7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 1) 1919-20. Assent reported
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) .presented the first report from the Standing Orders Committee, which was read ‘by the Clerk, as follows : -
The Standing Orders Committee have considered the question referred to them by the Senate on 25th June last, viz., the effect on the privileges of honorable members of continuing a session from year to year by adjourning, and recommend that the following new standing order be adopted: - 416a. Where a session of Parliament has continued for more than fifteen months, standing orders Nos. 133, 413, 414, and 416 shall. not apply to any subject or matter that has transpired or been dealt with more than six months previously.
Ordered to be printed.
– (By leave.) - In re-affirming the attitude of the Government, it is both desirable and necessary that the circumstances surrounding the present disastrous strike should be clearly set out. Moved by the experience of many disastrous strikes, the community decided, and has repeatedly indorsed its decision, to adopt arbitration as the means for the ordinary settlement of industrial disputes. That decision is embodied in the law of the coun try, and the necessary legal machinery had been created to give effect thereto.
That . machinery is available to the members of the Seamen’s Union, but they not only decline to avail themselves of these means of obtaining consideration of their claims, but they have openly declared that they will not proceed by the orderly and regular methods of arbitration, but intend to enforce their decisions by paralyzing the industries of the country. They seek to win, not through the merits of their case, but from the suffering they hope to inflict. They no longer disguise either their objects or their methods; both of which constitute an open challenge alike to the law and the community.
From the inception of the strike the Government have worked with but one object. They have taken every step which offered any prospect of leading to a (peaceful settlement of the dispute, short of an ignominious surrender to the demands .that direct action should ‘be permitted to triumph over arbitration, the law, and the established institutions of the community.
In the hope that the good sense of the majority of the men would ultimately reject the sinister advice of their leaders, and that the growing manifestations of public disapproval would convince them of the folly of continuing to follow that advice, the Government have with great patience refrained from any action at all’ likely to complicate or extend the struggle, or to embitter the minds o£ those who have created it. After the-. Court had been openly flouted, the Government took the action which again: enabled the men without any loss of dignity or prejudice to their case, to again obtain a hearing. But, again, they, made it clear that they were defiantly determined to enforce their claims by war upon the community rather than submit to the adjudication of the Court.” The Government is now, as it always has been, willing to further any proposal making for the proper and orderly settlement of the dispute, but it cannot, and will not, yield to methods of direct action or the revolutionary threats of those advocating that policy.
Honorable Senator <*. - Hear, hear !
– The present position cannot be allowed to continue. Already the strike has caused great industrial dislocation, with the accompanying widespread privation to thousands of innocent people, and serious material loss to the country. These grave consequences will intensify with every day’s prolongation of the struggle, which, if allowed to proceed, would ultimately strangle all industrial activity, and with it the people’s means of subsistence.
The Government realizes fully its duty in the present trying conditions, and is not assisted in its discharge by the advice of ill-informed critics. It is, however, in possession of information indicating that steps are being taken to secure a peaceful solution of the present distressful problem. It does not intend to jeopardize this movement, but, on the contrary, will do everything in its power to help to a successful issue. The Government is not without hope that this movement will succeed; but should it, unfortunately, fail it will take all steps necessary to secure the restoration of in- - dustry to. normal conditions.
The Government desires at this critical juncture to make a final appeal to the men immediately concerned to even now present their claims to the proper tribunal rather than to continue to wage war upon the entire community and the forces of constituted authority. The Government presses this appeal with all sincerity and all earnestness, and it asks the co-operation of all the leaders of organized labour who are in a position peculiarly fitting them, to influence the decision of the Seamen’s Union. It will do what it can to overcome any difficulties which may appear to exist in the acceptance of this appeal.
– May I ask in connexion with the very important statement read by the Minister for Repatriation, as representing the Government, whether the paper will necessarily be printed.
– It will appear in Hansard.
– I think that it should be printed in such a way as will leave the matter with which it deals open to discussion.
– Move that the paper be printed, and that will enable us to discuss it.
– Then, if I may, as the matter is of such importance, I shall move that the paper be printed.
– The rule is that if any paper is laid on the table of the Senate any member of the Senate may move that it be printed. But the paper read by the Minister for Repatriation was not laid on the table. It was merely a statement by the Minister, which might have been delivered without having been written out at all. The honorable senator cannot move that that statement be printed, because it is not a paper laid on the table of the Senate.
– I ask, as the matter is of such importance, whether the Minister desires to take advantage of that technicality in the way of the printing of the paper. It is evidently a carefullyprepared statement on behalf of the Government, and, speaking for myself, and, I am sure, for a large body of people in the country, I should be glad to have the statement printed. I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he has any objection to the printing of the paper.
– The Minister may lay the paper on the table, and if he does, the honorable senator may then move that it be printed.
.- I do not think that it is desirable that I should accede . to Senator Bakhap’s * request. In connexion with matters of any gravity it is quite customary for a Government to make a statement indicating its attitude. It. is only for greater accuracy, in view .of the importance of the matter dealt with, that a Minister representing the Government reads a statement.
– Does not the Minister regard his statement as equal in importance to a declaration of general policy?
– I do; but I did not make the statement with the inrtention that it should form the subject of a discussion, but merely as a declaration of the action which ‘ the Government is taking, with the reasons inducing that action. The Government is not courting discussion on the subject at this ‘stage.
– But you cannot prevent a discussion on the adjournment.
– The sole object I had in mind was to emphasize the position taken up by the Government, and to assure the Minister that the majority of the Senate is behind the Government in this matter.
– Order! The honorable senator is out of order in discussing the matter.
– I rise to address myself to the Ministerial statement made by’ Senator Millen on the question of the strike.
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in debating the statement.
– I am a little bit doubtful myself as to whether I shall be in order in debating the statement or in asking a question.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in debating the matter. The Standing Orders distinctly provide that a statement made by leave cannot be debated.
– A peculiar position has arisen, and I feel that I ought to be allowed to put the other side of the case. I think that, as a matter of privilege, this right ought to be extended to me.
– The honorable senator may ask for leave to make a statement, and, if the Senate chooses to give him permission, he will be at liberty to do so.
– The statement made by the Government represents ‘one side only of the dispute, and I am going ‘ to ask for leave to put the other side.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not debate the question at this stage.
– Do you rule, sir, that I am out of order?
– If the honorable senator continues to debate the statement he will be out of order, but he may ask leave of the Senate to make a statement.
– That is exactly what I was going to do, in order to answer the statement made by the Government, which has put the case from one side only.
– Nonsense! That is not so.
– I ask for leave to. make a statement from the other side on this industrial trouble.
– The honorable senator may ask for leave to make a statement, but he must not proceed to debate the. matter. Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Gardiner have leave to make the, statement indicated by him, with a view to putting the seamen’s case with regard to the strike?
– Have not we all the same right as the Leader of the Opposition to discuss the matter?
– No honorable senator has any right in this matter except such as the Senate accords to him.
– The Government have brought down a most carefully prepared and strongly worded document bearing on one side only of the present strike, and not to move that it be printed, so that it might be open for full discussion was, to my mind, a most unfair way of dealing with the subject.
– And you are the only honorable senator to have the- right of discussing it.
– Yes, and I regard that as most unfair.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not proceed to discuss that matter. The Senate has granted him leave to make a statement to put the other side of the case.
– I do not want to take up the time of the Senate unnecessarily by getting into an argument with you, Mr. President, concerning your ruling. Will I be in order in discussing the Minister’s statement?
– I accept your ruling, sir, .and, as I do not wish to enjoy privileges not extended to other honorable senators, I shall not continue.
– Is the Assistant Minister for Defence in a position to answera question which I put to him recently concerning badges for members of the artillery who volunteered for the war, but were not allowed to proceed to the Front?
– Previous notice was given of this question, and the reply is as follows: -
Members of the Royal Australian Garri son Artillery, who volunteered for active service but were debarred from enlistment by superior authority were retained in Australia for duties in connexion with -
All such men, like other members of units whose services were required in Australia, have been granted, or are eligible for, the home service badge.
Senator NEWLAND presented the report of the Public “Works Committee, together with the minutes of evidence on the proposed erection of ordnance store at Leichhardt.
– Will the Leader of the Senate consider the advisability of extending the relief measures in connexion with the strike to country districts, such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, and other places?
– The matter of extending relief to other than metropolitan centres is now under consideration.. If the honorable senator will give me the opportunity, I trust I shall be able to provide same information upon the subject to-morrow morning.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911. -
Orders, dated 12th May, 1019, in each case, of Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and other documents, in connexion with variations or further variations of awards in the following cases: -
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Association.
Australian Letter Carriers Association.
General Division Officers Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia.
Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine, Townsville, Queensland. - Half-yearly Reports, 1st January to 30th June, and 1st July to 31st December, 1918.
Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, held at Melbourne, 22nd to 27th January, 1919. - Report of the Resolutions, Proceedings, and Debates.
Customs Act 1901-1916. -
Dated 19th June, 1919, revoking previous Proclamation relating to the Exportation of Condensed Milk.
Dated 2nd July, 1919, revoking previous Proclamation relating to the Exportation of Goods to China and Siam.
Dated 2nd July, 1919, prohibiting Exportation (except under certain conditions) of all Goods to (late) German New Guinea.
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 151, 171.
Defence Act 1903-1918. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 142, 143, 144.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916. - Land acquired at -
Carnegie, Victoria. - For War Service Homes purposes.
Fitzroy, Victoria - For the purposes of the Australian Notes Act 1910-1911.
Tarcoola, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Navy and Defence Administration. - Royal Commission. - Report on Navy Administration.
Northern Territory. - Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 6. - Supreme Court.
No. 7.Jury (No. 2).
No. 8. - Council of Advice.
Oil Development in Papua. - Memorandum.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1916. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919; Nos. 148, 149, 150, 163.
Public Service -Act 1902-1918. - Fourteenth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service, by the Acting Commissioner.
South-west Africa. - (Report on the Natives and their Treatment by Germany. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
– Has the at tention of the Government been drawn to a cablegram in the press to the effect that the Premier of Prance has had several conferences with other Ministers in an endeavour to solve the problem of high prices, and that important decisions are reported to have been made? Also, is Senator Millen aware that the Italian Government are . reported to have empowered all local authorities to fix the prices of necessities, and that mayors of municipalities have been given instructions to reduce the prices of clothes, boots, food, and other articles by 50 per cent. ? If those items of news have come under notice, do the Commonwealth Government intend to take similar action?
– I have seen the paragraph referred to. It is no news to me that individuals, however highly they may be placed, are studying the problem of high prices. Everybody has been doing that for a long while. I shall be moTe interested on discovering a paragraph which will record the disclosure of a sovereign remedy.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales-
Minister, for Repatriation) [3.23]. - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
I submit the motion because I understand there is a general desire on the part of honorable senators who may be in a position to do so, to return to their own States to take part in the Peace celebrations on Saturday.
– Senator Mulcahy will have noted that I said “ those honorable senators who can do so.” Those who can return to their own States naturally desire’ to take part in Saturday’s celebrations. If we continue to sit until 4 o’clock on Friday afternoon it will not be possible, at any rate, in the case of New South Wales senators, to participate in the ceremonies, which are timed to commence in Sydney about 10 or 10.30 a.m. on Saturday. If the present intention is agreed to, although we shall be avoiding’ the Friday sitting, we shall not sacrifice so large a measure of time as if we were to meet here at 3 o’clock to-morrow afternoon. It would be absurd for the Senate to meet at 3 o’clock to-morrow and adjourn at 4 o’clock. I invite honorable senators, therefore, to express approval of the proposed course - that is, to take Friday’s sitting to-morrow, and to cut out what would be Thursday’s sitting.
-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South
Australia) [3.25].- Will the Minister consider another proposition, which also involves the question of adjournment; that is, whether in regard to the business of the Senate we cannot meet on Thursdays and Fridays instead of on Wednesdays and Thursdays ? This Chamber has been meeting for some time upon only two days in the week. Will Senator Millen therefore consider the convenience of honorable senators from South Australia, who have to leave their homes on Mondays and spend a day or two in Melbourne doing nothing? Honorable senators from Sydney and other States, where the facilities of daily trains are still afforded, are free to journey to Melbourne or to return daily, whereas South Australian representatives in this Chamber are compelled to .spend an extra day here.
– What about those whose homes are in Tasmania?
– I suggest that the two days of ‘ sitting be Thursday and Friday, instead of Wednesday and Thursday, as has been the recent custom. It would be a great convenience to numbers of honorable senators, and would be no disadvantage to others.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales-
Minister for Repatriation [3.27]. - I have but one desire, namely, to fix the times and hours of our meetings so as to convenience the largest possible number of those privileged to occupy seats in this Chamber. Senator O’Loghlin- has referred to the sitting of the Senate on only two days in the week ; but I am not at all clear that matters are going to continue so. True, we have been putting in only two days weekly since re-assembling, but I hope presently to present such a budget of business that more time will be required than has hitherto been occupied. If honorable senators are willing, however, I shall not object to sitting on Thursday and Friday instead of on Wednesday and Thursday if only two sittings are necessary each week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Has Ordinance
No. 8, 1919, gazetted on the 27th June, 1919 - an ordinance to provide for a Council of Advice for the Northern Territory - been laid on the table of the Senate? If not, when is it likely to be presented ?
– I am unable to answer that. I suggest that the honorable senator either give notice or leave it to me to supply the information later, when I will endeavour to do so.
– I desire to lay on the table a memorandum in response to a request of Senator McDougall relating to the position with respect to oil development in Papua.
– On the 2nd July
askedthe following questions : -
I am now able to furnish thehonorable senator with the following information : -
The rule of the Department is to prohibit medical officers, who are employed on a fulltime basis, from engaging in private practice; but in South Australia this rule has been relaxed in the case of some city practitioners, who are permitted to do a small amount of private work in off-duty hours. These include some city practitioners who are called up for full-time duty at intermittent periods only. The latter mustof necessity keep in touch with their districts to cope with the needs of the civil community. No interference with military duty is caused by the arrangement which obtains in South Australia - an arrangement that has been designed to meet both civil and military requirements.
The following is a list of medical officers in South Australia who are so engaged : - Lieut. - Colonels H. H. E. Russell, R.’ S.’ Rogers, and A.W. Hill; Major F. Chappie; Captains J. C. T. Cooper, A. V. Benson, H. S. Covernton, P.. T. S. Cherry, H. M. J. Halloran, E. L. Bortawick, S. L. Corry, S. L. Dawkins, A. C. Magarey, R. E. Magarey, H. M. Evans, J. H. Evans J. B. Gunson, H. M. Jay, A. K. Gault,. H. A. Sweetapple, and C. Duguid.
All of the above unreservedly volunteered for active service, and Captains A. K. Gault,. C. Duguid, and A. C. Magarey have seen activeservice abroad. Ofthe others, some have been debarred by age, others by a consideration of the needs of the civil population. Colonel Russell was retained for special duty.
Unemployed Soldiers and Sustenance
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation what his Department is doing in the way of providing sustenance for returned soldiers who have been thrown out of employment as the result of the strike?
– The maintenance of soldiers who have lost their employment as the result of the strike was not regarded as a function of the Repatriation Department, but the Government recognised that these men, recently returned from the Front, could not be asked, unaided, to face the ordinary vicissitudes of their calling, and, therefore, resolved that they should receive the same sustenance as they would have received had they been placed on the unemployed register of the Department. The men, therefore, get the same sustenance allowance as ‘ they would have got if. they had never been placed in employment. The Deputy Controllers of Repatriation will be given authority to make the necessary inquiries, with a view to insuring that only men who are entitled to this aid shall receive it.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Has the Government taken, or will it take, any and what steps to secure in the United States of America for Australian authors and publishers, copyrights reciprocal with those- enjoyed in Australiaby American authors and publishers?
– The answer is-
The question raised by the honorable senator willreceive consideration. It may be pointed out, however, that the British Government has for very many years been endeavouring to secure real reciprocity in the United States of America for British authors, but up to the present without much success.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to introduce during this session a Bill to amend the Commonwealth Public Service Act in the light of the review of certain provisions of the existing measure contained under the heading “Dual Furlough,” at pages 18-19 of the report of the Acting Public Service Commissioner, dated 10th May, 1918?
– The answer is -
The whole question of the amendment of the Public Service Act is receiving the attention of the Government, and the question of furlough will be dealt with at the same time.
Embargo on Books.
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
” Australian Worker.”
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are: -
Transfer of D. J. O’Leary.
asked the Minis ter representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Minister lay on the table of the Library the file of papers in connexion with the transfer of D.J. O’Leary from the GeneralPost Office to the post-office at Albany?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
The Postmaster-General desires meto say that he has already informed the honorable senator that he has looked into this matter, and that O’Leary has no reasonable ground for complaint. The principle of the Public Service Act is that staff arrangements arc not to be subject to political influenceor pressure-
– Order ! The honorable senator is not answering the question, but arguing it. The question was quite capable of a simple answer - “Yes” or “No.”.
– I regret having transgressed the rules of the Senate. The final part of the reply is -
The Postmaster-General cannot see his way to comply with the request.
asked the Acting
Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
Use of War-ships.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In connexion with the shortage of foodstuffs in northern ports of Queensland, will the Government utilize one of the several Australian war-ships (now lying in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne) for the carriage of foodstuffs to Bowen, Mackay, Cairns,, and Townsville?
– The answer is -
Ships of war are not suitable for the carriage of cargo, and as so many of the men are now on leave after extended service in the war, it is not proposed to use them for the purpose mentioned.
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice - 1-. Is he aware whether, on Thursday, 26th June, 1910, the home of Mr. Fred. Brazier, 96 Vulture-street, South Brisbane, a member of the Amalgamated Carpenters Union, and president of the local branch of the Labour political organization, was raided by a military officer and a squad of men?
– The answers are : -
Release of Political Prisoners
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Now that Peace has been signed, is it the intention of the Government to order the liberation of those persons now serving sentences of imprisonment under the War Precautions Regulations?
– The answer is -
The whole question of the remission of sentences imposed on prisoners convicted of naval, military, and civil offences is now receiving attention, and an announcement will” be made shortly.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Pearce, absent on account of urgent public business.
Debate resumed from 2nd July (vide page 10259), on motion by Senator Gardiner -
That the President’s ruling to the effect that the following question, viz. - “ Is it a fact that the British officers in command of the Australian Navy have passed severe and savage sentences on men who have rendered distinguished service during the war?” is out of order, be disagreed with.
– In rising to address myself to the matter of your ruling, I feel sure that its importance will warrant me in going very carefully into the facts. I think it will hasten the decision upon the matter if I begin at the beginning, and put the whole of the facts connected with it before the Senate. I quote the following from Hansard for 26th June, 1919, page 10092-
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy if his attention has been drawn to the savage sentences imposed upon certain men on board H.M.A.S. Australia for breaches of discipline?
SenatorRUSSELL. - I understand that the question is already on the notice-paper.
– I may explain that Senator Gardiner’s question does not appear on the noticepaper because I disallowed the word “ savage,” on the ground that it was comment. Senator Gardiner intimated to me that he would prefer that the question should not appear on thu notice-paper to having it appear in the way 1 proposed. Consequently, it is in accordance with the honorable senator’s wishes that his question does not appear on the paper. I regret that the honorable senator has disregarded my ruling by repeating ‘his question without notice to-day in the form in which I took objection to it. What is not permissible in a written notice of a question is equally not permissible when the question is put without notice.
– I may bo allowed to explain what I consider is permissible is that I should be allowed to ask my question in my own way. When I wish you,’ sir, to explain how I should ask a question, I shall come and ask you.
– The Standing Orders lay down the procedure in this matter, which 1 am bound to follow.
I think it will bring the matter properly before honorable senators if I make a brief quotation to show them what led me to ask my question in the way I did. I do not propose to read the whole of the court martial proceedings, but to refer to the first stage of the proceedings which led to the charge of mutiny. I do not leave out reference to other proceedings of the court martial with a view of lessening the gravity of the offence with which the men were charged. I make this quotation for the- convenience of honorable senators to show what was the beginning of the so-called mutiny in order that they may be in a position to say whether the sentences imposed were savage sentences or not. I quote the following ; -
The men were charged with having while belonging to H.M.A.S. Australia, and then being persons subject to the Naval Discipline Act, joined in a’ mutiny; not accompanied by violence, on board the Australia, on 1st June, 1019.
The charge was accompanied by the following circumstantial report by Captain Cumberlego: - “ The circumstances are as follows - About 10.30 a.m. on Sunday, 1st June, 1919, at Fremantle, my attention was directed to a large body of men between eighty and 100 in number, who came up on to the quarter-deck and assembled in front of P turret. I noticed that many of the men wore the rig of liberty mcn, and that they straggled on to the quarterdeck and formed up there with more or less even front, but no attempt at an orderly formation was made.
– Order ! The honorable senator must see that what he is quoting has nothing at all to do with my ruling. The proceedings of the court martial have nothing whatever to do with mv ruling.
– I hope, sir, that you will permit me to put” my case fully. It is important that I should be allowed to do so. I take it that your ruling hinges on- the question whether I should be permitted, in asking my question in the Senate, to use the word “ savage,” and I suggest that unless the facts as they were in my mind are placed before honorable senators, they will not be able to decide whether my description of the sentences of the court martial was a proper description or not, and, consequently, whether your ruling that the question should not be asked in the form which I adopted was a proper ruling.
– That would not affect the matter at all. In the opinion of the honorable senator, as a matter of absolute fact, the sentences might have been as he has described them by the use of the word “ savage,” but he is not entitled to say so in asking a question. It would be permissible for the honorable senator to ma’ke such a comment in the course pf t,he ordinary discussion of the matter.. ..
– I do not propose to discuss the sentences. I merely wish to put the facts before honorable senators so that they may have in their minds what I had in my mind when I asked the question in the way I did. I do trust that I shall be permitted to finish the brief quotation I intended to make. It proceeds -
It was, in fact, what may be termed a mob rather than an orderly deputation. Having directed the Commander to at once inform me of the reason of this assembly, he shortly reported to me that the assembly, through a spokesman, asked that the ship might be delayed in sailing, so that the ship’s company might be given further opportunity to entertain their friends from Fremantle. On receiving this information, I at once realized that this was no ordinary request preferred, in a legitimate manner in accordance with the customs of the Service and the Articles of War.
I shall read no more. The - rest of the indictment against these men is much stronger. I do not read that because I do not wish to go into a discussion of the rights or wrongs of what occurred on board H.M.A.S. Australia. I wish to put clearly before honorable senators the information upon which I asked my question, and referred to the sentences as severe and savage sentences. I may be pardoned for reading the sentences. The first was -
To be put to hard labour for two years, and at the expiration of the term to be dismissed from His Majesty’s Australian Service.
The second was -
To be , imprisoned for a term of two years, and at the expiration of the term to be dismissed from His Majesty’s Australian Service.
The third was -
To be imprisoned for eighteen calendar months, and at the expiration of the term to be dismissed from His Majesty’s Australian Service.
The remaining men were to be imprisoned for one year. When I asked whether ‘these savage sentences were to be reviewedby the Government, you, sir, ruled that I could not put such a question . In view of the fact that the originaloffence was merely a deputation, I ask whether, any man can honestly say that these sentences were not savage. I knowthat you will not permit me to comment . upon that, and I come now to the second point. , I quote the following from H ansard,f or, 2nd July. 1919. page 10257-
– I ask the Acting Minister, for Defence if it is a fact that on board the Australia British officers have inflicted most severe and savage sentences upon Australians who have done creditable service for many years?
SenatorMillen. - Before an answer is given to the honorable senator’s question, I should like, sir, to have your ruling as to whether it is not in effect the same as a question which you have already disallowed.
– It is practically to the same effect.
– Before you, sir, give your ruling on the point of order, let me say that you ruled that I could not ask a question in which I made a statement. I have made no statement in the question I have now asked; I have merely asked the Minister if it is a fact that certain British officers have inflicted savage and vindictive sentences upon Australian sailors who have done good service during the war. I do not make a statement. I ask whether a statement is correct, and I believe I am in order in doing so.
– The Standing Orders are clear and emphatic that a question must be asked only for the purpose of eliciting information, andmust contain no statement, no argument, and no comment. . The practice of the House of Commons as laid down in May confirms the practice followed under our own. Standing Orders. The word “savage” used, in the honorable senator’s question to qualify the word “ sentences “ is undoubtedly comment, and his question is therefore contrary to our own Standing Orders and to the practice of the House of Commons.
Questions are continually coming under my notice which are asked, not so much for the purpose of obtaining information, as for ventilating the opinions of the questioners. Senator Gardiner preferred not to have his question placed on the notice-paper if the word “ savage “ were to be left out of it. That, proves to me clearly that the honorable senator is more interested in having his own comment published with the question than in obtaining information.
I wish to say at this stage that there is no evidence that I had any such idea in my mind.. You, sir, stood up and made a statement which there was not even an excuse for making. You made that statement in giving your ruling. You said that I preferred to have the question left out if it was not put in the way” I desired. I never made any such statement. My statement was that I preferred to draft my ownquestion, and I refused to permit you to draft it for me.. I hope that you will see the difference* between the two positions. I have no objection to you ruling a question of mine out of order, but I do objectto your imputing to me motives which neverentered into my mind. I continue the quotation from Hansard -
– Do you rule, sir, that my question is not in order?
– Then I give notice of dissentfrom your ruling.
– The dissent must be moved at once.
– I think I can give notice of the motion, but I wish now to take exception, sir, to your conduct in attacking me personally when giving a ruling.
– I did not attack any one; I merely stated the facts. I think I am right’ in my statement that when a ruling is challenged a motion of dissent must be moved at once. It is not competent for the honorable senator to give notice of his intention to dissent from my ruling.
– I thought it required a resolution of the Senate to take up the question at once.
– The Standing Orders provide that if objection is taken to a ruling or decision of the President it must be stated at once, and in writing, and motion made, and then the time of its discussion is determined’ by the Senate.
– I dissent from your ruling that the question asked by me, “ Is it a fact that British officers in command of the Australian Navy have passed severe and savage sentences on men who have rendered distinguished service during the war?” is not in order, and I move -
That the said rulingbe disagreed with.
– I second the motion.
– The debate onthis motion must stand over until to-morrow unless the Senate decides that it be immediately proceeded with.
– I do not want to go on with it to-day. .
– There may be some misunclerstanding about this matter, Mr. President
I am not going to discuss what. Senator Lynch said, except to say that he desired to ask a question of another honorable senator in order to clear away a misunderstanding, and this is what you said -
– Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to ask a question. He must resume his seat. We can have no debate now that will inany way anticipate the discussion on the motion to-morrow.
– Mr. President, is not the honorable senator in order in asking a question of another honorable senator with regard to questions on the business-paper?
In your reply you said that, as a matter of fact, no honorable senator was in order in asking questions at all except upon notice . given. I say your ruling . as a fair indication of your mind on this subject. We want to look closely into this matter, and see what our rights are, and whether they are not being gradually whittled away by a ruling of this nature. I maintain that honorable senators are entitled, not as a matter of privilege, but as a right, to ask questions without notice; and, further, that this right is provided for in our Standing Orders, as well as sanctioned by the immemorial custom of Parliaments, which confers an even stronger right than that given in our Standing Orders.
– Order ! The honorable senator did not take exception to that aspect of my ruling. He took exception to my ruling that his question -
Is it a fact that British officers in command of the Australian Navy have passed severe and savage sentences on men who have rendered distinguished service during thewar? was not in order. That is the only subject under discussion at the present moment.
– Perhaps that is so, but, at the same time, what you said onthat occasion refers to it incidentally. .
– The honorable senator is now discussing something else; he is taking exception to something which occurred subsequent to his motion of dis? sent.
– But it came up in what was practically the same discussion.
– No; it. came -up afterwards, when I was being . questioned by Senator Lynch as to his right to ask, a question of another honorable senator. If the honorable senator desired, to take exception to my . ruling then, heshould have done so at the time.
– I submit,Mr. President, that I. am in order in’.putting my case for. the maintenance’ of . a wider interpretation of. our StandingOrders, and to refer to that incident.
– Perhaps thehonorable senator may be entitled to . use it as an illustration.
– Yes, and I quote it as an illustration of the necessity for a wider interpretation of our Standing Orders, and I used it as an illustration of the curtailment of our rights, which. I, at all events, will not permit to go unchallenged, though my challenge may be futile. I turn to standing order No. 66, page 15, and I find the following : -
The Senate shall, unless otherwise ordered, proceed each day with its ordinary business in the following routine: - (1) Presentation of petitions. (2) Giving notices, and questions without notice. (3) Questions on notice. (4) Formal motions. (5) Postponement of business. (6) Motions and Orders of the Day, or vice versa, as set down on the notice-paper.
That standing order is emphatic, and makes the positionperfectly clear. I think, in view of this, that you will not be inclined to treat the asking of questions without notice as something that is merely a privilege. I maintain it is a right’ possessed by honorable senators-
– Order ! The honorable senator is now going beyond a mere illustration in his references to that matter. He is discussing the ruling.
– My position, in trying toput this case fairly, is a most difficult one, and, in view of that fact, the technical, and, shall I say, microscopical, attention you : are giving to my remarks, makes it almost impossible for me to proceed. I venture to say that, if I find you were wrong on that occasion, there is very good reason why you may have been equally wrong on the other occasion. I believe that you yourself feel you were . wrong, and if you will only say that your ruling was not correct, I Shall be satisfied. I am sure other honorable senators have their own opinions uponthis matter. However, I do not wish to detainhonorable senators unnecessarily, and shall proceed. I direct attention to Standing order No. 99,refer- ring to questions seeking information, and… I find the following is laid down for the guidance of honorable senators : -
In. putting any such question, no argument or ‘.opinion shall be offered, nor inference nor imputation made, nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question; and the President may direct the Clerk to alter any question so as to conform with this order.
That standing order really deals with the whole position, and I ask honorable senators to look carefully at my question again, to see if in it there is any statement of fact.
– Do not go on jump ing all those hurdles like that. The question of facts is . referred to in the third line, and the standing order provides that there shall be no inference or imputation made.
– I accept the Minister’s suggestion. I have no desire to jump any hurdles; but I say that if the President’s ruling is in the direction of preventing questions, honorable senators opposite will perhaps find that they, too, are hobbled. Ihave tried, as far. as ourprivileges - and they are valuable - allow, to ask a certain question, and if honorable senators vote against me in a party spirit, they will perhaps find themselves embarrassed on other occasions.
– Because privileges are valuable, there is all the more reason that they should’ not be abused.
– Exactly. That is my belief, too; and the onus is on the Minister of showing that honorable senators’ privileges have been . abused. I invite honorable senators to read my question with an openmind, and to remember that, although they may be ina majority to-day, and vote in the direction of preventing questions such as I have asked, they may on some future occasion probably findthemselves in a tight corner if they endeavour to ask questions to which exception has been taken. The standing order is quite clear, that there shall be no inference or imputation made in asking a question. Can honorable senators say that my question should have been prohibited underthis standing order? I simply asked the Acting Minister for Defence is it a . fact that on men on board the Australia. savage sentences were passed by British officers. I’ made no statement that British officers did . inflict severe and savage sentences, though I have formed my own opinion as to their nature, and I asked the Minister “ if it is a fact “ that savage sentences were passed on the men.
– Why not have asked the Minister did he’ not think the sentences severe, and if so would he take any action ? That would have been the simplest way out of the difficulty.
– I do not know that I would have been permitted to do that.
– I venture to say you would. I do not think the President would have ruled you out of order if you had couched the question in that language.
– I thank Senator Bakhap for his interjection. He suggests that if I had simply asked the Minister if the sentences were severe, I would have been in order. But I point out that if I would not be in order in -asking if “ savage “ sentences had been imposed on the men, I would not have been in order in asking if “severe” sentences had been inflicted.
– That does not follow at all. I think you would.
-Colonel Rowell. - You suggest that the persons imposing the sentences were savage, do you not?
– I do, but I do not want to be led into a discussion on that aspect of the matter. It’ has been suggested to me that the word “ savage “ was too strong for the occasion, and that if I had asked the question in milder language it would have been permitted. But I argue that if I was out of order in applying the term “ savage “ to the sentences, I would have been equally out of order in referring to them as “ severe.”
– You think it is only a question of degree?
– And this question of degree often settles a matter.
– That may be so, but as far as our Standing Orders are concerned, I hold the view - contrary to that held ‘by many honorable senators - that their interpretation ought to be in the direction of granting honorable senators greater liberties. Senator Bakhap has now put it to me that if he had asked the question he would have been perfectly in order in asking if severe sentences had been- inflicted upon men. If that is so, surely Senator Bakhap will not now support an interpretation of the Standing Orders that will not permit me to use what I regard as sufficiently strong language.
– If a judge inflicted the extreme penalty allowed by a law passed by the Senate, would the honorable senator be justified in describing the sentence as savage?
– I say that any sentence, not commensurate with the offence, and that outrages the conscience of the community, is savage.
– Order! The honorable senator . is not permited to discuss that phase of the subject.’ In an ordinary debate on the matter, he would he perfectly entitled to proceed along the lines he was following, as to whether the sentences were savage or severe.
– I cannot refrain from expressing my feeling, Mr. President, that your interpretation of my position in this Senate is most biased and one-sided.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not reflect upon the Chair in that way.
– I point out that Senator Bakhap asked me a very pertinent question, one that was quite in keeping with the line of argument I was following, and if. I am not entitled to reply to him, I contend that he was disorderly in making the interjection, and that, if you had been holding the balance evenly, you would have, ruled Senator Bakhap out of order.
– I did not hear Senator Bakhap’s interjection.
– That shows how easily we can get into difficulties in this Senate, and imagine that things are wrong. I apologize,’ and withdraw what I said about the Chair, but I did not want to be lectured by you for answering an interjection which was permitted. As, however, you did not hear Senator Bakhap, I have nothing further to say. E take, no exception to his question, which” was perfectly pertinent. My only . desire is to insist upon my question being put in i my own way.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - Your did not say that it was a fact that such sentences had been passed on the men.
– No., I merelyasked df it was a fact that savage sentences were imposed on them, and, in reply, the Minister would have had an opportunity to show that it was not a fact, and that I was absolutely wrong. I had no desire to impute anything wrong to those who inflicted the sentences. I simply wished to know from the Government whether those sentences were savage and severe. I do not pose as one who asserted that they were so: and you, Mr. President, had no right to assume that I had been imputing something to somebody. Is there any imputation against any one in my question ?
– In my judgment, yes.
– Well, in mine there is not. Let me put the question without including the words “ savage and severe.” Suppose that I were a strict disciplinarian, and that I thought the sentences of two years passed upon men who had served their country well for four years - because of their awful offence of having waited on the officers of the Australia in the form of a deputation - were not sufficiently severe. And suppose that I asked the Government “Is it a fact that, on board the Australia, British officers had inflicted most mild and ineffective sentences ‘ ‘-
– I should say that you would be out of order.
– That is exactly the point at issue. If I am ruled out of order in putting my question in that manner, then rulings of such a character will narrow the rights of honorable senators so severely that it will be impossible - not with a President such as to-day presides over this Chamber, but with one who may want to become a schoolmaster - for anything else to follow except the curtailment of honorable senators’ liberties. If any honorable senator feels that a statement of his has been wrongly assumed to contain an imputation, there is a well-known course of procedure’ by which he may put himself right. He may deny the imputation, and his word is accepted. In asking my’ question I had no desire to impute anything ‘to any one. I desired only to call the attention of the Government to the sentences which had been passed, in order to get the ‘ Government to say whether those sentences were savage or severe. Whereupon you, Mr. President, ruled that I could not put my question in such form. It will be said, perhaps, that questions such as mine are asked so that honorable senators may parade their own views. If one -desired to draw the limelight upon himself by medium of such inquiries, the opportunity is afforded by either moving the adjournment of the Senate or speaking upon the ordinary adjournment. My position has been this: I read in the newspapers particulars regarding the infliction of these’ sen tences, and I noticed that the whole trouble had originated from certain of the seamen on the Australia having waited on the officers in deputation. Up to that stage no greater offence had been committed than that the men had waited in deputation on their officers.
I am not going to discuss how far circumstances such as have, arisen’ through the punishment of these men may extend, if sentences of such severity may be inflicted without question. When you ruled, in the first place, Mr. President, that my first inquiry was out of order, I took no exception, for. the reason that it comprised a statement of my own. I then drafted my question so that it would come within the Standing Ord’ers. My surprise at your ruling it out of order was ‘ then so great that I could not imagine how it would be possible for me to ask a question of that kind at all. If I had characterized the sentences passed on board- the Australia as savage and severe there would have been no need for me’ to’ have asked whether they were or were nob savage and severe. But, in asking whether it was a fact that those sentences were savage and severe, I hold that I put myself clearly within the Standing Orders.
I have before me a ruling of the Speaker of the House of Commons, from which I shall quote. It is taken from Denison’ s and Brand’s Decisions, House of Commons, 1857-1884, as follows, under the heading, “ Pacts necessary to elucidate may be stated, but arguments not allowed “ : -
Mr. Whalley having altered a question of which he had given notice, by omitting words calculated to give offence,
Mr. Scully rose to order, and objected to the word “ disloyal,” which had originally appeared on the paper, and also to the allegation that the Prince of Wales had been burnt in effigy.
– Wall the honorable gentleman point out what he considers to be out of order in the question of the honorable member for Peterborough ?
Mr. Scully. ; I do not think the paper of the House ought to be made use of for the purposes of charging the inhabitants of certain, towns in Ireland with disloyal manifestations, and with the burning of the effigy of the Prince of Wales, particularly when there is no truth whatever in the assertion.
– The rule of’ the House is that in putting a question no argument or opinion is to be offered, and no new fact stated, except as far. as they may be necessary to explain such questions. The good sense of that regulation must be evident to the House. No matter ought to bo propounded as a question in a form to raise discussion. In the present instance it is quite allowable for the honorable member to state the facts which are necessary to elucidate his question. Whether or not the assertions he has made are well founded it is quite beyond my province to determine. It would, of course, be improper and out of order for a member to state as a fact anything which he cannot substantiate. If it is capable of being established as a fact that the effigy of the Prince of Wales has been publicly burnt, then, perhaps, no great difference* of opinion would arise as to the appropriateness of the epithet “ disloyal “ applied to such a transaction. The rule of the House is, as I have stated, that no matter of opinion or argument can be introduced in putting a question.
The Speaker ruled that that question was in order. If such an inquiry was in order in the House of Commons, surely our practices are hot to he clipped, curtailed, and confined so as to provide a lesser degree of liberty than is enjoyed in the Imperial Parliament. Indeed, our Constitution gives to us all the rights and privileges obtaining . in the House of Commons. If your ruling, sir, were to hold good for the future, and an honorable senator rose to ask a question of similar character, the position would be that because an assertion had been imported into the question it was out of order and could not be asked. I rest my case upon, the one authority alone from which I have quoted. Here was a question, asked in the House of Commons, whether a certain disloyal gathering had committed certain actions. Objection was taken to the question being put in that form, whereupon the Speaker ruled as I have just indicated. It was not for him to determine as to the truthfulness or otherwise of the subject-matter of the question; it was sufficient that such subject-matter was considered necessary for inclusion in order that certain information might be elicited. I think you must see, sir, that if my question cannot be asked in the form in which I have put it, you will be curtailing, not only the rights and privileges of honorable senators held from the beginning of this Parliament, but rights and privileges which should be continued -to the end.
In all my conflicts with the Chair on questions of order, I have had no personal bias or animus. I have followed this rule, namely, that I would never permit our rights to be transgressed without challenge. I feel very strongly that for you to rule that honorable senators may not ask questions in the form in which I have put mine would prevent us from asking any questions at all, if they contained matter intended for the eliciting of information. What if I were to ask, “ Is it a fact that the officers in German internment camps have inflicted savage and severe punishments upon Australian soldiers who were being held prisoner and who had done good service in the war ?” Would such a question be in order J
– No ‘
– Under the President’s ruling it would not be.
– Under the Standing Orders it would not he.
– I hold that under the Standing Orders honorable senators may ask questions of that character. According to the President’s ruling, however, the Standing Orders are being interpreted in a manner which I deem contrary to common sense. The Standing Orders must be interpreted, not in any strained fashion, and not in such a manner as to pick upon any one word and rule that that word conveys an imputation. I repeat that I had no desire to impute motives to any one. ‘ Indeed, I have refrained from discussing these sentences in the strong hope that the Government might see fit to mark the celebrations of Peace in a way which would make those sentenced men rejoice and bring joyful appreciation to their relatives as well. We have either to exercise here the rights- which we have hitherto exercised - amongst others, the right to ask questions for the purpose of eliciting in-‘ formation and without being bound down strictly to the language that we may use - or we must be content to see those rights disappear. I admit that it is your province,, sir; to prevent a disorderly question appearing upon the notice-paper, .and I have _ never .questioned your authority in that matter. On the contrary, I accepted your ruling in that connexion at least on one occasion, because I believe that it is within your province to exercise that power. But when you exercise the power of determining that a question which contains no statement of fact, and which makes no imputation against anybody, but merely contains some adjectives which, in ‘your opinion, are too strong, is disorderly, I hold that you are exceeding your functions. I do not care a dump for that aspect of the case, but I do care very seriously for the future conduct of business in this ‘ Chamber if our rights are to be thus gradually whittled away. In passing, I may say that this whittling away of parliamentary rights is a notable feature, not only in Australia, but all over the world. We see our privileges here disappearing, probably because of an indifference on the part of honorable senators to resist encroachments upon them. Reading our Standing Orders without bias and without in any way trying to bolster up a case, I maintain that you gave your decision hurriedly and without considering whether -I had asked the question for the purpose of eliciting information. I merely asked if it was a fact that a certain thing had happened - I did not say that it had happened. In these circumstances I ask you to reverse your decision so as to give a wider interpretation to our Standing Orders.
– I have listened with a good deal of interest to the remarkable ingenuity which Senator. Gardiner has displayed in talking all round this question without ever coming near to it. It does seem to me that the point in dispute is capable of being settled by honorable senators giving to the words of our Standing .Orders just that plain meaning which we ordinarily import to them. I do not think there can be any doubt as to what is intended by standing order 99. It reads -
In putting any such question, no argument or opinion shall be offered, nor inference nor imputation made, nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question; and the President may direct thu Clerk to alter any question so as to conform with this order.
Now. I ask honorable . senators whether they do not think the question submitted by Senator Gardiner breaks that standing order in at least two places ? His question was -
Is it a fact that the British officers in command of the Australian Navy have passed severe and savage sentences on men?
I say that that question, first of all, expresses an opinion, which the standing order forbids; and, in the second place, it makes an imputation, which is also forbidden. That means that -the standing order is broken in two places. The honorable senator ventured to look for some grain of comfort from me. But I want to quote the words which he used - I took them down at the time - and I do not think he could have supplied those who differ from him with any stronger arguments than those which are presented in his quotation. The learned Speaker of the House of Commons affirmed that “ No question should be stated in a manner calculated to create discussion.” What is more likely to create discussion than for an honorable senator to come forward and ask -
Is it a fact that the British officers in command of the Australian Navy have passed severe and savage sentences on mcn?
Why, there is sufficient room for discussion in that question to occupy this Senate for a week. Whether the sentences were savage or not is a matter of opinion, and not of fact. When the honorable senator put his question in that way, I submit that he offended the dictum of the Speaker, who laid it down that “ no question should be stated in a manner calculated to create discussion.”
-Colonel O’loghlin. - It is a matter of opinion, and Senator Gardiner has asked your opinion upon it.
– He is not entitled to do that. He is entitled to submit a question for the purpose of eliciting information. When honorable senators talk so much about their right to submit questions, let me remind them that there is - no standing order which compels Ministers to answer questions. As a matter of fact, honorable senators have no rights in this* connexion. They are dependent upon the willingness of the Minister who is addressed to reply. ‘ 1 wish to point out to Senator Gardiner the difference between the way in which he stated his question and the way in which it should have been stated. His question would’ have been unexceptional if he had asked-
Is it a fact that British officers in command of the Australian Navy have passed sentences on men?
That would have been a simple question as to fact. He would have received an answer to that question.
– He would not ask a question like that, because everybody knew that sentences had been passed.
– How did they know ?
– Because the news was published in every newspaper.
– Then why ask the question ?
– Senator Gardiner asked whether the sentences were severe and savage. He did not ask whether it was a fact that sentences had been passed
-If Senator Gardiner merely wished to ascertain whether in the opinion of the Government the sentences were severe and savage, his question should have read -
Were those sentences, in the opinion’ of the Government, severe and savage?
– I shall put it in that way later on.
– Let me show the Senate the difficulty involved in giving an answer to the question submitted by Senator Gardiner. Of course, I do not suggest that the honorable senator framed it with the hope of placing the Government in that difficulty. But I would point out that his question was very much like that put to the man who was asked whether he had ceased beating his wife. -The Government were’ asked -
Is it a. fact that British officers in command of the Australian Navy have passed severe and savage sentences?
Suppose that we had replied “ No,” Senator Gardiner would have immedi ately retorted, “ They did.” Then we should at once have had that discussion which the authority quoted by him says should not be created.
– But with the sentences before them, the Government could not have answered in that way.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask whether Senator Millen is in order in referring to what might have taken place if Senator Gardiner’s question had been answered.
– Senator Millen is in order in drawing inferences as to what would have followed if a disorderly question had been allowed.
– I sat here without taking part in the debate, and I heard you, sir, deliberately stop Senator Gardiner for the same thing only a few minutes ago.
– I did nothing of the sort. I prevented Senator Gardiner from questioning a ruling subsequent to the one he had challenged, though I per-, mitted him to quote it by way of illustration. Senator Millen is now showing what would probably have followed had a disorderly question been permitted, and in so doing he is quite in order.
– That is exactly what Senator Gardiner said he would show. Exactly.
– Perhaps I may be permitted -to make this matter quite clear. I allowed Senator Gardiner to quote a ruling subsequent to the one he had challenged, although it had nothing whatever to do with the ruling to which he had taken exception. Senator Millen is now merely seeking to show what would naturally have followed from a disagreement with my ruling, under which Senator Gardiner and other honorable .senators would have been at liberty to ask questions which are contrary to our Standing Orders.
– I have not quite discovered wherein I am supposed to have broken our Standing Orders, so that if I unconsciously repeat what Senator McDougall regards as an offence I hope he will not think .that I am doing so purposely. The question submitted by Senator
Gardiner, in which he affirmed that the sentences passed upon certain men in the Navy were savage, contains an imputation against the officers who passed those sentences. Suppose that the Government had answered “Yes” to his question. Then Senator Gardiner would have imputed a wrongful accusation against those officers, and the Government would have joined him in so doing. It goes without saying that anybody who passes a savage sentence upon a man is to be condemned. When, therefore, Senator Gardiner affirms by imputation that the sentences passed- were savage, he casts a .reflection on the officers who passed them. Hie invites the Government to agree with him, because, if they replied “ Yes,” they would he joining with him-
– That would be a happy coalition at the present time.
– ‘It would be a happy one for the honorable senator, but a miserable one for the Government. Questions of that kind are clearly barred, not only by our Standing Orders, but also :by the wisdom which is derived from experience. Senator Gardiner has raised the point that, under the interpretation given to our Standing Orders by the President, the power of honorable senators will be limited. I maintain that it will not be limited at all. There is ample room for the honorable senator to make imputations against these naval officers, but he must not make them by means of a question. He may move the adjournment of the Senate if he so desires, and upon that motion he will be at liberty to hurl all the condemnation that he chooses, either against .the officers who inflicted .these sentences, or against the sentences themselves. There is no Chamber in the world in which members have a greater freedom to express their views than they have here. But our Standing Orders are intended to cause honorable senators, in the first ,place, to ascertain what are the facts upon which, later, they may found their- opinions. It seems to me that the matter is so simple, both by reason of the language of the standing order and also because of the quotation from Hansard which Senator Gardiner has made, that I was surprised to hear him venture to question your ruling. Once’ or twice in the course of his remarks it appeared to me that he wasunder the impression that you were in some way responsible for that decision. Now it may -be that the standing order I have quoted is open to criticism - I am not saying that it is - but I want honorable senators to draw a wide distinction between a weak standing order and the decision of the President in interpretingit. I believe that the standing order in question is a sound and necessary one,, but, whether that be so or not, I submit that the President has given an accurateinterpretation of it. For this reason, I hope that the Senate will decline to indorse the motion submitted .by .Senator Gardiner.
– For’ the very reason that SenatorMillen wishes the motion: to be defeated. I hope that it will be carried. I admit that there is a very great discretionarypower vested in you, sir. But it would be in the interests of the full and free discussion pf public business if the widest interpretation were given to our Standing Orders. I maintain that standing order 99 is opens to the construction which Senator Gardiner has placed upon it. In my opinion, he is justified in believing that he has a right to ask thequestion in the particular form in which he desired to ask it. When he asked -
Is it a fact that the British officers in com mand of the Australian Navy have passed, severe and savage sentences: -
I submit that he was within his rights, just as the Minister would have been within his rights had he replied to Senator Gardiner^ - v
I am not going to express an opinion as towhether those sentences were savage or not.
– Then the honorable senator admits that Senator Gardiner did express an opinion?
– If I do admit, that, I say that Senator Gardiner did right.
– The Standing Orders say. that no opinion must be expressed.
– The Standing Orders do not say that the Minister would not have the right to express an opinion in reply to a question.
– I think that the Minister is equally forbidden to express an opinion in reply.
– I think not. If I desired to waste the time of the Senate in quoting from its records, I believe I could show that Ministers, in answering questions, have expressed opinions. They have sometimes said in reply to questions that they did not feel inclined to answer them because they were submitted in a particular way. I believe, sir, that in ruling that Senator Gardiner was not entitled to use the word “ savage “ you were unnecessarily curtailing his privileges. 1 feel sure that you would not wish to do so; but every one is entitled to his own opinion, and the presiding officer of the Senate, if he errs in giving a ruling, should err in the direction of extending rather than restricting the privileges of honorable senators. I say that your ruling in the case was wrong, because its tendency is to curtail the privileges of honorable- senators. Where there is any doubt about the interpretation of a standing order - and there is room for doubt about the interpretation of the standing order in question in this case - ithas been the custom of the presiding officer of the Senate to give his decision in such a way as to widen rather than restrict the privileges of honorable senators. If your ruling in . this case is to stand, an honorable senator will be debarred from asking such a question as - “It is a fact that leniency has been shown by the Government in certain sentences that have been inflicted ?” I believe that our records will show that questions have been allowed and answers permitted where opinions have been expressed, if the effect has been to give praise to some one or other. No exception has been taken in such instances. If honorable senators desire not to unnecessarily curtail their privileges, but to retain them as they have existed for the past nineteen, years, they will uphold Senator Gardiner’s objection, and. vote against the President’s ruling.
.- I did not intend to say anything on this matter, but as we shall presently be asked to condone or condemn the President’s ruling, I may as well give my reasons for voting against it. I take it that all the camouflage with which Senator Millen surrounded the standing order will go for nothing with honorable senators. He tried to show that the question put by Senator Gardiner was out of order because of an adjective which was used in it. I do not know whether the President’s objection is to the use of the word “ savage,” but I believe that if the records of the Senate were looked up, it would be found that the word has been used on many occasions.
– Not in questions.
– In debate.
– That is an entirely different matter.
– I am talking about the word itself and its meaning. If I said that a savage cow ran into the chamber and put her horns into some one here, would I be out of order? The word “ savage “ is an English word to be found in ordinary dictionaries. In my view, any word in the, English language to be found in a dictionary, and which is not blasphemous, should be allowed to be used in this Chamber. I shall not argue about the standing order. I refer honorable senators simply to the word which Senator Gardiner used. I consider that an honorable senator in asking a question should be at perfect liberty to use any word to be found in an ordinary English dictionary, so long as it is not blasphemous
– Perhaps I might be permitted to put before honorable senators the reasons why I think my ruling was a correct one, and then leave it to their judgment to say whether they will uphold it or not. I think that honorable senators will agree that, during the time of my predecessors and myself, the widest latitude has been afforded members of the Senate on both sides in asking questions of Ministers. Frequently my predecessors and myself have had to correct questions to bring them- into conformity with the
Standing Orders. That has had to be done in respect to questions framed by honorable senators on both sides. I very much regretted to hear Senator Gardiner say that, he considered that I must have had a special bias against him, and that I singled him out for unfair and partial treatment. 1 wish to assure . Senator Gardiner that I have never shown any bias whatever against any member of the Senate, nor have I ever treated one differently from another.
– I say unconscious bias. You, sir, may not have been con,scious of it, but the bias was there all the same.
– I think that Senator Gardiner is not justified in that feeling. I do not propose to argue the matter, but if it were permissible for me to do so, I think I could show that I have tried at .all times to give every honorable senator the fullest possible fairplay and freedom consistent with the Standing Orders.
It is because a very great latitude is sometimes given to honorable senators, and the concession tends to an abuse of the Standing Orders, that honorable senators on both sides - and I do not accuse those on one side any more than those on the other - sometimes exceed their privileges in the asking of questions. The moment the curb is put upon that, and an attempt is made to bring honorable senators back within reasonable limits, they naturally feel some resentment, believing- that their rights are being curtailed, when nothing of the kind is attempted.
I want to say that not only is my ruling on this occasion in accordance with the practice of the Senate, but it is in absolute accordance with the practice of the latest years of the House of Commons. Senator Millen quoted standing order 99, which reads -
In putting any such question, no argument or opinion shall bc offered, nor inference nor imputation made, nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question; and the President may direct the Clerk to alter any question so as to conform with this order.
A Minister in answering any question is subject to exactly the same limitations as the senator who asks it. There can be no doubt whatever that Senator Gardiner’s question transgresses standing order 99.
The matter arose first of all by Senator Gardiner giving notice of his question. When my attention was directed to it. I decided that the use of the word “ savage “ represented the offering of an opinion, and an imputation against the officers who had passed the sentences referred to. It was a matter of common knowledge that certain sentences had been passed, and the use of the word “ savage “ in the honorable senator’s question represented an imputation against those sentences and against the officers who passed them.. It offered an opinion upon them, and asked from the Minister an expression of opinion as to whether they were savage or not. It is not permissible, in asking a question, to offer an opinion, nor is it permissible to put a question asking for an opinion from a Minister, nor to put a hypothetical question. The use of the word “ savage “ in the honorable senator’s question offered an opinion upon the sentences referred to. It was a comment on those sentences and an imputation on them. There can be no doubt whatever about that.
My predecessors in office have frequently altered questions submitted by honorable senators. I have a long list of such occasions here, but I do not propose to read them all. I find that on the 26th November, 1908, Senator Stewart complained that his question had been censored in such a fashion as to make it quite useless foi his purpose. The then President, Sir Albert Gould, explained that the word “misrepresentation,” which appeared in the question as handed in, had been amended to read “ representation.” The latter word conveyed no expression of opinion as to’ the character of an advertisement, but the word used by the honorable senator did, and, therefore, the alteration had been made. Honorable senators will find a reference to that case in Hansard for 1908, at page 2247. That is absolutely in accordance with our Standing Orders j and in accordance with the practice of the House of Commons. When Senator Gardiner originally gave notice of his question, I directed the elimination of the word “savage,” and he then intimated to me that he desired the question removed from the notice-paper.
– When did this occur?
– In the Senate.
– Where . in the Senate ?
– The honorable senator spoke to me while I was in the chair. When an honorable senator comes to me, and makes representations concerning the business of the Senate, I do not consider them confidential. I did not regard Senator Gardiner’s statement as confidential.
– To be perfectly fair, when you, sir, invited me to come to the chair and discuss that aspect of the question, was not the statement I made to the effect that I . refused to have my question altered . by you, and preferred to state my question myself?
– It was my duty to inform the honorable senator that his question was altered, and I did so.
– And my objection was not to the elimination of a particular word, but that you, sir, should direct the way in which I should ask a question, and that it should not be left to myself.
– The honorable senator said that he would rather not have the question appear on the noticepaper at all if the word “savage” were left out of it.
– You are misrepresenting a conversation.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator should think so.
– You are doing so, and you have no right to bring it up, anyhow.
– The fact remains that Senator Gardiner did leave the question off the paper, and it was left off at his request. That made it obvious to me that the honorable senator preferred not to have his question on the paper and not to try to elicit information if he were not permitted to use the word to which I took exception.
– You are quite wrong.
– That was quite obvious to me, and I am sorry if the honorable senator thinks I am wrong. Questions may be asked only for the purpose of obtaining information. The Minister could convey no information as to whether the sentences were savage or not. At the most, Senator Gardiner could only offer an opinion on the subject, and the expression of opinions is not permissible in asking questions. I quote the following from page 223 of the 12th edition, which is the latest edition, of May -
The purpose of a question is to obtain information, and not to supply it to the House.
Senator Gardiner was supplying information to the House by his statement that the sentences, which every one knew had been passed; were savage sentences. The quotation continues -
A question may not contain statements of fact unless they be necessary to make the question intelligible, and can be authenticated -
If Senator Gardiner contended that it is a fact that the sentences were savage that would not alter the matter. His question, as he proposed it, would still have been out of order. May further says - nor should a question contain arguments, expressions of opinion, inferences, or imputations. Quotations are not permitted in questions or epithets -
Does not Senator Gardiner think that the word “savage” is an epithet as applied to the sentences referred to? The quotation continues - or controversial or ironical expressions. Nor may a question refer to debates or answers to questions in the current session. Discussion in anticipation upon an Order of the Day or other matter, by means of a question is not permitted; nor can a question be asked regarding proceedings in a Committee which have not been placed before the House by a report from the Committee. A question which publishes the names of persons, or statements not strictly necessary to render the question intelligible, will be refused a place on the notice-paper.
Therefore, the honorable senator was not entitled to ask the Minister whether the sentences were savage or not. May clearly lays it down -
The expression of an opinion or the solution of an abstract legal case, or of a hypothetical proposition, cannot be sought for by a question.
It is quite clear to honorable senators, therefore, that I was bound by the Standing Orders, and the procedure, not only of this Parliament, but of ‘the Mother of Parliaments.
Senator Gardiner brought up another matter, in taking exception to my ruling that it was not a right, but a privilege, for honorable senators to ask questions without notice. £ still adhere to that view, and May is quite emphatic on the matter also. It has been laid down in the House of Commons that when Ministers have intimated that a question or certain classes of questions will not be answered, honorable members cannot ask questions relating to them.
– There, is nothing to prevent an honorable senator asking questions ?
– The fact is, that if -honorable senators had a right to ask questions, they could not be limited, as has been the practice in the House of Commons, and here.
– Limited by our Standing Orders.
– The right to ask questions without notice would also place the Minister under an obligation to answer them, and there is no obligation on Ministers to answer questions with-, out notice. ‘
– Bow can honorable senators be prevented from asking questions ?
– I cannot prevent honorable senators from asking. questions, by way of interjection, nor do I endeavour to do so; but this authority has been exercised frequently in Parliament when, in the opinion of the Presiding Officer, undue licence was being exercised. These are the facts. I do not think any honorable senator can saythat my ruling has in any way curtailed Senator Gardiner’s rights. When I invited him to alter the form of this question, I told him then, and I told him again to-day, by way of interjection, that in a general discussion he would have a perfect right to use the word “ savage,” or even a much stronger expression, in describing the sentences if he thought it was fit and proper to do so. T do not place any limit on the language1 he might be < entitled to use in such circumstances. But he has no right to do that in asking a question, because our Standing Orders and the practice of Parliament forbid it. I think, therefore, that it is absurd for Senator Gardiner to say that his rights have been limited. His rights still remain, and he knows quite well that ample opportunity will be afforded him to discuss these sentences and describe them in the strongest parliamentary language at his command.
– I shall avail myself of that right at the very’ first oppor tunity.
– He has not the right to do so, however, in’ the framing of questions; and I maintain that if honorable senators ,are going to uphold the Standing Orders they must indorse the ruling which I gave - that Senator Gardiner’s question was not in accordance with the Standing Orders. With regard to my statement that it was a privilege, and not a right, to ask questions without notice, I find- that in the House of Commons, on “the 24th March, 1898, the Speaker ruled -
Ministers have a right to refuse to answer questions when put, and if they clearly classify certain questions and state that they will not answer any questions of that description, it would be perfectly futile to continue putting such questions down.
– The Ministers can refuse to answer.
– The Speaker was quite within his right in refusing to allow the question to be put on the noticepaper, as being futile, in view of the fact that Ministers had intimated that certain questions would not be answered. That is what I had in view. I hope honorable senators,, in coming to a decision, will not be under the impression that I had any other desire than to give full effect to the Standing Orders of the Senate for the good order and government of debate in this chamber, and more especially for She preservation of the liberties, of the minority. The majority may, if they so decide, suspend the whole of our Standing Orders.. Our Standing Orders are, however, essentially intendedfor the protection of the minority, and I have always endeavoured to interpret them in that way. I hope (honorable senators will carefully consider the position beforethey authorize any interferencewith the proper interpretation . of our Standing Orders.
– There is very little for me to reply to, except to take exception to you, sir, for using this question to attack me by misrepresenting the facts. You say that because the word “ savage “ was included in my question, it could not go on to the business-paper. I have a very clear impression that when I spoke to you on the subject I declared that I would ‘have my questionasked in my own way or not at all.
– That is the same thing.
– No, it is not. The President imputes motives to me, and Idesire to assert my right to ask questions inmy ownlanguage, or not ask them at all. Honorable senators may not see what I am driving at, but I know quite well what I mean. I might refer to the conversation which Ihad with the President at his table, and at his invitation. I was invited by the President to show how the question could be put on to the business-paper, . and my answer to the President’s suggestion was that if it could not be put in my own way, I did not want it put on thebusinesspaper at all. It was suggestedthat if the word “ savage “ were struck out, the question would be permissible; but if the word “ savage “ or any other word had been struck out, I would have objected. I am not here as a school-boy, under the President’s control.
– But you are here as a senator, under his control.
– I am not.
– -You are under his control,by virtue of the Standing Orders, and we will keep you there.
– I can see that honorable senators are not grasping the viewpoint I am endeavouring to put to them, probably because of my incapacity tomake my meaning clear.From the day that I dame -into this Senate I have always taken the stand that I would put. my questions in any own way, and I shall not allow the President to’ become my instructor as to how I shall ask questions.. If honorable senators cannot seethe difference, I can. I do not want to discussin detailwhat took place between the President and myself in our conversation. I can quite understand that twopersons may have a somewhat different impression as towhat actuallyhasbeen said, though each might give what he believed to be a correct report of the conversation. If a conversation is tobe used in this way, we shall be compelled infuture to . ask if use will . afterwards be made ofwhat may be said in such circumstances. I ‘am sorry that I have been dragged into this . phase of discussion. I point out again that I made no statement in the question I submitted to the Minister. I desired only to obtain information. Officially, we have no knowledge as to whether these sentences are inflicted1 or not, whether they were” savage or brutal, or whether they were sentences that should have been inflicted by civilized men living in a civilized community. In my official position I. asked the Minister if it was a fact that savage sentences had! been imposed on men who had given fouryears of service to their country. If the Minister had risen in his place, and said’ that such sentences had . not been inflicted,, or that the sentences were not savage or severe, there would have been no debatable matter for the Senate. If honorable senators vote to curtail my liberty, they will interfere also with their own. Senator O’Keefe put the question excellently. He said that, under the President’s ruling, if an honorable senator inquired if an undue leniency had been shown in the imposition of certain sentences, that question, also, would have to be disallowed,, because it contained a statement of fact.. The President has himself shown howweak is his position, and he quotes, to justify himself, the view that Ministersneed not answer questions without notice. We know’ that Ministers can always refuse to answer questions, and ask for notice. Invariably they do so.But the fact that a Minister need not answer a question does not take away from honorable senators the right to ask questions. As a matter of fact, questions that are quite within the Standing Orders, but which Ministers sometimes consider offensive, are treated with contempt, and are not answered. I am sorry that I did. not make myself as clear as I might have done, but in the House of Commons the question was asked if it was not a fact that a disloyal gathering was held at a certain spot in Ireland. Exception was taken to the statement “ disloyal,” but Mr. Speaker ruled that the question could be asked.
– With the word “ disloyal “in.
– Yes. Now, if a question containing such a statement could be asked in the House of Commons, I maintain that a question such as I have framed could be submitted in this Senate.
– The fact that a sentence has been passed does not necessarily prove that that sentence is savage.
– The fact that a sentence has been passed does .not prove that it has been savage. I appeal- to the honorable senator to look at my question as I put it. I asked the Minister if it was a fact that severe and savage sentences were inflicted.. I did not say that it was a fact. One of the purposes of this Chamber is that honorable senators and the country may be supplied with information. We are entitled to’ ask questions.
– “ Have you left off beating your mother-in-law ? “
– I do not know whether the honorable senator has or has not ; but I have never thought myself to be subtle or clever enough to ask tricky questions. I have endeavoured, in every utterance of mine here, to express my feelings.
– You are a most skilled political fencer.
– The honorable senator is joking. Any one who has sat here so long with me surely cannot put such an interpretation upon my remarks. In the case which occurred in the House of Commons, and which I have quoted, there was an imputation against a large number of people contained in the question ; that is, if we are to take the ruling of the President and apply it to the question put in the Common’s. It may be, Mr. President, that, in the attitude which you have adopted, you are acting under fear of the Navy, and that you have had instructions from the naval authorities to prohibit the discussion of sentences imposed. It may be that the naval authorities object to such matters being debated in Parliament, for fear that such action may break down the discipline of the Navy. I shall not discuss the question itself at this stage, but I fully intend to do so at the first opportunity afforded me; and that, I take it, will be on the adjournment of the Senate this evening. It may be that the Navy is interfering. T know that parents and friends of our naval men in Sydney were endeavouring, a few weeks ago, to organize a club in that city. They had secured a room in the Educational Buildings for the purpose of holding a meeting. However, Commander Dumaresq saw Mr. Holman, and the meeting was prohibited, because that naval officer said it was intended to discuss the sentences on the Australia. Nothing had been further from .the minds of those people. They were not of the type who would discuss that subject. Their meeting was to organize the establishment of a club-room, .where our naval men in Sydney could meet. When one knows of things like that, one may well think that there is an attempt here to hush up what the Navy is doing. Although I am restricted during this present debate in the matter of. airing my own opinions upon the whole subject, I can, in open discussion, use just exactly what expressions I may deem fit regarding those sentences; and I will use them upon the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I emphasize that if my question is not in order, it will be scarcely possible for any honorable senator to ask any question which will be in order. I intend to take good care to ask you, sir, for a ruling upon every occasion which may arise. I have asked, “ Is it a fact that savage and severe sentences have been imposed ? “ It is ‘for the Government to answer whether sentences of that nature have been passed. They can answer me definitely to the effect that no savage and severe sentences have been imposed. Indeed, they need not answer me at all. But for you, Mr. President, to rule that I have no right to put my question in. the form in which I have set it out is the most astonishing ruling which has ever been given. I have quoted a case which arose in the British House of Commons, where exception was taken ‘to the importation of the word “ disloyal “ into a question, on the ground that it was an imputation. The Speaker definitely ruled that the question was in order, and hepermitted it to be put.
– Do you claim the right to put any question to the Government in any terms you please, regardless of the rules of the Senate and of established precedent?
– Yes, and the President has the right to rule me out of order if I exceed the rules of the Senate.
– That is exactly what he he’s done.
– The President can only rule me out of order when my question exceeds the Standing Orders; whereupon the deciding factor becomes the Senate itself. It will be a pity if a decision of such a character is influenced by party considerations. I sincerely trust that the vote to be taken will not be a party decision. Standing order 99 states -
In putting any such question, no, argument or opinion shall be offered, nor inference nor imputation made, nor any facts stated, except so far as may he necessary to explain such question; and the President may direct the Clerk to alter any question so as to conform with this order.
What argument is applied in my use of the words “is it a fact”? It is merely asking the Government for information. I am not saying, “ Savage and severe sentences were inflicted, and will the Government do something in the matter?” I am merely inquiring, “Is it a fact?” If the Minister considered that my question had been asked for a double purpose, he could have refused to answer it. It is now, however, for honorable senators to come to a decision, and I have a doubt whether or not a decision has been arrived at, by the “ Caucus “ of the party Opposite, to the effect that I am to be outvoted. I hope there are honorable senators opposite sufficiently broadminded to take the stand that our rights shall not be curtailed.
You, Mr. President, have displayed what I may call unconscious bias against me. I do not want to personally comment on that, but I remember an occasionwhen I endeavoured to address the Senate upon a very important matter, and the whole procedure of the Senate was set aside by you, Mr. President, in order to injure and coerce me. That was a procedure which for fifteen or sixteen years had held good, and yet, after all that time, it was set aside by the President.
– Are you trying to make it a personal matter?
– No. I am sorry that I have been driven to make such a statement, as the result of what the President then said, but I have facts regarding what has happened in the past, and I must reply to those inferences and imputations by the President, basing my comments upon facts as they exist. Upon one occasion, sir, you stated in this Chamber, in regard to Senator Thomas, that you had not answered a communication from him because he had passed you with his nose in the air. My nose happens to be too short to get very high up, so I shall not be subject to treatment of that kind. But right at the bottom of all ‘ this business there is personal feeling, and the sooner we get away from it the better. Here is a standing order which gives honorable senators the right to ask questions so long as they are respectfully worded. I challenge the Government to point to anything of a disrespectful nature in my question. I leave the interpretation of that question, as I put it, to a public which has read with disgust and anger the sentences imposed upon the seamen on the Australia.
Question - That theruling be disagreed with - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question soresolved in the negative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now road a second time.
In submitting this measure for the consideration of honorable senators I desire to intimate that there isno big principle involved in it. It draws, attention to one of the stages of development that, we have reached in connexion with our lighthouses. Under the Navigation Act, which will probably come into operation a little later, there is power to compel the masters of vessels to report any, injuries inflicted, upon lighthouses. But the most recent development for the protection of Australian shipping -around our coast - as, indeed, in other parts of the world - has taken the form of unattended lights. These lights are automatically operated with acetylene. They light up with the falling of darkness, and cease to burn at daylight. In the old days when caretakers were in charge of all lighthouses, there was somebody upon whom responsibility could be fixed for any damage which they might sustain. Under this Bill it. is proposed to compel any ship, or any person damaging any lighthouse ‘or marine mark, to report the damage so done. In the case of a ship, she is required to report at her first port of call in Australia within twenty-four hours of her arrival there, whilst any person responsible for damage to any lighthouse or buoy is compelled, within forty-eight hours after its occurrence, to report to the Collector at the port nearest to the place where the damage was sustained: Most of these lights are located at distant parts of our coastline - along the Queensland coast and that of the Northern Territory, for example - many hundreds of miles from civilization. Unless the shipmaster, owner, or agent of any vessel which inflicts damage upon a lighthouse or marine mark is responsible for reporting that damage promptly, we may have a large portion of our coastline unlighted for some considerable time.
– The Bill provides that a ship shall report any damage caused by her at the first port of call in Australia. Suppose that she is bound for Valparaiso?
– She might send a wireless.
– But all ships are not fitted with wireless.
– Any ship damaging a lighthouse or marine mark will, under this Bill, be obliged to report the occurrence at her first port of call.
– At her first port of call in Australia. …
– Probably that limitation is imposed because of the limitation of our constitutional powers.
– If the master of a vessel had any sense he would, in the circumstances outlined by Senator Guthrie, report to the consul in Valparaiso.
– I am not prepared to argue, upon the spur of the moment, the constitutional limits of our authority; but I will look into the matter with a view to the exercise of our full powers in the direction of compelling shipmasters, owners, and agents to report.
– Have we power to inflict punishment on persons who damage lights or buoys?
– Lighthouses are solely under Commonwealth control.
– Supposing an American vessel which was not coming back to Australia damaged oneof our lighthouses, could we obtain damages from her?
– I am not prepared to give a matured answer to that question, but offhand I should say “ Yes.”
– We should have to catch her first.
– If one per cent, of the vessels which . destroy our lighthouses or buoys escaped punishment, the measure would still be a satisfactory one, inasmuch as it would compel those who travel on the most deserted portion of our coast to report any damage caused by them. Consequently, I- recommend the Bill to honorable senators, and promise to look into the point raised by Senator Guthrie, with a view- to giving a full explanation of it in Committee.
.- This is one of those Bills which contains nothing that is calculated to meet therequirements of the ease. We all recognise what a terrible thing it would be for anyvessel to smash down a light on the coast of the Northern Territory. The penalty provided for failure to report is a fine of £100. As Senator Guthrie has pointed out, there is nothing in the measure which will enable us to catch the person who does the damage.
– Yes; the agent, owner, or master of any vessel doing damage will be responsible.
– How are we to get at the agent if the ship does not report the damage done by her?
– Wecannot catch every thief.
– Very poor provision is made in the Bill for the protection of our marine lights.
– I am quite willing to accept any suggestion which will have the effect of strengthening the measure.
– But the Bill should have been more explicit, both in regard to the penalty to be imposed for any damage done to our lighthouses and to the act of reporting such damage. I do not know whether we have the power to fine anymaster of a foreign ship who damages one of our marine, buoys. I do not intend to criticise the Bill any farther . than to say that I am perfectly in sympathy with it. At the same time, it doesnot go far enough, and it, is not searching enough to enable us to catch any person who may damage one of our lighthouses, and thus cause disaster to vessels trading along our coast.
. - I have looked into this Bill very carefully, because I know of several cases along our coast in which ships have come into collision with lighthouses, beacons, and buoys. I do not think that proper provision is made in the measure for dealing with such cases. Proposed new section 19a reads -
Any person who, or the master, owner, agents, and charterers of any ship, which damages or destroys any lighthouse or marine mark shall be liable to pay the Commonwealth the cost of repairing, replacing, or reinstating the lighthouse or marine mark.
But as soon as a ship leaves an Australian port for the Cape or England, theagent, having cleared the vessel, has no funds whatever belonging to her. How can we place responsibility for a ship being blown against a lighthouse by the act of God, upon the agent of the vessel ?
– Would not the agent be able to levy on the ship?
– The ship would have sailed.
– What about inserting a clause providing that she shall report by wireless, or from her first port of call? ‘
– All ships are not equipped with wireless. Take the case of vessels loaded with wheat, such as are leaving Melbourne to-day, not one of which carries wireless. These are the vessels which are likely to do damage.
– When agents know that they will be liable for any damage done, will they not make the necessary provision ? We must fix responsibility. Shipping agents arenot fools.
– If we impose this responsibility upon shipping agents, they will refuse to act in that capacity. An agent will not accept a responsibility which may amount to £70,000 or £100,000. Not many years ago a ship collided with the Wonga Shoal Lighthouse, near Adelaide, and did damage to the extent of £20,000 or £30,000. But there was no chance whatever of recovering that money. Hence my objection to proposed new section 19a. Let us suppose that a ship is leaving Australia. Her first port of call in Australian waters may not be made for ten years afterwards, or, indeed, she may never return.
-. - As a practical seafaring man, what does the honorable senator suggest?
-I am asking the Acting Minister for Defence to do something.
– If a shipmaster has any property here, we can levy upon it.
– Yes. But take the case of a Norwegian captain, whose property is in Norway. When once his ship has left Australia, we cannot seize it in a foreign port.
– I give the honorable senator all that in. We cannot help it. But ought we to allow all the other offenders to escape?
– Is there not something akin to the provision contained in this Bill in British legislation?
– The responsibility should unquestionably be placed. Proposed new section 19a provides a penalty of £100 in the case of a ship not reporting any damage done by her. But it is impossible for a. vessel to report if she is going out of Australian waters. Take for example a vessel voyaging to Auckland or Dunedin. It is impossible for her master to report to the Collector in Australia within forty-eight hours.
– Perhaps this provision is intended to apply only to coastal shipping.
– It will not apply, to oversea shipping at all.
– We cannot very well make it apply to such shipping.
– I think that we can. There is a way of overcoming the difficulty. But I shall leave it to the Crown Law authorities to. devise the means. No agent will accept responsibility for a ship if he is to be made personally re sponsible for any damage done by such vessel- . - desire to see the measure impose responsibility. upon the charterer of a ship. A man who charters a ship to take away a cargo of wheat may, before she leaves Australia, sell that wheat. Even if we laid hold of the vessel, he would say, “ She does not belong to me.” All these wheat ships are chartered by the Commonwealth Government, who will under this Bill become responsible for all. damage inflicted by them upon lighthouses or buoys. The Government are the agents as well as the charterers of these vessels, and consequently will be responsible for the negligence of any of their masters.
– So that we shall be merely robbing Peter to pay Paul.
– Yes. The Bill has been very ill-considered.
– Is there anything in the Navigation Act dealing with this matter ?
– No. The question of lighthouses is entirely distinct from questions relating to navigation.
– This Bill deals with a somewhat technical matter upon which it is admitted that Senator Guthrie is an authority. It seems to me that the crux of the measure is to be found in the proposed, new section 19b, which provides that a ship having damaged what is known as an unattended light shall report that damage. .
– All lights,- beacons, and buoys.
– In modern times it is found necessary to more effectively light our coasts, though they are not yet lighted as effectively as they might be. This involves a very large expenditure which the Commonwealth cannot at the present time very well afford. On the Tasmanian coast there are a number of unattended lights that are of very great importance. For instance, the light at Cape Wickham, on the northern part of King Island, is an unattended light. There was at one time a lighthouse at this place which cost the State of Tasmania a considerable amount of money. ‘ to maintain. When the lighthouses were transferred to the Commonwealth, this was made an unattended light. I have to admit that it is not likely to be damaged by any passing ships, because it is on the mainland of King Island. . That, however, does not affect my argument. There are floating lights and buoy lights that are unattended. Some maintain their lights day and night, and others operate in such a way that the light shows from sunset to sunrise. If anything should happen to these lights the safety of human life and property might be seriously endangered. Under this Bill should any persons within our jurisdiction - and that is a limitation we are apt sometimes to forget - -be responsible for the disappearance of any of these lights, or damage to them, they are compelled to notify the matter. I think we might go further, and if a person knows that a light has been damaged or displaced-
– How are we to prove he knew of it.
– Senator Guthrie will agree that every navigator recognises the importance of making a report on such a matter. If a shipmaster has damaged a light, or knows that a lighthas been damaged through his own fault, or by the act of God, and it no longer operates, he will report the matter for the benefit of other navigators. I do not know that we shall be able to bring foreign ships under our jurisdiction in the matter, but certainly ships that are under our jurisdiction should be compelled to report such accidents to lights as early as possible, whether the masters are responsible for the damage or- not.
Senator GARDINER. (New South Wales) [5.45 J. - I was waiting for some other honorable senators to discuss this Bill. For the life of me I am unable to understand why the measure was introduced. To propose a penalty upon a master of a ship for not reporting damage to a light is about on a par with saying to a member of the Senate, “ If you destroy one of the lights of this building which are established for our comfort and convenience, and do not report the matter to the President, you will be liable to a penalty of £100.” There is no one more interested in the maintenance of the lights dealt with in this Bill than are the masters of ships. It is. proposed to impose drastic penalties upon them if they do not report any damage done to a light. A shipmaster may have his hands more than full in looking after his vessel in a storm,, and how is he to report the damage he may have done to a light, when he may not know that he has done any damage.
– He would enter the disappearance of the light in his log.
– He might do so, but how is he to report the damage done to the light when he does not know what damage has been done?
– He” cannot report “ it if he does not know.
– Let us see what the Bill actually asks people to do. Clause 2’ provides that -
After section 19 of the principal Act, the following sections are inserted: - 19a. Any person w,ho, or the master, owner, agents, and charterers of any ship which damages or destroys any lighthouse or marine mark shall be liable to pay the Commonwealth the cost of repairing, re- - placing, or reinstating the lighthouse or - marine mark.
If a vessel going out of the harbor bumps one of these lights, do honorable senators mean to tell me that some person who was not on board .the vessel, and could not in any way be held responsible for the damage, is to be liable under this Bill to pay the cost of repairing the damage? It would appear that some official carrying out duties under the Lighthouses Act has met with some little difficult-“, and he proposes in this Bill that it shall be remedied by the imposition of extreme penalties for something that is very unlikely to be done. It is very unlikely that any master qf a ship will damage a lighthouse or marine mark without reporting it. Under the Bill the owner, or agents, or charterers may be responsible for damage caused by the master of the ship, or what may have been the result of pure accident. A storm may have driven a ship upon a marine mark, and if it is damaged persons who are not responsible for the damage in any way may be held to be liable, to make it good. Honorable senators must remember that a case will be decided upon the letter of the law, and the intention of Parliament in passing it will be set aside. The proposed new section I have quoted holds the people to whom I have referred responsible for damage done, no. matter how it is done. I realize that the Government must have power to enforce the laws and protect Government property, but there is danger in hurriedly or carelessly passing unnecessary little Bills. If we interpret their language generously they may appear to be all right ; but cases are decided, not by what Parliament intended in passing a law, but by the language that Parliament used to give effect to its intention. It appears to me to be very loose draftsmanship to place upon the persons referred to in this Bill, the responsibility of repairing damage, even though it may have been caused accidentally. If the measure is passed in its present form, the owners of ships may find themselves called upon to pay sums of money which in equity and justice they should not be called upon to pay.
– Is the honorable senator defending the shipping rings, and profiteers ?
– I am not defending them as ringers. I am defending the right of every man in this country, whether he be the wealthiest or the poorest, to a fair deal. No one ever heard me asking for a law which would operate unjustly upon any section of the community. The last thing which Senator Reid’s friends - the profiteers and ringers - want is justice.
– Is not the destruction of a light of infinitely more importance than the mere payment of damages?
– I venture to say that the people most interested in reporting damage to a marine light are the shipping people.
– The Bill makes a moral obligation a legal one.
– It goes further. It puts the liability on the owner or agent of a ship without any qualification whatever.
– That is my point. Senator Keating has, in two or three words, said what I have been struggling to say for some time. We are passing a measure hurriedly which will put responsibility upon people who are in no way responsible. As Senator Keating has expressed that in proper language, I shall resume my seat.
– I do not recognise the difficulties pointed out by Senators Guthrie and Gardiner. They lose sight of the fact that the Bill provides a penalty for failing to report damage to a light, and not for the payment of damages.
– Let the honorable senator look at the proposed new section 19a.
– ‘ Senator Guthrie is aware that at the present time, if a shipmaster runs his vessel into a jetty or pier, and causes damage, the shipping company employing him must make the damage good. No doubt the experience of the Government has been that shipmasters have damaged lights and buoys in various channels without reporting the fact.
– Wilfully ?
– No, not wilfully; it may be negligently, or as the result of sheer accident. Senator Guthrie referred to the case of the. lighthouse at Wonga Shoal. A vessel knocked over the whole structure, and a couple of men were drowned as a result.
– Occasionally lights are damaged wilfully and maliciously.
– No one would be willing to permit a man responsible for that kind of thing to escape punishment. I take, it that we would have no control over a foreign ship, such as Senator Guthrie has referred to, and no means of making her owners pay, even if a Court of law found that the ship was responsible for damage. I suppose that if the Bill is passed, where damage has been caused to a marine light a claim will be made by the Commonwealth Government against some person, and a Court of law will decide whether that person, the master, or the owner, or the agent of the vessel, is liable. .
– We are making them liable under this Bill. Let the hon- orable senator read the proposed hew section 19a.
– That proposed section says -
Any person who, or the master, owner, agents., and charterers of any ship which damages or destroys any lighthouse or marine mark shall be liable to pay the Commonwealth the cost of repairing, replacing, or reinstating the lighthouse or marine mark.
It does not say that any of these persons shall pay, but that they shall be’ liable to pay if a Court of law says they are responsible for the damage caused. If the Court decides that they are not liable they will not have to pay.
– The Bill says that they are liable if damage is done.
– If the proposed new section said that they shall pay, that would be mandatory; but it does not say so, -and persons must be found liable by the usual process of law before they are called .upon to pay. If the Court says they are not liable, they should not be called upon to pay for damage done. It is clear to me that somebody must ,be responsible. The importance of reporting cases of damage to lightships, lighthouses, lights, or beacons cannot be overestimated. Reports should be made at the first opportunity by’ the person responsible, and if .not by him, then by some other person. I cannot imagine any master of a vessel sailing his ship past a light that had been damaged, without reporting the matter. The Bill, I take it, provides that for the future more persons will be held responsible for damage done than has been the case in the past, and I see no reason why it should not be passed. The Bill will snare a few more guilty persons in the future, and that fact should justify its passage.
– - The’ Minister might have been ‘a little more explicit when introducing the measure, to show the necessity for it. He might have presented some statement “of the present position as to liability for damage done to lighthouses, lightships, beacons, or buoys by vessels, and how far the present provisions have fallen short of what the - Government think is necessary in the interest? if the public’.
– It is one of the offences of . the original Act.
– That is so. Senator Newland said just how that he understood the measure was intended to snare a few more guilty persons than had been made liable hitherto. The moment any honorable senator proceeds to address himself to proposed new section 19a, other honorable senators seem to have 19b in mind.
Let us have it clearly understood that the Bill is double-barrelled in its purpose. In the first place, it provides that liability shall be on the ship for any damage done to lighthouses, lightships, beacons, or buoys, and in the second place” itthrows on the individuals . concerned in the damage the responsibility of reporting such damage, otherwise they will be subject to certain penalties. As to the responsibility of the . ship to make good the damage, when I say ship I mean “ship-owner,” ‘ “ship master,” or “agent,” generally spoken of as “the ship.”
Senator Newland has said that he understands that the Bill is intended to bring in a few more than the present law makes liable. It seems to me that whatever the existing law may be, the Government have taken up the position that if a ship collides with a’ buoy or beacon, and damage is done, responsibility is on the ship, whether the damage is done maliciously, or. is the result of negligence, or want of skill. Who takes the responsibility now ?
– A shipowner is in the same position as a mar. driving down a street.
– No. Does the Government at present take the responsibility? Has the Consolidated Revenue or the ship-owner to bear the cost of damage done? If at present the Government accepts this responsibility, we can understand the reason for this measure, to relieve the ‘ Government of the risk, and impose it on the ship. If the ship takes the responsibility, where is the necessity for this Bill ? It is obvious that the Government is trying to extend the area of responsibility, and it is well, therefore, that we should legislate with our eyes open, because later on, when perhaps some damage has -been done to a particular beacon, lightship, or buoy, a shipping company will be called upon to make good the damage, and the company may force the captain to make good to it. We will then hear of a hard case, and it will be pointed out that, so far as Parliament expressed its intention, it decided that in all cases, whether the damage was the result of negligence, malice, or an accident, the ship must bear the cost.
– A buoy may have drifted from its moorings.
– Exactly. A buoy may have drifted from its normal position, and been damaged as the result; but, under this Bill, the ship will be held 1 responsible, without any qualification whatever.
– Are there not some legal principles governing the position in such circumstances?
– Whatever the principles may be,’ we are going to dismiss them, because we are explicitly providing, in this measure, without any qualification whatever, that liability shall attach to the ship. If we do this consciously, well and good. It is our affair and the affair of this country; but we ought to know what we are doing.
– A few qualifying words ought to make the position quite clear.
– That is the point. We ought to consider whether we are doing the right thing in passing the Bill as it stands. Some reason may be advanced why there should be an unqualified, obligation on the ship, and the Court, when deciding any case that may be brought before it, will say that if Parliament intended to put in any qualification to relieve the ship of liability, this qualification would have been expressed in the Act.
With regard to the other part of the measure. I think it is very desirable indeed that if anybody does interfere with, or affect the value of any light or navigation mark, he should, at the earliest possible moment, be called upon to report; and, if he fails to do so, he should be penalized. Notwithstanding what Senator Gardiner has said concerning liability for damage done to lights in this building, I contend that the case is not in the, least degree parallel. Ocean marks, lighthouses, lightships, or buoys intended to insure the safety of navigation, must be treated very tenderly indeed by the whole community, because the slightest disarrangement of position or alteration in appearance may lead to grave disaster. Naturally, those who do go down to the sea in ships are very careful about them, and in 999 cases out of 1,000 a master or officer of a vessel noticing any damage to or alteration of any of these marks, enters the fact in the log, and notifies the first authority.
– By so doing he may save his own life.
– Yes, and the lives of others engaged in this perilous undertaking. It is true that, in Tasmania and elsewhere, there have been occasions when damage has been done to lights by hooligans, who, naturally, would not report to the authorities, and it is very necessary, therefore, that legislation in this direction should be passed. While this part of the measure deserves commendation, I think the Minister has not yet made out a sufficiently strong case to warrant us in deliberately attaching liability without any qualification whatever to the- ship for damage done in every instance.
– There seems to be no difference of opinion as to the principle of the Bill, which is not regarded from a -party standpoint. The intention of the measure is to perfect the machinery for. giving effect to the intention .of Parliament. As the result of an evolution in appliances, automatic lightships and buoys are coming more largely into use, and it is the intention of the Government to make a rapid extension of their use, particularly in the northern and western parts of Australia. These buoys require no attendance, and experience has shown that where damage has been done in the past the only action which the Government could take was to issue a caution that it should not be done again. The principle of liability for damage is a sound one; but in view of what has been said during the course of the debate I should like to con- sult further with the legal authorities. An attempt is being made to throw the onus of proof on the ship-owner or the agent, and it is possible that in the draftsmanship the position has not been clearly stated, so ‘ that in the event of damage being done the Court will be called upon merely to assess the extent of damage. That hardly expresses the intention of the Government. I am prepared to listen to any suggestion for the improvement of the Bill. . Senator Guthrie has made one, which appeals to me, concerning the liability of the agent or charterer. It is possible that a vessel leaving Australia might damage a life-buoy at the last port of call and go away without notifying the fact. Senator Guthrie’s suggestion that the master of such a vessel should be required to send a definite message, by wireless presumably, at the first opportunity, is well worthy of consideration, but I amnot quite sure as to the power of the Commonwealth to enforce penalties against the agents or charterers of a vessel outside Australia,
– There would be some power to enforce the law when next the vessel returned to these shores.
– It is hardly advisable to wait the return of a vessel before taking action. If the agent resides in Australia the Government would, of course, be able to exercise authority over him. It is not the desire of the Government to impose penalties on ship-owners who may have been responsible for damage, owing to unfortunate circumstances. I shall look into the various points raised and see if it is possible to comply with the suggestions made. If the Bill is taken through the second-reading stage I shall be prepared to consider all that has been said, and give sympathetic consideration to suggestions for its improvement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria - Acting
Minister for Defence and Vice-Presi dent of the Executive Council) [6.13]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In view of the rapid development of wireless telephony in recent years, it is considered advisable, in the public interest, that the Government should exercise the same control over it as over wireless telegraphy. That is the object of this short Bill, which will widen the definition of “ wireless telegraphy “ so as to include . wireless telephony. The effect of the measure, will be that the Minister administering the Wireless Telegraphy Act will have the exclusive privilege of establishing stations for the transmission or receipt of messages by wireless telephony; but he may grant licences to other persons to establish such stations, on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit. No person in the Commonwealth will be permitted to establish any such station unless he has been granted a licence. Wireless telephony has not yet reached such a state of perfection that it is likely to supersede the ordinary telephone as a means of communication for use by the general public, but it has made rapid strides during the war, and as early as 1915 wireless telephone conversations took place between Washington and Paris. The difficulty which confronts inventors at present appears to be that of eliminating outside influences, and of insuring secrecy of conversation. These facts constitute additional reasons for placing this means of communication under the exclusive control of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It is a very short measure ; it deals with a subject upon which, I think, all honorable senators will agree. It proposes to give discretionary power to the Government to prevent the use of certain trade marks, and to protect such words of national significance as, for example, “ Anzac “ and “Aussie.” These words have been used, in some cases, by people who have had no right to employ them as they have done. There have also been certain letters used - such, for example, as “A.N. A.” These letters have been attached to various manufactured articles with the implied purpose of impressing the public that the goods have been made in Australia. Briefly, the letters have been used to perpetrate a deception. This Bill is intended to protect the public. Further, there has been a practice among certain individuals, who have claimed to be the possessors of patent rights in specific productions, of threatening retail merchants that if they continue to handle those goods they will render themselves liable to prosecution. It is a case of pure bluff, and the parties putting up the bluff have no thought of carrying the matter to Court. Frequently, however, storekeepers have been scared, and have desisted from offering the goods for sale. This measure is not intended in any way to interfere with the rights of bond fide patentees.
– It is a new principle to stop bluffing by Act of Parliament.
– There is good reason for such a course. Certain articles branded “A.N.A.” have actually been made in the countries of our late enemies. The sympathies of the buying public have been fraudulently solicited. As for the names and terms made sacred by our soldiers, they should be kept apart altogether from trade usage and vulgar employment generally.
.- I shall oppose the Bill. A measure which proposes to give power to the Government to declare any word prohibited from general use shall have no support from me. I do not like the term “ Anzac.” It has robbed Australasia .of credit it is entitled to. It has taken from our people the credit which Australians won. It is quite a catchy little word, and aptly indicates the original Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. But it has gathered round it to-day a meaning altogether beyond that. The word has distinctly taken from the people of Australia that to which they are justly en titled, and has given credit where it does not belong. I have read magazine articles dealing with the origin of “ Anzac.” It has been asserted that it has an Arabic source, and that it was the name of a bay or a peninsula in the neighbourhood of the scenes where the Australians and New Zealanders made it famous.
– They thought so much of the word in England that a Bill was passed to prohibit its use in the Old Country. .
– The House of Commons has been very frequently wrong. If a sportsman has a horse, I presume that under this measure he would not be allowed to call it “ Anzac.”
– This Bill . applies only to trade marks.
– I think that there is already in existence a regulation which very materially limits the use of this word.
– I think that the regulation in question was issued under a, power which will soon perish. This Bill will apply only to trade marks.
– I am obliged to the Acting Minister of Defence for his correction, because it will compel me to consider this measure more closely. I find that it is to be cited as the Trade Marks Act 1919. Clause 2 reads-
Section eighteen of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following paragraph: - “or (h) Any word or mark which is declared by the Governor-General by proclamation to be for the purposes of this section a prohibited word or mark, or any word or mark so nearly resembling any such word or mark as to be likely to deceive.”
That particular phrasing of the proposed amendment is, to my mind, somewhat complicated.
– It has to be read in conjunction with the principal Act.
– I quite realize that. I hope to read the whole of the principal Act after the adjournment for dinner. Clause 2 of the Bill meets the objection which. I had in my mind when I rose to address myself to the action of the Government in endeavouring to limit the use of the word “Anzac,” either by proclamation or regulation.
It is absurd for Ministers to lay themselves out to specialize any one particular word, and to prevent people from using it either as a trade mark, or as a name, or anything else. If there be something magical in the word “Anzac,” will the Government prevent men who fought at Gallipoli registering themselves as the Anzac Trading Company? They may be men whose limbs are buried at Gallipoli. They may be the men who made the name of “ Anzac,” and yet, under this Bill, the Government would prevent them registering it as a trade mark. Of course, I may be asked, “ Would the Government be stupid enough to do that?” My reply is “Yes. They are stupid enough to do anything.”
SenatorFoll. - How would it be to make an exception in favour of those men?
– A most excellent suggestion. I hope that the privilege will be accorded to those who gave a value to the name of Anzac - to the men who accomplished the impossible. No less an authority than the late Lord Kitchener said that only the sight of these men in the position which they had won would have convinced him that a landing could be successfully made under such circumstances. Consequently, I am not exaggerating when I say that these men accomplished the impossible.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 8 p.m.
– I have been wondering whether the Acting Minister for Defence would consent to an adjournment of this debate, seeing that the Bill seeks to give effect to a principle which should not be allowed to pass without the closest scrutiny. Had I moved the adjournment of the debate before addressing myself to the measure, I understand firomthe Government Whip that the motion would have been agreed to. Does the Acting Minister for Defence desire the second reading of . the Bill to be passed to-night? The progress which is being made in another place certainly does not warrant the assumption that we are likely to be overburdened with work during the next- day or two. Under the Bill, I do not know whether persons seeking to trade with the initials A.I.F. may not find themselves prevented from so doing by Ministerial proclamation. I do not think that the Acting Minister, when making his second-reading speech, had in mind what was . likely to be the effect of the measure. Personally, I have a rooted objection to endowing the Government with any . power without first knowing how they intend to use it. I should like an assurance from the honorable gentleman that it is not intended to use the powers which, will be conferred by this Bill in the same way as Ministers used the powers that were conferred under the War Precautions Act. Here I Should like to point out the vast difference between the granting of powers under a proclamation and the granting of powers under regulations. In the former case neither branch of the Legislature can exercise any’ control over the Government. All these points are worthy of consideration.
– It is alsoworth while to read a Bill through before an honorable senator rises to apeak upon it.
– I am quite prepared to resume my seat if the Acting Minister for Defence will consent to an adjournment of the debate.
– Give me the secondreading of the Bill, and I will compromise.
– I object to the Governmentbeing able to do anything by means of a . proclamation. Will the Acting Minister agree that the things provided for in this Bill shall be done by means of regulations ? We all know that any such regulations must be laid upon the table of both Houses of Parliament within a certain ‘time after Parliament reassembles, and that they may be disallowedby either branch of it. On the other hand, the Government may issue a proclamation whilst Parliament is in a recess extending over six months, and while half of the Ministers are’ absent from the country, of which they are the sworn guardians. If half of them may go away, the other half may follow their example.
– I think that even a bad Government is better than no
Government. For a considerable time past we have had experience of a very bad Government.
– Was that prior to 1916?
– I venture to say that when the history of the Governments of this country comes to be calmly written down, in view of the work which they accomplished, the Government that was in power between 1914 and 1916 will occupy as fair a page as any the Commonwealth has ever had.
– Though the honorable senator says it himself, who should not.
– I say it because I should say it. It is written in the history of this country that for two years of the war that Government held this country together as a united Australia.
– This may be very interesting, but I should like to know what it has to do with the Bill.
– I intend to show what it has to do with the Bill. I need not refer to the ability of the members of that Government. Men of the calibre of Mr. Fisher and his colleagues-
– Order! The honorable senator must obey my ruling. What he is saying has nothing whatever, to do with the Bill.
– I intend to shaw what it has to do with the Bill. I intend to connect my references to that Government with what is provided for under this Bill, if I am permitted to do so.
– The honorable senator cannot be permitted to evade the ruling of the Chair.
– If I ‘am. permitted to do so I shall connect my references to the past Government with the Bill. If you rule me out of order I must, of course, discontinue my remarks. I shall connect my references with the Bill if I am permitted to do so; but if I am not permitted, of course I cannot do so. I will say that the Government to which I referred was absolutely the” best Government
– Order! The honorable senator should obey my ruling.
– I am obeying the ruling.
– The question of the excellence or otherwise of the Government prior to 1916 has absolutely nothing to do with the merits or demerits of this Bill. I rule such references out of order.
– I have no desire, sir, to ruffle you or to disagree with your ruling. I realize that if even an abler President were in the chair and ruled that I was out of order I should have to obey his ruling. But I ask you, sir, whether I shall be in order if I argue that when the best Government we have ever had in this country had certain powers conferred upon it under a measure somewhat similar to this, a number of people in this country complained that those powers were used in a way that was never intended, and a similar result may follow upon the exercise of powers under this Bill. I submit that these remarks are pertinent to the Bill.
– The statement that the honorable senator has just made is quite in order. But it will not be in order for the honorable senator to enter upon a eulogy of a past Government without connecting his remarks with the Bill before the Senate.
– I have no intention of doing that. I trust that I shall be permitted to connect my references with the Bill in the way I originally intended. My eulogy of a past Government was only in order to show that if the most’ perfect Government could exercise powers conferred in this way in a manner distasteful to the public, how much more careful should we be about conferring similar powers upon a Government which every one admits is very far from being perfect. That is a perfectly legitimate argument to use. When a perfect Government could fail in their administration in the exercise of powers without the consent of Parliament, how much more dangerous would it’ not be to confer such powers upon Governments that are universally admitted to be bad? I do not think that any one has a good word to say for the National Governments, whether State or Federal.
– Only the electors.
– That was when there was a war to be won; but the war has been won.
– The electors were appealed to recently in Tasmania.
– I am anxious not to be drawn aside from the principles of this Bill. The honorable senator’s interjections are very tempting, but if I replied to them I should be ruled out of order. I should like, however, to say that the Tasmanian elections were fought on the colour question.
– How does the honorable senator connect that with the Bill?
– I connect that with a disorderly interjection for which the member making it was not called to order.
– What colour?
– A smudgy red that was very nearly yellow.
– For the honorable senator’s information, they were not.
– I am glad to hear that. I accept the new senator’s word. I have not yet found him to be otherwise than honest. I have been led away from the idea I had in rny mind in dealing with these powers.
– The honorable senator has been wandering away.
– Order! There are too many interjections.
– I do not intend to discuss the Bill clause by clause. I wish to make a reference to clause 3, and will leave the arguments I intend to use on clause 2 to a later hour of the day. Clause 3 provides that -
Provided that this section shall not apply, if the person making the threats with due diligence commences and prosecutes an action for infringement of his trade mark.”
That is perfectly clear. I have in mind a particular case which affected the Commonwealth Government, where a company corporation or combination of companies not only by threats, but by actions, obtained from the . Government a concession of immense value, and cash down to the amount of £5,000. I am referring to the Government of which Mr. Glynn was Attorney-General, and was directly responsible for the agreement under which this was done. I refer to the case of the Telefunken Australian Wireless and Marconi Company in their attack upon the Commonwealth Government for an alleged infringement of wireless patents. I believe that the proposed new section 100a is intended to prevent people from making money merely by bluff, as Senator Russell has said. In the case to which I refer,’ the most magnificent piece of bluff, that was ever put up on any country was carried to a successful conclusion by the ineptitude, or worse, of the Government that handled the case on behalf of the Commonwealth.
– Perhaps after that experience the Government desire to protect the citizens.
– I am glad to hear Senator Keating say that, for the experience to which I refer should have taught the Government something.
– I am assuming that the honorable senator’sstatement as to the experience is correct.
– I think I can make it clear to Senator Keating that my statement is correct. One may wonder whether this principle is being carried far enough. I take it that Ministers have in mind the need for preventing this kind of bluff being used for the profit of trading companies, and that it is proposed that costs may be given if the case goes against them, against persons who threaten action, or something worse, for an infringement of their rights.
The case I have in mind is this. The Commonwealth had secured an important system of wireless telegraphy that did not in the slightest degree infringe any patents previously published. The Telefunken first took the matter up, but as they had no registered patents in this country they knew ‘they could not carry it out, and they transferred the matter to. the Marconi Company. It might be as well to say here that the Telefunken Company, the Australian Wireless, and the Marconi Company are all one and the same, though they have’ shareholders of different names holding various interests. They threatened action against the Commonwealth for infringement of their patents. The Commonwealth prepared to defend the action. As I have said, the Telefunken Company handed the matter over to the Marconi Company, and the case came. before the Courts eventually. The High Court decided that in such a case they were not in a position to give a decision as to whether an infringement had taken place unless they could be i shown that it ‘had by expert evidence. The Fisher Government secured the best expert obtainable by bringing from ‘Great Britain, at great expense, Mr. Swinburne, who is a very high authority on wireless telegraphy. He made a sworn declaration that he was thoroughly acquainted with the existing published patents of all the wireless companies, and that the Australian Commonwealth system, which was the invention of Father Shaw, was 33 per cent, a better system than any other then in existence, and was in no way an infringement of any existing patents. One can see at a glance the bluff that was put up by the Marconi and Telefunken people. They knew that their case would go by the board if that expert evidence came before the Court. They had not, however, lost their punch in bluffing, wheedling, and swindling Australia out of its money. An agreement was entered into by the Government thai displaced the Fisher Government in 1913. This Government was in office for less than twelve months, and after it wa» beaten, at the poll, in 1914, it signed aa agreement giving the Marconi Company £5,000, ostensibly for some patents they had in possession, and the case was not allowed to go beyond the stageit had reached. The Commonwealth, was- bluffed into that agreement. They got patents that expired in the following November. Possibly the Ministermay have had facts like this in his. mind’ when he sought to protect people frombeing bluffed. I hope he did, becausewhat I refer to is one of the landmarks of swindling by . big companies ; possibly it has never been excelled in Australia. If that was in the mind of theGovernment, I welcome the Bill, but it isin the nature of a death-bed repentancefor all the ill deeds that they have been, responsible for. It is evidently an attempt on the part of the Government to* enable private companies, firms, or persons to obtain legal redress for anythreatened action. I draw attention,, however, to the proviso which states -
Provided that this section shall not apply if the person making the threats, with due diligence, commences and prosecutes an action for infringement of his trade mark.
I think that proviso should be struck- out,, because it gives one the impression that,, although the Government determined todo something to protect the people, theyrelented, and have half slammed the dooragainst the remedy in cases of groundless threats by enabling the persons who makesuch threats to escape if “ with due diligence “ they commence and prosecute arn action. I hope the Minister will agree tostrike out the proviso.
The next clause deals with the penaltyfor unauthorized assumption of the Royal’ Arms or the arms of the CommonwealthWe have to be very careful when dealingwith this matter, for we must rememberthat under regulations, such as are permissible under this Bill, a person whofavours red as a colour, and flies it in theform of a flag over his house, is in danger of prosecution, although, from his view-point, the red flag is emblematical of the common blood that runs through the veins of the people of all nations. Clause 4 seeks to repeal section 113 of the principal Act, and to insert in its stead the following: -
That is a very vague term.What constitutes, the Royal Family? - or of the Governor-General, or of some Department of the Government of the Commonwealth (proof whereof shall lie upon the person accused), assume or use in connexion with any trade, business, calling, or profession, the arms of the Commonwealth, or arms so nearly resembling the arms of the Commonwealth as to The likely to deceive.
It may be necessary for the Government to amend some of our existing legislation which has been so Satisfactory for so long, and wake up to the fact that the Royal Arms of England are not to be used for trading purposes. I do not know whether my memory serves me aright, but I think I can remember seeing the Royal Arms of England on a whisky advertisement, and I am quite sure that the Royal Arms of Scotland - the lion rampant - has been seen on such advertisements for many a long day. It appears, however, that the Government have decided that it is to be an offence to use these emblems of Royal authority for trade purposes, and by proclamation people doing so are to be brought within the law. I should like some definition of the words “ some member of the Royal Family.” Will it be His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, one of the Princes, one of the Princesses, or some other relation ? Will it . be the uncle of His Majesty King George - the Imperial Kaiser - grandson of . our late very respected Queen Victoria? If the Kaiser has become skilful at. the occupation he is supposed now to be employed at - wood cutting - I can imagine how pleased Senator Lynch would probably be if he were transported to Western Australia to con tinue his occupation there, and company promoters might thus have authority to emblazon the Royal Arms on the company’s note-paper. I ask the Minister to give a definition of what constitutes “ some member of the Royal Family.” This is a serious question. It is really time that, in this free Commonwealth, we got away from worn and threadbare statements that mean nothing. We should come down to the plain business reading of our- laws, and I contend that “ some member of the Royal Family,” in its application to this Bill, is not plain business reading. The proper authority to . give or withhold the right to use the coats-of-arms is the Government of the country, and we would be wise in our day nd generation if we made that simple fact plain in all our legislation. I give second place to no one in my respect for those in authority. I never, by innuendo or insinuation, reflect upon authority, because I recognise that in every form of society the Government that is, is right. Every sensible man will . recognise that authority must restsomewhere, and in this Commonwealth, by virtue of our Constitution, authority rests in the sovereign people. If the sovereign people are satisfied to conduct their business under laws and a Constitution, assented to by the Royal House of Britain, well and good. But authority to use certain emblems and trade marks should be exercised by the Government of the country. The only authority vested with the power to permit the use, or compel the disuse, of the Royal Coat-of-Arms within the Commonwealth is the Commonwealth Government. What if the Government were to say, “ We shall refuse the use of the Royal Arms to such and such a firm,” and what if that firm produced an authority from some member of the Royal Family to make use of the Royal Arms? A very complicated situation would arise. There might be a big brewing interest which had among its shareholders some member of the Royal Family. That company might be trading under the Royal Coat-of-Arms. The position would be a nice one ; but there is only one . authority having the supreme control, and that is the Government of the Commonwealth. No one to-day questions the right of the people to govern themselves.
– Oh, yes; there are some people, still, who do.
– The honorable senator is referring, no doubt’, to the situation in Ireland. Despite the unsuccessful efforts of the Irish people to secure self-government, the right of the people to govern themselves is unquestionable. The people are the only rightful authority for the making of their laws and the governing of themselves. It is only unnecessary padding to insert in this measure that any member of the Royal Family may exercise authority co-equal with the Government of Australia. .No one has co-equal authority. The people of Australia, through their Government, are the sovereign power. They are the final Court of Appeal.
– Would you suggest leaving out the State authority as well?
– In Australia, with its 5,000,000 people and its seven Governments, there should be only one constituted governmental authority ; that is, the Commonwealth Government. But while the States exist we must recognise that, .within their sphere, they have the power of government. If the Commonwealth authorities have the power to deal with trade marks we can well afford to delete from this measure all reference to the authority of the State. On several grave occasions recently we have witnessed conflicts between State and Commonwealth authority. The New South Wales Government violently repudiated the authority of the Commonwealth Government in connexion with a menace which has proved one of the most terrible in the history of Australia. Ministers of that State went out of their way to flout the Commonwealth Government, for what reason I do not know. Honorable senators will recall the famous, or infamous, case of a New South Wales Premier - now Sir Joseph Carruthers - seizing the property of the Commonwealth Government by force; I refer to the wirenetting incident. We have to pay tribute to the tactfulness of those who were charged with the protection of that com modity, and who knew that it was not worth while to resist force with force, but were content to leave it as a matter of law between the State and Commonwealth authorities, ls the language of this Bill so clear that a Court could give a definite decision asserting the supreme authority as between State and Commonwealth? It may be argued that in all our legislation wherein conflict between State and Commonwealth could arise, the power of the latter is supreme. Nevertheless, this Bill contains a clause wherein the Commonwealth Government propose to confer equal powers on a State authority. When a State can come into conflict with the Commonwealth over such a deadly subject as the influenza epidemic, it does not require much effort of imagination to anticipate trouble in connexion with a comparatively, trivial matter, such as trade marks.
Study of the Bill reveals that, not only are the proposed powers to be given to a State ‘Government, but actually to a State Department. I can imagine a wheat company being formed under the authority of ‘a State’ Department, which grants the use of the Royal or Australian CoatofArms. In justification of such action that Department would be able to point to the constitutional rights conferred upon it under this Commonwealth measure. On my reading of the Bill, the Department of Agriculture would be able to permit a company which was trading in wheat to use the Australian Coat of Arms.
– Wheat is one of the primary products of the country.
– Yes, and this opens up- vast scope for thought. Wheat ;md Wheat Pools may lead to the forma- tion of companies. Does this Parliament wish to say that it will allow a Department of State to permit of one of these companies using the Australian Coat of Arms ?
– The College of Heralds might have something to say upon it.
– Although that college may be an authority on heraldry-
– Heraldry is the trade mark of the nobility.
– I desire Senator Bakhap to direct his intelligence to the wording of the two provisions which it is proposed to insert in the principal Act in lieu of section 113.
– I am glad that the honorable senator emphasized my “ intelligence.”
– There is nobody who values the honorable senator’s intelligence higher than I do, except it be himself. I have the highest appreciation for his talents, and the deepest regret for the use to which he is putting them. Proposed new section 113 reads -
These things are important. I maintain that there should be only one authority to control the use of these Arms, and that authority should be the Government. . If there is one thing at which we should aim in all our legislation it is that the language employed in our Acts of Parliament shall be so definite and unambiguous that nobody can mistake, where the final authority resides. I contend that if we pass clause 4’ in its present form, we shall be approving a provision which will clothe half-a-dozen different bodies with equal authority in respect of an important matter. I submit that there must be a final authority. It appears to me that instead of endeavouring to make these provisions perfectly clear, somebody has been struggling to get in a number of sentences which would sound well. I never remember a Bill which contained two such clumsy clauses.
– This is very important, too.
– Any Bill which is sufficiently important to warrant its introduction here is. sufficiently important for us to analyze closely. We should give our best attention to the principles underlying it.
– How can we give attention to principles if there are not any in the measure?
– At any rate, we ought to give attention to the question of whether the Bill contains any principles. I do not complain of the short speech with which the Acting Minister for Defence introduced it. We have to bear in mind that this is the third measure which he has submitted for our consideration to-day.
– I wanted to give the honorable senator time to discuss it.
– As there is no Deputy President to-night, I think I shall have the time of my life. The penalty which the Bill seeks to impose for any infringement of clause 4 is one of £20. That is about the only definite thing in the measure. Honorable senators may imagine how shocked I am to learn that’ a Wheat Pool, a farmers’ exploiting company, or a farmers’ trading company may use the Commonwealth coat-of-arms or the Royal coat-of-arms, and that the only penalty for so degrading these devices will be a fine of £20. Think of Watson’s whisky with the Royal Arms of England printed on the label attached to the bottle! I think that the Royal Arms of England are actually shown on the label of King George whisky. Why, the distilling people-
– They believe in a green label.
–That interjection opens up quite a vista in regard to what may happen under this Bill. If there is to be a penalty imposed for using the Royal Arms of England, why should there not be a penalty prescribed for using the Royal Arms of Scotland? Will the Acting Minister for Defence accept an amendment in the direction of prescribing a penalty for using the recognised arms of Scotland and Wales? I am told that Australia had no seal’ which could be attached to the Peace Treaty which was recently signed by the Prime Minister on her behalf, and that, as a result, the seal of “Wales was used. Personally, I think that even if it had to be torn from a sheet of note-paper, the coatofarms of Australia should have been affixed to that Treaty. But probably the unauthorized use of it would have been dangerous, and the Prime Minister might conceivably have been called upon to pay a fine of £20. Anyhow, he attached to the historic document the seal of the country to which he belongs. Clause 5 of the Bill contains a long and difficult definition of what the Governor-General may do, and in this connexion’ I would again appeal to honorable senators to realize the difference that exists between doing things by proclamation and doing them by regulation. I venture “to say that the people of Australia are ‘ not in favour of giving powers to the GovernorGeneral in Council. They are not prepared to vest in the Executive, powers which they are unable to control except through the medium of a censure motion in Parliament. Take the word “ Anzac “ by way of illustration. Let us suppose that some person who desires to make that word bigger than it is attempts to add to it the letter “ C,” so as to embrace the Canadian Forces, which fought so admirably, thus converting the word into “ Canzac.’ The Government propose to prevent words like these from being used by trading companies. The word “ Anzac “ is. too sacred. Taking the broader view, I, as the head of a company, propose to include Canada, and make the word “ Cart.zac.” If I do so, a charge may be laid against me for, using the word without authority, and with the intention to deceive, and I may be liable to a penalty of £20. What is a penalty of £20 to a big trading company?
Before honorable members settle down at .the beginning of a session, we find these fool, measures presented. I use the term advisedly. What is the use of trying by legislation >to say that certain words are of such importance that the* Government should issue a proclamations preventing their use? If we desire to» keep the words in use, we should permit the people to use them everywhere. That will not degrade them, but will elevatethem. Their general use will make them part of our everyday life. Events now move so rapidly that the word “ Anzac.”’ which is in every one’s mouth to-day, willin two or three’ years’ time be almost a. forgotten word.
– Doe3 the honorable senator think that it will ever bef forgotten ?
– I do. I donot think that it will ever be forgotten, generally. I think it will be a wordwhich will be uttered on occasions, and always with pride and pleasure. But if the Government adopt this stupid method’ of prohibiting its use, it will tend to its being forgotten. No man has a greater admiration than I have for the men whocreated the name of “ Anzac.” . I say that sincerely; but I say also that thousands of men, who never got the advertisement which the Anzacs received,, fought on the battle-fields of France with, a gallantry which equalled, if it did not surpass, that- of the Anzacs. It may bethat, history will one day do justice to> the men who fought on those other fieldsThe name of “Anzac” was won by themen who fought at Gallipoli, and will stick in the memory; but at Pozieres, Messines, Bullecourt. and a number of other places in France, men who werenever at Gallipoli fought with as much, bravery, and showed as much Australian-, initiative and skill as was shown at Gallipoli. The word “ Anzac “ is to-day applied loosely to men who went -to France,, and who never saw Gallipoli.
– How does thehonorable senator connect these remarkswith the Bill?
– I remind thehonorable senator that this Bill seeks toprohibit the use of these words. What is ‘the use of prohibiting a word from being a trade mark?
– What is the use,, under the Standing. Orders, of prohibiting tedious repetition?
– Unless we have a President who will prevent it, *here is no use in prohibiting tedious repetition under the Standing Orders. But I venture to, say that we have a President who will not permit any honorable senator to ‘tediously repeat himself. It “is because the words of the different <clauses of ‘this Bill somewhat resemble each other that I appear to Senator Mulcahy to be repeating myself. I will repeat
– The honorable senator will oblige me by not repeating what he has already said often enough.
– I was just going to repeat something if you, sir, will permit me.
– I ask the honorable senator not to do so, and to obey my ruling. The honorable senator has repeated some matter several times, ‘and when he himself calls my attention to ‘the fact that he intends to repeat himself, I must take notice of it.
– I was going to repeat the ruling which you have so “frequently given that one is not permitted to go back over arguments he has ‘already used. I am trying to get the Bill before honorable senators, and when I do so I shall be able to refer to its general principles without tedious repetition. When honorable senators talk of tedious repetition, let me remind them that the word “ mark “ is repeated in one of these clauses about eighteen times. I find these words in clause 2 - or any word or mark so nearly resembling any such word or mark-
– Order ! The honorable senator has repeated that over and over again.
– I beg your pardon, sir. I am not going to permit you to say that I have done something that I have not yet done. I have just commenced to read three lines from- the bottom of the clause, which I never read before.
– I listened very carefully to the honorable senator reading them before. .
– D’o you say, sir, that I read those lines before.
– Yes, the honorable senator read down to the bottom line of the clause.
– I read to the bottom line of a previous clause, but if you say that I have read these words-, though I know very well I have- not done so, I shall respect your ruling.
I shall now have a word to say on the general principles of the Bill. It is intended that this measure shall amend the Trade Marks Act 1905-12. I want to see how these amending clauses fit in with the sections of the existing Act. Before the second reading of the Bill passes, I intend to move an amendment giving an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to make amendments in other sections of the existing Act. I am afraid that if I do not submit such an amendment at this stage, I may be prevented, when the Bill is in Committee, from submitting amendments of other sections on the. ground that they would be outside the scope of the Bill as passed on the second reading. The instruction to the Committee to permit amendments of other sections must be moved on the second reading.
– Not on the second reading, but immediately before the Bill is taken into Committee.
– I understand that I must move the motion while I am now on my feet.
– The honorable senator can indicate that it is his intention to submit such a motion.
– With the results of this afternoon before me, I do not care to disagree with your ruling.
– It has been laid down over and over again that only those parts of an Act which are dealt with by an amending Bill are proper subjects for discussion.
– I ask your ruling as to whether I shall not be in order in moving that it be an instruction to the Committee to consider amendments of certain sections.
– There is a proper time to submit such a motion. It would not be in order at this stage.
– Have I your assurance, sir, that you will give me an opportunity to submit such a motion?
– Yes ; I give the honorable senator my assurance that he will have an opportunity to move such a motion if he so desires. But I cannot go beyond the Standing Orders any more than any other honorable member of the Senate.
– I have in mind that there are some sections of the existing Act requiring amendment which it is not proposed to amend by this Bill.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing them at this stage. If he secures the consent of the Senate to have them amended in Committee he will be in order in discussing them when the Bill is in Committee.
– I proposed to conclude my remarks with a motion. The Bill proposes first an amendment of section 18 of the principal Act, and I intended to move that sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 be also amended.
– That motion would not be in order at this stage.
– My memory may be faulty, so I am not going to enter into an argument on the matter, but I was under the impression that when the question before the Chair was, “ That the Bill be now read a second time,” it was the right of any honorable senator to move that it be an instruction to the Committee to amend other sections of the original Act.
– If the honorable senator will again consult the Standing Orders he will be set right.
– Yes, Mr. President, and I shall look them up at my leisure. I am sorry I was led into the mistake of imagining that the Standing Orders gave me the right to move for’ an instruction to the Committee at this stage, but I have some recollection of a Defence -Bill in connexion with which Senator Stewart moved a similar motion, with the result that the Bill went to the Committee with an instruction from the Senate itself. I shall now confine myself to the general principles of the measure.
– I do not want thehonorable senator to feel that he is suf fering any injustice, so I direct his attention to standing order 332, which reads -
An instruction ° can be given to a Committee of the whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act, . to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, but are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to amend,- provided that such motion shall be carried by at least fifteen affirmative votes.
The honorable senator may give notice’ of his intention to move for an instruction to the Committee, after the second reading has been carried. At this stage we do not know whether the Bill will go into Committee. The honorable senator will have ample opportunity to move in the direction indicated.
– I realize that you are right, Mr. President. The fact that notice had to be given has slipped my -memory. I should have given notice.
– Perhaps the Minister can facilitate the honorable senator’s purpose.
– If the Minister will show- a spirit of sweet reasonableness, and be prepared to give me an opportunity, I shall sit down; but the Minister seems to have an idea that once a Bill is introduced it should go through with lightning speed.
– This is not a party measure.’ The honorable senator will have every chance to amend this Bill in Committee.
– I do not want to delay the Senate, but I think those honorable senators who have been listening to my remarks on the various clauses of the Bill will realize the seriousness of the position as regards the power to be conferred upon the Government by means of proclamations. This measure was introduced late in the afternoon, after two other Bills had been passed, and the Minister is not warranted in persisting with it. The fact that a Bill has been introduced in this Senate warrants honorable senators in demanding its full consideration. It should not be rushed through in a single day. I do not mind the progress of the measures that have gone through, but apparently the Government resent my speaking on the third Bill, and what has happened this afternoon will make me all the more careful for the future. I have shown that each of the three amendments in the Bill are most important. The Government are preparing for legislation by proclamation, and under this measure we have not had the faintest idea, from the Minister’s speech, as to what form the proclamation will take. It may embody the most fantastic idea of an absurd and fantastic Government, but’ if it does, it will only bring greater discredit on an already discredited Government. It is the duty of the Minister, in the course of his reply to inform the Senate and the country in what direction the Government propose to use these enormous powers which are to be given to the Governor- General. Probably if I speak much longer the length of my remarks and the lateness of the hour will be the excuse for a non-compliance with my request, and as I am anxious to get full information I shall not delay the Senate longer. If this power is conferred upon the Governor-General there may be no limit to its use. Some fad, some sudden impulse, some expression of public opinion, or strong feeling running through the community will one day impel some brilliant genius of this or some other Government to use the powers sought for in this measure, and perhaps prevent the use of certain trade marks. All the forces at the command of the Commonwealth will be brought to bear to enforce the proclamation.
– There is evidently going to be a time of great activity.
– Yes. It is quite possible that if any persons wanted to make use of the words “ high protective duties “ as a trade mark, they would,
Under this measure, have to apply to the Commonwealth Government for the right to employ those words, and the responsible Minister might say, “ Our leader, Mr. Hughes, invented that phrase. You cannot use it. He is going to make things cheap by making them dear through a high protective duty. Therefore, we shall prevent you from using the words.” High protective duties and carrying on the war after peace has been signed will become the trade mark of this Government at a not very distant date, and if’ any one not in the counsels ofthe Government attempts to use those words a proclamaion will no doubt be issued, signed by the Acting Minister for Defence, or the ‘Governor-General, or some equally exalted personage - perhaps a member of the Royal Family. That being so, I am reluctant to vote for the second reading of the Bill. If I had been allowed the opportunity which should have been afforded me, I could have suggested other amendments to prevent some of the injury that will be. caused by certain clauses of the Bill now under discussion. As I am anxious that other honorable senators should have an opportunity of discussing this measure. I shall not continue.
– You are considerate !
– I have no desire to monopolize ‘ the sittings of the Senate. In view of all the facts I have mentioned, I hope the Minister will inform the Senate in what direction the power of proclamation will be used. If he does not know, he has no right to ask for this authority. Before it is granted we have every right to know how far the Government intend to use the power.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn
– I mentioned earlier during this sitting that at the first opportunity - whichis this moment - I would discuss the sentences inflicted upon a number of the seamen on board H.M.A.S. Australia. It is some weeks since those sentences were imposed, and I have waited in the hope that the Government would realize how savage and brutal they were, and what a shock to the conscience of the community it has been that our seamen, after four years in the North Sea, should come home to
Australia and be sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for daring to wait on their Commanding Officer in the form of’ a deputation. For that is all they were guilty of. After the deputation, other things may have occurred. Events in these present days are so grave that the Government would do well to mark the celebration of Peace by. the restoration of those sailors to the status they enjoyed before that unhappy day at Fremantle. It may be said, of course, that discipline has to be maintained. Discipline never will be maintained among our Australian sailors and soldiers if it is to be upheld by the stupidity of British officers. The one offence of these sailors was that they Wared to wait on their officers. If they are kept in gaol while the people of Australia are celebrating Peace, an injustice will have been’ inflicted which will never be forgotten or forgiven. I recall the case of the soldiers on board the transport Argyllshire. It will be remembered that about 1,100 of them were landed under authority at a quarantine station in New .South Wales. There they were marched into an unsuitable camp. Snakes and vermin, crawled all over the place. Exercising their sound common sense, these Australian fighting, men, in defiance of their officers, marched en masse out of that camp. It may be said that for that slight infringement’ of discipline those troops should have been punished. That would have been the British method of enforcing discipline. But such, conduct would have spelt disaster if it had ‘been tried upon those Australian boys. The Government were fortunate in having in New South Wales a Commanding Officer of such sound sense and judgment as General Lee. When he heard that the men had disobeyed orders - had mutinied, if honorable senators like to put it that way - and had taken the boat on to Sydney, did he aTrest and court martial them ? . He did nothing so stupid or dangerous.* He met them, and had a talk with them, and then, he marched them to the Sydney Cricket Ground. There was no disorder. They were kept under control and away from contact with the people of the city.
Thus a disaster was averted. Of course, the ringleaders could have been brought up and punished, but General Lee might have said that they were all ringleaders; and, for such an offence against discipline, the Sydney gaols might have been packed with a thousand prisoners from the Argyllshire. The good judgment of an Australian officer prevented such a situation.
It should be remembered that the men on board the Australia had been under keen active service conditions for four years in the North Sea. Then there came one day of glorious liberty at Fremantle, where the people, in welcoming them home, possibly overdid their hospitality. It was inevitable that the men who had enjoyed such a kindly reunion with Australia should desire an opportunity to return the hospitality.
– Was the ship held up for a day at Aden to permit the officers to return the courtesies extended to them there?
– I understand that such was the case. The Minister, no doubt, will inquire what happened after that deputation to the Commanding Officer. If common sense had been exercised, nothing would have happened thereafter.
– Make- your own statement; do not make mine for me.
– I am assuming that that is what the Minister will say. I emphasize that no breach of discipline occurred which’ was so serious as to warrant the imprisonment for two years of a man who had won signal honours in the heroic exploit at Zeebrugge. There is noword strong enough to express my condemnation of such sentences. The Australia came into Sydney Harbor, and the mothers of those lads went down to meet them. The prisoners were marched off in irons under the women’s eyes. One woman dropped to the ground, and so great was the shock that her life was . despaired of for days. That was an outcome of the brutality of those officers - an act worthy of the fiercest term that could be employed.
There is scarcely, a camp in Britain or Prance where discipline has not been broken and orders disobeyed by Australian soldiers who were dissatisfied with existing conditions. Large ‘ numbers of our men were carried away by the impulse of the moment. But it should not be forgotten that impulses such as those which sent many of our lads to gaol were identical with the imputes which won Australia fame. I hope that the good sense of the Government will lead them to regard the sentences upon the seamen in the same light as does the whole of Australia. There is discontent, and, indeed,, a feeling of degradation over those sentences. The Minister, no doubt, will claim that the whole matter is beyond the control and authority of the Government. We handed our warships over to the Imperial authorities to assist in the protection of the whole Empire. We placed our own sailor boys under the control of Imperial officers; and if the latter can provide no better reward for those lads after their services have been’ completed and the war is over, then our blood will continue to boil’ with indignation until redress is granted. I hope the Peace celebrations will not occur if those men. are to remain in .gaol. What would have been rejoicing on my part will be sorrow, so long as I know that the parents of those lads are sitting sadly in their homes instead of participating in the general joy. If the Government continue to carry out a barbarous sentence, they will be parties to an exhibition of vindictiveness and savagery such as one would expect only from an uncivilised nation. The situation would have been different had those mcn been going into action instead of returning home at the conclusion of the war. No doubt, the sentences arc right and just from the viewpoint of the British naval authorities. It may be an affront to an officer to be compelled to even speak to an ordinary fighting seaman.
– I think we ought to have a quorum to hear this address.
The President adjourned the Senate at 9.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 July 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190716_senate_7_88/>.