1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a,m., and read prayers.
Senator DRAKE laid upon thetable the following papers -
Military Forces of the Commonwealth. - Minute by Major-General Hutton, commanding Military Forces, for the consideration of the Minister of Defence.
Return to order of Senate - Statistics relating to the Tariff.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Connor, with concurrence) -
That contingent on the Supply Bill No. 8 being read a first time, bo much of the standing orders besuspendedas would prevent the Bill passing through all its stages during thesame sitting of the Senate.
asked the Postmaster-
Genera, upon notice -
– I have wired to Perth asking for information on the subject, but, up till now, a reply has not been received.
asked the Vice-
President ofthe Executive Council, upon notice -
If, with the introduction of the proposed Tariff into the Senate, he will have printed and circulated, amongst members an estimate of Customs revenue to he derived from each item?
– The actual receipts for nine months from each item will be published, but it is not possible to supply the information required. Estimates have been printed and circulated of the revenue to be derived from each item of the Tariff as introduced into the House of Representatives, and estimates will be furnished of the revenue to be derived from the Tariff, but not as to each item.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Government expedite the furnishing of a return ordered by the Senate on 7th March, showing the imports, in detail, into Western Australia,and the revenue derived therefrom, us set out in such motion, in order that such information may be available for the information of members during the discussion of the Tariff?
– This return will be furnished as speedily as possible. Instructions have been given to expedite the matter.
– I move -
That the Bill be now reada second time.
The Senate to-day takes its part in dealing with the financial foundations of the Commonwealth, and it is impossible to approach this subject without a reflection on the enormous difference there is’ between the powers, the constitution, and the attitude of this Chamber, in dealing with great financial proposals, and those of any other second Chamber in Australia, or, in fact, under any Constitution that we know of. Under these circumstances, I feel that we are under a great sense of responsibility, having regard, in the first place, to the importance of this question, which affects directly every interest, and almost every individual in Australia, and which has been undergoing the process of settlement for about six months. All the details, all the principles on which those details are to be settled, have been thrashed out over and over again in another place, and we have got to a point at which, I think, we shall admit that the people of Australia are at last beginning to see that there is a time when controversy must come to an end, whatever the result of it may be. Our position, therefore, is to regard this matter from the point of view of its immense importance to every interest of Australia, and also of the immense importance of its speedy and final settlement. I do not intend to enter upon any fields of what I may term barren controversy. I do not intend to deal with the opinions of persons or their estimates. I do not intend to deal with the abstract question of f ree-trade or protection. I shall enter upon no considerations of that kind except in so faras may be necessary to illustrate the exposition of the Tariff and its effects. I hope to confine my remarks to an exposition of the Tariff, and an inquiry as to whether it fulfils the object which a Commonwealth Tariff must always have in view. In the first place, let me recall the attention of the Senate to a few general principles that underlie the problem which has come to us for solution. I take it that the first is this- What are the considerations that must be borne in mind by any Government or any Parliament which imposes, for the first time, a Tariff on Australia) On a cursory view of the matter, it may occur to any one that this is a perfectly simple question, and’ that we have only to take the total Customs revenue of the States, to deduct about a million for Inter-State trade, to make up that million in some other way, and to add on the new expenditure occasioned by the Commonwealth, to find a solution of the problem. But that is not so. And the reason why it is that the mere regarding of the total amount of revenue is of no value in the solution, of the problem is this - that in the first place the Tariff must be uniform, and in the second place, according to the bookkeeping system, each State must get back what is collected from duties on articles consumed in that State. That at once brings before us one of the elements of the problem which we have to decide. Now, in order that we may realize what that means, I would remind honorable senatorsI dare say they have seen these figures before, and I shall deal with them very shortly, but it is necessary to mention them to make clear the point of view I am putting - of what the different Tariffs are which have to be brought into harmony, and the proportion that the Customs revenue of the different States bears to their general revenue. I am now taking the figures for the calendar year 1900. It will be recognised in the documents which have been distributed that a distinction is made between the calendar year and the financial year. The financial year, as honorable senators know, in almost all the States - I think in every one of the States of Australia - is from the end of J une to the end of June. The calendar year is of course from January to December. The reason why the calendar year is taken in this and other calculations is that, taking the calendar year 1900, we get to a period immediately before theinauguration of federation. After that, from January, 1900, until the end of June, 1900 - which would be the half of the financial year - the disturbances in the collections under the Tariffs of the different States began to take place in anticipation of federation ; and I shall be able to show that even during that time the overloading was very considerable. But, for the purpose of the comparison I am going to make now, I take the financial year ending in December, 1900. Taking that year, then, the people of New South Wales contributed to the Customs and Excise £1 6s.11d. per head; the people of Victoria £1 19s.10d. per head; the people of Queensland, £3 4s. . 2d. per head ; the people of South Australia, £1 16s. per head ; the people of Western Australia, £5 5s. 7d. per head; and the people of Tasmania, £2 17s.10d. per head. The proportion of Customs and Excise to the general revenue in each of these States was as follows: - New South Wales 17.40 percent.; Victoria 30.43 per cent.; Queensland 34.90 percent.; South Australia 22.54 per cent.; Western Australia 32.47 per cent. ; and Tasmania, which was the State most largely dependent upon Customs revenue, 47.47 per cent
– Nearly 50 per cent.
– As the honorable senator suggests, nearly half of the revenue of Tasmania was derived from Customs. Honorable senators will see at once that in order to frame a uniform Tariff it must first of all be acknowledged that that uniform Tariff’ must impose a great deal more customs taxation upon New South Wales, and a great deal less upon some of the other States, if it is to be: framed upon anything like fair lines. It will immediately be seen what the result would be if that were not so. Suppose we were to take one of ‘ these State Tariffs as the basis of our Commonwealth Tariff. Take, for purposes of illustration, the Tariff of New South Wales. If the Tariff of the Commonwealthwere to be made uniform on the basis of the Tariff of New South Wales, it would yield £4,973,615, which of course would bo absurd in view of the requirements of the Commonwealth. * Or, if we took Queensland - I leave Western Australia out of the question for the present for obvious reasons - and framed a uniform Tariff on the basis of theQueensland duties, we should have a Tariff yielding £11,84.6,227. Takingthose two extremes, the first thing that I think must be obvious is that whoever frames this Tariff - whether he be a free-trader or a protectionist - it mustbe a compromise Tariff. It must be a Tariff which necessarily will impose much heavier taxation on the freetrade State, and which must necessarily take away some of the revenue that the more highly-taxed States have been previously receiving. In addition to that, it must also be obvious that if we are to have regard to the proportion of revenue which each State derives from the Tariff, care must be taken not only that the general result brings out what is necessary upon the whole, but that the Tariff is so adjusted, and the revenuebearing items in particular States must be so regarded, that if possible no State shall be allowed to suffer more than is absolutely unavoidable. I -say that those two requirements must be kept in view in the establishment of this Tariff. And there is another which I think is equally important. In three of theStates - Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland - Customs duties have been imposed not only for the purpose of revenue, but for the direct purpose of encouraging the development of natural resources and local production. That has been the policy of those States, steadily and consistently followed, for many years. In Tasmania there has been a revenue derived from the Customs, ostensibly, I believe, for revenue purposes.
– Wholly for revenue purposes.
That which we call a rose
By any othername would smellas sweet.
I do not class in the statement I am now making Tasmania as, by policy,a protectionist State, but what I do say is that the effect of the highduties existing for so many years in Tasmania has been precisely the same as the effect of the high duties in other States. That is to say, wherever it has been possible by reason of those high duties to encourage local production, local produc- tion h;is grown and flourished, and local interests have sprung up under the system. Those- interests are equally as sacred to us in dealing with this question, as any interests which have grown up under the avowed systems of protection in force in the three protectionist States. If there is one principle more than another which I think we should regard in the framing of this, the fist legislation of the Commonwealth which touches directly every individual and every interest in it, it is the underlying und foundation agreement of our union, - that no interests of Australia, that no. State of Australia, und, as far as possible, that no individual in Australia should suffer unnecessarily by reason of federation. Of course it is inevitable that, in the change which has been mode, a change which brings about enormous advantages, and opportunities for development, there must be some suffering and some disturbance of interests ; bus it is our bounden duty to see that there is as little disturbance, as little suffering, and as little loss, as possible inflicted upon the States, the interests, and the individuals of the Commonwealth. We have, therefore, to pay regard to these three different elements in framing a Tariff’. We must take care that, being a compromise, it is a compromise which will give to each State, as far as possible, that which it was receiving before. We must take care that the interests which have grown up under the fiscal systems of the States are as far as far as possible conserved consistently with the obtaining of revenue. Those are pr,n ciples which should appeal equally to free.traders and protectionists in establishing this Tariff, and in the statement which I have made so far I have not put forward anything in the nature of an appeal to party. I am stating only that which appeals to the true, fair Australian spirit under which the States were invited to’ enter into the union. In addition to that, when the Government was formed, and announced its policy, it was stated very plainly that we would observe the requirements which I have mentioned already It was announced also that as far as possible, consistently with the principles which I have already referred to, the Government, being composed of men who had all through their lives followed protectionist views-
– Not all of them.
– X aw right in saying “ all of them.”
– What about Sir Philip Fysh 1
– And the Minister for Defence 7
– So far as those honorable gentleman are concerned, honorable senators will see, as I have said before, that whatever their words may have been, undoubtedly their acts have been those of protectionist’s. I am not going to quarrel with my honorable und learned friend about descriptions of individual members of the Government.
– They are all protectionists now.
– They are all tarred with the same brush now.
– Or painted with the same bright luminous paint. However, we are not going to interchange courtesies of that .kind. Never mind about particular individuals. What I am pointing out is that ours is a protectionist Government It is a Ministry which felt that it had a clear course to follow, so far as it could do so consistently with the principles I have mentioned ‘ in regard to obtaining the necessary revenue, and conserving the right of each State to receive a proper return of revenue. It felt it to be its bounden duty to adopt the policy of preserving Australian markets for the Australian people, and of, as far as possible, encouraging by the Tariff, and in any other way in its power, the advancement of Australian industry and production That policy was indorsed by a majority of the electors of Australia in a most emphatic way, and whatever may have been said in criticism of the Tariff, as compared with the Maitland manifesto, I assert without hesitation that there is not one item in it, and not’ one principle which was enunciated in the statement of it by the Government, which does not directly carry out the promise made in the Maitland manifesto. We have carried it out, and are here to adhere to it
– Which Tariff? The original one or that now before us f
– I do not wish to confuse the honorable senator’s mind, and it might possibly be confused if more than one Tariff were mentioned. I come at once to the question of whether in this Tariff we have carried out these requirements? The Tariff, as introduced originally, was estimated to yield for the financial year ending the 30th June next, £8,009,000. That estimate was made up by ray right honorable colleagues, the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customs, on the best materials that could be obtained, and on the best judgments that it was possible to bring to bear upon the question. The estimate, however, has been found to be very much at fault. Honorable senators will see by the paper which has been put before them that the actual results in the working out of the Tariff have been considerably in excess of it. I should like to point out at once what it meant to estimate tho revenue from a Tariff in the then circumstances. We all know that it is a comparatively easy matter to estimate the yield from a Tariff in a State where trade conditions are settled. In the caseof New South Wales, Victoria, or any other State, we know that there is a certain consumption of certain articles ; we know from the history of the past that certain articles yield so much, in good seasons a little more, and in bad seasons a little less ; at some parts of the year a little more, and at other parts d little less. In regard to well-known items, these matters follow well-settled lines. In a State with a settled policy and trade, there is- not very much difficulty in dealing with known subjects of Customs duties, and in making a reasonable estimate of what the results will be. But the circumstances under which this estimate had to be mode were quite different. In the first place, we all know that, at the time it was compiled, the effect of InterState trade was a quantity which was very uncertain, because it was impossible to predict beforehand what the effect of it would be in supplying wants which had previously been satisfied by importations from oversea. In the second place, a still more disturbing element was that, in anticipation of the introduction of (Jio Tariff, merchants and others importing goods, overloaded very largely; that is to say, that goods imported were very largely taken out of bond. A great deal of that we knew was going on ; it was anticipated, and it had to be taken into consideration in forming this estimate.
But that, too, was an uncertain quantity, and so with regard to those two elements, the effect of Inter-State trade and the effect of overloading, the Treasurer mode the’ best estimate he could under the circumstances. But he was dealing with things absolutely uncertain in their nature, and as a result it has turned out that his estimate was, taken as a whole, considerably below what it ought to have been. Now we are in a different position. We have now the actual results of the collections under the Tariff for nine months. Those collections embrace for the earlier period Inter-State trade und collections under the old Tariffs, but they give us a much better basis for a calculation than we had before. My right honorable colleague, the Treasurer, has made an estimate, which I think honorable senators will see is based on a much more reliable foundation than he could possibly have had in the first instance, that the yield of the Tariff for this financial year ending in June will be £8,587,453. As honorable senators will see by the paper before them, that embraces the actual revenue received up to the 31st March, and an estimate of the revenue from the 1st April to the 30th June. Senator PEARCE - Is that estimate on the amended Tariff’!
– That estimate is on the amended Tariff. For the three months from the 1st April to the 30th June, there must of course be on estimate, and it must be more or less a matter of guess. It is hardly possible that it should be otherwise, and for this reason, that the effect of Tariff speculation and overloading has not yet been altogether got rid of, and we do not know to what extent it may still exist. In addition to that, during the progress of the Tariff, there were numerous alterations made in different items, and not only that, but also the anticipation of those alterations affected the collections very largely. So that the basis we have to go upon, although very much better than the mere guess it was possible to make before, is still in itself not absolutely certain. However, the Treasurer is bound to make the best estimate he can for the purpose of informing Parliament, and using all his experience and the knowledge of his officers, the estimate of my right honorable colleague - which, I am sure, nobody will question as to its absolute candour and fairness, so far as he is capable of judging the matter- is that the Tariff will bring in £8,587,458. It may, perhaps, be interesting to notice in what respect the original estimate was at fault. It will be found that it was principally at fault in regard to an underestimate of the New South Wales and Western Australia collections. In New South Wales the Tariff, according to the actual figures, has realized £351,859 more than was anticipated. It is found that the explanation of that is very largely this : - The overloading of which I have spoken took place, and was allowed for, but by reason of the length of time occupied in the discussion of the Tariff, persons who had overloaded were pressed for financial reasons to get rid of their stocks, and to get fresh supplies. So that our allowance for overloading was really more than compensated for by the financial necessity which impelled the use of the overloaded stocks and the obtaining of more. With regard to Western Australia there was an overestimate of something like £300,000. It is very difficult to explain how a discrepancy of that kind occurred. I do not pretend to explain it except, that there, as in the other places, there must have been some reaction against the loading-up which had taken place previously.
– There was verylittle loading-up.
– I think it will be admitted that a customs collection of £7 per head for the population of Western Australia, which the receipts amount to, cannot possibly be kept up. We must all admire the capacity of our Western Australian friends for consuming dutiable goods, bat I do not think it is possible that that rate can be kept up. I shall later on, in dealing with other matters affecting Western Australia, refer to some things which perhaps explain the matter. With respect to Queensland there was unfortunately an overestimate, and the collections there amounted to £122,580 less than was anticipated. I think that was very largely due to the continuance of the drought throughout the whole of that State. That is a difficulty which we hope the recurrence of good seasons will set right. In regard to the other anticipations they have been fairly realized. I have dealt with this matter to get it out of the way, because it appears to me that any estimate which we make of the yield of a Tariff can only be very approximate. The estimate which we have made now being founded upon nine months of actual working, not of this Tariff, but of a Tariff approaching it, may, I think, be taken in a certain sense, as a guide, at all events as the best guide we can get, and taking that guide we find that it will yield a revenue of £8,587,453.
– We will have to knock off £500,000 in respect of tea and other items next year..
– I do not wish to go into them, but if the honorable senator will look at the individual returns he will see that the duty on tea did not realize anything like as much as was anticipated. We hope, however, that increase in trade and business generally, and increased prosperity, will, to a very large extent, make up for the deficiency. It would be very unwise to assume that this
Tariff will yield very much more than the amount anticipated, because a number of matters have to be taken into consideration whendealing with an anticipation of this kind. I hope we shall all regard this as a Tariff which will settle the question of Customs duties for some considerable time. I trust, further, that under this Tariff there will be increases in the revenue derived from many items ; but it is quite certain that the effect of protection, whether by way of protective or revenue duties, will very soon begin to make itself felt, and that very shortly local production will influence in a marked degree the receipts from duties upon imports from oversea. Exactly what the result will be no one can at the present time predict, but having regard to the experience of other countries where protection has prevailed, and to the experience gained in the Australian States where it has been tried, and particularly taking into consideration the large markets which will immediately be given to every manufacturer and producer in Australia, I think we must admit that the effect of local production will make itself very largely felt upon the revenue through the Customs. As I have said, I hope that this Tariff will settle our revenue from customs for some considerable time, and having this in view, we ought to be very careful to make adequate provision to meet all our requirements, and to allow a sufficient margin for the reduction of revenue by local production, so that it may not be necessary, after passing a Tariff, to again open up the whole question and impose fresh duties. Having mentioned the estimated yield from the Tariff, which I think can be fairly accepted as reasonable, the next requirement by which I ask honorable senators to test the Tariff, is the relation it bears to the expenditure of the Commonwealth. It is not necessary for me to go into the details of the expenditure,’ but it is desirable that I should refer’ to it in order that honorable senators maybe in possession - - roughly, at all events - of both sides of the ledger. One of our ‘ main objects in establishing this Tariff is to obtain revenue, and in order to ascertain whether the amount to be derived will suffice, we must of course consider what our expenditure is likely to be. Now, the expenditure of the Commonwealth, as honorable senators are aware, is divided into what is called “transferred expenditure,” and what, in the words of the Constitution, is described as “other expenditure.” The transferred expenditure includes all that is necessary for carrying on the transferred services as they were at the time they were token over from the States. That is expenditure of which we have relieved the States, and which the States would have been incurring at the present time if the Commonwealth hod not been in existence. The total of this expenditure for the current year, ending 30th June next, is £3,583,704. That is for the Postoffice, Defence, and Customs, in fact for all the transferred departments. There were ‘arrears last year of £282,285. These were partly made up of accounts which had not come in in time to be paid before the transfer of the departments, and partly of votes which had not been expended, add other matters of that kind, which it was necessary to dispose of. These arrears are expressly set out in the papers before honorable senators, because my right honorable friend the Treasurer has adopted the policy which I om sure it will be admitted is a very good one, of balancing up all the arrears at the end of the year. But as a matter of bookkeeping this amount is put down separately from the others. Adding the arrears to the expenditure for. the year the total expenditure in connexion with the transferred departments will be £3,865,989; all of which would have been borne by the States if federation had not taken place. Now I come to the “other expenditure,” that is, the new expenditure which has been
Senator O’Connor occasioned by the establishment of federation itself. I should like to call attention to this somewhat in detail, because it appears to me that there has been a very great deal of wild, loose talk-
– Not wild.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. I say that there has been a great deal of wild and loose talk about the extravagance of the Commonwealth.
– And misrepresentation too.
– Whilst agreeing in every possible way with the necessity for economy, which must be stringently observed in the Commonwealth as well as in the States, I think that it is right, in justice to the Commonwealth itself, to make some statement in detail as to ‘the expenditure for this year, according to the Estimates with which we are asking Parliament to deal. If honorable senators will look at the papers before them, they will find, on page 5, the expenditure of the Commonwealth set out in three columns. The first column is devoted to a statement of the expenditure caused by federation ; that is to say, the expenditure which would not have token place if it hod not been for the existence of the Commonwealth. In the next column will be found the expenditure to be incurred in connexion with new works, and other expenditure which may be recurring. In the carrying out of the transferred services, for instance, it becomes, necessary to erect new buildings, and to extend the business of the different departments, and . expenditure, in these directions, would have gone on in the States if the Commonwealth had not been in existence. I take it that it was never the intention of the Australian people when they decided bo hand over these services to the Commonwealth that there should be any restriction of the legitimate expansion of these services. They are conducted for the convenience of the people of Australia, who I feel sure will not refuse to sanction any reasonable expenditure which may be demanded by the natural expansion of the departments following on a larger’ volume of business and the extension of settlement. In the third column are two items which are called non-recurring, and which speak for themselves. Taking the first column, dealing with expenditure caused by federation - honorable senators can. see for themselves the whole of the items, to which I need not specially refer - it will be found that the total amounts to?228,374, equal to ls. 2d. per head of the population of the Commonwealth as at 31st December, 1901. This amount is very much below any of the estimates which were made, even in 1897, when, of course, the population and the extent of business to be dealt with by the Commonwealth were less than at the present time. I do not say for one moment that this expenditure will not necessarily increase as time goes on. It will be the duty of Parliament to see that it does not unduly expand. But I am dealing with statements which have been made - and erroneously made - as to the gigantic increase of Commonwealth expenditure. I say that those statements are absolutely without justification, and that the expenditure caused by the Federation itself - as shown by the figures here - is only ?228,374.
– The charge is not made without malice.
– It does not matter very much with what object it is made. I am not concerned with that. I arn concerned with the charge itself, and I think it is right at this time, when we are dealing with the finances of the Commonwealth, to make a plain statement in regard to it. The expenditure in regard to new works, which may be recurring, is estimated at ?106,750. There are two items which are non-recurring, namely, ?10,305, which is set down as payments in connexion with the celebrations on the occasion of the Royal reception, and which represents a portion of the total expenditure, and ?23,350 which has been -appropriated for the Coronation celebrations. This makes a total nonrecurring expenditure of ?33,655.
– The Age and the Argus have nothing to say against that. - Senator O’CONNOR. - The aggregate expenditure, other than that for transferred services is therefore, ?368,779. The “other expenditure” being added makes the total expenditure for the Commonwealth, less arrears, ?4,264,506. That is the debit side of the account. Taking the other side, I find that the revenue from Customs and Excise, according to- the Treasurer’s estimate, will be ?8,587,458; from Post and Telegraphs ?2,317,750; and from Defence ?13,000. The lastmentioned sum is derived from the sole of ammunition, rifles, &c., throughout the different States. These amounts represent a total revenue of ?10,918,203. Deducting the total Commonwealth expenditure from this sum we have a balance of ?6,653,697, which, is returned to the States. That return is made as the accounts are completed month by month in accordance with the Constitution. Month by month, in accordance with the Constitution, an account is made up between the States and the Commonwealth, and the balance of the revenue, from Customs collection, and other matters of that sort is handed over to the different States. At this stage it may be interesting to honorable members to see how the Customs revenue stands, in regard to the “ Braddon clause.” A great deal has been said in criticism of that much-abused provision ; but, however it may hamper us, I think we are all agreed that it is a very great check upon extravagance, and a landmark which we must always regard in. dealing with the finances of the Commonwealth. However much it may embarrass in particular cases, it is just as well now to recognise the existence of this landmark, and it may be useful to point out to honorable senators, how the expenses of the Commonwealth and the revenue from Customs stand in regard to it. Towards the expenditure of the Commonwealth, after deducting the amount of revenue derived from the Post and Telegraph department and from the Defence department to which. I have already alluded, there is left to be mode up by the Customs ‘ ?1,660,513. In order to bring the figures within the “Braddon clause,” we must get the net revenue derived from Customs under that revision. After deducting the expenditure in connexion with Customs and Excise from the ?8,587,453, a sum of ?8,314,210 is. left That is the net revenue from Customs and Excise. A quarter of that is ?2,078,552 ; so that between our present requirements from the Customs and the full allowance that we have under the “ Braddon clause,” there is at’ present a margin of ?418,039. Of course, every farthing of that at the present moment is returned to the States month by month in the way I have already described. When we are dealing with that margin, it is just as well to remember that as time goes on necessities for expenditure will arise under the Constitution itself, both in regard to transferred and new services, which we must contemplate. Honorable senators must recollect that every payment which has to he made to the States, whether for transferred services or for new services, or for other Commonwealth purposes, inasmuch as it is derived from Customs revenue, comes under the test of the “ Braddon clause.” I wish to refer at once to a matter which will be in the minds of honorable senators. An amount of property has been transferred from the States to the Commonwealth, in the shape of postoffices, Customs houses, and other public buildings, the value of which has been estimated at £10,000,000. That may or may not be an excessive estimate, but at all events that is the value at which those buildings have been estimated by the officials. That sum has to be met in some way ; .1 do not say in what way. A little while ago the Government made a proposal in regard to it which would have out down this account to the very smallest limits of payment on the part of the Commonwealth. The matter, however, has not been settled, and it is quite clear that if interest is to be paid upon the amount mentioned, it will represent a considerable sum, in addition to which a payment of that sort must be accompanied by a sinking fund. That is an element of the Government policy which has been definitely settled, and which will be rigidly adhered to. “Wherever a loan has to be obtained provision will be made for the establishment of a sinking fund for paying it off within a certain time. That is a policy which ought to be insisted upon in regard to every loan for Commonwealth purposes. When we remember all the financial responsibilities which have to be met, it is seen that we cannot carry on the business of the Commonwealth, even in the transferred services, without borrowing some money ; and a loan will have to be placed on the market probably in a short time, and interest and sinking fund provided.
– Would it not be better to take over pro raid part of the State’s indebtedness?
– I do not intend to go into that question now, but in passing I may say that even to act on the .suggestion of the honorable senator would involve large expenditure, seeing that we should have to pay interest on the States debts. There are other matters - though it is not necessary for me to deal with them at present- concerning future expenditure, which must go on unless we are to stand still in the administration of our transferred departments, and in the development of the country. That necessary expenditure has to be provided for out of the customs duties ; and we must take care, therefore, not to reduce the estimated return from those duties, having regard to the necessities of the present and of the near future. The Tariff undoubtedly fulfils the first requirement in connexion with the total revenue. The next question is, how does the Tariff fulfil the requirement as to the return to the several States t On this point I take the calendar year 1900 as the standard, for reasons which I have already explained, and which honorable senators will appreciate on a comparison of the figures. In 1900, which was the year immediately before the advent of the Commonwealth, the revenue from Customs and Excise throughout the States .was £7,762,653, including, of course, intercolonial duties. For the financial year ending the. 30th June, 1901, six months after the close of the calendar year, the Customs and Excise revenue amounted to£8,152,623. In those first six months of the Commonwealth, the loading-up process had begun, and there were unduly large Customs collections in anticipation of the duties which were to be imposed. It would be unfair to the Commonwealth, and unfair as a comparison in selecting the standard by which we are to measure the return to the States, to take the financial year, and we, therefore, take the calendar year ending December, 1900. The Tariff is at present estimated to return to New South Wales £926,078 more than was received in 1900 ; to Victoria, £81,744 more ; to Queensland, £260,066 less; to South Australia, £44,981 more ; to Western Australia, £162,575 more; and to Tasmania, £110,512 less. As a result of this Tariff, which does seem to me to be the highest that we could reasonably have from a revenueproducing point of view, Queensland and Tasmania, in the present year at all events, are left very much to the bad.
– The loss to Queensland is out of proportion.
– The honorable senator will see that what has to be regarded is the comparison with the revenue collected in 1900; and with a uniform Tariff there must be these differences. Considering the enormous resources and elasticity of the great State of
Queensland, and the anticipated return of good seasons-
– The stock are all dead.
– But with these enormous resources, and with good seasons, we anticipate that the Queensland deficiency will gradually disappear.
– It will take along time to do that.
– I do not know whether the time necessary will be long or short; but, unfortunately, a great part of Australia must always depend on the seasons and the rainfall ; -that is the condition under which we all live.
– What is proposed to be dose in the meantime t
– I sholl come to that presently. Having regard to the resou rees of Queensland, and to the fact that the prevailing conditions are exceptional, there is no need for alarm. However gloomy the view of Senator Fraser may be, good seasons must come in the ordinary course; and when they do, I venture to say that with the stimulus given to all production in Queensland by this Tariff, that State will in a very short time make up the deficiency. I do not think there is in the mind of any Queensland representative the least suggestion of despair, or the least suggestion that it may be necessary to put in force the special provision of the Constitution. As to Tasmania, no doubt £1 10,51 2 is a very large deficiency. But even in regard to that State, I have every hope that the operation of the Tariff itself, and the renewed prosperity which must come to every part of Tasmania from the opening up of the markets of Australia, will in a short time largely compensate for any present loss. I do not want to suggest for a moment that Tasmania intends to avail herself of the special provision of the Constitution. I feel quite sure that every part of Australia will struggle, if possible, to fight its own battle in its own way, and only as a last resort will appeal to the special provision. I need hardly say, however, that if resort to that special provision becomes necessary there will be no hesitation on the part of the Commonwealth in undertaking that no State suffers in any permanent way from the advent of federation. The revenue to be returned to the different States cannot be reduced without the gravest injury. Anything which would interfere with the coming in of that revenue,- as it appears on these Estimates, might prove very serious to Queensland and Tasmania particularly. And I put it to the Senate as an element which has to be very carefully considered, that it would incur a very great responsibility in taking any action which would have the effect of cutting down or causing the cutting down of that revenue in any way. I now come to another element which has to be considered, und that is : In what respect has the Tariff safeguarded existing industries *1 Honorable senators have seen reports of the discussions which have gone on for nearly six months in the other House. They have seen the question of the protection of these industries thrashed out from every point of view. I think our friends, even of strong free-trade proclivities, will admit that it must be dealt with honestly from the, point of view of the protectionist if we are going to carry out our duty of preserving these protected industries. There must be a real preservation of the industries. It would bea mockery to say we are going to see that no substantial industry suffers by reason of federation ; and to attempt to carry that out by putting on a protective duty which would bleed the industry to death, instead of killing it at once. We must be honest ; and if our friends admit, as I think every one must admit, that it is the duty of us all, free-traders and protectionists alike, to see that these industries do not unnecessarily suffer, we must be prepared to put on an amount of duty which will prevent them from suffering. Cut it down if you like to the lowest possible point at which reasonably the industries can be protected. But if you go below that point you break faith with the people of the Commonwealth.
– I understood that this was not a protective but a revenue Tariff.
– I explained before that it is a Tariff which has to serve many purposes. One purpose is revenue, but another purpose - and it is equally an obligation on the Commonwealth - is to see that the revenue is collected in such a way as not to destroy existing industries. That was one of the pledges given by the Government. That is one of the duties which have to be carried out whether by a free-trade Government or by a protectionist Government ; and I am rather astonished to find that that proposition is questioned here. It has not been questioned elsewhere. In the discussions which have been going on there has been a general consensus of opinion that some protection must be given to those industries, and the only question has been, how much 1 That question must be approached with the honest desire to give some real and substantial protection, and not with the desire to carry out free-trade views under the name of protecting these industries.
– What about the industries which the Government are going to injure under their Tariff 1
– There are none.
– What about Western Australia I
– By-and-by the honorable and learned senator will have an opportunity of pointing them out, if there are any. I assert that there are none. The general effect of the Tariff is to stimulate and improve the position of all industries, both producing and manufacturing. I hope that there will be no attempt made to cut down the amount of protection which is afforded to existing industries in the Tariff. It cannot be cut down in any way without doing the gravest injustice-
– To the few.
– That is an observation which I hardly expected to come from a thoughtful gentleman like the honorable senator. We all know what interests are involved. No one supposed for a moment that there was any intention of protecting the merely hot-house industries. I am speaking of industries which are not a mere name, but which employ hundreds and hundreds of workmen, upon whom thousands of persons are dependent for their daily bread. This matter must be dealt with from that point of view. We are not dealing with mere figures.
– With human beings.
– Yes, with human beings and interests, and they must be considered. If Ave are to make a compromise Tariff which will recognise the necessities of revenue, which will recognise the obligation that these industries in the States shall not be allowed to suffer, we must make the attempt honestly, and give some substantial amount of protection. I say, therefore, that our proposals cannot be reduced without doing the gravest injustice. In regard to the policy of protection generally, wherever it has been possible to cany it out without injuring revenue it has been done. I do not wish to go into details except in regard to one question, and that is the proposal regarding the iron industry. Honorable senators are aware that in the Tariff certain duties are set down to come into operation when a proclamation is made by the Governor-General that industries have been established. The duties are very reasonable, but until then the different iron industries are left unfettered. In Division VI. a of the Tariff this matter is dealt with -
To come into operation on dates to be fixed by proclamation and exempt from duty in the meantime, except as to iron galvanized, plate, and sheet Proclamation to issue so soon as it is certified by the Minister that the manufacture to which the proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth, according to the provisions of any law relating to bonuses for the encouragement of manufactures or to the establishment of manufactures under the direct control of the Commonwealth or State Governments, but no proclamation to issue except in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament, stating that such manufacture is sufficiently established.
When that proclamation is made, the duties which range from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, will come into effect The policy of that provision will be apparent on the face of it. It will be admitted that the iron industry is the great mother of all industries. It will also be admitted that in different parts of Australia we have iron ore in great quantity, and of the best quality. We have all the different fluxes that are required, and coal in abundance. We have, therefore, all the elements of iron manufacture. No ‘ industry employs so much labour, compared to the value of its products, as does the iron industry. No industry, I suppose, if we have regard to the necessity of employing the people of the Commonwealth, is so important as the iron industry. But, unfortunately, iron enters as a mw material into so many productions and manufactures, that it would be impossible at the present time, without placing a very severe handicap on many industries, to put these duties on the production of iron or iron in the different forms which are mentioned here. Therefore if that industry is to be established it is quite apparent that ‘some action must be taken in order to foster its initiation.
– You must burden some one to foster it !
– Must burden some one ? I do not understand the honorable senator’s observation, unless he supposes that we are going to get benefits without paying something for them. What benefit can you get without paying something for it I I thought that in referring to bonuses I was on a platform which the honorable senator and myself might occupy in common, because the giving of bonuses is one of those incitements to industry of which even free-traders approve. But what I was about to point out was that the establishment of this iron industry, involving, as it does, the erection of foundries and very expensive plant of different kinds, necessitates the expenditure of a very large amount of money which it would take a considerable time to recoup. Therefore, it has been found - I think that is the common experience in new countries - that some encouragement, either by way of duty or bonus, is necessary for the establishment of the industry. There never has been, I think, an instance- of the establishment of an iron industry without some protection. Even in England the establishment of the iron industry was brought about by the very heavy protection which was enjoyed up to about 70years ago. When the iron industry waa first established on a sound basis, together with the manufactures that arose out of it, it was done under a system of very heavy protection. In America the iron and steel industry has grown to marvellous dimensions under a system of protection. In Canada, which is perhaps an example more analogous to our own than any other that could be mentioned, I find that in 1883 the system was established of granting bonuses and imposing duties at the same time. An arrangement was made for diminishing bonuses and diminishing duties. The bonus given then was 12s. per ton. It is now 10s. per ton. The duty was 3 dollars per ton, which, diminishing by gradual instalments, disappears altogether in 1907. So that Canada adopted a definite policy, which was begun in 1883 and is to terminate in 1907, to protect the iron industry by bonuses and by duties. The result there was very remarkable. I find that the production of iron in 1883 was 29,000 tons. The production in 1897-8, which is the latest year for which I have been able to get figures, was 7 5, OOP tons. So that in the meantime the production has increased to that amount.
– Is it the manufactured article that is referred to 1
– It is raw iron, or pig iron. Of course, these bonus proposals of ours will deal with the manufacture of pig iron and all the products of iron up to the complete article. Now, I say that, on principle, even without this example before us, the necessity for the encouragement of this industry, and the initiation of it, is apparent, and the most reasonable way of encouraging it is by the granting of a bonus. The actual details of the scheme of bonuses has not yet, of course, been decided upon by Parliament. But the proposal of my right honorable friend and colleague, tho Minister of Trade and Customs, is to allow a bonus at the rate of 12s. per ton on pig iron, puddled bar iron made from Australian pig iron, and steel made from Australian pig iron. There is to be expended altogether on these bonuses a sum of £250,000, and the expenditure is to go on until the 1st July, 1907. It is anticipated that by that time the industry will be fairly established, and then the CUstoms duty will come into force. Once the industry is fairly established, and Australian workmen and manufacturers can get Australian iron, there will be no hardship in the imposition of the duty, which will take the place of the bonus in the protection of the industry. A similar proposal is made for granting a bonus for the manufacture of’ spelter from Australian ore. Spelter, of course, is the sino of commerce. As honorable senators are aware, there are tens of thousands of tons of material out of which spelter can be made at Broken Hill and other places now, and it is for the encouragement of the establishment of such an industry that this policy is to be initiated. There are other industries mentioned here which will be dealt with in the same way. I have no doubt that the operation of these bonuses will be’ to give such an impetus to the establishment of the industries in question, that in a very short time it will be possible for the Government to make a proclamation which will give the industries the protection of the Tariff in the ordinary way, instead of stimulation by bonuses. I think that any money which is expended by Australia in the creation of such industries as the iron and kindred industries will be money well spent. Because, after all, what is the wealth of any country 1 Surely it is the work of its inhabitants applied to its natural products. Work up the products by different methods, elaborate in as many ways as you like - it all boils down to that. Therefore, the cost of amy scheme or system which will increase the permanent and profitable employment of the people of the country, and enable them to get the riches out of the soil of the country itself, is money very well spent ; and we propose, I think, no extravagant or unnecessary expenditure in the carrying out of that policy. I do not think it necessary to say anything more with regard to the customs duties or as to the protective incidence of the Tariff. I have already dealt with its main features. Now I wish to say a few words with regard to excise. Beer, spirits, starch, and tobacco are subjects of excise, the details of which it is not necessary for me to elaborate at the present moment. In regard to sugar it is necessary that I should make an explanation. The duty on sugar is £6 per ton, and the excise on sugar is £3 per ton ; the excise to terminate altogether on the 1st January, 1907. As honorable senators no doubt are aware, this method of dealing with sugar is merely a part of the policy of a white Australia. We have adopted this proposal in order to compensate - recognising that as much compensation as possible ought to be given - for the taking away from the sugar planters of black labour, and also to give encouragement to the employment of white labour in sugar production. We therefore propose that there shall be a rebate on this excise of £3, to the amount of £2 per ton, for sugar grown by white labour. That is to say, the rebate is to be £2 per ton on sugarcane, taking the product of sugar to be 10 per cent. Cure will be taken that this rebate goes to the grower of the sugar-cane, and therefore tends to the encouragement in Queensland, or wherever else within the Commonwealth sugar is grown, of the growth of sugar by white labour. So that sugar grown by white labour will carry an excise of £1 per ton, and have the benefit of £5 per ton on the protective duty, whilst sugar grown by black labour will have the benefit of £3 per ton. Of course, in regard to this industry, and the rebate allowed, we must remember that as the white-grown sugar replaces blackgrown sugar the yield from excise must inevitably become less. These are elements which must be considered in determining the amount of revenue which the Tariff will yield. Probably in the course of the next few years the growth of sugar by white labour will make itself seriously felt in the receipts from excise in Queensland. I have now dealt with the Tariff, customs, and excise, and 1 have mentioned all the matters which I thought it my duty to bring before the Senate. I have purposely avoided details. We sholl have on abundance of details later on. It seemed to rae that it was necessary to bring before- the Senate, in a form as concentrated as possible, a general view of the Tariff. I have put that general view before the Senate for the purpose, more than anything else, of calling the attention of honorable senators to the real matter which has to be decided here. After all, we are all very apt to more or less lose sight of the issue in a cloud of detail. We have hod a cloud of detail for months post, and I desire to bring back the Senate to a general view of the Tariff, because it seems to me that it is only in that way that honorable senators can realize what their duty is. There are a great many advisers of the Senate, both in the press and amongst party leaders, who hove been telling us what to do, and of course they are perfectly disinterested. But I think that the Senate knows its own business perfectly well. I am certain that honorable senators will realize that I, at all events, would be the lost pei-Bon in the world to detract in any way from the power which the Senate has and ought to exercise on all occasions when legislation comes before it. There is no doubt that the Senate has the power, if it pleases, to throw out the Tariff absolutely, just in the same way as the GovernorGeneral has power to veto it if he thinks fit, after both Houses have assented to it.
– Our power is not on the some footing with that possessed by the Governor-General. It is much wider.
– I contend that they are exactly on the same footing. There is power in the Senate to do anything it pleases in regard to the acceptance or rejection of this measure. But it is unnecessary now to do more than allude to that fact, because I cannot imagine any circumstances under which the Senate would take upon itself the responsibility of plunging the whole of Australia into fiscal confusion by a step of that kind. After what has been taking place for the last six months, I cannot imagine that the Senate would make any such use of its powers. The Senate has power also to make suggestions in regard to any item in the Tariff, or in relation to any provision in the Bill which covers the Tariff. That power will be exercised by the Senate with a due sense of its responsibility to the people of Australia. We have been told by some of our advisers that the Senate has plenty of strong men who will assert its power. In my opinion, the strongest man is he who will do his duty, even if that duty may be to refrain, in the public interests, from the exercise of a power which he possesses.
– Or to exercise it.
– Or to exercise it. It is not necessarily by the exercise of his power that u man shows his strength. Strength may be shown often in a much greater and more effective way by refraining, in the public interests, from exercising the power which the strong man and the Senate which he guides undoubtedly do possess. The whole question ought to be looked at from the point of view of Australia. Every one admits that there is this power in the Senate, and that the Senate, may exercise it.
– Not wantonly, but justly.
– It should not exercise it wantonly or as a new plaything, nor for the purpose of displaying its strength or pleasing party wire pullers outside. It should not exercise that power for the triumph of one party or the other, or to enable one party to say, “ We have been beaten in this matter, or in that or the other, but we have carried off the honours of war.” To exercise it merely for that purpose, or for the purpose of vaunting a victory or pleasing a party, or any particular faction in the State would be to misuse the power of the Senate j it would be a treason to the best interests of Australia. It is for these reasons that I ask the Senate to look at the Tariff as it comes here as a whole. I contend in the first place that it is a compromise, as a Tariff must be a compromise, whether introduced by freetraders or protectionists. Is it a fair compromise? In the second place, does it carry out the requirements in regard to obtaining revenue, and returning, as far as possible to each State, the amount which it was receiving before, as well as in regard to the reasonable conservation of existing industries ? If it curries out those requirements fairly, surely that also mokes it a compromise which is worthy of acceptance) The Government have fought many items and have given up many, and the Tariff comes before the Senate now in a form, as to its protective incidence, very largely reduced. As to the duties which will give protection to those industries that were in existence when the Commonwealth was formed, it has been cut 34 ii down to the very lowest point short of making a mockery of the thing.
– Much too low in some cases.
– I dare say it is rather too low in some cases.
– And too high in others.
– After all, in dealing with this question as a practical matter of legislation, we have to look at it as a whole. We have to consider what our power is. If we make suggestions what do we do 1 We cannot amend the Bill itself, but we send it back to the melting pot again. We send it back to be discussed, where? In the Chamber where honorable members hare been discussing it for six months already ; where every possible argument, and every possible fact or circumstance which ingenuity could suggest Iia ve been thrashed out over and over again, until the party fires on both sides have become almost extinct in the effort to bring about some kind of settlement. That is the melting pot to which we have the power to send back these items. If, in the interests of Australia, the Senate considers it is right todo that, let it be done; but lot us remember also that during the whole time that these matters are being discussed over again - perhaps to be altered by some chance division - the whole of Australia is waiting for this Tariff, is waiting to get about its business, is waiting to get the real benefits of the union, is waiting to have some kind of certainty in its trade, and some kind of certainty that its productions will find a market in Australia. So far as we are concerned, we have fought this matter up to the point at which we have got u Tariff which I say is a reasonable compromise. It does not give us all that we want; it does not give protectionists anything like what they want, and it does not give- all the revenue that we asked for. Let me look at it for a moment from that point of view. My right honorable friend, the Treasurer, has placed at my disposal a rough estimate which he has mode approximately of the probable loss of revenue upon duties which have been given up during the passage of the Tariff through the House of Representatives. The Senate will perhaps pardon me while I read a list of the principal items. There have been some 72 items reduced, and something like 115 lines have been either reduced or put upon the’ free list. The result I give only in regard to some of the main items. By the alterations made, the Treasurer estimates that we shall lose revenue to the extent here stated upon the items mentioned -
Nearly a million of money has been dropped in the treatment of the Tariff as it went through the House of Representatives. A large amount of the protectionist incidence of the Tariff has been abandoned, and because we realize that this Tariff must be a compromise we are prepared to take it as a compromise with all this loss of revenue, with the cutting down of protection to existing industries to the lowest possible point, and we say that we have arrived st n stage at which this discussion ought, in the interests of ‘Australia, to come to an end. There may be matters which the Senate may see which I have not pointed out, but I say that, dealing with the thing as a whole, it is a fair compromise between the parties. It fulfils all the requirements which a Tariff ought to fulfil, and the Senate should recognise that, unless it, iS absolutely essential in the interests of Australia in regard to some particular item, to moke some alteration, it should accept the Tariff as it is. If there is some item upon which the Senate thinks it is absolutely essential that it should go back for reconsideration, I hope honorable senators will accept the full responsibility of adopting such a course, with all its consequences.
– It is rather a big threat, to talk about “all its consequences.”
– I really do not think it is necessary to answer the honorable senator in an observation of that sort.
– It was not necessary for the honorable and learned senator to make the observation he did.
– I did not refer to any personal consequences to’ the honorable senator. I say that the consequences are those which the delay of a day in the settlement of this matter means to Australia: Those are the consequences and responsibilities which any honorable senator must take upon himself who advocates the sending back of this Tariff to the House in which it has been discussed already, in order to see whether by some chance majority some small percentage of a duty may be cut down or -added to.
– The honorable -and learned senator says that we should swallow it without consideration.
– I do not say for a moment that honorable senators should swallow it without consideration. The honorable and learned senator nas, unintentionally I am sure, mistaken my meaning. I ask for full consideration of the Tariff, but I ora laying down now what I venture to say ure the lines upon which it should ‘be considered. I say it should be considered as a whole, and the principles I have mentioned ought to be brought to bear in the consideration of it. I say that if they are applied, I believe the Senate will accept the Tariff. It may be that honorable senators will not apply them. If they do not they must accept to- the full the responsibility and the consequences which may follow from that. I hope the matter will receive the fullest consideration. I hope -the result will be that this Tariff will be accepted -as a fair compromise between the different parties which have been at war in the discussion -of it. I hope the result will be that the law which authorizes tie collection of these duties will very soon be complete, and that the people of .Australia inevery relation of life, those engaged in trade, those who are producers, -and all who are affected in any way by this Tariff will be able to set about their business in the full confidence that they will have assured to them the whole of Australia as a marked ‘ for their produce, that -no part of any substantial industry will have reason to fear, and -that Australia generally will move steadily onwards towards that prosperity to which the.great natural richness of the country and the energy of its people entitle it.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) adjourned.
Senator O’CONNOR (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council). - I move -
That the resumption of the debate bean order of the day for Wednesday next.
I am quite aware that honorable senators will need to look at the figures I have been using. I am aware, also, that real economy of time may be conserved by giving a sufficient interval fortheir consideration. I suggest that Wednesday would give sufficient time, but Senator Symon may have something to say upon the matter.
– I hope my honorable and learned friend will make the resumption of the debate an order of the day for Thursday instead of Wednesday. He has to-day delivered a speech full of matter, full of figures, and, if he will permit me to say so, full of very strenuous argument. It will, of course, involve close consideration, and, as ray honorable friend himself points out, it may tend to economise time and to expedite business if our sittings are suspended until Thursday next.
– I ask permission to amend the motion by substituting Thursday for Wednesday-
Motion amended accordingly.
– I oppose the motion. ‘I do not think Senator Symon requires an extra day for the preparation of his speech, as I am satisfied that he might, if he desired, proceed with his remarks ret? once. My own impression is that those honorable senators who are likely to speak in opposition -to the Government proposals have their speeches already prepared. They will sound the loud timbrel of free-trade for days to come. The Vice-President of the Executive Council is far too generous in allowing honorable senators more time in which to manufacture phrases in reply to his utterances. I move -
That the word “ Thursday “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof theword “Wednesday.”
– I support the amendment because I think it necessary that we should dispose of this Tariff as soon as possible. I do not share the hope expressed by the VicePresident of the Executive Council that the adjournment till Thursday will tend to facilitate business. I should be prepared to proceed with the discussion at once. Some honorable senators, including Senator Pulsford,no doubt desire to deliver themselves of a number of fine phrases, and are probably anxious to make an impression upon the protectionists in this Chamber.
Question - -That the word proposed to be omitted stand part of the question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved, in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that it had agreed to that part of amendment No. 10 made and insisted on by the Senate, and did not insist on its consequential amendment in clause 5 ; that it had agreed to the amendments of the Senate Nos. 9, 24, and 40, but insisted on disagreeing -to amendment No. 13, except as to part, towhich the House of Representativeshad agreed with amendments, and that it had disagreed to the amendment made by the Senate to the amendment of the House of Representatives to the amendment of the Senate No. 43.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and, on motion by Senator Drake, read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. This Bill is for ordinary supply for a period of one month. -Honorable senators will see that the amount asked for is £282,834, that being about one-twelfth of the sum provided for on the Estimates for the year. There arn only one or two items to which it is necessary to draw attention, and these will “be found under the heading of the Department for Home Affairs. The first item is that making provision for the expenses in connexion with the choosing of the site for the capital of the Commonwealth ; and in that connexion £3,000 is provided on the Estimates, and £2,000 is asked for in this Bill. The expenses of the visit of senators to the various sites amount to little over £900 as at -present ascertained ; but there are a few more accounts to come hi. The next item is that -of £9,500, which has to be paid to the Railway Commissioners of the various States, in accordance with agreement, for the conveyance of Members of Parliament.
– What is the meaning of the words “ and others.”
– Those words mean the wives of Members of Parliament. A free return pass is given for the wife of each member from the place where he resides to Melbourne.
– How often ?
– Once in the year. Then there are items of £1,100 and £550 for the expenses of the by-elections in Tasmania and Darling Downs respectively. With these exceptions, there are, I think, no items that have not appeared in previous Supply Bills.
– For some time I have observed that the reporting of honorable senators’ speeches; when we aire in committee, is very considerably curtailed, certainly not to ‘ the advantage of honorable senators, nor, I think, to the advantage of the country. Personally I demur to such curtailment, and I remember taking exception to the report of a speech of my own some little time ago. I then had an interview with the chief of the Hansard staff, and found that he was acting according to instructions received from you, sir, as President of this Chamber.
– From myself and the Speaker jointly.
– I also had an opportunity of discussing this matter with you, sir, and I then expressed pretty clearly, though I hope courteously, my entire dissatisfaction at any curtailment in the reporting of the speeches, except by order of the House. I yield to no man in my thorough approval of your conduct us President,- generally speaking, and the ability, decorum, and courtesy with which you discharge your duties. At the same time, I must express my entire disapproval of your taking upon yourself, without instructions from the Senate, the curtailment of the reports of senators’ speeches. If the Senate laid down a rule, and instructed you, as the President, and largely the custodian of the privileges of this Chamber, to see that the reports of speeches were curtailed, either in committee or in the Senate, that would be another matter altogether. There is only one authority that is capable of giving an instruction, and that is the House itself. It is the duty of members of Parliament to see that their speeches are fully and correctly reported. For what purpose? Certainly not for the purpose of enlightening honorable senators - because we ‘ hear each other addressing the Chamber on many’ occasions, and at times, perhaps, some honorable senators may object to the length of the speeches - but for the purpose, of having a correct record of what honorable senators say and do, and for the further purpose of presenting our opinions in the fullest and freest -manner possible to different parts of the States we have the honour to represent, and to Australia ns a whole.
– Surely the honorable senator does not want a verbatim report of the speeches in committee?
– The reporting of certain interjections and other- trivialities is another matter, but I would insist upon the speeches made in committee being reported as fully and completely as the speeches in which we discuss the principles of a Bill.
– We shall have a big Hansard then.
– If the honorable senator thinks that Hansard would be too large, that is a matter of opinion. Having looked at the official reports of the speeches of the members of several State Parliaments, and read the criticisms -which have appeared in the press from time to time -with regard to the bulk of Hansard, I must confess that there is no earthly room for grumbling. Take,-for instance, the Legislative CounCil and Legislative Assembly of Victoria. I hold in my hand a volume giving an ordinary week’s debates iu the two Chambers, and so fur as size and bulk go, with one Or two exceptions, our Hansard will not compare with the Victorian Hansard . Again, if we take the Vew South Wales Mansard for the 17th to the 19th December, it is as large as our Hansard has been, with one or two exceptions. If we take the New South Wales Hansard for another week, the comparison is the same. There is no justification for the criticisms and the gibes in the press in regard to the enormous volume of talk in this Parliament and the size of its Rannard. If it be the wish of Parliament to leave in your hands, sir, or in the hands of any other officer the work of curtailing the reports of members’ speeches at your will and pleasure, I certainly will fall in with its desire. In Queensland I had some experience of the curtailment of the official reports at the will and pleasure of the Government. Some years ago a written slip would be sent by the Premier or some member of the Government to the Hansard staff to this effect - “ Be good enough to curtail so and so,” or “ cut down so and so.’! Where is that thing going to end? There can be only one authority to give an instruction concerning the length of the reports, and that is the Senate. If it gives an instruction that the speeches of honorable senators are to be reported at a certain length, or in so much space per hour, that is another matter. I desire that the people whom I represent shall know in full what I say as their representative. Were it not for our Hansard going at any rate to the main centres of population, that State would be in ignorance of what honorable senators SUV. The Queensland newspapers ;vs a rule give very short reports of the sayings and doings of the members of the Senate or the other House. I suppose the newspapers are pretty much alike in all the States. Unless Hansard contains full and accurate reports of any- speeches, the people of Australia will be in entire ignorance of the doings and sayings of the members of this Parliament. I take exception to any person assuming the power to control the reports of the speeches of honorable senators without instructions from the Senate. I wish the speeches of honorable senators in committee to be reported as fully as their speeches in the Senate itself.
– I have neither the intention nor the desire at thiB stage to enter into the details of this Bill, but I should like to point out to the representatives of the Government that if I am right something more than u coincidence is being shown in the fact that Supply Bills, in every case, are introduced on a Friday,’ und usually within an hour or two of four o’clock. That coincidence seems to me to be so very marked that it ought properly tobe called design. I have risen simply to express my discontent with and disapproval of this becoming a permanent practice. If Supply Bills are to be treated adequately and properly by the Senate, we should have sufficient time in which to discuss them, but they have been introduced on every occasion on a Friday, and appeals are repeatedly made to honorable senators us theminutes pass to consider the feelings of tho’se who have to catch ti train leaving shortly after four o’clock, and we have thus invariably to curtail our discussion. I protest against the appearance - and next time I ‘shall protest against more forcibly - of Supply Bills in the Chamber on a Friday at all. I see no reason why the Government cannot manage to introduce them on a day when we can have a proper discussion.
– I am not in accord with Senator Glassey, although generally he has a very persuading and coaxing way with him. I take an entirelydifferent view of this question of the Hansard reports. If I recollect rightly, no instruction was given by the Senate, as perhapsit might have been, with regard to the record of our proceedings that the Hansard should keep, and when it was found that objections were raised, and I think very properly raised, to the very enormous expense of Hansard and the little benefit obtained from it, I think you, sir, and the Speaker acted within your province in exercising a wise’ discretion in giving the direction you, did to the Hansard staff. - But on the main question Senator Glassey is, of course, quite right, and nobody would acknowledge that sooner than, yourself. Whatever the Senate may determine will be carried out by the Hansard staff. If, with our fourteen Houses of Legislature, we ore going to insist that the Mansard staff shall report verbatim, not only our second-reading speeches with all the interjections, wise and otherwise, but also every speech in committee, with all the interjections, wise and otherwise, then it appears to me the citizens of the Commonwealth- will be able to charge us with wasteful extravagance. I think ‘that the curtailment of Mansard will be a very good tiling indeed. I, would point out to Senator Glassey that he is quite wrong in supposing that, it has any -educative effect or influence upon the community whatever;
– I deny that. “Senator DOBSON - I undertake to say that not 2 per cent, of the people of the Commonwealth read Mansard or know what is in it. Suppose that 2^ or 5 per cent, read it, are we to go to- the enormous expense of. publishing reports of speeches fully, simply in order that a few people may look at them,? If my- honorable friend wonts the people of his State to know what . he does and how he votes, it would be more practical to see if he could net arrange with the newspapers to publish a few lines more than, they do now, giving, in a line or two, what a member says, and how he votes in the division lists. I do not say that- 1 am in favour of such a- thing myself. I leave the press to manage their- own business. But I would allow Mansard to record the proceedings in committee as shortly as they please, -and the shorter the better, so long as they do not misstate what a man says, and publish the division lists correctly Do ray honorable friends in tlie labour corner imagine that the people of Australia care twopence what they say on each clause of a BiU 1 The’ people want to know how members vote. The votes of honorable senators may affect the destinies of the Commonwealth, but what they say- will not- make any difference. Therefore let us have a little wise economy in this- direction.
Senator- HIGGS (Queensland). - I agree with Senator Glassey partly. I say -partly, because I am inclined to think that if Mansard- contains > a full report of secondreading speeches, the speeches, delivered in committee may, fairly well be cut down. Honorable senators must recognise that in committee members get up and repeat themselves frequently if they- feel strongly upon, a certain point. It is rather too much to expect, that Mansard- should go in for recording .those repetitions. But with regard to second. -.reading speeches ‘ in my opinion they should be reported with absolute fullness and accuracy. Everything, that happens during a secondreading debate should appear in Mansard. I think that even interjections should be repotted.
– When they are relevant.
-. - Some of the interjections made by Senator Dobson. do not, in my opinion, show that he is very wise, .but no doubt he makes them with a view to enlightening, the Senate and assisting us to come to a right conclusion. It is rather too much- of a responsibility to place upon the shoulders of. the Hansard reporters to ask them to decide- what portion of the speeches delivered during a secondreading debate should be left out.
– They know their business.
– If the reporters are to leave oat a portion of a member’s speech, what portion is it to be? Who is to decide ?
– They might ask the member, who. might help them -to decide.
– I think that you, sir, and the Speaker have acted properly in the matter, believing, that it was the wish of the Senate and the House of Representatives that speeches should be cut down-.
– We directed that the speeches should, be cut down only in committee.
– I do not think, that that has been the invariable practice. I know that I mode some observations one evening, and one or two .honorable senators ventured to offer- a .sort, of pretest against what I said: Those protests did not appear in Hansard, but my replies did, and consequently portions of: the speech seemed to be a little strange. Those, who take the.tron.ble to read the speeches in Hoa ward, if there beany such in the Commonwealth, may wonder at my re- marks. not knowing that some of? them were replies to interjections which they will be unable to read, I do not think it improves an oration to leave out the. interjections. I prefer to see the interjections made by Senator Zeal and Senator Eraser during, my speeches reported in Hansard. I have an idea that an interjection made by an honorable senator shoows more than anything else his conservative tendencies. I am anxious that honorable senators shall be brought to book for what they say sometimes. To roy knowledge politicians are often brought to account through the record of their remarks in Hansard. I find that there is in this State of Victoria a movement to do away, with Hansard altogether. If the Senated permits the cutting down of speeches, undoubtedly the tendency will grow in that direction, and in the direction of allowing certain prominent newspapers to secure the contract for reporting the speeches made by the Members of this Parliament. I do not think that the contract for Hansard in the old country is proving a success at all. There is a movement there amongst Members of Parliament to have a Hansard produced under conditions something like our own,, instead of allowing private individuals, outside Parliament altogether, to decide as to the length at which the speeches of members shall be reported. I regard Hansard as the only protection the public have, and their only safeguard that their members will carry out their pledges.
– The votes show that.
– Honorable senators who take that -view seem to me to be like the judge who believed in recording his decisions, but not in giving his reasons. Probably some honorable senators do not want to give reasons for their votes. But. I think the electors should, have an opportunity of seeing what are the reasons why Members of Parliament come to certain conclusions.
– Can they do that from Hansard t
– Senator Dobson knows that Hansard comes up against a member like a ghost to reproach him.
– I do not know. We have not a Hansard in Tasmania.
– Honorable senators must, I am sure, recognise that Hansard is the only protection the public have. We have all .known, in our experience, of quotations from the former speeches of honorable members that have wrecked Governments. Extracts from past speeches Have overthrown Ministries; and if Hansard had been curtailed, or if newspapers had been allowed to contract for the reporting of speeches, politicians would have been able to say that the reports were incorrect’ Members of Parliament cannot deny what appears in Hansard, because each of us gets a proof of his speech, and if we permit the matter to appear in Hansard we must stand by it.
– A good many of us do not take the trouble to correct the proofs.
– Well, those of us who are young in politics like our speeches to appear in all their bright effulgence. Perhaps, when we get older, we shall be rather sick of speeches when once they are delivered. But, passing from that subject, there is another matter to which I should like to refer. That is the subject which has been brought up by Senator Drake in reference to members’ passes and expenses. Some ministers in Queensland have raised a great outcry because senators and the members of the House of Representatives have had the very great privilege of bringing their wives down to Melbourne on free passes. I have no hesitation in admitting at once that I have availed myself of that privilege or rights or whatever honorable senators like to call it. I am afraid that certain of the politicians in Queensland, and in some of the other States also, are not as anxious to have their wives with them as some of us are. I do not happen to belong to that order of Benedicts who are only too glad when they can escape for six months.
– The honorable senator is a “ goody-goody.”
– I do not pretend to be specially “ goody-goody,” but I submit that by bringing my wife and family to Victoria, when I have to remain here for twelve months, I am leading a more moral life than I would be if I were to follow the example of some politicians who leave their wives in other States. . The gentlemen who have reproached honorable senators for bringing their wives to Victoria on free railway passes have no room for complaint One of these is Mr. John Leahy, Queensland Minister for Railways, who was in Melbourne a few days ago, and made a great song about the expense to which the States were put by the action of Members of the Federal Parliament in availing themselves of this privilege.” I would oak whether these gentlemen have any objection to furnishing a return showing the allowances, which they’ have received in respect of travelling expenses, in addition to their free posses over the railways. I am sure that honorable members of this Parliament have used the privilege as little as any, and I believe to a far less extent than have some of the gentlemen who have been raising the outcry. The return I have mentioned would show that the expenses to which we put the country are less by hundreds of thousands of pounds than are those to which these gentlemen have put the State when travelling. In addition to his free railway puss, Mr. Leahy has received more than has any other member of Parliament in Queensland, of late years, at all events, in. respect of travelling expenses.
Senator Peab.ce__ So that he ought to be well qualified to speak on the subject.
– He ought to be. I take this opportunity of protesting against the agitation which has recently been evident in the press in relation to this matter. I would ask those who object to the issue of free railway passes to members of Parliament, how is it possible for honorable members to do their duty to the Commonwealth unless they acquire a knowledge of the resources and capacity of each State? Do they think that honorable members would add to the expenses they have already to incur by paying their railway fares through the various States 1 Some people who have never travelled may think that a free pass is a great privilege, but after they have had three months’ experience of travelling by rail for two and a-half days at a time, they will come to the conclusion that instead of it being a privilege it is rather an infliction.
– Where would Senators get the money to pay railway fares ? They cannot live as it is.
– It seems to me that we should have heard nothing whatever of the expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth in respect of mil way passes for Members of Parliament and their wives if the people hud not returned to this Parliament so many of the labour party. The history of the Parliaments of the States shows that there never was any agitation about increased expenditure until the labour party appeared in politics. We know that when members of the various State Parliaments received no pay from the Treasurer they paid themselves very handsomely in other ways. The country was fairly well bled to death by them, and yet there was no agitation on the port of the press. One never saw. an article in the Age or the Argun advocating the curtailment of ‘ expenses of Members of Parliament prior to the growth of this new organization of democracy - the labour party. Die whole trend of the agitation in, favour of economy on the part of some people - I say “ some people” advisedly - shows that it is due to the hope that, by decreasing the allowances to members of the various Parliaments throughout the Commonwealth, members of the labour party may be driven out of politics. They nevermade a greater mistake.’ A representative of the labour-party as a rule can live on very much less than do other Members of Parliament. The social functions and society duties that others have to attend to make no call upon him.
– I can live upon 3s. . 6d. per week.
– I. thought it right to express my opinion on the objections which have been raised to the issue of railway passes to members’ wives.
– They are issued only once a year.
– As a rule that is so, although some honorable members - and let it be understood that they are not members of the labour party - have found it necessary to bring their; wives and families to Victoria from other States more than once a year on free railway passes. Those of us who come from Queensland - and it is tha representatives of Queensland in the Commonwealth Parliament who have received the greatest abuse from members o’f theQueensland Legislature - have availed ourselves of the privilege to a far less extent than have any other Members of Parliament.
– Before I put the question, perhaps I may be permitted to say a word or two in regard to Hansard. Hansard was first placed under the jurisdiction of the President and Mr. Speaker by the Ministry, and the chief of the staff naturally required some instruction as to the length of the reports. It is quite evident that some one must control the Hansard staff, and although undoubtedly any resolution passed by the Senate will be given effect to - and the Senate is the ultimate authority - in the absence of instructions Hansard had to be placed under some authority In reference to the reports of the debates in committee, we instructed Mr. Friend to ascertain the length at which the debates in the Houses of
Assembly in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, and I think some of the other States, were reported. When that information had been obtained we gave him instructions that the reports in committee of the Senate and of the House of Representatives were to be at least as ample as were the reports of any one of the State Houses I have named. That is the position. It is a matter for the Senate to decide. If honorable senators think that the reports are not ample enough, and pass any resolution, Mr. Speaker and the President will give effect to their desires. I submit that we were not only justified in the action we took, but that we were bound to take some action pending the settlement of the matter by the Senate.
– I have very great sympathy with the complaint made by Senator Glassey. It is absolutely necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth, as well as in the interests of honorable senators, that a full report of their utterances when speaking on the second reading of Bills should be given, and that the gist of their remarks when discussing matters in committee should also be reported.
– No one objects to that.
– The honorable senator says no one objects to that, but I find there is u movement on foot which has been gathering and growing ever since the Federal Parliament met, if not for the abolition of Ha.nga.rd, for its very great curtailment. I may say at once that I om opposed to anything of that kind happening. Senator Dobson threw n lurid light upon the ignorance of political matters which prevails in Tasmania. He told us that they have no Hansard there. He also said that nobody in Tasmania reads the Commonwealth Hansard. That is a sufficient explanation to my mind of the benighted condition in which the people over there are. Another honorable senator told us that not one per cent., or at most four or five per cent, of the people of the Commonwealth ever read Hansard.
– Senator Dobson again.
– Yes, it was Senator Dobson, the honorable and learned senator who is responsible for so many wild and reckless utterances. I can assure him that if he comes up to Queensland I can bring him to electorate after electorate in which Hansard is discussed from one end of the district to the other. If the honorable and learned senator goes to some of the mining camps in Queensland he will find about a dozen little parties collected in various parts of the camp.
– It is the same also in Tasmania.
– He will find about a dozen men sitting round one who is reading Hansard. The twelve men are listening and swallowing every word of it, criticising sometimes in the most forcible terms, and sometimes telling the reader to “ Stop reading that blanky so-and-so “ and go on to some one more agreeable to the audience. I can assure the honorable and learned senator that that holds good in nearly every electorate in Queensland. So far as that State is concerned the limited circulation of Hansard is no criterion whatever of the number of people who read it. It is to be found in every school of arts and in almost every public institution, and it is largely read by the people interested in those institutions. It is to be found as I have said in every mining camp, and also in every shearing camp, and in the camps along the various railway lines. In fact, I believe that Hansard as a publication is more widely read in Queensland than any other. If we take the Brisbane Courier, for example, it has a fairly large circulation, but I do not believe that nearly the number of people read it who peruse Hansard.
– Where do the copies of Hansard come from, and who pays for them %
– They come from the Government Printing-office, and they are issued at the rate of 3s. per session, so that the people may become acquainted with the utterances and actions of the men whom they have sent to Parliament to represent them. I find that there is a very great disposition on the part of conservative members of the Senate to carry on their proceedings in silence. They seem to be ashamed, not only of their actions, but of their utterances. It would suit them very rauch better if we met in some cove by the seashore, where no one could hear what was said, and from which our decrees could be promulgated without the public knowing the reasons for or against them. I am not of that opinion. I am not ashamed of any words I say in this Chamber. I am responsible for every word I utter here, and I desire that my constituents, so far as they care to make themselves acquainted with what I say, may -have an opportunity of doing so. It is well that we should foresee everything threatening us. I find that here in Melbourne there is a movement on foot to. cripple Ilansard, and to silence members of the Federal Parliament so far as the great body of the public of Australia is concerned. If we take up one of the local newspapers, the Argus or the Ago, what will we see? I have- read them both carefully, and I have scrutinized their reports of -the debates in this Chamber keenly. I find that the Age chiefly reports ‘the protectionists, and the Argus chiefly reports the free-traders. Both give special prominence to the utterances of the conservatives, while a considerable number of honorable senators are never reported as having- spoken at all. I think, really, that the kindest action .which the Age or the Argus could do to some honorable senators would be not to report them at all, because- on some - occasions very important utterances are altogether omitted, while on other occasions sentences are so distorted that even their, parents would not know them. The whole of the press reports are so unsatisfactory as to form no guide whatever to the debates which take place within these walls. Even if the reports were full and correct, and were not mutilated and distorted, the daily papers of Melbourne circulate within a very limited territory. They do not circulate outride of Victoria, and if Hansard is abolished, or if it is curtailed or mutilated, as seems to be the idea, how will the people in the other States be informed of what takes place here?
– “ By arrangement,” as Senator Dobson says.
– I find that the correspondents of the principal newspapers in the other States act just as the reporters of the daily newspapers here in Melbourne do. They wire long reports of the doings and sayings of certain members of the Parliament, and they either say nothing of other members or they seize every opportunity of holding them up to their constituents- in an unfavourable light. So that if anything is attempted in the way of mutilating, or interfering with Hansard, the people of the Commonwealth will suffer. We have heard a very great deal about the expense, but, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council told senators so forcibly this forenoon, we cannot have any benefit without paying for it. We cannot have the benefit - -and the great benefit, as I think every one throughout the Commonwealth will recognise that it is - of representative government without paying, for it. We must have a Parliament ; we must pay its members; their utterances must be. reported, so that the people of the Commonwealth may know what they are saying and doing ; and that being the case, all this must be paid for. We must have either representative government or. government which is not representative, and the people of the Commonwealth must make the choice. If they desire n despotism they can have it. They can abolish Parliament, they oan sweep away Hansard, they can tear down these buildings, and they can set up their despot. How much better off will they be if they dot Before two years were over a clamour would be raised for the ire-establishment of1 Parliament. A full report of the proceedings in Parliament is absolutely necessary, not Only in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth, but also as a protection to Members of Parliament. I do not wish to prolong the discussion. I have said sufficient to indicate what my attitude will, be if any attempt is made to interfere with the present system of reporting, in Hansard.
– In connexion with the complaint made by Senator Glassey, I may say that, judging from my experience, during a number of-‘years in connexion with newspaper work), few reporters understand what is called the art of condensation. I do not wish to say that the gentlemen employed on Hansard at present do not possess this faculty, but it is just possible that we may at some time or other have reporters on that staff who cannot condense the remarks of honorable members in com.mittee, and at the same time fully convey the speaker’s meaning. As a representatives of a distant State, I must protest against any attempt to condense too much, because of the -special value which the Hansard, reports possess for those who are beyond the reach of newspapers containing fairly full reports of parliamentary proceedings. The residents of Victoria - or of any State wherein Parliament may happen to. be sitting - have their daily papers which, in spite of the criticisms we are apt to direct against them,, give a fairly lengthy report of the proceedings in Parliament.
– It all depends upon who the speakers are.
– J quite acknowledge the truth of that remark. The electors in the States far distant from the seat of Government ave not so well off- The* newspapers there have to pay heavy telegraphic rates for the- messages transmitted- te- them, and it follows, therefore, that they cannot afford to publish very, lengthy reports of our proceedings, and they cannot convey even the gist of honorable senators’ remarks. Therefore, the only safeguard that honorable senators and the electors have is- a Hansard containing a true and full representation of what is said and done in Parliament. As one who dees not take- up very, much time in speaking, and who is not mora anxious than are other honorable senators tobe fully reported, I protest on behalf of the distant States, and on- my own behalf, against too rauch cutting down of the reports. I do not think it is wise to condense the reports of speeches even in committee, to any great extant. - Senator- Charleston. - Does the honorable senator- think the reports ase cut down too much now ?
– Yes; I have seen reports of speeches made; in committee - not by. myself, but- by other honorable senators - cut down very much indeed. With regard to the remark mode by Senator Dobson that Hansard is - not read to any great extent, I am sure that he will be glad- to learn that it is read by far more people in Tasmania than he evidently thinks. Hansard is largely circulated throughout the mining fields of Tasmania, and representatives of that State have received many requests from persons who desire to be supplied with copies of the publication. The Hansard reports are passed from hand to hand until each copy reaches - dozens of men, especially in the raining districts.
– We should ‘issue Hansard us a newspaper, and publish advertisements in it, and thus save some of the money which is now paid by the Government for advertising in the daily newspapers.
– I know of numbers of electors who are quite willing- to pay 3s. a year, or whatever amount may be charged, for Hansard, and those who are thus cas” posed should be- able to feel assured that they are being supplied with a. full report of. our. proceedings.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Schedule. - Division IV. - Department of Home Affairs.
Expenses in connexion with choosing the site qf the capital’ of -the Commonwealth, £2,000.
Conveyance of Members of Parliament and others, £9,500.
– I wish to call attention to the amount of £9,500 set down for the conveyance of Members of Parliament and others. The - Postmaster-General referred to the expense incurred in conveying Members of Parliament and their wives over the railways. I have no wife, but I have a family, and I ask whether it is fair that I should be denied the right of having one of my daughters conveyed to rae over the railways to Melbourne free of charge? On the ground of equity, it is not fair that a member, who, like myself, is in the unfortunate position of not having a head to his family, and who can pay only infrequent visits to bis home,- should be deprived of the pleasure of the company of one of his daughters in Melbourne for -a few weeks. X do not see why I should be put to expense, which, in view of the fact that I have to keep two homes, I can ill afford. The time has come when the Government should deal fairly as between members.
– If a member has neither wife nor daughter, would it not be a fair, thing for hun to bring somebody else’s daughter?
– I am now dealing with am actual case. I have spoken to two or three of the ministers, who, however, seem to think that the whole question is settled,, merely because there is a Cabinet minute to the effect that members can be accompanied only by their wives. I protest against the exclusiveness which has marked the Government acting in this respect. Some time ago, when in Queensland, I applied for a pass for my daughter, and received a wire to the effect that passes were granted to members’ wives only. I do not claim any special privilege, but only fair and equitable treatment.
– The privilege of Members of Parliament in relation to free passes has not been well defined up to the present, and, in consequence, there have been some cases of dissatisfaction. The amount now asked for is to carry out an agreement which has been come to with the railway commissioners in the various States, and it was very necessary, in making an agreement of the kind, to define the extent of the privilege to be accorded. There is a great deal in what Senator Glassey has said ; but if the privilege is to be extended beyond wives of members it will be very hard to draw a line.
– Not at all ; confine the privilege to members’ families.
– The passes might be issued for a member and one lady, or one other person, but if that were done the amount paid would have to be larger than that now agreed on. Some limit had to be fixed to the privilege, and in such a way that the railway commissioners in each of the States would accept it.
– Was thu limitation not fixed on the assumption that every member had a wife?
– I am not sure that the limitation was not fixed on that assumption. At all events most members are, I believe, happily married, and in these cases the most suitable provision has been made. An extension of the privilege would lead to considerable difficulty. Even if the pass were for a wife or daughter, that I believe would be deemed insufficient, and some senators would want an extension, in order to include an)’ ludy friend.
– Why not?
– All I can say .is that the agreement that has been come to includes wives of honorable members ; but does not include persons who stand in any other relationship.
– Does not the Queensland Government dispute the agreement?
– I belie vo there is no dispute now. The privileges in connection with railway” travelling were not well defined in the past, und some difficulty arose in connexion with Queensland, owing, I think, to a misunderstanding as to how far the negotiations had been carried. But there is no room for misunderstanding in the future, the privilege now being clearly defined, and agreed to by the railway commissioners in the various States.
– I desire to coll attention to the item of £2,000 provided for the expenses in connexion with choosing the site of the capital of the Commonwealth. When the proposal was made that honorable senators should visit the proposed sites, I opposed it on the ground of economy, amongst others j and I have seen no good reason, since the senatorial inspection was made, for altering my view that the expenditure was extravagant. I do not want to term the proposed visit of inspection by members of another place a picnic, because, so far as I can understand from what happened when senators went over the sites, the expedition may prove to be of a very opposite nature. If members of the other House have the same experience as had honorable senators, the outing is not likely to prove very enjoyable. But very little ‘real good cun result from the senatorial inspection, though it cost between £900 and £1,000, while the average number of senators who took part was thirteen.
– Whose fault was that?
– That was a good attendance for the Senate.
– Assuming that the cost was £900, or a little more, the expenses of the senators who made a visit of inspection work out at about £70 per head, and that I regard as utterly extravagant.
– The cost was considerably more ; there are the railway fares.
– I wont to put the cose in such a way that my figures cannot be impugned. I put it to any ordinary sensible senator, whether this expense was warranted or would be sanctioned by him if it were his business to secure a proper site.
– If the inspection enables us to form a good judgment, the money is well spent.
– I submit that neither Senator Pearce, nor any other senator who took part in the inspection, could come to the conclusion that what he saw would render him capable of coming to a decision.
– It would help in a small way.
– It would help Senator Pearce or any other honorable senator to check any figures relating to distance or inaccuracy of description, but no honorable senator, I venture to say, considers himself properly qualified to make this decision, even if he has seen the sites.
– But we have to make the decision.
– Will the honorable and learned senator vote for a site without having inspected it ?
– I certainly shall, subject, to this proviso, that I have sufficiently good evidence . before me. I am not going to put myself into the position in which Senator Dobson seems to be perfectly ready to place himself - of saying that I am capable of giving a decision alone and unaided. He will admit that we want expert evidence. Apparently he wants that evidence to be supplemented by his own inspection. That addition to the expert evidence, in the way provided for here, is worth nothing. If the expert evidence is not sufficient to enable any one who does not go on this trip to form an opinion, and in accordance with that opinion to give his vote when the opportunity offers, we shall never properly decide which is the best site for the capital of the Commonwealth. All this so-called personal inspection by Members of Parliament represents, in my opinion, u distinct waste of public money - not because it represents so much in figures, but. because the result obtained is totally out of proportion to the money expended. I do not object to this sum of ?2,000, but I submit that if it produces such absurdly small results in the direction of what we ure aiming at, it is gross extravagance.
– How does the honorable and learned senator measure the results ?
– I am willing to take, not the account of an honorable senator who said, after the inspection was finished, that we were really not much further ahead than at the stait, but the account of Senator Dobson, who seems to have ascertained to his complete satisfaction that the trip practically settled the question of the site. He considers that he obtained a considerable amount of useful information by making the trip. I believe he will say it is sufficient to enable him to give a vote. No trip could have been sufficient for me, and I submit with all respect that no trip ought to be sufficient for any honorable senator, and that until he has seen expert reports he ought not to consider himself bound to vote for any place. X shall feel, myself, quite at liberty to vote on this question if I urn satisfied, so far as I can be satisfied, by the reports of the experts. I am prepared to be satisfied on many things which are outside the purview of my personal knowledge. I am prepared to accept many a man’s opinion on many subjects, and it is quite competent for us in Australia to obtain experts who can settle this matter infinitely better than we can. In my desire for economy I am not going to limit myself to the operations of the Senate. I intend to oppose the item of ?2,000, and to ask the committee to request its omission by the other .House. I hope I shall be supported in this effort by honorable senators who consistently, .with myself, when the first trip was proposed, did object to the expenditure on the ground that it was useless und unjustifiable. On that occasion the question of urgent business did not enter into any of the objections. I distinctly objected then on the ground of extravagance and want of economy, and now that we know what tho trip cost I was abundantly justified in raising that objection. I ask any honorable senator if he can justify the figures. Does he think that he could not have made a better inspection of the sites from his point of view if he had been granted ?30, and told to go and look at them? I assert without hesitation that he could, especially as the expenditure does not include the cost of railway travelling. An expenditure of ?70 per head is an extravagant waste of money. The total expenditure in connexion with the senatorial trip und the proposed trip is ?3,000, and of this sum we are now asked to vote ?2,000, which apparently is to be spent on the same scale. Not only is the same extravagance to be committed, but it is to be committed with our eyes wide open. I shall oppose the item.
– I cannot agree with Senator Clemons that the trip was not productive of great good. I think it was productive of good, and was also worth the money. It had a distinctly educative effect upon honorable senators. ‘ From my experience of parliamentary or Ministerial journey-inn. I consider that ‘it was worked very economically. The moderate expenditure was due to a very great extent to the very cautious and careful financing of the Usher of the Black Bod, who had charge of all the arrangements. It is not quite correct to say that the cost is at the rate of ?70 per head, because I think I am right in saying that there were altogether 21 or 22 senators who took part in the trip, though they did not all go the whole way.
– I averaged them at 13 for the whole trip.
– But that is not a correct way of looking at the matter, because arrangements had to be made for the whole number who went, and I believe that out of the whole 36 members of the Senate 22 members took part in the journey. There is another matter to be taken into consideration. We were very limited in the matter of time. There was only a fortnight available. It was a special opportunity that offered to enable honorable senators to fulfil aduty which they would have had to fulfil at some time or other; because I do not think this Parliament is going to fix. upon any site until the members of both Houses of the Parliament have had an opportunity of visiting all the suggested sites. ‘Seeing that that was the duty cast upon the members of both Houses, and that the members of the Senate only had a fortnight in which to visit some fifteen or sixteen sites, it was necessary to make arrangements for special expedition, and that involved a considerable expense for vehicles, for instance.
– £2 each per diemshould have been ample.
– Seeing that the expenditure had to cover the cost of hiring vehicles and provisioning - because in most cases the cost of providing meals was borne out of the vote - I do not think the amount excessive. The sum upon the Estimates in chief is £3,000. This is a vote of £2,000 on account.
– What was the cost of the senatorial visit !
– About £900. With regard to the expenditure upon the special trains, I believe that the bill is not settled yet, but it is understood that the States are not going to make any charge -for the special trains. So thatthere will be the balance of £2,000 available for the visit of the members of the House of Representatives. If an equal proportion of the members of that Chamber manage to visit as many sites as the senators visited, and the expenditure is kept within the £3,000 proposed to be spent, very good results will accrue, because it is work that Must be done at some time or other before Parliament can be asked to make a decision. I think the amount asked for is certainly not excessive.
– I, for one, do not propose to enter intoa discussion as to’ whether thetrip of the House of Representatives is likely to be productive of good or not. I merely wish to express the opinion that, as far as I am concerned, the visit I paid upon the Senate trip will very greatly help me in coming to what I believe to be a proper conclusion. But there is another aspect of this affair thatI think should not be lost sight of, and one which the public should know about - although in all probability, such is the wisdom of our press, they will not know about it from that source. The public were told by the press of Victoria, and bymany other newspapers, that the people of the Commonwealth were being ‘exploited, and that money was being wasted on the trip. But what do we -find ? That the trip cost £70 per head. Why? Because we hod to carry more dead-head reporters than we carried members of the Senate.
– Hod to ! Why?
– It may be a fault of administration on the part of the Government, but still on the part of the newspapers it showed an utter want of principle. They were condemning the Senate for undertaking the tour’ as an expensive trip, and one which the country could not afford, but yet the Melbourne Age, the Melbourne Argus, and. many other newspapers, not only sent reporters, but also photographers, in order that they might describe and give pictures of interesting little episodes, and reap a considerable profit out of the trip.
– But did the Government pay the expenses of those reporters?
– They travelled at the Government expense.
– And the honorable and learned senator is going to vote in order that they may do itagain ?
– I hope they will not have an opportunity again. I trust that the Government will not, in the future, be so weak as to assist the proprietors of the newspapers of Victoria and New South Wales to dip their hands into the public Treasury. Where is the line ‘to be drawn in regard to thereporters to be taken on a trip of this kind? If a reporter from the Melbourne Aye, and reporters from the Argus, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sydney Morning Herald are to travel, and if Members of Parliament are to be annoyed from morning tonight with wretched photographers, who also are carried at the Government expense, why should not the Bunbury Herald, or the representative of the Warracknabeal Advertiser be token, and why should we not carry representatives of the whole unintelligent press of Victoria?
– Unintelligent press !
– I say “ unintelligent “ advisedly, because I think the Government was paying, not to give information to the public, but simply in order that the reporters might pour through the channels of their newspapers a lot of useless twaddling stuff that could not possibly ‘ assist the people of the Commonwealth to come to any rational conclusion. I hope that if in future it is-found necessary to curry persons around* to give the public information, we shall take persons possessed of a reasonable amount of intelligence, who will be able to put before the public something that is useful, and not those who will pour through the channels of their journals at the public expense drivel and twaddle such as we got in connexion with the last trip.
– That is a terrible indictment against the reporters !
– Whether it is or is not a terrible indictment against the reporters, it is ‘ true. Every one who went on the trip, and who road the silly, idiotic reports sent in to the newspapers, must have come to the conclusion, either that the papers were taking up a false position in endeavouring to ridicule the trip at the public expense, or that they sent persons who were incapable of performing in an intelligent manner the duties allotted to them.
– The description of the concert at ‘Bombala was worth a considerable amount.
– But- that was not correct.
– I think it is the duty of these newspapers, which are commercial concerns, carrying on business for profit, ‘to be consistent, and to practice what they preach. They should not get their news through the expenditure of public money. They should not in one column condemn the Government action in enabling honorable senators to see the proposed capital sites, and in another column use the opportunity for making profit out of their silly, idiotic reports. Not only did we carry these persons - we carried lots of them, not only reporters, but men and boys with cameras - but we had to get extra coaches, which cost a considerable amount of money, to convey them. And we had to feed them. Not only did we give them board and lodging at the Government expense -
– And drink.
– And what they required to drink, but they would rush the tables, getting there before any one else had a chance to obtain anything to eat. On all occasions the man who got there first was a reporter. We should not vote any money in order that it may be put fraudulently into the pockets of the proprietors of the Argus or the Age, or poured down the throats of their reporters.
– Yet the honorable and learned senator is going to vote for it.
– I shall vote fur the Bill, because the visit of the Senate has been paid; but I trust that in future the Government will make these newspaper proprietors pay for their reporters’ passages, and pay for their meals and coach fares. I do not believe that newspapers have any more right to cringe and to sponge on the community than other residents or citizens of the Commonwealth.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I do not wish in any woy to act as an apologist for the Government on this occasion, but I desire to emphasize the point raised ‘by ‘Senator Ewing that, from a practical point of view, this trip is very necessary. Senator Clemons should ask himself whether he desires to see the question of the federal capital settled. If he does, the proposed visit will be the most practical way of setting, about it. If the honorable and learned senator proposed to build a house he would desire to see the site of his new home for himself, and he would not trust an architect to tell him about the natural advantages of the position. The selection of a site for the federal capital stands very much in the same position. Having availed myself of the opportunity offered tome by the Government to visit these sites, I shall be in a much better position, when the reports of the experts are placed before us, to determine which is the most suitable site than I should have been if I had followed the example of Senator Clemons and remained in Melbourne. I fail to see how that honorable and learned senator can form any opinion on the question. We have had official reports on the subject, but not one of them conveys an adequate idea of the capabilities or surroundings of the different sites. I contend that the Senate is not responsible for the cost and management of the trip, nor are those who took part in it.
The Government must take the responsibility.
– The managementwas very good.
– Then SenatorEwing’s picture will be reproduced in connexion with the visit of the House of Representatives.
SenatorPEAR CE. - Some part of the management was good, but a blunder committed by somebody in connexion with the management of the trip was responsible for half of the cost. Any competent business man could have managed the trip, and given honorable senators quite as much comfort as we had, for one-half the cost.
– That is what I say.
SenatorPEARCE. - If an advance agent had been sent out some time before the trip was entered upon, better arrangements could have been made, and a great deal of money could have been saved. As a matter of fact, the trip was planned very hurriedly ; arrangements had to be made on the spot, and the party was entirely in the hands of the caterers and those who supplied the coaches. They could dictate any terms they pleased. I hope the Government will not make the same mistake in connexion with the approaching inspection by honorable members of another place.
– It was not a mistake. The shortness of time was responsible for the difficulty.
SenatorPEARCE. - The question of time was entirely in the hands of the Government. The Senate had no control over it. We were under the impression that all the arrangements had been made beforehand, but we found that that was not so. As to Senator Ewing’s remarks in reference to the reporters who accompanied the party, I desire to say that I look upon them as a decent, intelligent body of men. I have nothing to urge against them, and whatever I have to say on the subject will apply not to the reporters themselves, but to the managers and owners of the newspapers, and to the Government.It was a misuse of the money of the Commonwealth for the Government to pay the expenses of the servants of the newspapers who accompanied the party. The Ministry have no right to provide free carriage and food and lodging for the pressmen who are in the employ of private concerns. I believe that the reporters who accompanied honorable senators on the recent trip were intelligent men, but they were the servants of the newspapers, and had to send in reports according to the directions they had received.
-That might account for it.
SenatorPEARCE. - We know that a certain section of the press at any rate desires to ridicule Parliament and parliamentary institutions, and if any of the representatives of the press had sent in reports which werenotconsidered suitable they would not have been published. In fact, I was told by one ofthe reporters that he was instructed only to report the picnic features of the trip. That will give honorable senators some idea of the honesty of a portion of the press of Australia. Reporters who were sent on a trip of national interest, undertaken to settle a national question, were directed not to give any information which was likely to be of value to the public, but to endeavour to caricature the picnicking part of the excursion. The Government should not lend themselves to that sort of thing by providing private business concerns with the means of sending their representatives round the country at the public expense. Let the press accompany the party by all means, but let them make their own arrangements. If I wished to write a book describing the inspection of sites by honorable members of the House of Representatives, I am satisfied that the Government would not afford me facilities to go round with the party taking photographs and gaining information while living at their expense and travelling free on their trains. I should be required to make my own arrangements, and the Age or the Sydney Morning Herald should have to do the same.
– The Government might allow the pressmen to travel free by rail, as a train will have to be engaged in any case.
– It is not for the Government to afford the press all these facilities.
– The Government cannot ignore the press.
– They can ignore the press just as they can ignore any other private concern. The Government say that it is necessary that the Members of this Parliament should have an opportunity of visiting the various sites in order that the)’ may be able to decide this question. All they have to do is to provide honorable members with facilities for making the inspection. They are not concerned with the question whether the Age can increase its circulation by giving a humorous description of a social party at Bombala, or whether the Leader can increase its circulation by publishing views of senators inspect ing certain sites. To give facilities for that kind of thing is not a legitimate expenditure oof the taxpayers’ money. I protest against it. I think the remaining expenditure is perfectly legitimate, and if we are in earnest on the question of selecting a site for the capital, I fail to see how Parliament can be expected to arrive at a wise decision, unless honorable members visit the sites and inspect them thoroughly under proper conditions.
– I thoroughly agree with what has been said by Senator demons, and I think that the position which he took up has been considerably emphasized by what has fallen from the lips of Senator Ewing, although I have no doubt that that honorable and learned senator scarcely intended his remarks to be taken in that way. Those honorable senators who took part in the inspection are satisfied that, at the outside, the choice lies between three sites. .
– How does the honorable senator know that ?
– I have gathered it from conversations with honorable senators. Then we have Mr. Oliver’s report, which was paid for by the State of New South Wales. Mr. Oliver was believed to be absolutely competent to make such a report, and he condemns all but three sites. I am satisfied as the result of conversation with honorable senators who visited the sites that those condemned by Mr. Oliver are absolutely unacceptable. It will be a pure waste of money for honorable members of another place to visit any one of the sites which have been condemned. And yet a sum amounting to something like £2,000 has admittedly been placed on the estimates in order that every one of the sites may be visited in succession. I protest strongly against what the press has characterized as an absolute waste of money. Any ordinary business person would consider it an absolute waste of money to adopt such a method in the conduct of his own business. He would employ an advance agent, and would get the best technical information he could get. On this occasion the New South Wales Government did send an agent round to inspect all the sites offered. That agent condemned most of them, and what in the name of goodness is the use of the members of the House of Representatives visiting those sites which can have no possible chance of being selected 1 Any one who has lead Mr. Oliver’s report will know why he has condemned certain sites, because he has given his reasons most carefully. I join with Senator Clemons in believing that there should be a reduction of this vote by £1,000. I move -
That it be a suggestion to the House of Representatives that the vote of £2,000 for expenses in connexion with choosing the sites of the capital of the Commonwealth be reduced by £1,000.
– That will give the members of the House of Representatives £100 upon which to make the trip, because £900 has already been spent.
– I know that £900 has already been spent, and I more the amendment to avoid any further waste of money; Before sitting down I desire to deal with the next item, and I agree with the Postmaster-General that it is absolutely necessary to draw a line in dealing with extra expenditure in the cases of members of Parliament.
– The honorable senator has moved an amendment, and the discussion must be confined to that. .
- Senator Matheson appears to me to base his opposition to the proposal in the (form in which it is submitted to the Senate, on the fact that the press has characterized the proposed expenditure as wilful and wanton extravagance. That is the strongest argument the honorable senator used.
– I did not use that argument at all.
– The honorable senator may not have used thatas an argument, but he told us that he was strongly opposed to that which the press had. emphatically condemned as wilful and wanton extravagance. ‘
– I characterized it in the same way myself.
– The honorable senator may have done so, simply because he has read in a portion of the press that it was of that character. He personally took no part in the senators’ tour. In my opinion it is absolutely impossible for members of this Parliament to arrive at a proper determination as to which is the proper site to fix upon as the federal capital, unless in addition to the opinions submitted by the experts referred to they have an opportunity of taking a comprehensive view of the different sites offering as competitors for this valued position. Senator Matheson has, with a great deal of warmth, referred to the report furnished by Mr. Oliver, but that gentleman was a commissioner appointed by the Government of New South Wales. I ask the honorable senator and other members of this committee whether it is the Government of New South Wales or the members of the Parliament of the Commonwealth who are to determine the site of the future seat of Government of the Commonweal thi The Parliament and Government of New South Wales, perhaps with the idea of facilitating the work of this Parliament, but at any rate without any concurrence on the part of this Parliament, appointed a commissioner to inspect the different competing sites, and send his report upon them - to whom ? To the New South Wales Government. Is the Parliament of the Commonwealth, composed of members representing not merely the State of New South Wales, but each and every one of the States of the union, to be guided absolutely and blindly by the report furnished by an officer appointed- by the particular State which more than any other is interested in this matter ? It may be said that because that State is more interested than any other in the matter, we should therefore be guided by the opinions expressed by the officer appointed by the Government of that State. But what was our experience in going round inspecting those sites? Bid we not find that in Sydney, the capital of that State, the strongest organs of the press set out with the* deliberate determination of doing all they possibly could to belittle honorable senators and the Government of the Commonwealth in the endeavour to give effect to the compact contained in the Constitution ? Are we to be absolutely blindly guided by the determination arrived at by a State official working for_ the State Government? It is absolutely impossible for any member of the Commonwealth Legislature to form a correct opinion in this matter without having an opportunity of at least a cursory inspection of the various sites. Senator Matheson told us that Mr. Oliver reduced the number of suitable Bites to three, but I have pointed out that he was a State officer appointed by a State Government.
– Does the honorable and learned senator suggest that his report is misleading?
– His report may still be valuable to us.
– I do not for a moment deny its value, but I deny that it is to be absolutely binding and conclusive upon this Legislature, which is representative of the whole of the Commonwealth, and not merely of the interests of New South Wales, whose interests in this matter, if correctly reflected by the metropolitan press of that State, will have to be considered as to some extent inimical to those of the other States of the Commonwealth. I should like to say that Senator Ewing in his remarks pulled the string just a little too tight. With regard to the gentlemen to whom he referred as accompanying the last expedition, I do not think they were representatives of the press, but municipal representatives in the State of New South Wales, who took advantage of that expedition to benefit and to enjoy themselves. I think every honorable senator who took part in the trip will bear me out when I say that the representatives of the press who were present demeaned themselves as modestly as under the circumstances any one could naturally expect. So far from being the first to rush on every occasion, I know from personal experience that on several occasions they absented themselves from some of the dinners or lunches, and exception was taken to their being so thin-skinned as not to attend because they hod not been expressly asked. The sum asked for in this Bill- £2,000- is- only to be £1,100 more than has already been expended. Personally I think the sum of £900, expended on the last tour, was far too much. I can put it down to no other circumstance than this, that t-he people, with whom those who were managing the whole cif the tour had to contract, thought it a very good opportunity to draw as many fish into their net as they could. They undoubtedly charged exorbitant and extravagant prices, feeling, probably, that the Commonwealth was a good milch cow, from whom they should draw as much as possible when the opportunity offered. If the amendment to reduce the amount by £1,000 is carried, it will mean that £100 only will be left for the expenses of the trip to he made by the members of the House of Representatives. I admit that £900 was an extravagant expenditure for the last trip, but it must be considered that proper arrangements had not been made. It was decided here on a Friday afternoon that the trip should be gone on with, and on the following Tuesday it was commenced, with the result that proper arrangements could not be made with people beforehand. I understand now that ample time has been afforded to make proper arrangements for carrying out the trip to be made by members of the House of Representatives, and in any case those who will have the conduct of that trip will have the experience of the last to guide them, so that £1,100 will probably cover the expenses of the tour and leave a balance in hand.
– We know very well it will not.
– The honorable senator knows more than any other honorable senator or any member of the House of Representatives or the whole Cabinet.
– The PostmasterGeneral said that there was £3,000 on the Estimates for this purpose, so that even if we reduce this vote the Government will have £1,000 to expend in anticipation of parliamentary sanction.
– Notwithstanding the excessive wisdom of the honorable senator, I am not prepared to accept his dictum on this point. The honorable senator did not take part in the last tour, and does not know anything of the peculiar circumstances which led to such heavy outlay, when perhaps 40 per cent, of the amount expended should have been sufficient. With the experience gained on the previous occasion, the Government have come to the conclusion that it will be possible to arrange for this trip without incurring any very heavy expense, and I intend to vote for the amount as it stands.
– As honorable senators have had on opportunityof inspecting the suggested sites for the federal capital, they cannot very well object to similar facilities being extended to members of the other Chamber. I believe that it is the unanimous feeling of honorable senators that a good deal of extravagance occurred in connexion with the last tour, but that was largely the result of hasty arrangements which I condemned at the time. Some of the remarks made regarding the representatives of the press who accompanied senators on their tour should not have been uttered. I am quite certain that the proprietors of the large newspapers can be trusted to make their arrangements with the Government in a manner satisfactory both to themselves and to the general public.
– I shall support the amendment. £3,000, has been placed upon the Estimates, and if we reduce this amount by £1,000 it will still leave £1,100 beyond the amount already spent for the purpose of conveying members of the House of Representatives to the various suggested sites forthe capital. The Government may anticipate the vote on the Estimates in the same way as on a previous occasion.
– I am aware that honorable members in another place are waiting for us to conclude this debate, but the responsibility for the delay must rest upon the shoulders of the Government, who should not expect us to pass a Bill providing for such a large expenditure without full consideration. SenatorClemons and others, who have based their calculations as to the expenses upon the number of senators who took part in the last tour to the federal capital sites, have overlooked the fact that there must have been something like 60 persons all told participating in the tour at certain stages. As to the charge of wastefulness, I think that all the comforts required by those who made the tour could have been obtained for one-fifth of the sum spent, but, as has been pointed out by Senator Keating, those who catered for the party thought that an excellent opportunity presented itself for making money out the Government. I believe, however, that the Government, profiting by the experience gained on the previous occasion, will be able to conduct the forthcoming tour at very much less expense. I have no objection to the press representatives being present, but I think that the proprietors of large and wealthy newspapers which declaim against parliamentary institutions for their extravagance ought to at least pay the expenses of their reporters. I am not condemning the reporters in any way. I belong to the press myself, and I hope I shall never be found crying down any pressman. The reporters who accompanied senators on the recent tour had to do their duty, and I suppose that their employers instructed them that if they had to pay their way they should do so, but that they should accept the hospitality of the Government if it were extended to them, even though they might afterwards find fault with the extravagance of the Government. When honorable senators are blaming the pressmen for their reports, they should recollect that it was a member of this Chamber who sent the worst class of reports to the newspapers. This honorable senator said that there was attached to the train conveying the party a huge luggage van, containing crates of champagne and other luxuries, but, as a matter of fact, not one bottle of champagne was used on the trip. I should like to ask Senator Matheson and Senator Clemons, who are opposing this expenditure, why they did not exhibit their economical proclivites when it was proposed to spend some £20,000 in sending soldiers to the old country. They are now objecting to an expenditure of £2,000 or £3,000 for the purpose of enabling Members of Parliament to come to a right decision regarding a matter involving the expenditure of millions of money, but when some of us objected to the expenditure of the larger amount, to which I have referred, for the purpose of mere display, they called us “pro-Boers,” “traitors,” and “rebels.” Not one word was uttered then about the need for money, but when a business-like proposal is mode to send members on this trip for information and instruction, unreasonable objections are made. I believe that this expenditure will in the end prove of great service, though we cannot say what will be the result until Parliament comes to select the federal site. The site may be well chosen or it may be ill chosen; it may mean the saving of money to the public of Australia or the loss of some millions.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I cordially agree with the PostmasterGeneral that a hard and fast line must be drawn in connexion with the granting of free passes to the wives of members of Parliament ; and all I want is an assurance that this hard and fast line applies, not merely to members, but also to those in Ministerial positions. In some of the States a Minister has a free car whenever he goes on a journey, and it is the custom for him to take his family and friends if they wish to travel as “dead heads.’’ I have no objection go that practice, provided it applies equally to Members of Parliament. If a Minister is privileged to take his wife on trips without paying her railway fare, I claim a similar privilege, but I shall be glad to have an assurance that this is not the practice of Commonwealth Ministers.
– I cannot give Senator Matheson any such assurance. I can only repeat that this £9,500 is to carry out an agreement arrived at with the railway commissioners of the various States to convey Members of Parliament on all lines, and members’ wives once a year from their place of residence to the place of the meeting of Parliament and bock.
Division agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bills returned by the House of Representatives with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Thursday next.
– I again protest against these repeated adjournments. There is no occasion whatever to adjourn until Thursday next, because there is sufficient business to engage us on the Wednesday. The excuse given for adjourning until Thursday next is that honorable senators desire an opportunity of thoroughly considering Senator O’Connor’s speech on the Tariff, so that they may prepare their criticisms. I see no reason why we should not meet on Wednesday as usual, because we have received the Franchise Bill and the Public Service Bill from another place.
– Both of those Bills have by order of the Senate been set down for Thursday next.
– That quite escaped me; but now we can see that valuable time is to be wasted which might have been utilized in dealing with those important public measures. I shall continue to resist these adjournments as an extravagant waste of public time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 April 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020425_senate_1_9/>.