclined to sink the interests of Australia, and, as it were, to push forward the interests of our particular State. I do not desire to encourage that. We, as members of this Chamber, ought to do the best we can in the interests of the whole of Australia. For that reason I rose to point out to my honorable friend that in our various industries and callings we are anxious to do the best we can for the development of industries in Australia and the interests of the whole of the community. I know that Senator O’Keefe is just as anxious to advance the best interests of Australia as I am. We are not anxious that the interests of Tasmania should be pushed forward, or that the interests of South Australia or Western Australia, or Queensland or Victoria, should be held back because of the interests of one State. I am anxious to see the consideration for State interests in the Senate absolutely wiped out. This is the one Chamber where we should drop the matter of State interests, and obliterate all State boundaries. I am of opinion that no member of the Senate should put foremost the interests of his State for the time being. I hope that in matters of this kind the members of the
Senate will, as I am sure they can, sink all their State interests, and that the Parliament will use its best endeavours to forward the interests of the whole of the Commonwealth, irrespective of what honorable senators may think will be best for the interests of their own States.
– Earlier in the day I gave notice of a question which I desire now to put to the Minister for Works as representing the Government in the Senate. I think it was in 1903 that the question of uniform navigation laws was first considered by the Commonwealth Parliament. It was then understood that the Federal Parliament had full powers under the Constitution to deal with the question of navigation. A Royal Commission was appointed, and investigated the whole of the navigation laws of Australia. It was found that there were six separate navigation laws, differing in many particulars, in force in the Commonwealth. The Royal Commission reported that uniformity was advisable, and, after a very stormy passage, extending through several sessions, a measure was passed which was reserved for His Majesty’s assent. The Royal assent was given in October, 1913, ten years after the Bill was first introduced in this Parliament. It contained a provision under which it could be brought into force only by the issue of two proclamations, one for the general provisions of the Bill, and another for those dealing with the coastal trade. I think that the time has arrived when the Government should issue both those proclamations. I invite honorable senators to consider the awkward position in which persons engaged in shipping are placed as a result of existing conditions. A. matter which may be quite unimportant cannot be settled without consulting six separateState Acts passed in Australia, in addition to the Imperial Navigation Act. I do not claim that the Navigation Act passed by this Parliament is a perfect measure.
– The honorable senator made it very nearly so.
– I tried to, but I was foiled in some of my endeavours to do so. I say that, while it is not a perfect measure, it is in advance of any navigation law in the world to-day. But its operation has been held up now for three and a half years.
– Some people call it “the Guthrie Act,” and not the Navigation Act.
– It was not mine, but I assisted to pass it, and received a great deal of assistance from others on both sides in this Parliament. I say that the time is now rotten-ripe for the proclamation of the Act. Some persons may say that, so far as the proclamation of the coastal provisions of the Act is concerned, there is little or no need for them to-day, since we have caged up Germany, the one enemy whose control of the whole of our coastal trade we feared at the time the Navigation Act was under the consideration of this Parliament. But another Power, whose entry into our trade is nearly as serious a matter, has taken the place of Germany. We now have a great many Japanese ships trading along our coast. I impress upon the Government the absolute necessity of issuing the proclamations bringing the Navigation Act into force, in the interests of the trade and commerce of the Commonwealth, and in the interests of those who have to go to sea. Honorable senators must take into consideration the fact that the men employed in the mercantile marine are taking to-day as great, if not greater, risks than are the soldiers who go to the front. They *re going into the war zone, and risking the dangers of mines and torpedoes. Still, they are neither naval nor military men, they are merely mercantile men. They are taking all these risks in the interests of the trade and commerce of Australia and of the Empire.
– Without claiming any credit for it.
– Without claim-‘ ing credit for it; without brass buttons; without uniforms; and without even a badge to show that they are doing service for the country, since the right to wear such a badge was absolutely refused to them. I ask the Government to recognise the service of these men by bringing into operation a law under which they will know where they are. I have no desire now to enter into a discussion of conscription and anti-conscription, but I wish to remind honorable’ senators that, some few months ago, before Mr. Hughes returned from the Old Country, a. number of men who had volunteered . for service in our Naval Reserve were pressganged into the mercantile marine service. This was done by men who to-day com plain that an attempt was made to enforce conscription upon us. Messrs. Tudor, Higgs, and King O’Malley, who got out of the last Government, professedly because the Prime Minister recommended conscription, consented, while members of that Government, that these volunteers of the Naval Reserve should be forced to enter a certain ship under section 9 of the Naval Discipline Act. This was before Mr. Hughes had returned from the Old Country. One of the great leaders of the anti-conscriptionist movement, when I consulted him professionally to find out whether these men could resist going in the vessel, told me, and he put it in writing, that it was impossible for these men to resist, because they were volunteers, and in the naval service, and, under the War Precautions Act, they would have to do whatever the Government said they were to do.
– The honorable senator objects to press-ganging men for service at sea, but he does not object to conscription for service on land.
– The point I raised was that the men who were pressed aboard this vessel were not unionists. I raised the objection that in this case the Government were press-ganging men who were non-unionists. -I did not raise the conscription question. Here was a Government in power, pledged to preference to unionists; and they brought the Naval Discipline Act into force to compel these non-unionists, some of whom were schoolmasters who had joined the Naval Forces, to go on board and fire the furnaces of a certain ship. Honorable senators will see from this that the Commonwealth was committed to conscription before ever Mr. Hughes arrived from the Old Country.
– The honorable senator objected to it- then ?
– What I objected to was that non-unionists should be put on board that ship to take the place of unionists. Senator Blakey knows that that is what I objected to.
– The only regret I have is that the honorable senator was not consistent, and did not object to the .conscription of men for service on land.
– I asked the Government to refer the matter in dispute to Mr. Justice Higgins, but I was told that they would not do so, and were going to put the Naval Discipline Act into force.
Every one in Australia knows that that is what they did. The men were sent away with the vessel, but the Government subsequently found that they were in an untenable position, and agreed to settle the matter in dispute before Mr. Justice Higgins. His Honour said that the orders which had been issued to these men should not have been given, and he gave the order that they must go back to the conditions existing before the men who were replaced left the ship. The Minister controlling the matter took it before the Cabinet, if the public press is to be believed, and the Cabinet- agreed with what he ‘had done.
– The honorable senator does not mean to say that the late Government voted for conscription?
– They did.
– I thought they would all have resigned in a body.
– They did not do that. A statement was published in the public press that the Minister for the
Navy had taken the matter before Cabinet, which had upheld the action he had taken.
– The honorable senator objects to the conscription of the few, but ‘favours conscription of the whole population.
– In order to win the war, every man should take an equal share of the work and danger; but to conscript a few men -and put them in a ship’s stokehole at work for which they had not been trained, and to then bundle them off to sea, as was done by the late Government, was exactly the same sort of thing as the English people objected to so much years ago. During the time of the Crimean War, a man had barely put his foot on the wharf after a three years’ voyage, when a gang of men surrounded him, pressed him on to another ship, without giving him even an opportunity to see his family, and sent him off to sea. I repeat that the action taken by the late Government in respect of naval volunteers was equally as bad as the conduct of the pressgang. These men were taken away from their avocations. One leading anticonscriptionist, a namesake of Senator Russell, mentioned on many platforms that he went to Port Melbourne to say farewell to -his son, and was not allowed to see him.
– I understand that the honorable senator would not object to conscription if it applied all round.
– Exactly. If every man had to take his share of the work, there would bo no objection. 1 certainly am prepared to take my share. The law which was passed by this Parliament, and assented to by the King three years ago, ought to be brought into force at once.
– In regard to the increase of freights and fares from Western Australia from £14 to £18, mentioned by Senator de Largie, I have every sympathy with the people who are suffering, because, as one connected with the Commonwealth Shipping Department, I know that there is no justification for such an increase at the present time. I have not yet had time to see whether the Government have power to deal with this matter; but if we have not I shall bring the question before the Cabinet in order to ascertain whether we cannot stop what seems like daylight robbery. The increase is quite unjustifiable, and should be stopped at once. I regret that Senator Story is not present, because I believe that I am the guilty person who prevented the export of horse flesh to the Belgians. Australians are not accustomed to the idea of horse flesh being used as food ; and I confess that the idea of feeding our Allies on horse flesh ‘while we are able to feed on the -best of lamb was somewhat repugnant to me at first. It would appear, . hoWever, that the export of horse flesh is mixed up with the matter of horse breeding. Moreover, whatever our views may be upon horse flesh as an article of diet, we must admit that other people have a right to eat and drink what they choose. I notice that in Germany the price of horse flesh is 3s. per lb., and I wish it may reach 12s. per lb. If we have horse flesh to sell, I see no objection to its being exported for the benefit of our Allies, and I shall give a favorable report on the matter to the Minister of Trade and Customs. The slaughtering of female stock, to which reference was made by Senator O’Keefe, is a question that can be dealt with only by the States.
– The Minister might consider the advisability of bringing the matter before the Premiers’ Conference,
– That suggestion has been considered. At the present time I think we have a natural protection in that regard in the difficulty of securing refrigerated space for the transport of meat overseas. As a question of policy is involved, I will bring the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister. It may be found that we can do something in co-operation with the States. I wish now to refer to a matter that affects, particularly, myself, and also the Cabinet and the people of Australia. I refer to the publication of some correspondence by the president of the Victorian Political Labour Council, Mr. Holloway, and the secretary, Mr. Stewart. I do not wish to drag anybody else into my dispute, or to make use of anybody else’s name; but in view of a statement that was made in another place, I think that I am justified, in defence of my character and my political views, to place on the records of this Parliament what I believe to be the facts. I repeat that I have no desire to implicate anybody else. I have had no personal quarrel with anybody. All the members of the Parliamentary Labour party were good friends of mine until the breach occurred in the party, and my only quarrel is with a system which I believe to be incompatible with free and democratic government in any country. Last week, when I explained my position in the Ministry, I did not give the reasons why I was expelled from the’ Political Labour Council, because I never’ knew, and no honorable member in this Parliament knew, them. Nevertheless, that drastic action was taken. During that debate, I made use of no man’s name; I criticised no man personally; nor did I question the honesty of even* those who had differed from me, and expelled me from the Labour party. On the following day this joint statement by. Mr. Holloway, the president of the Political Labour Council, and Mr. A. Stewart (secretary) was published in the Art/ lis -
Senator Russell’s recent speech in the Senate unfairly states the position of the Central Executive and of Mr. Tudor.
Permit me to say that during the course 01 my speech I did not mention the name of my honoured recent colleague and friend, Mr. Tudor. His name came into the debate only when I read the letters which the central executive had sent to Mr. Tudor and myself. Judge of my surprise, however, when I found that Mr. Tudor had judged me by the report in the press - by which I hope no Honorable member will ever judge another - and said I had referred to him in this debate, and that he had never received a letter from the central- executive. I do not know whether or not Mr. Tudor made that statement. I am not going to judge him. by the press report; but if he did make that statement it is incorrect, for Mr. Tudor did receive a letter, and I received a letter, and we discussed together what we should do with them. I do not think it is fair to pit Mr. Tudor against me, or for me to pit myself against Mr. Tudor. No political question is involved in this matter, but our personal honour is involved. It is stated a little later -
He was prepared, he said, to consult the executive on the expediency of his resigning at a later stage.
I wish to say that the only time I met the executive of my party was at my own request. I then told them plainly what I thought, was the political situation. I did not give them any Cabinet secrets or any secrets of my party. I spoke to them as members of a common organization would speak to one another. I was asked, not once, but a dozen times, by the members of that executive if I would consent to be bound by its decision as to whether I should resign from the Labour Ministry. My reply was, “ Gentlemen, I am willing to confer with you, because I believe that there is a political crisis. I am prepared to listen to an expression of your ‘views, but I deny your right, or that of anybody outside the Labour party in Parliament, to say whether I shall be a member of a Labour Ministry.” I have never deviated from that path. I have always been willing to confer with the central executive. I have always regarded its members as my friends. But I refused to take orders from them on a matter which their rules did not embrace. It is also stated by Mr. Stewart that I failed to answer either of two letters that were sent to me commanding me to resign from the Ministry. From that allegation it might be inferred that I was discourteous to this body. As a matter of fact, I declined to reply to their letters because I refused to discussmy position as a Minister with an outside body which had no power to deal with it. I think that most honorable senators will acquit me of. ever being discourteous to anybody. Mr. Stewart’s statement proceeds -
The following letter waa sent in reply from the executive: - “Your letter of 28th instant to hand, and contents noted. May I point out that your answer seems to evade the direct question asked of you in my letter of 28th inst., and I now desire a definite answer - “ Yes “ or “ K0.” - before 4 o’clock this afternoon, as to whether you intend to place yourself in the hands of this executive for the purpose of addressing meetings in opposition to the conscription proposal to be submitted to the people by referendum on 28th October.”
To this letter no answer was received, although the letter was handed to Senator Russell personally before midday on September 29th. Then a final communication was sent to Senator Russell, which concluded with the following: - “ Having failed to comply with the request contained therein, I am instructed to inform you that you are expelled from membership of the Political Labour Council of Victoria.”
The reason why I was dismissed was that I refused to place myself in the hands of the central executive. When the executive wrote me they evidently held a meeting and decided that if the recipients of their letters did not reply to their inquiries in a certain way they were to be sacked. When the foregoing letter was sent to me I sat down and wrote two pages of - foolscap in reply to it. In the meantime the members of the executive had scattered around Australia. Mr. Archibald Stewart was not in “Victoria when that letter reached me. No executive had met, and no executive had considered my reply to that letter. Its members had left the assistant secretary of the organization in Melbourne with an instruction that if questions were not answered “Yes” or “No” by politicians with whom they had communicated they were to be dismissed. When I heard that I had been dismissed’ bv a clerk in the office I was dumbfounded. Good God ! just think of it for a moment - a Minister of the Crown dismissed by a clerk in the office. This is not a Labour question; it seems almost to be a question of personal hatred. What crime have I committed? The man who leads the Labour party on the Opposition benches to-day sat by my side as a “ pal.” I believe that there is not a single difference on political principles between Senator Gardiner and myself. Yet I am dishonoured and branded in the newspapers as a traitor. Who calls me that? The coward who writes it on paper, but who never comes to me to say it. Are Ministers -who have won their spurs in politics - and every Labour man knows what a long and hard trial it is before he can gain even the nomination of his party - to be summarily dismissed by a clerk in the office of the central Labour executive? Having been elected to the executive of our party, and subsequently to the Ministry, and having become a Minister a second time, I ask is my fate to b9 determined by a clerk in the office? Nobody regrets what has occurred more than I do. To me the Labour movement is one of the greatest things on earth. But I protest against my destiny, my life, and my career, being torn from me without any explanation. Having gained the confidence of sixty men in the Parliamentary Labour party of Australia, am I to be derided as a traitor merely because I failed to convince seven members of the central executive? I did not think that anybody in this world could be so malicious as to do what has been done to me. The control of Ministers of the Crown and of members of Parliament by outside executives on non-party questions is too serious a matter for Australia to treat lightly. When the members of the central executive went scalphunting, somebody said that I had not explained why I had joined Mr. Hughes. At all events, I can say that whether it was the Labour executive, or the Labour party4 or Mr. Hughes, I have never failed to stand by the principles in which I believe; and I have quarrelled with all and sundry in turn, irrespective of what might happen to myself as an individual: I wish to put on record why I joined Mr. Hughes. I had quarrelled with the Labour party, and I had quarrelled with Mr. Hughes; and the Labour executive, who knew all the personal sacrifices I had made, had re-affirmed my absolute dismissal. In my hour of trouble, when the fight was over, Mr. Hughes was ready to forget and forgive, as I myself, in turn, was prepared to do. I know of no man in the history of the Labour movement in Australia of whose work we are so proud, or who has rendered that movement more brilliant service. But, in all sincerity, I say that in my opinion he made the mistake of his life when he adopted the policy of conscription. Who, however, will question the honesty of the man who,’ in season and out of season, day and night, has worked for the improvement of the conditions of the people of Australia? Who is the man that has moulded our legislation, though not then the leader of our party? Suddenly this man is turned out of the party, and, like a demon, is hounded from place to place. Was that fair? No. My troubles with Mr. Hughes were over. The conscription issue had been settled in a democratic way by the voice and the vote of the people, and the question of the regulations had also been settled with Mr. Hughes. My love of my country is second to that of no man, and I give place to none in my adherence to democratic principles ; and to whom should I look, in our present crisis, if not to the man who has rendered such service, and is likely “to render more ? I regret that Mr. Hughes and the Labour movement are not reconciled to-day; but I believe that he will yet do more work for the masses of this country than is in the power of any other man I know. I am not getting any pleasure out of the present position. Many honorable senators opposite are amongst my best friends, and we hold political principles in common; but if the movement and Democracy are to be saved, ought we not collectively to do something to bring the two sections of the party toTgether? What would it matter if the present Government were to go to-morrow 1 There is a greater force to be considered outside. Who is going to help the man in the slums, and the sweated women and children, if not the organized masses of the people outside? Are we, in our differences of opinion, going to selfishly struggle for place and power, and allow ourselves to be conquered by those who are opposed to the interests of the country? I regret the trouble; but I reaffirm that never, under any circumstances, will I accept a position as a Labour Minister if I am not to be free - if I am to be bound body and soul and not permitted to use my intelligence in the best interests of the people, and if I have to go to men who have been my political opponents dozens of times, and say, “ Please, what shall I do to save my country in this, the greatest crisis of its history?” Never, never, never, will I!
.- At this season of the year, and at this hour, I am not going to discuss many things that are near and dear to my heart. I rise for the specific purpose of asking the Minister to reply to a question that was put early in the day by Senator McKissock, who has had to leave the chamber. However, I do not think I should be doing my duty if I did not reply to a few statements made by Senator Russell in his impassioned and very eloquent speech. Senator Russell said that he was dismissed from the Labour party by a clerk in the office of the Political Labour Council. I regret very much the severance of Senator Russell from the Labour party, or, as he might prefer to put it, the severance of the Labour party from Senator Russell. I regret very much, at this time of the year, when there ought to be peace and good-will on earth, that not only are the nations warring against each other, but we, in the body politic, seem to be divided amongst ourselves.
– I am sure the honorable senator does not mean to misrepresent me, but I did not say that I was dismissed by the clerk; I said that the executive had never considered my reply, but had left instructions with the clerk, and that he had carried out those instructions.
– Senator Russell now, to a certain extent, qualifies the statement he made in bis speech. This discussion hurts me as much as I have no doubt it hurts Senator Russell and others. Though a young man, I have learnt to love the Labour party, and have done all in my power for it, with a view to benefiting the masses of the people. I do not think that Senator Russell has been quite fair - perhaps unintentionally - and I do not wish his remarks to be put on record without voicing an objection. Senator Russell may have been dismissed in a letter written by the clerk, under instructions from his superior, who, in turn, had instructions from the executive, whose servant he is.
– I did not mean any reflection on the individual.
– And I hope that Senator Russell will not think I am making any reflection on him. The feeling between the honorable senator and myself is of the most friendly character, though we may differ on this particular question. But, in fairness to the organization, which I at the present time represent, and in relation to which I may’ at some future time be placed in a similar position to that of Senator Russell, I must say a few words, of protest. I look to that organization for no favour, and I am prepared to do my duty, irrespective of what they do or think, according to my own conscience, ideas, and political thoughts. As I say, Senator Russell may have been dismissed in a letter signed by the assistant clerk, who, however, was only carrying out the instructions of his immediate superiors, just as the secretary of Senator Russell’s Department may sign a letter authorized by the honorable gentleman.
– The honorable senator misses the point. When I sent my reply, there had been no meeting - there was no meeting between my reply and the dismissal by the clerk.
– Of course, Idid not know that; and, if it be so, the position seems to me rather peculiar.
– It struck me as peculiar months ago!
– I did not think that a clerk in the office of a great organization like this would take upon himself to displace a Minister of the Crown, or even a member of the Labour party in any of the States. The question to which I referred earlier as having been asked by Senator McKissock is as follows: -
Why are not all the officers of the Public Service treated alike in regard to the holidays on the 27th December and 1st and 2nd January next? While one section will be working on those days, without extra pay, another section will enjoy a holiday.
Will the Postmaster-General rectify this anomaly, granting extra payment to those who work, or time off in lieu of the time worked?
I hope Senator Lynch will reply to this question, because these men in the Public Service are directly interested.
– Persons employed in the Public Service had the right up to last year whenever they worked on gazetted holidays of being allowed time off, or the equivalent of the time worked ; but last year an amendment of the Public. Service Act was made under which persons employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth have the right to demand payment for working on any public holiday as specified in section 72.
The answer, therefore, is that the public servants referred to by Senator Blakey, on behalf of Senator McKissock, haves the right to be paid overtime for any of the specified public holidays onwhich they may be called upon to work by the heads of their Departments. Senator Needham’s question about the transcontinental railway cannot be replied to in very definite terms. There are very good reasons why an answer cannot be given to him in the terms that he would expect. The standardization of the transcontinental railway has been engaging the attention of the Commonwealth Government and the State of Western Australia for some time. This refers more particularly to the strip of line connecting Kalgoorlie with Fremantle, so that the line from Port Augusta on the east to Fremantle on the west, may be standardized. Broadly the position is that while the whole Commonwealth, through the Federal Parliament, rightly insists on the standardization of the gauge, Western Australia has not fulfilled its part of the compactup to date. There are, perhaps, good reasons why it has not. It will be remembered that in the early stages of the project a direct inducement was held out to this Parliament by the people of Western Australia that they would standardize the gauge from Kalgoorlie to the sea when the Commonwealth bad built the line from Kalgoorlie toPort Augusta. As a matter of justice and equity I should say that whatever blame exists for the nonfulfilment of that undertaking does not rest on the shoulders of the Commonwealth Go vern men t. I could answer Senator Needham’s question off-hand by saying that I would refer it to the Cabinet; but if I did, he and those he represents would not be satisfied with such a bald reply. I admit that the standardization of the. line from Kalgoorlie to the sea to connect with our broad gauge from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie when completed is a matter that has to be seriously considered. Western Australia has a gauge on that line of 3 ft. 6 in., the same as in Queensland and portion of South Australia, as well as in the rest of the western State. For all practical purposes that gauge from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle is as good as any other I know of the same type in any part of the Commonwealth; therefore, while we are at war, and have to toss up every shilling twice before we spend it, or ought to doso, it becomes a serious question for the Commonwealth and Western Australia as to whether that line shall be standardized, when there are other works of a much more pressing nature calling urgently for attention. I shall bring the matter before the Cabinet with the intention of having it seriously discussed; but, personally, I am not in favour of standardizing the gauge at present. I believe there are other’ more pressing demands upon the time, and attention, and financial resources of Australia than that of laying down a standard gauge side by side with a track which is giving, so far as my personal experience goes, the utmost satisfaction to those who are using it. In regard to Senator Guthrie’s question as to the proclamation of the Navigation. Act, I would also reply briefly that I would bring it before the Cabinet, were it not that I have a rooted objection to stereotyped replies. I, therefore, tell the honorable senator that in this case also there are many reasons why the proclamation of the Act should be withheld for the time being. There is no doubt that the proclamation of the Act is necessary, but we must consider all those fine and delicate arrangements existing between the British Empire and her Allies, without the consideration of which the Act cannot be proclaimed.
– One proclamation can be issued without touching the Allies.
– I realize that a chaotic condition of things affects the mercantile marine around this continent, with six State Acts in operation, and an Imperial Act superimposed on them, so that a person engaged in the mercantile marine is governed by a kind of hydraheaded authority, under which he does not know exactly where he stands. In order to displace that authority and give effect to the provisions of the Federal Constitution it is very necessary that the Navigation Act should be proclaimed. As an old seaman who has spent many years
Bailing round this coast, I need not tell my honorable friend, Senator Guthrie, that I am earnestly anxious that the Navigation Act should be brought into operation at the -earliest possible moment. We are told that “ coming events cast their shadows before,” and we might say that in this case coming events have cast their benefits before, inasmuch as the passing of the Navigation Act by the Commonwealth Parliament has been productive, as Senator Guthrie will say, of much belated justice to the seamen on oar coast.
– Hear, hear! But it has no legislative effect.
– It is true that our seamen have not yet the full advantage and benefits of the operation of this Act; but, as I have already indicated, while I am not slow, as one who long followed a seafaring life, to estimate the interests of the seamen, there are at present considerations that far outweigh the importance of giving them immediately all the benefits that would naturally accrue to them from the proclamation of this Act. We must have respect for the treaties already entered into, and for the demand that has come from the Imperial Government that the proclamation of this Act should be delayed. I feel sure that Senator Guthrie will be satisfied with my reply to his question that I will bring the matter before Cabinet, and endeavour to have the Act proclaimed as early as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 December 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1916/19161220_senate_6_80/>.