8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
New Guinea - Ordinance No. 25 of 1922 - Explosives.
Northern Territory - Ordinance No. 10 of 1922- Supreme Court (No. 2).
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 106.
Charge for Inspection
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer : - 1 and 2. The proposed inspection fee of½d. per case of apples and pears submitted for export isnot yet in force. In view of representations made at the recent Australian Fruit Conference held in Melbourne the whole matter is being reconsidered.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
If, in his opinion, such professional chemists and scientists as may be included in or attached to the staff of the Australian Army are sufficient in number, and of such a standing, as to enable Parliament to feel assured that the terrible contingencies and possibilities involved in the use of chemicals in warfare are being carefully considered and provided for?
– The Minister for Defencehas supplied the following answer: -
The subject of chemical warfare inits various aspects of manufacture, handling, and use of poisonous and objectionable chemicals, is now being carefully studied by expert Committees appointed by the War Office.
The work of the Committees is not sufficiently advanced to indicate the action that should be taken by the Defence Department. From a manufacturing point of view neither chemists nor scientists are at present in the employ of the Department. Developments are, however, being watched, and the resources of the country in the necessary skilled personnel are known.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
Interchange Between Commonwealth and New Zealand
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer supplied is - 1 and 2. No distinction is made between hard and soft timbers in the trade statistics. The following figures show imports from and exports to New Zealand of all timbers during the year 1921-22 : -
Senator MacDONALD (for Senator
Gardiner) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the duty on carbide per ton?
Has the Government an embargo on carbide manufactured in Sweden ?
If so, what is the reason ?
Are importers of Canadian carbide only permitted to import such carbide on the condition that they will sell same at the Hobart price?
If so, why?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers: -
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to-
That Senator Foster be granted leave of absence for one month, owing to urgent private business elsewhere.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend section 14 of the New Guinea Act 1920.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Trade Marks Act 1905-1919.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Jury Exemption Act 1905.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Service and Execution of Process Act 1901-1918.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from18th August (vide page 1535), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– In the absence of Senator Gardiner, who objected to the passage of this Bill, and who, I think, indicated a desire to call for a division on the motion for the third reading, I wish to voice some opposition to it, although I indorsed one or two of its features. I do not intend to call for a division in view of the feeling of the Senate as indicated when the Bill was in Committee. I am not yet satisfied that the clauses dealing with itinerant voters will not add unnecessarily tothe burdens which certain electors have to carry in performing their duty to their country. I also have a. very grave objection to the numbering ofthe ballot-papers, which will destroy the secrecy of the ballot. I felt that the Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator Pearce) should have informed the Senate earlier than he did of the year in which that provision was adopted in Queensland. The fact that one State in this Commonwealth had adopted the practice of numbering the ballot-papers gave much strength to the Government’s proposal, but it was only after some delay that we managed to secure the desired information. I recognise, of course, that the Minister may not have possessed the information himself, and that the delay may have been caused by his having toappeal to departmental officers. While a detail such as that may be apparently unimportant, upon it the fate of a Bill may depend. I regret exceedingly that the principle of proportional representation, as proposed by Senator Elliott, was not agreed to. During recent debates we have had manyexhibitions which emphasize the necessity for a stronger representation in this Senate of the party I represent.
– I have not seen that necessity.
– I do not know whether I should take that interjection as a compliment or otherwise. The interjections to which I at times am subjected certainly emphasize the necessity. When I touch upon a contentious point, which arouses the curiosity, if not the enmity, of my opponents, I meet with a storm of interjections among which I can scarcely discern a friendly voice. That is sufficient to embarrass a young member like myself, and it indicates the lack of a proper representation of parties in this Chamber. It is impossible for one member to represent such large interests as those embraced in the Labour party, or even the Country party, which is, apparently, a rising power in the Commonwealth. I have heard it suggested on all sides that a salary of even £800 per year is more than members of the Senate are worth to the country.
– Has that been suggested by any member of this House?
– I think any senator would be unwise to burn his boats in that fashion. Proportional representation would increase the value of this Chamber to the country and would make it less a target for ridicule and disrespect. This is the most important shortcoming in the Bill, and it alone calls for the opposition, at every stage, of every senator who purports to represent the Country party or the Labour party. I shall vote against the measure.
– Senator MacDonald is not entirely a voice- crying in the wilderness. I and several other senators also oppose this Bill on account of its serious blemishes and defects. I intend to oppose the third reading, because of clause 12, which certainly, to my mind, is a gross infringement of the secrecy of the ballot^. It provides that ballot papers shall be numbered, and that a counterfoil shall be filed with the Divisional Returning Officer, and be available to the Court of Disputed Returns if necessary. We’ all know the fierce fight we had to wage to secure the secrecy of the ballot. The movement originated in .South Australia, and it is appropriate at this juncture to contrast what happened under the old system of open voting with what has transpired since the secret ballot was introduced. In the old days, when electors went openly and recorded their votes before a more or less hostile multitude, if they voted, in the opinion of the spectators, wrongly, they were subjected to jeers and abuse. The introduction of the secret ballot changed all this. It made it possible for men to vote in peace and seclusion with an assurance that no other man could find out how they had voted. The consequence is that we have safety and an absence of riots and disturbances at elections. It is all very well to say that if we allow the votes to be numbered the voting will be kept secret, but it is practically certain that these votes will be known to two or three of those officials who constitute the Court of Disputed Returns. It has been well said that if you want to keep a secret you must keep it to yourself ; that immediately you divulge it to another person, it is no longer a secret, but is open to be spread far and wide throughout the length and breadth of the country. We have had evidence of this in this Parliament in the disclosure of happenings at party meetings. On certain occasions there has been a common understanding that proceedings at party meetings shall be secret, but, nevertheless, they are frequently recorded in the press the following day. How the information leaks out no one can say. If we pass this Bill in its present form, we shall be infringing the principle of the secrecy of the ballot and be taking a step in the wrong direction. I intend to oppose the Bill solely on these grounds, and shall vote against the third reading.
– I am not going to speak against those features’ of the Bill which I consider objectionable, and to which I referred on the second reading, because it is idle at this stage to repeat myself. I had anticipated that the Senate was so hostile to the principle of proportional representation that it was useless to present any arguments in connexion with this contemplated electoral reform. But, notwithstanding the position as disclosed by the division list on .Senator Elliott’s motion, it may be stated that, owing to a combination of circumstances, the weakness of the cause was more apparent than real. I am in a position to state, and without any great breach of confidence, that, according to the number of senators who favour that principle, and who were absent when the division was taken, at least one-third of the Senate is in favour of proportional representation, although I remember that we were only able to secure about six votes when, on a previous occasion, ex-Senator Pratten endeavoured to have the Bill laid aside because it did not provide for this principle.
– What is your authority for that statement)
– I am saying this because a number of honorable senators who were absent owing to circumstances over which they had no control have, on many occasions, assured me of their adhesion to the priciple of proportional representation, and I make this statement in order to give advocates of the system in the various electorates hope and confidence that it is not lightly done away with here. The reason why I think the advocates of proportional representation for the election of senators are quite logical is this: It is generally, though not universally, conceded that it is undesirable to have a legislative Chamber in which all the representatives are of one opinion. We hear from time to time the almost unchallengeable statement that it is desirable to have a strong Opposition. With those who say that the minority should not be represented at all, I have no quarrel. They are logical enough if they oppose proportional representation on the ground that they believe in majority rule, and do not care very much whether the representatives in a legislative Chamber are altogether of one political colour or not. Members of marked ability, in another place, have told me that they do not believe in the right of minorities to representation at all, and, as I have said, I have no quarrel with them on that score, although I do not give any adhesion to that expression of opinion. But once you recognise the desirableness of a minority being represented at all you must, to be logical, concede that it should be proportionally represented. In this, and some of the State Parliaments, the Opposition is definitely recognised, and to that extent the right of a minority to representation is conceded, because very special privileges are extended to its leaders. I understand, although I am not for the moment quite sure, that the Leader of the Opposition in another place is actually given a salary.
– And in South Australia also.
– That being so, we have the principle of minority representation recognised, because, in addition to special payment, the Leader of the Opposition is provided with a secretary, and particular care is taken to see that he is in a position to perform the parliamentary duties expected of him. Consequently, if this Parliament recognises that it is desirable for minorities to be represented, it may be urged with absolute logical force that they should be proportionally represented. It is on this bedrock that the advocates of the principle base their argument, and although this feature of the matter may not have been stressed during the debate on this Bill to any great extent, it was because the advocates of proportional representation did not believe in occupying the time of the Senate in discussing at very great length anything that was not likely to be carried. I certainly did not anticipate that Senator Elliott was going to move in the matter, and so I allowed the occasion to pass almost without debate. While I am a sincere believer in the principle, I have no quarrel with those who adhere to the twoparty system in this Parliament, but I have a pronounced quarrel with the dissolving Cabinet system. That principle, certainly, is not outlined in this Bill, but, nevertheless, I think passing allusion to it is pardonable at the third reading stage. I may remind honorable senators that frequently we are not allowed to discuss measures in this Chamber because of the fact that weeks of time are occupied by the manoeuvring of parties in another place to dispossess the Government of the Treasury bench. I have no quarrel with the twoparty system, so long as we have two clearly defined parties in Parliament, and two only. The system then works very well, no doubt, but when the electors insist upon having four or five different parties in Parliament, those parties should be proportionally represented, and the system of collective Cabinet responsibility should be abandoned. I should have no hesitation, if a division is called, in voting against this measure, because I regard it as containing a very pernicious principle, and not containing other principles that, in my opinion, are eminently salutary and necessary for the general well-being of the nation. I am very strongly opposed to grouping the candidates on the ballot-paper, and in carrying to the ballot-box what I may call the system of party advocacy, which has hitherto been stopped outside the ballotbox, with the clear admonition of the Legislature, “ Hither shalt thou come and no further.” Let us at least have quietness in the sanctuary, and no further reference to party spirit when the elector goes forth to perform the act - call it sacrifice, if you like - in the name of the people and casts his vote. I am very strongly opposed to what this Senate has enacted, and condoned up to the present in regard to the passage of this measure. It is true that this is the third reading, and I suppose it will be carried, but so pernicious do I consider the principle to which I referred, and so desirable do I consider proportional representation for the Senate to be, that I am prepared to vote against the third reading of the Bill.
.- Although during the course of .the debate upon this Bill I have not been able to see eye to eye with the Government, there is still good matter in it, and in supporting it I aim acting on the principle of a half-loaf being better than no bread. Before the measure leaves our hands, however, I would like to draw attention to one feature which, owing, I think, to a misunderstanding as to the operations of clause 2, has not been sufficiently debated. The Minister (Senator Pearce) in his second-reading speech referred to clause 2 in these words -
The intention of Parliament is that a man, notwithstanding that by reason of Iiia avocation he may be required to travel, shall not thereby lose his right to vote,, but in securing to an elector that privilege we should not leave a loop-hole for the impersonation or duplication of voting, or enable an elector to transfer from one division to another for the purpose - and especially where it is done in numbers - of determining an election in a division in which he has no intention subsequently of residing.
The Minister, in debating the matter, clearly had in his mind what happens sometimes at elections when the party in power, in order to introduce into some particular electorate a body of electors sufficient to turn the scale, resort at times to carrying out public works in that electorate. The result is that such electors, having resided there the statutory time of one month, are entitled to demand that their names be placed on the roll. They are not only entitled to demand enrolment, but they are liable to penalties if they fail to become enrolled. We were given to understand that the object of this clause was to meet such a situation, and to prevent those persons who were really only temporarily resident in an electorate from recording their votes. But, in my opinion, the provision has no such effect, as it applies only to a case where there are two elections closely following one another, and, as in the Ballarat, case, where there were supposed to be a number of electors who had previously been residing in Ballarat, and whose names were still on the roll when the reelection was ordered. Because of that fact, those electors were able at the second election to return and record their votes, although they had no intention of living there. They had the right to vote because their names were on the roll, and were thus able to sway that particular election. It does not meet the case referred to by the Minister in his secondreading speech, and it is well that we should recognise that fact. That clause is not clearly worded, and the Minister will recall that when I directed his attention to the matter he said it would be considered later by the Senate. That opportunity was not provided, but having since perused the provisions very closely, I find that the position is as I have stated.
I have already discussed clause 3 at length and have given reasons why the clause should be recast. Although my suggestions have not been adopted in this Chamber, I hope that steps will be taken in another place to give to the clause the words necessary for its proper interpretation. So far as the other features in the Bill are concerned, I think they are satisfactory, with the one exception, namely, that there is a risk of breaking through the principle of the secrecy of the ballot. Although I voted against the clause, I do not regard it as being as serious as Senator Benny suggests or of sufficient importance to justify me in opposing the third reading.
– This is an ill-considered, illdigested, and ill-defended amendment of our electoral legislation, and it is well that we have the opportunity which has been provided by those who have gone before us for debating a Bill on the third reading, when its provisions have had more mature consideration. We are indebted to our predecessors for giving Par- liament an opportunity of not acting in a hasty or perfunctory manner. Every measure passes through various stages in the Senate, which gives honorable senators ample opportunity of making up their minds as to what they will do before the third-reading stage is reached. In viewing the proposed amendments and the so-called improvements of the Bill from every aspect, I am sorry I cannot come to the same conclusion as the apparent majority of my fellow senators. Since the Bill was last discussed I took the opportunity of looking into one of the unsatisfactory features of our electoral system, namely, the casting of so many useless or informal votes. I find that there is no> fixed principle governing the casting of informal votes or for regulating their totals or percentages. I have taken the trouble of perusing the figures at every election since the inception of Federation, and have discovered that it was not when a small number of candidates were offering their services that the lowest percentage of informal votes was east, but nearly the contrary. The number of candidates for each successive election were as follow: - 1901, 127; 1906, 63; 1907, 44; 1910, 46; 1913, 42; 1914, 72; 1917, 43; and 1919, 51. The States had exclusive control of the first Federal election, and therefore the percentage of informal votes is not available; but, taking the 1903 elections as a. starting point, there were in that year 3.6 per cent, of informal votes cast. In 1906, when there were sixty-three candidates, and in 1907, when there were forty-four candidates, the percentage was 6.5. In 1910, with, 46 candidates, the percentage - of informal votes was 4.6; in 1913, with 42 candidates - the lowest on record - the percentage was 5.65; in 1914, with 72 candidates, it was 4.2 per cent; in 1917, with 43 candidates, it was 3.9 per cent. ; and at the last election in 1919, with 51 candidates, it was 8.61 per cent.
– The new system at the last election was more complicated than the old.
– We are told that preferential voting was responsible for more informality, but in 1913, when we had the lowest number of candidates offering, there were only 5.65 per cent, of wasted, votes. The next to highest percentage of informal votes was 6.3, which was experienced in 1906. Even in that year with forty-four candidates standing - very near the zero number of fortytwo - the informal votes were only about 2 per cent, below the number of wasted votes at the last election. While we had in operation the simple process that obtained under the old system, and had a very restricted list of candidates, there was the very considerable total of 3.9 per cent, of informal votes, as against 8.61 per cent, at the last election. I do not intend to seek the causes of these varying, percentages, but I ask honorable senators to consider the possibilities of the 8.6 per cent, of wasted votes recorded at the last election being sensibly reduced on the next occasion if we gave the new system another trial. Instead of that, this Bill resorts to a method which will not only reduce the complications of the ballotpaper but add to them.
– Do you suggest doing away with preferential voting?
– No, I am referring to the old majority system, which was in vogue prior to preferential voting. Seeing that we have only had one trial of the existing system, and the number of informal votes was only 2 per cent, higher than the previous maximum, is it worth while making such a pronounced departure, which, in my opinion, will have fatal results as far as this Chamber is concerned ?
It has already been said by previous, speakers, and by outside critics of the Senate, that this Chamber is not behaving as it should, and that in some ill-defined way it has fallen from grace. As I was passing down a Melbourne street the other day, I invested 2d. in a local newspaper, in order to learn what the weather conditions were in the western half of the Continent. I ascertained what I wanted to know, and I also noticed certain remarks about the Senate. I read on, of course, and came to the oft-repeated charge that the Senate was merely the phonograph of the dominant party in the country; no more and no less. We are so accustomed to hearing that fallacy propounded that we take little notice of it. The statement is repeated ad nauseam by the press of this city, which has no friendly word ito say for our public institutions. It is about time we considered whether we should encourage this press as much, as we do. The criticism was made because this particular press does not want the Senate to be recognised as a
States’ House, and. is using its influence to belittle our public institutions in the eyes of the people. If the Senate is anything at all, it is a States’ House. There is not one of the thirty-six members who holds his place by virtue of any more paramount reason than the fact that he is a States’ advocate first, last, and all the time, and if he dared to declare himself against the interests of his particular State he would immediately be condemned by the electors. Not only is it bad journalism on the part of this section of the press, but it is bad reasoning, and it is even worse current history.
– I think that the honorable senator is drifting somewhat away from the question before the Chair.
– I merely wish to say that on investing my 2d. I discovered that the Senate was referred to as a States’ House, which had fallen from the high pedestal it once occupied in the mind of these particular critics. The Bill now under consideration is helping those critics to indulge further in their unwarranted attacks upon the Senate, although they have not a particle of reason to sustain them in their sophistries. In spite of calling the Senate a mere pale and sickening reflex of any body of opinion in Australia, the true definition of the position would be that in the neighbouring House we have a Chamber where one party is dominant, and where the dominant party merely reflects the minor sentiment of this Chamber. That minor sentiment relates to party questions and affiliations only. The major sentiment in this Senate is that we are State representatives first and foremost. Let us get down to facts. The press, to which I have been referring, has not a good word to say for our public institutions, no matter how freshly we come from the people. On the last occasion, members of the Senate were told that they comprised a body of “vacuous ignoramuses.” Is it not about time that some body of men, in the interests of the public welfare, waited on the press and asked it to close up its shop and leave the country? The press of Victoria are driving population out of the State. This State is the only one which is losing population at the present time, and it is no wonder that it is. It is the only State that is growling about a reduction in the number of its representatives in this Par liament. There is a substantial grievance to remedy, a substantial wrong to gird at. If there is one cause which, more than another, may be held to be responsible for that it is the unrepresentative and scurrilous character of the press in this corner of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator had better get back to the Bill.
– I have been saying that the arguments put forward for this measure are such as I deplore, particularly because I do not desire to give the press an additional argument to use in belittling this institution. I rise, as a representative of a distant State, to enter my protest, as I shall continue to do, against the provisions of this Bill. The Senate of the Commonwealth is as firmly’ founded as is the House of Commons itself. When the Senate goes, the Commonwealth of Australia will go. Honorable senators need make no mistake about that. The press in this State are trying to undermine the foundations of the Senate, and if they succeed in doing so the Commonwealth will go the following day. That is what I wish to hammer into the heads of those who are listening to me, and particularly into the heads of those controlling the press. I recognise how difficult it is, because the heads of those controlling the press are so ironclad that it is almost impossible to find an instrument of sufficient driving and penetrating power to reach the inside of those heads to influence what serves to do duty for them as brains.
– The honorable senator will please come back to the Bill.
– I have shown that during the twenty years of Federation the percentage of votes oast uselessly at elections has gone up or down the scale without any apparent, reason. The only excuse for the appearance of this measure is that at the last Federal election the wastage of votes represented 8 per cent., or only 2 per cent, in excess of the wastage of votes at the 1906 election. I ask honorable senators again whether they really think it is worth while to pass such a measure as this for the sake of the 2 per cent, additional of informal votes.
– It represents an increase of 33 per cent.
– I know that figures may be ingeniously used by ingenious persons. Are we to make this addition to our electoral legislation because the average voter cannot pick three men out of a bunch of six or ten candidates without the aid of the ticket system of the United States of America, where that system has long since been scrapped? a I say that by passing this measure we shall be doing the Senate no service, but rather a lasting dis-service. I implore honorable senators to vote the Bill down, and give the system which has only been tried once a further trial. Honorable” senators should not substitute for that system a system, for the creation of the Senate which must of necessity make this Chamber, not a States House, as it ought to be, but a place of brawling party votaries. We should uphold the dignity of the Senate, and maintain it on the highest pinnacle of public appreciation. If we take action to lower the status of the Senate, we cannot blame its critics if they follow our lead. Why should we give the Senate a party complexion, when we know that political parties are evanescent, and that, like Bobby Burns’s poppies, they bloom and fade in an hour?
This is the first measure of its kind introduced into any Australian Legislature. Its purpose is to give our electoral system a party complexion camouflaged under the letters of the alphabet.
– A pie-bald party system.
– I agree with the honorable senator. It is the first measure of its kind introduced into an Australian Legislature, and it is proposed to apply it to the Senate, which is the highest legislative Chamber in the land. Notwithstanding our critics, this Chamber is composed of men against whose characters the finger of suspicion cannot be pointed. The characters of persons aspiring to become members of the Senate are scrutinized from every angle, and those who reach this Chamber must be above the average, and citizens of an approved type. This measure must not only lower the Senate in public estimation, but it will not do justice to our own judgment. It will always be found that the man who succeeds in life takes great heed of the attendant circumstances which have promoted his success. And if we have senators entering this Chamber by means of a party ticket it will be the most natural thing in the world - as natural as a chicken getting out of its shell or as the apple suc ceeding the blossom - for them to be faithful to their party political considerations and interests, and to be disposed, directly and, perhaps, unconsciously, to perpetuate the party system to the disadvantage not only of the States they represent, but of the whole nation. If a candidate is returned to the Senate by means’, of the Labour party ticket, the Nationalist ticket, or the Socialist ticket, or any of the other evanescent samples of popular thought, he will, of necessity, think more of the means that placed him here than of the purpose for which he was sent here. . He would not be human otherwise.
We are being asked in this Bill* to deliberately employ a means to magnify small party interests and minimize national issues. This is done for the sake of reducing the number of informal votes at elections by 2 per cent. Honorable senators have an opportunity now to pause and permit the existing system to be further tested. Before passing this Bill they should try to account for the percentage of 6.5 of informal votes under a simpler system, when there were only forty-four candidates in the field. They should remember that under previouslyexisting systems the number of informal votes was as low as 3.9 per cent., and that the 8 per cent, of informal votes at the last election may have occurred in the same erratic fashion. We are saying by this Bill that they were due to the inherent defects of the present system. I deny that. I say that we have not had a sufficiently extended experience of the present system to be in a position to come to any such conclusion. Now that we have a chance to retrace our steps we should do so, and should not allow it to be said that we intend to apply to the constitution of this Chamber an elective system which is not employed for the constitution of the lowest form of political institution in the land. It demeans and derogates from the good character of the Senate. Such a system is not employed for the constitution of a municipal council, a road board, or a State Legislature, and yet it is proposed that it should be employed for the election of future senators. Although we have no experience of its result we can realize that this device leads in the wrong direction. A future Senate will, if the Bill passes, have before it examples of the ill-effects it is calculated to produce, and in that respect will have an advantage over us; but I again say that until a further trial is given to the existing system we shall not be warranted in passing this measure. .
– There are three points in this Bill to which I wish to direct ‘attention. When speaking in Committee on the third clause I pointed out a fact which I desire to emphasize now, that we are giving to candidates a power which should be left in the hands of officers appointed to conduct elections, and that is to say who shall and who shall not be included in certain groups.
In connexion with my second pointy. I agree with Senator Benny that in providing for the marking of ballot-papers we shall be advancing along a road which will lead us into a great deal of trouble. There are over 2,000,000 votes recorded throughout the States at a Federal election, and it is possible that one election may be disputed, and that it may be necessary for the purpose of a prosecution to discover how three or four persons voted. For so infinitesimal an advantage, over 2,000,000 ballot-papers are to be marked in such a way that they may be identified.
– Only if there is a disputed return.
– - I remind the honorable senator that all the ballot-papers used in connexion with undisputed elections will be marked as well as those in connexion with an election which is disputed.
– That is so; but they will not be looked at unless there is trouble.
– We might as well pass a law to brand every man a thief because there are some persons who are thieves.
-brockman. - I do not see the logic of that.
– Should every man be regarded as untruthful because some persons tell falsehoods?
– That is why every man who goes into a witness-box is put on his oath.
– My honorable friend took an oath when he entered the Senate.
– That was to test my loyalty.
– The test of the honorable senator’s loyalty will be in his conduct, and not in his having taken the oath. We are making provision under, this Bill by which ballot-papers may be examined, though our people fought for many years to secure the secrecy of the ballot.
My third objection to the measure arises from the number of questions which are to be put to an elector. I think they are totally unnecessary. They will be calculated to confuse the elector before he records his vote, and may so bring about an increase in the number of wasted votes.
I have referred to my three principal objections to the Bill, and because I consider them vital I shall vote against the motion for the third reading.
– I do not wish to continue the discussion, but I think it well to give my testimony as one who has had experience of the marking of ballot-papers, a practice which has existed in Queensland for a number of years. There has been no case of injustice to an elector in Queensland nor any encroachment upon the secrecy of the ballot. The Returning Officer places the number upon the ballotpaper, and turns it down. No one knows how the elector votes, and the only chance of the ballot-papers being opened is in the event of a disputed election, where the majority is very narrow, or where impersonations have taken place. To my memory there haVe been two elections which have, been disputed in that State. The disputes went to the Elections Tribunal, and the ballot-papers were opened before the Judge. The object of the provision is not to disclose how individuals vote, but to settle disputes in regard to elections. I can assure honorable senators that there is not the slightest danger to the secrecy of the ballot.
– How many times has the provision been put into operation in Queensland?
– Very rarely; but, to my knowledge, twice. After the ballotpapers in disputed elections have been inspected the result of the election is decided, or the candidates are sent back to the electors. I was in the Queensland Assembly when the Bill was passed, and I can assure those honorable senators who have any doubt’s, and the public generally in all the States, that there is no danger whatever of any person finding out how an elector votes.
– Suppose the ballotpapers ana lost?
– This Senate cannot provide against accidents such as that. If the ballot-papers are lost, that is the end of them. No one is likely to take the trouble to look through thousands of ballot-papers to find out how a certain individual has voted. It is generally known, even to-day, how a man votes, because he carries his colours boldly displayed. There is no chance of a man today being boycotted or otherwise interfered with because of the way in which he votes. Yoting is becoming less secret every day, for the electors declare publicly which side they support. In Queensland we have often wondered why this provision was not included in the Federal law. There is a tendency at elections for impersonation to increase, and this is particularly noticeable at Federal elections, owing, I think, to the difficulty of sheeting the offence home to the culprit. To . discover the impersonators it is necessary to number the ballot-papers.
– Why should the impersonators be traced?
– Because otherwise an election may be decided the wrong way. If cases of impersonation are reported to the electoral authorities! and if it is a disputed election, the ballot-papers may, under the new provision, be examined. It can then be decided if, and to what extent, impersonations have taken place, and the majority of the electors will have the satisfaction of knowing eventually that the candidate for whom they voted has been elected.
– Why protect the rogue ?
– I arn not here to protect the rogue. The absence of a provision for penalizing the rogue has been a defect in the Federal law, and I am exceedingly pleased that it is about to be. remedied. I am quite sure that the change will have a very good effect. When an elector who desires to impersonate another knows that in the event of a dispute he can be traced, he is likely to be more careful than he would otherwise be. The value -of the provision in this connexion is shown by the fact that there have been more complaints of impersonation at Federal elections than at State elections in Queensland. At Federal elections many persons boast openly of the fact that they have impersonated others.
– Have there been any prosecutions for impersonations in Queensland ?
– Yes; but the object is not so much to prosecute the elector as to determine the result of the election accurately. The provision does, of course, operate to’ prevent impersonation. Senator Gardiner was very emphatic in his protest against infringing the secrecy of the ballot, and a speech such as his, when circulated throughout the country, may convey quite a wrong impression to thousands, if not millions, of electors ; and I, therefore, desire, speaking from experience in Queensland, to say that there is no chance of infringing the secrecy of the ballot, and that every elector may still go to the polling booth, and vote for whom he likes, without any fear of his vote being disclosed.
– I am very glad to have had the testimony of Senator Reid regarding the operation of the Queensland law. I think too much has been made of the provision in the Bill relating to the numbering of ballot-papers, for I am quite sure that not 5 per cent, of the electors of Australia care who knows how they vote. I fail to understand the extreme opposition of Senator Lynch to the grouping system. He has stated that it will make party rampant in this Chamber. In the 1910 and 1913-14 elections great majorities, strongly party in their character, were returned to this Chamber, and I am quite sure that the present Senate, which was elected in 1919, has been more independent than any previous Senate: The grouping system, will not be an injustice to any party or any candidate.
– To my mind, the greatest defect, if indeed it can be termed a defect, in the Bill is that pointed out by Senator Garling. I thought, with him, that the Bill would provide a safeguard against the possibility of transferring numbers of electors from one portion of a State to another. That provision, of course, could not., apply effectively, to the Senate, because for Senate elections it matters not where an elector votes, but it would apply to the House of Representatives elections. If a safeguard has not been provided in the Bill to prevent men from- being transferred to another district temporarily in order to increase the number of votes that may be recorded for- a certain candidate, I think the Bill has, to that extent, fallen short of the intentions of the Senate. If the provision is as Senator Garling has contended, the position is serious, and some attempt ought to be made to remedy the defect. Senator Benny and Senator Senior have also raised certain objections. Regarding one of them, the numbering of the ballotpapers, I can see nothing wrong. On the contrary, I regard it as a very great improvement. In the first place, it may nave the effect of restraining electors who may be inclined to do something contrary to the law. Surely it is part of the business of Parliament to’ discourage lawbreakers, and if a person wants to vote twice or offtener at an election we should devise some effective means of preventing him from doing so. The numbering of the ballot-papers will never be apparent until a dispute as to the result of an election occurs. When a dispute occurs at present, there may_ be a recount, and there may be some votes in dispute; but no one can say who the elector is who records a certain vote unless he comes forward himself and owns up, as sometimes he does. In deciding such disputes there is considerable delay, and certain lengthy processes have to be followed. Now we are proposing to number the ballotpapers, and to keep the numbers secret. There is no question’ of interfering with the secrecy of the ballot unless a dispute arises, when the officers responsible for the conduct of an election should be able to sheet home wrong-doing to the persons guilty. As honest men who are anxious to vote only once at an election, and to see that- others veto only once, we should provide this remedy against impersonation. I can find no objection whatever to the numbering of the ballot-papers; but, on the contrary, I venture to say that the proposal is a distinct advance on the present system, and will be no infringement whatever of the secrecy of the ballot or. the rights of the electors. If the new form of ballot-paper brands all candidates as party men, that need not be regarded as so very objectionable, because every member of this Chamber comes here as a party man, and has been proud of the fact. If we can make it easier for the elector to pick his team, if he intends to vote the party ticket, we should do so. The object of the Bill is to assist the elector in selecting the candidates of the party which he supports, because, as Senator Vardon has pointed out, not 5 per cent, of the electors at any election make any secret of the fact that they intend to vote for the candidates of a certain party. Frequently they are working in the interests of their party for weeks and months, and it may be years, before an election. Their representatives go from one end of Australia to the other telling electors that the right thing to do is to enroll under the banner of their particular party and vote the party ticket.
– You vote against the North-South railway and see how your party will serve you.
– That question has nothing whatever to do with the form of ballot-paper. We are discussing the party system of voting, and it would not matter if a candidate voted the Liberal ticket and against the railway, or Labour and for the railway. We have all been elected under the party banner, and therefore we should not be afraid to face the electors straight out as party men. It matters not what system of election is in vogue, the influence of party is not eliminated. Even in Tasmania where, so we are told, there is such a perfect system, candidates still nominate and still run under the banner of their particular parties. Every Parliament I know of comprises men who have been elected as representatives of some party or other. Even the Independent candidate has a party of his own, and single taxers and advocates of other systems of reform seek election to Parliament under the banner of their own parties. The question raised by Senator Garling appears to me to be perfectly in order, and I think will be beneficial to the electors. I intend to vote for the third reading of the Bill, and to defend it on the hustings whenever I may have occasion to do so.
– I am inclined to think that some of those honorable senators who have indicated their intention of voting against the third reading of the Bill will be somewhat disappointed if they find themselves constituting one of a majority against the measure. Quite a large number of honorable senators have supported the main provisions of the Bill very .strongly, and that being the case, they would feel themselves in an embarrassing position if, having brought the Bill to this stage, they voted against its third reading. With regard to the point raised by Senator Garling, the honorable senator has, I think, made the mistake of reading clause 2 as if it. stood by itself. It has to be remembered that an elector must be resident for one month in a particular division before he can secure enrolment. As a matter of fact this particular provision in the Bill is a limitation, because it brings in the period of twenty-one days before the issue of a writ for an election. This is done in order that a change of enrolment cannot take place after the issue of the writ. An elector who has only been entitled to a change of enrolment fifteen days before the issue of the writ will not be guilty of any violation of the Act by reason of the fact that he has not changed his enrolment. But for this provision he would be liable. As the Act stands,1 there is provision for a penalty if a man does not change his enrolment. We have done away with that, and, on the other hand, we have placed a disability on a man who temporarily changes his actual place of living, it may be, for the purpose of influencing an election. Senator Garling, and other honorable senators who have referred to the point, appear to have overlooked the second question which may be put to an elector : “ Is your actual place of living within the division?” In reply, the elector must state the name of the division in respect of which he claims to vote. This provision, therefore, is complementary to clause 2, and it is aimed at the man who, while living in, say, Division A, may have been placed temporarily by some agent in Division B for the purpose of influencing an election. When that man goes to vote clause 2 operates, and the question I have mentioned is put to him by the Presiding Officer. If he is not actually living in the division for which he claims the vote, he must answer in the negative; in which case he will be disqualified and will be required to vote in the division in which he actually lives.
Now, as for the secrecy of the ballot. Those honorable senators who have raised the point apparently are of the opinion that, because South Australia introduced the reform, wisdom died immediately, and that it represented the last word on the matter. But other evils have crept into the working of our electoral machinery, and it is necessary that they should be provided for. Owing to the inability of the Court of Disputed Returns to discover the disputed votes, it is possible at present for any closely-contested election to be upset, as was the case at Ballarat. Statements may be made that a person intended to, and did, vote in a certain way, and it would be impossible to disprove his statement. For instance, an elector may declare that he voted at a certain polling place for Jones when, as a matter of fact, he may have voted for Smith. We are providing that if necessity demands, an investigation of the ballot-paper may be made under oath. To say that this is an invasion of the secrecy of the ballot is an extravagant criticism.
– You would have to open all the ballot-papers from any particular polling place.
– -No, because the roll number of the disputed vote is placed on the counterfoil by the Presiding Officer, and therefore any particular ballotpaper may ‘be identified.
– Suppose all the voters at a certain polling booth voted after hours. In a disputed election all their votes would have to be scrutinized, and it would be known how those electors voted.
– It does not matter whether one vote or many are in dispute. If it is necessary to decide a disputed election, the Court should have, the authority to examine the ballot-papers in question; In the case mentioned by Senator Benny, all the votes would be rejected, because they were cast after the hour fixed for the close of the polling. On many occasions elections have been upset because there has been no authority to examine disputed ballot-papers. It is likely that, if it had been possible to examine certain ballot-papers, not one closelycontested election in the Commonwealth would have been upset. This principle has been introduced to carry the reform introduced by South Australia a step further and provide for further defects that- have been disclosed in the working of the electoral law.
Just one more word now with regard to the question of ‘proportional representation. The principle may be right, but, in my opinion, its advocates are attempting to try it on the wrong dog. If there is anything in the claim for the introduction of proportional representation, surely the House in which the reform should be introduced is the House of Representatives, where Governments are made and unmade. Yet, strange to say, we do not hear these advocates raising their voices to apply proportional representation to that Chamber. That is the popular House, and the one whichis supposed to represent the people according to their numbers, and not according to geographical boundaries. That is, therefore, the Chamber in which representation should be given to minorities if it is to be given to either House.
– The advocates of proportional representation have no hesitation in applying the principle to lower Chambers.
– All the advocates of the system are silent concerning its application to the House of Representatives. I was very surprised to hear Senator MacDonald advocating proportional representation, as he is the last man in this Chamber who should support such a principle, because he is a living example of the fact recognised in the Constitution that this House represents the States. It is provided in the Constitution that where an extraordinary vacancy occurs that the vacancy shall be filled by the State Parliament of the State in which the vacancy occurs, and not by holding another election or electing the candidate who was next on the poll. Here is clear recognition in the Constitution itself, that the only legislative entity which has any authority to speak for the States shall fill a vacancy, and Senator MacDonald is here as a living embodiment of that principle. Thatthe machinery of party operates to return honorable senators to this Chamber and to another placeis obvious, and it would be futile to deny it, but that does not vitiate the principle that this is, in essence, a States House, andthe example given by Senator Lynch of that fact is another illustration in that direction. Another point which was brought forward by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) is, perhaps, the most important of all, and it is this: If once we concede the principle of minority representation in this Chamber the days of equal representation, for the States in the Senate are numbered, because we cannot logically have minority representation and equal representation of the States, irrespective of numbers. As a matter of fact, equal representation does bring about, in a way, minority representation, because, from the point of view of strict technical equity, a defeated candidate in, say, New South Wales, may get five times as many votes as a candidate in Tasmania who is elected.
– If the same candidate were standing in Tasmania he might not get a proportionately large number of votes. The present principle is the result of an agreement between the States.
– Yes, and when we commence to apply this system of representation to this Chamber it will be found to be in conflict with the principle of equal representation.
- Senator Bakhap cannot mention one upper Chamber elected on that system.
– No. This Chamber is in a different position from upper Houses elsewhere, and I would suggest that advocates of the system should devote their energies to applying it to another branch of the Legislature where the people and not the States are represented.
Question -That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question soresolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In a sense, this is not a very important measure. Honorable senators will recollect that, during the war period, the civilian staff of the Defence Department was placed under the special Act entitled Defence (Civil Employment) Act, in order to have the staff under the one control. That Act expires on the 31st August of this year, and if its operation is not continued, there will be a hiatus between then and the time of the coming into force of the Public Service Bill now before another place. When that measure becomes law, those in the civilian branch of the Defence Department will come under the Public Service Act. Some members of the staff were under that Act before the Defence (Civil Employment) Act was passed, and this measure is to amend that Statute by terminating its operation by proclamation. The measure does not affect the question of whether those employees should or should not be in the Public Service, because that point was settled when the Public Service Bill was before the Senate, and when it was decided that permanent employees in civil employment in the Defence Department should be brought under the Public Service Commissioner. Before the war, and before the Defence (Civil Employment) Act was passed, there were three classes of employees in the Defence Department. There were public servants under the Public Service Act, others who were under the Minister, and some who were under the Military Board, although they were civilians. The examination by which these employees entered either of the three classes mentioned was the same. When the Royal Commission which inquired into the administration of the Defence Department reported, it recommended that these three classes should be dispensed with, and that the permanent employees should all be broughtunder the Public Service Act. As it is the intention to rise shortly, I trust that an adjournment of the debate will not be sought, and that honorable senators will assist me in passing the Bill through all its stages.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Statutory sanction is required to give effect to certain articles of two Treaties signed at Washington: The other Treaties require no legislative action on the part of the Commonwealth. The essential articles of the two Treaties covered by this Bill are cited in the First and Second Schedules to show more clearly the object of the measure.
The first Treaty, which is Treaty No. 3 of the Conference, has relation to the limitation of naval armament. Clause 5 provides for control by making it compulsory to obtain a licence from the Minister for Defence to build any vessel of war, &c. Penalties and powers of inspection and seizure are provided for. Honorable senators may say that a provision of this nature is not essential to Australia, but I point out that we do build ships here, and it is essential that there should be no evasion of this Treaty under cover of contracts with private firms for the construction of vessels.
– Are other nations passing similar legislation?
– Yes. Great Britain has already passed it.
– Are the Bills all worded in the same way?
– I cannot say that the exact wording is used. I do not know that that is necessary. It is not a very involved question.
The second Treaty, which is Treaty No. 4 of the Conference referred to is that relating to the protection of neutrals and non-combatants at sea in time of war.
Article 1, referred to in the Second Schedule, lays down what shall be deemed the rules of International Law in relation to merchant vessels in time of war. Article 3, in the Second Schedule, refers to punishment for violation of the rules, and clause 7 of the Bill grants the necessary power for the imposition of the legal sanctions for violation of the rules laid down in Article 1, which makes any person violating such rules liable to trial and punishment as if for an act of piracy. In the preamble to the Bill, and in the Second Schedule, in citing the title of the Treaty, reference is made to the object of the Treaty being “ to prevent the use in war of noxious gases and chemicals.” These references are part of the title or designation of the Treaty, but the provisions as to these matters relate not to individuals, but to Governments, the question of legal sanction does not come up for consideration.
This legislation follows on the lines of the British legislation. The Treaties referred to in schedules will be found at pages 38 and 44 of the Report of tip Conference on the Limitation of Armament. The Bill has been passed by another place with the unanimous approval of all parties. It is necessary, and the Government are following the example of the United Kingdom in introducing it.
– This Bill affords us an opportunity to ratify what has been done at the Washington Conference in the matter of the restriction of naval armaments, and the regulation of the position of neutrals when a collision occurs. I think Australia is very much indebted to the United States of America- for initiating the movement for the reduction of armaments. There is hardly another part of the British Dominions that has such a wide frontage exposed to potential enemies as Australia has. I was rather sorry to notice, on perusing the report of the Minister (Senator Pearce), that no recognition was given to the United States of America for having initiated this movement. It is only pure justice to that country that that should be done. If I remember aright, neither in his report nor in his speech in the western State, was there the least indication as to how the Commonwealth Government viewed the action of the United States of
America in the matter. But for that country there is no doubt that this Bill would not have been before us. It is equally clear that in the proposition for a reduction of naval armaments, the United States of America led the way in a marked degree over any and all of the countries invited to send representatives to Washington. I believe that, in the matter of scrapping ships under construction and on active service, the United States of America was in advance of what Great Britain was asked to surrender, and, although that country was prepared to make the greatest sacrifice of all the Powers represented, it was quite willing f or Great Britain to maintain its supremacy on the sea. In fairness to the United States of America the Government should frankly thank that country for what it has done. In the Minister’s report, Mr. Balfour and other people were thanked, and very properly, no doubt; but why the Minister did not thank the United States of America I am at a loss to understand. For my part, I am thankful, and so is the Senate, as the records show.. Even if the Minster failed in his duty in this respect, the Senate did not.
There is another thing that the Minister did at Washington, with which I in no sense hold. I refer to his proposition for the limitation of the cruising radius of submarines. It is just as well that the Conference did not adopt his suggestion, because Australia, of all the countries represented at the Conference, stands to lose a great deal from any reduction of the cruising range of submarines, owing to its long coastline.
– I would remind the honorable senator that a full opportunity for the discussion of that- matter was given when the report on the Washington Conference was before the Senate. This Bill contains no reference to such a matter as that now mentioned by the honorable senator.
– I realize that one must take the Treaty as it stands, but I am pointing out that it is well for Australia that the advice of the Minister was not adopted. In regard to the reduction of naval armaments, the Treaty Insures that if a battle occurs it must be on a very much reduced scale, although, with the 16-inch guns permitted, a naval en- gagement would be no mean affair. Breathing time has been secured by the nations at the instance of the Government of the United States of America, and we should think seriously over our position. Ten years is not a long time; it is but a matter of hours in the life of a nation. Those responsible for moulding public thought in Australia now have an opportunity of considering what is best to be done in order, if the Treaty is not renewed at the end of the term, as we hope it will be, to keep us’ as secure in the following years as up to that time.
It has often been said that on account of Australia’s empty spaces this country presents a tempting bait to those who may cast envious eyes upon it. The envious eyes will be from those countries where the population is dense, but those lands, especially in Asiatic regions, are experiencing no greater density of population than obtains in some European countries. We could tell the countries that are supposed to be jealous of us that they have not yet reached the point where their population is as dense as in some European countries to-day. Japan could also be informed that it practised a rigid policy of exclusion of the nationals of other lands,- and that in years gone by it practised it to an extent never equalled in Australia. Having decided to exclude those with whom we do not wish to mix, it necessarily follows that Australia should so shape its public policy as to insure the stoutest resistance if ever its position were imperilled. I think the United . States of America was the first nation in recent years to adopt a policy of exclusion, but I doubt whether any nation has practised’ it with the same rigidity and thoroughness as has Japan. We find efforts made to prevent a stream of immigration to our shores, which would be our best defence. That policy is the most mistaken one which could be fathered by any political party in this country. It is possible to strengthen our defence by increasing our population without at the same time materially affecting our social condition. If we carry our minds back to the times when population did stream to our shores, we shall not find that it affected injuriously social conditions in the different States. I can refer particularly to Queensland, and say that in the eighties and early nineties, when the social condition of the people was very low, and there were many out of employment, there was no considerable increase of the population due to immigration. I direct the attention of honorable senators, and particularly of Senator MacDonald, to the necessity for strengthening our defence by immigration. Warships, no matter what the calibre of the guns they carry, will count for nothing if we have not the first essential in a sturdy population throughout the Commonwealth standing behind them.
– Hear, hear !
– I am very pleased to have that statement approved by my honorable colleague. Population is the one thing that we need most in this country. If we have not a sturdy population throughout the Commonwealth the efficacy of any system of defence we may adopt will be very doubtful. We must get more people in the Commonwealth by hook or by crook. We are not in the happy position of other countries, such as tile United States of America, that can shut its doors against the introduction of more people, because there is an ample population in America for its development and defence. It has not to concern itself about the welfare of any other country. The backbone of the American population is of British stock, and America is to-day in a position - to defend herself against all comers. If that were not the case she would not shut her doors to the entry of people, however spirited or physically fit. If we were in a somewhat similar position and had even 50,000,000 of people in Australia1, instead of 5,000,000, we might consider the adoption of a policy of exclusion of people from other lands with more safety. Every country has had to do it in one form or another.
I rose to point out that notwithstanding the fact that the Treaties which were agreed to at Washington, give us time to look about ourselves and make up our minds as to what should be done, they do not postpone indefinitely the hour when this country will have to struggle for its existence and its freedom. We have ten years to think about the matter, and in the meantime it is the solemn duty of those responsible foa* shaping public opinion to bend their energies to the achievement of one objective, alone, and that is a material increase in our population at all hazards. We should afford every facility for the introduction, of more people, especially from the islands from which we have ourselves come, and if they are brought here in increasing numbers they will be our best safeguard, and our surest pledge for continued security and independence.
– I did not take part in the debate on the motion for the approval of the Washington Treaties. I abstained from speaking on that motion, not because I had but little interest in the subject, but because there were so many honorable senators ready to speak to it. Senator Lynch is wrong when he suggests that Senator Pearce and other honorable senators did not attach sufficient importance to the subject.
– I meant in the repert to the Government.
– That is what I am speaking of. I am afraid that Senator Lynch did not appreciate the manner in which tha question was discussed in this Chamber. I am sorry that the honorable senator should have further reflected upon Senator Pearce, who represented the Commonwealth at the Washington Conference, as being unaware or neglectful of his duty. I think that by the manner in which the Washington Treaties were discussed by Senator Pearce they were given quite as much publicity as has been given to any Treaties, the result of Conferences attended by representatives of this country, and so far as the United States are concerned, due recognition and appreciation of the most important part which its representatives took in the work of the Conference found expression in our Delegation.
As showing the necessity of our being alive to the importance of other countries that we may regard as being asleep and not taking sufficient interest in their own defence/1 1 wish to mention that recently I was reading an American work, andi was very much, surprised to come across a statement by an authority on naval warfare to the effect that Japan and other Eastern nations were well advanced in the matter of the conduct of naval warfare long before European countries could be said to have been in such a position. I found that, as a matter of fact, the firstcountry to introduce the iron-clad war vessel was Korea. That statement greatly surprised me, because it is generally assumed that Great Britain or France was the country which first launched an ironclad vessel of war. I have read, time and again, that France was the first country to launch an iron-clad, and got the idea for such a vessel from something which happened during the American war, when wooden boats were surrounded with chains for their protection. According to the naval authority to whom I refer, Japan attempted the invasion of Korea 330 years ago, and with an army the size of which was surprising. It was somewhat startling to read that 330 years ago any of these Eastern nations possessed sufficient vessels to carry an army of 200,000 men, which was the force with which Japan attempted the invasion of Korea at that time. That invading host was mot at sea by the Koreans with an iron-clad fitted with rams, such as the war-ships of Britain were provided with not more than a generation ago.
-brockman. - There are still s*»me vessels in the British Navy fitted with rams.
– The result of the engagement to which I refer was that the Koreans succeeded in destroying the invading force and driving the Japanese back. We often hear the statement repeated that Japanese civilization and progress go .back only for some seventy years, when the Americans discovered it by a naval force entering Japanese ports. The incident to which I refer proves that the Eastern nations knew more of naval warfare than we have been accustomed to give them credit for. The author of the statement which I have directed attention to explains that one of the Korean iron-clad vessels was driven ashore, and was brought to light by diving only a few years ago. Other nations may have a great deal more up their sleeves than we think. I should be very sorry indeed, to see the Commonwealth set aside all its means of defence. I think it iB a pity that our cadet system has not been continued, because it would give us a. trained population if at any time it should become necessary to defend this country from invasion. We must all recognise that the enormous cost of modern ironclads puts it almost beyond our power, financially, to provide for our defence by such a means. We do not know sufficiently what may be occurring in other countries to make it. safe for us to drift into a position in which we shall be unable to defend ourselves. We should keep our weather eye open, in an endeavour to learn what is being done elsewhere, so that we may not be caught napping at a crucial moment.
– We are called upon at short notice to deal with a measure of the greatest importance. I do not, at this stage, presume to say that I have given that close consideration to the Bill which would enable me to express myself with confidence as to whether or not its provisions carry out the scope of the Treaties. That is why I asked whether a measure in this form had already been passed by other signatories to the Treaties. That has not been made clear, and so we are called upon to use our own judgment in the framing of this Bill. Looking at the preamble of the Bill, I find that it is set out -
That it is expedient to give effect to the provisions so set forth.
Meaning thereby the provisions set forth in the two Treaties added as schedules to the Bill. Looking at the first schedule, one finds that there is an embargo placed on the building of ships of a certain character or class. The Bill appears to me to go beyond the scope of the Treaty. We are laying it down that a person shall not build, not merely a vessel of war of the character or class referred to in the Treaty, but any vessel of war. It seems to me that it is unnecessary to go the length that we are proposing to go.
– A person cannot build except under licence.
– I notice that the word “ licence “ is used, but the Treaty did not anticipate that an embargo would be placed on the building of every vessel of war.
– Unless wei know what vessels are being built, how can we say whether they ought not to be built?
– I cannot see how that interjection deals with the question I am raising.. My point is that the Bill goes beyond the scope of the Treaty. Whereas, for instance, article 5 of the Treaty prevents the building of a capital ship exceeding 35,000 tons, the Bill nevertheless deals with cer tain other classes of ships. It says that a person shall not, without a licence from the Minister, build any vessel of war. I do not- intend to examine the Bill critically, and I shall not oppose it, but I think that, called upon as we are to handle such an important measure at short notice, we ought to have had time to go into the matter closely, and see whether we are not exceeding the scope of the Treaty. Nowhere in the Bill can I see a definition of the word “ building.” For “ building “ warships the Bill imposes a punishment altogether too small for the offence.
– And as the Bill is worded, we cannot possibly convict any one.
– That is what I fear. The building of a ship is subject to a penalty, but there is no definition of “ building.” Apparently the person who actually builds the ship is the one who will be liable to the penalty. But who builds the ship? In the next subclause, it says - paragraph b, sub-clause 1, clause 5 - that no person shall “ despatch or deliver “ such a vessel, and it goes on to say, “ or allow to be despatched or delivered.” If the words “ allow to be “ are necessary in that paragraph, they are equally necessary in paragraph a. Not only the actual person who builds the ship, but the one who supplies the funds whereby the building was able to be carried through, and who is probably the master brain behind the undertaking, should be equally as liable as, if not more liable than, the persons who actually construct the ship. Those points have struck me in glancing through the Bill. I cannot, pretend to go through the Bill in detail, and deal with other clauses in it, but I think it my duty to comment upon these features of it.
.- As Senator Garling has not had ah opportunity of reading through the Bill, I think he may be excused for having overlooked another portion of the schedule, which appears on page 5, where reference is made to the Contracting Powers to the Treaty. It lays down that “ the Contracting Powers shall communicate promptly to each of the other Contracting Powers the following information, namely,” the information being the standard displacement of any vessel laid down after the Treaty was entered into. That explains why it is essential to provide in the Bill a clause relating to building warships, or transforming unarmed ships into armed ships.
I had not an opportunity of hearing the debate which took place in this Chamber on the Treaties, but I would like to indorse some of the remarks made by Senator Lynch. Before doing that, however, I wish to express my pleasure as a public man at the undoubted success of the Conference at Washington. That Conference has been the subject of many criticisms throughout Australia by the people who are supposed to mould public opinion. Only a little while ago I had brought under my notice, by some one who had heard an address delivered by a gentleman who is employed by one of the States of Australia to mould public opinion, the fact that that gentleman had very much belittled the work of the Washington Conference. He even went so far as to suggest that the representatives of the United States were controlled entirely by financial magnates, and were governed by financial conditions. He alleged that they were out to make as many dollars as possible out of the Conference. I would not have mentioned this occurrence but for the fact that the speech was made by a professor in the workers’ educational classes, and that he is employed by a State to mould public opinion. It is to be deprecated that such a suggestion should come from such a source. There is no doubt in the mind of any one who has followed the work of the Conference that we owe a very great deal to America for bringing the Conference about. I have taken every opportunity that offered of ascertaining the views held by people of a serious turn of mind who have followed the work of the Conference. The general impression is that the Minister sent from Australia as Australia’s representative (Senator Pearce) did his work very well indeed. I have heard no dissatisfaction expressed with regard to his work, but rather the reverse, it being held that he filled the position well, with credit to Australia and honour to himself. I think it only right that one should express oneself in these terms if one feels justified in doing so.
The sentiments expressed by Senator Lynch with regard to Australia’s prepara- tions for the future ought to be weighed well by every senator, every public man, and the people of Australia. There is no doubt in my mind that the future stability of our Commonwealth will depend entirely upon a very considerable increase in population, and the sooner we can bring that increase about the better it will be. We have an enormous continent with a very large expanse of land and a sparse population. A sparse population is no good to any country, and is particularly undesirable in a country capable of such development as Australia. We should offer every inducement to the right class .of people to come here. I know that some public men in Australia deprecate the suggestion that we should encourage immigration, because at the present time we have our own unemployment problem: I believe that, no matter how great an influx of people there is, they will not augment, at all events, the unemployed problem. We have such possibilities of development that we can find room for a considerable population in the next ten years without bringing about unemployment. ; Only by increasing our population can we insure the safety of Australia in the future. This is a problem that has to be dealt with very carefully, and we cannot hope to solve it successfully without the cooperation of all the States. I believe that a majority of the States are anxious for an immigration policy which will insure the safety of Australia. The Commonwealth has commenced to carry out such a policy, but in a very small way. The attention of all public men should be given very closely to this problem, so that we may deal successfully with it in the future.
– I am somewhat surprised to hear Senator Lynch voice the statement that T have shown any lack of recognition of the great part played by the United States of America in connexion with the Washington Conference. I do not know whether the honorable senator has taken the trouble to read my report, but if he has done so he has found on pages 6 and 7 that I give the whole credit- for the proposal regarding naval disarmament to the Delegation of the United States of America. I set out what they proposed and I go on to point out that it was entirely their own proposal, that it was kept a secret, and that no hint of it leaked out. It is not usual in official reports to be fulsome - at any rate that is not my reading of my duty. I consider that I have to state the facts, and I have endeavoured to do so. In the first page of my report I show that it was the United States of America that was responsible for convening the Conference, and I give the Government of the United States of America credit for it. I give to them entirely the credit for the initiation of the main proposal of the Conference, but I do not elaborate on it, I do not use a large number of adjectives, and I am not fulsome in my references to it. That is not the proper place for fulsomeness.
– There is no suggestion of fulsomeness when the honorable senator refers to Mr. Balfour without referring to President Harding.
– I do not think so. The reason for referring to Mr. Balfour was that he wasthe head of a Delegation of which I was a member. If the honorable senator has done methe honour of reading my speech in Hansard, he must know that I did not in any way minimize the work of the United States of America, but gave credit to that nation for the great part it played. Some of my friends have warned me that in my public addresses I have become - to use the words of the honorable senator -“a thorough Yankee “ in boosting the United States of America. After all, however, that is a matter of opinion.
In regard to Senator Garling’s criticism I would point out that whilst it is true that the Treaty itself applies a bar to the building of ships only of a certain kind, the Government is the trustee for the nation to see that the Treaty is carried out. Unless the Government deals with the builders of warships by means of licences, how can it police the Treaty? What information can it get? The object of licensing the building of warships is to secure that no one shall build warships of any kind without the Government’s knowledge. When a person is licensed the Government can proceed to insure that he does not build a warship in contravention of the principles of the Bill. The Government is under an obligation to the other nations to inform them of the classes of ships that are being built.
– The obligation relates to the classes of ships that are prohibited.
– And also to the classes that are allowed. It seems to me that the only way inwhich the Government can effectively police the Treaties is to see that nobody builds warships except with the permission of the Government. When that permission is applied for the Government hasmeans of insuring that the Treaties are carried out. Since I spoke on the second reading I have ascertained that in this particular, as in others, the Bill follows the wording of the British Act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.
First Schedule agreed to.
SenatorLYNCH (Western Australia) [5.40]. - This schedule provides that a merchant vessel must not be destroyed unless the crew and passengers have first been placed in safety. I do not know what the rules of warfare are with regard to neutrals, but I have always understood that the fate of a vessel seized by a belligerent is determined by the Prize Court. It would appear, according to this schedule, that the only condition precedent to its destruction is that the passengers and crew must first be placed in safety.
– That is not so. This provision is supplementary to other rules of warfare that govern the situation mentioned by the honorable senator.
-brockman. - It simply means that the German habit in the late war must not be deemed to be sanctioned by usage.
Second Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to rectify a clerical error and another minor defect in the Act ratifying the agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales for the vesting, in the Commonwealth, of certain land at Jervis Bay for the purpose of a port for the Federal Capital. In the Act there is a clerical error, the word “ east” being employed when the word “west” should have been used. Then in fixing the boundary on the landward side of the land vested in the Commonwealth on the northern part of the bay, the line followed the convolution of the coast. This has been found to be very awkward for survey purposes, and it has been decided to have a surveyed direct line for the land border of the area referred to instead of the irregular line previously fixed. The New South Wales Government have agreed to this alteration, and have also undertaken to pass a similar Bill to give effect to the agreement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from Committee without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended ; report adopted .
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of the measure is to make minor, but, I am told, useful alterations to the Statutory Declarations Act of 1911, which provides for statutory declarations being made before police or special magistrates, commissioners for affidavits, and commissioners for declarations, by adding notaries public to the list of persons before whom these declarations may be made. It also extends the operation of the Act to such Territories as are under the control of the Commonwealth, including the Mandated Territories.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from Committee without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire to take this opportunity of pointing out to honorable senators that, according to the state of the Senate noticepaper, an excellent opportunity will be afforded to-morrow for discussing the Estimates and Budget-papers.
– Do you intend to go on withthat business to-morrow?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 August 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220823_senate_8_100/>.