7th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took . the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Government the following questions : -
Bendigo. - The following resolution has been carried by Eaglehawk branch of the P.l.C.:- “ That this meeting expresses its disgust at the actionof the medical unionists taking advantage of this time of national crisis to adopt the tactics of the extreme section of the I.W.W. by demanding higher wages, and threatening to strike if their demands are not conceded. That this meeting urges the National” Government to take immediate action to suppress these enemies of society.”
– I had not seen the resolution as read by- tile honorable senator, but I listened to its terms with a great deal of pleasure, as I deduce from those terms a determination on the part of that body to join with the Government in putting down strikes, which it regards as inimical to the national interests in time of war.
– Can the Min ister representing the Prime Minister furnish the Senate with any further information regarding the question raised by the’ Rockhampton Chamber of Commerce the other day in connexion with the establishment of a wool appraising centre for that city?
– The matter has been . referred to the Wool Committee, which has been asked to furnish areport.
– Did the Minister for Defence notice in the Age of 6th August a statement by Brigadier-General Sir Robert Anderson to the effect that a new infantry division was in course of formation, and, if so, will he say whether it means a new infantry division in addition to the five or six divisions which we already have at the Front ?
-It does not mean a, new infantry division in addition to the five divisions at the Front. It means that the reinforcements which are in England are being organized on a divisional basis.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Government, by prohibiting to 30 per cent, the importation of intoxicating liquors have definitely placed intoxicating liquors in the category of luxuries, and not of necessities?
– The honorable, senator is aware that the question of the category in which intoxicating liquors should be placed is one on which public opinion is divided.
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act 1901-1916. - Proclamation, dated 10th August, 1916, prohibiting exportation (except’ with Minister’s consent) of sulphate of ammonia.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1916.- Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 148, 152, 153, 154, 172, 175, 176.
Unlawful Associations Act 1916-17. - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1917, No. 177:
Motion (by Senator Ferricks) negatived - .
That, in the opinion of the Senate, in the fourth year of the war, the time has arrived for the British Government to ascertain and make known the peace basis on which the Allies would be prepared to negotiate with a view to ending the war.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This short measure which I have to introduce to the attention of honorable senators is one to amend the Naturalization Act. It will do so, not by the introduc tion of any new principles, but by amending provisions designed to remove certain defects discovered in the existing law. The first of these defects which it is sought to remedy is one which arises from the terms used in our existing law which was passed in 1903. Prior to the passage of the Commonwealth Act, each State had its own law dealing with the subject of naturalization. When the Federal law was passed, it recognised aliens who had been naturalized under State law. Indoing so provision was made for recognition by the Commonwealth ofceritificates of naturalization issued by the State. That was all right so far as the holders of those certificates were concerned, but it left out of consideration the children of such persons. They did not hold a -certificate, though they were naturalized under a State law, and it was clearly the intention of this Parliament that they should, follow the assumed nationality of their parents. The first amendment proposed by this Bill is designed to remedy that’ defect. The next proposal is one for tightening up the safeguards where an application is submitted for naturalization. Under the existing law, a certificate of character, if ‘ I may so term it, from one citizen is regarded as sufficient. ‘Now, in the light of the experience gained during the last three years, it is considered that something more than that is needed, and this Bill makes provision for three certificates instead of one, whilst power is given to prescribe by regulation such additional requirements on the part of the applicant as may appear to the Minister, from time to time, to be necessary. The Bill will, place no disability in the way of an alien who bonâ fide seeks and is entitled to naturalization ; but it will make it a little more difficult for any one to attempt to assume citizenship ‘ in this country to whom it is not advisable to grant that privilege. Another, provision in this Bill appears in our legislation for the first time. It will permit people who are disposed to protest against the naturalization of an applicant for the . privilege of citizenship the opportunity to do so. , Honorable senators will recognise that some private citizen, knowing that an application has been lodged, may be in possession of information concerning the applicant which it is desirable the Minister should know. Provision is made inthis Bill to enable such a perspn to place himself in formal communication with the Department so that his representations, or any information he may have to ‘disclose, may.be considered before the application for naturalization is finally, dealt with. Another provision of this Bill is one which has been framed to meet a recent declaration of principle by Germany, that when one of. the subjects of that country assumes naturalization under another power, he does not, by doing so, renounce citizenship of the country from which he comes. It is, therefore, proposed in this Bill that an applicant for ‘ naturalization shall nob merely take the ordinary oath of allegiance, but shall also specifically renounce his allegiance to the country of his birth. Honorable senators will agree that that is a desirable and necessary provision.
– . That will not relieve the applicant from his oath to his native country.
– Many of them do not make an oath in that sense. Many have left the country of their birth as minors. The difficulty is that in Germany, though these people , may be naturalized here, they are held to be Germans and subject to German law.
– Will this provision apply to all who are naturalized at the present time?
– I cannot answer that at the present moment, but I shall endeavour to obtain the information before we deal with the Committee stage of the Bill. I have referred to the difficulty which has arisen from, the use of the phrase “ certificate of naturalization “ rather than the word “ naturalization,” but there is another clause of this Bill which specifically deals with children and other persons naturalized by other means than by an application for a certificate of naturalization. For instance, a woman marrying a naturalized subject becomes naturalized herself, following the nationality of her husband. There is a clause in this Bill giving power for the revocation of certificates of naturalization. This is a power which I think is necessary. Whenever it is discovered that an alien has obtained naturalization by fraud, or is unworthy of the privilege, there will be power under this Bill to revoke his certificate of naturalization. Another provision to which I should like to direct attention is one which will give the right to the wives or children of naturalized persons to divest themselves, of British nationality. The necessity for this provision arises in this way: Where an alien obtains naturalization, and subsequently dies, his widow may desire to divest herself of the nationality assumed by her husband. Not many cases of this kind are likely to arise, but it is obvious that if people do wish to do that, we should give them the opportunity, not in their interests, but in ours, that it may be made quite clear which national flag they desire to live under. I do not anticipate that the provisions of the Bill will give rise to much division of opinion. I think that honorable senators will be fairly unanimous in regard to them, though they may form the subjectof interesting debate. . I have briefly explained the measure to honorable senators, and at the Committee stage I shall be glad to supplement what I have said if further information is sought by honorable senators to enable them to arrive at a decision upon any of its provisions.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mcdougall) adjourned.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill deals with the Public Service Act, with the main provisions of which honorable senators are familiar. The purpose of this measure is to enable effect to be given to the declared policy of the Government to give preference to returned soldiers so far as employment in the Public Service is concerned. Honorable senators are aware that there are certain limitations placed upon entrance into the Public Service. It is sought by this Bill, not to open wide the Public Service to the admission of any returned soldier, but to open a door by which a returned soldier may, if competent, pass into it. The second clause is rather important. It amends section 2 of the principal Act so as to include amongst those referred to as returned soldiers members of the nursing service and of the Naval Forces. This amendment -of the law is entitled to sympathetic consideration. The next provision to which I would direct attention alters the provision in the existing law by which any one entering the Public Service must enter the lowest class of the Clerical Division. It is now proposed to allow members of the Expeditionary Force to be appointed to such class and subdivision as the Commissioner determines, which will be after the applicant has demonstrated by examination his fitness for the position sought.- Another useful and important amendment deals with examinations. At present an examination is set for applicants for entrance to the Service. It is now proposed to give the Commissioner a little wider latitude in shaping the examinations, and provision’ is also made by which he can recognise as sufficient an examination authorized by a University or other public body. Thus, where the applicant can . already ‘ show a certificate from a’ University or other public body, it will not be necessary for the applicant, if he is a returned soldier, to submit himself for further examination . Those matters relate . to the permanent branches of the service.
As regards those who seek and obtain temporary employment, under the existing law there is a limit of six months during which they can be employed, and that period in certain circumstances can be extended to nine months. The Bill’ strikes out that limit in relation to members of the Expeditionary Force. If the applicant is suitable, and there is work requiring to be done, the employment can continue. At present admission to the Public Service is limited to those between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five. It ia proposed now in the case of members of the Australian Imperial Force to extend the age limit to fifty-one years.
– Has the Bill any application to manual, workers in the Public Service?
– Yes, the temporary employees largely include that class.
– How if a man was over fifty when he ‘enlisted ?
– Probably, if I asked . that man his age, he would want to know whether I referred to his military or civil age. I thought forty-five was the limit of age for enlistment. We are allowing a liberal margin of six years above that-
– I know men in the Military Forces who are sixty.
– We appreciate the spirit that has made men of that kind give a wrong description as to age, but if a man enlisted and was passed as fortyfive, and seeks employment in the Public Service, he is not likely to give a’ different age,
– In this case he has to give his real age.
– Ifthere is any trouble,- it is of his own creating. The Bill goes on the assumption that those who enlist are within the military age. All the amendments of the law that I have outlined are in the direction of giving effect to the Government’s policy of preference to returned soldiers, which will command not only the sympathy of the Senate, but, I believe, the warm sympathy and support of the community outside.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDou gall) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumedfrom 15th August, vide page . 1059) :
Clause 58 -
The Commissioner shall, when so directed by the Minister, or as may be required for the purpose of supplying information to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, on Public Works, have investigations, inspections, and surveys made of any proposed railway route.
The expenditure incurred by the Com missioner in making investigations, inspections, and surveys at the direction of the Minister shall not in any case exceed the sum’ authorized by the Minister for the purpose. .
Upon which Senator Earle had moved by way of amendment -
That before the word “ surveys “ in subclause 1 the word “preliminary” be inserted.
– The work of constructing railways, so far as the, Commonwealth is concerned, is yet in its infancy. I believe later on the Commonwealth will take over the whole of the railways of Australia, and probably, following on that step, the construction of all railways will be under the control of this Parliament. It is of the first importance that before any money is expended in preliminary surveys Parliament should have some knowledge of the work proposed to be done. Later on, I suppose, the Commonwealth will be confronted with a proposal to construct a railway from Oodnadatta to connect with the line running south from Darwin, and the preliminary survey of that route, to be of any value, would involve the Commonwealth in considerable cost. That is only one of the probable lines that will later engage our attention. The Minister has given us no real ground for objecting to place before Parliament the reasons why a preliminary survey should be made. Before I agree to the clause as it stands, I want to be assured that there is ho other way out of the difficulty. I believe there is a way. The Minister must get information from some source or other to entitle him to authorize the. Commissioner to make a preliminary survey, and if everything is fair, square, and above board there should be no objection on the part of the Minister to place that information before Parliament. If members of Parliament were convinced that a certain railway was required, I do not think they would offer any serious objection to a survey being made.
– Unfortunately, I was unable to be present when this clause was under consideration yesterday; but I understand that Senator Needham, on my behalf, took certain objections to it. I object to it because it places too much power in the hands of the Minister.
– I am accepting the amendment to insert the word “ preliminary “ before the word “surveys.”
– The clause will stall confer greater power on the Minister than is desirable in a purely machinery Bill, because the Minister will still have authority to order a survey, and no survey of any kind can be undertaken without certain expenditure. We all remember the keen discussions that took place in the Senate on .the original proposal to vote £20,000 for a trial survey of the east-west railway. At that time it was argued that if Parliament became committed to an expenditure of £20,000 for the survey, the Legislature would be pledged to carry out the work, and the project was hung up for a long time onthat account. In course of time, I, ‘with a number of other senators, changed my mind, as the result of a, report, by the late Lord Kitchener aa to the necessity for the line for the rapid transfer of troops from one part of Australia to another. I take the same objection now to the clause under discussion. I object to any Minister having authority to order a survey before the proposal is submitted to Par liament. What objection can any Minister have to this . course ? If hie has power to order a preliminary survey, and it is made, Parliament will have to meet the expenditure, and it will be argued that Parliament is then in honour bound to go on with the work.
– But the amount required would be placed on the Estimates.
– Once the money had been spent, very few members would care to vote against the line on the Estimates. I assure the Minister that I am not- speaking from any party stand-point, and that no party question is involved in my objection to the clause. It would be far better for the Minister to bring his proposals before Parliament before incurring any expenditure in connexion with a new railway.
– What is a’ new railway 1
– A branch line might be regarded as a new railway. I would rather not vote against the clause, and I suggest that the Minister should eliminate the words “ and surveys “.
– The Commissioner may send his officers on what is known as a “ flying survey “ prior to making any recommendation to the Minister regarding any particular route. Surely you do not want to prevent that being, done !
– Parliament, in my opinion, should have an opportunity of discussing all proposals for railway surveys. . / Senator Russell. - When a railway engineer simply traverses the country for the purpose of mapping it out, he makes what is called a flying survey, and that would be included in your objection.
– The clause, as it appears in the Bill, does not indicate that. If it is passed in its present form, there will be nothing to prevent the Commissioner, when so directed by the Minister, to order any amount of expenditure for a survey.
– But Senator Earle’s amendment provides that it shall be limited to a “ preliminary “ survey.
– Well, what is the definition of a preliminary survey?
Senator- de Largie. - Merely travelling’ over the country.
– - This will still necessitate a considerable expenditure.
– I believe quite ai strongly as does any honorable senator, that Parliament should exercise full control over public expenditure. If once we surrender that privilege we shall abdicate one of our most important functions. I listened, with a good deal of interest,’ last evening to the arguments adduced by those- who are supporting the amendment. Their chief objection to the clause was that it empowers the Minister to incur expenditure upon the survey of a line without the authority of Parliament. Personally, I am surprised that the Honorary Minister, should have signified his willingness to accept the insertion of the word “ preliminary.” . The clause- merely empowers the Minister for the time being, to utilize the ‘ services of the Commissioner to obtain a survey of any railway route. Now the survey of a line cannot be undertaken without -an expenditure of public money, and the Minister can secure the money, only by having it placed upon the Estimates and voted by Parliament or by availing himself of the Treasurer’s Advance. We all know that the principal object of the Treasurer’s Advance is to permit of the completion of works which have- already been undertaken, and .the cost of which has exceeded the estimate. The Advance is also intended to cover unforeseen contingencies. If, for example - as unfortunately happened some time, ago - a vessel belonging to the Department for Trade and Customs had the misfortune to founder, the Treasurer, out of his Advance account, would be able to anticipate a grant by Parliament to the widows and families of those who had perished, and thus avoid the possibility of their suffering destitution. That is why the Treasurer is voted an advance of £250,000. I admit that the honorable gentleman might conceivably enter into an unholy alliance with the Minister for Works and Railways, to enable the latter to obtain a railway survey. If the majority of members of both branches of the Legislature supported the project, they would ratify his action, if they did not, they would decline to ratify it. The pro per person to authorize the carrying out of a survey is the Commissioner.
-No matter what expenditure may be involved f
– When I was Minister for Home Affairs, we had no Commonwealth officers who -were capable of undertaking that class of work, and, as a result, I had to go outside the Department and obtain the services of a contractor. To-day, however, .the posi-tion is quite different. We now have officers who axe thoroughly qualified to carry out railway surveys, and Parliament is merely asked to authorize the Commissioner to undertake them. But even if the clause be left out,, there will be nothing to prevent the Minister from ordering a railway survey to be undertaken and from securing the necessary funds for the work from the Treasurer’s Advance. I .think that the proper person to make these surveys is the Commissioner, if he has the requisite staff. Possibly he might not have the necessary staff, -and the Government, might have to ask a private contractor to do the work. I venture to say that no Treasurer will grant much money from his Advance account unless he feels absolutely certain that he has a majority in both Houses. “ Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) [3.51]. - I presume that the amendment before the Committee - is that of Senator Earle, to insert the word “ preliminary “ before the word “surveys.” Yesterday, in the absence of Senator O.’Keefe and at his request, and agreeing with him, I moved the deletion of the clause. But, on reconsideration, I believe that it would be going rather too far to do that. I am inclined to agree with Senator Earle, after listening to his speech last night, that we might reach a better position by retaining the clause with one or two amendments. At the same time I am not inclined to support ‘the amendment of Senator Earle, but I am prepared to move the omission of the words “ and surveys. That would mean that the Commissioner and the Minister would have the power to make an investigation and an inspection.
– What is, the difference between an investigation and a preliminary survey 1
– There is a vast difference.-
– They generally make. them ‘by riding in a motor car.
– I am not concerned as to whether they make a preliminary survey by means of a motor car, as the Minister states, or whether they make a flying survey by walking over the country, as Senator de Largie says. What I am concerned about is that the Minister shall not have the power to expend money on the survey of a railway route without the consent of Parliament; but I realize that before it can authorize a survey to be made it will be necessary for informa-tion to be supplied to it in connexion with the proposal for a survey.
– Do you know that in connexion with surveys there are frequently alternative routes f
– Decidedly. If we allow the clause to pass as it is, and the Minister has spent money on the survey of a route and comes’ to- Parliament then, I venture to say that six or seven alternative routes may be suggested by Parliament to be surveyed, despite the fact that a route has .been surveyed for the Minister. Senator Thomas, who gave us his experience as a Minister of the Crown, preached’ a homily on the Treasurer’s Advance account.-
– It is not a route which will be submitted to Parliament, but the Commissioner will probably have a flying, survey made of every available route.
– I do hot wish to deal with probabilities but with actualities.
– If a survey has to be made from point to point, the officers will examine alternative routes, which may number six, and then the Minister will submit the best route to Parliament.
– After a route has been surveyed.
– After a flying survey has been made.
– The word “ flying “ does not appear here. As the clause stands a survey would be made, but it would not be a flying or preliminary or temporary survey. There is no qualifica- tion of the words “ and surveys.” When the money had been spent, Parliament would i be asked to indorse the proposal. Senator Thomas has said that if the Minister who authorized a survey to be made has a majority behind him, it will be all right, otherwise it will be all wrong. Hia logic is extraordinary. It will not matter what the Minister may d’o, be it right or be it wrong so long as he has a majority behind him. I was surprised to hear such an argument from a gentleman who, on two or three occasions, has ‘been a Minister of the Crown. Was it his rule to do something as a Minister, provided that he had a majority at his back in Parliament 1 If that has been his custom, I sincerely hope that the present Ministers will not accept the gospel preached by him, and that he himself -will never again get on to the Treasury bench.
– Have you ever known a Minister to do much without a majority behind him ?
– I never knew the honorable senator, as- a Minister, to do anything, good, bad, or indifferent, legislative, administrative, or otherwise. I generally discovered that he was absent when he was wanted. I suggest that if the Committee will insert the word “ and “ before “ inspections “ and delete the words “ and surveys,” it .will give the Minister and Commissioner all necessary power.
– How can an investigation be made without a preliminary survey? It cannot be done.
– The Public Works Committee are making investigations all the time.
– What is an investigation and what is an inspection? Is not an inspection a survey, in a fair sense of the term ?
– If an inspection means a survey, why strike out the words, “ and surveys “ ?
– Because those words give the Commissioner or the Minister too much power without consulting Parliament. If they are retained the expense will have been incurred before Parliament can be consulted.
– Then qualify the words.
– There is no need to make a qualification if we delete the words-“ and surveys.”
– Yes, there is, because a survey is necessary.
– Is not an inspection a survey ?
– - No.
– Is a survey an inspection ?
– I think that if we leave out the words . “ and surveys,” it will enable the Minister to come down and give Parliament all the information it desires, and, afterwards, it can authorize -a survey of the proposed line.
.- I feel, with- some members of the Opposition, that this clause gives, rather too much power to the Minister, regardless of his qualifications or integrity. In the old days in Victoria when the Minister had this power, surveys were made and liabilities incurred to the extent of £300,000 or £400,000, and we are still paying interest on the dead money. If we give a similar power to the Commonwealth Minister, and a request for a survey is made, knowing ‘ the circumstances which apply to our territory, the cost will exceed that sum.
– The insertion of the word “ preliminary “ will get over that difficulty.
– No. I am not in favour of that. I ask honorable senators to take into <their consideration the system which the Victorian Parliament has adopted of late years. It instituted a Railways Standing Committee, which is practically similar to the Commonwealth Public Works Committee. The Committee are first asked to go and make an examination of a route to ‘ find out the possibilities of a railway and ascertain . the necessary conditions.
– Is not some estimate of the cost put before the Committee by -the officials ?
– No. First -of all a proposal is submitted to the Committee, for inspection and report.
– Do. not the Committee get information and estimates of the cost?
– The Committee find out exactly the prospects of a railway, the production or mining resources of the district, or anything which is likely to contribute to the well-being of a railway. If the Committee think well of the proposal, they submit a recommendation to the Parliament.
– Without getting an estimate of the cost?
– In the first place the Committee find out everything pertaining to the rural surroundings. Their enigineer may be asked to go over the route with them, but it is very seldom that he does.
– –Surely, you will admit that a- Committee cannot make a report as to the prospect of a railway unless they have had first an estimate of the probable cost?
– The Committee knowexactly where the railway is likely to be placed and the country to be served within a radius Of 10 or 12 miles on either side.
– Do you know that a location surveyor is working ahead of the Committee all the time ?
– It is just possible that a surveyor may go over the route and make a survey with his eye. The Government’ are here asking that the Minister shall have the power which .Ministers were given in the olden days in Victoria.
– Not if Senator Earle’s amendment is agreed to.
– A “preliminary survey T’ may be interpreted in very many ways. I am not prepared to .give this power to any Minister. I think it would safeguard the clause if we left out the words “and surveys.” I have already said that, as a result of giving a Minister such power as is .here proposed to be given to the Minister for Works and Railways, Victoria has been saddled with a debt for all time of between £300,000 and £400,000.
– Is it not possible that the surveys to which the honorable senator has referred’ made it possible to avoid greater expenditure elsewhere.
– That is not so. Honorable senators would merely have to look at the proposed routes that were surveyed iD those days to find tha* they ran in all directions, and frequently crossed each other. They were made merely be? cause influence was brought to bear upon the Minister df the day to- have surveys made for the benefit of certain individuals. That kind of influence will always be at work, and as we are starting a new Department .of Railways in the Commonwealth we should do what we can to guard against it here.
– How will the striking out of the clause meet the difficulty?
– The difficulty will be met by submitting propositions to the Public Works Committee. ‘They can be advised as to the rout© proposed, and may be asked to report upon the minerals, timbers, or agricultural resources of the district that ‘would be served by the con.struction of a line over that route.
– And they would have an estimate of the cost.
– No. The Railways Standing Committee of Victoria is advised as to what a line is likely to cost by the route outlined to them.
– How can that be done without a survey?
– It can be done.
– Without even a preliminary survey?
– Then I am not surprised that the Victorian railways are not paying.
– They are paying, although, as I have said, they have to carry a dead loss of between £300”; 000 and £400,000 spent upon useless surveys. There is no reason why the Government should not have power to ask .the Public Works Committee to report as to the posisibilities of the proposed line. The Com.mittee could submit its recommendation to the - Minister, who would then submit the proposition to Parliament, and secure permission to go ahead with the survey. We should, in these circumstances, have some assurance that a proposed railway is likely to be a payable proposition. Under the clause, as it stands, influences may be brought to bear upon a Minister to undertake the survey of a particular route, and a few weeks later other influential persons may point out to him that a railway by nhat route- would be an unprofitable undertaking, and thereupon another route would be surveyed. The kind of influence to which I have referred has always been at work, and I do not think that human nature has so much improved that we have- now no need to fear’ it.
– The influence referred to has been exercised just as. much in Parliament as with Ministers.
– I admit that.
– Then how is the honorable senator to prevent it?
– We cannot entirely prevent it, but we may restrict it to some extent. I am not satisfied with the power given to the Minister by the clause as it stands.
– With all deference to honorable Senators with whom I am at variance on this question, I cannot help thinking that we are somewhat prone to strain at gnats while we swallow camels. I have listened this afternoon to an almost pathetic appeal not to grant power to a Minister to spend a few thousand pounds, knowing that the appeal came from gentlemen who, but a litle time ago, were shouting “ Hallelujah “ because a Prime Minister had spent £2,000,000 or so without the approval of Parliament in a shipping deal. There is no fixed principle to enable us to decide what power we should give to a Minister. If a Minister feels that he is doing right, and is prepared to take the responsibility of his action before Parliament, he can do anything. I remind honorable senators of the alternatives which are before the Committee. The first is to put the Minister in possession! of information by investigation to submit a proposition to Parliament, and the other is to come down to Parliament and ask it to initiate the proposal. More frequently than otherwise when such matters are submitted to Parliament,, we have had the complaint that there is not sufficient information supplied to enable it to make up its mind. If we adopt the amendment, this is what is going to happen : A deputation comprising ‘ the most esteemed residents in a given district will wait upon the Minister.
– These are the land, sharks.
– Yes, the gentlemen who so frequently come under the notice of my wideawake friend. They will deputationize the Minister to run a railway through a given district. He has to do one of two things. He must make an in’vestigation to see whether the proposition is a sound one, or, as honorable sena- . tors supporting the amendment suggest, he must come down .to Parliament and say, “ Gentlemen, I do not know anything about it, because you will not permit me to inquire . into it, but I ask you now to say whether you approve of the proposal.”
– That is not the amendment. A proposal may be referred to a Committee.
– I have stated thealternatives in their naked form. I- shall come presently to the Committee referred to by Senator Plain. It is an absolutely common-sense proposition that before asking. Parliament to approve- of a certain railway proposal, the Minister shall make an inquiry into it, and be in a position to put the pros and cons before Parliament. The alternative, as I say, is that he should say to Parliament, “I have been invited to bring forward a railway proposition. I do not know anything about it myself. I have been told a number of favorable things concerning it by those living in the district. You have left me without any power to make an investigation, and I come down now, ignorant myself, to a Parliament equally ignorant, and ask it whether the work should be gone on with or not. ‘ ‘ Before Parliament is asked to say whether a survey shall be undertaken, it should be informed as to whether the prospects are such as to justify even that expenditure. Senator .Plain, who is to be complimented upon the Scotch persistency with which he declined to answer a simple question, has referred to the Victorian Railways Standing Committee, of which, I understand, he was a very useful member. When I asked the honorable senator whether that Committee, in making an investigation into the prospects of a railway proposal, had before it an estimate of the probable cost, he rather sidestepped the question, and went on to say that it made a report to the Minister as to the prospects of a proposed line. No Committee could make a valuable-, report as to the financial prospects of a line unless it was informed as to the capital involved in its construction.
– The amendment I suggest would get over that difficulty.
– I admit that Senator Needham’s amendments always do get over difficulties. We have in New South Wales a Public Works Committee very similar to the Railways Standing Committee of Victoria. But the members of that Committee invariably question departmental officers as to the probable cost of any proposal. Having ascertained that, they seek for information as to the probabilities of revenue, and upon that make their report. I remind honorable senators that action is proposed under the clause not merely for the information of the Minister, but as may be required for the purpose of supplying information to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. How can we ask even such a Committee to inquire into a railway proposal unless the officers of the Railway Department are in a position to place before the members of the Committee the information which they must have bear ing on the technical and financial side of the proposition 1 -The only question at issue is whether we should allow’ the Minister to obtain this information. I do riot believe that any Minister would go to the extent of having a complete and thorough survey made without first seeking the opinion of Parliament.
– He would have power under this. clause to do so.
– Suppose he would. Have not honorable senators given ten times greater powers to Ministers even during this session? I ask them to consider, if they will not allow the Minister to obtain this information with which to make a start with a proposition, to whom are they going to give the power? It must be, given to some one.
– There is a good deal of difference between information and .a detail survey. s
– I do not see the word “ detail “ in the clause. With respect to the suggestion that the clause should cover only a “preliminary” survey, I suggest that the use of this word would make no more difference in the clause. , than a chip does in porridge. If Parliament is not supplied with the information provided for under this clause, as the result of some proper investigation of a project it must depend upon such statements as are made by the advocates of the line. Senator Plain has referred to instances of unnecessary expenditure incurred by Ministers in order to placate supporters. We can admit all that, but there were peculiar circumstances in those days. If it is urged that those circumstances may occur again, I counter that with a statement based on the experience in my ‘own State, where, when such matters were left originally to Parliament, there occurred something as near to log-rolling as I can imagine, when the supporters of one line stood in with the supporters of another in order that, by mutual assistance, each might obtain that which neither could secure alone. All I ask is that one of two things be done - either that Parliament itself devise means by which it can get the information to enable it to arrive at a decision, or that the Minister be put in a position to make the investigations in order that he may be able to furnish estimates before he can ask Parliament to say whether or not the project can be carried through.
– I cannot understand the frame of mind into which Senators Needham and Plain have worked themselves. Apparently, they are ready to accept “ investigations “ and “ inspections,” but they discover terrible obstacles to accept-, ing “.preliminary “ surveys. They take a much greater responsibility if they are willing to trust the Minister to have investigations arid inspections made. “ Ito..vestigations “ may mean the appointment of a Royal Commission to go into every aspect of the proposed railway. “ Inspections “ may mean the appointment of a body of engineers to see if it is possible to build a railway through the proposed country. Senator O’Keefe answered his own contention by his own speech. He referred to the time when the survey of the transcontinental railway was discussed in this chamber, and turned down time and again .because of the possibility of Parliament being pledged to the main work if it agreed to an expenditure of £20,000 for the first survey. Surely, Senator O’Keefe, who is usually logical, must see that if Parliament is not to be pledged by any preliminary survey or investigation the responsibility should be cast upon the Government of the day, and that is what this clause undoubtedly means. It would be better, therefore, to have the preliminary survey free of parliamentary consent, leaving it open- for Parliament afterwards to throw the whole matter out if it thought fit. Senator O’Keefe, apparently, wants to cling to the old method which bung up the transcontinental railway proposition for so long in its initial stages. He tried to justify his change of attitude on the east-west line by saying that he accepted the word of the late Lord Kitchener, who came to Australia some time after the Survey Bill had been once or twice rejected, and gave an opinion on the question of strategic railways. But Senator O’Keefe had all that information before ever Lord Kitchener came here. We had the opinion of several military men, including General Hutton and General Edwards, on that aspect of the matter. The ^honorable senator’s excuse for reversing his vote, therefore, will not hold water. We cannot do better than accept ihe amendment, which will confine the surveys to the cheapest possible form. There has been some discussion as to the meaning of a preliminary survey. What -is a flying survey or a trial survey? Surely the words have enough meaning to be understood by any reasonable man. A preliminary survey should mean a survey undertaken by a body of surveyors sent out. in the most preliminary way to investigate the country, without undertaking the usual complete work of a survey such as taking levels, and so forth. Senator Earle’s proposition is the only way to get over the difficulty, and Senator Thomas showed that without any clause of this kind it was possible for a Minister to spend money galore. It is better for Parliament to know that these things are being done in accordance with parliamentary consent than for a Minister to have and exercise power whether Parliament likes it or not. I support the proposal, which is so eminently reasonable that I cannot understand how there can be any objection to- it. -
– While the proposal to insert “ preliminary “ removes some objections, I take the same view of the clause as I did yesterday, that while it may be applicable to the construction of railways in a State, it has no application to the construction of railways in Federal territory. All that Senator Millen said is true, and we know those things did occur, but that was in connexion with State railways. Many of the phases of agitations for the construction of railways in a State would not apply to railway construction under Federal control, because we shall not be building railways in so many directions, while the few we do build will be national railways, and part of a, big system.
– Shall we not be putting down branches to supply the main lines ?
– The Federal Territory is so small that the idea of running branches into the States is just where the danger comes in. Although I was not here at the time, I take it that the delay in the passage bf the Survey Bill for the east-west line was due really to opposition to the construction of the line itself. In Queensland, five or six years ago, when it was proposed to build a great western railway, about 1,200 miles in length, a feature, or trial, or preliminary survey was made, as Senator Russell said, by relays of motor cars. That was followed by the permanent survey. The first thing agitated for by members of railway leagues is a trial survey. The argument we used to advance on railway leagues and in the country newspapers was, “ Get the trial survey made, and that is half the battle.” It involves a certain amount of commitment to construction. In Commonwealth railway construction, State oppositions and jealousies would come in if it was proposed to construct branchrailways into any State or “States, but these would, nob apply to a line within the boundaries of a State. I still hold ‘une opinion that this part of the clause was lifted from some State Act, as it is entirely out of place in a Federal law. On the question of whether the Oodnadatta railway should be extended to meet the line at Katherine River, a matter of policy is involved, and before any preliminary steps are taken in that direction Parliament should authorize the Commissioner to obtain the necessary information.1
– The honorable senator is logical, but if this clause is eliminated, cannot the Minister still do all these things?
O’Keefe answered that interjection a little while ago. He said the Minister would do it., but if we give him thb power, we are authorizing him to do it, and we should not. Senator thomas and Senator Millen referred to the kind of Minister that will do anything; if he is that kind of Minister, the responsibility is on him, and not on Parliament. The responsibility should rest with Parliament, and the Minister should ask Parliament to pass a motion referring the question to the Public Works Committee. The Committee could then obtain all the data by calling as witnesses the experts of the State Railway Departments. The information would come before Parliament, which could then consider the question as a matter of policy, and also from the point- of view of finance. I cannot see exactly what is to be done with the clause.
– To express your views you must move to put in ‘’ No survey shall be made unless Parliament is first consulted.”
-Investigations and inspections, even without’ surveys, are so widely embracing that even there Parliament should first give its mandate. I have been trying to knock the clause into shape from my point of view, hut have nob been able to arrive at a satisfac tory result yet. As an improvement!, I would support the insertion of the word “ preliminary,” which would allow of a feature or trial survey, but still it does not remove my objections.
– Senator Ferricks, apparently, is riot prepared to trust any- body; but I point out that the clause does place some limitation upon the powers vested in the Minister, and Parliament will have some control. I submit that Parliament is entitled to the fullest information upon all projects, and, in this connexion, I draw attention to the fact that under the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act it is provided in section 15 that no public work of any kind except such works as have been authorized by Parliament shall be undertaken before investigation, and that every such proposed work shall, in the first place, be submitted and explained in the House of Representatives by a Minister before it can go before the Public Works Committee for investigation.
– If the cost exceeds £25,000. .
– That is so.
– That is a very important addendum..
– In the case of the Public Works Committee, Parliament trusts the Minister up to £25,000, but, in this case, if a Minister desires to carry out a work which, including survey and everything else, might not cost more than £100, it will be necessary for him to get parliamentary authority. In some instances, the proposed ‘ work might be merely a deviation -or a siding to a wheat silo, a line, perhaps, 100 yards or 200- yards in length, still the Minister would have to come down to Parliament with a Bill for the survey.
– You Enow that that is not the. fact..
– .lust imagine how this clause, if amended as desired by Senator O’Keefe, would operate in thecase of a railway to East .Gippsland. There might be’ half-a-dozen different routes/ and, naturally, the Minister would want flying surveys made from different points before he ascertained fromhis responsible officers the easiest and best route to recommend to Parliament. Howcould he get- this information except by means of flying surveys ? This is the ordinary procedure, and it is the only one I know of. The only alternative, as Sena.ter O’Keefe indicates, is to strike out the clause and insert a provision setting out what a Minister shall not do. In the Public Works Committee Act, subsection 3 of section 15, states -
The explanation shall comprise an estimate of the cost of the work when completed. . -
How could a Minister explain the estimated cost of a completed work without a survey ? I have no doubt that if a Minister came down with incomplete information, nobody would be more .ready with their criticism than those honorable senators who are are now objecting to this provision in the Bill. If information is wanted it must be sought from responsible officers who should be trusted. If we cannot trust our officers, whom can we trust ? I ask the Committee to’ be very careful. I have accepted the amendment suggested by Senator Earle to insert the word “ preliminary “ before “ surveys,” as I recognise that, while it is not a definite and distinct limitation of the power of the Minister, it is clearly an indication ‘ that Parliament will not permit the Minister/ without parliamentary authority, to authorize a complete survey.
– It appears to me that the discussion has missed the point which I and others have been endeavouring to make. . We object to any Minister having absolute power to authorize the Commissioner to make a survey. Imagine a Minister for Railways like, say, the present Treasurer, who has been associated with some very important public works in his own State, and who once remarked in a jocular way, “ Oh, what’s a million?” Suppose, as I have said, we had in office a Minister for Railways like the Treasurer, and that he desired another railway to connect up the east-west line with the Mel”bourneSydney line, or a branch line to some other point. Under this clause, he would have authority to order that a survey be made.
– He would have to get the moneY from Parliament.
– Parliament’ might not be in session until after the expenditure had been incurred.
– He would have to get the consent of his own State.
– If that is so, what is the good of the clause in the Bill?
– For. the purpose of the honorable senator’s argument he may use the Northern Territory.-
– The Minister could, I presume, get the consent of his own State by arrangement, and he could then have the necessary survey made. Of course, Parliament would have power to refuse to pass the item covering the expenditure, but while members might not .approve of the course that had been adopted, they might feel obliged to ratify the action of the Minister, because, they were supporters of the Government. I agree that it might be necessary to have certain investigations made, but I submit that if the clause be deleted a provision that might be necessary can be inserted in a different form. I understand Senator Needham intends to move the omission of the words “ and surveys.” The clause in its amended form would still give the Minister power to have certain investigations made. The Public Works Committee has been mentioned by the Minister, but I do not think that it was ever contemplated that that body should make investigations for Commonwealth railways, -except, perhaps, in Federal territory. But it is not likely that a Slate would disagree with any proposed expenditure by the Commonwealth on a railway through its territory.
– Unless the line would come into competition with one of its own railways.
– Exactly. As I have already “remarked, the Minister may be a man of large ideas, and consequently it is necessary that Parliament should exercise a greater control over him than is provided for in this clause. Otherwise he will have the power, of his own volition, to direct a survey to be made in the absence of parliamentary authority.- In my .opinion, that is too great a power to place in his hands.
– I confess* that I do not appreciate the action of the Minister in agreeing to the proposed insertion of the word “ preliminary.” If that word be inserted, am I to understand that the Minister will be able to order a preliminary survey of a line to be undertaken without being reponsible for his action to Parliament? .
– I do not believe in the Minister being permitted to expend even £10 without Parliament having the right to criticise his action.
– This clause invites him to do that.
– It does nothing of the kind. As the clause stands, he cannot spend £10 either on a preliminary or a permanent survey without being answerable for his action to Parliament.- But if we insert the word “preliminary” he will be able, to order a preliminary survey to be carried out, and after it has been completed he will be in a position to stand up here and plead, “I am empowered by Statute to authorize a preliminary survey, and consequently my action cannot be called into question.” Consequently I am opposed to the insertion of the word “ preliminary.” The Honorary Minister has stated that Parliament has already granted to two’ Ministers the right to spend up to ‘£20,000 without reference to the Public Works Committee.
– I simply used that fact as an illustration.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that a Minister could spend up to £20,000 without the consent of Parliament.
– Without first referring any public work to the Public Works Committee.
– But a Minister cannot spend £10 without first securing the approval of Parliament.
– That is so.
– I desire that that condition of things shall be continued. Senator O’Keefe and Senator Ferricks have put their side of the case very ably, but I maintain that by inserting the word “preliminary” we shall empower the Minister, on his own initiative, to order the carrying out of a preliminary survey .-
– We have had a fairly long debate, and I think it would be well to test the feeling of the Committee on this question. If the amendment by Senator Earle be carried, I shall be unable to press my proposal, and, consequently, I would ask that honorable senator, if he-were present, to temporarily withdraw his amendment. A little while ago the VicePresident of the Executive Council addressed himself to this question, and insisted that if honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber secured, their way, the Minister would be unable to present any information relating to a projected railway to
Parliament. I hold that the words “ investigations! and inspections “ which appear in the clause give .the Minister and the Commissioner ample authority to /collect all the necessary data for submission to Parliament. Senator de Largie has stated that in order to procure the desired information it might be necessary to appoint a Royal Commission. Thao, I contend, is begging the question, because the 1 honorable senator knows perfectly well that until quite recently there was in existence a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I admit that there is no such body in existence now. I do not know whether the Government intend to appoint one or not. But if such a Committee is appointed, it will be able to investigate all these matters quite as well as does the Railways Standing Committee in Victoria, so that there is no cause for alarm in regard to the -need for appointing a Royal Commission. In order to bring this question to a vote, I intend to move -
That the word “ and,” before the word “ surveys,” be left out.
, - I am sorry that I did not succeed in making my meaning clear to the Minister upon this question of surveys. I hold that it is not necessary to survey the route of any proposed line before securing a report upon it. The honorable senator asked me what course the States adopt in determining a railway routed In reply, I say that the first step’ probably takes the form of a deputation, which waits upon the Minister for Works, for the purpose . of asking that a certain survey be made. The Minister, of course, would listen sympathetically to the deputation. If he thought that they had “made out a good case he would naturally say, “ Gentlemen, I will call for a report. I will send a surveyor to survey the country and ascertain the surroundings and conditions applying to the proposed route.- If he reports .that the proposal is satisfactory, and I come to that conclusion, I will ask the Ministry to submit the proposal to Parliament.” In this. State, there is no such thing as a survey authorized until the proposal has been submitted to the Legislative Assembly. To allow the Commonwealth Minister to sanction even a preliminary survey is, I think, to give him too much power. He has a good serveyor named Combes, whom I think the authorities can rely upon, so far as advice and experience are concerned. Knowing the. country well, and understanding the local ‘ conditions, he would be in a position to furnish the Minister with all the particulars he desired to satisfy Parliament that the line, if constructed, would be likely to be productive or otherwise. If the Minister told Parliament that his surveyor had made a report, and he found it was a sound proposition, he would present the report, and Parliament would have no hesitation in saying to him,” Go ahead.”
– Without this clause the Minister could not put on any surveyors to obtain that information for him. In the case of. the Northern Territory, three or four routes have been suggested. Suppose, that the Public Works Committee were asked to go up and inquire, without a preliminary survey having been made, where would they go? Naturally they would ask which route was meant.
– It appears to me that the members of this Committee are getting quite confused as to the intentions of the Minister in charge of the Bill. Senator Guthrie asks, “ How can a surveyor give a report without taking the levels?” Evidently he thinks that it would be necessary to have a survey and levels complete before a report could be submitted to Parliament.
– That would be a preliminary survey.
– That would be a survey pure and simple.
– What is a preliminary survey - a survey with a flying machine?
– I suppose that the, honorable senator would be content to scoot about the country in an aeroplane, and get an idea of the levels.
– The last survey of a line was made by two men in a motor car, from Brisbane to Port Augusta.
– What was the use of such a survey?
– I do not desire to raise any doubt in the minds of honorable senators, or to presume that they are inferior to myself in these matters. My anxiety is to safeguard the country against an expenditure which should not be incurred at this time, if it can be prevented, I recognise that honorable senators generally have had much more ex perience of railways, and the working of the parliamentary machine, than I have had, and I have no wish to reproach them. I am not agreeable to intrusting this extensive power to the Minister. When it is recollected that for years Victoria has been paying interest on £300,000 or £400,000 expended on flyingsurveys, I contend that we shall not be safeguarding the public purse, as we ought to do, if we give a similar power to the Commonwealth Minister. I repeat that the evidence which is considered necessary to satisfy the Victorian Government as to the prospects of a proposed railway should be sufficient to satisfy the Commonwealth Government.
– It is not proposed to do any more.
– Then we have nothing to fear.
– Knock out the word “surveys.”
– That word will have to go. There will be no preliminary survey, and it will be left to the Commissioner to obtain a report on a railway proposal. I am not in sympathy with this provision or with the amendment.- I think that all railway proposals should be left to be dealt with in exactly the same manner as has been adopted for years by the Victorian Railways Committee.
Amendment (Senator Earle’s), by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Needham) proposed-
That the word “ and,” before the word “ surveys,” be left out.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Earle) again proposed -
That before the word “surveys” the word “ preliminary “ be inserted.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in theaffirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move-
That the word “Minister,” in sub-clause 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Parliament.”
This amendment will crystallize’ our discussion, which has raised the question whether we are going to give the Minister full discretion to spend any amount of. money he thinks fit in complete and detailed surveys, or intend that Parliament shall retain in its own hands privileges which should be jealously guarded. A good deal has been said with ‘regard to the power proposed to be given to the Minister under this clause. On one side it is suggested that it is required only that he may deal with small matters, and, on the other side, one can visualize the expenditure of even £100,000 by the Minister without the authority of Parliament under the clause as it now stands.
-Not for preliminary surveys.
– That may be possible even in connexion with preliminary surveys, in view of the vast problems for the construction of transcontinental railways which will, no doubt, come before us in the future. We should, I think, recognise that in these matters Parlia ment should first be consulted by the Minister. I shall take up no further time in submitting the amendment, as the matter has already been fully debated.
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria- Honorary Minister) [5.23]. - I hope the amendment will not be carried. It would prevent the Minister taking even the most minute preliminary steps in connexion with a railway survey until authorized to do so by Parliament. A number of small sidings or railways might at any time during a recess become matters of extreme urgency, and they could not be undertaken if the amendment were agreed to. Even the putting in of a surveyor’s peg could not be undertaken in connexion, for instance, with a small extension connecting an existing railway with a military camp without the sanction of Parliament. The Minister should have power to take preliminary steps in connexion with such a proposal, and might submit it as an urgent matter as soon as Parliament met. I am sure that Senator Pratten does not wish us to believe that, in. his opinion, Ministers in the future . will deserve to be so distrusted that they may not be permitted to incur the expenditure of a few pounds upon a necessary work without parliamentary - authority. Honorable senators have already discussed at length the question raised by the amendment’, and I ask the Committee not to reverse the attitude which it has already taken up in dealing with it.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 59 agreed to.
If the “Minister moves that the House of Representatives declare that it is expedient to carry out the proposed work, the information supplied to him in pursuance of- the last preceding section shall at the same time be laid before the House of Representatives.
.- I move-
That the words “House of Representatives,” lines 1, 2, and 6, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Parliament.”
The Senate should have a . voice in these matters as well as the House ofRepresentatives. I do; not think the amendment requires any argument to commend it to honorable senators.
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria- Honorary Minister) [5.28]. - I am not at the moment quite clear on the point, but I believe that a Railways Bill is really a money Bill, and the Constitution debars the initiation of a money Bill in the Senate. A Railways Bill undoubtedly involves the expenditure of money, and so cannot be initiated in the Senate . The clause is not intended to in any way detract from the dignity or status of the Senate.
– We know that the Senate has no power to initiate money Bills, but this clause deals merely with the giving of certain information. Even, as a matter of courtesy, the information which is laid before one branch of the Legislature should also be laid before the other. The Minister might accept the amendment without any hesitation.
– This clause in no sense affects’ anything that may be called the rights, dignities, or duties of the Senate. It is merely a provision that if the Minister asks the House of Representatives to approve of a proposition he shall place before that House the facts and information which he is in possession of, and which support the motion he moves.
– Why should he not give the same information to the Senate?
– The honorablesenator will see that the adoption of a motion moved in these circumstances in the House of Representatives by the Minister merely gives him authority to prepare a Bill to submit to Parliament. That is provided for by the next clause. The Bill will come before Parliament in the ordinary way, and must run the gauntlet of both Houses. This clause merely gives the Minister a definite legislative instruction to do what I think he would find it necessary to do in any event. It does not interfere- in any way with the proper discharge of its duties by the Senate.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 61 and 62 agreed to.
Clause 63 -
– I move -
That the. following new sub-clause be added to. the clause: - “(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, lands, being public parks or , recreation grounds, shall not be acquired for the purposes of a railway until after the expiration of thirty days after a statement of the proposal to acquire the lands has been laid before each House of the Parliament.”
We are all agreed to-day that the last thing to do is to acquire any of our parks or recreation grounds for any purpose other than that for which they- have been reserved. But there are occasions when the overwhelming claims of the community make it necessary that, -for railway purposes, a portion of a park or a recreation ground must be used. In such cases’, the amendment provides that the papers dealing with the matter shall lay on the table in each House of the’ Parliament for thirty days before the land is acquired for railway purposes. This- will make it clear that no park lands shall be used for railway purposes until both Houses of this, Parliament have been given ‘a full opportunity to -express approval or disapproval of the proposal.
– It was my intention to have moved that the words “ public parks, recreation grounds “ be left out. Honorable senators will remember that when the Eminent Domain Bill was before us we dealt with the matter of public parks and recreation grounds very fully, -and the Government of the day withdrew the original Bill. It has to be remembered that we are dealing here, not only with, public parks and recreation grounds in Federal territory, but in the various States. These lands have been dedicated to the people for the purposes of recreation.
– Whom will the railways be dedicated to?
– They will not be dedicated for recreation purposes. We have had an example already of what may occur. The park lands at Port Augusta have been absolutely destroyed by the running of railway lines through them. In South Australia, under the State law, not a single inch of park landa can be taken for any purpose other than recreation unless a ‘special Act is passed. Very little land has been dedicated to the public throughout the Commonwealth; and it is an absolute injustice to cut reserves up and erect shunting yards and similar things on them. Laying a regulation on the table for thirty days does not give Parliament an opportunity to deal with it. Objection has to be taken by a private member. He puts a motion on the notice-paper, and probably it will never be reached before the time is up. If the Minister will withdraw his amendment temporarily I will move -
That the words “ public parks, recreation grounds,” be left out.
That will test the feeling of the Committee on the point. I am certain the Senate is not prepared to run railways holus bolus over public parks and recreation grounds. It is better to take a railway an extra half mile round a park than to take away from the public part of the little land that has been reserved for them.
– There is no inten-tion on -the part of anybody to take reserves from the public.
– Not at present, but in Adelaide our tramways were run right, through our squares, cutting them all up.
– Public feeling is growing against interference with public parks, but’ some consideration must be given to public necessities. To build the central station in Sydney,’ a public reserve, in the shape of an old cemetery, was taken, and I do not think any one objected. We cannot foresee how a city will grow, and cannot always design the parks in the right places. Even to-day in a part of the public parks originally provided for Melbourne they are removing the remains of people who died in the early days, in order to build public markets, because the city has grown over some of the reserves. At times, much as we regret it, we may have to take the corner of a park for the building of a railway. I do not anticipate any overcrowding for. a century or two along most of the Commonwealth lines.
– You have cut into the parks already at Port Augusta.
– Any member can move to disallow a regulation to take part of a park.
– Unless he can get the opportunity or the numbers to carry his motion the regulation will not’ be disallowed.
– If we brought down a Bill to acquire portion of a park, and the honorable senator had not a majority to defeat it, the result would be the same. A vote to disallow a regulation is just as effective as a vote against a Bill if members are keen enough to follow the regulations-
– Who can follow your regulations?
– People are very sensitive about land questions, and there is no doubt that if members do not notice what is proposed, their attention will be directed to it by some one outside. .1 would’ sooner increase than decrease the areas of public parks, but do not let us make a big fuss if, in order to carry out a large public work, we have to take, a little corner of a park.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Amendment (by Senator Guthrie) proposed -
That the words “public parks, recreation grounds “ be left out.
– This Act will not be perpetually administered by the present Minister, and hope is rather a shifty ground to build on when passing an Act of Parliament which is to have force for many years. Our park lands are all too small now, and when population grows the trouble will be intensified. No Government can reasonably object to bring down a short Bill if it becomes necessary to take any land away from the public. If the Government have a majority, they can carry their Bill, hut it will apply only to the particular spot referred to at the particular time, and not generally, as this clause does. I would remind the Minister that Governments change, and there might be a case where the construction of a railway, or the building of a station, through certain public parks or reserves, would very much enhance the value of neighbouring property. It might destroy the park to increase the value of adjacent land, and Senator Grant would be up in arms directly.
– Would it not be necessary to get the consent of the State Government ?
– This Bill does not say so. There would be a greater safeguard for the interests of the public if that sort of thing had to be done by means of a Bill rather than by a regulation, which might slip through. If it is made necessary to bring in a Bill in each case, the Government will have to bring forward arguments why they wish to acquire the public park in question, and public attention will be f focussed on the matter.
– The amendment does not go far enough. I should like it to include “roads or lands which have been dedicated, reserved, or set apart for any public or other purpose, whether by a State or private person.” Some people desire to destroy every small space set apart for recreation purposes, no matter how old the reservation. It is almost impossible to look at any of our public parks in any city without finding where the hand of the vandal has been operating with more or less success. I understand that when Adelaide was surveyed and laid out, it was surrounded by park lands half-a-mile wide. Some people got to work, and, had it not been for the public-spirited action of one ,of the Governors of South Australia, there would be no park lands in Adelaide to-day. * It is people of that kind in this Chamber who would vigorously back up the Minister in his desire to clothe the Railways Commissioner with power to take away- public reserves. This country is big enough for us to construct public railways in without destroying the limited area now set aside for public recreation. In Sydney, the park lands have been diminishing year by year, and it almost requires a vigilance committee to retain for the public the few remaining acres at their disposal. Hyde Park, in the centre of Sydney, is to be utilized, to a great extent, for the proposed city railway, and even Wynyard-square is to be interfered with. The Senate should not lend itself to that sort of thing. Honorable senators will not see the regulations when they are laid on the table of the Senate or the Library. They get too many papers to read to enable them to follow up regulations of that sort. If any Government desire to . rob the public of some park, there is nothing to prevent them bringing down with their railway Bill a statement showing the lands they require. That, will place the matter definitely before both Houses, and honorable senators will know exactly what they are doing.. It may be advisable to take a few yards of a park occasionally for the purpose of carrying railways through cities. In most cases it can be avoided, and the way to get over the difficulty is by striking out the further words I have quoted. This will entail no hardship or inconvenience upon anybody. When it is proposed ‘ to construct a railway, it -will be mandatory on the part of the authorities, when submitting the Bill to Parliament, to state distinctly what land may be required. Parliament will then be in a position to say whether the railway authorities should be permitted to encroach upon reserves. Unless we indicate in an Act of Parliament what is being done, the people may not be aware of any threatened encroachment.
– The conservation of our public parks is one of the most important duties that can devolve upon the statesmen of to-day, not only for the recreation of this and future generations, but also for the health and well-being of our people. The people of Australia are under a debt of gratitude to statesmen of the past’ who have reserved for their use those open spaces which they are now permitted to enjoy, and we cannot too jealously guard them against encroachment. 1 realize, however, that there may be instances when, owing to the immensity of an industry, it may be necessary to encroach somewhat upon the privileges of the people, but in such a case the matter ought to be brought before Parliament in a special measure, as indicated by those honorable senators who have already spoken on the subject.
– Do you want to go so far as Senator Grant?
– No; but I want to protect our public parks in the manner suggested by Senator Guthrie. I realize, however, that if we insisted upon a special Act . qf Parliament being passed before railway authorities “could cross roads, we might hang up a railway proposition indefinitely.
– Lands that have been dedicated to the public are in the same position as parks.
– We must have authority to cross roads.
– I should certainly very jealously guard all public parks and recreation grounds. I am in sympathy with the amendment moved by Senator Guthrie, and intend to vote for it.
– We are all in agreement as to the desirability of preserving our public parks and recreation grounds, the only difference of opinion being as to the form of protection we desire to throw over them. Senator Russell’s amendment was designed to bring the Bill into line with the Lands Acquisition Act, by providing that any proclamation for the resumption of land would not be operative until the notification had been laid for thirty days on the table of either House. The proposal outlined by Senator Guthrie, on the other hand, requires that parliamentary consent shall be obtained before notification of resumption. The only difference is in the method; and in the circumstances I am prepared to accept the amendment submitted by Senator Guthrie.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the words “ roads or lands which have been dedicated, ‘reserved, or set apart for any public or other purpose whether by any State or by any private person “ be left out.
There is no difference whatever, so far as the public are concerned, between public parks and recreation grounds, and roads or lands which have been dedicated, reserved, or set apart for public purposes.
– Lands might be set apart for forest purposes or water re- serves.
– If so, those lands should not lightly be taken away from the people. It is most difficult to get reserves of that sort, and it seems to me that those who drafted the Bill assumed that roads or dedicated- lands were in the same category as public parks and recreation grounds. Senator Russell’s proposed amendment applied to them.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 20 .
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 64 -
Notwithstanding any law to the contrary -
the Commissioner may, with the approval of the Governor-General, cause a railway to be constructed along, over, and across any public reserve;
.- I should like the Minister to explain the object of paragraph a of sub-clause 1, because it seems to me that it vetoes everything that we have been doing.
– This clause has nothing whatever to do with the acquisition’ of land. It merely provides that after land has been acquired, the Commissioner shall have power to construct a railway across any lands acquired under the Lands Acquisition Act.
– But under the previous clause, with the consent of the Minister, the Commissioner may acquire lands for any purpose.
– The clause is limited to the work of construction, and the Commissioner has no power to construct any railway until the Commonwealth has acquired the land for the purpose.
– I confess that I do nob like paragraph a of sub-clause 1., To my mind it will clothe the Commissioner with power to build a railway across a public park. In New South Wales a “ public park “ is a park reserved for the use of the public, and is so gazetted.
– Land may be acquired by the Commonwealth for a variety of ‘ purposes. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that it has been ac- quired for the purposes of a public reserve, It may have been used as a public cemetery, and it may become necessary to re- move from it the corpses which ‘have been interred there. As- a result, compensation may. have to be paid to the persons directly interested. In this connexion I may instance the Devonshire-street Cemetery, Sydney, which had to be entirely done away with in order to make room for the ‘construction’ of the new Redfern fail way station. In that case the removal of the corpses might have involved heavy payments by way of compensation. This clause is intended to obviate such claims.
. -I direct Senator Pratten’s attention, to the definition of “Land” under the Lands Acquisition Act 1906. It reads - “ Land “ includes any estate or interest in land (legal or equitable), and any easement, right, power, or privilege over, in, or in connexion with land, and also includes Crown land, but does not include public parks vested in or under the control of municipal or local authorities, and dedicated to or reserved for the recreation of the people, or such other lands dedicated to or reserved for the use and enjoyment of the people, as have been specified by proclamation.
– But this clause says “ notwithstanding any law.”
– Sub-clause 2 of clause 63 declares that the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act shall apply to lands acquired for the purposes of this Act.
. -If honorable senators will read sub-clause 2 of this clause they will see that it provides -
No person shall be entitled to claim compensation for or upon account of any lands that have been acquired or used in or from any such public reserve or road for any other purposes of this Act, nor for any damage or inconvenience arising to him or it by reason thereof; but the Commissioner may, with the approval of the Governor-General, or as directed by the Governor-General, make such compensation in respect of any such land as is deemed expedient.
It is quite possible that in the construction of a railway, at some awkward point, the view from a residence may be spoiled, and in the absence of a provision of this kind the Commonwealth would be liable to pay compensation. Or it may happen that a beautiful two-chain road may have to be reduced to a one-chain road, and the value of private property may thus be adversely affected . This provision seeks to protect the Commonwealth by laying it down that none of the things incidental to the construction of a railway shall be regarded as a reasonable ground for the payment of compensation.
.- I quite admit that it is necessary for the Commissioner to be clothed with a certain amount of authority. But to my lay mind this clause is contrary to the spirit of the previous clause. Therefore I move -
That the following words be added to paragrapha: - “other than public parks or recreation grounds.”
– I shall support the amendment of Senator Earle. To my “ lay mind, also, the clause is not clear, and the addition of the words proposed will have the effect of removing its ambiguity.
– If the Government’ wish to construct a railway through a public park or recreation ground, it seems to me that we shall be up against this clause..
– This provision would not come into operation until after we had acquired the land.
– While the intention of the mover of the amendment may be all right, I submit that this is not the place to insert the words which he desires- to insert. The whole of clause 64 vests in the Commissioner certain powers over lands which have been acquired. If, for example, it were proposed to run a circular line of railway through the public parks around Adelaide, or through any other public park or recreation ground, the sanction of Parliament to the proposal would be valueless unless the Commissioner were clothed with the power that will be conferred upon him by paragraph a of this clause. In my opinion, there is no necessity to insert these words. Once a park has been handed over by an Act of Parliament to the Commissioner for the purpose of constructing a railway, this clause will simply empower him to do so. In the circumstances, I think that the wordsare entirely out of place.
Clause agreed to’.
Clauses 65 to 68 agreed to.
Clause 69- ‘ ( 1 ) Whosoever - shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Ten pounds……
– I move–
That the following new paragraph be inserted in sub-clause 1: - “(c) knowingly gives or offers to an employee, without the written consent of the Commissioner, a gratuity for personal services rendered,”
If the clause is passed with this amendment, a person guilty of this offence will be liable to a penalty of £10. The offences which are embodied in the four existing paragraphs of this sub-clause are no more grave than the practice of some travellers giving gratuities to railway employees for the purpose of obtaining attention which is not extended to the public at large. Seeing that we had an extensive debate on this question the other day, it is not my intention to renew the discussion. I hope that the Minister will see his way to accept the amendment.
, - Personally, I have a good deal of sympathy with this proposal, but I would point out that yesterday we took a test vote, and the amend- ‘ ment was rejected.
– Not on this question.
– No, but we took a test vote on the principle of tipping. The whole subject was then involved in the discussion, and though I sympathize a good deal with the present proposal, the honorable senator ought to recognise that a second test vote should not be taken on practically the same principle.
– This amendment would be the necessary corollary to the amendment to an .earlier clause which was defeated yes- .terday, but it differs somewhat from that one- It seeks” to inflict a penalty upon wealthy travellers who wish to perpetuate a system of compelling railway employees to adopt an attitude towards the travelling public which is utterly subversive of their independence as well as their manhood. I know of no persons who approve of this method of securing their wages. Any one who votes against the amendment will be in favour of placing the railway employees in such a position that the Commissioner can very truthfully say to them, “ You are in receipt of sub stantial tips from every one who travels on the railway, and it is my intention to cut down’ the pay.”
– The honorable senator is dreaming in the day time.
– No, and no one knows that better than does the honorable senator.
– The ‘ Commissioner will be in his dotage if he does it.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to. 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 9th August (vide page 921), on motion by Senator Bakhap -
That the Senate expresses its unqualified appreciation and approval of the statement made on the 31st January last by the Honorable the Colonial Secretary (Mr. Walter Long), which emphatically sets forth that none of the captured Colonial Possessions of the German Empire will, in any circumstances, be returned to that Power; and, furthermore, resolves that any proposal to restore the captured German territories in the vicinity of the Australian continent will be particularly distasteful to the people of the Commonwealth, and prejudicial to their interests, as well as to the future peace of the world.
That the foregoing resolution be transmitted to the House of Representatives for its concurrence.
– When this motion was last debated, we had the pleasure of listening to a very well ordered but short deliverance from the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The honorable senator suggested that my motion should be shorn of some of its apparent redundancies, and should be altered to read somewhat* as follows : -
That the return of the captured German colonies in the vicinity of the Australian continent will constitute a standing menace to the safety of this country, as well as to the future peace of the world.
After due consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the phraseology of the motion as I originally submitted it has perhaps something in it that savours of asperity. I believe the suggestion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is a very wise one, and I therefore ask the leave of the Senate to substitute the form of words, suggested by Senator Millen for those in the first paragraph of my motion. I do this all the more readily, because. although I had approximated the terms of my motion, as closely as I thought judicious, to the utterances of President Wilson in the statement he made at the time the United States declared war against Germany, I believe that the words suggested by Senator Millen will even more closely conform to the very laudable sentiment embodied in President Wilson’s utterance, when he said -
No re-adjustments of -power must be made except such as will tend to secure the future peace of the world and the future welfare and happiness of its peoples.
That sentiment is embodied in the terms suggested by ‘the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and I have therefore every hope that honorable senators will permit me to amend my motion by substituting those words for the first paragraph of it.
It does happen that, in discussing questions of this momentous., character, the words of even the humblest amongst us take to themselves wings and fly over the world. Beyond all doubt, some of the opinions uttered in the course of the debate on this motion last week have been given to the peoples of the world through the medium of the international press. It is not sufficient to convince the Senate. ‘ It is necessary to make out a satisfactory and substantial case for the passing of the motion even in the proposed amended form. I do nob purpose occupying the attention of the Senate for very long, but I think I may be pardoned if I adduce some further evidence in justification of the motion, in the amended form in which I hope it will be carried. We have not any rabid dislike of international neighbours. The ‘Dutch people who, I hope, will be our international neighbours for centuries to come, have long passed the aggressive stage, and I believe there is not a single Australian who resents the fact that our ex-continental possessions run line for line with a portion -of the territory of the Netherlands East Indies. We welcome these people as neighbours. They have been our neighbours since the establishment of the Australian Commonwealth, and I hope there is no Australian who harbors anything like resentment at the fact, or entertains the slightest idea of dispossessing these peaceful, enterprising people of the Possessions to the north of Australia, of which they are in full en- .joyment at the present time.
But the case is different with the Germans. Let me adduce this deliverance from a prominent German journalist, and a man who is not regarded as a jingo. He is a man of a somewhat advanced international type, and his opinions are of a cosmopolitan character. Yet in the flush of German victory, after the first few weeks of the war, this is how this semi-Socialist German journalist delivered himself -
The most distinctive merit of Germans is that they do not fit in with the crowd of peaceful nations.
That is their most distinctive merit, according to this journalist of international reputation -
German manhood has not become effeminate because of a long peace. War was always the most profitable business of the Germans. For these reasons the present war is a good war.
Nice neighbours these ! Having through the Valour of Australian soldiers and seamen taken possession of those lands immediately to the north of Australia, ‘on which the Germans settled, we should be pursuing a suicidal policy if we did not let it be known to the world that it will not be with our concurrence and consent that German New Guinea and the island territories in its vicinity previously in the possession of Germany shall be returned to that country. I have not quoted a German jingo, but one who is regarded rather as an ‘opponent of the jingoes in Germany, and yet honorable senators have heard how he speaks. Some people seem to be looking to the German Socialists to bring about peace ; but I have said before, and I say again, that the German Socialist is always a German as well as a Socialist, determined if possible to secure the supremacy of the German race and the adoption of German ideas of civilization. We are not going to have these people alongside of us as neighbours until they have purged themselves of their contumacy in regard to the other peoples of the world:
A great many of the evils which have from time to time befallen our country can be traced to the unwise policy which Great Britain has pursued at times, despite international assertions to the contrary, of returning to foreign Powers territories taken from them during the progress of wars. There is not the slightest doubt that the ill-advised stipulation of the British Government to restore Malta to Napoleon brought about the breach of the
Treaty of Amiens. We do not want that sort of thing to occur in connexion with the Possessions which we have taken from the Germans during the last few years, and which, I hope, will never belong to them again.
I may, perhaps, be going to quote rather freely the opinions of other people, but when a man is only an ordinary member of the rank and file of a Legislature he must be forgiven if he thinks it well that his long-established opinions, notwithstanding the force with which they appeal to himself, should be buttressed by the quotation of the opinions of others.^ I am going to quote something that is very fresh to show that, in the minds of reflective politicians of the Old Country, it is deemed to be an established fact that the Australian people, speaking in a practical sense, are unanimously of the opinion that the previously existing German Possessions in the Pacific should not be restored to Germany. We have such a newspaper as the Westminster Gazette delivering itself in terms which have been cabled to Australia, and which may be read in the evening paper published today in this city. Referring to the Westminster Gazette, the statement is’ made -
It shares the Australian view that the return of the German colonies is not a territorial question, and that it is necessary not ,to allow the Empire to be divided by a German fleet and submarine bases. -
It is not a territorial question. The Westminster Gazette very properly puts it in that way.- I venture to say it has taken the cabled opinions and utterances of the Vice-President of the Executive Council as the text of its deliverance. We do not want increased territory for increased territory’s sake, but we do want to make the future of our children- and of their children after them as secure as human wit and effort at the present time can make it.
I should have liked to have heard a speech on this subject from the Leader of the Opposition. I have complied with the rules of parliamentary courtesy. I believe the honorable senator is in» New South Wales at the present time, where, I have no doubt, if he is allowed to speak or do anything at all, he is doing all he can to bring the lamentable strike’ in that State to an end. I feel sure that at all times Senator Gardiner may .be trusted to act in the interests of the peaceable settlement of vexed industrial questions. I regret that he is not present.
Seeing that there is such a great deal of talk about peace in international circles, this is a question that is vital to us, and I hope that the Senate will arrive at a decision in regard to the terms of my motion to-night. Some people are disposed to say that we are rushing- in where international angels almost fear to trea’d, -and that we should not express ourselves in anything like forcible terms at this juncture. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Walter Long, has, in some degree, qualified the virile utterance that fell from his lips toward the end of January of the present year. Politicians blow hot and cold. I am not saying that that applies to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I think I know something of what the exigencies of international diplomacy may be ; but it is the duty of Australian representatives of the people to see that responsible men in the. Home Country are fortified by a forcible and concise expression of the opinion of Australian legislators at the present time.
We hear talk about the restoration of the German colonies. I do not think that the Japanese will tolerate the discussion of any terms of peace in which it is suggested that the territory known as Kia Chau, in the north-east of China, shall be restored to the Germans. I venture to say that every Japanese would sooner see the name of his race and nation perish from human ken than that any international tribunal should adjudge the return of the territory to Germany. Honorable senators may depend upon it that whatever the weakness of Australian or Imperial diplomatists may concede in connexion with the discussion of terms of peace, the Japanese will not permit the erstwhile German territory on the Continent of Asia which they have occupied to be returned to Germany. If they, as I verily believe they will, act sturdily in such a matter, shall we be lacking in backbone?
Senator Ferricks said that if the war could be brought” to an end he would relinquish the whole of the islands adjacent to the Australian continent to-morrow, but I remind him that a man who gave promise of being one of the greatest military authorities of the age had he lived, and who was also a philosopher, delivered himself in this wise : “ Nations,” he said, “ do not advance to their doom; they retreat to it.” If, after having secured ourselves through the valour of Australia’s sons in the possession of those territories so necessary to the interests of the Commonwealth, we weakly retreated from the position our soldiers and seamen have established for us, then very truly would we retreat to our doom, and walk shamefully in the future. There are tens of thousands of Australia’s sons at the present time who wear
The. wan livery of dusty death.
Did they die in the belief that ‘territory captured by their valour should be returned to the enemy? I trow not. Even if we remotely contemplate returning those territories to Germany, a terrible ocean of woe opens up before us. I feel very much as one of Napoleon’s generals did when the Great Captain, having crowned himself Emperor of the French, asked this man, at the end of the day’s pageant, “Was anything wanting, today?” The marshal, in sombre tones, replied, “Only the 2,000,000 Frenchmen who have died so that this might cease.” If Australian representative men are tempted for a moment to contemplate returning German colonies to Germany, I urge them to think of the million - aye, more than a million - of Englishspeaking men who have died that such a contingency might not reach consummation.
There is very little more for me to say. I had anticipated that some other honorable senators would have addressed themselves to the debate, but the fact that they have not done so leads me to believe that they heartily sympathize with the motion, particularly in the judiciously modified form. suggested by the Minister. All I desire is that the young people of Australia may be assured of freedom from the German menace. What would it matter to many of us, for whom the shadows are long upon the hill, if we extended to Germany the most generous terms of peace? But a sacred duty has been imposed upon us by the votes of the people. We have to think of those who have just been born, and of those generations yet unborn, many of whom, I trust, will become distinguished, not only as citizens of our own country, but of, our Empire. It is essential that this nation which calls war a game - this nation whose representative men believe that war is a good thing - should be excluded from the possibility of again being our neighbours. We are in possession of a continent. We have plenty of territory. We are asking this Senate to agree to the motion, not because we seek territorial aggrandisement, but because, knowing the paucity of our numbers and the dangers to which we will be exposed, we feel it our bounden duty at this stage to take such precautions as will eliminate the chance of our future peace being disturbed. Therefore, I submit the motion in the full confidence that it will be carried. I believe its adoption and its communication to the diplomats of the world will bring about that state of affairs we have long desired, namely, that the future of Australia shall be free from dread. I ask the leave of the Senate to amend the motion as indicated by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Bakhap have leave to amend his motion?
– No. I agreed to an amendment of the honorable senator’s last motion, and I was afterwards disallowed the opportunity of speaking.
– An objection having been raised, the motion may not be amended, and must be put in its original form.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Newspaper Report - Military Service Referendum: Allocation of Outstanding Votes: Charge of “Faking “ Returns.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– There is one matter to which I desire to direct the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, but before doing so I want to mention that in this afternoon’s Herald there appears the statement that the motion as to the Allies’ peace terms, which was rejected by the Senate to-day, was submitted by Senator O.’Keefe. That was not correct.
I do not think Senator O’Keefe particularly wants to claim credit for it, but I do so with pleasure because I believe in the proposal.
The matter I desire now to refer to dates back to the time when the referendum was taken, in October last. . I want to, make passing reference to the soldiers’ vote, and ask Senator Millen if he will make inquiries to see if my suspicions in connexion with this matter are well founded or otherwise. As a preliminary to my inquiry I shall quote a paragraph which appeared in the Brisbane Courier on 21st November, 1916. It was headed -
Poll, to be Declared To-day. ” No “ Majority now 59,552.
Melbourne, 20th November
The referendum poll will be declared tomorrow. There are a few thousand votes outstanding, but, under , a section of the Military Service Referendum Act, the poll may be declared not less than’ sixty days afterthe issue of the writ, if not more than 2 per cent, of the votes on the roll are. outstanding. The writ was issued on 18th September. The progressive figures up to noon to-day were as follows: -
It will be evident from a scrutiny of the above figures that a few votes had come in after noon, thus increasing the majority from 59,000, as stated at the head of the paragraph, to 61,280. From the same source I have the figures of the aggregate votes, according to the press, in the different States as follows : -
After seeing the paragraph in the Brisbane Courier that the poll would be declared that day, and knowing that the referendum poll was not officially declared by any Returning Officer or the Chief Electoral Officer, but by proclamation in the Commonwealth Gazette, I looked up the Gazette of 23rd November, 1916, page 3181, and found that the figures were- “Yes,” 1,084,918; “No,” 1,146,198. The majority in favour of “No” was 61,280, agreeing with the totals of the figures I. have already quoted. A few months afterwards members of the
Senate, in common with members of the House of Representatives, received the official returns giving the vote in every electorate of the Commonwealth, and, although there had been no intimation in the press of progressive increases, the latest official returns show that the “ No “ majority has increased very disproportionately. Let me take Queensland as an illustration. On 21st November the “ No “ majority in that State was, in round numbers, 7,700, but according to the last official returns it was over 14,000. In view of this ‘increase it is a fair question forus to ask, “Where did the additional 7,000 votes come from?” The returns show the increases in the respective “Yes” and “ No” totals from the day ‘the poll was declared up till the publication of the Commonwealth Gazette. The figures for Western Australia show that the “ Yes “ vote increased by 183, and the “ No “ vote by 78, an increase of about two to one in favour . of the “ Yes,” which was about a fair increase. In Tasmania the “ Yes “ increase was 56 and the “ No “. increase was 130 - about two to one in favour of “ No.” In Victoria the “ Yes “ vote increased by 451, and the “ No “ vote by 659, a proportion of’ three to two in favour of “ No.” In New South Wales the increase in the “Yes” vote was 596, and that in the “No” vote 1,839 - a proportion of three to one in favour of the “Noes.” In Queensland the increase in the “Yes” vote was 1,710, and that in the “No” vote was 8,125.
– The Germans did not have a vote on this question. In Queensland, therefore, the voting was five to one in favour of the “ Noes.”
– Any number of Germans voted in Queensland, and I can tell the honorable senator where.
– Then they must have evaded the provisions of the Act. In South Australia the increase in the “ Yes “ vote was 556, and that in the “ No “ vote5, 645.In other words, there was a proportion of 100 votes to one in favour of the “ Noes.”In my judgment, it is a fair thing to ask whether it is possible that the “ No “ ‘ votes could have worked out in that proportion either in South Australia or elsewhere. I do not believe it.
– Not even including the Germans.
– Not even in- , eluding the Germans - the people to whom the Minister for Home and Territories addressed an appeal for support in South Australia.
I wish now tb make a passing reference to the question of the publication of the soldiers’ vote. “We were eventually informed by the Prime Minister that about 50,000 soldiers voted “ No,” whilst the “Tes” vote numbered about 72,000. Now, it has been stated in certain British newspapers that these figures are not correct. I have here an extract from the Melbourne Socialist of 6th April, which reads - “ It is a remarkable fact,” says the Free man’s Journal, “that the figures of the voting of the Anzac troops in, the Australian referendum on conscription have never appeared in the British press, although two months have now elapsed since the referendum was taken. It will be remembered that when the early figures for the voting in Australia’ itself were published, and showed a relatively small majority against conscription, the advocates of that policy expressed the confident hope that when the votes of the men actually serving and other Australian residents abroad were counted they would be found to reverse the decision of their countrymen at , home. The failure to publish the votes of the troops was in itself very significant, but we are now in a position to give the figures, which were - For conscription, 40,000; against conscription, 106,000; a majority against conscription of 66,000.” ‘
– Where is the Freeman’s Journal published ? ,
– In Dublin, I think. The extract proceeds -
As the total majority against conscription was only 61,000, it is thus clear that it was the votes of the Anzac soldiers which really decided the issue. - Glasgow Weekly Herald, 13th January, 1917.
– The Glasgow Weekly Herald copied the statement from the Freeman’s Journal.
– In view of these assertions, we can conceive of how many thousand “No” votes were allocated toNew South Wales to swell the “ No “ majority, before the declaration of the poll was made in the Commonwealth Gazette.
– That is an exceedingly serious charge to make against the Returning Officer.
– No; the votes were allocated in London.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the authorities faked the vote in London?
– I say that the soldiers’ “ No “ votes were used to swell the “ No “ majority in some of the States, and to reduce the “ No “ vote which was recorded by our troops abroad. Listen to the following extract on the allocation of the soldiers’ vote from the Brisbane Courier -
Method of Counting, an official statement.
Melbourne, 10th May. Mr. R. C. Oldham, Chief Electoral Officer, stated to-day - “ The preliminary allocation of soldiers’ votes to divisions is necessarily a long process, requiring the exercise of great care. The actual counting* of the votes when the preliminary allocation has been made will occupy a comparatively short time, and as it proceeds progress reports will be cabled to the Chief Electoral Officer, Melbourne, and wired to the Returning Officers for immediate incorporation in the figures for each State and division in the presence of scrutineers. Sir Robert McC. Anderson, the Commonwealth Returning Officer in London, has been informed’ of the closely-contested seats, and may be relied upon to expedite the count to the fullest possible extent.
– He did, and in the right way, too.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that he faked the returns ?
– Where was the necessity for advising Sir Robert Anderson of the closely contested seats at the last election ?
– Does not the honorable senator think that the candidates wanted -to know the results.
– So far as the divisional returns in Queensland were concerned, .they showed that the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) was absolutely defeated, and the surplus soldiers’ votes were put into the Moreton divisional returns, where they were wanted. But, unfortunately, this scheme miscarried, owing ,to a miscalculation, and as a result Mr. Finlayson’s minority of fifteen was changed into . a majority of fifteen.
– He should not be where he is to-day?
– He would not be if the- Prime Minister had had an opportunity to prevent it’. I say that the soldiers’ votes on the conscription question were faked in the allocation. I will not believe that it is possible for any State to record votes in the proportion of 100 to 1 in favour of the “ Noes.”
– Has the honorable senator any proof of faking ?
– I want to know from’ where the surplus votes came in the proportion of 100 to 1. How did it come about that when the declaration of the poll was made in Queensland there was a majority of 7,000 “ No “ votes, and that a little later that majority had increased to 14,000? I venture to say that the soldiers at the Front did vote “No.” I remember that Senator O ‘Loghlin, who was on the other side of the world as well as Senator Rowell -
– Senator O’Loghlin was in Ireland.
– He was as near to the Front as was Senator Rowell. Yet he came here and expressed the very opposite opinion of that voiced by Senator Rowell. I look to the Vice-President of the Executive Council , to explain how these “ No “ votes came out in the proportion of 100 to 1.
– I desire to say a few words upon this question. For the greater part of Senator Ferricks’s speech I was at a loss to understand what he was endeavouring to prove. I thought we had pretty well buried the wheeze in which he so often indulged concerning the referendum vote. If he had any regard for the reputation of Australia in the eyes of our Allies he would not resurrect it. If there is one thing in the, history of Australia that we ought to endeavour to forget, it is the result of that referendum. When I was in the Old Country last year Australia stood very high in the esteem of our Allies. I do not believe that any of the oversea Dominions occupied as high a pedestal at that time as did Australia. But I am quite satisfied, from what I have learned since, that she has been lowered both in the eyes of the other Dominions and our Allies as the result of the referendum vote.
– That is not what, the British Prime Minister said yesterday.
– I do not need to depend upon the reported utterances of anybody. I know what was the feeling at the time of my visit, to the Old Country. I am quite satisfied that Australia never stood as high in the estimation ‘of all parts of the Empire as she did before the referendum was taken on conscription. Why in the name of all that is reasonable should this page in our history be dug up here to-night?
– Because.it is the first opportunity I have had of referring to it.
– Does the honorable senator think that he will establish anything in the minds of reasonable persons by bringing this matter forward in the way that he has done ? We have previously . heard all about how the soldiers’ votes were cast on the occasion of the referendum. Time after time the honorable senator and others have told us how the soldiers voted. The Prime Minister, in accordance with the wish of the Allies, kept’ back the figures, and for very good reasons would not publish them. But being taunted time and again that a declaration had gone forth that a majority of the men in the frenches voted against conscription, at last the Government were obliged to publish the figures. What was the revelation? It. was shown that a majority of our men in the trenches were’ in favour of conscription. Is it not the most reasonable and logical thing which one might expect? Will one person who knows anything of the horrors and sufferings of war say that any of the men’ in the trenches, no matter how brave and stout they might be, would refuse- the help which we were anxious to give them ?~ Would such a refusal be in accordance with sense, reason or logic ?
– It is most unlikely that the men in the trenches would refuse help when we knew that it was so much needed. I was at the Front last year, and had an opportunity of meeting a number of Australian soldiers, but evidently I know nothing in comparison with * the enormous knowledge which Senator Ferricks possesses on this question. He really knows nothing. I have known him get up here, and in a most egotistical manner say, time and again, that he knew how the vote went, when no one else here had the slightest knowledge as to how it went.- It has to be remembered that the “very same statement was made in reference to the vote of the soldiers at the late election. It was then declared that the voting was faked against the gentlemen sitting on the opposite benches. It was declared, that a majority of the votes were in favour of their candidates, but through some manipulation of the figures the Nationalist candi-‘ dates obtained a majority of the votes when they were counted. Who cannot remember the representations made by these gentlemen in the public press? . ‘ What about the statement of a member of the Federal Parliament, whom they appointed as their representative to observe the voting at the Front and in the Old Country ? Mr. McGrath, the member for Ballarat, sent outa cablegram expressing his satisfaction with the manner in which ‘ the ballot was- taken and the votes of the soldiers were dealt with. That cablegram was published in a local newspaper. Still, in face of these undeniable facts, from which I think any reasonable person would form his opinion, we have statements to the contrary made by Senator Ferricks tonight. It does not matter to most of us who know the honorable senator how muchhe repeats the statements. He will never make his position any better.
– I take it that the basic fabric on which Senator Ferricks built up the case to-night was very largelv assumed figures which have appeared in a Sinn Fein newspaper published in Dublin.
– No;they appeared in the Brisbane Courier.
– It was in the Dublin Freeman’s Journal, I understand, that the . figures first appeared; they were copied in a Glasgow newspaper, and from that journal they were copied into several . provincial English newspapers. That is the basis of the case which Senator Ferricks and others have quoted from time to time in connexion with alleged faking of the conscription voting. I remind the honorable senator that’ the vote for the Nationalists at the general election on the 5th May was” not disproportionate to the vote of the soldiers in favour of conscription. Now that this matter has been brought before the Senate, I suggest to the Minister that if a report is to be called for from the Returning Officer with regard to the conscription vote in New South Wales, some- report should also be called for in connexion with that vote, and also in connexion with many statements we heard to the effect that some places polled a full vote, and others almost more than their strength. I refuse to believe that the anticonscription vote in New South Wales, was not faked there in some other way. The Nationalists polled 410,000 votes. At the election on the 5th May, the anticonscriptionists polled about 330,000 votes. Yet we have these votes polled in an election in which greater interest was taken than in any previous Federal election, and we are asked to believe that 470,000 legitimate votes were polled against, conscription in the Mother State. There were no scrutineers, I understand; there were no checks on the polling at many polling places, and as one of the representatives of. New South Wales, I would like a report to be obtained from the Returning Officer in this connexion, if a report is to be made to the Government. I trust that the Minister,if he does call for the report asked for by Senator Ferricks, will also request the Returning Officer to say something with regard to that enormous “No” vote which some of us do not think was legitimate. At all events, those people who voted ‘ ‘ Yes ‘ ‘ in New South Wales voted only once.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [8.51]. - I am only intervening in this debate for the sake of accuracy. I have no doubt that the Munster will look into the statements made by Senator Ferricks, for they certainly call for an explanation. The statement of Senator Pratten that the Dublin Freeman’ s Journal is a- Sinn Fein organ is entirely in error. It is the organ of the Irish Constitutional party, which is supporting the Government of the country, and a prominent member of which recently lost his life leading his men in France: I refer to William Redmond.
– What did he say about the present position ?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.It seems to be the fashion just now to attribute to the Sinn Feiners everything in the way of anti-war press comments from the Old Country. Even such a high authority as the Prime Minister, the Right Honorable W. M., Hughes, only the other day, made the extraordinary statement in another place that the- Nation, a newspaper which has been prohibited from being circulatedin England, is the organ of the extremeparty in Ireland. Any well-informed -man should have known that until recently the Nation was one of the leading organs of the Liberal party in London, and is edited by H. W. Massingham, a noted literary man, and a very strong supporter of the Liberal policy for many years. It was only to put these two matters right that I intervened in the debate.
– I do not propose to enter into a comparison of the figures which Senator Ferricks has quoted, but there is . one phase of this matter which I should like to refer to, and which I trust the Government will take up. I cannot conceive for a minute that any officials would deliberately fake the votes given, either by the soldiers at the Front or by the people in Australia. If, however, there ls such an officer in the Commonwealth Service, he ought to be punished as the law will allow. These charges have been made here to-night, and made with a purpose.
– My charge was in regard to the soldiers’ votes at the referendum.
– I know that. But I am going into the charges which’ the honorable senator or some of his friends made in the same 1 way, because the officials themselves are not in a position to defend themselves. In my opinion, the ballot should be looked upon as a sacred thing so far as it concerns the voice of the people. The people should have an assurance that the voting is secret and unknown to any one unless a case is taken before the High Court.
– And your leader to-day attempted to destroy the secrecy of that ballot.
– Whatever Mr. Hughes attempted to do, he did not succeed in doing anything.
– But he tried to do it.
– I am not concerned about what Mr. Hughes tried to do. What I am concerned about is that the people of Australia should have complete faith in their laws being carried out by their own officials.’ The wild charges which are made against electoral officers about faking votes, and so forth, should be put an end to. I trust that the Government will’ give the officers an opportunity of going into a law Court to disprove the charges when- they are made outside and not under cover of parliamentary privilege.
– It is Senator Ferricks who can give a chance to the officials. ‘ *
–The man who did the faking is in another place, leading - the House/
– The charge I am going to refer to was made in public. Senator Ferricks made his statements here, of course, under parliamentary privilege, but similar statements were made at the declaration of the poll in North Brisbane bv the present member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson). He said that the figures were faked, that he had information to prove that they were faked, and that when he got down to the House in Melbourne they would learn what he was going to do, and so forth. We know exactly the value of Mr. Finlayson’s statements in Brisbane so far as any value is put upon them. What concerns me, and what I think concerns not only the people of Brisbane, but the whole of the people of Australia, is that these charges will go forth to a certain class of persons whom Senator Ferricks knows, and that they are likely to stick. He plays upon the ignorance of a section of’ the public, and so a great deal of harm is done. I do not care what punishment’ Senator Ferricks would bring about if we should ever fake a ballot. I am with him every time in desiring to maintain’ the purity of the ballot-box. But I submit that it is wrong for him, or any other- member of Parliament, to get up and make charges unless he has positive proof. By interjection to-night I asked him what proof he had of the charges he was making against the officials.
– I said nothing about the officials. The votes were allocated from London.
– The honorable senator implied that the votes were faked. I put to him this question, “ What proof have you that the votes were faked I “ and he did not give me an -answer.
– I am waiting for the Minister to give an explanation.
– I point out that votes can only be faked by officials, or.by officials acting under the direction of somebody else. If the honorable ‘senator or any other member of Parliament has any proof that the figures were faked, they should bring it . forward. If they have a case, Senator Ferricks is entitled to come here and continue to ask questions until he gets the Government or the officials cornered. I do not object to that.
– I am not aiter the officials.
– I am after the officials, or the people who the honorable senator says faked the numbers.
– I said that the Prime Minister faked them.
– I hope that the Government will give Mr. Oldham, the Chief Electoral Officer, an opportunity to challenge Mr. Finlayson to come and prove his charges in a Court.
– He made the statement outside of Parliament.
– I appeal to the Government to give Mr. Oldham a chance to prove his honesty in a Court. It is only fair to the officials that they should get such an opportunity. Mr. Oldham is hampered in his position by a member of Parliament hurling these charges about. It is not altogether on account of an official that I feel so’ strongly about this matter. This statement is one of those dirty insinuating facts which are always coming from honorable senators on the other side to pollutethe minds of the people.
– It is a good thing that you call the statement a fact.
– Is it not a fact?
– The fact is that Senator Ferricks and his friends are . continually making these insinuations against Government officials. In his address tonight, the honorable senator was directly insinuating that the figures were faked.
– Yes, in the election.
– And I point out that similar charges were made in reference to the figures for the last election. . I am concerned about preserving the’good name of’ Australia and giving the people confidence in its laws and the officers who are appointed by Parliament to carry them out. I am anxious that the character of the officers shall be defended when it is attacked. I sincerely ask the Government again to give Mr. Oldham a chance to challenge Mr. Finlayson and punish him for making false statements. I believe that the statements are false. I do not think that there is an official in Australia who would interfere with the votes of the people for the sake of any Government. That is why I wish to see all this “dirt slinging” brought to an end. It has been going on long enough. I hope that the Government will inquire into the figures, give an answer to Mr. Finlayson, and afford Mr. Oldham an opportunity of defending his character and producing the papers in Court, so that Mr. Finlayson may have to answer for the wild charges he has made, and his insinuations against the honesty of the officials.
– In a sense I feel that the Senate is under some obligation to Senator Ferricks for bringing up this matter to-night. Whilst we may feel thankful to him for doing so, I do not know that his action is going to raise him in the esteem either of the members of this Chamber or of the people outside.
– I will chance that.
– The honorable senator commenced by saying that he had suspicions, and brought them here for the purpose of having them cleared up. But it was not long before he declared that there had been deliberate fake in connexion with this matter. A man cannot claim that he has merely a suspicion when he makes a charge of that kind, and when, as Senator Ferricks did, he follows it up a little later by an interjection charging the Prime Minister of this country with being responsible for the fake.
– I think he was, too.
– The honorable senator assents to my statement as to what he said, and now repeats it. If an honorable senator feels that he is in a position to make a definite charge of that kind he should also be in a position to lay the facts upon the table of the Senate. He sits opposite secure under the privilege thrown over him for the purpose of discharging a’ public duty, and makes a definite charge that the Prime Minister of the country has been guilty of tampering with the votes of the elec- . tors, or, to use his own terms, is responsible for faking the vote. Let the honorable senator produce a scintilla of evidence in support of that charge, and the Senate, as well as the country, will know what to do.
The honorable senator asks for an inquiry. What good would an inquiry be to him? If an angel from Heaven came down to witness in this matter Senator Ferricks would not believe him, because it does not suit him for political and party reasons. Doubting Thomas was not in it with this honorable senator who asks for evidence. Statements have been made a dozen times about the figures to. which the honorable senator has referred, and yet he continues to go around the country professing to believe that those statements are incorrect, and that in spite of them the figures were faked.
I ask honorable senators to consider for a moment the flimsy nature of the socalled facts which Senator Ferricks ventured to present as being evidence in support of his professed suspicions. He reminded the Senate that there was a provision in the law which allowed the poll to be declared providing that’ not more than 2 per -cent, of votes recorded were outstanding. In conformity with’ that provision the declaration of the poll was made, and the votes then outstanding being less than 2 per cent, of’ those recorded, and insufficient to affect the verdict, were counted later on and added to those already counted to make the totals finally gazetted. The honorable senator says that the proportion in which the votes counted later were given for “ No “ was a very different proportion to that of the. votes previously counted.
– There was an overwhelming difference.
– That is true, and that is the reason why I think the honorable senator is to be thanked for having brought this matter up. It enables me to say that iri the later votes counted there was a very large proportion of votes recorded under section 9 of the Compulsory Military Service Referendum Act. Those votes which were impounded w,ere referred to special tribunals to have their validity tested before they were recorded.
– Good old gag!
– They were the votes of persons of German descent, and there were 20,600 of them. Is it marvellous in the circumstances that the proportion of “ No “ votes as against “ Yes “ votes amongst them was 100 to 1 ? Not at all. Senator Ferricks has conferred a benefit upon .the public life of this country .when he affords us an opportunity of this kind to show what became ‘ of those 20,000 odd German votes.
– Good old gag !
– The honorable senator says that this is a good old gag, which is proof that he is not seeking in- formation and has not brought this matter up hoping that his fears and suspicions may be swept on one side. It is, on the contrary, a clear admission on his part that, no matter what evidence to the contrary is furnished, the honorable senator is prepared to wilfully follow the course he has followed to-night and go trailing these reckless statements throughout the country.
Let me give figures to show how the section 9 votes were recorded. The honorable senator was condescending enough to say that there was not -much exception to be taken to the way in which the votes were dealt with in New South Wales and in Victoria, but the reason why there was no very great discrepancy in regard to the proportion of “No” and “Yes” votes for New South Wales and Victoria is that in those States the section 9 votes were comparatively small in number. In New South Wales they numbered 2,917. so small a number that even Senator Ferricks was not able to discover any considerable discrepancy in connexion with those votes recorded after the poll had been declared. In Victoria the section 9 votes numbered 2,289, again an insignificant total. But when the honorable senator turned to Queensland he was able to say that there was something like a seven to one majority in favour of/ “ No.” Discarding odd numbers, there . were 7,000 for “ No,” and something over 1,000 for “Yes.” But the explanation is to be found in the fact that in Queensland there were 8,770 section 9 votes. Senator Ferricks has found satisfaction «in that vote of seven to one in favour of “No” in _ Queensland, and the figures show that it was due to the votes impounded under section 9 of the Act recorded by persons who were not friends of .the British Empire, and Who supported, for that reason, the view of conscription taken by honorable senators opposite.
– They put the honorable senator’s party into power.
– Mr. Glynn invited the German votes in South Australia. .
– If he did, he did nob get them. If we turn to South Australia, we find there another instance of the “No” vote strongly in evidence. I do not remember the exact figures, but honorable senators will remember that of the votes counted after the declaration of the poll there was a considerable majority recorded for “ No.” But there, again, we find that 6,924 votes were impounded under section 9 oi the Act. I again ask honorable senators whether there is any cause for surprise in the mind of any healthy man that! a majority of the impounded votes should be found to have been recorded for ‘’ No “ at the referendum. It was just what was to be expected.
– We did nob appeal to Germans to vote “. No.” Senator Guthrie did appeal for their votes, and in the German language.-
– He did nothing of the sort.
– The honorable senator’s advertisement appeared in the Daily Herald.
– I think that the attitude adopted by Senator Ferricks during my short remarks is a sufficient justification for the statement I made a little while ago, when I said that ‘he was nob out for information or seeking to allay* his suspicions.
I turn now to the statements the honorable senator made regarding the votes recorded by soldiers, at , the Front at the recent election. The honorable senator, true to the instincts of an obviously and incurably suspicious mind, found some signs of dark deeds in the announcement that Mr. Oldham had cabled to Brigadier-General Anderson, directing attention to the fact that there were certain closely-contested seats, and calling upon him to expedite the despatch of the figures in relation to. those seats. For the life of me, I cannot see anything in that but the action of a zealous official anxious to. do his duty. There were certain seats trembling in the balance, and what happened then happened upon many occasions before.
– Why was BrigadierGeneral Anderson told the seats that were trembling in the balance?
– In order that the votes recorded abroad, having, been allocated to their respective districts, the officials might concentrate their counting strength on the seats that’ were still in , doubt.
–After the allocation, the counting was a relatively small matter, according to an official statement, and could have been completed in twentyfour hours.
-!-In answer to that, I have only to refer the honorable senator to the statement of the- scrutineer, of hisown party, Sergeant McGrath..
– I did not say that; it was Mr. Oldham who said it.
– Every one knows that- these votes cam© out in batches, and it was not possible to count them all in the space of a few hours. The duties of the officers’ at Home, having obtained the votes, was to allot them in parcels to their respective districts; arid seeing that the counting was not completed’, ‘what’ the Chief Electoral Officer did, I am sure, met with the approval of every elector in Australia. He asked for despatch in sending out the record of the votes which might determine the result in districts where the seats were in doubt. That was a very natural thing for him to do.
I direct the attention of honorable senators, as showing the bent of Senator Ferricks’ mind, to the fact that when he mentioned that Brigadier-General Anderson was called upon to expedite matters, he added, “ And he did it.” Every honorable senator present knows the sinister way in which that was said. The words in plain print mean nothing in .particular; but I am satisfied that every honorable senator who marked the way in which they were uttered knows that they were intended as an imputation against the honesty of Brigadier-General Anderson. He is one of the officials whose integrity has been impugned by Senator Ferricks to-night. But what evidence had Senator Ferricks for his imputations other than that of his own poisoned ‘ mind ? He quotes from the Freeman’s Journal and that reputable national journal, the Melbourne Socialist, to show that they have published certain figures which he accepts in spite of the contradiction of the officials and of the Government of this country. The honorable senator says that he prefers to accept the statements published in these newspapers. Where they got their information from the honorable .senator does not know, and does not care. It is sufficient for him that he can take a newspaper cutting, to produce when he goes upon the platform as the basis for what he pleases to regard as his arguments.
– The honorable senator has not explained the 100 to 1 majority yet.
-rr-I am perfectlycertain that . I could never explain anything to the satisfaction of a man -who would make the reckless charges - that Senator Ferricks has made to-night. I should think that, he would want no further evidence than that disclosed by the fact that the preponderance of ‘ ‘ No ‘ ‘ votes was accounted for by the votes that were impounded, because of the nationality of those who recorded them.
– We did not .ask for the German vote in the German language.
– I did nothing of the sort. I made it absolutely clear that I did not want the German vote.
– I do not care who wanted the German vote; I know who got it.
– The honorable senator’s friends appealed for it.
– They did not.
– When you know that there is a parcel of votes put on one side under section 9 of the Act, when you know that there are over 20,000 of them, and that 75 per cent, of them are recorded in one way, it does not violate the secrecy of the ballot, in the sense of knowledge of the way in which individuals voted, if you say that “ No “ votes were represented by the votes of German groups in vast majorities. It is useless to argue with a man who overlooks the fact that the disproportion of “ No “ votes, which were those in dispute after the declaration of the poll, is accounted for by the votes recorded under section 9 of the Act.
– Not at all. The trouble is that .those were not the votes in dispute.
– If those were not the votes, where are the votes impounded under section 9 of the Act?
– They were counted before.
– They could not have been counted before, because they, were impounded and sent to special tribunals to test their validity. They were the last votes counted.
I want to get back to the evidence which Senator Ferricks brings forward to justify his statement that at the referendum the soldiers voted “ No “ rather than “ Yes “ on the question of conscription. He has furnished us with a statement published in the Freeman’s Journal and the Melbourne Socialist.
– And the Glasgow Weekly Herald.
– Which was honest enough to say that it quoted from the Freeman’s Journal. ‘
– And the Manchester Guardian.
– I heard Senator Needham suggest that, but I doubt whether the honorable senator will find it in the Manchester ^ Guardian.
– It is there.
– Then I venture to say that the Manchester Guardian does not accept responsibility for it, and acknowledges it as coming from the Freeman’s Journal. That is not the newspaper from which we might expect to get this1 information when there were available a number of enterprising daily newspapers which could get the information beforehand.
– It would not suit their book.
– It was left to a newspaper ‘published in Ireland to discover these.-figures, and to publish them at the psychological moment. It did not suit the book of Freeman’s Journal or any other anti-conscription journal to publish those figures except at that moment, or to publish them for any other purpose than that for which Senator ‘Ferricks has used them in this country, and that was to mislead the people here as to the true attitude .of the soldiers on the question of conscription. Against Freeman’s Journal we have the statement of the Government, to which Senator Ferricks will attach very little importance.
– Considering the source from which’ it comes.
– We have also the statement of our electoral officials in this country and in England, and, lastly, we have the statement of Sergeant McGrath. If there is any imputation against Mr. Oldham it is equally strong against Sergeant McGrath, and Senator Ferricks cannot make a charge in this connexion against Brigadier General Anderson without bracketing with him Sergeant McGrath, who was the scrutineer of the party to which he belonged.
– What had he to do with the allocation of votes?
– He was supervising the whole scrutiny, and if Senator Ferricks* accusation means anything he is charging Sergeant McGrath with being either a fool or a rogue, one or the other.
There is just one other matter with which I desire to deal. The honorable senator said the figures had been faked. I do nob know, but the honorablesena tor is speaking for himself. I want to tell him however, that if I started, faking votes at any time, I would fake them so that his side would not win one seat by ‘thirteen or fifteen votes, as Mr. Finlayson did, and secure the Macquarie seat by eleven votes. - The honorable gentleman charged us with faking. But does he not credit us with the capacity of doing things properly? I tell him this, thatl if ever the Government does start faking votes, which it is not likely to do, it will not stop at a paltry eleven votes to win a seat. Ican assure the honorable senator in all solemnity nhat the thing will be done properly. But, of course, the honorable senator himself does not believe his own accusation about this faking of votes.
– Yes, I do.
– The accusation does not carry conviction even to. a man like Senator Ferricks himself, bluff this thing through though he may.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 August 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170816_SENATE_7_82/>.