7th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Deputies appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening of Parliament, the Right Hon. Sir Edmund Barton, P.C., G.C.M.G., and the Hon. Isaac Alfred Isaacs; Justices of the High Court of Australia, having been announced by the Usher of the Black Rod, entered the chamber and took their seats on the dais.
The Senior Deputy directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives.
The members of the House of Representatives being come,
The SENIOR DEPUTY said-
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
His Excellency the Governor-General, not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause . etters patent to issue under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth constituting us his
Deputies to do in his name all that is necessary to be performed in declaring this Parliament open, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read.
The letters patent having been read by the Clerk
The SENIOR DEPUTY said-
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
We have itincommand from the Governor-General to let you know that as soon as the members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, the cause’s of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared by him in person at this place; and it being necessary that a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be first chosen, you, Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, will retire to the place where you shall sit and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your’ Speaker; and thereafter you will present the person whom you shall so choose to His Excellency at such time ‘and place, as he shall appoint.
His Honour Mr. Justice Isaacs will attend in the House of Representatives for the purpose of administering the oath, or affirmation. of allegiance to the members of that House.
The Deputies, and the members of the House of Representatives having retired,
The PRESIDENT read to the Senate correspondence showing that a vacancy had occurred by the resignation, on 3rd April, 1917, of William Harrison Story, a senator for the State of South Australia, and that in compliance with section 21 of the Constitution Act he had notified the vacancy in the representation of the State to the Governor of South Australia, and that he had received from the GovernorGeneral the original certificate under the hand of the Governor of South Australia to the effect that Colonel James Rowell has been chosen to fill the vacancy in the representation of that State.
Colonel James Rowell, CB., made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
Sitting suspended from 10.50 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.
The Senate having resumed,
His Excellency the GovernorGeneral entered the chamber, and took the chair. A message was forwarded to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who, being come with their Speaker,
His EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech: -
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives : ‘
His Excellency the GovernorGeneral having retired,
The President took the chair at 2.40 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills of last session reported : - ‘
Customs Tariff Validation Bill.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill.
Electoral (War Time) Bill.
– I have to acquaint the Senate that, on the passing of the resolution of 7th March last on the subject of the granting of Home Rule to Ireland, I duly forwarded the same to His Excellency the Governor-General, for transmission to His Majesty the King. The following memorandum has now been received by me from His Excellency : - 10th April, 1917.
The President of the Senate, Melbourne. Referring to a letter received from the Honorable the President of the Senate, dated 7th March, 1917, conveying a resolution passed by the Senate on that date, on the subject of the granting of Home Rule to Ireland, the GovernorGeneral desires to inform the President that the resolution was duly transmitted to His Majesty’s Government, and that an acknowledgment, of the receipt of the same has been received from the Eight Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated London, 4th April, 1917, in the following terms: - “ With reference to your telegram, 8th March, resolution passed by Senate of the Commonwealth - has been laid before His’ Majesty the King, who was pleased to receive it very graciously, and to direct that it should be referred to His Majesty’sMinisters.”
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act : Special report of” the AuditorGeneral on portion of the report of the Royal Commission on Federal Capital administration.
Commonwealth Bank Act: True copy of aggregate balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia at 31st December, 1916, together with the AuditorGeneral’s report thereon.
Audit Act 1901-1912 - Regulations amended. -Statutory Rules 1917, No. 103.
Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine, Townsville, Queensland -
Half-yearly Report, from 1st January to 30th June, 1916.
Half-yearly Report, from 1st July to 31st December, 1916.
Census of the Commonwealth, 3rd April, 1911-
Vol. I. - Statistician’sReport and Appendices.
Vol.II.- Detailed Tables.
Vol. III.- Detailed Tables.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. -
Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 113.
Contract Immigrants Act 1905. - Return for 1916, respecting Contract Immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Customs Act 1901-1916. - Proclamation, dated18th May, 1917, prohibiting exportation, except under certain conditions, of Empty Bottles.
Defence Act 1903-1915. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 62, 64, 67, 69, 83, 84, 89, 90, 93, 95, 105, 114, 116, 117, 118.
Dominions Royal Commission -
Fifth Interim Report. (Paper presented to British Parliament).
Final Report. (Paper presented to British
Entertainments Tax Assessment Act 1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 66, 121.
Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1917.
Federal Capital: Royal Commission on Administration - Reports -
Part 2 - Accounts and Finance at Canberra.
Part 3 - Wasteful Expenditure at Canberra.
Part 4 - Sewerage at Canberra.
Part 5 - Brickworks at Canberra.
Part 6 - Water Supply, Power,, and Miscellaneous.
Immigration Act 1901-1912. - Return for 1916, showing (a) Persons refused admission to the Commonwealth; (b) persons who passed the dictation test; (c) persons admitted without being asked to pass the dictation test; (d) departures of coloured persons from the Commonwealth.
Imperial Preference : Copy of resolutions passed by the Committee on Commercial and Industrial Policy, together with Copy of covering Letter to the Prime Minister. (Paper presented to British Parliament) .
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Land acquired at -
Bairnsdale, Victoria - For Defence purposes. ‘
Bellerive, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Booroomba, Federal Territory - For Defence and Federal Capital purposes.
Cairns, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Woodville, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Young, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 191, No.63.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 43, 58, 59, 60, 68, 80, 88, 108, 109,
Premiers’ Conference, Melbourne,December, 1916: Report of Resolutions, Proceedings, and Debates.
Premiers’ Conference (with Ministers of Lands), Melbourne, January, 1917: Report of Resolutions, Proceedings, and Debates.
Public Service Act 1902-1916-
Twelfth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Commissioner.
Department of the Treasury -
H. W. Buckley.
J. W. Reed and E. J. Cleary.
Department of Trade and. Customs -
S. J. Priestley.
Postmaster-General’s Department -
G. A. Carr.
T. A. Keogh and R. H. Henmker.
Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 57, 81, 82, 87, 104, 115.
Return to Order of the Senate of 7th December, 1916 -
Boots, Hats, and Clothing for Australian Troops : Return showing Purchases, &c., in England.
Summer Time: Report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the Social and Economic Results of the Summer Time Act, 1916, &c. (Paper presented to British Parliament).
Treatment and Training of Disabled and Discharged Soldiers in France: Report by Captain Sir Henry Norman, Bart., M.P.
Papers presented to British Parliament -
Dardanel les Commission : -
Supplement to First Report.
Pensions of Soldiers and Sailors Disabled, and of the Families and Dependants of Soldiers and Sailors Deceased in consequence of the present War : Drafts of a Royal Warrant and of an Order in Council.
Civilians interned in the British and German Empires: Proposed Release - Further correspondence.
Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians in Germany: Further correspondence with United States Ambassador respecting Treatment.
Ships and Cargoes: Report drawn up by the Committee on the Administration of the Order in Council of March, 1915.
Peace Proposals -
Reply of the Allied Governments to the Note communicated by the United States Ambassador on 20th December, 1916.
Reply to . the German Peace Note communicated by the French Government on behalf of the Allied Powers to the United States Ambassador in Paris, 30th December, 1916.
Despatch to His Majesty’s Ambassador at Washington respecting the Allied Note of 10th January, 1917.
Report on the Administration of the National Relief Fund up to the 30th September, 1916.
War Precautions Act 1914-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 35, 54, 55, 56, 65, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75,’ 76, 91, 92, 94, 96, 97, 08, 99, 100, 101, 102, 100, 107, 110, 119, 120.
– I would suggest to the honorable senator that he allow the matter to proceed in the usual course, pending the appointment of a Printing Committee, when the question as to which documents shall be printed will be taken into consideration. The honorable senator will have noticed, from the list of papers which I read, that many of them are of such a character that it is probably desirable not to have them printed. This matter will he brought under review on the appointment of the Printing Committee.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister what further action the Government have in contemplation in the matter of inquiring into and regulating freights and fares charged upon coastal steam-ships; and whether, in the event of any contemplated action, the exceptional position of Western Australia -will be taken into account, seeing that that State is dependent on the service of these steamers as the connecting link with the rest of the Commonwealth?
– It is not possible for the coastal steam-ship companies to increase their freights without the permission of the Government. In regard to passenger fares, inquiry will be made.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Wheat Board if, in view of the high price of cornsacks, it is the intention of the Government or of the Wheat Board to take any steps to relieve the farmers?
– Steps have already been taken to fix the price of cornsacks at 9s. 6d. per dozen. In addition, a conference is now being held between the jute importers and the Government, and the result of this conference should be made known within the next few days. The Government will then determine what action shall . be taken thereon.
– Is the Assistant Minister in a position to say when the return, which I asked for about twelve months ago, relating to the number of land-owners in the Commonwealth, will be available?
– The return is ready, and I now lay it on the table.
Motion (by Senator Geant) agreed to-
That the paper (War Census: Final return showing the number and unimproved value of freehold estates in the Commonwealth on 30th June, 1915) be printed.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if he has any objection to laying on the table all the correspondence in relation to the sugar agreement between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question. In the meantime I shall confer with the Prime Minister, so that, if the honorable senator will ask the question again there will be no further delay in giving a definite answer.
– I haveto report to the Senate that I have received from His Excellency ithe Governor-General a copy of the speech which he was graciously pleased to deliver to both Houses of the Parliament.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the consideration of the Speech be made an Order of the Day for a later hour of the sitting.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales-
Vice-President of the Executive Council) [2.57]. - Pending the receipt: of the measure which I anticipate will come from the other Chamber during the course of the day, I would suggest that the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 o’clock.
– There being no business available for transaction, and as it is necessary that the Senate should be sitting to deal with the measure to come from another House, and to meet the convenience of honorable senators, the sitting of the Senate will be suspended until 8 o’clock. I desire to add that when I suspended the sitting of the Senate this morning, after His Excellency had left the chamber, Senator Gardiner, the Leader of the Opposition, took the view that a wrong course had been adopted. I would point out, however, that, although our Standing Orders do not provide for the suspension of the sitting by the Presiding Officer, nevertheless, we are governed by our own practice, and where our own Standing Orders are silent, we are guided by the Standing Orders and the practice of the House of Commons. May, on page 228, states -
Suspension of a sitting. - The sitting of the House is occasionally suspended with the intention of resuming the transaction of business at a later hour. A suspension of the sitting always occurs on the opening day of a session (see page 174). A sitting may also be suspended on other occasions, as when a Bill from the Commons is under consideration by the House of Lords, or whilst the House waits for a message from the Lords Commissioners. During the suspension of a sitting, the Speaker, the mace being left upon the table, retires from the House, and returns at the appointed hour, when business is resumed without counting the House. As, technically, the House continues sitting, these occurrences are not noted in the Journal.
I wish to say, for the information of honorable senators, that the course pursued this morning was in accordance with the practice not only of this Parliament, but also of every other Parliament in the British Dominions, and it was in accordance with the practice of the House of
Commons which has been our guide all through.
The sitting of the Senate is suspended until 8 o’clock this evening, at which hour I shall resume the chair.
Senate Election - Recruiting - Supply - The Government and “ WintheWar “ Policy - Australia’s Contribution to the War - Northern Territory Administration : Alien Immigration - Expenditure and Taxation - War Loans - Conscription and National Service.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move-
That this Bill be now read a first time.
I propose to take advantage of our standing order, which enables the discussion on this motion to travel over ground not covered by the Bill itself, to make a short intimation to the Senate. Ordinarily, the Government would have felt under obligation to submit at our meeting to-day a statement of the serious work which Parliament will be invited to consider; but, owing to the peculiar provision in the Constitution under which one-half of the Senate continues to hold office until the 30th of this month, the Government has not deemed it entirely proper to do so until the new Parliament is properly cpnstituted, as it will be when the new senators take their places on or after the 1st July next. There is one other matter which I wish to refer to, and that is that, owing to that fact, the Government, still desiring ‘ to proceed as rapidly as possible with certain proposals for the furtherance of recruiting, requests honorable members of both Houses to meet it at half-past 2 o’clock to-morrow in the Senate Club Room, in order, that it may then place before them the steps which it contemplates taking with the view to inviting their cooperation, assistance, and judgment in relation thereto. This is an ordinary Supply Bill, but with one marked” peculiarity, and that is that the total amount which honorable senators are asked to pass is £181.
– Was it worth all the trouble to bring in the Bill?
– Its modesty must shock honorable’ senators, but that arises from the fact that the amounts appropriated by previous Supply Bills for this financial year have been in excess of the actual requirements, owing to savings which have been effected. The consequence of that is that the surpluses from past months, plus the £181 which the Senate is now asked to appropriate, will give the Government the amount required to carry on the Public Service until the end of this month. Owing, however, to the fact that the savings, were nob uniform through the various items - there were on some items savings and on other item’s excesses - it has been found desirable to put in this Bill the items as they will appear on the Estimates proper when submitted. That having been done, the amounts have been added up, and from the total has been deducted the amount appropriated by previous Supply Bills, leaving a deficiency of £181. For the rest, I need only say that there are in the Bill no items other than those previously approved by honorable senators for the conduct of the ordinary public services, as we understand the term. If any information as to details is sought, I will endeavour to. do my best to supply it. But I would point out that for eleven months of this year honorable senators have practically approved these items, and the additional amount now sought is so small that I invite their attention to the question as to whether on the items themselves there is any reasonable call for discussion at this time.
– The bringing in of a measure of this kind at this time, when the money is required for the Public Service to-morrow, may be excusable on this occasion. I want to deal with this Government in a perfectly fair and straightforward way. We cannot consent to curtail the rights of the Senate to suit the wishes of a Government which has deliberately kept its measures back to such an extent that fair criticism could not be mede without injuring the Public Service. Although I am willing to allow this measure to go through without undue debate, I say that if, during the next twelve months, any financial measure is brought before the Senate without allowing at least three days for fair debate, the Government can take it that we are not to be expected to pass the measure. If the Public Service is to be considered, if honorable senators are entitled to the exercise of their rights - and that is to watch Supply and to state the grievances of the community before Supply is granted - let the Government take this fair intimation, given in a straightforward way, that we expect a financial measure of this kind to be brought before the Senate at least threedays before the appropriation is required. I have no more to say on that head. After the elections I venture to remark that, without saying one word which should not be said, one could occupy the whole of the time which has been given us by the Government in discussing this measure. I do not propose to do that. I recognise that the Government won the elections. The chief ground of my objection to the Government in the. previous Parliament was that they were governing without the consent of the people. We forced the Government to the country, and now we are in the position of accepting the verdict of the people; but we say that the Government are governing now under a distinct promise to the people that they were going to do something exceptional to win the war. There will be a grievous disappointment from one end of this country to the other if the present policy of the Government is continued. If the Government are going to do anything to win the war, let them” do it, and we will help.
– That sounds all right.
– It is all right. I know that on the other side of the Senate there are honorable senators who have tried to put our party in the position of being a “ Peace-at-any-price “ party. The price for peace has already been paid, and it is an enormous price. The peace which we are fighting for is a peace commensurate with the price which has been paid and the price which will have to be paid. So far as winning the war is concerned, six weeks have gone by since the Government were elected by the country - six valuable, precious weeks - and the Houses have met to-day, but there has not been one word to the electors who voted for the Government as to what they have done or intend to do. If the Government wish to win the war, or to do anything more than has already been done in that direction, or any other set of men would have done, the public are entitled to know what their proposals are. By that the enemy would not benefit, but the people of the country would benefit very much - i-he people who returned this Government with an absolute majority in both Houses.
– We have not a majority here yet.
– Yes, you have, because you bought the majority last Parliament. Ministers have their majority; they won the election upon the cry of “ win-the-war.- It is “ up “ to the party that won the election under those conditions to do something to win the war, and it. is “ up “ to a Government that made such wide professions of what they would do to redeem their promises. The public are very good judges.
– They were at the elections.
– As one representing the defeated party I say that the public are very good judges, but I also say that the public expect the promises made to them to be redeemed. I go further, and say that the public expect more from this Government in the- direction of winning the war than they might have expected from any other Government. Therefore I hope that when the Senate meets again definite proposals will be put before Parliament and the electors. I hope that some plan will be outlined for the Senate to deal with in order to assist Australia to do more iri the direction of winning the war in which she has already done so well and so splendidly. I hold that Australia has done more than any one ever imagined die could do. At the beginning of the war no one could have imagined that Australia’s response would have been so great as it has been.
– I think that the Empire has done that generally.
– I recognise it, but I speak for Australia first. Australia has done more in her participation in the war than even the most hopeful could have expected. No one could have anticipated, not only the splendid efforts of her soldiers, but also the sacrifices made by the whole of the people. During the elections the Government, with . the assistance of the press, exploited the war question and secured their majority, but I venture to say they will prove a sad disappointment, not only to the people of Australia, but also to the Empire generally, unless their professions are backed by deeds. There is no time to waste. If the Government have no policy it is time they got one. They lei the people of Australia and the people on the other side of the world to believe that they had a policy. If they cannot come forward with one now, then the policy that they put before the country, that of winning the war, was really a policy of winning the elections. They won the elections, and now the responsibility is cast upon them to do something towards carrying out the one and only plank in the platform which they, submitted to the people - the win-the-war policy. I shall not detain the Senate. Owing to the peculiar circumstances in which we meet I am anxious not to delay the Bill, even by a minute. The few words that I have said are all too few in view of the importance of the occasion, but I am content. I simply ask whether the Government have a policy, or whether they intend to continue humbugging the people?
– It is. not my intention to offer any criticism on £he Bill or to delay its passage, but it is necessary that I should take this first opportunity in this Parliament of putting myself right in some small degree with the people of Australia. Some time ago I had the privilege of offering a few observations in this chamber on the administration and conduct of affairs generally in the Northern Territory, and the remarks that I ‘ offer to-night are simply made in order to put myself right in regard to one or two points concerning my speech on that occasion, and the reply to my statements furnished by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, Dr. Gilruth. This was laid on the table of the Senate on the last day of the session, so that I had no opportunity of replying to it. I shall have further opportunity later on to reply to the statements made by this gentleman, but I avail myself of the present occasion to touch on one matter only, as showing how utterly wrong he is. It is on a par with the whole of the reply he made, and may be taken as an example of very many inaccuracies in the document presented to this Chamber. On the 27th September, 1916, I said-
I Every honorable senator is agreed that Aus tralia shall be a white man’s country; but if it is not to be a white man’s country, let us get rid of these Greeks and Patagonians, and introduce Chinese. I would infinitely prefer Chinese to the class of men who are entering the Northern Territory now and working onour railway there.
– The honorable senator also objects to Chinese.
– I do, absolutely; but if we must have alien labour, I would give my vote for the Chinaman before I would give it for the Greek any time. The foreigners to whom I have referred are altogether unsuitable for the Northern Territory. They cannot work, and they will not work.
On no occasion did I say a word against the Administrator. Whatever fault I found, I held that the Government was possibly more to blame for it than the Administrator, and I wound up my remarks on that occasion by making it perfectly clear that I made no attack on Dr. Gilruth. Nor would I do so now had it not been for a statement of his that is absolutely contrary to facts. At page 2 of the statement of the Administrator of the Northern Territory laid on the table of the Senate on ,the last day upon which we met, Dr. Gilruth, referring to myself, says -
The honorable senator urges the Government to get rid of the Greeks and Patagonians, and introduce Chinese, and states that he would infinitely prefer Chinese to the class of men that are entering the Northern Territory now and working on our railways there. This attitude is incomprehensible to me. I would have thought that any white immigrant was preferable to a Chinaman.
The inference drawn from that statement by Dr. Gilruth has led many people in Australia to believe that I am an advocate of Chinese immigration to this country. I wish to say emphatically that I am not an advocate of the introduction of Chinese labour, or of Greek or Patagonian labour to this country. I know, as every sensible man knows, that we cannot populate the Northern Territory by introducing Greeks, Patagonians and other such foreigners. It was never my intention to suggest or encourage the immigration of Chinese into the Northern- Territory, or to any other portion of the Commonwealth. The statement, of Dr. Gilruth to which I have taken exception is in keeping with the whole of the reply he has made to my address. I shall take the earliest opportunity, when the Senate assembles again, to reply to his statement in detail. I made no attack upon Dr. Gilruth in the previous statement I made, but I may be constrained to make an attack upon him when replying to his statement on a future occasion. Further, I may be compelled to give the Senate some particulars regarding the Northern Territory which I did not think it wise to give when making my general remarks upon the conduct of affairs there. I determined to take the first opportunity to put myself right with the people of Australia on the question of the White Australia policy, and to say that I am an advocate of that policy all the time.
-Are not these Patagonians descendants of Welshmen?
– I am not concerned about that. They are in the Territory now, and I know that their work is unsatisfactory. As settlers in the Territory, they are unsatisfactory. They do not rise to the white man’s ideals in the Northern Territory, or, so far as I know, in any other country. The position of affairs in the Territory has become worse rather than better, and there is to-day a greater prejudice against the Greeks and Patagonians in the Territory than there was when I was there. As I intend to reply in detail to Dr. Gilruth’s statement at the proper time, I shall not further detain the Senate by discussing the matter at greater length now.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.23].- I should like to say a few words on the motion now before the Senate. I have had placed in my hands a copy of a summary of the finances of the Commonwealth to the end of June, 1917. On perusing it, one cannot fail to recognise the way in which in recent years our expenditure has continued to increase, entirely apart from war expenditure. Taxation has also very materially increased, and in the matter of Commonwealth finance the cry for economy should predominate. I know that it is impossible to restrict war expenditure in any very marked degree. In the administration of a huge Department like that of Defence, it is possible that a great deal of money may not be very wisely spent, but we can recognise the serious difficulty with which the Department has to contend in the prosecution of the war, and our criticism of this expenditure, in the circumstances, may well be lenient. “But when we find that during last year our receipts from taxation of one kind and another amounted to no less than £32,000,000, we are reminded of the fact that only a few years ago an annual expenditure of from £14,000,000 to £20,000,000 appeared to us to be a very considerable outlay for this Commonwealth.
– The figures show that we are doing better.
– I remind the honorable senator that we derived in the past year no less than £8,000,000 from direct taxation, which was not in existence a few years ago, when we looked upon an annual expenditure of £14,000,000 or £20,000,000 as something startling. I find that, in 1915-16, the expenditure upon new works was £2,940,000, and, in 1916-17, it was £4,914,000, or nearly double the expenditure of the previous year. If honorable senators will take the trouble to consult the figures they will find that in the years preceding 1915-16 this expenditure was considerably less than it was in that year.
– But we are getting free of the landlord now.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator say so, but there are a great many people in the Commonwealth who think that we have not got clear of the landlord yet. There is an outcry against the continued increase of the expenditure of the public Departments. I notice that one Minister has spoken of “ a dream “ in connexion with the expenditure at Canberra. Turning to this statement of our finances, I find that the total expenditure at Canberra amounts to £1,658,000, and, according to a Commissioner who has inquired into the expenditure there, much of thi3 money has been wasted by unwise undertakings, and might very well have been saved.
– Because we did not go to Dalgety, where we could get a water supply.
– I do not propose to enter upon a discussion about the water supply at Canberra. I believe that, if properly managed, a water supply sufficient for the city of Melbourne could be provided there. I do not intend to fight again the battle of Canberra against Dalgety and other places.
– But the honorable senator was responsible for this expenditure by the selection of Canberra.
– I am responsible in respect of the selection of Canberra, but not for all the expenditure which has been incurred there. I notice that the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway has involved a total expenditure of £6,500,000. We were told originally that £4,000,000 would be the limit of expenditure required for that line. Expenditure upon the railway is still going on, and I presume must ‘ be continued until the line is completed.
– The honorable senator should remember that we are paying war prices for material.
D- That is so. The Northern Territory is another “white elephant” which we have inherited from South Australia. The expenditure there has been £2,771,000. If honorable senators will go through this summary of the finances of the Commonwealth, they will find various items of enormous expense, and these should present a lesson to the present and future Governments of the careless way in which expenditure is very often incurred. I wish to say a word with respect to the raising of our loans. We must, I “fear, continue to increase the amounts raised in this way, and we should realize the conditions under which our loans are being floated. I put it to honorable senators, and especially to the Government, to consider whether it would not be better to offer a higher rate of interest for our loans rather than to adopt the course of making incomes derived from them free from taxation. In the Mother Country, loans are issued at a higher rate per cent, than we have been giving, but the incomes derived from them are not free from the necessities of Imperial taxation arising from time to time. It is said that it is necessary to take the course we have adopted to make our loans attractive and induce our people to invest in them. The public has shown its readiness to put its money into war loans, but there are other interests to be considered in addition to the direct interest of the war. In order that the Government may obtain revenue’ by taxation, it is necessary to develop the country,, and the work of development must be done largely with borrowed money. The finding of this money is the business of private individuals and of financial institutions. At the present time the private lender of money is tied to a 6 per cent: rate of interest, although the Government, taking into consideration the fact that income from loan investments is not taxable, is offering what is equivalent to more than 5 per cent. Is the difference between the two rates1 sufficient to provide for the proper financing of business operations? What rate of interest should be offered for war loans is a matter for consideration, but I suggest that it would be better, for general reasons, to increase the present rate than to continue the exemption from taxation of income from war loan investments. It is known that many men are putting all their capital into war loans as the best investment they can get for it, seeing that they thus evade taxation. We do not know what the future requirements of the country may be, but we have many engagements for the keeping of which revenue will be needed. That revenue can be secured only by taxation, and adequate income from taxation is impossible unless opportunity is given for the development of property in a manner which will produce income.
– What about a war profits tax ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- That will be a matter for the honorable senator to deal with next session.
– What does the Government intend to do in regard to it ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I am not in the secrets of the Government, but I do not think that any person would object to a fairly graduated tax on excess income earned in consequence of the war. It will, however, be necessary to protect those who are interested in new undertakings which, after perhaps several years of nonproductiveness, are only now beginning to earn profits. Unquestionably, as the Leader of the Opposition recognises, -the election was won by the Government party because of its Win-the-War policy. The Opposition suffered because the public did not believe that its members would cooperate whole-heartedly in measures for the winning of the war, and the reports, of the meetings of bodies of their supporters which appear in the newspapers from time to time show that, unquestionably, the winning of the war is always put into the background by them when sacrifice of any kind is called for.
– The honorable senator was sacrificed.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I took what I believe to be an honorable and patriotic course. As I have said repeatedly in ‘this chamber, we should he prepared to sacrifice our personal interests for the safety and protection of the State when its integrity is threatened.
– But there is to be no sacrifice on the part of the investors in war loans.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - That has not been my contention.
– I agree with the honorable senator that income from war loan investments should not be exempted from taxation ; but I do not think that the rate of interest on war loans should be increased when men are expected to give their lives for the Empire.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The electors did not consider that it would be a right and proper thing to intrust the affairs of the country to the members of the Opposition.
– And, as Senator Gardiner has said, .they are good judges.
.- We may find that Senator Gardiner is prepared to support many measures for winning the war which he would not have supported last Parliament when the position of parties was different, and the constituencies had not spoken. The referendum of October last was the means of sending the present Opposition into the wilderness, where its members will be for many years to come. They thought that the people were not prepared to make great sacrifices to maintain the integrity of the Empire, and were ready to leave the winning of the war to others than Australians. Great numbers of our young men have made a noble sacrifice in offering their services and their lives for the preservation of the Empire, but it is to the everlasting disgrace of others of fighting age who remain here that they are not prepared to relieve the men at the front.
– Australia has done better than any other part of the British Empire.
-Colonel Sir . ALBERT GOULD. - Australia has done well; but let us not forget what has been done by Great Britain, where, although the people did not believe in conscription, every man is now doing his duty. This Government is confronted with a very difficult task. The voluntary system of recruiting has been tried, with the result that only from 4,000 to 5,000 men have enlisted each month, although 16,500 a month are required to reinforce those at the front. We have been told, over and over again, that our men who are now fighting are being compelled to do more than can reasonably be expected of . them; and it is for the Government to devise means for their adequate reinforcement, so that the prestige which their efforts have won for Australia may remain to us untarnished. What are the Government going to do? Are they going to introduce conscription or are they going to be bound by the statement made by the Prime Minister ? They ought to face the position without fear, believing that the verdict given by the electors on the 5th May last was an intimation that they intend that the Government shall put forth every effort to bring about the successful termination of this great war. Personally, I do not see how the Ministry can overcome the difficulty with which they are faced unless they advocate conscription, and if they are going to do that, the sooner the question is remitted to the people for their decision the better. If the Government are not prepared to advocate conscription, why not pass a measure providing for national service - a measure by means of which every man in this country, whether he be young, middle-aged, or old, will be bound to render. such service as he can towards winning the war. It would then be possible to say to our young- men, “ We want so many volunteers for the front. How many of you are prepared to offer?” In my judgment, more recruits would be obtained under a system of that sort than are being obtained to-day. Under a system of national service, work could be found for all. Materials for clothing are wanted, and ships are required to enable u9 to transport our foodstuffs overseas. Some men could be employed in tilling the soil, others in manufacturing the cloth that is needed, and others, again, in ship-building operations. I have no doubt that many a man who from patriotic motives has ‘ gone to the front could have rendered better service at home under such a scheme as I have outlined. Men without dependants are those who should go to the front and take part in the war. I have embraced the present opportunity to make these all too brief observations because 1 feel strongly upon this question. Although it will not be’ my lot to assist in framing the legislation which will be enacted by this Parliament,- I shall have an opportunity of observing what’ is being done and of forming my own opinions upon the various matters that will engage its attention. In conclusion, I merely wish to say that I shall be very happy to render any assistance in. my power in any campaign which may be undertaken with a view to seeing that the glorious traditions created- by our heroic troops are worthily maintained.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time, and passed through its remaining stages without request.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended and Bill read a first time.
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council)] [8.52]. - In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I desire to point out that as in the case of the ordinary Supply Bill, the amount really asked for under this measure is much less than one-twelfth of the total Supply for the year. Owing to the fact that the amounts passed under previous Bills have not been wholly required, it is estimated by the departmental officers that there will be a sum of £605,410 remaining unexpended at the end of this year. In order to bring this Bill into conformity with the Estimates, however, the Senate is asked to pass it in such a form that the net result will be the appropriation of a sum of £244,594, in addition to the previous appropriations; but of the total appropriations it is anticipated that there will be a saving of over £605,000. That information was obtained too late to enable deductions to be made from the various items in this Bill in respect of which those savings have been effected. I give this information to the Senate, and have no doubt that honorable senators will be gratified to receive Lt. Although, as I have said, with the object of bringing our accounts into order, honorable senators are asked nominally to make an additional appropriation of £244,594, it is estimated there will be a saving of £605,410 on the operations of the whole year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment.
The following paper was presented: -
The Budget, 1916-17- Papers prepared by theRight Honorable Sir John Forrest, P.C., G.C.M.G., for the information of honorable members, on the occasion of opening the Budget of 1916-17.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 27th June, 1917.
Suspension of Sittings : Powers of the President.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I think that the Leader of the Government might have given us some information as to why it is proposed that the Senate shall meet again before the new senators have been sworn in. Referring to a statement which you, Mr. President, made to-day when you quoted from the practice of the British House of Commons to show that you had followed an old-time practice in suspending the sittings of the Senate, I desire to say that I took no exception to that procedure. I recognise that the House of Commons not only may, but frequently does adjourn under exactly the same conditions as prevail here. The point that I wished to emphasize was that you had no right, Mr. President, to adjourn this Senate, or to suspend its sittings, at your own will. The sittings of the Senate may be suspended only at the will of the Senate itself. I have examined the quotations made by you, and have also looked at our own Standing Orders. I have been credibly informed that the Senate deliberately struck out of our first Standing Orders a rule that the procedure of the House of Commons should be followed. The practice and procedure of the House of Commons will always be a guide to every deliberative assembly; but if you are in a position to say, of your own volition, that the sittings of the Senate are suspended for four hours, then you are equally at liberty to say that they are suspended for four days or four weeks. I maintain that the Senate alone has the right to determine whether its sittings shall be suspended or whether it shall adjourn. The framers of our Standing Orders were most careful to stipulate the exact conditions under which an adjournment might take place. But I, for one, am not going to permit the President to arrogate to himself powers belonging to the Senate without entering my protest on the floor of the chamber. The House of Commons has great powers, and this ‘ Senate has powers almost equally great, but the Speaker of the House of Commons has no great powers, nor has the President of the Senate. His rights are no greater than those of any other senator. He has no right to usurp powers which are not definitely given tohim by the Standing Orders. I challenge you, sir, to produce any standing orderwhich gives you permission to suspend a sitting of the Senate of your own volition and without consulting the will of the Senate. I challenge you to produce any standing order that gives you the power to stand up and make a statement here and then refuse a hearing to an honorable senator. I am not personally concerned in this matter.
– No, but you are involved in it.
– I am, as is every other honorable senator who wishes well for the future guidance of the Senate.
– You winked at it before when you were on the Treasury bench.
– Yes, with both eyes.
– Those very statements are reasons why the attention of the whole Senate should be called to the practice, and that with both eyes open they should no longer wink at practices which encroach on their liberties. There are certain rights that should be maintained by all honorable senators, and upon which even the slightest encroachment should be resisted and resented by them all.
– It has been the practice since the first Senate for the ‘ President to suspend a sitting himself.
– The correct practice for the Senate is to follow the Standing Orders strictly.
– Why did not you do it before?
– I am doing it now. There are lots of things one does not do all at once. May I ask the honorable senator, who has been here much longer than I have, why he has not done it before?
– Because I do not see the necessity for it.
– I see the necessity for it now, and even greater necessity for it in the future. Instead of having the soul of honour in the chair, as we have at the present time, we might have there a gentleman who would participate in practices of which you, sir, would never dream. We might have there a gentleman who, when his party was in a minority, would conspire with the Prime Minister to purchase the vote of a senator, and thus secure a majority. Of course, you would not do that. W« might get a President who would permit the Prime Minister to wire to the Minister of another State to say that he would not make an announcement, that should have been made to the Senate at the proper time, before the dinnerhour, and that it would be retained till after the dinner-hour. Of course, you, sir, would not do that. I am not prepared to place in the hands of any future President the right to adjourn the Senate or suspend its sittings of his own will. The quotation you made this afternoon of the rule which gives power to the House of Commons to suspend its sittings gives no such power to the President. So careful’ were the framers of the Standing Orders of the rights of the Senate, and of the limits to be placed upon the President’s power, that he cannot of his own volition even give an honorable senator the light to speak by way of personal explanation. It is the will of the Senate that has to be ascertained in that case, and you, sir, are always very careful to follow that rule. I see now the encroachment, if I have not seen it before, and I voice it now, if I have not voiced it before, of a system of one man taking on himself powers which are a danger to any party in this Senate, including the power to suspend the sittings of the Senate against the will of the Senate. I claim that the procedure for the suspension of the sittings of the Senate ought to be the same as for the adjournment of the Senate - the will of the Senate itself should be expressed. In saying that I am not asking for any special privilege for myself. I am simply stating what I believe to be the correct procedure, which this Senate will be wise to follow.
– The procedure followed by myself having been challenged by the Leader of the Opposition, it is just as well for the Senate to understand what that procedure is, and ought to be. In doing what I did to-day, I followed the practice that has been adopted since the Senate came into existence. For the first time - what the motives may be it is not for me to question - that mode of conducting the business of the Chamber on the opening day of the session has been adversely commented on and censured by the Leader of the Opposition. If I have erred, then my predecessors on every occasion on the first day of a session have erred also. It has always been recognised in this Chamber that a practice which has been built up and constantly followed, and that has met with universal approval, should be continued. The practice has also been universally followed in the House of Commons, and in every other House in the British Dominions which has a Constitution anything at all approaching our own. One statement made by Senator Gardiner will not bear the light of either argument or reason. He says that the sittings of the Senate should be suspended only of its own volition, but I would point out that on the first day of a session there are no sessional orders in existence. There is no time to give notice of them or have them passed, and if we had a continuous sitting from half -past 10 in the morning until the present moment the sitting could not ,be suspended either for the luncheon or dinner adjournment if any one senator objected. In any course proposed to be followed and not covered by the Standing Orders a single objection is fatal, and the Senate would have absolutely no control over any one of its members who raised such an objection. He would be perfectly within his rights in doing so. By giving the power to the Presiding Officer the Senate retains complete control, because if he acts in any way contrary to the” general wishes of the Senate, the Senate can remove him from his office, but it has no such power over any individual senator who takes objection and subjects the Senate to all sorts of inconveniences. It has been the practice. in every Parliament for the Presiding Officer to frequently suspend the sitting pf his own volition when it is intimated to him that there is no business to transact - and this morning there was no business to transact. Senator Gardiner himself, in rising to address the Chamber, was entirely out of order, because a senator can address the Chamber only when there is a motion or question before it. No notice of motion or question was called on, and there being no business before the Chamber, neither Senator Gardiner nor any other honorable senator had the right to address it at all.
– Could I not have risen to address you on a matter of privilege?
– Certainly; but I have a very lively recollection of what Senator Gardiner regards as privilege. I must point out, too, that a question of privilege or any other question, can only be raised after the sitting has been properly opened. On this occasion, even prayers had not been read, and, therefore, the sitting was not open for the transaction of business. Bourinot, in his Parliamentary Procedure, third edition, edited by T. B. Flint, says, on page 301, dealing with the Parliament of Canada- -
The Senate and Commons also sometimes suspend a sitting. during pleasure, or with an understanding that they resume at a certain hour. This is done constantly at the close of a session, whilst one House is waiting for messages from the other. As the House is technically in session - the mace being on the table as at 6 o’clock - no entry is made of the fact in the Common’s journals, but it is always recorded in the Senate minutes.
– Hear, hear! That is the Senate. I want the Senate to do it,, and not the President.
– It is not done on the motion of any honorable senator, but is always done by the Presiding Officer, for the very good reason that the Presiding Officer is controlled by the House, whereas if any one member raised an objection it would be fatal, and the House would have no Remedy against him. If Senator Gardiner is really in earnest in this matter, I would assure him that it is not a privilege for the Presiding Officer to subject himself to censure or animadversions of this kind. It is only to consult the convenience of the Senate, and for the sake of the proper transaction of business, that he undertakes the duty, and it would be quite a relief to him if he were relieved of it. To do otherwise would place the Senate at the mercy of a recalcitrant senator who might object to the suspension of the. sitting, whereas the Presiding Officer is completely and absolutely under the control of the Senate, and if he acted contrary to the wishes of the Senate, he could be removed on an hour’s notice. Towards the close of last session I invited Senator Gardiner, if he thought he was being treated unfairly, to take that course, and he was good enough to inform me that he would allow me to remain in office until the 30th of this month, but not a minute longer. Whether the fact that the personal power to do that has been taken from him has induced him to ventilate his feelings in the way he has done, I do not know, nor am I very much concerned.
– Senator Gardiner asked a question, which perhaps is pertinent, as to why the Senate is to be called together on a date prior to the 1st July, when the new senators will be entitled to take their places. In moving the adjournment of the Senate to the date named in the motion, I assumed that every other honorable senator except Senator Gardiner thoroughly understood that, although the Senate was to be adjourned until that date, it was not at all likely lt would reassemble for the transaction of business upon that date.
– I was not aware of that.
– I can quite understand that Senator Gardiner might not have been aware of it, but I assume every other honorable senator was. I wish now to congratulate Senator Gardiner upon the spirit of reform shown by him in his position on the Opposition benches. I have a recollection that some years ago I suggested the possibility of the presence of microbes on benches on the other side, because of the marvellous change which seemed to come over every honorable gentleman who sat on that side of the chamber. For years Senator Gardiner as a Ministersat on this side, and has not only silently witnessed you, Mr. President., and your predecessors, suspend sittings of the Senate, but on more than one occasion he has been a party to that course by inviting the President to adopt it.
– I think the President has a right to do it only with the consent of the Senate.
Senate MILLEN. - Senator Gardiner, as a Minister in charge of the business, and when we have been sitting all night, has invited the President to adjourn the Senate for an hour to enable us to get supper, but he now turns round and talks about the privileges and rights of this Chamber being tampered with by your action, sir, which on former occasions he. has been a party to. Hypocrisy could go no further than it has to-night.
I have just received an intimation which will cause me to cancel one I made a little earlier in the evening. I stated then that the Government, desired honorable senators to favour them with their attendance at a meeting to be held at half -past 2 to-morrow afternoon. I find I was in error as to the time, which has been fixed for 11 o’clock in the morning, so that honorable senators who desires to leave in the afternoon for their respective States may do so without shortening the discussion.
– Can the Minister give any intimation as to when the Senate is likely to be called together again ?
– The honorable senator will discover that from a proclamation which no doubt will appear in that popular journal called the Gazette.
– You might bea little more courteous.
– There is one thing I can be sure of, and that is that on matters of courtesy I need never bo at a loss for an instructor when Senator Needham is present. I understand now that the date has been fixed, and I am pleased to be able to tell Senator O’Keefe and other honorable senators that the Senate will reassemble on the 11th July.
– Can the Minister say if the deliberations of the meeting tomorrow will be published?
– I cannot say that.
– Will it be a secret session ?
– It will not be a secret session in the sense that the previous meeting was secret-. Thia is merely an. invitation from the Government to members of both Houses to meet and discuss proposals to stimulate recruiting, and to enable the Government to have the benefit of their wisdom and judgment. The Government feel that they are entitled to this advice, and that they oan look for the hearty co-operation of all members in this matter. The meeting will be held in the House ofRepresentatives chamber, . and not in the Senate clubroom.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 June 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170614_SENATE_7_82/>.