8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and road prayers.
– I wish to raise a question of privilege. I had a notice of motion on the business-paper in my name prior to a recent visit to Sydney on public business, and when I came back I found that it had disappeared from the paper.
– If the honorable senator will permit me, I may save time by explaining that the motion in the name of Senator Foll was called on in the usual way, and as no member of the Senate was in a position to say that he had authority from the honorable senator to postpone the consideration of the motion, or to deal with it in any way in accordance with the ordinary procedure of the Senate, it disappeared from the busineespaper. It is quite open to the honorable senator to give notice of. the motion again, and have it restored to the paper.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied : -
Gold is sold by the mints to manufacturing jewellers, dentists, and others, at the mint par value, plus a premium based on the world’s average price for gold for the preceding six months. The premium has been fixed at £1 On. 3d. per standard ounce for the halfyear ending 31st March, 1921. The gold sold by the mints is deemed to have been provided out of the gold belonging to the Gold Producers Association.
The premium thus earned by the export and sale of gold is distributed amongst the members of the Gold Producers- Association in pp roportion to the total value of mint returns l odged by each member.
Supplies for Jam
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Distribution of Ships and Forces
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
If the Government will take into early consideration the advisability of a more equal distribution of the Ships and Forces of the Royal Australian Navy among the principal Australian ports?
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following reply : -
The Naval Forces of the Commonwealthare distributed in accordance with a definite programme laid down by the Naval Board, with a view to obtaining the greatest efficiency and economy.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That standing order No. 68 be suspended up to and including Friday, the 28th November, 1920, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past ten o’clock at night.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to- -
That until the 26th day of November, 1920, Government business, unless otherwise ordered, take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I should like to know whether the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders as proposed will suspend the right of an honorable senator to take a -point of order as to whether this Bill is properly before the Senate. The very wording of the motion- seems to imply that any standing order that would prevent the measure going through will be suspended if the motion is carried. If that be the case, I should like to take a point of order on the Bill before the motion, is carried. If that is not so, I should prefer that the first two clauses of the Bill should be passed before I raise my point of order. I should be glad, sir, to have your ruling as to whether the passing of the motion will shut me out from the opportunity to raise a point of order on the Bill later.
– I may explain that the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Ordersunder the motion will merely provide for the elimination of formal delays in the passing of the measure. It will not in any way limit the right of discussion on the measure or the opportunity to raise points of order, properly arising out of the discussion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
Thatthis Bill be now read a second time.
Considerable pressure has been brought to bear upon the Government to put an early period to the operations of the War Precautions Act. It is obvious that there is a certain amount of justification for the demand, because the Act, introduced during the war, conferred enormous powers upon the Federal as against the State authority, and therefore it is desirable to return to a normal state of affairs as soon as we. have got over the aftermath of the war. It is singular, however, that, in connexion with this agitation for the repeal of the War Precautions Act, and for the giving up of the powers vested, not merely in the Government, but in the Federal authority–
– What is the difference between the Government and the Federal authority?
– I shall come to that directly. It is singular, I repeat, that, although on the one hand there is an agitation for a repeal of the Act, the. very people who demand that the Federal authority should divest itself of these powers demand, in certain circumstances, that the Government should continue to do those things which could not be done except under powers which the Federal Government have, by reason of the existence of war, or conditions arising out of the war. It is easy to lash oneself into a passion, and use all sorts of extravagant language about the danger of investing the Executive with all the powers conferred upon them by the War Precautions
Act; easy, I say, to wax eloquent about the effects of the war, and to say that the war now being over, such powers should be relinquished. But when we get down to practical politics, we find that those who clamour most for the repeal of the Act are also insistent in their demands that some action be taken that may only be possible under this legislation.
Since the war there have been several crises in the Commonwealth. I need only refer to the coal crisis as one illustration. Senator Guthrie asked me just now to define the difference between the Government and the Commonwealth authority. By the Commonwealth authority, I mean the governmental or parliamentary authority as against the State authority. There are two legislative authorities in the Commonwealth; one the Federal, and the other the State. The Federal authority has defined, and the State authority residual, power. When the coal crisis arrived, or during one stage of it, the Commonwealth Government, anxious to get back to a normal state of affairs, proposed to relinquish control, but the very people and the newspapers who had been denouncing the Government for the exercise of these powers, and the State Government themselves, were prompt in demanding certain action on the part of the Commonwealth Government. What, they asked, did the Commonwealth Government propose to do? When we pointed out that the. State Government had all the necessary authority, we were met with the contention that State authority did not extend beyond a State boundary, and as the coal position could only be dealt with by some such authority as the Commonwealth Government, with powers extending beyond the borders of any particular State, we were urged to do something. The same may be said of the powers in regard to the moratorium. When it was proposed to relax authority, many of those who were howling at the Commonwealth Government to give up their power were the first to raise the question in Parliament, and demand that the exercise of the power should be continued. It will be seen, therefore, that much of the criticism has been very general in its nature.
This Bill repeals the War Precautions Act, and at the same time it legislates upon certain matters, and confers certain authority upon the Commonwealth Government to deal with matters in connexion with which action was taken by the Commonwealth Government under the powers of the War Precautions Act, but along strictly denned lines. Now we are told that the repeal of the War Precautions Act does not alter the position - that whilst we are ‘giving up powers with the one hand we are taking other powers with the other. That is not so, because while the War Precautions Act remains on the statute-book, not only have we those powers which now we are taking in a denned form in this Bill, but we have the general residual power under the War Precautions Act enabling us to issue regulations upon any subject, provided it comes within the ambit of powers conferred upon the Government by that Act. So long as the Act remains, and is not upset by a legal Tribunal, the Government have those powers, and could issue a whole, series of regulations, even in respect of new subjects; provided we kept within the powers conferred upon the Executive by that Act. What the critics have overlooked is the fact that, by repealing the War Precautions Act, and confining Federal Executive authority to certain specific subjects, as set out in this Bill, we have cut out the reserve power contained in the War Precautions Act. . To those who are genuinely desirous ‘that the power of the War Precautions Act should cease, because they object to the extension of a grant of power to the Executive as against the Parliament, it is something that this is given up, and that honorable senators will “ now know the definite subjects with which the Executive is empowered to deal, and the lines upon which those subjects may be dealt with.
There is another matter which, during the war, and up till the present time, has been dealt with by the War Precautions Act, notwithstanding that it is a subject upon which it is clearly within our powers to legislate. I refer to the question of sedition. The Commonwealth has never legislated in respect of sedition.
– What is the difference between a proclamation and statutory law?
– I would refer the honorable senator to Senator Benny. The Commonwealth has power to legislate in respect to the peace, order, and good government of the country. It is one of the organized forms of government which go to make up the British Empire. All the States have enacted legislation dealing with sedition. But the Commonwealth has never legislated in regard to that matter. It must, however, be obvious to honorable senators that there is a class of sedition which cannot be adequately dealt with by any one State, and with which the Commonwealth as the national power in Australia, has the authority to deal. I refer to sedition of a character which aims at the dismemberment of the Empire or at the constitutional overthrow of the Federal Government. Manifestly, it is more appropriate that we should legislate in regard to that matter than that it should be dealt with by every State. In this Bill we propose, for the first time, to ask Parliament to legislate in respect of sedition. As I have previously remarked, we have hitherto exercised this power under the War Precautions Act. The other power which we possess is that which reposes in every British Parliament - the power to fall back upon the common law of the Empire. Then, if a case be taken up, it Has to be dealt with under what ia known as case law. That is to say, that wherever a decision has to be given, it follows the lines of a previous decision in some part of the Empire. Whatever our opinions may be upon the subject of sedition, it is surely more desirable that we should express them in a Statute, rather than that we should seek to enforce punishment of that offence by some vague and little known common law, or by obtaining convictions upon case law.
– Then why not bring in a separate Bill dealing with the matter ?
– We are doing that. This Bill will accomplish two things. It will repeal the War Precautions Act, and it will re-enact certain legislation, including legislation in respect of sedition.
– What has sedition to do with the War Precautions Act ?
– During the continuance of the war our power in respect of sedition could be expressed by regulations framed under the War Precautions Act. But we have power to deal with it quite apart from the powers which were conferred upon us by that Act.
With this preliminary explanation, I come now to the subjects with which the
Bill specifically deals, and which were previously dealt with by the War Precautions Act. There is, for example, the coal question, to which I have already referred. The War Precautions (Coal) Regulations are to be continued, but with a definite date fixed for their termination, namely, 31st December, 1921. In the ‘meantime the Governor-General may repeal, alter, or amend those regulations, and persons contravening them will be guilty of an offence. But no prosecution will be instituted in regard to any such offence without the written consent of the Attorney-General, or a person who is authorized in writing by him. The expiry of these regulations will not affect any accrued rights, privileges, or obligations. The situation in regard to coal in Australia has been extremely critical for some time, and in respect of the manufacturing industries of all the States it is a matter of first class importance that a supply of coal should be assured to them. It has been found, as the result of experience, that that supply in the States can be secured only by Federal action. The States of Tasmania, South Australia, and Victoria have impressed upon the Commonwealth Government their desire that the Commonwealth should continue to take a part in the control of this matter until conditions become more normal.
– But we cannot compel the Newcastle miners to work.
– We cannot; ‘but there are other things that we can do. It is clear that the position in regard to coal is a position which has been largely created as the result’ of the war. The war was responsible for the withdrawal of large quantities of freight, for the shortage of coal by reason of the withdrawal of labour, and for excessive demands being made upon our coal supply by other countries. The necessity to regulate the supply of coal, therefore, is a direct result of the war. When we reflect that this power is asked for only up till the end of 1921, it will be recognised that it is surely a legitimate use of the war power which must repose in every Government, to insure that the industrial needs of the country are provided for, not only during the war period, but after war has ceased.
Another matter dealt with by the Bill relates to the control of the wharf at Port Pirie. The War Precautions (Wharf) Regulations authorize the Prime Minister or any person authorized by him to take possession of any wharf at that port. These regulations will be repealed, but will be deemed to remain in force in relation to claims arising out of anything which has been done under them, and in regard to functions exercisable under them. The Bill will, therefore, enable us to clean up any obligations which may have been contracted whilst those regulations were in force. Honorable members know the reason why we had to take control of that wharf during the war. It was because it was the wharf from which our supply of munitions was chiefly shipped. The use of that wharf for this purpose was found to be of great benefit; but it is not proposed to continue to control it other than to honour existing obligations. In regard to our primary products, the provisions of the Bill will authorize the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Commonwealth, to enter into arrangements with State Governments and with banking corporations to provide funds for the financial requirements of the States to enable them to operate any scheme for the transportation and marketing of Australian primary products. In this connexion he may give guarantees to the banks in regard to the repayment of advances by the various States, and may arrange for the Commonwealth to accept portion of any liability incurred in connexion with the payment of advances to primary producers. It is also proposed by the clause to ratify any such agreement already entered into. There is no War Precautions Regulation dealing with this matter, but sections 10 and 12 of the Commercial Activities Act 1919 contain similar provisions in regard to the 191S-19 and 1919-20 harvests. That surely i.s an’ eminently desirable power with which the Commonwealth Government should be clothed. Those who, on the one hand., say that all these powers should be stripped away would be the first, if they were so stripped away, to denounce this Parliament and this Government because they had not made provision to enable the Wheat Pool, for instance, to be carried on, at any rate for the present year, and to enable us to get back to normality in that regard, and also in regard to the other Pools operating at the present time.
It is proposed to amend the Commercial Activities Act so as to extend the powers in relation to sugar from 30th September,1920, to 30th June, 1923. That is done by clause 6. In this regard the Commonwealth had to operate under the War Precautions Act, and later under the Commercial Activities Act, but whilst the sugar market outside Australia is in a disturbed and fluctuating condition, in order to have some guarantee for our secondary industries that are dependent on sugar, and in order to see that the sugar produced in Australia is available for the consumers in Australia, it is necessary that contracts should be entered into between the Commonwealth Government, as representing the rest of Australia, and the Queensland Government. Naturally, if those contracts are to be fair to both sides, they have to be entered into over such a space of time as will give some guarantee to those entering into the industry and planting cane that they will get a return for the crop they are planting when it is harvested. Whilst that is an advantage to the sugar-grower of Queensland, it can be easily demonstrated, by a slight examination of the sugar market in the outside world, that it has been of even greater advantage to the consumers, and particularly to the jam manufacturers, in Australia. If this power were stripped away, and nothing were put in its place, the consumers of this country, looking at the sugar position outside Australia, would soon be screaming for this Parliament toenact fresh legislation to take control of this matter again.
During the war, regulations were made dealing with the registration of companies, firms and businesses, and these it is proposed to continue till 31st December, 1921, and to authorize the making of regulations repealing, altering or amending them during that period, provided that they are not inconsistent with the clause. No prosecution can be commenced without the consent of the AttorneyGeneral. The Bill also provides that no company in which more than onethird of the shares are held by aliens can, without the consent of the Treasurer, acquire any mine, or interest in a mine, or any mining or metallurgical business, and that no alien canacquire shares in any company incorporated in the Commonwealth without such consent. I take it that Senator Gardiner will say, “If you are going to deal with that question, you should deal with it under a companies law.”
– Hear, hear!
– That is perfectly fair criticism. I agree that it wouldbe preferable, if we could do it now, to legislate generally in regard to companies, but we have been dealing, with companies during the war under the War Precautions Act, and we have taken certain action during the war under that Act as the result of what the war has taught us with regard to companies. We are asking that certain features of the action taken under the War Precautions Act shall be continueduntil 31st December,. 1921, in order to enable time to be given to framesuch companies legislation as experience has shown to be desirable. If there is one thing that the war threw a flood of light upon, it was the way in which the enemy countries had penetrated into the commercial life of Great Britain and her Dominions, and the way they had obtained control of the essential raw materials for munitions of war, by reason of theircontrol of companies.
– This Bill makes no distinction between, enemy and allied countries.
– Peace having been declared, there are no enemy countries. I should have said “ alien. “ countries. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the friend of to-day may be the enemy of to-morrow. We must learn, and apply the lesson that was taught us in the war. That lesson is thatwe ought to have some means of knowing what alien capital is being introduced into this country, and for what purposes it is being applied.. That is practically all that this part of the Bill does. The Treasurer may stillallow capital from other countries to beintroduced into this country, but we shall know where it is, and what companies are being controlled by capital from outside the British Empire. Surely that is desirable, until we can introduce a comprehensive companies law?I tell Senator Gardiner and others that no Australian Government, Nationalist or Labour, that introduced a companies law to-day would get it through any Parliament in Australia unless they made such a provision, because everybody has learned that lesson during the war. This is merely a stop-gap provision which continues only that feature dealing with companies until a definite date. Before that date arrives the obligation is thrown on the Government of bringing forward proposals of a permanent character dealing with companies.
Another provision enacts that British subjects entering the Commonwealth may be compelled to make an oath or affirmation of allegiance in the form of the schedule, and that any person who is found by a prescribed tribunal to have said or done anything in violation of that oath or affirmation may be deported. That is a disagreeable thing. It is not a thing that one likes doing, but one cannot shut one’s eyes to what is going on around one. Every civilized country with an organized form of government is taking to itself this power. They see that there are people in every country, for we are not singular in this regard, who are out to overthrow organized and constituted government, not by constitutional, but by violent means - by revolution of a violent and forceful character. Every country to-day is taking to itself the power, or exercising the power, of expelling from its territories people whom it regards as a menace to its institutions when acting in that way. We here take the same power. If a British subject comes here wishing to make his home amongst us, can there be any objection, if he is tested in this way, to his taking the oath of allegiance? If he does not believe in the British Empire as it is constituted to-day, the world is wide. Let him go to those countries which have a form ofgovernment in which he does believe. Surely he cannot object. He is not compelled to come here. But we say that, if he does, he must conform to the method of government that he finds here, and that if he objects to it he must take only constitutional means ofaltering it.
– Are you going to make it retrospective ?
– I would like to.
A regulation relating to unlawful assemblies was also adopted during’ the latter period of the war to prevent the assembling of bodies of citizens within theprecincts of this building. Although such a regulation was framed under the War Precautions Act, it is thought desirable that we should embody a similar provision in our Statutes. There is a proper method of influencing this Parliament, but it should not be by a handf ul of citizens in Melbournecoming here and attempting to terrorize, or by intimidation influence, honorable senators representing, say, Tasmania, Queensland or Western Australia. To those who argue that the continuation of. such a provision will interfere with the freedom of speech, I may say that there are thousands of square miles of vacant country in other parts of the Commonwealth where opinions may be expressed, and it is farcical to suggest that because certain persons are not allowed tohold forth in the vicinity of this building, any limitation is being placed on the freedom of speech.
– What became of the Unlawful Assemblies Bill that was passed by the Senate ?
– We were operating under a War Precautions Act regulation.
There are also amendments of the Crimes Act, which deal principally with sedition, concerning which I have already spoken and on which I do hot propose toelaborate at this juncture, asthey can be more effectively dealt with in Committee. If ft is decided that there should be legislation against sedition, it should be included in such a measure as this.
The Bill also provides that any municipality, Harbor Trust or Board or Marine Board or local governing body may invest inany loan raised by the Government of the Commonwealth any of its funds or anymoneys raised by it by way of loan. Such bodiesmay also borrow money byway of bank overdraft or otherwise for investment in any loan, and sell any stock or bonds of any suchloan.
Provision has also been made toenable a bank to advancemoney to employees for investment in Commonwealth loans. These provisions arecopied from supplementary regulations issued under the
War Precautions Act, and are to remain in force for a period of two years. I do not think any one will object to that, In the Bill as it was originally introduced provision was made for the appointment of a Council of Finance, but that has been struck out in another place.
– Will not the provision relating to loans override State laws?
– No Statelaw should be able to regulate the conditions of investment in a Commonwealth loan and this Parliament should have the power to say who can invest.
– But the authorities mentioned by the Minister for Defence have been created under State Statutes.
-That is so.
– Can the Commonwealth enlarge their powers ?
– It is a question of whether the State andCommonwealth laws conflict, and that is a matter which the Court would have to decide. If the Court should decide that it was a function of the Commonwealth, our law would override that of a State.
Provision is also made that the agent for oversea companies or firms must surply to the Collector of Customs annually particulars of the name and address of the company or firm, the amount of its capital, and the name and addresses of its branches. In the case of a firm, the name, address, and nationality of each member must be submitted. This is practically supplementary, and has been inserted to enable a record to be kept of foreign capital invested in Australian industries.
There are a number of minor clauses which are really additions to the Crimes Act, such as making it an offence to deface or destroy British gold coins. There are also powers to frame regulations under the Bill on a variety of subjects, including the closing to members of any of the “Naval or Military Forces premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors.
Provision is also made to prohibit or regulatethe publication of books, pamphlets or documents purporting to be records of the services of any naval or military Expeditionary Force raised in the Commonwealth.During the war there were a number of enterprising individuals who were exploiting the rela tives of our soldiers by asking them to supply particulars of the record of a particular soldier so that they could be included in the history of a certain battalion or division which the canvasser was supposed to be publishing. If information was supplied, the relatives of the soldier were informed that it would be included in the publication on the understanding that they agreed to purchase a copy at two guineas. No attempt will be made to interfere with the publication of genuine historical records; but this provision will be the means of protectingrelatives of soldiers from unscrupulous persons. We are also prohibiting or regulating the use of the word “Anzac” or any word resembling it, for commercial purposes.
That is a generalresume of the principal powers we are asking for, some of which were previously exercised under the War Precautions Act and its regulations. I challenge any honorablesenabor to say that they are undesirable or unreasonable, and that they should not be enacted in a measure of this character. Any one who says that we are repealing the War Precautions Act, and at the same time retaining the powers in another way, is exaggerating the position. Because such provisions as those I have outlined are necessary, and some of them are for a limited period only, I confidently ask the Senate to agree to the second reading of the Bill.
– What happened to the Unlawful Assemblies Bill which has already been passed by the Senate ?
– Its provisions are incorporated in this measure, and it has, therefore, not come before another place.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [3.48]. - I desire to commence by saying that I am in hearty accord with this Bill up to line six in clause 2, which reads, “ The War Precautions Act 1914- 1918 is hereby repealed.” I. have listened to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) most attentively, and if it were not for the seriousness of the situation, his statements would be most amusing. I understand the Government are to continue the powers they took under the War Precautions Act, but which Parliament never conferred upon them.
– Was not the honorable senator a member of the Government which passed that Act?
– I was a member of the Government which secured authority to deal with grave emergencies arising out of the war; but those powers have since been flagrantly abused by the Government. It was never our intention to interfere in any way with the trade of any State, and there is no honorable senator, irrespective of the State he represents, who has not resented the actions of the Government under an Act passed for a specific purpose. Let us go back to 1914, when we asked for these powers. The world was at war, and the Government realized that grave emergencies might arise. There was every likelihood, in some instances, that we would have no law to guide us, and as it would be necessary to act promptly, a War Precautions Act was framed. I am still of the opinion that the powers that were then given were necessary. A Government at war intrusted with the defence of the country can do all that is necessary to secure its defence.
Let us consider why the War Precautions Act was passed. It was to enable the Government of the day to meet emergencies that could not be met by any other means. But no sooner had Senator Pearce, as Minister for Defence, broken away from the party that would have imposed checks on the extension of these powers than he developed the War Precautions Act to an extent which, I venture to say, has absolutely astonished himself. The Act provided definitely and straightforwardly that its operation was to expire when the war came to an end, and a definite time was given after the declaration of Peace within which a proclamation should issue declaring the expiration of the Act. The Government never issued that proclamation, and never intended to do so.
– They came to Parliament and asked for an extension of the powers.
– Of course, and Parliament gave them the extension for which they asked ; but they are now coming to Parliament to ask for the continued extension, not merely of the powers they possessed under the War Precautions Act, but powers in respect of matters which have no relevance whatever to the War Precautions Act. This Bill contains provisions dealing with trade, with sedition, with the holding of public meetings, and with all manner of things. Senator
Pearce says that it is desirable that we should have the power to deal with these things. I think that in the case of most of them that is so. But I can tell honorable senators what is more desirable, and it is that these things should be dealt with by legislation specially introduced for the purpose. We left the beaten track because of the conditions arising out of the war, but now that the war is over I am particularly anxious that we should get back to normal conditions.
This Bill proposes legislation to compel visitors from- other British Dominions to take the oath of allegiance upon landing in Australia. I can imagine the great effect that is going to have upon a man who is prepared to upset all Governments, by force if necessary. The prescribed officer meets him at the port of embarkation, and calls upon him to take the oath of allegiance. If he is such a very desperate criminal, he will take it without a wince.
– But the Bill goes further, and provides that if he is subsequently found guilty of sedition he may be deported.
– I know what the Bill provides for, and how ridiculous the proposal is. I ask honorable senators to throw their minds back, not over the few years during which we have been governing this country without any such extraordinary powers, but over the centuries during which in a country much more convenient of access to the desperate criminals of Europe the British Government have stood for the principles of freedom. What has been the effect? Has it left Britain weak and unable to protect herself, or is it not a fact that because of this toleration and love of freedom and liberty she has developed the most powerful of all Empires ? Yet here we have some mannikins who firmly believe that they are giants prepared, so far as they can, to regulate the conduct of every one. They propose to do so iti this Bill, which is like a Christmas tree. It is possible to take from this Bill practically anything you want. If extended powers were necessary to deal with sedition in Australia, why was not a special Bill introduced for the purpose ? Why should they be provided in a Bill that proposes to repeal the War Precautions Act? If it is necessary that our Companies Act should be amended, why should we not deal with it by legislation properly introduced ? What has the consideration of the persons who have shares in companies to do with a Bill introduced to repeal the War Precautions Act? The same question may be asked in respect of practically every clause of this measure; and stripped of its pretence, it simply means an unlimited extension of the War Precautions Act.
The Act was never passed for any of the purposes for which it was used. I can recall the frame of mind in which we were when we asked Parliament to pass the measure. It was quite easy at the time to imagine all kinds of disasters to this country unless the Government were invested with extraordinary powers. It was frequently suggested that certain extraordinary powers were necessary,but they were only war powers to beused in emergencies, and, because of the dangers threatening this country at the time a Bill investing the Government with those powers was introduced. The war has been practically ended for two years, and this Parliament would do well now to get back to normal conditions. If the war has left honorable senators somewhat panicky, and they think our laws are not sufficiently drastic to deal with desperate characters in this country - and I suppose I associate with most of them - that might be submitted as the justification for the introduction of this Bill. I may say that none of those with whom I associate to-day are. as desperate in character as is the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), with whom I was associated before the war.
– Does the honorable senatorsay that the Senate, during the war, ever exhibited symptoms of panic?
– No, but I am not fool enough to pretend, now that the danger is over, that there were not days, weeks, and months together when a great many of the members of the Senate, and particularly of the Government, suffered from anxiety that was pretty closely allied to panic.
– That is so. We were all very anxious at times.
– I venture to say ‘that if even in our most anxious times we had introduced a War Precautions Bill to legislate for companies, to restrict public meetings, and to administer the oath of allegiance to Britishers coming to Australia, these powers would never have been granted.
– What about the drag-net provision in the Sugar Acquisition Act under which the Queensland Government commandeered beef?
– I am not going to Queensland for any examples of legislation, except that for improving the condition of the people.
This Bill received from another place is submitted ostensibly to repeal the War Precautions Act 1914-18, and to provide for certain matters arising out of such repeal, and for other purposes. I take the provision with respect to coal mines; and will any one say two years after the war has ceased that an agreement with the coal miners has anything whatever to do with the war? It may be very convenient and desirable to have such an agreement, but what has it to do with a measure to repeal the War Precautions Act?
– It is a matter arising out of the repeal of the Act.
– By a stretch of imagination an honorable senator might suggest that almost anything is a matter arising out of the repeal of the War Precautions Act. After this Bill is passed we shall find matters arising out of it, and the powers of the Government in respect thereto will be extended, because, in my opinion, the members of this Government have no sense of decency in connexion with the introduction or administration of legislation.
It is not long ago since the Senate passed a Bill dealing with unlawful assemblies, and proposing to do exactly what this Bill proposes.
– The provision in this Bill is word for word the same as the Bill passed by the Senate.
– That Bill was passed by the Senate and sent to another place. Why was it not passed there ?
– The trouble was that there was too much talk.
– That is very weak because, if the provision in this Bill is word for word the same as the Bill we passed, and the fact that there was too much talk in another place prevented the passing of the Bill sent there by the Senate, how is it that this Bill got thr ough ? It is merely side-stepping the issue to say that the Unlawful Assemblies Bill was not passed in another place because there was too much talk there. The Senate considered it desirable to pass legislation on that subject, though I did not agree with the decision. It sent the Bill on to another place, and there it has not been considered worth while to pass it.
– Another place did pass it, and we have it now before us in this Bill.
– Another place has introduced a new Bill, and has asked us to pass it. We are asked to pass legislation which has no relevance to the title of this measure.
– Why all this talk, seeing that in the Senate we passed the sameprovision?
SenatorGARDINER. - My talk is to try to induce honorable senators to understand that to pass this kind of legislation is to disgrace this Parliament.
– The honorable senator did the same thing when he was on the Government bench.
– Yes, and I have gained wisdom from all the mistakes I made. Sensible men do not make the same mistakes twice.
– The honorable senator admits that he made mistakes.
– Not only that, but I dare say that some of the best things I ever did were the mistakes I made.
There is a provision in this Bill dealing with wharfs. We are told that this is a Bill to repeal the War Precautions Act, but at makes this provision -
With regard to any wharf, possession of which has before the commencement of this Act been taken in pursuance of the War Precautions Act Wharf Regulations, Statutory Rules1917,No.79, those regulations shall be deemedto remain in force -
in relation to claims by any person arising out of anything done under those regulations; and
as regards functions exercisable under those regulatons.
Will any man, two years after the war has ceased, and when the War Precautions Act might be honestly used, say that it is necessary to extend the powers of that Act with regard to wharfs. It may be most desirable that we should have special legislation dealing with wharfs, but it is not at all desirable that we should pass legislation of this kind. This is not one Bill, but a series of Bills.
– That seems to be the honorable senator’s chief objection to the measure.
– I will say quite candidly that it is my only objection, and it embodies a principle which guided those who framed our Constitution, and which has guided’ British parliamentary institutions since their first establishment - that a Bill shall be what it purports to be and nothing else. That is the reason for my crticism.
– It seems to be a good innovation, for we have six Bills and one discussion.
– The honorable senator admits that. Evidently he believes that it is the duty of legislators to get, as many Bills under one cover as possible. But, unfortunately for him, there is what I regard as a fatal drawback to this course of action. The practice of Parliament is against the adoption of six Bills under one cover, and the constitution of the Commonwealth will not allow of it, convenient though it may be.
– Point out what standing order is contravened by this measure.
– I will point out what I want to say in my own way. I know it is hard for the honorable senator to hear me speaking; when I am on my feet he generally wears a pained look, as if something were wrong. No doubt, if I refrained from speaking he would get back that happy look ‘he wore some years ago when he was assisting me so much in the Government. But I want to come back to Senator Earle’a admission that we have six or seven Bills under one cover in this measure. There is only one Act to repeal, and it is the War Precautions Act. It is nonsense for the Government to say that they are’ entitled to provide in this measure for the continuance of powers taken under its regulations. The Bill is cited as the War Precautions Act Repeal Act 1920, but as a matter of fact, it is a Bill to regulate the condition of wharfs, to regulate companies, to deal with sedition, to make amendments to the Crimes Acts, to deal with agents of oversea companies and a number of other miscellaneous matters. The introduction of this Bill isquite characteristic of the interpretation given by the Government to the War Precautions Act during the last five years. That Act has been administered in a manner which Parliament never intended. Under it the Government took to themselves powers which I do not believe would have been granted them by Parliament even in wartime.
– Do not he too hard on the Act. It has been a good friend of yours on the “ stump.”
– It will be a much better friend in the future. Nothing would give me greater delight than to get down on the Swan River and tell the people there what the Government have dome. On one occasion Senator Lynch promised that if ever’ I got across there I would be thrown in the river, and I now invite him, if he votes for this Bill, to meet me on the Swan River, and then see who will be thrown in. If I estimate aright the intelligence of the Western Australian people, they will be inclined to throw him in the river, and take verygood care he does not get out again.
Let us look at the clauses of the Bill. The Government propose to step rightin and deal with companies, but I point out that there is a constitutional limitationof the powers of this Parliament in regard to companies. Quite recently the Government appealed to the people for an extension of certain power’s, but therequest was turned down. Trade within a State can only be controlled by the State Government. Honorable senators know all this. They know that we can legislate as much as we like for the coalminers in New South Wales so long as the coalminers and the coalowners agree to observe the legislation, but the moment they disagree and appeal to the highest Court in the land we shall find that we. have no power to deal with trade within any particular State. And yet, under this Bill, honorable senators propose to take those powers for the Commonwealth Government. What are the represntatives of the smaller States, who usually fear the larger States, doing to allow this?
– But why should it be to the detriment of the smaller States ?
– Because the larger States, like the richer people, are always able to look after themselves. Opposition to the extension of any Commonwealth power usually comes from the representatives of the smaller States, who fear that any additional power may be used to their disadvantage. But I disclaim that they would. The larger States, particularly New South Wales, pay pretty well the whole of the cost of the Commonwealth. They are in the Federation for the benefit of the smaller States. I suppose that this Bill has been dealt with in Caucus of the National party, and that it is scarcely worth while to pursue my argument, but the essence of my objection is that the measure includes half a dozen Bills under one cover. No doubt, honorable senators are indifferent whether it tramples on the Constitution or not.
– We cannot do that.
– It can be done, and this Bill, if passed, will remain the law until the Court decides otherwise.
– If it is wrong it can never be the law.
– It will remain on our statute-books, and be regarded as the law, until some one sufficiently interested tests its validity, and then the High Court will determine that this Parliament has no power to interfere in trade matters. I admit that we can enact a companies law if we like.
-itis not absolutely certain that we have the power to make a uniform companies law.
– I admit itis debatable if Parliament has power to enact companies law that interferes with trade within a State, but if the legislation embraces more than one State I can quite understand that Parliament has the power.
– That is not quite certain.
– Although the Government declare in this Bill that they are repealing the War Precautions Act, they are doing nothing of the kind, because all the more pernicious powers taken by the Government under that Act are to be continued in this measure.
– Do you say that the most pernicious powers are being retained ?
– Isay that the whole of the administration of the Act has been most degrading. We are a law loving and law abiding people in the Commonwealth .
– Some people are.
– The honorable senator can speak for some people if he likes.I speak for a million people of my State and I repeat that Australians are the most law loving and law abiding people in the world.
– And do you denounce the others?
– I denounce the vindictiveness that has always characterized the actions of the power-holding classes - the people who dealt with the Prime Minister before they took him over. Every man who has been in the public life of this country, particularly as a Labour representative, has felt keenly the vindictiveness displayed by the power- holding classes.
– Who are the power -holding classes ?
– The honorable senator represents them, or he would not be here.
– Of course I do. I represent the ordinary voters.
– I define as the power-holding classes the people who control the companies; the people who are now supporting the Government, and are behind this measure, which includes a Bill passed by the Senate but could not be got through another place.
– And yet the identical words contained in the Bill we passed are in this measure, which has been passedby another place.
– If the words are identical, why was not the Bill we sent to another place passed? We know, of course, that this Bill is a quicker way of doing things. It is, in. fact, direct action. All the Industrial Workers of the World are not on my side in politics now. The Government have taken over their methods.
I do not wish to continue the discussion of this Bill. Mr. President, so I shall content myself by taking your ruling as to whether the Bill i.3 in order. It is cited as the War Precautions Act Repeal Act . 1920, and clause 2 provides -
The War Precautions Act 1914-1918 is hereby repealed.
Nevertheless, the Bill contains provisions, dealing with wharfs, primary products, sugar, companies, firms and businesses, entry into the Commonwealth, unlawful, assemblies, amendments to the Crimes Act 1914-1915, loans, agents of oversea companies. I ask your ruling, Mr. President, whether a Bill introduced under these conditions is in order.
– I should like to say a few words on the point of order raised by Senator Gardiner. I understand that he takes the point that the Bill is not in order because it deals with a lot of subjects which, he says, are not related one to the other, and, or which are not related to the title of the Bill. The Bill is “ a Bill for an Act to repeal the War Precautions Act 1914-18, and to provide for certain matters arising out of such repeal, and for other purposes.” That is a fairly comprehensive title. Senator Gardiner’s point of order is that the Bill does not comply with the order of leave. I submit that the order of leave is covered by the words of the title. If I were moving in this Chamber for leave to introduce a Bill, I would repeat those words and if the motion were carried, it would give me leave to introduce a Bill within the scope of those words. A measurecoming here from another place is. I submit, in exactly the same position. I claim that we have absolutely complied with the terms of the title of the Bill. I cannot understandwhy Senator Gardiner has raised such a point of order, because, time after time, Bills have been introduced into this Senate dealing with halfadozen different subjects.
– Is it in order to pass two Bills through the Senate with the same wording during the same session ‘!
– The scone of the title is so wide as to enable the measure to deal with a dozen different subjects.
– I gathered from the remarks of Senator Gardiner that he would probably raise this point of order. I have, therefore, been looking up all the authorities that I could within the limited time at my disposal, with a view to ascertaining whether any precedent has been established for my guidance. Unfortunately, I find that there is no precedent in the Commonwealth Parliament which meets the present position. Of -course, I have nothing whatever to do with the question of whether it is desirable or otherwise to include, as Senator Gardiner contends, a number of measures in one Bill. All that I have to decide is whether the Bill is in order. Our Standing Orders provide that the provisions of every Bill must be in accordance with the order of leave. But, in this case,there is no order of leave, because the measure was received from another place, and read a first time. Therefore, the only guide which I have as to whether the Bill is in order is that it was received from another place, and read a first time. Upon that occasion the measure was described by the title as read by the Clerk. Reading the title I find it is “a Bill for an Act to repeal the War Precautions Act 1914-18, and to provide for certain matters arising out of such repeal, and for other purposes.” In my view it is permissible for a Bill to deal with almost anything under such a wide title. Indeed, it would be most embarrassing for me if I were asked to rule upon the question of whether or not any honorable senator’s remarks upon this measure were relevant or otherwise. In such circumstances, I do not think that I could rule against him, no matter what he might have said, because, under the title of the Bill, he would be at liberty to say almost anything. It is embarrassing to me, at such short notice, to be called upon to give such an important ruling. But, in view of the vast scope which is covered by the title of the Bill, I must rule upon the point raised by Senator Gardiner, that the measure is in order.
– I intend to support the Bill, but I throw the whole responsibility for its administration, when it becomes an Act, upon the Crown Law authorities of the Commonwealth and upon the Government.
– The Government are the only persons who will be responsible for its administration.
– I take it that in a deliberative assembly such as this, there is an obligation on the part of honorable senators to see that the Act is so framed that it will be capable of wise administration.It is a very old saying that an Act of Parliament has never been framed through which a coach and four horses cannot be driven. If that be true of measures which are extremely precise in detail and which evidence the close consideration which hasbeen bestowed upon the meanings of different clauses, I fancy that it will be possible to drive a flock of sheep through this Bill. I am absolutely in accord with the purpose of the measure in regard to the subjects with which it deals. I can see in it no powers which it is not essential that the Government should possess. All of the matters with which it deals are matters which certainly should be controlled by the Statute law of the Commonwealth. Senator Gardiner made rather a laboured speech this afternoon. Usually he is most fluent and interesting, but upon the present occasion he was obliged to repeat over and over again that this Bill, whilst purporting to repeal the War Precautions Act, re-enacted legislation in respect of various matters which should be dealt with in half-a-dozen separate measures.
– The honorable senator admits that that statement is true?
– I admit at once that the Bill is more important than any other measure with which we have yet had to deal. But to my mind the procedure which has been followed in its drafting constitutes a welcome innovation. If we had many honorable senators -like Senator Gardiner it would take weeks for us to get Bills dealing with the subject-matters of this measure through the Senate. He would, for example, deliver a speech upon the War Precautions Act, and he would deliver the same speech upon a Bill to provide for the suppression of sedition. Upon the question of the control of coal in Australia he would deliver the same speech, and he would repeat it upon the proposed regulation of industries which are carried on upon our wharfs. He would inflict upon us another speech of equal duration upon the question of the purchase and distribution of sugar. The same procedure would be followed by him in respect to such matters as the control of alien companies and firms, the taking of the oath of allegiance, and the prohibition of unlawful assemblies. As a result, the session would be inordinately prolonged.
– Is it not thebusiness of honorable senators to make speeches ?
– Oh, no! It is the business of honorable senators to exhibit an intelligent knowledge of the legislation which is placed before them, and to make speeches as briefly as possible consistent with a clear criticism of the principles that are embodied in that legislation. It is their function to say as much as they can in as few words as possible. In another place, quite a number of measures have been awaiting consideration for a long time - measures which it has been impossible for the Government to get passed into law. Had the session continued for another four months, it would have been absolutely impossible to pass through this Parliament separate measures dealing with all the subjects which are dealt with in this Bill. Consequently, if the measure be a water-tight one, if we will give to the Government complete power to deal with all those subjects, it represents a desirable innovation, and one which will shorten the length of our sessions tremendously. I heartily support the measure, but I repeat that I shall accept no responsibility for the completeness of the powers with which it will clothe those who will be called upon to administer it. I throw that responsibility entirely upon the framers of the Bill and upon the Government.
– The responsibility will be ours, if we pass it.
– I decline to accept that responsibility, because I doubt whether the Bill is complete enough.
– At the commencement of the war it was found absolutely necessary to supersede our existing legislation by one comprehensive measure known as the War Precautions Act. When that Act was passed by this Parliament, previous legislation became subordinate to its provisions and to the regulations that were framed under it. That Act remained operative during the duration of the war, and for six months afterwards. Before the expiration of that time, the period of its operations was still further extended. That measure, which superseded many of our laws when it was enacted, must now be repealed. It must be repealed in exactly the same way as the original Act itself was passed. I do not object to the pro visions of the War Precautions Act, except in so far as miscarriage of justice may have occurred under its operation. During the war I was rather inclined to think that we were not as severe as we should have been upon those persons who talked lightly of the part that we were playing in that struggle. But, if there were any miscarriages of justice under its operation, they are past and gone, and we had better allow bygones to be bygones.
SenatorFairbairn. - We erred upon the side of mercy, anyhow.
– I think so. It is. very necessary for us to continue to vest in the Government certain powers which are embodied in this Bill. The rest of the Bill is certainly very comprehensive, coveringas Senator Gardiner said, matters ranging from the stamping of gold metalto the companies law, and theregulation of the conduct of aliens. But the War Precautions Act itself was also’ most comprehensive. I suppose there wasnever a measure passed, by this or any other Parliament of so comprehensive a nature as was the War Precautions Act in. itself, and standing by itself. Having been brought into being as such, it takes a comprehensive measure to put it out of existence. When I read this measure; and saw how it extended to most of the ramifications of our commercial and social life, it reminded me of the lecturer who, not wishing to confine himself within too narrow limits, chose for his topic “ The Universe and Collateral Subjects.” This measure is very nearly on the same lines, and so war the War Precautions Act, although it was highly necessary, warranted, and justifiable in its day. But it . has done its duty and had its day, and we can afford to say to it, “ Well done; you have served your purpose, and you are no longer necessary.” I am quite content to support this Bill, in such circumstances. I believe there is no other means of dealing with the situation, although it may seem at first sight somewhat incongruous to introduce so many subjects under the one heading.
– I have certainly experienced a considerable amount of astonishment at the way in which this Bill was brought in. It surprised me that, after the Senate had dealt with an Unlawful Assemblies Bill, and sent it on to another plana, it should be simply thrown into limbo, and then brought back to us under another name. That does not seem to be treating the Senate with the courtesy that it deserves.
– We should rescind that before we pass this portion of the Bill now before us.
– It was amazing to me that such a thing could happen.
– There has been all the time a War Precautions Regulation in existence dealing with that subject.
– There is no doubt about that, and I am not complaining of it; but I do Complain that the time of the Senate should be taken upon a. Bill which is then thrown out by another place and sent back to us under another guise. That does not seem to be the proper way to deal with legislation. I admit that I do not know very much about it; but, as a matter of ordinary business efficiency and economy, it seems to be, to a very large extent, side-stepping the issue.
There are very many things in this Bill with which I agree. I feel that the clauses dealing with the amendments of the Crimes Act and the question of entry into the Commonwealth deserve our most hearty support, and for that reason I am prepared to swallow a fair amount as regards the rest of the Bill. I realize that, unhappily, our ethical and political problems cannot now be satisfactorily settled by simply establishing the doctrine of laissez faire. It is impossible to hand out unrestricted liberty to all members of the Commonwealth on the ground that it is a possession of unequalled value, and to which they have a moral right, because that liberty does not come as a boon to some of them, and it certainly does in some circumstances result in detriment to the individual, and eventually to the State itself. Where liberty has been granted to an individual, or to a State, there is in that contract an implied, condition that it shall not be used to the detriment of the individuals comprising the State, or the State itself. We went through five years of war. We went through a cataclysm that swept over a great portion of the civilized globe. We saw a hundred battlefields, and we saw the results of those battlefields. We expected to draw from those results certain lessons, and surely we would hope to get, among them, a lesson in discipline. Has that been achieved? Is there any discipline to-day in any class ? Discipline seems to have gone by the board. Restraint of any description is deprecated, as if restraintwere detrimental to the very State itself. Further than that, one would think that, as our nation went to war for the rights of the smaller nations, we, as individuals, would be prepared to respect each other’s rights, but to-day stalking through the land, naked and unashamed, is selfishness in its most arrogant form. As the war has passed over, what do we find left? We find left amongst us largely all forms of selfishness, a considerable amount of sedition and of disloyalty. Apologists make out a strong case to show that there has been some very evil examples set to the people, and they are not to be blamed. One of the most ugly things that we have to deal with is profiteering. Profiteering has torn society asunder. I want honorable senators to realize thoroughly that I am not referring now to the capitalistic class only. I am referring to the labour class as well. I am referring to those who, with their utter selfishness, are going about seizing all they possibly can, destroying and tearing down the very pillars of Democracy. Atfirst and for a little while the spirit of gain crept about after the beginning of the war with veiled face and. furtive care, but now it stalked forth as a Colossus “bestriding our land. The doctrine of selfishness is bringing our people into a condition in which sedition and disloyalty can be very easily bred.
What are we to do to alter that set of circumstances? If we go back over history to find some means which we can use to build up and better our present state, the mind goes back to Plato’s ideal State. In this we find firm governance and the sovereign authority of a small band - a few guardians of the people - incapable of intellectual error owing to their profound studies in solid geometry. They would not. succumb to any. moral temptation, because of their close association with the platonic philosophy. Can we find in that ideal State any way out of our present difficulty? If we take away those fantastic trimmings that the perversity of Plato wound round hia ideal State, I think we shall agree that he has pointed out the right path; that is, the steady development of the true sense of citizenship in every one within the State. We must realize that there is an increasing purpose passing on down through the ages. There is a cosmic mind having a cosmic purpose, and that cosmic purpose is supreme in wisdom and irresistible in power. We must realize that good will always prevail.. If it is true, as Plato laid down, that those citizens who had been thoroughly trained in the best arts of citizenship, and who were possessed with the very essence of his platonic philosophy, should get out and endeavour to educate all the others in a sense of citizenship and a spirit of service - if this condition, could be realized, it would go far to build up such a race as we now need. It would out out that selfishness which is causing a great deal of the trouble which this Bill has been brought forward to mitigate or stop.
In our present state, where we have a particular and political ideal, a particular and political regime, neither our present politics nar our virtue will stand what is now being thrown up against it. When the seed which is being sown broadcast throughout the land is bringing forth these horrible fruits, tearing away the very ideals and foundations on which our society depends, it is, therefore, absolutely essential that something should be done in the way of bringing forward a Bill to stop the sedition mongers and those who flagrantly breed disloyalty, and who would bring amongst us internecine strife that would eventually destroy the very foundations of that Empire to which we are proud to belong.
I very much regret that a Bill was not brought in as a Sedition Bill, and that there will not stand on our statutebook a Sedition Act, instead of being, as now, camouflaged under the name of a ‘ War Precautions Act that has been repealed. I think most members of both Houses would be glad to stand up and vote for something that would add further glory and pride to Australia’s name, and give her her place more firmly amongst the nations of the earth, cutting away that disloyalty that would attempt to separate us from the great Motherland which so many of Australia’s bestsons went out to aid in her time of peril.
– ‘I feel that I should justify my position in voting for a Bill of this kind. I recognise that it is an innovation so far as legislation is concerned, but it is an innovation born of experience and necessity. We have passed through the war, and all the things attendant on war. We have passed through many peculiar experiences in the different States during the last five or six years. One of the things that struck me during the whole of that time was that men. who wanted to say things that were, if not disloyal, at any rate bordering upon disloyalty, sought to use the Constitution in order to get behind the Constitution. ‘To my mind, that is one of the great reasons why a measure, of this kind should be placed on the statute-book. Something has been said about the Bill dealing with so many different subjects; but the same thing was true of much of the legislation passed during the war. Take, for instance, some of the Bills that were used to commandeer certain goods. There were drag-net clauses in them, and some of the acts done under them ‘had practically no bearing upon the Status which was used to justify them. For example, there was the commandeering of beef in Queensland. This was done under the Sugar Acquisition Act, and the clause which was used to justify it was passed merely to enable those at the Head of affairs in Queensland to do what they considered was for the good of the State of Queensland, but what, at the same time, was doing harm, so far as the Empire and the nation as a whole were concerned.
This Bill apparently seeks to give people power to say certain things about the Constitution in a iona fide way. In my opinion, much of the talk which was called disloyalty during the war might have been uttered in a bond fide way, but it was uttered in such a way as to make people feel that the men who were responsible for it were completely disloyal. It was hard to charge such persons with disloyalty, because the elasticity of the
British Constitution allowed many things to be done during the war that should have been prevented. While it may have been desirable to bring in a separate Bill dealing with, say, companies or sedition, it must be admitted that a separate discussion on such matters would have taken up considerable time, and there is no one who would have done more to retard the passage of such Bills than Senator Gardiner.
– I generally assist in the discussion of Bills.
– The honorable senator has certainly expressed his opinion very freely this afternoon concerning the action taken in another place. If this Bill is an innovation, it is certainly justified in view ‘of our experience during the war, and has become a necessity. As Parliament is about to adjourn for an extended period, it is desirable that the Government should have power to deal with these matters in the way they consider necessary for the welfare and progress of the Commonwealth. As Senator J. D. Millen has stated, disloyalty is rampant everywhere, and the Government should control those who preach sedition or are anxious to disorganize or destroy the recognised form of government. While I believe in the principles of Magna Charta and everything that promotes liberty under the British Constitution, as Senator J. D. Millen has stated, we must have discipline, and not allow liberty to became licence. Those who are prepared to adopt unconstitutional methods to promote disloyalty and revolution should be controlled by law or deported from the country. Whatever there may be of a novel character in this Bill, the state of affairs in the Commonwealth and the world generally fully justify its introduction.
– I rise to order. Clause 10 of this Bill deals with unlawful assemblies, and as the Senate has already passed a measure relating to that matter, I desire to ascertain whether we have the right to again consider the question in this form.
– I have already ruled that the Bill is in order,’ and, therefore, that question cannot be debated. The proper time for the honorable senator to raise I a point of order on a particular clause is when the measure is in Committee.
– The main arguments that have been presented against this Bill have been based on its comprehensiveness, lt provides for a surrender of certain powers that could be exercised under the War Precautions Act and its regulations, and the retention of specific powers. Senator Gardiner’s strong argument against the Bill was based on its comprehensiveness, and because the Government are retaining power to- control such primary products as wool and wheat. But the honorable senator must remember that these powers are being retained at the wish of the producers. When the Government intimated that it was not their desire to continue to exercise this authority under the War Precautions Act, and wished to clear themselves of their responsibilities, there -were many who rejoiced. But those individuals .who took - that stand ultimately learned that no one could handle their produce as effectively as the Government, and they, therefore, asked for a continuance of Government control. Senator Gardiner objects to the people using a Committee of the people to act for the whole in the best way. In other words, the honorable senator took exception to the Government exercising functions for which they really exist. The Government does not exist merely -for the making of laws, but in an administrative as well as a legislative capacity. Exception has been taken to the Government exercising powers in an administrative capacity, but they have exercised those powers only for the benefit of the people.
– Parliament has no direct administrative authority.
– Parliament existsby the will of the people, and it is useless unless it expresses the will of the people in an administrative way.
– Parliament has no power of itself.
– It has the power delegated tol it by virtue of the vote given in the selection of its representatives. Senator Gardiner takes exception to Parliament exercising the powers, delegated to it by the electors, for the express purpose of effectively carrying on their business.
It must be patent to those honorable senators who peruse the Bill that every one of its provisions is relevant, because it is to repeal regulations under the War Precautions Act of 1914-18, excepting those specifically retained. Has the Parliament the power to retain authority for certain purposes? Senator E. D. Millen said some time ago, when a similar measure was “brought forward, that the Government was for the good of the people whom it governed, and there could be no sliding scale. It was never intended that the War Precautions Act should be dropped, so to speak, over a precipice, but that only such powers as were absolutely necessary, and were for the good of the people, should be retained. Senator Gardiner, who has perused the Bill, admitted that its provisions are desirable.
– It is not for this Parliament or this Senate to interfere when it has no constitutional authority. What of the Companies Act?
– Every Act of Parliament which breaks new ground may be unconstitutional until tested, in which case it would cease to operate. Will Senator Gardiner say that he will not assist in framing necessary or desirable legislation because we may not have the constitutional right?
– If we endeavour to legislate for things desirable and undesirable in an unconstitutional way, and it is proved to. be unconstitutional, the whole Act ceases to be operative. We can easily test the constitutionality of this.
– I presume the honorable senator is referring to the companies law.
– I am referring to the wharfs. ‘ Senator SENIOR. - Under the War Precautions Act there was power to deal with certain questions, and this is simply an extension of power for a specific period during the aftermath of war.” Will Senator Gardiner say that we are to refrain from legislating in what we consider a- desirable way simply because its constitutionality may be questioned? If it is not questioned, then good must result. Aire we not to attempt to do good because of the fear of doing something wrong? The ‘honorable senator would not do that. The honorable senator has given his opinion as to what might occur if the provisions of this measure were introduced in separate Bills. If that were .done, I believe we would be here, not until
Christmas this year, but until the end of 19.-21. There is no reason why we should not legislate in this way, because we are only repealing certain regulations and retaining others that are necessary. The Government are justified in adopting a useful and expeditious method, and because I believe the Bill, when it becomes an Act, will prove very useful I intend to support it.
Senator J. D. Millen referred to the Unlawful Assemblies Bill, which was passed by this Chamber, and I think it is incumbent upon honorable senators to raise their voices in protest against the way in which this measure has been allowed to remain in abeyance in another place, and its provisions then incorporated in this Bill.
– Does ‘not that destroy the honorable senator’s argument concerning the inadvisableness of incorporating them?
– No ; f 0r the simple reason that we sent a measure to the other Chamber dealing with a specific object, and it has been held over. It seems, at any rate, that the action of another place has been somewhat discourteous.
– What would be the position if the Senate had thrown out that Bill?
– I remember a case that occurred in one of our State Par,liaments when two measures were sent to another place, and were there grafted into one. When the measure was sent back for the concurrence of the other Chamber there was a fruitless search for the missing Bill. It was an amusing case of political manoeuvring, and it was some time before the missing measure was discovered. The Bill sent to the other Chamber has been incorporated in this measure, which has an entirely different title, and which is sufficiently wide to include it. Honorable senators should voice their disagreement with an action of this kind, and as we do not want to be discourteous to them, they should not be to us. Otherwise I entirely agree with the measure before us, and wish it a speedy passage.
– I do not wish to give a silent vote on so important a measure as that now before the Senate. I do not agree with the opinion expressed by, Senator Earle and other honorable senators, that it is a wise innovation to introduce a Bill so exceedingly comprehensive as this measure is. It is entitled a Bill for the repeal of the War Precautions Act, but under that title we are now asked to renew practically all the provisions of that Act. I recognised the necessity during the war for the War Precautions Act. There are differences of opinion as to whether all the powers it conferred were wisely administered, but all recognise that, it was necessary that the Government should have very comprehensive powers in war time. I am still one of those who believe that the sooner we get back to normal conditions the better’ it will be for Australia, and that measures that were found necessary in time of war would be better removed from the statute-book of the country.
This Bill deals with many things, from the requirements of primary producers down to the’ Criminal Code, and all under the one heading. I recognise that during the next year or two it will be necessary for the Government to have extensive powers to finance and handle primary production. That, to me, is not even a debatable question.
– The War Precautions Act took a very wide sweep.
– It did, and that is the very point I am trying to make. The provisions of this Bill are of a very farreaching character, and I think that it is asking rather too much to ask us to pass such a measure at the eleventh hour before we go into recess. One honorable senator has said that he leaves the responsibility to the Government, but I take the stand that the responsibility of pass:ng legislation in this Chamber does not belong to the Government, but to individual senators. We are here for that purpose.
Senator Gardiner, in the course of his speech, made the statement that the new senators settled this matter in caucus.- I mav assure the honorable senator that I am not one of those who are privileged to attend that august assembly. I endeavour to carry my personal responsibility in dealing with matters submitted to the Senate, and claim even a greater freedom in this connexion than Senator Gardiner himself enjoys.
– I shall apologize to the honorable senator the first time I get an opportunity of speaking.
– Senator Gardiner must know that I shall be very pleased to accept his apology, but it is just as well that statements such as that to which I have referred should be refuted. In discussing this Bill, the honorable senator was most careful not to discuss the provisions in it, which appeared to me to be of the greatest importance. I refer, for instance, to clause 9, dealing with entry into the Commonwealth. We are proposing, under this clause, to ask every man who comes here to sign an oath that he is going to be a good citizen and a worthy Australian.
– We are taking the power to put the oath of allegiance, but not necessarily to every one.
– The Bill proposes to give the Government the power to ask any one of a suspicious character whether he is prepared to be a good citizen and a worthy Australian. I say that that provision alone warrants me in voting for the Bill. To-day, from one end of Australia to the ether, we have specimens of the imported article from America and other places, who have come here under the banner of the Industrial Workers of the World, and other similar banners, and the Commonwealth would be well rid of them. Clause 9 of this Bill will give the Government power to protect us from the entry of such people in the future. Standing in a public park within the last few weeks, I heard a soap-box orator speak of one of the finest soldiers who ever left this country as being a “legalized murderer.” if we leave these fellows alone, and the Government look on at their propaganda with a smile, we cannot be surprised if there is a growth of the disloyalty of which some honorable senators have spoken. As representatives enjoying the confidence of the” people of the different States, we are here to do what we believe to be our duty, and should maintain the reputation for peace and good-will amongst its inhabitants which Australia has enjoyed for so long. In view of the inclusion of the important clause to which I have just referred, I commend this measure to Senator Gardiner, whom I know to be a good Australian. As such, the honorable senator should be only too pleased to come out boldly, and assist us in carrying such a desirable provision.
With regard to unlawful assemblies, I should go further than the Government propose to go in this Bill. If twenty persons gather together in any part of Australia against the Crown and the good-will of the people of Australia, I should be prepared to wipe them off the face of the country, and not merely to prevent them assembling within the precincts of Parliament House.
– The honorable senator would have Australia for his own party only.
– If Senator Gardiner’s party are not loyal to Australia, they ought to get out of it.
– The honorable senator would be the judge of loyalty.
– The judges of loyalty should be those persons whom the people of Australia have returned to this Parliament on the democratic franchise of one adult one vote.
– We shall be there before long, and the honorable senator might get a taste of his own medicine.
– I have so much faith in the intelligence of the people of Australia that I am satisfied that the honorable senator and his party have a long way to go before they will get back to this Parliament in a majority.
I come now to deal with the provision in this Bill for the curtailment of criticism, and especially that of the press. I think that the restriction of criticism can be carried altogether too far. As public men, we must be prepared to submit ourselves to public criticism. I am aware that there is a feeling to-day, which is more marked in the Federal Parliament than it is in the State Parliaments, that we have a right to resent press criticism. We should know, as public men, the grievance given expression to by successful men of the past. They said, ‘” Criticise me as you like, favorably or adversely, but forHeaven’s sake do not leave me alone.”
– That was deadly.
– No, I think it was George Reid. On the question of the press and public criticism, I say unhesitatingly that objection to it can be carried too far. I think there is some ground for complaining that the Government should have introduced a measure dealing with so many different subjects, and should toss it on the table and ask us to pass it to-day. I have had the Bill in my possession for about half-a-day, and, in discussing it, can only do the best I can in the circumstances.
I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to a provision contained in clause 12, which justifies me in voting for this measure and in commending it to Senator Gardiner. It is provided in this clause that -
To promote (feelings of ill-will and. hostility between different classes of His Majesty’s subjects so as to endanger the peace, order or good government of the Commonwealth, is a seditious intention.
– Senator Gardiner supports that.
– I feel sure that the honorable senator will do so.
-i shall give the honorable senator an opportunity of an early conviction against me if the Senate passes this Bill.
– I can assure my honorable friend that if he put me in that unfortunate position I should regret to have to punish him.
– The honorable senator would not suggest the deportation of the Leader of the Opposition.
– No, because without him we would be very lonely here. I say that such a power as is conferred by that provision of the Bill is wanted by the Government of the Commonwealth. Nothing is of greater importance than the peace, order, and good government of the people of Australia. In the last three or four years we have seen men who appear to have had no other ambition, judging them by I was nearly going to say their pulpit utterances, but I will say their public utterances, than to divide people to part friends of life-long standing, to divide families, and to split up the community to such an extent that we are almost glad at the present time to be able to say that we are at least having a rest from their operations. . I hope that the powers given to the Commonwealth Government under this provision will be wisely administered in order that we may be able to go about our lawful occupations in the enjoyment of the liberty of which we boast as a British people. It is a most astonishing fact that, in ninety-nine -cases out of every hundred , the leaders of the persons who are responsible for the disaffection, which I have tried to describe, are imported articles.
– Who come here for the purpose.
– Yes. I say that the unions of Australia should thank the Commonwealth Parliament for passing legislation of this description, in view of the extent to which they are being led by the class of men of whom I have been speaking.
– Yes, misled. I was going to use a stronger term, but, under the Standing Orders, I would not be allowed to do so. I have had some little experience of mining centres’, and I repeat, because it will stand repetition, that, in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, it is the imported article that is influencing the unions of Australia today. It is strange that these men should be leading unions of Australians that will, at the same time, call out, “Australia for the Australians.” If, by passing this measure, we can do something to save the unions from the influence of these imported articles, so that we may be free to develop Australia in a proper way, I shall be satisfied. The responsibility is on the Government for the administration of this . very comprehensive Bill. 1 again express my objection to any proposal for the curtailment of criticism by the press or of liberty of speech in general. I hope that the measure will be wisely administered. I am sure that, on reflection, Senator Gardiner, realizing that this measure may be of paramount importance to the future of Australia, will withdraw his opposition to it.
.- I desire to express my appreciation of the wisdom displayed by the Government in introducing a Bill of this character even though it should be in the closing hours of the session. If the Government had neglected to introduce such a measure, tint people of Australia would, have charged them with failing in their duty. I have heard only one honorable senator oppose the Bill on the ground that, because the war was concluded two years ago, there is now no necessity for legislation of this kind. He would favour the repeal of the War Precautions Act, and would be content with that, notwithstanding that developments in the Commonwealth during the war period make it absolutely necessary that some legislation should be placed on the statute-book at the earliest possible moment. The War Precautions Act was passed in order that the Government might deal with any situation that arose during the war, and, accordingly, very ample powers were conferred upon them. Now that the war is over it is not necessary to continue the War Precautions Act, but the experience gained during the war suggests that every precaution should now be taken to strengthen this portion of the Empire. I welcome the measure because it is patent to everybody that some such legislation .is necessary. Less than a year ago an effort was made by a certain political party to induce the people of the Commonwealth to accept ci policy which, if it had been adopted, would have meant the downfall of this portion of the Empire. An essential feature of that policy was a demand for an amendment of the Constitution so that we might have complete self-government in Australia. Complete self-government, forsooth! Have we not got it? All that is required of us is to recognise, as I hope we shall always recognise, that we are indebted to the British Government for the Constitution we are living under to-day.
– And which has protected us all our lives.
– That is so. The only limitation upon our complete selfgovernment is that the Constitution has to be submitted to the Imperial authorities. That being so, the suggestion that our Constitution should be amended to insure complete self-government means nothing more nor less than a desire to “ cut the painter.” It will also be remembered that the party to which I am referring advocated the repeal of the War Precautions Act so that the people might have their liberties restored to them. What liberties were taken away from the people? I am referring, of course, to the loyal people of Australia. Under the War Precautions Act they suffered the deprivation of no liberty, and. therefore, the demand that the War Precautions Act should be repealed in order to restore the liberties of the people, meant merely that a section of the people -had lost something to which they had no right, especially during the war time, namely, the right to preach sedition. That, and that only, was taken from the people of Australia. Everybody during a war is required to be loyal to his country.
– Will the honorable senator give us a definition of loyalty?
– The honorable senator’s request is such an extraordinary one that Ifeel tempted to allow him to explain what he thinks loyalty means, when we come to that clause of the Bill dealing with sedition. I have no doubt that his explanation will be interesting and instructive. I tell him that loyalty to the Crown does not mean permission to foment disturbances during war time. It does not mean encouraging the people to restrict their output even, as during the war to the extent of holding up supplies for our men fighting at the Front.
– And for hospital ships.
– Yes, for hospital ships, too. But I do not want to be led off into a discussion of our war experiences.
– I was wondering whether contractors who supply adulterated materials to the Defence Department during war time would come under the heading of disloyalists ?
– We know from bitter experience a great deal of what happened during the war period. We know also that the excessive liberty which some people have enjoyed under the Union Jack has had disastrous consequences to the Mother Country. The exercise of this liberty, which my honor - able friend, Senator Gardiner, is so anxious to retain, developed during the most critical period of the Empire’s history into licence, nothing more, and nothing less. We have been told time after time that the safety of the Empire depends to a great extent upon the solidity of its outposts, and consequently we should see to it that in this part of the Empire nothing is done to weaken our sense of loyalty or diminish our strength as a component part of the Empire. On the contrary, we should see to it that in time of need we can be of as great service to the Mother Country as we were during the recent war.
– Do you not think that we ought sometimes to hear something about loyalty to Australia from those who talk about loyalty to the Old Country?
– No man can be loyal to Australia without being loyal to the Empire; but if the so-called loyalty to Australia, as suggested by the interjection,means disloyalty to the Empire, then all I can say is that the honorable senator does not understand the meaning of the word loyalty.
– That concept tion of loyalty would soon mean the end of Australia.
– Exactly. We should never forget that we occupy our present position as citizens of a land more blessed than any other country in the world entirely by the protection that has always been given to us by the Motherland. I have said time after time with regard to the administration of our internal affairs, that anything that injures one State injures the Commonwealth as a whole ; and applying that argument to the Empire, I say now that anything that injures the Commonwealth must likewise injure the Empire.
– But who is prepared to advocate “ cutting the painter “ to-day ?
– That policy was advocated at the last general election. I have brought with me the platform of the party to which I was then, and am now, opposed. An analysis of it shows that those who were responsible for its compilation were very careful to keep apartthree or four paragraphs which ought to have been connected in print, and which, thank God, were connected by those who during the elections were standing up for the rights of this country. When one knows what was being done then, one cannot help feeling warm, because we want to be earnest in our endeavours to do everything to prevent - I use the term advisedly- disloyalists from gaining a foothold in Australia. We have them now, I regret to say; but this Bill deals with the possibility ‘of the introduction of additional disloyalists to Australia. I am sorry Senator Gardiner suggested that there was something wrong with a provision requiring any persons landing in Australia to subscribe to the oath of allegiance, or make the affirmation, as set out in the schedule. He seemed to think there was something degrading about the position.
– Something ridiculous.
– There is nothing ridiculous about it at all. Because of the excessive liberty which people living under the Union Jack have enjoyed, many people calling themselves British subjects have very often taken advantage of the opportunity to betray the country that protected them. The man who is really loyal to the British Crown would never feel it a degradation to be asked to take the oath, or make an affirmation, of allegiance when going to another portion of the Empire. Any objection to this oath or affirmation need only be expected from those men or women who, while claiming to be British subjects, are at heart intensely disloyal.
– Do you not think that such persons would simply take the oath and break it?
– They have done that, same of them.
– I do. But this legislation will give the Government power to deal with them.
– And get rid of them.
– Under this Bill the Government will have full power to take all the necessary action. Hitherto they have not had the machinery, to deal with them.
I do not want to say much more, because a second-reading speech of any length on a Bill of this character is not necessary,especially as we shall have to deal with the measure clause by clause in Committee, and every clause, practically, is important. But I should like tosay a word or two about the objection that so many matters have been included in the Bill. I take it that the Government have ‘ been placed in this position : We are approaching the termination of the session, for this year at allevents, and unless these matters were included in a comprehensive Bill there was no possibility of the Government being able to act promptlyin any emergency that might arise between now and the time when Parliament meets again next year. But, after all, the title of the Bill sets forth clearly its purpose. It is a measure to deal with certain matters arising out of the repeal of the War Precautions Act, “and for other purposes.” This phraseology isto be found in many of our Statutes, so the objection raised on this score is not justified, especially in view of the peculiar circumstances in which we find ourselves. I have much pleasure in supporting the Bill, and I hope that when we come to the contentious clauses in Committee, the good sense of the Senate will so impress Senator Gardiner that, instead ofopposing them, he will give them his support.
– There are one or two points upon which I should like to touch. One is the procedure adopted in regard to the Unlawful Assemblies Bill thatwas passed by the Senate some time ago. I am not going to say that I defend that procedure. I confess frankly that I would have preferred to see the Bill taken up by another place and passed. But, unfortunately, the Government are not in such a happy position in another Chamber as in this, and I presume that Ministers in charge of the business there thought there was a better chance of getting a speedy passage for legislation on that subject by adopting this procedure. I draw attention to the objection that has been raised by several honorable senators that a number of diverse subjects are dealt with in the Bill. They speak as though, when this Bill becomes an Act, we shall have several Acts dealing with the same subject. That will not be the case at all. Let us look at the construction of the Bill. In clause 6 there is an amendment of the Commercial Activities Act, and in clause 11 a number of amendments to the Crimes Act. These amendments, so far as the Commonwealth Statutes are concerned, will be included in the respective Acts. In the Crimes Act will be set out all the offences which are provided for in this measure. Thus there will not be that confusion which some honorable senators anticipate, merely because all these matters are dealt with in one Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Continuance of War Precautions (Coal) Regulations) -
– With a view to expediting the passing of this Bill, I propose to take what may be regarded as rather an unusual course. As honorable senators are aware, earlier in the sitting I raised the question of whether the Bill itself was in order. I now ask that I may be permitted to raise the question of whether this particular clause is in order. If you, sir, rule that it is in order, I desire to be allowed to appeal to the President upon the matter, because although he ruled against me upon the entire Bill, I am still of opinion that certain clauses in the measure are out of order, and I would like to obtain the decision of the highest authority upon the question.
– In respect of -what particular portion of the clause ?
– I take it that a clause relating to the coal industry is distinctly out of order. I submit that it has no relation to the title of the Bill, and that, being entirely foreign to’ it, it is not in order.
– There is no occasion for the honorable senator to ask the leave of the Committee to raise a point of order. He is entitled to do that without leave. In the present instance I can only repeat the ruling which was given by the President in my hearing that the title of the measure is so -comprehensive that the inclusion in it of a clause providing for the continuation of the War Precautions (Coal) Regulations is not out of order. The ‘ title of :the Bill covets “ certain matters arising out of such repeal “ - meaning the repeal of the “War Precautions Act 1914-18 - “ and for other purposes.” A great many matters may be indicated as arising out of the repeal of the War Precautions Act, and if this particular clause is not deemed to be unconstitutional by the interpreting authority of the Constitution, it is not for me to rule upon that aspect of the matter. All I can say is that I believe the matter dealt with in clause 3 may be construed as one arising out of the repeal of the War Precautions «Act, and that therefore the clause comes within the scope and ambit o’f the Bill. That being so, I rule that the clause is in order.
– I move -
That the Senate dissents from the ruling of the Chairman, upon the ground that the clause deals with a matter which is outside the scope of the Bill.
In the Senate:
The Chairman of Committees. - In Committee Senator Gardiner raised a point of order upon clause 3. I ruled against him upon- the ground that the clause comes within the scope of the measure. Senator Gardiner has dissented from my ruling upon the ground that the clause is outside its scope. My ruling was based upon the fact that the clause relates to a matter arising out of the repeal of ‘ the War Precautions Act 1914-18, and as such comes within the scope of the comprehensive title of the measure.
– When I raised my previous point of order, you, sir, ruled against me in respect to the entire Bill. I still submit, however, that this clause relates to a matter which is absolutely foreign to the War Precautions Act. It deals with an industrial matter of a State, and is, therefore, quite outside the title of the measure. When you, sir, ruled against me upon the entire Bill I accepted your ruling, but I claim that I am now within my rights in testing whether certain objectionable clauses in the measure are. in order. If you rule against me upon the present occasion I shall not persist in raising points of order in respect of those clauses, and, therefore, the procedure which I am following will effect a saving of time.
– This is a Bill “to repeal the War Precautions Act 1914-18, and to provide for certain matters arising out of such repeal.” Clause 3 clearly deals with a matter “arising out of such repeal.” The coal matter is one which is dealt with under the War Precautions Act, and because we are repealing a portion of that Act it becomes necessary to deal with this question which arises out of it.
– Whatever may be said in regard to other provisions of the Bill, I do not think there can be any doubt that this clause comes within its scope and ambit. It sets out that certain regulations under the War Precautions Act shall continue in force, and it imposes a limit to the period of their continuance. It is quite permissible in a repeal Bill to prescribe a date upon which the provisions of the Act which is to be repealed shall cease to operate. That is chiefly what this clause does. Subclause 2 of it provides -
Subject to this section, the War Precautions (Coal) Regulations shall continue in force until the thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-one.
There a definite date is fixed, and unless those regulations are further extended by Act of Parliament they cannot continue in operation beyond that date. Obviously that is quite permissible in a repeal Bill. The War Precautions Regulations were made under an Act which it is now proposed to repeal, and this clause provides for the continuance of certain regulations made under that Act for a definite period. I therefore rule that the clause is in order.
– Having failed to obtain a ruling in the direction which I desire I shall now, clause by clause, briefly express my opposition to the objectionable provisions of this measure. Coming to the War Precautions Regulations dealing with the coal industry, I claim that under our Constitution” this Parliament has no power to interfere with trade within a State, and we cannot, under any pretence whatever, do something which the Constitution does not empower us to do. We are now passing this Bill, but any successful appeal against the validity of any portion of it will nullify the whole of it.
– Yes, I dare say that the honorable senator could quote a seaman’s case in which that occurred. Under our Constitution the powers of this Parliament are plainly defined. That charter of government makes it perfectly clear that we have no power to interfere with trade within a State. But because there was a war some years ago-
– There is still a bit of it hanging about.
– I suppose the atmosphere hangs round some of my honorable friends who were closely connected with it. Because there was a war some years ago, making it necessary to take extreme powers to enable the then Government to deal effectively, if not drastically, with certain, emergencies, this
Government, after that occasion had passed, extended those powers in an. unconstitutional way. Every agreement and every War Precautions regulation interfering with trade within a State has been a distinct breach of the Constitution. This Bill will be tested, and if I were anxious to defeat it in all its clauses, I could not do better than let it go through in its present form. The first time that a case comes before the High Court to test its trespass on the constitutional rights of the States, the whole measure can meet with only one fate. The Government cannot do by a side-issue what the Constitution is deliberately worded to prevent them from doing. They have a majority that will do it, and they may think itnecessary to take emergency powers that were necessary six years ago. Some honorable senators may still be suffering from that inflamed state of mind which leads them to believe that we are not only surrounded by enemies, but even have enemies in our midst.
– You never said a truer word in your life. It is a pity that the Government did not use the War Precautions Act more severely than they did. I would deal it out!
– It would be an ideal State in which Senator Cox was given full power to say who were loyal and who were not, and who should have liberty and who should not. It would at least be an ideal State for Senator- Cox. A Democracy is many-minded. Men in a Democracy will take many views, but the one thing that must strike any one who has passed through the times we have experienced during the last five or six years is the desire of certain people to curtail liberty. If there is anything in our Empire that is worth maintaining, it is the liberty to express one’s views when they are hot approved of by one’s opponents.
-“‘Eave ‘alf-a brick at him “ - that sort of liberty ?
– Absolutely; or a full brick, for the matter of that. I can recall, from my earliest childhood in New South Wales, echoes of the utterances of men who proved their loyalty to the Empire. If they lived to-day under dictators like Senator Cox, they would be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Take, for instance, a statesman like John Dunmore Lang, who was a Presbyterian minister.
– That was long before your time.
– Not at all. He was a very live factor in New South Wales politics in the seventies, and I happened to come on to this earth before then. Speaking in the Council long before myt ime - and he never went back on his opinions - he said, “ Australia will have a Republic, and that by force, within five years.’
– He was a false prophet.
– Absolutely false. He did not understand the trend of the public mind and thought of Australia. Honorable senators who support the Government would brand as disloyal any man who said that now.’ Senator Wilson would send him out of the country. I remember another New South Wales statesman - Sir Henry Parkes - when he was plain Mr. Parkes.
– A fine old man. - one of the best.
– A fine oldman, who maintained his right to say what he believed to be true, whether it was acceptable to the governing powers or not.
– You never heard Sir Henry Parkes say anything that was disloyal.
– No ; but when he was Premier of New South Wales, and a New South Wales Parliament had passed anAct to restrict Chinese immigration, Lord Knutsford, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote to him telling him that that Act was not in accordance with British Treaties. Sir Henry Parkes did not say anything in hot blood, but deliberately wrote back to Lord Knutsford, in England, saying, “ Let Great Britain alter her Treaties, or Australia will make her own.”
– What about coal?
– I am leading up to that subject, as the honorable senator will see. The object of the Government in dealing with coal in this measure is to deal with the men who handle the coal. They want to use the War Precautions agreements, which were framed by Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce, to control those men. ‘ I am giving illustrations of men who maintained the right of free speech, and contrasting them with honorable senators who will not allowfree speech if it is objectionable to them or if they think it is disloyal.. What did Senator Payne mean when he spoke of disloyalty? Freedom of utterance, even when most objectionableto honorable senators, is the very basis of our liberty.
– Even when barracking for the enemy?
– The enemy will never be much helped by outspoken men. They will be helped by men who are driven by tyrannical laws to meet in secret ; by men who make free citizens their enemies and the enemies of authority.
– I remind the honorable senator that the clause before the Committee deals specifically with coal.
– I took the point that this provision was not in order in a Bill the purpose of which was to repeal the War Precautions Act. If the purpose of the Bill was to extend the War Precautions Act, and the purpose of this clause had been announced as such, that would have been all right.
– Would you vote for it?
– Then why would it have been all right?
– I would not vote for the continuation of the War Precautions Act on any consideration, but it would be right so far as concerns those who pretended that they are repealing the Act, but are really shackling it upon the people for years to come. The Act was never intended to deal with coal. Honorable senators should look at some of the agreements entered into by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). I do not say they were entered into by the Government, because they had nothing to do with them. They were excellent agreements for the coal miners and the coal-owners, but it is questionable if they are excellent for the rest of the community, including the trading community and the consumers of coal. No matter how objectionable those arrangements might have been, and no matter how little they have been subject to criticism in Parliament, because they are part and parcel of the “War Precautions Act, or have been twisted into being such, this Parliament and this Senate are not only going to adopt them, but to fix them on the statute-book for the next two years.
– Only one year.
– Well, until December twelve months. Why should we have a War Precautions Act making agreements regarding coal, privately entered into between Mr. Hughes, the coalowners, and the Coal Miners Union, last for another twelve months?
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator indorse my statement that the arrangements have been made for the benefit of the Coal Miners Union.
– I shall not shirk the fact that the parties I have mentioned between them made other industries and the rest of the community pay. I have never heard the honorable senator talk about the coal miners. Hehas generally spoken about wheat and Home Rule, which are his choice topics, but he only brings up Home Rule before elections, to sweeten those people in his district who believe in it.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I support Senator Gardiner’s just complaint of the danger of giving any more sops or advantages to the coalowners and coal miners of New South Wales. I am pleased that the honorable senator has at length drawn attention to the danger of that course. Itis not today or yesterday that I drew attention to the way in which some industries have been coddled, more particularly the New South Wales coal industry. The coal industry of New South Wales, by virtue of its position industrially, has done nothing but levy a toll on other industries at the expense of the whole community. I am glad the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) now acknowledges the fact that the coal miners of New South
Wales are deriving advantages at the expense of other industries.
– Give them all they earn.
– I am not prepared to extend those advantages longer than is consistent with the necessities of the hour. The exigencies of the moment, ‘of course, require that the contracts entered into shall be fulfilled, but, beyond that, I am not prepared to give the coal miners of New South Wales, or even of Western Australia or any other State, those advantages which, in the past, they have enjoyed, and for which they have given little thanks to the community. I have previously pointed out in this Chamber that there are other industries which are not in that privileged position. I have drawn attention to the position of metalliferous miners in this country, who are more entitled to consideration than the coal miners of New South Wales, by reason of the fact that they are going to their doom at a faster rate than are the coal miners, or any other class of miners. The conclusions arrived at by the Royal Commissions which inquired into the conditions under which miners in Western Australia and South Africa are working show conclusively that those who are engaged in rock-drilling and other branches of metalliferous mining which are injurious to health cannot continue at such work for longer than from three to five years. The coal miners are not in that position. The contract entered into for solidifying the coal industry should not be prolonged for a moment longer than is necessary. I am glad the Leader of the Opposition has drawn attention to this matter, if only for the purpose of giving me the opportunity of showing the dire necessity of holding the scale rigidly between all industries in this country, and giving no unfair advantage to one particular branch of mining, as has been the case with the coal-mining industry. We aretold that the coal-miners of New South Wales can earn up to £2 aday if they care to work. Why should not the gold-miner be allowed to earn a similar wage? The answer is apparent. There is no gold-mine in the Commonwealth that could afford to pay such a wage. I have already drawn Senator Gardiner’s attention to the fact that if he went to the West or to any other gold-mining district, and if, as the result of his agitation, such wages were paid, the mines would have to close down.
– What of those engaged in wheat-farming?
– Yes, what of them ? I believe in this maxim more than another, that a man is earning as long as he is alive, and has hie wits about him. 1 rejoice in the fact that Senator Gardiner was returned as a member of this, Senate at the last election, and I am also glad that he is now prepared to share the views I have expressed. I rose particularly to draw attention to the position in which metalliferous miners are placed as compared with other miners in the Comonwealth. But there are other matters to be considered. Take wheat. What has been done by this Government to increase the productivity of the wheat lands of Australia?
– The honorable senator will be in order in making a passing reference to the wheat-growing industry, but he cannot discuss the question at length, as it is outside the scope of the clause.
– I realize that. We are now dealing with the question of giving power to ratify coal contracts for the purpose of cleaning up the business. I am only in favour of doing that to the extent of not giving any more advantages to the coal-miners than they have received in the past.
– What has the honorable senator to say concerning wheat scrip?
– I do not know what the honorable senator means. But I know he has held himself religiously aloof from wheat-growing or wheatlumping; he may have dealt in wheat scrip. I was drawing attention to the unsatisfactory position in which other industries are placed when compared with coal mining. I mentioned incidentally the gold-mining industry.There is no provision in this Bill to encourage gold mining by means of contracts for keeping up the price. Gold has to be placed on the markets of the world for disposal: and if the cost of production were unduly increased, the mines would have to close down.Senator Gardiner remembers that on a. previous occasion I asked him what would happen if the high rates of wages that are being paid to the Newcastle coal miners were allowed to the metalliferous miners working on the Golden Mile or at Charters Towers. It would mean closing up many mines in our gold-producing areas. What would happen to the people obtaining their livelihood in those localities? They would be thrown into the cities to search for work. We are hard up against an economic dead wall. In the case of metalliferous production,we cannot add1d. to the cost without at the same time reducing the production even to the point of extinguishing the industry. I trust that Senator Gardiner has not concluded his most illuminating references to this question. I rose to express my views, and, at the same time, give him an opportunity to continue.
– The comparison instituted by Senator Lynch is most misleading, and my reference to the coal agreement must not be taken to mean that I believe the men are getting too much. They should get all they earn.
– How is that to be determined ?
– By the value of the product. It is interesting to note that Senator Lynch and Senator de Largie support the, contention that the gold-mining industry of Western Australia cannot afford to pay its miners more; but, at the same- time, huge sums are being remitted to shareholders in Great Britain and elsewhere.
– I have some Western Australian shares for sale, and I shall be quite prepared to do business with the honorable senator.
– Not just now. I desire to reply to the misleading manner - I do not suggest for a moment that it was intentional - in which Senator Lynch took up my reference to the coal agreement, which was sacredly entered into by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the coal owners, and the coal miners. I am pleased that the miners engaged in the coal industry of New South Wales are receiving good money; but it must be remembered, at the same time, that the colliery proprietors are also receiving their share. If Senator Lynch and others who are supporting him believe that we have been doing wrong, and that other industries are being penalized at the expense of the coal industry, why are they supporting the continuance of such an arrangement?For every extra penny the miners receive the colliery proprietors are receiving extra shillings.
– The honorable senator is now backing down.
– I am endeavouring to put the case fairly and clearly; and I do not intend to be misrepresented by the honorable senator, who is an expert at misrepresentation when he desires.
– Order ! I must again ask the honorable senator to dis-. cuss the clause, and not to introduce irrelevant matter.
– I believe, Mr. Chairman, that I should he in a position to judge whether my statements are relevant or not.
– That is my responsibility.
– But there is the President to whom I can appeal.
– The honorable senator is quite confident of what the result of such an appeal would be.
– Exactly, and the next time I state a case I will put it so clearly that there can be no mistake. Senator Lynch has stated that this agreement should not have been entered into, and has said that the coalmining industry of New South Wales has been coddled at the expense of other industries. The honorable senator did not, of course, refer to the exorbitant profits that are being made by the coalowners.
– The honorable senator objected to the agreement.
– Not to the portion which provided that higher wages should be paid, but I do object to excessive profits.
– The honorable senator objected to the agreement in toto.
– Some of its provisions were necessary, whilst others were not.
– Is not the honorable senator undoing the compliment which Senator Lynch paid him?
– I suppose we could all get around to Senator Lynches way of thinking if we listened to him long enough. He always has in mind the men employed on the Golden Mile and with other mining areas, but he never refers to the benefits the shareholders are deriving. I would be glad if something could be done to place those engaged in metalliferous mining on a more satisfactory basis. I believe the agreement to which reference has been made is not in accordance with our ‘Constitution, as it is an arrangement entered into by the Leader of this Government contrary to the powers conferred upon this Parliament, and it ought never to have been made. Although it may have been an advantage to the coal miners - and I am one of their particular representatives - the fact that it is unconstitutional, and that we have not the right to legislate for trade within a State, condemns it in my mind. It is obvious that if we pass this clause, which will be the means of insuring a more satisfactory return for services given, we shall have to consider what other producers are likely to say. If we can do it for the coal miners we should be able to do it for agricultural labourers and others. We can do it for artisans and for every other section of the community. Because an agreement was entered into with the coal-miners under powers that really were not conferred by the War Precautions Act, we are asked now to agree to this clause. That agreement gave preferential treatment to a section of the community, the coal -miners, who derived the chief benefit from it. There is one man only in the Commonwealth or in the Empire who would attempt such a thing, and he is the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). He professed to act under legislation which he knew was beyond the powers of the Parliament of which he is at the present moment the chief member.
Senator Wilson complained that I had linked him up with other honorable senators who attended the Caucus of the National party, when, as a matter of fact, he has not been to meetings of the Caucus. I told the honorable senator that I would apologize to him at the first opportunity for having so misrepresented him, and I do so; but I point out that the honorable senator is mentally so bound to everything of a Tory nature that it is quite unnecessary that the Caucus should force . him to support a Bill of this character. By instinct, he is opposed to Democracy, and it does not require rules and decisions of the Caucus to induce him to support such legislation.
– The honorable senator says that because I was so strong against disloyalty.
– I am not allowed to discuss disloyalty on the clause now before the Committee.
– I ask honorable senators to refrain from irrelevant interjections.
– When we get to the clause dealing with sedition, Senator Wilson and I can discuss disloyalty. I shall discuss it from my point of view, and not from that of the petty tyrants who would govern this Commonwealth only as they think fit, and would close the mouth of every person who did not sound the praises of another part of the world.
– The fellows on the Yarra-bank and in the Sydney Domain.
– I am as proud of the Sydney Domain and the people I meet there as the honorable senator can be of the Potts Point and St. Kilda crowd. Their morals and conduct are as good.
– The honorable member should not refer in that way to St. Kilda.
– I again ask honorable senators to refrain from irrelevant interjections. They drag the honorable senator who is speaking off the track. All interjections are disorderly, and though if they are indulged in within reason I shall take no exception, honorable senators should refrain from irrelevant interjections.
– I also live at St. Kilda, and object to the honorable senator’s reference to that place.
– If Senators Pearce and de Largie are living at St. Kilda, it cannot be the aristocratic place I thought it was.
– I ask the honorable senator to discuss the clause.
– I have said that no such agreement as that made with the coal-miners should ever have been entered into by the Prime Minister. It is an agreement which the Constitution forbids. Such an interference with wages and with the output of coal was an offence to the State Parliament. Honorable senators may allow these things to pass, and may agree to include in this Bill a provision to enable similarly unconstitutional agreements to be made in the future, because we are nearing the end of the session, and it might be inconvenient to oppose it, or because, as Senator Earle has said, we can get through the business more quickly if we take six or seven Bills in one. But, after all is said and done, if we pass the clause as it is worded it will be unconstitutional. I point out further, that if the matter is tested and one clause is found to be unconstitutional, the whole Bill will go by the board. That is the decision which was given when one piece of the legislation of this Parliament was tested.
– I think that the decision was the reverse, and that while the unconstitutional provision went by the board, what was constitutional in the measure remained operative.
– I have in mind one of the Arbitration Acts which was tested in a case in which aseaman was claiming compensation, and while in view of the many phases of legislation with which we are called upon to deal, week in and week out, I should not argue the matter with any great degree of certainty, I still believe that where an Act passed by this Parliament was tested on the constitutional ground that it is not competent for this Parliament to pass such legislation, the decision was that one provision being unconstitutional, the whole measure went by the board.I believe that the clause in this Bill continuing the operation of the coal-mining regulations of the War Precautions Act will, if tested before the High Court, be declared unconstitutional, and this whole measure will then go by the board. That is one good reason why we should not pass this clause. Matters are working smoothly now, but honorable senators are well aware that if the coal-owners consider that it would be to their advantage and profit, or if thecoal-miners think that they may better their position, they will not allow an unconstitutional Act of this Parliament to prevent them from doing so.
– Thehonorable senator’s time has expired.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
With regard to any wharf, possession of which has before the commencement of this Act been taken in pursuance of the War Precautions (Wharf) Regulations (StatutoryRules 1917, No. 79), those regulations shall be deemed to remain in force -
in relation to claims by any person arising out of anything done under those regulations; and
as regards functions exercisable under those regulations.
.- This is a many-sided Bill, and almost every clause in it is a Bill in itself. I must, therefore, be cautious about allowing any clause to pass until I am reasonably well acquainted with what it contains. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) will nob take exception to that, because we saw this Bill for the first time after 3 o’clock this afternoon. The honorable senator immediately moved the suspension of the Standing Orders, and I offered no objection, because at the close of a session one does not care to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of the transaction of business. I should like to know what are the functions exercisable under these wharf regulations that are to remain in force under this Bill?
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 9.30 p.m.
– I find that this is a matter chiefly concerning South Australia, but it might be just as well to show what powers the honorable senators from that ‘State are prepared to hand over, not to the Federal Parliament, but to the Prime Minister. This particular regulation, known as the War Precautions (Wharf) Regulation, reads -
If the South Australian representatives in this Chamber were prepared to hand over these functions, which are properly exercisable by the State Government, to the Prime Minister, perhaps I should not complain.
– Then why do you?
– I think it is my duty to draw their attention to the position, because in the hurry of business, they might have overlooked the true significance of this clause. I would not mind powers being given to the Executive in war time, but even then it would be a serious matter, but it is a much more serious matter to vest such powers in the Prime Minister, and make him the sole judge of any claim arising out of his action.
– The Cabinet, not the Prime Minister, will be the judge.
– The . Prime Minister will have the matter in his own hands. This is merely another evidence of pernicious and wicked legislation which would be discreditable to any Parliament in the world. The clause confers these powers, not upon Mr. Hughes only, but on any future Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
– That is a danger, perhaps.
– It is a very grave danger. There can be no greater danger than conferring such powers upon a Prime Minister. Matters of the most serious import to the Commonwealth have arisen because the Prime Minister has been exercising powers which should have been exercised by the Government.
– And he has done very well.
– I am very glad the honorable senator is pleased. I hold an entirely different view.
– You do not like that testimonial, evidently.
– All I can say is, that the Prime Minister got a very handsome price for his services, and no doubt the people who contributed to the testimonial were very well served.
– The honorable senator must not, under this clause, discuss the testimonial to the Prime Minister.
– I am aware of that, Mr. Chairman, but it is very difficult, owing to disorderly interjections, to refrain from doing so. But I am not quite sure that I could not, if I were so disposed, demonstrate that the testimonial of £25,000 to the Prime Minister is related to the clause under discussion, because no doubt it came from people who are more or less interested in powers now being exercised by the Prime Minister, and particularly a power relating to one of the South Australian wharfs, which South Australian senators are now prepared to continue under this clause.
If the people of South Australia are satisfied with the position, then all I can say is that they are the people I would like to represent.
– Senator Gardiner has a greater capacity for tearing passion to tatters than any other honorable senator in this Chamber. This clause simply deals with an agreement entered into between the State of South Australia and the Commonwealth Government, under which the Commonwealth Government undertook the erection of certain coal appliances on a wharf at Port Pirie, South Australia. We took that power under the War Precautions Regulations with the full consent and goodwill of the South Australian Government. Certain claims are arising out of that action. If we repealed the War Precautions Act in its entirety, those claims would stand, so it is essential that some representative of the Commonwealth Government must be named. It could not be the Commonwealth Government as a whole, so the Prime Minister is named as our representative. I am surprised that Senator Gardiner did not remark on the fact that the regulation is signed “ G. F. Pearce, Minister for Defence,” and from that suggest some horrible significance. The whole thing is hardly worth the storm in a teacup which the honorable senator has raised.
– I repudiate entirely the statement made by Senator Gardiner concerning the representatives of South Australia in this Chamber. We know Port Pirie; he does not. We know the wharf there, and all about the arrangement that was made for the erection of a coal grab for the purpose of feeding the mother State with iron ore in order to carry on the steel works at Newcastle. South Australia has played a bigger part in the development of Newcastle steel works than even- New South Wales, and I suggest that, in future, the honorable senator should confine his remarks to subjects about which he knows something. His attitude in regard to this matter is ridiculous. I could, if I chose, talk about Woolloomooloo, and other parts of New South Wales, but I prefer to speak about matters with which I am well acquainted. Senator Gardiner has never been to Port Pirie in his life, and yet he presumes to castigate the representatives of South Australia for their approval of a scheme under which one of the biggest industries of his own State is being so materially assisted.
. -It is all very well for the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) and Senator R. S. Guthrie to say that this clause merely deals with an agreement, and that a representative of the Government must be named in it. The regulation speaks for itself, and that there may be no doubt upon the point, I shall read again that portion of it which confers upon the Prime Minister powers which shouldbe exercisable only by the South Australian Government -
Any function exercisable under the laws of the State of South Australia, by any authority of that State in relation to any wharf specified in a notice published in pursuance of theseRegulations, may be exercised by the Prime Minister or the person or authority specified by the Prime Minister. If that is not a general handing over of power or authority, then I do not know the meaning of language. No doubt, Senator Guthrie can say something about Woolloomooloo, for probably he has had a daily and nightly experience of the locality. I may remind him that I get my biggest vote there. Having quoted that regulation to show the powers which will continueto be vested in the Prime Minister, I now leave the matter. If the South Australian representatives are satisfied with it, I am.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Unlawful Assemblies).
– As this clause is an exact copy of a measure which the Senate passed during the presentsession, I desire to take your ruling, sir, as to whether it is in order.
– I think the honorable senator indicated a short time ago his intention to raise this’ point of order. I find that there is nothing in our Standing Orders directly bearing upon the matter; and although the procedure has been questioned at times, it is an established parliamentary practice that what is intended to be effected by this clause can be effected, so long as the Bill passed by the Senate during the present session, and dealing with the same subject, has been rejected or disposed of in another place. Although the precedents outlined in May in connexion with this matter are very old, undoubtedly they show that under the practice of the House of Commons and of the House of Lords what is sought to be achieved by the clause may be thus achieved. That being so, and there being no expressed prohibition in our Standing Orders against it. I do not consider that the point of order raised by Senator Gardiner can be’ sustained.
– I move -
That the Senate dissent from the ruling of the Chairman, upon the ground that the Senate hasalready passed during the present session a Bill relating to Unlawful Assemblies.
In the Senate:
The Chairmanof Committees. - I beg to report that Senator Gardiner has raised a point of order to the effect that clause 10 of the Bill seeks to deal with something which has already been dealt with in a measure passed by this Chamber during the current session. I have ruled that there is nothing in our Standing Orders which is expressly prohibitory of what is sought to be achieved by that clause. I also looked up May’s Parliamentary Practice in connexion with the procedure of the House of Commons and of the House of Lords, and discovered that what is sought to be effected by the clause in question may be thus effected. To that ruling. Senator Gardiner has dissented, and the matter is now before you for decision.
-I have very little to add to what has been faithfully stated by the Chairman. I take exception to the clause upon the ground that a Bill dealing with the very matter to which it relates has already been passed by the Senate during the current session. What became of that measure I cannot say. To my mind, the practice which is being followed in this clause is a most unusual one, and one to which attention should be called, and because the best authority should be obtained as to whether it is a correct practice. Whether the Unlawful Assemblies Bill formed a part of the War Precautions Act is another matter. I did not emphasize that point when taking exception to the clause. But if the Unlawful Assemblies Bill did not form part of the War Precautions Act, I take it that you, sir, must consider whether it can rightly come up for discussion in connexion with the repeal of that Act.
– There is in existence now, and will be until this measure becomes an Act, a War Precautions Regulation dealing with unlawful assemblies practically upon the lines that are followed in thisBlli. It is true that a measure was passed through the Senate dealing with that subject only. That measure has not been dealt with by another place, and has not become law. It has now been embodied in a larger and more comprehensive Bill which originated elsewhere, and which has come up to this Chamber. If it were to be ruled that this matter cannot be dealt with in’ the Bill which is now before us, let us look at what would be the effect of that decision upon Parliament. I take it that the object of our Standing Orders is not to prevent Parliament doing the common-sense thing in an orderly fashion. It would mean that if any Bill had been originated in this Chamber which dealt partially with a particular matter during one session, and the Government during the same session decided to introduce a comprehensive measure in which, incidentally, the same subject was dealt with, the introduction of the latter Bill could be prevented. In such circumstances Parliament would be stultifying itself. The practice which I have outlined would open up all sorts of possibilities, because it would enable any honorable senator to anticipate the introduction of any measure relating to specific subjects by the introduction of a Bill dealing, incidentally, with some of those subjects. This is not a measure to deal specifically with unlawful assemblies. That matter is merely incidental to it. But the War PrecautionsAct Regulations are to berepealed by this
Bill, and if it is the desire that our legislation in regard to unlawful assemblies should be retained, it can only be retained in this manner. We should be stultifying ourselves if we were prevented from approving of something of which we have already approved, simply because it now comes before us in a more comprehensive measure than it did previously.
– When it became apparent, upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill, that this question was likely to arise, I took advantage of the opportunity afforded me during the interval which has since elapsed to obtain every precedent that I could find in relation to it. When the point was first raised, I confess that it seemed to me to be fatal to this provision in the Bill, because standing order No. 133 provides -
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order. resolution, or vote on such question or amendment has been rescinded.
The point taken by Senator Gardiner is that the matter which is specifically dealt with in this clause has already been finally dealt with by the Senate during the current session. That is quite true. A Bill dealing with unlawful assemblies was passed by this Chamber, and forwarded to another place. I have no official communication from another place regarding what has become of that Bill, but I have taken the trouble to look up the *Votes and Proceedings of the other branch of the Legislature, with the result that I find that the notice dealing with it has been discharged. There is no doubt whatever that if it had not been discharged in another place the Bill would still be before Parliament, and could not he superseded by a provision in the measure which is now before u: Consequently, the clause to which Senator Gardiner has taken exception would not then be in order. I consider that another place has treated the Senate with a great deal of discourtesy and contumely in regard to this matter, and I wish to express the strongest opinion about it.
The Senate, at the instance of the Government, passed a Bill dealing specifically with this matter, and sent it’ to another place, where, at the instance of the Government, it has been discharged from the notice-paper - rejected with contumely, I say - and a provision dealing with the same matter has been inserted in the Bill which is now before us. I take the strongest exception to that procedure.
– If you, sir, do not mind my interposing at this stage, I take exception to any ruling being given by you in the absence of official knowledge. If you rule upon the point of order which I have raised, you can do so only if you have official knowledge of what has become of the Bill which was passed by this Chamber, and which dealt with the same matter as is dealt with by clause 10 of the measure which is now before us. Upon your own admission, sir, you only know privately what has become of the Unlawful Assemblies Bill in another place.
– Every honorable senator has official knowledge of the fate of that Bill, because the Votes and Proceedings of another place are circulated amongst them. They have, therefore, an’ opportunity of knowing precisely what has occurred. I think that Senator Keating, as an old legal member of this Chamber, will bear me out when I say that the official records of Parliament are admissible as evidence in any Court of law in Australia, whether it be State or Federal. Though I do not blame Senator Gardiner for having raised that particular point, I must, therefore, rule against him. Personally, as I say, it would be a pleasure to me if I were able to rule in favour of Senator Gardiner, but I am not able to do so in carrying out my duties, because I am bound by the precedents that have been established. It is stated in May that, while the rule with regard to, reviving the same question in the same session generally holds good, it is not strictly applied with regard to Bills. There are several precedents on this point in the British Parliament. May, 12th, edition, page 273, states-
When Bills have ultimately passed or have been rejected, the rules of both Houses are positive that they shall not be introduced again; but the practice is not strictly in accordance with them. The principle was thus stated by the Lords, 17th May, 1606: - “That when a Bill hath been brought into the House, and rejected, another Bill of the same argument and matter may not be renewed and begun again in the same House in the same session where the former Bill was begun,-
That makes an important distinction. The Bill could not be originated again here in this session, but it can come to us from another place - “but if a Bill begun in one of the Houses, and there allowed and passed, be disliked and refused in the other, a new Bill of the same matter may be drawn and begun again in that House whereunto it was sent; and if, a Bill being begun in either of the Houses, and committed, it be thought by the Committees that the matter may better proceed by a new Bill, it is likewise holden agreeable to order in such case to draw a new Bill, and to bring it into the House.”
At page 274 of May the following passage, relating to a ruling given in a case practically on all-fours with this, appears : -
This Bill often has precisely the same title, but its provisions are altered so as to conform to the amendments made in the Lords. In this form it is sent to the Lords, received by them without any objection, and passed. Such a, Bill is not identically the same as that which preceded it; but it is, impossible to deny that it is “ of the same argument and matter,”-
That applies to this case and to this provision - and “ of the same substance.” This proceeding can be resorted to when the Lords pass a Bill and send it down to the Commons, with clauses that trench upon their privileges. The Commons can lay the Bill aside, and order another, precisely similar, to be brought in, which, in due course, is sent up to the Lords.
The case referred to there is, as I say, practically on all-fours with this. I turn now to the practice of the Canadian House of Commons. In Bourinot’s Parliamentary Procedure, 3rd edition, page 687, it is stated -
A Bill, once rejected, not to be again offered in the same session. - Exceptions to rule. - It has been shown that it is a well established rule of parliamentary practice that no question or motion can regularly be offered upon which the judgment of the House has been expressed during the current session. But while this rule is recognised as a general one, it is limited in its application as respects Bills.In reference to amendments to Bills, Hatsell lays down the uniform practice which still obtains in the Canadian and English Parliaments: “ That in every stage of a Bill, every part of the Bill is open to amendment, either for insertion or omission, whether the same amend ment has been, in a former stage, accepted or rejected.”
On page 688 of the same volume appears the following: -
Again, when a Bill has finally passed, it cannot be introduced again in the House where it was presented. But there are ways of evading this rule, when the necessity arises.For instance, if a Bill begun in one House be rejected in the other, “a new Bill of the same matter may be drawn and commenced again in that House whereunto it was sent.”
– That is how they evade it.
– In this case, as Senator Gardiner suggests, the rule has been evaded, and I exceedingly regret that I am not able to sustain the point of order raised by him. I did think that his objection, when first raised, was fatal to this particular provision; but, in view of the long-sustained practice laid down in the British House of Commons, which is the another of Parliaments, and in the Canadian Parliament, there is no other course open to me but to rule that the Chairman was correct in rejecting Senator Gardiner’s point of order.
– We might have had a message from another place informing us that our Bill was discharged.
-In concluding my ruling, I should like to suggest that, before finally dealing with this Bill and sending it back to another place, the Senate should, as has been done on a former occasion, in order to maintain its honour and dignity, send a strong protest to another place against themethod of procedure which has been pursued.
– I also feel strongly that this is not a fair proposition to the Senate. We carefully discussed a Government Bill dealing with this matter, and now it comes up to us in another form. I think we have been treated with contumely, and I ask the Committee to reject clause 10.
– I hope honorable senators will not reject the clause in the way that has been suggested. If it is the desire of the Committee to inform another place of their objection to the course that has been pursued, the regular way to do so is by message, as the President has suggested. We should be stultifying ourselves if we rejected a clause of the principles of which we are in favour.
– We should he cutting off our noses to spite our faces.
– Yes ; the Committee can communicate by message to another place its objection to the course that has been followed at the instance of the Government.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Inciting or urging to the commission of an offence).
– I ask your ruling, sir, upon this clause. I am determined that nothing shall pass this Committee which I think is not in accordance with our practice. We are dealing with a Bill “ to repeal the War Precautions Act 1914-1918, and to provide for certain matters arising out of such repeal, and for other purposes.” I take it that the “ other purposes “ must be purposes arising out of the repeal of the War Precautions Act. This’ clause deals not with the War Precautions Act, but with a totally different Act, that is, the Crimes Act 1914-1915. The Crimes Act of 1914* was introduced into this Parliament before the War Precautions Act, and received the Governor-General’s assent on the 29th October of that year, the same day as the War Precautions Act 1914 was assented to. This is a clause dealing with the Crimes Act, which is in no way related to the War Precautions Act. As this is a- Bill to repeal the War Precautions Act, and for other purposes pertaining thereto, I submit that the clause .is not within the scope of the Bill.
– I have considerably less hesitation in giving a ruling on this point of order than I had on the doubtful point raised by the honorable senator in connexion with clause 10. I must again call attention to the comprehensive nature of the title of the Bill, which is “A Bill for an Act to repeal the War Precautions Act 1914-1918, and to provide for certain matters arising out of such repeal, ‘and for other purposes.” Not only is the War Precautions Act of 1914-1918 repealed, but provision is made by this measure, according to the title, for matters arising out of such repeal ; and, furthermore, other purposes are dealt with. To insert a new section in an Act already on the statute-book is certainly within the construable scope of the words “ and for other purposes “ in the title. I call attention to the fact that in passing clause 6 we have already done something almost identical with what clause 11 seeks to effect, namely, we have, amended the Commercial Activities Act of 1918. Clause 11 simply seeks to add a new section after section 7 of the Crimes Act 1914-1915. I rule that the clause is in order by virtue of the title providing for the enactment of matters described as “ other purposes.”
– My point is that clause 11 amends the Crimes Act, which is not mentioned in the title of the Bill, and is, therefore, beyond its scope. Clause 6, to which you have ref erred, deals with an Act that was based upon the War Precautious Act itself ; but the Crimes Act is one with which the War Precautions Act has nothing whatever to do. I take it that the words “ and for other purposes “ upon which you rely for your ruling can mean no purposes other than those set forth in the statement regarding the repeal of the War Precautions Act.
I bog to move -
That the ruling of the Chairman be dissented from on the ground that clause 11 amends the Crimes Act, which is not mentioned in’ the title of the Bill, and is, therefore, beyond the scope of the Bill. ‘
The Chairman of Committees. - Mr. President, I have the honour to report that while the Committee was considering the War Precautions Repeal Bill, Senator Gardiner raised the point of order that as clause
II amends- the Crimes Act, which is not mentioned in the title of the Bill, the clause was beyond the scope of the Committee. I ruled against the honorable senator for the reason that the title is comprehensive, and regally consists of three sections. Firstly, it repeals the War Precautions Act 1914-191S ; secondly, it is ‘ designed to provide for certain matters arising out of such repeal; and, thirdly, it includes the comprehensive phrase “ and for other purposes.” On the ground of the third portion, that the Bill deals with “ other purposes “ not necessarily, specified, I ruled that clause 11, which seeks to add a new section to section 7 of the Crimes Act, is in order. With that ruling Senator Gardiner has disagreed, and I now have the’ honour to submit the” matter for your consideration and decision.
– Mr. President, the frequency of my appeals may load, you to believe that I am endeavouring to harass the Committee in passing this measure. Nothing is further from my mind. Bills with which we deal always have their scope clearly defined in the preamble. This is a Bill for an Act to repeal the “War Precautions Act 1914- 1918,, to provide for certain matters arising out of such repeal, and for other purposes. 1 understand that a measure which proposes to deal with the repeal of any Act which is in no way connected with the War Precautions Act should be mentioned in the preamble. The Crimes Act was introduced into this Parliament fifteen days before the War Precautions Act 1914-191S, and they both received the assent on the 29th October, 1914. The Crimes Act is not in any way connected with the War Precautions Act or its regulations, .and I want your ruling, sir, as to whether the ‘Committee is in order in dealing with this clause under the cover of a Bill for the repeal of the War Precautions “Act, for certain matters arising therefrom, and for other purposes - which, must mean other purposes connected with the repeal of that Act. Bills are described in preambles, not only for our benefit, but for the assistance of those who administer them when they become Acts. In a measure of this kind we may be including something altogether foreign, and I venture to say that the custom of Parliament has always been to set out in the preamble of a Bill a full statement of what is contained in the fewest possible words. Therefore, I hold that a clause that proposes to repeal a section of any Act not mentioned in the title is not in order.
– It does not repeal it, but adds to it.
– Then I am prepared to accept the Minister’s statement, but the position would not be altered if it were repealed. If the Chairman’s ruling that “ other purposes “ can include almost anything is sustained I cannot support him. The preamble of the Bill reads, “ To repeal the War Precautions Act 1914-1918, and to provide for , certain matters arising out of such repeal, and for other purposes.” To that I add- my own words - “ pertinent thereto.” I submit the matter for your decision, believing that the intention of Parliament has always been that there shall be clearly set forth in the preamble of a Bill its purposes, and we haveno right to repeal an Act, or a section of an Act, that is not mentioned therein.
– There is one point raised by Senator Gardiner to which I’ would like to refer, and that is the different manner in which the matter hasbeen treated, when compared with other amendments which are made in Bills that have been brought up during the time I have had the honor to occupy a seat itr this Chamber. On numerous occasions we have had considered amendments of Acts on the statute-book, and that has? always been done by amendments being brought up in a separate form. On thisoccasion, however, it seems that the Government are endeavouring to includeamendments of other Acts in the one measure. What is to be the position if this Bill is passed? Is it .intended that the provisions contained in this Bill are to be added to the Statutes already in existence? I would like to hear an expression of opinion from honorable senators who have had a longer experience than I have had, and are consequently more conversant with the procedure. The principle of embodying amendments of other measures in one Bill is not a good one.
– This question arose during: the second-reading debate, when a point of order was raised, and when I said it was not my duty to then decide whether a certain procedure was desirable or not. All I could concern myself with was whether it was permissible in accordance with, established- parliamentary practice. I must confess it would be impossible for me to lay down any limitation as to what might be included in the title, and it appears to me that the real test as to whether such a provision is in order or not, is whether the proposed amendment gives the Government power to do something which they could not do under the War Precautions Act or its Regulations. The question then arises as to whether the provision relating to certain matters arising out of the repeal of the War Precautions Act, is in order or not. To decide that point, I would have to peruse the Crimes- Act, which I have not had an opportunity of doing. If the Government maintains that this provision is necessary to provide for certain matters arising out of the repeal of the War- Precautions
Act, and to enable them to do certain things which they could not do under that Act, and which they could not do without this provision when the Act is repealed, I shall have to rule that the clause is in order, as it comes within the wide title of the Bill. I agree with Senator Gardiner that the title should set forth fairly clearly the strict limitations which the Bill should cover. It appears to me now, not having had an opportunity to peruse the Crimes Act, that this is a provision which the Government say they need to do certain things which were considered necessary under the War Precautions Act, and which they could not continue to do unless it is re-enacted in this form. I therefore uphold the Chairman’s ruling on the point of order raised by Senator Gardiner.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 (Definition of seditious intention).
.- This is one of those vague clauses that may mean anything or nothing at all. I know there are quite a number of people in this country and in this Senate who would deal in a most drastic manner with seditious utterances. I know there are some who would purify the earth by acts of tyranny. They would impose penalties for everything, and they would close the mouths of people who spoke in a manner distasteful to them. I hold that Governments can only successfully exist by the consent of the governed. I do not think there can be any question about that. The safety of a Government can be best maintained by the greatest amount of liberty being conceded to all, provided thatliberty does not become licence. We may pass a clause of this character, which imposes drastic penalties on those making seditious utterances, but no one seems to have a very definite idea of what sedition is. Anything may be termed a seditious utterance. A person may be attacking a Government, or their Administration, and if in the course of my remarks I happened to use a word or two that was not really applicable to the Government, but to the Constitution under which we are living, with no intention of saying anything of a seditious character, I would be liable.
– Good enough for you.
– I can quite understand the ideas of Senator Cox, and I understand that he believes all he says.
– I would not have given the honorable senator the liberty the Government gave him during the recent war. I would have sent him somewhere.
– I have not the slightest doubt about that, because a man possessing’ the military instinct of the honorable senator would not give a man much liberty during the war or after, because he represents that class which does not believe in liberty.
– I am a loyal Australian, and believe in liberty.
– Yes, and the honorable senator shows his loyalty only on public platforms.
– He has proved his loyalty when others have not.
– I am always a little in doubt concerning those who have to boast of their loyalty.
– As long as one has it to boast about, it is all right.
– It is better to leave such questions to others, but at the same time the honorable senator isjust the type of man-
– That we want here.
– You may want him here, but it is time itwas understood that the people of Australia are not going to be governed by military rule. We cannot close the mouths of people by legislation, and however distasteful it may be, we are always likely to hear seditious utterances, and they will not be prevented by measures such as this.
– The honorable senator does not believe in calling a spade a spade.
– I did not say that, but I believe in the utmost freedom of speech being permitted. Under this clause a man may not be allowed to advocate a better form of government for his own country. If, as an Australian born, I consider that the countries across the water are alien to me, and I express a conscientious belief that it would be in the interests of this country that there should be an Australian Republic,amI. to be made a criminal because I believe that a Republican form of government would be more suited to Australia than the existing form?
– The clause would not impose any penalty for an expression of that belief.
– I think that it would. If the honorable senator will read it carefully he will find that it might be used by vicious administrators in practically any direction they desired.
– Under this clause, the honorable senator might get ten years, and he might get off.
– I think that the country can be best governed by as little law as possible. The utmost, freedom for the expression of opinion should be allowed. No danger can come to a country in which freedom of speech is allowed. The man who proposes to do anything to injure: existing authority is not going on to a public platform to proclaim his intention.
– Who prevents free speech in this country ? It is the people the honorable senator represents. That is my experience.
– That may be the honorable senator’s experience.
– This clause is taken from the Queensland Criminal Code, which has been in existence for twenty-five years, and no one has been gaoled under it yet.
– Queensland is a bit too hot for me. Honorable senators seem to think that there is nothing in this clause. We had no intimation, on the introduction of the Bill, that it was intended to amend the Crimes Act, and yet this clause provides that the following new section shall be inserted in the Crimes Act: - 24a. Subject to sub-section (2) of this section an intention to effect any of the following purposes, that is to say -
This is to be proof of a seditious intention, and to render any one who does it liable to the penalties of the clause. I point out that it is very vague. I may say anything at all without any desire Whatever, to bring the Sovereign into hatred and contempt.
– Then the honorable senator will not be liable.
– I will, if the Government prosecute me. If I were administering this provision, I might hold the opinion that the wealthy section of this community, by using their power to raise the price of necessary commodities above the purchasing power of the people, are making them dissatisfied with their condition, and are in that way bringing the Sovereign and the Government into contempt.
– Let the honorable senator look at sub-section 2 of the proposed new section.
– We shall come to sub-section 2 when we have dealt with sub-section 1. I shall take fine care that honorable senators get the whole of it. The proposed new sub-section further provides that it is to be considered to be a seditious intention -
Sovereign or the Government or Constitution of the Unified Kingdom or against either Houseof the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
What have we to do with the British Parliament?
– We have to thank the British Parliament for giving us a Fleet to protect us ever since we came here.
– When the war came it was our own Fleet that protected us.
– It was the British Fleet.
– Where was it?
– In the North Sea.
– And our Fleet went there to help it. It was the Australian Fleet that protected Australia.
– It would have been God help us if it had not been for the British Fleet.
– I remind the honorable senator thatit was his party - and I take it that at the time he belonged to the same party that he belongs to now - who, when we started to build the Australian Fleet, said that wo were doing so in order to turn its guns against the Empire.
– What would have been the value of our Fleet if the German High Sea Fleet had got out?
– What would have been the value of Great Britain if the German High Sea Fleet had got, out?
– What would the fate of the world have been if the British Fleet had not been supreme?
– These conundrums are not worth discussing. I want to discuss facts. I say it is a fact that Australia was protected by the Australian Fleet, and when it finished that protection it went to help the British Navy to protect Great Britain, and under the control of a Labour Government, too. I suppose that under the paragraph I have quoted, if I said something derogatory of the House of Lords, I should be liable to a penalty.
– It would depend on whether they took the honorable senator seriously or not.
– No; it would depend upon the temper of the present Prime Minister, and that is not to be depended on. I quote another paragraph from the proposed new section -
Imagine legislation by the Australian Parliament dealing with things of that character ! Has there been any call for it? Has anything happened in this country that we should legislate in that direction ? I quote again -
I suppose that if I stood up and said that I believe that the Empire would be a much stronger Empire if every section of it were absolutely self-controlled and selfcontained, I could be brought before a magistrate on a. charge of sedition. I think it is not too much to say that the best British writers have said that the “Colonies” - which is the fine British way of referring to British Dominions - are like fruit, and that when they ripen they fall from the parent stem. No man can look into the future without seeing that Australia will be an independent nation.
– Nonsense ! Never !
– The honorable senator’s “Never!” will have no more effect in keeping back the incoming tide than anything I might say to help it would have. As certain as that I aimstanding here, Australia will be an independent nation. ,
– We are now.
– With the exception of our British connexion.
– Does the honorable senator believe in cutting the painter ?
– I believe in Australia being absolutely free.
– Does the honorable senator believe in cutting the painter ?
– I would not bother about that, because the painter will rot the same as other ropes do. I wonder what would happen to honorable senators if Mr. Thomas, the secretary of the railwaymen in the Old Country, were put on the Throne of England to-morrow by a revolution. Honorable senators are less acquainted with what is happening in Great Britain at the present time than I am if they do. not know that there is a possibility of a revolution there. Almost every British newspaper one takes up shows that, so far as Great Britain itself is concerned, the danger of constitutional changes of a drastic nature there is very imminent.
– The honorable senator has been unfortunate in the visitors he has met, whom this measure will deal with as time goes on.
– I am not speaking of visitors, but of British newspapers and reviews. Where would be the parade of loyalty of honorable senators if such a thing as a revolution occurred in Great Britain? I say that the man who does not believe that Australia will become an absolutely independent nation is quite unable to forecast the future.
– We should not be independent long. Japan would soon snap us up.
– My honorable friend may be of that opinion, but I think that, with the population of this country and the possibilities of its defence, we are in a much better position to secure and maintain our independence than America was when she “claimed her independence with a smaller population, and having to fight Great Britain herself, with that country much nearer to her than it is to Australia. The future independence of Australia is assured.
– At the time that America secured her independence, England was fighting practically the whole world. She had her back to the wall, and was fighting thirteen nations. Alone, America could never have beaten England in the War of Independence.
– I believe that, when we get our independence in Australia, we shall get it with the full consent of the British people. There will be no question of a dispute with Great Britain, and we shall get our independence because the strength of Great Britain will be the greater if there is an absolutely independent powerful nation in these Southern Seas.
– This clause does not prevent a reference to such a matter as that.
– It is one of those foolish things which Governments having a petty outlook introduce with a yiew to making people loyal.
– It has provoked a lot of local thunder.
– A man might well be expected to have something to say upon a measure of this kind which is a hotch-potch of all the idiotic proposals introduced by the Government since they got into office. The proposed new section further provides that it is to be considered a seditious intention -
Who is to be the judge of what endangers the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth?
– A Court will be the judge.
– That will be something satisfactory. Suppose that a turbulent strike took place such as we have hadin the past. I can remember years ago, in the city of Sydney, a valiant man driving awool team down the street in the teeth of the unionists, and a number of the unionists throwing bricks at him. Nothing serious came of it, because there was at the head of affairs at the time a man who took a big view of things. When his petty Ministers said that they would land British marines, he reminded them that he was Chief Secretary of the State, and responsible for its good government. That was Sir Henry Parkes talking to the Bruce Smiths and McMillans ; and he preserved New South Wales at that time from the passing of drastic measures by his firmness and the confidence he displayed in the people. The lack of confidence in the community shown by the introduction of measures of this kind is one of the greatest menaces to peace, order, and good government that could be imagined.
-I direct the honorable senator’s attenrion to the fact that his time has expired .
– It is a beautiful Parliament in which a man can speak for only two or three minutes on a Bill of this kind. I move -
That I be further heard.
– The honorable senator cannot do that.
– I understand that I am allowed to speak twice inCommittee under the Standing Orders. .
– The honorable senator will be in order in speaking again if no other honorable senator rises to speak.
– I rise to a point of order. I think that, under the Standing Orders, the honorable senator cannot rise and speak again immediately. There must be an interval, or otherwise the whole object of the Standing Orders would be defeated.
– When an opportunity is afforded to other honorable senators to rise and speak, and they do not take advantage of it, it would, in my opinion, be improper to prevent Senator Gardiner from taking advantage of his opportunity to speak a second time.
– Standing order No. 407a provides that -
In Committee no senator shall apeak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time on any one question.
If, after Senator Gardiner has spoken for a quarter of an -hour, no other sena tor rises, surely he cannot speak again for another quarter of an hour? That would be one speech.
– How many times can an honorable senator speak in Committee? I do not think there is any limit.
– I have always considered this standing order somewhat vague; but I have no hesitation in putting my own construction on it, and if the Committee wishes to disagree with my ruling it can do so. That would mean that the honorable senator, if no other honorable senator was prepared to speak, could only speak for a quarter of an hour. That is not my construction of the standing order. The limitation of one-quarter of an hour was inserted in our Standing Orders to prevent any one honorable senator from monopolizing the time which the Committee is devoting to the consideration of a measure. If, when a quarter of an hour has elapsed, the honorablesenater speaking resumes his seat, and a sufficiently long interval is allowed by the Chairman of Committees for any other honorable senator to rise, and no one chooses to do so, my ruling is that an honorable senator who is sufficiently interested to continue his remarks may rise again and address himself to the question before the Committee.
– And continue indefinitely ?
– No; for another quarter of an hour.
– Will another honorable senator be in order in moving “ That the question be now put “ ?
– I object to the Chairman’s ruling, and pursuant to the standing order, I hand in my objection, in writing..
– It is just as well that this matter should be cleared up, because it seems to me that the language of the standing order is somewhat ambiguous.
In the Senate:
The Chairman of Committees. - I have to report, Mr. President, that in the discussion of a clause of the measure in Committee, Senator Gardiner was notified by me, as Chairman of Committees, that the fifteen minutes allotted to him under standing order No. 407a had expired, and he resumed his seat. I allowed a sufficiently long interval to elapse to enable any other honorable senator who cared to do so to rise and address himself to the question, and no other honorable senator rising in his place. Senator Gardiner rose again to continue the discussion. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) took a point of order that Senator Gardiner, having exhausted his time limit, could not speak again, quoting as his authority the second section of 407a, which reads -
In Committee no senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time on any one question.
I ruled’ that Senator Gardiner, having been called down by the Chairman, for a sufficiently long, time to enable any other honorable senator to speak, and no . other honorable senator expressing a desire to do so, was in order in speaking again. The Minister for Defence has disagreed with my ruling in the following terms: -
I disagree with the ruling of the Chairman of Committees as to the interpretation of standing order 407a, the second section thereof.
I submit that the language of the standing order is somewhat ambiguous, and for some time have felt that this question would arise. I consider the language of the standing order is open to the construction that Senator Gardiner was in order in speaking a second time, provided no other honorable senator was prepared to continue the debate. The matter is now before you for review.
– I am loath to dissent from the ruling of the Chairman of Committees or the President, but I point out that this standing order was adopted by the Senate for a very definite purpose, and it seems to me that if the ruling of the Chairman of Committees is to stand, the purpose for which the standing order was framed will be altogether defeated. Obviously, the intention of the Committee in framing the standing order was to limit debate, as the second portion of the standing order specifically provides that no honorable senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time on any one question If the rulingof the Chairman of Committees is to stand, it would appear that an honorable senator may resume his seat, and immediately rise again, providing no other honorable senator is prepared to speak. The question is, hew long may he continue? It seems to me that there would be no limit to the debate, and that an honorable senator could go on speaking practically for ever.
– And get a rest every fifteen minutes.
– Under this interpretation of the standing order, the time of the Committee would be wasted, as the procedure would actually assist any honorable senator inclined to obstruct the business of the Senate. I am not, of course, accusing Senator Gardiner of endeavouring to do that. I am merely contemplating the possibilities, and the opportunities an honorable senator would have of obstructing business. The standing order was framed for the specific purpose of preventing such obstruction. If the ruling of the Chairman of Committees is to stand, I feel sure that theStanding Orders Committee will be asked to review the standing order, because its intention will have been entirely defeated.
– As I was speaking when the ruling of the Chairman of Committees was given, and as I am interested in the point of order, I would like to draw your attention, sir, to standing order 268, which reads -
In Committee senators may speak more than once to the same question, and, when a question has been proposed from the Chair, shall confine themselves to such question.
That standing order has never been rescinded. Let us now consider the new standing order 407a -
No senator shall speak for more than one hour in any debate in the Senate, except that in the debate on the Address-in-Reply, or on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, or in moving the second reading of a Bill, he shall be at liberty to speak for one hour and a half. Any senator may move that the limit of one hour or of one hour and a half may be extended for thirtyminutes; such motion shall forthwith be put without debate.
That, I take it, must be read in conjunction with the second paragraph of the new standing order -
In Committee, no senator shall speak for more than a quarter ‘of an hour at any one time on any one question.
The Chairman of Committees. - If I may be permitted, Mr. President, I should like to direct attention to standing order 281. That indicates that there is no possibility of any honorable senator, in Committee, being allowed to continue the debate interminably if it is not the wish of other honorable senators, because under it any honorable senator may move “That the Committee do now divide,” and the question must be put without debate. Therefore, there is no danger, under my interpretation of the new standing order, of the debate being allowed to continue interminably against the wishes of the majority of honorable senators, as the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) seems to believe.
– The standing order under review is a comparatively new one, and the point of order taken has not previously arisen, so there is mo precedent to guide me. When these proposed amendments of the Standing Orders were referred by the Senate to the Standing Orders Committee, they were, I think, returned from the Committee to the Senate in practically the same form, and provided that an honorable senator should have the right to speak only twice, and for a limited time, upon each question in Committee. That is my recollection of the position; but that provision was eliminated in the Senate, and it was decided that, with the limitation of fifteen minutes, an honorable senator should have the right to speak in Committee as often as he chose.
– The original proposition was for five minutes.
– It was something like that. The Senate inserted the limitation of fifteen minutes, and the understanding was that an honorable senator could speak as often as he pleased. There is no standing order to prevent him doing so, except that indicated by Senator Bakhap, standing order 281, under which the Minister or an honorable senator may move “ That the Committee do now divide.” The whole question, therefore, resolves itself into an interpretation, of what “ at any one time “ means. The right to speak more than once in Committee is for the purpose of enabling a senator to deal with new matter or reply to arguments raised by another senator; therefore’, if no other speaker intervenes, the “right” does not come in. It must be obvious, if the contention of the Minister is correct, that, if an honorable sena tor, having exhausted his time in Committee, resumes his seat, and is allowed to rise again immedia’tely, without any other honorable senator intervening in the debate, excepting the provision contained in standing order 281, there is nothing to prevent the debate continuing interminably. There is also provision in our Standing Orders that an honorable senator’s speech may not be interrupted; so that unless an honorable senator desiring o apply the “ gag,” seized the psychological moment, and moved “ That the Committee do now divide,” just at the expiration of the time allotted to an honorable senator in Committee, the debate might go on indefinitely. I am very loath to give a decision, seeing that this is the first time the question has been raised, but I rule that, in the strict interpretation of the Standing Orders, I must uphold the point raised by the Minister for Defence.
– With other honorable senators, I have no desire to see the business of this Chamber held up by any honorable senator; but I feel that the Committee is indebted to Senator Gardiner for his remarks. It is some time since he has given us an address of that description, and it is as well that the Senate should know just what is the policy of the honorable senator and his party. We know now where he stands. Senator Gardiner has made it quite clear what he and his party stand for. So far as I am concerned, the more Senator Gardiner talks in this way the better I shall like it, because it will make the position of the Nationalist party the more secure.
– I do not see what the attitude of my party has to do with this clause.
– Senator Foil’s remarks are related to remarks made by the honorable senator.
– Very well.
– If Senator Gardiner now says that he was not speaking for his party, he might explain, for our edification, for whom he was speaking.
– I was. speaking for myself.
– Well, now we know where Senator Gardiner stands. Let us look at his statement. He referred to the fact that industrial turmoil in this country was likely to have serious results. He also said that, according to the newspaper reports, revolution was likely to take place in the Old Country at any time. Upon numerous occasions, I have heard the honorable senator say that he places no reliance whatever on newspaper reports. Yet when he has an opportunity of quoting a statement from the Northcliffe press which is detrimental to the present Government, he seizes upon it with avidity, and interprets it to his own advantage, with a view to showing that a revolution in Britain is coming. What an inconsistent attitude for him te take up. On the one hand, he says that the press cannot be relied upon: whilst, on the. other hand, he is willing to quote any newspaper report when it suits his own purpose.
Another question which he raised had reference to the possibility of Australia becoming entirely independent of Britain. We have had a nice example of the attitude of his party towards Great Britain. It is only a little while ago that Mr. Theodore, the Queensland Premier, was whining at the feet oi the people of London for the loan of certain money. When they told him thai they wanted some idea of how he intended to spend it, and that they required an assurance that Queensland would not repudiate her obligations, he immediately turned round and talked the same sort of stuff as Senator Gardiner has talked here this evening. That has been the attitude of the Labour party throughout. Where they want money to spend upon experimental legislation, they are willing to e< cap in hand to the capitalist; but when it suits them to stand up and make n little political capital by feeding up n certain section of the community which does not require feeding up, they do not hesitate to adopt that course.
I do not like the clause, for the simple reason that, under the first portion of it a person guilty oi seditious intention will be liable t< ten years’ imprisonment; whilst under the second portion of it he will be likely to escape punishment. The Minister foDefence (Senator Pearce) will doubtles recall that one of the War Precaution Regulations passed at the time the second referendum was being taken on the subject of conscription, provided that no per sou should make any untrue statemen concerning the number of men who ha’ enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and that any person doing so should be liable to prosecution. “Under that regulation, a number of members of this Parliament were prosecuted, but each of them was able to plead that he honestly believed the statements which he had made to be true, with the result that the prosecutions failed. Similarly, under this clause,any person guilty of seditious intention will have an easy way of escape open to him. If we are going to put down sedition in this country, let us either take effective measures to achieve our purpose or else leave the matter alone. To ray mind, the second portion of this clause nullifies all the good that is contained in the first portion of it.
– If I am in order, I move -
That the question be now put.
– After that attack upon me by Senator Foll? It is just worthy of you.
– I would point out to Senator Wilson that his motion must be put in the form, “ That the Committee do now divide.”
– Then I have great pleasure in moving -
That the Committee do now divide.
Question - That the Committee do now divide - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Honorable Senators. - You said “ cowardly mongrels.”
In the Senate:
The Chairman of Committees. - I regret to have to report that, while a division was being taken, Senator Gardiner used words which, in my opinion, were distinctly objectionable, and on exception being taken to them, I asked him to withdraw them, giving him every opportunity to qualify them and to explain his conduct.Instead of withdrawing what he said, he repeated his offence by again usingthe objectionable words. I think that it is not required of me by the Standing Orders to state the words complained of.
Senator Gardiner remaining silent .
– I now call upon Senator Gardiner to obey the Chair by withdrawing the unparliamentary remark which I happened to hear him make in regard to honorable senators who are members of this Chamber.
– Will you tell me the remarks you wish me to withdraw?
– I heard the honorable senator, while a division was in course of being taken, say that he now knew the members of the National party to be “ a more cowardly set of mongrels than he had thought them to be.” While those words may not perhaps be correct as regards every article or preposition, they represent my substantial recollection of what the remark was. I therefore call upon the honorable senator to withdraw unreservedly and unqualifiedly the unparliamentary expression that he used.
– As we are so near the end of the session, and as truths of that character are apparently not going to be received by you, I unreservedly withdraw the words, with a view to getting on with business.
– I cannot accept the honorable senator’s observations, because in his very withdrawal there was a repetition of the offence. He said that the- truths contained in such remarks as he had made were not acceptable to me. That is an aggravation of the offence. He must unqualifiedly withdraw the unparliamentary expression to which exception has been taken by other honorable senators and by myself.
– If a withdrawal that it must be apparent to every one is insincere will bridge over the position that I am in, of being removed from the Senate-
– Where does the coward come in now?
– So far as Senator. R S. Guthrie is concerned, he is always the same. If it is necessary for the harmonious proceeding of the work of this Committee for me to withdraw, I am prepared to’ withdraw unreservedly.
– That is very unsatisfactory.
– The honorable senator having said that he unqualifiedly and unreservedly withdraws, I must declare the incident at an end.
– I wish to state, by way of personal explanation, that -when I made a certain remark about Senator Gardiner in reply to remarks he had made, I had not the least idea that the “gag” was going to be applied. For that reason I voted against the “gag.” I would not like it to be thought that I had made an attack, knowing full well that the “gag” was going to be applied, and that the honorable senator would not have a chance to reply to me.
Clause agreed to.
Section one of the Crimes Act 1915 is amended by omitting sub-section (3) thereof, and that Act shall continue in force as if that sub-section had not been enacted.
Section proposed to be amended:
This Act shall continue in force during the continuance of the war, and for six months thereafter, and no longer.
– Although this is a very short clause, I venture to say that not one honorable senator who is proposing to alter the Crimes Act knows the effect of what he is doing. I am probably taking a. risk in saying that, but I challenge any honorable senator to show that he knows what the effect of passing this clause will be. What does sub-section 3 of section 1 of the Crimes Act 1915 provide? It is a case with Government supporters of “ open your mouth and shut your eyes, and see what the Government will send you.” They neither know nor care. They are prepared to accept the clause because the Government have introduced it. They know nothing about what that section provides, and they care less. It is a most important sub-section. The Crimes Act of 1915 was practically a war measure. It had no connexion with the War Precautions Act. It stood by itself.
– Honorable senators do know, because I explained in my second-reading speech what sub-section 3 of section 1 of the ‘Crimes Act provided.
– I shall be glad to hear the honorable senator explain it again.
– Unless we passed this clause, the Crimes Act would terminate six months after the termination of the war.
– If it was intended to amend the Crimes Act, why was not the purpose made clear in this Bill? What have the Government to be afraid of? Why are they sneaking in legislation in this manner? Why have they waited until what they are pleased to call the closing hours of the Parliament? Why are they prolonging a mea sure which, even in the middle of the war, and during the existence of the panic mind caused by the war, not one member of Parliament thought it would be necessary to continue for more than six months after the war? Two years have gone by, since the war ended, and five years since the Crimes Act was passed, and now the Government are sneaking in an amendment of it. I use the term advisedly, because, as Senator Foll pointed out, it has been customary, when submitting amending Bills to have the sections which they amend reprinted, and, let me add in my own words, it has also been customary to print the amending words in distinct type, in order that members might see at a glance what they were doing. For some purpose of their own, the Government have not seen fit to follow that practice this time. I do not know what their purpose is. It is evident that the members of this Committee do not care what it is. This is a Government measure; the Government have introduced it; they are supporters of the Government, and therefore they will be quite satisfied to take it as being all right. I have no doubt that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) and the. Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) know what it means. I am candid enough to confess that I do not. I had no opportunity of knowing until the Bill got into Committee that it was a Bill to amend the Crimes Act. I believed from its title that it was a Bill to amendthe War Precautions Act, and to some extent I made myself acquainted with certain of the provisions of that Act and certain of the regulations made under it, which were tobe embodied in the new Statute. So far as the Crimes Act was concerned, however, it was only when we came to discuss the Bill in Committee that I realized that this was a measure ostensibly, according to its opening part, introduced for one purpose, but really introduced for another. Can Senator Pearce tell me what subsection 3 contains ? I suppose it provides that the Act is to expire six months after the termination of the war.
– That is so. I explained that on the second reading.
– Here we have a Bill designed ostensibly to repeal the War Precautions Act, but whose real purpose is to continue for an unheard time provisions which even in time of war were deemed to be purely war measures. It is not fair treatment for this Parliament. According to rulings just given, I am not able to refer to the National party in sentiments which I believe should apply to them, but I have no doubt that if this Bill had been in operation long ago some of my utterances in which I have tried to excite discontent among the people against the National party would have caused me to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. This Bill, of so sweeping a character, is brought forward, despite the fact that, month after month, the Government have been promising to repeal all this class of legislation. I well remember, at a conference held in April, 1918, when things were in a pretty bad way on the Western Front, that in order to bring about harmony the Government, in their usual hysterical and panicky way, stated they were quite prepared to repeal all the War Precautions Regulations that were harassing and annoying people who suffered under them ; but now that we have come to times of peace, when wise statesmanship ought to be thinking of getting back to normal conditions, and when the legislation passed during the panicky period of the war could well be allowed to drop off the statute-book, we find the Government, backed up by supporters whom I cannot describe as servile, for fear of offending against the Standing Orders, but whom I’ may allude to as a loyal band of Nationalists, determined to continue this harassing war legislation for all time, or, at any rate, determined not to allow it to drop out of use for the purpose for which it was passed, when the occasions that demanded it have ceased. The Crimes Bill was introduced into this Parliament three months after the war started, when we were all inexperienced in the matter of conducting a war and were extremely doubtful about the powers we possessed under the Commonwealth Constitution, and did not know whether we had the right to use many of the other powers which constitutional lawyers said the Government possessed in time for the protection of the realm-. The Government, of which. I was a member, was very anxious to move with circumspection, but it never dreamt of wanting an Act that might be required at a time when ourvery existence as a self-governing people was threatened to continue after the war was over.
– When the Government introduced the Crimes Bill the limitation provision was not included. It wasParliament that inserted the limitation. The Bill was never intended to be a war measure.
– It amounts to the same thing if the Government accepted the amendment, because at the time it had a substantial majority in both Houses, and need not have accepted it. In any case, if it was not a. war measure,, why did Parliament insert a limitation on its operation or its duration ?. It evidently considered that it was a war measure, and the Government must have accorded with that view. What has happened within the last few months to causethe Government to come to the opinion that it is necessary to continue the operation of this measure ?
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 (Investments by municipalities and other bodies in Commonwealth/ loans) .
:. - This clause relates to theinvestment by municipalities and other bodies in Commonwealth loans, and reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in any law of the Commonwealth or a State, any Municipality, Harbor Trust or Board, or Marine’ Board, or local governing body may -
As this is a very important provision, I think we should have a quorum.. [Quorum formed.] I would like to ascertain from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) whether there is any necessity for continuing this provision, and whether it has had the effect of even an additional shilling being subscribed towards any Commonwealth loan. Is it necessary to continue a provision which has not been of any use in the past? I know that local governing bodies will have quite enough, to do with their own- money without thinking of investing it in Commonwealth loans.
-It only gives them the option.
– . Absolutely; andit is continuing a provision when there is no necessity for it. I was referring a while ago, in discussing another clause, to the possibility of certain happenings on the other side of the world which would throw the world into a state of revolution. If that should occur - I hope it won’t - we would certainly be faced with a financial crisis. I do not know whether that is a seditious utterance or not, but if there is likely to be a financialcrisis, what is the use of continuing such a provision as this ? Local governing bodies will need all the money at their disposal for their own requirements.
– They need not exercise the option.
– They will not desire to do so.
– It is merely to give them power if they so desire.
– To give them power they will never require. This and cither provisions are merely being enacted to smother up the real intentions of the Government, who are kicking up a dust in order to delude the public. As far as this and other clauses, are concerned, the Government, in spite of public opinion and of the opinions expressed amongstthe members of their own party, as well as mine, are determined to continue in operation Acts that should have gone out of existence long ago. This clause is a piece of make-believe, a sham, and a fraud, and part of the trick of a tricky Government in packing a measure with something that means nothing. It represents the height of absurdity. The Commonwealth has tested its own borrowing powers within Australia, and knows that the people can raise sufficient money to conduct their own affairs. But we have been informed, through a representative of the Commonwealth while in London - I refer to the recent visit of Mr. Watt - that if we do not pay the few millions owing to the Imperial Government, Australia will be posted as a defaulter. Some people may wonder why Australians feel angry when they think that a country, which has done more than all that could have been expected of it, should be so treated.
– Australia did much, but no thanks to the Labour party.
– All that was done that was worth doing duringthe war was done by the Labour party.
– Certainly not by the Official Labour party; it did nothing.
– I repeat that this clause is but a miserable sham. There is nothing sincere or honest, or even respectable about it. It amounts to a degradation of Parliament, and a condemnation of the Government by their own actions. I shall do my best to defeat the clause, not that I think that much harm can come ofits enactment. I do not know why there was such secrecy regarding our war-time loans. I am not aware how many municipalities or boards took advantage of this particular provision during the war period. It is not unlikely that we have in Australia wealthy boards and municipalities with money in hand and with dispositions to assist the Commonwealth Government.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 (Bank may advance money to employees for investment in Commonwealth loans).
– I do not understand the meaning of this clause. Apparently, it gives to a banking company, which may be operating entirely within one State, power, quite contrary to its charter, to advance money to its employees for investment in loans. Does our Constitution permit of interference with trade in any State? In war time, by the use of war-time powers, it may have been possible to suspend the charter provisions of a banking institution or company; but the assertion that such is permissible in times of peace requires an explanation which, I fear, I could only secure by attending the Caucus of the National party. Certainly there was no explanation afforded in this Chamber. The banking institutions of the various States carry on, in the main, under charters granted to them by the States. Although it may suit honorable senators for party purposes to assume that we have the power to legislate for controlling the operations of a bank confining its business to a single State, I appeal to their common sense to admit that they do not believe we have that power.
– How long is this clause to operate?
– I take it that it is to be permanent.
– Then the honorable senator has not read the Bill.
– I do not think that I am to blame for that.When, but for me, this Bill of over twenty clauses would long since have been passed, the honorable senator’s interjection does not disconcert me.
– Let the honorable senator read clause 17.
– It provides that the clause which we are now considering is to continue in operation for two years, and no longer. I wonder why such a clause should be considered necessary two years after the war. The War Precautions Act was always going to expire after a given time, but, strange to say, it has not done so.
– It is doing so now.
– If the present Government remain in office with their present supporters, they will come forward later on with another Bill to further extend its operation, and it will be accepted. I could understand a clause giving a banking company the right to invest money in our loans, but I am a little doubtful about a clause giving a company the right to lend money toits employees for that purpose. The clause is a mystery like many others that found their way into our legislation during war time. I say once and for all that, no matter what legislation we pass, giving a bank confining its business to one State the right to lend money to its employees to invest in a Commonwealth loan, if any shareholder of the bank takes action against the institution under a law of the State in which it does business, for a breach of its charter, our legislation will be only so much paper. I am well aware that it is very unlikely that there will be any appeal against this legislation, but it is very unsatisfactory to find that provisions riding roughshod over the powers of the States should be matters of so little concern to that section of the Federal Legislature which the Constitution intended should be the guardian of State rights. This clause is to be passed because that is the will of the Government, and their will is unquestioned by their loyal supporters. The interests which honorable senators have been sent here to conserve are not regarded by them when it is convenient for the Government that they should disregard them. In war time, when it is a question of “all in,” there cannot be much cavil about what is done by the supreme power conducting the war, but, surely, when the danger is past, the Government should aim at getting back to normal conditions.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that the danger is past.
– I do. I think that the world has had enough of war to last it for quite a number of years. Under this clause, the Government is seeking to usurp the powers of the States. It makes the pretence of interfering with banking institutions, which draw their charters from the State authorities. It has no such power.
– The provision is not mandatory.
– But managers of these institutions may find later on that what they have done under a Federal Act of this description is not in accordance with State laws, and the charters under which they exist.
-The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 (Investment of trust funds in Commonwealth loans).
– This appears to be a repetition of clause 15, save that it deals with the investment of trust funds. I invite honorable senators to give careful consideration to it. Do they believe that we have power to legislate in this direction ? I am sure they do not. If that is so, why continue the farce? Honorable senators may think that after all this provision will never be tested in the Courts, and that it is unnecessary therefore to discuss it. I would remind them, however, that it is a direct attack on the authority of the States. I can well understand such an attack on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), but I do not know why the Senate should assent to it. There are times when it would be quick to resent a far less serious attack on the sovereign powers of the States. This is really a trespass upon State powers. The framers of our Constitution clearly set out in section . 51, the matters in respect of which the Commonwealth Parliament has power to legislate, and a reference to that section should convince honorable senators that this provision is unconstitutional. Apparently the Government do not intend to respect the Constitution, because it is clear that the clause under discussion can only be operative with the consent of the people to whom it is applied. Thus, if a Board of Directors, by following the Federal law, exercise power contrary to their authority under a State law, the Courts of the land will decide that the State law is supreme, because the Federal Parliament has no power so trespass in that domain of legislation. It is my duty to warn honorable senators of grave precedents that may be established for future Governments to assume, by force of their majority, powers that are unconstitutional.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 -
Sections 14, 15, and 16 of this Act shall continue in operation for a period of two years from the commencement of this Act, and no longer.
– This clause appears to be very similar to clauses 15 and 16.
– Then why not let it pass?
– I have no desire to prolong the sitting, and I am just wondering if I can do so. I move -
That the word “two” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ one”
This will reduce the period within which the sections referred to shall continue, from two years to twelve months. My object in submitting the amendment is to get a decision as to the application of our Standing Orders. I always like to be candid about these matters. It has been decided in the Senate that an honorable senator in Committee may speak for only fifteen minutes on any one question, and it is now my desire to get another interpretation of that standing order. Sometimes it is as well to force a decision. Therefore, in the most open manner I in timate that I intend to discuss the amendment for fifteen minutes, and then to debate the clause itself for another fifteen minutes. Whether the Committee feels disposed to support the amendment I do not know, but Ishould like to have a division on it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 (Agents of oversea companies and firms).
– This is a long clause constituting almost a Bill in itself, and I suggest that now would be a convenient time to adjourn for supper.
Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 1.30 a.m. (Friday) .
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 20 and 21 agreed to.
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all things whichare required or permitted to be prescribed or whichare necessary or convenient to be prescribedfor giving effect to this Act and in particular prescribing matters providing for and in relation to -
the closing to members of any of the
Naval or Military Forces of pre- , misses licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors ;
– I ask the Committee whether paragraphs a,b, and c of this clause are not a long way over the odds ? Personally, I should not care if every hotel in Australia were closed. During the war period it may have beennecessary for the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) to possess the power to close hotels. But is the retention of that power desirable in time of peace? It isperfectly safe to say that there are hundreds of military men in this country who believe that the sale of intoxicating liquors is calculated to injure the discipline of troops. If I were Minister for. Defence, and these particular provisions were the law of the land, I should close every hotel in Australia. How could I do otherwise if I believed that the sale of intoxicants was injuring the discipline of our troops? I therefore move -
That paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) be left out.
– I ask the Committee not to agree to the amendment. At present, our Defence Act does not give us the power which will be conferred upon us by the paragraphs to which Senator Gardiner has directed attention. During the war it was found necessary for the Minister to be vested with this power in connexion with our Australian Imperial Force camps. The Defence Act provides that no intoxicating “ liquor shall be sold in those camps. But our experience during the war showed that in many training areas there were hotels located quite close to the camps. Presently, we shall be taking into those camps the youth of this country at the age of eighteen years, and. there is a moral obligation upon the Commonwealth not to subject these lads to any greater danger than can be avoided. Many of the hotels in the neighbourhood of military camps are not hotels of a first class character. They are merely wayside inns, which in normal times do very little business. But suddenly a camp containing several thousand men is established in their immediate vicinity. What then happens ? There are certain, hours when the men are supposed to be in camp. But the presence of an hotel in the neighbourhood induces a number of them to break camp. Some of them return to camp with bottles of liquor, and many of them in an intoxicated condition.
– Did the Minister have many instances of that kind?
– There were hundreds of such cases until we took to ourselves the power to close hotels in the vicinity of training camps.
– Did the Government compensate the licensee who paid the rent?
– No. We did not compensate him, because we did not take away from him any of his normal trade. The trade which these hotels derived from our military camps was trade which would not have come to them but for those camps having been established in their neighbourhood. We therefore closed these hotels to the members of our Naval and Military Forces, and made it an offence for a publican to serve them with liquor.
– The Government went a great deal farther than that during the war.
– Yes, we took’ to ourselves power to close all hotels in a port during the period that transports remained there, and with very beneficial results. That is proved by the fact that when the embargo was lifted, it had to be re-imposed. Experience proved that it was absolutely necessary in the interests of our Forces and of the peace and good order of the ports themselves, that the hotels should be closed.
– There was more abuse when the hotels were closed than when they were open.
– The record of the military offences committed during the period that the hotels were closed as compared with the number of offences committed whilst they were open, entirely disproves the honorable senator’s assertion. My colleague (Senator Russell) has just reminded me that, in some instances, the publicans closed their doors of their own volition, and for their own protection. This clause is not included in the Bill because of the views I hold in regard to the liquor traffic. In the amending Defence Bill, I propose to embody certain proposals.
-Whyputthemin this Bill?
– This Bill will then be repealed.
– Why put them in a Bill which is to be repealed?
– Because they are at present in the War Precautions Act.
– But we are repealing that Act.
-Thatisso. But we are retaining the power which we now possess under the War Precautions Act in regard to the closing of hotels, until such time as Parliament sees fit to give us that power in an amending Defence Bill. The probability is. that before long we shall have 15,000 or 16,000 youths in camp in this country. There are many hotels in close proximity to the training camps which will be established, and these will be a source of danger to the lads themselves, and a cause for anxiety on the part of their parents.. Upon these grounds I ask the Committee to retain the paragraphs which Senator Gardiner desires to eliminate. They will have an opportunity to review the decision when considering the Defence Bill, and if they then think that these provisions should not have a permanent operation, they can give effect to that view. I give them the assurance that these powers will be provided for in the Defence Bill, and that then the provisions under discussion will be repealed.
. Icanunderstandthatduring a war aMinisterforDefencemayrequire powers of the description now asked for,butinpeacetimethecontrolofthe liquor traffic might well be left to the Licensing Boards and other authorities whose business it is to supervise the conduct of licensed premises. The Minister tells us that a Defence Bill is to be introduced, and that it will embody the provisions. now under discussion. We are not likely to have another war before the Senate meets again next year.
– But we shall have camps for training.
– It is not fair that the military should pitch a camp near licensed premises into which a man has sunk capital, and which he is conducting according to the law of the land, preventing him from carrying on his business. The man who conducts a licensed house properly is one whom we should encourage. I am not disposed to allow the drink interest to control things in general, but I say that there is a too frequent belittling of the men who conduct licensed houses. As these places are a public convenience, we should encourage decent people to conduct them properly, instead of passing enactments to take away their rights. No Minister should be allowed to close an hotel without the hotelkeeper having the right toappeal.
– The Minister’s action is subject to the criticism of Parliament.
– How many senators would be prepared to fight for the rights of a licensed victualler whose hotel had been closed under these provisions?
– The Minister would soon hear from the Opposition if he acted unfairly.
-Iholdnobrieffor the licensed victualler, but I say that the man who has paid the Crown for a licence, and is conducting his premises properly, should not be deprived of his privileges and robbed of his profits. During the war, there was considerable difference of opinion as to the justice of closing licensed premises in the way they were closed. One or two cases of unfairness were brought under my notice. Certainly I am not prepared to give a Minister power in time of peace to close hotels at will. Should we be right indoing this? The Minister for Defence has spoken of the need for protecting youths of eighteen. No one desires the welfare of our youngmen more than I do, but we must not forget the rightsof the licensee. I understand that a camp cannot be formed within a mile or so of a licensed house.
– That is not so.
– I know that before the site of the Mitcham camp was fixed, care was taken to see that it was over a mile from a licensed house.
– That may have been done as a matter of choice.
– Why pitch any camp within a mile of an hotel?
– In some cases, we have camp sites on which buildings are standing .
– I appreciate the interest that the Minister takes in the well-being of our lads, and I would do nothing to prejudice it; but, at the same time, I cannot agree to a provision which would place in the hands of the Minister, without the right of appeal, the power to prevent a licensed victualler from carrying on his lawful business.
– SenatorWilson has spoken of the need for safeguarding the rights and privileges of the licensed victualler, but I would like to see the rights and privileges of our youths safeguarded. Every senator must have friends or acquaintances whose sons went to the war as mere boys, not knowing the taste of liquor, and came back confirmed drunkards, to the great grief of their parents.
– Very few of them.
– Quite a number. I think that the power asked for is a proper one for the Minister to exercise. Surely we have a right to look after the interests of the boys whom we compel to go into camp. What did America discover? I am not speaking of her universal prohibition, but of the decision of the Secretary to the Navy that it was essential for the welfare of the American Navy that it should be dry. If we allow liquor to be sold in premises near to camps, we shall act unwisely, and endanger the future careers of our boys.
– Although Parliament decided, when passing the Defence Act, that it would be well to keep liquor away from youths in training, and, therefore, to have dry canteens, that decision will not necessarily hold for all time. In coming to that determination members probably remembered the lines -
How oft the sight of means to do ill-deeds, Makes ill-deeds done.
We know that one bad apple may spoil every other apple in the case, and the baneful influence , of an ill-conducted youth may be very harmful to his fellows, causing youths to drink who came from a wholesome environment where liquor was. never put before them. That is the consideration that appealed to me when I voted for this restrictionin the past, and that is why I intend to vote for its retention now. It would be a complete nullification of the efforts of this Parliament if we allowedpublic-houses to keep open outside the training areas while the canteens inside were kept closed. When it comes to a question of private interests, mentioned by Senator Wilson, clashing with the public interest, they must always be subordinated to the higher interest of the community, which means in this case the interest of the nation itself. I am not one of those who decry those engaged in the hotel trade, or who claim that their property and substance should be confiscated.
– This clause gives the Minister power to regulate hotels, not only near camps, but in any part of Australia.
– There is no need to overstate the case, which is quite strong enough without exaggeration.
– If under the new Defence Act camps are held for ten weeks, the Minister may close an hotel for ten weeks and ruin tie licensee.
– He can close an hotel only so far as serving trainees in the camps is concerned.
– Under paragraph b he can make regulations to close hotels.
– I agree that the Minister should have power to close an hotel near a training camp if he finds that the licensee is surreptitiously supplying drink to the trainees.
– I only ask for the right of appeal under those conditions.
– This is only an alternative power.
– It is a discretionary power given to the Minister. We must not assume that we shall have Defence Ministers who will exercise all their constitutional and Ministerial powers to persecute hotelkeepers. I am not narrowminded on the liquor question, but the closing of hotels near camps is the best thing that can happen to the youths in the camps. The specious excuse might be put forward that they needed a glass of beer after their arduous day’s training. I contradict that flatly. During my early days in this country, I followed occupations which far more severely tested a man’s physical powers than does the training on any trainingground. I have seen youths made confirmed drunkards simply because they were induced to take the first glass of grog by some “ bad egg “ amongst them, and because they wanted to appear as good as their fellows. We ought to remove that temptation from them until their characters are so strengthened that they can say “ No.” A youth of eighteen or twenty or even twenty-two, does not need to have these temptations strewn in his path. I shall support the retention of the clause, but I shall want some information about paragraph c before I votefor it.
– I have been trying to understand the motive behind the opposition shown by Senator Wilson to this clause. He said he was as anxious as any one of us to see that the lads who entered camp should not be endangered, but should have a fair opportunity to gain all the advantages possible fromgoing through a course of training in military camps. I have had a good many opportunities of personally observing the effects that licensed houses in the vicinity of training camps have had upon hundreds of young fellows. It is a fact that many young lads who entered the training camps a few years ago were rendered absolutely unfit for the work they had volunteered to perform simply because of the existence of licensed houses in the vicinity, over which the Defence Department exercised no supervision. These young men were in the camps, under supervision, discipline, and control, and with a dry canteen, but immediately they got outside and were free from supervision and control, hundreds of them were filled up with liquor that they had never been accustomed to consume before they went to camp. I have seen some of the most awful sights, which I hope I shall never see again, in the shape of the degradation of young lads near one of our capital cities, owing to licensed houses being allowed to ply their trade without restriction near training camps. If the Government had not introduced this provision, I am sure that the great bulk of the people of Australia would have denounced them for exposing our young men in future camps to the temptations which were so disastrous to them during the war period.
– The Government had all these powers during the war.
– Then they were not exercised in regard to all camps in Australia. The experience gained by the Minister and the Department during the war period will be very helpful in the future in avoiding any repetition of the disgraceful scenes so often witnessed in close proximity to military camps in Australia.
– The honorable senator is exaggerating.
– I am by no means exaggerating. I can give the honorable senator an instance where I saw a dozen lads, none of them over twenty years of age-
– A dozen out of many thousands !
– But this was only one instance. If, in walking from Parliament House, Hobart, to the railway station, I could see the degradation into which these young lads had fallen, who a few weeks before never knew what it was to have the least temptation placed before them, and when later on I had that experience confirmed by information supplied to me by the medical officer of the camp, it ought to be enough to make me declare that the asset Senator Wilson referred to in the shape of the licensed hotelkeeper is not comparable with the asset destroyed through not putting into effect, during the war, the restrictions now sought to be imposed.
– I think the honorable senator is terribly extravagant in his language.
– I cannot be too extravagant in protesting against the possibility of having any young fellow absolutely damned for life, as many were during the war period.
– The honorable senator is again extravagant in his language.
– I am not. In Australia we repeatedly spend thousands of pounds in order to save the life of a child who has been lost, or discover the whereabouts of the unfortunate crew of a sailing vessel which has disappeared; but here, through negligence, we have allowed young men, who would otherwise have been a valuable asset to Australia, to be ruined because we did not take the necessary precautions to protect them from the dangers by which they were surrounded when they were removed from the supervision exercised by the officers in a military camp.
– The honorable senator makes no reference to giving compensation to a poor man whose occupation is taken from him byclosing his premises.
-Can the honorable senator point to any instance in which men have invested capital in a business which is licensed to sell liquor, because of the possibility of being able to supply hundreds of thousands of young men in training camps’?
– Is there any attempt to compensate a parent who loses the career of a son ?
– That sort of talk is all right for a temperance meeting, but not here.
– It ought to be fair comment among a body of common-sense men. No amount of compensation would be too great to pay parents for the loss of the health, honour, and status that their boys have sustained. Our first interest should be the welfare of the young lads of Australia.
– The home training of the Australian youth ought to stand right up against all that sort of thing.
– Certainly; but, as Senator Lynch has pointed out, young men who have had the best of home training have been ruined in health and strength because through their loyalty to their country, and their desire to do all they could to help to win the war they volunteered for active service, entered a training camp with no idea whatever of falling a victim to liquor, and, unfortunately, encountered among their comrades a hail-fellow-well-met young chap, who induced them to take their first intoxicating drink. I have known cases where young fellows in Hobart have been ruined physically for all time through over-indulgence in liquor, which could not possibly have occurred if the military authorities had exercised outside the camp the supervision maintained insideitin the interests of the young fellows who were intrusted to them for training for military service.
– Every senator is as desirous of safeguarding the youth of Australia as is Senator Payne. That honorable senator has not only exaggerated the evil to which he has referred, but also cast aspersionson those who, during the war, were responsible for looking after the youth of Australia. I visited training camps a good deal, and I certainly did not see the terribly degrading scenes pictured by the honorable senator. I would not say a word in favour of anything that would tempt our youths from the path of sobriety, but in discussing a question like this, we must remember that if we assemble 4,000 or 5,000 youths together, whether at a football game or in a camp, there are always some who indulge too freely in intoxicating liquors. .
– But it is compulsory for youths to go into military camps.
– I admit that it is advisable to protect youths who are assembled in the training camps; but who is to decide whether the hotel licensee has committed a crime, and if hotel premises are closed, is any compensation to be paid? The provisions of the Bill may be all right as they stand, provided that one man is not given too much power, which, if wrongly exercised, may bring ruin upon licensed premises, and perhaps upon licensees, without any right of appeal. I would be in favour of the addition of a proviso giving the licensee the right of appeal if any injustice is done to him. Under certain conditions, it may be right to close an hotel, but I think that the licensee should be compensated.
– No premises are closed unless the licensee has, first of all, disobeyed the order not to servepersons in uniform.
– With that cunning of which he is a master, Senator Pearce has led this discussion into a channel absolutely foreign to the clause and has indicated that its purpose is to protect the youth of the country. It is nothing of the kind. Power is given to make regulations in relation to -
The closing of premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors, or in which intoxicating liquors are sold where, in the opinion of the Minister, the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors is prejudicial to or endangers the health, training, discipline, or administration ofany members of the Naval or Military Forces.
Power is deliberately given to the Minister for Defence to close any hotel in Australia if, in his opinion, keeping it open may injure the health of any young soldier in -the Commonwealth. It is altogether too drastic a power to give to one man.
– Is it not a reasonable assumption that the Act will be administered with common sense?
– I would not give the present Minister, for Defence (Senator Pearce) the power to close any hotel. He tells us that he will use this power, that it will be necessary to do so, and that he has in his mind purposes for which it will be used.
– He was referring to premises in close proximity to training camps.
– As the Commonwealth Parliament has no constitutional right to interfere with trade within a State, I do not know why the Minister believes that he can exercise the power which he seeks to obtain. I am as tolerant a teetotaller as any other honorable senator is: but I would not take the power to interfere with the trade of dispensing intoxicating liquors, because it is a trade maintained by the will of the people, and the only way to deal with it is by allowing the people to do so. This is one of those absurd and irritating pinpricks which do more harm than good to the temperance cause.
– Would not the honorable senator be in favour of the Government taking action in connexion with events such as those which occurred at the Liverpool Camp?
– I well remember the incidents which occurred at the Liverpool Camp; and if the Minister is given the power proposed in the Bill he will be able to close down half-a-dozen hotels in the vicinity of that camp.
– No, he will not.
– You are giving him the right to do it, and it is pre:posterous to give any Minister such power.
– It is only closing them to the men who are in training at military camps.
– The provision is so drafted that it gives the Minister not only the power to close them to trainees in camp, but authority to close them altogether.
– That is, if the hotelkeepers do not discriminate.
– If the Government are prepared to give the licensed victuallers the right of appeal, I shall be’ satisfied.
– When hotelkeepers were warned of the risks they were running, quite a number continued to supply liquor.
– I am well aware of what happened at Liverpool Camp, and if there was one section of the community in that vicinity which was badly treated - and I am quite prepared to take my share of that responsibility - it was the hotelkeepers.
– They reaped the greatest harvest they ever had. Some of them made quite a fortune, and the honorable senator can take that from me. I am not a “ wowser.”
– This is not a personal matter, and we are not dealing with the question of whether there should be licensed houses or not. We should not give to the Minister powers which this Parliament has no right to confer, particularly when we are dealing with trade within a State. These hotels are licensed under State authority, and although in time of war there might have been some justification for the assertion that the supply of liquor was detrimental to the training of troops , it must be remembered that those powers were exercised during a period of war. There is now no reason why we should’ ride roughshod over State laws; what we did in time of war should not be done under normal conditions.
– In times of peace, we are training men for war.
– Whatever we do, we should only exercise the powers which the Commonwealth Constitution confers upon us.
– Is it not incidental to our powers under the Defence Act ?
– The Government may have certain powers under that Statute, but it does not give them authority to deal with trade within a State. As far as the youths of this country are concerned, I may say that if they have fifty-one weeks in the year in which they are liable to be ruined by the hotels, this provision will not be the means of saving them. That is the opinion that I have of our young Australians. I have very strong objections to any one person having the power to determine the success or failure ‘of any licensed victualler.
– It seems wrong, in the opinion of some honorable senators, to hold a good opinion of young Australians.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of going back to the wet canteen ?
– Are there not wet canteens already in our military barracks ‘!
– Not in the officers’ quarters ?
– Am I not right in saying that there is a wet canteen in the military barracks ?
– If the honorable senator is referring to the barracks he is correct; but there are no wet canteens in our training camps.
– This is an important point: This provision has been included, with many others, on varying matters, and I venture to say that if it had been introduced in a separate Bill the Government, with their thirty-five followers, could not have secured the support of more than- ten. But, owing to the manner in which it has been brought forward, we shall find that the Government will have the whole-hearted support of their colleagues, simply because the provision has been introduced in this way. That will inflict great hardship on the liquor trade; and I am sure my most bitter opponent will not» say that I am an advocate of liquor interests.
– But the honorable senator is supporting the liquor trade.
– Those engaged in the liquor business know very well that they cannot expect to receive any quarter from me, because I never profess or pretend to be their supporter. We have to consider the position of an hotelkeeper who has paid for his right to trade, and who, in the ordinary course of business, may have an opportunity of disposing of his hotel to another person. What are his prospects when an injurious clause of this character becomes law? What would be his prospects when a Minister - shall I say a “wowser” Minister? - has the power to close his establishment whenever he considers it necessary? The Government can do all the injury they desire to the holder of a licence, but if it comes to the test as to whether, in times of peace, they can close his hotel, no reasonable man will claim that the Government, or one of their Ministers, should have that right.
– The liquor trade will soon test it.
– Yes, and if I had to administer the Act I know what I would do; but I do not think I would get a Labour Government to agree with me.
– You would find the Senate against you.
– And I’ would deserve it, just as Senator Pearce does. Reference has been made to the riot which occurred at the Liverpool Camp, and for which the hotelkeepers were not responsible, because they had been closed on the previous day, which was a Sunday. On the Monday the soldiers would not attend drill because their hours of training had been increased, and, because of that lamentable occurrence, the liquor trade was blamed. Many people were not aware of the fact that the licensed victuallers were not guilty, because the soldiers took the matter in their own hands, rushed the hotels, and secured supplies of alcoholic liquor. When the men were in training thousands of people visited the camps, and the increased trade, to which Senator Cox has referred was due to that fact. It was a legitimate trade carried on by reputable hotelkeepers, and they were very harshly treated by having their premises closed through no fault of their own. Now the war is over the Government are enacting a provision which is altogether unconstitutional, and are interfering with State trading rights. I desire to show, as forcibly as I can, what a ridiculous provision the Government are endeavouring to foist upon the people. Those who shelter themselves behind the suggestion that the morals of our young men are likely to suffer should remember that the. young men of this country are . quite able to look after their own morals, which compare more than favorably with those of other sober members of the community. Even though a life-long teetotaller, if I had the power to close an hotel to-morrow I would not do so. The Government are not helping temperance by enacting insane laws of this kind; they are only bringing ridicule upon the cause. The Government of Queensland recently gave the people of that State an opportunity to express their views upon the closing or continuance of hotels, and a majority of the people decided for the latter course.
– They very nearly abolished the traffic.
– But they actually kept it going. Is one Minister of the Commonwealth to be given power to close hotels in Queensland, despite the fact that the people of Queensland have just Said they shall remain open?
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I hope Senator Gardiner will consent to his amendment being put to the Committee paragraph by paragraph.
– I have no objection.
– Unless I am afforded a satisfactory explanation regarding paragraph c I shall vote against its retention. Paragraphs a and b have specific reference to the liquor trade so far as Naval and Military Forces are concerned; but paragraph c apparently comes under a different category. It appears to represent an effort on the part of the Government to acquire the right to step in and close any hotel in any part of the Commonwealth whenever they choose. I cannot support that.
– If it is the wish of the Committee I will put the paragraphs separately.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Question - That paragraph (a) be left but - resolved in the negative.
Question - That paragraph (b) be left out - resolved in the negative.
– Paragraph c is consequential upon paragraphs a andb.
– It is an open power, and has nothing to do with the Naval and Military Forces.
– If honorable senators will read clause 22 as a whole, they will perceivethat all three paragraphs are related. Paragraph c begins, “ The steps to be taken.”
– The relation of the paragraph to its predecessors would be made perfectly clear if the word “ such “ were inserted in lieu of “ the “.
– That is not necessary. When the Bill was framed the instructions given to the draftsmen were that these provisions were to apply only to the Naval and Military Forces. It is obvious that paragraph c is purely supplementary.
Question - That paragraph c, proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
I, A.B., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the King, and will loyally, as in duty bound, uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, established under the Crown of the United Kingdom. So help me, God!
– I desire to move an amendment upon the schedule, which does not go as far as I should like it to go. I move -
That after the word “faithful” the words “ to Australia “ be inserted.
If we are going to deal with people coming to Australia in the way proposed in this Bill, the first thing we should demand is that they shall be loyal to Australia.
– That is already provided for.
SenatorGARDINER. - I want to make quite sure that Australia shall be put first.
– The amendment is entirely unnecessary. What Senator Gardiner seeks to do is already provided for in a clause of the Bill in a much better form than he proposes.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
– I wish to add some words to the motion, but I am not quite sure as to the method I should adopt to give effect to my intention. I move -
That after the word “ adopted the following words be added: - “The Senate records its protest against the inclusion in the Bill of provisions similar to those already included in a Bill passed by the Senate this session, and transmitted for the concurrence of the House of Representatives, and declares that the matter is not to be regarded, as a precedent; and resolved that this protest be embodied in the message returning the Bill.”
I do not know whether what I propose is the right course to adopt.
– The amendment proposed is quite in order.
– I am glad to second the amendment. There is no honorable senator, no matter on which side he sits, who will contend that the House of Representatives has, in this matter, treated the Senate in the way in which it should be treated. The Senate passed legislation which it considered of sufficient importance, and sent the Bill down to another place, where it was discharged from the business-paper, and later embodied word for word in another Bill. That is treatment which no member of the Senate can allow to pass unquestioned. I am speaking now, not as Leader of the Opposition, but in my capacity as a member of the Senate prepared to jealously guard its rights and privileges. If we permitted this treatment of the Senate to pass unchallenged, we should not be doing justice to the institution of which we are members. I consider Senator J. D. Millen’s amendment offers a simple and dignified way in which the Senate may enter its protest against its treatment by the House of Representatives in connexion with theUnlawful Assemblies Bill transmitted from this Chamber.
– This is a novel procedure, and I think it is the first time in the history of the Senate that such an amendment has been moved. I should like to hear from you, sir, whether you regard this as the proper stage of our proceedings in connexion with this measure for the moving of such ah amendment. I have been looking through the Standing Orders dealing with the adoption of the report of a Bill from Committee, and I see no provision there for the moving of such an amendment. I see provision made for the adoption or rejection of the report, but none for the amendment of the motion for its adoption: There is provision in the Standing Orders for the moving of amendments on the motion for the second reading of a Bill. There is no provision, so far as I can see, for a message to be transmitted to another place by means of an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the report, or to the motion for the third reading of the Bill. I remember one case in which a message was transmitted from the House of Representatives to the Senate in connexion with the passing of a Tariff. On that occasion the House of Representatives sent a message to this Chamber. I am not speaking with a view to blocking the sending of a message to the House of Representatives in connexion with this Bill,but I should like to know whether there is provision in the Standing Orders for the sending of a message of this kind, and whether this is the proper stage at which to propose the matter. I should like a ruling on the subject.
– Any motion moved in the Senate is always open to amendment, provided that the amendment is relevant. That is the only limitation whatever upon the moving of amendments to a motion. The question which Senator Pearce has raised is really whether the amendment moved by Senator J. D. Millen is relevant to the ‘’ motion that the report be now adopted. It is competent for the Senate to make any relevant addition to that motion, so that the only question to be determined is whether or not the amendment is relevant. If in the detailed examination of the Bill in Committee certain facts became apparent, then the report stage is the proper time to takeaction regarding the facts so ascertained. . The amendment is a protest against the inclusion in this measure of provisions similar to those embodied in a Bill already passed by the Senate this session, and transmitted to the House of Representatives for its concurrence, and I rule that it is relevant. On more than one occasion a message has been transmitted to another place protesting against its treatment of the Senate; but I am not sure whether such a protest was agreed to at the report stage of a Bill. The amendment isin theform of a protest, to be transmitted with the message to the House of Representatives, and I rule that it is in order.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented: -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act. - Orders of the Commonwealth. Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and other documents, in connexion with awards or variations of awards in the following cases: -
Dated 17th November, 1920-
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Association.
Australian Letter Carriers’ Association (two cases) .
Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
Australian Postal Linesmen’s Union.
Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Artisans Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.
Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia.
Line Inspectors’ Association - Commonwealth of Australia.
Meat Inspectors’ Association - Commonwealth Public Service.
Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia.
Dated 18th November, 1920-
Professional Officers’ Association - Commonwealth Public Service.
Dated 19th November, 1920-
Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Dated 22nd November, 1920 -
Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Audit Act. - Finance : Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1920, accompanied by theReport of the Auditor-General.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspensionof Standing and Sessional Orders.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I object to the absurd proposal to suspend the Standing Orders at this hour of the morning, when the Minister (Senator Pearce) has no ground for complaint as to the treatment he has received, throughout the session, at the hands of the Senate. I recognise that the Chamber - is constituted almost entirely of members of his own party, but I think we may reasonably object to this motion in view of the fact that the whole Bill might well be dealt with as fromal matter at our ordinary hour of meeting. There is grave objection to a Bill of any magnitude being passed through all its stages at this unreasonable hour. Does the Minister think that there would be any objection to this measure if its consideration were allowed to stand over, as suggested by me? If he will let us get home now, I shall be prepared when we meet, in the ordinary course, at 11 a.m., to let it go through as a. formal matter. That is a fair offer, but I know the Minister will resent any interference with his method of doing business. It is unfair businessto ask honorable senators to put legislation through at this hour of the morning. Any honorable senator could have objected to the Minister’s motion for the suspension of Standing Orders- to allow new business to be taken after half-past 10 o’clock last night, and thus could have obstructed the business. I would agree to let this measure pass if I had the assurance of the Minister that other Bills would not be brought on also; but when I asked him, there was an ominous silence, suggestive that other measures were to come on. I protest against the use by the Minister of his majority in this way, but I realize that I would be inflicting a hardship on other honorable senators if I continued the discussion to the same length as on a former occasion, when the Minister moved the suspension of Standing Orders to discuss an amending Electoral Bill, so I shall not continue. In my opinion, the Senate should insist upon its business being conducted in a proper manner. I have shown all through this debate that it has not been my intention to delay the closing of this session by one minute, but I protest now against this unreasonable attempt to bludgeon legislation through.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Minister for Defence) [2.55 a.m.]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Section 14 of the principal Act passed this session reads as follows -
A Special Tribunal shall consist of an equal number of representatives of employers and employees respectively, together with a chairman. The chairman shall be chosen by agreement betweenthe representatives of the employers or employees, or in default of an agreement, shall be appointed by the Governor-General.
By a peculiar oversight Parliament failed to provide how the finding of a Tribunal should be arrived at in the event of an equal division of opinions. It was intended, of course, that when the members were equally divided the chairman should have a casting vote, and the object of this Bill is to remedy the defect in the principal Act by providing -
At meetings of a Special Tribunal the opinion of the majority shall prevail ; and where the members of the tribunal are equally divided in opinion, the opinion of the chairman shall prevail.
Then there is a further provision that two-thirds of the members of the Special Tribunal shall form a quorum. . It is obvious, of course, that whilst at some sittings the full number of members might not be present, the parties would be equally represented when it came to giving a decision or finding, and then, if there was an equal division of opinion, someone would have to give a decision. In that event, the chairman would have a casting vote.
– Suppose the Tribunal is sitting without a chairman ?
– There is no provision for a chairman there.
– Can two-thirds of the Tribunal bring in a finding?
– I should say so. It is obvious that with the representatives of employers and employees equally divided on that Tribunal, the chairman should have a casting vote.
– I am not at all satisfied in my mind as to whether the chairman is to have a deliberative as well as a casting vote.
– He will not have a deliberative vote.
– Assuming that a Tribunal is elected on party lines, the employers’ representatives will take one side and the employees’ representatives the other. But I am imagining a state of affairs in which some member might be absent. If the parties could not agree on a chairman the Government would appoint one inclined to the employers’ interests, and, that being so, we should have a Tribunal on which one side would always have a majority. If that is considered an objectionable way of putting the position, I shall say that a Labour Government would, under similar circumstances, appoint a prominent unionist as chairman, and the balance every time would be in favour of unionist proposals. I have not much liking for, and do not look for much success from, arbitration or conciliation on lines which can only tend to widen the division . between conflicting interests; and Tribunals based on the hard and fast lines of representation of interests will not make much headway towards industrial peace. I welcome every effort and every experiment that tends to ward off those disputes that retard so much the development of this country. I care not who tries the experiment, if it is an honest one, to better conditions; I welcome it, because, even if it fails, it has its lessons. ‘We have relied on arbitration for many years, and I could point to a long list of successes achieved in our Arbitration Courts; but by one of those strange happenings that should have been avoided, the very Judge, whose ability and legal attainments have proved so effective in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, has been driven from his position by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes).
– That is not correct.
– I did not think that such a statement ‘ would have been denied in view of what has been said by the Judge himself.
– The Judge has not resigned, so far as I know.
– Then I am a victim to the unreliability of the press, but it is in my mind that the Judge has given notice of his intention to resign.
– He has not done so.
– And I gather’ from the press that the reason is the conduct of the Prime Minister towards the Judge.
– Who was it that attacked the Judge so bitterly at the time of the seamen’s strike?
– That shows the difficulty of the position; whichever side fails to get what it desires, it is pretty sure to feel sore. However, no matter how far short arbitration may have fallen of what we expected, no one can fail to appreciate the advantages of the industrial peace we enjoyed for so many years owing to our Arbitration Court. In the case of the Australian Workers Union, of which I am a member, industrial peace followed the O’Connor award of many’ years ago, and other subsequent awards by the present President; whereas, until the O’Connor award there was constant turmoil. Until very recently, for about ten years, there was industrial peace so far as the Australian Workers Union was concerned. Of course, I do .not contend that there was a period of ten years without the rumour of a strike or a partial strike somewhere.
– There never is a time when some section- of the Australian Workers Union is not on strike.
– It is a most progressive association. In the shearing industry, the employers can point to a number of years without any serious trouble of any kind, and this must be attributed to the working of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Arbitration Court, I understand, is to be superseded by an industrial peace method, which is that of getting the two sides together in equal representation, and leaving the representatives themselves to appoint a chairman. Personally, I think a Judge, who by experience becomes an expert in industrial matters, represents a mora successful method than does a Board of the character provided by the Industrial Peace Act. A Judge hears case after case, and develops a capacity for examining and weighing evidence and arriving at a decision on the merits; whereas a Board consists of partisans. I know the workers pretty well, and they will insist that any one appointed to represent them must hold up their “end of the log,” and”, the employers will do the same.
– Have not the Wages Boards of Victoria been fairly successful ?
– That depends on what the honorable senator regards as success. In my opinion, with the cost of living rising, no award of a Board or Arbitration Court can be successful; any award to be effective must stipulate a proportionate purchasing power in the increased wages.
– Have not strikes been settled on the lines of industrial peace?
– As I say, I welcome every effort to .bring about industrial peace, but I have not much expectation of success. The fact is that the community is divided into two camps, which regard each other with jealousy and suspicion; and we can never have a permanent industrial peace until there is a better understanding amongst ourselves. It was a member of the Labour party who, about 1892; first introduced an arbitration measure in the State Parliament of New South Wales, and a little while after it became fashionable to advocate that system of settling industrial questions. It certainly seemed to point to conditions under which employers and employed could work, in harmony; and, up to a limit, that expectation was borne out by experience. It was soon found, however, that awards of increased wages frequently led to higher prices being charged by traders, who wished to obtain a share of the extra money. Take the case of house rent by way of illustration. I know of one landlord” who increased the rent charged for his house because he had read in the newspaper an announcement to the effect that the members of the trade to which his tenant belonged had received an increase of -wages. Every excuse has been availed of by the powerholding class of this country to increase the cost of living.
– What does the honorable senator mean by the “ power-holding “ class ?
Senator -GARDINER. - That section of the community which, by corrupting or purchasing the press obtains an undue share of power.
– The Worker. -Senator GARDINER. - The Worker ls a journal which cannot be purchased. Unpurchased and unpurchasable it stands.
– The workers possess two-thirds of the voting power of the Commonwealth, so that they must be the power-holding class.
– It is quite true that they possess two-thirds of the voting power of the Commonwealth, but, unfortunately, we have in this country a press which will only publish one side of the case.
– The honorable senator is not the only senator who obtained the support of the workers at the last elections.
– If the workers knew as much about the manner in which their votes were filched from them as I do, the figures would have been reversed, so that instead of there being thirty-five Nationalists in the Senate to one representative of Labour, there would have been thirty-five Labour representatives as against one Nationalist. If one compares The Worker and the Sydney Morning Herald, he will discover that the former is as much biased in favour of the Australian Workers’ Union as the latter is against it.
– How is it that the largest Labour vote in Australia is regis tered where these newspapers circulate most?
– The Labour newspapers proclaim upon their title pages exactly what they are. They make no pretence of giving everybody a fair deal. They are union newspapers .which put the views of unionists before the people. But take the case of the Sydney Morning Herald. Quite recently I wanted to address a meeting in the capital of my own State. I wired to a friend asking him to advertise that meeting. He went to the office of the newspaper in question, and paid for the advertisement, which never appeared. A day or two later he called at the office and obtained a refund of his money. No reason was assigned why the advertisement was not published. But I know the reason. It is that I ann a Labour representative. That sort of conduct 13 discreditable to any public journal.
– 1 have seen my name omitted from the list of candidates for Parliament by a number of newspapers.
– That is what we are up against. Nothing like successful arbitration or industrial peace cau come to this country while the press is so one-sided.
– What has that to do with the Industrial Peace Bill?
– If the honorable senator cannot see what it has to do with it, I am afraid that I cannot supply him with the requisite brains to do so, and certainly God has not. We are discussing a Bill relating to industrial peace. Surely we. can intelligently do that only by first considering the cause of industrial unrest. I do not know what is the purpose of this measure. It may be designed to remedy a defect in the principal Act. But introduced at 3 o’clock in the morning, without explanation of its provisions, all that we can do is to accept the Minister’s word that it is what he has. represented it to be. I have no desire to detain honorable senators unnecessarily, because I want them to get home to enjoy a good night’s rest. But the people whom I represent at least demand that proposed legislation shall bc submitted for my consideration in sufficient time to afford me an opportunity to discuss it intelligently. 1 was not even favoured with a confidential copy of this measure by the Minister. However, having entered my protest against the introduction of Bills at this ungodly hour, I shall content myself with registering my objection to it.
– The provision in this Bill which it is proposed to insert in the Industrial Peace Act evidently overlooks the fact that the number of members of which any Tribunal is to be constituted, is not mentioned. The Bill provides that a Special Tribunal shall consist of an equal number of representatives of employers and employees, but does not say what that number shall be. It further sets out that two-thirds of the members shall form a quorum.
– That does not matter.
– Twothirds of four would be difficult to arrive at.
– Upon special Tribunals constituted in connexion with industries of a diverse character, more members will be required than upon Tribunals appointed in connexion with other industries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Constitution of Special Tribunal)..
: - The point raised by Senator Senior on the second reading has been considered, but it was thought inadvisable to provide for any fixed number because there are diversified industries in regard to which it might be thought necessary to appoint representatives of various sub-industries; but where the labour in an industry is all of one kind, a smaller number of representatives would suffice. It is, therefore, thought advisable to leave the number of representatives to be appointed to the discretion of the appointee. Both sides, of course, will have the samerepresentation.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
As Senator Gardiner may again object to this motion, I would remind him that it is the general desire of senators and members of another place to adjourn this week for a recess, so that those who come from distant States and have been absent from their homes for a long time may be able to ‘set back before Christmas. If this step were not taken, they would have to stay in Melbourne another week. Surely that is not desirable, especially as, because of the attention that senators give to public affairs, the measures to be dealt with are well within their knowledge Senators generally know how this Bill was originated, and practically all about it. The conduct of Senator Gardiner creates some suspicion that he may have designs for tomorrow which might put some honorable senators who have made their plans for getting away to the inconvenience of missing their trains. Certainly, his conduct would not justify the Senate in taking any risk. In any case, the suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders must be agreed to if the Bill is to be passed to-morrow.
– I ask the Minister to postpone the consideration of this measure until we meet again at 11 o’clock this morning. I do not anticipate that it will meet with opposition, but as the waters of the River Murray, from their source until they flow across the South Australian border, are wholly within the territory of New South Wales, asenator from that State should not be asked to discuss the Bill at this hour. We should at least have a chance toread the Bill before it is hurried through
Committee. But if the Government and its supporters are determined to go on in this way, I can only enter my protest against their method of doing business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [3.27 a.m.] - I move-
That this Bill be now read asecond time.
The measure does not introduce any new principle; it merely makes a change in the Murray River waters agreement, of which I am sure every honorable senator will approve.
On the 9th September. 1914, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) signed, on behalf of the Commonwealth, an agreement which was come to with certain of the States as a result of a Conference with their Premiers, under which the Commonwealth bound itself to provide £1,000,000 for the conservation of the waters of the River Murray. Since the war, it has become more necessary than ever to push on rapidly with this scheme, so that Australia may increase her production, and opportunities may be given to those whom it is our duty to help. Hitherto, it has been difficult to get the various parties to the agreement to co-operate closely. All the parties have had to be in perfect unison before work could be done. Under such conditions, it is always extremely difficult to carry out an undertaking. Some one of the four contracting parties has always had some difficulty or grievance. At last, it was seen that an arrangement must be made for an effective and business way of carrying out the work. The Commonwealth Government thought that there has been undue delay. The original Commission merely reviewed the work done by the States. Many of the works had to be carried out jointly by New South Wales and Victoria, and progress has been hindered for want of perfect agreement between them. Therefore, it was determined at the last Conference, between Commonwealth and State Ministers, to create a constructing Commission which would not have to do its work through a dozen red-tape agencies. This Commission will be composed of the best experts, who will represent the different States which are concerned.
– No. We purpose giving the constructingauthority absolute and imperative power to go on with the work. Apart from the voting of the money, there will be practically no political interference, and there will be no Public Service Commissioner in the matter. The great principle underlying the Bill is to make the Commission the responsible body, to give them an independent seal, and to allow them to suggest to the States the best plans to adopt in order to carry out their work on a uniform basis. It is the intention of the Commission, under this measure,to permit the States, practically as contractors, to do the work as far as possible within their own areas; but it is provided, and the States have agreed to this provision, that if they do not carry it out within a reasonable time they shall be liable in the same way as any other contractor is, and the Commission will have the power to complete the works wherever a breach is caused by undue delay or by the job not being done properly.
– That should be an interesting case, when the Crown fights the Crown.
– The Commission may simply decide to complete the work, and in that case it will go ahead and leave the liability to be settled afterwards with the States. There has been undue delay in carrying out the work, and we want to hurry it up, because it is a national enterprise of great importance to the returned soldiers, and will practically open up a new State in Australia. It was estimated in 1914, on the then cost of materials and labour, that it could be completed for about £4,665,000; of which the Commonwealth would contribute £1,000,000. Since then, our outlook has become a little broader, on account of the war and the return of many of our men who are anxious to settle on the land. The Commonwealth has now decided to accept one-quarter of the responsibility, because of the largely increased cost of carrying outthe work. It is anticipated that, instead of the first estimate, the total cost will reach very nearly £7,000,000 for this great and glorious undertaking for Australia.
– It will be money well spent.
– Yes ; and from what I saw when I attended the ceremony of turning the first sod at the dam on the other side of Albury, the project has immense and illimitable possibilities. Each of the four contracting parties must spend at least £125,000 per year to insure the quick development of the work. The Commonwealth does not ask the States to stop when they have spent £125,000 in the year, but, if a ‘State exceeds that quota, the Commonwealth will make the necessary financial arrangements to lend the amount of the excess to the State.
As regards the civil servants who will be employed, we cannot afford, on a big public work of this description, to have any duplication of staffs by the States and the Commonwealth. It is, therefore, proposed to utilize, as far as possible, the services of the Commonwealth and State engineers, by giving them temporary appointments under the Commission, and by the Commonwealth and States granting them leave of absence from their own services. In this way they will be brought directly under the control of the Commission. We shall employ all those who are competent engineers as much as possible, but, in transferring them, we shall see that their rights are conserved so that they may return to their old services when the job is completed. The Bill takes the control of the work out of the hands of four different authorities and puts it into the hands of one, in. order that the designs mav be uniform and the work be carried out on a uniform basis: I am sure that all the States will be represented on this responsible Commission by their most capable representatives. Except so far as this new agreement goes the old agreement between the States and the Commonwealth, which has already been ratified by this Parliament, remains practically unaltered. The Bill contains as a schedule the new agreement which has been signed by the Premiers of the three States and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
– Have they submitted it to their Parliaments?
– No, but it must . be submitted to them before it comes into operation. We are submitting it to this Parliament now. By passing it we really indorse the action of the Prime Minister in signing the agreement. I understand that the Premier of each of the States has signed it, but it must also be ratified by the State Parliaments.
– Is the Commission to be a permanent body, or doe3 it cease when once the works are completed?
– It will cease when the works are completed, but we shall have to constitute later some sort of permanent body to manage them. Its members then will probably be a combination of business men and first-class agriculturists rather than engineers.
– Is it anticipated that the works will be directly revenueproducing?
– It will take nearly seven years to construct them all, including the head works, but there is little or no doubt that within a year or two after they are completed, when the land is settled and under cultivation, the undertaking will be revenue-producing. I do not think we want to make a large profit out of it. Out real object is to settle the land and increase our production. If that is achieved, it should be ample return for the money that we put into it.
As regards industrial disputes there is to be an exclusively Australian Court to deal with them. The States are giving the Commonwealth, absolute control in that regard. There have already been strikes on the works, because New South Wales on one side of the Murray is paying different wages from those paid on the Victorian side. It is impossible to carry on such a job with two grades of wages, salaries and hours for men who are working on a common class of work. These disputes have been the cause of considerable delay, which we want in the future to avoid.
– Is power given in the Bill to levy tolls at the locks ?
– Yes, that power is in. the contract. It will be one of the powers of the Commission that will be appointed as the constructing authority until the work is ‘ finished, and then, I suppose, we shall have to create by Act’ of Parliament a complete set of machinery to enable some permanent body to manage and control the whole scheme. The agreement which has been signed by the State Premiers and the Prime Minister is really the essential part of the
Bill. The contract is a sort of agreement to give complete power to the Commission to proceed with a definite policy of construction without interference from anybody.. The only power which the States will have over the Commission will be their right to vote the money for the use of the Commission. I am a strong believer in the system of constructing the work by means of experts and specialists, and handing the control over to them. Parliament will, no doubt, require to keep a grip of the financial side of the business, but we as Government Departments are not able to do the work effectively except through the agency of the skilled experts whom it is proposed to employ. The State of Victoria has specially developed’ its irrigation works. I believe that we have in this State some of the most competent men in this line to be found anywhere. I refer particularly to men like Mr. Dethridge and others, who have done the State wonderful service in our irrigation areas. I feel sure that with the co-operation of the best experts of the States, who are to be given a free hand to carry out the ‘ design and construction, the scheme will bring big results to Australia.
– Is there any intention to give the Commission an instruction as to how they shall carry out the work - as, for instance, by contract or by day labour ?
– They will be authorized to construct the works as they choose. Under the old agreement it was hard to get all the representatives of the States into line, but under the new agreement, if three ‘Commissioners are in, favour of the adoption of a certain course of action, it will be binding on the whole Commission.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title and citation).
: - Recently I had the pleasure of forming one of a party to visit the scene of operations on the River Murray. Whatever doubt I may have had in my mind as to the wisdom of expending money upon the conservation of water and irrigation was removed by what I saw, and I realized that one thing among others required to make Australia great was the conservation of water, particularly in those dry areas in the valley of the River Murray. From what I saw of the officers responsible for carrying out the various works now being undertaken, I have every reason to feel confident in their judgment and ability to spend the money intrusted to them to the very best advantage. At an early hour yesterday I heard the debate on this Bill in another place, and saw it pass through Committee in globo, without a dissentient voice being raised. I think we would do well to adopt the same policy here. I am quite sure that honorable senators are quite in accord with the wisdom of passing thisBill.
There may be one cause for pessimism, and that is the difficulty of obtaining a market for what is likely to be produced on these irrigated areas. I think that in addition to the responsibility of providing money for carrying out this great scheme, the Government will also have the duty of directing attention to the provision of stable markets for the fruit grown as the result of carrying out this scheme. When we realize that the very same class of fruit which the settlers will produce was brought into this country in pre-war days at a price which, would almost defy competition by Australian growers, and also the fact that at the present time Australia is exporting about two-thirds of the dried fruits grown by its own people, there is every reason for the Government to look around to see where this produce can be placed when the output is much greater than it is at present. Otherwise, settlers upon these areas, who ought to be prosperous and happy, will be in the unenviable position of producing large quantities of fruit for which no market is available.
– The people of Queensland recognise that the Commonwealth has done a great work in co-operating, with the States in regard to the Murray Waters scheme; but they feel that this is only 1 the beginning, of greater things in the future in the direction of conserving water in- all parts of Australia, and that as soon as funds are available the Commonwealth Government ought to turn its attention to the damming of the Fitzroy River in Central Queensland.
– But there is plenty of water in Queensland.
– I realize that; hut when consideration is being given to requirements of three other States, it is only right that the possibilities of Queensland should be brought before the Senate.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the question of the conservation of water in Queensland when the Committee is considering a clause of the Bill.
– Perhaps not; but I think I am entitled to take exception to the interjection of Senator Cox, because there are other States in the Commonwealth which have to be considered. I trust that this is only the fore-runner of future works that will be undertaken by the States in co-operation with the Commonwealth. There are great opportunities in that direction by making land available for closer settlement in the1 Fitzroy Valley, where hundreds of thousands of acres could be profitably utilized. I trust the Government will ear-mark a certain amount on the Estimates every year for the conservation of water.
– 1 regret that so important a measure as this should be brought before the Senate at such an unreasonable hour, because it prevents honorable senators from giving it the close attention which it deserves. I trust that the greatest care will be exercised in appointing the Commission to which the Minister has referred, and that the Government will see that only expert men, possessing the highest qualifications, are appointed. I . desire to draw honorable senators’ attention to the fact that we are to spend approximately £10,000,000 before this work is completed. We are also placing hundreds of thousands of returned soldiers on the irrigation areas in the valley of the Murray.
– And we shall be able to accommodate millions when our irrigation policy is fully developed.-
– We have 70,000 acres under irrigation at present, and within the next ten years I believe that approximately 1,000,000 acres will be dealt with.
– For the production of dried fruits.
– The land will not only be utilized for fruit growing, but for dairying and pig and poultry raising. The control of this work should be in the hands of highly qualified men, and I trust that, when the Commission is appointed, ho political appointments will be made, particularly when the interests of so many thousands of returned soldiers have to be conserved. When the proposed Commission is appointed, tenders should be called for all the important works that are to be undertaken. At the Blanchtown Lock - speaking from memory - tenders were called several years ago, and one of about £80,000 was lodged for completing the work.
– A contractor could not have done it for that amount.
– He said that he was prepared to do it, and would not have submitted his tender if he had not a reasonable prospect of carrying it out. The work up to the present has cost £20,000 or £30,000 more, and a similar amount will have to be expended before it is completed. When tenders were first called, there was a low river, and as the Government were slow in getting to work, a high river was upon them, which prevented much progress being made with the construction of the coffer dam. I trust the Commission will continue to exercise control over the roads, bridges, and other public utilities in the vicinity of the river. Honorable senators who had the opportunity, a fortnight ago, of visiting the Berri settlement must’ admit that the roads and bridges in that locality which are under the control of the Commission are vastly superior to those under the control of the local governing bodies.
– Those roads are not under the control of the Commission.
– Yes, they are.
– Are the Governments contributing £125,000 for the maintenance of roads and bridges ?
– The roads are being kept in repair by the Director of Irrigation in South Australia (Mr. Mcintosh) on behalf of the State Government.
– That is a different matter.
– The Commission will also have to exercise full authority in seeing that blocks on irrigation areas are kept free from pests, and properly worked, because lack of attention on the part of some settlers is very detrimental to other settlers in the vicinity.
– This will be a construction Commission, and will be differently constituted to the. .Commission which will ultimately control irrigation works generally.
– I am referring more particularly to the Commission which will exercise, control over the work when the scheme is in full operation. The Minister must realize that, if a settler does not take care of his block, the interest of others will be detrimentally affected, and the results disastrous. I am not much alarmed about the question of prices. When men on blocks of 15 or 17 acres make £600 and £700 per annum, there is a fair margin, so that even with a reduction of prices, their occupations would still remain remunerative. As we have given preference to British goods, it is not too much to ask that Britain should give preference to dried fruits grown in Australia by returned soldiers who fought for Australia and for Great Britain.
’. - I regret the way in which the Government have introduced this exceedingly important measure. Australia is confronted with probably as grave a financial position as any country in the world, but here is a Bill involving the expenditure of several millions, which honorable senators are required to consider at this hour of the morning, and at brief notice. I agree’ with all that has been said in favour of the Murray Waters project as a whole. I listened to the speech of Senator Earle with particular pleasure. It came as an expression of fine feeling from the representative of the island State, whose citizens can expect to gain no benefit from the scheme outlined in this measure, but whose fruit-growers will be ‘ ready to shoulder their share of the cost in the general interest of Australia. When Bills involving heavy financial obligations are introduced in circumstances such as this, the least I can do is to protest. The
Government are rushing into fresh expenditure when they would do well to hold their hands, in view of our terribly serious prospects.
– I regretted to hear Senator Gardiner refer to the prospects of Australia in so dismal a tone. The project indicated in this measure is one of the finest that any country could have. I wish honorable senators will take the trouble to inspect some of the irrigation schemes. If we were to spend £10,000,000 or £15,000,000 upon these works, we would soon be repaid. We have the right kind of land, and the water to make all these projects successful, and to give remunerative employment to many thousands of new citizens.
– The honorable senator seems to forget that there is a northern end of Australia.
– There is room for successful irrigation settlements in Queensland; but I would remind the honorable senator that there are irrigation schemes in the Yanco district of New South Wales which are well worth his inspection. That neighbourhood still has room for the settlement of thousands of people. The Murray River project is one of the greatest and best that Australia has ever undertaken, and we should have no fear of the money being spent there.
– What is the use of talking about the settlement of thousands of new citizens when there are many returned soldiers who have been waiting for month after month for land. Senator COX. - Send them down to Yanco. Good livings are to be had there for all the returned soldiers who are waiting for land.
– I would point out to honorable senators that the intention in this Bill is not to take over any land for the establishment of irrigation settlements. That phase of this great national work has already been undertaken. The Commonwealth Government have already had to take control of the placing of Australia’s dried fruits. Some four years ago there was such a demand for our products that our own country would have been left bare had not the Government taken action. We decided to allocate a certain proportion of the dried fruit, products for home requirements, and wo rendered assistance, particularly in the direction of securing shipping in order to export our surplus to the eager markets overseas. I have been confidently informed that dried-fruit producers have so firmly got on their feet that there is every prospect of the Australian product securing quite a large share of the almost unlimited world’s demand. Land in the neighbourhood of Merbein is now bringing more than £100 per acre owing to the recognition of the world-wide ‘markets which are awaiting our produce.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 13, schedules, preamble, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator PEARCE) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until to-day at 12 o’clock noon.
Senate adjourned at 4.16 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 November 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19201125_senate_8_94/>.