14th Parliament · 1st Session
Thepresident (Senator the Hon. F. J.Lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
[11.1]. - I ask leave to move without notice a motion for leave to introduce a bill to amend the Immigration Act. As we are nearing the end of this period of the session there can be no question as to the urgency of the action I propose to take. As a result of a recent High Court judgment a very serious flaw, which may have a serious bearing on our White Australia legislation, has been discovered in the act.
– Is leave granted ?
– I object.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent him moving a motion for leave to introduce the Immigration Bill, without notice.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. j. Lynch.)
Majority . . . . 19
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend sections 5, 7 and 7a of the Immigration Act 1901-1933.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Postmaster-General’s Department - Twentyfourth annual report 1933-34.
Wheat Bounty Act-Regulations - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 17.
Commonwealth Bank Act- Treasurer’s Statement of the Combined Accounts of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Commonwealth Savings Bank at 31st December, 1934, certified to by the Auditor-General.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 33.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware that a very large portion of Queensland is suffering from one of the worst droughts which has been experienced in that State for the last 30 or 35 years, and which is causing considerable distress to many of the people there? In view of the fact that the Government has from time to time made grants to assist sufferers from serious floods, cyclones and droughts, will it consider the desirability of making available a grant to help people in the droughtstricken areas?
– I have heard with regret of the state of affairs to which the honorable senator has referred, and will see that his request is brought under the notice of the Government.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) has supplied the following answers : -
a ltered System: of Representation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
In view of his replies to earlier questions regarding the suggested change in the manner of representation in the Senate, to the effect that no report on the matter had been received and it had not yet been given full consideration by Cabinet, will he inform the Senate whether the matterhas been referred to the Chief and Deputy Electoral Officers for inquiry and report ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) has supplied me with the following answer: -
The matter has not yet been referred to the Electoral Authorities for inquiry and report.
Motion (bySenator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That Standing Order No. 08 be suspended up to and including Friday, the 12th April, 1935, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past ten o’clock at night.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to facilitate the proceedings of the royal commission appointed to hold an inquiry respecting certain matters in relation to the economic positionof the industries of growing, handling and marketing wheat, manufacturing flour, and other commodities from wheat, and manufacturing, distributing and selling bread.
Bill brought up and read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Brennan) read a first time.
Report No. 2 of the Printing Committee brought up by Senator j. P>. Hayes, and - by leave - adopted.
In committee (Consideration resumed from Sth April, vide page 926).:
Clause 7 - ( 1 . ) Any moneys granted to a State under the last preceding section shall bc paid upon the following conditions: -
The moneys shall be used by the State, in pursuance of a scheme authorized by or under the law of the State (in this section referred to as “the State scheme”), for the purpose of discharging, in whole or in part, the debts of farmers by means of compositions or schemes of arrangement between farmers and any or all of their creditors;
No payment under a composition or scheme of arrangement slm.ll bc made in respect of any debt due to the Commonwealth Or the State or lo a Governmental authority;
.- Can the .Minister in charge of the bill inform the committee whether unpaid interest will be considered a debt to which the provisions of this bill can be applied if all the parties concerned are willing? Many mortgagees to whom interest is owed would be willing to take a smaller sum in cash if this bill applied to them.
[11.20]. - I am rather dubious about giving an answer offhand to the question of the honorable senator, but the officers advising the Crown appear to think that unpaid interest, except interest due to the Crown, is a debt which, subject to the consent of the creditors, should be admitted as a debt.
.- I move-
That the following paragraph be inserted after paragraph (<i) - ” (aa) lt shall be a condition of the State scheme that no payment of any of the moneys shall be made by or under a judgment or garnishee order of any court of the State.”
As approximately £10,000,000 is to be allocated to the farmers, “ big business “, following the law of the financial jungle, will do its best to get as much of that amount as possible for itself. We all know that current accounts in the banks are subject to the garnishee laws, whereas saving bank accounts are not. Although this is Commonwealth money, it is proposed to hand it over to the States, and I am anxious that we shall not leave any opportunity for the farmers to be robbed.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.25]. - Money paid by the Commonwealth to a State could not be legally subject to a garnishee order.
– But after the State had appropriated it for the benefit of the farmers it could be garnisheed
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The first point is that money paid by the Commonwealth to the State cannot, at any stage, be subject to a garnishee order. The next point has reference to the protection of the estate when the authority constituted under the State act proceeds to deal with the money. I direct attention to subsection 3 of clause 6, which provides - 2^0 grant shall he made under this act to ii. State unless or until there is in force in thu State legislation constituting an authority empowered, on application being made to it, and at its discretion, to take action having the effect of suspending, either wholly or in part, the rights of any secured or unsecured creditor of a farmer against that farmer.
That covers the point raised. Before the money can be paid to the State an authority must be set up, and that authority must be empowered, at its discretion, on an application being made to it. to suspend either wholly or in part the right of any secured or unsecured creditor of a. farmer against that farmer. The amendment is not necessary because the point raised is completely covered by clause 6.
– I do not agree with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) that clause 6 has any relevancy at all to the point raised by Senator Dunn. That clause simply suspends any payment on the part of the Commonwealth until the State has constituted a tribunal; but once that tribunal had been set up and appropriated the money to the farmer, that money would be subject to the garnishee laws, unless some special provision were made to the contrary. I remind the right honorable gentleman that the workmen’s compensation laws which operate throughout the Commonwealth contain a special provision that when a tribunal which has been constituted to decide the amount of compensation has arrived at a decision, any payment under the judgment shall not bc subject to a garnishee order. If the Government intends to protect the farmer against the possibility of the money granted to him being garnisheed the bill should contain a specific provision which would place the matter beyond all possible doubt The amendment is a simple one and the Government should accept it, if only to make the position more certain. In my opinion, the clause quoted by the Leader of the Senate does not protect the farmer to the extent that he suggested. We are concerned only that the money appropriated for, and paid to, a farmer shall not be garnisheed. I understand that that is the purpose of Senator Dunn’s amendment. I am open to conviction, but I am inclined to think that, as the bill stands, once the tribunal has arrived at a decision, the money granted to a farmer could be garnisheed by a creditor, in which event the intention of the Government when it framed this legislation would be defeated.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.30]. - I have great diffidence in combating the view of Senator Daly, who is a lawyer; but I have heard the sub-clauses of clause 6 fully discussed by other legal gentlemen. Senator Daly seems to be under some misapprehension as to how the machinery provided in this clause will operate. Before any money is paid the States must set up an authority and, by legislation, endow that, authority with power to issue a stay order. A meeting of the creditors is then called. Up to that stage no money has passed, and it does not pass until a composition has been arrived at. Otherwise any one of the creditors could upset the whole arrangement by taking proceedings to enforce his particular claim. But there is nothing upon which he could en force it at that stage, and as no money is paid to the farmer or to the creditor until a composition has been arrived at, there is nothing to garnishee. The money is still in the hands of the State. Not until the money is paid by the authority created by the State can any action be taken. But even then the authority is protected by issuing the stay order. Therefore, even at the stage when the money is actually passing, no creditor would have any right of garnishee. The money is not paid to the farmer, but to his creditors on his behalf. The benefit he derives from the composition is the writing-off of portion of his debt. The farmer is doubly protected, first, by the issue of the stay order by the State authority and, secondly, by the fact that the money is paid to his creditors. That is the price of, or the inducement for, the composition. Honorable senators will see that the amendment moved by Senator Dunn is unnecessary.
– One principle which has consistently been enunciated in this debate is that the Commonwealth Government shall definitely lay down conditions governing the disbursement of Commonwealth money by the States. There is much point in the amendment moved by Senator Dunn, inasmuch as it makes the position of the farmer doubly certain, by laying down definite conditions to govern the expenditure of this money. Unless this amendment is carried it is possible that even although a stay order has been issued, some “ smart Alec “ may secure a garnishee order and, if the sum is a considerable one, costly litigation may arise. The bill enables the State authority to take action in its discretion, but if the amendment is carried that authority will have no discretionary power; it will be bound by a mandatory provision in the bill that no payment shall be made under a garnishee order or other order of a State court. I support the amendment.
– Are these compositions or schemes of arrangement to be compulsory or voluntary? Who will initiate them? Will the compositions be compelled by the authorities which the respective States will set up?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [il.38]. - The compositions or schemes of arrangement are not made compulsory by this law. All the States have not yet legislated fully in regard to this matter. I understand that in South Australia these compositions will be compulsory, but in New South Wales they will be voluntary. In each State the matter will be governed by State legislation.
– I am una’ble to understand the opposition of the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) to my amendment. Suppose the State authority agrees to pay part or the whole of a farmers’ debt to his grocer. What is to prevent a creditor of the grocer from proceeding by garnishee to obtain that money from him? My amendment is designed merely to tighten up the provisions of this clause. Garnishee proceedings might be initiated at the very source of this grant, for the law of garnishee operates in the Federal Capital Territory as well as in the States.
– Is the point the honorable senator is endeavouring to make that the money could be garnisheed between the State authority and the grocer, or after it had been received by the grocer?
– It may be garnisheed at any stage. The acceptance of this amendment will not cost the Government anything and its effect will be merely to tighten up the provisions of the bill. The law has as many prickles as a porcupine, and we should endeavour to simplify the law and minimize the possibilities of error and injustice.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.44]. - Apparently, the point that the .. honorable senator is endeavouring to make is that, if the grocer is one of the creditors to whom money is paid by the authority under some composition or arrangement it may be garnisheed by a creditor of the grocer. But it cannot be garnisheed between the authority and the grocer. By reason of the stay order, payment may be made to the grocer as a creditor of the farmer, but when it gets into his hands it becomes part of his assets, and if he owes money he is subject to the ordinary State law governing the recovery of debts. The Commonwealth Government cannot follow that money to its final destination.
– ‘Shall I be in order in discussing paragraph a of sub-clause 1 after the amendment moved by Senator Dunn has been disposed of?
– Paragraph a could not be debated if the amendment were agreed to. If the honorable senator wishes to discuss paragraph a I suggest that Senator Dunn withdraw his amendment temporarily. ‘
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn temporarily.
– The answer given by Senator Pearce to the point raised by Senator Sampson makes it difficult to understand the real import of this measure. Paragraph a reads -
The money shall be used by the State, in pursuance of a scheme authorized by or under the law of the. State (in this section referred to as “ the State scheme “ ) for the purpose of discharging in whole or in part the debts of farmers by means of compositions or schemes of arrangement between farmers and any or all of their creditors.
Sub-clause 3 of clause 6 suggests that the compositions are to be voluntary, because if they were compulsory how could one creditor forestall another? The Minister said that some States are making compositions compulsory while others will be operating on a voluntary basis. Is the administration of this relief scheme to be at the whim of the party in power in a State? Surely it is wrong in principle to compel creditors to agree to a proposed composition. When the scheme was first suggested it was understood that the Government would furnish money for specific purposes, and that the creditors of the farmers would be induced, as far as possible, to agree to a composition. It now appears that if a State authority decides to make a composition compulsory the person to whom the debt is due must accept so much in the £1 whether he likes it or not. If the position is as stated there will be differentiation between the States in the meeting of the liabilities of the farmers. Clause 6 conveys the impression to the average person that the whole scheme is voluntary; otherwise why should the power be given to protect some creditors against others?
– If it were voluntary, one creditor would be able to upset the whole arrangement.
– A creditor could be told that if he were not prepared to come in with the other creditors he would have to take the risk of not being paid at all. If legislation of this kind is passed ordinary traders will not be able to obtain any accommodation on credit. How can any business man give an undertaking to a person from whom he purchases goods, that he can meet his liabilities when a State government may compel him to accept 5s. or 10s. in the £1 as a settlement of the debt owing to him? The whole scheme should be on a voluntary basis.
– What would happen if the creditors could not agree?
– They would have to take the risk of not being paid at all.
– The same principle is embodied in existing State relief measures.
– Including Western Australia.
– The stubborn creditor cannot hold out against the majority.
– Clause 6 gives to the constituted authority power to prevent one creditor from taking advantage of another. If this bill is passed in its present form it will paralyze trade. The whole community lives on credit and confidence between buyer and seller must be maintained so that trade may be carried on. If the positon is as I have set out I cannot support the clause.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.55]. - Senator Payne is under a misapprehension as the provision is not compulsory. The Commonwealth will hand the money over to the States which legislate as to the. basis on which a composition shall be achieved. If the Parliament of South Australia, which is responsible to the people of that State, may decide to make the scheme compulsory, that is a matter for its discretion. We do not give such ‘ legislation our imprimatur. Why should we?
– Should there be any differentiation between the States?
– A State Parliament is responsible to its electors. Under Part XI. of the Commonwealth Bankruptcy Act compositions with creditors may in certain circumstances be made compulsory.
– I am somewhat surprised at the statement of the Minister (Senator Pearce) because State legislation cannot override the Commonwealth bankruptcy laws. Anything done by tribunals appointed under State laws cannot affect the Commonwealth law. The rights of creditors will be determined by State legislation and not under the Commonwealth law. As a creditor of a farmer, I could stand out against a composition, and could not be compelled to agree to it. I could, of course, sue the farmer unless legislation too iniquitous to contemplate were passed, providing that any person who did not agree to the arrangement would not get anything. The States cannot make this or any other Commonwealth scheme compulsory unless this Parliament provides that it shall be compulsory. I should like this scheme to operate in the way the Government intends, and the farmers to be relieved of some of the burdens they are now carrying. Creditors should be encouraged to accept a reasonable composition, but we should be certain that the money they will receive will go into their pockets and will not be taken by some one else to whom they owe money. The Minister referred to the case of a grocer prepared to accept a composition of 15s. in the £1, and who might get his creditors in turn to accept a similar composition. But if he were offered 15s. in the £1, knowing that someone would garnishee the amount in his hands under the bankruptcy law, he would decline the arrangement. This proposal should be debated in a non-party spirit, and the suggestion of Senator Payne should be given the fullest consideration. We should make certain that if a creditor gets money under a scheme of composition, it will not be garnisheed by someone else to whom he owes money. If that happens the creditor may be in a much worse plight than the farmer for whose assistance this measure has been, introduced.
– Senator Daly has just pointed out that, despite the views expressed by the Leader of the Senate, a State authority constituted under this bill cannot enter into an arrangement with the creditors of a farmer, and Senator Payne has emphasized that a team of bullocks could be driven through the provisions of paragraph a, which enacts that moneys granted to a State shall be used in pursuance of a scheme authorized by or under the law of a State for the purpose of discharging, in whole or in part, the debts of farmers by means of compositions or schemes of arrangements between farmers and any or all of their creditors. As it has been made clear that the Commonwealth law of bankruptcy is paramount, it follows that schemes of arrangement between farmers and “ any or all “ of their creditors will be nullified. This being a non-party measure, honorable senators on this side desire to assist the Government to make its provisions watertight. The Government should accept Senator Payne’s suggestion. If an unemployed artisan obtains work in a railway workshop as, say, a boilermaker, his rate of wages is determined by an Arbitration Court award, but, under the existing law, there is nothing to prevent a creditor from garnisheeing his wages. Unless the provisions in this measure are tightened up we may be sure that some creditors will take advantage of their position to force their claims. For once I am in agreement with Senator Payne.
– Senator Payne is awakening rather late in the day to the danger of compulsion. While there is not in this measure a provision to compel the acceptance of a composition with regard to a farmer’s debts, the States are compelled to set up an authority which might, and probably would, exercise a certain amount of compulsion in the case of secured creditors. Sub-clause 3 of clause 6 enacts that no grant shall be made to a State unless or until there is in force in the State legislation constituting an authority empowered, at its discretion, to take action to suspend wholly or in part the rights of any secured or unsecured creditors of a farmer against that farmer. This need not occasion the alarm which Senator Payne expressed just now.
– I am not alarmed at that provision, but I am alarmed at the possibility of differential treatment in the various States, and I think that the principle of compulsion is wrong.
– The position would have been very much better if the Government had adhered to its original intention to allow the various State Governments to use this money at their discretion. There is altogether too much compulsion and direction to the States in this legislation. The clause should be omitted so that the States would be free to adopt any measures for the distribution of the grant which they thought best for the rehabilitation of primary producers.
– Under this clause it will be possible for the authority to be set up by this bill to set off secured creditors against unsecured creditors, and in that way introduce the principle of compulsion with regard to compositions of farmers’ debts. Would it not be possible to suspend the rights of certain unsecured creditors until the secured creditors were provided for? Senator Foll has mentioned the position of State authorities such as agricultural banks, which have advanced considerable sums to farmers. It seems to me that it would be possible for the debt tribunal to have the power to suspend the rights of other creditors until a certain proportion of the money owing by the farmers to the State Agricultural Bank had been repaid.
– I am anxious to obtain the view of the committee on this matter and have been considering how paragraph a could be amended to meet the case I have put. It is not right that compulsion should apply to all creditors. I do not want one State to adopt a compulsory scheme and another a voluntary or mutual scheme. I therefore move -
That the words “or all,” paragraph a, be left out.
If my amendment be agreed to any creditor who does not care to come into a scheme of composition will be able to stand out and take the risk. Other creditors will be protected by paragraph 3 of clause 6. While some creditors might well afford to accept a fairly low composition the position of others might be such that if they did so they would find it impossible to meet their engagements. In conference with those to whom a creditor of the farmer owed money he might be advised to hold off for a year or two in the hope that with a better season ho would have a chance of securing the whole of the money due to him.
– If these words were struck out the sub-clause would be useless.
– Not at all.
– Under the existing bankruptcy laws certain creditors might be forced by others to accept a composition if a resolution to that effect were carried.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE ( Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [12.8].- I canno’t help feeling that the mountain in labour has produced a mouse. The words proposed to be left out do not touch the question of compulsion. They do not make the scheme compulsory; it is the legisla’tion of the States that may do so. This paragraph is necessary to give the farmers the benefit of the scheme. If, say, the debts in a certain case amounted to £1,000 and a composition could be obtained in respect of £950 of those debts, obviously the authority would consider that that was worth bringing about. I have been amused by the attempt on the part of Senator Dunn to claim Senator Payne as a convert to his views. Senator Dunn has been aiming at something entirely different from that which Senator Payne seeks to achieve. “ In vain the net is set in the sight of any bird “.
– I think the Minister’s view is correct, and I shall therefore ask leave to with draw my amendment. My desire is that the right of differentiation shall be eliminated from this bill. I want these arrangements to be voluntary and not compulsory. Some States have provided for a voluntary system and others for a compulsory system, but the majority of us I am sure are opposed to compulsion in these matters.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Payne) negatived -
That after the word “ of “ sixth occurring, paragraph (a), the words “voluntary and mutual “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Senator Dunn) proposed -
That the following paragraph be inserted after paragraph (a) - ” (aa) It shall be a condition of the State scheme that no payment of any of the moneys shall bc made by or under a judgment or garnishee order of any court of the State.”
– The discussion has revealed a doubt on the part of many honorable senators as to whether the clause will carry out what is intended
– There is absolutely no doubt.
– There is at all events a doubt on the part of some honorable senators. Senator Daly, who has legal knowledge, has expressed a doubt on the subject.
– And Senator Brennan, the Acting Attorney-General, has not replied to the objection raised.
– Senator Brennan was partly responsible for the adoption of paragraph 3 of clause 6. The honorable senator cannot drag him in.
– There is a tendency on the part of every government to oppose any amendment suggested by the Opposition. The average government is inclined to think that its little baby is the best in the world. The Leader of the Government in the Senate will not deny that the proposed amendment, in substance, although its wording may need to be varied, meets with the approval of the Senate, and that it would help to make the position more positive. It can do no injury, while, on the other hand, it may prevent a possible misuse of the act.
.- This is really a very important matter. Senator Daly, who is a lawyer, has expressed the opinion that the protection to be afforded the farmer is not made clear.
– My main objection is that it is the protection of the person of whom the farmer has to ask a favour that is not clear.
– The Minister is not a lawyer, but he says the provision is quite clear.
– I am advised by lawyers that this amendment is entirely unecessary.
– We have in this bill many clauses for the limitation of the rights of the farmers.
– This does not affect the farmers. Its effect, if any, will be on the creditors of the farmer.
– The farmer will be affected very seriously if there is a risk of the money that is intended for his relief being garnisheed
– A garnishee order could not be served on the farmer.
– If there is any doubt in this respect - and to my mind there is considerable doubt - let us give the farmers the benefit of it. I see no harm in this amendment. It will give the- farmer the benefit of the doubt and make it quite clear that this money cannot be garnisheed. Undoubtedly, the farmer would lose if it could be garnisheed.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [12.30].- If any honorable senator intends to support the amendment, I hope that he will not do so in tho belief that there is reason to doubt that under sub-clause 3 of clause 6 full protection is given, and provision made for the money reaching the person for whom it is intended. The amendment is not necessary.
Senator DALY (South Australia) 1*12.31 1 . - I disagree with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) and challenge him to ask the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Senator Brennan) whether it is not a fact that a creditor of a farmer who has accepted a composition from the farmer will be liable under this legislation to have his composition garnisheed. I remind the committee that there are many men in Australia to-day whose unfortunate financial position is entirely due to the fact that they have been carrying the farmers. If the creditors of the man who has given credit to the farmer have to wait until he has collected some money from the farmer, and if the farmer makes a composition of 10s. in the £1, how will they get on?
– The composition is not finalized until the money has been paid to the creditor.
– The Minister should not try to bluff me with a statement like that. I suggest that he should inquire from his legal advisers whether or not the money to be paid under this scheme can be garnisheed before the farmer gets it. There is danger that one creditor will get the lot, in which event the last state of other creditors and the farmer will be worse than the first. Earlier in the discussion I referred to the workmen’s compensation law which ensures that the money paid by way of compensation shall never become subject to a garnishee. If we are to assist the farmer we must make it easier for the person from whom he receives favours to make arrangements with his creditors, in turn, and not be forced into the Bankruptcy Court.
– The honorable senator’s analogy is not sound because payments under the Workmen’s Compensation Act are always made to the workman, whereas in this case the money will not be paid to the farmer.
– In 50 per cent, of the cases under workmen’s compensation legislation, the money is paid not to the workman,, but to his dependants.
– It is not paid to his creditors.
– Were it not for the specific provision in that legislation, the money payable to the widow could be garnisheed. That will happen under this legislation, unless definitely prevented by statutory provision. Both the Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) and Senator Duncan-Hughes are lawyers, but neither has expressed an opinion on this subject. Personally, 1 have no doubt that Senator DuncanHughes disagrees with the view expressed by the Leader of the Senate. The only opinion we are asked to accept is that of Senator Pearce and all he can say is that there is no doubt in his mind, and that it really makes no difference whether workmen’s compensation is paid to the workman himself, or his widow or other dependents, because, in any case, it goes to the workman. In the interests of the scheme, and in order to make assurance doubly sure, I appeal to the right honorable senator to insert a provision which will ensure that the creditor of a farmer, when accepting a composition, may know that he, in turn, can approach his creditors without fear of his money being garnisheed. If that be done, it will be possible for all parties concerned to meet amicably, with the result that the farmer will, in fact, be assisted, and the scheme prove successful.
– Does the honorable senator think that the man holding the garnishee order could appropriate the farmer’s money, but not that of the farmer’s creditor ?
– In my opinion, he could step in and appropriate the money of the farmer’s creditor. If the honorable senator were a creditor of a farmer, and doubted whether, if he accepted a composition, he would be able to pay his own creditors, he would hesitate before accepting the composition. He would probably prefer to take advantage of the bankruptcy legislation.
– If I were a creditor, yes.
– If the honorable senator, as a creditor of the farmer, preferred not to accept a composition, how would the farmer get out of his difficulties? Senator Pearce says that no doubt exists in the minds of himself and his advisers in this connexion. I am not greatly concerned about the state of his mind, or whether other honorable senators have, or have not, doubts. I certainly entertain doubts, and I have expressed them.
– Although the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has said that, in this matter, the Government has followed sound legal advice, I do not think that we can trust that advice. Only yesterday the decision of the High Court in the Griffin case, following an earlier decision in the Kisch case, provided further evidence of the incompetence and blundering of those who frame our laws. We cannot accept as sound the legal advice on which the Government rests its legislation. Thousands of pounds have been lost to the Commonwealth because of the blunders made in connexion with Herr Kisch and Mr. Griffin. Unfortunately, there has been not merely one blunder, but a series of blunders from start to finish. Australia has been held up to ridicule because ofits attempt to keep two men out of this country. Yet, in spite of this evidence of incompetence, the Leader of the Government in the Senate asks us to rely on the advice which has been tendered to him.
– Hughes. - The trouble arose because of the intricate nature of the provisions passed by Parliament.
– Provisions about which, we were told, there was no doubt.
– Rather than have the position made plain and certain, the Government asks the committee to accept the opinion of its legal advisers, who have made numbers of mistakes.
Question - That the proposed new paragraph (Senator Dunn’s amendment) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - ‘Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new paragraph negatived.
Sittings suspended from 12.45 to 2.15. p.m.
– I move -
That the words - “ No payment under a composition or scheme of arrangement shall be made in respect of any debt,” paragraph (e) be left out.
In writing to the Commonwealth Government against the provision in the bill that the money made available should not be used for the reduction of Crown debts, the Premier of Western Australia said -
With regard to the latter, it must be emphasized that no scheme of debt reduction would meet the situation in this State which excluded Crown debts. Approximately 50 per cent, of the aggregate amount owing by primary producers is due to the Agricultural Bank, which in ite amending legislation passed during the last session of Parliament, has been given the power - in agreement with other creditors - to write off, postpone, or compound debts owing by its borrowers. The Agricultural Bank hae already given substantial relief to a considerable number of its clients.
The Agricultural Bank of Western Australia has already given substantial relief to a considerable number of its clients. I was in communication with the Western Australian Minister for Lands, Mr. Troy last week, in regard to this matter, and I have received the following telegram from him: -
Agricultural Bank principal debt £13,600,000. Number of settlers 12,883. More than 50 per cent, of total farmers. Debt represents advances for improvements, machinery, stock, super, cropping.
This debt, of course, includes debts owing to the soldier settlement and group settlement branches of the Agricultural Bank. It seems extraordinary to me that, in spite of all we have heard about preference to returned soldiers, a soldier settlement scheme financed by Commonwealth and State moneys should be definitely excluded from any relief afforded by this bill. I am aware that some reductions of soldier debts were effected a considerable time ago, but the circumstances of many settlers necessitate the further relief asked for by the Government of Western Australia. I do not know why these restrictions were- placed in this legislation, because they are entirely opposed to the policy of the Country party, as laid down by Dr. Earle Page in. a national broadcast on the 14th August, 1934. On that occasion he said -
It is useless approaching any creditors with a composition or arrangement involving scaling down the debt without being able to offer an immediate consideration. The chief class of immediate consideration will, of course, be cash, and this is an essential when dealing with unsecured creditors. Others available would include power to offer and effect a writing down, of Crown dues, power to offer secured creditors quarterly interest payments at a rate agreed upon over specific periods; power to offer guarantees on behalf of the Crown.
He said that the scheme would include relief from Crown debts. That is the very thing for which I am asking. In spite of those statements, broadcast from one end of Australia to the other and repeated on platform after platform throughout the country, debts due to the Crown are excluded by this legislation. If my amendment be carried it will be necessary to re-allocate the amounts to be granted to the States, because the small amount provided for Western Australia has been based on the understanding that more than one-half of its settlers who are debtors of the Agricultural Bank will be excluded so far as their debts covered by mortgages to that institution are concerned. A large proportion of the debtors of the Agricultural Bank have practically no other creditors, because, unfortunately, their circumstances are so involved that the bank has to supply them with their every requirement, including sustenance. As a matter of fact, the Agricultural Bank legislation recently passed in Western Australia gives to the bank an automatic lien over the stock on their properties, and they have been asked to give full security over the whole of their possessions. This matter is a very important one. If this amendment is not accepted, the mortgage and interest debts of more than one half of the settlers of Western Australia will be excluded from any relief under this legislation.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [2.23]. - The Government cannot accept this amendment, as it would be quite foreign to the whole scheme of the bill. As I have already pointed out this is a bill designed to afford relief to farmers, and not to relieve State budgets. What vill t be the effect if Senator Johnston’s amendment is carried? The money provided under this bill will not go to the farmers; it will go to the farmers’ creditors. Therefore, if the debts due to the Agricultural Bank were included the money allocated to Western Australia would go largely to that bank. In addition, there are the Rural Bank of New South Wales, the State Bank in South Australia, and the Agricultural Banks in Tasmania and Queensland. There is nothing to prevent the State Government of Western Australia from writing down these debts; but, of course, the liability would remain with the State. Senator Johnston has informed us that, to-day; the debts owing to the Agricultural Bank of Western Australia amount to £13,000,000 ; but I remind the honorable senator that the Agricultural Bank is backed by tthe State Government nf Western Australia, and, therefore, any money owing to that bank is really owing to the Stat? Government. There is nothing to prevent the Western Australian Government, if it wishes, from setting up under this scheme a State authority endowed with the power to write down Crown debts. The State authority is appointed by the State Government under its legislation, and the Government may say to such an authority, “ If private creditors will agree to the writing down of their debt, you aro authorized to agree to the writing down of the debts due to the Agricultural Bank “.
-hughes. - Can a State government afford to do that?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Yes. I understand that a large proportion of these Crown debts are regarded as irrecoverable. The report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry definitely asserts that, to be so. I am quite sure that the State governments have already contemplated having to write down a good proportion of that debt.
Senator E. B. Johnston. They have already written down a good deal of the debt.
– And no doubt will have to write down a good deal more. There is nothing to prevent them from empowering their own State authorities to agree to a writing down of the debts as a part of a general composition. However, Senator Johnston was not correct in saying that all the debtors of the Agricultural Bank will be excluded under this proposal. Most of the clients of the bank are indebted to the merchants for cornsacks and petrol, and to the storekeepers for supplies. They have private debts in addition to their debt to the Agricultural Bank. The latter is largely a debt incurred in respect of capital assets, such as clearing, fencing, and the sinking of dams. The royal commission which inquired into the wheat industry in Western Australia some time ago estimated the amount of debts due to the Crown and also to private individuals. A very large sum is involved in the latter class, and, in respect of such debts, the farmers will be able to secure relief.
– In extending sympathy to the amendment, one suffers the incurable handicap of defending past governments - at no time a task in regard to which one can work up any burning enthusiasm. But the effect of paragraphs e and b is to circumvent the purpose of the bill. As the Minister says, the object of this bill is to help those who need relief in respect of their debts. But, at the same time, provision is made that if a. debt is due to the Government, the person who should be helped shall get no relief at all. Let us examine the nature of the debts due to the governments. We know well enough that over an extended period it has been the trend of public policy in this country, rightly, T think, for governments to step in, and, in a practical way. extend sympathy to citizens in distress. Governments have come to the aid of distressed sections of the community in a way that private enterprise would not do. Having done that, and having incurred obligations, a sympathetic Government is now told that it is not to get any reward or recognition at all, and that it may please itself as to what steps it takes to ease the burdens of its debtors. It is a case of the Commonwealth Government “ passing the buck “ to State governments. The Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry stated that the total debts of the wheat-growers amount to about £151,000,000. That debt rests upon a tripod, one leg of which represents the governments of the wheat-producing States which are carrying a debt of £50,000,000. Another £50,000,000 is divided between the banks and other financial institutions, and the other £50,000,000 among machinery merchants, traders and private mortgagees. On an average the governments of the wheatproducing States bear one-third of the indebtedness of the wheat-growers, which has been incurred in accordance with frequently-applauded public policy. How do these four wheat-producing States compare with the Commonwealth which possesses infinitely greater resources ? If the amount of £50,000,000 owing to these governments is divided by four we find that each government is standing under an indebtedness of £12,500,000. This bill provides for the raising of £12,000,000 by the Commonwealth Government. While the Commonwealth is claiming credit for what it is doing, the relief it is offering is equivalent only to the burdon which the government of each of the wheatproducing States is now bearing, and which they are now :asked to write off or forgo, although the financial capacity of State governments is infinitely less than that of the central government. Each State government, by contributing £12,000,000, as the Minister suggests, would be doing as much as the central government is doing under this bill. If the Commonwealth Government were to do as much as the government of each wheat-producing State is expected to do, this measure should provide for the appropriation of £48,000,000, and not £12,000,000 only.
The plea has been put forward that this legislation is not intended to improve the position of State budgets. I remind the Minister that the accounts of subsidiary organizations such as the Agricultural Bank in Western Australia, with which I am most familiar, water supply authorities and similar organizations in other States do not come into the State budgets, but are kept entirely separate. According to the report of the Wheat
Commission, the Agricultural Bank of Western Autralia already has a deficit of £6,000,000, and it is expected to carry its present burden without assistance from the Commonwealth. Analysing that indebtedness we find that it has been incurred in providing practically everything settlers need, and which they have found it difficult to obtain from private sources. The Agricultural Bank of Western Australia has assisted the farmers of that State materially. In the first place it has helped them to clear their land, and during certain seasons has provided them with seed, super, horses, harness and sustenance. I suppose that similar assistance has been given by the governmental institutions in the other States. Although these concerns have rendered such valuable service to the producers they are now being penalized by being asked to wipe out or to write down the debts which the farmers have contracted’ with them. The main object of this bill is to assist settlers, but those indebted to an agricultural bank or a similar State institution will not obtain any relief unless the State Government is willing to afford it. That is a negation of the expressed intention of the Government to help those who cannot help themselves. Governmental institutions are doing what , private traders have declined to do and have incurred obligations of no mean dimensions. A way out of the difficulty would be to analyse the debts and ascertain to what classes the mam items belong. Items of capital expenditure and unpaid rates and taxes could be dealt with as State governments desired, but those governments should be given credit for debts relating to current expenditure, such as assistance in clearing the land and other work of that nature. If the measure is allowed to pass in its present form, Western Australia and South Australia will be shouldering as big a burden as the Commonwealth; but Victoria and New South Wales, which are stronger States, will not have to bear the same strain. I have stressed the point previously that it is manifestly unfair to treat State institutions in this way merely because they have rendered a service which would not be provided by private traders. If money has been paid by the agricultural banks to purchase seed and super, the cost incurred will be shown in the records. I trust that the Government will redraft the bill with the object of giving help to those settlers who are indebted to the Crown. If it will not do that some other means will have to be adopted to ensure that justice is done.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out (Senator E. B. Johnston’s amendment) be left out - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [2.48].- I move-
That after the word “due”, paragraph (e), the words” or accruing due “ be inserted.
It is considered that the expression “ debt due “ might not be sufficient to cover debts not actually payable, but accruing due. It, therefore, appears to be advisable to insert the words, “ or accruing due “.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [2.49]. - I move -
That after paragraph (f) the following paragraph be inserted:. - (fa) For the purpose of enabling the
Auditor-General for the Commonwealth to comply with the provisions of the next succeeding section, the State shall give him access to all buildings, places, documents and papers of the State, and shall permit him to make extracts from or copies of any such books, documents or papers.
The insertion of this paragraph will make it an expressed condition of the grant that the Auditor-General is to have access to such papers, books and documents as he requires for the purpose of ascertaining whether the State scheme is being carried out in accordance with the conditions of the grant. Under clause 8, the Auditor-General for the Commonwealth and the Auditor-General for the State are responsible for policing the provisions of this measure.
– I have just had placed in my hands a recent copy of the West Australian, containing a startling statement by the Premier of Tasmania, and as the intention of the . amendment is to ensure effective supervision of -the machinery of the measure, I should like to know whether it is possible to prevent damaging statements from being made. The Premier of Tasmania accused this Government of conspiracy with the banks in connexion with this proposal.
– What has that matter to do with the amendment?
– The right honorable gentleman told us just now that the insertion of this new paragraph would give the Government more power to effectively police this measure.
– I was referring to the Auditor-General; not the Commonwealth Government.
– If the paragraph to which Senator Daly has referred has any bearing upon the clause, he may briefly state its import and ask for information. The honorable senator is net entitled to state a supposititious ease for the purpose of directing attention to something that may not be relevant to the clause.
– In order to get over the difficulty, I shall hand the copy of the newspaper to the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) with a request that he read it, and later advise the committee whether the provisions of this clause can be tightened up so as to prevent any persons from making statements that are not strictly accurate.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (West.tern Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [2.52].- I move-
That after paragraph (g) the following paragraph bo inserted : ; and (A) that the State shall furnish to the Minister within fourteen days after the first day of January and within fourteen days after the first day of July of each year a certificate by the Auditor-General of that State as to the compliance or otherwise by that State with thu conditions specified in the foregoing provisions of this section.
The proposed new paragraph is, in effect, similar to a provision already appearing in clause 8 as to the furnishing of certificates by the Auditor-General for a State. There is some doubt as to the powers of the Parliament directly to impose an obligation on a State Auditor-General to furnish a report, but there does not appear to be any objection to including in the conditions of the grant to the State the requirement as to the furnishing of certificates. This amendment is really a recognition of the fact that we cannot give directions to the Auditor-General of a State, but we can make it a condition of the grant that the State shall furnish the necessary information.
– If the dates specified in the proposed new paragraph do not synchronize with the balancing dates of a State authority, an awkward situation may arise. The Auditor-General cannot very well report upon the finances of any given concern unless he has before him the complete figures for the financial year.
– The Auditor-General will report to his own Minister.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further consequentially amended and, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 verbally and consequentially amended, and, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 9 (Deeds of Arrangement made under State acts).
– In the report of the conference at Melbourne to which the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) referred yesterday, it was proposed, I understand, that trustees - two to represent the States and one to represent, the Commonwealth - should be appointed for the administration of the fund. I see no reference in this measure to that proposal.
– That proposal, having been found to be unnecessary, was abandoned.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments, report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill completes the programme of financial assistance to the wheat industry in respect of the 1934^35 season. The major provision for relief to wheatfarmers is contained in the Wheat Bounty Act 1934, and the Wheat Growers Relief Act (No. 2) 1934, which were passed in December, following upon the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry. The royal commission advised that immediate assistance should be given in respect of the 1934-35 harvest, and that an amount of £4,000,000 should be made available for disbursement in the following manner : -
Firstly, by a bounty of 3d. a bushel on the marketable wheat delivered for sale; secondly, by advances to be made to the States to an amount of £1,926,750 for the purpose of enabling them to make payment of approximately 3s. an acre on wheat; and, thirdly, by making the balance of the £4,000,000 available for the assistance of farmers who suffered special hardships in respect of the 1934-35 harvest.
The Wheat Bounty Act 1934, provides for the payment of a bounty of 3d. a bushel on wheat sold or delivered for sale from the 1934-35 harvest. So far as it can be estimated at the present time, the expenditure under that act will be £1,500,000. The Wheat Growers Belief Act (No. 2) 1934 provides for the payment of grants to the States of such amounts as are necessary to’ enable the States to make payments to wheat-growers at the rate of 3s. for each acre sown- with wheat for grain during the year 1934. It is anticipated that the expenditure under that act will not be less than £1,926,750. This bill deals with thebalance of £573,200 out of the £4,000,000.
The reason why the legislation passed in December did not embrace the full amount was that some doubt then existed as to the proper manner in which the distribution should be made. The royal commission had indicated in its report that the matter would be further investigated with a view to ascertaining the needs of the farmers in the different States, and that a supplementary recommendation would be made at a later date. That recommendation is contained in the special report that, has already been laid on the table of the Senate for the information of honorable senators, and the Government is taking this, the first opportunity, to introduce legislation to compete the distribution of this £4,000,000.
The royal commission advises that the most recent data obtainable indicates that the amount which will remain for the relief of cases of special adversity out of thetotal of £4,000,000 to be provided by the Commonwealth Government will be approximately £573,250, and recommends that it be distributedamongst the States as follows: -
The reports of the royal commission refer briefly to the nature of the adverse conditions experienced in each State, and advise that the allocation recommended has not been determined by the application of arigid formula, but rather as a result of the careful weighing of the conditions existing in the several States. The commission has expressed the view that the applicationof a hard and fast rule would not have achieved an equitable distribution between the States, having regard to the numerous causes of special adversity which must, be fully recognized and provided for in any scheme of allocation.
The Government is very anxious that those farmers who have suffered severely from the adverse conditions referred to by the commission shall be granted special assistance at the earliest possible date, and, accordingly, has brought down this bill immediately upon receiptof its report. The bill is to be regarded as bringing to completion the measures decided upon by the Government for financial assistance to wheat-growers in respect of last season. It prescribes the amounts that are to be granted to the several States in accordance with the recommendation of the commission, and specifies that the amount granted to each State shall be applied by it to the provision of relief to wheat-growers who satisfy the prescribed authority that they are in adverse financial circumstances, and that they have suffered serious loss by reason of either specially adverse seasonal conditions or extensive damage to their crops arising from the prevalence of pests or disease. Any amount applied by the State is to be paid direct to the wheat-grower. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator J. V. MacDonald) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 8th April (vide, page881), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or. debate.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Georgb Pearce) read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill brought up and (on motion by Senator Brennan) read a first time.
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - There being an absolute majority of the whole Senate present and no dissentient voice, I declare the motion carried.
Senator BRENNAN (Victoria- Acting
Attorney-General) [3.28] - I move -
That thebill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend certain sections of the Immigration Act 1931-33. It has been rendered necessary, or, at least, desirable, by reason of a decision given yesterday by the High Court. The act, as’ it stands, contains a number of far-reaching provisions dealing with the proof of what constitutes a prohibited immigrant. Sub-section 3 of section 5 reads -
In any prosecution under either of the last two preceding sub-sections, the averment of theprosecutor, contained in the information, that the defendant is an immigrant who - here follows a list of actions which he might have performed - shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary by the personal evidence of the defendant either with or without other evidence.
In other words, when the prosecution alleges certain things against an immigrant, those things are deemed to be proved unless the person concerned personally goes into, the witness box and produces evidence to ‘ the contrary. The onus of proof, which usually rests with the informant, is, by that provision, reversed and made to rest upon the person accused. The next important provision is section 7, which reads -
Every prohibited immigrant entering or found within the Commonwealth in contravention or evasion of this act shall be guilty of an offence against this act, and shall be liable upon summary conviction to imprisonment for not more than six months, and in addition to or substitution for such imprisonment shall be liable pursuant to any order of the Minister to be deported from the Commonwealth.
That is the section under which by far the greater number of prosecutions against suspected prohibited immigrants have been launched. Usually it has been applied in cases where Asiatics have come to Australia as members of ship’s crews; sometimes, indeed, they have entered through our northern gate. But by whatever means they entered, proceedings against them were always taken under section 7. The first requirement is to prove that a man is an immigrant; the second is to prove that he is a prohibited immigrant. At times, particularly when dealing with an Asiatic, it is difficult to prove when and how a person arrived in Australia. Parliament thought it would not be unduly straining the laws of evidence to say that this was peculiarly a matter within his own knowledge, and to require him to prove that he was rightfully in this country. In other words, the onus of proof was transferred from the Crown to the person charged. Numberless successful prosecutions have been launched under section 7, but yesterday, in a case in which the defendant was one Griffin, the High Court held that the averment section could not be relied upon to prove the charge against him.
Griffin entered Australia from New Zealand, and was deported as a prohibited immigrant; he subsequently returned secretly from New Zealand in disguise, and landed in Sydney, leaving his luggage behind him. He was apprehended, brought before the court, and sentenced to imprisonment. In ordinary circumstances he would have been deported before his term of imprisonment had expired. But he launched an appeal, and was liberated on bail. I want to assure honorable senators that this amendment is not aimed at Griffin, but has for its purpose the closing of a gap in our White Australia legislation which the decision of the High Court yesterday revealed. By this short amendment the Government is endeavouring to make it plain that in cases of this nature the onus of proving that he is not a prohibited immigrant shall be placed upon the person charged.
SenatorRae. - That is a complete reversal of a principle of our much boasted British justice that the onus of proof shall not lie with the defendant.
– It is a wellknown principle of law, and is by no means new.
– It has been in this law since 1905.
– And with the approval of successive governments, practically every one of which has submitted some amendment of the Immigration Act.
– It is a legal principle which originated in Prussia.
– Exceptions to the general legal principle that the onus of proof shall rest on the prosecution are not uncommon. The immigration laws are not the laws of any particular party or person ; they have been enacted with the consent and approval of every political party in Parliament, and almost every party has taken a hand in moulding the provisions of the act. No political party has ever opposed the provision which the honorable senator now criticizes. An amendment of the law is particularly necessary because in the past numerous foreigners have been smuggled ashore. Once they have landed and gone into hiding for a few days, and the ships by which they arrived have gone away, it is almost impossible to prove that they are immigrants, prohibited or otherwise. All that is known of them is that they are in Australia. Is there any hardship in saying to a man “All the facts are within your knowledge; you must estab- tish or set up a prima facie case that you are not in Australia in contravention of our laws “.
– This goes further than merely requiring the establishing of a prima facie case.
– Such a man has to establish, by his own evidence, that he is in Australia rightly. He will be called upon to give the name of the ship upon which he arrived. Is there any hardship in that? If a case were brought against a man who had been here for 30 or 40 years there might be some hardship involved in compelling him to establish his right to remain. But we are amending the act to deal with men who have been in this country but a short time. As I have said, the Government is merely closing up a gap which has been revealed in a section of the act which was thought by every party in Parliament to have operative force.
– This provision was originally introduced by the Deakin Government, with the support of the Labour government. And a Labour government tightened the law in 1912.
– Since then various governments have sought to tighten up the provisions of the act. A great deal of ingenuity ‘ is displayed in attempting to circumvent this legislation. That makes it all the more necessary for this Parliament to make the provision as drastic as may be necessary to carry out the policy of the country. Mr. Justice Rich, the Acting Chief Justice, in the judgment delivered in the High Court yesterday, said -
The legislation has become, in the course of amending, most confused and confusing on many important points, and it well merits the attention of the legislature. In consequence of the confused state of this and other acts of Parliament, an unnecessary burden is placed on the court, whose duty it is to declare the law as it has been expressed without regard to speculation as to how it might have been expressed if fuller consideration had been given to the matter.
It is customary to pay very careful regard to any observations or recommendations of the bench with regard to the law. Judges are very loath to express any opinions about the policy of the law, but are concerned that the law shall be intelligible not only to the bench, but also to the private practitioner.
– Is the Minister satisfied that this bill will do what is required ?
– As has been mentioned, the Immigration Act hai been amended ten or twelve times since 1925. The officers of the Law Department have for some time been considering the complete recasting of the existing provisions of the act in order to make them a little clearer than they are at present. I hope that this bill will do what is immediately required. While the law exists in its present form a considerable influx of undesirable immigrants might take place.
Debate (on motion of Senator Daly) adjourned.
Debate resumed from page 1017.
– Honorable senators on this side of the chamber intend to support this measure to amend the Wheat-growers Relief Act of 1934, under which certain moneys were made available to assist necessitous wheat-growers. In addition to the amounts previously granted, provision has now been made to make further grants to all the States on such a basis that those needing the most money will derive the greatest benefit. The allotment to the States which grew wheat for export would appear to be in proportion to the number of necessitous cases, which is the proper basis.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Additional assistance to States for cases of adversity).
– There was a good deal of disappointment in Western Australia concerning the allotment proposed in the bill, because it was anticipated by the Wheat-growers Union and the Primary Producers Association in that State that, in view of the drought and rust which has affected the wheat crops, the allotment for Western Australia would be higher. The representatives of the Western Australian Wheat-growers Union telegraphed to the Government asking that the amount to be granted to that State be increased to £200,000, and the Minister for Lands, who expected that the minimum amount allotted would be £150,000, was disappointed to find that it had been fixed at £137,000. In view of the explanation of the Minister that the allocation is based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry, I doubt whether I would be more fortunate in moving an amendment to this bill than I was in endeavouring to amend the more important measure which the Senate has just passed. I protest against the quota allotted to Western Australia.
– This measure is to some extent complementary to the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Bill, which we have just been considering, and which was to help those who may benefit by assistance. It was not to help those sufficiently well circumstanced to carry on unaided, but to aid wheat-growers on the border line, who with a certain amount of assistance may pull through. This bill covers more particularly those in adverse financial circumstances, as set out in sub-clauses 2 and 3 of this clause. I have stated previously that there is always an element of risk in dealing with necessitous cases, and I am certain that assistance so given does not, as a general rule, result satisfactorily to those concerned. A person in necessitous circumstances has to disclose his private affairs to officials, even though he may not receive help ; but the same objection does not exist to the same extent in respect of necessitous wheat-farmers, many of whom have already disclosed their private affairs to farmers’ relief boards or similar bodies. The amounts to be allotted to the various States under this bill ha.ve already been discussed, and I understand that the Government intended to consider the representations made in the House of “Representatives before the bill was considered in the Senate. I have not analysed all the figures, but have made a comparison between the amounts to be allotted to Victoria and South Australia. Under this measure, Victoria is to receive £192,000, and South Australia £127,000, or roughly two-thirds of the amount to be received by Victoria. In the two States mentioned the average yield per acre, the area placed under crop, and the total production in bushels, are somewhat similar; but for the purpose of this grant the advantage should be on the side of South Australia. The average yield in bushels an acre over ten seasons, from 1922 to 1932, has been - Victoria, 12.32, and South Australia, 10.20. According to the figures published in the Commonwealth Year-Booh, the total area under crop over a period of six years ended 1932-33 was - Victoria, 21,746,238 acres and South Australia 22,351,352 acres. The areas are within 3 per cent, of being the same. Over a period of six years ended 1932-33, Victoria produced 242,005,588 bushels, and South Australia 199,631,441 bushels. The total production and the yield per acre in South Australia over that period was considerably less than in Victoria. On the other hand, the actual area under crop, as stated above, has been higher. These figures emphasize in every respect that South Australia has been less fortunate in the matter of productivity than Victoria. The area under crop in Victoria this year is 2,861,000 acres, while the estimated area in South Australia is 3,130.000 acres, and, according to a telegram despatched by the South Australian Statistician to the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page), the estimated yield in South Australia is 29,000,000 bushels, although it may be considerably less.
– Which State has experienced the greatest difficulty ? This is to assist those who have met with disaster.
– Disaster would be indicated by results. The disaster would be greater in the State having the smaller yield from a larger area under crop: From the figures I have quoted, it will be seen that there is not a great difference between the two States in the matter of area and production, but South Australia is being alloted only two-thirds of the amount to be allotted to Victoria.
– Figures made available by the Farmers Assistance Board in South Australia, in respect of wheat-growers in straitened circumstances, show that an average of only 2.085 bushels an acre has been harvested from 1,060,000 acres, and that an average of 5 to 6 bushels has been obtained from 900,000 acres. The Minister for Agriculture in South Australia should by now have received the estimated production for the present season. In many cases the actual yield has been below the official forecast. At many country sidings this year, wheat deliveries were not within 50 per cent, or 60 per cent, of the amount received in the previous season. The average production from 1,060,000 acres, representing one-third of the total area under crop, was only 2.085 bushels, and the average yield from a further 900,000 acres was from 5 bushels to 6 bushels. Victoria would have to show figures worse than this to justify receiving £192,000 as compared with £127,000 allocated to South Australia.
– Was there a grasshopper plague in South Australia ?
– Yes. In some districts, crops were almost completely destroyed. On the west coast, notably in the vicinity of Kimba, Cowell, Mangalo, and down as far as Tumby Bay the farmers have reaped little or no harvest, and have cut very little for hay. Many of them had to send stock away for pad.turage. The clause provides that the money to be granted to a State shall be used for the relief of wheat-growers who can satisfy the prescribed authority that they have suffered serious loss and hardship by reason of specially adverse seasonal conditions or extensive damage caused to crops by pests or disease. Farmers in the Murray Valley districts of South Australia have had very low yields this year. Many growers in the north-eastern portion of that area have been obliged to purchase seed for next season or make arrangements to obtain it from the Farmers Assistance Board. If we assumle that Victoria and South Australia had to grant extra assistance to farmers in respect of 1,500,000 acres which have returned very low yields, South Australia with an allocation of £137,000 would be able to pay at the rate of ls. 8. 3d. an acre, whereas Victoria would be able to pay 2s. 6.6d. an acre, or lOd. an acre more than South Australia. It appears, from particulars available regarding averages and acreages, that the needs of the two States are about equal, and, this being so, the total- amount of £319,000 to be allocated to Victoria and South Australia should be apportioned on a basis more equitable to South Australia. Last year, when £3,000,000 was allocated to the States for distribution on an acreage basis, the States paid varying amounts to the farmers in need of assistance, but in some States they received ls. an acre more than was paid in others. In the distribution of this money, the Government should consider the actual yield this season. The allocation in the bill is distinctly unfair to South Australia.
– I realize that in South Australia there is a belief on the part of the farmers that, in allocating this money, the Government has not dealt as generously with that State as it should have done. Since the factors to be taken into consideration are so varied, honorable senators will, I hope, realize the impossibility of allocating any amount with mathematical justice. The Wheat Commission, in its report dated the 20th March, gives a summary of the considerations which weighed with it when dealing with the claims of the wheat-growing States. It. is admitted that the information then available to it was in the nature of estimates rather than exact figures, but the commission seems to have predicted the actual results with a good deal of accuracy. Referring to the position in South Australia the commission stated that there were indications of wonderful recovery in some districts and expressed the belief that the average yield per acre would be about normal in certain districts that had suffered earlier adverse seasonal conditions. I also remind honorable senators that, in arriving at its estimate, the commission had at its disposal information which is not in the possession of honorable senators themselves.
– Did that information have any bearing on the present, season ‘(
– I think it did. The commission stated that the allocation had not been determined as the result of a complex, rigid formula, but rather as the result of a careful weighing of all relevant factors. It further expressed the view that the application of a hard and fast rule would not have resulted in an equitable distribution of the money between the States, having regard to the numerous cases of adversity which must be fully recognized and provided for in any scheme of allocation. Sir Herbert Gepp, the chairman of the commission, added that the recommendation was approved by all the members of the commission: I therefore venture to suggest that the commission was more likely to arrive at rough justice - nothing more than that could be expected in the circumstances - than are honorable senators who have listened to what are, no doubt.. genuine cases of distress among their constituents, but nevertheless are stories told by those having a deep interest in the allocation of this money.
– Before the committee records its decision on the clause, it would be worth while considering whether or not the royal commission correctly estimated the actual yield this season, because the amount provided by the Government, £4,000,000, less £473,000 for necessitous cases, was recommended prior to the harvest returns being made available.
– The estimate is that the crop this year is as good as last year’s harvest.
– The final estimate shows that in South Australia, at all events the total yield is not so high as it was last year. Last year the estimated yield was 33,000,000 bushels and the actual crop was 34,000,000 bushels. The estimate for this year was 29.000,000 bushels, but wheat merchants contend that the actual yield will not be more than 56,000,000 bushels. I therefore contend that the additional hardship suffered by South. Australian farmers this year owing to adverse seasonal conditions should be taken into consideration in the apportionment of the money to be provided under this bill. It is unfair that the amount provided for that State should be only £127,000 as against £192,000 for Victoria. If it could be shown that cases of hardship among Victorian farmers were greater by 50 per cent, than in South Australia I should be prepared to Accept the allocation, but I feel sure that the actual figures would not disclose this position. The Government should withhold payment of this money until more accurate information is available concerning the yield in each State this year.
– That would delay the distribution for many months. I imagine that the honorable senator’s friends will not thank him for that.
– Last night when we were discussing the Debt Adjustment Bill we were told that the more populous States would have to find the larger proportion of the money to be made available for the rehabilitation of primary industries, and that if the amount were distributed on a population basis, some of the wheat-producing States would receive much smaller amounts than were actually allocated to them. This is not altogether correct, because we have to take into consideration the fact that the smaller States do a large amount of trade with manufacturers in the eastern States. South Australia has a huge adverse trade balance with Victoria and New South Wales. It makes large purchases of textiles and machinery from Victoria, thus helping to maintain employment in Victorian factories. Why should we not participate on an equitable basis in any distribution for the assistance of the farmers when the measures of their distress in the two States are almost identical? We should view this matter from an Australian, not a parochial, angle. There should be equal distribution throughout the Commonwealth. I am pointing out that, as regards cases of hardship for which this bill makes provision, the position is very much worse in South Australia than in Victoria. I feel that the Government has not given due consideration to the amount of hardship suffered by farmers in South Australia owing to adverse seasonal conditions.
– I remind Senator Badman that the wheat harvest in Victoria this year has been very disappointing. The total yield was 28,000,000 bushels, as compared with recent averages of 40,000,000 bushels. In South Australia this season the yield was 29,000,000 bushels, compared with an average yield in recent years of 35,000,000 bushels; so relatively South Australian farmers are in a somewhat better position. Recently a shipload of Victorian wheat was sold in London at 3d. a bushel less than has been paid for any other Australian wheat this year. That shows how seriously the rain which fell while harvesting operations were in progress affected the quality of the wheat.
– Farmers in the northern Mallee did not get any crop at all, I understand.
– They got very little, and what wheat they did harvest was of inferior quality. Victoria has been hard hit and the allocation in the circumstances is, in my judgment, most reasonable. I congratulate those responsible for it for the way in which they have met conditions with which they personally were not familiar. I support the clause as it stands.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Brennan) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I wish to congratulate the Government on the introduction of this measure. It is ostensibly for the good of the farmers, and will help considerably to stabilize conditions, although the bankers ultimately will get the most of the money for which it provides. To the extent that it will relieve farmers of pressing obligations we must be thankful for it. I am convinced, however, that whatever benefits may flow - from this kind of legislation will be of only a temporary character, and that a far more drastic alteration of conditions will have to be brought about before there can be anything like settled prosperity in the farming industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
[4.1 - As we have given a promise to the Opposition that the order of the day for the resumption of the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Immigration Bill will not be called until after the dinner adjournment, I suggest, Mr. President, that the sitting be suspended till 8 o’clock.
– The Opposition has given the Government every assistance in dealing with business to-day.
– It undoubtedly has done so.
Sitting suspended from 4.20 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from page 1020.
– I had an opportunity, during the dinner adjournment, to confer with my leader (Senator Barnes), and I do not propose to occupy any length of time in the discussion of the bill at this stage. It seems to me, from a study of the measure, naturally limited because of the short time available to us, that under the Immigration Act about fourteen reasons, together with a number of sub-reasons, may be advanced by the Government why a person should be prevented from landing in Australia. In certain instances, proofs are demanded of persons against whom the allegation is made that they do not come within the category of prohibited immigrants. The High Court apparently came to the conclusion, in the case of Griffin, that the Commonwealth had purported to base its case against him on section 5, but the offence, if any, was properly chargeable under section 7; the court held, therefore, that the Commonwealth could not take advantage of the averment or evidentiary provisions of flection 5. Following that decision, we are now asked to tighten up the provisions of section 5 by imposing a penalty for the commission of any offence mentioned in that section, and that, in addition, any person who may be charged under section 7 should be subjected to even stricter evidentiary provisions than those contained in section 5. I have no objection to the imposition of a penalty under section 5. Parliament, in its wisdom, has decided, and I think the party to which I have the honour to belong is in agreement, that certain people should not be permitted to land in Australia. If they commit a breach of the lawby landing, they must be prepared to accept the punishment provided.
The first portion of the bill deals in the main with the punishment for particular offences; the second part seeks to widen the powers of the prosecution. In addition to preventing a man, on a specific charge, from landing in Australia, and imposing a penalty on him if he does land, we are now asked to- approve an amendment of the law to provide that any man found in Australia” may be brought before the court and charged with being a prohibited immigrant. This proposal is reminiscent of the thimble and pea trick. If the prosecution declares that he is under a certain thimble, and he is actually found there, he is adjudged guilty. If, however, when the thimble is lifted he is not found there, curiously enough, he is still adjudged guilty, and has to advance reasons why he was not under that particular thimble.
In more recent times, Australia has seen fit to break away from a fundamental principle of British, jurisprudence, that a man is presumed to be innocent until his guilt is established.
– The onus of proof is on the prosecution.
– Always. Under the principle embodied in the proposed amendment, if the question at issue were a murder at Albury, and one or two persons alone knew the person who committed it, any man in the street might be brought before the court and required to prove that he was not the murderer. Difficulties of proof have led to a relaxation of the old-established principle to which I have alluded, and the tendency of modern legislation is to make the way easier for the prosecution. I am opposed to this tendency to follow the philosophy of Emerson who declared that every man is as lazy as he dares to be. I regard the personal liberty of the subject as something more sacrosanct than proprietary rights but, since I have been a member of this Parliament, whenever the High Court has given a decision the effect of which has been to prevent the Government from, say, levying a certain form of taxation, action has been taken by the legislature to override the decision of the High Court. This is what is happening in the Griffin case. Regardless of my personal opinion of Griffin and Kisch, I do not wish any man charged with being a prohibited immigrant to be required to establish his innocence. The Attorney-General will, I think, admit that, under this amendment of the act, if a doubt remains in the. mind of the magistrate, that doubt must be resolved in favour of the prosecution and not in favour of the defence. We should be extremely careful before we extend this principle in our legislation. I have no objection to the amendment of the act imposing a penalty under section 5, but I am definitely opposed to the amendment to section 7 in order to extend what I regard as a very iniquitous principle.
Senator RAE (New South Wales) 1.8.11 j. - I am glad that I heard the speech just delivered by Senator Daly. I do not profess to be a lawyer, but it appears to me that this measure is panic legislation, and a vindictive attempt on the part of the Government to achieve its purpose. It is well known that the bill has been introduced because of a recent decision by the High Court with regard to Griffin, and also because of the earlier decision of that tribunal in the Kisch case. No crime was charged against either Griffin or Kisch. They were deemed to be pro hibited immigrants, simply because agents of this Government declared them to be so. What did Griffin do? He was invited by a perfectly legal organization, as a visiting delegate from New Zealand, to attend the anti-war congress in Melbourne in November last. I suppose the Commonwealth Government was acting in collusion with the Government of New Zealand; otherwise I do not know how its agents could have known that he was in Australia. He is a native of Ireland and has ‘ been in New Zealand from early childhood. He had never been out of New Zealand until he visited Australia towards the end of last year. Immediately he got off the boat he was given a dictation test in the Dutch language and because he failed he was charged with being a prohibited immigrant. The man who put the test to him confessed that he also could not have translated the sentence into English. Throughout the whole of the proceedings against these two men no definite charge was laid against them, and no public statement was made of the offences which they were supposed to have committed. They were simply described as prohibited immigrants. Both are men of good repute in the countries from which they come. Kisch, it is admitted, came into collision with the Nazis because he exposed the iniquities and the brutalities that were taking place under the Hitler regime in Germany. Whether he was charged with being a prohibited immigrant because he spoke offensively of the country to which his Majesty the King recently sent greetings I do not know; but the fact remains that no criminal charge was laid against either Kisch or Griffin. Kisch visited Australia as a delegate from the headquarters in Paris of the anti-war movement, and Griffin, as I have explained, was invited to attend a perfectly legal congress that was held in Melbourne. Both were stopped. Griffin was subjected to a test in Dutch. Like most of us, he had no knowledge of it, and, having failed in the test, was sent back to New Zealand. The Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan), in moving the second reading of this bill, said that Griffin subsequently came back in disguise. It is true that he did come back shortly after his deportation to New Zealand, but his only disguise was a pair of hornrimmed spectacles. He walked ashore without hindrance.
– Leaving his luggage behind him.
– The fact that he had left his luggage behind was not discovered until later; consequently that cannot be the offence for which the authorities have been attempting ever since to gaol him.. The vindictive nature of this prosecution is shown by the fact that whereas persons charged with far more serious offences are granted bail on obtaining the requisite security - I have gone bail for alleged offenders more than once and know that the ownership of property of a certain value is sufficient for a bondsman - in this case a cash bail of £200 was demanded. Contrary to the expectations of the prosecution, the necessary bondsmen were found. An act of this kind can never be satisfactorily administered while a person proceeded against under it is in ignorance of the offence charged against him. tinder this act proceedings are conducted in secret. Without any publicity whatever a man of good repute, without any charge of criminality being alleged against him, may be deported to the country from which he comes. In Griffin’s case the only offence was that he could not pass a test in Dutch. Kisch was prevented from landing at Fremantle and was detained by the ship’s master. When an attempt was made to secure his release in Melbourne under a writ of Habeas Corpus, it was over-ruled by the Chief Justice of Victoria. Kisch was compelled to remain on the ship until he reached Sydney where another application under the Habeas Corpus Act was successful and he was released. Immediately afterwards he was re-arrested, and his bondsmen were required to find a security of £200 in cash.
Why should we manufacture criminals out of innocent men? Why should men be compelled to suffer penalties without having the elemental right of an open trial to determine their guilt or otherwise? Yet that is what this Government has done. In the most vindictive manner every possible attempt has been made to secure the conviction of these men.. The blundering incapacity of the Government’s legal advisers, however, is such that, every step they took proved to> be contrary to law.
– They gave Kisch a test in Gaelic.
– This man, who speaksten or twelve different European languages, was given a test in Gaelic.
– Which the court said was not a language at all.
– I think that is so. From beginning to end the Commonwealth Government simply rushed to oblige someone - Heaven knows who it was - by trying to deport a man of good character. I want to know why, if therewas anything against these men, a charge was not levelled against them and an>. opportunity given them to be tried in> open court. Instead of this, we had persecution, delay and enormous expense to the people. A question which I framed was asked in another place recently as to the amount which the Crownhad been required to pay in the Kisch case. The answer was that the costs amounted to £1,529. What has been expended on the somewhat lengthy proceedings in Griffin’s case remains to be ascertained. The amount must be considerable since costs have been given against the Crown.
This, in brief, is the true history of what has taken place. Obviously these proceedings are aimed at those who advocate principles with which the Government disagree. A statement was madethat Kisch had landed in England and had delivered some lectures there. In what language he delivered them. I do not know. At the time he knew but a few words of English, but during the voyage to Australia, and subsequently, heacquired a fuller knowledge of our language. The statement, however, wascirculated that Kisch, while in England, had not met with the favour of ‘ the British authorities and a hint was given to the Government of the Commonwealth that he was not a desirable person. Nodefinite charge was made against him. Both of these men - although they were in no way connected with, each other - ‘ came here to advocate international peace, and to encourage organizations to prevent war. They also desired to expose the growing danger of a fascist form of government being thrust upon the people of this country. Neither of those objectives can be said to be criminal nor, in the minds of decent people, objectionable. This Government, while it professes an anxiety to destroy subversive propaganda, allows- another body of purely Fascist origin, and professing Fascist principles, to form an alliance with it to enable it to win the last election. This body, known as the New Guard in New South Wales, and by other names in other States, has been actually favoured and assisted by the Government although it openly stated at one period in New South Wales that if a certain party were returned to power in that State it would prevent it by armed means, if necessary, from taking over the reins of authority. While it is not legal for private bodies to engage in drill, the New Guard in New South Wales openly boasted that its members were drilling regularly in various places. Yet, no attempt was made by the Government to punish these persons or to dissolve their organization. They have been allowed to develop and organize as they think fit. In the case of these two men who came here on a legitimate mission, and against whom no criminal charge can be sustained-
– Was their mission entirely legitimate?
SenatorRAE. - A statement was made by one Minister that certain allegations had been made against Kisch. The affidavit containing that statement, however, was withdrawn, showing that it was not soundly based and that the Crown was proceeding on mere rumour. Legislation which has been enacted from time to time during my short membership of this chamber has in several cases thrown’ the onus of proof upon the accused. While we profess almost to worship the grand principles of British jurisprudence those principles are continually being violated by those who profess to uphold them. I protest against this class of legislation. The Acting Attorney-General has stated that it is extremely difficult for the pro secution to prove whether a man is a prohibited immigrant, whereas the. individual concerned knows exactly what his position is. The honorable senator also knows that it is not easy for the prosecution in many other cases to discover facts with which the man involved is familiar. It is extremely difficult sometimes to obtain the facts relating particularly to some of the most dreadful crimes that have been committed, but that does not absolve the powers that be from the necessity of proving their case if they elect to prosecute. They have to provide the necessary evidence to prove their case.
This is probably the last occasion on which I shall speak in this chamber, and I offer my emphatic protest against the vindictive spirit which has been displayed by the Government in these cases. I protest also against the growing practice of attempting to place the onus of proof on the person accused. That principle has been embodied in several parts of the Crimes Act and in certain other measures. The whole history of this Government is one of an attempt to break down the democratic institutions that we profess to honour and observe and by every means to pave the way for Fascism to become eventually the policy of this country.
– I take it that when the original Immigration Act was passed at the inception of the Commonwealth, the object was to ensure that the Government should have the right to determine who should and who should not be admitted into this country.
– In other words, that the people of the country should have the right to do so.
– Exactly. The Acting Chief Justice, in giving judgment in this case, said, as reported in the press, that the principal act had been amended on ten or eleven different occasions and that the various amending acts had led to much confusion on very many important points. This, he said merited the attention of Parliament. I take it that we are attempting to-night to clarify the law. His Honour also said that this confusion threw a great burden upon the court. The fights which have recently taken place between the Government representing the people of this country, and Herr Egon Kisch and Mr. Griffin, are fresh in our minds. We must all admit that in the first fight Herr Kisch won every round. He certainly won on points, even if he did not obtain a knock-out. Griffin not only won on points, but he also got away with the purse, for I take it that the loser - in this case the Commonwealth - has to find the money. Senator Rae said that Herr Kisch was prohibited from landing in Australia because he could not read Gaelic, and that Mr. Griffin was kept out because he could not read Dutch. Those were not the real reasons. Objection has been taken to the dictation test, but I remind the Senate that that means of keeping out immigrants is not peculiar to Australia. It is used in many other countries, particularly in the United States of America. It is open to any country to take any steps it thinks fit to keep out undesirable persons.
– It is open to any country to act tyrannically if it chooses.
– I do not hold with treating any person unfairly, but I do say that the citizens of this country have an inalienable right to say who shall come here. Our immigration restriction laws were f ramed mainly to keep out coloured people, and it is essential that we should be prepared to defend our right to keep them on the statute-book when the challenge comes, as it will come some day. The thought that worries me more than anything else is that some day our bluff will be called. God help us if we are not ready.
I do not suppose that many people in Australia had heard of Kisch and Griffin before they attempted to land in this country. Doubtless, the documents concerning them are confidential and secret in the main, and, although we shall not know the reasons which actuated the Government, I am convinced that there were good reasons for prohibiting their entry into this country. Unquestionably, there was bungling. Before he came to Australia Egon Kisch was a non-entity. No one in Australia had heard of him. But the proceedings against him gave him a tremendous advertisement, and put him on a pedestal. He was referred to as “ the eminent novelist,” the “ great writer,” the “ wonderful author “ by people who probably had never previously heard of him or his books. Apparently, the whole act has been loosely drafted, and if this bill will tighten it, and make it more effective, I shall support it, for it is high time that the Government of this country had an unchallengable right to say who shall enter Australia, and who shall be kept out. For that reason I support the bill.
.- [ regret my unavoidable absence from the chamber this afternoon when the Minister explained the bill. It has been introduced in consequence of a recent High Court decision. A man named Griffin was charged under section 7 of the Immigration Restriction Act. with being a prohibited immigrant. The person who prosecuted on behalf of the Commonwealth said that Griffin was charged under that section, but he produced no evidence because be contended that Griffin must prove, under subsection 3 of section 5 of the act, that he was not a prohibited immigrant. The magistrate agreed with that view, and convicted Griffin ; but on appeal the High Court, unanimously held that the prosecutor and the magistrate in the lower court were wrong, that sub-section 3 of section 5 had no application to the case, and that, as there was no evidence against Griffin, the conviction must be upset. In so deciding the High Court followed a decision given in 1926 in the case of Williamson v. Ah On, which is reported in 39 O.L.R. page 95. The High Court pointed out that the language of the act was so confused that it should be considered by Parliament. One of the difficulties of the act is that section 5 provides no penalty or power of deportation. The bil] before us proposes to remedy that defect by amending section 5, and to that extent we on this side agree with it. That section deals with persons who have entered the Commonwealth by evading its officers, by landing at points where there were no officers, by presenting false credentials, by making false statements, or by refusing to leave Australia after having been admitted for some temporary purpose. With such persons there can be no sympathy. Nor can objection be taken to those provisions which apply to an immigrant who, within five years after his landing, fails to pass a dictation test. If the bill stopped there, we would not object to it; but, unfortunately, it proposes to go further, by amending section 7 to provide that the burden of proof shall rest with the defendant. He may be a perfectly honest man, and a European ; but if he is charged with being a prohibited immigrant he will, under this legislation, have to prove that he is not. Although it is contrary to all our traditional ideas of justice to make an accused person prove his innocence, this bill provides that he must do so. Moreover, the defendant will not be told the Crown’s reason for’ saying that he is a prohibited immigrant. Section 3 of the act contains fifteen paragraphs, each of which has a number of sub-heading3, setting out what constitutes a prohibited immigrant. This legislation will require the defendant to show that he does not come under any of those headings. Under section 5 of the act a dishonest immigrant is given notice of the charge against him, but the honest immigrant is not treated so well under section 7. The evil principle of compelling a man to prove his innocence is aggravated by the refusal to tell him the nature of the charge. The Opposition will not resist the second reading of the bill, but in committee it will endeavour to defeat paragraph b of clause 3.
The original Immigration Restriction Act was the outcome of a desire to avoid the difficulties experienced in other countries because of unrestricted immigration. That legislation prohibited the entrance to this country of persons who our fathers thought should not mix freely with the white people of this country. There were various reasons for regarding would-be immigrants . as undesirable. It was thought that persons might enter Australia and accept such low wages and unsatisfactory conditions as would make it impossible to maintain for Australians a decent standard of living. Our fathers desired to keep Australia clean and white, and we, their sons, are actuated by the same motives. From time to time weak spot.3 in that legislation have become manifest, and on each occasion an attempt has been made to strengthen it. Consequently, there is some confusion regarding it. There has never been any attempt to consolidate the various measures. The immediate reason for this amending legislation is the unfortunate experience of the Commonwealth in attempting to keep out of this country two men - Herr Egon Kisch and Mr. Griffin. I have seen both of these men. They addressed a conference over which I presided recently. Egon Kisch appeared to me to be a most amiable old chap, the embodiment of benevolence, whilst Mr. Griffin did not impress me as a particularly dangerous individual. I cannot understand why the Government should hav.e made itself look so ridiculous in the eyes of the world by taking so much notice of those two men. They could not have done much harm, because most of the people of this country believe in the right- of free speech. It is well known that in Britain a bodyguard to protect even a political refugee from another country is provided by the Government. That is done in accordance with British conceptions of justice, and our forefathers in this country had the same regard for liberty of speech. I stand behind that principle to-day. Why did the Government specially concern itself about two perfectly harmless people who had been invited to this country by responsible Australians to address a conference? An honorable senator has said that great publicity was given to two nonentities by the action of the Government. It is possible that the people who invited these gentlemen here were very much better informed regarding them than was the honorable senator. They may have read some of the works published by Kisch. I have not done so. but neither have I read the Koran, which embodies the religon of millions of people. If Kisch was so obscure a person as has been alleged, why should this Government make such a tremendous fuss about his entry into this country? Yet the Government set the hounds of the law against him.
– They would have done the same to Peter Lalor in the early days.
– As a matter of fact, Peter Lalor had to flee for his life. But that is only one of the wrongs which this country has inflicted upon inoffensive persons. The only result of the persecution of Kisch was to bring him prominently under the notice of the people. As I have already said, from my personal contact with Kisch, I would judge him to be a most harmless person. Surely there was no justification for the Government scaring the people of this country by making a bogy of a European tourist. I would not permit the entry of any undesirable immigrants to this country. If Asiatics were landing in Australia, menacing the health or the economic standards of our people, I would support a provision to stop their entry, either by the application of the language test or by some other means. Great organizations have been set up in the world for the purpose of smuggling people into countries where they are denied admittance, and I am sure that there is such an organization or a branch of it operating in Australia. We read in the press day after day that the Government is being advised to police our northern coasts to prevent Asiatics from poaching in territorial waters, thus committing an offence against our nation. We are frequently told that we should place fast gunboats on the northern coast to prevent such practices. It is possible for numbers of Chinese to be landed at lonely parts on the coast and brought down to Sydney or Melbourne to work in competition with Australian workmen. The Government cannot be blamed for making provision to protect this country against the admission of such people. But the provision for the amendment of section 7 of the Immigration Act is too drastic. Possibly by the time the bill has run the gauntlet of both Houses of Parliament it will have been amended in such a way as to safeguard the interests of the nation while giving satisfaction to all parties. I cannot imagine a matter so vital to the welfare of Australia being made a party question. It would appear that intellectual leaders from abroad, who are invited to this country by reputable and intelligent citizens, may be prevented from landing by politicians who are opposed to democratic thought. Much of the literature of the world is debarred from entering Australia. I resent very much being prevented from reading books written by eminent authors in other countries. This Government is responsible for placing an embargo on the thoughts of distinguished writers. Is it not possible that when these authors find that their books are denied entry through the customs of this country, they may decide to come in person to Australia to tell the people what is in their books. Only recently a book written by Aldous Huxley, a great Englishman, was banned by the censor. Yet that book is on the shelves of the Parliamentary Library, unless the customs officers have stolen it. How would Huxley fare if he came to Australia? Would he be treated as Kisch and Griffin were treated? Would this Government put all the machinery of the Immigration Act into operation in an endeavour to prevent him from landing and send him back to his own country?
.- I listened very attentively to the outburst of Senator Barnes, and I was surprised at his limited vision in discussing this matter. The Government would be wanting in its duty to the Australian people if, after having found that serious flaws exist in the Immigration Act, it did not take early steps to amend it by introducing a bill to implement the intention of the law as originally framed.
– It was never intended to be a means of keeping out political opponents.
– It was intended to keep out people who might become a menace to Australia. The greater part of Senator Barnes’ remarksconcerned the maintenance of the White Australia policy. But graver danger might arise to the people of Australia from the admission of people with white skins who are desirous of assisting certain persons already here to break down all the institutions that we hold, dear, thanfrom the admission of 20 or 30 coloured people who come here to work. We must take a common-sense view of this matter. No Australian government, irrespective of its shade of politics, would take action to put this law into operation without good cause. I do not know what communications the Government may have received in regard to Kisch and Griffin, hut I am confident that it obtained information sufficient to justify it in using to the fullest extent the provisions of the law to prevent them from landing in this country.
Senator Rae.The Government’s blundering was equal to its venom !
– There was no vindictiveness in the matter. The honorable senator is not justified in saying that the Government, out of mere vindictiveness, used its powers under the act against these two men. Most people are judged by the company they keep. Who were the men who were most prominent in protesting against the Government’s refusal to allow Kisch and Griffin to land? Who organized the big meeting at the stadium in Melbourne.
– Was the honorable senator present?
– Was there anything wrong with that meeting?
– The principal speakers were those closely associated with the Communist party, the members of which are pledged to support the destruction of everything that we hold dear.
– Was it a Communist gathering?
– Leading men in the Communist movement were the most prominent speakers.
– Why did the honorable senator attend?
– To obtain first hand information.
– The honorable senator who professes to be a good Australian voted the other day in favour of coolie labour being employed on the Australian coast in preference to Australian citizens.
– The honorable senator should display more intelligence in discussing a subject of this nature. We have to judge men by the company they keep, and at the gathering held at the Melbourne stadium one of the principal speakers was a leading Communist. Another Communist who has twice been defeated at a parliamentary election suggested that the Russian system of government is much better than the one under which we are living. Egon Kisch and Gerald Griffin were evidently associated with such men.
– Because he disagrees with the opinions they hold, does the honorable senator suggest that they should not have the right to speak.
– No, ‘but I contend that the Government is justified in amending the law so that any person who seeks to weaken constitutional government, and bring about general disorder in a peaceful community, should not be allowed to land in Australia.
– Is this proposed law to prohibit such men as Griffin from entering Australia?
– It is to prohibit the entrance of undesirable immigrants.
– The Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) said that it was not intended to keep Griffin out of the country.
– The law is clear enough to those who wish to understand it. The principal act was passed many years ago, but, from time to time, it has been amended in ways which experience ha3 proved to be necessary. Incidents have occurred during recent years that prove that the present law is powerless to keep undesirable persons out of Australia. The law in relation to coloured races is sufficiently watertight, but in other respects it has proved ineffective. From time to time we hear a good deal about freedom of speech, but the members of the organization with which honorable senators opposite are associated do not favour that principle.
– Which organization?
– The organization to which the honorable member belongs. I know of a man who was expelled from the party, although the only charge that could be laid was that he expressed himself freely. In view of that incident it was amazing to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) speak so vehemently concerning freedom of speech as a heritage of the British people which should be preserved. Would honorable senators opposite suggest that a man who incited others to injure a. policeman on duty should not pay the penalty? Freedom of speech is not permissible in every instance.
– I understand that the gathering held at the stadium was to raise funds to defend Kisch. Sufficient was said at that meeting to convince me that the Government’s action was fully warranted. I know that the Acting Attorney-General would not invoke the law unless such action was fully justified. I support the second reading of the bill and trust that it will be sufficiently embracing to prevent undesirable persons from entering Australia.
– Laymen on this side of the chamber are at somewhat of a disadvantage in discussing this measure, particularly as we have not had time to study it fully or* to compare it with the principal act. Moreover, we should have been supplied with copies of the judgment delivered in the High Court. Honorable senators opposite seem to have become panic stricken because Egon Kisch and Gerald Griffin have spent some time in this country. I hold no brief for either of these two persons, but I have read some of their speeches and I was in the court on one occasion when Kisch was on trial. I do not think that he is physically deficient, and so far as I could see he appeared mentally alert.
– His speech consisted of a lot of humbug which would do neither good nor harm.
– I have heard a good deal of humbug in this chamber and the remarks of Senator Payne, for instance, were in that category and would do neither good nor harm.
– I would not say that he was a loyal man.
– He may be one of the most loyal men in the world. It takes men of high intelligence to be loyal to their principles. From what I have read and heard of Kisch I believe that he is a strong advocate of universal peace and that he caine to Australia to preach that doctrine.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator can read what is in the mind of Kisch. Many persons who have heard the speeches of Kisch and Griffin have told me that they came to Australia to preach universal peace. If they were preaching a peaceful doctrine they were not acting contrary to the law. If they advocated violence or the overthrow of constitutional government by force they should be deported. There appears to be something sinister behind all this agitation. The present policy is contrary to the ideals of liberty in the old country from which many of us came. I have suffered close confinement in one of His Majesty’s gaols because I had the audacity to speak as I thought. I believe in free speech but I am opposed to license. If a representative of Hitler, Mussolini, or that American dictator, Roosevelt, came to Australia to advocate the doctrines which they support no action would be taken against them, but because Kisch and Griffin advocated something contrary to the policy supported by this Government they have been treated as undesirables. The most advanced Nazi or Fascist would not have been interfered with by the present occupants of the treasury bench..
– They would have been welcomed with open arms.
– Yes, but Kisch and Griffin, who preached the doctrine of universal peace, were treated as criminals. A few days ago I read a book entitled The Bloodless Pogrom, by Seibler which deals in detail with the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is stated in that book that many authors of repute were driven from that country because they had Jewish, blood in their veins. Included in the authors mentioned is Egon Kisch whose name some honorable senator said they had never heard before he came to Australia. They must not think that a man is of no importance merely because they have not heard of him.
Honorable senators on this side have not had an opportunity to read the judgment of the High Court and study the bill in relation to the act. I wish it to be clearly understood that we are entirely opposed to the entry into Australia of any man or woman of criminal associations or tendencies. Likewise, we are opposed to the admission of any person suffering from disease or likely to spread disease. But being firm believers in liberty of speech and freedom of conscience we are absolutely opposed to any attempt by this or any other government, to prevent the landing of any person of good repute who, while in Australia, is prepared to abide by its laws. “We fear that if this amendment of the act is agreed to it may be used in such a way as to press with undue severity upon persons who wish to come to Australia, and whose only offence is that they hold views contrary to the political principles of the Government. Ministerialists may say that the Government should have the right to prevent such people from coming to Australia. I consider it is wrong that any biassed government or any biassed Minister should have this power. We on this side believe that there should be no bar to the entry of persons of good repute, but we say that immediately any person who, by speech or action, advocates violence in opposition to the law, he should be and can be dealt with under the existing legislation.
Why should the Government and its supporters . be afraid of such men as Kisch and Griffin ? But for the publicity which was given to these two men, they would have come to Australia on their mission, would have made brief appearances on a number of platforms of certain associations, and then would have passed from our shores without very many people knowing that they had been here. Simply because the Government, for political reasons, objected to their presence, Government agents got busy and sought to have them ejected. The only effect of this activity on the part of the Government was to make Australia look ridiculous in the eyes of the world.
I have had placed in my hands a copy of the Immigration Act, and although I have not had an opportunity to study it closely, I am not convinced that the amendments now proposed are necessary to prevent the entry into Australia of undesirable persons. I shall be glad, therefore, if the Acting AttorneyGeneral will tell me if these amendments are essential. We on this side support the White Australia principle, not because we have any bitterness or hatred against
Chinese, Japanese or other coloured races, but because we believe that if they were allowed to enter they would endanger our industrial and living standards. It has been suggested that if this amendment is not passed, hordes of Chinese, Japanese and other coloured aliens will flood this country. We believe that the existing law is strong enough to keep out those who, in our opinion, would be a menace to a White Australia. It has been proved good enough for many years and I am certain that we should not have heard of this proposal to amend it but for the Kisch and Griffin incidents.
– The reason why the law has always been considered good enough is that it was not until a few days ago that we discovered flaws in it.
– There never was any doubt about our statutes.
– There was.
– W - Will Senator Brennan state definitely whether this amendment of the law is necessary in order to keep out Chinese and Japanese immigrants ?
– The concern at the moment is not to keep them out, but to find, and deal with, those who have been smuggled in. There has been a wholesale trade in this business. In the past the law has been invoked on a different basis.
– I am aware that the recent High Court judgment has indicated what might be regarded as certain flaws in the law; but we should not be expected topass this legislation before we have an opportunity to read that judgment. All we know now is that the Government is in a terrible hurry to get this bill through.
– Under the act as it stands, it is difficult to deal with Asiatics, who may have evaded the authorities and are in Australia. It is difficult to prove how or when they came here.
– All the necessary information can be obtained in the courts through a sworn interpreter.
– That, I understand, has been the practice for years.
I know that Ministers and their supporters will say that the recent judgment of the High Court has entirely altered the position. Section 5 of the act, which is to be amended by clause 2 of this bill, reads - (1.) Any immigrant who evades an officer or who enters the Commonwealth at any . place where no officer is stationed …. m’ay if at any time thereafter he is found within the Commonwealth be required to pass the dictation test, and shall if he fails to do so be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant offending against this act.
Will the Acting Attorney-‘General say that that provision is not sufficient to deal with Asiatics or other aliens who may have evaded the authorities and entered Australia ?
– No punishment is provided in section 5.
– We are getting away from the clear-cut issue of whether an Asiatic could not be deported from this country if this amendment of the principal act were not made. We are prepared to support the first part of the bill, which provides in clause 2 that -
Section five of the principal act is amended by adding at the’ end thereof the following sub-section : - “(6. ) Any person who is, by virtue of this section, deemed to be a prohibited immigrant offending against this act shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Imprisonment for six months, and, in addition to or substitution for such imprisonment, deportation from the Commonwealth pursuant to an order made in that behalf by the Minister.”
That provision cuts the ground from under the feet of the Attorney-General when he says there is no penalty attaching to the offence with which I have been dealing. I have put my point of view as a layman, but owing to the fact that the bill was only introduced this morning, I and others on this side have been unable to go deeply into the question. I hope that the Acting Attorney-General, when he replies, will set my fears at rest, and show clearly whether it is not possible under the act as it stands, and without the provisions of the second part of this bill, to do all that is necessary by the exclusion of undesirable immigrants to maintain the policy of a White Australia.
– I understood the Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) to say, in his speech on the second reading that the aim of this amending bill was to fill a gap in the principal act which endangered the White Australia policy and which had been discovered as the result of a recent High Court judgment. It was not aimed at Griffin or others similar to him. I was somewhat pacified by that announcement because the Opposition is most anxious that the policy of a White Australia should be maintained. The action taken iu the Kisch and Griffin cases, however, illustrates what might be done under this proposed law by a Government which desired to keep out of the country persons with whose political views it disagreed. If this bill were designed only to deal with Asiatic immigration, we should not have much to say concerning it. But what guarantee have we that the object which the Government has in view is not to shut out Europeans who desire to come here and to exercise freedom of speech? I understood from what the Acting Attorney-General said in his secondreading speech that the intention of this measure is not to enable the Government to make an example of future Kischs or Griffins who may seek to enter the Commonwealth.
– It may not be the intention but we have to consider what is possible under the measure itself.
– Quite so. I object to any legislation that would prevent the exercise of freedom of speech in this country by distinguished European visitors.
– Whom does the honorable senator suggest should be the judge of whether or not an immigrant is a desirable person?
– Let me put the same question to the honorable senator.
– It is one that the honorable senator should answer since he is criticizing the Government for having brought down this legislation.
-. V. MacDONALD.- I should say that neither Kisch nor Griffin is an undesirable immigrant. Departmental officers are not always the judges. In political cases the Federal AttorneyGeneral at the time, possibly after receiving biased reports from overseas, would have the final decision in the matter. I am quite ready to believe that Mr. Kisch, whom I have not heard or seen, is a distinguished author in his own country. We have read that he is the author of many works and a well known journalist, and as such he should be allowed to come here and state his case in regard to world politics and their bearing on Australia. If Griffin’s entry into Australia had not been objected to, if he had been allowed to land quietly and to address anti-war meetings, he would have secured but little publicity and six months after he had left the country his name probably would have been forgotten. If the Acting Attorney-General will give us an assurance that this legislation is not aimed at dealing with the Kischs and Griffins who in the future may come here, I think we shall be satisfied.
– We have to consider what actually can be done under the law, and not merely what the intention of the Government may be.
– I am always open to conviction, and am not prepared to accuse our opponents opposite of the enormities of which some people say they are guilty. But I certainlyobject to the onus of proof being cast on a defendant, as provided for in this measure. It is a principle of British justice that the onus is upon the prosecution to prove the guilt of the person charged. Under this law, however, the onus of proving his innocence will rest upon a defendant. Two years ago an amendment of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act was before the Senate which sought to create an offence and make the provisions of the bill retrospective. I fear that in this bill there may be something hidden of which senators on this side of the House cannot approve.
– The honorable senator who has resumed his seat, and also Senator Brown, who preceded him, apologized for the two men whose names have been freely mentioned during this debate, and whom the Government considered to be undesirable immigrants. Both honorable senators admitted that there should be some authority to determine whether or not such persons are desirable. If an immigrant is determined by a competent authority to be an undesirable person to enter this country, he certainly ought not to be allowed to land. Would any honorable senator seriously suggest that this or any other government would take action to prevent the entry into this country of a man merely because his political views disagreed with their own.
– I make that charge against this Government.
– No government would be so influenced. The Government of the day, no matter to what party it belongs, must be guided to a great extent in regard to the character of the immigrant by the advice of its officers. If officers of the Intelligence Department reported that an undesirable person had taken passage to or even from Australia, the Government of the day would have to act on the information so supplied. It is absurd to suggest that any government would be influenced by political considerations in administering this law. I do not think that either Senator J. V. MacDonald or Senator Brown believe anything of the kind.
– I believe that false reports were made about these men.
– The position has been clearly explained by the Acting Attorney-General. He has pointed out that our immigration law served its purpose well until a serious flaw in it was disclosed by a judgment of the High Court, which was delivered yesterday. The court drew the attention of the public and the Parliament to the fact that the law as it stands is confusing and uncertain. The Government is now by this bill seeking so to amend the principal act as to make clear what was always believed by government after government to be its intention. Honorable senators opposite from time to time have supported amendments of the act.
– But the act was never intended to gratify political malice. That is what this amendment is designed to do.
– There is no justification for that statement. It is utterly absurd to suggest that the recent prosecutions were vindictive or that this or any other government would take proceedings under the Immigration Act on other than proper grounds.
– in reply - I shall endeavour to reply to some of the observations made during this debate. In his opening remarks, Senator Daly offered objection to the fact that the Government sought to set aside a High Court judgment. Probably the honorable senator did not use those words, but he said that the Government had rendered itself censurable because it took legislative action to overrule a High Court judgment. I cannot understand his criticism, for the honorable senator must know it is a common proceeding in every English-speaking country, when the courts have come to a decision which is contrary to what the legislature intended, for steps to be taken to amend the legislation so that it will more clearly express what the legislature believed was the law already. As he looks through his acts of Parliament the honorable senator will frequently find the name of some case, which indicates that the legislature has noted the decision in that case, and has altered the law accordingly.
Senator Rae describes this as panic legislation. It is not panic legislation, except in the sense that the decision of the High Court, which upset what the legislature believed to have been the law for nearly 30 years, was delivered on the eve of the adjournment of Parliament for several months. It is true that this legislation has been conceived in a hurry, and is being passed in a hurry, but only because of the impending adjournment of Parliament. To that extent, it is urgent, but not panic, legislation.
The honorable senator and others laid stress on the fact that this legislation alters the usual procedure in regard to the onus of proof. I admit that it is the general rule in the criminal law courts for the onus to rest on the Crown; the Crown, having made a charge, is under the obligation to prove it But it is by no means a rare thing for that onus to be reversed. In particular cases, and in particular types of cases, it is common for the onus to be cast upon the defendant.
– That does not make it any better.
– The honorable senator’s suggestion was that, in this legislation, the Government was departing from an established principle. That is not so; the Government is following a well-established principle, that if certain matters are peculiarly within the knowledge of a defendant, and the plaintiff has no opportunity of knowing of them, the defendant may be called upon either to prove his innocence or to disprove the charge laid against him. Certain persons are prohibited immigrants; they are not allowed to remain in this country except under prescribed conditions. In most instances, prohibited immigrants are allowed to enter this country only by permit. But let us assume that some foreigner has escaped from a vessel, that he cannot speak our language, and knows nothing about our institutions. As the law stands at present, it would be necessary for the prosecutor to prove when and how he arrived in this country. Or let us take the illustration which I mentioned this afternoon. The prosecution may know nothing about the man, and be incapable of proving anything about him ; but there may be strong reasons for believing that he entered this country illicitly.
– In that case, the police would subject him to the third degree.
– If he is in the country illicitly, and knows that he has no right to be here, is any great harm done, or is our sense of justice revolted, by asking him to go into the witness box and give the name of the vessel by which he arrived, and explain his reasons for believing that he has a right to be here? “Would that shock our sense of fair play?
– Would not a charge be laid against him?
– I am assuming that the man has been arrested and charged with being a prohibited immigrant. Is there anything that revolts our sense of justice if he is required to show that he is rightfully within the Commonwealth i
– I object to the onus of proof being cast on the defendant.
– The honorable senator must either accept these proposals, or make it possible for numbers of Asiatics, who can successfully pit their wits against the wits of the authorities, to enter this country and remain here.
Senator. Brown desires to know whether this legislation is necessary.
– I want to know whether theWhite Australia policy is in jeopardy.
– The Government believes that, as the law stands at present, there might be a serious influx of undesirable persons, who may or may not be of the coloured races. I do not want to draw the colour line in this discussion. This legislation is directed against undesirable immigrants, whatever their colour; but since the honorable senator has mentioned the coloured races, I can tell him that there are facilities for coloured people to enter Australia which are not enjoyed by the European races. “Without an alteration of the existing legislation, there might be some risk of an influx of undesirable persons. As honorable senators know, there are in existence organizations - powerful organizations until a few years ago - which are engaged in smuggling aliens into Australia. In the past, these organizations have succeeded in bringing coloured people into Australia. They would know the decision of the High Court, and would probably exaggerate its importance from their point of view. That is one of the reasons why there is danger of an influx of coloured persons.
-We have no objection to the penalty under clause 2.
– In future, the acts mentioned in section 5 will be offences. That was not set out in the original act. In regard to section 7, the Government proposes that the averment sections - those- dealing with the onus of proof - shall apply to it.
Senator J. V. MacDonald also asked if I could give guarantees as to the extent to which the act would be used. Senator Rae has supplied the answer. The Government intends to use the law in the future as it has been used in the past. In my second-reading speech, I said that this law has not been designed in order to catch Mr. Griffin. Obviously, it has nothing to do with Herr Egon Kisch, who has left Australia. It is extremely unlikely that further proceedings will be taken against Mr. Griffin so long as he conducts himself properly. This bill was introduced, not to deal with him, but to avert the danger of an influx of undesirable immigrants. The Government gives no undertaking as to the classes of persons which will not be admitted to Australia.
– “Would it not be a fair thing to give an accused person an opportunity to defend himself?
– I think so. I do not know of any case in which that opportunity has been denied to any person in an Australian court. I hope that I have met the scruples of honorable senators and that they will consent to the speedy passage of the bill through its. remaining stages.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Immigrants evading the officers or found within the Commonwealth) .
– I do. not intend to support this clause. The Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) has quite rightly stated that, if the act is amended as proposed, the Government intends to put it into force immediately. But there is no imminent danger of an influx of aliens, for the simple reasons that large numbers of coloured races have already been put to the dictation test, and refused entry. The very fact that men are deported shows that they have little opportunity to use the law against those who deport them. The deportees are, usually, people without means. Even if one of them had the means, the opportunity, and the intelligence to defend himself successfully his victory would not free others. There is no urgent need for this provision. The whole Immigration Act is most complex, and an alteration of this kind should not be sprung upon us without our having an opportunity to study the principal act and the effect of the proposed amendment. For that reason I intend to oppose this clause. Senator Herbert Hays has said that no government would take action against an immigrant on its own initiative, but would act on the advice of public officials. I do not pretend to understand how these things are done, but action may be taken against a man simply because he holds views which are objectionable to the political party in power. It could not be said that any government acted in a biased manner if it sent back to the country from which he came a new arrival with a criminal record; but proceedings against an individual, because of his advocacy of certain views which may be distasteful to the Government, is in an entirely different category. Consider the case of the men who- have been mentioned in the debate to-night. They have been put to great pain, trouble, worry and expense as a result of the action taken against them. The case of one of these men was protracted for a period of more than six months, during which time the Crown, as well as the individual, was put to considerable expense. There should be some means by which we can get prompt justice in cases where objection is raised against a person simply because he holds views to which the Government is opposed, and which the Government believes might be ultimately dangerous. For political purposes the Government prosecuted Kisch and Griffin to the utmost limit of the law. Whilst Ministers may have acted on bad legal advice, they showed lack of discernment in not discovering their error sooner.
– Would a person deemed to be a prohibited immigrant for political reasons have to suffer the penalty of six months imprisonment? Such a man may be of high moral repute and in all respects a fit and proper person to be admitted to this country, except that he held views opposed to those of the Government.
– He would be imprisoned only until he could be placed on a suitable ship leaving this country.
– Would the Acting Attorney-General accept an ‘amendment to that effect?
– No, I could not accept such an amendment because it is not necessary. As the Leader of the Senate has interjected, in almost all of these cases the desire is not to punish the person, but to ensure that he does not remain in Australia. But the man must be legally detained and, unless there is a provision to justify his detention, application will be made to the courts for his liberation. Statutory authority for the detention of a prohibited immigrant is therefore necessary. Although a term of imprisonment is prescribed, a prohibited immigrant is imprisoned only until he can be deported.
– Would not a reduction of the term of imprisonment to three months be acceptable?
– Such a term would not meet the case of a man coming from some remote country to which ships do not frequently go from Australia. The intention of the act is to hold the man only until he can be deported and no harm is done to him if the term be made three, six, or twelve months, because he may be liberated on bail, the amount of which is entirely in the discretion of the court. The act would be useless if no term of imprisonment were imposed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Unlawful entry of prohibited immigrants).
Question put - That the clause be agreed to. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved inthe affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Sureties to be found where appeal lodged).
– This clause requires some consideration. The Government is imposing conditions that for many will be absolutely impossible of fulfilment. Many of the people affected by this clause will be strangers without relatives or friends in this country, but they will be asked to find sureties. It might not be difficult for a man in good financial circumstances to provide surety but most of the men likely to be affected by this clause could not possibly do so, and therefore would be sent to gaol. In the cases of Kisch and Griffin bail was fixed by the court at £200 cash. It is difficult to understand why bail should have been fixed at so high a sum when in more serious cases bail is frequently fixed at a much lower figure. Obviously this is a vindictive attempt on the part of the Government to provide for the imprisonment of men who cannot find cash sureties. In some instances, the members of organizations endeavour to raise the necessary funds, but as they are usually in poor circumstances, that can be done only by great sacrifice on their part. If the Government has any sense of justice or fairness, it will amend this provision in the direction I have suggested. Most of those who are likely to come under it will be unable to find sureties.
– It was found that in one instance a person such as those whom the honorable senator is defending offered to pay £20 to be smuggled into the country.
– I am not thinking of those who may attempt to come in that way, but of well-known persons who came in openly and whom the Government attempted to smuggle out.
– This clause does not deal only with thatclass of person.
– When charged with this offence, the men whom I have mentioned were each compelled to find £200, and when they appealed they had to raise a similar amount.
– Not in cash but in sureties.
– Sureties were offered and were refused. They were told that they must produce the cash. While Griffin was in custody awaiting bail, he was told that if the money was not forthcoming by 5 o’clock he would be sent to the Long Bay Gaol. I believe that he was sent there, and- was not released until the following day.
– I agree with Senator Rae that it is unreasonable to impose such unnecessarily hard conditions on persons many of whom have not committed any breach of the law. The legislation contained in the principal act should be separated so that one portion would deal with aliens and the other with those described as undesirable, and who may be Europeans with political views which conflict with those of the great majority of people. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) rather shrewdly, I suggest, avoided the main point which Senator Rae had in mind by interjecting that a man had offered £20 to be smuggled into Australia, but that would be offered by the representative of an alien organization. Europeans with political views such as those I have mentioned may be pounced upon by departmental officers acting under instructions from the Attorney-General who has received from the other side of the world, a report which he may not have had time to peruse; or he may have become too much impressed by the views of others. These persons may be arrested, and if they wish to keep out of gaol they are expected to provide a surety of £100 or even £200. Surely that is unreasonable. I trust that the Government will give further consideration to the matter in the interests of those who have no intention of contravening the law.
– I understood the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to say, by interjection, that the object of this provision is to prevent certain persons from being smuggled into this country, and that, in one instance, £20 had been offered by a man who wished to be smuggled in.
– That is one of the objects.
– I understood that the Leader of the Senate was referring to persons who had not been convicted.
– I was referring to the whole bill.
Senaltor DALY. - Under the amending measure, every man must establish his innocence where previously, in many cases, the Government had to prove his guilt. It seems unfair to impose upon a person such heavy responsibility in the matter of ‘bail. Surely this can be left to the discretion of the magistrate. The tendency of legal societies in Australia is to make it easy for litigants in necessitous circumstances to obtain legal advice. In South Australia the Law Society places at the disposal of unfinancial litigants the services of an advocate. I am aware that the provision dealing with bail is already the law, but this bill gives me an opportunity to suggest that as it is not so easy to-day as it was in 1925 for any person to find. £100, we should leave the amount of bail to be determined by the magistrate. In 1925 a large number of farmers in South Australia would have had no difficulty in obtaining £100 in cash if they had been charged under the Immigration Act with being prohibited immigrants. Owing to the depression, their position to-day is entirely different. In the circumstances the Government should not insist upon the high amount of bail stipulated in the act. The Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) and Senator McLachlan have, I am sure, as I have on many occasions, appealed to the court on the subject of bail. They have put before the court the financial circumstances of their client, pointed out the nature of the offence and the possibility of the appellant appearing before the appellant tribunal, and urged the court to do nothing that would prevent him from giving to his counsel the assistance required for the proper conduct of his case. It should not be necessary for counsel to attend at the Adelaide gaol, as counsel for Egon Kisch was required to do, to get instructions. The principle which I am urging is not inconsistent with the principles which operate in connexion with other legislation. In the case of men like Kisch or Griffin we may be sure that all the facts would be placed before the Court from the point of view of the Commonwealth by highly-paid barristers, some of whom might be disposed to agree with the suggestion of counsel for the defence that bail should not be so high as is provided in this section. All I ask is that the magistrate should have unfettered discretion in determining the amount of bail. It is well known that the opinion of the Court on this question is not the same as it was in 1925 because the depression has altered so materially the financial circumstances of litigants.
– Does the honorable senator think that bail should be light for some of the persons referred to in the definition clause?
– No; but it is better that 99 guilty men should go unpunished than that one innocent man should be convicted.
– The object of the Immigration Act is not punishment, but deportation.
– I suggest with very great respect to the Acting AttorneyGeneral that if a man is detained in the Adelaide gaol for a fortnight until argument with respect to bailis heard, that certainly is punishment, especially if subsequently the Court finds him not guilty of the offence charged against him. All I am- pleading for is that in the case of a man who, in the opinion of a magistrate, should be released on bail less than the amount specified in this legislation, the judgment of the magistrate should be unfettered.
– I remind Senator Daly that the act which is being amended deals with persons whose presence at large in the Commonwealth is deemed to be undesirable. There is, therefore, a differentiation between offences committed under this act and ordinary criminal acts punishable under other legislation of the Commonwealth. Under this law it is alleged against a person, not that he is not a perfectly good man, but that he is not, in the opinion of the Minister, or an officer, a desirable citizen.
– Is not that what the law says in respect of every criminal - that he is an undesirable person?
– No. It says that he has committed a crime against the laws of the country and for that offence he must stand his trial. The Immigration Act is operated against persons whose presence at large in Australia is deemed to be undesirable. The list includes any idiot, imbecile, feebleminded person, epileptic, person suffering from dementia, insane person, person who has been insane within five years previously or person who has had two or more attacks of insanity, any person suffering from a serious transmissible disease or defect, any person suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, trachoma, or with any loathsome or dangerous communicable disease, either general or local. Should that class of person get bail or should it be made easier for him to get bail? I would, however, point out that only a very small percentage of the people who are excluded would come under Senator J. V. MacDonald’s heading of-
– “ Philosophic communists “.
– I object to the Leader of the Senate suggesting that I used that term in the course of my speech. My reference was to persons who believed in a certain political philosophy, not those who are waiting round the corner with a bomb.
– I thought that the Leader of the Senate supplied the missing word and that that was the phrase which Senator J. V”. MacDonald had used in his speech. Those are not the types of persons who come within the net of this law. They are a totally different class from the type I have mentioned. It is extremely undesirable that such persons should come into Australia. Our attempt is not to punish them, but to protect this country from them.
– I entirely agree with the Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) that the type of persons to whom he has referred should not be allowed to come in. Take the case of a person who is insane. This measure does not try, and is not intended to determine in the first instance the question of a man’s sanity. Is there any State in Australia that would not put an insane person into a mental asylum? Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the authorities, instead of having administered the Gaelic language test to Kisch, had declared that he was insane. Under this particular provision, if the magistrate who dealt with the case had any doubt he would have to find that he was insane. Any doubt is to be in favour of the prosecution. This amending bill has to be read in line with the existing law. If a magistrate had found that Kisch was insane, and the High Court had held on appeal that he was not, Kisch would, in the meantime, have been detained in an asylum quite improperly for a considerable time. Prostitutes and others, to whom, the Acting AttorneyGeneral has referred - ‘persons who have been convicted of a criminal offence - would be kept under supervision under the State law.
– “ Philobill deals with persons who seek to enter the country.
– Let us assume that an insane person or a prostitute enters the country, and a magistrate, under this act, considers that person to be so undesirable that bail should not be allowed. What then? I would give a magistrate power to refuse bail, but an equal discretion to fix the amount of bail in any case in which he considered that bail should be granted. I would give these persons an opportunity to go before a magistrate and to explain their position to him, and would allow him to say whether in the interests of the community or in the interests of the persons themselves, they should he kept behind iron doors, or allowed out on bail.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Brennan) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [10.55], - Although I am very tiredI cannot allow this opportunity to go without making a final protest against this amending legislation. Some sort of case has been made out as to a fear of this country being overrun by objectionable persons unless we hasten the passing of this bill. If there is any basis for such a claim that is a reason why other legislation should have been put aside and an opportunity afforded us to consider these amending provisions in conjunction with the principal act. I am convinced that the Government, like Pharoah of old, has no time to listen to even a convincing argument. We might as well talk to tombstones. Members of the Government are devoid of all reason and have nothing but ridicule for any one who stands up for the liberty of the individual. Every effort that has been made to submit people to legal restrictions and repressive measures has always had the support of honorable members opposite. They are ever eager torestrict the liberty of thesubject. Action of this kind has been taken over and over again. In this particular legislation we have first of all the averment that the person accused is guilty unless he can prove his innocence. We have a further provision for prohibitive bail which in many cases means long periods of confinement for persons who are unable to find the requisite security. In the case of Griffin, to which repeated reference has been made during this debate, something like three months elapsed from the time that he lodged hisappeal until his case was heard. He had no funds of his own. He had only a few shillings when he came into the country, and would have had to remain in gaol but that bail was found for him. This means a more severe punishment for the poor than for those who have financial backing. We are told that the law does not differentiate between the rich and the poor, that it is as illegal for a millionaire to sleep under a bridge or in a railway truck as it is for a beggar to do so. But the one is compelled to do so by circumstances that do not apply to the other. In a case of the kind to which the Leader of the Government has referred - the case of a gang of smugglers - the accused persons would have the means to find bail ; but an insane person, who most of all should receive our consideration, would probably be entirely destitute of any funds for his own defence. We have been told by Senator Daly that he could secure free legal advice ; that however would not provide him with bail. A man, because of his impecuniosity, may be able to obtain legal advice; that however would not prevent prohibitive bail being demanded of him, so that the free legal assistance is not of much bene-“ fit to him. Every attempt that has been made to mitigate this legislation has been absolutely ignored. The supporters of the Government when a division is called are as mere cogs in a wheel and vote solidly with Ministers.
I recognize the hopelessness of any attempt to get a fair deal in this legislation. The Government has deliberately hardened its heart against any amendment designed to soften the rigorous nature of any of its proposals. Surely no honorable senator believes that all the wisdom of the ‘Senate is concentrated on one side of the chamber ; but, in practice, the supporters of the Government act as though they believe that to be the case. Nothing that we on this side suggest is thought to be worthy of consideration; the most obviously fair proposal is treated on party lines, and when the division bells ring, the followers of the Government, like dumb-driven cattle, go where they are directed. The scanty consideration given to legislation by honorable senators supporting the Government is a denial of democratic rule, and is hastening the trend towards the constitution of a fascist state in this country.
– I, too, protest against the scanty consideration given to the views of the Opposition in regard to this measure. The personal liberty of the subject is something that is sacred, and I hope that the Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) will later, if not now, give serious consideration to our representations regarding bail. Unless something is done in that direction, I foresee a further shaking of public confidence in our parliamentary institutions. I realize that the Government, is anxious to get its legislation passed in view of the approaching adjournment; but I think that the Minister should have given more consideration to our protests. It may be that in the House of Representatives the party to which T belong will be able to persuade the representative of the Acting Attorney-General to relax the rigorous nature of the provisions relating to bail.
.- Et is somewhat astonishing to find such concern by honorable senators opposite for the people who will be affected by this amending legislation, seeing that those people come to Australia only to sow seeds of discord. Only a few days ago the press of Australia published an inaccurate report alleging that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) had stated that he was prepared to consider a proposal for the admission to Australia of British migrants. That report raised a storm of protest in both Houses of this Parliament. It was urged that such a policy would injure Australia. Yet the Opposition, which protested against our own kith and kin being permitted to enter this country, now objects to keeping out undesirable immigrants. Australia can do very well without such men as Kisch and Griffin, with their Marxian theories, which cannot be put into operation without detriment to this country. Australia is wise in endeavouring to keep out those persons who would come here only to stir up unrest. This country has managed very well fbr 100 years without the assistance of these imported gentlemen, and their strange doctrines.
– I point out that, but for the amendment to section 4 of the principal act, there would be no provision at all for bail under section 5, which for the first time creates a substantive offence.
– That is not so.
– Previously, there was no penalty under section 5 ; now we have provided a penalty. In order to mitigate the rigorous nature of that provision, we have applied to it the provisions of section 7 a. T sympathize with the view. that a discretion should be left with the magistrate, hut I remind the Senate that our immigration laws have never so provided. At all times, bail has been rigid. In the United States of America prohibited immigrants are not allowed their freedom at all, but are kept in custody until their trial takes place.
– In Germany, under the Hitler regime they are shot without a trial.
– I make no apology for this bill. The Government has done the least that the High Court expected it to do. That tribunal made a point of the necessity for clearing up this law. It may be that the law will have to be reviewed still further, in which event the advisableness of vesting a discretion in the magistrate might well be considered. My own opinion is that the legislature has considered that point from time to time, only to conclude that the bail must be substantial. A further element of security is the necessity to obtain the approval of the Collector of Customs.
– I do not object to his approval being obtained.
– I understand thatthe honorable senator’s objection is to the severity of the bail. If anything in that direction is done, it should, I think, be by means of a differentiation between the various classes of cases. There are some persons whom it is almost impossible to detect or to hold. The Leader of the Senate could tell us of Instances in which it took months to lay hands on persons who had escaped from the clutches of the law. Legislation of this kind is difficult to administer; certain cases may deserve consideration, while others should be given no leniency at all. It may be that the bail is too large in some cases, but were it not for this amendment, there would have been no bail at all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 11.14 to 11.46 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
[11.48]. - I moves -
That the bill he now read a second time.
The bill makes provision for the first three months of the next financial year. This provision is necessary because Parliament will not be called together again before the 1st July next. The amount of the appropriation to which the Senate is asked to agree is £6,704,400. This amount includes the following sums for ordinary services : -
The items making up these sums are based on the appropriations passed by Parliament for the present year, and represent approximately one-quarter of the total appropriation, except in a few cases where expenditure on any item is heavy in the early part of the year. In addition, the usual provisions are made for “ Refunds of Revenue “ and “Advance to the Treasurer “. The amount set down for “Refunds of Revenue” is £500,000 and for “Advance to the Treasurer “ £1,500,000. This latter item is required to carry on uncompleted works in progress oh the 30th June, 1935, and other urgent works, and to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure, including special grants to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. These special grants, will be continued on the same basis as during the present financial year, pending the introduction of new bills. Provision is made in this bill only for the amount which is estimated to be sufficient to carry on essential services on the basis of the appropriation for the current financial year, 1934-35. No provision is made in this supply bill for any new expenditure or for any departure from existing policy. As nine months of the current financial year have elapsed, I take this opportunity of informing the Senate of the progress of the Commonwealth finances for that period so far as the figures are available. The year so far has been marked by a continuance of the buoyancy of revenue which was experienced in the last financial year, with the result that the finances generally are in a very satisfactory position. Customs and excise revenue has continued to show an upward tendency, the collections for the nine months having been £28,601,000, which was £2,800,000 more than the receipts for the corresponding period of last financial year, and £2,650,000 in excess of the pro rata budget estimate. Post office revenue also has been very satisfactory; the total receipts for the nine months -were £10,450,000 or £700,000 more than the receipts for the same period of last year and £400,000 in excess of the pro rata budget estimate. Sales tax collections, although £300,000 less than the collections for the same period of last year, owing to the reduction of the rate of tax and the additional exemptions granted, were £300,000 in excess of the pro rata budget estimate for the nine months. The position in regard to income tax is uncertain. Possibly the yield will not reach the budget estimate. The revenue under other sub-heads has been normal and shows no marked departure from the budget estimate. On the other hand, additional liabilities have ‘been incurred since the budgetwas introduced and expenditure under various heads has exceeded the estimate. The proposals for relief to wheat-growers involve a total expenditure of £4,000,000, againstwhich the flour tax receipts this year will probably reach £750,000. Other expenditure increases include, flotation expenses and interest in connexion with London loan conversions, unemployment relief works from revenue approved by Parliament, £176,000, and additional payments to States under the Federal Aid Roads Agreement, £200,000.
It is too soon to make any reliable forecast of the financial results for the- full year ending the 30th June next, but the present indications are that the results will he satisfactory.
Although the Government is seeking parliamentary approval for three months’ supply for next financial year, it intends to ‘call Parliament together before the expiration of that period. It is proposed that on this occasion the budget shall he presented to Parliament as soon as possible after it re-assembles, and the granting of the three months’ supply now sought will obviate the necessity for passing a Supply Bill at that juncture. The second Supply Bill for next year will therefore be presented after the budget has been introduced.
As I have already mentioned, the Supply Bill now before the Senate is, in accordance with established practice, based on this year’s appropriations and does not contain provision for expenditure on new services. The proposals for the new year will be embodied in the budget and honorable senators will then have an opportunity to discuss the Government’s financial proposals in detail.
Debate (on motion by Senator Barnes) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till - to-morrow at 1 1 a.m.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [11.55], - Honorable senators will recollect reading of the murder of a man named McDonald, which took place in New Guinea in Februarylast. A few days ago I received an extract from the Geelong Advertiser, stating that the brother of the murdered man was fitting out an expeditioninto Central New Guinea to inquire into the circumstances of the tragedy. In a letter accompanying the extract, the writer said that nothing which was not already known could be found out, and he expressed the fear that the expedition may be regarded as an act of revenge. Has the Minister any information regarding this proposed expedition, and will he give an undertaking that nothing of a punitive nature is contemplated ?
[11.56]. - . McDonald, who was the son of a family well known in Geelong, was murdered by one of his own native policemen, not by uncivilized natives. The murderer afterwards committed suicide. Naturally, the parents are much distressed at the loss of a son to whom they were greatly attached. The brother of the murdered man proposes to visit the scene of the tragedy, but not with any punitive intent; he will go there under the auspices of the administration, merely to be able to assure his parents that the victim has been decently buried and to bring back to Australia his possessions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.1 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 April 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1935/19350409_senate_14_146/>.