8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 3 p.m.
The Deputy appointed by the GovernorGeneral, the Honorable Isaac Alfred Isaacs, a Justice of the High Court of Australia, having been an nounced by the Usher of the Black Rod, altered the Chamber, and, taking his eat on the dais, said -
GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE,
His Excellency the Governor-General, tot thinking fit to be present in person at his time, has been pleased to cause jotters Patent to issue under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth consti- tuting me his Deputy to administer the lath or affirmation of allegiance to hon- orable senators who are present and who have not already taken and subscribed the tame since their election to the Senate, as will more fully appear from the Letters Patent which will now be read by the Clerk.
Letters Patent read by the Clerk.
The Clerk produced the returns to writs issued for the election of members to serve in the Senate from and after the 1st July, 1920.
The following honorable senators made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -
The Deputy having retired,
– I desire to remind the Senate that, under our Standing Orders., the time has now arrived when we should proceed to the election of. a President.
– I move -
That Senator the Honorable Thomas Given do take the chair of this Senate as President.
It is unnecessary for me to say more than a few words of eulogy of the candidate whom I now have the honour of proposing for election as President. During several terms, Senator Givens has filled the high and honorable office to which I desire to see him called for another term, with increasing satisfaction to the various honorable senators who have done their duty to the Commonwealth of Australia.
– The honorable senator had better speak for himself.
– I am speaking for the purpose of securing the election of Senator Givens to the position of President; and I have no doubt whatever that the manner in which he has discharged his ‘duties will commend his candidature to the suffrages of honorable senators. It may, perhaps, be fitting for me to say something of the position itself as apart from the personality of the individual whom I have suggested as a fitting occupant of the chair. Australia has become increasingly important in the eyes of the world during the last few years. Through the generosity of the Mother Country, we are one of a great society of nations which is called the British Empire. Our representatives were accorded diplomatic status at the recent Peace Conference. We are now fully equipped, and on the world’s stage we have attained to nationality. We have> therefore, to make good. To a very great extent, we have done so; but we have to assert ourselves in every way as a potent factor in that great brotherhood of people which is outside the society of nations that is known as the British Empire. This is the only Parliament in the world which is called upon to legislate for a continent. That task is the peculiar right of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is, therefore, with a full sense of the fact that the honorable senator called to the important position of President of this Chamber should be a worthy representative of the democratic rights and interests of the Australian people that I propose the election of Senator Givens. He has, I venture to say, acted at all times with strict impartiality. I have a recollection of him as President when I was one of a small band of Liberal senators who were opposed -to the party which had selected him as its nominee fox that office. Long before I was politically associated with Senator Givens as a member of the same party, I bore tribute in the capital city of the State which I help to represent to his impartial conduct in the chair. Since then, I have never ceased to support him as President; and I think we shall be upholding a worthy British tradition if we show ourselves reluctant to substitute a new man for that office in preference to one who has been well tried, and who has served the Democracy of Australia most efficiently. I am not a hero worshiper, and I know that there are very few demigods; but, in all earnestness I propose that Senator Givens be selected as President of the Senate House of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– I second the motion.
– I think I would have done on this occasion as I did on the last occasion on which Senator Givens was reelected to the chair - that is, I would have allowed his election to go without comment, except that the remarks of Senator -Bakhap make it imperative upon me not to permit his re-election to the Presidency of this Chamber to pass without commenting upon his unfitness for the position. I realize that it is perhaps neither good taste, good tactics, nor good judgment to speak the truth as one feels it. Senator Bakhap has praised Senator Givens’ many good points, as an occupant of the chair, and I do not dispute them. What I complain of are his bad points. He has not filled the position with the dignity becoming the President of this Senate, and, as regards his impartiality, I could relate several occasions when not only was he not fair, but he absolutely went out of his way to be unfair to myself personally. I quite realize that honorable senators may get over that by saying, “It serves you well right.” I do not mind the horse-justice and common-sense judgment of men who, ready to have their own way, and taking a rough and ready view of things, come to that conclusion.
– You have heard the adage that no man is a just judge in his own case.
– Exactly so, but he happens to know more about the case than anybody else may know. Let me give an instance. On ‘one occasion, at about five minutes past 10 t in the evening, a new Bill was introduced into this Chamber by Senator Pearce, who moved the suspension of the Standing Orders, so that the Bill might pass through all its stages at the one sitting. With the instinct that scents danger, I saw at once in the action of the Government, and in the Bill they were introducing, what I believed to be an attempt to manipulate the electoral system of this : onn try for a particular purpose. I rose in my place to protest against it. My idea of a President is that he is not the hack of a Government. He is not there to assist the Government to hurry their business through Parliament, but he is there to hold the balance evenly. The particular Bill which it was proposed to suspend the Standing Orders to pass had never been before us, and I took occasion, on the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, to read the whole of that Bill to the Senate. I believed it was my duty to do so, and, whether other honorable senators think differently or not, they have no right to trespass upon my rights and my liberties when I am carrying out what I conceive to be my duties in this Chamber. What happened? From the. beginning of this Parliament there had been a wellgrounded custom of having an interval for refreshments at certain periods of the sitting. There was usually an adjournment for supper, but at a quarter to 3 in the morning, when that adjournment took place on every other occasion during an all-night sitting, Mr. President, of his own volition, and in order to put a serious disability upon myself, refused to suspend the silting.
– You were putting a serious disability upon the Senate.
– Exactly, but I was carrying out what I conceived to be ray duty. When all is said and done, each honorable senator is the only one that can be the judge of what his duty is. I cannot judge the duty of other honorable senators, nor can they judge mine. I did not mind the President dispensing with the usual short adjournment for re freshments on that occasion ; it was not a serious disability to myself.
– Why did you not dispute his ruling?
– Senator Lynch has got away out of touch with everything. Breakfast time came - that is, another eight hours had gone by, or a usual day’s work. I then, as I always do in this chamber, conforming to the President’s ruling, asked for the usual breakfast adjournment; but, again on his own volition, he suspended that adjournment. When I asked for it he told me - I am speaking from memory, and may not be keeping right to the book - that breakfast was not ready, but would be ready later on. He left the chair a little after that. When he again took the chair, at about 9.30, I asked him about the breakfast adjournment, and, with the selfcomplacency of a well-fed man, he said, “ I have had my breakfast.” So far as food was concerned, it was not a disability to me to go without it .for a day or perhaps longer. In fact, it might do me good ; but the point was that the Bill was an innovation on our electoral system ; it was introduced into this Chamber after 10 at night, and when I rose in my place to assert the rights which the Standing Orders gave me, I found myself subjected to an actual physical disability because of the unfairness of the gentleman who is now proposed as the occupant of the chair. I could bring up quite a number of cases of a like nature. On one occasion there ^ was a conflict here between myself and the Chairman. The Standing Orders, of which the President is the guardian, and which he has to administer, gave me the privilege of making an explanation before I was removed from the Senate. I rose upon at least a dozen occasions to make that explanation, but the President prevented me from making it, and put my expulsion to the Senate, contrary to the Standing Orders. Oan I sit by and hear a man praised for his fairness when those two glaring cases are on record ? I quite realize that what was done in each of those cases met with the approval of honorable senators supporting the Government, because the view I took conflicted with theirs.
– Simply because you were inconveniencing us.
– Absolutely. When the fact that I am an inconvenience to this Chamber brings me under new Standing Orders formulated by the President himself, I cannot be expected to get up and praise him, especially if he establishes those new Standing Orders to suit himself. The only means I had of showing the unfairness of the President on that occasion was to move at the next sitting, as I could do under my right of privilege, for the removal of the incident from tie records of the Senate. Mr. President then stood up in his place and tried to put upon the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Millen) the responsibility for not having afforded me the opportunity which the Standing Orders gave me. I have not introduced these matters with any desire to bring up old grievances. That is the last thing in my mind.
– It looks like, it!
– It does look like it. What I have in my mind is a desire to express the truth that is in me. I say that Senator Givens, with many good and even admirable- qualities for the position of President, lacks many other essential qualities, as honorable senators will live to learn, as I have learnt it. I may be allowed to point out some of the directions in which Senator Givens lacks fitness for the position that he is about to fill. One of his faults is shortness of memory, because, if he had any length of memory, he would recall that it is only a few short years since he got the position of President by pointing out to us that the man who had been in the chair for one term had been there long enough, and that as the chair could be filled with equal efficiency and fitness by almost every member of the Senate, it was about time to put his mate, Harry Turley, out, and put himself in. He has been there for two terms now, and I suppose he has forgotten the circumstances under which he came in. On that occasion I refused to participate at the party meeting in voting for the person to be elected as President of the Senate. The records of the party will show that that is so. T hold that, when all is said and done, the calling of a meeting of a section of the Senate to elect the President beforehand, derogates from the position: The President should be elected by the free vote of honorable senators when they meet, as we are met here and now. There should be no previous Caucus meeting. The
President should not be the servant of a1 party.’ He should take his place as the choice of the whole Senate.
– The honorable senator is quite at liberty to nominate another senator if he thinks fit.
– I know I am; but when a party meets, as the Government party met this morning, and selects Senator Givens for the presidential chair, and Senator Bakhap for the Chairmanship of Committees-
– Has not the honorable senator been guilty of the same action himself ?
Senate GARDINER . - As I have already explained, when that occurred in our party I absented myself for the simple reason that the position of President should not be a party position, and that the President should hold himself altogether aloof from party.
– The time to make that declaration was then, and not now.
– It may have been, but had I raised my voice on that occasion 1 would have found myself in conflict with the views of other senators, and knowing the majority was against me, I exercised that wise discretion which is regarded as the better part of valour. I have, as I have said, come into conflict with Senator Givens on many occasions, because of a difference of opinion between us as to the manner in which the duties of the President should be discharged. I am not going to put all the blame on Senator Givens, for he will be President shortly, nor am I going to take it all myself. Honorable senators are elected to represent the people of their respective States - I represent about 1,000,000 people - and as a Senate we have devised Standing Orders for the discharge of our public business; but’ Senator Givens’ desire is to “ boss “ this Senate as a twenty-year-old boss- ganger would boss a gang of navvies, or, shall I say, a gang of kanakas. That is not my view of how the duties attaching to the position should be discharged. I hold that it is not ‘the business of the President to help the Government to rush their business through. His duty is to» hold the balance evenly between ail members of this Chamber, and because he has on occasions deflected from that course I have come into conflict with him. Nobody regrets these conflicts more than I do, but I am not going to make any promise that there will be none in the future. If there are any encroachments, no matter how minute they may be, upon the rights of elected members of this Chamber, I shall raise my voice in protest, though I may have against me every senator anxious to catch his last tram and get home. I can promise that I shall be as keenly alert to prevent infractions of our privileges as Mr. President may be alert to hurry the business of the.Governmen’t through, irrespective of our rights. This is the reason for the differences of opinion between us to which I have referred. Apart from this, Senator Givens has frequently gone more “than half way to meet us, but our differences in the Seriate have never been carried beyond the floor of this chamber. I may be allowed to refer to the proceedings at what may be regarded as, perhaps, the most important and historic meeting of the Seriate, namely, the meeting to pass a resolution of welcome to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. The motion submitted by ‘the Government was open for discussion by every member of this Chamber. Unfortunately, one of the principal titles enjoyed by His Royal Highness was omitted from the address, abd when Senator Thomas rose to point to this omission the President - I will not say he wan ted to be insulting, but in what 1 regarded as a most insulting way - endeavoured to suppress the honorable senator, though he knew that the motion could have been debated for hours. These are the incidents which, in my judgment, prove that the nominee for the presidential chair has, in the past, been more than a partisan. I had no personal desire to refer to them. I realize that Senator Givens will be in the chair for the next six years ; and, God giving me health and strength, I shall be where I am for the next six years, so, naturally, I do not want to say anything that will make my position worse than it is. Senator Givens has all the instincts of the boss, and very few of the President. Therefore T do not want to commence this session by angry words. The Ministerial party meeting, I understand, has decided this matter, and has decided also that Senator Bakhap shall be the Chairman of Committees.
– A very good man, too.
– As to their qualities, they are both good men. In fact, we are all good men. We would not be here if we were not. There are no Standing Orders to interfere with me this afternoon, so. Senator Givens will no doubt appreciate the position if he has to wait a little longer before he becomes the presiding officer of this Chamber. I have not asked any honorable senator for permission to nominate him, but as I believe the position should be’ contested, I intend to nominate one who, I think, has all the qualifications for the position, and, moreover, is a returned soldier. I have pleasure in nominating Senator Foll and look for a supporter if honorable senators are not Caucus-bound. I nominate Senator Foll because, for one reason, he is a returned soldier, and not a commissioned nne. In my State we have laid it down that preference shall be given to returned soldiers. I have not asked Senator Poll whether he Will accept nomination, but as I believe the position should be decided on the floor of the Senate in the most open manner possible, I have pleasure in nominating Senator Foll. from Queensland.
– I much regret, Mr. Duffy, that I am not a candidate for the position of President.
– I submit myself to the pleasure of the Senate.
No other motion being made,
-ELECT, being taken out of his place by Senator Bakhap and Senator Buzacott, and conducted to the chair, said -
I desire to thank honorable senators most sincerely for the high honour conferred upon me by returning me for the fourth time to the position of President of this Chamber. I can assure honorable senators that I appreciate the compliment very highly, as I think any other honorable senator would. I know my task will be an easy one, because, hitherto, in the conduct of the business of this Chamber, I have always had much assistance from honorable senators generally, and I am sure I shall have that assistance in the future. I shall endeavour, as I hope I have always endeavoured, to uphold the honour and dignity of the Senate to the best of my ability. I shall endeavour, as I have always done iri the past, to protect the rights of the Senate, both collectively and individually, and if I err at all, I trust it will be in favour of the minority and of individual senators rather than of the majority, because I hold that it is the duty of the presiding officer to protect the interests of minorities and individual senators.
– You did not do that on the occasion when an address was being presented by this Chamber to His Royal Highness the Prince of “Wales. You did not look after my rights on that occasion.
-ELECT: - I am not taking part in any ‘controversy at this juncture, as I do not think this is the time or the place. As honorable senators know, when I occupied a seat on the floor of the chamber, 1 did not shirk my responsibilities, and always entered into a controversy when I considered the occasion demanded it. I thank honorable senators most sincerely for the great honour they have again conferred upon me. I repeat that it will be my endeavour at all times to uphold the dignity of the Senate, and to protect the rights of individual senators, as well as of the Senate itself.
– You referred just now, sir, to your recognition of the fact that your restoration to the chair constituted a high honour, which you recognised. It does all that, and I offer you, on. behalf of the Government and this Senate, our most hearty congratulations on the fact that the Senate has, for the fourth time, conferred upon you the greatest honour it has in its possession to bestow. During the long period you have held the high and important office of President, you have revealed to those who have been members of this Chamber before to-day the fact that you possess the necessary qualifications, and I am confident that you will continue to carry out your important duties in the impartial manner which has characterized your work in the past. I have had a rather peculiar experience in this chamber under your presidency, an experience that has not been gained by any other member of the Chamber. I have been under you when the party to which I belonged was in a minority, and I was charged with the responsibility of getting the business through’ this Chamber. Although on some rare occasions I frequently thought you wrong at the time, I found, after all, that you were merely correctly interpreting ‘the Standing Orders, which you, as their custodian, had a perfect right to do. I have also had experience, under your presidency, when more fortunately placed, and it has been borne in upon me that you have always taken it to be your duty, aa master of the Senate and the custodian of the Standing Orders, to interpret them in a fair and impartial manner. At times your decisions may not have had unanimous support, and it would be a travesty of language to say that you have not made some mistakes, which we are all liable to do. I could, if I so desired, say something concerning the doubts or difficulties that have arisen at different times. A perfect man has not yet been discovered, and- if such a person “were available, I doubt very much whether he would have secured selection. You, sir, will not claim to be free from those mistakes which are common to us all; but we are justified in coming to the definite conclusion that it is because your work in the past lias been of such a satisfactory nature that we are again asking you to occupy the position of President. I express the hope that in your forthcoming term of office matters will proceed as well and as pleasantly to you and to the Senate as they have done in the past.
.- On behalf of the whole of the Opposition, I join in congratulating you, sir, on your election, and although it is against my judgment and. against my will, I bow to the wish of the majority of honorable senators. Having secured the selection, I recognise that you are entitled, not only to be congratulated, but to be treated in a proper manner, as I arn sure you will be on every occasion. We shall always recognise that the position you have secured has been fairly won, and, so far as your party is concerned, you have” received its unanimous indorsement.
– I have to announce that His Excellency the Governor-General is in attendance in the Parliamentary Library for the purpose of receiving the President of the Senate.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) . - I shall proceed forthwith to present myself as the choice of the Senate to His Excellency the Governor-General in the Parliamentary Library, and I shall be glad if honorable senators who can conveniently do so will accompany me.
Sitting suspended from3.47- to4.5 p.m.
The Senate having re-assembled,
– I desire to announce to the Senate that, accompanied by honorable senators, I presented myself to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral as the choice of the Senate for the position of President of this Chamber. His Excellency was pleased to extend to me his congratulations.
The President read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Parliamentary Allowances Bill.
Oil Agreement Bill.
Committee of Public Accounts Bill.
Appropriation Bill 1919-20.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1920-21.
War Gratuity Bill (No. 2).
War Loan Bill.
– I have to inform the Senate that in the album containing the address to His Royal Highness the Prince of “Wales I placed a copy of the flashlight photograph taken at the time of the presentation of the address, and I have since received the following letter from the Secretary to His Royal Highness: -
The President of the Senate,
I am directed by the Prince of Wales to acknowledge with sincere thanks the beautifully bound and illuminated album containing the Address of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia. His Royal Highness has been much interested in the photograph which you have had inserted upon the blank page, and thoroughly approves the idea of addingit to the album.
Will you please convey his cordial acknowledgments to all honorable members of the Senate?
I am, your obedient servant, E. W. M. GRIGG,. Lieutenant-Colonel, Secretary to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
. - (By leave.) - I desire to inform the Senate that the Right Hon. W. A. Watt, P.O., tendered his resignation as a member of the Ministry, and that the resignation, having been submitted to His Excellency the Governor-General, has been accepted. I desire to say, with reference to this matter, that it is the wish and intention of the Government to make public the cables which have passed between them and their late colleague. There are, however, certain portions of those cables which it is not thought desirable, in the public interest, should be published. In order that only such portions, as for the reason indicated, should be deleted, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) proposes to ask the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Tudor), and the Leader of the Country party (Mr. Mc Williams), to associate themselves with him in editing the cables, in order that there may be an assurance that the only ‘portions of the cables deleted shall be those which ought not to be published, and which have no bearing upon the controversy itself. I anticipate that action will be taken in this matter in another place to-morrow.
– Are we to be ignored in the matter?
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if he will lay on the table all correspondence passing between Mr. Watt and Mr. Hughes relative to, or which (preceded, the resignation of Mr. Watt, and whether he will also lay on the table all cablegrams sent to other bodies in Great. Britain by Mr. Hughes which may have been in conflict with Mr. Watt’s personal representations.
– I have already informed the Senate of the intention of the Government on this mat- ter. I do not propose to make any addi tion to the statement I have already made.
Sydney and Suburban Telephone Services
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he has obtained the information I asked for before the last adjournment of the Senate relative to the amount of money that has been placed at the disposal of the Postmaster-General for the resuscitation of the Sydney and suburban telephone services.
– It is so long since the question was put that I may plead almost guilty to having overlooked the matter. If the honorable senator will give me the opportunity at our next sitting, I shall see whether the information for which he asks can then be made available.
The following papers were presented: -
Convention for the control of the trade in arms and ammunition, together with Protocol.
Convention relating to the liquor traffic in Africa, together with Protocol.
Customs Act -
Proclamation, dated 19th May, 1920, revoking previous proclamations relating to the exportation of certain goods.
Proclamation, dated 19th May, 1920, revoking so much of proclamation of 29th. November, 1916, as relates to the exportation of High-speed Tool Steel.
Proclamation, dated 19th May, 1920, revoking so much of proclamation of 17th October, 1917, as relates to the exportation of Manufactures of Metals.
Proclamation, dated 19th May, 1920, prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of Cheese, and revoking proclamation of 6th November, 1918.
Proclamation prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of Fruit (fresh or preserved), Fruit Pulp, and jam. [Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 97.
Declaration modifying the agreement of 10th September, 1919, between the Allied and Associated Powers with regard to the cost of liberation of the Territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
Declaration modifying the agreement of 10th September, 1919, between the Allied and Associated Powers with regard to the Italian reparation payments.
Defence Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 77, 79, 83, 88, 90, 91, and 96.
Economies Royal Commission - Comments by certain officers on First Progress Report; also comments by the Hon. W. Webster and the Hon. G. H. Wise in connexion with the reports of officers of the PostmasterGenerals Department.
Income Tax and Estate Duty, Financial Year 1918-19. - Particulars of amounts paid, &c.
Income Tax - Royal Commission. - Index to the seven instalments of the Minutes of Evidence and Appendices. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Cottesloe, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Lismore, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Quairading, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Naval Defence Act. - Regulations amended. -.Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 47, 48, 49, 51, 58, and 81.
Northern Territory -
Ordinance No. 13, of 1919 - Supreme Court (No. 2).
Ordinances of 1920 -
No. 2. - Birds Protection.
No. 4. - Dog.
No. 5. - Pastoral Leases.
Papua. - Ordinance No. 11, of 1919. - Native Taxes.
Peace Treaty with Roumania, signed at Paris, 9th December, 1919.
Post and Telegraph Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 29, 30, 31, 37, 38, 63, 70, 71, 74, 75, 86, and 87.
Proces-Verbal of the Deposit of Ratifications of the Treaty with Poland.
Proces-Verbal of the Deposit of Ratifications of the Treaty of Peace with Germany.
Protocol signed by Germany, 10th January, 1920, at Paris.
Public Service Act -
Appointments and Promotions -
F. L. Jones, Prime Minister’s Department.
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 84 and 98.
Railways Act. - By-law No. 14.
War Gratuity Act. - Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 85.
War Precautions Act. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 94.
War Service Homes Act.-Land acquired at -
Alexandria, New South Wales.
Goulburn, New South Wales. ,
Normanhurst, New South Wales.
War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act. - Re gulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 76.
Wireless Telegraphy Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1920,No. 68.
Senator NEWLAND presented the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed erection of mobilization and vehicle stores at Seymour, Victoria.
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 21st July.
In submitting this motion, I wish to place before honorable senators the reasons which render such a course both desirable and necessary. They will notice, from the appearance of our businesspaper, that, owing probably to the expedition with which the- Senate ordinarily addresses itself to its labours, we have cleared up the measures with which we were called’ upon to deal prior to the last adjournment. We dealt with the Navigation Bill, the Immigration Bill, and the Aliens Registration Bill. Those measures have been sent on to the other branch of the Legislature, and it is not possible or convenient to present any of them for the consideration of this Chamber until they have been dealt with in another place. On looking over the matters for discussion in the other branch of the Legislature, I cannot see that there is the slightest possibility of any business coming to the Senate from another .place before the date to which I propose the Senate should adjourn at its rising to-day. The chances of our receiving business from another place before that time are so remarkably slight that I have no hesitation in saying that it would be a mistake for the S’enate to adjourn for a shorter period than I propose in the motion I have submitted. I am. reluctant, as are honorable senators generally, to call the Senate back unless there is some work for us to do. I am still more reluctant to ask honorable senators to travel over half a continent for the purpose of doing one day’s work in a week, and then returning to their homes again. It seems to me that if the adjournment I propose is agreed to there will be a reasonable prospect that, upon our re-assembling, the Senate will be able to get to work upon the business of legislation for which it exists. If there had been any chance of our having work to do earlier,- I should have proposed a shorter adjournment; but, in view of all the circumstances, I think it is better to submit the motion I have moved.
– The motion proposes that the Senate shall adjourn until the 21st July. There is only one point to which I should like to refer, and that is to remind the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) that, if a Supply Bill is wanted, the Senate should be given ample time for its discussion. I tran assure the honorable senator that the practice of submitting a Supply Bill to the Senate a few hours before the Government need it will not obtain in this Parliament. That is not a threat ; it is merely a statement. I think I can venture to say that Senator E. D. Millen’s views and my own are at one on this matter, and that we agree that the Senate is entitled to ample time to discuss Supply measures, and that honorable senators should not be required to subordinate themselves as to meet the wishes of the Government or of another place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Suspension of Operation
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the provisions of the Navigation Act, which have been so long in suspense, will be proclaimed shortly, or whether their operation is to be held in abeyance until after the Genoa Conference now sitting?
– The proclamation of the Navigation Act was repealed by a special Act of this Parliament. I do not think that it is possible for me to promise that the provisions of the Act to which ‘Senator Lynch refers will be proclaimed in force at an early date. Practical experience has shown that it is impossible to administer the Navigation Act around Australia during the present dearth of shipping in Australian waters. The early proclamation of most of the provisions of the Act is entirely dependent upon the condition of shipping upon our coast. If we had attempted to enforce the provisions of the Act under the present abnormal conditions, the result would have been that parts of the Australian coast would have been left without any ships at all. We want Australian ships trading around our coast under Australian conditions, but it is of no use to insist upon those conditions when the result of doing so would be that the owners of ships would leave our people without shipping facilities. I shall be glad, in response to the request which has been made, to obtain a full official statement on the matter, .but I am not prepared to promise an early proclamation of the remaining provisions of the Act.
– In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I would like to take the opportunity, which, perhaps, owing to my own carelessness, I missed when the previous motion was being put, to reply to the point which has been raised by Senator Gardiner. Upon inquiry I learn that we already have Supply until the end of this month, and that consequently we shall be able to carry on the Commonwealth services till the middle of next month. Senator1 Gardiner will, therefore, see that there will be ample time after the reassembling of the Senate to enable us to fully discuss the next Supply Bill when it reaches us from the other Chamber.
. - I desire to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question which under ordinary circumstances I might have put upon the business-paper. But, seeing that the Senate will not meet tomorrow, I am obliged to bring it forward now. It relates to the present visit ofthe Prince of Wales to Australia. Before the original itinerary was altered consequent upon the week’s rest which was enforced upon His Royal Highness in Melbourne, representations had been made to the Federal authorities by the Tasmanian . Government, representations strongly supported by the people of the north-west and west coasts of that State, with a view to getting the time allotted for the Prince’s Tasmanian visit extended’, even if only by one day, so as to enable a very large portion of the population of. the island to have an opportunity of welcoming him. Notwithstanding the alterations which have been made in the Royal itinerary, I understand that representations have again been made upon the matter by the Government of Tasmania, and that those representations have been similarly supported. Together with other Federal representatives of that State, I have taken part in submitting these representations, but until a day or two ago I regarded the possibility of their success as being quite hopeless because if the Royal visit to Tasmania were extended’ by even twenty-four hours the Queensland itinerary would be interfered with. However, I have since gathered from a statement in the press that the Government of New South Wales are making representations to the Commonwealth with, a view to securing a second visit of the Prince to Sydney for the purpose either of opening or of witnessing the opening of the State Parliament there. If such representations are made, and if as a result alterations are effected in the itinerary of His Royal Highness, I ask that serious regard should be given to prior and very strong representations which have been made by the Government of Tasmania. I do not desire to deprive the people or the Government of New South Wales of any pleasure or profit that they may derive from a second visit by the Prince of Wales to that State, but, in my judgment, it is essential that as many of the people of Australia as possible should be afforded an opportunity to participate in the welcome to His Royal Highness during his visit to this country.. I ask the Minister, therefore, to convey to his colleagues, and particularly to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) the desirableness of giving the most favorable consideration to the earlier representations from Tasmania in regard to a brief extension of the Royal visit to that State.
– Replying to the remarks of Senator Keating, I cannot hold out any hope of an alteration in the arrangements which have already been made in connexion with the Royal visit to Australia. The original programme for the Prince provided for three full clear days at Sydney at the conclusion of his tour. In tha very early arrangement of the itinerary I recognised that the time allotted to the Royal visit was altogether too short to enable the Prince to get over a country like Australia. Prior, therefore, to fixing one date we suggested an extension of the time covered by the Royal visit by at least a fortnight, and, after considering the claims of all parts of the Commonwealth, we submitted a programme to the Prince by wireless. That programme has been finalized, and I have been requested to put forward no more applications for new tours. I quite recognise that Burnie is an important port of Tasmania, with a great future before it, and I would very much like the Prince of Wales to see it. But there are other important places such as Maryborough and Rockhampton, which I would have liked him to visit in order thathis tour might not have been confined to the coastal cities of Australia. That, however, has Been found to be impossible, and, consequently, I appeal to honorable senators not to make requests for any further -extension of a tour which has already proved too heavy a burden for the Prince. I understand that an application has already been received from Tasmania upon this subject, and if Senator Keating wishes me to do so, I will push it at his risk, and the risk of the Tasmanian people, but I cannot do so with any enthusiasm, nor can I hold out any hope that the itinerary already arranged will be altered.
– The Prince of Wales will not make a second visit to Sydney.
– Realizing tie importance of the matter which has been mentioned by Senator Keating, I exceedingly regret that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has not seen more of Australia itself and less of our coastal cities.
I rose, however, to speak upon another matter, namely, the resignation from the Ministry of Mr. Watt. There can be no question that that resignation is one of title most astounding facts which has occurred for a long time in the political life of this country. Up to date, the conditions under which he has resigned have been kept in the dark. Even in the correspondence which is to be laid on the table of the House of Representatives-
– And upon the table of the Senate.
– Only so much of that correspondence will be laid upon the table of this Chamber as may be agreed to by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the Leader of the Country party (Mr. McWilliams), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) elsewhere. I may be wrong, but I think that the time has gone by when Australia’s business should be transacted in secret. The matter we are discussing is an Australian matter, and the public are waiting patiently for full information upon it, and nob merely for such information as may be agreed to by two or threegentlemen in another place.
– The honorable senator will get it all to-morrow.
– I learn from the press that the National party have already had it before them in Caucus. If so, that is an outrage upon our parliamentary traditions. This is the place where that information should have been first submitted. I venture to say that honorable senators opposite know a good deal more about this matter than I do, although they have no more right to the information that I have as a public man. Further, as the Senate will not meet again for three weeks, I shall not be afforded a chance of obtaining it. So far as the quarrel between Mr. Watt and the Prime Minister is concerned, I candidly acknowledge that I revel in it. I like to see these ‘gentlemen at loggerheads, and I anticipate a good time when Mr. Watt returns to Australia. I am told that Mr. Watt went to England upon an important mission for this country, and certainly no man with the responsibility which he carried would have resigned his position without grave cause.
– If he were in good health.
– The fertile brain of Senator Earle suggests a reason for Mr. Watt’s resignation.
– I make no suggestion.
– It is a reasonable suggestion.
– If it were there would be no occasion to make it.
– I made the interjection for the honorable senator’s sake.
– It is assumed that Mr. Watt went to Great Britain upon an important mission. Probably it is due to my ignorance, but I confess that I do not know what was that mission, and I venture to say that no other honorable senator does.
– The honorable senator does not know the condition of the finances of the Commonwealth?
– We get vague hints about something which has to be kept from the public. But here is a gentleman holding a very high position not only in this Parliament, but in the public life of Victoria, who was given a very important mission, and one seriously affecting our finances. Who will foot the bill? Why, the public of this country. The sooner, therefore, that we get away from the air of mystery by which the entire business is surrounded and put the facts before the public the better.
Senior Senior. - What a vivid imagination the honorable senator has.
– I invite Senator Senior to tell me what Mr. Watt’s mission really was. He does not know.
– Mr. Watt stated it quite clearly in another Chamber, and also at a public meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall.
- Statements were made by him about an important financial mission. But there is quite a number of important financial missions in progress at the present time. What I desire to know is, why Mr. Watt was sent to England, why it was necessary to secure a man of his character and attainments to act as plenipotentiary for Australia, and why it became necessary to rob him of his powers, and to give him the status of a telegraph messenger. We are entitled to know these things. Of course, honorable senators opposite do not wish to’ know them. They are perfectly satisfied with this juggling with mystery, and with the great financial business which we are assured must be kept secret. The sooner we get away from secrecy the better. The sooner the public of this country are given a clear, candid statement of the position the better. If Mr. Watt’s mission was a big financial deal by all means let us know it. Senator Senior has interjected that I have a vivid imagination. I can easily imagine that Mr. Watt went to England with a view to fixing up the finances between Britain and Australia, and that upon his arrival he found that Britain wanted the bill footed at once, and the cash paid. I can imagine that he then discovered that notwithstanding his very great ability he had failed in his mission, and that a quarrel with Mr. Hughes was. the best way out. There are a hundred things which a man can imagine, but there should be no room left for imagination. The facts should be put before the public. Is there anything connected with the financial dealings of the Commonwealth which the public should not know? This is the only opportunity that I shall have of speaking upon the matter for three weeks, and that is why I am addressing myself to it as being the most important question in political circles to-day. ] refer to the astounding resignation of Mr. Watt, as to the cause of which the public have been given no information whatever. I know that the members of the Ministerial party were given the information at their meeting yesterday, or so the papers say. Although the papers are always wrong in reporting our meetings, I can reasonably assume that they are right in reporting the meetings of the other side, because the other side are their party, and they are that party’s press. I am assuming that the statement is correct - that the Ministerial party had the full text of the business put before them at a private meeting of the party. That, in itself, was an’ outrage on parliamentary procedure.
– You have frequently taken part in such outrages, and have never objected.
– If the honorable senator can bring before me one instance where, in our party, private correspondence between the Prime Minister and anybody else was laid before a party meeting, I shall apologize for what I am saying, but I challenge the honorable senator to do so.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “private” telegrams ?
– There has never been an instance where telegrams of a private, or even of a public, nature between the Prime Minister and anybody else have been laid before our meetings. We have always had enough confidence in our leaders not to require that sort of thing.
– Do you not remember that meeting, which ended at 3 o’clock in the morning, at the time of the “ parting of the ways “ ?
– If the honorable senator recalls that meeting, he will admit that no departmental correspondence of any kind was produced there, nor was it produced at any other meeting at which the honorable senator and myself were present.
– I am afraid the honorable senator very often ignores, history and despises facts.
– I cao. quite understand that interjection. I invite the honorable senator to tell me of any occasion on which departmental correspondence was produced at our Caucus. I have a very keen memory, and I invite Senator Thomas, whose memory is even keener than mine, not to allow that interjection to stand by itself. Mr. Watt took one of the chief officers of the Commonwealth with him. He undertook a responsible business. I do not know what that business was. He may have had to deal with the wool business, or to undertake the flotation of a loan in Great Britain. That has not been publicly stated ; but, whatever he had to deal with, it has evidently failed, so far as Mr. Watt is concerned, because he is not there to carry it out. As this Chamber is not to meet for three weeks, the Minister’ in charge of the Senate might, in reply, give us at least all the. information that he has in his possession. I invite him to tell the Senate what Mr. Watt’s mission was. What was he selected to do? Did he fail in what he was selected to do ? If so, has the matter fizzled out altogether, or is somebody else to be sent, or will all the Ministry be sent? If I had my way, I would send the Ministry and all their followers. I ask Senator Millen to give us these simple facts. Will he state what the financial business was that Mr. Watt went away to deal with; and will he also tell us who is interested in that financial business? Is it Mr. Hughes, Mr. Watt, and two or three others, or is it the people of Australia?
– I believe the report of the Economies Commission has been printed and placed before honorable senators; and I think I am voicing the views of a good many now present when I express the hope that the comments upon that report by the officers concerned will be printed also. I rose particularly to draw the attention of the Government to the question of internal loans, especially in relation to the Bil] which we passed just prior to the last adjournment, authorizing the Government to raise another £20,000,000. In the interval since we last met a good deal of water has run under the bridge. We have had the information that the Government of New South Wales have practically been charged 7 per cent, for a further loan in London. We have had the information tha.t the time is inopportune for the Victorian Government to approach the London market, and that, when the time is opportune, the Victorian Government will have to pay very smartly for loan money there.’ We have the further information that British corporations in the Mother Country are paying up to 8 per cent, for their money, and we have the inferential information that it will be extremely difficult for the Commonwealth to .borrow money abroad at this juncture, unless at a very high rate of interest. All this seems to point to the conclusion that it will be absolutely necessary for the Government at a very early date, perhaps before the Senate meets again, to launch another “ internal loan - that is, to launch in Australia the loan of £20,000,000, power for which we gave them six weeks ago. A great deal of consideration is required regarding- the terms upon - which that loan will be launched. I, for one, was in favour of placing on the statute-book the Compulsory Loan Bill, which went half-way through the House of Representatives during the last Parliament. I believe it will be necessary in the not distant future to have compulsion behind the raising of internal loans. I believe so for this reason, that up to now we have raised nearly £200,000,000, speaking from memory, by means of internal loans in Australia, purely and solely by voluntary effort. I believe that only one section of the community has so far subscribed to our war loans, and that there yet remains a comparatively large section of the community who have not subscribed to war loans, but could well afford to do so. I know several instances of men who have congratulated themselves, and are congratu- lating themselves, that the money that they could well spare is earning a very much higher rate of interest outside than it would earn if it were put into Commonwealth loans. I believe there is a comparatively large section of the wealth of Australia that yet needs drawing on in connexion with our national necessities, and I hope the Government will consider the question of completing the Compulsory Loan Bill and passing it through Parliament, in order to have the reserve power to call upon that reserve wealth should they need it. I do not believe in constantly flogging the voluntary effort of this continent, I believe in fair play. I believe that everybody should subscribe for national necessities as their means admit of their doing so. It will be unfair, in view of the financial position abroad, and of all that voluntary effort has done for Australia in connexion with war loans, to ask that voluntary effort to do too much, when there is in the community, to my knowledge, this reserve wealth that has not done its fair share. I have not the remotest idea of what is in the mind of the Government in connexion with the forthcoming loan, but it seems reasonably certain that, in order to make a success of the loan, in view of the financial position of the world to-day, a higherrate of interest will have to be offered. I hope the Government will not launch further- loans free of taxation. I think that is bad in principle. I hope the rate of interest will be sufficiently attractive to make the loan successful, but in insuring this, the Government must devise some means whereby they will not depreciate existing war loan stock. At present that stock has been a great deal depreciated, by from 21/2 per cent, to 5 per cent., and even in one or two cases by nearly 10 per cent. If the Government float a new internal loan without the gravest consideration of all the surrounding circumstances, the present stock will be further depreciated, and it may bo possible, taking an extreme case, to depreciate the present £200,000,000 worth of war loan stock by 10 per cent., for the sake of raising an immediate £20,000,000. I am bringing this matter under the attention ofthe Government, in view of the fact that the Senate will not meet for another three weeks, and of the possibility that, as we have passed the necessary Loan Bill, the loan may be launched before we meet again. I want, therefore, to place upon record my views’ in connexion with the very delicate financial position that may be. created. Personally, I am in favour of an early consideration of the conversion of the whole of our indebtedness, but I do not think it will be fair to that section of the community which has responded bo liberally to our appeals for internal loans, to depreciate the security which they hold through the fact that our present financial requirements are so acute. I address these remarks to the Minister in charge of the Senate, in the hope that consideration will be given to them by the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook). I feel very strongly that the present financial position is critical from many standpoints, and I hope that no extreme action will be taken by the Government which would have the effect of depreciating the present position of war-loan scrip-holders.
– Mr. President-
– Order! The honorable senator has already spoken.
– Honorable senators will understand that it is not through any lack of courtesy that I do not reply.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 July 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200701_senate_8_92/>.