Mr. Speaker took the chairat 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
FEDERAL CAPITAL SITE
Mr O’MALLEY: TASMANIA, TASMANIA
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether, in view of the fact that the House of Representatives has selected Tumut, and the Senate Bombala, for the Federal Capital Site, while the members of both Chambers are in favour of having a Federal territory of not leas than 1,000 square miles, the Go vernment will bring in a short Bill to provide for the submission of the question to a referendum of the people at the forthcoming general elections?
Mr DEAKIN: Minister for External Affairs · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist
– I do not know that the site is fixed with sufficient precision to enable such a referendum to be taken with advantage. In any case, the time is too brief to enable the necessary information to be supplied to the electors and the preparations for a referendum to be made.
WESTERN AUSTRALIAN TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY
Mr MAHON: COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether any correspondence has been received or exchanged recently between this Government and the Government of South Australia in reference to the Western Australian Transcontinental Railway. If so, will he lay a copy of it on the table?
Mr DEAKIN: Protectionist
– The correspondence upon the question is still in course ; but I shall be prepared to lay upon the table tomorrow copies of the communications exchanged up to date, though it is too early to expect a final reply then.
COLLECTION OF BORDER DUTIES
Mr KENNEDY: MOIRA, VICTORIA
– I am informed that duties are still being collected at some places on the border between New South Wales and Victoria. Is it the intention of the Department to continue the collection of Inter-State duties ? Should not the collection of “such duties, except in regard to Western Australia, have ceased on the 8th October?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE: Minister for Trade and Customs · HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist
– The honorable member was good enough to inform me this morning that duties were being collected at a certain township on the border,and I at once had a telegram despatched to the Customs officer there to ascertain the truth of the report, The officers of the Department have no. authority for collecting Interstate duties now, because those duties ceased to have force on the 8 th of this month. There has been some little ‘trouble in adjusting values in regard to the consumption in each State, so. that we have not yet been able to make an alteration with regard to Inter-State certificates. Action is, . however, being taken with a view to arrange, if possible, some easier method of ascertaining the amount to be credited to each State than that of preparing and forwarding InterState certificates. Nothing definite has been done up to the present time ; but I hope, in a week or two, to notify the public of a change.
Mr THOMSON: NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES
– I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs if the following intimation, which appears in this morning’s Argus, is correct : -
The Minister for Home Affairs has arranged to exchange the block of land on which the orderlyrooms are situated, at the corner of Peel and Victoria streets, for another block owned by the City Council at the junction of Elizabeth and Victoria streets. The City Council has to provide £1,000 to cover the cost of removing and reerecting the buildings.
If that statement is correct, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whence he derives his power to effect such exchanges without the authority of Parliament, and what means were taken to ascertain the relative values of the two blocks of land.
Sir JOHN FORREST: Minister for Home Affairs · SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · Protectionist
– The information is correct. The Department has been guided in its action by the advice of the Crown Law officers. This is not a new transaction, ‘but has been under consideration for years. The arrangement come to is satisfactory to the Defence Department, and will greatly assist the municipal authorities of Melbourne. I looked into the matter myself, and, as I was of opinion that the exchange was a fair one, I sanctioned it.
– The Minister has hardly answered my question. I desire to know whether the arrangement entered into with regard to the exchange of the land referred to was contingent upon the approval of Parliament. If not, does not the Minister see that there is an important difference between merely handing back to the States Governments lands which have been taken over from them, and arranging exchanges of land between municipal bodies or individuals and the Commonwealth . Government 1 I further desire to know whether the Minister has any objection to laying . the papers on the tablet
Sir JOHN FORREST:
– As the matter referred to has been the subject of negotiations extending over many years, I would ask the honorable member to give notice of his questions, in order that I may procure the necessary information.
Sir JOHN QUICK: BENDIGO, VICTORIA
– I wish to ask the Minister for Home Affairs if he will take steps to make known the boundaries of the polling places in the various electoral divisions. I am informed that the greatest misunderstanding exists on this subject. Will the Minister have plans circulated showing the boundaries, so that electors may know where to go to record their votes ?
Sir JOHN FORREST: Protectionist
– I am not sure that the actual boundaries of the various polling places have been determined, nor do I think it possible, speaking off-hand, te determine them.
Sir John Quick:
– A separate roll is prepared for each polling place.
Sir JOHN FORREST:
– The names of electors are grouped round certain polling places. If a person is not able to vote at a polling place for which his name is on the roll, arrangements are made by which he can vote at another.
Sir John Quick:
– But are there no boundaries to the polling places 1
Sir JOHN FORREST:
– No. I have never known a case in which there have been fixed boundaries to polling places, nor do I think it necessary to have definite boundaries. The electors can surely be trusted to ascertain upon what rolls their names are printed, and to go to the polling places for which they are enrolled. It seems to me to be assumed by some honorable members that the electors are unintelligent persons who take no interest in this matter, which is of such importance to honorable members. My opinion is that they will take the trouble to find out’ the polling places for which they are enrolled, and go there on the polling day. If they do not take that trouble, but go to a wrong place, arrangements are made under form Q whereby they can vote elsewhere.
Mr G B EDWARDS: SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT
– Does tho Minister think that it is sufficient to provide only one polling place for populous divisions such as Redfern and Prahran, where, I understand, the Town Halls will be utilized as polling booths, and the electors will have to go upstairs to record their votes 1 Will it not lead to congestion, and, perhaps, to a stoppage of the polling, if more adequate provision is not made f
Sir JOHN FORREST:
– I assure the honorable member that there will be sufficient polling places in each division to meet the convenience of those who will vote there. All the polling in a division will not be concentrated at one booth.
Mr G B EDWARDS: SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT
– It will be’ impossible for 10,000 voters to satisfactorily record their votes at a place where they willhave to go upstairs to do so.
Mr KNOX: KOOYONG, VICTORIA
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, before the session closes, he will afford honorable members an opportunity to discuss the difficulties which are being experienced in connexion with the electoral rolls’ 1 The Minister for Home Affairs is being plied with a number of questions at each sitting, without any important result.
Mr DEAKIN: Protectionist
– I think that a discussion without notice of the character indicated would scarcely be productive of definite result. If honorable members feel it necessary to call attention to particular difficulties, they might give notice of their questions, or make a simple intimation to my honorable colleague. This would enable him to prepare his replies, and I feel sure that all the requirements of the case would then be met.
CUSTOMS OFFICIALS: SUNDAY WORK
Mr MAUGER: MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA
– Has any step been taken to insure that the officials in the Customs Department shall have one day’s rest in seven? The Treasurer promised that the matter would be referred to the Public Service Commissioner.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE: Protectionist
– The honorable member was good enough to inform me of his intention to ask this question. I made inquiries into the matter this morning, and I ascertained that the boatmen in New South Wales are paid £133 per annum, those in Victoria £144, those in Queensland from £96 to £118, and those in Western Australia £110 per annum. In Tasmania boats are hired by the Department, and in South Australia a launch is hired. In New South Wales three men on the average are employed on Sundays, the duty being performed alternately by the boatmen. In Melbourne five ave employed. The matter has been referred to the Public Service Commissioner, and it is anticipated that arrangements may be made for confining the employment of these men to six days a week with little additional expense to the Department.
COASTAL TELEGRAPH STATIONS
Mr CLARKE: COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES
– I recently had occasion to write to the Postmaster-General complaining of alleged negligence on the part of telegraph officials in not sending through on a Sunday an urgent telegram in connexion with the wreck of the steam-ship Croki at Seal Rocks. Owing to this negligence the steamer became a total wreck. I now desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he will instruct the officials in charge of the coastal telegraph stations to be in attendance during certain hours on Sundays, say for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, so that thev may receive messages in emergencies such as I have referred to ?
Sir PHILIP FYSH: Postmaster-General · TASMANIA, TASMANIA · Free Trade
– It would not be desirable to issue a general instruction applying to postmasters at all coastal stations. Something, however, may be done to meet the wish of the honorable member. I shall inquire as to which of the coastal stations an instruction of the kind referred to would most usefully apply, and, if possible, I shall issue regulations requiring the attendance of the officials at such stations at certain hours on Sundays.
RULES PUBLICATION BILL
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Deakin) -
That the standing orders be suspended so as to enable a Bill to be introduced and passed through all its stages without delay. That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act for the Publication of Statutory Rules.
That Mr. Deakin do prepare and bring in the Bill.
Bill presented and read a first time.
SEAT OF GOVERNMENT BILL
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
APPROPRIATION BILL (1903-4)
Bill returned from the Senate with the following message : -
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act to grant and apply a sum out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the service of the year ending the 30th day of June, 1904, and to appropriate the supplies gran ted for such year, “and acquaints the House of Representatives that the Senate has considered the message of that House dated 14th October, 1903, in reference to such Bill, and has resolved to press its requests Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, as originally requested.
Mr G B EDWARDS: SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government will take into consideration the introduction of legislation to give effect to the Coinage Committee’s Report in favour of the Commonwealth coining its own token currency, and adopting a decimal system of money, which report was adopted by this House on 19th June last?
Mr DEAKIN: Protectionist
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The matter will be considered during the recess. Communications as to the coinage of silver in Australia are now proceeding between this Government and the Colonial Office.
Mr FOWLER: PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the promise contained in the Governor-General’s speech at the opening of the present session of the Federal Parliament, the Government have made, or are about to make, provision for a survey of the proposed transcontinental railway to Western Australia ?
Mr DEAKIN: Protectionist
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The matter is under consideration, and is the subject of correspondence now proceeding.
Mr TUDOR: YARRA, VICTORIA
asked the Minister for I Defence, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that Sir John Forrest, when Minister of Defence, ruled that “ Military bands are not to enter into competition with bands the members of which have to depend upon their musical talent for a living.”
Does the Minister not consider that the military band which played at a recent garden party broke this rule, as previously bands composed of professional musicians were engaged for similar functions.
Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN: Minister for Defence · EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions : -
It was not considered that they were, in this case, entering into competition with any private band.
ASSOCIATES OF JUSTICES OF HIGH COURT
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it intended to exempt from the operation of the Commonwealth Public Service Act the persons who are to act as associates to the Justices of the High Court ?
If so, will he kindly mention the section of the Act which authorizes such exemption ?
Mr DEAKIN: Protectionist
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
This class of officers has been exempted.
Bill returned from the Senate with the following message : -
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the Bill for “ an Act relating to Patents of Inventions,” and acquaints the House that the Senate has agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives, with the exception of Nos. 19, 56, and 79, to which it has disagreed, for the reasons set forth in the annexed schedule.
The Senate desires the reconsideration of the Bill in respect of the amendments disagreed to.
Reasons of the Senate for disagreeing to certain amendments of the House of Representatives -
As to No. 19-
Because it is undesirable that the appoint ment of the Commissioner should, except for a short interval, precede the Proclamation of the Act, and that the clause would tend to conflict with the States Patent Acts, and would confer no substantial benefits on appli cants.
As to No. 56 -
Because the desirability, if any, of the clause is obviated by the succeeding clause, No. 83.
As to No. 79 -
Because it is consequential on No. 56.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s message) : -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert new clause 28a - “Applications for patents may be lodged at the Patent Office immediately after the Commissioner is appointed, notwithstanding that this Act has not then commenced, and all applications so lodged shall have priority according to the time when they were so lodged, and the lodging of an application under this section shall have the like effect as the lodging of an application after the commencement of this Act ; but any patent granted pursuant to the application shall be dated as of the day of the commencement of this Act. Until forms are prescribed applications shall be in such form as the Commissioner directs.
Applications made under a State Patent Act may be lodged as prescribed before the commencement of this Act as applications under this Act.”
Senate’s Message. - Amendment disagreed to.
Mr DEAKIN: Minister for External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist
– Honorable members will observe that the Senate has agreed to the majority of the amendments which were made by this House in the Bill. Indeed, it has taken exception to only two or three of them. The first amendment with which it has disagreed relates to the new clause which was inserted at the request of honorable members with a view to provide that, even before what might be termed the “ complete “ commencement of this Act, it should be possible for inventors to register applications for patents, wh ich should be given priority according to the time at which they were lodged, though patents -would date only from the commencement of the Act. To the whole of this clause exception has been taken upon the ground “ that it is undesirable that the appointmentof the Commissioner should, except for a short interval, precede the proclamation of the Act, and that it I would tend to conflict with the States
Patents Acts, and would confer no substantial benefits upon applicants.” Thus three objections are urged to the provision in question. The first of these I venture to think, evinces a misunderstanding of the intention of the whole of that part of the measure which relates to the Commissioner’s appointment. From the information which has been supplied to me, it appears perfectly clear that his appointment must precede, by a considerable time, the full commencement of this Act, inasmuch as in bringing into force a single patent system which shall replace the six systems at present existing in the States, it will be necessary for him, not only to organize the new Department and consider all applications, but to take the necessary steps - as I frequently explained - to have the registers and indices of the States revised and brought up to date. It has often been assumed in this House that perhaps as long a period as a year must elapse between the appointment of the Commissioner and the actual commencement of the Act in its full sense. I do not know how far that estimate is well founded; but, probably, it may prove to be not excessive. Therefore, I am quite at a loss to understand the objection which is expressed in this particular reason of the Senate. The next reason which is urged by the other Chamber, that the clause would tend to conflict with the States Patents Acts is not, J think, well founded, because provision is made in the Bill by which applications may be registered, both under the Commonwealth arid the States laws, by any who desire to do so, and who consider that by so doing they will obtain an advantage. They can persist with either or both of their applications should they determine to pay the fees. Under the circumstances, I fail to see where any conflict will arise between applications which are made under the States laws and those which are made under the Commonwealth Act. 1 have never disguised from the Committee, however, that the clause must be fraught with difficulty in its . working, and that many problems may arise in giving effect to it. However, it was strongly pressed upon the Committee, on the ground that it would convenience inventors, and that by its insertion the indefinite delay in conferring the advantages which are offered by this measure would be avoided. At the same time, those who for any reason distrust this procedure, are still given an opportunity to proceed under the States laws.
– What is the practical inconvenience to which the Prime Minister alludes ?
– It is this : We are about to pass a Commonwealth Patents Act. That Act cannot commence until many investigations have been made and a new patent system has been prepared. In the interim inventors who wish to protect themselves throughout Australia are required to lodge their applications in every State and to obey the requirements of the States laws - in fact, to follow the same course which they would have followed prior to the passing of this Act. We offer them the means by which they can lodge an application for the whole of the Commonwealth - an application which will be inquired into by us at our expense in all the States, and for which a patent will be granted in order of priority, though it will date only from the complete commencement of the Act. By that means we thought we had successfully bridged the interregnum. The third objection which has been urged by the Senate is that the clause would confer no substantial benefit upon applicants. To that I have already replied. Only to-day I received a telegram from an Adelaide patent agency which in somewhat excited language protests that the effect of this provision would be “dangerous and misleading,” that it would cause “ endless litigation,” “conflict of concurrent State applications,” and “ irremediable chaos.” Indeed it contains quite a number of patentable phrases.
– Its authors are afraid of centralization in the applications.
– I do not think that they need be.
– I do not think so either.
– I have endeavoured to analyze what these fiery phrases really mean. Probably they are aimed at the words “ according to the time when they were so lodged.” Possibly the authors of the telegram have in mind the fact that there are time zones in Australia, and that a question may arise as to what allowance ought to be made - although I think that there is a strictly fixed difference - as between an application for a patent which is lodged at Perth, in the extreme west, and another which is lodged at Sydney, in the extreme east, at approximately the same hour.
– That difficulty will always arise under the Bill.
– I do not think so. We have enacted a provision which will prevent that difficulty when the measure comes into full operation. But I suggest that if we omit the words “ according to the time when they were so lodged,” and substitute for them the words “as prescribed,” we can then, by regulation, define precisely - or, at least, with as nearly as possible astronomical accuracy - the manner in which priority shall be settled when conflicting applications have been almost simultaneously lodged at widely distantplaces in theCommonwealth. When we have done that, it appears to me - - after re-reading the clause and admitting the practical difficulties which will arise in its working - that we have inserted a provision which may prove very serviceable to inventors and one which does not present the possibilities of disaster and even chaos pourtrayed in the telegram to which I have referred.
– How would the suggestion of the honorable gentleman affect the second paragraph of the clause ? The authors of the telegram fear that an application which is lodged in the central office will always obtain priority.
– It appears to me that by regulation we may remove all ambiguity. We seek to make it quite clear that we have the same power in regard to the second paragraph of the clause that we possess in respect of the first paragraph, hence I submit the amendment indicated. That, I think, will remove the difficulty which has caused the senders of the telegram to which allusion has been made so much anxiety. I therefore move -
That the amendment be insisted on, but that the clause be amended by the omission of the words “according to the time when they were so lodged “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ as prescribed.”
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I can scarcely understand how “ irremediable chaos “ will be brought about by the operation of this provision, although the phrase in question is very suggestive of South Australian language. The senders of the telegram have not indicated what part of the clause they consider may lead to “irremediable chaos,” and I think that in the circumstances we shall have to be content to remain open to that contingency for all time. I should not be surprised, however, if their difficulty were in regard to the dating of the patent. A patent, of course, cannot be dated except as from the commencement of the Act;, but if two patents were granted as on that date, there being no guarantee of novelty, how would the question of priority be determined 1
– The application which wasreceived first on that date would receive priority.
– It is not the custom in making grants of patents to record the hour at which the application ismade.
– Yes ; the hour and the minute.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I have not yet seen the telegram, the contents of which have rather astonished the honorable and learned member for NorthernMelbourne; but I think that the difficulty is that the agents in question fear that under this provision agents in Melbourne would obtain priority over agents in the other States in respect of applications lodged by them. When the suggestion was made that provisional applications might be lodged under the States Acts and regarded as applications for Commonwealth patents, no objection was offered, the opinion being held, apparently, that such applications would have absolute priority in the States in which they were made, and that noquestion could arise as to priority having been given by any central office. No opposition was raised to that proposal, which was designed to accomplish the very object which this provision has in view. I think that the objection in this case is that the clause would enable patent agents resident in Melbourne to make applications which would have priority over those made in the other States. I do not consider that the clause would necessarily have that effect ; but that is apparently the reason which has caused the agents in question to oppose it. If the regulations are carefully drawn up, the amendment should allay their fears, and in the form now pro posed, the clause ought to be insisted upon.
– I think that the various firms of patent agents in South Australia, who joined in sending to the Prime Minister the telegram which has been read, have been well advised. They have put the matter strongly. The term “ irremediable chaos “ has evidently struck terror into the hearts of the Government, who, not knowing precisely what it refers to, propose to meet an objection which they presume to be made against the clause. Though I do not like leaving too much to regulations, and though admittedly the fixing -of priority amongst applications for patents is an important question, still, in a matter of this sort it is, perhaps, just as well to make the provision pretty elastic, as is done by the amendment proposed to be made. I shall, therefore, support it.
– It applies only to an interregnum.
– I hope it will be a very short interregnum.
– The only important point is that as to priority.
– It is a matter so important that it should be fixed by Parliament, but I see no objection to regulations, particularly in view of the strong language used by the South Australian patent agents. I may here say that I know that the patent agents in South Australia who have been mentioned, as well as other patent agents who might be mentioned, have gone to a good deal of trouble in connexion with this Bill. I should like publicly to acknowledge here the assistance rendered by various patent agents in the different States. They undoubtedly applied themselves keenly to the problems dealt with in the Bill, and they have displayed a public spirit in connexion with it that does them every credit. I should also like to say that I am not at all satisfied that there is a necessity for any considerable postponement of the commencement of this measure. I know that stress has been laid on the suggested necessity of postponing for some period the coming into operation of the Bill. But I do not believe that any such necessity exists. I believe that the Patent Offices of the different States are in fair working order, and, with an intelligent appreciation of the position on the part of the Federal officers, and a determination to make the inconvenience to the public as little as may be, the Bill may be brought into operation without considerable delay. I fully believe - or rather I have the impression - that it was the intention of the Government to consolidate not only the Patent laws of the States, but also the States laws relating to copyright and the laws relating to trade marks. I know that a general Bill sv as prepared, but that it was thought to be too huge a measure to be introduced into Parliament this session. I think, further, that it is advantageous to separate the two or three questions I have mentioned, and to provide for them by separate Bills, rather than to cause confusion by consolidating legislation that is not so intimately associated that it needs to be included in one Bill. But I am sure that the Government will be well advised - and I am hopeful that it is their policy - at the earliest possible time during next session to introduce the necessary Bills relating to copyright and trades marks for the consideration of the Legislature. They will find a mass of material already prepared and practically settled. The recess, however short, will enable them to put the finishing touches upon the Bills I have mentioned ; and I think I do but express the feeling of the Committee when I say that honorable members will welcome the introduction of such measures, so that they may be passed into law, and so that the questions of. patent, copyright, and trades marks may be covered by a Commonwealth law perfected and enacted at the earliest possible moment.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- I am not sure that a similar amendment ought not to be made in the second paragraph, which provides that applications may be made before this measure comes into force to a State Patent Office, and that such application may be regarded as equivalent to an application under a State patent law. It may be that two or three applications may be made in different States on the same day. The question of priority will then arise. When an application is made for a patent under a State Patent Act the question of priority is determined. There is no question about it, because whichever application was first in receives priority ; but when there are two or three different applications in different States for a Federal patent there may be a question as to priority. I, therefore, think we should put in similar words to meet the contingency I have mentioned. They could be inserted after the word “ lodged.”
– The application has to be lodged at the Patent Office.
– It may be lodged at a State Patent Office.
– A fresh application has to be made.
– There may be some confusion as to which is entitled to priority. Would honorable members say that priority would be determined by the date of the application at the Federal Patent Office, and not by the date upon which the application is made in the State Patent Office ?
Clause, as amended, -agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert the following new clause - “82a. Every patent shall be granted subject to the following conditions :-
That if the patented article is reasonably capable of being commercially constructed or manufactured or the invention patented is reasonably capable of being commercially worked in Australia the patentee or some person authorized by. him shall within five years after the date thereof commence and after such commencement continuously carry on in Australia the construction or manufacture of the patented article or the working of the invention patented in such a manner that any person may obtain the patented article or the use of the invention at a reasonable price ; and
That if the patented article is reasonably capable of being commercially constructed or manufactured in Australia the patentee shall not after four years from the date of the patent import it or cause it to be imported into Australia.
Senate’sMessage - Amendment disagreed to.
– This is a very important provision. Both this amendment and the following one relate to the requirement inserted in this Bill that all patentees may be called upon within five years, if the invention patented is reasonably capable of being commercially worked in Australia, to commence its construction or manufacture here. The reason given by the Senate for objecting to the clause is this -
Because the desirability, if any, of the clause is obviated by the succeeding clause Ho. S3.
Clause 83 does to a considerable extent provide for a similar contingency. It pro- vides that -
Any person interested may, after the expiration of two years from the granting of the patent, allege that - the reasonable requirements of the public with respect to a patented invention have not been satisfied; and pray for the grant of a compulsory licence. The Commissioner considers the petition, and if he is of opinion that a prima facie case is made out, he refers it to the Supreme Court. He may, if not satisfied, dismiss it himself. If it be referred to the Court, and the Court is convinced that the reasonable requirements of the public have not been satisfied, the patentee may be ordered to grant a licence, or the Court may itself grant a licence for the manufacture of the patented article. To that extent clause 83 covers the same ground and meets the same set of circumstances. The Senate, when the measure was introduced, struck out the provisions with which we are now dealing, and which were then more absolute in their terms than they are at present. It was with a view to endeavour to win the approval of the Senate for these clauses that I introduced amendments which the Committee will recall, and which, in cases where it was desired to require a patentee to manufacture in the Commonwealth, threw on the person who moved in the matter the burden of satisfying the Court that the patent was reasonably capable of being commercially constructed or manufactured in Australia. These were safeguards which do not exist in the Acts from which the proposals were copied. I had hoped that, mitigated and safeguarded by these conditions, the Senate would see their way to accept the provisions. The members of another place, however, are still adverse by a considerable majority, and they point out - as, indeed, was pointed out in this Chamber - that the same urgency does not exist for these provisions as would have existed if clause 83, with its elaborate provisions which may be brought into play after two years, had not existed. “Under the circumstances, it rests with the Committee either to repeat their recommendation once more, or to recognise that even if it be repeated it is very unlikely to be accepted. Personally I do not propose to press the matter, because although I should greatly prefer to see some provision of this nature added to the Bill - ‘ though I recognise that clause 83 goes only part of the way-
– A pretty long way.
– The clause goes some distance, long or short ; but it does not by any means go all the way.
– There are compulsory working sections in the Canadian Act.
– There are provisions of the kind in the Canadian and German Acts ; but in neither country has compulsory working been brought into pract iu effect.
– The section is a dead letter in Canada.
– The section in Canada has simply led to certain procedures and the payment of certain fees in order to comply with the requirements of the Act. For my own part I am inclined to think that when we have had some experience of the working of the Bill, we shall be able to devise clauses with this object which will be effective, if the Parliament of that date think well to put them into operation. Under the circumstances, as we are making so large an advance by means of clause 83 and the
Bill generally, I suggest to the Committee that it might be advisable at this stage not to insist on sending these clauses back to the Senate. After the two considerations they have already received, I have little hope of the opinion of another place being altered. I move -
That the amendment be not insisted on.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I am glad the Prime Minister has taken the stand which he has indicated, and I hope the Committee will adopt his suggestion. The provisions are not essential to a Patents Act, but deal with production, and really affect the fiscal issue. Unlike clause S3, the provisions under consideration are not a part of the policy of the patent law itself. Clause 83 covers much wider ground than is covered by the English provision from which it is adopted, and which has been in force only for about twelve months. It was regarded as a very far-reaching provision, and was the result of a good deal of deliberation. I mentioned when we were discussing the Bill that, although a similar provision had found a place in the Canadian Act, it had not been enforced - that it was a dead letter. I am glad that since our previous discussion, the Prime Minister appears to have been informed that the statement I made then was correct. I had very good authority for stating that the Canadian provision has never been enforced. Under regulations, some declaration has to be made in Canada that the patent has been worked, in order to take it from outside the operation of the section ; but, like many other similar declarations, these are made as a matter of course.
– True or untrue?
– True or untrue. I could show honorable members correspondence in which it is made clear that in Canada it has become almost a recognised practice to make those declarations. There are regular officials or agents who will make the declararations by the dozen if they are adequately paid for the trouble. I am informed of one case in which £10 was paid for the making of a declaration, and in which part of that amount went to the local agent, part to the Canadian agent, and the balance to the man who made the affidavit. I hope honorable members will adopt the suggestion of the Prime Minister.
Mr WATSON: Bland
– I cannot quite agree with the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, than this is not a proper provision to insert in a Patents Act.
– The provision is said to have more to do with production than with patents.
– The question certainly has that aspect; but, in my opinion, it is a provision which strictly ought to come within the purview of a patents law. Certain privileges are given to a person outside Australia in return for some benefit conferred on this country ; and it is proper enough to ask that, within a reasonable time, the manufacture of the patented article shall begin within our borders. It is curious that we should insist on extending such great liberality to people in other parts of the world, who do not usually extend a hand to us.
– If they give us a good article, surely they are benefiting us 1
– They are benefiting us in some cases ; but the question is whether they are benefiting us sufficiently, or to a degree commensurate with the protection or monopoly granted. In some countries there is a similar provision to that now under consideration ; and there, every person who chooses to come along is not granted patent monopolies at a very low price, and without any subsequent licensing conditions. In this regard we are, I think, unwisely liberal to the people of other countries. I quite agree, however, with the Prime Minister that, in view of the attitude of the Senate, there is little use in our pressing the clause at the present time. It is a matter which, very probably, the Commonwealth will have to regulate later on ; indeed, the whole measure will require radical amendment before it can be regarded as anything like a permanent settlement of the patents question. I have a strong feeling against the method employed under the Bill in connexion with the payment of fees. It is altogether a wrong principle to ask for the full amount down, instead of requiring a small initial payment, and spreading the balance over a long period. However, it is of no’ use discussing that matter now, and I think we may adopt the Prime Minister’s suggestion, and, in the meantime, fall in with the view of the Senate.
– But a patentee would not be allowed to import his patent.
– A man ought not to be granted an Australian patent unless he manufactures the patented article in Australia. This has nothing to do with the fiscal issue. It means simply that we refuse to give patentees a monopoly except upon certain terms. With respect to the argument that a similar provision is not used in Canada, who is to say when a whip is used ? You have a whip and the horse knows it. You may not require to use it once in a blue moon ; but the knowledge that you have it is a very important incentive to the horse to go; and the fact that a clause of this nature is in the Canadian Act leads to the development of Canadian industries. I hope the Prime Minister will not give up this clause, which a great many of his followers are anxious to see incorporated in the first Australian Patents Bill. I regard this Patents Bill as one of the principal industrial measures brought before the Commonwealth Parliament, and I should feel greatly disappointed if we did not let it be clearly known from the very inception that we will not give an Australian patent unless the Australian public are to have the advantage of it by the manufacture of the patented article here.
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia). - I thoroughly agree with the remarks of the honorable and, learned member for Northern Melbourne. I am not in favour of the shepherding of rights in Australia to the prejudice of the public. I do not care whether it applies to the locking up of land which might be utilized, or to patents. A patent is given with the object of enabling some one to work an invention in the Commonwealth, and to prevent any one else working it without his authority ; but it was never intended that a patent should be granted for the purpose of enabling a man to enjoy a monopoly and to leave it entirely unutilized - to sleep on his rights and prevent any one else manufacturing the patented article within the Commonwealth. .
– To force a man to double his plant may have the effect of increasing the price of the article tremendously.
– The honorable and learned member says that we may increase the price of the article by causing the inventor and manufacturer to double his plant. We have hedged this provision in every conceivable way. I take it that it was an important principle as originally introduced, and it commanded the acceptance of this House in the first instance. When objection was taken to the clause by another branch of the Legislature the Prime Minister went out of his way to meet the difficulties then raised, and in doing so he met the very difficulty suggested by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, by providing that this provision should come into .operation only when it was clear that the patented article was capable of being commercially manufactured within the Commonwealth. Here is the clause as we have it before us and as objected to by the Senate. It provides -
That if the patented article is reasonably capable of being commercially constructed or manufactured, or the invention patented is reasonably capable of being commercially worked in Australia, the patentee or some person authorized by him shall within five years after the date thereof commence, and after such commencement continuously carry on in Australia the construction or manufacture of the patented article, or the working of the invention patented in such a manner that any person may obtain the patented article or the use of the invention at a reasonable price.
Ample time is given in the clause, and surely in connexion with a matter of this sort, the establishment of a . we are asking nothing but what is fair and right when we claim that if the patented article is capable of being successfully manufactured in the Commonwealth it should be manufactured here. I would ask honorable members who oppose this clause whether, if the non-manufacture of the patented article is shown to be detrimental to the interests of the public, they are in favour of continuing an unexercised right 1 Because it must not be. forgotten that it is only under circumstances in which the nonmanufacture of the patented article would be a mischief to the Commonwealth that any power of revocation is provided by this clause, which is sought to be struck out by the Senate. Surely our first care should be our own interests and the interests of our own people. As regards the inventor, it is surely right that we should say to him - ‘ “ Exercise your right; we do not require you to do so as a condition to the preservation of your patent unless the patented article is capable of being commercially manufactured here.” I ask honorable members to look at the further qualification and say what possible mischief can arise under this provision in view of clause 82b; which provides that -
No proceeding shall be instituted for the revocation of a patent for any breach of the provisions of the preceding section except in the High Court and bv the Attorney-General - and I direct the special attention of- honorable members to what follows - and then only in case the Attorney-General is satisfied that the breach is injurious to the traders or the manufacturers in the Commonwealth.
This provision proposes to give a great power to a trusted officer, the chief law adviser of the Crown, and a Minister responsible to this House and to the public for its fair and judicial exercise. The matter must be looked at in this way: It being proved on the certificate of the Attorney-General, that the omission to work the patent is detrimental to the traders or manufacturers of the Commonwealth ; proved, also, in the terms of the previous clause, that the invention is reasonably capable of being manufactured successfully in the Commonwealth, then, in the event of the continued refusal of the patentee to exercise his right under the patent, what is the right course for us to adopt 1 I believe that no Legislature of the Commonwealth can be advised to say any thing else than this : That when the power given under a patent is not exercised when it is proved to be capable of being successfully exercised, and when it is further certified and proved that the nonestablishment of an industry which may be successfully established is injurious to the trade or manufactures of the Commonwealth, our duty is clear - to give a power to revoke, to give a power which is given elsewhere. A similar provision exists in Canada and also in Germany. It is said that this power has not been exercised in Canada. It is suggested also that one reason why it has net been exercised, is that declarations have been made in fraud under provisions of this sort. If that be so, let us profit by the Canadian lesson. If the laws there are drawn on such lines that a coach and four can be driven through them, let us be careful in this respect. I say that this clause as originally framed, and particularly as modified by the Prime Minister, is fair in itself, and necessary for the protection of the industries and manufactures of the Commonwealth. It can only be enforced when the Attorney-General has expressly certified that its enforcement is necessary in the interest of our trade and manufactures. It seems to me, under all the circumstances - considering that patents are granted for their exercise in the country and not to the injury of the interests of the country in which they are granted - that if it be proved that a patented article can be made in the country in which the patent is granted, that the country is suffering from the nonuse by the patentee of his patent rights, there should be power to declare the patent void in addition to the power which under the Bill may be exercised by private individuals of obtaining a compulsory licence to manufacture. Patents are granted to be used for the benefit of the Commonwealth, and if those to whom they are granted propose to enjoy an idle monopoly the original intention of granting the patents is perverted; they do harm instead of good, and I say let those patents be voided.
– All the necessary power is contained in this Bill without these clauses.
Mr MAHON: Coolgardie
– I hope that the Prime Minister will not be moved from his purpose by the hysterical observations of the last speaker. In view of the repeated action of the Senate in regard to this provision, and also in view of the very close division in this House on a previous occa sion, I think that the action of the Prime Minister is a very wise one. The honorl able and learned member fo.r South Aus- 1 tralia, Mr. Kingston, and the honorable : and learned member for Northern
Melbourne are very emphatic in disclaiming the idea that any question of Tariff is involved in this proposal. But it seems to me that all their arguments point to the conclusion which they disavow. The last speaker pointed out the injustice of allowing an inventor to withhold from Australia the manufacture of any article. It would have been much more to the purpose if he had named any article which could be commercially manufactured in Australia, but which is not. Out of the wide range of human requirements he has failed to instance a single article which could be manufactured here, but which is not being made here, and is at the same time being sold here at an unfair price. I suppose that if the old order of things had been continued and he were in the Parliament of South Australia, he would insist upon putting in its Patent Act a provision that the article must be manufactured in the State even if it were being manufactured well in “Victoria. Is it reasonable to suppose that an inventor or a manufacturer would not do the best he could for himself and for his customers ? Take any complicated machine - the linotype, for instance : Does anybody mean to tell me that if the American Linotype Company were compelled to put up a plant in Victoria, they could afford to sell the machines at the present price to Victorian customers ? Nothing of the kind. The price would be increased by at least 50 per cent. There is so limited a demand for such machines in Australia that the output would be small, and it would be impossible to secure any outside market. So that the Victorian user of that, or any other machine of the kind, would be compelled to pay a much larger price than he is now asked to pay.
Sir Malcolm McEacharn:
– Under paragraphb a machine could not be imported after four years.
– How can the AttorneyGeneral certify that the absence of manufacture would be injurious to public trade?
– The honorable and learned gentleman has, in clause 83, all that he and those who think with him can legitimately claim. If a commodity were not being sold at a reasonable price to the consumer a person could get an order from the Court authorizing its production in Australia. At this late stage of the session I hope that the Committee will concur in the action of the Senate. I may say that a few years ago, when this project was originally mooted, it did seem to me to wear a somewhat reasonable aspect, but on going more fully into the matter, and ascertaining the cost of producing, for a limited market, any of the complicated machinery which is being manufactured under patent, I came to the conclusion that it would be disadvantageous, not merely to the consumer, but to everybody connected with the industry, to establish that principle here. I hope that the course suggested by the Prime Minister will be adopted.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne). - The honorable member for Coolgardie has spoken under a misapprehension. The case of the linotype would not come under this clause at all. It is obvious that as the the market is so very limited, no AttorneyGeneral would dare to certify that he was satisfied that the breach was injurious to the trade and manufactures of the Commonwealth.
Sir Malcolm McEacharn:
– It might be commercially manufactured here.
– The whole point of the honorable member for Coolgardie was that the linotype could not be commercially manufactured here, and that, therefore, the patent ought not to be revoked, but if he will look at the safeguards in the clause he will see that there is no such danger as he anticipated. It must be capable of being commercially manufactured.
– What does “ commercially “ mean?
– It must be capable of being manufactured so as to bring a commercial profit, and the Attorney-General would only take proceedings in the event of his being satisfied that the breach was injurious to the trade and manufacture of the Commonwealth. I defy any AttorneyGeneral to take proceedings in a case like that which has been mentioned. We must trust the Government as being desirous of keeping the confidence of the House and the country, but the honorable member for Coolgardie has in his mind one particular invention which could not come under the ban.
Sir Malcolm McEacharn:
– There are plenty of others which could.
– I would vote against this proposal if any private person could annoy a patentee by bringing any proceeding against him. But the Attorney-General is the only person who could bring a proceeding in certain circumstances, and I am quite sure that he would be restrained by the desire to keep a reputation for common sense and common sanity. I should like this matter to go back to the Senate. At this stage of the session we have not so many Bills pending that we could not ask the Senate to reconsider the question. 1 think that on reconsideration it would be seen that there is a great deal in the provision. I hope that there will not be imported into the discussion any of the bitterness of the debates on the Tariff.
Mr CONROY: Werriwa
– It is because I should like to see the Committee preserve a reputation for common sense and common sanity that I hope that it will not insist upon its amendment. We are asked to place in the hands of the AttorneyGeneral for the time being a weapon by which he could coerce the patentees of particular articles. Of course, if we place in his hands a weapon by which he could terrorize the owner of a patent and say - “ Unless you come to me and settle things I shall bring an action for the revocation of the patent,” well and good ; but no honorable Attorney-General would like to have such a power placed in his hands, because he would see the use which might be made of it against him, even under ordinary circumstances. A power like this ought to be conferred after full debate in Parliament. Are we going to hand over the powers of the House to an Attorney-General who might institute an action at law. which, in nineteen cases out of twenty, would be initiated before we should know anything about it. At the time it was inserted in the Bill one naturally thought that it was a monstrous provision, which could have been carried here only because honorable members had not thoroughly grasped the use which might be made of it as against individuals. This Parliament is, of course, one of the most honest that have ever existed ; but it is quite within the region of probability that we might have an Attorney-General who might use this power for his own advantage. In the State of New South Wales a recent Minister for Lands was compelled to retire from Australia, because of the manner in which he exercised in his own interests cer- . tain powers intrusted to him by Parliament.
– The honorable and learned member refers to a corrupt exercise of power.
– The Minister I refer to is generally believed to have been guilty of absolute corruption. A very strict AttorneyGeneral would decline to have a power like that contained in the clause intrusted to him. It is proposed to give to the AttorneyGeneral the power to determine whether action shall be taken for the revocation of patents. I say nothing about the dishonesty of such an arrangement, though, in my opinion, it is an infringement of the law of ! nations. We know what has happened in Canada under a similar provision. There one or twoMinisters have been absolutely open to corruption. Why should we give this power to a Minister ? Why should not Parliament deal with the matter itself? Even from the protectionist point of view, it must be wrong to deal with the matter in the way proposed. A clause like this will not benefit Australian inventors. So far as they are concerned, there are very few patented articles which can be sold in Australia in such numbers as to permit of their manufacture here. It is necessary, however, to give a monopoly to the patentees to encourage invention. There could not be a better illustration of the manner in which a departure from a sound principle like this carries with it its own condemnation than the effect upon American literature of the American departure from the paths of common honesty in the matter of copyright.
– Things are different now.
-Yes; but it was the opinion of men well qualified to judge that the absence of an honest copyright law was of the greatest disadvantage to American authors and to American literature. No Parliament should leave it to an Attorney-General to say whether an action at law should or should not be brought. These matters should be determined by Parliament after a special consideration. In my opinion, the Senate was well advised to disagree with the amendment. Of course, honorable members like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who argues that if a person pays £1 for an article which is worth only 15s. the country is all the better off, because 35s. is kept within its borders-
– The honorable and learned member has misunderstood me. I never said anything like that.
– The honorable member made use, on many occasions, of an argument to that effect in support of the protective policy of which he is so strong an advocate. In the same way, the honorable member for Gippsland has argued that if a farmer spends £1 upon raising a crop of wheat, and gets 10s. for it, the country is richer to the amount of 30s.
Mr A McLEAN: GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT
– No. The honorable and learned member is under quite a wrong impression.
– We had those arguments used ad nauseam at one time, and I am glad that the teachings of honorable members on this side have given honorable members opposite an acquaintance with the rudimentary principles of political economy, so that they are now read)’ to repudiate their former statements. I was not present when the Committee inserted this clause, or I should have voted against it, but I trust that now an opportunity is afforded for reconsideration, we shall show ourselves jealous of our rights, and not hand them over to the lawyer who happens to be Attorney-General. No doubt the right honorable member for South Australia and the members of the late Ministry, which contained so many lawyers, are always ready to hand over powers to members of that profession, but I think that laymen take a different view. I shall vote against the retention of the clause.
– I am sorry that we are engaged once more upon a discussion of the merits of the clause. Personally, I have not altered my opinion as to the wisdom of inserting the provision with the safeguards which surround it ; but as I have ascertained that it would be impossible to get the Senate to accept it, and as this Committee agreed to it by only a narrow majority, I hope that honorable members will not insist upon it. I am anxious to get the Semite to agree to the prior amendment, which I am told that they are likely to accept; but the probability is that if we insist upon this amendment -the Senate may not agree to either, and therefore the assent to the Bill will be delayed.
Mr SALMON: Laanecoorie
– As I have not had an opportunity to speak on the measure before, I wish to say a few words now, though otherwise, after the statement of the Prime Minister, I should have said nothing. I am unable to grasp the mental attitude of the honorable and learned i member for Werriwa, who attributes incipient i insanity to those who are in favour of the clause. The clause was inserted by the Committee, after due consideration, as of vital importance. I feel that we should not do our duty to the people of the Commonwealth if we did not safeguard by every means in our power the future producers and manufacturers of the country. They are the men j to whom we must look for assurance of I the national welfare.
– But it is the foreigner who pays the tax, according to the argument of protectionists.
-The honorable and l learned member seems ready on all occasions ! to bolster up the foreigner rather than to assist his own people. His speech contained, I I presume, an outline of one of his election ! addresses ; but the remarks which he attriibuted to other honorable members were quite apocryphal. The Bill confers a distinct benefit not only upon persons residing in the Commonwealth, but upon persons living elsewhere. All we ask in regard to it is that persons living elsewhere should not be placed in a better position than our own people are in. In Germany the local inventor has a different status from a foreign inventor who desires to take advantage of the patent laws. A German inventor can obtain protection for his invention for a period of fifteen years for the expenditure of a few pounds, whereas an Australian inventor would have to pay over £250 for the same privilege. Even the most rabid freetrader does not desire that Australian inventors should be placed in a worse position in the Commonwealth than are those of other countries. It is our bounden duty to protect our own people. The honorable member for Coolgardie asked for an instance in which a patented article which could reasonably and commercially be manufactured here has not been made here, and the I reaper and binder was referred to. It I suited him, however, to deal with the manu- facture of linotypes, though it has been I shown that that would not .be affected by the clause.
– The Wolseley shearing machines were invented and patented here, but they had to be manufactured in England.
– The clause would not apply to them if they could not be manufactured here. Reapers and binders have been patented throughout the Commonwealth, and have been sold at exorbitant prices by the importers, whereasif we had had patent laws requiring their manufacture here, we should have had an opportunity to discover the particular elements of value in the invention, and thelocal manufacture would have given employmenttoourown people, and enabled consumers to obtain the machines at reasonable prices. What has happened is that inVictoria a stimulus has been given to inventors, and a complete harvester has been perfected which is taking the place of the imported article to which I have referred. That is undoubtedly due to the protection which has been afforded to manufacturers and others within the State. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa said that it would be unsafe to invest the AttorneyGeneral with power to bring into operation such a clause. I have, however, more faith in the honour of the members of the legal profession than has the honorable and learned member, and I cannot conceive of such dreadful things as he has pictured happeningin connexion with the Commonwealth Government.
Question - That the amendment be not insisted on - put. The Committee, divided.
Ayes … … … 37
Noes … … … 13
Majority … … 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment inserting new clause 82b and paragraph 3 in the first schedule not insisted on.
Resolutions reported : report adopted.
Sir JOHN FORREST laid on the table the following paper -
With one or two slight alterations which were necessary to make it apply to our circumstances, this Bill is a copy of the English Act which was passed in 1893, and which has proved very useful. Perhaps the most important provision is that enabling the numerous sets of rules and regulations made under Acts of Parliament to be published and bound in a volume so that they can be conveniently handled and readily used. We have already passed nineteen Acts of Parliament under which rules or regulations may be made, and eleven sets have already been made. These are now only to be found by searching through the Commonwealth Government Gazette. This Bill would enable us to take these rules from the Gazette and publish them in handy volumes for the use of those interested. In addition to that, there is a provision which has been found very useful in England, to the effect that before rules are made they shall remain open for forty days in order to enable public bodies and others interested to suggest amendments by way of additions or omissions. Consequently, when Acts are passed as in the case of the Customs Tariff Act, particularly affecting the mercantile and manufacturing communities, any proposed rules and regulations must be subjected to public criticism before they are brought into operation. There is provision that in cases of emergency rules may be brought into immediate operation, but in the ordinary course the forty days’ notice will be given in the manner prescribed. These are the two purposes of this small measure, which is a very simple one, and which it is scarcely necessary to say bears no party complexion.
Mr HIGGINS: Northern Melbourne
– I think this measure will prove very useful. At the same time, I scarcely see the necessity for it, except for the provision embodied in clause 3, that before rules are adopted forty days’ notice shall be given in order that they may be subjected to public criticism. It is highly expedient that such facilities should be afforded. As to the rest of the Bill, I think that all that is aimed at might be accomplished by means of departmental machinery. I notice that clause 5 prescribes that in cases in which rules are required to be published in the Gazette, it will be sufficient to announce in that publication the fact that the rules have been made and that copies may be obtained at certain places. In such case the Gazette could not be used as evidence as to the rules. Speaking from considerable experience in these matters, I know that it is very convenient to be able to produce the Gazette, which is always at hand as evidence of rules. Although it would no doubt be very convenient to have bound copies for use in offices such copies would not be evidence. I should like to know whether sub-clause 3 of clause 5 is copied from the English Act t
– Then I apprehend that in Imperial legislation there must be some provision which renders the printers’ copy of the rules evidence. I do not know whether there is any such provision in our Commonwealth law. Of course, if there is, to a large extent my objection will be met.
Mr Henry Willis:
– Is the Government Printer bound to keep a copy of the rules 1
– All the rules must be printed by him.
Mr Henry Willis:
– But does he keep a copy of them t
– I do not know ; I suppose he would. Whilst dealing with this matter I may mention that about four years ago a suggestion was made by the Victorian Law Commission, the adoption of which would prove of very great assistance to practitioners and the public. I think that all rules or orders which are made under Commonwealth legislation should be annually published in one volume.
– That is intended.
– Our Victorian rules are in a condition of “ irremediable chaos.”
One experiences the utmost trouble in finding them. I hold that every year there should be issued, in one volume, all the regulations and rules which are made under Acts of the Commonwealth. A person should be able to purchase these for an expenditure of ls. or 2s. I do not suggest that such a provision should be incorporated in an Act of Parliament ; but I ask the Prime Minister to make arrangements with the Government Printer whereby a volume of the character I have suggested shall be published annually.
Mr GLYNN: South Australia
– As I understand it, almost the only object to be served by this Bill is that copies of rules made under our Acts may be made accessible to the public at a cheap price. Where no provision has been made for rules under an Act of Parliament they must lie upon the table of the House for a certain period in order that such of the public as are interested may be invited to criticise them before they become law. That being so, there is no reason why the Bill should not be allowed to pass. At the same time, I trust that the Prime Minister will adopt the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that a method of proving the rules other than that which is mentioned in the Act, under which authority for their issue is given, ought to be provided in this measure. In South Australia a provision is in operation for the proof of by-laws–
– That is a somewhat different system.
– At the same time it will be rather a pity if the result of this legislation is that we shall be able to obtain printed copies of statutory rules from the Government Printer, but shall lack the power to easily prove them
Mr KINGSTON: South Australia
– I should like to explain to the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that, although “irremediable chaos” is a South Australian expression, it applies only to the conditions which sometimes obtain in a neighbouring State. Does the Prime Minister contend that this is an urgent measure 1
– We are now at the close of the third year of the Commonwealth’s existence.
– Yes ; and it has not been shown that any necessity exists for the measure. It is presented for our consideration at the last moment-
– At the present time we have eleven sets of regulations scattered throughout the Gazette.
– Yes ; and they are very good ones, too. I think that by ordinary administration, all that this Bill aims at accomplishing could have been easily accomplished. I would point out to the Prime Minister that the measure contains no definition of the term “public body.” Is there such a definition in the Acts Interpretation Act ?
– There is not.
– If we intend to confine the right of suggestion to public bodies, we shall require a definition of that phrase. At the same time I am not at all satisfied that we should limit that right to public bodies. It is proposed to publish these statutory rules for public information. Therefore, I say - “ Let an3’ one who chooses to do so send in any suggestions which he may desire to offer.” It is quite possible that some of the suegestions may prove extremely valuable, even though they do not emanate from public bodies. In my judgment we should make the power of suggestion general. There is another provision here to which I desire to call the attention bf the honorable member for Melbourne. I know that he used to feel very strongly upon the propriety of some notice being given before any statutory rules could become operative - that he disliked provisions under which they could be brought into operation forthwith. Subclause 2 of clause 3 declares that these rules “ shall come into operation forthwith or at such time as is prescribed.” Under that provision power is given to bring rules into force at a later date than that upon which they are made by the rule-making authority, but power is also conferred to make them retrospective. I suggest that it would be better to make the clause read “ either forthwith or at such later time as is prescribed in the rules.” I confess that I am not impressed with the necessity which exists for the introduction of this measure. Certainly English legislation was recently enacted upon the subject, but I am satisfied that everything necessary could be accomplished by discreet administration. i
Mr CONROY: Werriwa
– I have com- > pared this Bill with the English Act of : 1893, and I find that it is practically framed upon the lines of that measure. The House, therefore, need entertain very little hesitation in assenting to it. The English Act has been found very useful, and has been the means of obviating a very great deal of inconvenience and annoyance. The objection which has been urged by the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, in regard to the term “ public body “ is, to my mind, a sound one. In the Acts Interpretation Act that phrase is not defined. The measure, however, sets out -
In any Act, unless the contrary intention appears - (a) “ Person “ and “ party “ shall include a body politic or corporate, as well as an individual.
There is no necessity, therefore, to define the term “public body,” because we can achieve all that is required by substituting for it the word “person.” I shall support the second reading of the measure, especially in view of the fact that legislation upon similar lines has been found very beneficial in England. The Prime Minister has also assured us that the Crown Law officers consider this Bill a necessary one. They must entertain the opinion that it will prove extremely useful at the present time, otherwise they would scarcely ask Parliament at this late period of the session to assent to it.
Mr MAHON: Coolgardie
– I think that honorable members should have been furnished with some explanation in addition to that which was given by the Prime Minister in support of this Bill. Certainly if its passage were a matter of urgency it should have been presented earlier. I confess that I was unable to obtain from the Prime Minister’s speech a fair idea of the scope of this measure. It seems to me that there is no reason whatever why its provisions could not have been incorporated in the High Court Procedure Bill.
– It is intended to apply to other matters.
– It will apply to all rules ‘ and regulations which are made under any Act of the Commonwealth.
– It will apply not merely to courts, but to the Inter-State Commission when it is appointed, and to Government Departments. Is a Government Department to make statutory rules 1
– Only when empowered to do so by Act.
– I think that the period of forty days, which is prescribed in sub-clause 2 of clause 3, will be found inadequate so far as the remote portions of the Commonwealth areconcerned.
– It says at least forty days.
– The Gazette is usually published upon Friday. There is no mail from Melbourne to Western Australia until the following Wednesday, so that nearly two weeks must elapse between the issue of that publication and its arrival at Perth. Almost the same length of time must be absorbed in obtaining a reply. The public should be allowed a longer period in which to consider rules the effect of which may be very important to them. These are merely the observations which occur to a layman upon reading the Bill for the first time. Legal members will be better able to say whether this measure is absolutely required at the present time ; but I trust that the Prime Minister will consent to so amend clause 3 as to extend the time within which objections to draft rules may be lodged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia).- I take it that the Prime Minister will prefer to substitute the word “ person “ for the words “public authority,” so that any person may obtain copies of the draft rules.
– I have no objection to that proposal, and shall move the necessary amendment in clause 3.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne). - The honorable and learned member for Indi has called my attention to the question whether the word “ regulations “ used in this clause will include regulations made under this measure.
– The position will be rather awkward, because clause 6 provides that-
All such regulations shall be notified in the Gazette, and shall thereupon have the force of law.
That seems to except them from the general rule of regulations.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
At least forty days before making any statutory rules to which this section applies, notice of the proposal . . . shall be published in the Gazette.
During those forty days any public body may obtain copies of the draft rules on payment of the prescribed sum. . . . and on the expiration of those forty days the rules may be made . . . and shall come into operation forthwith or at such time as is prescribed in the rules.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie). - I suggest to the Prime Minister that it would be well to amend the clause by substituting the word “ sixty “ for the word “ forty “ wherever it occurs. That would give effect to the suggestion which I made during the second-reading debate.
Amendments (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to-
That the word ‘‘forty,” wherever occurring, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ sixty.”
That the words “public body,” wherever occurring, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ person.”
Mr DEAKIN: Protectionist
– It has been suggested that the word “ later “ should be inserted after the word “such” in sub-clause 2, so that it will provide that the rules - shall come into operation forthwith, or at such “ later” time as is prescribed in the rules.
I do not think that the words “such time “ could be interpreted otherwise than as meaning such “later” time; but I have no objection to the suggested amendment. I move -
That after the word “such,” line 10, the word “ later” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr ISAACS: lndi
– I have not had the advantage of hearing the discussion, but I should like to know whether the Prime Minister feels satisfied that practical effect can be given to the words “ payment of the prescribed sum “ in sub-clause 2? The sum will not be prescribed until the rules are in force ; but this provision requires the prescribed sum to be paid before the rules are actually made.
– It refers to the sum prescribed by regulations under this measure.
– A man is to obtain a copy of the proposed regulations before they are regulations?
– Not of these regulations.
– If the Prime Minister has no doubt about the matter, I need say no more.
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia).- It is provided in clause 2 that - “ Statutory rules “ means rules, regulations, or by-laws made under any Act which
are made by the Governor-General
When this measure comes into force it will be an Act, and under it the GovernorGeneral will have power to make by-laws which will surely be governed by that Act. Then it is provided in clause 6 that -
The Governor-General may make regulations for carrying this Act into effect.
Those regulations will be made under this measure, and as the clause stands they will really be in operation before they are made.
– There is a provision in sub-clause 2 of clause 6 which specially excepts regulations under this Act from the provision to which the right honorable member refers.
– The provision as to payment of the prescribed fee relates to something preparatory to the making of the regulations. I do not like the provision as it stands, although of course there is power to waive it. As it stands, the clause means that draft copies of the rules shall be exhibited before they aremade. There ought to be an exception in respect of rules made under this measure.
– The provision relates to “ Statutory rules to which this section applies.” Those words occur in sub-clause 1.
– Will not the regulations which are intended to be made be “ regulations “ under an Act ?
– If so, this measure will apply to them, and will require their exhibition. How are the Government going to demand a fee for a copy of the rules, when the position is that they have not the power under the rules to make a prescribing regulation?
– I am indebted to my honorable and learned friend for his suggestion, and in order to put the matter beyond doubt, I propose, when we come to clause 6, to move an amendment that will meet the difficulty.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Printing, numbering, and sale of Statutory Rules).
– I think that the suggestion made a few minutes ago by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is a good one, and that it will be necessary to make an addition to this clause declaring that the statutory rules as published shall be received as evidence in all courts. I do not now propose to move an amendment, but shall have that done at a later stage.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The Governor-General may make regulations for carrying this Act into effect.
All such regulations shall be notified in the Gazette, and shall thereupon have the force of law .
Mr DEAKIN: Protectionist
– I move-
That after the word “and,” line 4, the words “ notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained” be inserted.
-Why is the amendment necessary?
– In order to meet the question raised by the honorable and learned member for lndi.
– This does not refer to statutory rules.
– No.; but under the definition clause the term “statutoryrules” covers regulations made under any Act. When this measure becomes law it will be an Act, and these will therefore be regulations made under an Act. If we did not make this amendment, it might appear that we were arguing in a circle. It seems to me that it would be well to make this amendment.
Mr KINGSTON: South Australia
– I wish to point out that the preceding clauses impose certain restrictions. No doubt the Prime Minister has given the matter consideration.
– I have considered the matter since it was mentioned by the honorable and learned member for lndi.
– I think it would be better to insert words providing that the preceding clauses shall not apply to regulations made under clause 6.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
SEAT OF GOVERNMENT BILL
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 2 -
It is hereby determined that the seat of government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near
Tumut, and the territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the seat of government shall be should contain an area of not less than one thousand square miles, and shall extend to the River Murray and the River Murrumbidgee.
Provided that the site shall be within a distance of twenty -five miles from Tumut, and at an altitude of not less than fifteen hundred feet above the sea.
Senate’s Amendments -
Leave out “ Tumut” and insert “Bombala.”
After “ miles,” line 6, leave out remainder of clause.
Mr DEAKIN: Minister for External Affairs. · Ballarat · Protectionist
– Pending the arrival of the Minister in charge of this Bill, I may point out to honorable members that the measure has been altered in material particulars since it left this House. In the first place, clause 2, which, as it left this Chamber determined that the seat of Government should be at or near Tumut, has been amended by the substitution of the word “ Bombala “ for “ Tumut,” while other provisions have been omitted, so that it now reads -
It is hereby determined that the seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near Bombala, and the territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the seat of Government shall be should contain an area of not less than one thousand square miles.
The rest of the clause has been omitted. The third clause remains unamended. Consequently the Committee will see that the effect of the amendments of the Senate is to substitute Bombala for Tumut, to remove the requirement as to the extension to the Rivers Murray and Murrumbidgee, which, : of course, would be meaningless in the case I of Bombala, and also to remove the provision as to the altitude at which the site I is proposed to be situated. My colleague, I the Minister for Trade and Customs, will j explain the amendments in detail.
I Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister
J for Trade and Customs). - Considering the [ length of the debate which took place on the previous occasion, I do not think it is necessary at this stage to enter into details at any great length. The Senate has thought fit. to omit the word “Tumut,” which was inserted by the House of Representatives, and also to alter the latter portion of the same clause. Bombala has been substituted for Tumut. There was a long debate in the Senate in regard to the matter, and one statement made was to the effect that, if Bombala were selected as the Federal Capital site, and if a railway were constructed from Bairnsdale to Cooma, it would shorten the distance between Melbourne and Sydney by 100 miles. I. think that that statement was made in error, because I have obtained from the EngineerinChief to the Victorian Railways a statement of the distance that would be covered if any surveyed railway route were extended as described. Instead of the distance being 100 miles shorter, the facts are as shown in the following table : -