1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator BEST presented a petition from members of the Church of England, resident at Eaglehawk, in the State of Victoria, praying that the Senate would reject the Matrimonial Causes Bill.
THE LATE PRESIDENT McKINLEY.
– I have received from his Excellency the Governor-General the following letter: -
Adverting to your letter of the 18th of September last, I have now the honour to state that I have received a despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies intimating that a note has been received from the United States Charge d’Affaires in London, stating that the President and people of the United States have been deeply touched by the many kind expressions of condolence at the death of President McKinley, which have been sent through his Majesty’s Government from all parts of Australia and New Zealand, carrying with them a most welcome assurance of friendship and good-will.
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient servant,
The Hon. the President of the Senate.
Royal assent to the following Bills reported : -
Punishment of Offences Bill.
Supply Bill (No. 5).
Pacific Island Labourers Bill.
Immigration Restriction Bill.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Australian Immigration into Paraguay, copy of despatch re.
Regulations under the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.
Population of States at end of 1899, and Quota of Members to House of Representatives.
Ordered to be printed.
– I have to ask the indulgence of the Senate to enable me to move, without notice, a motion identical with a resolution of the House of Representatives. It appears to me that, under all the circumstances, it ought to be dealt with by the Senate at the earliest possible moment, and therefore I presume there will be no objection to my proceeding without notice.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
– It will, no doubt, be in the recollection of honorable senators that the two Houses of this Parliament adjourned on the 13th December, and that at that time there had appeared in the press some correspondence and telegrams from London with regard to reflections which had been made upon the conduct of the war in South Africa. On the 21st of December a cablegram was received by the Government of the Commonwealth from the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the following terms : -
In view of prolongation of hostilities in South Africa, His Majesty’s Government will be glad to accept services of further contingent from Australian Commonwealth, number 1,000. Conditions of service as follows : - Firstly, men to be able to ride and shoot. Secondly, cavalry rate of pay to date of embarkation, subsequently Imperial Yeomanry rates, 5s a day, &c. Thirdly, Commonwealth Government to provide horse, saddlery, uniforms, boots, &c. ; repayment by Imperial Government. Fourthly, officers to be nominated by Commonwealth Government. Fifthly, medical arrangements to be as for Imperial Yeomanry. Sixthly, preference to be given to men who. have had previous service in S outh Africa ; single men only to be enlisted. Seventhly, transport will be arranged by War Office. Eighth, period of service to be one year or duration of war.
On receipt of that message the Government of the Commonwealth immediately sent the following cablegram : -
Necessary number will be gladly provided by the Commonwealth on the terms stated.
After sending that reply, the Government went on with the preparation for the despatch of the contingent ; and as honorable senators no doubt are aware, on the meeting of the House of Representatives last week, resolutions were carried similar to those which I am now about to move. On the 20th inst. the following cablegram was received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies : -
In view of splendid response of Australia to recent requests for more troops, His Majesty’s Government would gladly accept another contingent of 1,000 men if your Government are prepared to raise it. Terms and conditions same as for contingent now in preparation. Transport will be arranged by War Office.
In answer to that message a cablegram was sent immediately, intimating that the desired number of men would be provided as a second contingent ; so that two contingents of 1,000 men each, with the necessary hospital equipment, are now being prepared for service in South Africa. I make this plain statement of the facts to the Senate, because, in the first instance, I wish to place before honorable senators, separately from every other consideration, the action of the Government in regard to the request for the first contingent. In complying with that request immediately, and without waiting for the opinion of Parliament, we interpreted rightly, as we conceived, the will of the Australian Commonwealth. If we had withheld action until Parliament met, in order to consult Parliament, we would have wasted a great deal of valuable time, and would have really been discrediting Australia, by allowing it to be supposed either by the rest of the Empire or by European nations, that there was hesitation as to the response we ought to make when the first call for further assistance was made upon the Commonwealth.It has been said in some quarters that the Government were dilatory, that they should have made an offer of troops before the request came, but it seems to me that those who raise that objection have not considered sufficiently the serious part that Australia is playing in rendering aid to the Empire. Up to the date of the receipt of the first of these cablegrams, we had sent already from the Australian States nearly 13, 000 men, the exact number being 12,773. That is to say, we had sent something like three men to every 1,000 of our population to aid the mother country in the South African war. With the 2,000 men now being enrolled, we shall have contributed something like 15,000 men, or about four to every 1,000 of our population.
When we remember that Great Britain herself - if the figures appearing in the press setting forth that she has sent 250,000 men to the war be correct - has contributed somewhere about six to every 1,000 of her population, I do not think it can be denied that up to the date of the receipt of these messages Australia had been doing her duty not only nobly in the field, but as a people, in responding generously to the requests for assistance. In addition to that, we felt at the time that the responsibility of asking Australia to make this sacrifice rested very largely upon the Commonwealth Government, and although we were ready to make any sacrifice necessary, we did not think it was necessary to make an offer in the circumstances under which hostilities in South Africa had been continued for some time previously. We recognized that every 1,000 men sent from here to South Africa is drawn from the flower of our population ; that they represent 1,000 men taken from the industrial daily life of Australia, and that of those who come back a large number are maimed, or injured in health, while for some time a number are unsettled and unfit for the industrial life of the community in which they ought to take their proper part. I mention these circumstances not for the purpose of indicating that there should be any hesitation whatever in sending men whenever they are required; but to show that we have estimated the greatness of the sacrifice that is being made, and that it is our duty, on behalf of the Commonwealth, not to make it larger than is necessary. For these reasons we waited until we had received an intimation from Great Britain that additional troops were required. When we had that intimation, we determined without delay to place the services of the two contingents at the disposal of the British Government. I have made this statement with regard to what has been done because it is just as well to have a clear declaration, which I think has been given already throughout the country, as I believe it will be given in the Senate, that in assenting to the request in the prompt way in which we did the Government were expressing the will and the wish of the people of Australia. I come now to the motion, which I formally move, and which is as follows : -
The matter of each of these two paragraphs is in itself distinct, and in the few words that I have to say in commendation of them I shall deal with them separately. It is a matter of common knowledge now that for some weeks past the Continental press has been teeming with statements, articles, caricatures, and cartoons, villifying the conduct of Great Britain and the conduct of her soldiers in South Africa.
– Including the Australian soldiers, of course.
– I was coming to that. In that we have much more interest than we have in any part of the Empire, because our own soldiers sent from here are included in the vilification. I do not intend to go into the details of these vile statements. I do not think it is necessary to indicate to the Senate with any particularity what these statements are, but they impute every crime and almost every barbarityof which a soldier could be guilty. Not only is that the case, but in one of these cartoons Her late Majesty Queen Victoria, who was always looked upon, not only throughout the Empire, but throughout the world, as the very embodiment of womanly gentleness and womanly purity, is represented as conferring rewards and distinctions upon soldiers of her army for acts of the most unbridled licentiousness. I do not intend to refer any more in detail to these things, but merely to say that I think the time has come when it is ‘necessary for the Senate’, representing the States of the Commonwealth, to place upon record its emphatic denial of these charges and its disapprobation of the course of conduct involved. It may be that if these were only isolated expressions of opinion we should not be called upon to notice them, but it is to be feared from their general prevalence, and from the fact that they have found utterance in the highest House of Assembly in the German Empire, that they are something more than isolated expressions of opinion. The real citadel of the Boer resistance is in Europe, where the money that was taken from the Transvaal is being spent to foment this resistance ; and unfortunately it would appear that these slanders and calumnies are being spread with the express purpose of influencing public opinion on the Continent and in England in order to cause some weakening in the counsels of the Empire which will bring the war to a conclusion on terms preserving the independence of the Boers. It is thought, perhaps, that what took place after Majuba may take place again. I do not think the British will ever make that mistake ; I think that they will take care that the war is brought to a conclusion that will leave no possible danger of any reawakening of the resistance which unfortunately has prolonged the war so long. Therefore it behoves us to take care that it shall not be supposed for one moment that Australia does not resent in the strongest possible terms the slanders and calumnies against the soldiers of the Empire, including our own soldiers, and that the nations of Europe and our own people throughout the Empire shall know that we are as solid now as we were at the beginning of the war in the desire to support the mother country in bringing the war to the only conclusion to which it can be brought with peace, permanent peace, and honour - the complete ascendency of the British arms. I therefore ask the Senate to pass the first paragraph of the motion without any dissentient voice. In regard to the second paragraph there can only be one opinion, and that is that the Senate will affirm the readiness of Australia to give all requisite aid to the mother country in order to bring the present war to an end. There is only one way of bringing this war to an end in mercy to the people of the two republics themselves. Any partial settlement, any settlement which would leave the embers of dissatisfaction and rebellion smouldering so that the fire might be lighted again, would be the cruellest that could be made. This war was always intended both by the British and the Boers themselves to be a war to settle the question of British ascendancy in South Africa, and that is the question which has to be settled now. It can only be settled by the ascendancy of the British Empire. In these circumstances I think I am only expressing the opinion of the whole of Australia, almost unanimously, when I say that we are determined that as we have done in the past so we shall do in the future - render all the assistance to the Empire which is necessary to bring this war to a conclusion. Whenever necessary, whatever the sacrifice may be to ourselves, we shall be ready to supply the men and equipment which may be requested of us in order to give that aid from the Commonwealth which is evidently appreciated and found so necessary in the conditions into- which the war has drifted. We all hope that the end may not be very far off, and I think that one of- the most effectual means of bringing this war to an end, is not. only by sending our men to South Africa to aid in the battles which are necessarily talking place there, but by convincing Europe and the Empire that there is no faltering in any portion of the Empire; that there is no doubt in any portion of it, that the one way and the only way in which this war can be terminated is by bringing about, beyond all question, the complete ascendancy of the British arms. While saying that, I am sure that we all have the deepest sympathy with the position in which the inhabitants of the late Boer Republics find themselves. I am sure it is not necessary for us to say that we admit, and admit frankly, that we have fought with a gallant and noble enemy.
– Hear, hear. Everybody did not say that.
– And it was not always said.
– There have been occasions in which savagery has been exhibited in isolated places. Where, no doubt, men have not been under the control they would be under with a properly organized military system, savagery and inhumanity have sometimes been displayed. But that does not take away from the necessity which, I think, is upon all of us to assert that we sympathize with these! people, that we regard them as gallantfoes, while at the same time we assert that there is only one way in which we can have peace, and that is by their complete submission. Those whom we do attack, whom we do reprobate, are the persons w.ho at a distance incur no danger, but are! spending the funds of the Transvaal in agitating and keeping hope alive, unfortunately, in the breasts of the men who are. doing the real rough work in the field and . the real fighting for their country. I hope the effect of these expressions of the opinion of Australia, and the solidarity’ of the Empire upon these points, will be1 that it will be seen that the whole of the Empire speaks with no uncertain voice as to the necessity for united counsels, and united action from every portion of it, m bringing this war to an end. May we not hope, sir, that in the course of years, and I trust not very many years, when the bitterness of this conflict has passed away, the inhabitants of that country will settle down in amity together to develop its great resources ? I think we all recognise that the policy of the British Empire for many years has been unalterably, and will, I hope, for ever be unalterably, to encourage free institutions amongst our people wherever they may be scattered all over the world. I trust that policy will be continued, and that when it is once seen that, with due regard to the safety of South Africa, free institutions may be granted, not a moment will be lost in granting them. There may, unfortunately, be a period during which that will be impossible; but we may all hope and believe that that period will not be prolonged more than is necessary. Then when finally, freedom is given to South Africa, freedom in carrying on all her business and the government of her country, such as has been given to us, I hope there will be the same development of free institutions there as there has been in Australia, and that in the course of a few years there will be a united people there as there is a united people here, keeping up the best traditions of the race, and making for the good of humanity and freedom.
– I rise to second the motion which has been moved by my honorable friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and I do so with the utmost possible heartiness. I do so readily because I re-echo every sentiment, I think I may say without exception, which has been uttered by the honorable senator, and because, in common with most people, I abominate “ grim - visaged war “ with all its attendant horrors. I do so the more readily because I believe that the most merciful way of conducting a war is to make it short and decisive, though it may be severe and sharp. And I feel that nations, like individuals, when they enter upon war, must come to the resolution that there shall be no turning back until the adversary be made to beware of them. In this motion there are two branches. The first vindicates the honour of the people of the Empire to which we belong, and the humanity and courage of the army. Now, it always seems to me that one of the most precious assets in our Imperial balance-sheet, is not the vast area of the world’s surface over which the flag waves; not the colonies and ships, and -commerce of the Empire, but the char’acter of the people, their inborn love of fair play, their courage, their patience, their truthfulness, and their humanity. And I venture to say’ that we should not stand idly by, and listen without protest or resentment, as the “Vice - President of the Executive Council says, to aspersions upon the character of the race to which we belong. Has not the history of the British army been a history of heroism and humanity through all time 1 We know that there are isolated exceptions in war, as there are isolated exceptions in courtesy in ordinary controversy, but the history of the British army has been a history, as I say, of heroism and humanity. And are we to stand mute when the honour of that army has been impugned in the way the Vice-President of the Executive Council has described, and when we find that imputations of the most abominable character have been poured out upon it by malicious malevolence ? When cartoons of the most shocking character, and letterpress couched in the foulest possible language - winked at, as I venture to think, by the authorities of the countries in which they appear - are circulated, are we to stand mute and allow such aspersions to go forth without contradiction and resentment 1 We must remember, as Senator O’Connor has said, that the army which is maligned is our army. The sons of Australia, the flower of Australia, stand shoulder to shoulder in the ranks of that army, and some of the specific reflections that have been made in continental circles have had special reference to the contribution which Australia has made to the Imperial army fighting in South Africa. Surely then it is incumbent upon us to take the opportunity now afforded to us of expressing our collective opinion as a Senate in respect of these calumnies, and of vindicating the British army, of which we are proud that our sons constitute a part, from the vile statements which have been circulated. It has been said that we should take no notice of them. I am free to admit that there are occasions when to ignore the venomed tongue of slander is both dignified and wise. There are other times when it is pusillanimous and mean. As a great philosopher said, the danger of silently wiping your cheek when some one has spat upon it is to tempt him to forget himself again, and to spit upon it once more. I think, that however innocuous these calumnies may apparently be in themselves as regards the British army and the British people, they are given an additional force from the fact that the authorities of the countries where they hare been circulated have taken no authoritative notice of them, unless in the way of indirect encouragement. My honorable and learned friend has referred to a most abominable and vile cartoon which was published. I have here a cartoon reproduced from a Russian newspaper of a most gross and scandalous character.
– A Russian newspaper; not a Boer newspaper.
– Not a Boer newspaper. I am not talking now about the Boers, for whom, those of them who are now in the field, like my honorable friend, I entertain the very deepest sympathy; but I am talking of those who are encouraging the Boers, the remnant of the Boer fighters, those brave men, to hopeless resistance in a hopeless cause. That is the first part of this motion, and I sincerely hope that it will be carried with absolute unanimity. The second part pledges us to a continuance of that aid, if it be required, which is now being afforded to the mother country. For myself, I have never in public before said one word about this Boer war; but when my honorable and learned friend has referred to the real kernel of this struggle, the question of ascendency in South Africa, I am bound to say that this war, on the part of the Boers, has been a war of domination. It has been the outcome of long dreams of conquest, long dreams of a determination to drive the British out of South Africa, and to proclaim a Pan-South African Boer Republic. I am not blaming any body of men for entertaining such an opinion as that, but can any one doubt that the question to be settled in this war, and which is now in the course of being settled, is whether the Briton or the Boer shall bear rule throughout South Africa? We must never forget that the blood and treasure that Australia has spent so nobly - and, as I think, so generously, seeing what her population is - in the cause of Imperial unity and the cause of Anglo-Saxon freedom - have been spent in order to deliver our fellow colonists and their possessions in South Africa from the fear of absorption in a Boer republic, to free our fellow countrymen from what was really no better than a condition of vassalage to a truculent and corrupt oligarchy in the Transvaal. That was the immediate origin of the war, and nothing speaks more strongly for the humanity of England, for the humanity of the Empire which has stood by and approved the conduct of the Imperial authorities, than that every effort was made to prevent that misguided state, the Orange Free State, from being involved in the struggle. I look back with pride and satisfaction to the efforts that were made to keep the Orange Free State out of this embroilment ; and nothing but the mad insolence, as it seems to me, of Mr. Steyn brought about the terrible calamity - because calamity it is - which plunged the Orange Free State as well as the Transvaal into war. To my mind it is well for us to remember what this war means to this country. I cannot understand how it is that many people say that this war and its motives and its results are matters of no concern to Australia. No concern to Australia? What would be the position of Australia if we had a Boer republic dominating the whole of South Africa ? Imagine a European war and the Suez Canal closed, or in the hands of the enemy ! Imagine a hostile Boer republic in South Africa on the flank of Australia. - a rendezvous of the fleets of the enemy - a willing harbor for privateers, whence they might issue to prey upon the commerce of Australia ! Just imagine such a thing ! But now, with our aid - and speedily I join with the Vice-President of the Executive Council in trusting - the whole of that trouble is likely to be made impossible ; and we may look forward to this happy result for’ Australia at all events that should such a calamity as a general European war take place, which, as the Viceroy of India said the other day, would shake the world from pole to pole - we shall at any rate have preserved the natural highway of Australasian commerce around the Cape of Good Hope. That is something to look to. Australia has done nobly. I hope we shall not fail in continuing that course of conduct and action. The figures which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has given us show how we have risen to the height of the great crisis which is before us. I trust that we shall never fail in our devotion to the Empire, and in assisting to promote all those interests which are as closely identified with ourselves as Australians as they are with the whole Empire of which we form a part. I hope, therefore, that the second paragraph of the motion will also be carried without any dissentient voice. My belief is that this motion, and that solidarity of opinion and action which has been so well described in the speech to which we have just listened will have, as it has already had emanating from the House of Representatives, a most beneficial effect in indicating the absolute unanimity of the entire AngloSaxon race under the British flag to have this war in mercy brought to a speedy conclusion, and the interests, not only of our own race, but, in my humble judgment and belief, the interests of the Boers themselves, placed upon a platform of freedom and fairness which they have.never hitherto enjoyed. I, therefore, support most strenuously both paragraphs of the motion ; and when the war is over, and England has emerged from it, I believe that she will be stronger than ever before, in spite of all the continental calumnies and lies paid for out of the illgotten gains of Boers who have decamped to safe places in Europe. In spite of those calumnies the Empire will emerge more powerful and more resplendent than ever before, and we Australians will enjoy the deep satisfaction of having given our aid, and by means of that aid helped not only to strengthen the Empire - not only to make firmer those bonds of kinship and loyalty which unite every part of it - but helped also to establish in South Africa another great self -governing Anglo-Saxon community dedicated to freedom and justice.
– In the few remarks which I intend to make in connexion with the motion I wish it to be clearly understood that my attitude has no connexion whatever with the party that I am particularly connected with, because as far as this question is concerned it has no significance in labour politics. Our object in Parliament is of a different character altogether. But as an individual who has always been opposed to war, and who differs from Senator Symon in the utterances he has just made, as to the philosopher who spoke of the man who wiped his cheek after he had been spat upon, as provoking a similar action on the part of his enemies afterwards, I wish to explain my attitude. I should rather agree with Him who said “whosever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” We often hear senators talking about their Christian doctrine, and their Christian beliefs, and their observance of various rites, but when it comes down to practice, they are just as bitter as the worst savage who ever lived in the world. There is another position in connexion with this question. No doubt there are many senators here, and there are thousands of people outside, who will at once put me down as a pro-Boer. Certainly, I am a proBoer, but I want this to be distinctly understood, that it is quite possible to have sympathy with your enemies, and yet to be a loyal subject, and just as patriotic as those who are prepared to send rotten saddlery, defective arms, and detestable food to their own flesh and blood, who are placed in such difficult circumstances as are our soldiers in South Africa. I say now, as I have said before, that the man who has the courage to get up and express his convictions - no matter what the opinions of those who are associated with him may be, or what, for the time being, public opinion may think, may be just as loyal to his country when hepoints out its faults, as one who, like Senator Symon, gets up and talks in a grandiloquent style about the past history of our country, and of what we have done and are prepared to do. It reminds me of a great rooster crowing when he has had a fight with a sparrow. Though I differ from this motion, I would repudiate as much as anybody any slanders against a Britisher anywhere or at any time. But we must give some little consideration to how our enemies have been treated. Will honorable senators look back for a couple of years and remember how some of them and many others in the Commonwealth then spoke of the Boers ? What sort of men were they represented to be? An ignorant savage superstitious lot of people, who had neither honour nor virtue, nor any other good qualities to commend them to the world. They were represented as cowards and murderers. They were everything that was bad, and everything that was obnoxious was said about them two or three years ago. But now people have changed their opinions. They have come round to the same view that I have always held. Because it does not matter how mistaken the Boers may have been in the course they have taken, they certainly are brave men themselves and have come from a brave stock. They have come from a stock that has endured persecution on the Continent of Europe. It was to escape from that persecution that they went to South Africa. Subsequently at the time of the great trek they were driven to the Transvaal. It is because they did not want to be subject to any other rule than their own that they even left the more civilized portions of that country and went to a part where they thought they could occupy the land under their own institutions. But Great Britain must follow them up. Our ascendancy must be paramount all over the world. So say all of us ; but I hope that paramountcy will be brought about in an honorable way. When this war was started, before the Commonwealth was inaugurated
– It was started by the Boers.
– It does not matter who struck the first blow. Very likely if the honorable senator saw some one coming up to squash him he would hit out. When this war was first spoken of, and when the movement to send contingents to South Africa commenced, honorable senators remember very well that it was stated both in the press and in the Parliament of the States that the war was for the purpose of giving the franchise to the Uitlanders. We were told that the Boers would not give votes to our own flesh and blood in the Transvaal. That is what we were led to believe the war was about - or, rather, we were misled to believe it. But now we are led to understand that the only consideration really was the supremacy of Great Britain in South Africa. We are led to believe now that the only object in view is that which was stated by Lord Wolseley himself - the subjugation of the Boers. What were the conditions when the Uitlanders did not get the franchise? I know the conditions from men who were there. Men who had been working miners on the Rand, and who came to Australia to remain till the war was over, and then to return if the condition of things suited them, distinctly stated that under this tyrannical Boer Government they were getting £1 a day in the mines.
– The honorable senator has not a soul above money.
– The honorable and learned senator had better go to Chillagoe, and then he will find that he has left his soul there. The men who went from different parts of the British Empire to South Africa found the best employment, the best treatment, and the greatest remuneration in this very country which we were led to believe was inhabited by a people, savage, ignorant, and intolerant. What is the result ? It is only a couple of days since it appeared in the Australian press that these humane individuals are introducing over 2,000 Arabs from the north of Africa to work in the mines. These are the improved conditions that we find existing in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, after we have sent both blood and money for the purpose of getting the franchise for those of our kinsmen who might have lived there. The whole concern has been mismanaged from the first ; it has been misrepresented, and the people in the different parts of the world have been misled. Notwithstanding all the slanders that have been uttered against the Boers, I am prepared to accept the first part of the motion and repudiate any slanders that may have been uttered against either British subjects or British soldiers in any part of the world. But we must recollect that when the Briton becomes bounceable he lias a right to expect something of this kind in return. When I was a young fellow and had not much sense, I was often of the opinion that I was a match for halfadozen foreigners at any time. Senator Ewing is young and foolish and he thinks so now. But I have learnt a lot since then, and I have begun to find out that it is not safe for a Britisher to imagine that he is the only man in the world who has intelligence or courage. The British people have been taught a lesson that ought to make us hang our heads a little ; in fact, the world has been taught a lesson. What principles have always guided the Britisher in his conduct ? He has always been prepared to help the weak ; in fact, I have seen the British character exemplified when two dogs were fighting. If a big dog was fighting a little one, the Britisher’s instinct was always to go and hit the big one with a stick. Is that the instinct which we have found displayed in connexion with this question? Here is a people numbering not half the population of the city of Melbourne, not the population of a fifth or sixth rate city in Great Britain, and for nearly three years they have opposed their strength to what we have a right to consider the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Of course, the Americans would not admit that, but we must maintain it. We have not the common decency to give them some little consideration, but we must here declare before all the world, in the second part of this motion, that we are going to give the mother country all the assistance we can to quash the Boers as soon as possible. What else does Senator Symon mean when he says that the most humane, the most charitable, the most Christian way to finish a war of this description is to finish it as quickly as possible, and the quickest possible way is to kill the whole lot of them ?
– I never said so.
– No ; but the honorable and learned senator says that the quickest and the best way to finish a quarrel with your adversary, if you have only one, is to give him a knock-out blow straight away, and then you are done with the business. It does not matter if you kill him or not - you knock him out. That is what we are’ advised to do, and we are not to consider the feelings of these brave men. They know that their case is hopeless. They know they have no chance of getting assistance from the outside world - no chance of carrying on this war.
– The very point is that they do not know. .
– There has not been a prisoner that has been questioned on the subject who has not acknowledged that the Boers know that they have no chance. All they are maintaining the struggle for now is to get honorable conditions of surrender.
– Why do they not mention what conditions they want ?
– Do they ever get a chance? If the British get hold of the Boers they hang them ; they have done it. Although they might be mistaken, these men were acting in the very same way as Senator Symon’s ‘countryman Wallace was acting when he was taken to the Tower of London and executed. Yet, whenever we catch them we do the very same thing to them as the English did to SirWilliam Wallace. How can they make terms of peace under such conditions ? Let us do all we possibly can here to urge the British Government to give them such conditions as they, as honorable men and good soldiers, can accept. Let us offer them responsible government under the Crown. Let us do anything of that kind that might be honorably accepted by them, and if they do not accept the offer, then send your 2,000 Australian troops, or your 200,000 British troops, and quash them right away. But in the meantime give them a fair chance. I wish honorable senators to look at the matter in another light. Great Britain, with a population of nearly 40,000,000, the wealthiest country in the world, requires assistance from Australia.
– As part of the Empire.
– Because we are part of the Empire, and have created a precedent, are we to be considered for ever as liable to be called upon to take up any quarrel into which Great Britain may have entered, whether we have had a voice in bringing about that quarrel or not ?
– I am one of those who are prepared to fight for Great Britain at any time. In fact, I am almost prepared to fight for her whether I believe in her cause or not.
– “ My country right or wrong “ is the principle !
– No ; I am going to fight for her, but I intend to tell her where she is wrong. If the honorable and learned senator had been as long at sea as I have been, he would know that even on board ship the best seamen are the biggest growlers when they see things are not going right. The biggest growlers never refuse to do their duty whenever the time comes that they should, and they generally are the first men there. It is not because some of us may find fault with the action of the British Government it is not because some of us may have opinions of our own and the courage to express them that we are less loyal than those who are always prepared to pander to what they think is popular opinion at the time. I am not in that position, and hope I never shall be. If myexistence here was to depend on myselling my principles and my views, simply for the purpose of leading the public to believe that I was acting conscientiously when I was acting against my belief, then I should rather not be here at all. Although I have every reason to believe in the first portion of this motion,yet I would like to see it modified, becauseIhold that whenever weare expected to take part in any of the quarrels that Great Britain may bring about her ears, we should have a voice in both the commencement and the settlement of them. Why is the responsibility put on us to-day? Why are the people in the rest, of the world told, why are even the people in South Africa told - “ Oh, this matter cannot be settled by Great Britain. The colonies, the dependencies, the outer portions of the Empire would not be satisfied unless the war was fought to the bitter end “? Did anybody in Australia ever express such an opinion?
– Not to my knowledge. Ihaveneverheardanybody saythatthe Boers must be exterminated before the war is finished - that fair and honorable terms should not be offered to the Boers, even to the extent of giving them self-government. I would like such opinions to be given expression to in any motion of this kind, but I know that honorable senators have made up their minds. I know that they are going to vote for the thing holos-bolus, without any qualification. I am not going to resist them, but to tell them what I think. I ask those who may rise to speak after me not to start “blowing,” because it makes me ashamed of myself, when I hear my fellow countrymen boasting about what the British arms can do, it does not matter whether they are colonials or British born, and when I know that it has taken 250,000 British soldiers so long to subjugate a handful of people. No doubt there are those here who will say- “Oh, the conditions are such that it was impossible to end the war earlier. Look at the expense and the number of men it requires to keep the communications open.” Before the war was started we were told that it would not last six months - that 30,000 or 40,000 British soldiers would walk over the Boers in no time. These gentlemen should honestly confess the mistake they have made. They should honestly acknowledge that they had a better, a braver,” and a worthier enemy to contend with than they thought or even said at that time. I hope that whenever a settlement does come about it will come about in a way that the Boers or the British will not be ashamed of themselves, and the greatest peace will prevail in South Africa if such honorable terms are offered. Look at the condition of things in other parts of the world - for instance, in Poland and in Ireland - simply because fair offers are not made to the people, simply because a little judicious consideration for the feelings and the aspirations of the people is not exercised. If that were done peace would be brought about. I hope that the same difficulties will not be made permanent in South Africa from the want of a little true, generous, Christian reasoning on the part of the people of both Australia and Great Britain.
– I had hoped that the motion would have been carried on the speech of the leader of the Government and the : speech of the leader of the Opposition. When there is an overwhelming feeling throughout the Empire in a certain direction, and as a result of it war has arisen, as in this case, it seems to me unpatriotic, if not disloyal, for those who in- evitably must submit to lend assistance to the Empire, to express opinions which might well be withheld until all the. trouble is over. When the members of a family find them- selves at war with an outside power they do not bother about their internal troubles ; they fight the enemy. The enemy disposed of, they come to an adjustment of their own differences, and that is done without interfering with family life, and in the case of nations without interfering with the conditions of the government. In this instance can there be any doubt that the conduct of the extreme oppositionists at home has been the means of prolonging the war ? Can it be doubted that Campbell-Bannerman and those who follow him, who, though small in number, are virulent to a degree, have given strength to that feeling in Germany, which, as Senator Symon has said, has been fostered by Boer money ? All these expressions of strong antagonism not merely to the action of the present British Government, but to the action of Great Britain as a whole, at a time when war is actually -pending, instead of actually promoting the -cause of humanity, have tended to prolong the war; to give delusive hopes of assistance to the Boers who are fighting - but who are bound to be beaten - and so to lead to bloodshed which would have been avoided had these very ill-advised people been silent until the war was over. I .like Senator McGregor’s speeches generally, but although I listened attentively to the speech just delivered by him, I failed to discover one single word complaining of the substance of this motion. He said that the war was just.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator did not say the war was not just ; by implication he said that it was just. What he said was that the British Government had changed their ground ; that at first they interfered simply to bring free institutions into the Transvaal. In that, I suppose, Senator McGregor agrees that they did the right thing. It is true that was the beginning of the trouble, and the British Government made every effort to bring about the desired end without any war. It was only when the Transvaal authorities would not concede the most ordinary justice to the Europeans who formed the large majority of their population - it was only when they refused to concede them the merest justice, when they actually declared war against England and were guilty of the first acts of aggression - that the British came forward in their strength and General Wolseley was brought on the scene. Originally there was no intention on the part of England of subjugating the Boers. It was not until the Boers clearly intimated that the plainest justice would not be done by them that the Imperial Government said that they were going to take up a strong stand. Not only were the Boers guilty of the first act of aggression but they declared war.
– They invaded Natal.
– Of course ; and not until that act of aggression did the English people by action show that a state of war existed.
– Does Senator Downer believe that statement ?
– It was then that the British Government recognised that it had become a question of the domination in South Africa of themselves or the Boers. They did not know until afterwards, what we know now, that for long the Boers had been contemplating a war of aggression.
– They had been preparing for it.
– Yes; they had been preparing for a long time to carry on a war. They had been accumulating huge wealth, sowing sedition, and endeavouring to obtain alliances with foreign governments. Later on the British Government found that a conspiracy had long been in course of preparation to expel the British from South Africa and to create one huge republic there.
– Newspaper talk !
– It is true.
– No one can honestly say that the Imperial Government began the war. They began the war in good faith and with sufficient justification, and I want to know what there is to complain of. This motion is the immediate outcome of the gross slanders which have been circulated, not merely with regard to the English, but in respect of our own men, in the German and other continental newspapers.
– English officers have said the same thing about our own men.
– Said what?
– They have said that our men are “ white-livered curs.”
– The officer who made that statement was recalled, and our honour was vindicated in that particular. Assuming that one officer did make that statement, is that the matter with which we are dealing at the present time ? It is all very fine for a number of honorable senators to say, “ Are we to take notice of every scurrilous rag published in Germany, any more than we should do if it were published here?” I would ask those honorable senators who are doubtful as to what they ought to do-
– Oh, no ! we are not.
– I would ask those honorable senators who are going to support this motion, but are not so strong as we are upon it, whether they believe that the general feeling in Germany or on the part of continental people generally, is strongly on our side in this matter? Do they believe that the mere extent of this feeling against us is represented by publications in scurrilous rags to which no one pays any attention?
– The feeling against us on the Continent is caused by the infamous lies which are circulated by these publications.
– It is not a question of scurrilous rags ; it is a question of strong public feeling against us aroused by the lies disseminated by these scurrilous rags. The war was properly begun. Has it not been humanely carried on? I agree with Senator Symon that no war has ever been carried on inhumanely by English people. They are too fair and just for that. The present war has been carried on sentimentally and ridiculously so far as our troops are concerned.
– The concentration camps were a mistake of humanity.
– Extraordinary kindness has been shown by the British to the enemy. Whatdo the Boers who are arrested say - and this is apropos of what Senator McGregor has said - when they are asked whether they have any hope of success? They reply to the question - “ We know it is hopeless,” but Senator McGregor did not explain why they said they kept on fighting in spite of the helplessness of their position. No doubt the published reports of their statements which Senator McGregor saw were those which I read. They set forth that the Boers said they did not want to keep on fighting, but their leaders forced them to do so. That is quite a different thing. Has not the war been prolonged owing to the extraordinary kindness shown by the British to the enemy? When Senator Symon said that when we fight, the fight should be short, sharp, and decisive, he meant that it should be so, not in the cause of inhumanity, but in the cause of humanity.
– We cannot have the delicacy of the drawing-room on the battlefield.
-No. Senator Symon meant that it should be so, not for the purpose of taking life, but in order to prevent it. Look at the thousands of Englishmen and the numbers of our own men who have been slain in the war ; and yet the war is still going on, although it ought to have been over long ago. What do the Boers say in reference to the subjects of these slanders, of the treatment of their wives and children by our troops ? One of them said that they would not have been able to carry on the war but for the extraordinary kindness which the British had shown to their wives and children. He said the Boers were almost glad to get rid of this impedimenta, and give them into the hands of the humane enemy which took care of them, leaving the Boer men themselves free to carry on the war, freer than they would have been with their wives and children about them. They would rather have their wives and children in the hands of. the humane enemy than have to keep them in their own custody. Had the British officers been more cruel to the families of the Boers no doubt the war would have been over before this. Every act of humanity on the part of the British forces has always been construed not as an act of kindness, but as a sign of timidity and cowardice on their part. Every act of mercy and consideration has always been construed as indicative of terror on the part of the British forces, and fear on the part of the British Government.
– It is said that some of our soldiers thought Boer sticking was better than pig sticking.
– I am sure Senator Dawson does not believe that there has been any unkindness on the part of the British forces.
– Do not I.
– Except that war is unkindness. I am sure the honorable senator believes that the usages of this war have been the usages of the most civilized war.
– The honorable and learned senator has not read the letters sent by “ Sonny “ to his mother !
– I know that we have better information on this subject than that which comes from scurrilous foreign publications or questionable letters written by sons to their mothers. Some of our own relatives who have been to the war have returned - men who have been in the thick of the fight, who have taken their share in the work of the British forces and have done it well. All of them tell us that the statements made on the Continent are lies, and that the conduct of the British forces has always been marked by kindness and consideration. Are we not to trust our own people? My honorable friends in the labour corner agree that the men we have sent to the war, or many of them, are the very flower of our youth. Is there something in the Boer country that has the effect, the moment our men land there, of making them such ingrained liars, that they cannot tell the truth afterwards? They tell us that the statements referred to are lies, and should we not believe them?
– My experience is that they tell us the opposite.
– I have been more fortunate than has my honorable friend in not coming across any one who has told me any such stories. I have talked to hundreds of returned soldiers. Some of them are related to me, some of them are strangers, but they have all told me that the statements of which we complain are simply lies.
– They are written by Australians themselves, and published in the Australian press.
– I say it was our duty when we, together with the British army, were insulted in this way, to repudiate the assertions that were made, and to stand up for our own honour, and for the honour of the country from which we sprang. I think we did well in offering a contingent, and I think the Government is doing well in assenting to send a further contingent. There is a much more important question involved than the question whether this wealthy Britain needs the assistance of the comparatively few soldiers that we can send. There is the question of a great national spirit involved in it. And I say, that the very sentiment of the thing is very fine for the future of the nation, and will make its subjects not only dearer to each other, but more terrible to those of the outside world, who look with eyes of envy upon this country, which Senator McGregor says is so powerful and so rich, and who would be glad to find any opportunity of lessening its wealth and its importance. The effect of the action of the House of Representatives the other day was not merely confined to the British Isles. It extended over the Continent of Europe, answering the slander that was published that the Australians’ loyalty was a mere flash in the pan, that they had done something and were tired of it, and would do no more. The answer to that, was an offer of ten tunes as much assistance as had previously been rendered. There was a wave of strong loyal feeling through Australia running to the mother country and warning the outside world that in future they had to consider not merely the British Isles but the big empire of Greater Britain, where the same people live, with the same hopes, the same pride, the same sense of justice, and the same determination not to submit to wrong, I arn very glad this matter has been brought forward, and glad to know that the motion is to be carried without a division, but I do deprecate any adverse discussion. Whatever the opinions of some honorable senators may be–
– If they are opposed to the honorable and learned senator they are not to utter them ?
– Oh, no. I should do what I am saying myself, I hope. I say I think it is to be regretted that as this motion is to be carried unanimously there should have been any expression of doubt as to whether it should be carried at all. The overwhelming feeling throughout the colonies, as in Great Britain, is that this war should be prosecuted and brought to a finish as soon as possible. If accidentally opinions strongly tending in the other direction are held and are expressed, they only lead the Unfortunates on the other side to continue the war longer than is necessary. They only have the effect of creating false hopes, of protracting the fight, and of producing still more and more loss of life. And so, in the interests of right, and above all things, in the interests of humanity, I say let us hope that this war will be vigorously prosecuted, not for the purpose of creating but for the purpose of saving further bloodshed, and for the purpose of bringing the Boers to the condition to which they understand they have to submit, that they may become gradually, and rapidly too, I hope, useful and good colonists, living under the British crown and as loyal to it as are those who have settled in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
– I take this opportunity of offering my very hearty congratulations to the Government because they have seen fit to recognise what was a notable duty on their part, in introducing at the very earliest moment a motion of this kind. This Senate is a representative institution, and where the fair name of the Empire is involved we should at least endeavour to speak with a unanimous voice.
Therefore, it is that I feel very considerable regret, in common with my honorable and learned friend, Senator Downer, that Senator McGregor should have so inopportunely obtruded upon the Senate, views which I am sure are most uncongenial to at least nine-tenths of its members.
– Honorable senators are a lot of blowhards and there is nothing to “ blow “ about.
– The honorable senator “ blowed “ for the Boers.
– Senator McGregor ex- pressed, with a tremor in his voice, his apprehension that there would be some blowing and boasting on the part of honorable senators to bolster up the British Empire. But, although there was not the slightest justification for a charge of that kind in this Chamber, the honorable senator did not fail to blow as hard as he could the trumpet of the Boer at this very inopportune moment. Is it a reasonable thing that when the traditions of the Empire and the traditions of the British soldier are aspersed, the honorable senator should endeavour to discredit the conduct of the war 1 The heroism, valour, and humanity, which have been characteristic of the British soldier in the past, and concerning which no room for reasonable doubt has ever existed, have now been aspersed, and those aspersions are resented most properly by this institution. At such a time it is unbecoming of any member of the Senate to rise for the purpose of in any way discouraging action which has for its object the expression of that resentment. The honorable senator was very careful to sever himself from his party, and I was glad to find that he was not speaking on behalf of that party in the views to which he was giving utterance. He told the Senate that these matters had no significance so far as labour politics are concerned. If that is true I most sincerely and deeply regret it. I ask the honorable senator whether indvidual liberty and freedom have nothing to ‘do with the party which he represents ? Have free institutions nothing to do with that party % I appeal to the honorable senator to say honestly whether the true reason for the war now existing in South Africa has not been a vindication of those leading traditions and principles of British institutions ? What the British Government is fighting for on behalf of the Empire is toleration, and toleration which they were prepared to accord and have accorded in all their responsible institutions. Is the memory of the honorable senator so short that he fails to remember the ignominy which British subjects, at the time of the commencement of the war, were suffering in South Africa at the hands of the Boer Republic ?
– I never heard of it.
– If the honorable senator has not heard of it he has failed to read the literature which teemed in connexion with this subject, and in which he would have learnt that his brothers and fellow citizens in the South African Republic had suffered ignominy which I am sure must in his British veins have stirred resentment of the most vigorous character. There was the utmost anxiety on the part of the Government of Great Britain to get for British subjects that same fair play and justice, which Senator McGregor well knows, has at all times been accorded by the British Government throughout the Empire. The honorable senator asks us why they have not offered the Boers responsible government. Can he have any possible doubt that in due time responsible government will be given to those people ?
– They have not given it to Ireland for a hundred years.
– It has practically been promised. I ask Senator McGregor if he can honestly say that whether even as a Crown colony, or as subsequently when entitled to it under responsible Government he has any doubt whatever that the Boers themselves will experience greater freedom and greater liberties than was ever accorded to them under their own institutions ? Has he ever known any act of injustice on the part of the British Government? If he says he has, he is slandering the best traditions of the British race. Under these circumstances it ill becomes him as a member of this Senate to rise for the purpose, and for no other purpose, of disparaging the British Government in their fight for toleration, and in their fight for liberty.
– The honorable and learned senator knows different. This is jingoism.
– It is very easy to interject “ jingoism,” but I should hope that no fear of reflections of that kind will prevent any honorable senator from rising toexpress his patriotic feelings upon an occasion such as this.
– The honorable and learned senator is on the rampage.
– Nothing of the kind. I wish the honorable senator were on the rampage in a similar direction, and not on the rampage in favour of those who are our enemies at the present moment. So far as the second portion of the motion is concerned, the honorable senator thinks there should be a modification of its terms. Is it not a reasonable thing for us to suggest that as we have hitherto enjoyed all the privileges of unity with the great mother country, we should expect at a critical juncture such as the present to share in the disadvantages of it? It involves perhaps to some extent a degree of sacrifice; but is it not a sacrifice that should be willingly rendered ? I shall never fail to appreciate with much satisfaction the fact that I was a member of the Government who despatched the very first contingent from Victoria. In doing that we felt that we were only discharging our duty as part and parcel of the Empire in these remote parts. It should be made clear to foreigners that any attack upon any portion of the British Empire makes itself felt throughout the complete dominions of that Empire. Under these circumstances, I quite agree that these motions should be unanimously adopted, and that is the course which would bring greatest credit to us.
– The honorable and learned senator wants a general flapping of wings.
– An attempt has been made to reflect upon the humanity of Great Britain in the conduct of this war, and I would remind honorable senators of a significant incident which took place during the earlier stages of the war, when the leaders of the Boer party took very good care to send their wives to British territory ; and what for ? For the purpose of safety. Does not that small circumstance in itself indicate conclusively the complete confidence and reliance which even those who were our enemies in the field had in the justice and fairness of the British ?
– It shows that they had a good opinion of them.
– If they had that good opinion, I think we “might at least have hoped that a similar good opinion would be shared by one of our own fellow senators. Instead of that we have had from the honorable senator a generous eulogy of the Boers engaged in this warfare.
– I am like a Britisher - I always like to stick up for the little fellow.
– In this war there is no doubt that the mother country has gone through a trying ordeal, and has suffered what has been described as a “ splendid isolation.” I venture to say that these sneers and reflections from abroad go to indicate the jealousy with which that mighty Empire is regarded in other dominions, and coining more closely as it does to ourselves, where our own loyalty has been questioned, and the humanity and valor of our own Australian soldiers have been aspersed, it is the duty of this Legislature with unanimity, I venture to say, to resent anything of the kind, and to show that at least our sympathies have been with our own country - even right or wrong.
– I rise with great diffidence on this occasion to address myself to the question before the Senate, for two reasons. The first reason is that I think the debate should not have been continued beyond the speeches of the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the leader of the Opposition. I should have preferred that course to be taken ; but as the debate has become general, I should like to make one or two remarks on the subject. The first paragraph of the motion I would divide into two parts, one having reference to the expression by the Senate of its indignation at the baseless charges made abroad against the honour of our army and the humanity of the soldiers of the Empire, and the other to the valour of our soldiers. With regard to the former, I, as a soldier, must ask the Senate to take this as earnest - that I myself feel deeply the baseless and calumnious charges which have been made against our humanity in our conduct of the war in South Africa. I had the privilege of taking part in the war during its first period up to November, 1900, and I can solemnly assert to the Senate that during the whole time I was in South Africa - and I was at the front the whole time I was there, with the exception of a short period, which I am sorry to say I must name, when I was in the hands of the Boers for sixteen days, wounded and a prisoner - I never saw on any occasion whatsoever anything approaching barbarity, or any action on the part of our men, whether
Australian or British soldiers, that could in any way reflect upon their honour or upon the honour of the country to which they belong.
– The honorable senator was there before Kitchener.
– That makes all the difference.
– And I was there for some time after Lord Kitchener went out. I am sorry to speak of this personal matter, but the Senate will forgive me when I say that I was there up to the time and after the President of the Transvaal Republic, Mr. Kruger, was driven out and had to take refuge in Portuguese territory. But what I wish the Senate more particularly to realize with regard to the soldiers of the Empire is, that there should be no question as to the feeling of the army upon this matter, and that the honour of the Empire is as dear to them as is their own honour. They cannot speak for themselves. Their laws and regulations, and the rules and customs of the service, do not admit of their making protests. They leave the Legislatures of the countries of the Empire from which they come to do that for them, and to see that they are justified in the eyes of the world. I do not wish to enter into details as regards the methods that we have endeavoured to pursue in making the war light for the gallant foes, as I will call them, against whom we have been fighting. But while I do not wish to enter into these details, I will say this, that every arrangement that could possibly have been made for their comfort was made, and that indeed more consideration was shown to them in that respect than has been shown for our own people. With regard to the valour of the British soldiers, it is not my place, as a soldier, to speak, nor will I speak about it. I will only say this - that our soldiers have realized the responsibilities of their position, and have endeavoured to the best of their abilities always to act up to what was required of them. With regard to the second part of the motion, I think I may speak more plainly, as a member of the Legislature and a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is not for us now at this period of the war to begin to cavil and to question about the rights and wrongs or the merits of it.
We are in it, and we must see the Empire through with it.
– That’s right.
– With those feelings I am sure all honorable senators will agree. Here I may say that I agree to a great extent with what my honorable friend Senator McGregor has said, that in the future in questions concerning the Empire at, large we should have a voice. I most thoroughly and cordially agree with that view, and I hope the day is not far distant when means will be provided so that we may take our place in the counsels of the Empire, and not be simply an outlying portion of it as we are now.
– Something of the kind has already been promised.
.- But it is not accomplished. What I am looking forward to, and what, I think, Senator McGregor desires, is that it should be an accomplished fact. I have no hesitation in saying that the time has come when all sections of the Empire must have a voice in questions concerning the Empire at large. But this is not the time to cavil, no matter what the, sacrifice may be. ‘ The struggle for existence in the world is assuming a very serious aspect, and our first thought must be the integrity of the British Empire. In Australia we are absolutely democratic. There is no question on that point. Australia throughout the whole of its representative institutions, without a single exception that I know of, has declared its readiness to act and to do in this matter. I would ask the Senate, and through the Senate the people of Australia, to realize what a great inheritance we have entered into. That great inheritance has been sanctified by the blood which has been shed by our own people in ‘defence of, and in building up the British Empire I would ask the press and the people of Australia at all times to realize the responsibilities that have been thrown on them, and to act up to the great heritage of which they are the heirs and possessors.
– I regret, sir, that this motion has been introduced under the circumstances under which it appears before us. I regret that we have to thank a member of the British House of Commons rather than the Commonwealth Government for the despatch of the contingents that are about to leave our shores for South Africa.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– If the honorable and learned senator says it is absolutely incorrect-
– I would use a stronger word if it were parliamentary to do so.
– The honorable and learned senator has means of information that are not open to me and to the general public, who feel very strongly upon the subject, and who will require a lot of convincing that my statement is incorrect. At any rate, I think that the Government are using the question of German slanders as a lever to remove the censure that would otherwise have attached to them, in certain quarters, for a breach of the parliamentary pledge given in another place by the Prime Minister with reference to the despatch of troops without the consent of Parliament. No one can reprobate more strongly than I do the slanders heaped, not only upon the British army now fighting in South Africa, but upon the whole British nation in all its parts, emanating from people who have been described as penny-a-liners, but who, I take it, occupy very much more important positions in the journalistic world of Germany than that term would indicate. While we reprobate such gross slanders at the hands of the German or any other people, I think it is rather hedging the question not to notice similar slanders, coming from our own people, which have been really the origin of the slanders against British arms. I speak particularly of theCampbellBannermans, the Laboucheres and the Steads, and the rest of those who. seek to climb to power by paths made slippery with the blood of their fellow subjects. These are the men I take exception to ; . and I would rather support a vote on the part of this Senate in condemnation of such men than I would bother about the unruly conduct, and the untruthful slanders,’ uttered by persons connected with foreign newspapers to whom I have referred. It has been said, sir, that British soldiers are inhuman, and so on. Senator Best has told us how, upon the-‘ outbreak of the war, some of the Boer leaders sent their very wives and little ones to be in the charge and keeping of those against whom they were about to make war. But there is even a more remarkable instance than that. Did not the President of the Transvaal Republic, flying for his life from the field of hostilities, leave his poor old wife to the mercy of those awful people, the British soldiers ? He took his stolen money with him it is true, but he left behind her who ought to have been dearer to him than any money. I believe there is no evidence in the history of civilized warfare that more completely gives the lie to any accusation of inhumanity made against soldiers than that one action on the part of President Kruger. It might be said, with reference to the action of the other Boer leaders in sending their wives and children toCapetown before the war commenced, that they had no idea of the enormities the British soldiers would commit, but the action of President Kruger was taken months and months after the war commenced, and no one knew better than himself what sort of men he was trusting his own wife to the mercy of. Reference has been made to the fact that this is a capitalists war and an unrighteous war, and some of the views that have been uttered within the week, not a hundred miles from here, have been just about as contemptible and slanderous as the words which have been uttered in the German Parliament, to which we take exception. There is not only the fact that the declaration of war and the invasion of British soil came from the Boers, but there is a stronger case even than that. What quarrel had the British with the Orange Free State? There was no conflict even of the most elementary diplomatic kind between the British and the Orange Free State. It took up arms against Britain without more excuse than any one of us would have if we entered into rebellion against the mother land.
– If that is all the honorable senator knows about the question he should not have risen to discuss it.
– Perhaps the honorable senator has some information which the world at large does not possess, but the world at large knows very well that there was no quarrel between the British and the Orange Free State, and it knows equally well that the Orange Free State troops without the smallest excuse invaded British territory and commenced a wanton war on the British. There are other matters of which we may take brief notice. Senator Best said, “ My country, right or wrong.” I am not prepared, perhaps, to go quite so. far as that, because I have a belief that a man should give his services, his voice, and his vote to that which he believes to be right. There are occasions when he finds himself in a minority, and in that case he should hold his peace on a question of this kind, recognising that this is not the war of Joseph Chamberlain, nor of the British Government, but the war of the British people confirmed by the vote of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, at the last general election. The people of the British Isles, throughout their electoral divisions, gave an overwhelming vote in favour of the maintenance in power of the Government who were responsible for the war, and to that extent the vast majority of the people of Great Britain and Ireland necessarily have given their confirmation, to not only the initiation of the war, but its conduct. I do not think it is necessary to go over ground that has been gone over by other speakers. Unfortunately I was unable to hear the first two speeches, and all but a small portion of the third, owing to a breakdown in the railway service. Had I been here I might have heard some of the thoughts I have uttered better expressed. I think it is our duty to pass this motion, and I hope it will be passed without a division. A motion that was a necessary corollary of that which was passed last week, went without a division in another place only yesterday. As this motion pledges us to no new departure, to undertake no new duty, I hope that it will be passed unanimously as an evidence that we utterly condemn the dastardly utterances against the good faith of the whole British nation, of which we form a humble and yet not altogether unimportant part. So far as the despatch of troops from Australia is concerned, limited as it now is to terms and conditions that offer no inducement to a man to expect that he will make a fortune out of it-
– Or to run away from his wife.
.- -I think those words imply a slander against some Australians, which my honorable friend should not have uttered out of regard for the land in which he lives, and which has done so much for him.
– Why did they particularize that? That was an insult in itself. It is not resented.
– I suppose Senator Dawson refers to the fact that there is an objection to married men being taken on this service. It is a very proper objection, too, because we do not wish to have our homes unnecessarily interfered with, nor is it desirable that the funds of the Commonwealth or British funds should be drawn upon for pensions for widows bereft through the progress of military operations. Senator Dawson knows as well as that he sits there that the restricting of enrolment to unmarried men as far as possible is necessary for the reasons I mentioned and not for such reasons as he indicated in his interjection.
– The honorable senatoris mistaken. I am not in Mr. Chamberlain’s confidence. That is the difference between him and me.
.- The honorable senator need not make that observation, because I am not in Mr Chamberlain’s confidence. I shall give my hearty support to the motion, though I regret that it does not include a condemnation of similar slanders by some of our own people in rags of journals which are provided at public expense in our library. It does not seem to be a sensible thing to condemn the utterances of newspaper writers in Germany, and to be using the funds of the Commonwealth for the purchase of colonial “rags” that are just as malicious, just as slanderous, and infinitely more seditious.
– I give my unqualified approval to the motion. I should have thought that the Government was wanting in its duty to the Senate if it had not brought down the» motion. I join with others in regretting that the debate did not end with the speeches of th*e two leaders, which, I think, covered the whole of the ground. There can be no question that this war was begun by the Boers, and that they had been preparing for it for many years. We have been told to-day that they had been sowing sedition for years in the British colonies in South Africa. They had been sowing something equally as effective as sedition, and that was rifles. A South African, who attended the Commonwealth celebrations in an official capacity, informed me that they discovered after the war had broken out, that 80,000 rifles had been distributed among the Dutch descendants in Cape Colony and Natal, and that if
Cronje had not made the fatal mistake he did, but had continued his march towards Capetown, he would have been joined by a large body of armed civilians, who for years had been practising at the local rifle butts. However, whatever was done then, whether it was right or wrong, we have arrived at the conclusion, I think, that the sooner the war is ended the better for all parties concerned, and it must be ended in one way only. We have suffered enough for the mistake made twenty years ago as the outcome of the fight at Majuba Hill. We do not want a repetition of that blunder. It seems to me rather ungracious on the part of some continental countries to speak of our men as a pack of thieves. What are we but a pack of ours, or something worse, if we do not express our views in very unmistakable language on this and similar occasions 1 A pack of thieves we are called by the very people whose countrymen have come here and settled amongst us. To the freest country in the world, as Charles Gavan Duffy once said, they come and settle, have equal privileges with us, and can aspire to any position in the State. Some of them are now holding seats in the State Legislatures, a great number of them hold prominent and lucrative’ positions in the civil service. We do not grumble at that because they are good colonists, and we welcome them ; but certainly it is very ungracious of their fellow countrymen to speak and write of us in the strain in which they have been doing. We have heard some patriotic speeches to-day, to which I was very pleased to have the privilege of listening, and I shall appeal to the patriotism of these honorable and learned senators shortly in a direction they little realize. There is another way of dealing with continental countries besides sending a contingent to South Africa. America, I think, last year pointed out a way of dealing with a country that happened to fall out with her. America said to Italy, “If you take a certain step we shall starve you into submission in a week.” No doubt it was an exaggeration, but I think that America could have done a great deal of harm in that direction. Protectionists are commonly twitted with not giving the grand old mother country a show in our trade relations. Verily, Napoleon the Great was correct when he said that the British were a nation of shopkeepers. The shop-keeping element is coming uppermost now. When protectionists desire to keep the money in the country for the purpose of employing workmen, we are twitted with the fact that we do not give the grand old mother country a show, that she buys our wheat, wine, and wool, and yet we do not trade with her. I am going to show directly that that is exactly what the protectionists do and the free-traders do not. I would like to direct the special attention of my honorable and learned friend Senator Symon to two or three figures whichI am about to quote.
– I hope the honorable senator is not going to touch the Tariff.
– No. I am going to show a way of reaching some of the continental countries in which these statements are being made, and a way which perhaps would be just as effective - if not more so - as the sending of a large number of soldiers.
SenatorFraser. - But we must finish the war first.
– I think the two might run concurrently. There is no better way of bringing men to their senses than by touching their pockets. There is a very hazy idea on the part of many people, as to the volume of the Australian trade with the outside world. I should like to draw attention to its magnitude.
– Do not anticipate the Tariff.
– I shall not do that. I want to show how I think we might bring some of these continental countries to a due sense of their true position.
– Does not the honorable senator think that would be inhuman?
– I do not know that it would be. It is quite right to laugh when, as is the case with Senator Symon perhaps, one does not know how very large this trade is.
– I know that it is much too large.
– There is the freetrader again. My figures show that for the five years ending December, 1900, the total trade of Australia with the outside world amounted to no less than £368,686,000. In other words, the exports and imports between the six States and the outside world amounted to nearly £370,000,000 in five years. The point I want to make is that of this total trade £92,000,000 was with foreign countries.
– How much of that represents imports as distinguished from exports?
– I have not got the separate figures.
– Then the figures do not help us much.
– The separate figures may be readily obtained. Inclusive of New Zealand, the total Australasian trade with the outside world for the five years I have named amounted to £452,523,000. During that time free-trade New South Wales-
– Does the honorable senator think that this is apropos of the question before the Chair ?
– It has no connexion with it.
– I think there is some connexion between the point I am making and the question before the Chair. I should like to show how it is possible for us to get at the foreigners who are vilifying us, without sending contingents. The means I am about to suggest represent the proper way of getting at them. We can convince them that we have ideas upon the international aspect of affairs, and upon the question of whether we should trade with them to the extent that we do with our own people. I am British, and I wish to see the whole of the money represented by our trade going into British pockets.
– Then would the honorable senator amend the second paragraph of the motion ?
– I would add to it that the Government be directed to take steps to give effect to what I am about to propose, if I thought they could do so.
– I do not want to unnecessarily curtail the honorable senator’s remarks, but I would point out that the first paragraph of the motion is an expression of indignation at certain charges, while the second affirms the readiness of Australia to give the mother country what help is requisite to bring the war to a conclusion. Do the honorable senator’s statistics with regard to free-trade and protection connect with these propositions ?
– My object wastoshow that we are trading very largely with the very countries that are vilifying us, and that their authorities are, in my opinion, and in the opinion of those who know more than I do, winking at this vilification of us. We cannot retaliate by sending an army to fight these people. Once we got into the clutch of a continental power, it would be like the story of the dog fighting with the fish - a bad job for the fish if he got ashore, and quite as bad for the dog, if he got into the water - it would come to nothing. But if, by regulating our commerce, we could touch their pockets, no doubt it would cause thum to ponder well before they permitted such slanders to be launched broadcast against any friendly power.
– The honorable senator suggests a preferential Tariff.
– Yes ; give some pre:ference to our own people.
– We passed a resolution to that effect at the Ottawa conference, in 1894.
– I should like to see effect given to it. However, I am quite willing to cease, and to allow some one to follow me who will not descend to practical details of this kind ; some one who will take us up into the clouds of rhetoric, tell us what we ought to have done and can do, and tell us about the glorious mother country, and that sort of thing, but who will not tell us how to help the mother country. I want to show how we can help the mother country by directing our trade towards our own people in British possessions. However, I am in the hands of the Senate, and if honorable senators do not care about my doing so, I shall say no more.
– I cannot join in deploring the fact that there has been a general debate on the motion. Surely the time has not arrived when we are afraid to have a discussion upon any of the actions of our statesmen, or upon any of the actions to which our Empire is committed? Surely the time has not arrived when we are afraid to hear- the criticisms of those who do not believe that the actions of British statesmen are altogether right or justifiable? That, however, is the only conclusion at whicli we can arrive when we hear protests entered against any discussion taking place on this motion. With the first paragraph I am in entire accord. I agree further with the sentiments that have been expressed as to the abhorrence which we ought to show of the vile calumnies heaped upon British soldiers in South Africa, and their colonial brethren. War is war, but I believe that this has been the most humane war the world has ever seen. I have never yet read of an enemy which cared for the wives and children of a conquered foe, and it is for that reason that I say the war is the most humane of which I have ever read in history. We all know that war is cruel, and that all war is inhuman. This, like every other war is inhuman, but it is not so inhuman as any other war has been. From what I have said, honorable senators will understand that I cordially support the expression of disapproval of the slanders that have been and are being circulated on the continent against the British armies; but I cannot give my whole-hearted support to the second paragraph. I cannot support a motion which pledges the support of Australia in men and money to carry the war to any extremity which the British Government may decide is advisable or right. I lift my voice in protest, against the second paragraph being passed in these definite terms. I think that, having regard to the safety of our future actions, it should have been worded in a more general way. While we must be loyal to the Empire, we must remember that our first duty lies to Australia. The Ministry who rule the destinies of the Empire in Westminster may not always have the best interests of this part of the Empire at heart.
– When they have not that will be the time to speak out.
– Now is the time to speak. This is the first occasion on which the Federal Parliament has been asked to take action in an Imperial matter, and now is the time that we should have a discussion on this subject. Although Senator McGregor went to a greater length than I shall go, I think that he was bold, and did his duty as a man in speaking in what seems to me to be in hostile terms to the second paragraph. What does it bind us to ? It provides -
That this House affirms the readiness of Australia to give all requisite aid to the mother country in order to bring the- present war to an end.
We have [to remember that a contingency may arise in which the Boer leaders may propose certain terms to the Home Government, which to us may seem such as should be accepted in the interests of peace and of the Empire. Yet if the British Government were unwilling to accept those terms, and said that they were prepared to go to the extent of exterminating the Boers, this paragraph would pledge Australia to give men and money to carry the war to that extreme. “We know that at present in the counsels of Great Britain it is being said that the colonies which have given such splendid aid to the mother country in tlie South African wai- are against certain terras proposed by the Liberal party in Great Britain. Mr. Chamberlain has said that if the British Government were to accept the terms suggested by Mr. CampbellBannerman they would be acting treacherously to the colonies that had helped them.
– So they would.
– If the second paragraph is passed without any expression of opinion on the part of those who differ from it, that statement will be justified; Mr. Chamberlain will be justified in saying that these States are pledged to support the Government to any extremity, even to the extent of tlie extermination of tlie Boers. If we are to take upon our shoulders the responsibilities of the Empire, and to say to the British Government - “ “Whatever extremes you may take in your negotiations in regard to .this war, we shall be prepared to back them up with men and money, without a voice in the negotiations,” it will lead to a settlement that we may have cause to regret.
– Mr. Chamberlain says that he will give the States a voice in these matters.
– He has said- many things, and has changed his opinions on many matters, but so far he has given Australia no tangible means of voicing its opinions on the terms of the settlement of this war. If we commit ourselves to such a. definite statement as that contained in the second motion, we shall have no means of having a voice in the settlement of such a question, as this. I believe the time is ripe for overtures for peace to be made, and it would be generous if the British Government were to concede’ terms that a brave foe, such as the Boers are, could accept. I believe that if some terms which would retain to the Boers their right of citizenship were suggested to them they would willingly lay down their arms.
– Then the death of all the men who have fallen in the fight would be simply murder.
– But what is the opinion expressed by the press in England and the collonies ? Jingoistic articles have appeared in them which, if read by the Boers, would make them believe that tlie whole of the people of the colonies desire their extermination.
– .Nothing of the kind.
– They suggest no terms of settlement other than the complete subjugation and extermination of the Boers.
– Not extermination.
– In dealing with this question we have to look back on the causes of the war, and to remember that England’s hands are not altogether clean in this respect. I have heard no mention to-day of the Jameson raid. If we look back at the balance-sheets of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State Governments we shall find 1 that their great military expenditure began in the year following the Jameson raid. This is a significant fact. It is a significant fact that since the Jameson raid they have been preparing for what ‘? For the expulsion of the British from South Africa. I quite believe that. I quite believe that the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State had made up their minds that the British should go, and they made up their minds to that after the Jameson raid.
– Long before.
– They made up their minds to that because they saw what had been done. They saw that a band of freebooters had made an assault, and had made a dash for their chief mining town. They captured those men, and, instead of dealing with them themselves, they handed them over to the British Government. “What did the British Government do? “What about that inquiry ? Was it a fair inquiry 1 Were all the circumstances of that raid inquired into as they should have been ?
– The head of the liberal party, Sir William Harcourt, was upon the committee.
– The honorable senator who interjects knows, as well as every honorable senator here, that some vital information has come out since which was not brought before those conducting that inquiry. He knows that in that inquiry men were sheltered under tlie wing of Mr. Chamberlain, tlie Secretary of State for the Colonies.
– No, that never came out.
– It has come out since, and honorable senators know that, as the result of questions asked in the House of Commons, an admission has been forced from the Secretary of State for the Colonies that he kept back certain information which would have incriminated Mr. Rhodes in that raid.
– There was not a word of that?
– Certain information has since been made public which would have proved conclusively that the Colonial-office knew of the raid.
Senater PPlayford. - Not a word of it.
– Honorable senators may contradict, but they will find that in the records of the House of Commons.
– No, I was in England at the time, and followed the whole thing closely.
– Under the circumstances can we wonder that those people determined then that there should be a South African Republic extending to’ the Cape of Good Hope ? Can we wonder that they made up their minds that the British must go? I do not blame the British Government for taking steps to bring about negotiations before the Boer preparations had gone too far. But now, when we look back over the history of the whole affair, we know that the negotiations regarding the franchise were only a blind and a sham, and that the British Government never cared a fig whether the miners got the franchise or not.
– That is pure invention on the honorable senator’s part.
– Then what is the authority for saying that the Boers made up their minds that the British should go ?
– Yes, before the Jameson raid they had made up their minds to that.
– Their documents prove that.
-Honorable senators admit that the Boers had made up their minds that the British should go. They must know that the British Foreign-office knew that, and knew that the Boers were prepared for a struggle, and that there must be some pretext for it.
– They did not know anything about it. They ought to have known, but they did not know.
– The honorable and learned senator credits the British Foreignoffice with greater ignorance than I credit them with. I say that they knew that a struggle was coming.
– What did they have 60,000 or 70,000 troops there for ?
– They seized their opportunity before the Boer preparations had reached a stage at which it would be impossible for them to oust the Dutch from South Africa, and. they purposely made war upon the South African Republic. Although, nominally, it was the Transvaal Republic that committed the first act of aggression, in reality it was the British Foreign-office that made up its mind that unless it took action very quickly the British would be driven from South Africa, and the time would be passed to successfully combat the Dutch in South Africa. I say, as a Briton, that I am glad that they did take action. I am glad that they resisted being driven from South Africa, but I say, at the same time, that the Jameson raid was responsible for the war. I say that if, after the Jameson raid, the British Government had been sincere and honest in their prosecution of the men who conducted that raid, the people of the South African Republics would now have been living amicably alongside the British colonies. in South Africa.
– Ten years before that they were preparing for war, and the public documents of the Dutch Republics show that.
– Seeing that that is so, and that this war was brought about by the machinations of the Foreign-office in England, who recognised that it was a matter which concerned British or Dutch supremacy in South Africa, and seeing that it had its origin in the unjust action of Jameson and his free-booters, and the unjust action of the British House of Commons and the British Government in condoning the action of those free-booters, I say again that England’s hands are not altogether clean in this Boer war, and we should not forget, under the circumstances, to be generous to those who are now our foes, and who are almost reduced to entire submission.
SenatorFraser. - They would not be very generous to us.
– We have to consider at the present time whether Australia is justified in offering farther aid in the prosecution of this war, or of any other war which Great Britain likes to enter upon. I say we have a duty to perform to Australia. The figures which the Vice-President of the Executive Council gave us show that sifter the present proposed contingents have left, Australia will have contributed four out of every 1,000 of her population, while the mother country has only contributed six out of every 1,000 of her population. That brings this thought to my mind : Seeing that we are the junior partner, and a very junior partner, in this concern, are we not taking upon ourselves more of the responsibilities of the Empire than we should be called upon to bear? Are we not neglecting our duty to ourselves in taking upon ourselves, so much of the responsibilities of Empire? Have we so many of the young and best of our population that we can spare them for the purposes of war ? Can we spare 1,000 men, who, in the next few weeks, will be leaving f or the war ? A leading paper in this State is at the present time publishing urgent appeals regarding the scarcity of labour in our country districts. We are being told that our farming industry is paralyzed, because of the scarcity of labour ; that labour is becoming so dear that men are actually demanding 7s. per day, and yet the Commonwealth Government say that men are so plentiful in Australia, that we can afford to send them by thousands to the Transvaal to be shot, or to be rendered incapable of following peaceful avocations. One State Government tells us that they cannot find sufficient men to take the place of the 10,000 kanakas we shall be deporting from the Commonwealth, and yet that Government hurried to send a contingent at the behest of Mr. Henniker Heaton. That Government freely raises 500 men to send to South Africa, and at the same time they freely receive 40 or 50 Japanese to replace them. It seems to me that we are neglecting the interests of Australia, though we may be doing our duty as a part of the British Empire. We have also to remember that any aid we can send for the prosecution of this war is but very slight for the accomplishment of the end Great Britain has in view. The few thousand men we can send will have very little effect in bringing the war to an end any more quickly.
SenatorFraser. - They are very good for the purpose.
– They are very good for the purpose, but I say they are more valuable to us in developing our own country than they will be in fighting the Boers. I make bold to say also that they would be more valuable to the Empire in developing this country than they will be in shooting the Boers of the Transvaal. We have to remember that the development of the Empire has not been brought about altogether by means of war or by means of aggression. It has been brought about largely by means of industrial aggression and industrial war. If we weaken our population, and weaken the number of the wealth producers of the country, we weaken our powers, as a portion of the Empire, of industrial aggression and development. We have to be careful that we are not sacrificing too many of our wealth producers to the god of war. We have a duty to Australia, and that duty impels me to say that the time has come when we should say “ No more “ to the demands of the Colonial-office for further contingents. I, for one, if asked for a vote upon this question will say that there should be no further contingent sent to this war. We have done our duty, and , have done all that could have been expected of us as a part of the Empire and as Britishers. We have now our duty to Australia, and it is our first duty. It is our duty to see that those who are the wealth, the bone and sinew of the country, and to whom we must look for the future of the country, shall be retained here in health, and in useful employment. This is the spirit in which I enter my protest against the second part of the motion. I shall not vote against it. I shall vote for it ; but I do say that the time has come for us to seriously consider whether, if we are to take the responsibilities of the Empire upon our shoulders, we should not have some voice in the management of the Empire.
– The speeches we have listened to this afternoon, including the last, so far as they deal with the origin and causes of the war, may be very interesting, but I fail to see how they can possibly serve any useful purpose. The object of the motion, and the purpose which I think it will achieve are these. It will help to bring about the early termination of hostilities ; and for this reason - that everything that is done by a section of the press in foreign countries to encourage amongst the Boer people a hope of intervention is calculated to prolong a war which we all believe cannot possibly be successful. It has always appeared to me that the war was in one sense over when the military force of the two South African States was broken. That was considerably more than a year ago.From that time there has never been any military force of the enemy that has been strong enough to make front against any smaller or larger body of British troops in South Africa. From that time the war has simply been a series of guerilla contests ; and there can be no doubt whatever that that guerilla warfare has been continued solely in the hope that if the combatants held out long enough some other power would intervene, and the war would become a general war between Great Britain and perhaps some other power. If that is a correct view, it seems to me that everything that tends to prolong hostilities simply brings about useless slaughter. All these attacks which have been made from time to time on Great Britain in connexion with her conduct of the war, have clearly been intended to encourage hope in the minds of the Boers in the field, that if they hold out long enough help will come to them from some quarter. It is by means of a motion like this that we can counteract the effect of these declarations, and show clearly that Great Britain and her colonies are united. I have only one more word to say in regard to a remark made by the last speaker, who objects to the second paragraph of the motion because it is not definite. The honorable senator would prefer, if I understand him rightly, that the motion should affirm that we are prepared to send help and assistance up to a certain point, but not beyond that. I say that if the motion were worded in that way it would have a most injurious effect, and would continue to foster the idea that if the Boers only hold out long enough, pressure will in some way be brought to bear upon Great Britain, and the war will cease by means of some compromise. If we hold, as I think we must, that the present struggle is entirely hopeless, and that the great object to be attained is the early cessation of hostilities, the best we can do is to show clearly that Great Britain is determined to go to any length in order to bring about, that end. The sooner that is definitely understood the better will be the prospect of an early termination of the war. I think, therefore, that the motion is correctly worded, and that any alteration in the direction suggested would be but to weaken it, and would be productive of no good.
Senator O’CONNOR (New South Wales. - Vice-President of the Executive Council). -(In reply). - There is only one word I wish to add, and that is in reference to an expression used by Senator Neild. It seems to me that it is rather a pity that the honorable senator should have disfigured what would otherwise have been an able and patriotic speech by an unworthy sneer, at the conduct of the Government on this matter. In reference to his assertion that the request on the part of the Imperial Government for more troops from Australia was induced in any way by the action of Mr. Henniker Heaton or any other person, I give the statement a most unqualified denial. The action of the British Government and of the Commonwealth Government proceeded in no way whatever from the action of Mr. Henniker Heaton or any one else.
– Hear, hear. An interfering busybody !
– As a matterof fact the probable effect of the interference of Mr. Henniker Heaton was to limit the number which was requested in the first instance, to 1,000 troops instead of the number which evidently was required, 2,000. I express my deep satisfaction at the tone of the speeches made in the debate. Of course I recognise that my honorable friends, Senator McGregor and Senator Pearce, have a perfect right to express their own opinions ; but I am quite certain that the action of this Senate in passing this motion, as I hope it will do, unanimously, will be the strongest possible support of what the Government has done, because it will give with one clear certain voice a declaration of the unity of the Empire and the determination of Australia to stand by the Empire until this war is concluded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee - Consideration resumed from 13th December (vide page 8705).
Clause 41 - (Power to create or abolish offices and alter classification or grading).
– This clause provides -
The Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the commissioner, after obtaining a report from the permanent head - do certain things. I move -
That the words “ after obtaining a report from “ be omitted with- a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “and.”
The clause will then read -
The Governor-General may on. the recommendation of the commissioner and the permanent head.
My reason for moving this amendment is that I desire that the permanent head of a department, who is the officer really responsible for its discipline, shall be granted a somewhat higher status than is given to him as the clause stands. I would make him a participator in the recommendation, rather than merely tlie supplier of a report. The amendment would practically mean that the recommendation of the head of a department would be a condition precedent to the doing of the various things that are specified in the paragraphs of the clause. The permanent head ought to have a potential voice in appointments, recommendations, and so forth concerning his department. If the commissioner can make recommendations of the kind mentioned in the clause over the head of the permanent head of the department, I cannot see how the officer charged with these responsible duties can efficiently discharge them.
– When the committee were dealing with clause 5 we discussed- at considerable length the general scheme of the Bill, and the amendment now moved is really part of the same subject. The general idea of the Bill was that the GovernorGeneral in Council should act upon the recommendation of the commissioner after a report from the permanent head. Various other schemes were discussed, one proposal being that the permanent head should be given a more dignified position than the Bill proposes. Senator Neild’s amendment is to give effect to that idea, so that instead of the commissioner being the person who recommends after receiving a report from 26 b 2 the permanent head the recommendation is to come from the commissioner and the permanent head, which for the purposes of this clause will practically mean the permanent head being on a level with the commissioner. That is contrary to the scheme of the Bill, and I am not convinced that it would work at all well. It is better that each officer who has anything to do ‘with the matter of appointments should distinctly understand what is the limit of his particular duties. Here the Bill provides that the permanent head who is in charge of the department, and is supposed to know all his officers, shall make his report to the commissioner, who will consider it, and will have his inspectors to assist him in making a recommendation. I still think that is better than the proposal of my honorable friend that the permanent head should be placed practically upon a level with the commissioner, and that the recommendation should be their joint recommendation. It is not a good thing in a system of this kind to have more joint recommendations than can possibly, be avoided. It is better, clearly, to define the duties to be performed by each o cer.
– I fear that the amendment would lead to friction between the officers and the commissioner. When the commissioner is asking for information it is natural to suppose that he will consult persons occupying such positions as the honorable senator aims at advancing ; and to ask that a joint report should be presented by the head of the department and the commissioner might lead ‘to a considerable amount of friction and internal conflict, and conduce to the unworkableness of a department. Though I have not had much experience in the internal working of great departments, I have a little knowledge of the subject, and I cannot see my way to support Senator Neild’s motion. What the Postmaster-General has advanced is fairly reasonable.
– It is quite impossible for good work to be the result of the deliberations of the committee upon this Bil], because since the time of its second reading not much interest has been shown in it. It has been taken up and dropped, and taken up again when we had nothing else to do. We have just had an exciting debate upon another subject, and now not half of the senators are present. However, we must take things as we find them, and go on with the committee stage. Senator Drake is quite right in saying that, to a very great extent, this principle which arises once more on the amendment, has been discussed on many occasions, and that the committee has decided against it, but as I absolutely believe in Senator Neild’s amendment, and in what he calls the “ unprincipled principle “ of the Bill, I am bound to support him. Although the draftsman has taken great pains in trying to make each part fit in with the whole, and to give to the commissioner, the permanent head, and the chief officer, various duties, and as Senator Drake has said to define those duties, still I think he has followed too closely the Public Service Acts of the States. He has also forgotten that this is a Public Service Bill. In this Bill we are trying to do an absolute impossibility - that is to get one commissioner residing in the capital to control this vast federal service in six States. What would happen if the commissioner recommended the GovernorGeneral to do something under clause 41, which was absolutely opposed to the report of the permanent head1? If we were dealing with a Public Service Bill of Victoria we should not think so much of a difference. Under its Public Service Act, the commissioner and the permanent heads have practically come to loggerheads. For years one or two appointments have remained unsettled, simply because the parties cannot agree. But dealing with the federal service, what would the Governor-General do 1 He would see this unfortunate commissioner, in trying to do his duty to every civil servant, recommending one thing, and the permanent head in the State of Queensland recommending something totally different. The permanent head would have better knowledge, because he would know the officer, his division, and the work of his department. The Governor-General would at once be placed in a difficulty. He would have either to take the recommendation of the ignorant commissioner - because that officer could only get his knowledge at second hand - or to take the advice of the permanent head, who knew most about the matter. What would he do ? If the policy of the Act is to put the control of the service into the hands of one commissioner, I suppose His Excellency would, against his better judgment, throw overboard the permanent head and Stick to that policy.
– It is provided for. He can do either.
– He can do either, but I am inclined to think that he would do the unwise, unpractical thing - that he would go against the advice of the man who knew, and stick to the Chief Commissioner in order to uphold the dignity of his office. Then we are thrown back on the principle of the Bill, and although the committee in a very small House have decided in favour of it, I honestly believe that if all the senators were here they would be against it. I am bound to support the amendment of Senator Neild, and I shall support him hereafter in getting a great many of these clauses recommitted. It appears to me that the Bill will be found unworkable, unless everybody bows down to the commissioner. The permanent head is charged by the Bill with the general working and discipline of the department, and unless he makes up his mind to bow down to the ignorant commissioner, and to see inspectors galloping about and taking a brief review of matters, there must inevitably be friction. I should like some of my honorable friends, who have not followed the Bill in all its stages, to help us now in discussing this point.
– I think that all honorable senators who took the same view as Senator Dobson at the second reading stage, must respond to his invitation to’ express our feeling and our intention to adhere to the views we then expressed, and to still further ^declare, if it be necessary at every stage, our detestation of the vicious principle upon which the Bill has been founded. In my view the Bill will be utterly unworkable. It will produce inconvenience and friction in the Commonwealth departments, which have been unknown in any State public service, and it will really be a hot-bed of difficulty which none of us, the PostmasterGeneral included, can exactly predicate. I have not taken great interest in some of the unimportant clauses, because the vicious principle of the Bill overrides them all. It seems to me that unless we eradicate that principle we shall never be able to make a success of the measure in the administration of the public service. The vice upon which the principle of the Bill is founded can scarcely be better illustrated than by this clause. In order that the Governor-General may get the information upon which he is to act from really a source of knowledge, that is from a man who is thoroughly alive to the interests of the department and conversant with its working, with the neccessity for the promotion of the officer, and with the claims of the officer to transfer or promotion, I should prefer to see the clause read in this form -
The Governor-General may on the recommendation of the permanent head create a new office.
But to place tlie Governor-General in the position of acting only on the recommendation of the commissioner, who knows nothing whatever at first hand on the subject, and to say that he can only make his recommendation after obtaining a report from the permanent head which he may altogether disregard, seems to me to be legislating to the very height of absurdity. If we were to say that the Governor-General was to act on the recommendation of the commissioner, and that his recommendation was to be in accordance with the report of the permanent head I could understand it ; but to say that the Cover- . nor-General may act on the recommendation of the commissioner, which may be at entire variance with the report of the permanent head, is to introduce at once a state of things which will cause the greatest, difficulty and disaster. Whilst it is scarcely possible to remedy the evils of the Bill in any particular clause, still it would be far better either for the Governor-General to act solely on the recommendation of the commissioner, who should be free to get his information from what source he pleased, or to act on the recommendation of the permanent head, and not to place one in antagonism to another, or to make the permanent head merely a creature of the commissioner, and liable to do exactly what he wished. I should be sorry for the officers of a department if they had to rely for promotion on such a provision as this. Any amendment will improve the clause, although I think that no amendment will succeed in making this a workable measure.
– Senator Symon’s suggestion would involve six semicommissioners.
– That is what it is now.
– That is not what is intended. If the Bill is to provide for six semi-commissioners I predict failure in its administration. Divided counsels are bound to give dissatisfaction.’ There may be six different practices in the six States. Undoubtedly there should be one head, and therefore I cannot see my way to support this amendment.
– Senator Dobson says’ that under present circumstances there has been friction, and the commissioners and the ‘permanent heads in some cases have been at loggerheads. How can we improve such a state of things by putting the permanent head on_a level with the commissioner ? If there has been friction, and they have been at loggerheads, surely it is much better for us to define the exact standing of each in relation to the other in order to prevent trouble in the future. Then it has been pointed out that it would be veryundesirable if the commissioner made a recommendation opposed to the report of the permanent head. We have a provision for a case of that kind. Supposing that the recommendation to the commissioner is opposed to the report of the permanent head, and the Minister considers that- the latter is right, he has no need to accept the recommendation. Then we have a provision afterwards that if the GovernorGeneral in Council - the Ministers practically - reject a recommendation, the commissioner is to make another recommendation, and the reason for not accepting his first recommendation is to be laid on the table of each House of Parliament. Everything is provided for in the Bill. Seeing that on the 5th clause we thoroughly discussed the question of whether the general scheme of the Bill should be accepted, and the committee decided that it should be accepted, what will result if on each clause where we are giving effect to that general idea we are to have an amendment moved ? The Bill will be a hotch-potch directly.
– It is that already.
– I am not at all sur prised that Senator Neild has moved this amendment, because he wishes to kill the Bill. I trust that those who think it is a good Bill will not agree with his amendment.
– As one of those who believe in the main principles of the Bill, I intend to support the Government on this clause. I think it is very improbable that the commissioner will supersede the report of the permanent head unless he has very strong reasons. If Ministers see that the commissioner’s views are more correct, then, no doubt, the views of the permanent head will be superseded, but not otherwise. I think there is a great deal of force in what the Postmaster-General has said - We must have a head of the service, and it seems to me that that head must be the commissioner.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- May I inform Senator Drake that I do not desire to destroy the Bill, but to destroy only that part of it which leaves the control of the service in the hands of a commissioner ? We must have a Public Service Act ; we must have the federal civil service classified ; but I want the Minister to be placed in his right position. Does Senator Drake consider, after what he has urged, that this Bill, copied from one of the State Acts, is applicable to the Federal service ?
– But is that statement correct?
– Does Senator Drake believe that the commissioner with even six inspectors can possibly do this work intelligently, seeing that he must obtain his information second-hand? I have referred already to the action taken by the Western Australian Legislature in deliberately going back on the principle embodied in the Public Service Acts of other States, and reestablishing Ministerial control. It would not have a Civil Service Commissioner in the way we propose. I believe it took that action upon the arguments, some of which I have read to the committee, contained in three or four able newspaper articles, setting forth the various principles relating to Public Service Commissioners. I have already told the committee that Queensland is doing away with its Public Service Commissioners. I have read in the Brisbane Courier that the Parliament of that State found that the Public Service Commissioners were a failure, so far as the shutting out of political influence from the service was concerned.
– I would ask Senator Dobson not to go over the whole ground again
– This clause opens up the whole principle.
– Not as to whether or not there should be a commissioner. That question has been decided.
– I think you will agree with me, Mr. Chairman, that what a State has done in this respect is of some little importance. I should like to ask Senator Drake whether it is not a fact that Queensland has given up the idea that it is possible to shut out political influence by means of a commissioner.
-I was one of those who fought to strike out the provision in clause 5 for the appointment of a commissioner, but I do not feel justified in continuously fighting against that principle. The committee have decided that that principle shall stand, and therefore I think it is futile to fight it in every clause in which the commissioner is named: When the Bill is reported, I shall be prepared to support the recommittal of clause 5, in order that the feeling of the committee may be again tested upon this point. I would appeal to honorable senators who wish to see a Public Service Bill passed this sessionnot to raise the question on every clause in which the commissioner is named, but to wait till the Bill is reported, when clause 5 can be recommitted.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I find myself somewhat in a position of adversity ; I find myself “acquainted with strange bed-fellows,” in that I find myself supported by senators who hold different views to myself, for I cannot remember that I opposed the appointment of a commissioner when clause 5 was before us. The Bill is such an antiquated relic of legislation that I cannot be quite sure of what I did in regard to it six or ten months ago. This is one of the first measures with which we had to deal, and we have been tossing it about for some nine or ten months, so that I cannot be sure now what was my attitude on this question when clause 5 was before us. I should have to look up Hansard to satisfy myself on the point. Speaking subject to correction as to what I did a long time ago, I differ from Senator Pearce in that I do not object at the present stage to the appointment of a commissioner. I am dealing with one of the details of the commissioner’s duty, and I am not fighting the question of the appointment of a commissioner in moving this amendment. If I were to tell the PostmasterGeneral the source of my inspiration in proposing this amendment, he would find that I was acting in accordance with a suggestion on the part of perhaps the very highest authority that he could name within the limits of the Commonwealth. I am not ashamed to say that my inspiration has been derived from a very high source. I think that Senator “Walker takes a rather wrong view of this question. He desires to maintain the dignity amd status of the commissioner. That is all very well ; but what about the status of the permanent heads of departments ? “Where do we leave them ? Why discount the status of a permanent head so that he has absolutely no control over the men under him ? The whole effect of this clause will be that men and women employed in the service will give every attention to the commissioner, and none whatever to the permanent heads of their respective departments. The consequence will be that the nian who, to use a colloquial expression, runs the show,” will have no control over those nominally under his command. It is 3ike the ship-owner saying to the captain of ]1is vessel, “ Sail your ship from one port to ^another, keep good order on board, let the whole work of the ship go on, but do nothing without referring to my agent.” The owner’s agent would have to be deferred to by the captain before he could do anything with the crew nominally under his command. I give my assurance, irrespective of what I did or how I voted on this question months ago, that I am not fighting against the appointment of a commissioner now. The Senate has decided that he shall be appointed, but let us make him capable of doing as little mischief as possible. We do not want a permanent head, then roving inspectors, then a commissioner, then the Minister, and then the Governor-General in Council to deal with a poor fellow getting 10s. a week. I have heard of an elephant being used to draw a perambulator, and it seems to one that we are legislating very much in that direction in appointing permanent heads, six inspectors, a commissioner, the Minister, and the Governor-General Tin Council to deal with these matters. There are many mysterious methods in this Bill for creating friction and taking away the authority of the man who alone can sensibly and properly exercise it. Of course, if I am in a minority, I shall bow to the will of the majority.
– But the honorable senator is not in a minority.
.- I shall take a division upon the question.
– Before we go to a division, I desire to draw attention to one of the most important points we can consider in connexion with this Bill. Under this clause the most important person that we have to deal with as a Senate - the responsible Minister - is completely and totally ignored. We have Ministers appointed for the purpose of administering various Acts of Parliament, and among those ‘ laws should be the Civil Service Act. Under this clause the GovernorGeneral may on the recommendation of the commissioner, after obtaining a report from the permanent head, do certain things. I think that we should strike out the word “ commissioner “ and insert the word “Minister,” so that it would be on the recommendation of the Minister, and not of the commissioner, that these tilings would be done. The commissioner might make reports to the Minister, and the Minister might also obtain reports from the permanent heads to assist him in coming to a decision ; but the Governor-General should not act upon the report of the commissioner or permanent head ; he should act upon the advice of his Cabinet. It may be said that these things will be done in Executive Council, but I contend that everything that comes before the GovernorGeneral should come first before the Cabinet. After it has been before the Cabinet and met with its approval, it should be forwarded to the Governor-General for his approval on the recommendation of the Cabinet. Under this clause we are departing from the recognised form in which matters are usually brought before a Governor in Council. The form is that a matter is first discussed in Cabinet. The Cabinet makes its recommendations to the Executive Council, and the Governor approves. Under this clause, however, the matter may never come before the Cabinet. Even if the Minister may not be totally ignored, owing to the fact that the GovernorGeneral can only agree to any of these proposals when assembled with his Ministers in Executive Council, the report of the permanent head may never have been seen by the Minister; the Governor-General may meet the Executive Council and spring the matter upon the responsible Minister. With regard to the other alteration by which it is proposed to make the permanent head the equal or the superior of the commissioner, I say that if we are to have a head of the service it is better that he should be unmistakably the head. Dual heads are I think a mistake, and I shall vote against the amendment. I have always said that I think the commissioner should be struck out and the Minister put in his place. I altogether disapprove of the appointment of a commissioner, upon whom is to be shunted the work which should be done by Ministers, who are our executive officers. They will shelter themselves behind the commissioner, and will not accept any responsibility.
– Move that “ Minister “ be put in.
– I do not care to fight battles over and over again. We fought this battle once, and will have a re-trial of it at the proper time,’ but 1 do not care to seize every opportunity I may have, as the Bill goes through, to air my own views upon this matter. I shall be prepared when the proper time comes to do away with this commissioner, who will be a practically useless public officer, but who will have to take the responsibility which should rest upon Ministers. I have had considerable experience of the working of the Civil Service Act in South Australia where, without any of these heads, the work of the service has been conducted with more satisfaction than in the States which have adopted a different course, and have appointed boards or commissioners.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- As I have been accused, in a friendly way by the Minister, of opposing the Bill, I should like now to propose something which would save time. Of course I intend to move the recommittal of clause 5 and other clauses. Will the Minister take a debate upon the recommittal of clause 5 which will open up the whole question t If the honorable and learned senator promises to do that I shall not raise the principle again until we come to discuss that motion. I do not care to fight over again battles in which I have been beaten, but in this instance I think I have been beaten by a minority.
– Of course, if a majority of the Senate is against the Bill honorable senators can stop it at any stage. I was very glad that Senator Playford made so fair and reasonable a statement of his views. The honorable senator advocated a certain alternative scheme and tested the feeling of the Senate. Finding that he had not a majority he was not pre. pared at every stage and upon every amende ment to raise the question. If at the report stage members of the Senate desire to reconsider any particular clause, in order to argue the matter again, they will have the opportunity of moving for its recommittal.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - The honorable and learned senator is charmingly indefinite, and has declined to commit himself to anything. There is a wide distinction between fighting over again the question of the appointment of a commissioner, and fighting the individual exercise of power by the commissioner, and it is in the latter connexion) that I have moved my amendment. I alsosee that there is no use in worrying about the details of the powers of the commissioner if we at some later stage are going to do away with him. There is, of course, the reverse of the picture. We may have the commissioner, notwithstanding the recommittal, and we may have him with some of’ the powers to which I take exception. I give my assurance to the PostmasterGeneral that I have no intention of raising’ the question of the commissionership by this amendment. I merely desire to deal with a detail of the powers of the commissioner in certain directions.
– The honorable senator’s, amendment is being made use of.
– I cannot helpthat. The fact that some members of the Senate wish to go further with the commissionerthan I am anxious to go is no justification for my withdrawing from the position I have’ taken- up. I should be very much disposed tolet the matter go if the Postmaster-General would state, as the Minister in charge of theBill, that he will test the question on the recommittal of clause 5. It is all very well to say that if there is a majority of theSenate in favour of a .certain course honorable senators will do so and so, but if theGovernment make it a Government question they can get more votes than if it is left an open question upon which an honorable-‘ senator is free to take his own course. If the Postmaster-General will give a promise that he will not oppose the’ recommittal of clause 5. 1 shall not press thisamendment. If he does not see his way to» give that assurance we shall have a division upon the Bill when honorable senators have grown tired of talking about it.
– I desire to point out that we have had a fight on clause 5, and have been beaten, and it is therefore useless for us now to alter these details affecting the commissioner. If clause 5 is to remain we must be consistent and give the commissioner certain powers, and I do not believe it would be a wise thing to have a divided authority in this matter. I hope that those with whom I worked in trying to alter the principle of the Bill will now be prepared to go through with it, on the understanding that we were beaten once and for all, and make it as workable a Bill as we can under the circumstances. I hope we shall have a majority on the proposed recommittal of clause 5, and if we strike out that clause we shall have to go through the Bill again, and alter it in accordance with the changed conditions, but if we attempt to alter the details now we shall only throw the Bill into confusion.
Question. - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause - put.
The committee divided -
Ayes . . … … 19
Noes … … … 5
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move an amendment to follow paragraph (f). Under paragraph (e) there is power to transfer an officer from the clerical division to fill a vacancy in the professional division.
But in all these paragraphs no mention is made of the general division. I there fore move -
That the following new paragraph be inserted after paragraph (f) : - “Transfer or promote an officer of the general division to the professional, administrative, or clerical division, if such officer is competent, and consents to be so promoted.”
It was a well-known saying of the privates, in the army of Napoleon that each man carried the baton of a field-marshal in his knapsack. If we had that principle in our public service every man would have facilities open to him, if he showed capability and merit, for rising to the top of the service. We should not shut out the general division, because it includes such men as telegraph operators, who can only rise to a certain salary, at which they have to remain. Why not allow them to be transferred into the clerical, administrative, or professional division, and then allow the best men in each branch of the service to rise to the top, if qualified?
– The omission from the Bill of such a paragraph as Senator Pearce has moved is, of course, not accidental. There is, in the opinion of those who have considered the matter fully, a good reason why this power to promote from the general division should not be given. It must be borne in mind - and this detracts from the force of Senator Pearce’s observations - that every man in the general division can, if he qualifies himself, obtain admissionto the clerical division or the administrative division, or even the professional division. The difference is that, if he wants to do that, he has to commence where the other officers in those divisions have commenced. It is true that there is some slight examination for telephone operators, but as a general rule admission to the general division is not by examination. The work of that division is looked upon as a different class of work. If a man from that division wants to enter the clerical division, we say that it is fair to those who are already in that division that he shall start at the beginning, and not that a man who has raised himself to a certain position in the general division shall be able to get a transfer into the clerical division, escaping the examination that has had to be passed by other officers. I speak more particularly with regard to the clerical division, but the illustration holds good as to the other divisions. A man who goes into the clerical division at a certain age passes the prescribed examination, and is naturally anxious to secure promotion from time to time. If a man were allowed to come into that division from the general division without passing the examination that the other officers had to pass, and to at once occupy a position higher up the ladder than had been attained by many who had started at the bottom, the younger officers of the clerical division would be discouraged. There is nothing whatever to prevent a man entering the clerical division from the general division if he qualifies himself. This amendment will give power to the commissioner - or else it means nothing - to give an advantage to a man who is in the general division to enter the clerical division, which advantage he would not have if he were not in the general division. I maintain that such a transferred officer ought not to be put over the heads of those who have started in the clerical division. The administrative division is naturally fed from the clerical division. There men are trained for the administrative division, and to some extent also for “the professional. But it is not so with the general division. It will be a discouragement to young fellows entering the service in the clerical division, who pass their examination and do their work with credit, and who have to start at the foot of the ladder, if the way is opened to an inrush of men from the general division. The man who starts at the bottom of the clerical di vision wants to know that he is going to have a fair run, and that, given good conduct and Ability, he may work his way up the ladder. It will be a distinct, discouragement to such -a man if the Commissioner has power to take a man from the general division and place him over the heads of those who are working their way up in the clerical division.
– I recognise the difficulty there is in falling in with the amendment, but that difficulty would be reduced if Senator Pearce would add at the end of his proposed new paragraph some such words as the following on passing an examination prescribed by the Commissioner.
I certainly think that, in the interests of the civil service, we should allow the members of the genera] division who have the necessary qualifications, and who have studied to improve themselves, to get promotion in the other divisions, if they consent to pass an examination which, in the opinion of the commissioner, will qualify them. I have met men who started life with little education, but who, by force of character, have qualified themselves to be able to take as good positions as those who commenced with better advantages. In the British army there are men who have risen from the ranks to some of the highest positions. There are many duties falling upon men in the general division which call for considerable capacity, and if they supplement their knowledge by studying out of business hours, I should like to see them encouraged. I am prepared to support Senator Pearce’s amendment if he will add the words I have mentioned.
– It appears to me that there is great force in Senator Pearce’s amendment, which I am prepared to accept with the addition that Senator Walker has suggested. Our object is to get the best civil service we can, and we ought not to make rules which keep a man down for ever in the particular division he originally joins. Such a man may prove himself to have abilities which conspicuously fit him for another division ; but under this Bill he could not be transferred on account of this red-tape rule that he can only get promotion from certain divisions. Surely the Government are not so afraid of administration, by the commissioner that they fear that such an amendment as that proposed will be the means of driving a coach and four through the general provisions which are devised to secure efficiency. A man may pass an excellent examination and yet prove himself a most inefficient officer. That constantly happens. I venture to say that there is no worse test of a man’s capacity to do work in this life than an examination. It is a rough and ready mode of testing a man’s capacity. It has to be adopted, because we do not know what else to do. But those who adopt it and who have had any experience of administration are well aware of its inefficiency. A man in the general division may show himself to be qualified for a high position in the clerical division, but instead of allowing him to be transferred, there is a red-tape provision which compels the commissioner to take, perhaps, an inefficient officer, when there is an officer of proved capacity at hand who would be peculiarly fitted for the work that has to be done. Therefore it appears to me that this exception in respect to the general division ought “to be clone away with. As to whether the transferred officers should have to pass examinations or not, I am somewhat doubtful. The examination that a man would have to pass in order to take a leading position in the. clerical division might be a very different one from the examination required from any one beginning in that division. I should ^prefer to adopt Senator Pearce’s amendment, and put in some such words as - subject to such examination as the commissioner may require.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - With the consent of the committee, I wish to alter my amendment to read as follows -
Transfer or promote an officer of the general division to the professional, administrative, or clerical divisions, if such officer is competent, and passes an examination as prescribed by the commissioner, and consents to be so transferred or promoted.
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– Why has Senator Pearce amended his amendment to provide for an examination ?
– He has done it after the Postmaster-General has pointed out the reason for it.
– The commissioner would see to the fitness of an officer to fill a certain position before he would allow him to be transferred. It is just possible that if we insert such a provision in the BDI, the commissioner may set such a difficult examination that it will be almost impossible for an ordinary officer in the general division to pass it. I wish to give officers in the general division, both male and female, an opportunity of advancing without imposing these rigid examinations, to which some honorable senators attach so much importance. The arguments of Senator Downer were simply unanswerable. He pointed out that sometimes an officer may pass an examination as the result -of mere cram, although he may be absolutely unfitted to occupy the position to which he aspires. Senator Drake laid very great stress on the hardship this proposal would inflict on a young man who had entered the clerical branch at the lowest rung of the ladder. But in the largest branch of the public service, the general division, it will be almost impossible for an officer, however competent, capable, or studious he might be, to enter this close guild which is sought to be established if honorable senators are to be guided by his arguments. Senator Pearce throws another obstacle in the way when he invites the commissioner to formulate an examination, which might be of such a nature that it would be almost impossible for an officer in the general division to take an ordinary low position in the clerical division. Senator Drake is aware that in Queensland, in 1897, the Legislative Assembly, after verv careful deliberation, amended the Act so as to enable persons who had been in the general division for a certain period to advance in the service without undergoing any examination. Why? Because their general fitness was well established, because the heads of the departments knew exactly what offices the men were capable of filling. We did not provide that there should be a rigid examination. We opened the door for their advancement, knowing full well that the head of a department would see that no officer would be allowed to occupy a position for which he was unfitted. I shall not further quarrel with the amendment.
– I understood Senator Glassey to say that the alteration which has been made in the amendment puts another obstacle in the direction in which he desires to move. I am inclined to think that the alteration is decidedly an improvement, but I do not think it does away with the objection I pointed out before. I think that if the amendment is carried as it stands, it will cause a great deal of heart-burning in the service, and may create a considerable amount of confusion. It has been pointed ‘ out by Senator Glassey that the commissioner might set an examination so stiff that it would prevent any officer in tlie general division from qualifying for even a position in the lowest grade of the clerical division. If the commissioner might take that course, he might also set an examination so extremely e’asy that any one in the general division could be transferred to the clerical division. Let me point out what might happen. Supposing that for some reason or other the position of an officer pretty high up in the clerical division was vacated, in the clerical division there would be men who had been working for years at practically the same work close to him, and who would naturally expect that they would get promotion when his position became vacant. But under this amendment a man who was doing work of a different character might be taken from the general division and pitchforked into that position in the clerical division, to the great detriment and disappointment of those men in the clerical division.
– That can happen already in three divisions.
– The other divisions are so different. The clerical division is a stepping-stone to the administrative and professional divisions. A man who goes into the clerical division is qualifying all the time for the administrative division, but in the case of the general division there is no examination, for the simple reason that the’ work is supposed to be of a different character from that in the other divisions, and a man may have a complete career before him who starts at the bottom. We know what an outcry there always is in the service, and properly so, if,’ except for the best of reasons, a man is brought from outside the service and put into a position. Everybody recognises that. This would not be so bad as that, but it is really the next thing to it, because there is such a clear, distinct separation as to work between the general division and the clerical and administrative divisions that to bring a man from the general division and pitchfork him into a position in the clerical division is next door to bringing a man from outside the service.
– Is a telegraph operator in the general division ?
– Yes. In the general division men are doing a different class of work from that which is being done by men in the clerical division, and the conditions of entrance are also different. I have spoken more particularly in regard to the clerical division, but of course if the amendment were carried, a man could be taken from the general division and put into the administrative or professional division. A man who had been doing a different kind of work in the general division might be pitchforked right into the administrative division. I feel perfectly sure that if it were provided so that a man might be taken from the general division and placed in a high position in the clerical division, it would give rise to a great deal of dissatisfaction.
– I intend to support the amendment. I cannot follow the arguments adduced by Senator Drake. It appears to me that byadopting this amendment we shall dosomething which may materially promote the efficiency of the service. It is of the-, utmost importance that men engaged in serious national business, such as the Post-office, should be acquainted with the< details of the work from the very bottom upwards. There is a very large proportion of the Post-office business of which the clerical department has no idea. Men who, in the course of time, achieve a. high position in the Post-office, instead of being the worse for having started at lettercarrying, stamping, or sorting, in thegeneral division, would be all the better.. They would have a much more thorough knowledge of the business of the departmentthan would otherwise be possible. SenatorDrake seems to be actuated almost entirely by sentimental reasons. He appears tothink that if a man enters the general division he ought never to be able to getout of it. That is the very idea which isat the root of the incompetence which pre. vails in the British army. The superiorpositions in the army are open to only a certain class.
– No ; all positions are open to the ranks.
– That is a fiction.. We are told that the courts of justice areopen to every one, but we know that unless, our pockets are well lined with gold they are as much closed against us as if they were barred with iron gates. The incompetency which exists in the British armysimply arises from the fact that the highest positions are reserved for the sons of thearistocracy and the middle classes. In a. national service we want to get, aboveeverything, competency, ability, and knowledge, not theoretical, but practical. Weought to encourage the humblest man in a department to aspire to the highest - position. In the old country it used to bethe boast of some of our ablest railway managers that they had been porters.. But, if Senator Drake’s idea were carried into effect, it could never be said by any Deputy Postmaster-General that hehad been a letter-carrier. In this democratic community the highest position in. the Commonwealth service ought to be open, to the meanest citizen. When a man-. enters the Post-office, or any other branch of the service, he ought to be able to say to himself - “If I have the capacity, the energy, and the fidelity, I can aspire to the highest position here.” If this amendment is adopted that will be possible, and for that reason I support it.
– I intend to support the amendment, although it seems to me that what the honorable senator desires is already in the clause. It reads -
The Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the commissioner, after obtaining a report from the permanent head…..
transfer or promote an officer from the professional division to fill a vacancy in the clerical division, if such officer has previously been in the clerical division, and consents tos uch transfer or promotion ; or
transfer or promote an officer from the clerical division to fill a vacancy in the professional division . . .
transfer or promote an officer from the professional division or clerical division to the administrative division ; or
transfer or promote from one division to another after such examination as may be prescribed.
– That is, the division of each class in the third schedule.
– It seems to me that Senator Pearce’s wish, as contained in his amendment, will be met by paragraph (g), but if there is any doubt about it, I am willing to support the amendment.
– I rise to correct the particularly erroneous statement made by Senator Stewart with reference to the impossibility
– I did not say “impossibility.”
– It is useless for the honorable senator to make a statement of a broad character, and then to try and fine it away when he discovers that he is in the wrong. It is well known that during the last two years scores of commissions have been given in the British army to men who have served in the ranks. We had here recently a very distinguished general of the British army - General Hector Macdonald - who has risen from the ranks, and the new commandant of the New South Wales forces, Brigadier-General Finn, is another distinguished and admirable soldier who has risen from the ranks. It is absurd for these ad captandum vulgus statements to be made with a view of confusing knowledge. I am going to support Senator Pearce. Even if his proposal is already provided for, let us make assurance doubly sure, but there should be a qualifying examination.
– I have provided for that.
– Then I shall support the amendment.
– I would point out to Senator Pearce that what he desires is really accomplished by paragraph (g). I cannot imagine any wider power than what is given there. If the honorable senator will look at his amendment he will see that the clause, as proposed to beamended by him, will mean that the Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the commissioner, after obtaining a report from the permanent head, amongst other things, transfer or promote an officer of the general division to the professional administrative or clerical division if such officer is competent, passes the prescribed examination, and consents to be so transferred. What he wants is that on passing an examination which may be prescribed, an officer may be promoted from the general to any of these other divisions. Is not that provided for by paragraph (g) ?
– Where is the necessity for paragraphs (e) and (f) if (g) covers all the ground?
– There is no provision for examination there. Officers in all the other divisions have already passed examinations, or else the work to be done in them is of such a nature that an examination of this special kind is unnecessary. The division to which paragraph (g) must apply is the general division, with regard to which an examination would be requisite. The word “ division “ in the paragraph is only used in one sense, the sense in which it is used in clause 15. There are no other divisions referred to.
– There are subdivisions referred to in the third schedule, and each of those subdivisions represents a promotion.
– But the paragraph refers to a division.
– I think it is a misprint, and that it meant to apply to a subdivision.
– No, it did not.
– There are the words, and the Government consider that they can stand as they are. If the honorable member has any scruples as to the use of a small “ d “ instead of a big one in the word “ division,” we will make it a big “ D.” If we insert the words “ general division,” we shall limit the paragraph to that. “ Division “ includes “ general division.” I know the honorable senator’s desire is to carry out the view which he has stated in his amendment, and that view will be carried out completely if he accepts the power given in paragraph (rj). If he agrees that it carries out all that he requires, I shall ask him to abandon his amendment.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Senator O’Connor says that my proposal is unnecessary because an examination is not required for the general division, whereas it is necessary before a transfer can be made from the general to the clerical divisions. Let us take the case of a clerk in the clerical division. That clerk will have a light under paragraph (e) to be transferred to the professional division, which includes, among other officers, . architects, who have to possess special knowledge. Would it be right to transfer a man to the architectural branch of the professional division simply because he happened to be a clerk in the clerical division - and because there happened to be no work for him there - without requiring him to pass an examination? However, we have paragraph (e) providing that before a man can be transferred from the clerical to the professional division, he must pass an examination ; but paragraph (jr) if it bears the construction which Senator O’Connor puts upon it, ought to provide that the officer may be transferred from any one division to “any other division.”
– There is no objection to the insertion of those words if the honorable senator desires it.
– If Senator O’Connor refers to the third- schedule he will see that subdivisions are named there. Before an officer can pass from one subdivision to another, he has to obtain the consent of the commissioner. .
– The PostmasterGeneral will be able to show that the paragraph was inserted in the other House in order to carry out Senator Pearce’s view.
– Paragraph (gr) was not in the Bill as introduced in the other House. This question was raised there, and then an honorable member proposed to insert a new paragraph as follows -
Transfer or promote an officer from the general division to the clerical division.
A debate took place, during which thepoints that have been referred to herewere brought out, showing that the object of the proposal was to enable the commissioner, if he found a man in the general division fit for service in the clerical division to promote him. The last speaker in the debate, using very nearly the sameargument that has been put forward here,, said -
What the House wants to do is to give theexecutive heads of the service the power to get competent men wherever they are to be obtained. The ordinary clerical man looks upon a messengeras an inferior individual, and if a man starts his. life as a messenger, he will probably end it as a. messenger. We want only one thing to be recognised under this Bill, and that is merit ; and we should require the commissioner to recognisemerit wherever he may find it, whether it be in. the general division or elsewhere.
– Who was speakingthere ? ,
– The honorable member for Richmond. It was the honorable member for South Australia (Mr. Batchelor) who proposed the amendment. The honorable member for Richmond finished up by moving that the following be inserted as a. new paragraph : -
Transfer or promote from one division toanother after such examination as may be prescribed.
That is paragraph (g), as it stands now, and itwas accepted as satisfactory. That alsoexplains why a small “ d “ is used in division, instead of a capital one.
– Why are paragraphs (e and (/) required?
– They were in the Bill before this amendment was made and. they deal with transfers from the clerical division to the professional division, and from the professional division tothe administrative division. Then thisnew paragraph was inserted for the express purpose of providing for the case of a transfer from the general to the clerical division or any other division. There is the peculiar circumstance that no examination is necessary for entrance to thegeneral division and, therefore, this paragraph provides that an examination shall! take place before an officer is transferred from the general to another division.
– There is an elementary examination for entrance to the general division.
– But it is not considered sufficient to show that a man is qualified for the clerical or administrative division and, therefore, this examination is required.
– The paragraph should provide for transfers “ from any one division to any other division.”
– Is not that what it means? I have no objection to those words. The original proposal in the other House was that it should provide-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable and learned senator in order in quoting from a debate which took place in another House ?
– The objection is too late.
– In my opinion he is not in order.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I am willing to withdraw my amendment if the Postmaster-General will amend the paragraph so as to provide for transfers from any one division to any other division. Then I think that paragraphs (d), (e), and (f) might well be struck out.
Senator Sir JOHN DOWNER (South Australia). - My suggestion is that paragraphs (e), (f), (g), be struck out. The clause is very complicated as it stands. Take, for instance, the provision as to transfers in paragraph (d). It is very hard on an officer in the professional division that he cannot be sent to fill a vacancy in the clerical division unless he has been there previously. Then we have three subdivisions relating exclusively to the professional and clerical divisions, and carefully omitting all reference to the other departments. I suggest that we should omit the paragraphs from (d) to (g) and insert as a new paragraph (d) these words -
With the consent of any officer, transfer or promote him from any one division to any other division, and in the case of transfer or promotion from the general to the clerical division, after such examination as may be prescribed.
That would cover everything and would remove the anomaly in paragraph (d), under which an officer cannot be promoted from the professional division to the clerical division unless he has been previously in the clerical division.
– I withdraw my amendment by consent to enable the honorable and learned senator’s suggestion to be followed.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Sir John Downer) agreed to.
That paragraphs (d) to (g) be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new paragraph(d) : - With the consent of any officer, transfer or promote him from any one division to any other division, and in the case of tranter or promotion from the general to the clerical division after such examination as may be prescribed.
Clause as amended, agreed to.
– I desire to draw the attention of the committee to sub-clause (3.) It seems to me to give a very sweeping power, and to interfere considerably with whatever examination may be laid down by the commissioner.I should like to know what is meant by “ any public examining body “? It may refer to a school of mines, or any such body, and apparently if a person can pass an examination set by that body, he is exempt from any other examination, though under clause 27 regulations are to prescribe a preliminary medical examination or test as to the health of candidates ; the character and standard of the examination towhich candidates are required to submit themselves ; and the manner of holding such examinations.If a University examination is to be all that is necessary, it seems to me that it may override the medical examination.
– The honorable senator will see that this is an examination in one or more subjects.
– Sub-clause (3) seems to me to say that an examination bya University, or any other public examining body, may take the place of any other examination which may be prescribed under the Bill.
– There can, I think, be no reasonable objection to this clause and to strike out sub-clause (3) would only result in increased expenditure. The commissioner has to satisfy himself that a candidate is qualified in certain subjects. If we have a University in a State what is it, for certain purposes, but an examining body, and why should not the commissioner if he chooses appoint any particular professor in a University as an examiner 1 If that may be done, the honorable senator will see that it comes to exactly the same thing if the candidate can produce a certificate of fitness in a particular subject from the professor. The commissioner is the person to be satisfied, and if he accepts the certificate of a University or a public examining body that should be sufficient. The power of the commissioner to select his examiners seems to be without any qualification whatever. If he has confidence in any particular public examining body, why should he not accept their certificate as sufficient proof of the fitness of a candidate in a particular subject1?
– What does the honorable and learned senator call “ a public examining body “ ?
– I do not know what may be meant here by a “ public examining body,” but the commissioner may select any one as an examiner. The onus is thrown upon him to satisfy himself as to the fitness of a candidate. The public examining body may be, as suggested, a school of mines, and if the commissioner is satisfied that a school of mines is competent to examine a candidate and give a certificate of fitness, he may prefer to accept that certifi. cate to going to the unnecessary expense of appointing, it may be the same men, as examiners to conduct an examination of the candidate over again. There can be no ^possible harm in allowing the commissioner to accept the certificate of a public examining body.
– I should like to ask the Minister to explain why, after a candidate has passed an examination and entered the service, he should, every time he is promoted to another class, have to pass another public examination. So far as I know that is not done anywhere, and it appears to me to be quite unnecessary. The officer will not -be promoted unless the commissioner considers -that from his previous conduct and work he is fit for promotion, and so a further public examination is not required.
– Certainly not the same examination over again, and I do not think that will be found in the Bill. He has only to pass the examination prescribed to show that he is fitted for the particular work of the new grade to which he. is promoted. That is clearly just as necessary as his first examination. A candidate is examined in the first place to show his fitness for a certain grade in the service, and when he is promoted to a higher grade it is necessary that he should show that he is competent to perform the particular class of work he is going to undertake. The examination which then takes place is not to prove whether he is fit for the work in the grade from which he comes but to prove whether he has the special qualifications required for the higher grade to which he is promoted.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - I do not know of any public service in the world in which that is carried out, and it is certainly not carried out in South Australia. A candidate passes the civil service examination, he is admitted into the service, he goes through certain steps in the sixth class and is then promoted without undergoing any fresh examination whatever. What is the good of the officers who are supposed to be in charge of a department and watching the work of the men in it, if they cannot tell whether any of them are fit to be promoted into another class without any additional examination ? We must certainly trust to the officer under whom a young man has been serving as to whether he is fit for his work, and has ability.
– I am afraid that Senator Playford has not read sub-clause (2). It would hardly do to say that when a lad has passed an examination to get into the lowest grade in the service he should not be required to pass an examination to show that he possesses special fitness to occupy higher positions in the other grades of the service. Evidently Senator Playford does not believe in examinations at all, and I can perfectly understand that’ he would not believe in a second, third, or fourth examination. But if it is right that a man should be examined to show his fitness when he enters the services it is just as necessary that he should be examined to show his special fitness for a higher position.
– I agree with what Senator Playford has said, and disagree wilh what the PostmasterGeneral has stated in reply to him. Subclause (1) provides for an examination not only on passing from one division to another, to which there is no objection, but also on passing from one class to another, to which I strongly object. The clerical division is divided into five classes, and if we interpret this sub-clause as it ought to be read a civil servant will have ‘ to pass an examination every time he moves from one class to another. That is absurd. The Postmaster-General surely cannot intend to enforce an examination under such circumstances.
– I do not see why we should not.
– If that is what is meant I say at once that I shall join with Senator Playford in endeavouring to remove such a provision. There should not be such obstacles in the way of a simple change from one class to another in the clerical division. But I quite agree that before a man passes from one division to another he should show his fitness.
– There is a good deal in the argument of Senator Playford -that we should not make any difficulty about passing from one class to another in the same division of the service. But I fail to see that the Bill provides for any such contingency as both Senator Playford and Senator Clemons appear to anticipate. Senator Playford takes exception to sub-clauses (1) and (2). He anticipates that the regulations would prescribe an examination for every subdivision in the service. But it may be quite possible that there may be in one division of the service not.a single examination provided except the preliminary or entrance. examination. “
– Then why have these words in 1
– But it may be that although there is one division in which it would be competent for a person to proceed from class to class without examination, there is, nevertheless, in another division a class for which a special examination is prescribed.
– This clause only deals with the professional and clerical divisions.
-In the professional division a man discharging 26 c duties of a professional character may be going into another class in the same division to do special work, and may have to be specially examined to show his fitness. It may also be so in the clerical division. The Bill simply empowers those who are administering it to prescribe special class examinations, or not to do so, as they think necessary. If special class examinations are prescribed in a particular division, the officer will not be able to proceed into another class for which a special class examination is prescribed unless he passes that examination. I fail to see that the clause provides that a man cannot proceed from one class to another unless he passes an examination. It only provides that he cannot pass without examination into a class for which a special examination is provided. The regulations prescribing examinations will come before Parliament, and if a special examination is prescribed for a class to ‘ which Parliament takes exception, it may be objected to. There must be a certain amount of elasticity to allow of administration in respect of special cases that may arise.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - I do not say that examinations may not be necessary to show that a person desiring to enter the service is fit for the position, but I complain that” in this particular instance the Bill makes it obligatory in every case where a man is promoted for him to pass an examination. It says that no officer shall be promoted to a higher class in the clerical division unless he passes this examination. Therefore it is made absolutely obligatory. It may be all right that a cadet entering the service in the first instance shall be examined to show his qualifications in order that we may find out what he knows of arithmetic, how he can write, and how much knowledge he has in this or that direction. But when. he has been in the service five or six years and has been watched by higher officers, and has been recommended for promotion by them on account of his absolute fitness after their experience of him, it is a perfect farce to ask him to go up for another examination simply because he has been promoted. We have never heard of such a thing in the “ model State.” It is a mistake altogether.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). I think that Senator Playford rather misunderstands what the Postmaster-General intended to convey, and has not grasped the meaning of the clause itself. The position is that any officer may be promoted to any class if he has passed an examination. It does not say that he has got to pass that examination immediately before the promotion. If when he entered the service he passed an examination that would entitle him to be promoted through every subdivision in his division of the service, he would not have to pass a second examination. He does not require to pass the examination again. But there may be cases where the examination as first passed would not qualify him to occupy some position which falls vacant. There may be an officer of the clerical division of the Defence department who may have passed an examination when he ‘ entered the service that would qualify him to occupy the position he holds. He might be considered a suitable man on account of certain conditions to enter the Customs department. The examination he passed to get into the service might not have included, the necessary qualifications to entitle him to do the work in the- Customs department. If he had in his original examination passed in such subjects, he would not need to be examined again. But if he had not passed in those subjects, it would be absolutely necessary before he was promoted that -lie should be re-examined. The reexamination would not occur in every instance, hut only where it was absolutely necessary.
– If Senator McGregor had looked more carefully into the Bill,, he would have seen that the words “to a higher class” would really apply to the third schedule, where the clerical division is divided into five classes. Therefore, it seems- to me that the examinations must take place in passing from one class to another. If it simply means that, there must be an examination, on passing from the clerical to the professional division, that may be necessary ; but I fail to. see why a young man who has entered the service, and is rising, should have to be examined in order to pass from the second class to the first, or from the fourth to the. third.. The words, of the clause seem to me to bear the constructionplaced upon them by Senator Playford, namely, that it is- necessary to pass an examination every time an officer passes from, one class to another. But as it now reads, I certainly put on it the same construction as Senator Playford has done - that practically it is necessary- for a man to pass an examination to go from one class to another. That I think is unnecessary, but an examination to pass from the clerical division to the professional is I think highly essential.
– What is contemplated by the clause, I think, is that where a young fellow goes into the fifth class, he shall be required to pass an examination to show that he has such qualifications as will enable him to do the work that is performed by clerks in that class. When he has been through the subdivisions of the class, then his time comes to be promoted to the next, class. In that class some kind of work may require to. be performed which is not done by the fifth class clerks. His businesswhile in the fifth class is to qualify himself for that particular work, and it does not seem to me to be unreasonable that when he is- promoted from tlie fifth to the fourth class the commissioner should be able to ascertain whether he is qualified for the work of the higher class*
– That is a matter of training, not examination.
– It is a matter of examination. Supposing for instance that the first examination in the fifth class is in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and that a. boy is gradually promoted from one division to another. In the next class with ahigher salary attached a. knowledge of precis writing may be required. Is it a very great hardship after that young man has.come to the last subdivision of the fifth class to ask him to. show that he has. some knowledge of precis writing ? If you are. not going, to allow the commissioner to examine officers as they pass from one class to another, then what- you ought to do is to. prescribe am examination at the start which will, show.that the officer, is fit to occupy a position, in any one of the classes up to the highest. But I do not think it, could have been intended that there should be a fixed and set examination for each class in tlie division. An amendment might be made- so as to show clearly that an- examination- from* one> class to another is, not obligatory, but may be prescribed. If some particular qualifications are required in. the higher class that do not happen to be required in- the lower, the commissioner should have this means1 of ascertaining whether the clerk who is going to- be promoted possesses the necessary qualifications. It is. not a competitive bub only a qualifying examination. I would suggest that we substitute “ any” for “ such “ in line 4, and “ which may be “ for “ as is “ in line 5.
– We have arrived at what really seems to be a true interpretation of this division, and that is that no clerk in any class of the clerical division shall be promoted into a higher class of the same division until he passes a further examination.
– That is what it means as it stands.
– That is what it means now, because the amendment suggested by Senator Drake is certainly more grammatical and clear, but it means substantially the same thing, as does the clause as it stands.
– It makes it clear that it is optional.
– The clause will read -
Unless he has passed any examination which may be prescribed for such class.
– The commissioner need not prescribe any.
– It would be taken that the commissioner should prescribe an examination, because otherwise it would be useless to make the provision. That,, I think,, the PostmasterGeneral will see would make it more mischievous than it is.” It would put it in the power of the authority to prescribe an examination for one’ candidate and omit it for another, and you would find all sorts of difficulties and all sorts of jealousies creeping into your departments if you allowed fish to be made of one and flesh of another in that fashion. It is a very serious thing to introduce so many examinations. ‘ We are multiplying them quite unnecessarily. We all know what a terror examination papers are. It is quite enough in the clerical division that you should have one examination on entrance, because the general character of the work therein is the same from beginning to end. It is not an examination you want, but training. Once you see that a lad is qualified by educational tests to enter the clerical division, it is a pure matter of training, the strength of his mind; and his general activity whether he .succeeds afterwards. 26 c 2
– How can you find that out?
– The head of the department will say - “Thisman is not fit for promotion.” My experience is that an examination is the worst’ possible test of ability foi* practical duty. It is an excellent test of the powers of theintellect in literary and educational matters, but for actual practical business I am no ‘ believer in examinations. We ought to eliminate this engine of examination from; the whole of these classes in the’ general’ division. I quite agree that in the professional division they may be necessary, although there I doubt it, because if you admitted a man into your engineering department you would examine him in the first instance to see how far he was qualified. You will find that multiplying these examinations will have the very opposite effect from what you intend, and will lay a burden on the men in the service who desire promotion. I hope that the Minister will see his way to still further modify the clause in - the direction indicated by Senator Playford.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - TVbring the discussion to a point, I move -
That the words “or clerical division “ line 2,. be omitted.
I wish to leave in the words “professional division,” because I recognise that there may be occasions when an examination for a candidate, who Wishes to proceed from one class to another in that division may be necessary, but I entirely object to any examinations of men who wish to proceed from class to class in the clerical division.
– There is nothing easier than to raise* the cry of examinations, and to try to frighten honorable senators from, this clause, but what youwill really do by this amendment will be toprevent the’ commissioner from establishing; a test for entrance into every class in theclerical division.. Is it right to do that? I presume that- what honorable senators wish to do is to have as efficient a service as: possible. What does the- clerical division embrace ? It is a great mistake to suppose that it embraces only the clerks who havenothing to do but to copy. letters* and make entries from -one book to another. It embraces much more than that, It embraces a very large- class ‘of nien who have -to do most important work. In clause 16 it is provided that -
The clerical division shall include all officers whose offices the Governor-General on the recommendation of the commissioner directs to be included in such division.
It would include all officers performing any duties connected with finance, officials carrying out most important work in the Treasury, and officials carrying out intricate work in the Statistician’s department. In addition to that, you have a body of clerical work which may be carried out in the scientific part of the Postal department, and yet not carried out by professional people. In regard to all these things, what you ought to be able to set before any young man in any of these classes is that if he will read and qualify himself, and learn what he has to do in the scientific way, he will be entitled to some promotion. Why should you not be in a position to lay down some rule about examinations which will enable a young fellow to read the science of a particular part of his profession, so as to put himself in a better position as regards his theoretic knowledge than those who are working daily around him?
– I have had the practical working of departments dealing with finance and statistics, and I know the work the men have to do.
– I have also had the practical working of departments. I found in one department that one of the most effective ways of securing efficiency was to encourage men to read books about their work, to enable them to acquire some knowledge besides the mere rule of thumb knowledge which a man acquires in a department, to enable them to dignify their daily labour by giving it something of a scientific and mental character. Why should we prevent the examiners from holding out an incitement of that kind to men to qualify themselves better for their work? They are not likely to prescribe an examination where it is not required. There may be a large number of cases in which it may not be necessary to prescribe examinations, but there may be others in which it may be very necessary and desirable that young men in a department should be encouraged to acquire some knowledge of their work outside that which they pick up in their ordinary daily labour.
– We might have a Government balloon department.
- Senator Pearce has referred to a department for cigars and cigarettes, and he is among those who think that there ought to be a State tobacco monopoly. I do not know whether the privileges of Members of Parliament would bear any relation to that. However, that is by the way. I think illustrations will occur to honorable senators of numberless cases in which special knowledge might be required. We do not force the examiners to make an examination which is not required, but enable them to prescribe it where it is necessary. This matter is not to be disposed of by simply raising the cry of examinations. We want, I hope,to secure an efficient service, in which the officers will take a pride in their work. We desire to see that there are rewards given to men who are willing to use their brains in their work. I hope that the honorable senator will not press his amendment. I presume that he desires to make the service a good one. Why should he stand in the way of making it optional for the examiners to prescribe this examination 1 It is admitted that there may be cases in the professional division where it will be necessary, and there may be cases in the clerical division in which it will be. equally requisite.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 12
Noes … … … 14
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 44 (How promotions made) -
– The proviso to this clause is as follows -
Provided that in every instance where a junior officer is recommended the certificate of the commissioner be first issued certifying that there is no senior officer available as capable of satisfactorily performing the duties.
It seems to me that we might omit the word “as.”
– It is a qualifying word, and is very important.
– It occurred to me on reading the clause that if a person had been promoted from one division to another he might not be “ as “ capable as the man whom he was succeeding, but he still might be capable of doing the work. It seems to me that the word “ as “ would impose difficulties in the way of selecting another man. I do not know that it amounts to very much, but we could hardly expect a man who was promoted from a lower grade to a higher one to be as capable as the man he had just succeeded.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 46 -
– My honorable friend Mr. Piesse endeavoured, in an other place, to have some amendments made in this clause, but did not succeed. I intend to bring those amendments before the committee. My experience has taught me that one of the ways in which some civil servants get themselves into difficulties, and bring discredit on the service, is by running into debt - by having judgments entered against them, and failing to satisfy them - although theyreceive fixed salaries and should not get into debt as frequently as some of them do. If I move that it be deemed misconduct on the part of a civil servant to have an unsatisfied judgment against him, that proposal may be thought to be too harsh. The amendment I am about to propose, however, will, I think, meet the case, without being unduly harsh on a civil servant who gets into debt, a faculty which many of us possess, unfortunately. They will make him careful, whilst they will also give some protection to the creditors. I move -
That the words - “Of having judgments or a judgment recorded against him (for a sum equal to not less than two months salary) which remain unsatisfied for three months or “ be inserted after the words “excess, or,” line 4.
If that is carried I propose to move the insertion of a new sub-clause, between subclause (3) and (4), as follows : - (3a. ) An officer charged with having an unsatisfied judgment against him as aforesaid, may be ordered by the Chief Officer to discharge such liability in such manner and within such time us may be directed by such Chief Officer. And should such order be disobeyed, or should the Chief Officer be of opinion that the debt was incurred through recklessness, extravagance, or dishonesty, then the officer charged may be proceeded against under the powers hereinafter contained.
There is authority for these amendments to be found in the Tasmanian Act, and my note of the New South Wales Act is that it is almost more stringent in this respect than is the Tasmanian Statute. Only a few months ago I read of a judgment being recovered against one of the federal, officers in New South Wales. That officer having been removed to Melbourne an effort was made to get a summons against him under an Act whereby the creditor might obtain some summary satisfaction, but the court held that it did not apply. Whether he has complied with the order or not I do not know. To have officers with unsatisfied judgments against them is discreditable not only to the men themselves, but to the service. ‘I do not think the amendment I propose is too harsh. The committee will make a great mistake if it allows the clause to pass without saying anything about the unfortunate habit of getting into debt which so many civil servants display. Victoria is very much given over to racing, as well as to a certain amount of gambling, and I consider that in the matter of debt we ought to be very particular. A clerk who is not particular about satisfying his engagements, or letting his debts stand over, or go unsatisfied altogether, is not the kind of officer who will ever be a credit to himself or to the Commonwealth.
– Senator Dobson, like many of those who have had the work of administration, has found that the practice displayed by some civil servants of getting into debt, and not being able to pay, is a very troublesome one.
– Many Members of Parliament, and even Ministers of the Crown, get into debt.
– That is so. It is a cause of very great trouble to Ministers to know how to deal with some of the cases in which civil servants run into debt. I think Senator Dobson sees already that the amendment he proposes will not deal with the question fairly. There are a number of civil servants who have incurred liabilities for small amounts in all directions who would not be affected by this amendment, because their creditors would not proceed against them. Even if they were able to get judgments for the amounts owing they would not press them, for the simple reason that all the prospect they have of getting their money back depends upon the officer being able to keep his billet. If we put this on the statute-book creditors will know that if they press a civil servant to pay his debts the result will be that he will lose his position, and they will get nothing at all. I am very sorry that any such state of things should exist, and I know that Ministers are appealed to by creditors who sometimes represent that they are very poor people themselves, and they practically ask the department to become a debt-collecting agency. It is sometimes very hard to have to reply that it is not the business of a public department to collect debts owing by any civil servant. As hasbeen suggested, civil servants are not the only people who run into debt, and who cannot pay their debts, and it seems to me also that we must discriminate in different cases of debt. A man with a very small salary, and with a wife and family to keep, may get into debt for the actual necessities of life, whereas in another case a man may get much more deeply into debt with less justification or without any justification. A civil servant may get into debt unfortunately through having gone security for somebody.
– The amendment is not meant to meet such a case. I propose to give discretion to the chief officer.
– It is questionable whether a discretion of that sort should be given. In some cases there might be great justification for a man having incurred debt, and under the amendment, if his aggregate debts amount to two months’ salary, and judgments obtained against him have been unsatisfied for three months, he will be liable to lose his position. I hardly think that the power should be in the hands of the head of a department to say whether a man in such a case should forfeit his position or not. I believe that this matter is dealt with in every State at the present time, and that each case is determined on its individual merits. If a public servant is continually getting into debt, until he becomes a nuisance in consequence of his continual state of impoverishment, where it appears to a Minister that his impoverishment is brought about, not through misfortune, but through his own fault, the Minister is justified in taking extreme steps to rid the service of such a person. But it is not desirable that a man who has got into debt, more from misfortune than through his fault, should be rendered liable to lose his position. I quite recognise that Senator Dobson has moved the amendment with the best intentions, but, for the reasons given, I cannot accept it.
– I hope Senator Dobson will yield to the persuasion of the PostmasterGeneral, and will not press this amendment. I think he must feel that such an amendment is out of place in this clause altogether. The object of this clause is to deal with acts or omissions on the part of an officer which are in the nature ofoffences, and which, more or less, embrace some kind of moral culpability, and involve conduct unworthy or unbecoming an officer of the public service. The honorable senator will see the reference to “ disgraceful or improper conduct unbecoming an officer of the service.” Nobody can say it is a crime to get into debt. My honorable and learned friend has said truly that it is almost human to get into debt, and it is creditable to be able to get into debt in certain circumstances. We are not legislating in connexion with this Bill to protect creditors, and I have no sympathy with creditors who permit public servants to get into their debt. The quality of the debt is a different thing altogether. An officer may get into debt through wagering or betting, or scores of tilings tinged with the same quality as marks the offences dealt with under this clause. But there are many debts, some of which have been enumerated by the PostmasterGeneral, which do not involve any moral culpability. A man may get into debt through hard circumstances, owing to. illness in his family, or to difficulties into which he may have got through helping a friend. Surely, it would not be fair in such a case to say that if judgments against him are left unsatisfied for three months, he should be placed in the position of a person who had committed an offence under this clause, and be liable to have an inquiry made, to have a copy of the charge forwarded to him, to be suspended, and to incur all the penalties provided
Hari I am sure that Senator Dobson is animated by the best intentions, and with a desire to secure not only an efficient public service, but a public service under no sense of obligation to anybody, but he sees that these provisions are quite inapplicable to such cases of debt. The honorable and learned senator himself meets that by proposing that the inquiry in this case shall be before the head of the department, who is to be empowered to order the debt to be paid to the creditor. The effect of that, as the Postmaster-General has pointed out, would simply be to turn the head of a department into a sort of debt-collecting acent or the creditor, and it would encourage creditors to allow public servants to get into their books. I admit that this is a difficulty in connexion with a public service, and that public servants should be warned to keep out of debt as much as possible. I suggest that the difficulty can be better met under regulations.
– Leaving each case to be decided by the circumstances.
– Certainly. It is the quality of the debt and not the fact that an unsatisfied judgment has been in existence for three months which should be considered. If this amendment were accepted, where there was no moral culpability in connexion with the debt, a creditor, by putting the screw on, might frighten a public servant into paying him by getting a judgment against him in court, and he might frighten him into robbing his employers. We have heard of that sort of thing before, and the public servant in such a case would be given the choice of two evils - that of incurring the risk of dismissal, or of committing a petty larceny in order to satisfy his creditor.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - Honorable senators are right in saying that I desire only to make this a fair and reasonable Bill ; but they have failed to gather the scope of the second sub-clause I desire to move. It is perfectly apparent that a civil servant in getting into debt may do nothing, improper, but it is equally certain on the other hand that in doing so he may be guilty of disgraceful and improper conduct. The second sub-clause I -have suggested places upon the chief officer the duty of making an inquiry, and if after making that inquiry he sees that the debt has been incurred through recklessness or through gambling, and that it has not been incurred by a good-natured act in going security for a friend, he may make an order that the debt shall be paid at such time and in such manner as he thinks fair. The Minister has pointed out that the penalty I desire to inflict upon an unfortunate civil servant having an unsatisfied judgment against him is suspension or dismissal ; but nothing of the sort is possible. We find that under the clause an. officer may be fined a penalty small or large, or may have his leave of absence taken away.
– What is the use of fining a man who is in debt 1
– That is not the point. My honorable and learned friend pointed out that one of the objections to the amendment I proposed was that it is too grievous a punishment to dismiss a man because he gets into debt. I desire no such thing.
– He may be dismissed under sub-clause (5).
– That is so; but he may be fined a shilling or five pounds, and he may be degraded, suspended, or dismissed. M.y honorable and learned friend argued as if putting this provision into the Bill would mean that if a public servant got into debt and could not satisfy a judgment against him he must be dismissed from the service.
– If he is fined only a shilling it puts a black mark against him.
– Does not my honorable and learned friend know that if there is an unsatisfied judgment against a man, in nine cases out of ten there is a black mark against him, and that in nine cases out of ten he has been guilty of some recklessness or extravagance 1 When honorable senators say. that tradesmen should not give civil servants credit, they forget that there are thousands of men in the civil service who live from hand to mouth, and get a month’s credit from their grocer, butcher, or baker. They give promises of payment to these tradesmen, which are frequently broken because of gambling, or because of a little extravagance, sometimes a pardonable extravagance ; but sometimes also inexcusable extravagance. The second amendment I propose to move charges the chief officer with the duty of inquiring into these matters, and making himself aware as to how the officer got into debt, and had these judgments issued against him. Honorable senators have called my attention to the quality of the offences mentioned in clause 46 ; but I was going to call attention to them myself for the purpose of strengthening my argument. “What are these offences - wilful disobedience, or disregard of orders, carelessness in the discharge of duty, inefficiency, incompetence, using intoxicating beverages to excess, and any disgraceful or improper conduct - and I propose to add, getting into debt through extravagance, or recklessness. The officer can only be proceeded against in case the order is disobeyed. “Will not the chief officer inquire into all the circumstances 1 “Will he not take into consideration whether the man has a wife and one child, or a wife and a dozen children 1 “Will he not take into account the reason why the debt was incurred ? Of course he will consider the whole of the circumstances before him, and will order the man to pay a large sum or a small sum per month, according to those circumstances ; but when the chief officer finds that there has been recklessness or dishonesty a severe penalty may be inflicted.
– What will be done if it is found that a man has taken a ticket in “ Tattersalls “ sweep ?
– When a man cannot pay his tradesmen’s bills he should not go into : sweeps. We know very well that gambling is often the cause of a civil servant bringing disgrace upon his service, and defrauding tradesmen out of their money Apart altogether from protecting creditors, we ought in this Bill to show that getting into debt and leaving debts unpaid, is regarded as discreditable. If I am told that the amendment is useless, I shall withdraw it ; but so far it appears to me that I have had the best of the argument.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - It is very appropriate that a senator from Tasmania should move an amendment like that of Senator Dobson, because in. looking through the estimates, I have come to the conclusion that there must be a large proportion of the civil servants of Tasmania who are in a chronic state of insolvency, or bordering upon it. It is quite appropriate that there should be a clause in the Tasmanian Civil Service Act which provides for the punishment of civil servants who get into debt, caused not by their own extravagance, but by tlie small salaries paid to them at the instance of Ministries in past days, of which Senator Dobson has been a prominent or leading member ; but 1 cannot give any support to a proposal to make the civil service of the Commonwealth a debt collecting machine. Therefore I shall not vote for the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sub-clause (5) -
If any such charges are admitted or are found, by the board of inquiry to be proved, then on the recommendation of the chief officer the permanent head may, subject to the regulations, impose a penalty upon such offending officer, or may deprive him of his leave of absence during a specified period, or the commissioner may according to the nature df the offence, reduce such officer to a lower class or grade and salary or wages, or the Governor-General may dismiss such officer from the public service or require him to resign, and in the event of being so dismissed such officer shall, unless otherwise ordered by the GovernorGeneral, be entitled to no salary or wages during the time of his suspension.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - This sub-clause provides for the infliction of punishment after the court of inquiry has found an officer guilty. There are three authorities having power to inflict punishment, namely, the permanent head, the commissioner, and the Governor-General. The permanent head may inflict a fine, the commissioner may reduce the officer, or the Governer-General may dismiss him. It seems to me to be complicated to have three different authorities inflicting punishment. Under clause 8, sub-clauses (3), (4) and (5) it is provided that the commissioner, in degrading an officer, shall recommend that he be degraded. If we provide in one part of the Bill that the degrading shall only be by the Minister oh the recommendation of the commissioner, or by the Governor-General in Council, we ought ‘to be consistent in this part of the Bill, and provide that the punishment shall only be inflicted by the
Governor-General on the recommendation of the commissioner. I therefore move -
That the word “commissioner” (line 7) be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Governor-General.”
– I cannot see any correspondence whatever between clause 8 and clause 46. The former clause deals with the inspection of departments, and this deals with the punishment of officers. The clause seems to me to be very reasonable. A lenient punishment, a fine, may be inflicted by the permanent head on the recommendation of the chief officer, and the regulations will prescribe the limit of that punishment. Probably the maximum will be £5. If a fine of £5 is not sufficient for the offence, the officer may be deprived of his leave during a specified period, or may be reduced. The infliction of that punishment is to be by the commissioner, who, of course, is the officer of greatest power under this Bill. But if the offence is of such a grave nature that that is not considered to be a sufficient punishment, then in the last resource the officer may be dismissed. If he is dismissed it must be by the Governor-General - that is to say, the highest authority in the Commonwealth. I can see no objection to the principle.
Sub-clause (6) -
If none of such charges ore found by the board of inquiry to be proved the suspension shall be immediately removed by the chief officer.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I move -
That the following words be added to subclause 6 : - “and such officer shall be entitled to his salary or wages during the whole term of his suspension. “
If the officer is found to be innocent he should be treated as an innocent man. The suspension may last for months ; and though the man may be proved to be innocent, he will be treated as a guilty man.
– He would always get his salary.
– It is just as well to makeitclear.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - The previous sub-clause shows that an officer may during his suspension be entitled to his salary or wages, because you put in an express provision that he is to be deprived of his salary or wages unless there is an order to the contrary that he shall be paid. I do not know that in the case of dismissal he would be entitled to draw salary or wages for the period of his suspension. It is a pity to put these words in sub-clause (6) unless they are absolutely necessary.
Sanator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- Because if he is acquitted of the charges, and the suspension is removed, he is entitled to his salary just as though no interval had taken place.
– Is not that the intention of the amendment?
– But what is the use of putting in these words to make it a statutory obligation to do something ? It seems to be a suggestion that the suspension would have the effect of defeating a man’s claim to his wages. You may find a clause as to which that may be used as an interpretation. It is an unnecessary amendment, which you may find awkward if you come to construe another clause. I am not going to resist the amendment, but I think Senator Drake had better exclude it.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I submit that the closing words of the preceding sub-clause contemplate that under certain conditions, during the period of suspension, the Governor-General may order the suspension of the man’s salary.
– It is the other way about. Dismissal deprives a man of his salary during his suspension, unless the Governor-General gives it to him.
– I submit that there is nothing definite laid down in the Bill. I take it that the very act of suspension means suspension of salary as well as service, and there may be a doubt as to whether his salary should be paid to him. There is nothing in the Bill to say that it would be paid to him in the event of his being acquitted.
– It must be paid, because he is in the service, and is entitledto it.
– He has been suspended for a certain term, and that, I take it, means the suspension of all his rights. There is no harm in laying down the rule that when he is proved innocent he shall be paid his salary.
Senator EWING (Western Australia).Seeing that this Bill comes from the House of Representatives, it is highly undesirable that we should make amendments which are unnecessary. I have no doubt that the Postmaster-General is quite right when he says that this amendment is absolutely unnecessary. It is very unwise to ask the concurrence of the other House in amendmentswhich have no meaning, so far as the main provisions of the Bill are concerned.
– If I consented to the amendment it would be for the reason that I consider that it would not affect the clause at all. What is the ordinary practice when a man is suspended on some charge ? An inquiry is held, and in a case where he has been found guilty and punished there is an Older in Council made giving him his full salary, less one month, which is supposed to be the period occupied in carrying on the inquiry. Of course it is as clear as daylight that if, on inquiry, it is found that none of the charges can be sustained, he cannot be punished by having his salary stopped. It would be a most ridiculous thing to suspend a man and find that he is quite innocent of the charge, and then to stop his salary for the term of the suspension. I am not prepared to say that the presence of these words in the clause might not be used at some time or other to give a meaning to some other clause.
– I am willing to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause Agreed to.
Clause 47 - (Offences by officers in Administrative Division.)
– I have no amendment ready, but I wish to draw the attention of the committee to the constitution of the board for the trial of inspectors. If an inspector is suspended he is to be tried by a board of inquiry, to be appointed by the commissioner. It seems to me that some provision should be made to enable an inspector to get a fair trial when he is suspended by the commissioner.
– There is something in the objection of the honorable senator, I think. Has he any amendment to propose now?
– We will inquire about it afterwards.
Clause agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 9.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 January 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020122_senate_1_7/>.