3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister of Defence yet received a reply to the inquiry which I understand he made regarding the arbitrary closing of the rifle range at Buffalo Hill, Gladesville?
– When the honorable member brought the matter under my notice, I communicated with the State Commandant, who informed me that the range had been closed because there was danger in firing on it. The papers have not yet come to hand, but may arrive to-day.
– There has not been a house built or a road made in the neighbourhood for ten years, and yet this man closed the range without even telling the company of his intention to do so.
– The Commandant informed me that there was an element of danger involved. In those circumstances, the only course open for me was to send for the papers, and, as soon as they reach me, I shall inform the honorable member.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– If the honorable member seriously asks for a reply to this question, I shall give it.
– It is time this farce was stopped.
– I wish to know, Mr. Speaker, whether the Minister is in order in regarding as frivolous a question asked by an honorable member in the pursuit of his duty.
– It is entirely a matter for the Minister to determine what answer shall be given to a question, and for the honorable member who asks it to take any step he may please in respect of that answer.
– I am sure that no sane member of the House would regard as otherwise than ridiculous the inference sought to be drawn in the second paragraph.
– The honorable member wouldnot say that of an honorable member sitting below the gangway.
– I am not referring specially to any one.
– The honorable member will have to alter his tone in answering questions.
– The honorable member will find me quite able to look after myself. The invitation referred to in the question, was wide enough to embrace all sections of the community. There has been no differentiation with regard to the capability or capacity of any member of the forces. It is inferred in the question that we have thought more of the opinion of the cadets than of the Inspector-General, or the Military Board.
– The inference to be drawn from the question is that in this matter the Government have placed them on an equal footing.
– I do not think that the second paragraph of the question is worth discussing. We have not differentiated ; we are prepared to hear from any honorable member, or any portion of the forces, or section of the” public, any statement with regard to this important matter.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is the intention of the Government to appoint a representative of the Commonwealth to the Franco-British Exhibition to be held at Shepherd’s Bush ?
– We are not official exhibitors ; but the question of whether the Commonwealth should be represented, by way of compliment, at the ceremonial opening is now under consideration.
asked the PostmasterGeneral upon notice -
– The following answers have been furnished by the Public Service Commissioner : -
The matter is now under the consideration of the Government. The allowance to be paid isthat prescribed in Scale I. of Public Service Regulation No. 168.
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the payment to the several States of the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth.
– What is the object of the Bill?
– The Bill relates to the distribution among the States of all surplus revenue. Without going into details I may say that its object is to vary the method of payment to the several States under section 94 of the Constitution.
.- Section 94 of the Constitution provides for the distribution of surplus revenue after five years from the imposition of uniform duties of Customs.
– At the present time the surplus revenue is returned to the States at the end of each month.
– Section 94 of the Constitution opens up a far more important question than the mere period within which surplus revenue is to be paid over to the States. The intention was that after five years we should determine whether the distribution should be on a per capita or some other basis. Is that matter touched by the Bill ?
– The Bill is being slightly revised, and I should like the right honorable member to see it.
– I do not seek at present for details,but I think we are entitled to ask the Treasurer whether the Bill is intended to change the present method of distribution.
– I do not think that it is, so far as a per capita distribution is concerned.
– The distribution is not at present made on a per capita basis.
– I am aware of that, but a slight alteration is being made this morning in the draft Bill.
– Slight alterations are immaterial.
– So far as I can say positively, it does not deal with the question of a per capita distribution.
– Surely the Minister knowswhether or not he is going to deal with it in the Bill. I do not want to bother him about trivial matters, but a change in the present system of distributing the surplusmoneys of the revenue of the Commonwealth is one of the most important propositions that any Government could make under the Federal Constitution. All that I ask is whether there is any proposal in the Bill to change the present method of distribution.
– Regarding a per capita distribution? It is not in my mind to do that. .
– Does the honorable member contemplate doing anything at all in that direction?
– I intend to makea proposal to vary the system of distribution, but not in regard to a per capita basis.
– To vary the present sys tem in regard only to the period of distribution ?
– No; the Bill provides for something more than that.
– Then it is most important?
– It is.
– I hope that the Minister will in reply give us an outline of the mainprovisions of the Bill.
– One of the main provisionsof the Bill will give this House power to reserve for certain works, for which appro priations may be made during the year; some of the surplus moneys of the Commonwealth. At present, at the end of each month, . all surplus revenueis returned tothe States ; we cannot keep a penny after the end of each month. One of the main principles - if not the main principle - of the Bill is to enable the House to control better than we can now do any money that we require for our own use.
– It will not affect the basis of distributing what money is left?
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 12th March (vide page 8963), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- There are two very important proposals in this Bill to which I desire to invite the attention pf the House. I do not propose to revert to the multitude of vexed and heated controversies which the discussion of the principal Act provoked when it was under consideration in this Chamber. I merely desire to say that I have always” agreed with the main principle underlying any legislation which would, in the early history of the Commonwealth, provide machinery for preventing the growth of any combination of persons engaged in trade to injure the public interests. That is a view which I think is common to all parties in this House. In the Act which we passed last year there are some provisions contained in the sections relating to dumping, about which I am not quite so clear, but I think that honorable members on all sides of the House are in> sympathy with the main principle underlying that portion of the Statute which deals with trusts and combinations. It is infinitely better that in the early stages of the Commonwealth we should place some measure of the kind upon the statute-book than that we should wait until abuses have become more obvious. Having said that, I now desire to draw the attention of the House to a matter of grave importance. I “hope that I may engage the attention of “honorable members for a few minutes whilst I address myself to a question of some consequence. I presume that there are occasions upon which we may subdue the mania for holding private conversations, and this I conceive to be one of them. I hold that one of the most serious questions relating to the way in which justice is to be administered is involved in this Bill. I- desire to explain to the House what I mean by that statement, if honorable members will give me their attention. The principal Act, somehow or other, is now considered to be very seriously defective. At the time it was passed it was generally thought it would prove an efficient Act. Of course, everybody admits the difficulty of dealing with such matters as are involved in that measure. No matter how wise any Government or parliamentary draftsman may be, it would be unreasonable to expect that an Act of that kind would not be in some degree imperfect. But it would have been interesting to the House if the AttorneyGeneral, in moving the second reading of this Bill, had more clearly indicated what, in his view, was the necessity for certain of its provisions. Some of its provisions are absolutely necessary, and I am rather surprised that the legislation of Canada upon this subject years ago was not in the view of the Government when the principal Act was before Parliament. Of course, there is a great difference between the powers of the Federal Government in Canada and our powers, because the Canadian Government is vested with general powers under its Constitution. It has all the powers which the States have not expressly reserved to’ them, whereas our position is exactly the opposite. This Parliament possesses only the powers which the States have conferred upon it. Consequently, the sphere for the exercise of legislative power in Canada is much larger than it is here. In section 18 of chapter 6 of an Act which was passed by the Canadian Parliament in 1897, the Legislature sought to put down the evils of combinations in a certain direction - that of unfairly enhancing the price of goods to the con.sumer. I admit that the most obvious power which should have been conferred’ by the Act which we passed last year, was one to compel the production of books. In section 18 of the Canadian Act, that power is conferred. Under that Act the charge laid against any combination is at once referred to a Judge. It is rather surprising, therefore, that in view of Canadian legislation, our. principal Act did not compel the production of books.
– We experienced some difficulty in inducing the House to pass the principal Act in its present form.
– But a proposal to compel the production of books was never made. I have not recently referred to the original provisions of the Bill, but my recollection is that it contained no power to compel the production of books.
– My recollection is that it was most difficult to get the measure passed even in its modified form.
– But I hope the honorable member will see that that fact has nothing to do with what I am saying. I merely say that the power to which I have referred was not contained in the Bill as originally, introduced.
– I admit that.
– Since we were never asked by the Government to grant that power, we must not be reproached because we did not grant it. So far as the power to compel the production of books is concerned, I do not oppose it. No legislation can be effective unless it contains such a power. If this legislation is tobe effective, we must grant powers to the Government, many of which are rather out of the beaten track. Although I am as slow as are most people to unduly enlarge any power affecting the liberty of the subject, there are occasions when to some extent we must depart from the beaten track. But in Canada, the effect of the inquiry which was instituted upon the production of books by any combination, was not to punish anybody. Where a combination is found to exist - whether it is an internal or an external combination is quite immaterial, because the provision applies to both - whose operations tend to enhance the price of goods to the public, the Governor in Council has power to reduce the duties upon the articles in question. This afforded the consumer some protection against the rings which were operated under cover of the Tariff. Honorable members will readily recognise that in any country a ring can work more easily behind a fence than it can if there be no fence at all. It is a convenience to a ring inside a country to have a fence to shut out competition.
– But such . a provision would also hit a. man who was not a member of the combination.
– In Canada, the advantage of this particular provision was that it did not hit the public Perhaps it did not provide a very effectual cure for the evil but that was the method of bringing it about.
– The information disclosed by the books would be regarded as confidential ?
– That is provided for in the Bill under consideration. I merely say that the necessity for the power to compel the production of books is inherent in legislation of this kind, and it is a pity that the fact was not recognised when the principal Act was under review. That statement means that I do not oppose the inclusion of this power in this Bill. Seeing that it is not contained in the principal Act, we ought certainly to allow of its insertion in this measure. I am sorry that the Attorney-General is not present because I wanted to ask a question which, with the exception of the Prime Minister, he alone can answer. It is a question of law. In this Bill a provision is incorporated from the Customs Act of 1901 and the Excise Act of the same year, and this is a very important matter, to which I desire to direct attention. It is specially important, in the light of a decision which has been given by the Full Court of New South Wales. Section 255 of the Customs Act reads -
In every Customs prosecution the averment of the prosecutor or plaintiff contained in the information, declaration, or claim shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof tothe contrary, but so that -
When an intent to defraud the revenue is charged, the averment shall not be deemed sufficient to prove the intent, and
In all proceedings for an indictable offence, or for an offence directly punishable by imprisonment, the guilt of the defendant must be establishedby evidence.
I am labouring under a great inconvenience owing to the absence of the AttorneyGeneral, because I desire to ask him a very important question of law.
– He is engaged in the High Court.
– I had forgotten that. That is quite a sufficient reason for his absence.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs will answer the right honorable member’s question.
– I am afraid that he is scarcely competent to give me the desired information.
– But even lawyers differ.
– Yes. The only time when one can be quite sure that a lawyer is right is when he is the final court of appeal. Section 255 of the Customs Act of 1901 and section 144 of the Excise Act of that year are identical with the provision contained in clause 4 of this Bill. That clause incorporates the sections in question in exactly the’ same words.
– Not in the same words as the right honorable member read just now.
– Then I must have read the section erroneously. Clause 4 of this Bill has been copied word for word from the sections to which I have alluded, as honorablemembers will see by reference to its marginal note. Now I take it that whatever powers we may grant in this Bill, we do not desire the Courts to fight over their meaning. Honorable members will probably consider that the words -
The averment of the prosecutor or plaintiff contained in the information, declaration, or claim shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary mean that if a person accused is unable to produce evidence which disproves the accusation against him, he shall be deemed to be guilty. This is the way in which a layman would read them. Of course, everything depends upon the meaning that is attached to those words. I cannot illustrate my point better than by inviting the attention of honorable members to a decision of the Full Court of New South Wales upon the meaning of these very words in the case of ex parte Healy, reported in the New South Wales Law Reports of 1903. Under the Excise Act an information was laid charging a. person with keeping an illicit still ; and the magistrate had to construe the provision, which, speaking roughly, is that the words of the information shall be deemed to prove the offence in the absence of evidence disproving it. Evidence was given on behalf of the Commonwealth in support of the charge, and the person charged gave evidence in reply. The magistrate, having heard both sides, was in doubt whether the man was really guilty ; but he held that the words of the statute compelled him to find the man guilty. The words are -
In every …. prosecution for an offence the averments -
That is the allegation -
That is, on the words alleging that the man kept an illicit still, he must be deemed to have kept it unless he could produce proof to the contrary.
– I think the magistrate was very fine in his feelings. He said he was doubtful, but that in view of the positive language of the section, he must convict the defendant.
– Does the honorable member propose in this, or any other Bill that we ever pass, to provide that a man should be found guilty and punished, when the person who is trying him has a doubt as to his guilt? I am sure that is not the intention of the honorable member.
– If the magistrate was in doubt he should have given a verdict in favour of the accused.
– That is exactly the point I desire to make. Laymen, I think, will be glad to know that, in spite of the view of the magistrate, the Full Court took exactly the view of the honorable member for Wide Bay, and others. The Court held that it would be monstrous and contrary to the principle of. the administration of justice, at any rate, in British communities, that a magistrate should convict a man if it was not proved to his satisfaction that the man was guilty. But the Full Court had some difficulty in arriving at its conclusion, because these are words which another Court might construe in a different way. I desire those words to be so placed in the Bill that the intention of Parliament shall be perfectly plain - that is my only object in addressing honorable members - that the real object of such a provision is to make the information prima facie evidence. Those who have any experience of legal matters know that sometimes charges collapse on some technical points, without any evidence being given. Very often, when a charge is made, the lawyer appearing for the person charged, asks the magistrate whether there is really anything to answer ; and the case is disposed of without the merits being gone into. The real object, I submit, of the words is that the statements in the information should put the matter before a magistrate, so that evidence must be gone into before the case can be disposed of, and that when the evidence is gone into, the charge must be disposed of on its merits. I may not be here when this Bill is considered in Committee, and, therefore, I am taking advantage of the present opportunity to lay these views before the House.
– If a man were accused of keeping an illicit still, do those words mean that he would be held to be guilty unless he could bring evidence to disprove the charge ?
– Then the sooner that provision is repealed the better.
– The honorable member is absolutely right. The information is read out in Court, and the allegation that the man has kept an illicit still is deemed to be proof - not evidence, but proof - that he has committed the offence, in the absence of the accused producing evidence to disprove the charge.
– Could a prosecution succeed without offering any evidence?
– I should like to know a case.
– Fortunately, there is not such a case; but I think I have cited a worse one. I suppose honorable members will agree that when these words were put into a statute they were intended to bear the ordinary natural meaning. Let me read the words of the proposed new section again -
In any prosecution for an offence . the averments of the prosecutor-
Those are the statements made in the information. In some cases the statements may be verbal, but, if it is an information, they must be in writing - the averments of the prosecutor contained in the information or claim shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary.
– That is nothing new ; it is an accepted principle in English law to-day.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh may not have been here when these particular provisions were passed.
– I am prepared to take my share of the responsibility.
– The honorable member for Maranoa has intimated that if he had known the meaning of the words to be what I have explained he never would have voted for the section. Honorable members who are not of the legal profession may be forgiven ; indeed, even lawyers sometimes find it difficult to decide upon the meaning of the words in Acts. I am only inviting the House on this occasion to think seriously over what we are , doing. It is, of course, for the House to decide; but let us clearly understand the position.
– Are the qualifications in the clause not a safeguard?
– Exactly the same words are used.
– Then what is the amending Act for?
– The qualifications do not qualify the words. It would be absurd to make an enactment, and then qualify it in the next clause.
– Is that not done often?
– It is foolish.
– Is it not done in the Constitution ?
– It is done in the Constitution in order to safeguard against something which might be thought to be done by preceding words. But the words I have read are intended to do a particular thing, and further words are not needed toshow that that is not their meaning.
– Words aresometimes afterwards used to qualify provisions.
– We are now getting intoa disquisition upon technicalities that is unnecessary.Iam taking the words in their plain English meaning, and asking the House to consider them.
– Let us have plain English, in the Bill.
– May I suggest that thisprovision is not qualified by any other words ?
– There are the words “but so that ‘ ‘ at the end of the clause.
– I quite agree, and I have read the whole clause. The question of intent is dealt with in this particular clause, though it was not in the Customs or Excise Acts. Admitting all that, just let uslook at what is held to be proved. If honorable members will turn to section 4 of the Principal Act, they will find it as follows : -
Any person who, either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract, or isor continues to be a member of or engages in any combination, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States -
with intent to restrain trade or commerce to the detriment of the public ; or,
with intent to destroy or injure, by means of unfair competition, any Australian industry, the preservation of which is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.
I am endeavouring to show now what istaken to be proved outside intent. First, it is taken to be proved that the person charged has entered into such a combination, and if he cannot disprove that he isconvicted as to that part.
– Quite right ; how else could the object be attained?
– It may be quite right; I am only anxious to show what the section really means. Then, according to subsection b it must be held, in the absence of. proof to the contrary, that the person accused has been guilty of unfair competition, that there is an Australian industry the preservation of which is advantageous tothe Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers - all this has to be taken as proved on the mere statement of an official, in the form of an information. The onus is thrown on the accused person of showing, simply because an official has put a lot of words on a piece of paper, not only that, as a matter of fact, he is not engaged in any such combination, but that there is not an Australian industry affected in regard to which, having in view the interests of producers, consumers, and so forth, his conduct is objectionable. All these matters, I think, should be proved just in the same way as intent is proved. The intent and the act itself are so mixed up that it is “very difficult to separate them, and I am -very glad the honorable member for Macquarie interjected as he did, because it is very important that the point he raised should be considered. In the sections of the Customs and Excise Acts there is not even the protection afforded as to intent; because, in the case of’ an illicit still, the keeping of it includes the intent. Of course, the mere possession of an illicit still is, in itself, evidence of intent. But everything else in the information is to be taken as proved by the mere statement of the Comptroller-General, and the onus of rebuttal is put on the person accused. Even if that provision is adopted, it should be made clear that, when the accused has gone into evidence, and the Justice of the High Court who is to try the case is in doubt of his guilt, he is not to be convicted.
– That should go without saying.
– In New South Wales, in the case to which I have referred, the Full Court looked upon the contrary as such a monstrous provision that they construed the words, “ shall be deemed to be proved “ to mean “shall be evidence.” It was a pretty good stretch of construction, and I do not know that any other Court would take the same view.’ The mere fact that a thing is stated might well be regarded as “ evidence,” but it should not be held to be “ proof.”
– The instance cited is another case in which the Judges have apparently acted as legislators.
– If the words “shall be deemed to be proved “ are ‘to be taken to mean that the accused, to escape conviction, must satisfy the Judge of his innocence, the sooner we know that that is the intention the better, so that we may make a straight-out issue of it. If that is what honorable members mean, let them say so like men, and stand by it. Do not let us use the words, and make the excuse afterwards that we never intended them to be applied in the way that they must be applied.
– Had any other construction been placed on the words in the case referred to, an innocent man would now be in gaol.
– He might have been able to pay the .£100 fine. Suppose there were a law restraining the members of trade unions from in any way interfering with non-unionists, what would be said of a provision for amending it so that the mere charging of a unionist with interference should cause him to be deemed guilty of it, and make it necessary for a magistrate to send him- to gaol, should there be any doubt, after the taking of evidence, as to his guilt ?
– No one contends that such a provision should be adopted. The right honorable member does not assert that, if the Justice is doubtful, he must convict ?
– The honorable member for South Sydney asked why should the Full Court go away from the plain meaning of the words.
– Quite so. It should not have done so.
– A magistrate who convicted under such circumstances should be removed from the bench.
– There are certain landmarks of natural justice which no man wishes to destroy. The injustice to the monopolist of to-day may become injustice to the general members of the community to-morrow. In a democracy like this, we do not wish to establish false rules of justice affecting any man’s liberty. We may say, “ We intend to .put down trusts ;” but it is another thing to say, “ We will reverse the rules of justice bv enacting that if the Court is doubtful as to the innocence of an accused, he must go to gaol.”
– No one contends that that should be enacted.
– Then the intention should be made clear. It would avoid technical objections to an information if the words “ shall be prima facie evidence “ were used. That expression is used in another part of. the Bill, or in the principal Act. If it were used, the information would put the case on its legs, so to speak, and the technical point could not be taken that no offence was shown. Afterwards, the charge would be fought out on its merits. The House does not want to go so far as to provide that,if a man does not clear himself, he must be convicted.
– Is not the close alliance of intent and fact favorable to the offender in these cases ?
– Where an offence consists of five essentials, a man should not be convicted if the existence of any one of these is not proved to the satisfaction of the tribunal before which he is tried. No man should be convicted if the Judge is doubtful in regard to the existence of one essential factor. I criticise this provision, not to destroy it, but that it may be altered to make the intention of the House clear. The other matter to which I wish to refer is this : I think that power should be given to any judicial body dealing with these matters, to have the fullest access to documents, so” that the whole of the transactions concerned may be exposed. But if honorable members will refer to sub-clauses 3 and 4 of clause 4, and to subsequent provisions, they will find that the ComptrollerGeneral can bring before him the man or bodyof men thought to be violating the law, and compel the accused to answer questions, and to produce all books, letters, and other documents that may be demanded. I do not object to the production of such evidence on a trial. I do not know how effect could be given to the law unless the Court were empowered to order their production. But it is a new idea in British jurisprudence to give this power to the prosecution, to enable a case to be made out.
– It is an American idea.
– It is essentially a French idea.
– Something is wanted.
– I do not think that the prosecutor in a criminal offence should be empowered to compel an accused to come before him, to produce books, and papers, and to be cross-examined and re-examined on oath, in order that a case might be made out for trial .
– It is the latest development in the United States, to give the authorities a chance of dealing with trusts. Without such a power, they would not have a ghost of a show.
– When a case is being tried, the Court should have the fullest power to order the production of books, papers, and documents, but the prosecutor shouldnot be given that power. I would rather give the Comptroller-General - although an official subject to Ministerial influence, but one of high responsibility, and one who, I am sure, will always be a man of high character - the power to try these matters, than introduce this new idea into our legislation.
– That would kill the lawyer’s business altogether.
– Would not that be a good thing? I pity every client who comes my way. In my opinion, the sensible man is he who pays up rather than go to law. Public necessity may sometimes compel us to do things which are foreign to our ideas and principles ; but is it not too soon to establish this French method - so foreign to our ideas of justice - before the necessity for its adoption is proved? If I were in America, so enormous are the abuses prevailing there, I should be inclined to stretch a number of points in order to facilitate the detection and exposure of what I believe to be gigantic robberies of the public. .
– In proportion, there are some here just as bad.
– I hope not.
– The brick combine, in Melbourne, is pretty strong.
– So is that in Sydney.
– I am doubtful if we could deal with the Victorian combine.
– At any rate, we are sure of its existence.
– That is not the question. Have we power to deal with a combine whose operations do not extend beyond any one State?
– We could deal with the jam manufacturers.
– And with the oil combine.
– The Constitution empowers us to make laws respecting trade with foreign countries, and between the States ; but an abuse of this kind must extend beyond any one State before we can deal with it. Until the absolute necessity for introducing the French system of justice is proved, we ought not to adopt it. It is sufficient to give the Court power to compel the accused to appear, to produce all necessary papers, and to answer all questions. We should not strain the broad principles of natural justice which have grown up with the nation, and which, even in the darkest days of our history, were the main security of the masses of the British people. We must not forget that, in the despotic times gone by, some of these old principles of justice were the great protection of the weak and the helpless, and we ought not to abandon them unless it is proved necessary to do so in the public interest. I suggest that this novel method of criminal justice should be reserved until it is proved to be necessary. Let the accused be compelled, under very heavy penalties, to tell the Court everything. In all countries there are special Acts which go very far; but I do not think’ that in any British country an accused is compelled to go before his prosecutor, and put everything before him before being tried. We have not got to that yet. I have never heard of a man being compelled to enter the AttorneyGeneral’s office to be raked fore and aft, in order that the Attorney-General may bring a charge against him and produce, at the hearing of the charge, the evidence so obtained.
– We have never previously had combinations so intangible as some of those which now exist.
– I am yielding to that necessity. As a rule, we ought not to compel a man to incriminate himself before a Judge. It is an extraordinary thing to compel a man to prove his own guilt by means of his own confession before a Judge; but it may be absolutely necessary to do so. Do not honorable members think that it is quite good enough for a start, in this instance, to provide for such a procedure? Are we to say that a man shall be taken to the Crown Prosecutor’s office, and there compelled to produce the whole of his books, and to submit to be crossexamined on oath in order that everything he says may be used against him.
– It cannot be used.
– It can be used for an offence against this Act. That is the very purpose for which it is to be used.
– Not for any civil or criminal proceeding.
– That is another matter. I ask the House to consider whether it is not, for a start, a great stretch to compel a man to incriminate himself before a Judge, and that it is going too far to compel him in addition to enter the Crown Prosecutor’s room before he is tried in order to supply the material on which he shall be tried. There are a number of other points in the Bill which, I think, will give rise to a great deal of trouble, but I am thoroughly in favour of its main object. I hope honorable members, in carrying out what may be great reforms, will be slow, in the absence of some absolutely proved necessity, to push too far changes in respect of the rules of natural justice between the accused and the .Court. If it came about by-and-by that this law would absolutely break down if power were not given to put a man into the Crown Prosecutor’sroom before the case against him began, the House could reconsider the matter, and,, if it thought fit, go to the full extreme But I hope that the Labour Party will never associate itself with a proposal to say toa man, “ You are to go to the prosecutor before you are tried, and disclose your offence, so that we may use against voir every word that you utter.” I hope that the Labour Party will not associate its name with that system of administering justice until it has been proved absolutely necessary. We ought to remember that rules of justice, which may sometimes facilitate the escape of an offender, may “in- many other cases protect an innocent man’ from ‘ an undeserved wrong and injustice. ‘We must not be too strongly influenced by our desire to carry out a certain policy; let us try to carry out our views on questions of policy without disregarding any natural rights of justice. Let us remember that a method of oppression and injustice, under the force of law, is sometimes a more odious form of oppression and injustice than is the act of any crowned tyrant. Necessity sometimes compels a community in self-defence to do extreme things, but. I object to a proposal that, before he is tried, a man shall be put into the hands of his accuser, in order that the. accuser may put him on the rack and afterwards make use of the confessions, made under torture, as evidence of his guilt.
.- We are indebted to the right honorable member for elucidating some of the points of this Bill, which deals with a very important subject, and appreciate his anxiety that no innocent person may suffer an injustice under any legislation we pass. I am exceedingly pleased that he has taken on this occasion a much wider view of the question of restriction than he did when the principal Bill was before us. He has certainly adopted a much wider view as to the necessity of our taking action to prevent combines securing in Australia such a position as they occupy in some other countries. Honorable members of the Labour Party, I am sure, are pleased that that is so.
– -It happens not to be so.
– I shall accept the assurance of the honorable member for
Parramatta that the desire of the Opposition to prevent combines was as thorough when the original Bill was before us as it is today. They certainly adopted a very strange method of indicating such a desire on their part. We were then told that the proposals of the Government were an interference with trade, and an attempt to embarrass people who were carrying on the great industries of Australia.
– The basis of this measure is that the people at which it aims are interfering with trade. That is the justification for it.
– When the original Bill was before us, it was thought by some honorable members of the Opposition that it would be a very proper thing for the House to resist any legislation that would interfere with combines, which were described as a large aggregation of traders. It was said that competition, without any interference on the part of the State, would keep them in check, and that one competitor would prevent another from doing wrong.
– We have always been against detrimental combines.
– The question is, what is a detrimental combine? Then, again, what is a beneficent combine?
– The Labour Party.
– Undoubtedly it is. The honorable member’s interjection reminds me of the illustration given by the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– I do not object to combines as long as they act fairly by their neighbours in trade, supply at a fair price, and. do not sweat their employes. If I objected to a combine, I should object to every trade union in Australia.
– Exactly. We put our position more briefly, saying that our ambition is to secure economic justice.
– That, too, is our position.
– The reference made by the honorable member for Wentworth to the members of my own party reminds me of an illustration given by the leader of the Opposition, and which I adopt. He asked what we should think if a union were charged with being a combine, and were compelled to produce all its books, letters, and other documentary evidence in support of that charge.
– To the prosecutor.
– As one connected with unions and labour bodies, I have no hesi tation in saying that if a trade union were charged with being a combine it ought to produce its books to show that it was not.
– To a Judge. But how would the honorable member like a union to be compelled to produce them to the Employers’ Federation?
– Knowing that unions are honest combinations designed to secure justice for their members, and not seeking to do an injustice to any one, I am sure they would be ready and willing to have their books examined by any party.
– By non-unionists?
– By Government officials.
– I would allow them to be produced to any one. The only condition I should lay down in respect of unions and all other bodies, is that the other side in such circumstances should also be compelled to produce their books.
– Even this Act deals only with combinations in restraint of trade.
– The great charge made against unions by economists and others opposed to them, is that they are more or less in restraint of trade. It is said that unionists have false notions because they desire to produce more wealth by restricting production.
– Would a labour union be illegal under this Bill ?
– It would not be illegal any more than the Employers’ Federation would be.
– But an employers’ union is not illegal under this Bill. Until comparatively recent times, neither employers’ unions norlabour unions were legal in the great Mother Country of which we speak so often. It is as but yesterday in the history of our country, since it was acknowledged that even a combination of workmen, designed to secure fair conditions of labour, was lawful. We have now gone to the opposite extreme. In this young country, the party with which I am proud’ to be associated, very early in the history of the Commonwealth sought to place on the statute-book a law which would prevent the creation of combines such as have arisen in the United States of America, where a glorious freedom of trade had been allowed to run riot. We did good work in supporting such legislation. No one is more pleased than I am to learn that the step we then took is now admitted to have been a proper one, and that nearly every honorable member to-day asserts that it did not go far enough.
– Did not the honorable member’s- party take the view that that legislation. would be ineffective?
– My view is that even this drastic amending Bill will be ineffective.
– Then the honorable member proposes to assist in passing legislation in which he does not believe?
– We say that it is insufficient, but that, representing as we do a large body of the electors of the Commonwealth, we are bound to do the best we can to take the steps which we think are urgently necessary in the meantime, and also as practical men to obtain legislation that we can obtain instead of seeking to secure legislation that would have no chance of being passed by this Parliament. If honorable members find that under this Bill the operations of trusts and combines cannot be controlled they will have to agree to a further amendment of the law. It. is a truism in all British communitiesthat no law can exist which is not approved by a majority of the electors.
– But if a law affected the liberty of only a small number of persons it would be very much more difficult to secure its amendment than it would be if it injuriously affected the liberty of a large number.
– The right honorable member has made a .serious charge against the electors of the Commonwealth. If he and his followers really believed that any law that we had enacted inflicted injustice upon a single person in the community they would be in duty bound to appeal to the great mass of the people to .remedy that injustice. Does he suggest that we ought to stand aside and see injury done to one individual in order to please the great majority of the people? I -do not think that we have come to that. In my opinion the people would very soon correct any injustice which was being done even to the poorest member of the community. But we ought to recollect that the persons who will be attacked under this Bill will be well able to defend themselves. They will be in a position to employ the highest legal talent in the country to put their case in the best possible light. They are not like old-age pensioners who have no means of employing legal talent to put their case before the public.
– The honorable member has the power to force the Government to do something for them. Why does he not use it?
– I shall deal with that matter upon another occasion. I come now to another phase of the question dealt with by the right honorable member. I understood him to say that in the Healy case, the defendant, who was charged with conducting an illicit still, proffered evidence in rebuttal, and that the magistrate, after hearing his defence, expressed a doubt as to his guilt, but held that under the wording of the Act, which was identical with the wording of clause 4 of the Bill under consideration, he had no alternative but to convict.
– Because the man did not clear himself of the “ intent “ to defraud, the magistrate held that he was guilty of intent to defraud.
– Yes. In my opinion that magistrate was distinctly wrong. The case was practically a criminal one.
– Practically ! If the defendant could not have paid the fine he would have had to go to prison.
– If the Judge had any doubt as to the defendant’s guilt he was in duty bound, by the law of evidence, to give him the benefit of that doubt. Without claiming to possess the right honorable member’s legal ability, I” venture to say that the Supreme Court of New South Wales took that view. I do not agree with the desire of the leader of the Opposition to eliminate from clause 4 the words to which he directed attention, and to substitute for them a provision that a charge preferred against any combination shall be prima facie evidence of guilt. I have had some experience of prima facie evidence in connexion with our Employers’ Liability Acts.
– But the honorable member thinks a charge preferred against a defendant should be prima facie evidence of his guilt.
– As a layman, I hold that the words to which the leader of the Opposition has directed attention do not necessarily mean that a person will be convicted of an offence under this Bill if he can produce reasonable evidence in rebuttal.
– If that point is not quite clear in the Bill, the honorable member has no objection to making it clear
– If I were to lay an information against the honorable member for conducting an illicit still in his house, does
Tie think it fair that he should be convicted because he could not prove his innocence?
– Yes. In regard to a charge of conducting an illicit still, I should be in a very happy position, because I have a fairly large household, so that I should be able to obtain ample evidence in rebuttal. In regard to illicit distilling operations and illicit coining, there must be a departure from the ordinary rules associated with British justice.
– The onus of proof of their innocence is thrown upon licensed victuallers.
– An enactment of this kind must be founded on the assumption that the welfare of individuals must suffer slightly if the welfare of the .community is to be promoted. If absolute proof of the distillation of spirits were required before an accused person could be convicted, the presence of illicit stills in the mountainous portions of the Commonwealth would deprive the Government of the reasonable amount of revenue at present collected.
– Do not the honorable, member’s remarks apply equally to every other kind of offence? Under this Bill, a man has to prove that he is innocent of the charge laid against him.
– I have already stated that there are instances in which the public welfare would suffer if the ordinary rules of British justice were followed. Can there be any greater evidence of the necessity for stringent legislation in respect of trusts and combines than is furnished by the statement which was made the other day by Senator Taft, the President Elect of’ the Republican Party in the United States, who affirmed that unless the Government of the United State obtained power to deal with trade combines and financial ruffians, it would have to declare for socialistic legislation. This is the most significant statement that has been made in any country in the world in connexion with this question. It shows the magnitude of the evil in the United States,
– We admit that.
– The provisions of the Sherman Act relating to interference with trade, and commerce by combines are much stronger than are the provisions of this Bill. Honorable members are cavilling about passing a much milder Act. notwithstanding that the greatest authority in America, has declared that all the powers of the Government of that country are- insufficient to control the operations of trusts and combines.
– But we are dealing with a different proposition.
– Undoubtedly. But we are only dealing with a different proposition, because in the early days we prevented these combinations from achieving the magnitude which they have achieved there. In the United States these combines not only act in restraint of trade, but I am afraid that they corrupt both Parliament and the Judiciary. That is the problem which we have to face.
– But the honorable member has said that all these powers will fail to effect our purpose.
– I have not said anything of the kind. I say that all the powers conferred by this legislation will be insufficient to cope with the evil, because new problems will arise. As a representative of the Labour Party, I am not going to say that with the enactment of the legislation proposed, we shall have taken the last step in social progress. We must march on. There is a good deal to be done. It is for that reason that I say that the provisions of this Bill will prove insufficient to effectually cope with all phases of the evil. I am in favour of conserving the rights of the people-
– That is not Social- ‘ ism, but justice.
– Everybody admits that it is a proper thing to attempt to control the operations of trusts and combines. It is thought that some danger may arise from the positive language used in the clause, owing to charges being held to be proved in the event of a refusal to produce books and other information: In my opinion, however, such a provision is absolutely necessary. The object of this legislation has been defeated up to the present, and may be defeated again by means which we are unable now to foresee, unless the provisions be made most stringent. The time has passed when it is necessary to light for the principle of this legislation ; all we have to do now is to consider details, and make the provisions as effective as possible, without injustice to any, whether capitalists or others.
– There has never been conflict in this Chamber as to the principle of this legislation.
– I take it as a compliment to the Labour Party that long before Parliament could be induced to give effect ti; the principle we were able to educate public opinion, and thus have been the means, as we hope, of preventing here those terrible economic evils which have arisen in the United States and Canada.
– A considerable time ago I voted for -legislation of this character, and the necessity for an amending Bill has evidently been proved to the Government in consequence of their inability to carry the Act into effect. I voted for the general principle of this legislation as a protest against combines and trusts, which have inflicted .great injury, not only on the trading community, but on the humble members of the industrial ranks. Time after time, it has been admitted by the Government that there are suspicious cases ; and the Administration has been twitted over and over again, by both supporters and opponents, on their not taking action. Of course, as I have indicated, the real reason for the Government’s inaction was that the Act we passed some time ago had proved inoperative. The great difficulty presented is to obtain proof that a trust or combine is performing any act detrimental to the community ; and I take it that this amending Bill is intended to provide a remedy. The leader of the Opposition has expressed fear of the consequences of any departure from the ordinary practices observed in the administration of British justice. ‘We must remember, however, that much of the Commonwealth legislation involves innovations of the kind, and those innovations are warranted by presentday conditions. While listening to the leader of the Opposition, I was reminded of the fact that joint-stock companies and trades unions were at one time quite new departures, and had to be met by legislation suitable to the altered conditions. . No one disputes the necessity for a Bill of the kind before us, or that it should be made as effective as possible. As to the fears in connexion with throwing the onus of proof on the person charged, I have only to point to licensing Acts, which have recently been passed in some of the States, and under which a publican summoned for certain offences is called upon to prove his innocence.
– But to make the parallel complete there must be power to hale an accused person to the office of a
Government official, and there to interrogate him so as to make out a case.
– The prosecutions under the Bill will not be undertaken by private individuals, but by the Comptroller-General, who is an officer of the Government; and provision is made that any information obtained from a person suspected shall not be used as evidence in any other civil or criminal proceedings which may be taken against him. As a layman, I think that is sufficient protection for the person charged, in view of the great evil that has to be combated! If I were, as a private citizen, to inform the- Minister of Trade and Customs that MacRobertson and Company were really a sugar and confectionery combine of . a detrimental character, basing my statement on the fact that certain retailers had informed me they were completely under the thumb of that firm, that would not be sufficient, under the old Act, to justify prosecution. Under the Bill, however, the Comptroller-General will have power to commence inquiries, though, of course, no action will be taken until there is reasonable ground for supposing an illegal act.
– Is it not only fair that some inquiry should be made before taking proceedings ?
– The Bill provides for inquiry. The Comptroller-General, must, first of all, be satisfied that there is serious reason for believing an offence has been COmmitted. ‘ He cannot obtain information except from somebody interested; and it is not reasonable to believe that a person will voluntarily give information against his employer. If the Comptroller-General is satisfied that there is reasonable ground, he can take the next step of calling for books and documents, and putting questions to the parties with the proviso that the information so obtained shall not be used against them in any civil or criminal action. Of course, I can conceive of Parliament being as tyrannical as any despot; and there might be some danger if prosecutions could be initiated by private individual’s. We must remember, however, that the ComptrollerGeneral is responsible to his political head, who, in turn, is responsible to Parliament; and there is always the protection of that sense of justice which prevails in every British community. If any innocent man were to suffer by reason of the action of the officials, the matter could be remedied in view of Ministerial responsibilities. The circumstances are such that unusual legislation must be adopted, and I regard this as only a portion of the legislation of a similar character which will be found necessary in the near future. As Australia grows older she adopts the practices and devices of older countries; and as our trade and commerce and industries expand, so we shall have . to fight the evils which have arisen in America and elsewhere. I have always been at issue with the Labour Party as to their methods of dealing with these questions. I have always been favorable to trusts and combines being regulated by legislation, but not by the application of the principles of absolute Socialism. This amending Bill should have been introduced immediately it was discovered that the original Act had proved, ineffective. The members of trusts and combines are no mere weaklings, but wealthy men, able to fight their own battles; and I have already compared their position under the Bill with that of publicans under various licensing Acts. A brewing or distilling combine can do much more than can any individual publican. I am not making a plea for the licensed victualler, because I know that the Licensing Acts of the States were a dead letter before the present provisions were adopted. The police had a miserable time in trying to obtain evidence of offences against the law, because of the secrecy observed, and because both parties to illegal acts were interested in preventing convictions. So in the case of combines, not only will those directly interested in the profits of a combine, but also those who obtain advantages by dealing with it, be concerned in preventing convictions. It is because so many difficulties surround the prosecution of offences of this nature that I think we are compelled to adopt the procedure set out in the Bill.
– It seems to me that the honorable member for Dalley has adopted a logical position from the stand-point of those who believe in regulation ; but his attitude emphasizes the inconsistency or want of logic of others on the opposition side of the House who, while declaring their belief in the need for the regulation of .trusts and combines, oppose every attempt to secure it. They, like the members of the Labour Party and the Government, say that they do not believe in trusts, and desire to take all proper steps to prevent them from injuring the people; but when proposals are made which would have the effect of regu lating them, they make all sorts of excuses for voting against them. I am not sure that, even from their own stand-point, that attitude is wise. Mr. Secretary Taft,. who, we are told, is likely to be the next President of the United States of America, has stated that if the Republican Partyfails to successfully regulate trusts, the government of that country will, in hisopinion, be handed over to the Socialists.
– Does the honorablemember subscribe to all that Mr. Taft says ?
– No; nor to all that the honorable ‘ member says, although occasionally I hear pearls of wisdom from his lips. I referred to the matter merely to show that an opponent of Socialism recognises that those who wish to successfully keep it downmust sweep away the evils of which the Socialists complain. I do. not think that’ legislation such as we are considering will be completely successful. It may be possible to destroy, or, at any rate, to cripple, trusts which are unwise enough to allow their agreements to become public; but in the United States of America many of the trade combinations most opposed to the public interest - notably, the great Beef Trust - have, since- adverse decisions were given by the Courts, continued their nefarious practices without a written agreement, under an arrangement termed euphemistically a “gentlemen’s agreement.” That shows that, even with the most rigorouslaws that can be drafted, it will be extremly difficult to secure the proper regulation of combinations opposed to the public interest. We have other concerns which put an unfair price on commodities, but are not trusts or combines. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is neither a combine nor a trust, but it is a monopoly.
– A corporation and a collective institution !
– It has adopted all the features of Socialism which conduce to economy of production and distribution,, but it keeps all the profits, instead of dividing them with the community.
– There would be the same exhibition of human nature under the honorable member’s scheme.
– I have a sincere belief in the ability of civilization to find a remedy for these abuses, but I have not a cutanddried scheme. A very important step forward will be made when the State takes over monopolies of all descriptions, and manages them in the interests of the public. as it already manages a number of concerns. In my opinion, the leader of the Opposition was, during the greater part of his speech, merely beating the air, and devoted a considerable part of his argument to the discovery of a mare’s nest. His first contention was that it would be improper to provide that the averments of the prosecutor shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary. But he had to admit that, even from his stand-point, paragraphs a and b of clause 4 modify the position very considerably. He said that paragraph a removed his objection in regard to intent, although he declared that matters of fact could be deemed proved. I, as a layman, reluctantly place my views against his legal knowledge, but, having carefully looked through the principal Act, I am of opinion that every offence of importance provided for there rests upon the basis of intent. Section 4 reads -
Any person who, either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract, or is or continues to be a member of or engages in any combination, in relation to trade or commerce’ with other countries or among the States -
with intent to restrain trade or commerce to the detriment of the public; or
with intent to destroy or injure by means of unfair competition any Australian industry.
There the intent is the basis of the indictment, and the provision in paragraph a of clause 4 covering intent really removes the objection raised by the right honorable member for East Sydney. Section 4 declares that intent must be proved in each instance, and so do sections 5, 7, and 8. Therefore, the criticism of the right honorable member, should go by the board. He was quite willing that the prosecutor’s averment should be taken to make out a prima facie case.
– What about section 9?
– Section 9 enacts that -
Whoever aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or by act or omission is in any way, directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in or privy to
the commission of any offence against this Part of this Act; or
the doing of any act outside Australia which would, if done within Australia, be an offence against this Part of this Act, shall be deemed to have committed the offence.
Penalty : Five hundred pounds.
Therefore, whoever assists a person proved guilty shall be deemed to have committed the offence for which he was tried. That, however, does not affect my argument that all the indictment sections of the principal Act rest on the basis of intent. I believe, indeed, that the right honorable member for East Sydney was himself responsible for the insertion of the word. I did not object to it, because I think that some proof of intent should be possible under every circumstance, whether by inference or direct evidence. But the qualification to the general proposition that guilt shall be deemed to be proved by the averment of the prosecutor, contained in paragraph a of clause 4, meets his contention in this connexion, and I think that he did not sufficiently appreciate the scope of the principal Act. He also objected to the proposal that the ComptrollerGeneral should have the right of interrogation and production of books. He said that he did not object to give to the Court power to demand the production of books, but that he objected to the French system of allowing the prosecutor to summon and interrogate an accused before trial. So far as the Labour Party is concerned, I do not. think that we have any particular responsibility in this matter. With our views in regard to monopolies, trusts, and combines it is not our business to insist that steps towards regulation should be taken. We think that a much shorter cut is the only road to success. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable members of the Opposition who would permit these abuses to continue rather than adopt methods that have been found necessary elsewhere to cope, or to attempt to cope, with similar abuses.
– And the honorable member says that in spite of the adoption of those methods people elsewhere have not been able to cope with the abuses.
– So far as my reading has gone, in some cases they have not been successful.
– The honorable member believes that we should make this radical departure from British justice for a futile purpose.
– No. I take a different view. My idea is that while politicians of the stamp of the honorable member assure the people that regulation is all that is required, it is very probable that they will not believe that something of a far more radical character is necessary. That being so, I and others think that they should be allowedtotrytheirownmedicine;thatthe responsibility of giving the right medicine rests with them. The honorable member, andthosewhothinkwithhim,arethe practitioners called in at the present time. They have been asked to prescribe for the patient.
– The method for which this Bill provides is surely that of the honorable member’s party. They are going, so to speak, to cram’ it down our throats.
– That, I think, is scarcely a fair description of what has occurred. I have a distinct recollection of some of the remarks that I made when the original Bill was before us. I said then that I had no faith in the efficacy of the proposals embodied in it to cure the trouble aimed at. But, at the same time, I felt it was my duty-
– The honorable member said that it was a stage through which we had to pass.
-Ithinkso. The positionwhichI,and,Ibelieve.anumber of members of the party to which I belong take up, is a very fair one. We say, in effect, to the Opposition, “We are prepared to assist you to carry the most drastic legislation that you consider necessary’ in the direction of regulation, so that if the attempt to deal with these matters by regulation fails, you will have no reason to blame us.”
– This is not our Bill.
-Itakeitthatthe honorable member and the Ministry are at one as to the general principle of regulation.
-I hope not.
– The honorable member means that we are anti-Socialists.
– The honorable member imagines that he is an anti-Socialist, but even on his own confession I should not hold him guilty. There is a well-known rule of law that the confession of an accused person shall be at least supported by circumstantial evidence in order to convict him, and I have had no indication that thehonorablememberiswhathesayshe is. In the United States ofAmerica - and I give this information gratuitously to my honorable friends opposite, who, I am sure, are anxious that this legislation should be successful - it was thought that without the form of interrogation for which the Bill provides, and without the right to insist upon books being inspected there was no hope of a prosecution being successful. It seems to me that owing to what in many cases is the intangible character of the agreement made by combines, and the difficulty in the way of any one outside them being able to prove what the actual condition of affairs is, we have no alternative. I have read judgments in which it has been pointed out that when men are engaged in a conspiracy they take great care to cover up their tracks. After all, that is only human nature. And so, if we are going to unearth what we allege to be a conspiracy against the public interest, we have to go far beyond ordinary methods of procedure. After all, what does this interrogation amount to? It is alleged, let us say, that a trust exists in connexion with the production and sale of harvesters. This Bill provides that- as is the case under the law of the United States of America - the manufacturers of harvesters may be compelled to appear before the ComptrollerGeneral to answer questions put by him, and, if necessary, to produce their books to show that no such trust exists, and that they are working on honest lines. Does that procedure involve any great hardship? If no trial results the information so obtained is treated as confidential. What harm then could be done to an honest person ?
-Whatremedywould a man have against a Minister who mislaid papers so received by him, with the result that - as was the case in connexion with certain papers relating to the duty on pianos, which were submitted to the Minister - some one else got hold of them.
– I do not think that that was the explanation of the case to which the honorable member refers.My recollection is that the party affected asked to be allowed to see the papers, and that the Minister of the day handed over the whole file of papers, being unaware that a confidential document had been added to it by his predecessor. That was a deliberate act. The man who made the application to see the papers did the right thing. A document which slandered him in his business capacity should not have been received as confidential. Had it been handed to me as a Minister, I should have said to the party presenting it, “ Take it back, or I shall publish it.”
– It was alleged to be confidential.
– It was not marked confidential.
– If it were received as confidential, it should have been treated as such, but no Minister should receive from a man as confidential a document that affects the business of others.
– But, having received this document as confidential, the Minister should have treated it as such, or else have returned it.
– I did not re’ceive it as confidential.
– But the honorable member’s colleague did.
– Order !
– The persons who under this Bill may require information on the lines to which I have referred, are the Attorney-General or some person authorized by him, the Comptroller-General, or, when evidence is being given in respect of an alleged offence, the Court. It does not appear to me that an honest trader has anything to fear in respect of such a provision. The worst he could fear would be a disclosure of some of his business methods. We may well trust the Comptroller-General of the day, whoever he may be, not to make any improper disclosures. He has now the control of the Customs revenue, amounting to ^11,000,000 or ^12,000,000 per annum, and necessarily must be intrusted with business secrets of immense importance. An honest trader has nothing to fear from an investigation such as that for which the Bill provides. An honorable member asked a little while ago, “ How would a union like to be subjected to this procedure?” If any union with which I was connected were afraid to have its affairs investigated-, I should say it was about time it disbanded. My own opinion has always been that trade unions are a little too candid in disclosing all their affairs to the general public. I do not observe the same degree of candour on the. part of our friends of the Employers’ Fede-. ration, and do not know that they are to be blamed on that account. My argument is that even although the principle adopted in regard to the production of books and interrogation of persons is a new one, no honest trader has anything to fear, and that the justification for its adoption is that unless drastic steps- are taken, there is no possibility of- securing the result which the majority of honorable members are very anxious to bring about.
.- I agree with the last speaker as- to the provisions of paragraph b of the proposed new section 15. It provides a proper way of dealing with the matter, and by a slight extension of its .provisions the Government would be able to obtain all the information they required in respect to any prosecution under the principal Act. If they take power to interrogate the person who is to be made a’ defendant in certain proceedings, a-nd the right to inspect his books, they will be able to obtain all the information they require to prove intent on any averment under the original Act. But every one must feel that there is a great danger of an innocent person being punished under paragraph a of proposed new section 15. Under that provision, as well as under subclause 4, in any prosecution the defendant is to be assumed to be guilty until he proves his innocence. Many cases may arise in which the defendant may find great difficulty in proving his innocence. The leader of the Labour Party said that under the Mines Act of Victoria, the occurrence of an accident in a mine was prima facie evidence that the fault was that of the mine-owners. That may be a proper provision in respect of a civil proceeding for damages, but under, this Bill a defendant, although innocent, might be unable to prove his innocence, and be sent to gaol. The clause as it stands will open the door to the blackmailer. A man will be able to go to some one in business and say, “ Unless you give me a certain sum, I shall tell the Minister that you have committed an offence under the Act. You may then be prosecuted, and, unless you can prove your innocence, you are assumed to be guilty.” I believe that some people would be weak enough to allow themselves to be blackmailed in such circumstances-
– Is not a safeguard provided by paragraph b ?
– No, because under the first part of sub-clause 4 the moment the Attorney-General, the Crown Prosecutor, or the person who has charge of the case files a. charge the defendant is assumed to be guilty. What would happen to a postmaster if he were proceeded against under such a law as this because there was a shortage in his stamps ? He could go- into the witness box and ray, “ The stamps were in the office drawer, and I did not touch them,” but that would not’ be sufficient for the jury. I remember a curious case which occurred when I resided in Ballarat. A man was prosecuted for passing a counterfeit sovereign, and the magistrates committed him for trial. He appeared before the higher Court, trie Crown Prosecutor conducted the case against him, and after the presiding Judge had summed up, the jury retired to consider their verdict. It then occurred to the learned Judge to ring the coin. He did so, and as it seemed to ring fairly true he examined it closely, and found that there was a slight crack in it. That had caused the whole trouble. He at once recalled the jury, and said, “ Before you give your verdict, gentlemen, I should like to have this coin examined »by an assayer.” That course was adopted, and the coin was found to be perfectly good. Here was ‘an innocent man who was imprisoned for a month before he was tried, and who narrowly escaped imprisonment for two years on a charge of having passed a bad sovereign.
– Innocent men have been hanged.
– Innocent men have been hanged, but only upon evidence produced in courts of law. Would not the position be much more serious if innocent men had been hanged merely upon an assumption that they were guilty, because they could not establish their innocence? Under the Australian Industries Preservation Act great difficulty is experienced in proving intent in the case of combinations alleged to be acting in restraint of trade. I believe that if the Government will extend the provisions of clause 15b by taking unto themselves power to inspect the books belonging to suspected offenders, and by making these persons answer upon oath the questions submitted to them, they will be able to secure sufficient evidence to convict them, if thev are guilty, without throwing upon them the onus of establishing their innocence.
– It is well known that some of the largest of these combines and trusts keep no records at all.
– If that be so,. how can they establish their innocence? The word of an accused person is always received with a certain amount of doubt.
– And the presiding Judge always gives him the benefit of that doubt.
– Not always. In manycases an accused person who is innocent may find it exceedingly difficult to prove his innocence. Surely it is better that one or two guilty persons should escape than that a dozen innocent persons should be punished? . In my judgment, the Bill introduces a very bad principle, which, if applied in the case of a bank teller who inadvertently paid over the counter 5s. in excess of the amount that he should have paid, would ruin him for life.
– In a case such as the honorable member has suggested, the bank merely requires the teller to make up the deficiency:
– But if the principle “embodied in this Bill were applied to such a case, the teller would be deemed to have been guilty of a serious offence.
– The honorable member has said that a Judge never gives the prisoner the benefit of a doubt.
– I did not say that. At present the assumption is that every person is innocent until he has been proved to be guilty. But under this Bill we reverse that position, and we assume that every man against whom a charge is preferred is guilty if he cannot establish his innocence. Thus the presiding Judge would have no alternative but to give the prosecutor and not the defendant the benefit of any doubt that might exist.
– I take exception to the attempt that is being made by honorable members upon the other side of the chamber to make this Bill a party question. It has been suggested that members of the Opposition do not desire to have the injurious operations of trusts and combines controlled by legislation. Indeed, the honorable member for South Sydney insinuated that whilst we professed to be in favour of controlling combinations acting in restraint of trade, we put all the obstacles that we could in the way of legislation designed to achieve that object. I think that that imputation is a very unfair and unjustifiable one.
– The leader of the Labour Party said that we were violently opposed to this legislation.
– The remarks of both leader and ex-leader of the Labour Party conveyed the same erroneous allegations. I resent their insinuations so far as members of the Opposition are concerned. I do not think there is a single member of any party in this House who does not honestly desire to see an effective check imposed upon the injurious operations of trusts and combines.
– Then why do honor-> able members oppose this Bill ?
– We do not oppose the Bill, but only those provisions in it which are manifestly unjust and tyrannical.. I would remind the honorable member that the second reading’ of the principal Act was carried in this House without division. That is a sufficient answer to his insinuation. Does he assert that when a measure is submitted honorable members have no right to discuss it, and to point out its defects?
– They would have no case if they did not put up bogies to knock them down.’
– This particular bogy has less substance in it than has any that has been previously raised. It seems to me that because honorable members of the Opposition exercised their undoubted right to point out defects in the legislation proposed in relation to trusts and combines, they have been charged with being insincere, and with endeavouring to prevent effective control of the evils complained of. The same charge has been levelled against the leader of the Opposition because he has ventured to draw attention to what he believes, to be a very serious defect in this Bill, and one which involves a radical departure from the accepted principles of British jurisprudence. Simply because he has pointed out the danger of passing the measure in its present form, all sorts of unworthy epithets have been hurled at him, and all kinds of unworthy motives imputed to him. That is certainly an unfair way of securing political capital. I think that all parties in this House are agreed that legislation to control trusts and combines is necessary. But as to the principle upon which that legislation should be based, there is surely room for some difference of opinion. In railing at the Opposition because its members had criticised the principal Act, the honorable member for South Sydney affirmed that we had declared that we would take all proper steps to put an end to the evil practices of which complaint is made. That is just the point. We have never said that we would take improper steps to put an end to the evil. Some of the proposals in this Bill are decidedly improper.
– Does the honorable member contend that they are not necessary ?
– I do not contend that it is not necessary to take some action, but I do hold that it is not necessary to take unjust action. What we are now asked to do is to adopt one of the worst features of Continental law which hitherto has been regarded as Utterly foreign to the accepted ideas underlying British justice, and wholly repugnant to British sense of fair play. In only the most extreme cases can such a departure be justified. The question, therefore, presents itself, “ Have those extreme cases arisen?” I do not know. I do not pretend for a moment to believe that there are not injurious trusts operating in the Commonwealth. During the course of the Tariff discussion we had abundant evidence that combinations existed, and were acting in restraint of trade to the “detriment of the community. I am just as anxious’ as is any member of the Labour Party to see those trusts and combines effectually dealt with.
– How would the honorable member deal with them?
– I do not know that it is my province to suggest a remedy. I may be called upon at some future time to deal with the matter, but that time is not. just yet. But I would point out that the honorable member and his party are. largely responsible for the existence of local trusts and combines by the granting of protective monopolies.
– Members of the Opposition are regular professional grumblers.
– I suppose that to grumble is one of the functions of an Opposition. I was surprised to hear the leader of the Labour Party indorse the proposition that an accused person should be deemed to be guilty of an offence merely because he could not establish his innocence.
– He did not say that. He said that the presiding Judge ought to give the accused the benefit of any doubt which existed.
– He said it subsequently. The honorable member for Maranoa asked him a very direct question. He said in effect, “ Suppose I were to charge the honorable member with conducting an illicit still, does he think that he ought to be held to be guilty of the offence in the absence of proof to the contrary?” To that question the leader of the Labour Party replied “Yes.”
– He did not want to be suspected of personal bias.
– To me his declaration was most astounding, because it involves a recognition of the principle that one person has only to prefer an accusation “against another to insure that the latter shall immediately be deemed to be guilty of the charge.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.15 p.m.
– The leader of the Labour Party admitted that there was a possibility of injustice arising under some of the provisions of the Bill, but urged that we had a sympathetic Parliament, which would amend the measure at any future time if hardship were inflicted on even one person in thecommunity. . The. honorable member expressed a great desire to see justice done, but I presume that he does not claim a monopoly of that desire; and the time to do justice, or to prevent injustice, is now. ‘ We have the opportunity to amend the law by eliminating all those provisions which involve injustice, and substitute others more in keeping with our ideas of equity. I hope honorable members on all sides will putaway any idea of introducing a party element into this debate. The leader of the Opposition has done a distinct service in his criticism of the measure ; and, in considering the defects which the right honorable member pointed out, I hope honorable members will have only the one object of making this as near as possible a perfect Bill. The honorable member for Dal ley, in referring to the clause which compels suspected persons to produce all documents, and answer all questions, asserted that the information thus obtained was not to be used for the purpose of formulating any charge against thatperson. The ground on which the honorable member defended the clause is entirely erroneous. He drew attention to sub-section 4, which, he held, showed that none of the documents or statements could be used as evidence by the prosecution ; and, while I do not impute any desire to the honorable member to mislead the House, it is evident that he has not read the provisioncarefully. He relied on that portion of the clause which read as follows -
No person shall be excused from answering any questions or producing any documents when required to do so under this section on the ground that the answer to the question or the production of the document might tend to criminate him ; but his answer shall not be admissible in evidence against him in any civil or criminal proceeding.
There he stopped, I do not say intentionally, and I desire to point out that the words which follow - and which apparently escaped his notice - show that the intention is to collect evidence against suspected persons. The words which follow are - other than a proceeding for an offence against this Partof this Act.
It is clear, therefore, that the object is to make the suspected person the means of supplying information to his prosecutor. Sub-clause 3 of the proposed new section distinctly states -
The Comptroller-General or any person to whom any documents are produced in pursuance of this section may take copies of or extracts from those documents.
What can be the purpose of taking extracts or copies if it is not that of collecting evidence against the suspected person? Unless the documents can be so used the proceeding is practically useless.
– The intention may be just the opposite - to enable the man to stop any further proceedings.
– I admit that the production of the books and the documents and the answers to questions might lead the Comptroller-General to form the opinion that there was no case. On the other hand, ‘however, the obvious object is to get evidence against the suspected person, and make him. supply it himself.
– It is the ordinary system of interrogation that takes place in all legal procedure of this kind before the parties get to close quarters.
– But such an interrogation is not by the prosecutor or under penalty of a heavy fine for refusing information. When a man is arrested by an ordinary policeman or detective he is always cautioned that whatever he may say will be used in evidence against him and he can refuse to answer, whereas under the Bill a suspected person has no option, being subject to a fine of£50 for refusing to answer. It will be seen, therefore, that there is a radical difference between the two systems.’
– One may reasonably suppose that those who join combinations and trusts do not require much cautioning against committing themselves. .
– It is all very well to say that ; but if the principle of this measure were applied toordinary cases, the most innocent person in the world would be held to be guilty until he had proved his innocence. Indeed, as we all know, there might, in an ordinary case, be circumstances which would render it almost impossible for an accused person to prove his innocence. The leader of the Opposition has pointed out the danger of the words of the proposed new provision 15A, which are as follows -
In any prosecution for an offence against sections four, five, seven, eight, or nine of this Act the averments of the prosecutor contained in the information declaration or claim shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary.
The words “ shall be deemed to be proved “ are in such a case wholly contrary to the spirit of fair play. The leader of the Opposition, moreover, gave a specific instance in which a magistrate, because of similar words in another Act, felt it his duty to convict a person, although he had a doubt as to that person’s guilt. I am sure we have no desire to see instances of that kind if they can be avoided. I hope the Government and the members of the Labour Party will .not regard as unfriendly any proposed amendments simply because they happen to come from the leader of the Opposition or other honorable members on this side. I am afraid that more than once in the past measures which might have been made much more effective have suffered simply because any suggestion from this side has been treated as hostile. I am in perfect accord with the desire to deal drastically and effectively with, combines and trusts formed for the purpose of injuriously affecting trade and the community generally, and I am prepared to support any fair arid just proposal with that object in view. At the same time, we must remember that if we set out to cure an admitted evil by means of unjust law, the only result must be the creation of a greater evil. The evil is intensified by the fact that injustice and injury are done with the sanction of the law. I shall support the second reading, but I propose in Committee to ask honorable members to consider amendments for getting rid of the difficulties which have been complained of. I thought at first that, instead of allowing the Comptroller-General, who will be the prosecutor in these cases, to have power on his own initiative to call an accused before him and require the production of books and papers, the assistance of a magistrate might be invoked. But, on talking the matter over with one or two, it was pointed out - I think with some reason - that that might not be the most advisable course to follow. I think, however, that leave should be obtained from a Judge of a
Supreme Court, or from a Justice of the High Court, before the ComptrollerGeneral should summon persons before him. The liberty of the subject is of paramount consideration.
– Is not the liberty of the subject interfered with by trusts ?
– We do not wish to do injustice to any member of the community. The leader of the Labour Party has expressed the desire to do justice to all, and we have now an opportunity to prevent the perpetration of injustice. Therefore I appeal to honorable members not to treat the measure in a party spirit, but to deal with proposed amendments on their merits. If we can eliminate the unjust provisions of the Bill without impairing its. effectiveness, I think every one will be satisfied. Personally I shall give careful consideration to amendments, wherever they may come from.
-3Sl- - I certainly think that there is need for very stringent legislation to cope with the injurious operations of trusts and coinbines. A recent book, entitled Frenzied Finance, exposed the doings of American Trusts, mentioning the names of wellknown persons. The revelations contained in that work show it to be necessary to take extreme measures for ascertaining facts in regard to the operations of corporations and the objects which they have in view. In many cases their promoters start out with the intention of committing fraud. They know that they will impoverish persons who can least afford to lose their money, from whom they take in the aggregate millions of pounds. It is necessary therefore, to pass legislation to give effect to the wish of the people that they shall be protected from the injurious operation of trusts and combines. But we shall be as bad as the trusts which try to govern and oppress the community, if we adopt the measures practised in certain parts of America. In the dark ages, the thumb screw was resorted to to obtain information ; but no one would think of using that method at the present day, notwithstanding its directness. Then, in China, when they want to get to the bottom of things, they persecute men By preventing them from going to sleep. The course proposed by the Government, of calling upon accused persons to give evidence against themselves, is a near approach to such persecution. A man’s books are to be taken from him by force, and the Comptroller-General is to bring him before the Court without any explanation. He may be charged with a heinous offence, and committed by the Bench because there is no alternative but to find him guilty in the absence of proof of his innocence. While we may look with dread upon the practice of some modern nations, and shudder at what has been done in years gone by, we are, by our legislation, getting very near to thosepractices. I desire legislation against trusts, but I do not desire that the innocent shall be condemned because he cannot produce sufficient evidence to satisfy the Court of his innocence. Every one has confidence in the High Court Bench, composed as it is of men of integrity, the best of our best trained in the law. The Justices of the High Court know the conditions of this country, and are well versed in the laws of’ America, upon which this legislation is based. If an accused person had to be brought before a Justice of the High Court in Chambers, before the case could be taken into Court, no one would have grounds for complaint ; because the farseeing men who compose the High Court Bench would be able to determine at once whether there was or was not sufficient evidence upon which to found a charge against the accused. If we adopt some such procedure as that, we shall, I think, achieve our end, and get rid of the objectionable provisions of the Bill which make a man guilty before he is tried. We are proud of the principle of British law that no man shall be deemed guilty until he has been proved so ; and permit even guilty men to plead not guilty, because we hold that the law must prove them guilty before condemning them. If there is not sufficient evidence to satisfy the Justice that a man should be put on his trial, there should be no case. Therefore, in Committee, I shall try tosecure the insertion of a provision which, while allowing the object of the Bill to be achieved, will eliminate its objectionable features. We cannot adopt the easy and direct methods of the Dark Ages, but must try to do what is right and fair as between man and man. If we fail to Bring the guilty to justice, we shall, at least, have failed honorably; but we must not in any case condemn the innocent to an eternity of persecution and degradation. The innocent must not suffer for the guilty, nor must they suffer at all. Any person against whom a charge is made should, in the first place, be given an opportunity to satisfy an impartial Judge that he is not guilty.
.- While having no sympathy with combines and trusts, I must say that some of the provisions of the Bill are, in my humble opinion, contradictory to British fair play and justice. The leader of the Opposition this morning referred to a Sydney case, in which a police magistrate was compelled to give a decision against his conscience, and the Full Court would have had to uphold it, had the magistrate held his tongue, and not given reasons. A warrant was issued on the information laid, and section 144 of the Excise Act provides that in every Excise prosecution the averment of the prosecutor in the information shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of a proof to the contrary. The police magistrate convicted, and fined the accused, saying at the time, “I am not satisfied that the accused knew of the existence of the still on his premises.” In other words, the police magistrate convicted although not satisfied of the guilt of the accused. The Full Court held that if the magistrate had convicted without making any statement of his opinion, his decision could not have been disturbed ; that the magistrate might not have been satisfied with the defendant’s evidence, and that if it were unsatisfactory he could have relied on the provisions of the section, and have given effect to the information. In other words, although the magistrate had a big doubt in his own mind as to the evidence being sufficient to convict the defendant had he simply registered the conviction, and given no reasons for it, the Full Court could not have upset his decision. This is an illustration of the hardship that might be inflicted by such a provision as this upon any citizen of the Commonwealth. If a manbe guilty of an offence, by all means let him be punished ; but it is a novel proposal that a man should be compelled to give evidence against himself. I pointed out to the leader of the Labour Party this morning that if I chose to lay an information against him, asserting that on a certain date he was working an illicit still on his premises, it would be open to the Department to proceed against him upon my information, and he would be called upon to prove his innocence. On the date of the alleged offence he might have been doing something of whichhe did not want the world to know, and rather than make any disclosure he would look pleasant and pay up, although he had never had a still on his premises.
– The honorable member is selecting the wrong man for that sort of thing.
– I am merely stating a supposititious case. I am not. suggesting that the honorable member would do such a thing. But every man is not the Simon Pure that he is.
– Evidence would have to be given in support of the charge.
– If the honorable member were a defendant in such proceedings, and could not produce evidence that he was not working an illicit still on the date named in the information, he would be convicted.
– I differ from the honorable member. Such a provision as that to which I have referred opens the door to blackmail.
– Is the Comptroller a blackmailer?
– I am not suggesting that he is. Under the Excise Act,- any one may give information regarding the use of an illicit still, and the Comptroller must take cognizance of that information. I have no sympathy with combines or trusts, but I have sympathy with human beings, and a trust is, of course, composed of in,dividuals. The Minister told me this morning a rather good yarn about an American’s view of a combine.- When he asked an American citizen what he thought about the trusts in America, he received the reply, “They are bad things to be out of, but really good things to be in.” If I told honorable members how, on a capital investment of ^100, they could make £1,000 profit, do you not think, Mr. Speaker, that they would all want to have a cut in? There would be a rush for the spoils. That is the position in a nutshell. If we are going to take action against trusts and combines, let us proceed against them as we should against any individual. We should have a line state of affairs if, as the honorable member for Robertson has pointed out, the members of a combine were compelled to give evidence against themselves. That does not, savour of the British justj.ce that is being constantly belauded.
– Should a man hide his crime?
– Perhaps- the honorable member has hidden a crime before to-day. If we had our deserts, I dare say .that many of us would be convicted of some offence.’ It is all very well for the honorable member to ask me whether a man should hide his crime-
– But the honorable member proposes to help the members of a combine to hide their offence.
– No. All that I say is that we should treat every one alike. Before a man is convicted he should be given a fair trial. If, as the result of that trial, he is found guilty, he should be punished accordingly ; but I for one will have nothing to do with a proposal that a man should be compelled to convict himself.
.- It is apparent that the Government find it necessary to take action to render more effective the principal Act ‘passed in 1906, and to that extent I feel it my duty to assist them. It is idle to pass a law and allow it to remain a dead letter on the statute-book. If we admit, as I certainly do, that combines and trusts can so act as to be adverse to the interests of the community, we must be prepared either to control them by law, or to agree to the State taking their business into its own hands. I am not prepared to support the adoption of the latter course, for I feel that we should, as far as possible, give full scope to enterprise as long as it is beneficial and not adverse to the general interests of the Commonwealth. As I am opposed to the nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, it is incumbent upon me to assist the Government in passing legislation to control combines or trusts that are found to be prejudicial to the interests of the community. There can be ‘ no doubt that we all have an innate love of what we describe as British justice. We do not desire that a man shall be deemed guilty of an offence until his guilt has been established. It may be necessary under a law of this kind to adopt vigorous measures for the repression of detrimental trusts, and I am inclined to go some way towards making a person suspected of an offence prove his . innocence. I listened with attention to the remarks made by the right honorable member for East Sydney in reference to subclause 4 of the proposed new section 15A, which provides that the averment . of the prosecutor shall be deemed to be proof in the absence of proof to the contrary ; but I did not gather how he proposed to amend the clause. I shall be quite willing to assist him to amend it. so that there will be no likelihood of such a case arising under it as is said to have been heard recently in Sydney, where an innocent man was declared guilty because the presiding magistrate considered that he had not absolutely proved his innocence. I heard” the speech delivered by the honorable member for South Sydney, and I do not think that proposed new section 15a contains any provisions that, are not already in the principal Act. I have no objection to the sub-clause which provides for the production of documents, believing that such a provision is necessary in order that justice may be done. At the same time, I certainly do not favour a proposal to compel a man to give evidence to incriminate himself. Such a proposition is altogether foreign to our ideas of British justice. We have always been told, and have thought, that no man should be compelled to give evidence that would incriminate himself, and I do not think that sub-clause 4 of isa is necessary. That a man should be compelled to give evidence on oath in order to make out a case against himself at a preliminary hearing is opposed to my idea of justice. It is altogether tin-British. Another point that is worthy of consideration is that by declining to give evidence on the ground that he might incriminate .himself, an accused person would very much prejudice his case. Such an attitude would not, in the opinion of the justice or the presiding officer, improve his. position. If a person were to say to any one of us in the ordinary course of business, “ I cannot tell you. anything about such-and-such a matter, because, if I did. I might appear in a disadvantageous light,” I think we should record a mark against’ him. The leader of the Labour Party appeared to pose as taking very high ground. He said, very properly, that we were all desirous of doing justice, and went on to declare that if only one man were injuriously affected by any legislation that we passed, there was not one honorable member who would refuse to assist him to secure redress. Those are very fine sentiments, but have we not had’ before us for the last six months a case of great injustice done to a large number of members of the community, and in respect of which no protest has been made in the House? What have honorable members to say about manufacturers in this State - to go no further - who have complied with the State law in regard to the payment . of rates of wages fixed, not by themselves, but by Wages Boards, but who have nevertheless been called upon to pay fines for their failure to observe a scale of wages and regulations of which they had no knowledge and of which’ they were absolutely ignorant. Having complied with the State law, they are now being called upon to pay higher wages from a time anterior to the date upon which the recent decision of the Arbitration Court was given. I ask “ Is that just?”
– There were no Wages Boards in connexion with that industry.
– I demur to the accuracy of that statement. Recent events conclusively show that there is not always that paramount desire to do justice to every man of which the leader of the Labour Parity boasted so much”. I. am under no obligation to trusts or .combines, and I have no sympathy with them when their operations are prejudicial to the best interests of the general community. I admit that they ought to be controlled, because their operations may be adverse to the interests of the general public. But I ask “ What about the Combine of which most of us have heard?” Surely it is not to the interests of the community that the Newcastle mines should refuse to supply coal to any but a limited number of shipping companies.
– That is the sort of thing that we desire to remedy.
– Let the honorable member ask the Labour Party if its members desire to break up that combine.
– Is it conducive to the welfare of the community that those mines should refuse to supply any coal to any but a few shipping companies? In Western Australia we cannot get a ton of coal unless we purchase it through one of the few shipping companies. .
– Can we regulate that matter?
– Then why does not the right honorable member do it?
– Why do riot . the Labour Party do it? Of course there are some combines and monopolies whose operations confer a .benefit upon the community.
– Will the right honorable member mention one?
– I will. Not long ago, in company with Senator Best, I travelled up to Northern Queensland, and as the result of inquiry I was surprised to be informed many times, in answer to my inquiries, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was a beneficent combine.
– It is as bad as the tobacco combine.
– I am told that in Western Australia there is a timber combine.
– I do not see the force of that remark. There is just as much likelihood of a combine operating in Western Australia to the detriment of the community as elsewhere. All combines need . to be controlled, and I am willing to grant that control to the governing body. I think that clause 15A of this Bill ought to be modified so that a person accused shall not be deemed to be guilty of an offence under it before his guilt has been proved. I also object to an accused person being called upon to give evidence to incriminate himself before he is tried. Of course the power to compel the production of documents is a necessary one, in order that the Customs Department may be able to discover whether operations in restraint of trade are being carried on. I am in favour of some such provision being inserted in this measure. At the same time I am not in favour of turning our ordinary legal procedure upside down by calling upon an accused person to incriminate himself. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, and perhaps in Committee the Government will reconsider one or two of the points to which so much criticism has been directed.
– It seems to me remarkable that honorable members opposite should be so concerned about preventing accused persons under this Bill from incriminating themselves. It is generally conceded that those who are unwilling to produce evidence are guilty of illegal practices, and have something to hide, because if they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear. Why, then, should honorable members opposite argue that trusts and combines must not be asked any questions? When a man is accused of an offence his silence isprima facie evidence of his guilt. But I would point out that this Bill does not provide that any person shall be condemned without first being accorded a hearing. It merely insures that publicity shall not be given to cases until they are brought before the Court, so that the country may be saved the expense of unnecessary and speculative actions. If those concerned are honorable men,they will not shrink from giving evidence. If they are afraid of the light of day it is our duty to make them disclose their position. This afternoon the honorable member for Maranoa suggested that under this Bill the Comptroller- General of Customs might be called upon to take action upon the ipse dixit of anybody. That, however, is not the case. The Bill provides that the Comptroller-General shall take action only after he has satisfied himself that a complaint is well founded. Personally I do not know anything of the coal combine to which the right honorable member for Swan has referred. The matter has not been brought before this House, and if it were I venture to say that a number of honorable members opposite would be the first to exclaim, “ This is a State matter. It does not concern the Commonwealth.”
– The honorable member would not seek to touch it.
– I would certainly touch it every day in the week if it were injurious to the general ‘welfare of the community. I am always to be found on the side of justice.
– Has the honorable member any interest in the coal vend?
– That question is irrelevant to the issue. If the question should ever come before the House I shall then be found taking up the same attitude that I do now. I trust that the second reading of this measure will be carried.
– It appears to me thatI must be included in the category of those who do not believe in justice because I intend to support this Bill. How does the old idea that a man should be presumed to be innocent of any offence until he has been convicted, pan out in practice? If a person is accused of theft is not his possession of the stolen goods accepted as evidence of his guilt in the absence of a satisfactory explanation? Then, again, circumstantial evidence is admissible even in cases where a man is being tried for his life. As bearing on the proposal that trusts shall be compelled to disclose information which may have the effect of incriminating them, I may be permitted to mention a case which occurred in my own electorate, and which some time ago I brought under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs. A certain firm which was carrying on business in the glass bevelling line came into opposition to the rest of the glass bevellers of Victoria. What was the result? It was unable to obtain a square yard of glass in this State. It sent to Sydney for supplies, but these were refused, and, to make matters worse, when its representative visited an indentor who had arranged to obtain a supply for it, he was told, “ Oh, the glass for your firm was left at Hamburg.” In such circumstances is it not fair to assume that the firm in question was the victim of the operations of a combine?
– How will this Bill affect a case of that sort?
Mr.MATHEWS.- The idea underlying this Bill is that an accused person must be able to offer some evidence to show that he is innocent of the charge preferred against him. The case to which I have referred was a most cruel one, and almost resulted in the destruction of an industry. I mention it with a view to showing that to a great extent this. Bill would place in the hands of officials machinery by means of which such offenders may be. prosecuted. Whilst I concede that the Opposition desire to mete out justice to every man, we claim the same credit for honorable members on this side.
– The honorable member’s colleague has just said that we were in conspiracy to aid offenders.
– I did not take my colleague’s words as bearing that meaning. It seems to me that the insinuation of honorable members opposite is that we propose to convict a man without taking any evidence, if he cannot prove himself innocent; but that is not so. We take the stand we do, because we regard this amendment of the original Act as essential to the preservation of the industries of Australia.
.- I am with those who are ready and prepared to take all steps that can usefully be taken to provide a workable and legitimate means of preventing detrimental combines and trusts within the Commonwealth of Australia. But I join issue with the honorable member who has just sat down, when he says that the powers with which we propose to endow the administration do not go further than is necessary. If the honorable memberlooks at clause 4, he will see, in the first place, that the averment or the charge of the prosecutor shall be deemed to be absolute proof - I am putting in the word “absolute” - of guilt in the absence of proof to the contrary. Those words do not mean that the averment shall be merely deemed to be evidence of the charge - though that is what I, and I believe the House generally, would like to see provided - but absolute proof. Even if evidence were brought forward by the personcharged, the Judge, if he had not actually come to a definite conclusion, or was not satisfied, might give the benefit of the doubt, not to the accused party, but to the party making the accusation.
-In spite of subclause b?-
– That sub-clause only deals with an indictable offence, and the principle is the same, whether the penalty be fine or imprisonment. I am quite willing to be convinced ; but I cannot see why the substitution of the word “ evidence “ for “ proof “ should not satisfy honorable members opposite. The objection I’ have mentioned is the first that we on this side have to the measure, though it is,’ in no sense, a vital objection, because our main anxiety is to make the operation of the Bill successful. The next objection to the Bill is one which, I think, has possibly not been completely appreciated. That is not because it has not been ably placed before . the House, but . because, owing to our methods of conducting business, honorable members, and myself amongst them, go in and out of the chamber, and may miss the most convincing of the arguments. The objection which appeals very strongly to myself is that, when a complaint is made, the Comptroller-General may call upon the suspected party to produce his books and documents, not in a Court of law, but before the Comptroller himself, although he really stands in the position of a policeman bringing the charge. Personally, I desire to see books produced, and every method adopted to compel detrimental trusts and combines to show the ramifications of their business. But I say, without hesitation, that to ask trusts and combines to produce their books to the prosecutor, and not in a Court of law, is a dangerous innovation, which will not have the effect which we so eagerly desire to see follow the passing of this Bill’. I am perfectly willing that the Minister of Trade and Customs, through the Comptroller-General, should ask the Court for an order for the production of books. So far, I should be prepared to go ; but it would be much better if the books were produced and dealt with in Court.
– Why take the books needlessly into Court ? Why not let the officers say whether or not there is a good case ?
– If the principle advocated bv the honorable member were applied to the ordinary daily business of the Courts, it would not facilitate justice in legal actions in the least.
– Does a man not consult his solicitor before he goes to Court?
– Yes; but he does not consult the other party’s solicitor, or call upon the other party to produce all his proofs to his own solicitor.
– The Government stand in a different relation to the public, from that in which one private individual stands to another.
– Is that a new definition of the functions of Government? I fail to understand the Government, as a great authority, with powers outside the ordinary duties of equity, and the good feeling for the rights of others which one member of the community bears to another.
– Government is the great supervisor.
– But the Government, having those enormous powers, the honorable member .will admit, the expediency, and, indeed, the absolute necessity of the Government exercising them with great caution.
– Exactly. Hence the conference before the case is taken to Court.
– Hence, rather, my suggestion that the Court should be asked to authorize, so serious a step.
– Does the honorable member contend that the Government should have no greater powers than have individuals ?
– I hope the honorable member will treat this matter seriously.
– I am treating it just as seriously as is the honorable member.
– I am endeavouring to place the case before the House to. the best of my ability.
– The honorable member started to say what I have indicated, but I think he altered his mind.
– I did not say that I thought the Government ought to have no greater powers than have individuals, but that the Government ought to have the same sense of equity and good feeling that there is between individual and individual.
– I think that if the honorable member examines the sentence tomorrow in Hansard, he will find it as I have said.
– I think I shall find that my memory is quite as accurate, as that of the honorable member. I ‘hope the House will not be swayed by any ill-feeling against the persons and the bodies whom we are attempting to reach by means of this Bill. We all desire that practices which have already grown up to some extent in Australia, shall not be allowed to assume the proportions which they have in the United States. In my opinion, we can safeguard Australia without proceeding to the extreme lengths ‘ proposed, and thus upsetting the bases of legal procedure - without giving the Government, as prosecutors,” enormous powers, which, I am quite sure, could be exercised by the Court with equal effect, and without the accompanying danger.
– How does the honorable member propose to do so?
– I have already explained, I think sufficiently clearly, how we could avoid danger, by, in the first place, asking the Court for an order for the production of books to the Comptroller-General, or any other officer authorized to conduct the case. I should like to point out that these clauses have not been explained fully by the Government. Yesterday, I was rather shocked to hear the Minister say that there had been several complaints made to the Government as to the existence of illegal trusts and combines in Australia ; but that, after consultation with the Crown Solicitor, no action had been taken. In my opinion,. it was the duty of the Government, with the information they had, to take every step to test in the Court the validity of the Act of Parliament, with the administration of which’ they are charged. I do not think it right for the Minister to say that the Act would, or would not, fail ; it is his duty to test the question.
– Against the advice of the Crown Solicitor?
– I do not think that the advice of the Crown Solicitor is necessarily infallible.
– But if an action, brought in spite of the Crown Solicitor’s advice, failed, there would be justification for turning the Government out of office.
– I never heard such a ridiculous proposition in my life as that whenever a Government case failed, we were entitled to turn the Administration out of office. The Government have failed in numerous actions, and yet there has never been a whisper from any section of the House.
– I’f a case is taken into Court against the advice of the responsible officer, and it fails, the Government are liable.
– Of course, the Government are bound to take full responsibility for their action.
– And we should be responsible if we acted against the advice of the Crown Solicitor.
– Personally, in a - case where I knew great injustice was being done to the trading and general community by detrimental combines, I should take every step to test the value of the Act of Parliament, and not merely have relied on the decision of the Crown Solicitor. The Government are now endeavouring, by means of this amending Bill, to perfect the original Act; but what do we find? The principle of deeming a man guilty until he proves himself innocent is accepted ; and such proof is most difficult to present.
– The man is not said to be guilty, but is asked to clear himself.
– If the honorable member reads the clause, he will see that a man is to be deemed guilty unless he proves absolutely to the satisfaction of the Judge - not unless he adduces evidence, but proves - that there is nothing in the charge.
– That is the case in regard to any charge.
– That is not so. In any other charge, where the prosecuting counsel cannot prove to the satisfaction of the Judge that the accused is guilty, the latter is acquitted. Under the Bill, however, unless it is proved to the satisfaction of the Judge that the accused is innocent, he is deemed to be guilty.
– If a man is guilty he is guilty, and if he is innocent he is innocent.
– I am afraid I cannot argue any further with the honorable member. But if honorable members look at paragraph a. of the proposed new provision 15A, they will see it there provided that -
The averment in the information of intent shall not be deemed sufficient to prove such intent.
Under the original Act, a number of things are necessary to prove guilt. In the first place, it has to be proved that the accused entered into an illegal combination, and, in the next place, that that combination is to the detriment of trade. In the third place, the combination that was entered into with “ intent “ to detrimentally affect trade. Although a layman, I take it that ‘ intent ‘ ‘ is, under any circumstances, the. hardest thing to prove. No’ doubt, in many cases,’ the existence of a combine can be proved, and it may be shown that its operations are detrimental to the general public. But it will be hard to prove that it was definitely and wilfully formed for the injury of the public. Why,, then, has “intent “ been deliberately omitted from this provision? I am as anxious as any honorable member in the House to make the Bill efficacious, and therefore I bring forward this evidence, not of carelessness in drafting, but of deliberate omission. I hope that, when the AttorneyGeneral is. able to attend, he will ‘explain why it is proposed to insert the proposed new paragraph a in section 15a.
– The principle has already been adopted in one or two Acts
– -It has been adopted in the Customs and Excise Acts, but in ‘a test case, tried in New South Wales, the decision of a magistrate who, on the wording of the Act, declared an accused guilty, although he said he was not satisfied of his guilt, was upset on appeal, on the ground that his reading of the plain words of the Act was opposed to a basic principle of British justice. I do not wish to delay these proceedings ; but I hope the AttornevGeneral. when he is able to attend, will explain why “ intent,” the existence of which it is most difficult to prove, has been deliberately excluded’ from this measure.
– Like other honorable members, I shall be glad for . something to be done for the repression of combines, trusts, and other corporations which work injuriously to the public interest, but am not prepared to go. quite so far as the Bill proposes that we should go. I think that there is no need for the powers asked for by the Government. With regard to the provision in clause 4, about which there has been so much discussion, I think that, instead of providing that the averment of the prosecutor contained in the information shall be deemed to be. proved, we should provide that it shall be considered prima facie evidence. So worded, the provision should enable us to effect the object in view. The Full. Court of New South Wales held that the same words in the Excise Act must have been used in that way. Instead of reading them literally, the Court held that Parliament must have meant that the averment should be regarded as prima facie evidence. Had it thought otherwise, it . would have had to- uphold the ‘decision of the Police Magistrate, which was clearly unjust. As to the proposed new section 15c, why should not the Government be satisfied to give to a Judge the power to summon before him all necessary witnesses, with documents and papers, when called upon to try a case? Under- the provision in the Bill, any one could say to the Comptroller of Customs that, in his opinion, a combination existed, and the Comptroller would be able to cause the person against whom the charge was laid to appear before him, and to produce all his books and documents, so that a case might be worked up against him. To my mind, an accused should not be called upon to produce his books until he is actually before the Court. I do not think we should go back to the French system of taking evidence. If the officers of the Department are ‘ vigilant, they will be able to obtain sufficient evidence to bring cases, supposing that there are in existence all the injurious trusts which have been spoken of. Once they have discovered good grounds for making a charge aganst any corporation, let them hale it before the Court. I shall not oppose the second reading, but I hope that, in Committee, alterations will be made to meet the objections which have been raised. If, later on, it is found that the Government does not possess sufficient powers for the suppression of injurious combinations, it will be our duty to amplify its powers. Although many were opposed to the passing of the Australian Industries Preservation Act, now that it is law we are bound to make it effective.
– I listened with great interest to the address of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who tried to make it appear that a new principle is being introduced into our legislation. As a matter of fact, the principle is not new. It was adopted by the Imperial Parliament some years ago, and already finds a place on our statutebook, it being proposed now merely to extend it to proceedings against trusts and combines. In my opinion, it will be necessary to do a. great deal more than is contemplated to effectively repress these corporations. The right honorable member for East. Sydney, when the Commerce Bill was before the House, seemed to think it an unnecessary interference with trade; but I am glad that he has since found it to be necessary. The late Right Honorable Mr. Richard Seddon,- dealing with trusts, made this remarkable statement -
The trust evil is rearing ils head very high in New Zealand -
No higher than in Australia-
There are. the tobacco and the harvester trusts, and various combines of all kinds. We think that wherever a trust obtains, in, regard to foodstuffs especially, the State must step in as the only power to combat it. Legislation is a very slow process, especially when fines only are the penalties. My opinion is that the remedy is to have no fines, but imprisonment pure and simple, and nothing but imprisonment.
– Was Mr. Seddon a great economic authority?
– I think so; and he successfully undertook experiments which have not been tried in the Commonwealth. The Bill does not go nearly as far as he was prepared to go. He continued -
I fail to see the difference between a highwayman who forces from another what belongs to him and the combines or trusts that practically do the same thing.
If a poor man, compelled by hunger or the needs of his children, steals a loaf of bread, he is placed in gaol. Mr. Seddon would deal in exactly the same way with those who form combinations with respect to foodstuffs. I think that ‘the Bill does not go far enough, and, that, later on, further amending legislation will be required. When we take this action I trust that honorable members of the Opposition will follow their leader and say that since something more than the principal Act is necessary to enable us to combat the evil, we should give the Government the additional power they require. The leader of the Opposition said it was monstrous to assume that a man was guilty of an offence and to punish him if he could not prove his innocence. A magistrate who would go so far as did the justice in the -illicit distillation case mentioned by the right honorable member for East Sydney - who would say, “ The defendant has not proved his innocence ; I am not satisfied that he is guilty, and I am not satisfied that he is not. I am therefore going to convict him instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt “ is certainly not fit to administer the law. Let me draw the attentionof honorable members to the decision in the Taff Vale case. Leading constitutional authorities in the House of Commons declare that inthat case the House of Lords wentaltogether beyond the Statute indeclaring that unions had no legal standing. They assert that the Judges entirely misinterpreted the law, and thatby reason of their decision not one but tens of thousands of individuals suffered. I have just as strong an objection to Judges who would give such a ruling as I have to a magistrate who would give a decision like that mentioned by the right honorable member for East Sydney. There is a common saying that we have a great deal of Judgemade law. In my opinion we have too much of it.
– Who should make the law - politicians?
– Politicians ought to make the law, and when we find that a Judge will not interpret the law as passed by Parliament-
– As we think he ought to, we should removehim from the Bench ?
– Undoubtedly. If the honorable member for Parramatta misinterpreted what his constituents understood was his policy it wouldbe their duty to elect another representative inhis place. If thatmale applies to a member of Parliament who assists in makingthe law it oughtcertainly to applyto the Judges who administer it.
– Then the Judges are to judge the cases and we are to judge theJudges.
– Undoubtedly. The decisions of the Judges are open to be reviewed not only by Parliament, but by the people generally.
– And, of course, we are quite competent to pass judgment upon their decisions in matters of law !
– At any rate I should not be a party to the passing of a law that I did not understand. When I find a Judge misinterpreting the law I shall express my opinion about the matter. Looking at the whole history of trade unions and litigation - as far back as the Statute of Labourers passed in 1352 - I find that the Bench has always been against them . Some of the ablest lawyers in the Old Country say that the Bench ‘has always had a leaning towards the capitalists.
– And therefore against the honorable member’s party ?
– If the Labour Party had a majority in the House of Commonswe should find some of the Judges construing the law in a very different way than they do now.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member completely gives away his case. I do not think that the powers sought by the Government are excessive. They involve no new principle of law. The principle for whichthey fight is embodied not only in our Excise Act but in our coinage laws as we’ll as in other legislation. If with the growth of civilization it is found necessary to extend our laws I hope that honorable members of the Opposition will follow the example of their leader and say, “ Since this legislation is ineffective we are prepared totake steps to make it effective.” That is all that we are asked to ‘do, and I am entirely in favour of the Government proposal.
– I would suggest to the Minister the advisableness of agreeing to the debate being adjourned.
– We are prepared to adjourn after the second reading of the Bill has been agreed to.
– I am particularly anxious that the second reading should not be carried until the Attorney-General, who is in charge of the Bill, is able to be present so that we may ask him togive us the facts concerning the absolute necessity for thismeasure. If the honorable gentleman will convince me that the principal Act is an absolute failure-
– I do not know whether the honorable member realizes that he is now speaking to the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– I had overlooked that fact, sir, and wasthinking for the moment that we were in Committee. Nothing will be lost by the Minister consenting now to an adjournment of the debate.
– I do not think it is reasonable for the honorable member to ask for an adjournment, seeing that the motion for the second reading of the Bill has been fully discussed all day-
– In the absence of the AttorneyGeneral.
– Every one knows that the Attorney-General is in Court to-day.
– Hear, hear. I am not blaming him.
– No honorable member has dared to declare himself against the principle of the Bill. Our de- . sire is that the Bill should be read a second time and committed fro forma this afternoon. I undertake that in that event a full statement will be made in reply to the objections that have been raised.
– They cannot be traversed in Committee.
– The only objection raised has been in. respect of one or two clauses, and it is something new to. learn that the clauses of a Bill cannot be discussed in Committee.’ If there were any reason why we should not pass the second reading of this Bill I should be very glad . to comply with the honorable member’s request.
– I would remind the Minister that the question of whether or not the debate shall be adjourned cannot be discussed. I have already allowed him considerable latitude, and I must nowask him either to move the adjournment of the debate or to allow the discussion upon the second reading of the Bill to proceed.
– I may go further, and say-
– I must call the Minister’s attention to the fact that he cannot go further. Either the motion for the’ second reading of the Bill must be discussed, or the debate must be adjourned.
– I move -
Thatthe debate be adjourned.
-The motion is not seconded.
– Certain remarks were made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh this afternoon, which appeared to me to evade the points raised by the leader of the Opposition in connexion with this Bill. I understood the honorable member to say that he desired to pass a Bill, the language of which expressed his intention, and that he expected the Judge who presided over any prosecution which might be instituted under this Bill to give effectto that intention. It appears to. me that in the case quoted by the right honorable member for East Sydney that is exactly what occurred. In the Customs Act of 1901 this Parliament declared that accused persons should be deemed to be guilty of the offences alleged against them unless they could establish their innocence. In the Healy case the magistrate implied that he could not make up his mind whether the defendant was innocent or guilty, but that the wording of the Act gave him no option but to convict. I cannot see that the magistrate can be blamed for acting as he did seeing that it was not his function to make laws, but merely to administer them. I am in full agreement with every word that has been uttered concerning the necessity which exists for controlling the operations of trusts and for giving the Government the requisite power to enable them to secure convictions. But I contend that we ought to put that power in their hands in the least harmful way. This might best be achieved by removing it from political control. I. ask leave to continue my remarks on a future date. Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 5).
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Mr. EWING laid upon the table the following paper -
Defence Acts - Military Forces. Regulation No. 35 amended provisionally - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 27.
Naval Depot at Sydney.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to say that on Tuesday afternoon we shall resume the debate upon the second reading of the Bill which has been engaging our attention to-day.
– A day or two ago, I asked the Prime Minister a question relating to the acquisition of a site for the establishment of a naval depot in Sydney. He requested me to give notice of it. I did so, and the next day I was informed by the Minister of Defence that negotiations were proceeding, and the matter would not be overlooked. What a wonderful amount of information is conveyed in that reply.
– I think that it was a lot for the Minister to say.
– I now wish to know whether negotiations are proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of- New South Wales in reference to this .matter, whether the Government of New South Wales have offered a site or sites for the purpose indicated, and, if so, which site the Government regards as being the most desirable. Personally I hope that the site selected will be on Goat Island. During the recent adjournment the Prime Minister made some very eloquent addresses, and, amongst other things, he ‘declared that the Government intended to establish- a naval depot in Sydney. I now wish to know whether the New South Wales Government have done their part by offering to the Commonwealth a site or sites ?
– Then why are not the negotiations made public? This is not a secret matter, and we ought to know at an early stage what site the Government -proposes to accept.
– I am glad to be able to inform the honorable member, so far as I am sure he will desire information, how the case at present stands. The acquisition of such areas as are required for naval depots and other purposes, form part of the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales-, in connexion with the transferred properties. The Government of New South Wales have met the Federal Government in a generous and reasonable way ; and throughout there- has been no trouble that can be regarded as of any great importance. We have got fairly well what we want, and the State is satisfied j and’ when the whole question has been dealt with, the particulars will be made public.
– At an early date?
– The honorable member will understand that these negotiations are carried on by the Department of Home Affairs, along with the other negotiations to which I have referred ; but the views of the Defence Department, in connexion not only with the matter specially referred to by the honorable member for Dalley, but with the whole of the transactions, have been reasonably and fairly met by the New South Wales Government.
– Did the New South Wales Government submit the Goat Island site?
– I do not desire to enter into details ; but the honorable member will find that the sites offered are good ones.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080313_reps_3_44/>.