1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator DRAKE laid on the table the following paper : -
South Australian Military Forces- Drill instructors.
Royal Assent reported.
Senator PULSFORD (for Senator Lt.-
Col. Neild) asked the Vice-Presidentof the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to take, duringthe present session, any steps other than the two parliamentary excursions which were made some months since, towards the selection of a site for the federal capital?
– Yes Yes.
– I think that another motion ought to be moved. Honorable senators will see that the position is somewhat anomalous. We are about to take into consideration the question whether wc ought to consider this matter to-day. This position arises from the fact that the debate was adjourned on Thursday last until to-day. I think that when the motion on the business-paper, or some amendment of it, has been disposed of, it will be necessary for another motion to be carried - That the Senate go into committee of the whole to consider the Message, or part of the Message. When the report of the committee on the Bill was adopted by the Senate, leave was given to the committee to sit again on receipt of a Message or on motion. We received a Message, but the committee did not sit again, and therefore I think there should be a motion.
Debate resumed from 4th September (vide page 15780), on motion by Senator O’Connor -
That the Message be printed, and taken into consideration on Tuesday next.
– The Message which is the subject of the motion which has been made presents to us a double aspect. It invites necessarily, although not in direct terms, our consideration of two matters which are not immediately connected with each other - the constitutional position and rights of the Senate, and our position in relation to certain items of the Tariff and certain requests made in regard thereto. The exordium or preamble of the Message of the House of Representatives brings under notice, in a way which it would not be proper altogether to disregard, matters affecting the constitutional position and rights of the Senate, while the body of the Message deals with the business in hand. As to the first aspect, it is one which concerns us as a Senate, and involves considerations which are not in any way party considerations. I myself, in the remarks which I propose to offer shall approach it as- a senator, and from the stand-point of the constitutional position of this Chamber. The other question involved is the party question, with which we have been familiar for many weeks past.
– That is the only one we need trouble about. It is only a waste of time to discuss the other matter.
– I differ from my honorable friend. I do not wish to introduce controversial matter which I can avoid, but I do not regard it as a waste of time, and I am sure that the majority of honorable senators will not so consider it, to take advantage of this opportunity to make our constitutional position perfectly clear as far as we understand it.
– We do not wish to usurp power which does not belong to us.
– I think that my honorable friend will - see, as I proceed, that this is a matter of great importance to us as a Senate. The position may to-day affect a matter upon which one side of the Chamber may hold strong views, and on .another occasion a - matter upon which another section, may hold equally strong opinions, and it may one day affect the interests of particular States. Therefore, the sooner we have a clear statement as to what our constitutional position is, the better it will be for us all, it seems to me. I agree with my honorable friend to this, extent, that I hold that the exordium, or preamble, to the Message is one which in itself is, perhaps, of comparatively little moment. From my own point of view, it is eminently futile ; neither do I think it very wise. I think that it would have been better - and I hope that I may be forgiven for expressing the view - if the members of the House pf Representstives hod abstained, not from passing the resolution which has been embodied in the Message - that ‘ was a matter for themselves - but from inserting it , in the Message and sending it to this Chamber. I do not believe that parliamentary history affords any example - the history of the British Parliament, the mother- of Parliaments, certainly doesnot - - of anything of this character - so important in effect - being embodied in a message sent from one House to the other. This is a preface to a message dealing with particular matters which have been under’ the consideration of both Houses. It asserts nothing, denies nothing,, claims nothing, and repudiates nothing, but in what has been described elsewhere as mellifluous language, intimates that the House of Representatives abstains’ from determining whether they have anything to assert, or to claim, or to deny. A statement of that description is really only so many words, and I agree with Senator Stewart in so regarding- iti Actions speak louder than words. This exordium” reminds me of a celebrated cartoon which appeared in London Punch many years ago, and which represented Lord John Russell as a small boy chalking up on a wall- the words “ No Popery,” and then running away. Polonius on one occasion asked Hamlet what he was reading, and received the reply - “ “Words, my lord, words; words” If honorable senators will examine this curious preamble, they will see that it is simply a statement that “We could an we would. We do not determine whether we have or have not any power, or any rights which are in conflict with those which you claim.” What is all the fuss about *t How has the trouble arisen which is suggested by this vague form of words 1 The Senate has repeated certain requests for amendments, and invited the reconsideration of them by the House of Representatives. In itself that would seem to be a moderate and statesmanlike thing to do. If there were any real fear of a possible conflict between the two Chambers, surely it would be better that there should be an opportunity for reconsideration, than a rough and rude refusal of reconsideration, with the chance of precipitating a conflict. That is how the matter strikes me, viewing- it from the reasonable, common-sense point of view. I do not suggest that the House of Representatives have written up “No surrender.” They have done nothing of the kind. They have not come down, because they never went up. It seems to’ me that it is very greatly to the credit of this Chamber that I can recall during the discussions on the Tariff’ here, which have been more or less heated - because differences of opinion must necessarily arise in regard to matters of this kind- no menace or threat, and no word calculated to cause irritation or friction. We have dealt with the various matters brought before us on their merits, as they appeared to the mind of each one of us, and it has never been suggested that there was a possibility of our deliberations or conclusion’s resulting iti a conflct with the House of Representatives. The preface to which I have referred is more, amusing, than serious. It is really a little by-play to “ save the face “ - to use a common expression*- - of the Government, or’ of the House of Representatives, from what I cannot help’ feeling is a totally imaginary fear. Some alarm has been conjured up as to the designs, in the way of encroachment of this House, and although my belief is that the- saner-minded members of the House’ of Representatives entertain no notion that the Senate is transgressing its constitutional position in- the slightest degree, still,, to save the face of the House of Representatives in the presence of what I regard as an imaginary danger op something of the kind, this preface .has been inserted in the Message. Although I hold that opinion with regard to the effect or non-effect of the preface, it seems to me- that- courtesy to another place requires that we should not contemptuously ignore it. Now is the time, when dealing with this motion, to give it what consideration we may, and also to consider, as hinted,, rather than either affirmed or denied in terms by it, theposition and rights of the Senatein regard to the requests which have been sent down, and which have been considered. There is another reason why we should say a word or- two about the resolution incorporated in theMessage, and it is this : The public mind has been directed to it. Public attention, has been given, and must necessarily begiven, throughout Australia to the present situation. Misunderstanding, has been created, and a good deal of mischief may be done by those persons who are probably misled by their own inflated rhetoric into referring to what has just taken place as a great act of renunciation on the part of the House of Representatives in considering and. dealing with our requests for amendments, and in returning them with a Message to this Chamber. I propose tomove an amendment, in order that the position, so far as we are concerned may be stated, without interfering in any way with any expression of doubt or uncertainty on. the part of the House of Representatives as to their position. As it appears upon the notice-paper the motion is this -
That Message No, 59 of the House of Representatives in reference to the Senators requests on the Customs Tariff Bill be printed, and taken into consideration on Tuesday, 9th September.
I move -
That the motion be amended by the addition of the words : - “ this House, affirming that the notion of the House of Representatives, in receivingand dealing with the reiterated requests of the Senate, is in compliance with the undoubted constitutional position and rights of the Senate ; and that this resolution be communicated by Message to the House of Representatives. “
– That means fight.
– I think not. My honorable friend will see, in one moment, that, either we are prepared to have it said that we acquiesce in a doubt whichhas been thrown upon the course we have pursued–
– Of course, we do.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON. - Exactly.
We are either prepared to acquiesce in a doubt being thrown upon the constitutional rights of the Senate in repeating its requests, or we must assert that we entertain no doubt..
– It does not affect the settlement of the Tariff one way or the other.
– I am much obliged to my honorable and learned friend. The amendment carefully avoids expressing any opinion- it would be improper for us to do. so - upon the attitude of another place. It would be highly improper for us to call into question, the attitude adopted by the House of Representatives. But, on the. other hand, it would be equally improper for us, if we have no. doubt that we acted rightly and, courteously in repeating our requests to the House of Representatives, to abstain from saying so. Whatever misgivings the House of Representatives may entertain as to their rights and privileges on this question, I entertain none, and I am going to say so. If a majority of the Senate prefers to negative the amendment and to say there is a doubt, the consequencebe upon their own heads, when at some future time this question is raised. I hope I shall not be here to be affected by it.
– Where is the doubt when the- House of Representatives have dealt withour reiterated requests.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON.- Exactly. Has my honorable and learned friend listened to, the terms of my amendment?
– I have listened very carefully.
– Does not the amendment affirm that the action of the House of Representatives - not their words, which have nothing to do with their resolution - complies with the undoubted rights of the Senate.
– Why should we make that assertion when they have complied with our rights.
– Why should we not do so ? If the honorable and learned senator does not wish to make the assertion, he is at liberty to vote against the amendment. Evidently I take quite a different view of our position from that taken by Senator Keating, and if he wishes he is quite at liberty to allow any doubt . that he pleases to remain. I am. going to take this opportunity, which has been afforded me by the House of Representatives, in incorporating their doubts in their Message.
– What doubt? The honorable and learned senator has told us that the resolution passed by another place is nothing but “ words, words, words “ - that it is their action, not their words, which we have to consider.
– Then the honorable and learned senator can have no hesitation in assenting to what I propose as an assertion of what is not “ words, words, words.”
– We do not want to take up the “words, words, words” attitude.
– My honorable and learned friend can deal with the matter in the way which suits him best. I do not hope to convince him that it is the duty of the Senate at the initiation- of its career to take care that no doubts of any description are thrown upon the power which it has exercised, and which it may have to exercise again in the future. In dealing with the motion, I wish to remove certain misapprehensions .which I think are accountable for a good deal of. what has happened. It seems to me that if those of my honorable friends who take a different view of the position had really examined its foundation they would have had no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that’ the course which has been pursued . by the Senate is absolutely the true course which must be pursued according to the Constitution, and that ib is the only course which can save the Senate from a position of absolute impotence in regard to financial measures. The first thing I wish to say is that, as we know, the Senate is not in the position of a Legislative Council. lt is not in the position of even such a Legislative Council as we are privileged to possess in South Australia, and which typifies an advance in these matters not reached so far as I know in any of the States except Western Australia, where the Upper House was modelled to some extent, if not altogether, upon the South Australian Chamber. It must never be forgotten that the Senate owes its- peculiar powers and functions to its position as being not an ordinary Upper Chamber, but an essential element in a Federal Constitution. That is the great line of demarcation between theSenate and Upper Houses as ordinarily understood. The next point which we ought .to remember - and I propose to put it as shortly as I can - is that the great type and forerunner of a
Federal Senate is the Federal Senate of the United States. Its powers are great in relation to financial Bills. If the control of the purse is taken away altogether from the Senate, we might as well blot it out. I do not desire to dwell upon that point. The Senate, under the Constitution of the United States, is also a body possessing certain executive control, which gives it great power. We do not possess that executive control, but we possess what is infinitely better, infinitely higher, and infinitely stronger - we possess the direct authority of the people of this country. I - am afraid that fact is either forgotten, or the effect of it is sought to be whittled away by the assertion that equal representation is not synonymous with majority rule.
– Oh, no ! The AttorneyGeneral emphasized that point.
– I appreciate the honorable senator’s interjections, but I would rather open a question of this kind as it presents itself to my view, because, on this branch of it, I do not regard it, from the point of view of the Senate, as controversial in any way. The constitutional status on which the Senate has been modelled being as I have said, we have the absolute strength of this Chamber resting upon the authority of the people, the Senate of the United States on the other hand being elected by the d liferent State Conventions. On looking at the records of our Australian Conventions, one sees at once the wonderful unanimity with which all federalists agreed with what I may call the foundational - if I may coin a word - standing of the Senate. I shall turn to just one or two quotations from the speeches of the delegates in the Convention of 1S91. That was the first Convention in which you, Mr. President, and other honorable senators whom I see around me had a seat, and in which the principles upon which this Constitution was to be built up, were laid down in a fashion that I think has never been challenged. Upon that 0C caslon, Sir Samuel Griffith said - according to the official reports of the debates, page 37-
I am quite certain that the Senate will consider itself quite as good n House as the other House.
And I invite the attention of honorable’ senators especially to this -
I believe also, that the State Legislatures will insist upon its maintaining that position.
Is that not abundantly true - even more so now than when it was uttered ? Our position is that of a States House resting for its authority, not upon the possession of control over the Executive, but upon the voice of the people who have sent us here. In regard to that state of things the Bill of 1891, and Clause 53 in the existing Constitution, to which I invite the attention of honorable senator, are substantially identical. The Convention of 1S97 and 1898, great as its services were to federation, cannot claim the creation or the credit of this provision which has recently been so much in debate.
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives-
– “At any stage.”
– Yes, “ at any stage.” My honorable friend has got that little technical idea in his head, and T shall refer to it in a minute, when I hope to disabuse him of it.
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by Message, the. omission or amendments of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications.
That, as I say, was the same in the Bill of 1891, but there was this important and radical difference : The Senate, as proposed to be constituted under the Bill of 1891, was to be chosen by the State Legislatures, whereas under the Commonwealth Constitution as we now possess it, and as it emerged from the Convention of 1897 and 1898, it is to be elected by the people. Honorable senators will find that that is and has always been regarded as a most vital and important distinction. It was also held that nothing was more vita], having regard to this as the States House - as I shall show by one or two very short quotations - for the protection of State rights, than the effective control of appropriation Bills and taxation Bills by the Senate. It was conceded by almost every federalist speaker at that great Convention that it should be so, because underthe federal system - the foundation upon which this House rests, the very principle of its existence would be altogether illusory, unless, iri regard to these financial measures, there was some degree of effective control. At no convention of which I am aware was that position disputed by any federalist. I will not use the term “anti-federalists,” because that has an association with it which is now regarded as more or less unpleasant ; but unificationists, whilst not disputing the necessity for effective control from a certain point of view, resisted conferring that power upon the Senate. Some of my honorable friends who are now. in the other branch of the Commonwealth Legislature were persistent and vehement in their opposition to the power being conferred, not from a federal point of view, but from the point of view of unificationist* who desired the absolute and uncontrolled dominance in this Commonwealth of the larger States, or I will say the larger populations, as represented by the majority of the popular voice. That . was the great gulf which separated not federalists but unificationists from federalists throughout the conventions. Now, let me give honorable senators one or two quotations from the speeches of some of the most prominent men in those conventions, and they will see that I am justified in saying that never until now - and then only upon a matter which it seems to me, as I have already said, common sense, to say nothing of constitutional law, should dictate the proper course to be pursued - never until now has any question been raised from the federal stand-point as to the right of this House to veto in detail - that is the correct expression - as well as to veto in the lump. There is a far greater efficacy in the expression “ veto in detail “ than in the expression “amend or request amendment.” The only controversy was as to the mode in which that power should be conferred, but that there should be a power in this Senate to veto in detail, to avoid a greater evil, was never contested by any federalist uninfluenced by a desire for the dominance of the larger populations, so far as I have been able to discover. I find at page 31 of the official report of the Debates of the Convention of 1891, which is a repertory of principle, Sir Samuel Griffith in explaining that it would be impossible to have a federation in which we had a second Chamber analogous, to the ordinary Legislative Councils to which we -were accustomed, and speaking of their legislative subordination, is reported to have said - and nothing could be better -
The other House is a weaker, not so independent a body ; it can exercise at most a power of delay to prevent undue haste in Government ; but sooner or later it has to give way. But if von recognise the principle - and I think we must iE we are to get federation of the Australian colonies - that the States must also concur by a majority in every proposal, then one House cannot have that preponderating influence. There must be on all important matters a ‘deliberate and not a coerced concurrence of the two branches of the Legislature.
At page 32, referring to a resolution which you, Mr. President, will recollect - I had not the honor of being there - giving the House of Representatives the sole power, not only of originating, but of ‘amending, Money Bills, he says -
In respect of the concluding words of ‘the resolution, in which yon propose that the lower House should have the- sole power of originating and amending all the Bills appropriating revenue, or imposing taxation, I ‘desire to say that as at present advised it seems to me that that is quite inconsistent with the independent existence of the Senate as representing the separate State’s.
I say “ Amen “ to that proposition. If we are going to give the sole power of originating and amending- such Bills to the other branch of the Commonwealth Legislature, without any possible control on the part ‘Of this Senate, our existence as a -Senate is a perfect sham. I have now .another quotation to make which honorable senators will find at page 160 of the . report of the ‘debates of this Convention. I quote ‘from a speech ‘delivered upon the resolutions that were tabled at the Convention. The speaker from whom I quote, -dealing with the question whether the House of Representatives would have sufficient power, representing, as it does, the majority of the people, said- -
Surely the honorable member, Mr. Munro, will’ recognise that the majority which you will be able to command in the popular branch of the Assembly ought to be sufficient for all practical purposes.
Mr. Munro interjected “ Not if it is checkmated in the other Chamber.” And the speaker went on -to say -
Does the honorable delegate desire that the same Sway should be exercised by the Large States in the Senate as is enjoyed in the Assembly ?
Mr. Munro then said “ No ; I only want fair play,” and the speaker continued -
There must be a check, and a substantial check, and if the smaller States are only going to be offered something which is nominally a check, and which will not stand the test of -time and ‘use, it appears to me difficult to suppose that there will be any disposition on their part to enter into an alliance; by which they practically subordinate their powers and interest in every federal question to the decision of the majority in the National Assembly.
It was then interjected that the -extra population would be a sufficient safeguard, and the speaker went on to say -
Well, it appears to me that we are either going to have a Senate worthy pf ‘the name, or that we are not. If we are to have a Senate exercising no practical control over the course of legislation, we had better have only one Chamber.
That was said by my right honorable friend, Mr. Kingston, the present Minister for Trade . and Customs. He went on then specially to deal with the veto in -detail, and to declare -
I do think that they should have a power which was suggested by ‘the honorable ‘delegate from Queensland, ‘Sir Samuel Griffith, namely, the power of veto in detail in respect to Money Bills. I think that if that power is conceded - the power of which they are sought to be deprived by the resolutions it is our duty to consider - no very-great objection could be urged to the National Assembly retaining the power of originating Money ‘Bills, and, indeed, I do not know that I followed the argument which has been advanced by some, that it is necessary, if we give the power of amending Money Bills to the Senate, to give “them also control over the Executive. But I confess that when those -who -opposed -the strengthening of the Senate by conferring upon it the power of vetoing .Money Bills in detail argues that if you conferred that power 3’ou must also give them control over ‘the Executive, I -failed to follow the argument. And dealing with another argument -which has been advanced - that responsible government is incompatible with a Parliament consisting of two Chambers - one possessing the power of vetoing Money Bills - if there is anything in that argument, and I confess that I do not see .any force in itwhat is ‘the result when it -is followed out ?
Then he goes on to show that we should be brought face to face -with a difficulty with regard to responsible government, and -at page 163 ‘he is reported to have said -
My present inclination - and I think lam justified in expressing my views at this stage of the proceedings in a ‘tentative form - is to give the Senate the right of amending all Money Bills - not of increasing the burden, but simply of exercising the power of veto in detail . My present idea ‘is that no-exception- should prevail, because, of course, in Appropriation Bills, by the aids of devices- of which history affords various instances, the most important questions can be raised, and any House which does not possess the ‘power of amending or of vetoing Money-Bills in detail can be subjected to disadvantages ‘which practically render it -powerless. ‘
This is an authorative statement, to which I shall have occasion to refer in a minute. My honorable friend Senator Dobson, who was a member of the Convention of 1897-8, stated at Adelaide, in most appropriate language, that there must be a Senate to take an active part in the financial operations of the Commonwealth. Can there be any Bill which more than aTariff Bill might essentially affect State interests? It will be recollected thatduring the progress of this very Tariff Bill through the Senate there were instances, some of which have been acknowledged, and others of which have been the subject of taunts, as to the influence which State interests exerted on the minds of honorable senators. Such influence there must necessarily be. We had Queensland greatly interested in the question of sugar and sugar duties, and Tasmania interested in the duties in the opposite direction.
– Did the honorable and learned member say the “hop-posite” direction ?
– And in relation to the matter which affords Senator Styles an opportunity for a most entertaining pun, we had Tasmania affected by the question of hops. Then we had South Australia affected, as was suggested, by thequestion of salt , and also, I believe, of ploughshares. We had the question of State interests introduced inconnexion with the Tariff, or amendments of the Tariff, as affecting the revenues of the different States. And could there be anything of greater consequence to the States? I never deprecated for a moment the arguments addressed to theSenate , in regard to the effect of the various alterations tin the Tariff on the revenues of the different States - I never underrated them, although, of course, honorable senators may have disagreed on points raised. If it were necessary to give even a stronger illustration of the great effect, ; from the States point of view, which a Tariffmay have, I need only ask honorable senators to remember that in the United States, . in 1833, there was as nearly as possible a revolution, or secession, not on the grounds of free-trade or protection, as ordinarily understood in the Cobdenite sense, but on the ground that it was unconstitutional to levy taxes which were, in effect, differential, and which aided the manufacturers of one State at the expense of the agriculturists of another State. In that admirable little compendium, Woodrow Wilson’s Congressional Government, at page 198, there is a short paragraph, which I may be permitted to read : -
It (the Tariff question) ran suddenly to the front as a militant party question in 1833, not as if a great free-trade movement had been set afoot, which was , to anticipate the mission of Cobden and Bright, but as an issue between federal taxation and the constitutional privileges of , the States. The agricultural States were being, as they thought, very cruelly trodden down under the iron heel of that protectionist policy to whose enthronement they had themselves consented, and they fetched their hope of escape from the Constitution. The Federal Government unquestionabry possessed, the3’ admitted, and that by direct grant of the fundamental law, the right to impose duties on imports : but didthat right carry with it the privilege of laying discriminating duties for other purposes than that of raising legitimate revenue ? Could the Constitution have meant that South Carolina might be taxed to maintain the manufactures of New England ?
That, to me at any sate, affords an illustration of the importance, from the States rights point of view, of even Tariff questions ; and there are other questions, so far as direct effects are concerned, which may arise in connexion with these particular Bills. Effective control must necessarily be established in the interests of federation, and for the protection of the States. And how is that control to be exercised? That we may veto the whole of a Bill is of course clear - thatwe may reject or disaffirm a Bill is undoubted. But that is a very unsatisfactory way, calculated to precipitate conflicts in relation to Billsof this description. What the framers of the Constitution asked themselves was - “Is there another way out?” Surely it is better that one item in 10,000 should be taken exception to and, if the Senate feels strongly, its omission insisted on,than that the Senate, in order to give effect to a principle, should be driven to reject the whole Bill ?
SenatorFraser. - Surely the greater includes the lesser ?
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON.It does not in the case of Legislati ve Councils. But where this constitutionalcontrol is given to a Federal Senate, it follows, “as the night the day,” that there should be what the lawyers call a via media-. - an effective middle course. It is obvious that the Senate cannot have an effective power of refusing assent to taxation or expenditure unless it can do so in detail.
– Unless it can do so effectively.
– My honorable friend has anticipated me - unless the Senate can do so effectively, as well as, of course, considerately. It is effective if the Senate reject the Bill - nothing could be more effective than that - but the rejection of the Bill may mean confusion cast throughout the land. If the Senate’s objection is to one item in an Appropriation Bill or in a Taxation Bill - an item to which some of the States may have a strong antipathy. - why should the Senate not take exception to it and ask the other House - as the Constitution empowers and obliges us to do - to consider the objection fairly and justly ? Then if not satisfied with the conclusions and reasons of the House of Representatives, why should we not be at liberty to insist on the position, which our loyalty to our constituents and to our States obliges us to take up, and declare, if necessary, that we will not have the Bill with the blemish which we consider it contains ? I state the proposition with the most absolute fearlessness of contradiction, that the framers of the Constitution intended the Senate to have the power of vetoing in detail, for the very excellent reason that there was far greater danger in not giving the power than in giving it. I have quoted the views expressed at a time before the basis of the constitution of this Chamber had been absolutely decided, though no doubt my honorable friend, Mr. Kingston, anticipated that this Chamber would derive its authority from the choice of the people. Sir Samuel Griffith, on the question as to vetoing in detail, is reported at page 39, as follows: -
With regard to the imposition of taxation, I would not allow the Senate to originate taxation, but I would allow them to veto - to refuse toaccept taxation.
An Honorable Member. - Would the honorable member allow them to do so in detail?
Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH. To veto in detail.
– That was the whole question right through.
– It was the whole question. Sir Samuel Griffith continued : -
For instance, suppose the House of Representatives proposed to impose a land tax, and, I will say, an income tax, together in one Bill, why should not the Senate, representing the States, have the power of dealing with each proposal ? Aland tax might be in one State or in several States a most just and proper thing, while in other States it might be most unfair and improper. So with an income tax. It might be very fair, it might be easily collected, convenient, and desirable with respect to one State, while it might be absolutely impossible with respect to another.
Why should not the Senate have the power of veto ? Why should not the Senate have the power of saying -“ We will have the one, but not the other ?”
The logical conclusion, no doubt, would be to give complete power of amendment; and, following that conclusion, the President, Sir Richard Baker, who was one of the. delegates from South Australia at the Convention of 1891, proposed to put the two Houses on a footing of absolute equality. Sir Richard Baker submitted an amendment, which was subsequently changed in form, and it can be found on page 707: A long debate ensued, in which some who afterwards became members of this Chamber, took part. Everybody conceded that the power of origination should rest with the other House, the power of vetoing in detail being considered sufficient for the Senate. The Convention was not prepared to go the length of taking away from the House of Representatives the exclusive power of originating Money Bills, which is the foundation ofthe operation of responsible government under a Federal Constitution. Personally, I should probably have been found opposing Sir Richard Baker’s amendment, but I cannot deny that it was the logical outcome of the principle to which the federalists in the Convention had assented. Sir Samuel Griffith and others opposed the amendment for reasons which are plain. Sir Samuel Griffith, never departing from the position he had taken up in regard to effective control by the Semite, said -
As to the ordinary annual Appropriation Bill, the senators have to express their wishes in a manner different from that in which they express them in regard to other Bills. The same with regard to taxation Bills. .
Honorable senators will see that this is merely a difference in manner, not in substance. The request to amend is a difference in form, not in reality. If it is not a difference in reality, the difference amounts to nothing: Amendment and request are, in practice, identical. If it is merely that the Senate is to say, cap in hand - “ By your leave,” or “ With your leave,” it is no request at all. It cannot give an effective control to this Chamber in regard to Bills of this description. Further on, Sir Samuel Griffith said : -
And with these exemptions the powers of the two Houses are co-ordinate. I think it is a very reasonable compromise, and all those in this convention who really desire to see a federation of Australia brought about, might fairly accept it or something like it.
Then Senator Downer said, at page 716, and I think his words will commend themselves to most honorable senators : -
But if this Constitution is to be interpreted by analogy, and the relation to Constitutions that have preceded it, with those with which we are most familiar, and if this power of making requests is after all to be merely an ad miscricordium appeal from the Senate to the House of Representatives, to oblige them by making this or that amendment, the Senate telling them in effect in the same breath that if they do nob make it, they, the Senate, will not insist upon it; then this provision, clear as it may be in the letter, is nevertheless a delusion and a sham, and will bring about in no way what the words would express.
– A lot of legal cobwebs !
– I must say that I do not regard this in any sense as a legal cobweb. It is something far different, from that. It is no legal cobweb that the Senate should be careful of the power which it believes it possesses. If the Senate does not possess this power, let us know at the ‘ earliest possible moment. But if we have no doubt that we possess it, then for our satisfaction, and for the information of the people of Australia, who are relying upon us as a Senate - I do not say on this Tariff Bill merely, but in regard to other matters - let us say so without any qualification or any possible hesitation.
– May it not come to be a question of law which the High Court may have to decide?
– I think not. And here I take the opportunity of saying that I agree with some of my honorable friends in the other Chamber in think-, ing that the High Court cannot possibly decide this question.
– It would place the High Court above the Parliament.
– It is a matter to be decided by the Parliament itself, and no High Court can, in my humble judgment, interfere in a question of this kind between the two Houses of the Parliament. Therefore, do not let us try to escape from justly forming and -from holding our views upon the matter, by any possibility of our being able to lift our responsibility from our own shoulders and to transfer it to the shoulders of some one else. Sir William McMillan, in another place, made a remark upon which I must offer some comment. Here let me say that this is a question to be decided without any considerations of party whatever. There is no element of party in it in any shape or form. Of course I cannot refer to the debates in the other Chamber, but I might state that I know my honorable friend Sir -William McMillan has been good enough to say - I will not say where - that the Senate has the power of making suggestions, an altogether weaker position, according to him, than that of making amendments. I take entire exception to- the view of Sir William McMillan upon the subject. He may be right, I may be wrong ; but I do not regard our position as weaker, and I shall show, by one or two other quotations from the debates of the Conventions - from speeches contributed by honorable senators and by honorable members of another place - that the two powers are equally effective. My honorable friend Senator Playford, in the course of the debate from which I have previously quoted, said, on page 734 - what, I think, we shall all agree with - in recalling the position in South Australia, where we had worked under a somewhat analogous system for between 20 and 30 years -
The Upper House have the right to make suggestions, and those suggestions - taking the case as showing how the system would work if it were adopted for the Commonwealth - have been as respectfully treated and considered by the Lower House as any amendment which has ever been made in connexion with any Bill.
– Hear, hear ; what is the difference 1
– No difference. And my right honorable friend, Mr. Kingston, in opposing the enlargement of the power sought to be given by the amendment proposed by the President of this Senate, gave in his adhesion to what we may call this compromise. On what ground? On the ground that the Convention of 1891 had decided that the Senate should be chosen by the State Parliaments, and not by the direct voice of the people. That difficulty has been removed. We have preserved the compromise, but the difficulty - or weakness - in relation to the constitution of the Senate has been removed ; and we have now, Mr. President, the Senate chosen upon the very foundation which the right honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs declared at the outset would have been sufficient to justify the direct power of amendment in detail. Are those of us who seek toexercise these powers desiring any encroachment? We are content with less power- -in form, at any rate - -than would have been given to us if in the first instance under the Bill of 1891 this Senate had been founded upon the choice of the people. My right honorable friend Mr. Kingston’s words are so excellent on this subject that perhaps I may be permitted to read them. He said, at page 735, in alluding to the fact thathe was offering a view which might appear to be somewhat inconsistent with the opinion he had previously expressed, that he would give his reasons for the vote he intended to record -
My reasons are shortly these : That the Senate us it will be constituted under the provisions of the Bill which we have before uswill be entirely different from the Senate as I hoped it would have been constituted under the measure which recommended itself to the adoption of the Convention. A good deal was made during the course of the initiatory debate of the resemblance which it was supposed might exist between : the Senate and the upper branches of legislatureas we are generally accustomed to them ; but emphasis was laid, and it appears to me most properly, on the probability that there would be little or no resemblance between the two Chambers, but that the Senate, as created by the Constitution of the Commonwealth,would be simply a body elected by the same electors voting in different constituencies.
I entirely agree with my right honorable friend that it was essential to the constitution of the Senate, and essential to its exercise of its powers, andto its claim to the great powers confided to it, that itsconstitution should restupon the authority of the people -
Now I wouldventure to ask if this is the position under the Bill. I hold that itisnot ; that it is altogether different. . Instead of the Senate representing the same body of electors as those who will return members to the House of Representatives, it will represent a much more limited class. We have provided that the Senate shall be chosen by the two Houses of the various local Parliaments. We have distinctly prohibited the people ofthe various. States from the exercise of any power which theymight desire to possess as regards the direct choice of theirrepresentatives in the Senate. The sense of the Convention was taken on a directmotion affecting the question, and we now find it declared asthe deliberate will and purpose of the Convention thatthepeople-ns a whole shall be deprived of any directvote in the choice of senators, and that thepower of election shall beconfided to the two branches of the local Legislature. What does that amount to?
My right honorable friend asked what that amounts to. And according to him it amounts to this -
That an equal voice will be recorded in all cases which are most favorable to the exercise of popularlights to a limited class, representative, not of the general body of the people, but of personspossessing a property qualification.
With that, I generally agree ; . and I should have been one of the last, if that system of electing this Senate had been embodied in the Constitution, to say that its powers should be enlarged in the way I now most strenuously contend we find themunder the Constitution. My right honorable friend Mr. Kingston also said -
I would have been perfectly agreeable - and I have hithertoargued in favour of giving the Senate large powers in the direction of the protection and preservation ofState rights and interests - if the Senate were constituted by the direct voice of the people -
So it is now - but I am not prepared , to advocate any such course when I find that, instead of a Senate of the character which would be constituted under the Constitutionthat we propose to adopt, we have altogether , a different body - one in which there is no guarantee that the voice of the people will prevail - and that an equal vote in the decision of the election of senators is confided to sections of the community in some colonies, and in other colonies tothose who may simply happen to be the nominees ofthe Government that isin power.
Then he says again -
I for one have no faith in a Senate that, is constituted without direct-election by the pepple - over which the people have no control, or over which the people have only the control to the most limited- extent which is provided here.
During the same debate, my honorable friend the ActingPrime Minister -expressed himself in a very short sentence substantially to the same effect in saying that, whilst the power of the Senate was to rest upon-the choice of the StatesParliaments, it would be necessary to curtail its powers. But he went on to say.that,if theSenate were elected by the directvoteof the people, the demands ofthe people would possibly take adifferent. direction-that is, the direction of the Senate having itspowers in relation to Money Bills enlarged. What does that mean ? It means thatto givean effective control to this SenateOver Money Bills, as well as overother Bills, was oneof the cardinalprinciples of the Constitution, the onlydifficulty being as to how it was to be exercised. You, Mr. President, proposed a method which would have left it beyond doubt, not only that we had an effective power, but that the powers of the Housesin all respects, and in every direction, were co-equal. The Convention adopted a different method. They said - “ We must give an effective control, but we will give it by a system of veto in detail. As a matter of courteous concession to the forms of centuries in Houses differently constituted, existing for a different purpose, Tike the House of Lords and the House of Commons, in their relations to each other, we can give it in a different manner.” And the manner they adopted was by analogy to that which had prevailed for many years in South Australia - the method of requesting amendments. Now, the power to request to amend is in substance, though not in form, equivalent to amendment. It was, and is still, so regarded. Sir William McMillan said in 1891-I quote again from the instructive debates of that Convention, which, I am afraid, are often overlooked - in suggesting that there ought to be direct power of amendment -
Why, you introduce anew principle here which was never heard of before.
Then he goes onto say -
As my honorable friend opposite said, the Senate will not come to the Lower House in the dignified position of a Chamber offering advice, and givingsuggestions byrightof its legislative power.
Mr. Play ford. They would if it were so enacted.
Mr. McMILLAN. They would come, as has been properly said, with an ad miseri- cordiam appeal, asking the other Chamberto be gracious and kind enough to take their suggestions into consideration.
Mr.Playford. - No.
What does that mean? Either it is simply a case of offering advice, orit is preferring a request which we can enforce. Later on Sir William McMillan said -
Then their amendments will go down to the Lower House, not as suggestions, but in the ordinary constitutional way.Supposingthe Lower House accepts half of the amendments and rejects half of them, we can make it absolutely necessary when theBill is returned to the Upper Chamber for that body to either accept or reject it.
Mr.Playford.- It is the samething, only in different words.
Later on Mr. Playford, on page 758, used these words -
The difference between sending down amendments from the Senate, and sending suggestions, is the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. The practical result will be the same, whether amendments or suggestions are sent from the Senateto the House of Representatives.
Can there be any doubt about the matter? But if these requests are not to be entertained, or if they are to be summarily rejected, or if we are to accept their rejection once as absolutely final, the whole position that forall constitutional purposes requests are equivalent to amendments entirely disappears. Sir Joseph Abbott took up a similar position. He said -
I cannot see where there is much difference between amendment and suggestion.
Again he observed : -
It is practically absolutely the same as amendment.
At the Adelaide Convention the matter was again reviewed and debated, and these statements were repeated. The present Speaker of theHouseof Representatives, Sir Frederick Holder, entertained a similar view, whilst Mr. Reid, who, an the interests of the largest State, NewSouth Wales, was really in favour of what in effect was a unification as against federation, based his opposition , to theproposal togrant the Senate the power of requesting amendments upon the ground that it was in substance and effect the same as the po wer of amendment. The Bill tin theform in which it came from the constitutional committee ofthe Convention of 1897 gave the Senate equal power with the House of Representatives in regard to taxation Bills, and confined the limitation as to requests to amend to appropriation Bills. Mr. Reid moved anamendment to subject the Senate’s powers as to taxation Bills to the same limitation; in other words, to include taxation Bills where they now stand in clause 53.His amendment was carried by a majority of only two votes, the very considerable minority thinking that whilst Bills appropriating the ordinary expenditure of the year should be placed upon a different footing from other measures, and should not be soreadily liable to be dealt with, itwas consideredthat taxation Bills should beplaced, so to speak, at the unrestricted disposal of the Senate. In the debate which ensued, the whole contest turned uponwhether or notthepower of request, even in the case of taxation orappropriation Bills, was as good as thepower of amendment for all purposes of effective control. In his desire - I will not say to belittle this Chamber, but to diminish its powers -
Mr. Reid, thestrongestopponentof any control by the Senate, subsequently moved to strike out the whole of the provision relating to the power of request. In the course of that debate he observed - as honorable senators will see by a reference to the official report of the proceedings - pages 1997-8 -
I confess I cannot see an3’ difference between allowing the Senate to amend money Bills by altering them, and requesting the concurrence of the Lower House in the alteration, and not altering the Bill, but sending down a suggestion that a Bill should be altered in the other House in a similar form.
I thoroughly agree with those remarks. Again, on page 1998, in replying to an interjection by Sir John Forrest, who advocated clothing the Senate with unlimited power in the matter of dealing with money Bills, he is reported to have said -
I defer very much to the right honorable member on many points, but on this point I’ have an authority of greater weight, that of Sir Samuel Griffith, who was one of the chief authors of this Draft Bill as it stood in 1891. I notice that he, in his Notes on the Draft federal Constitution framed at Adelaide in 1807, makes these observations : - “Whether the mode i n which the Senate should express its desire for an alteration in Money Bills is by an amendment in which the3’ request the concurrence of the House of Representatives as i n other cases, or by a suggestion that the desired amendment should be made by the Lower House, as of its own motion, seems to be a matter of minor importance. A strong Senate will compel attention to its suggestions ; a weak one would nob insist on its amendments.”
That opinion, coming from Sir Samuel Griffith, who then stood outside the arena of controversial politics, must certainly carry very great weight. I think that the passages to which I have directed attention conclusively show that the framers of the Constitution - at any rate, all those who were federalists and desired to obtain a true federal constitution, in opposition to the comparative few who advocated a unification - were in favour of three things. They desired that the Senate should have an effective control over Money Bills as well as other Bills. They held that that control was necessary to the proper exercise of its functions as a States House. The only difficulty was in determining the mode in which that control. should be exercised without doing unnecessary violence to the feelings of those who all their political lives had been accustomed to a system quite foreign to that of Federal Houses of Parliament. After exhaustive debate the method adopted was that of giving the Senate substantially the power of amendment, but giving it in the form of a request to the House in which Money Bills originate. There has never been any doubt that these requests are not a mere ad misericordiam appeal to be withdrawn the moment there is a breath of opposition to them. They were intended to be reiterated again and again if the adoption of that course were necessary to insure their full consideration, and the avoidance of mischief which might otherwise be brought about. Common sense shows that the framers of the Constitution were upon sound ground when they adopted that view, and they are to be congratulated upon the form which the power of control finally took. There is no limitation in the Constitution in regard to the number of times a request may be repeated. The power of request does not mean that we are to abandon it the moment we make it if the persons to whom it is addressed say, “ No.” We are all acquainted with the request of the importunate widow which was only conceded after it had been repeated times without number. Surely, when a person is given the power to make a request - unless the contrary is expressly stated - he is not debarred from civilly and courteously repeating it a second time ? Power to request means to request as often as necessary till the request is granted, unless there is some prohibition and penalty against its repetition. Of course, it is just possible that when repeated it may meet with the same fate as it originally met. But, in this case, it is hoped that it is .addressed to men who will view it from a statesmanlike stand-point. Surely that is the interpretation which we should place upon the Constitution rather than that which was attempted to be placed upon it in the early days of the Senate’s sittings, by an insistence upon the rigid dictionary meaning of a particular word - a technical interpretation which might be all very well in the Banco Court, but which certainly should not appeal to men in practical politics. W e have to work out a Constitution which admittedly is not intended to be exhaustive, but which is rather designed to be a skeleton which has to be clothed with flesh and blood, according to the necessities of the times. In support of that view I may mention - though it will scarcely be credited - that in the Convention of 1891 Sir William McMillan submitted a motion conferring upon the Senate the direct power to amend Money Bills, but depriving it of the power to send a Bill batik more than once, with any amendment not agreed to by the House of Representatives. It is a singular commentary upon what has been taking place, and what is referred to in this preamble. The proposal was that the Senate should be deprived of the power of sending back a measure with any amendment to which the House of Representatives had not agreed. It was sought to place upon the Senate by the Constitution the obligation of affirming or rejecting a Bill after it had once sent it back to the House of Representatives with amendments. The Convention rejected that proposal with scorn. What is suggested now 1 What is hinted at in this preamble ? What is the feeling that is being generated outside and in the public journals ? Why, the very same thing which Sir William McMillan proposed, and to which no Convention would listen. The contention is, we exhausted our power when we made requests the first time. We have to deal with the matter from its largest point of view. What was sought to be done in 1891 was to give direct power of amendment to the Senate, but not to allow us to send back amendments more than once. That proposal was defeated, and its defeat threw a new light upon the power to request amendments which has been retained. In conformity with what we should expect, the right to repeat requests is, and was, intended to be unlimited.
– Then the power to request is larger than the power to amend.
– No : but it is larger than the power of amendment proposed by Sir William McMillian, with the disability that the amendments should be sent to the House of Representatives only once. Sir Samuel Griffith laid his finger upon the absolute vice of the amendment proposed by Sir William McMillan when he said that he rejected an amendment so hampered, adding, with the utmost truth, “ an amendment so hampered would weaken the Senate.” What is left to us 1 The power to request amendments, but not subject to the vice associated with Sir William McMillan’s proposal. It seems to me abundantly clear that if we are to draw any inference at all - though I do not wish to draw any strong inference in this matter from the words of a member of the Convention or of any one else - it is that requests may be repeated courteously and civilly, until the two Chambers come to an agreement, or, if the questions at issue are important enough, to an absolute deadlock. There are two other matters to which I wish to call attention in regard to the repetition of requests. The honorable and learned member for North Melbourne moved during the Melbourne session of the Convention that the words “ at any stage,” in section 53, be struck out. To my mind, if those words had been struck out the effect of the provision would not have been altered, thoughit might appear to have been enlarged. The honorable and learned member did not move for their omission with a view to enlarge the provision, but in order to limit it by inserting the word “ once.” The Convention, without any hesitation, and, if my recollection be correct, on the voices, rejected that amendment. It was not intended by them that the sending of requests should be limited to one occasion. When I heard it argued that the words “at any stage” were to be interpreted in the technical parliamentary sense as referring to stages such as the first, second, and third readings of a Bill, I was shocked that an attempt should be made to place so rigid, narrow, and ironbound a construction upon a great instrument of constitutional government..
– The honorable and learned member for Indi, who set up that theory, confessed that he did not know what is meant by a stage of a Bill.
– I think that that is the most generous explanation to offer for his contention. Looking at the matter apart from any rigidity, narrowness, or technicality, the words “ at any stage “ are equivalent to “at any step.” Of course that does not settle the matter; but “at any step “ would mean at any step in the progress of the consideration of a measure, and such a step is taken when a committee reports progress, when consideration in committee is resumed, when the committee’s report is brought up for adoption, and when a Message is sent to the other Chamber. I do not, however, wish to discuss that matter now, because we may have other opportunities of doing so ; but I desire, with the greatest deference, to state my view that the expression “ at any stage “ in no way solves any question that may arise in regard to the interpretation of the subsection. Of course that does not settle the matter, because the contention is that whether the words mean! at any step in the consideration of a* Bill, or at any stage in the limited parliamentary sense, the same requests cannot be repeated. I have already dealt with that contention,, and shown that, upon no constitutional principle, upon no fair and right-minded consideration of the nature of the instrument with which we are dealing - which is an. instrument of constitutional government not meant to be exhaustive in. its details, which we wish to make workable- in- every way to subserve the great ends in view - can it commend itself for a moment to those who. take these matters into deliberation. It has also been said that the words “if it. thinks fit” give some greater power to, or throw some further light upon the dominant power of, the House of Representatives. We do not wish to talk about consequences now. We are dealing with the matter ‘just as it stands, when Renewals of Requests, conceived in what I believe to be a spirit of statesmanship, and sent back to, the other House with, a: Message framed ia the spirit of courtesy, have come again, to us after having been dealt with there. The words. “if it thinks fit,” were struck out by the drafting committee, because the members of that, committee no doubt considered, as the Prime Minister considered,that they added nothing to the effect of the provision beyond what is given to it by the word “may.” The House of Representatives has the same power with regard to requests, but to my thinking, no more than,, it has with regard to amendments, sent down by the Senate. It may, if it thinks fit, agree or disagree to our amendments in an ordinary Bill. The words, “if it thinks fit,” convey no larger power in regard to requests. Whendealing, with the motion of the honorable and learned member for Indi in the Convention, for the re-insertion of the words, Sir Edmund Barton declared - and I entirely agree with him-‘ - that there would be no real difference in the meaning of the section, whether the words were or were not le111serted. No one can doubt for a moment that the drafting committee, whose members were among, the most experienced members of the Convention, were right, in eliminating, the words, upon the ground that they made no difference to the meaning, of the provision, and placed the House of Representatives in no stronger or more different position than it held, with regard to ordinary amendments. The Prime Minister held the view which I held, that it is only by treating requests as amendments that they can be made in any degree effective. The- power of making requests is given- to the Senate. How is it to be made effective? Is it to be made effective by holding out our hand and. then withdrawing it, or by persisting in our requests, not to the point of insisting, upon what may beminor matters, but upon what, may bematters of the highest importance ? As the Attorney-General said in 1891, if you endow the Senate with special powers, you do so for the purpose of their exercising them. That is our position. We also stand in the position which the AttorneyGeneral put in the. strongest way possible), that in certain contingencies we must take whatever course we consider open to us with the responsibility of having to face our constituents - the people of the country - just as the House of Representatives must do. I have never deviated from.’ the position that there should be effective responsible government,- but it seems to me that that can be secured consistently with the Senate’s powers and the claims embodied in sending the same requests in. a second Message or any number of Message.”. I agree with Sir Samuel Griffith, that one House must have the responsibility of originating expenditure and taxation,: and, therefore, to that extent will have a controlling influence. That is the basis of- the control of the other Chamber.- I do not seek to qualify in any degree its power to originate Money Bills, whether Appropriation Bills or Taxing Bills. But, when we have a reference to standing orders or joint standing orders, and the suggestion that confusion or difficulty is caused by their absence, I repudiate such a position. No standing orders cam affect our rights ; they cannot be the subject of standing orders. Standing orders can apply only to matters of procedure, and whatever view is taken, the Senate will not be likely to relinquish its. rights or diminish its powers by the adoption of, standing, orders which it may be asked to pass for the regulation of the procedure between the two Chambers. I am certain that Senator O’Connor will agree with me in that. As I have said, I submit my views from the constitutional aspect of the Senate and as a senator. I ask myself - “ What is the sum of it all ? Where do we, as the Senate of the Commonwealth, now stand ?” To me the position is eminently satisfactory. The- powers of the Senate- and its functions have not beendeflected in any way ; nor do they represent any encroachment in any way upon the powers of another Chamber, nor up to the present moment has the arm of the Senate in these matters been shortened one hair’s breadth, so far as I can see, in. fulfilling, what we believe to be the great part given to the. Chamber by the Constitution.. Laws appropriating revenue or imposing taxation are not to originate in the Senate. The true significance of that provision in the Constitution has not yet been determined. The question has not arisen. Its scope, its significance, and its limitations have not yet been considered. I make no predictions whatever in regard to it ; nor doI inquire at this moment as to the outcome in case there should be at any time a conflict between the two Houses - which, in my belief, is not likely to: arise now* - upon the- point which we have reached. I do not seek to anticipate any solution of matters which- have not yet arisen ; nor do I desire to import any doubts into them. But, conceding to the House of Representatives the exclusive right to originate Money Bills, I claim that in respect- of these financial proposals the power of the Senate is co-ordinate - not superior or dominant, in any way or under any colour, but co-ordinate- in substance with that of the House of Representatives. I ask no more, and I, for one, shall be content” with no less. I think that position marks the constitutional high-road which we have travelled in defiling, with the Customs -Tariff Bill. It is for that reason that I think it was unwise to agitate the public mind with any doubtupon the subject. Equally with the Houseof Representatives we have dealt” with every line and detail of the proposed taxation To have done so without the power in some way or other to enforce the opinion of the Senate- would have been ian absolute waste of time. Of that I think there can be no doubt; A constitution under which such a condition of things would be possible would deserve not eulogy but contempt. It would deserve to be blotted out of the system of government of any self-respecting nation: I cannot understand how such a contention could be raised for one moment. The Senate has made- - I do not wish to use any controversial word at this stage - what some of us think are improvements in the Tariff.. Others - may think differently, but, at all events, we have made changes just as the House of Representatives has done, and I am glad- to think that the Bill, whatever may be its final shape, will carry more or less theimpress of the Senate’s work upon it. We have conveyed our conclusions in the usual way to .another place, and the House of Representatives have, by their- action,, recognised our rights and respected the power which we have respectfully and, I hope, courteously, used. Mere doubts as to procedure are, I think, the. strongest affirmation of the- existence of the. power, and I rejoice that the constitutional status - theconstitutional eminence - of the Senate at this point stands secure. - I rejoice that it has risen to the height of the duties conferred upon it by the framers of the Constitution, and that is has answered the purpose for which it was designed. I hope that not one of us, or of those who may come after us, will retire one step from the position we now occupy. 1 hope that when the necessity arises we shall advance to the full altitude of what I . think the framers of the Constitution expected of the Senate, and of what the people of this country expect of us. It is from that point of vie* that it- seems to me- we may fix our attitude in regard to the only real and business part of the Message that we are considering. I should have preferred to regard the preamble as being, simply an excrescence, but it invites us to express our own views, to define our attitude, and to indicate that attitude respectfully to another place. Probably, I should not be in. oi-der in referring now to the items of the Tariff, but I may be permitted to- say that, if the amendment is adopted, T presume- that what will be referred to the committee will only be the requests which have been dealt with by another place. Probably we shall not have an opportunity - nor will it be necessary - to in. any way refer to the committee the - early portion or what I call the exordium or preamble. If the amendment be carried I think the way will be clear, so far as any of these matters are concerned, to deal with the substantial and real part of the Message; and I shall counsel my honorable friends to join with me in considering, in a spirit cf conciliation - I may say in a spirit of magnanimity - the further views of the House of Representatives in reference to our requests.
– The magnanimity of the majority.
– I do not know that my honorable friend need interpose with that remark. At all events I prefer to take no notice of it. The. Tariff has been in progress for eleven months, and I agree that during this period of uncertainty business has been disturbed ; that merchants, manufacturers, and consumers alike have been inconvenienced, and that, owing to the unsettled condition occasioned by the progress of the Tariff, they may have been injured. States which we more particularly represent, as well as individuals, have been more or less affected, and none of us, probably, would be justified, unless under irresistible pressure, in prolonging that condition of affairs. Even Tariffs are finite ; good ones are not immutable, and bad ones, such as this, carry in themselves the seeds of their own dissolution. My honorable friends opposite will not be able to accuse me of having held out much hope of permanence for this Tariff in whatever shape . it may be placed on the statute-book. But it is in the spirit I have indicated that I wish to approach the consideration of these details in committee. If the preamble gets into committee other considerations may be raised, but in that regard I shall reserve my course of action until the preamble does appear in committee. I hope it will not reach the committee, but if it, does I shall take an early opportunity of indicating what I propose in regard to the whole Message. I trust, however, that the Senate will be true to itself and its own dignity. I trust that the present sitting will not close without a clear expression of opinion as to our undoubted rights and priviliges, and even as regards the Tariff itself without a good and faithful deliverance. I move the amendment.
– - I think that np one who has watched the course of debate in this Chamber can accuse either my honorable and learned colleague or myself of having ever attempted - or of having lent ourselves in any way to any attempt - to minimise the power of the Senate. I consider that one of the highest duties which the Government owe to Australia is to the best of their ability to see that the Constitution is faithfully and loyally carried out as the Convention intended it to be carried out. It, undoubtedly,, was one of the prominent features of the Constitution, as carried by the Convention, that the Senate should be a House with an effective control over legislation of every kind. I do not intend to follow my honorable and learned friend into his very interesting references to the opinions of members of the Convention as to the meaning, and intention of the section, providing that laws appropriating revenue or imposing taxation are not to originate in the Senate, because it appears to me that it is sufficient for us to look at the crystallized effect of all these clashing opinions in the Constitution itself, and the Constitution itself speaks with no uncertain voice as to what the powers of the Senate are. The powers of the Senate are expressed in very clear and plain language. It seems to me of very little importance whether we describe those powers as powers of amendment or powers of request, because certain powers of action are given to the Senate according to its own discretion, and they may or may not result in the same effect as amendments. It appears to me that it is merely idle controversy to endeavour to distinguish requests from amendments, or, on the other hand, to endeavour to show that they are the same as amendments. The powers which the Constitution gives the Senate are powers to make requests upon any of these subjects, where they cannot make amendments, at any time which comes within the definition of the words of the Constitution, “at any stage.” I do not intend to enter into the controversy as to what the meaning of those words may be, because I agree with my honorable and learned friend Senator Symon that we must regard this section as a section intended to make easy the working of responsible government between these two Houses. It was the result of a compromise which recognised that the Senate would be, and must be, an entirely different body from the Legislative Councils or Upper Houses of the different States. But it also recognised that it would be impossible for this Constitution to work unless there was such a difference in the powers of the Senate and the “powers of the House of Representatives as made responsible government possible.
Therefore, there is given to the Senate power to make suggestions, and by the words of the section this power seems to me to be limited only by the discretion of the Senate itself in exercising it. At the same time there is a power given to the House of Representatives, at any time arid under any circumstances it thinks fit, to exercise its discretion not to accede to requests. That is the strength and power of the House of Representatives, and it appears to me’ that that power may be exercised on the first occasion, the second, third, or fourth occasion, or at any stage upon which the House of Representatives thinks fit to put its foot down and say- “ There shall be no more requests acceded to.” That being the position of things, each House having a very large discretion, an almost unlimited discretion, as to how it will exercise its powers, it is quite evident that the legislative machine cannot go on unless those powers are exercised with a reasonable regard to the position of the Houses in any scheme of responsible, government. There is no difficulty whatever as to the powers of the Senate in exercising its right to make requests according to its own discretion. There can be no question either about the power of the House of Representatives at any time to refuse those requests, and it is only by the reasonable exercise of those powers, and by the exercise of those powers in view of the necessities and the welfare of Australia, that any legislation can be consummated. Now, under these circumstances, how is the working of these Houses to be regulated ? I say it is not regulated, and never can be regulated, by affirmations or denials in one House or the other. It can only be regulated by the actual working out of practical questions between the two Houses. I think there can be no doubt that in time to come, as the experience of actual dealings between the two Houses teaches them what in effect must be the limitations of either House, a working method will be adopted between the two Houses which will enable both of them to carry out the business of the country. But that method can be arrived at only by the concessions which will be made by either House to the necessities of the position and to the welfareof the community. If either House insisted upon exercising its rights unduly, legislation would become impossible, and it appears to me that it will be the case in this Constitution, as in every other, that, where a power is given, that power can be exercised only up to the point at which the whole community think it is reasonable to exercise it. That will be so with regard to the powers of both Houses. I have made these general observations with a view of pointing out what the real position is here, and with a view of pointing out that the course which is suggested by my honorable and learned friend is not one which will lead to the real settlement of any question in dispute between the two Houses. It is not one which will aid or add one iota to the powers of this House, and I may say it is not one which, in my opinion, will add to the dignity of this House. Now, what does my honorable and learned friend propose to do ? He proposes to send down’ to the other House these words by way of addition to the Message -
This House affirming that the action of the House of Representatives in receiving and dealing with the reiterated requests of the Senate is in compliance with the undoubted constitutional position and rights of the Senate.
Although the method of statement is by way of affirming and approving of the action of the House of Representatives, my honorable and learned friend admits, frankly enough, that the object of it is to assert directly the right of the Senate to send down reiterated requests upon this or any other measure.
– It is an answer to their Message.
– I - Itis not an answerto their. Message, as I shall show in a moment.
– What else is it ?
– I - It is an assertion of the right of this House under the Constitution to send down reiterated requests. That is, to put it shortly, and there is no doubt that that is the meaning of it. It does seem rather an extraordinary thing that my honorable and learned friend should indorse a statement by way of approval of what the House of Representatives has done, although the House of Representatives has stated that it has acted under special circumstances, and without affirming or denying the right contended for. The amendment therefore practically purports to be an approval of what the House of Representatives distinctly has not done. That ma3r be a matter of form, and I do not care very much how it is put. What I am really dealing with is the substance, in whatever way the amendment is put, and the substance of my honorable and learned friend’s amendment is to affirm and reiterate and press in the strongest possible way the proposition that this Senate has the right to send down its requests as often as it thinks fit.
– No. It affirms that what we have done is constitutional.
– T - That may be perfectly true, and I am not going to deny it. Honorable senators must recognise at once, that a stand having been taken by my honorable colleagues in the other House - and taken for very good reasons, as I shall show in a moment - I am in such a position here that it would not be right for me by anything which I might say to embarrass them in any way whatever. But it is quite open for me to say this - That the action which was taken by this House, and taken on my motion, in sending this Tariff with the requests down to the House of Representatives on two occasions, and on the second occasion in pressing requests which had been refused before, was the strongest possible assertion that this House has the right to send those requests down, and that the right was properly exercised on that occasion.
– Then why put this pre-amble in ?
– Tha That right has been, as I say, asserted in the strongest possible way by action on the part of this House. Now, what was the next step 1 When our Message reached the House of Representatives, as honorable senators will recollect, the Speaker, as was his duty, called attention to the Message, and pointed out that the constitutional position of the Senate in regard to this Message depended really upon the interpretation which was to be put upon the words, “ at any stage,” in section 53 of the Constitution. He further pointed out that, in an important matter of that kind, he would not take it upon himself to decide, but left it to the House to decide. Immediately, a question was raised as to whether the House of Representatives should receive the Message and deal with it, on the ground that the Senate, in sending down these second requests, had exceeded its powers. The Government then were placed in this position - A controversy of very great constitutional importance was opened up. If that controversy and the fate of the
Tariff were to go together, it might be a considerable time before the question were settled.
– Or one might be destroyed, and the other not settled.
– And And in the mean.time, the whole of the Commonwealth, which had been waiting something like eleven months for the settlement of this question, would have to wait possibly weeks longer while the constitutional authorities of both Houses discussed this question. Now I say we were sent here to both Houses to do the business of the country. We were sent here to bring about agreement upon this Tariff at the earliest possible moment, and if we were to avoid taking advantage of any reasonable means of bringing about a settlement we should not be true to the duty placed upon us by the constituents of both Houses. It was our duty to come to a conclusion as soon as possible, and if we saw that there was a controversy involved, which although important in itself, was not as important as the practical question of settling this Tariff, and enabling Australia to get about its business, we not only ‘had the right, but we were bound to take any course which would relieve, not the House or the Government, but the whole community. And the course taken then was that pursued by the Acting Prime Minister, who submitted a motion which in no way detracted or reflected upon the exercise of the rights of this Chamber - which affected the rights of this Chamber in no way whatever, but expressed the opinion that, in exercising their right to accede to or refuse the requests of this Chamber, the House of Representatives should not then determine what were its own powers or obligations.
-Col. Gould. - What necessity was there to send that resolution on to us 1 There must have been some reason.
– Tha That is a matter which does not touch the point with which I am now dealing.
– It is a very pertinent question all the same.
– I d I do not think so, but I shall refer to the point in a moment. I am not averse to taking such action as will completely nullify any implication which might be made by reason of our receiving this Message without protest ; but I arn now objecting to the motion which Senator Symon has proposed. The resolution of the House of Representatives; which is embodied in the Message, practically is -
That having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands the early enactment of a Federal Tariff, and pending the adoption of joint standing orders, this House refrains from the determination of its constitutional rights or obligations in respect to this Message, and resolves to receive and consider’ it forthwith.
That is to say, the House of Representatives, under the particular circumstances, refrains from raising any question whatever about the Message from the Senate - it resolves to leave for settlement on another occasion any question which may arise. The House of Representatives does not deny or affirm that this House has certain rights, but says that, under the circumstances, it will not take the constitutional question into consideration. That is a wise, and, if I may say so, a statesmanlike way of dealing with the situation. It is a method which I feel sure, will commend itself to the community generally, who, for so many months have been anxiously waiting for a practical settlement of the Tariff question. Having passed that resolution the House of Representatives proceeded to discuss our requests, some of which they accepted, and others of which they refused or modified. In other words, the House of Representatives dealt with our second Message precisely in the same way that it dealt with the first Message; no difference whatever was made, except that when the .Bill was returned the Message contained certain words which Senator Symon referred to as the preamble. Of course, there is no question that there would have been less trouble and less possibility of friction if this preamble had been left out. At the same time, that is a matter for the other House to determine. The House of Representatives sent on this Message, and it is for us to consider its effect and how we are to deal with it. I say, without hesitation that, inasmuch as this Message detracts in no way from our powers, seeks to minimize our powers in no way, and makes no claim against our powers - but merely asserts that the House of Representatives does not enteron the consideration of how it will exercise its discretion in regard to our Messages, there is no necessity for us to do more than to inform the House of Representatives that, as far as this Message is concerned, for the same reasons as 4:4 y 2 were given by it, we also refrain from exercising any powers, or coming to a determination in regard to our powers.
– We have no doubt about our powers.
– I - In order to show, as soon a possible, the difference between the view which I submit and the view of Senator Symon, I now move the following amendment on the amendment now beforethe Senate : -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of all the words after the word “House,” line 1, down to and including the word “Senate,” line 6, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands the early enactment of a Federal Tariff, refrains from the determination of its constitutional rights and obligations in respect to the House of ‘Representatives’ Message of the 4th September, 1902, and resolves to take it into consideration forthwith.”
– Why leave out tn words “pending the adoption of joint standing orders “ ?
– I d I do not think the words are necessary, because, in my opinion, standing orders will not really settlethe matter. There are certain points connected with the Message which standing orders will settle, but standing orders will not settle the whole question ; and there is no necessity to embarrass the motion by inserting anything not absolutely essential. It appears to me that theamendment I have moved is all that is required to meet the position. Our Message has been received and dealt with, and our rights have been recognised. But in sending back the Message which recognised our rights, the House inserted a saving clause which is in effect a declaration that for certain reasons of great public concernment it is not thought right at this time to go into the constitutional question. Whenever the constitutional question does arise, can any one say that the Senate has had one iota of its power taken away ? Is there power in any respect taken from the Senate by the terms of the Message or the terms of the resolution of the House of Representatives? Possibly some honorable members may be of opinion that by merely receiving and dealing with the Message containing the preamble we may give away something ; but the position can be met by a statement similar to that made by the other House. We may declare that having regard to the public necessities, the Senate will take the same course as the House of Representatives, and not enter on the determination of its rights or obligations, but take the Message into consideration forthwith. Honorable senators who have studied constitutional questions will agree that the Message of the House of Representatives affects our rights in no way whatever. If we disregarded the preamble, and simply took what action we thought fit, dealing with the Message in the ordinary way, our rights would not be affected. I have no hesitation in saying that no honorable senator can point to any portion of the Message or any proceedings in regard to it which affect our rights or hamper us in any way. But if it be thought well to be extremely careful not to show any semblance of giving away a right, or if there be any danger anticipated in accepting the Message with the preamble, that danger can be met by the amendment which I have submitted. This is not the time to enter into barren Constitutional controversies. If the House of Representatives had declined to consider our Message then a Constitutional question of great moment would have been raised, and it would have to be settled as a matter of practical politics. But no Constitutional question has been raised in connexion with this particular Bill, and when we have before us merely an abstract statement that the . other House declines, under the special circumstances, to determine its Constitutional position in regard to our Message, what substantiality is there in now raising a Constitutional issue? If we have rights, and have exercised them, and if the exercise of the rights has been admitted, what need is there for us to flaunt in the face of the other House an assertion of our privileges, no matter how true that assertion may be?’ I have already pointed out that we have done nothing unconstitutional - that everything we have done is well within our powers. Under these circumstances where is the necessity for reiterating a statement, which, at this late period of the session, must provoke a resultless controversy ? To raise the question now would mean long debates, and, after all, a settlement of nothing. We must remember, as I said before, that the ‘ rights and obligations of the two Houses cannot be settled by affirmations in messages. Those rights and obligations can be settled only by action - by our actual dealing with Messages.
When the time comes for really settling this question in connexion with the present or any other Bill, can any one say that any resolution placed on record here will carry the question of our powers one whit further than it has been carried already ?
– It is a case of “ a plague on both your resolutions.”
– I - I quite agree with the honorable and learned senator.
– The Government should have adopted Mr. Higgins’ suggestion.
– I s I should have very much preferred to see no notice taken of the matter at all, and the Message simply received. But if the Senate should be of opinion, as some honorable senators apparently are, that the greatest possible care should be taken that nothing shall be inferred from our not noticing the resolution, then the amendment I have submitted will, meet the difficult)’. If our labours on the Tariff are to come to an end very shortly, I hope the constitutional question, which isnow detached from the Tariff, will be settled on some other occasion in a practical way. I hope that the Senate will not indulge in a course of conduct which can have no good effect, and which is merely flaunting in the face of the other House our assertion of what we consider their conduct should have been. Such a step would provoke an answer and lead to controversy between the two Houses - a controversy which, so far as the public and the Commonwealth electors are concerned, could have no good result.
– I must confess to a feeling of very grave disappointment at the way in which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has dealt with this matter. So far as concerns the real question as to the powers of the Senate, after the very clear and exhaustive speech delivered by Senator Symon, there can be no doubt left in the minds of honorable senators. There can be no doubt as to what our position really is, taking not only the actual wording of the Constitution itself, but also taking the whole of the debates which led up to the formation of the Constitution, and the expressions of opinion by the ‘ members of the Convention. Therefore, it is no part of my duty - nor do I propose in any way - to add to what has been said in maintaining our constitutional rights and privileges. I take it that they are abundantly clear, and do not require any further elucidation. But when we come to the question of the attitude which the Senate should take up with regard to the Message of the House of Representatives the position is very different indeed ; and, to my mind, it is a very great mistake that the “VicePresident of the Executive Council should, while professing to hold the strongest views with regard to the powers of the Senate, propose to meet in so weak and halting a manner that Message sent up to us so unnecessarily. In the first place, so far as our Message was concerned, it did not require any reply of the character that has been sent to us. We made certain requests, and the House of Representatives passed a resolution stating reasons why they should proceed to consider our Message. But it was no part of their duty to send on to us that resolution in their Message. The preliminary paragraph of the Message did not emanate from the Government. That portion of the Message really emanated from a suggestion made by honorable members of the other House, who are entirely opposed to the rights of the Senate in this particular respect. A ny honorablesenator who has taken the trouble to read the debates, or who had the opportunity of hearing them in the House of Representatives, will be aware that very strong opinions were expressed by a coterie of members there to the effect that the Senate had no right, beyond sending one request, and accepting the determination of the House of Representatives in regard to that request, unless it were prepared to go to the length of rejecting altogether the Bill concerning which the request was made. I contend, however, that when the other House took the trouble to send its Message to us, it became absolutely incumbent upon the Senate to take some action to defend its own position and’ its rights. The Message virtually says that it is almost a favour that the other House has extended to us in considering our renewed requests. There has been a strong expression of opinion on the part of some members of another place, that this House has no rights in the matter, but we are told that the other House is willing to set aside the question of its own rights and privileges, in order that it may have regard for the public welfare. If the Senate accepts a Message in those terms, it will prove itself unworthy of the position it occupies under the Constitution ; and I cannot conceive that any honorable senators, more especially those who have come here with the expressed determination of doing all they can to make this a strong Senate, should see their way to support such a very lame, halting, and impotent amendment as has been proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. We are invited by this amendment to say that we are not prepared to affirm what our own position is. It is proposed that we should acquaint the other Housethat, having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands an early enactment of the Federal Tariff, the Senate refrains from the expression of an opinion as to its constitutional rights. Does not that imply that this Senate is also labouring under a doubt as to what its powers are? Has there been a doubt expressed by any honorable senator as to the rights and powers of the Senate? So far we have only heard, in the course of this debate, an expression of opinion from the leaders on either side ; . but we know that questions of a similarcharacter to this have cropped up previously.. We know that honorable senators have expressed their opinions in favour of the maintenance of the powers of the Senate. In the early stages of our constitutional history, when we are settling the relations of the two Houses, we ought not where no doubt exists to give expression to any doubt with regard to our rights. If we, forone moment, take up the position occupied by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and say that we refrain from expressing an opinion, we admit that there is a doubt, and we shall be giving away in this respect those rights which are conferred upon us by the Constitution. It has been suggested that we should take no notice of the first portion of the Message of the House of Representatives.
– No notice would be better than a weak notice.
– I was just going to say so.
– Or the recognition of any doubt whatever.
– If we are going to take notice of it, we should recognise no doubt whatever. We have no doubt as to our position, and we should affirm that in dealing with the Message. I believe that honorable senators will realize that the embodiment of the paragraph in question in the Message is an expression of the views of the enemies of the Senate - of the views of honorable members who believe, or profess to believe, that this Senate has no right to insist upon requests for amendment in Bills dealing with taxation or appropriating public funds. I do not propose to deal with the matter further, because I feel that the whole position lies in a nutshell. It must appeal to honorable senators that since we have rights we ought to vindicate them. If they are doubtful as to their rights, let them pass the amendment of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, but I contend that their duty to themselves, and to the country, is to show clearly what their position is, and to express themselves in clear and unmistakable terms.
– We have heard this afternoon a very learned discourse about the undoubted rights of the Senate which, in my time, I have supported as strongly as any honorable senator present, and shall support to the end of the chapter. But the substantial question in itself amounts to nothing. It reminds me of the story of the coon up a tree. The hunter says - “Will you come down?” The coon says - “Yes, I will come down, but I shall not come down another time if I can help it.” But he comes down all the same. Is not that good enough 1 What is the question before us now? The position is that the requests for amendments which we sent to the other branch of the Legislature have been dealt with and that the Bill has been returned to us by the House of Representatives. There is no question between us. What is bearing on the minds of the members of another place does not concern us. lt does not matter to us if they say - “ You must not think that we are giving in this time ; you. must not think that we are always going to give in.” There is no question for us to decide if they say that. The substantial question - -the matter which we have to consider - is that the mercantile world is waiting anxiously for this- Tariff ; and I see no object in delaying and taking up time either with the amendment of the leader of the Opposition or with the amendment of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. There is no use in our considering a matter which touches no vital question, although it expresses an anxiety at some future time to decide a point as to the rights of the two
Houses. The Constitution is surely strong enough to provide against all the doubts that can be expressed by the other House, to which they will, be powerless to give effect. So long as the Senate takes up a firm attitude, the heathen may rage furiously, but they will imagine a vain thing. When we come to the substantial question, I hope we shall show the advantage of prompt decision rather than urge a multitude of words. To-day we have heard a multitude of words on this question, involving nothing, and as to which the other House have given in to us. They have accepted our suggestions, and eaten humble pie. They, have come down entirely. But because they have said, just for the purpose of keeping a little selfrespect in some of them - “ We will not promise always to do this “ - -we have this tremendous uproar and riot, and all this long discussion ! I intend to oppose both amendments, and Support going into committee on the Bill.
– I do not wish to add very much upon this question. I think it is a matter for regret that the House of Representatives have found it necessary to send up their resolution in its present form. It seems to me that if honorable members in another place have any doubts as to our right to send Messages renewing requests it is not for us to cavil very much at their decision. Many members of the other Chamber have no doubt with respect to our powers in this respect, and they have shown that by including themselves in the large majority which voted for the resolution and against any refusal to consider our renewed requests. Senator Symon’s amendment does not please me, because it savours of an attempt to provoke a contest with the other Chamber.
– I do not wish that.
– To my mind, Senator O’Connor’s amendment does not constitute any improvement. ‘ There can be no doubt whatever as to the rights of the Senate under section 53 of the Constitution, and if a conflict arose between the two Houses in that respect I feel sure that the public would side with this Chamber. But, because we are fully confident of our powers, is that any reason why we should say anything at the present time which might have the effect of embittering the relations between the two Houses ? I think the VicePresident of the Executive Council would be acting wisely if he withdrew his amendment, and it would be well if Senator Symon also withdrew the latter portion of his amendment.
– I have no objection to adopting that course if the VicePresident will withdraw his amendment.
– If that were done, every honorable senator would be satisfied that this Chamber had placed upon record its opinion with regard to its constitutional powers under section 53. Then the House of Representatives, if it desired to challenge our rights, could do so at any time. Whenever it thought it was necessary to bring about a conflict with this Chamber in regard to Money Bills, it would have to throw down the gauntlet.
– The latter portion of my amendment was included in it because I thought it would be courteous on our part to notify the other Chamber. However, I am quite willing to withdraw it if the honorable senator thinks that it might be differently interpreted.
– To refrain from communicating to the other House our opinion in regard to our constitutional rights would not be discourteous to it.
– What about its communication to us?
– That communication has already been received.
– The other House has set a bad example, which we need not follow.
– Exactly. Having placed upon record our views with regard to our rights under section 53 of the Constitution, I hold that every good purpose has been served. I trust that Senator O’Connor will withdraw his amendment to permit of Senator Symon agreeing to the excision of the words I have indicated.
– To a very large extent I am in thorough accord with the remarks of the previous speaker. What the other Chamber has done in respect of this Message really does not concern the Senate at all. It appears to me that, without prejudice, the House of Representatives has adopted a certain line of action which has been communicated to us. That communication has reached us by way of information only, and I agree with Senator Higgs that if it is necessary to take any notice whatever of what we may call the exordium, or preamble, or padding of the
Message, the more dignified plan is simply to place upon record our view that what we have done is in accordance with our constitutional rights. I had formulated an amendment which I intended to move, because I must confess that I like neither the amendment by Senator Symon nor that by the Vice-President. My own view is that we should simply place upon record our view that the action of the Senate in repeating its requests is perfectly in accordance with its constitutional rights. I do not think that any honorable senator entertains a doubt as to what those constitutional rights are.
SenatorFRASER (Victoria). - I should be’ perfectly willing to agree to the adoption of the course suggested but for the fact that a Message has been sent to this Chamber in certain terms. I think, therefore, that the proper course for the Senate to adopt is to send back a Message in reply.
– To hit back.
SenatorFRASER. - I do not mean to hit back in an aggressive way, but in a respectful way. Otherwise the procedure will be lop-sided. To make it perfect, a Message should be sent back to the other Chamber from this House.
– I should like to join with Senator Higgs in asking the Vice-President to withdraw his amendment in the interests of the Senate itself. The Message from the House of Representatives seems to suggest a doubt in regard to our constitutional rights, and by accepting the amendment which has been submitted we shall imply that we entertain a similar doubt. On the other hand, the conduct of the other Chamber in transmitting this Message has been condemned. Why then should the Senate follow the bad example which has, been set ? The wiser course would be to withdraw both amendments. Both are unnecessary. The Senate established ‘its constitutional position when it transmitted its second Message to the other Chamber. It did so in such a manner as to give the public to understand that we knew our constitutional rights and intended to enforce them. No matter how the House of Representatives may attempt to qualify its’ Message, it has undoubtedly established a precedent. To my mind, the better course would be to withdraw both the amendments. At any rate the Vice-President’s amendment should be withdrawn, and that by
Senator Symon should be altered in such a way as to constitute merely an expression of opinion by this House.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will temporarily withdraw his amendment, I will at once withdraw the last . portion of my amendment.
Amendment of the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the words “and that this resolution be communicated by Message to the House of Representatives. “
Amendment (by Senator O’Connor) negatived -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of all the words alter the word ‘ ‘ House,” line . 1 , down to and including the word “ Senate,” line (i, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words - “Having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands the early enactment of a Federal Tariff, refrains from the determination of its constitutional rights and obligations in respect to the House of Representatives’ Message of the 4th September, 1902, and resolves to take it into consideration forthwith.”
Resolved - That Message No. 59 of the House of Representatives, in reference to the Senate’s requests on the Customs Tariff Bill, be printed and taken into consideration on Tuesday, 9th September, this House affirming that the action of the House of Representatives in receiving and dealing with the reiterated requests of the Senate is in compliance with the undoubted constitutional position and rights of the Senate.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Connor) -
That so much of Message 50 of the House of Representatives as refers to the requests of the Senate and the Customs Tariff Bill be referred to the committee of the whole.
In Committee :
Item 77. Mangles . … ad val. 20 per cent.
Senate’s Request.- That the duty be 10 per cent.
Mouse of Representatives’ Message. - Duty made 121/2 per cent.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the further amendment made by the House of Representatives be agreed to.
– Earlier in the afternoon I intimated the spirit in which, when we had dealt with the Constitutional question, I should approach that part of the Message which relates to our requests in regard to the Tariff. I referred to the duration of the discussion upon the Tariff, the uncertainty, the disturbance of trade, and the difficulties, affecting both individuals and the States, which have been created, and to other considerations, which, unless we were driven by irresistible pressure, would lead us to view favourably any determination of the matter. The Tariff contains sixteen divisions, and 136 subdivisions, and deals with some thousands of articles. The differences between the two Chambers in regard to this multitude of details were reduced when our last Message left the House of Representatives to 28, which were the subject of what I may call reiterated requests. As to fourteen of these, one amendment has been made absolutely, and thirteen with modifications. As to the exemption of articles for the official use of the GovernorGeneral and State Governors, that, although a question upon which I and some of my friends felt strongly, is neither a party nor a fiscal one. I voted in support of the proposal of Senator Playford, who sits behind the Government, to do away with the exemption, because I consider it vicious in principle, and that good or bad, the subject should be dealt with, not in a Tariff, but by direct legislation, or in some other way which would enable the people to know exactly the nature of the concession which they are giving. If Senator Playford insists upon striking out the omission, I shall vote with him, but otherwise I shall be content to drop the matter. The compromises which have been offered in respect to the thirteen requests which have been complied with with modifications have been conceived, not in a liberal, but in what I might call, without using a harsh word, a huckstering spirit. The duty upon mangles was originally 20 per cent. We asked that it might be made 10 per cent. The House of Representatives thereupon agreed to make it 15 per cent., and as we insisted upon our request that it be made 10 percent., they now offer us 121/2 per cent. I think that that is paltry.
– They have given way to the extent of 71/2- per cent., andthey ask us to give way to the extent of 21/2 per cent.
– It was not worth while to make two bites of a cherry. I hold that we should not view these matters in a narrow spirit, and the party with whom I have been acting have dealt fairly and in a large-minded way with the items which we have challenged, lain- prepared to accept a compromise of 1 2 k per cent, upon machinery and manufactures of metals. In some instances the duties upon machinery were originally 25 per cent., but they have now been reduced, through the efforts of the friends of the industrial and producing classes in both Chambers, to 12£ per cent., aud I sincerely hope that the relief will benefit those whose interests we have had at heart. As to the remaining fourteen items, we must ask ourselves whether we are justified, for the sake of so few details, in a Tariff affecting thousands of articles, to prolong the present condition of affairs. Six of the duties deal with agricultural products and groceries. Those for whom I am speaking have always held that no revenue is to be expected from those duties, except in years of distress. In the next place I think that almost by common consent it is a mere farce to talk of their being protective in the sense of giving any direct encouragement to the growers of these different things. Therefore, I do not propose that we should press the amendments requested by the Senate in respect of these six items. Still, I express my deep regret at their presence in the Tariff. I think they are a blemish “on the first Australian Tariff, because they are food and fodder duties, because they are not productive of revenue, and because, even from the point of view of protectionists, they will be entirely unavailing. AVe hope that all the articles to which they relate will be produced- abundantly, not only for our own consumption, but for export to other less-favoured countries. Of the remaining eight requests, which include two or three of more or less minor importance - such as cement - which I need not enumerate, there are only three relating to duties the existence of which I shall lament if I am obliged to leave them, as I really think they are, instruments of extortion from the poor consumers of this country. I refer to our requests that the duty on apparel should be reduced from 25 per cent, to 20 per cent:; that the duty on hats and caps should be reduced from 30 per cent, to 25 per cent. ; and that the duty on hats and caps, sewn, should be reduced from 30 per cent, to 25 per cent. I have anxiously considered the position as to these three items, and I frankly confess that I have been exceedingly unwilling to refrain from asking that the requests of the
Senate be pressed. In considering these three requests, which substantially are the only ones left, we have to remember, however, that, on the one hand, the margin of the benefit to the consumer would not be large. The difference in each case is only 5 per cent. Having regard to the 1 0 per cent, added to the invoice cost, the difference, from our point of view, is equivalent to about 7 or 7£ per cent., and it is not a large margin in relation to hats and caps, which are probably sold at 2s. 6d., 3s., 4s., and upwards. Therefore, from the point of view of the consumer, I ask myself - “Is it seriously worth fighting to secure so small a margin of benefit as this ?” If we had requested a reduction of the duty on hats and caps from 30 per cent. to 20 per cent., I should have counselled the pressing of the request. On the other hand, there are two solid advantages to be gained from what I think is the exaction - robbery some people call it, although I shall not do so - by which the manufacturer in Victoria gains considerably at the expense of the revenue.
– And to the detriment of the consumer
– And, of course, to the extent to which the margin is excessive, to the detriment of the consumer. That is the most serious aspect of it. But this Tariff is not final. If our requests are not pressed, Senator Higgs will have the satisfaction of seeing silk hats and workmen’s hats each bearing duty at the modest rate of 30 per cent. I hope that workmen will be found grateful that the hats and caps which they use are subject to the same rate of duty as the silk hats, which my honorable friend said were used only by swells and others who could afford to pay a high duty. This is the point of view from which I regard the last three items with which we have to deal. For these reasons, I and most honorable senators on this side will be found refraining from voting for a further insistence upon Dur requests - certainly in regard to the three which are really the last that are left in the controversy between the Senate and another place. That, I think, is a fair position. It is a position which I take up for the reasons which I have already indicated, and I hope the result that may flow from it will be that the period of uncertainty which has existed up to the present time may be brought to an end, and that we shall have a Tariff which - although it satisfies no section of the community, no party in Parliament - will at all events satisfy our aspirations thus far : that it will afford a stimulus for reform and remedy before a very long time has elapsed. I trust that the Tariff which will then eventuate will be one which will not only satisfy all classes of the community, but impose the least possible burden upon consumers who are least able to bear them.
Motion agreed to.
Item 68. Socks and stockings, cotton, ad valorem, . 10 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - That the word “cotton” be omitted, and the duty fixed at 15 per cent.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Item amen ded to read, “ Socks and stockings, woollen, or containing wool. . . ad valorem, 15 per cent.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the modification of the Senate’s request made by the House of Representatives be agreed to.
– I desire once again to call the attention of the leader of the Senate to the position in which the hosiery industry is placed under this duty. I have from the first urged that it should be protected.
– It is protected fairly well.
– I do not think it is. A margin of 10 per cent, is really no protection. This is simply a revenue duty, and the position is that a splendid industry is to be sacrificed for the sake of 5 per cent. Originally socks and stockings were placed under the heading of attire, and made liable to a duty of 25 per cent.; a clear margin of 15 per cent, between the manufactured articles and the raw material being allowed for the benefit of those engaged in the industry. These socks and stockings were subsequently taken out of the category of apparel, and now bear a duty of 15 per cent. Against that protection there is a duty of 5 per cent, on the raw material- - yarns - which allows a mar gin of only 10 per cent.
– That is nearly as much as is allowed to the manufacturers of machinery.
– I am not satisfied with the compromise that has been made with regard to the duties on machinery. They will afford scarcely any protection, and if the present proposals are accepted the industry will have to go. I know that at the present stage the responsibility for the existence or destruction of the hosiery industry rests upon the leader of the Senate. The margin of 10 per cent. is utterly insufficient, and if the Government accept this proposal the industry will be killed at once. It is for that reason that I desire again to draw Senator O’Connor’s attention to this item. The duty should be increased to 20 per cent, in order to make the protection effective. I hope that, even at the cost of having to send another request to the House of Representatives, the industry will not be sacrificed, and that the Minister will give the matter further consideration.
Motion agreed to.
Item 78. Manufactures of Metal, viz. - Agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i. . . . Engines, gas and oil, and high-speed engines and turbines . . . Engines . . . Boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery, n.e.i., . Mining Machinery, n.e.i., ad valorem, 15 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be 10 per cent.
Mouse of Representatives’ Message. - Duty made 121/2 per cent.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed - ‘
That the modification of the Senate’s requests made by the House of Representatives be agreed to.
– The few words which I desire to say might be applied equally well to all the items covered by the Message, but I thought I should wait until we had reached the consideration of the duty on mining machinery before explaining ray position. , I extremely regret that in the present circumstances honorable senators do not see their way to insist upon the requests made in the last Message which we sent to another place. I frankly recognise that in the present state of the country, and having regard to the fact that a Commonwealth Tariff must be passed if possible before the end of the year, we should probably incur a good deal of blame if we insisted upon the requests which I think should be insisted upon. But there is no doubt that having debated these items at great length, and arrived at the deliberate conclusion that these reductions should be made, the logical course for us to have followed would have been to insist upon our requests. We should have taken the consequences, and left the verdict in the hands of the country. That is my feeling, and if there hadbeen a sufficient number of honorable senators holding the same view, I should have joined in insisting upon our requests, and throwing upon another place the responsibility of refusing to make them. There is one redeeming feature of the present position, and I wish to impress upon the committee, as well as upon the public generally, that in deciding upon the action which I shall adopt I have been very strongly influenced by the reason which was mentioned by Senator Symon - that within the next eighteen months this Tariff must again go before the country. What will the position then be? Taking them altogether, the people of Australia are groaning under this Tariff.
– In every part of the States that I have visited I have found the people groaning under the Tariff, and for eighteen months this incubus is going to be allowed to lie heavily upon them. This Tariff will lie heavily upon the consumers, and they are the voters. What will be the result? Month after month the present Government will become more unpopular, and this Tariff will become more unpopular.
– It is the local Tariff of Western Australia that is causing the trouble.
– The result, without a doubt, will be that within eighteen months we shall be within reasonable reach of a new Tariff, and of a Tariff which, as Senator Symon has pointed out, will be more likely than anything we can do to-day to meet the requirements of the country. Therefore I feel impelled to allow these matter’s to pass. It is of no use for honorable senators to pretend that they do not know that the country objects to this Tariff. The consumers in the country do object to it, and no one can read the newspapers published in any part of Australia without realizing that that is a solid fact.
– It has made federation unpopular. .
– As the honorable senator truly says, it is one of the few things which has made federation unpopular. Senator Barrett has j ust told us that if the duties now proposed upon machinery are agreed to, the manufacturers will be ruined. But we take an exactly opposite view, and we say that the -industries which employ this machinery will be ruined by the existing rate of duty. I can therefore say, without fear of contradiction, that this Tariff pleases, nobody. Under the circumstances, I regret that I cannot see my way as I should like to do, to insist upon the repetition of our requests upon these items, and I must simply leave the matter as it stands.
– I think that if there is any groaning at all it must be in Western Australia, where they have a Tariff imposing duties upon Inter-State produce. So far as Victoria is concerned, if the people are groaning, it is because the duties have been reduced.
– The consumer is not.
– The consumer did not groan very much in Victoria when he had to pay 2-0 per cent, and 35 per cent, of duty upon his machinery. I regret, not that the Senate does not propose to adhere to its requests, but that the other Chamber has been weak enough to compromise in this matter, seeing, as will be found later on, that a duty of 15 per cent, is quite low enough. Of course our friends the importers would like to see all duties abolished. But, after all is said and done, speaking of this particular duty upon machinery, I have heard free-traders proclaiming from the house-tops in season and out of season that they would never grumble so long as it did not exceed 15 per cent. A duty of 121/2r cent, upon machinery is simply a revenue duty ; it is not a protective duty.
– Then the freetraders have won.
– The free-traders have won so far as this Chamber is concerned, but it is a temporary victory that will cost them dear later on. The leader of the Opposition is- laughing, but when he has to come up for election in eighteen months’ time he will not laugh. I am reminded that the honorable and learned senator will not require to go up for election in ‘eighteen months, but we do not know whether he may not have to go up for election in eighteen weeks, let alone eighteen months.
– I should be very glad to go in eighteen weeks.
– I should be very glad if the honorable and learned senator did go. This is a revenue Tariff and not a protective Tariff, and the people of Australia will not he satisfied with it. I quite believe, with Senator Matheson, that in eighteen months’ time the question before the Commonwealth of Australia will be that of protection and free-trade once more, and with special reference to the duties upon machinery which we are now discussing. I am not satisfied with this as a protectionist Tariff upon machinery, but, as we all know, it is now too late to alter a single line or word in the duties. Honorable senators opposite are very jubilant about their victory. They are proud to think that they have succeeded in destroying some Victorian industries, and that hundreds and thousands of men will be thrown out of employment in the next year or two in consequence of their action in regard to this Tariff. In connexion with the manufacture of machinery men have worked up large industries here, and something like £1,200,000 have been invested in factories for making and repairing machinery. But honorable senators opposite do not care two straws if the men who have invested that capitalshouldloseit,and if half thepeople employed should be thrown out of employment. The great importing industry will flourish, and that is all they care about. I join with others who have spoken in hoping that a Tariff of some kind will become law atonce - that the people of the Commonwealth may know what they have to expect. I do not think the consumers worry themselves very much about it. There may be some concern in “Western Australia about a duty upon tinned milk and silk hats, but as a rule the consumer does not trouble himself very much about the Tariff, and it is only those who are interested in importing and manufacturing articles who are greatly interested. The sooner the Tariff becomes law in some form the better it will be for a large section of the people.
Motion agreed to.
Item 78. Electrical machinery, advalorem, 15 percent.Electrical appliances, n.e.i., ad valorem, 15 per cent.
Item 79. Rails, fish-plates, fish-bolts, tie plates, switches, points, crossings, and intersections for railways and tramways, ad valorem; 15 per cent.
Item80. Rolled iron or steel beams, channels, joists, girders, columns, trough and bridge iron or steel, not drilled or further manufactured; shafting, cold rolled, turned, or planished ; also bolts and nuts, ad valorem,1 5per cent.
Senate’s Requests. - That the duty be 10 per cent.
House of Representation’ Message. - Duty made 121/2 per cent.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) agreed to -
That the modification of the Senate’s requests made by the House of Representatives be agreed to.
Item 84. Oils, solar oil, residual oil, naphtha, benzine, benzoline, gasoline, per gallon,1/2d.
Senate’s Request. - Add to special exemptions, “solar oil, residual oil.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Duty on solar and residual oil made1/4d.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the modification of the Senate’s request made by the House of Representatives be agreed to.
– In connexion with this item, the Government propose to reject our request that solar oil and residual oil should be put upon the free list, and they offer a reduction of the duty from1/2d. to1/4d. per gallon. This is an item upon which the Government might very well have met us and accepted our request. When the duty upon such an article as liquid fuel is reckoned at a price per gallon, we fail to see how heavy it is as a matter of ad valorem, and we fail to recognise how easily a business that might be advantageous to the country may be stopped. I am prepared to accept the compromise suggested of per gallon on solar oil But I ask that as regards residual oil the matter may be reconsidered, and that it may be placed upon the free list. I am, therefore, prepared to move that we do not press our request as regards the solar oil, but that we repeat our request that residual oil should be placed upon the free list.
– I shall put the motion in two parts. First, as regards solar oil, and then as regards residual oil, and in that way a vote may be taken upon each.
– I h I hope the honorable senator will be serious. Surely, he does not mean that he will be prepared to send back this Tariff to the other House for the sake of an item of this kind.
– I have not done yet. I have other proposals to make.
– I r I rise only to express the hope that the honorable senator will really take this question seriously, and remember that we have to get through this Tariff. I hope he will not think it necessary to speak at any greater length than is absolutely essential.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - When the Tariff was originally introduced, Senator O’Connor made very much the same remarks. He desired us then to swallow the whole thing in a lump and have done with it. During its discussion in committee remarks of the same kind were made, and now when but a few items remain to be settled it is but natural that the honorable and learned senator should repeat his request that we should cease opposition. If there is one thing I am anxious to do, it is to remove some of the blots on this Tariff which disfigure the Ministry so much in the minds of the people. I have no intention of prolonging the debate upon this matter. Every member of the committee knows thoroughly well how desirable it is that this item of residual oil should be placed on the free list.
Motion agreed to.
Item 15.Paraftine wax, beeswax, and Japanese or vegetable wax, also lard and refined animal fats, per lb., Id.
Semite’s Request,. - That the duty be reduced to1/4d.
House of Representatives’ Messar/e. - Duty made Ad.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) agreed to-
That the modification of the Senate’s request made by the House of Representatives be agreed to.
Item 5. - Tobacco, viz….. Cigars, including the weight of bands and other attachments, per lb.,6s. 3d. and 15 per cent. ad valorem.
Senate’s Request.- That, the duty be vs. per lb.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the request be not pressed.
Senator PULSFORD (New-South Wales). - This is a very simple matter, in which the Government in another place might easily have given way. There is no question of protection or revenue involved, but simply a matter of business usage. I see no reason why the Government should place themselves in direct antagonism to the ways and customs of an important trade, simply as a matter of policy from which no advantage whatever will result. The Minister for Trade and Customs seems to be trying to make himself as obnoxious as he can to the trading ‘community, and to be fulfilling very much the functions of a”bull in a china shop.” Wherever commerce can be tortured it seems to be a joy to the Minister to administer torture.
– T - That is the way in which men talk who are not fit to black the boots of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– Senator O’Connor suggests that I am not fit to black the boots of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– I - I did not say that.
– My little finger knows more of trading and trade usages than does the Minister for Trade and Customs. It is admitted that from this item there is no revenue - that the proposals of the Senate would yield as much revenue as will the proposal of the Government.
– T - There is a matter of principle involved.
– The principle is one of trade customs ; and the Government have fallen foul of the cigar business for no purpose whatever.
– I - It is sought to make the higher-priced article pay the higher duty.
– The whole of the duty equals about 140 per cent., and 125 per cent, is levied in the form of specific duty, leaving a balance of 15 per cent., which is not worth talking about. I trust the Senate will insist on its request.
– I cannot allow the observations of Senator Pulsford in regard to the Minister for Trade and Customs to pass unchallenged.
– They were challenged by Senator O’Connor.
– The observations of Senator Pulsford were not relevant, and I drew the honorable senator’s attention to that fact.
– The misfortune is that Senator Pulsford thought it necessary to utter such a slander on the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs is capable of taking care of himself.
– I believe that he is. It is fortunate for the Commonwealth that there is at the head of the Customs department a gentleman like Mr. Kingston, who is endeavouring to do his duty in a very difficult position
Motion agreed to.
Item10. Bacon and hams, partly or wholly cured, per lb., 3d.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be reduced to 2d. per lb.
Item 14. Butter and cheese, per lb., 3d.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be reduced to 2d. per lb.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendments not made.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) agreed to -
That the requests be not pressed.
Item 22. Grain and pulse, n.e.i., per cental Is.6d.
Senate’s Request. - That wheat be placed on the list of special exemptions.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
Motion (by Senator O’Conno r) proposed -
That the request be not pressed.
– This matter has been debated over and over again, and in the Senate there has always been a good majority in favour of making wheat free, and of dealing liberally with the fodder duties. I cannot help expressing my deep regret that the Government have been so persistent in regard to the duty on wheat and the fodder duties generally, and have paid so little regard to the earnest wishes of, at any rate, two large States. I am perfectly well aware that under ordinary circumstances these duties have no effect - that they come into operation only in times of depression and difficulty such as we are now experiencing. There seems a disinclination in the committee to divide on any of the requests, and that places a man who feels strongly in a very awkward position when he has to determine the exact course he ought to take. The present position redounds to the credit of neither the Government nor of Parliament seeing that it is proposed to allow men engaged in the natural industries of the country to be victimized as they are under the present Tariff-
– T - The States Governments can return the duties to the consumers.
.- We were told originally that this was to be a Commonwealth of brotherhood, and that each State would do all it could for the other States. We were never made to realize the possibility of one great State being victimized for the benefit of one or two others, and that the victimization would be carried to the very greatest possible extent. I much deplore that throughout therehas been an exhibition of callousness towards some of the States of the Commonwealth.
– Towards the farmers of Victoria.
– Senator Styles tells us, in effect, that the farmers of Victoria are prepared to victimize the whole pastoral industry to the fullest possible extent. At any rate, there has not been anything like fair and reasonable consideration for the great pastoral industry in a time of drought and difficulty, when flocks in one State alone have sunk from over 60,000,000 head to something like 30,000,000 head. Senator Styles now contends that the farmers of Victoria should take advantage to the full of the wretched position of the unfortunate pastoralists.
SenatorFRASER (Victoria).- I quite agree with the remarks of Senator Gould, and must express surprise that the Government, on this item, have not risen to the occasion. What would be said at the present moment if the Government proposed to put a duty on meat ? There would be such a howl in Sydney and Melbourne that no Government would stand against it for an hour. We all admit that the duty on wheat and fodder has no effect in a normal time - that is the hollowness of the whole thing.
– It is “hollowness” on the honorable senator’s part - it cuts both ways.
SenatorFRASER. - It cuts only one way, and that very severely at the present moment. The duty has a tendency to demolish millions of stock ; animals are perishing wholesale.
– For want of wheat?
– Yes, for want of wheat. Tens of thousands of bushels of wheat have been consumed by sheep. I have bought thousands of bushels of wheat and maize, which I find a good article of diet for stock, even for horses, when given with care. At the present moment there are large ships laden with frozen meat leaving New Zealand for Sydney and Melbourne, and other Australian ports. Does that not tell a tale? What will be the result of the fodder duties some time hence when we have to face a summer of five or six months’ duration? I dread that result ; and I think the Government ought to bear any odium which attaches to the continuance of this duty.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Senator Fraser has given the committee the benefit of his observations with regard to a duty on meat. He ridiculed the idea of imposing a duty on this article of consumption in view of the present ruling rates ; and he went on to describe the disasters which had overcome Australia through drought. He particularly referred to the injury done to the squatting industry. But I want to ask the honorable senator why he tells the general public one tale, and tells the committee another 1 I find in the Age, of 29th August, 1902, a report of a meeting of the Squatting Investment Company Limited, held at Menzies’ Hotel. The report is headed - “ Pastoral prospects ; a reassuring picture.” It says : -
Mr. Simon Fraser, M.V., presided over the usual half-yearly meeting of the Squatting Investment Company Limited, held at Menzies’ Hotel, yesterday. In moving the adoption of the report, which stated that the 1901 wool clip had realized a surplus of £2,091 over the estimated value placed on it in the last balance-sheet, the chairman said the company had done ever so much better than he could have supposed or expected at all, and he had had 34 years experience of Queensland.
– That is an exceptional property.
– There are many like it. Senator Fraser went on -
Since August, 1901, they had had no rain to speak of - only some 24 inches on their property. In November last they had had 32,000 lambs as the result of the lambing season, which were now going through the sheds, and this was mainly (I due to the fact that the abundance of bore water and the fine quality of the land produced such plentiful herbage that, though no rain fell, it lay all the year on the ground practically as preserved fodder. Next month, in all probability, they would get the early thunderstorms of summer in Queensland, though in New South Wales the time for probable rains was fust passing away. Notwithstanding the big lambing, they had had a second one - compelled by dire necessity. The first had been a great success, but, of course, in the second a large proportion of the sheep - roughly 40 per cent. - had proved barren ewes. The second lambing had yielded from 22,000 to 23,000 lambs. . . .
They had been using “delvers,” a kind of scoop, to distribute the water into all sorts of out of the way places, and had done a great deal of that. They had really by that means got into country comparatively out of use, because of its distance from water. He did not look forward to any loss of sheep, except through a continuation of disastrously dry weather. Three years ago the shearing resulted in 4,600 bales of wool ; a year later the yield dropped to 1,900 bales, and last year it fell to 900 bales ; but this season they expected to get at least 1,100 bales. . . .
For three years they had had no lambs at all, but in comparison with other squatters in Queensland they were infinitely better off than any one he knew. Altogether they still had about 115,000 to 120,000 sheep, and if they should get any rain shortly the)’ would even be able to pay a dividend within a year, because if next year was a favorable one for ruin they would run up to 2,000 bales or more. Scoured bides were worth about £25 each - and that soon ran into money.
– I said up to £25.
Senator - HIGGS. - Then that is a mistake of the press ; but the honorable senator wenton -
Expenses were being kept down to the limit required for good management, but of course the distribution of water cost something. However, it repaid the cost a hundredfold. They were shearing at Bundaleer, in country where the grass grew right np to the shed doors, and by this time some of the wool was in Brisbane and on the way to London. They had been able to get the lowest freight they had ever got - 1/2 d. per lb. - and as prices in London would probably be very high next year, that would increase the profits. . . .
The company had 250 miles of trenches and drains on its property ; in every paddock there was pure, fresh water.
– We spent £50,000 cash on that property, and have not had 1 per cent, in 25 years for our money. We should be very glad to sell out.
– Let me remind the committee that Bundaleer station, which Senator Fraser mentioned in connexion with this subject, is on the Queensland border, very near to the country which is supposed to be suffering most intensely from drought. But by means of artesian bores the squatters are well able to keep water in every paddock. In the face of these facts why . should Senator Fraser come here and, with a cry of calamity, urge the Government to strike off the duties on fodder ? Was the honorable senator, in the speech I have quoted, trying- to induce widows and orphans to take shares in the Squatting Investment Company, or was he saying what he really believed to be true ? I believe he was speaking the truth, and what is true of the Bundaleer station is true of a great many others, which are able to produce fodder right up to the- doors of their sheds, the grass lying on the ground nearly all the year round as preserved fodder. It only requires a few speeches like that which I have quoted to prove to the community how hollow is this appeal on behalf of the squatters. When Senator Fraser asks what is the use of putting a duty on meat, I put the question to him - What are he and his friends the squatters doing but imposing a duty on meat, when they are keeping from 115,000 to 120,000 sheep on one station, instead of sending some of them to the markets in the South, and bringing down the price ?
SenatorFraser. - That is all the honorable senator knows about it ; he does not know that sheep cannot travel now, because they would perish before they reached the railway station.
– That is all very well.
SenatorFraser. - The honorable senator is talking of that about which he knows nothing.
– The honorable senator should have spoken about matters which were within bis own personal knowledge. He had no more right to speak of others than I have ; and he acknowledges in the speech I have quoted that the squatting property in which he is interested has an abundance of foodand water. The station referred to by Senator Fraser is in the very midst of a vast extent of country of the same character. It is in the midst of what we understand to be the dry region of Queensland, in the neighbourhood of Charlesville and Cunnamulla. I do not deny that some parts of the country are suffering from drought of a very disastrous character, but when squatters like Senator Fraser make appeals to the Government on behalf of such concerns as the Squatting Investment Company, I should not be doing my duty to the people in the towns if I did not raise my voice in protest. If it were not for such squatters as those referred to, the price of beef and mutton would not be anything like as high as it is now. But some of the squatters would rather see the animals rot on the ground than send them down to the towns and let the poor people get the benefit, although we are asked to take money out of the pockets of the people in the towns who have to pay such high prices for their meat, to assist by means of taxation the Squatting Investment Company.and others.
SenatorFraser. - I was appealing on behalf of the farmers.
– This is the first time within my knowledge that any representative squatter has ever raised a cry on behalf of the farmers. The squatters do their best to keep the farmers off the land ; they would not give them an acre if they could help it. They have fought the farmers for every inch of ground they occupy. I trust that Senators Pulsford and Fraser will see their way clear to desist from the course of action upon which they have entered. I am anxious to fall in with the views of the majority in regard to this question, and if the honorable senators referred to will desist from their action, I will promise not to occupy more time upon the Tariff.
SenatorFRASER (Victoria).- In referring to the squatting industry, I related to the committee nothing but facts. The Squatting Investment Company has expended £50, 000 sterling on artesian bores. I am entitled, with my co-directors, to thecredit of having put down the first artesian bores in Australia. We put down the first bore in a cotton bush paddock, near Cunnamulla. That property does not want for wheat. But it is only one out of 10,000. If it were proper for me to make statements here in regard to other Queensland properties in which I am interested, I should have to tell a very different tale indeed. Out of 40,000 cattle upon one station, 30,000 are dead, whilst 4,000 or 5,000 of the balance have had to be removed elsewhere. The tale of the majority of the pastoralists in Queensland is ‘that all their sheep have died. At a property near Aramac I lost 20,000 sheep, and my case is typical of thousands of others.
– Still the honorable senator is a millionaire.
– No man can be a millionaire in this weather. I simply rose to contradict the highly-coloured statements which have been made in this connexion - statements which I could not justly allow to pass unchallenged.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I am really astonished at the way. in which Senator Higgs has alluded to this topic and to the pastoral industry in general. He has entirely overlooked the fact that nearly the whole of the money which comes into Australia from foreign parts is derived from the pastoral industry. It represents the proceeds of the sale of wool and meat which have been exported. The receipts from these sources, together with those derived from mining in general, constitute the bulkof the Australian revenue. Yet we find Senator Higgs calmly dismissing a proposal to abolish the duty upon wheat by a declaration that the only question which it involved is that of the profit which a few men make from the sale of their beasts. If there were any real prospect that the drought had broken up, there might not be so much to be said in favour of the remission of the duty. But those who understand the question most intimately are decidedly of opinion that the drought has not broken up, and therefore to continue to enhance the cost of keeping stock is a very serious matter indeed. What has been the experience elsewhere in connexion with matters of this sort? Until recent years legislation in England made it penal to lock up grain, thereby increasing its price. The proposed duty will not assist the farmers one iota. It will only help those speculators who have been purchasing all the wheat available - an absolutely immoral proceeding - in order that they may trade upon the direst necessities of their fellow creatures. In the old terms of the law, these individuals were called regraters and forestallers. The same practice was resorted to in Egypt when Joseph purchased a lot of wheat in order that it might be retailed to the people at a fair price. His action, however, was prompted by a desire to prevent speculation of the character which we propose to encourage. But there is an additional reason why this request should be again sent back to the other Chamber. When it was believed that this duty could not be swept away, a number of members of the House of Representatives were loud in their professions of sympathy with the farmers and pastoralists. Since then they have had an opportunity of putting their professions into practice, but, strange to say, they refused to support that course of action which would have had the effect of realizing their desire. Therefore, let us give them another opportunity of acceding to our request in the interests of the public. We are face to face at the present moment with a position, the gravity of which cannot be overrated. It is true that we have had a little rain, which has made the grass grow, but unless a further fall takes place that grass will simply shrivel away, and the position of the pastoralist will be very much worse than it would have been had no rain fallen.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 23. Grain and pulse prepared or manufactured, viz. . . . n.e.i., per cental, 2s. 6d.
Senate’sRequest. - That the duty be Is. (id. per cental.
House ofRepresenlatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) agreed to-
That the request be not pressed .
Item 24. Hay and chaff, Is. per cwt.
Senate’s Request. - Add to special exemptions.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the request be not pressed -
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - It has already been pointed out that this duty presses most heavily upon the industries of the country. Earnest, but unsuccessful appeals have been made to honorable senators to place the item upon the free list. Upon the last division a number of honorable senators who shared my views regarding the need which exists for remitting the duty upon wheat, abstained from voting because they believe that the time has arrived when finality should be reached in connexion with the Tariff. Probably they do not feel so keenly in this matter as do the representatives from New South Wales. To my mind the duty with which we are now dealing is more important than are the duties upon hats, caps, and apparel. It will produce no revenue, saving during a period of stress and difficulty, such as I hope we shall not again experience for many years. Whilst it is true that rain has recently fallen in portions of the different States, I would point out that it has not visited some of the worst droughtstricken districts of New South Wales and Queensland, and unless a much greater downfall takes place, the present position will be very much accentuated. However, in the circumstances to which I have already alluded, I recognise that there is only one course for me to adopt, namely, to enter my earnest protest against the action of Parliament in this connexion. It will be my duty, and that of a number of other honorable senators, to try to cause at no remote date a change to take place in the opinions of Parliament, not only in regard to the duties upon fodder, but in regard to other duties with which we have been called upon to deal.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - If there are any persons in the community who would benefit from the acceptance of the amendments in regard to the fodder duties which we on this side have desired to make, they are the members of the Government, who to-day are bearing a heavy burden of blame for the injury which is being inflicted upon a large portion of Australia. I cannot but feel a sinister pleasure in anticipating the time, which I hope will not be very long delayed, when, the drought having ended, prices i will again reach their normal level, and i farmers will begin to see how utterly bogus and valueless, are protective duties on agricultural produce. The consequences of the drought to Australia will be more serious than any senator seems prepared to admit. We have not yet felt its full results. One point of view which perhaps is too commonly ignored is the intense suffering which it has entailed upon millions of the brute creation. Sheep have perished and are perishing, not merely in tens of thousands but in millions, and those who have had it in their power to do a little for the alleviation of their sufferings have resolutely, callously, and brutally, refused to allow of the mitigation which the free admission of fodder would have brought about. I deeply regret the position, but I am certain that those who will suffer most from the imposition of these duties will in the end be those who have thought fit to impose them.
– I remained silent for many hours while the existence of the drought in New South Wales and Queensland was being discussed, because I felt that what I had to say might lead some to think that I have no sympathy with the unfortunate squatters and selectors who have suffered so severely, and some of whom have been entirely ruined. .1 do not, however, think that the accusations which are being made against Ministers by some of my honorable friends opposite, are just. No legislation can bring about prosperity unless it is based upon justice. A Customs Bill which has a protective incidence is in the nature of a contract. The farmer who, in a small State like Tasmania, cultivates 100 acres, or in a large State like New South Wales, 1,000 acres of wheat under a protective Tariff, does so on the faith of the assurance that when he comes to sell his crop he will benefit by the duties imposed upon grain. Although I admit that the hardship which the squatters and farmers in other States have suffered because of the drought is very great, the true remedy lies in the hands of the Governments of the States. If they think, as I believe they might rightly think, that the disaster is so great that it calls for State relief, it lies with them to do all they can to ameliorate it ; not with the Commonwealth to alter the . incidence of taxation to meet exceptional circumstances. Honorable senators who have blamed Ministers for not proposing the remission of the duties upon fodder have not looked at the matter from the point of view of justice, upon which all legislation must be based.
Motion agreed to.
Item 46. Bice, viz……. n.e.i., per cental, 6s.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be 5s.
Item 58. Apparel and attire, and articles, n.e.i., woollen or silk….. not containing wool or silk, . . . . ad valorem. 25 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be 20 per cent.
Item 03. Hats and Caps, viz. , men’s, women’s, boy’s, and children’s felt …. hats and caps, sewn,….. ad valorem. 30_ per cent.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be 25 per cent.
Item 87. Cement (Portland) . . per cwt., 3d.
Senate’s Request. -That the duty be6d.
Item . 1 36. Explosives, viz. , ammunition and cartridges, n.e.i., free.
Senate’s Request. - That the duty be 10 per cent. ad valorem.
Miscellaneous exemptions -
Senates Request. - That “Articles imported by and for the official use of the Governor-General or State Governors “ be omitted from the Miscellaneous exemptions.
House of Representatives’ Message. - ;That the amendments requested be not mode.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) agreed to-
That the requests be not pressed.
Modification of the date of the coming into force of the duties, contained in the Message of the House of Representatives, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the Bill, as amended by the House of Representatives at the request of the Senate, be reported without amendment to the Senate.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania)__ I think that we ought to say, “ be reported without f urther requests,” because the Committee has not the power to amend a Bill of this character. In my opinion, the phraseology of the motion is not sound, and we ought to be particular in that respect.
– I think that the words “ without amendment “ should be left out.
– O - Our practice in dealing with the Bill in committee has not been uniform. Until we came to the schedule, the various clauses were treated as clauses of an ordinary Bill. Then the President pointed out - I think correctly - that the Bill could not be dealt with under the ordinary standing orders, because it is a measure to which they are not applicable, inasmuch as the committee could come to a decision in regard to its provisions only in one way. I think that we all accepted that ruling, but, inasmuch as the Bill has been dealt with partly under the standing orders and partly in accordance with the ruling of the President, it appeared to me that the safer thing to do, in moving that it be reported, was to state exactly what has taken place in committee, in compliance with the standing order which applies to this stage, and which requires that a Bill must be reported either with or without amendments. As the Bill has not been amended, it is an accurate statement to say that it is reported without amendments.
– Could we not say - ““Without further requests for amendments?”
– I - It is unnecessary to say that, because we shall make that clear at a further stage. I agree with honorable senators, however, that it would be more in accord with the provisions of the Constitution if the words “ without amendment” were left out.
Question amended accordingly.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I am quite sure that Senator Clemons has rightly interpreted the position. The words, “ without amendment,” are in the standing order, but we need not pay regard to it, because, if necessary, it can be suspended to enable the report to be adopted.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the Chairman report to the House -
That the Committee have considered Message No. 59 of the House of Representatives, and recommend - That the amendment in regard to Senate’s amendment No. 38 be agreed to.
The Modifications of the House of Representatives to-Senate’s Requests Nos. 36, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 58, 59, and 66 be agreed to.
The Modification of the House of Representatives in regard to Senate’s Request No. 9, to which that House adheres, be agreed to.
The RequestsNos. 4, 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 20, 25, 26, 29, 30, 07, 86, and 90, to which the House of Representatives has not acceded, be not again requested.
The Modification as to date from which the amendments now made come into effect be agreed to.
– As we have practically concluded our consideration of this difficult and longdebated subject, it may not, perhaps, be inopportune for me, as one of the commercial representatives of the Commonwealth, to say that the conclusion of our labour will give the utmost satisfaction to the commercial world and to the public generally. May I also venture to say that I think the Ministry have been exceedingly fortunate in having the Vice-President of the Executive Council in charge of this very difficult measure, and that we, as a Senate, have also been exceedingly . fortunate in having such a gentleman in charge of it. With that remark may I also couple the name of Senator Symon, who has devoted an immense amount of time to the Tariff, and has done his best with others to mould the Bill into what we believe to be a better shape than that in which it entered the Senate ? The discussion has been carried on throughout with wondeiful good temper, and there has been an absence of friction. I only hope that the administration of the measure will also be carried on without friction. It may not have occurred to honorable senators, but I have just been reminded that it is exactly eleven months to-night since the Tariff was introduced in another place. We may all fairly say that they have been eleven months of hard work for both Houses, and although the result as a whole may not be satisfactory to both sides, still a very difficult subject has been handled, and, taking everything into consideration, handled successfully.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the reports be adopted. .
– I desire to know, Mr. President, whether the second report, reporting the Bill as amended by the House of Representatives, can be adopted now? Of course, if necessary, I am sure that we should all consent to the suspension of thestanding orders to enable that course to be followed, but I ask whether the second report can be adopted without the suspension of the standing orders. Standing Order 307 lays down the procedure. Of course, the Bill has been amended by the House of Representatives at the request of the Senate.
– Not by us.
– Not by us. As we are following a practice applicable to a new state of things, I think it would be well to have your ruling, sir, as to whether Standing Order 307, which permits the adoption of a report being moved immediately, is applicable.
– I think that so far as the standing order applies, if it does apply, we can adopt the report immediately without the suspension of the standing orders. If it does not, then, of course, the Senate can do what it wishes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Royal assent reported.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendments resumed from 5th September, vide page 15812) :
Postponed amendments -
Clause 146 (Ballot-paper to be handed to elector) -
– I move -
That the committee disagree to the amendment omitting the words “ he delivers to the presiding officer a voter’s certificate,” and inserting in Lieu thereof the words “ his name is on the roll for the division and he makes and signs a declaration as required by section 140a.”
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 September 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020909_senate_1_12/>.