7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. J. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following paperswere presented : -
Copy of memorandum by the GovernorGeneral, dated 9th January, 1918, relative, to the change of Government.
Report of the Resolutions and Proceedings of the Conference of Commonwealth and States TaxationOfficers, held at Melbourne, March, 1917.
Pursuant to Statute -
Papua.- Ordinance No. 9 of 1917- Supplementary Appropriation 1916-1917 (No. 4).
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether, in connexion with the projected shipbuilding scheme, the Government propose to utilize the wonderful natural facilities that exist in the State of Tasmania for shipbuilding purposes. I noticed from a statement in the press that a certain gentleman recently visited Tasmania, and, perhaps, the Minister will say whether ho had any authority from the Commonwealth Government to investigate the facilities I have referred to. .
– I know nothing of the gentleman referred to, but if the honorable senator will repeat the question next week I shall endeavour to get the information for him.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended to enable the Bill to be passed through all its stages without delay.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
What is the total cost to date, and the estimated annual loss on -
Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie Railway?
Port Augusta to Oodnadatta Railway?
Northern Territory Railway?
– The information will be prepared and laid on the table of the Senate asa return.
Prosecutions under War Precautions Act.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What are the names of the members of -
The name of each person fined and the amount in each case?
The total amount of such fines?
– I suggest to the honorable senator that the information sought by a question of this kind should be moved for as a return. I should like honorable senators . generally to accept the intimation that if questions of this character are submitted on the Thursday, it is impossible for the Departments concerned to obtain replies to them on the Friday. . For the convenience of the Senate and of MinistersI trust that, so far as possible, honorable senators submitting such questions will put them on the notice-paper for the first day of the following week.
asked the Minister representing, the Minister for Home, and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– I move -
That this Bill bo now read a first time.
The proposed appropriation covers a period of one month, and provides for the ordinary services of Government and war services, so far. as they are payable out of revenue. The total amount of the schedule is £1,211,615; omitting refunds of revenue, £45,000, the total is £1,166,615. The amount thus asked for is less than one-twelfth of the total estimated expenditure under annual votes, namely, £1,308,960. Supply has alreadybeen granted up to the 31st December of last year. The amount provided, omitting Treusurer’s Advance and Refunds of Revenue, is £6,913,386. Excluding Treasurer’s Advance and Refunds of Revenue, the total provision which will bo available to meet expenditure to the 31st January, 1918, is £8,080,001. I remind honorable senators that the total amount provided on the Estimates previously submitted amounts to £15,707,522. Deducting from that amount certain items, for which no provision appears in this month’s Supply Bill, the available appropriation amounts to £14,129,852. Seven-twelfths of that amount is £8,242,413, but the total provision which will be made if the Senate approves of this Bill will only be £8,080,001. It will thus be seen that the proposed expenditure for the seven months is less than seven-twelf ths of the total expenditure for the year set out in the Estimates. No provision has been made in the Bill for any service which has not previously been approved by Parliament. In connexion with increases to salaries, provision has only been made for such increases as fall due under Arbitration Court awards, or which are aulomatic under the Public Service Act. Provision has not been made for increases to salaries in the higher divisions of the Service. These increases will not be paid until the Estimates are passed by Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a first time, and passed through its remaining stages.
– I beg to move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 3 o’clock on Thursday of next week.
– Why do you want to make it next week?
– Because I cannot say what may happen elsewhere, and if there is a possibility of business being available for the Senate, it is desirable that this Chamber should be ready to transact it.
– In view of the probabilities in another place, I would suggest that the Senate be adjourned until the following week.
– There is nothing to prevent the honorable senator making that suggestion, but I am not sure that it is advisable to adopt it.
– I anticipate that a vote of censure will be debated in the other House next week, and .then there will be another Supply Bill, so it is not likely that the Senate will have any business.
– In this case, I am merely doing what I think is necessary to meet the convenience of honorable senators. At the same time we must not overlook an obligation which is upon us to deal with the country’s business when jit is available. I admit it is extremely difficult for me to forecast the happenings even in this Chamber, let alone the other branch of the Legislature, so I am unable, at the present moment, to do more than submit the motion in the terms indicated, because I think it would be regarded as a reflection on this Chamber, and we might be charged with a dereliction of duty if it should happen that the other House was prepared to send business to the Senate, and we were not ready to receive it. In these circumstances, I think it is better that honorable senators should suffer some little inconvenience rather than cause delay in the transaction of public business. An adjournment is necessary, but I shrink from placing this Chamber in the position of being absent if there should he work for us to do.
– My only reason for suggesting to the Leader of the Senate that we should adjourn till the following week was the futility of calling us together next Thursday. It has been the custom hot to transact business in the Senate while a censure motion is under discussion in another place. A no-confidence motion ha3 been accepted by the Government, and the debate on it will occupy^ the ordinary sitting days of next week.
– May I suggest to the* honorable senator that the other House may meet a little earlier next week ?
– Well, that would only prolong the debate.
– Does the honorable senator say that an earlier sitting will prolong the debate?
– I am simply stating the fact that the debate will be prolonged, and if we are to meet on Thursday next, it will only be for the purpose of securing another adjournment, as it is extremely improbable there will be any business for us. After the censure motion has been disposed of, the Government, I understand, intend to introduce a Supply Bill for two months, and that measure is not likely to get through the other House either on Thursday or Friday. Honorable ‘ senators opposite must understand that we have placed a restraint upon ourselves on the present occasion, but when the other. Supply Bill comes before the Senate they cannot expect us to pass what has been done during the past three months without a full-dress debate. Personally, I am quite sure that if we meet on Thursday next, we shall have to adjourn till ‘the following Wednesday, because it will not be possible in the time between Thursday and the following Wednesday to deal with the old Government that went out of office.
– The only thing I am asking the honorable senator to keep in mind- is that it is not advisable to keep public business waiting. That may happen if his forecast is wrong.
– There will be no business available for the .Senate next Thursday, and I want to meet the convenience of honorable senators from Queensland, Smith Australia, and my own State. There is no reasonable prospect of the Senate finishing its work next week, ‘because the other Supply Bill will not be treated like the one we have just passed.
– I admit that, like Senator Gardiner, I can only speculate as to what will occur in the other place, ‘but I am willing to meet the convenience 01’ honorable senators, and, with the permission of the Senate, will withdraw the motion, and :ask you, Mr. President, to suspend the sitting until half-past 2 o’clock, when possibly we will be able to ascertain what has taken place elsewhere, and then be able to fix a date for the resumption of Senate business.
– Thank you.
.- May I point out to the Leader of the Senate that it is possible he has overlooked a distinct arrangement entered into ‘between the two parties in the other House last night? Part of that agreement has been given effect to by the transaction of business in the Senate this morning. I understand that a discussion took place regarding the period for which Supply should be granted, and that one month’s Supply was to be given at once without debate, and that the Government would accept a want of confidence motion, upon which they would give five clear days’ debate.
– Five days?
– Yes, five full days’ debate was to be allowed the no-confidence motion. If the Leader of the Senate will refer to the newspaper reports of the debate, he will find a verification of what I am saying. I am not accusing him of wishing to go behind that contract ; I am merely pointing out that’ possibly he has overlooked it.
– I was not aware that any period had been settled.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said that if members of the Opposition wanted -more than five days they would have a lot ‘to say. I submit, therefore, that if the agreement is to . be given effect to in the other Chamber there will be five full days’ debate, and obviously it would ‘be unfair to bring senators from the other States back to Melbourne on Thursday when there is so little prospect of the no-confidence debate terminating before the latter end1 of next week at the earliest. I invite Senator Millen, therefore, to adjourn until a later hour in the day, and ascertain if- a contract has not been entered into between the parties, and1 thus obviate any inconvenience to members living in tie other States by requiring them to attend here next week.
– In view of what I have said by interjection, I ask permission of the Senate to withdraw the motion with a view to requesting Mr. President to suspend the sitting until 2.30 p.m., in order to enable me to ascertain in the meantime what are the probabilities in the other Chamber. I might add that I am the last to ask any honorable senators to attend if there is no prospect of ‘business.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– In accordance with the procedure of the Senate, and in order to meet the convenience of honorable senators, I suspend the sitting until half-past 2 o’clock, at which hour I shall resume the chair.
Sitting suspended from. 11. 2J/..- to 2.30 p.m.
– Honorable Senators will recollect that be fore the sitting was suspended I had moved a motion that the Senate at its rising adjourn until Thursday next. The purpose of the suspension of the sitting was- to enable me, if possible, to form a more accurate forecast as to what was likely to be the course of events in another branch of the Legislature. I have done what I could to ascertain the probabilities’” there, but I now find myself unable to do anything more than resubmit the motion which, with the sanction of honorable senators, I previously withdrew. I therefore move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Thursday next at 3 p.m.
I should like to admit at once that I can conceive .that it will be quit© possible that when honorable senators re-assemble on Thursday next I may then have to ask them to adjourn to the following day. On the other hand, it is also possible that if the Senate adjourned over the following week there might be public business waiting and no Senate to deal with it. Faced with ‘these alternatives, I believe that honorable senators will agree with me that it is better that we should be inconvenienced a little than that public business should have to wait.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 2.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 January 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180111_senate_7_83/>.