26 May 1903

1st Parliament · 2nd Session

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The Senate met at noon pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.

The Clerk of the Parliaments read the proclamation.

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His Excellency the Governor-General entered the chamber, and took the chair. A message was forwarded to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency awaited the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber, who, being come with their Speaker,

HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech : -

G entlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :

I have called you together to continue the work begun in the first session of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. It was found impossible, by reason of the exhaustive discussion of the Federal Tariff, to deal with any but the most urgent of the proposals then brought before you, and renewed demands must now be made on your industry and patriotism before the Commonwealth machinery can be deemed complete.

Experience has emphasized the necessity for the establishment of the High Court of Judicature contemplated by the Constitution. You will be asked to give your immediate attention to a Bill dealing with this subject.

Another measure will be introduced to regulate legal procedure in this connexion so as to avoid unnecessary delay or expense in the course of litigation.

An early opportunity will be afforded you of considering the report of the experts who were intrusted with the duty of examining the conditions of several areas within which it has been proposed that the seat of government of the Commonwealth should be placed. My Advisers expect that the information which has been collected on this subject will enable you to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Ministers regard with satisfaction the growth of public feeling in favour of the establishment of Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration as a means of avoiding strikes and lock-outs, and of amicably settling industrial disputes. They will, therefore, ask you to consider a proposal to establish courts for the prevention and settlement of disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.

You will be asked to ratify an agreement between the Admiralty and the Government of the Commonwealth which modifies the existing agreement, and secures for the naval defence of Australia the protection of a powerful and continuously efficient squadron of warships at a moderate cost.

In pursuance of resolutions passed during last session, a Bill will be introduced to accept British New Guinea as a territory of the Commonwealth by the completion of its transfer from theImperial Government. Due provision will be made for the future administration of the new territory.

You will be asked to establish by Statute a uniform defence system for Australia.

The direct representation of the Commonwealth in London by a High Commissioner is deemed necessary, and a measure for that purpose will engage your attention.

A Bill will be laid before you to establish a uniform patent law, enabling inventors, in future, to obtain protection throughout the Commonwealth by a single registration.

My Advisers feel that the distinct demand expressed by the people of Australia for the substitution of white for coloured labour in the sugar industry implies a readiness to share the financial burden imposed by this substitution. They, therefore, propose to replace the system of rebates, charged against the excise duties payable to the States concerned, by an equivalent bonus chargeable to the whole population. This step, while it will not lessen the encouragement given to the employment of white labour, will effect a more equitable distribution of the cost of the national policy.

In order to execute and maintain the provisions of the Constitution intended to assurefreedom of trade between the States, a Bill will be introduced to provide for the establishment of an Inter-State Commission with the powers necessary to give effect to that essential purpose.

Youwill also be asked to consider short measures relating to naturalization, rings and trusts, and elections to the Senate in certain events.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :

Estimates of expenditure will be submitted to you in due course, framed with a careful regard to economy, but, at the same time, maintaining the efficiency of the public service of the Commonwealth.

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives : A number of other important measures are in preparation. Among these is a Bill to provide a uniformnavigation and shipping law. This measure, however, is. necessarily long and complicated. Consideration has been given by my Advisers to the question of taking over the State debts and to the establishment of a banking law for the Commonwealth. My Advisers will gladly take advantage of any opportunity which may offer of bringing these subjects before you, but they are not sanguine of being able to do so in the course of this session.

Although legislative consent to the project has not yet been received from South Australia and Western Australia, a commission of railway engineers has been appointed to inquire into the question of railway connexion between the East and the West of Australia, and their report will shortly be complete. In instituting this important examination Ministers have felt that members should be in possession of thefullest information possible before any steps are taken in this important work. They are, however, of opinion that the isolation of Western Australia retards the development of the federal spirit. It is admittedly desirable to remove so serious a bar to the complete political and commercial union of the Commonwealth, and my Advisers trust that it will be found that the project rests on a basis of sound finance. When the legislative authority is complete, provision for a survey of the line will be sought, should the report of the Commission justify that course.

During the past year the cable communications of the Commonwealth have been affected for the better by important events. The Pacific cable, now successfully completed, cannot be expected to yield an immediate monetary profit. But the project and its accomplishment have already cheapened and facilitated intercourse with the mother country and Europe, as well as. Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. Subject to your approval, a contract has been entered into between my Government and the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, which, while conserving substantial reductions on the rates prevailing until recently, substitutes an arrangement terminable in a reasonable time for the virtually perpetual obligation which was originally entered into by four contracting States, and which was a burden on tlie Commonwealth until the conclusion of tlie new agreement.

The inquiries of the Select Committee on the Bonus Bill have, since the close of last session, been continued by a Royal Commission, and the report, when received, will be laid before you.

The imperial Conference held during the past year in London may be expected to be far-reaching in its results. I have already referred to the naval agreement, which formed one of the subjects for discussion. Other matters of grave importance to the Commonwealth were discussed, and the conclusions of the conference will be laid before you. The urgency, however, of questions of domestic importance prevents Ministers from asking you to give immediate consideration to the question of preferential trade and to other subjects dealt with in the resolutions.

My Advisers observe with gratification recent utterances of the Secretary of State for the Colonies advocating the encouragement of trade relations between various parts of the Empire.

The approaching termination of the existing contract for the carriage of mails between England and Australia, viti Suez, will render it necessary to make new arrangements, giving effect to the provision in the Post and Telegraph Act, which forbids the making of contracts for the carriage of mails bv vessels on which other than white labour is employed. The matter is under careful consideration, and tenders will shortly be invited.

Arrangements are in progress, and will shortly be concluded, for a more frequent and efficient mail service between Tasmania and the mainland in consideration of an increased subsidy.

The passage of the Commonwealth Electoral Act has rendered necessary the division of the various States into new electorates. This work is proceeding with all possible speed, and the plan of division will be submitted to you when completed.

Notwithstanding the drought, which proved so disastrous in many parts of Australia, the Federal finances are in a very satisfactory condition. The return of good seasons, which is now so widely expected, will give new impetus ‘ to’ the development of our resources and the expansion of our industries.

I now leave you to your deliberations, in the earnest hope that you may be prospered by Divine guidance in your great and arduous labours.

His Excellency the Governor-General having retired,

The President took the chair, and read prayers.

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The PRESIDENT acquainted the Senate that vacancies had occurred during the recess by the death, on 2nd January, 1903, of Sir Frederick Thomas Sargood, K.C.M.G., a Senator for the State of Victoria, and by the resignation, on 17th April, of Norman Kirkwood Ewing, a Senator for the State of Western Australia, and that, in pursuance of the directions of the Constitution Act, in the absence of the President from the Commonwealth, the GovernorGeneral had notified the vacancy in the representation of the State of Victoria to the Governor of that State, and that he (the President) had notified the vacancy in the representation of the State of Western Australia to the Governor of that State, and that he had received from the GovernorGeneral the original certificate under the hand of the Governor of Victoria to the effect that the Honorable Robert Reid, a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, had been chosen to fill the vacancy in the representation of that State.

Certificate read by the Clerk.

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Senator DRAKE:
PostmasterGeneral · Queensland · Protectionist

– The lamented death of Sir Frederick Sargood, on the 2nd January last, occurred at a time when honorable senators were nearly all at their homes throughout Australia, and ‘ this is the first opportunity that has occurred of giving expression to the profound grief with which that sad news was received. It is probable that most of the members of the Senate, like myself, only had the pleasure and the privilege of the acquaintance of Senator Sir Frederick Sargood since it commenced its sittings. There ave some here, and probably more outside, whose acquaintance with the deceased gentleman dated very much further back. Before the federation of the States, Senator Sir Frederick Sargood had a distinguished career as a legislator and as a member of several administrations in Victoria. To this Parliament he brought a fund of ripe experience of men and affairs gathered in an active life passed in politics and in commercial pursuits, and his clear judgment and diligent criticism of the measures brought before this Parliament were of the greatest value to the Commonwealth. Our admiration of him will not be lessened when we remember that his influence and his example were always exercised in the direction of maintaining the dignity of the Chamber. By his death the Commonwealth has lost a worthy citizen, and the Senate has lost a member whose memory will be esteemed by all who knew him. I beg leave to move -

  1. That this House records its sense of the loss the Commonwealth has suffered in the death of Lieut. -Colonel Sir Frederick Sargood, K.C.M.G., and expresses its sincere condolence with his widow and family in their bereavement.
  2. That Mr. President be requested to convey the foregoing resolution to Lady Sargood.
South Australia

– I rise to second the motion, which, couched in terms of the most expressive character, will, I am sure, com-, mand the assent, although in the circumstances a painful assent, of every member of this Chamber. My acquaintance with the late Sir Frederick Sargood was most intimate during the time that he was a member of this Senate, and I can say that no word, no syllable of exaggeration has passed the lips of my honorable and learned friend at the table in his estimate of the character of our lamented friend. Upon all questions he was animated, as I think, by a most lofty and abiding sense of public duty. In that lie never failed, and from the line of conduct which that led him into he never shrank. He was, I think, in all things a pattern of conscientious industry. He sought, in season and out of season, to serve the State, to serve the Commonwealth, without at the same time doing any disservice to any individual. I know no man who was more absolutely free from personal feeling of any kind or description, who was more absolutely patriotic in all that he did, in all that he undertook to do : his counsel and his ready help were available, I think, alike to all, no matter on what side of the Senate they sat. To me his lamented death was a cause of deep personal grief. He never brought himself prominently forward if the cause of the country would be best served by his remaining in the background He served loyally in this Senate, and my honorable and learned friend said no word more than was necessary when he declared a minute ago that his memory will ever be fresh in this Chamber. It will be ever kept green in the minds of the citizens of the Commonwealth, and it will be an example and a guide to us all.

South Australia

– It is always our duty in circumstances of this kind to sympathize -with those who have been bereaved, and in the case of a gentleman of the character of him who has left us, it is our duty, not only to sympathize with his relatives, but also to express our own sorrow at losing one who had always been of assistance in carrying out legislation for the benefit of the people. The members of the labour party always found in the late Senator Sargood a gentleman. It did not matter how much he might differ with others on questions of legislation or of opinion : he never allowed any of those differences to affect his gentlemanly conduct towards others, and I could point to numerous instances of little kindnesses bestowed upon those who sought his assistance in the capacity of a legislator and in the capacity of a friend. We all hope that those who may have the privilege of making the laws of the Commonwealth will be gentlemen of .the upright character and the straightforward conduct of our late friend, Senator Sir Frederick Sargood.

Senator BARRETT:

– I join in the regrets which have been expressed in connexion with the death of Senator Sargood. As a representative of this State, and for very many years before I entered a House of Legislature; I had an acquaintance with Sir Frederick, and in an official capacity I. assisted him in some matters concerning the industrial population of this State. Perhaps the greatest tribute I can pay to his memory is to say that he was a good and a just man. As an employer of labour he set an example that might have been followed by many others throughout Australia. We feel today that in him we have lost a dear friend. I concur in what has been said of him. I trust that we shall keep his memory green, and strive to emulate him in that which he set before him to do - namely, his duty.


– Before putting the question, T may, perhaps, be permitted to say how cordially T agree with everything that has been said in praise of the lamented senator. . He was every man’s ‘ friend, a most generous opponent, and whenever any differences of opinion arose between himself and any one else he was most cordial and gentlemanly. I feel sure that every honorable senator here deeply regrets his loss, and expresses his sympathy with the widow.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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Bill presented by Senator Brake, and read a first time.

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Senator FRASER presented a petition from ‘ the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures praying for the repeal of subjection (y) of section 3, and section 11, of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.

Petition received and read.

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Senator REID made and subscribed the oath and signed the roll.

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– I have the honour to inform the Senate that I have received a copy of. the speech delivered in this chamber by His Excellency the Governor-General, and that I propose, subject to the approval of the Senate, to dispense with the reading thereof.

Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -

That a committee be appointed to prepare an address in reply to the Governor-General’s speech and report to the Semite to-morrow; such committee to consist of Senator!* Sir John Downer, lit. -Col. Cameron, Macfarlane, and McGregor.

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Senator DR AKE laid upon the table, the following papers : -

Annual Report of the . Administration of British ‘New Guinea.

Proceedings of the Conference held in London between the Secretary of State for the. Colonies and the Prime Ministers of the self-governing colonies.

Customs and Excise Regulations.

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Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake)’ -

That the Senate at its rising adjourn until halfpast two o’clock to-morrow.

Senate adjourned at 12. 50 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 May 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.