1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator DOBSON presented a petition from the Hobart Public House Trust Association, praying the Senate to legislate so as to eliminate private profit from the liquor traffic.
Petition received and read.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Resolutions agreed to at a Conference of Premiers at Sydney.
Papers relating to admission of certain boilermakers into Western Australia.
Papers relating to admission of certain Maories into New South Wales.
Papers relating to arrival of six hatters under contract.
Ordered to be printed.
Return under the Immigration Restriction Act.
Regulations under the Public Service Act.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table the following papers : -
Receipts and expenditure for year ended 30th June, 1902, with report of Auditor-General.
Receipts and expenditure for period ended 30th June, 1901, with report of Auditor-General.
– I know of no such papers.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I move -
That the days of meeting of this Senate during the present session be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week, at, the hour of half -past two o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and at the hour of half -past ten o’ clock in the forenoon of Friday, unless otherwise ordered.
It is a copy of the .resolution which was passed at the commencement of last session after discussion.
– ls it intended to sit on Friday so as to allow private members’ business to be taken 1
– Whenever it is. convenient to the Senate.
– This, I think, is a fitting time to raise the question of the conduct of business. It is likely to be a short session, and judging from the indications we have had of the intentions of the Government, we are to be asked to mark time while their measures are being dealt with in the other House. During that time the Senate is to sit on only three days in the week while the other House is to meet on four days in the week, and towards the close of the session I suppose we shall be asked -to sit on four days, and to rush through the legislation of the other House at express speed. The only Bills to come before the Senate immediately are the Patents Bill, and the Senate Elections Bill, one being a measure of some importance and the other simply a machinery Bill. If this course is adopted we shall witness the same result in the Senate as has been so often witnessed in the Legislative Councils of the States. The Senate, which in this respect, I suppose, corresponds to the Upper House in a State, will be asked at the very last minute to assent to the legislation which has been passed by the other House. We ought to insist that some of that legislation should be initiated in the Senate, and that it should sit as often as the other House. It will not be fair in the last few weeks of the session to ask the Senate to merely assent to legislation which has been framed by the other House. It seems that if we accept the motion we shall practically have nothing more to do than to ‘ give our assent to the proposals put before the Senate by the. Government. I should like to know whether the Senate is prepared to do that - to take a back seat, and sit formally on three days a week to deal with legislation of minor importance, whilst all the measures of first importance are introduced and dealt with by .the other House, and the Senate in the last month of the session asked merely to give a cursory glance at that legislation, and assent to it. We heard a great deal last session about the Senate being the guardian of State rights. Every measure to be introduced during the coming session will hinge upon the question of State rights. Yet the House which is supposed to be the guardian of State rights is to take a very secondary position in dealing with that’ legislation. We might have some assurance from the representative of the Government in the Senate as to what is their intention, and as to whether we arc to have any of those Billa introduced here at anything like an early stage of the session, so that we may deal with them properly and not in a hurried manner. I think that we might very well meet on four days a week, and that some of the new Bills might be introduced here, so that we could, concurrently with the other House, be dealing with important legislation, instead of having to wait, as we did last session so repeatedly, to enable the other House to send us something to go on with. There is another question which involves the rights’ of the Senate as a house of legislature. In the ordinary course of events it is impossible for a private member to bring forward any question, .because the time is occupied by Government business. On Friday it is proposed that a certain portion of the time shall be set aside for private member’s business. It may be argued that a private member will occupy time ‘ in introducing debates of a literary debating society character ; but we never know when a private member may introduce business of supreme importance to the people of Australia. By allowing this proposed order of business to be adopted, we are depriving ourselves as private members of the opportunity of bringing forward questions of importance. I think that we ought to insist upon the Senate sitting on the same number of days as the other House sits, and we ought also to insist on being given exactly the same opportunities as are given to .the House of Representatives of dealing fully with all the legislation that the Government submits to Parliament.
– I submit as a point of order, that a general discussion at the present’ stage is not only outside our standing orders, but is opposed to the entire practice of Parliament, inasmuch as we are discussing business that ought not to be debated until the Address in Reply to the speech from the Throne has been dealt with. In the House of Commons the rule is that no discussion on any topic of general business arises until after the Address in Reply has been adopted, and I believe the same course of procedure is adopted in all Colonial Parliaments. I submit that under outstanding orders - to go no further - only formal business can be taken prior to dealing with the Address in Reply. I do not object to the discussion as to the number of days we should sit, but am merely submitting the point that it is only proper and in accordance with parliamentary custom that we should not discuss it until the Address in Reply has been adopted.
– Standing Order No. 34 says -
No business beyond what is of a formal character shall be entered upon before the Address in Reply to the Governor’s opening speech has been adopted.
Looking at the motion, it seemed to me to be a formal one, and I did not stop the honorable senator who spoke because his remarks were certainly relevant tothe question. But I think it would be well to, as Ear as possible, carry out the standing order which I have quoted.
– I wish to ask whether Standing Order No. 34 is in force in this Chamber at all ? If I remember rightly, that was one of the eliminated standing orders.
– I learn that that is so.
– I certainly should not have proposed this motion if I had thought that itwas going to lead to a discussion. I thought that it was the general desire of the Senate that we should adopt the practice which we followed at the commencement of the last session. The President did not put the question as to whether these motions were formal or not - I presume because it was concluded all round that they would be taken as formal.
– The honorable and learned senator knows that the practice Was unsatisfactory last session.
– If the Senate desires to have a debate on the question I shall ask to be allowed to withdraw the motion, so that we may proceed with the discussion of the Address in Reply. But I put it to the Senate that it is desirable that this motion should be carried now, because it will enable the Senate to have a knowledge with regard to our course of business, and will give honorable senators the advantage of knowing beforehand the days when their attendance here will be required.
– Whilst I very greatly agree with what my honorable friend Senator Pearce has said - and none of us can be forgetful of the inconvenience that was caused at various times during the long last session, because of the arrangement of business while we were waiting upon the other Chamber - yet I would ask him not to move an amendment now, because the motion permits of any alteration being made at any time to suit the convenience of the business of the Senate. I do not understand that Senator Pearce has any intention to move an amendment.
– I desire to point out that three days a week for the Senate ought to give us equal debating time with four days a week for the House of Representatives. Therefore I hope that the motion will be allowed to pass as it stands. At the same time it would be a convenience to the Senate if we had an assurance from Ministers that we shall not be kept idle and that we shall have Bills of importance to go on with.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That on Wednesday and Thursday, during the present session, Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and that private business take precedence of Government business on Friday up to the dinner hour.
That the right be reserved to His Majesty’s Ministers of placing Government business in the rotation in which it is to be taken.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That it be a sessional order that whenever the
Senate shall be informed by the Clerk at the table of the absence of the President, the Chairman of Committees shall take the chair of the Senateas Deputy-President during such absence.
– I beg to bring up the report of the committee appointed to prepare the Address in Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech.
The Address in. Reply was then read by the Clerk, as follows : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General - May it please- Your Excellency, -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the speech with which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I beg to move -
That the Address in Reply be adopted.
I always feel that the mover of the Address in Reply is at a great disadvantage, because he is generally supposed to be rather friendly to the Government, and has not the latitude that those who are in a divergent position happen to enjoy. There is a certain sense of tameness in getting up simply to express agreement, when, perhaps, you would like to “ contradict a wee.” I ask the hearty sympathy of all my friends on account of the situation. The Government has been very much criticised during the recess - no Government more so. With a new Constitution, new machinery, and unknown results, this was inevitable.
-Col. Neild. - And deserved.
– Oh, it is the duty of people to criticise. I do not say whether the criticism is deserved or not, but every one does his duty in keeping a very acute* eye upon institutions that are new, and about the working of which no one knows very much. I claim standing here as one not agreeing with all that the Government has done by any means-
– But with most of it.
– Yes. I claim that they have managed during the recess magnificently, and that they have strengthened their position in the eyes of the people of. Australia as compared with their position at the time when the recess was entered upon. Although there have been harshnesses - great harshnesses, .in my opinion - in administration, that administration, taking it altogether, in spite of six hatters or twelve hatters, or any other number that honorable senators like to mention, has been excellent. I say again that it has been harsh at times.
– But just.
– I will not say that. ‘ Sometimes it has seemed to me to be harsh and unjust, but it was conducted on strong .lines and with certainty, as’ though the Government had resolved that the only possible way was to be severe, even though they hurt’ their’ own ‘friends in the course of their’ administration. The one subject that has always been, discussed during the recess has been the severe administration of the Customs. There were one or two cases to my knowledge that were just about as hard as they could possibly be, in which persons who were per fectly inn’ocent were brought up and punished. At the time it seemed to me to be very cruel and unjust, and I have not altogether altered my opinion on that subject. But at the same time there was a big . area to go over. There were big questions to be considered, and above all there was the duty of treating friends and foes alike, and of maintaining the observance of the law. That, I believe, has been the honest attempt of the Government. I am perfectly sure that we should not have given the Government the power they have had if we had known that- they were going to exercise it as they have done. But although we should not have given them the power, it does not follow that they have not exercised it well, and that we did not do better than’ we knew. That is practically my opinion about the whole matter. I think the law has been administered admirably, and in a way that has commended itself to the people of Australia and made the Government infinitely stronger.
– Does the honorable and learned senator believe that ? I do not.
– When we speak about the opinion of the people, we must remember, of course, that the people always like some other fellow to be punished. The Minister says - “ I have put down fraud, and done this and that,” and we know that to be the case. At the same time, although there may have been an occasional injustice here and there-
– Although there may have been an occasional injustice here and there, I think the people of ‘ Australia generally say that there has been a stern, inflexible resolve to carry out the law, and that it has not been so badly carried out, having regard to the whole. In instances, however, injustices may have occurred.
– They fixed up all that they caught.
– Yes. This question of administration is the principal one. I do not propose to deal with little incidents like that of the six hatters, and of the Maories, who, it seems, were not kept out of Australia, although I suppose my honorable friends from New South Wales vehemently declare, or at least suspect that they were prohibited in some way or other.
– Then there is the case of the Sultan of J ohore, who was not kept out.
– I do not even propose to refer to the case of the Sultan of Johore, who, I think, was not subjected to much inconvenience. He spoke to me about the matter, and he did not complain. His grievances were published in the newspaper, but in conversation with me he made no complaint, although we discussed some very private matters. The great subject of discussion during the recess has been this question of Customs administration. We have had many opportunities of seeing what was done, and how it worked. We have also had to recognise that we have a responsibility for the legislation we passed, and after thinking the matter over very carefully my conclusion is that the work has been very well done, and that the action of the Government in the administration of Customs affairs has been very excellent. I do not propose to make any further reference to that matter. We know, of course, of the visit paid to England by the Prime Minister ; and we know of the work that was done there, resulting in the naval agreement which has been the subject of very great discussion throughout Australia. That the Prime Minister maintained the dignity of Australia when in -Great Britain we all know. We know, too, that he appealed not only to the intellect, but to the hearts of the people there. I firmly believe that his work was excellent, and that the naval agreement is a most commendable arrangement.
– Not for Australia.
– I am simply expressing my own opinion, and I repeat that the naval agreement is a most excellent arrangement for Australia.
– Not a naval man in Australia agrees with the honorable and learned senator.
– We need to consider the views of naval men out of Australia as well as here, in order to arrive at an even balance of opinion. At present we have a number of ships that are quite played out - there is no doubt about that - and we pay £106,000 a year for them. The new proposal is that we shall pay £200,000 a year for many more ships of a much better class - ships which are not merely new, but which are to be kept up to date. Incidentally it is proposed that these vessels shall be training grounds for our Australian men. They are to be manned practically by Australians, and the difference in the expenditure is the difference between £106,000 and £200,000. Under the new agreement the Commonwealth will have a first-class cruiser which will probably be of about 12,000 tons, with a speed of 21 knots ; two secondclass cruisers, of about 5,800 tons each, with a speed of 21 knots ; four third-class cruisers, of about 2,200 tons each, with a speed of 20 knots; and four sloops,” of about 1,070 tons each, possessing a speed of 13 knots. These ships are to be of modern type, and are to be kept so. That is a very important point. The armament of the ships to be provided will be immensely superior to that of the ships at present on this station, and the guns are to be of a much heavier and more modern type than those of the existing squadron. The agreement does not mean that this is all which the Imperial Government is to do. It sets forth what they undertake to do, but they will have to provide more assistance if that assistance is required. In addition to the provisions I have mentioned, three ships are to be kept as drill-ships, and used for training a Royal Naval Reserve. One of the secondclass cruisers is to be manned exclusively, if possible, by Australians and New Zealand ers ; and the Royal Naval Reserve, which I have mentioned, is to consist of 25 officers and 700 men. The agreement speaks for itself. Under it employment will be given to a number of Australians in the following ways : -
What possible complaint can there be in regard to the agreement ? That is a question which has puzzled me for a long time. It seems to me that it is a most admirable arrangement - entirely the species of agreement that we require. Of course the Meet will have to be under the Admiralty. There must be one head ; there cannot be many. But the fleet proposed is one that will meet the growing requirements and importance of Australia, and the agreement which has been made is a most liberal one on the part of the Imperial Government, and one which we all ought to affirm. I was somewhat puzzled at first by a statement published in to-day’s issue of the Argus, that it is proposed to keep some of the old ships on the station. That at first sight appears to be inconsistent with the agreement. As a matter of fact, however, it is not, because these vessels are to be retained to do duty as drill ships, and they are quite suitable for that purpose.
– The complaint is that the vessels of the fleet can be taken away at any time.
– That is inevitable, and would have been inevitable under any circumstances. As long as we are under the Imperial Government, the Imperial power must be exercisable when it is necessary. But, whilst the Imperial authorities will be in a position to take these vessels away at any time, we know that we impose upon them the duty of sendingother ships to us at any time. We expect them to do far more than is provided for in the agreement. They undertake to defend us, and we say to them - “We are prepared to give you this assistance.” On the other hand, they say - “We require the use of these ships if necessary; but we undertake to send you ever so many more if the necessity arises, so that your defence will be assured.” Thetwo thingsmust be co-relative, andtomy mind theagreement is an exceedinglyfairone. I notice that a paragraph in His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech promises a Bill to provide for the amicable settlement of industrial disputes. I admit frankly that that is not a class of legislation which has ever recommended itself very strongly to me. There is a man in Victoria at present holding the office of Premier of the State who has managed to settle an industrial dispute in a most amicable way. Every one praises him, and every one asserts that there would not have been any dispute at all had he been in charge of the department; concerned. He never gave in. If we could manage to manufacture a few men of that class and discrimination, we might be able to dispense with beards of conciliation, and allow people to make their own bargains. However, wo have not yet seen the Bill referred to.
– The honorable and learned senator prefers a Donnybrook state of affairs to a condition of peace.
– I like peace. But what I understand by this term of “ amicable settlement “ is that it is proposed to make a man do what he does not want to do. That is not quite my view of the term. An amicable settlement is a settlement obtained in a court of law by forced process.
– What is a court of arbitration?
– Just the same.
– Then why object?
– If there were better administration, I do not think there would be any necessity for us to bother about these laws for the settlement of industrial disputes. I do not think that they will work well; but I do not condemn the proposed Bill, because I have noty et seen its provisions. I await the meas re with anticipation.
– It will be similar to the one which the honorable and learned senator passed in South Australia.
– The honorable and learned senator opposed it.
– I opposed it to the best of my ability; let there be no mistake about that. Many subjects are dealt with in His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s speech, first among them being the establishment of the High Court, while next in importance I put the proposal to create an Inter-State Commission. Both are essential necessities of the Constitution, and essential necessities of the Constitution to a greater extent in the case of the Senate than in the case of the House of Representatives. So far as the High Court is concerned, these are things which we have had many opportunities of seeing that the Senate required. I thought the Government were to be reproached for not having dealt with this subject at an earlier stage, and that it was not a fair thing to leave the Constitution in a defective condition, which those who passed it intended should not exist. But, on consideration, I think that, although the Government did not know they were doing well, they really did well in postponing it, because there was undoubtedly a strong feeling that immense expenditure was going on, that this and that body were being established, and that really there was no necessity for the High Court at all.
– There is that feeling still.
– That was a strong feeling ; and the result of the delay has been to enable the public to know and to declare universally that the High Court is an absolute necessity, and that the Constitution cannot be carried on without it. There is no doubt that throughout Australia the feeling originally was not very favorable to the High Court - people always hate Judges and lawyers - but that feeling is gone, and people now recognise the absolute necessity of establishing this tribunal, without which the Constitution cannot work nor exist. So I forgive the Government for not having introduced the Bill before.I think the delay has turned out well, because I am sure there is now a strong public feeling in its favour.
– They did introduce it.
– Only nominally, as the honorable and learned senator knows. I think that public feeling in favour of the. measure will become infinitely stronger as time goes on and the necessity for it has been proved. I do not propose to go into the question of the acquisition of New Guinea, or to take up more time. In my opinion, the Ministry behaved admirably in recess ; they have retained the confidence of the people, and the legislation they propose, or some of it, at all events, is excellent. I mean to wait until I see certain of the measures which are mentioned in this speech before expressing an opinion upon them, and, meanwhile, I very cordially move the adoption of the Address in Reply.
– I have the honour to second the motion for the adoption of the proposed Address in Reply. I am glad to find that the Ministry intend to placethe High Court Bill before us as their first measure, for until the High
Court of Judicature is established the structure of the Commonwealth will be incomplete. Although at one time I considered the expense in connexion therewith unnecessary, and that delay might very well take place, I am now convinced of the need for the High Court, in order that the objects for which the Commonwealth was founded may be fulfilled. Reference is made in His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech to the selection of the area for the seat of government. I consider that is a matter which should be decided, in order that the good faith of the Commonwealth may be maintained towards New South Wales’; but I am strongly opposed to starting building operations until the Commonwealth is in a financial position to warrant the expenditure. The third matter I shall touch upon in seconding the Address in Reply is the proposed measure for the establishment of Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration. In view of the suffering inflicted upon women and children by reasons of strikes-
– And lock-outs.
– And the dislocation of business fatal to the poorer classes, and in view also of the necessity for preventing if possible the bad aftereffects of strikes, I shall welcome the establishment of Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration. I now come to the agreement entered into with the Admiralty. I have not had an opportunity of reading that document, but it is really with the principle of the agreement that I purpose to deal. We must view this matter dispassionately, and endeavour to keep before us the facts which have to be considered. First of all, we find that the old colonial policy of making payment for naval protection is being continued. Secondly, we find that, in consequence, we are not proposing to establish or encourage a local seafaring spirit. Thirdly, the Commonwealth has now external duties and responsibilities, and we learn from the speech with which we have been honoured that the Commonwealth is about to increase those responsibilities by the acquisition of British New Guinea. It has been urged that in this agreement we are making an excellent bargain. But I ask, can a bargain be a good one that strikes at the foundation of national life, and by that I mean the responsibilities of undertaking our own defence? It seems to me that we are trifling with our position if we fail to realize that trouble may happen in connexion with some of our external territory. Is the Commonwealth of Australia, may I ask, in such a case to seek for Imperial assistance’ when we have assumed the responsibilities of government1? We stand upon the threshold of a great * future, but that future depends upon ourselves. It depends upon our maintaining the characteristics of the British race, and the greatest of those characteristics has ever been self-reliance. I consider that now is the moment for laying down a broad national policy of defence, so that not only the naval, but the military defence of the Commonwealth may be steadily and efficiently built- up. I have purposely avoided discussing what may arise in case of war, but this I shall say, that Australians will be proud to serve either on sea or land whenever the Empire is threatened. I give my adherence to the Ministry for the purpose of ratifying this agreement which has been entered into by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth with the Admiralty on the distinct understanding that the Commonwealth is never to be pledged again without the assent of Parliament having been first accorded.
– Parliament has to approve this time.
– Quite so. But our faith has been pledged by the action of the Prime Minister.
– No, no.
.- Honorable senators may say so. I quite understand that the position is that the ratification of the agreement is subject to the approval of Parliament, but hopes have been built upon the consent which has been given.
– The Prime Minister was given to understand that.
– The right honorable gentleman may have been given to understand that, but I hope that no Australian community will be found willing to repudiate the action of our first Minister.
– If it is a wise one.
– I have little more to add. I shall wait and reserve my opinion and action upon the various Bills w.hich are to be brought before us. I may say now, that I most thoroughly and cordially approve of the action of the Ministry in their endeavours to administer without partiality, favour, or affection, the laws which we have passed, although I have personally disagreed with some of them. I must congratulate them also upon the endeavour which they are making, to try to improve the service between the State of Tasmania and the mainland. I hope they will not procrastinate in this matter, because it is one of vital importance to the community of Tasmania as well as to the people of the mainland. With these few words I beg to second the motion.
– This Senate yesterday paid its tribute to the memory and public services of our lamented friend, Senator Sir Frederick Sargood. I think it will not be out of place if I now express my regret - a regret which will, I am sure, ‘ be shared by all the members of Senate - that Mr. Ewing, lately a senator for Western Australia, is not with us during this session. We knew him as an incisive and vigorous debater, and if his attendance in the Senate was such that we did not know him as continuously and as frequently as we should have liked, it was owing to circumstances, and not to any lack of interest on his part in the high duties which he had undertaken to perform as a senator - circumstances which probably honorable senators will feel haveled to his retirement. I feel personal regret, because Mr. Ewing sat on this side of the House, and always took a very deep interest in all that went on in this Chamber. I congratulate my two honorable friends upon their addresses. Remembering that in Senator Downer we have an old parliamentary hand, we could scarcely have expected less from him than the effort he made in proposing the adoption of the address in reply. However difficult the task may be, he showed us how it is possible to seem to agree when one would very much rather contradict. It has often happened that we are called to curse and we remain to bless, or we are called to bless, and something happening, we remain to curse. In the Bible there was a gentleman who had some experience in that respect, but I am quite certain that no one could have performed that difficult operation with more dexterity and more infinite good humour than Senator Downer did on this occasion. I also desire to thank him for relieving me from the necessity of making any remarks upon the Customs administration, because when he applied the terms “ cruel “ and “ unjust “ to it; although he thought the Government had done magnificently after all. I for one have no more to say. L think. he sounded a very excellent note, when he said that” in all probability we would not have given these powers if we had known that they were so to be used. I am quite sure that honorable senators will agree that I need offer no further remark in regard to the Customs administration. Senator Cameron, has not had the parliamentary experience which we all recognise in Senator Downer, but I think that every one of us- will admit that in seconding, the motion he gave evidence of powers and abilities that take the place of experience, and that he infused into his observations on the points to which he called attention, a warmth and earnestness of feeling which bespeak his sincerity. Every citizen is entitled to express his views on public questions, whether they take the’ form of a speech from the Throne or not, so long as he does so calmly and with whatever intelligence he is able to bring to bear upon the question, and it is more incumbent on us here, even if it is distasteful or unpleasant to others, notwithstanding, divergence in regard to the views of other people. This speech exhibits a characteristic which certainly is new in my experience. The prolixity of Governors’ speeches has been a theme of remark for very many years. It has been a prolixity that many persons have considered to be growing. Hitherto it has been due to what I may call the natural glorification of things that have been done and to a natural diffuseness of statement as to things proposed to be done. But the speech now before the Senate devotes at least three of its longest paragraphs to matters that are not proposed to be done. That is a new experience to me, and probably in a sentence or two I may refer to these paragraphs. I suppose they are really in the nature of safety valves or blow-holes - perfectly innocent things ; but they are of some value in this respect, that’ they refer to matters which might have been the subject of statements of policy, or at any rate indications of what might have been.
A number of other important measures are in preparation. Among these is a Bill to provide a uniform navigation and shipping law. This measure, however, is unnecessarily long and complicated.
There is another matter mentioned to which I shall refer in a minute, but this goes on -
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. “Would it not have been just as well to have told us that they had no intention of introducing this uniform Navigation and Shipping Bill, or the other measure relating to the taking over of the State debts.
– Surely it is permissible to state a reason why.
– I do not object to the reason why if they will tell us what it is all about.
– Because there is no chance of passing the Bills. One of them contains 700 clauses.
– We may then well congratulate ourselves upon being spared that infliction. I should have liked to have some indication of what the policy in regard to this uniform navigation and shipping law is likely to be. My impression is that, during the conference in England, some resolution was arrived at by the Premiers, and with the concurrence, I suppose, of the Secretary of State for the Colonies that there should be some- policy offered to protect the coastal trade - in fact, for the matter of that, the whole shipping trade of the Empire - from unfair foreign competition ; that it was desired that foreign States should be baulked in their attempts to make inroads upon the shipping industries of the British Empire in cases at any rate where they were heavily subsidized. That was the proposal, but at this end of the world we have always understood - at least, I understood - that the policy of the Ministry, if we are to take their expressions from time to time, was not only to cover foreign shipping, but to bring the P. and 0. and the Orient Steam-ship Companies and other British-owned lines, as we are talking of shipping, into the same boat.
– Why not 1
– My honorable friend need not ask me why not. Let him ask the Prime Minister, who assented to an Inter-Imperial policy extending only to foreign shipping. What I wish to know is whether this most favoured treatment is to be extended to the companies I named or similar British companies which are trading along the coast of Australia.
– As we are not going to consider the subject this session, what is the use of discussing it?
– My honorable friend forgets that we have these two beautiful paragraphs in the speech, and the public wish to know for their guidance what is this uniform Navigation and Shipping Bill which we may have brought before us, although naturally enough Ministers are not sanguine that it can be dealt with.
– They have to find out what that is, too.
– I do not know whether that is an authoritative statement.
– But I should sav it is true that thev do not know what they are going to do, and although these Bills are in preparation, the whole thing is really moonshine, and it would have been very much better if it had been eliminated from the speech. So also, in regard to the taking over of the State debts, I do not know what the policy is. Perhaps they are still thinking that out, as Senator Downer says.
– Do not attribute knowledge to me.
– I am not saying this in the way of complaint. I thought the honorable and learned senator was in the inner secrets of this matter.
– Not altogether.
– My honorable and learned friend is over the threshold, any way. As to the question of taking over the State debts, I think that requires a great deal of calm and quiet consideration. I hope I am not introducing any feeling into the discussion. I wish to address myself to the question without any partisanship, but at the same time I wish to make known my views on this and several other subjects. I take this opportunity of saying how thoroughly I agree with some remarks made by the Attorney-General with reference to a proposal emanating from a recent conference of the State Premiers. No one can contemplate the thing for an instant without seeing how ridiculous a wide and unconditional proposal to take over the State debts would be. The public debts of the States amount to £215,000,000, and if the Commonwealth, without some such precautions as those to which the Attorney-General alluded, were to agree to take over those State debts, what a magnificent thing - magnificently bad thing I should say - it would be for the States. They would start further borrowing to run up another debt of £215,000,000 with a clean sheet, and if these expressions indicate, as I think they do, their views on the subject, the Commonwealth Government are doing a right and patriotic thing in letting it be clearly understood that, before any proposal of the kind is even considered, it must be accompanied by some sort of understanding or condition with regard to future borrowing - with regard to what the States are to do when their emancipation from debt takes place.
– Surely they would never take over the debts without taking over corresponding assets?
– I do not know what they would not do, and I do not know what the States would like them to do ; but if that is to be regarded as one of the causes of offence between the Commonwealth and the States, then I am all for the Commonwealth, and I am all for the Ministry that takes an attitude which is one, not only for the protection of the credit of the Commonwealth, but also for the protection of the States against themselves. The next paragraph, in regard to the transcontinental railway, is a very long one. I am glad that it appears in the speech. In the first place, it indicates a less vigorous pronouncement on that subject than the speech with which the first session of this Parliament was opened, and, in the second place, it contains this statement -
They are, however, of opinion that the isolation of Western Australia retards the development of the federal spirit.
I say nothing on that point, but I do say that at the present moment, at any rate, a proposal for the construction of that railway will put a very severe strain on the federal spirit of the State from which I come. That is all. I do not mean to enlarge upon these things, but the matter occupies a very long paragraph in the Governor-General’s speech. I do not complain of it at all, because it will be a salve to one of the Ministers, who is no doubt deeply interested in this question.
– The leader of the Opposition wants to build a railway at once, without consulting the engineers.
– Perhaps he knows all about it, and that it will be a success. That is more than I know. But I am not responsible for his determination of a great engineering question. Then I take exception to the next sentence, simply to show that at any rate it does not express ray view -
It is admittedly desirable to remove so serious a bar to the complete political and commercial union of the Commonwealth.
There are united in that sentence two things which are considerably different. The political union is one thing. The commercial union is another. I do not profess to be an expert in this matter, and do not profess to have full information as to the commercial aspect of it. But so far as I have been able to ascertain, I can see nothing which will render this railway a means of improving much less making complete the commercial union between Western Australia and the eastern States. It. may have a political aspect ; and I confess that I should like to see all the States within this union linked by railways. That is -an expression of what may perhaps be called “ a pious hope.” But there are other considerations to be taken into account, and I think it right at this moment, without expressing a final opinion one way or the other, to say this at any rate : that so far as I am able to gauge public opinion, it is not favorably viewed in the State of South Australia. The next paragraph to which I should like to call attention is that in which it is said -
The Imperial Conference held during the past year in London may be expected to be far-reach- ing in its results.
I have seen nothing to justify, that. I. rather agree with the views of the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Wilfred Laurier, who at the conference exhibited a great deal of caution and of unwillingness to be drawn by various resolutions into what he described, with great force and eloquence, as the “ vortex of militarism.” But it is a good thing, it seems to me, that there should be these conferences. With regard to the naval agreement, which forms the subject for another paragraph, I shall offer one or two remarks later on. In the meantime, I may say that I agree with the view which my honorable friend, Senator Cameron, has expressed upon this subject, although I do not quite see, with him, that the logical conclusion of his views was to support the confirmation of the agreement. This particular paragraph proceeds -
Other matters of great inportance 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 -
That is a happy relief - and to other subjects dealt with in the resolutions.
Then comes what appears to me to be really the most extraordinary paragraph -of all - at least the most unusual. It is that in which we, a self-governing Commonwealth, are devoting a paragraph in the Vice-regal Speech from the Throne to a commendation of what I cannot regard otherwise than as an electioneering speech by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The paragraph is this -
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.
In the first place we have not got those utterances about which we are to express this gratification. We have only got a telegraphic summary of them. I take it that that fact first of all ought to discount our going into this reference to the speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. In the next place the paragraph is to be discounted by the fact - the notorious fact - that the Unionist Government in England is at present suffering a kind of eclipse. We know quite well that ever since the Venezuelan trouble, and the negotiations which became known in connexion with the Baghdad railway, which was - if I may use the expression - to be “bossed” by German capitalists, the growing fear has been manifested in various ways that every vote given to the existing Unionist Government in England is a vote given to the German Emperor ; in point of fact, that the key to the foreign policy of England has been handed over to the safe keeping of Berlin. The result has been, of course, that there has been a great deal of feeling on the subject.
– Mr. Chamberlain’s pronouncements are not in that direction by any means.
– In which direction ?
– In favour of Berlin.
– My honorable and learned friend is quite right. Finding that state of things existing, to keep up the falling fortunes of his Government, which were influenced by this state of feeling in regard to Germany, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who is, as we all know, the most accomplished electioneerer possibly in the world, starts a new idea, and makes it the occasion, as the telegraphic summary of his speech will show, for a defiance, so to speak, of Germany and of everything German.
– And that has been his policy for several years past.
– I am not saying that it has not been.
– The honorable and learned senator stated that he started it recently.
– I heard Mr. Chamberlain speak on the subject in 1897 or 1S9S.
– Mr. Chamberlain can read the signs of the times better than anybody ; and Mr. Chamberlain, seeing the signs of the political times in that respect, throws out a suggestion which is another strong beat upon the big drum of imperialism, in order to divert public opinion from those other subjects upon which feeling in England is hostile to the Ministry of the day. I do not say that he is to be blamed for that. I merely say that, in view of these things, we should not jump too hastily at this expression of a new policy laid down by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. We have ail excellent illustration of the situation in England when we find a procession of 100,000 nonconformists, whose proceedings are reported in the next column of the Times, or of our own papers, marching to ‘Hyde Park to protest against the education policy of the Government of which Mr. Chamberlain is a member, and when we find the force of that nonconformist opinion in England exhibited in the withdrawal of at least one of the objectionable features of the new Education Bill. But I merely mention these things in the hope that honorable senators will see that, at any rate, there is no particular reason why we should jump at this suggested policy and accept it as likely to be carried out, or to be of benefit to us. My belief is that that policy will :never be accepted in:England.
– I believe .that it will be.
– It will be time’ enough’ for us to .consider how far it is going to affect the -people of Australia, and how far it. is going to. give a basis upon which we can erect some structure of preferential or reciprocal trade, before we talk about adopting it at all.
– How can you have a federated Empire without a system of reciprocal trade 1
– I am as much in favour of reciprocal or preferential trade, or of anything that will add to the profits and prosperity of . Australia, as any man. But I am not-going to be led away by .what is manifestly an electioneering speech.
– No ; I do not think it is such.
Senator -Sir JOSIAH SYMON. - Well, I am merely expressing my own solitary opinion. I, for . one, at any rate, am not going to swallow anything -with my. eyes shut, or to accept any proposal of that kind until I know definitely and practically what it really means. I am not going to accept it until Mr. Chamberlain - who made the speech referred to, not as Secretary of State for the Colonies, but as member for one of the Birmingham districts - tells us distinctly what he proposes.
– :It is an old idea of Mr. Chamberlain’s.
-SYMON. - It is none. the better- for that.
– But the honorable and learned senator is arguing that he has just started it.
– He started these remarks just .as - if I may use the phrase - he “slipped into” Russia on another occasion by saying that “ he must have a long spoon who sups with the devil.” I do not want to go into that matter at greater length, but I would point out that it was .done at a time when the motive was quite obvious. .It was equally to his credit as a politician that he-started this idea ; but all I say “is that I deprecate our taking it to our bosom .until we know something really about what this child is. Then I come to a rather apologetic paragraph in the speech explaining how it was that more legislative work was not done during the last session of Parliament. My complaint is really not that there was not enough done, but that there was rather too much legislation enacted. We all know, and some of us said so when we had the speech from the Governor-General at the opening of the last session, that there was rather too much of a banquet spread before us - a banquet in fact whose viands it would be perfectly impossible for us to consume. I demur to the statement that legislation was prevented from passing, and that proposals of the most urgent character could not be brought forward, in consequence of the exhaustive discussion on the Tariff. There was a feverish desire, it seems to me, to legislate on subjects which were not very urgent, but which were most agreeable to a section - an influential section - of the supporters of the Government. More urgent measures were set aside until those to which I have generally referred were passed. And with what result 1 With this result in, certainly, some instances, that there was deep discontent - and in that respect, with great humility, I differ from my honorable and learned friend, Senator Downer - in more than one State. It gave us difficulties of administration which provoked expressions of resentment against the union which made such legislative acts possible. I think I am stating facts, so far as regards the feeling in more than one State. I shall offer three illustrations. In the first case we had postal legislation. I am not going back on the question we debated last session as to the possibility of our postal legislation being postponed and of our proceeding under the Acts in force in each State ; hut I would point out that the postal legislation passed by us has for its outcome the question of the employment of coloured labour on mail steamers. It has for its outcome, within the shores of Tasmania, the trouble in regard to the local postal arrangements, owing to local legislation which legalizes an institution there that is affected by our Postal Act. Then we have the kanaka legislation which, at any rate, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, has left us an evil, or a difficulty which has to be rectified. We have also the Immigration Restriction Act under which that amusing incident of the six jolly hatters was possible. As to the first of these matters, and in fact in regard to all of them, the difficulties that were pointed out by various honorable senators are coming home to roost. In connexion with the postal contract we are now faced with a .practical difficulty with our co-contractor,’ England.
– Which Senator O’Connor was careful to point out.
– I am bound to say, as my honorable friend reminds . me, that the Government in the first instance were averse to the provision in regard to the exclusion of coloured labour. I am not .going to stigmatise it in any way, but I hope it will be repealed. I shall be on the side of repealing it at the earliest possible moment. I want no misunderstanding on that score. I am merely pointing out the difficulties into which we have been driven by the legislation which has been described as very urgent. I deny the urgency of it, and I say it was due not to the policy of “the Government themselves, but to the power of an influential section of their supporters.
– How did the honorable and learned senator vote on the proposal to exclude coloured aliens ?
– I shall tell the honorable senator all about that later on. ‘I am not dealing with that matter now. I am dealing with the difficulties created by this extraordinary and absurd - I was going to say disloyal, but I hardly like to use the term ; I will say “imprudent” - provision introduced into the Postal Act. I simply wish to point out what the position is, and I desire incidentally to say that so far as regards mere seamanship, there is to my mind no justification for the attitude taken up, and which I will not say is embroiling us,’ but is creating entanglement with England in relation to our mail contracts. I have not seen the papers on the subject, but I gather from the press that negotiations are going on in regard to the establishment of a Commonwealth service between Australia and Colombo. I hope that the Ministry, in whose good sense I have great faith when they are not overborne by influences which they are not able to resist, will refuse to exhibit themselves for public ridicule by entering into any such arrangement. So ‘ far as seamanship is concerned, we know that a century ago there were no men in the world who made more capable seamen than the seafaring population ©n the west coast of India.
– Absolutely no. They are unreliable.
– My honorable friend does not read history. I would ask him to read the history of India about the time of Olive. He should read of the trouble experienced by Britain in bringing to an end the sea power and depredations of those men on the west coast of India. They defeated the Dutch, who I will not say were our equals - my national pride refuses to allow me to make that statement - though their ships on one occasion went up the Thames, with a broom at the masthead of the admiral’s vessel. I am afraid that sometimes my honorable friends forget the lessons which history should teach them in regard to this and many other matters. So far as this matter is concerned, I think it is a legitimate subject for debate, but not in connexion with the stipulation that the mail steamers are to be boycotted in relation to the carrying of the British and Australian mails, simply because they happen to employ seamen who are not as white as we are. I shall ask honorable senators to remember - and I trust the suggestion I make will bear fruit - that we must consider who are to replace these seamen on our mail ships, if they are successful in casting them out. How are they to be replaced ? Is it English seamen who are manning the merchant service ? No ; it is the Dutch, the Swedes, Danes, and-
– Foreigners. The freetraders employ the cheapest labour.
– My honorable friend need not introduce that matter now. I am not going to address myself to that subject. If we cast these coloured men out they’ will be replaced by foreign sailors. I would rather employ on a British merchant ship a coloured sailor who was a British subject and competent than I would employ those who might become immediately the enemies of England.
– Coloured labour is cheaper.
– I am not dealing with the matter from that point of view, but if the honorable senator bases his argument on that ground, then away goes all the large and eloquent talk about race troubles, and the desire to keep our race pure.
– It has been proved that thelascar is not cheaper than other seamen.
– I said just now that there was a difficulty in connexion with the kanaka- how does that difficulty arise, and what is our position ? It is this : that Queensland, the State which we intended to benefit by imposing a customs duty of £6 per ton - £3 in their favour - objects to lose the £2 per ton rebate in respect of white-grown sugar. What is it that is proposed to be done ? It is proposed that the people of the southern States - the people of the non-sugar growing States - shall put their hands in their pockets and make up the ioss to Queensland growers who raise sugar by white labour.
– And the growers of New South Wales as well.
– That was understood from the first. I understood that was the arrangement.
– It was not understood in that way in the State from which I come, and a very severe wrench will be given to the federal spirit in South Australia, if the people of that State are asked to put their hands in their pockets and pay a tax practically in order to make up that loss.
– They were the advocates of a white. Australia, and they ought to help to pay for it.
– I shall be greatly surprised if South Australia agrees to pay the proposed contribution to Queensland. I rejoice that that question is going to be put to the test of the pocket. There is nothing like it. It is all very fine for the people of southern Australia to say - “ We are going to expel the kanakas from Queensland,” and it is also all very well for my honorable friends of the protectionist party - who, of course, according to their views, are entitled to do so - to impose an import duty of £6 per ton on sugar. It is likewise very proper from the same point of view to allow a rebate of £2 per ton of the excise, but if the people of the southern States are asked to make up that £2 per ton rebate, as well as pay the customs duty, they will hesitate a long time before they do so.
– The honorable senator believes in the kanaka?
– I am not dealing with that phase of the matter. I am dealing with a different question.
Some of the States have suffered quite enough by the heavy duty placed on sugar for protective purposes. Take the case of Tasmania. We know very well - at least I take it as a fact stated in this chamber by Senator Fraser - that the growers of Queensland were competing with imported sugar in Victoria and probably elsewhere before this provision was passed.
– In every State.
– Whether that is so or not we have agreed, and we cannot back out of it at this moment, to a heavy customs duty of £6 per ton ,on sugar. The people of Australia have to pay that tax. The excise was to be paid by the grower with a rebate of £2 per ton to those who could grow it by means of white labour. But we find that they are kicking against that arrangement, and will not pay it in spite of all the other advantages they enjoy. They expect the people of the southern States to put their hands in their pockets and pay it for them. If they expect that to be done, it shows how credulous they must be. Just one word about the six unsuspecting hatters. I do not refer to the matter with a view of re-opening the question of administration so far as regards the attitude of the Prime Minister, but it is a curious thing that, according to1 %he papers, these men, when they arrived in Victoria, were not prevented from landing. They landed here, and in a confiding moment - under the influence of the blandishments and hospitable attentions of their fellow unionists of this State - they handed over a copy of their agreement.
– Does the honorable and learned senator know that to be a fact? .
– I find it in the papers.
– It is not in the papers.
– We cannot imagine that these men handed over an agreement in order that it should be sent to the Prime Minister for the purpose of keeping them out, when they had come 1 2,000 miles for the purpose of getting in and securing employment under better conditions than they had in the old country. But the document will be found in the papers, and it was sent, and sent by a union official, to the Prime Minister for the purpose of keeping out these men of our own blood, of our own race, against whose honesty there was no imputation, who were unionists, and true unionists bearing credentials from the old country. It was sent in order that after they had been dined, or whatever it was, in Victoria, they should be shut out in New South Wales.
– In order that they should come in as free men.
– My honorable friends will see why I am making these remarks in a minute. I said that T was not going to xe-open the question pf the Prime Minister’s administration, or of the course he took. I thought myself at the time that it was a perfect farce ; but I recognise the painful, difficult, and, if honorable senators like, the politically perilous position in which the right honorable gentleman was placed. I do not wish to accuse the Prime Minister of not being animated by a desire to do his duty to the best of his judgment and ability in the painful position from which, I. think, he was only extricated by the outburst of Australian opinion at the time.
– By compliance with the Act.
– What I desire to point out is that I hope that the head of the Executive will never again be placed in a position to exercise that sort of judicial discretion.
– Would the honorable and learned senator allow six lawyers to come in ?
– I shall show honorable senators in one minute, what it all means. We know what the effect of it was. We know from the papers that Mr. Copeland, the Agent-General for New’ South Wales, wrote out to say that this .incident had not only made us ridiculous in the eyes of every Englishspeaking community, but that it had affected the credit of New South Wales.
– That is on the report that reached them. Who sent it t
– I know also that it was stated in the press at the time that Sir John See had said that if he had only the control of the police he would soon see that those men were liberated. My sympathies were entirely with Sir John See.
– He had control of the police.
– I am not dealing now with the principle. I think it is an absurd one. But the provision that the Minister is to determine whether a workman is to be exempted on account of special skill simply imposes upon the Minister a duty which ought not to be placed upon him. I may tell honorable senators, and Senator Playford will bear me out in this, that if we object to workmen being brought into the State under agreements such as these, under agreements and conditions that are not fair, we have in South Australia another remedy by which ‘anything of the sort can be prevented. You will get no man, surely, who is not a fool, to leave his employment in England and come 12,000 miles to Australia to enter into another engagement, unless you give him a promise of better wages and a promise of an engagement for a definite time 1 The man would be a madman to do such a thing. On the other hand, how can you expect any employer of labour in Australia to ‘bring out a man unless he binds him by agreement to remain for some definite time in his employment 1 The two things are reciprocal.
– Let him bind him here.
– Does the honorable senator think the men will come here ?
– Yes ; look at all the people who have come out already.
– Did the honorable and learned senator come out under contract ?
– This simply shows that my honorable friends are running a good principle to death, and let me tell them in all sincerity that by legislation of - this kind they are doing their own cause more injury than they can possibly do it good.
– The Prime Minister’s interpretation of the provision is of such a broad character that it will not affect the landing of men here at all.
– Then let us repeal it.
– I hope it will be repealed. I am making these observations with a view, if possible, to secure that it shall be repealed. I wish, however, to offer this consolation to any honorable senator who may think there is no remedy, and that a man may be tricked into an unfair and fraudulent agreement in England : There is a means in our State at this moment of preventing anything of the kind. We have a most salutary law to which, I think, no one can take exception. Under our masters and servants legislation we have a provision by which no agreement can be set up in any proceeding against a man for not complying with it, if the person against whom it is produced disputes its execution on the grounds of forgery or fraud. If he can show that misrepresentations have been made to him there is an end to the agreement.
– That may be very difficult to prove, and it does not apply to indented labour anyhow. Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- There is a further provision, and it is this :. If a man comes out to South Australia, under an agreement of a most fair and honest character and without any misrepresentation, to work for three years, and if at the end of a year he thinks better of it and desires to escape from the agreement, he has only to go before a magistrate, and the thing can be done under an order of the magistrate upon his repaying simply the actual cost of bringing him out.
– He can always get a magistrate who will do that.
– I did not expect Senator Pearce to make an observation of that kind. But if there is to be legislation of this sort, then surely it ought not to be the head of the Executive who should determine questions of this kind, but it should be some court of summary jurisdiction, where the thing can be dealt with, and justice can be done. However, on these and on many other grounds it is a blot upon our statute-book.
– Could the honorable and learned senator have administered it in any way other than that in which it was administered by the Prime Minister ?
– I do not think Senator McGregor could have been listening to me. I said distinctly that I was not re-opening the question of the particular administration. I thought it was a perfect farce, especially when I remember that we have been passing high duties in order to encourage manufactures, native industry, and all that sort of thing, and then in the next breath we seek to exclude skilled artisans who are required to make our industries a success.
– Did the honorable and learned senator, object to it when the Bill was going through the Senate ?
– Object to it ! Of course, I always objected to it.
– Did the honorable and learned senator object to that specific section ?
– What is the use of asking whether I was here? The honorable senator may hunt through Hansard to find out whether I was here, whether I debated the section or moved an amendment. I do not care whether I did or did not, whether I was here or was not here.
– If the honorable and learned senator assures us that he did not debate it we shall accept his assurance.
– I am much obliged to Senator O’Keefe, but I tell him that if I had supported it 50 times over I consider that the section should be blotted out of the statute-book. It is a most astonishing thing that when we find that Canada is opening her arms to 5,000 British immigrants-
– Canada has the same law.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON.- Farmers ! The section deals with manual labourers. Canada is opening her arms to thousands of farmers, while we in Australia, the proud inheritors of the same blood, the same traditions, and the same history, shut out six butters. Really, if it were not painful and pitiful it would be the most amusing comedy that has ever taken place in regard to national affairs.
– Would the honorable and learned senator administer the law in any other way ?
– I know how my honorable friend would administer it.
– A British subject was deported from Canada this year for a breach of the same law.
– I refer to this matter only because I think Senator Downer referred generally to the subject of the misguided strike which took place here in Victoria. I saw in connexion with that very sad episode in history, when constitutional government was challenged, that it was stated by one of the leaders of the movement that they relied upon the Commonwealth Government putting in force this particular provision in order to prevent the importation of engine-drivers and stokers to take the places of those who had struck work. I say that is an instance of the abominable misleading tendencies of legislation of that character.
– We know now why the honorable and learned senator desires to have it repealed.
– I welcome the effort that is to be made to remove another source of uncertainty and irritation, and to fulfil a duty which rests upon us under the Constitution. I refer to the selection of the seat of government. A good deal of confusion has been occasioned in connexion with this matter, and especially in relation to the cost involved, to which my honorable friend, Senator Cameron, has alluded. There has also been some misunderstanding as to what took place in America. I wish to set that right now in the hope of removing, if not all, at least some of the objections which certain of my friends entertain on the subject. In America the determination of the question of the locality of the seat of government excited very great controversy and a great deal of feeling, not only between States, but between sections of States. The question there was whether the seat of government should be in the North or in the South, whether it should be in New York or Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Maryland. There was local prejudice to contend against; there was local pride, if you like, and of course there was local self-interest also to be dealt with. All these influences combining, as honorable members know who have made themselves familiar with that period of American history, inflamed public feeling to white heat. Happily that does not exist here. It is a fortunate circumstance in my humble judgment that, in the wisdom of the Convention, they prevented the possibility of ferment of that kind. They settled that the seat of government should be within the borders of New South. Wales.
– Not the Convention, but six gentlemen who had no authority from any one.
– It was indorsed by the people of Australia.
– Because they could not help themselves.
– I am very much obliged to Senator Styles for the correction. It was done at a subsequent conference, but, as Senator Pearce says, it was not done by six irresponsible gentlemen.
It was done by six gentlemen subject to the approval of .the people of Australia ; and the people of Australia by the best of all methods - the referendum - put their seal upon it.
– They had to «say “ ves” or “no.”
– AVe have heard all that before, and if it had been vital, of course they would have rejected the Bill. The people of South Australia said - “Well, as to that, we may differ, but we agree to it rather than imperil federation,” just as they did in connexion with certain ‘appeals. I never doubted f pitt moment that, in relation to this, or anything else, people would say - “ Well, that is not going to prevent us from agreeing to the union.”
– They did not indorse it any the more.
– They indorsed this statement as a condition of the Federation.
– It was Hobson’s choice.
– It is in the Constitution. We have to carry it out, and we are happily removed from all possibility of conflict on that score. Yet in the United States, in spite of that condition of things which led to so much feeling, the site was picked, and the corner-stone of the capital was laid on the 18th September, 1793 - within four years of the inauguration of the union. We have passed through two and a half years without one of their initial difficulties, and any questions as to the precise locality of the site should be settled. Let us get rid of them. It does not concern any of us in any of the other States, because I feel that even my honorable friends from Victoria do not set up for a moment that the capital can be in Melbourne. Whatever views we may take, there it is in the Constitution. There may be friction within New South Wales. Let it be confined within its borders. Do not allow it to spread to other States. In America it was not until seven years after the corner stone was laid that the Federal Executive was housed in Washington. That is a lesson to us all, and the answer to any criticisms on the question of expense is, let us hasten slowly so far as the building is concerned. Let us not only hasten slowly, but let us proceed modestly. We do not want a marble palace; we do not want the building to rise in the night ; we do not want it to riSe, as did the palace in Pandemonium, like a kind of exhalation. AVe want the site fixed, and in my humble judgment we want to set about making whatever arrangements are necessary for our accomomodation there humbly, not extravagantly, as early as we can. That is my view on the subject. But, in spite of the matters that I have referred to as possibly creating some of the friction or discontent which has appeared, I do not believe that the real spirit of federation is waning in the slightest degree. I have no sympathy with all that irresponsible talk, sometimes influenced and brought about by persons really occupying more or less responsible positions, and who ought to feel a sense of their responsibility. The Commonwealth is really in its swaddling clothes ; it is hardly clothed yet. In spite of some of the matters which my honorable friends have indicated, it is really too early to talk of failure or of disappointment. It is a source of encouragement to us when we remember that the difficulties and discontents in America, intense as they were, were largely due to the fact that the Constitution was wholly the work of the politician, it was never remitted to the people. Here the Constitution is the work of the people, and’ in ray belief it can never come to nought, except by the action of the people themselves. If these causes of irritation do exist, I think that many of them will disappear with the establishment of the High Court. The High Court is the pivot of the Constitution. We may hold what views we please as to its composition, as to its procedure, and as to any detail. The Constitution is really a round table intended to be supported on three legs, and it has only got two of them at present. Senator Downer referred to the fact that it was part of the essential conditions of the Constitution. I am not going into the matter in any detail, but I wish to correct one or two misapprehensions that have been floating about on this subject: The three supports of the Constitution are the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. Section 1 says-
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament.
Section 61 says -
The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative.
Section 71 says -
The judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Supreme Court, to be called the High Court of Australia.
The Constitution establishes that third power in the High Court, and although it is perfectly competent for Parliament to render that provision nugatory by abstaining from making the necessary provision for its procedure and its personnel, but to do so would be a failure to carry out a trust which was committed to its hands. It would be a failure to carry out a duty which was laid upon the Parliament by the Constitution. Section 71 is imperative.
– But we passed a short measure authorizing the State Judges to do all that is necessary.
– But that Act expires at the end of the vear.
– That would not be carrying into effect the power that was confided to us, the trust that was reposed in us by the people of the Commonwealth. I have only one or two other remarks to make on the higher aspect of this question, because I dare say we shall have a later and better opportunity of speaking, and of removing misapprehensions that may exist upon various aspects of the subject. But, in the United States, the Judiciary was wanted to define, as it is expressed by authoritative writers, and establish the scope and purport of the Constitution. It was to expand’ it if necessary in the cause of broadening freedom. No one can read the story of Chief Justice Marshall without feeling that the Constitution as expanded and ‘ as carried into effect nowadays is a very much larger and broader instrument of Government than that covered by the mere strict letter within the four corners of the original instrument, which is a mere skeleton. The function of the Supreme Court of the United States was not only to fill up that instrument, not only to expand it to rank the utmost breadth of a growing freedom, but to set limits beyond which its express or its implied powers should not go - to secure on the one hand adequate power to the national Government, and on the other hand to conserve State rights and the rights of the people. Differences and disputes which are .the subject now of able and controversial correspondence between State Ministries will, I think, take refuge and . rest finally within the walls of the High Court of Australia. There they will receive their final determination, and there they will end. It has been said that in Canada - and I think it right to point this out - there was no Supreme Court for a number of years. Why 1 The Constitution of Canada rests upon a totally different principle from that upon which ours rests. There is nothing in the Canadian Constitution corresponding to our Judicature. There was no occasion for it. Why t Because the Dominion Government - the Dominion Governor-General, which means the Dominion Executive - has the power to veto any State Act which it thinks conflicts with the Constitution. Do you think the people of Australia would have tolerated that? Of course not. The people of Australia preferred the system of the United States. If there is an encroachment let us have a tribunal to decide it. If there is a State right that is infringed, let us have it settled by a tribunal above and apart from all party and parliamentary government. If there is a right of the Commonwealth or a power of the Commonwealth that is challenged by a State, let us have it settled free from the breath of parties or the natural heat and vehemence of Parliament. That is what distinguishes ours from the Dominion Constitution. Here I would read two or three lines from a recent article in the October number of the Edinburgh Review, evidently an expression of opinion emanating from jurists who look at the matter from outside, and perhaps on that account more .valuable than the opinion of those of us who assisted in framing the provision under which this question arises. The writer of the article calls the failure to appoint the High Court a hitch. Referring to the delay, I make no complaint with regard to it. I am not disinclined to agree with my honorable and learned friend Senator Downer, who said that the delay had led to a widespread increase of feeling that the High Court ought to be established at the earliest possible moment. This writer says-
A far more serious hitch is the failure to create the Federal Supreme Court. At any moment a constitutional dead-lock may occur, and there does not exist at present any means of unlocking it. The appointment of this Court is all the more necessary since the famous 74th clause lias removed all Inter-State constitutional questions from the purview of the Privy Council. Many such questions have arisen between the Provinces of Canada, or between the Dominion Parliament and the Provinces, and have teen decided by the Privy Council. But Australia claimed internal independence from Privy Council control. We a1 remember the struggle over the 74th clause, and most of us were perhaps content that Australia should be left to settle her own constitutional problem. The Federal Court, as laid down by the Act, closely resembles the High Court of the United States.
It is an exceedingly able paper. The author of it I do not know. I atn not saying that it is to be accepted as gospel, or anything of the kind ; but it is the view of an able outside writer, who recognises what many in Australia do not recognise : that our Judicature stands upon a level with that monument of judicial power, beneficence, and integrity, the Supreme Court of the United States, and has no parallel with the Supreme Court of the Dominion of Canada. Of course, it is obvious that matters may have to be decided, and will continue to be decided, in the States Courts. Honorable senators who were in the Convention will recollect that the reason why the judicial committee introduced into section 71 the provision which empowers the Parliament to invest other courts with federal jurisdiction was in order to save the enormous expense which the establishment of a network of federal courts as in the United States might mean in Australia.
– Hear, hear.
– My honorable friend behind me (Senator Walker) knows that I myself put in those words to save expense. But the cardinal feature is that the Federal High Court of Australia occupies exactly the same position and relation to our Constitution as does the Supreme Court of the United States. We may paralyze it ; we may do as we please with it ; we may abstain from discharging our duty to the people who sent us here - but it must come, unless we repeal that provision of the Constitution.
– No one doubts that; it is premature, that is all. .
– It is never premature to do your duty and to discharge the trust which the people laid upon you under the Constitution. I am glad that the Ministry, who, I know, are men who thoroughly understand the Constitution under which they are working, have placed this in the forefront of the measures which they propose to submit to Parliament. In that connexion I may say that in reference to the solution which the court may offer of many difficulties which may arise between the States and Commonwealth Governments, I do not wish it to be supposed that I agree that many of the things which have been set up as such are State rights. I know that the. expression has been used to dignify - perhaps almost to sanctify - mere disputes of administration, questions of difference between State Executive and Federal Executive. I entirely repudiate anything of that kind. We know what the term “ State rights “ means ; but a difference as to whether a whole building or a portion of a building should be taken over by the Commonwealth is not a matter of State rights.
– Or the question of precedence at a banquet.
– Is that regarded as a State right ?
– Oh, yes.
– Then that is an excellent illustration of how the expression may be misused. For instance, in our State - I think I may say this now and here as I come from South Australia - we had a controversy on the question whether it was right that a communication from the State Government with regard to the position of a Dutch ship called the Vondel should pass through the Prime Minister, as the Minister for External Affairs, or should go direct from South Australia. I entirely concur with my friends of the Federal Government in the point that it would be ludicrous to allow that claim. In our State they made a fuss on the subject, which was not worthy of the occasion. The claim, if allowed, would be a bad precedent.
– It was not worthy of the model State.
– That is one of the exceptions that prove the rule. The States may very well recognise their lessened importance, and that we owe - the people of Australia owe - not a second, but a first allegiance to the Commonwealth. On the question of defence, I want to say that I think that at the present moment the defences of Australia are very much in a state of chaos. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction on the subject, and therefore there can be no doubt whatever that one of the first measures which we ought to be called upon to deal with is that relating to defence. Our defence should be upon a uniform basis. It should be under one control. But with six different codes to work under - because under the State Acts at present there are six different codes - it is no wonder that there should be long minutes passing between the ‘ Federal Commandant and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence as to whether some suggestions which the Commandant made with regard to military arrangements during the Easter manceuvres had the authority of the Minister or not. I hope that all that sort of thing will pass away. In that connexion I wish to say that I think that we are entitled to look for a minimum of expenditure and a maximum of result. I strongly object to any extravagant expenditure in connexion with the permanent forces. We want no army foi- aggression. We simply want a force for the internal defence of Australia. We want to defend our own shores, and for that purpose we require a citizen army. We want the population to defend themselves. It is our duty to foster what we may call the auxiliary or volunteer forces - the citizen army, It is our duty to encourage them by every means in our power, and to assist them all we can. If there is to be any considerable expenditure, I, for one, would very much rather see it laid out upon volunteer forces - the citizen army - than upon the permanent forces, with all their paraphernalia and gold lace and parade. I am afraid that I cannot agree that the proposed naval agreement is the most excellent arrangement possible. I am speaking merely for myself ; I do not know what my friends may think.
– The honorable and learned senator’s leader in the other House has agreed to it.
– I wish I had an opportunity of convincing him of the lightness of my idea. At any rate it will take a great deal of argument to induce me to agree to that contract or bargain. In the first place, in my view, we, the free people of Australia, ought to pay no subsidy or tribute towards an expenditure or in a direction in which we have no voice. That is the first thing. Australia is simply a naval base for the British fleet. We must ‘all recognise that. The squadron in Australian waters is, as has been pointed out by my honorable and learned friend, Senator Downer, simply a portion of the British navy. This is a naval base for’ that portion of the Pacific fleet. Why should we pay 200,000 sovereigns a year in order to preserve - if that were necessary - this naval base, which must be preserved as a naval base for the British fleet in any event ?
– It is for our advantage, though.
– We shall have an opportunity of dealing with it more fully later on, but I will ask honorable senators to consider the propositions which I am going to submit. Our share of the responsibilities of defending the Empire is best met, in my judgment, by our defending ourselves and our own shores. That is the view of the Prime Minister of Canada ; it is a view in which I entirely concur. We do our share in defending ourselves. We have our internal defence ; let us have our naval defence, whatever it may be. Let us defend our own shores and our own territory - a magnificent portion of the British Empire - and we shall be doing our duty to the Empire. It must be remembered, too, that we want no navy to patrol the high seas. People say - “ Oh, we cannot afford an Australian navy.” But of course we must first understand what is meant by an Australian navy. We do not want a navy in the sense of wanting a fleet for aggression, a navy to patrol the seas, or to go to the North Pacific, or to the Indian Ocean, or to the China seas ; but we want & navy - if you are to use the term in that sense - to defend our own shores and our own ports.
– What about our merchant vessels on the high seas 1
– We shall see about that matter in a moment. We require our coastal and our harbor defences, and we want a navy manned by Australians and under Australian control.
– Then we shall require immigration. It cannot be done with the present population.
– We have been able to man our land forces, and man them so effectively as to be in a position to raise contingents which have done excellent service in the Empire’s war in South Africa. We shall be prepared to pour out our blood and expend our treasure again if the occasion should arise and the cause be just ; but it ought not to be by way of subsidy or tribute. We have even assisted with our seamen and with our ships. We all know that South Australia sent the gunboat Protector, efficiently manned and equipped, to China, and that she went up the rivers there.
– Six men and a boy.
– If they were all such efficient and vigorous men as my honorable friend is, six men and a boy would be a sufficient crew. I do not think they would want six men and a boy, if they were all as aggressive as the honorable senator is. I dare say we should be able to do the same thing again. We know also that we had a coastal defence while the States were separate. We had a defence y forts and ships of our harbors. Why are we now to say that we cannot continue that system under the Commonwealth, and extend and improve it? Why is this subsidy necessary for us to secure the continuance of what I have called this naval base, which, as I have said, would have to exist in any case, when we have no control whatever over it? Some of my honorable friends talk about defence. But what are we told ? This fleet is to be wholly under Imperial control. The Admiral will be absolutely independent of the Commonwealth - of all the Governments and Parliaments within Australia - and if he takes it into his head or receives orders he will be able, on the alarm being given, to clearaway with his fleet to the China seas or the Indian Ocean and join some other portion of the British fleet. In that event what would become of the defence of our shores ?
– In doing so he might be protecting our shores. The honorable and learned senator should read Captain Mahan.
– I have done so, and I may say that I have read a greater writer than Captain Mahan, so far as Australia is concerned - Captain Cresswell.
– Of South Australia ; and a good man, too.
– Yes ; I agree with Captain Cresswell, unless he has altered his opinion, and I do not think he has. Some honorable senators say that if the squadron cleared out to reinforce the British fleet somewhere else it would be defending us all the same; it would be destroying the enemy’s fleet.
– Which would otherwise come here.
– But is it only an enemy’s fleet which would come to our shores ? I do not believe it would ever come near us. It would be privateers and swift cruisers and torpedo boats that would come here, and it is exactly when our squadron, under the Imperial control, is ordered away from the coasts of Australia that these little chaps, so to speak - not little Japs - will be down upon us, and we shall be undefended.
– Where will Captain Cresswell be?
– He will be here, but he will have no ship to control.
– He will have the Protector.
– Not at all ; we have no vessel. We are to depend entirely upon this subsidized squadron. I am not discussing the matter now from the mere stand-point of pounds, shillings, and pence, but from the higher aspect in which it presents itself to me, and that is that we must remember we are a self-governing people. My honorable friend Senator Cameron has expressed that point very strongly indeed. “This bargain,” he said, “strikes at the foundation of our national life.” I agree with him. We are a self-governing people. We are deeply loyal to the Crown. We are bound to the Empire by indestructible ties of blood and kindred and history and tradition and language. Even if we may have no particular reason to fall down and worship the British Parliament, we are still bound by its foreign policy. Let us never forget that. We are bound by its foreign policy without any hand in its formation, and without voice or hand in its conduct.
– Is not all this a step towards obtaining an Imperial Council ?
– No. What would be the good of an Imperial Council ? How would it satisfy the aspirations of Australia ? We might have one or two representatives upon it. Even if they were made peers they would not represent the public feeling of Australia.
SenatorKeating. - They would be like the Judge on the Privy Council.
– Who ought to be there, but is never present. We cannot escape from this position. We are bound by the foreign policy of the British Parliament, and they may plunge us into war to-morrow. Yet we cannot say no.It does appear to me that, in return for submitting ourselves to that position, the British
Government might well refrain from asking us to pay this £200,000 for the consequence of it.
– Our proper share is about £4,000,000.
– Then £200,000 is a paltry sum having regard to the £35,000,000 or thereabouts which the British navy costs the Imperial taxpayer. It can be of no appreciable benefit to England. I cannot believe that England has put it in any such huckstering way, for that is what it must be assumed to be if it is to be taken that the British Government really want the money. Why are we asked to pay ? I really cannot understand it. We are to hire a squadron for £200,000 a year to defend our shores - if its admiral pleases.
– We might as well hire an army.
– I would remind honorable senators that the Imperial land forces were withdrawn from Australia u good many years ago, and withdrawn, I think Senator Cameron will bear me out, with great advantage.
– Hear, hear.
– Why are we to be asked to pay a subsidy to the Imperial Navy any more than a tribute to the maintenance of the British Army ? There are other ways of helping the British Empire in a strait. I would prefer that that help should come when the Australian people are in a position to know the exact facts of the case, and to say whether it is right and just that they should lend that help. That is what I desire. I want no handing over of tribute to be spent in a way in which I have no voice. If it is, as I have heard it said, that this £200,000 per annum is tobe paid simply to foster industry or unity - it must be industry, if it is to have any effect - it must be a debatable matter, but if it is to foster unity, it is a very poor way of doing it.
– Unity is right enough without that.
– Exactly. It is a pity that the Marquis of Salisbury is not still at the head of the British Government, otherwise some of these recent propositions, and some of these speeches, about preferential trade would hot be so readily made.- I find that not so very long ago he gave utterance to the following statement, which J commend to the attention of my honorable friends, especially Senator Dobson -
There is talk of fiscal union ; there is talk of military union. Both of them, to a certain extent, may be good things. Perhaps we may not be able to carry them us far as some of us think, but in any cose they will not be the basis on which our Empire will rest. Our Empire will rest on the great growth of sympathy, common thought, and feeling between those who are, in the main, the children of a common race, who have a common history to look back upon, and a common future to look forward to.
That is the basis of our race, and the foundation of our allegiance. The last paragraph to which I desire to refer in His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech is that in which the federal finances are spoken of as being in a very satisfactory condition. We are told that-
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 should have thought that at least one little word might have been said for our imports. “New impetus to the development of our resources.” I think we might usefully have buried the fiscal hatchet, and have had added to the line “the expansion of our industries,” the words, “ and of our imports.”
– Do not introduce freetrade.
– I am not going to do so. What does our revenue, which is in such a satisfactory condition, depend upon if npt upon the expansion of our imports ? But I do not want, as my honorable friend says, to introduce anything controversial, even though it be such a fascinating subject as that of free-trade and protection. Of course I admit that there has .been, and I suppose there will be to the end of the chapter, disagreements between us on many points of policy which some of us may think are for the best interests of the country, whilst others may think them inimical to those best interests. Mismanagement is incidental to all human and public affairs, no matter what Ministry is in power, no matter what the personnel of the Parliament which may be in session ; and in spite of all the indifferences, the irritations, or controversies that may take place - in spite of all this - the future lying before Australia, its States and ‘its people, is as full of promise as ever it was. None, I think, can set bounds to Australia’s power and prosperity if we, the people of Australia, are only true to ourselves. There is no impediment to success unless we ourselves raise it.
– The drought stops us a bit now and again.
– There may be intervals, as my honorable friend says, there may be fluctuations which are natural to any country, but there can be no impediment to the final success of this union unless we ourselves raise it up. There can be no danger, unless we ourselves create it. What then is our duty ? It is, in roy humble opinion, so far as in us lies to do our best to make the Commonwealth fulfil the spirit of the Constitution ; to make it fulfil the highest aspirations of the people of Australia, and, above all, to give our union the first and chiefest place in the patriotism and in the love of all the people.
– I do not intend to say very much with regard to the opening speech. With part of what it contains I am pleased to say that I agree; with a good deal I disagree. In regard to the High Court, which is first on the list, I think we can well afford to go slowly. We are not supposed to rush headlong like a torrent down a stream immediately we have federated. That was not at all the idea when we federated. The idea was that we were to go slowly and cautiously, and that we were not to create irritation anywhere if we could possibly avoid it. But what have we been doing? We have been creating irritation almost everywhere.
– Not with the High Court.
– Some important people have to be provided for.
– I am not going to blame people for trying to secure high positions. That is, of course, a failing of human nature, and what is human is more or less excusable.
– Everything human is divine.
– Some things human are not very divine. Notwithstanding the very nice peroration of my honorable and learned friend, Senator Symon, assuring us that everything is going on swimmingly, I say that at present everything is not going swimmingly. Everything will come right if we are prudent, careful, and, above all things, economical. But that will not be the case if we are going to rush into the establishment of a High Court, at a cost of £15,000, £20,000, or £30,000 a year, when there is absolutely no necessity for it.
– It will cost us £50,000 a year.
– I shall limit the cost to £30,000 a year, or even less ; but if we are going to rush into an expenditure of that kind, when we are in the very tight financial position in which we stand at present, I say there can be no justification for that sort of political conduct. The courts already constituted by the Federal Parliament are capable of doing the business required to be done. They have, indeed, only been called upon to do very little so far, but the little they have been called upon to do they have done very well.
– No, no.
– Some people find fault.
– I say they have done very well, and no real fault can be found. Some people would find fault with what an angel from heaven would do, with anything and everything. But I contend, in a general way, that the decisions of the courts in respect of federal matters have given general satisfaction.
– The honorable senator is not an importer.
– I am an importer.
– Then the honorable senator has never been caught.
– I shall not say very much about that, because I can hardly trust myself upon that subject, and I have no desire to disturb the atmosphere. I say that we cannot afford the vast expenditure involved in this proposal just now, and there is no absolute necessity for rushing into it. We should wait until after the next elections, and until the new Parliament is in full swing, and then, if nature is more favorable to us in giving us good seasons, as I hope will be the case, times will be better, and we shall be in a position to be a little more extravagant. So much for the High Court. Now, as to the seat of government.I agree that we have accepted the position willingly and cheerfully that New South Wales must ultimately be the State in winch the federal capital shall be established ; but it does not follow that we should decide the matter in the first Parliament of the Federation.
– Nor for the first 100 years, I expect.
– Would the honorable senator wait for 100 years ?
– No. But I say that I should be willing to wait for two or three Parliaments. We can keep faith with New South Wales, and with other people who desire that the terms of the Commonwealth Constitution shall be enforced, without deciding this matter in the first Parliament. Let the site be decided, if honorable senators like ; but what I am afraid of is that if we decide upon the site in this session there will be a hue and cry got up for the erection of buildings, and that, in my opinion, would involve an unnecessary expenditure which may well be avoided. The people of this country already owe £215,000,000 or £216,000,000, more or less, and they cannot carry any more burdens. We have to pay an enormous amount of money to the money lenders in London, and we are heaping up debts upon debts. The only safeguard in the matter of this indebtedness is to let the States remain impecunious.
– Then spend their money on buildings.
– The only safeguard against further expenditure and further reckless borrowing is the fact that some of the States of the Commonwealth - and I am not going to name them - are now in such a position that they can hardly borrow at all. The State Ministries or any other Ministry will therefore have to tell the people of this country - what they should have been told long ago - that it is prudent to be economical. If we relieve the States of present indebtedness, they will rush into further indebtedness. I would as soon trust the States Governments as the Federal Government. I would sooner trust some of the States Governments than I would trust the Federal Government, so far as I am able to judge, because even during last session we had to prevent the Federal Government from borrowing. Of course all borrowing, whether by the Federal or by State Governments, involves a debt upon the people. Who has to pay the piper 1
– The people.
– No. I am going to differ from that very usual phrase. I say it is the farmer, the miner, the vigneron, the wool-grower, the man who labours in the fields. He is the man who has to pay the piper. He is the man who pays us £400 a year, and but for him we could not be paid at all. If we overload him too much by Federal or State indebtedness we shall kill the man who pays, and we shall kill the “ whole boiling.” It is not at all desirable to encourage any further indebtedness. We are now groaning under a load of debt which we cannot afford, to pay.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that we should repudiate 1
– No. I leave that to Senator McGregor. That is according to his Christian faith. We are not now as we were even twenty years ago. We have a vast deal more indebtedness now in Australia than we had twenty years ago, and we are still piling up the agony. I am now speaking to the people of Australia, and telling them my honest mind in regard to these matters. I say that twenty years, ago we were in a much better position to meet our indebtedness than we are in today. Even ten years ago we had 64,000,000 sheep in New South Wales, 20,000,000 sheep in Queensland, and so many more in Victoria and in the other States. What have we now ? We have 7,000,000 sheep in Queensland, 20,000,000 perhaps in New South Wales, and, with droughts such as Australia never anticipated, and never previously suffered from in this world’s history, will any one tell me that we are in a position to increase our indebtedness ? I say that the public man who will encourage public borrowing at this stage will not be doing his duty to the Commonwealth. I say we can do no worse thing than to encourage borrowing or extravagance of any kind at the present time. I shall speak on every possible occasion against anything of the kind, and against any action by the Federal Government which will result in extravagant expenditure.
– We are in a better position this year than we were in last year. The drought has lifted.
– But the losses have been made.
– I grant to the honorable senator that the cloud has been rent, and that we can now see daylight. But what have we now to do 1 We have simply to work like slaves to pull up what we have lost. Vast numbers of men have gone under, men whose names will never be heard of in the financial world of the Commonwealth. They have gone under quietly, and nothing is said about them. They are not like bankers and merchants who, when they fail, file a schedule ; but farmers and men following similar occupations. They owe money to one or two, and, as a rule, they are honest men who, when they fail, give up all they have, and not a word more is heard of them. Very many of such men have gone under, and there are more to follow, I am sorry to say; so it behoves the Parliaments of Australia, State as well as Federal, to be wise and to refrain from extravagance of any kind where it can be avoided. We are promised courts of conciliation and arbitration. I agree with anything that will bring employer and employe together. But if you go beyond that, and introduce anything in the shape of compulsion, then I say without fear of contradiction that you will be ill-advised..
– The honorable senator would object to the Strike Suppression Bill introduced in the State Parliament of Victoria on that ground?
– I do not think there was compulsion there. Does the honorable senator mean to say that a section of people in any country have the right to strike against their own country and to destroy public property ? Does any honorable senator contend that any section of the civil servants of the country have an inalienable, God-gi venright to strike against the Government of their own country ? Surely that is not contended ? I warned my friends in the Railway department before the difficulty occurred - I begged and entreated many of them whom I had the honour, privilege, and pleasure of recommending for employment in the department five - and - twenty years ago. not to resort to so extreme a measure. I wished the men well, and I told them that it would be sheer madness for them to strike. I am sorry for their position. A great many of them are very good men.
– The whole of them are.
– All the members of any section of the community are not good. While I should like to follow Senator Symon in his eloquent statement about the naval agreement I cannot agree with the deductions he made. We are still a small community, but we have an enormous export trade. Unfortunately, it is not now so large as it ought to be, but up to a few years ago it was very great indeed. We could not survive a stoppage of that trade for six months.
If we could not export our produce year by year in security, the people of Australia would become insolvent. Therefore, we are greatly interested in insuring the safety of our ships, and the transport of our produce to other countries. And if we can obtain that security - I do not mind for how many years - I see no other course so suitable and so wise as that which is here recommended. I presume that there will be a condition in the naval agreement that we shall have certain protection in the case of a naval war.
– The only condition is that the fleet subsidized may be sent wherever the Admiralty likes without reference to us.
– I do not deny that we may be left in a fix, but I do not anticipate that it will be done.
– Does not my honorable friend think that if the subsidized fleet went away from our shores we should not be protected against a privateer or a cruiser?
– We can trust the British Government not to leave us unprotected.
– Let us have a little control. Let us have a say in the business.
– No ; that is not practicable and, besides, too many cooks always spoil the broth. If Canada, Australia, South Africa, and other colonies were allowed to have a say in naval affairs, the Navy would not be so well handled as it is at present. I consider that Australia would be better served by paying a subsidy, especially such a small one as is proposed, because we cannot afford to establish a navy for many years.
– It depends on what my honorable friend means. We do not want a navy to go and fight the Japanese in Japan.
– The smallest navy that we could possibly require would cost infinitely more than the subsidy, and in case of trouble we should depend on our land forces. In my opinion, it is the best arrangement we can make. Fortunately the paragraph in the speech relating to the transcontinental railway is vastly different from the one in the previous speech. It is a very mild proposal that is mentioned in this speech. I know a good deal about railway construction and the country which this line is proposed to traverse. Although its construction might give a little additional traffic to the railway systems of South Australia and Western Australia, the amount of that extra traffic would not be equal to the contribution which South Australia would have to make.
– It would not provide grease for the wheels.
– I am delighted to hear such an authority as my honorable friend express that view, When I was seeking a seat in the Senate, I strongly denounced this proposal on forty platforms. On every possible occasion I denounced this extravagant idea. It ought to be scouted.
– The Government are not in earnest.
– If they are not in earnest in this business, the paragraph should have been omitted.
– That is not very flattering to the Government, coming from a supporter.
– It is not flattering to the Government. It is a deplorable thing if for the sake of popularity hunting the Government put such a statement in the opening speech. It is an outrage to suggest the construction of this railway. The rails would rust from want of use. When I was in Riverina the other day, I drove my buggy and pair without the slightest hitch over yards capable of drafting 2 000 sheep, and fences, too, of course. During the drought the drift sand had raised the yards 4 feet high. But that country is a garden of Eden in comparison with the country to be traversed by this transcontinental railway.
– Even the squatters have not taken up a bit of the country.
– Could stronger proof of the worthlessness of the country be adduced than the fact that not an acre of land has been taken up along the route of this railway ? It all lies waste and waterless. The steamers run at the rate of 20 knots an hour, but the railways do not average that speed.
– The steamers only travel 14 knots.
– They can travel 20 knots, and under the new contract the speed will be faster.
– The new contract will not allow these ships to come down.
– If the new contract is confined to the use of old tubs, as it is likely to be, we may have to go back to the old 10-knot boats. A few words now regarding the sugar industry.
– It is not ruined, as the honorable senator told us two years ago it would be.
– I did not say it would be ruined. What I said was that the sugar-growers at Cairns, which has a worse climate than has Mauritius, could not get on with white labour. I stake my reputation on the accuracy of that statement. In a few days I shall be able to produce some returns to show that my opinions were well founded. Experience so far has borne out all I said last session. Queensland sugar was competing with other sugars in Hobart, Sydney, and Adelaide, and if the Government required revenue it could have been easily obtained from other articles than sugar. The confectionery and many other industries have been handicapped by the enormous increase in the price of sugar.
– The Australian people are paying no more for their sugar now than they did before federation.
– The price of sugar has been raised enormously. Even with the rebate of £2 per ton, there is an advantage of £3 per ton to the sugar-grower. The growers of North Queensland will prove by absolute experience in a few years that they cannot get along without black labour. The Government bungled the sugar business, and now they state that they intend to alter with the method of payment of the rebates. Last session I said that the arrangement was a silly one. According to their own showing it is an unbusinesslike one, and does not do credit to either the Government or the people. Last session I said it was grossly unfair that foreign ships could enter British ports on the same terms as British ships, and naturally I was very pleased to hear Senator Symon refer to this subject. For many years foreign Governments have subsidized ship-owners in various ways so as to induce them to send out their ships to take trade away from British ships. We could never have won theday in the Transvaal butfor the ships of the mother country and her dependencies. We could never have transferred 200,000 soldiers to South Africa but for the enormous number ©f our ships. Any blow at our shipping is a blow at a vital part of the mother country and her dependencies. All British ships should be placed on one basis. I will not, so far as my voice goes, allow any distinction to be made between a British ship built or owned in England and a ship owned in Australia. There should be no distinction whatever. We, one and all, belong to the British Empire. I am, however, thoroughly in favour of compelling foreign shipping to pay higher charges than British shipping pays. That is a movement in the right direction. Why should those enormous foreign ships come here - ships built and owned in foreign countries - very fine ships, for the building of which I admire the pluck of the people who own them - and pay no more than ships owned and built by British people ? No other country on the face of the earth would allow them to take advantage of our ports and get the benefit of our expenditure and take our trade away whilst giving nothing in return. Of course, the United States confine their coastal shipping to their own vessels. I do not blame them for that. America is a huge country, and its people have the right to confine their coastal trade to their own vessels. The Monroe doctrine has to some extent been thrown overboard in regard to the interference of the United States in the affairs of the rest of the world. American policy is very different to-day from what it was twenty years ago. But are we going to draw distinctions between British ships coming here from a British port and ships owned within our own territory? I say, “ nay.” Let us make no distinction between a ship carrying the. English flag coming to our ports and a British ship carrying the Australian flag. The United States Government makes no distinction between ships owned in various parts of their dominions, but we propose to make a distinction between an English ship and an Australian ship. Such a policy is not entitled to be classed as statemanship. As to the Pacific cable, it has been launched at the expense of the various Governments concerned - English, Canadian, and Australian. But what have we done? We have entered into an agreement, subject to ratification by Parliament, and have given the Eastern Extension Company - which is a very clever, powerful, and grasping company, ably managed - terms to which they were not entitled. I admire the management of that company, but there was no reason why we should give them undue advantages.
– I do not think we have done so.
– I think so.
– We have only given them the same advantages as four States gave them.
– Some years ago we entered into an agreement with regard to the Pacific cable, and that agreement was broken by some of the States - not by Queensland, not by Victoria. The Eastern Extension Company, being very astute, secured certain privileges in these States. I remember that at the Pacific Cable Conference held at Ottawa some six or eight years ago it was stated by representatives of the Eastern Extension Company that no cable could cross the Pacific, because of the distance from Vancouver to Fanning Island. They declared that over and over again, and when my friend, Sir Sandford Fleming, stated otherwise, they laughed him to scorn.
– They never said anything of the sort.
– My honorable friend, Senator Playford, was there.
– Yes, and I know all about it. They only said that the long line of cable between Vancouver and Fanning Island would work very slowly.
– That has been falsified by facts.
– They declared that it would be almost impossible to work the line, and that it would take many years to construct it. It has now been built at the expense of British people, and the Prime Minister - I think very unwisely - gives to the Eastern Extension Company the privilege of opening offices in Melbourne, Sydney, and elsewhere.
– In Sydney they have that privilege under their own agreement.
– Surely Senator Fraser would not prevent men from opening offices ? He has some idea of a little bit of freedom.
– I would not do an injustice to them ; but does the Senate think we are’ acting fairly by the Pacific cable when we allow a powerful and wealthy company to open offices, and for anything we know to the contrary, to give rebates of anything you like to its customers ? The giving of permission to open offices in Sydney and Melbourne gives the company command of two-thirds of the Australian business at one stroke.
– They have reduced their terms.
– We cannot do without the company in sending telegrams to the East.
– What I complain of is that an agreement which I consider an unwise one has been entered into. Now the company will, of course, monopolize nearly all the trade, and a line that has been built and paid for by British, Canadian, and Australian people will be starved.
– The honorable senator wants a monopoly for the Pacific line.
– No ; I only want fair play, and it is not fair play to let the Eastern Extension Company do almost all the business and starve the other line.
– They only want to open offices, not to do all the business.
– They never had the right to open those offices before.
– They had in four of the States before federation.
– The arrangement is very unwise, and very prejudicial to the Pacific cable because, as I have pointed out, the great bulk of the business is done in New South Wales and Victoria. I hope that our session will not be a very long one, and that we shall justify the opinions expressed many years ago with regard to the benefits of federation. I agree with Senator Symon that there is friction at present. There was bound to be friction, but it will pass away in time. The creation of the Commonwealth was a wise and a good thing, but we have not taken that advantage of it which we ought to have done. We have not made the savings which were prophesied. I remember going to many meetings before federation and saying that economies, would be effected here and there. I should be ashamed to repeat now the statements which I made then. There have been no savings, but all the same old extravagances have gone on. Economy is one of the things that I hope the people of Australia will insist upon. I trust that the legislation of the session will be framed in a common-sense way, and will be for the good of the whole Commonwealth.
– I am very glad that this debate ia not on party lines, and gives us the opportunity to speak as we think, whether we favour some parts of the GovernorGeneral’s speech or otherwise. I notice that there are 25 paragraphs in the speech and, therefore, if I occupy a little longer time than usual, I shall blame the speech on account of the number of topics with which it deals. The address in reply consists of only two paragraphs which are, of course, very brief. In this connexion I desire to compliment the speakers who proposed and seconded the address in reply. Some remarks have been made in the course of the debate to the effect that whatever is in the Constitution we should see carried out, whether it costs money or not. Personally, I have always been in favour of the early establishment of a Federal Judiciary or High Court, and I think that in a matter of this kind the question of expense is altogether secondary to that of efficiency. We cannot expect to have a thoroughly efficient High Court, such as Australia requires, unless we secure the services of the best men available. Personally, I shall be very sorry indeed in one respect when the High Court is established, because we shall then lose from the service of Australia in the political field some of the most brilliant intellects we have amongst us. But there is another provision of the Constitution which is of special interest to New South Wales. That is the provision as to the Federal territory. It is surely a matter of history that New South Wales would never have come into the Federation, and that the Commonwealth would not have existed at all, had it not been that the section in question was inserted in the Constitution. I am, therefore, very pleased to see that the Ministry intend to bring that matter forward during the session. I have heard the point made for the first time to-day, that although we may settle the site for the federal territory, there is no hurry about erecting the capital itself. But I am under the impression that when we have selected the site, we should take preliminary steps, at all events, for laying out the capital. The next point to which I have to allude is in regard to defence. Here I thoroughly indorse the action of the Government. It is extraordinary to my mind that some honorable senators should look upon the sum of £200,000 a year as being a kind of tribute money unworthy of being paid by Australia.- They should think of what an enormous trade we have,- and that this £200,000 a year is practically for insuring the safety of our trade. I consider that it is a very cheap insurance premium. Were we to attempt to establish a navy of our own, we should have to buy or build huge ships of war for the defence of Australia. Then every few years there would come new discoveries in naval architecture, so that we might find after we had spent a million of money on a ship, that after five or six years it was altogether useless. While I strongly approve of the policy oE the Government with regard to naval defence, of course I differ from them as to their immigration policy. I trust - although the Postmaster-General said that there was no intention of bringing in an amendment in the Immigration Restriction Act - that when the Ministry sees the feeling existing in regard to it in both Houses they will reconsider their determination, and resolve to amend the Act, at all events with regard to its application to British subjects. The incident of the six hatters’ promises to be as historical as the story of the three tailors of Tooley-street. A ll over the world we are the laughing-stock of English-speaking people. Contrast our procedure, with that of the Canadian Government and see the consequence of the opposite policy in the Dominion. I have here an extract showing that recently 2,000 British emigrants left the Mersey for Canada, carrying with them capital to the extent of £500,000.
– They were not under contract.
– I don’t care whether they were under contract or not. I voted against the absurd section to which I have referred. I should like to see people of British origin come here ; I should like to see a free flow of immigration. I remember when there were only 32,000 people in Queensland, but a policy encouraging immigration Was instituted, and to-day in that great State - because it is a great State, and in time will be second to none in Australia - we have a population of half-a-million. Are the wages paid there now lower than they were in the days gone by?
– There were 30,000 Chinese on the Palmer River. .
– I am sorry that an honorable senator who has recently travelled about Australia so much should hold such narrow views. I never expected to bear such nonsense from the Columbus of Australia. Each of the immigrants to Canada is submitted to a rigorous examination.
– There is nothing to prevent their coming here.
– We in Australia are further from the old world than Canada is, and we should offer inducements to immigrants to come here. There is another question mentioned in the Governor-General’s speech as to which I should like to make a remark. That is the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill. If that Bill is to be introduced I hope that it will be judged on its merits. At present I am a bit suspicious about it. I notice that amongst the modern “new unionists “ there is a habit of calling people who are outside their ranks by such opprobrious terms as “scab “ and “ blackleg.” I hope that if that Bill is brought in, it will make it a punishable offence for a person to call a man a “scab” or a “blackleg” who has the courage to leave a union. A man who leaves one shows that he has individuality, and I believe in individuality and freedom. In regard to’ this matter, I could refer, if necessary, to an honorable senator who at one time belonged to a labour organization, and if I were to repeat to the Senate what he has told me with regard to the way in which people were treated who had the courage to leave their unions, honorable senators would be very much surprised.
– We are a dangerous lot.
– I have a considerable regard personally for the members of the labour party, but I cannot stand their politics. We have lately had in Victoria a conspicuous instance of what may happen. Look at the terrible state into which Victoria was plunged by the railway strike. I wonder if my honorable friends in the labour corner have ever thought of the terrible damage that might have been done to our credit by that strike. I have no hesitation in saying that, had that strike been successful, the fact would have struck such a dire blow at our constitutional rights that in the money markets of the world our public securities would have fallen in value, and the progress of Australia would have been retarded to an extent painful to contemplate. I am only surprised that believers in law and order, and other Governments, had not the courage to send messages of sympathy to Mr. Irvine, commending him for the noble stand he took. That is the view which nine out of every ten people in Australia take of the plucky stand he made. In regard to the mail contract I trust that we shall have the courage, if we have made a mistake, to go back and correct it. See what the British Government now think we intend doing. What can the British Government think of the latest idea of preventing lascars - British subjects - from manning our mail steamers ? It will be interesting to notice what will follow in consequence of this legislation. After a time there will be a cry for a republic of Australia. I believe there are many persons inclined to support such a demand at the present time, and we must be careful not to play into their hands. There is another matter in His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s speech which requires careful consideration. I refer to the paragraph relating to the consolidation of State debts. I know that my views are in consonance with those of the Colonial Treasurer and the Attorney-General on this subject, and I think we must be very careful in dealing with the matter. We must take care that we do not encourage extravagance. We must remember that under section 105 of the Constitution we are entitled to take
Over the debts only as they existed at the establishment of the Commonwealth. Any further debts will have to be a matter of Arrangement with the States. If we ever do take over the State debts, there are three points to which we must pay special regard. We must be satisfied, first of all, as to the security : secondly, as to there being a sinking fund ; and, thirdly, as to what provisions exist for further loans. If we wish to obtain the best price for our stocks, it would never do to have a variety of Australian stocks on the home market. I hope the time will come when the States will see the wisdom of having all their loans effected through the Commonwealth, andwhen that is done they will, no doubt, be able to obtain money on very favorable terms. The question is a very difficult one. At one time I was in favour of federalizing the State railways, but that proposal seems to be objected to. Next it seemed to me that we should have to go in for the hypothecation of portion of the railway revenue to supplement the customs income if we took over all the liabilities of the States.
– Bow could we enforce payment if they decided to suspend the sinking fund for a year 1
– That is a matter of detail. I am at present simply laying down general lines.
– It could be done by means of trustees.
– I knew that a way out of the difficulty could readily be suggested.
– But supposing they passed an Act repealing the first one for a year 1
– We shall have to be very careful in regard to the proposed sinking fund, because there is a tendency to look upon these funds as mere book entries. The responsible authorities see that they have so much to the credit of such a fund, and they proceed to withdraw it. If there is to be a sinking fund it should be placed in the hands of non-political trustees, and they should have the control of it until such time as it is required. With regard to the Customs department it is unnecessary to repeat what, has been said on the subject. I believe that the Minister for Trade and Customs is as honest as is any one here, and that he is endeavouring to do what he believes to be his duty. But, unhappily, he is carrying out that duty in a most unfortunate manner. He takes it for granted that we are all rogues until we are proved to be honest.
– The way in which the young man to whom reference has been made was treated in Sydney was simply disgraceful.
– Then there was the case of the man in Brisbane.
– I am sure that every honorable senator would like to see the administration of the Customs department carried out in a courteous and gentlemanly way. The collectors of customs should be allowed more discretionary power in small matters. We all know that the Postmaster-General has power to settle little difficulties which occur in his department in a way which he thinks is reasonable. A case occurred the other day in which he fined the offender £1 .
– Unfortunately, cases of the kind are very numerous, and a little publicity might stop them.
– This is the first I have heard of it. I thought, when the Postal Bill was before us, that the PostmasterGeneral was very glad to have that provision included in it.
– So I was.
– Coming to the question of the transcontinental railway, I think that the reference made to it in His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech is perfectly permissible. At the same time it must be remembered that the people of South Australia are endeavouring to show us that they can secure the construction of a railway to the Northern Territory by means of a land grant system.
– By giving away a large part of the State.
– If they are able to secure the construction of a railway in that way, is there any reason why the Western Australian and Soutn Australian Governments should not be able to secure a transcontinental railway by means of the land grant system?
– Who would take the land?
– If people will not take the land, let them say so. We should then know what to do. It is asserted - and I believe that Senator Pearce is the authority for the statement - that there is some very good land in Western Australia.
– But not along the proposed route.
– Why should there not be other Kalgoorlies, yet undiscovered, in Western Australia ? I am sentimentally in favour of the railway, because it would be useful for the defence of Australia. What could assist more materially in the defence of Australia than the construction of railways from one end of the continent to the other ? How would it be possible to send troops from Adelaide to Fremantle, or from Adelaide to Port Darwin, without the use of railways ? It would certainly take a long time to send them round by steamer. In regard to the statement made by Senator Fraser, I must say that I am not aware that any of the steamers coming to Australia have a speed of 20 knots an hour. I believe it will be found that the best of them can do only 15 knots an hour.
– The average is less than that.
– The only other matter to which I wish to refer is in regard to Mr. Chamberlain’s remarks as to preferential trade with the Empire.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. I think it shows the thin end of the protectionist’s wedge. I believe that Mr. Chamberlain is a second Disraeli with regard to political insight, but this is a proposal which I think is not altogether right. I believe Mr. Chamberlain in making it is actuated by the highest motives, but I do not think it is in accordance with what we believe as freetraders. I am a cosmopolitan free-trader, and I believe that if we could have free trade throughout all lands we should have the best guarantee for the brotherhood of nations, and the peace of the world.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).We are face to face this evening with one of the disadvantages under which we labour in having only two members of the Ministry sitting in the Senate. Of course I take no exception to the absence of Senator O’Connor. Honorable senators, who know the amount of time which he devoted to the work of last session, will freely excuse his absence at the present time. I wish to make it quite clear that I arn not in any sense drawing attention to his absence ; but I contend that it is only fair, as illustrated by what is taking place now, that there should be another Minister in the Senate. We have a right to expect in the interests of the debate which is now taking place, and for the better elucidation of the various questions touched upon, that there should be a Minister in a position to reply to the speech just delivered by the leader of the Opposition.
– If I had done so, all the other honorable senators would have followed me.
– That is one of the privileges of the Minister who speaks. With another Minister in the Senate the PostmasterGeneral would have had a colleague to follow those who spoke after him, and to reply to their criticisms. That is a course which is usual in all parliamentary debates of this character, and I think it tends to the proper elucidation of public questions. Coining to the matters dealt with in the very voluminous and somewhat wonderful document with which we are confronted, I believe that other representatives. of New South Wales like myself contemplated saying something upon the question of Customs administration which is a burning one to us. Fortunately, I feel that any obligation of that character is removed from me. The remarks made by Senator Downer represent criticism much more sweeping and stronger than an3-thing which has been launched against the Customs administration by any honorable senator speaking from this side of the Senate. “When we have an honorable senator who shows by his whole attitude in making his remarks that he desires to be as kind to the Government as he can, when he admits in a burst of candour, as perhaps the easiest way out of the difficulty, that in the position in which he finds himself he is entitled to the sympathy of the Senate, and when we hear him admitting that unjust acts have been done, that innocent persons have been punished, then I say the whole case against the Customs administration is proven, and there is nothing further to be said. I may add that as I listened to that speech, my sympathy, instead of going out to Senator Downer went out to Senator Drake.
– The honorable senator’s sympathy was thrown away.
– I assure the honorable and learned senator that he had it. The fact that Senator Downer spoke in this way enables me to condense my remarks into a very brief compass. I wish, however, to say a word or two as to the site of the federal capital. I want to make the position as clear as I can, and to place views of my State before the Senate, because this is a matter upon which there is some feeling, and, to be frank, some suspicion in the State of New South Wales. That suspicion arises very much from the utterances of representatives of other States. I do not mean for one moment to say that these utterances can by themselves be construed into any intention to evade that provision of the Constitution which declares that the federal territory shall be in New South Wales. But I do say that there are many things taking place now which suggest that the first object aimed at- is delay, and that the object of that delay may be repudiation. I desire now, not to express my own view of the matter, but to convey to honorable senators some idea of the opinion which prevails in New South Wales, with a view to having this matter settled as early as possible. Some utterances have been made here this afternoon, and one by my esteemed friend, Senator Styles ; and I repeat again that those utterances, by themselves, mean nothing. I rather think that they are idle expressions not meant to convey one-half as much as will be extracted from them by the people of New South Wales, who will read them. Senator Styles said this afternoon that the agreement that the site of the federal capital should be in New South Wales had been arrived at by six gentlemen without authority. That may be perfectly true. The honorable senator also told us that it was “Hobson’s choice,” and that the people of the Commonwealth had to accept it whether they liked it or not. The attack is -first against the authority, and is it not possible to suppose that as there is now an inclination to attack the authority which arrived at that agreement, that sooner or later there will be an inclination to attack the agreement itself ? That is only one of many little things which are going on. Then we have in Senator Dobson a staunch advocate for delay. We have the big metropolitan journals of Victoria now in the habit of scornfully referring to the federal territory as the “ bush capital.” All this goes in my State to form the opinion that the first object sought for is delay, and that ultimately it will be repudiation. AVe see the danger of delay. There is no provision of the Constitution that is one whit more sacred than any other provision. Each is equally open to amendment provided that the amendment is brought about in a constitutional way. The only thing that may tend to protect this one section of the Constitution from amendment is the moral obligation underlying it, and that moral obligation must necessarily bo more strongly binding on the people who entered into the agreement than it will bo on their successors. I refuse to believe that any public men who were parties to the Constitution - that any one in this Chamber or any one who in any way took part in the discussion’s on the Commonwealth Bill - would for one moment consent to the amendment of that provision. But I say that when ten, fifteen, or twenty years have gone by, and the men in whose minds that moral obligation is present have passed away, as they naturally must, and when we have a fresh race of legislators who may not be familiar with the circumstances in which that agreement was arrived at,
there will be a, strong probability of an effort being made to amend that provision of the Constitution. New South Wales in this matter recognises that “ delays are dangerous,” and that feeling is strongly accentuated by such utterances as those of Senator Styles, and by the attitude of the Age and Argus, who have now got into the habit of jeering at the proposal for “-a Capital,” as they term it, “ in the bush.” They did not adopt that attitude when the Constitution’ was in the balance iri New South Wales. There was not a word of that kind said then, but they affirmed and admitted that it was a graceful concession in order to please New South Wales. Probably it was, but I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that had that provision not been there New South Wales would never have accepted the Commonwealth Bill. I have no personal want of faith in the good intentions of those who have to decide this matter, but having regard to the suspicion which is growing in my own State I do ask, in the interests of good federal feeling, that that question shall be settled as early as possible consistent with the requirements of public convenience. When I put the matter in that way I do not think any one can accuse me of advancing an unfair proposition. Now I come to the matter of the naval agreement. If Senator Downer felt called upon to differ in some particulars with the Government, of which he is a supporter, I feel that . upon this occasion, in order to some extent to make’ things equal, I must quarrel with my leader, and in this matter I have to express a considerable measure of approval of the agreement which the Government have entered into. I fully indorse the sentimental aspect of the question so ably put by Senator Symon. I say at once that I desire to see an Australian navy, manned by Australians and under Australian control. But can any one tell me that, until at any rate the bookkeeping period has passed, it is a reasonable or a sound financial proposition to consider the commencement, this year or next 3’ear, of a navy, the construction of which is going to involve an expenditure which is really too large for serious consideration? As for the time being the construction of a navy of our own must remain in abeyance, what, I ask myself, are we to’ do in the meantime? This agreement appears tome to fill in the gap. Though I in no way assent that it is a policy that should obtain here for any protracted period, but as a stop-gap, as something to meet our immediate requirements, and until we are financially in a position to t.ike a bolder course, I propose to support the agreement when it is submitted. I come now to another matter upon which I have also to disagree with Senator Symon. That is as to the payment of the sugar bonus. If I understand the honorable and learned senator’s proposition aright, it is this : that those States which were afflicted- with the evil of coloured labour, as I regard it, are required to pay the whole cost of the policy of a white Australia.
– Not the whole cost : the partial cost involved in the excise.
– I am dealing with that portion given as a bonus apart from the protective incidence of the matter, and if I have stated Senator Symon’s proposition correctly, it amounts to an affirmation that the democracy of the Southern States want an advantage at the expense of the other States. I decline to believe that Southern democracy is built that way. I know that this is a matter that concerns New South Wales as a sugar-producing State, but with the population we have the amount involved is so small that it will not be contended that it would influence us. I am perfectly certain that every man in New South Wales who voted for a white Australian policy was quite prepared to fairly share in the cost of securing it. Eoi- the reasons I have given, that is another point in which I have to give my support to the Government, although it will be in opposition to the leader ‘ of my own party. I assume, from the fact that there is a reference in the speech to the all-important subject of the State debts, that it is at any rate in contemplation to take some action with the view of effecting a transfer. I hold that any immediate - and I use the term in a comparative sense - transfer of these debts is extremely undesirable. I have not heard any reason advanced why we should transfer them, nor yet has any one to my mind shown that any advantage would result to the Federation from such a transfer. I assume that no one contemplates so serious an operation, and one of such magnitude, unless some advantage is to be obtained. What is that advantage ? Is the Federation to be advantaged by assuming a responsibility of such magnitude ? I cannot see that it in any way is to gain in the slightest degree from saddling itself with the heavy financial responsibility that would be represented by the acceptance of the liability of the several States. I can see that the States have something to gain. They, of course, will only be too happy to accommodate us if we will place them in a position to unload upon the shoulders of the Commonwealth a national debt which, in too many cases or to too great an extent, represents the result of financial extravagance.
– I do not believe that any financial authority will be found to say that we should gain any immediate advantage from the conversion of the State debts at the present time. Anyone holding State bonds, if they are to be converted, will require to get an equivalent. The holders of State bonds are not philanthropists, and we must not approach them in that spirit. If we ask them to surrender bonds bearing 4 per cent, interest for a lower rate of interest they will want a higher face value on their bonds. For every £1,000 worth of 4 per cent, bonds that they hold to-day, if we convert them to i per cent, bonds they will possibly want a face value of £1,100 or £1,200.
– Would there not be a better market for the stock as a result of the transfer ?
– Whom will that advantage?- Of course it will advantage the owners of the stock. Supposing the stock of New South Wales, which are quoted to-day as low as they have been for many years, suddenly spring up four or five points. It will not put a single penny into the coffers of the Commonwealth.
– Would not a scheme be desirable whereby if loans fall due they could be absorbed by the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth having control of the revenue?
– I presume that the honorable and learned senator means that the Commonwealth might be able to renew on more advantageous terms than the State. That would be an advantage to the State, not to the Commonwealth.
– We have control of the revenue.
– The honorable and learned senator now anticipates a point I wish to come to. Practically, by that interjection he admits that there will be no advantage to the Commonwealth as distinct from the States. There is no advantage to the Commonwealth itself ; but the Commonwealth may by this conversion be the instrument of conveying an advantage to the States. Now the States will still have to pay the interest upon the debts which we take over and convert. I see the possibility of very grave complications arising from that unless we also take over some substantial corresponding asset. That, of course, opens up the question of what the asset is to be. For the present I do not wish to deal with that matter. I merely wish to show the position that we shall be in if we become responsible for the conversion of the State debts.
– It will be regulated by the revenue within our control.
– Exactly. My honorable and learned friend brings me back to that point a,gain. At the present time the Commonwealth is handing back the surplus revenue to the States. Let me imagine two States in different positions, one having an insufficient revenue even with the amount that the Commonwealth hands back. A bad year overtakes the State and it gets into financial difficulties in its administration. What happens then ? Are we to practically force that State to borrow again or become insolvent, if you like, as we should do if we withheld from them the necessary amount of Customs’ revenue. If we did not desire to do that we should have to pay their interest charges ourselves ? I have always advocated that as far as possible State and Federal finance should be kept distinct. I can see that any number of complications may arise if we once proceed to mix them up, but I cannot see the possibility of very little difficulty and danger arising if we keep them distinct. Let me take the position of the State I referred to. A time might come when, through some radical alteration of the Tariff, the amount of the surplus to be handed back would become very small. We should then have to call upon the State to pay the Federal Treasury the amount which was required to pay the interest on the bonds for which we had become responsible. Supposing that it did not return a positive refusal to pay, but simply said - “ We have not the money, and we are not in a position to impose fresh taxation.” The only safe way I can see to take over State debts would be to take over with them a proportion of revenue-earning assets, such as the railways. “When the Federal Government or any State or recognised authority is prepared to put forward a scheme for the simultaneous transfer of the debts on the one hand and. an equal amount of revenue-producing assets on the other, then this matter will be within the region of practical politics, and I shall be prepared to give it careful consideration.
– It will be many a long day before that takes place.
– I hope it will be. I think it would be suicidal - I can use soother word - for us to seriously contemplate such a big financial operation as the taking over of the State debts until, at any rate, we are outside the bookkeeping period, and until we can see a little more clearly what is to happen, and how tilings are going to shape. If there is a” general agreement that the matter is to be left over until the bookkeeping period has .expired, what is the good of loading this speech with references to it, and, .still more so, what is the use of these not altogether friendly exchanges of opinion between Federal Ministers and State Ministers ? One great advantage - and the principal one so far as I can see - that would result from the transfer of the State debts would be the possibility of the States launching out into a fresh reign of extravagance. “When some reference was made to that question in the early portion of the evening, an honorable senator interjected “ Of course the transfer of the debts will be accompanied b)’ a restriction on the State Governments.” How can we restrain a State Government ? I know of no way by which it can be done, unless we are prepared to use the military forces, and even then I do not know that we should be successful in our effort. There is only one way in which the extravagance of the State Governments can be stopped, so far as my experience goes, and that is by resolution on the part of the electors to put a stop to it. In New South Wales we have a Government which has been carrying out what it terms a spirited public works policy.
– There is a restriction in some of the American States, I believe.
– -There is a restriction on the amount which the State Government can borrow, but we cannot enforce that view. It would have to be embodied in the Constitution of a State, and with that we have nothing to do. I venture to say that any proposal submitted to the Parliament or the people of the State that the hands of the Government should be tied, would be scouted indignantly as an improper interference by the federal authorities with State rights. The extravagance, or to use a more euphonious term, the spirited public works policy, is, in my opinion, to be charged not so much against the Government of a State as against the electors. Only the other day I was confronted with this rather amusing paradox in a country town. I was invited to attend a meeting for the purpose of forming a branch of what is called there, the reform movement. It was being started by a number of persons to whom the word Kyabram is like the blessed word Mesopotamia. I said I was not quite clear as to whether what they meant by reform was what I meant by the term. I was for reform all the time, but I was not quite certain that my idea of reform would square with theirs, and therefore I did not attend the meeting at the hotel at which I was staying. When the reformers came out thev told me that they were going to attend a meeting of the progress committee. I asked the purpose of the meeting, and I learned that it was to urge the Government to spend some money on what I regarded as an absolutely unnecessary culvert. That is an example of a great deal of the reform which is going on. I am prepared to charge ninetenths of the extravagance which is taking place in that’ State to the action of the electors, and until they set the example of refraining from urging the Government on with its extravagance, there will be really nothing in the way of financial reform there. That, perhaps, is by the way. But it leads me to this conclusion, that for us to relieve the States of their financial burdens would simply be to open the road to them to continue a policy which I can only regard as bringing very undesirable, if not disastrous, results upon the commerce and industry of the State. I wish to say a word about the railway to Western Australia.- I am not quite clear as to the object of the Government in introducing this subject into the speech. . I do not like to suspect Ministers of any attempt to suggest things which they do not intend to carry out, especially if they are improper things, but with all my very kindly regards towards them, 1. am compelled to ask myself whether this paragraph has not been put into the speech in order to suit the electioneering purposes of certain members of the Government. That is the only conclusion I can arrive at. It is not strictly federal business to construct a railway anywhere. I am not speaking of the merits of this proposal, but’ certainly, before I consent to the Government undertaking to construct a single rail way I shall require a clear pronouncement as to what their position is to be in regard to the railways of the States generally. . I am ir! very grave doubt as to whether the proposed transcontinental railway has sufficient merit to warrant even five minutes consideration of the project at the present moment.
– Let the honorable senator talk about something he has some idea of.
– I have a serious idea about this matter, and it is because I have that idea which takes the shape of a big doubt that I shall hesitate before I give a vote to help the project along until its advocates can bring forward some reasons more substantial than they have done given yet.
– Is this the spirit of federation ?
– It does riot ask me to hurry the Federation into an unfinancial business, and scattered over Australia to-day we have quite enough horrible examples of “wild-cat” railways without adding a federal one to the list.
– The best paying lines in Australia runs through country such as you are talking about.
– If it is to be such a good financial business, the only thing I am surprised at is that such a progressive Government as that of Western Australia has not already constructed the line. It would be a most unfriendly act for the Commonwealth to step in and build what is to be the most profitable line in the State, and leave the State to cany on the unprofitable ones.
– The line is not to run all through our territory. Does the honorable senator expect a population of less than 250,000 to build it?
– I do not. I admit at once that I do not know the country which it is to traverse. I do not know that there is any one here who can say that he knows it. In listening to the remarks of Senator Pearce, I was reminded of a very old story, to which, perhaps, I may be pardoned for referring. It is the story of a curate who was on one occasion the guest of his bishop. The curate, having breakfast with the bishop, was toying very suspiciously with an egg which was placed before him. The bishop, suspecting that the integrity of the egg was open to doubt, asked the curate whether there was anything wrong with it. The curate replied - “ Oh, my lord, it is excellent in parts.” That seems to me to be something like the route which this railway is to cross. It may be “ excellent in parts,” but taken as a’ whole -it is rather doubtful. But apart from the objection which I have to the federal authorities attempting at the present moment to take up any railway enterprise, I want to lay it down as a proposition, which I think will commend itself to the majority of honorable senators, that the Federal Government ought not, at any rate for some years to come, to approach a proposal which is not, in the words of this speech, “ on a sound financial basis.” Will any one - will even Senator De Largie - contend that the financial prospects of this railway are such as to justify the Federation in dealing with it at the present time ? I do not think that any one will venture to say that that railway will produce anything but a big loss for several years to come. If that be so, then so long as that section of the Constitution which is associated with the name of Sir Edward Braddon remains, what an utterly foolish thing it would be to enter upon such an enterprise. We should lay ourselves open to the obligation of taxing the people of Australia to the amount of £4 for every £1 of deficiency caused upon the line. For that reason alone, it stands condemned until, at any rate, the end of the book-keeping period.
– What sort of an enterprise will the federal city be from the dividend-producing point of view ?
– I think there is something in the Constitution about the federal city, but there is nothing in the Constitution about the transcontinental railway. ‘ The two things can surely be considered as distinct and apart. And I must say here that it is a thing which strikes me very forcibly, that while there is such undue haste to rush on with something that is not federal business, we find these same gentlemen very slow to get on with a matter which the Constitution lays upon us distinctly as an obligation. One of .the objections which I have to this railway is that it is likely to add to the list of non-productive lines in Australia, which represent to-day about the heaviest burden which our producers have to carry. Because every non-productive line in some way or other means keeping up the freights on the productive lines. If there is one political school in the community that, above all others, ought to be pledged to economy in the acts of government, it is that which holds the fiscal views that I do. We who are lighting for a low Tariff must be, above all others, careful that the Federation incurs no obligation which will compel us to raise through the Customs more than is absolutely necessary. That is an additional reason why I cannot entertain for one moment a proposal such as this, which must undoubtedly compel the raising by the Federal Government, through the Customs, of more money than is at present necessary for the government of the country. I pass from that to the paragraph of the GovernorGeneral’s speech which deals with the question of preferential trade. That paragraph reads in this way -
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.
Senator Symon seemed to take exception to that paragraph being inserted in the speech. I think there was ample justification for it; because it appears to me, so far as reading this speech enlightens me, that it is the only thing which the Government has found to gratify it either in the recess or in the programme of legislation submitted to us. Surely my honorable and learned friend, Senator Symon, was not prepared to deprive the Government of that gratification, especially when they stand - as he will recognise, I am sure - within the shadow of that impending doom which must come upon them at the next election. I, for my part, do not wish to deprive them of that gratification. But at the same time I find considerable difficulty in reconciling the passage I have quoted with the following paragraph. We here have gratification expressed at the encouragement of trade relations between various parts of the Empire, and then, having expressed this gratification at something which is to bring the various parts of the Empire, including India, into closer relations with each other, we find the statement made that the Government are prepared to enter into new arrangements togive effect to a provision in the Post and Telegraph Act. We know what that means. If we are to be grateful on account of the prospect of closer relations with other parts of the Empire, including India, there is awant of consistency when they propose togo out of their way, and, by giving effect tothat Act, do something which must tend to disturb’ trade between Australia and otherparts of the Empire.
– Would the honorablesenator exclude aliens, and admit alien goods 1
– Would SenatorHiggs exclude aliens, and yet drink tea produced in other parts of the world by aliens ? I think I saw the honorablesenator drinking tea this evening. There is the position. I tell my honorable friendsfrankly that I am entirely with them in anything they can do to keep Australia white, and in anything that can be done to* keep undesirable aliens, coloured or otherwise, out of Australia, I will go as far with them as they will go themselves. But itbecomes a different thing when they push that principle to an absurd length like this. We are not at all concerned as to what isdone outside Australia. There is a possibility of very seriously injuring the trade that has come to us in the past through certain lines of steam -ships which have done a. great deal to develop the commerce of Australia, and do a great deal to-day to promote our trade with other portions of the world.
– Would there be less, trade with those ships if they were manned by white men 1
– But are we called upon, in our own interest, or for any other reason, to enforce a policy which we considerfor the interest of Australia upon other portions of the world t AVe have quite enough to do here.
– It is only our owntrade that we interfere with.
– You are cutting off’ your nose to spite your face.’ Does the honorable senator mean to say that for theamount which we now pay to the P. and O. and Orient Companies we are likely to get as good a service by means of any other line of ships ? It is one thing to determine the internal and domestic affairs of Australia, and quite another thing to say that we will not take advantage of what is offered to us by a shipping company with which we have nothing to do except to pay for certain services which they render to us. To be consistent in this policy, we should absolutely decline to receive into Australia any goods that have been produced or handled by any coloured person whatever. That would be carrying out the principle to its logical extreme.
– Has the honorable senator no interest in British seamen 1
– Undoubtedly I have. Whether I have an interest in him or not is quite outside the question, although I dare say that my interest is as keen and as’ genuine, and possibly as enlightened, as that of the honorable senator. But we are not going to benefit British seamen by enforcing the provision in the Post and Telegraph Act to which I have referred.
– Give the British seaman an opportunity of earning his bread.
– It strikes me that the honorable senator is not sincere in expressing that view. I think that we are pushing this principle a great deal too far when, not content with enforcing it within our own country, we are seeking to enforce upon the P.’ and 0. and other steam-ship companies a policy which may mean that their trade with us will be diminished, or that we shall have to pay more for. the same advantages as we already receive from them. I do not think that we can get other companies to do for us what the P. and 0. and Orient Companies are doing for us to-day at the same price.
– There was no fallingoff of trade in Queensland when this policy was enforced upon the British India line.
– I would ask Senator Glass’ey whether lie means’ to affirm that we are going to get for the same price an equally efficient service as the P. and O. and Orient Companies are supplying us with now if we insist upon stipulating that they shall not employ coloured labour. Shall we, I ask again, get an equally good service at the same rate ?
– If not, I shall be prepared to pay more.
– At the present time, seeing that the companies do not in any way disturb the policy of a white Australia, it would be foolish for us to try and force our policy outside our borders. It looks to me like thrashing an excellent principle to death. As to the matter of the High Court of Australia I quite agree with Senator Symon - and I am glad to be able to agree with him in one respect - that it is extremely desirable that that Court should be constituted as soon as possible. I listened carefully to the remarks of Senator Fraser, who urged delay. He pointed out in support of a policy of delay that the present States Supreme Courts were giving satisfaction so far as concerned the matters submitted to them. None will doubt either the capacity or integrity of the States Supreme Courts , but what we have, to consider is the possibility, which is becoming more and more imminent, of Inter-State disputes arising or of a conflict occurring between a State and the Federation. In such cases it must be admitted that the only competent tribunal to decide the issues will be the Federal High Court. Take the case that came before the Supreme Court of. New South Wales the other day. It was the case of a dispute that arose between the Federal Government and the New South Wales State Government, as to whether State imports were dutiable under the Constitution or not. That matter has been by mutual agreement placed in such a position that it is merely held in abeyance for the present, and no decision has been arrived at. But it is important that a decision should be arrived at as early as possible in order that the States may know whether they have a certain revenue at their command, or only three-fourths of the revenue which they expected to receive. It is also desirable that we should know whether in calculating our Customs revenue we should take account of a lesser or greater amount being at our disposal. There is another matter also. I speak of the rivers question, which also is a subject that may have to be decided by the Federal High Court. It bristles with possibilities that will require legal intervention. Is there any State that would be prepared to accept the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of any other State on a matter like that? New South Wales could hardly be expected to accept the decision of the Supreme
Court of South Australia, and on the other hand South Australia could not be expected in reason to accept the decision of the New South Wales Supreme Court. That is one case which renders it extremely desirable that the High Court should be constituted as early as possible, and I venture to affirm that it is to be hoped the court will be constituted before these cases arise. To wait until a case had arisen and then, when a discussion had taken place, and the matter had been advanced to the point of open disagreement, to appoint the judges and to have the court constituted would be a very bad policy indeed. I am entirely with those who go for economy. When the Bill is submitted I shall give every assistance in carrying it through, but J shall cast my vote on every occasion to limit the expense and to limit the number of Judges. Reference is made in the Governor-General’s speech to the question of electoral divisions. With regard to that matter I wish only to say that as several of the States are large it must necessarily take a considerable time for the people interested to learn what are the proposed divisions. I hope the Government will table the plan of division as early as possible, so that every publicity ma)’ be given to enable different centres which have any objections to urge to make their views known, as provided for in the Act. I am extremely glad to learn from the GovernorGeneral’s speech that the position of our finances is sound, but I should have thought that in common gratitude the’ Government would have added to that declaration an expression of thanks and appreciation of the services rendered by honorable members on this side of the Senate. It is clearly due to our efforts in removing the restrictive barriers in the Tariff - those objectionable features with which it bristled when it came here- -that imports have been flowing into the country to an extent which enables the Government to congratulate itself on a position of sound finance. In conclusion, I cordial!)’ join with the Government, as I am sure all honorable senators will do, in expressing the hope that with the return of good seasons that is now promised, although not yet assured, the prosperity of Australia, which in previous times has gone ahead by leaps and bounds will advance at an unprecedented rate under the Federation. We must recognise that, with justification or without it, there has been a certain amount of ill-feeling caused by the introduction of the new order of things. In New South Wales that feeling has been particularly pronounced. I would not go so far as to say that those who feel themselves aggrieved or who are smarting under the administration to-day would give a vote to undo the Constitution, but I do feel that if the position were open to them to-day, a great many of them would vote against its acceptance. I do not think they would undo what has been done, even if the opportunity presented itself. I hope that with a little more tactful administration, with a return to good seasons and prosperity and the creation of brighter and better times, all these difficulties will disappear, and that the citizens will regard federation in the way they have regarded their own State political edifices as something of which they may justly be proud.
– It is only because, as Senator Glassey says, I desire to save the situation, and because I feel that a number of honorable senators who, I am sure, are desirous of contributing to this debate, have not been able to get together their notes, that I am willing now to step into the breach. Consequently I shall try to follow the example of the mover and seconder of the address in reply by remembering that “ brevity is the soul of wi 6.- If my remarks have no other qualification to recommend them to the Senate, I hope they will at least . have the virtue of brevity. Dealing first with the proposed constitution of the High Court, I have to say right here that my opinion on this important question has undergone a change. During last session I was one of those who, for reasons of economy, did not think it advisable that the High Court should be established for some time to come. But a number of events have transpired since then which make me believe that it will be to the best interests of the Commonwealth to have the High Court established at as early a date as possible. I cannot forget that very recently one State in the Commonwealth contemplated legislation which would probably have created serious trouble amongst the people - legislation which a large section of the people of Australia believed would go so far as to endanger the liberties of which they have so long been proud. When it is possible for legislation of that kind to pass a State Parliament, I think it is a very good thing that the people of Australia should have behind them the safeguard of the .Federal High Court. It is a good thing that they should have a Federal High Court to appeal to if their liberties are ‘ever endangered by the action of a State Government. I wish to see the provisions of the Bill before dealing with the cost of establishing that court. I understand that it is intended to appoint five J udges. As a layman I am not in a position to say whether it is absolutely necessary that five Judges should be appointed, or whether three would be able to do the work : but my vote shall be given every time in the direction of economy. If I can bring myself to believe that a lesser number than that proposed will be able to cany out the work I shall vote for the reduction. Until recently I held the opinion that probably the High Court could be constituted by appointing the Chief Justices of the various States to deal with every question as it arose, the Chief Justice of the State in which the cause of action arose standing aside during the hearing of that particular case. I have come to the conclusion, however, that it will be to the best interests of the people to establish an independent tribunal apart altogether from that method of procedure. I believe that the High Court is one of the cornerstones of the foundation of our ‘Constitution, and I shall, therefore, support its establishment. The next paragraph in His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech is that dealing with the federal capital. Here again I have to admit that my opinions have undergone a change since last session. I have taken all possible opportunities of ascertaining the opinions of the people of New South Wales, and I cannot get away from two serious facts. One of these is that the establishment of the federal ‘ capital - following, of course, the choice of a site, which I know we shall all agree to, at as early a date as possible - must involve tremendous expense, if we are not very careful how we go to work in erecting the federal buildings, and removing the seat of Parliament from Melbourne. I know that there is a strong feeling in the State I represent, and in all the other States against any expenditure being incurred which could possibly be avoided at the present juncture. But we have to remember, as it has been put very ably and eloquently to-day by two honorable senators, that there is an express provision in the Constitution in regard to the federal capital. “Whilst I am sorry that that provision exists ; whilst I do not agree that it was wise to fetter the members of this Parliament by such a provision, the fact remains that it is in the Constitution, and that probably the people of New South Wales would not have voted for federation had the)’ not been granted that concession. In these circumstances, unwise concession as I believe it to have been, I hope I possess sufficient of the federal, spirit to recognise that this is a federal matter, and that if we wish to be true to the federal spirit we can do nothing but comply with the terms of the Constitution. Therefore I shall support any action in the direction of choosing a site for the capital as soon as we are in the possession of the necessary information, and I shall support reasonable expenditure up to a certain point in connexion with the establishment of the capital. The next paragraph in His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s speech is one which I regard with particular interest. It deals with the proposed establishment of courts of conciliation and’ arbitration. Very little need exists to-day for any one to go into details to show the absolute necessity for. the immediate establishment of ‘these courts in the best interests of all sections of the people of Australia. AVe have recently been brought face to face with a terrible strike - a terrible disorganization of the whole arrangements of one State. ‘
-.Col. Gould. - We could not deal with such a matter in a Federal Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
– AVe know perfectly well that we are bound by” the Constitution, and we are aware that it limits us to industrial disputes which extend beyond one State. It is generally believed that it is only a shipping strike which would come within the purview of the Federal Court. But I hold the view that if a railway strike occurred in any one State, as it did the other day, there must be imminent danger of that strike spreading to other States, and surely the industrial legislation that we should pass would be competent to deal with cases of that kind. If the railway employes in all of the States belonged to one union, and, because of a grievance in one State, that union called out their men simultaneously - which is not a very remote contingency it seems to me, in view of the sympathy which was extended to the Victorian railway men by workers in the other States - it is quite possible that a railway strike would come within the purview of the legislation that we can pass. Another reason which I think should impel us to pass this legislation as soon as we can, is that it may have the effect of bringing local courts of conciliation and arbitration into force in States where there are no such tribunals to deal with matters which possibly could never, come within our jurisdiction. I know that Tasmania has no legislation on the subject. I wish it had. On several occasions we have had instances in which the whole of the people of the State would have derived benefits from legislation of this kind. I hope that there will be no opposition to this proposal, and I feel satisfied that legislation providing for courts of conciliation and abitration will pass through this Parliament without much serious opposition. I feel in somewhat of a dilemma as to the proposed naval agreement. I am satisfied that if we are ever to commence a proper system of national defence we cannot commence too early. While possibly we shall not be in a position for at least a few years to come to establish the nucleus of a new Australian nvy, I do not think that I shall be able to support the proposal to increase the present subsidy to £200,000. I do not believe that that proposal meets with the approval of the majority of the people of Australia at the present time. Some very strong reasons will have to be advanced by the representative of the Government who will have charge of this proposal in the- Senate to induce me to approve of it. I know that there is a strong feeling in the minds of Australians that there should be an Australian navy, as soon as it is possible for us to establish one. There is also a strong feeling that we are not at present financially in a position to do so ; but there is again a strong feeling that we can very well go along as we are doing now for a few years to come, and I believe that the consensus of opinion amongst the people of Australia is in support of that feeling. I believe that it’ a vote were taken of the whole of the people of Australia to-morrow the new agreement proposed would not receive the assent of the majority. I approve of the proposal to establish uniform patent laws, and I hope it will be found possible todo so during the present session. I find the f following paragraph in the Governor-General’s speech : -
Mv 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.
I come from a State where we have never had anything to do with the kanaka trouble, and know nothing about it, but where, I am proud to say, the majority of the people believe in the principle of a white Australia. I believe a majority of the electors’ of Tasmania possess sufficient of the federal spirit to induce them to take up their share of any burdens which it may be necessary to impose on Australia for the furtherance of that principle, and they will be prepared topay their share of any increase which may be found necessary in the price of sugar to meet the purpose. Personally, although I use sugar; I do not know whether I am paying any more for it now than I paid for it twelve months ago. I certainly do not think that I pay very much more. Although it has already been said, and probably will again be said, by representatives of Tasmania in this House, that the people of that State feel themselves hardly dealt with in this connexion, and think it unfair that they should be asked to bear any burden simply in order to rid Queensland of the kanaka traffic - although that has been said many times recently by distinguished gentlemen in stumping the country in Tasmania, I do not believe that such a statement represents the true feeling of the great body of the people of that. State. I believe that the people there are prepared to pay a little more for the sugar they consume, for the purpose of keeping Australia for the white races, and ridding the Commonwealth of the kanaka traffic. I am therefore prepared to support the proposal that Tasmania, as well as the States other than Queensland and New South Wales, should bear their share of the necessary burden, and that it may not be imposed wholly upon those two States. I take it that the Inter-State Commission Bill is necessary for the proper conduct of trade between the States. Though it will not greatly affect mv own State, I am willing to give my support to such a Bill if it is introduced during the present session. The suggested railway connexion between Western Australia and South Australia is a very big question involving an enormous expense. ‘ With the. exception of our friends from Western Australia I think that none of us is in a position to state definitely his reasons either for agreeing to or dissenting from that proposal. I shall reserve my decision upon the matter until I have the reports of the experts in my hands. If I can satisfy myself from those reports that it will be in the interests of the people, and will nob involve too great an expense or too great a loss to the Commonwealth, I shall support it.
– All the reports so far are favorable.
– If on the other hand it is shown that it is likely there will be a very big loss, I cannot agree to support it for the present. As has already been stated to-night, we are so tied up by the “ Braddon blot” in the Constitution that I do not see where the money for this work is to come from in the immediate future. There is, however, one reason which might induce many of us to support the construction of the proposed line even before the expiration of the bookkeeping period, and induce us to find the money somehow. That reason would be based upon the question of defence. If our best authorities on defence matters assure us that it is absolutely necessary for the proper defence of Australia that that line should be constructed, and should be constructed soon, such an assurance would, in my opinion, justify any honorable senator in altering his opinion, and in supporting the construction of the line at an early date. If that cannot be shown, and if by the construction of the line we shall be faced with a heavy loss, I do not think any of us can assent to the proposal for some years to come. However, I shall reserve my opinion until I am in the possession of information which will enable me to come to an unbiased and impartial decision. I do not know that I have much more to add to the debate. No doubt now that the situation has been saved for them, there are a number of honorable senators who have collected their scattered thoughts, and are ready to give us the benefit of their views.
– Has the honorable senator nothing to say about the six hatters?
– I should say that the hats have been torn to shreds if the hatters have not. I do not think it necessary at this stage to say much about the six hatters. I think the matter was fairly put by a gentleman speaking in my own State the other day when he said that it was simply a question of administration. The Act was there and it was the duty of the Prime Minister to administer it. If the right honorable gentleman opposing the Prime Minister, and who would like to take his place as soon ashe can, were in the same position and refused to administer the Act, he would have shown himself a traitor to the Australian laws. The honorable and learned senator who leads the Opposition in this Chamber, in referring to the matter this afternoon, answered my question as to whether he was here when this particular legislation was passed by saying that it did not matter whether he was or not, but I take it that every honorable senator who assented to that legislation is as responsible for it now as he was when he assisted to pass it.
– The honorable and learned senator was not here.
– If that is so, of course the honorable and learned senator had no opportunity of dissenting from it. But I believe that even if Senator Symon, who referred to the section this afternoon as a farcical piece of legislation, had been in the position of the Prime Minister he would not have refused to administer the Act as he found it. There was nothing left for the Prime Minister to do but to administer the Act. There have been so many absurd reports circulated in connexion with this matter that it must have become obnoxious to the people to hear any mention of the six hatters : but I think that even those who oppose the Prime Minister, and who condemn this particular section, will do him the credit of saying that he did not make or pass the law, that it was passed by the two Houses of the Federal Parliament, and that the gentleman in the honorable position of Prime Minister of the Commonwealth having a mandate from the people of Australia to administer the law as he found it, would have been false to the trust reposed in him ifhe had not administered the law properly and correctly as I contend he did. I have now performed the good natured task of filling in time and saving the situation, and if honorable senators who have not yet spoken allow the opportunity to be lost it will not be my fault. As each of the measures mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s speech comes before the Senate, it will be competent for us to deal with it. I hope then to be able to deal with the measures referred to in a more connected way, and certainly with more preparation than I have had for what I have said to-night. In conclusion, I may be permitted to express the hope that any friction aroused in any of the States against the action of the Federal Government - friction absolutely inseparable from the situation, and absolutely unavoidable when we remember that the Federal Government had to weld six different systems into one harmonious whole - will rapidly be swept away. I believe that the people of Australia are now beginning to understand that what has been done by thu Federal Parliament and by Federal Ministers has been done according to their convictions, and to the best of their ability, in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia.
– I had no intention of speaking upon the address in reply ; but there is one paragraph in the speech of the Governor-General which I think should have a little more criticism. I refer to the paragraph dealing with the carriage of mails between England and Australia. The trouble about the carriage of mails from Australia to Europe originally arose out of Senator Glassey’s proposal that the crews of vessels carrying our mails should be white men.
– A sound proposal.
– At the time the Government were strongly against the proposal, voted against it, and succeeded in throwing it out in the Senate.
– The Government made a very great mistake.
– Nothing has happened since that time to justify us in reversing that opinion. We have quite recently had an official announcement from the Postmaster-General in London, Mr. Austin Chamberlain, that the Imperial postal authorities will not be parties to any such agreement, and that they will provide their own postal contracts on their own terms. Are we prepared to throw away any advantage we may get from the postal arrangements of England, and set ourselves up in the way proposed, to benefit - I do not know whom? It will not benefit ourselves to have only white crews on some of the steamers. No Australian will take up the stokers’ business in these steamers simply for the sake of a white Australia.
– They will take it up for £6 per week.
– If the P. and O. Company were induced to do away with the employment of lascars it would not improve the position of the white people in England in the least. It is the poorer classes of the continental people who take stokers’ positions- Dutch, Germans, Swedes, Italians, and Spaniards. How then would the proposal benefit Australia from a white Australia point of view ? There is another point which we should consider when it is proposed that we shall make contracts for our own mail steamers. I find from Whitaker’ s Almanac that if we want a faster service as we say we do, we shall have great difficulty in getting the steamers. Perhaps there are not many honorable senators who are aware that on the British register of steam-ships there are only 47 that go over 16 knots, and S5 that go 16 knots. We have not a very large field of selection, and, therefore, we should have the greatest difficulty in getting a service, and if we got one we should have to pay a very large sum for that which would not benefit ourselves. I hope the Government will bring in a Bill to amend the Post and Telegraph Act.
– While the address in reply meets with my general commendation, I must admit that I do not agree altogether with some parts of it. For instance, I think that the establishment of the High Court might better be allowed to stand over for the next Parliament to deal with than any of the other matters which have been referred to. Senator Symon has said that there is a great outcry in the country for the establishment of the High Court. During my travels in the recess I found that very little interest was taken in this matter. Wherever I spoke, little or no interest was taken in the subject. The prevailing opinion seemed to be that we have as many courts as we can afford to maintain - that we are paying quite sufficient for our law, and that by certain alterations a federal court could be created without involving additional cost to the taxpayers. I am altogether opposed to the establishment of the High Court at the present time. I wish to say a few words in reference to the naval vote. During the last twelve months we have learned that the people of Australia generally are not docile persons, and that they are very much against the imposition of heavy taxation. That feeling has been made manifest in Victoria perhaps to a greater extent than in any other State, but, all over the Commonwealth, the prevailing sentiment is that heavy taxation should be avoided. If that feeling exists in every State how are wo to increase the naval vote and the military vote 1 I think that if we increase those votes, create a High Court, and carry out certain other proposals, we shall have a Kyabram agitation started all over the Commonwealth. If the money were required for the construction of works that could not be done without, I could understand these proposals for extra expenditure. A great deal has been said to-night against the construction of the transcontinental railway. I believe- that if there is one public work which the Commonwealth should undertake, it is the building of that line.
– - But that would mean extra taxation.
– Certainly; but it is a national work, which would repay the Commonwealth for the expenditure it entailed. During the last eight or ten years there are no portions of the Commonwealth which have been so prosperous as the interior portions, more particularly the auriferous regions of Western Australia. The construction of this transcontinental railway would open up miles and miles of auriferous country. It is well known that for the last eight years that State has practically been the milch cow ‘ for the greater portion of the Commonwealth. Any money spent in opening up auriferous country of that kind would very well repay the Commonwealth. [ can quite agree with the attitude which has been taken up by the Government. So far I think they have acted wisely in regard to this project. I believe that once the final report of the commission is received they will see their way to arrange for a flying, survey and take whatever action is necessary to bring about the construction of the line. So far the Government have shown themselves to be very friendly to the project. Even if the Opposition were placed in power, they would find themselves, in the same predicament as the Government. All those Members of Parliament whoundertook the trip to Western Australia at the time when our great water scheme was. opened, and who had never been there before, were very much Surprised at thepotentialities of the State. It was an eyeopener to most of them. They all admitted that they had not expected to see such a prosperous country as it undoubtedly is. They were more surprised at the agricultural country they saw than at anything else. They expected to see a great sandy desert, but they saw finer agricultural and pastoral country than they had seen in the States from which they had come. That was invariably the opinion expressed by those who did make the. trip to Coolgardie. If more Members of Parliament had taken the trip any unfavorable impressions would have been removed from their minds. Senator Millen asked why the people of Western Australia do not build this railway if it is to be such a good speculation as we say it will be. He ought to remember that it will traverse South Australia as well as Western Australia. The population of our State is still less than 250,000, only half the population of Melbourne, and to ask that small population to undertake such a gigantic task as to build, a railway that will cost between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 would be unreasonable. More desert country has been opened up in Western Australia than in any other State. Our best paying railways are those which traverse desert country. It is only natural to expect that similar results will flow from the construction of this great transcontinental railway. I cannot understand why the representatives of South Australia should be opposed to the project, because their State has as much to gain from its construction as has Western Australia. I believe that our State would not have entered the Federation if it had not been for the very explicit promises of support that we received from the leading public men and the Government of South Australia. We had a distinct promise from the Premier, and the present Minister for Trade and Customs.
– What did the Premier say ?
– He said he would introduce an Enabling Bill for “the purpose of having this railway built.
– Not to have the railway built, but to enable the Commonwealth to build the line if it liked.
– I shall read the letter which Mr. Holder, the Premier of South Australia, wrote to Sir John Forrest, the then Premier of Western Australia, on the 1st February, 1900 : -
Following our conversation as to the possible blocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta by the Federal authority by South Australia refusing the consent rendered necessary by section XXXIV. of clause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill to the construction of the line through her territory, I regard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing ; in fact, quite out of the question. To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake as soon as the Federation is established, West and South Australia, both being States of the Commonwealth, to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in yourParliament.
He was not the only public man in South Australia who spoke in that way.
– That is only the opinion of an individual man.
– He was the Premier of the State.
– He spoke for himself, and the Parliament was not bound by that statement.
-Several prominent men in South Australia at that time approved of the project. I was then taking a leading part in the federation movement in Western Australia. One of the principal arguments we used there was that we were almost certain to get a transcontinental railway built if we accepted the Constitution, and if the people of that State had not believed that it would be done there would have been no federation so far as it was concerned. As a matter of fact there is no real federation without a railway to that State. We are as much isolated from the eastern portions of the Commonwealth as is New Zealand.We are practically in the position of an island.
– South Australia could not give vou the railway.
– No ; but the Parliament of that State could pass an Enabling Bill.
– Has the Parliament of Western Australia done so ?
– No; but it is only too anxious to do so. The Premier of
Western Australia has informed the Premier of South Australia that a Bill is ready to be introduced, and asked when he intends to carry out the promise of South Australia. It is not a creditable attitude for South Australia to take up, after it promised to do a certain thing. The public men of South Australia led the people of Western Australia to think that they would do everything in their power to assist this great national project, and to-day they are repudiating their promise. Is that fair treatment to a State which I believe is doing more for the Federation than is any other State? I am well pleased to see that the Government have allowed no grass to grow under their feet in furthering this project as far as any reasonable man could expect them to do. I hope that the final report of the commission will be of such a favorable character that it will justify the Government in authorizing a flying survey to be made. I wish to say a few words on the proposal to bring in a.Compulsory Conciliation and Arbitration Bill for federal purposes.
– Certainly; otherwise it would be of very little good to us. The man who is not in favour of compulsory arbitration is worse than an anarchist in the community ; he would like to see a state of anarchy introduced into the Commonwealth. I am satisfied that the principle of compulsory arbitration will stay in Australian politics. Wherever it has been tried it has been an unqualified success. We know how it has worked out in New Zealand for years. We know how it is working in New South Wales, and I can speak from personal experienceof itsoperation in Western Australia. The very States where we have compulsory arbitration in force are the most prosperous States and the most peaceful so far as concerns industrialism. They are the States in which the danger of strikes and similar disputes is now past. I hold that the man who is opposed to this principle in the face of the experience which we have had is, a dangerous member of society. He is only encouraging a state of unrest and lawlessness that may break out at anymoment. To allow such things to occur in the face of past experience would be most ill-advised. I am satisfied that the proposed measure will tend to bring the whole of the States into line with regard to industrial legislation. We can all recognise the unfairness of having a Factories Act in one State, whilst another State has quite a different law. In these days of .close competition we want to have the laws affecting industry as uniform as possible, in order that the States may come into line. ‘
– The Arbitration Bill will not do that.
– It will bring us towards that point, at all events ; and it will be found that the operation of this measure will pretty well have the effect of solving the whole problem. I believe that even Tasmania, which is always lagging behind in social and industrial legislation, will, when this measure becomes law, be induced to pass a Bill bringing that State into line with Western Australia.
– The honorable senator is talking of a uniform factories law.
– It is pretty well the same .tiling. I cannot very well separate conciliation and arbitration from factories legislation. I cannot resist the opportunity of saying a word on the old hackneyed subject of .the six hatters. It strikes me as being a strange thing that those who have had so much ,to say in opposition .to the Immigration Restriction Act have failed to note that in Canada and the United States similar laws exist. We do not hear a word of adverse comment -in. .reference to those countries. All this cant about wanting.’ to keep out our fellow Britishers and that sort of thing is so much nonsense.’ . If honorable senators go down to the wharfs when mail steamers arrive they .will any day see Britishers coming on shore without let or hindrance.
– Seven hundred and fifty, men lef t .New South Wales for New Zealand and other places last week.
– Yes - they were going .to a land where compulsory arbitration is the.law., I am sorry to hear that such a state of things exists in New South Wales. If free -trade had continued to be the policy in New South Wales there would have been no need to import six hatters, or any other number. But compare the fuss which was made about these hatters with what occurred in Western Australia. ‘ The Government of that State required the services of certain boilermakers. They advertised all oyer the State for. them, and finally, being unable to obtain . the- men they wanted in ‘Australia, they brought them from . the . old country. .: They landed them in Western Australia, and no one objected to their landing, for the simple reason that the necessary application was made, and the men were permitted to laud without any outcry or any delay. But no such application was made in the case of the six hatters. Instead of that there was an outcry of such a character that if it had gone on much longer we should have heard that they had not only been imprisoned, but executed by order of the Federal Government. As a matter of fact, they were never imprisoned at all. They were simply kept on board the ship until permission to land was given. I should like to say with regard to the proposed Navigation Bill that I am satisfied from what I have seen during the recess that such a measure is required. At the same time I am rather afraid, in view of the comprehensive character of the proposed measures, that we shall be unable to get it placed upon the statute-book during the present session. The necessity for a Bill of the kind was brought very strongly before me in Western Australia, where a coloured crew was working on the wharf loading goods into the very ships that were taking away labouring men who ought tohave been able to find work in this country. It is reasonable to suppose that if it is aright and proper thing for coloured men to be allowed to do such work on our wharfs - if it is a proper thing for shipping companies to be able to put a black crew ashore - to do labouring work - they should be able to take their coloured labour up to themills where the timber comes from and work them there. It is only extending thesame process and the same reasoning.. Therefore there is a necessity for a . navigation law for the Commonwealth, and I only wish . there was more time to enable us to pass it this session. A great deal has been said as to the action of the Federal Government in objecting -to the employment of black crews on board- the mail steamers with whose owners the Commonwealth enters into contracts. I cannot . understand a man who takes’.up a patriotic-.: attitude- and by-the-way, I find it is ‘thosevery men who make the greatest .parade of:’ their patriotism: and love of country who* make .the greatest noise about this section., in the. <Post:. and Telegraph Act - objecting ‘ to . the manning of our mail boats; with’ white crews. . At the present time in. the old country matters have reached such a stage that there are 60,000 lascars and coolies working on board vessels in the mercantile marine, having taken the place of so many Britishers.
– Well, I suppose we may say that two lascars are equal to one British sailor, and that at that rate these coolies have taken the place of at least 30,000 Britishers. The British sailor is fast becoming a thing of the past. We find that the British Navy is undermanned to the extent of 30,000 men. Supposing Britain were to get into trouble with some great maritime power, what reserve of men would she have to fall back upon?
– The lascars would be the saving of her.
– God help the country if the lascars are to be the men who are to take the place of the blue jackets of England ! We have this fact staring us in the face : that it is owing to the employment of these lascars and coolies that the old historical British seaman is fast disappearing. I will ask any one who has any patriotism in him whether that is to the advantage of the country ?
– In the mercantile service there are thousands of Norwegians, Danes, and Dutchmen.
– That does not improve the position a bit. I should like to see passed a Navigation Bill which would encourage the employment of British people. I notice in the Governor-General’s speech -a reference to the Royal Commission on Bonuses that has been sitting during the recess, and taking evidence on that all-important subject. Its report has not yet come to hand, and I hope that when it is produced it will be found to be favorable to the Attitude, taken up by myself and others who think that the iron industry is one that should be kept in the hands of the Government of the country. I think so, too, for the simple reason that the iron industry of Australia must of necessity be a monopoly. We have to choose whether it shall be a Government monopoly or a private monopoly. A monopoly it must be, because the requirements of the country will not enable us to have more than one, or at the very utmost two, up-to-date iron’ works in Australia. The market is not sufficiently large to require any more. Consequently, if the iron’ industry is to be started here it must either be in the hands of a private monopolist or be a State-owned institution. There need be no doubt as to what our choice should be. Furthermore, when it is remembered that the iron industry will supply the rails for the Government railways all over Australia, and that ninetenths of its produce will be in the direction of the supply of those rails, we have another reason for not allowing it to get into the hands of a private company which will be in a position to ‘screw out of the States Governments any price it likes to ask for the material which is required in the construction of railways. I trust that when the report comes along it will be of such a character as to justify the attitude taken up upon the Bill introduced by the Government last session. As far as concerns the speech as a whole, I am favorably impressed by it, and hope that the policy therein outlined will be carried into effect. If it is, the present session will end as did the last one, as being marked by a record of democratic legislation being put up in the first Federal Parliament.
– The Government may fairly be congratulated upon the prospect of a very quiet session, judging from the tenor of the speeches delivered both in this Chamber and in the other House. But while they may be congratulated upon having apparently a fair wind and a favorable passage ahead of them, they may be condoled with upon the unfortunate position in which they have been placed in regard to the proposer and seconder of the address- in reply. It was stated in the press - I do not know whether with truth or not - that the Government were experiencing some difficulty in obtaining gentlemen to occupy these positions.
– That is incorrect.
– I accept the statement that it is incorrect, but it is an unfortunate thing that the Government was not able to find gentlemen who were prepared to bless their proposals instead of, to a great extent, cursing them. Both the proposer and the seconder of the adoption of the address in reply took exception to some important matters in connexion with the proposals of the Government.- One would rather have seen gentlemen supporting whole-heartedly the proposals of the Government; - at any rate those of principal importance touched upon in the speech.
Of course, I know that it is quite impossible to find men who are in accordance from beginning to end with the policy of any Government, but it should be possible to find those who are willing to accept the responsibility of proposing or seconding the address in reply who will, on the whole, justify the policy laid down by the Government in the speech from the Throne. However, that is by. the way. We know that the honorable and learned senator who moved the adoption of the address in reply is a gentleman of very considerable parliamentary experience. He has held office frequently. He has had occasion to get gentlemen to act in a similar capacity to that in which he has officiated to-night, and he knows perfectly well how desirable it is that a Government should as far as possible to have the mover and seconder of the address in reply in accord with their policy. We are beginning also to experience some of the disadvantages of the legislation passed last session. Several matters have cropped up since last session relative to legislation then passed, and we are beginning to realize that there is a necessity for amending our laws, at any rate in some directions. One very noticeable matter in regard to -which the Government themselves recognise the necessity for something of the kind relates to the rebate allowed in the excise paid upon sugar. When the Excise Bill was introduced I for one certainly understood that the idea of the Government was that the whole of Australia should contribute proportionately to the cost of securing a white Australia under the Pacific Islands Labourers Bill.
– Are we not doing so by paying the higher duty ?
.- No ; we find that the Government have ascertained that the operation of that measure has been to enable certain of the States to escape from the responsibility which they should be prepared to assume, and which a great many of their representatives, I am sure, are prepared to accept. We ought to have been clear, however, as to what our legislation was in that direction. Take the case of a State that does not consume any of the sugar which is produced in Australia. She can consume that produced in Mauritius or some other part of the world, and when it comes to a settlement -in regard to the customs duties she receives h 2 three-fourths of the duty of £6 per ton paid. A direct incentive is given by that state of affairs - as far as the financial position is concerned - to accept the product of the foreign grower instead of the nativegrown sugar. We do not want to put any State in that position. We want all the States to realize that if a white Australia is to be our policy, every State and every individual in the Commonwealth is required to contribute a fair proportion towards bringing about what the country looks upon as being in the interests of Australia as a whole.
– A national policy.
– Yes. Therefore I welcome the proposal of the Government that the matter should be dealt with in this way. Having adopted the policy of a white Australia, having laid down certain lines for the exclusion of the kanaka, and having said to the sugar-growers in Australia - “ We are going to ease the difficulties you may experience in the early stages of getting rid of the kanaka it is only fair that we should all bear our proportion of the cost. His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s speech makes allusion to the naval defence of Australia. I have the fullest possible sympathy with the aspirations of every honorable senator who desires to make our Commonwealth truly a national body. I sympathize entirely with the desire of those who wish to see a navy established wholly under our own control and direction, and to be used to defend our own shores from foreign aggression. But while I sympathize with that desire, while I fully believe in it as the ultimate destiny of our Commonwealth, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that we are not prepared at present to take upon ourselves the burden of a naval defence. When we have an opportunity, such as the one at present offered to us, it would be folly to refuse to take advantage of it. It is an opportunity to provide what I regard as an efficient defence of our shores.
– The honorable and learned senator is like a boy who is always behind his mother.
– No, I am not. I like to look at these things from a prudent point of view, and I think I am doing so. I do not say there is any necessity for renewing an agreement of this kind, period after period. At the present time it would be highly undesirable to attempt to establish what may be termed a fullyHedged Australian navy. I know -that there are objections to the present scheme. There is a feeling of insecurity on the part pf honorable senators when they realize that if the Admiralty or other Imperial . authorities think fit the whole of this navy can be sent away to China, America, India, or elsewhere to meet, and destroy, ‘if possible, the enemy’s fleet, but leaving us open to the attack of any hostile cruiser or marauder which may see fit to set out for our shores. We are told that no such ship could be despatched without notice of its departure being given to us. But still such a vessel might find an opportunity to make a descent on our shores and to do incalculable injury before we could get back any of the ships of the squadron. I hope it will not be part of the policy of the Government, while accepting the proposal to pay the subsidy of £200,000 aye»r to entirely deprive Australia of some local naval defence that might be useful at any rate to deal with a single ship attacking our ports. If some local naval defence is preserved, I do not think we shall be able to reasonably complain of any danger. We have our land forces established from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, and I very much regret the way in which the efficiency of those forces has been cut down. Nevertheless, I hope that the great bulk of our people will realize that whether we have a citizen soldiery, a militia, or a permanent force to defend us, we should endeavour to make it thoroughly efficient. I believe in relying to a great extent upon our citizens for the defence of the Commonwealth, but a state of dissatisfaction permeates the whole of the military forces. ‘ I allude not simply to the permanent, but to the partially-paid forces which, I take it, are. the backbone of our land defences, and. will have to bear the brunt of any fighting, which occurs on Australian shores. When we find ais- . satisfaction permeating their ranks we may depend upon it that there is something very rotten in the administration of the Defence department. It has been stated that a policy of retrenchment has been thrust upon the Government which should not have been forced upon it. If that is so the Government should have allowed honorable members to realize that they could not assent to the demand to reduce the expenditure to a degree which would impair the efficiency of the forces. If, on the other hand, it can be shown, and is shown ultimately, that the amount within which . the Government are bound to keep their ex penditure is sufficient, well and good. I would gladly welcome the utmost reduction, but I do not welcome a reduction which means a want of efficiency on the part of the forces to which we look to defend us in a case of national emergency. If ‘a man insures a property or -a building,, he does not go to a bankrupt office. He takes care that the office is one which he may reasonably expect will be able to protect him from loss in the case of his property being damaged by fire. And so with the defence forces. We must be reasonably satisfied that they are sufficient to meet all reasonable cases of emergency.
– Shall we have any men at all 1
– That is a drawback which might arise in ‘regard to naval defence. I have already said that I do not believe in absolutely cutting out the local naval defence, and relying entirely upon this agreement. I should like to see something in the way of an available local defence in a time of great emergency. It would very much assist the Imperial authorities if they knew that the whole of the ships in these waters might be spared without exposing Australia to any grievous danger from a sudden descent on our shores. We recognise that our land forces must remain ill existence, and we must take care that we do not destroy their efficiency and that esprit de corps which should exist amongst them. If honorable senators’ will make inquiries they will hear in every direction of men who contemplate retiring from the forces because they do not think they are being treated fairly by the Federation.
– If the proposed agreement were carried out what would become of our present naval forces 1
– I do not believe in destroying our local naval forces.
– But the one must be consequent upon the other.
.- No ; the present agreement will expire in two or three years’ time. The Imperial authorities say to us - “We are prepared to make an agreement of a similar character if you will increase the subsidy. In return we will increase the number and improve the class of ships on the station.”
– That destroys all Australian reserves.
– I do not think so, as one of the essential points of the scheme is that a large number of Australians shall be employed on the squadron if they are prepared to take service. Therefore, it. will not destroy, but rather assist in building up our naval forces by training men who will be prepared to take service in an Australian navy whenever it is established. . For these reasons, I join issue entirely with much that has been said by Senator Symon in connexion with this matter. I think we might very well support the Government scheme at the present time, although I believe that the day is not very far distant when a naval force should not only be established, but will actually be established, that will belong to and be under the control of the Commonwealth, subject to such power as it may be considered fit to give the Imperial authorities to take charge of a combined fleet for any special work.
– Is it proposed to keep vessels like the Protector in commission?
– I believe not, and that is where I think we are making a mistake. . But I am not going to refuse to be a party to the granting of this subsidy because I believe our own people are making a mistake in another direction. I consider the subsidy will give us much greater results than would be obtained from the simple retention of our naval forces. It has been pointed out that, in any event, the Imperial naval authorities will require to have ships stationed here, because this is a naval base ; but it is very much better to know that we are going to have ships of a certain class than that it should be left entirely to chance. We see by the papers that three of the third-class cruisers at present in Port Jackson are to be repaired at considerable expense. I take that to mean that if we decline to agree to this proposal, the Imperial authorities will probably leave these three vessels on the station instead of supplanting them* by others double or treble their value for defence purposes. Even if it is not so, should we not be prepared as Australians to say that we recognise the great benefit we receive from this naval base - the great benefit which we receive from the ships placed in commission in Australia, and the value of it to our trade and commerce and to all our ports, and that, therefore, we are prepared to bear the expenditure ?
– Nineteen-twentieths was not our trade at all.
– We are vitally interested in the trade which British men-of-war protect. Our goods are being taken to the other end of the world, and they are receiving the protection of the Imperial fleet. Whilst speaking of naval matters, I come to the question of the carriage of our mails to the old country. I say that here again we are now seeing the result of legislation which was passed during the past session in the section of the Postal Act which prohibits the Government from subsidizing any company for the carriage of our mails unless they employ white labour only.
– That provision will be adhered to.
– Whether it is adhered to or not, I would point out to the honorable senator that it is creating a good deal of difficult)’ for the Government at the present time. When ‘ the question of new contracts came under consideration, the PostmasterGeneral very naturally pointed out to the Imperial authorities what the state of our legislation was. But how much sympathy did he get? He simply had a reply that the Imperial authorities could not recognise that legislation in dealing with contracts for the carriage of mails. They pointed out that they had Indian subjects, and .were bound to treat them on exactly the same terms as their white subjects, and they were .not going to turn round and place those men at a disadvantage merely because Australia desired it.
– Why do they not give them votes . in India and place them upon an equality with the white people there ?
.- That is a different thing altogether. We have these men as British subjects, their services are readily available, and are regarded as valuable. While we believe in a white Australia, we are perfectly right in legislating in that direction as we see fit within the four corners of the country under our control, but when we are dealing with persons far away from our shores, we have no power over them whatever. I admit at once that we had the power to pass the law we did pass, but I say it is an unwise law, because it does not affect by one jot or tittle -what was desired by the advocates of a white Australia. I suppose they are not going forth to set up a white world. If that is their desire, of course, they must go on and do the best they can, but I believe they will find that they have a difficult task to perform, and will require to go in for a great deal of whitewash before they will succeed in accomplishing it. We now find ourselves with mail contracts, under which we receive mails every week by a quick service of 2S or 29 days from one part of the world to the other - a 14-knot service. For that there is paid a subsidy of £170,000 a year, of which we pay £75,000, and the Imperial postal authorities £95,000. For that payment we have a weekly mail service guaranteed to us. It is, however, an open secret that the Orient Company do not find that the share of the subsidy which they are receiving puts them in a strong position financially. They are practically working at a loss under existing circumstances, and unless trade revives considerably, it is a question whether, with the subsidy being paid at the present time, they will be prepared to continue a trade which has been of very great value to Australia, and which certainly ought to be encouraged to a considerable extent. The proposal made now is that we should subsidize ships ourselves for the carriage of mails from Australia to Colombo. Have honorable senators realized the cost of such a service1! AVe have not in, Australia, at the present time, a company prepared to take up a contract of that magnitude without incurring very great additional expense in providing ships. The carriage of a mail every week each way would require the employment of a large number of ships, and such a contract as is proposed will involve the payment of a considerable subsidy for the carriage of mails to Colombo. In what position will we be then ? Having carried our mails to Colombo under the proposed contract, they will be placed on board the very ships, manned partly by lascars, that we say shall not carry our mails from Fremantle. Will the cause of a white Australia be advanced one jot by any such means 1
– Certainly ; it is a part of the whole scheme.
– We have already incurred considerable expenditure in getting rid of the kanaka to meet the demand for a white Australia, and now we are to be called upon to incur still greater expenditure to carry out what, after all, can only be part of a fad when we come to deal with places beyond the limit of Australia and Australian legislation.
– Are Australians never to secure any sea employment 1
.- I hope they will. But an honorable senator who spoke some little time ago ‘alluded to the fact that there are 60,000 Iascar seamen employed in the British marine. Whether my honorable friend’s figures are correct or not I do not know, but I assume that he made himself certain of their accuracy before quoting them, and yet assuming that they are accurate, I deny the conclusion which the honorable senator draws from them - that these men displace 60,000 -or even 30,000 British seamen. All we need to do to find that there is no ground for such a conclusion is to look at the constitution of the mercantile navy of Great Britain at the present time. We shall find that more than half of the seamen manning that navy are white foreigners. When it is said that these men are displacing British sailors, it must be clear that they come in only to supply the places wanting for British sailors. It may in future be a part of the policy of the Admiralty to increase the pay of British seamen in the naval forces of the Empire, because we know quite well that something will have to be done in order to make the seamen’s avocation much more attractive to Britishers than it appears at present to be.
– And yet, when an attempt is made to do that, the honorable and learned senator is one of the very people who oppose the effort.
– Not at all. No man would more gladly welcome the manning of the whole of the British ships by British seamen than I. But I say that if we cannot get British seamen, and can get men who, although they may have a little colour in their veins, are nevertheless British subjects, and are men who can man our ships as efficiently as foreigners, we should take advantage of the opportunity to secure the services of those men. By their employment blanks may be filled up in the British navy which we might not otherwise be able to fill up. I do not say that they are intentionally blind, but I do wish that some honorable senators could realize that they cannot carry any policy beyond certain limits. When this principle is taken beyond a certain limit ridicule is thrown upon what might otherwise be a very good national movement on the part of Australia. I hope that honorable senators will realize what is proposed, and that they understand that they are being asked to say that the PostmasterGeneral may spend £150,000 in order to provide a service for Australia which will be no more efficient than that for which we are now paying £75,000. I hope that, especially, they will bear in mind that it is proposed to allow the completion of that service to be carried out by the very men whom we will not allow to touch upon Australian shores. I say the proposal is a mistake, and no man saw it more clearly than did the Vice-President of the Executive Council when the matter was first raised in this Chamber and supported with all the vigour which our friends of the labour party put into everything they take up. The VicePresident of the Executive Council battled against the proposal, and gave strong reasons why it ‘ should not be accepted. Ultimately it was decided, in the other Chamber, that this legislation should be adopted, and it was subsequently accepted by ourselves. It is really a matter for congratulation to find that, as time has passed by, some honorable senators have begun to realize much more clearly than they did in earlier stages, the desirability of settling the question of the capital site. Although the Constitution specified no time within which the establishment of the federal capital was to be carried out, it was always regarded as a matter which would be dealt with without undue delay. The Customs Bill, for very obvious reasons, had to be passed within a limited period. But, although no limitation was placed upon the time within which other matters were to be dealt with by the Commonwealth, nevertheless this matter was regarded by the majority of the electors of the Commonwealth as one which should be carried into effect as early as possible. I have never been one of those who have girded at the Government, and charged them with neglecting the interests of New South Wales in connexion with this question. I know that some honorable senators have thought that the Government required an occasional spur or reminder to induce them to settle this matter as quickly as possible ; but I realize that the Government have taken some steps, and have promised to have the matter settled within the present session. The people of New South Wales were satisfied that the people of the Commonwealth would be prepared to abide by the arrangement come to under the Constitution.
– New South Wales would never have accepted the Commonwealth Bill if it had not been for that.
– It is perfectly certain that the people of New South Wales would never have entered into the Federation but for that. The other States did not .ask New South Wales to enter into the Federation under false pretences, and they will abide by whatever was put into the Constitution. I believethat the people of Australia are perfectly willing that this matter should be dealt with as speedily as possible. Thegreat bug-bear of expense is suggested by some honorable senators from time to time, but I am one of those who are quite prepared to recognise the fact that we must be satisfied with temporary buildings in the early stages. It is necessary that we should carry out the promise of the Constitution, but we are not called upon at the present time to’ put up the marble palaces to which some honorable senators referred.
– There is no necessity for marble palaces at any time.
– We shall . have to be content with moderate accommodation, and I am satisfied that whatever expense it may be necessary to incur in a matter of this kind will be properly incurred I welcome the proposal of the Government to settle the matter at an early date. We know that the report of the commission, if not already in the hands of the Government, will be in their hands very shortly, and we shall then have an opportunity of settling and of getting rid’ of a matter which, to a certain extent, is becoming a sore in the minds of a number of people. Some allusion is made to courts of conciliation and arbitration, and in that connexion, some honorable senators have referred to the recent unfortunate trouble with the railway men in the State of Victoria. I think that for those men to have gone out on strike was one of the most lamentable mistakes ever made. I do not blame the bulk of the men, but I do blame the leaders who were either very shortsighted or were disloyal to the Constitution under which they lived.
– What about the Government who goaded them into striking?
– I should not justify any Government in goading men into so unfortunate a position. But I regret that the men themselves did not realize the fact that there cannot be two Governments in a State - that there must be one Government which must be supreme, unless it is desired to bring about a revolution by some unconstitutional means. If the Government of a State made a mistake and acted unjustly towards any large section of their employes I believe that the people of the State would themselves be prepared to do justice to the men if it were shown that they had been unable to obtain justice from the Government. I recognise that these men have had troubles. I believe there have been troubles which ought never to have existed. I may perhaps go so far as to say that I believe some of the recent State legislation was undesirable in the interests of the men. I do not believe in the representation of any particular class or section in Parliament as a class or section: I believe in giving every man his own rights as an ordinary citizen of the community. But in any case the strike was a most deplorable one, and it would have been a still more deplorable one for the whole of Australia if it had been successful. I am glad to think that better and wiser counsels prevailed in the end, and that the men resumed their work. They will no doubt exercise the rights they hold in common with their fellow citizens to get fair justice meted out to them. When the Premier met the men and said he was prepared to deal with all their grievances if they would only obey an order given by the Government the whole ground was cut from beneath their feet to strike at that particular time even if there had been any justification to strike at all. I feel strongly that Government employes have no justification to go on strike and cause a dislocation of the whole trade and business of a community.
– If the Premier had the law behind him, why did he not put it into operation and test the question in that way ?
.- It was the duty of the men to obey the Premier’s order at once, and to test its legality afterwards. On the contrary, the men said to the Government, “ You can go and test the law. We shall not test thelaw, but we shall go on strike. We shall doan illegaland improper act in order to drive you to do a legal and a proper act.” The men were misguided, and no doubt many a man went out on strike merely out of loyalty to his comrades.
– Upon what is the honorable and learned senator founding his opinion ?
.- Upon what I read in the press.
– The press published the most villainous slanders that were ever issued to the public. Would the honorable senator like to be judged by the Age’s opinion of him ?
.- Perhaps not, but assuming for the sake of argument that the men were full of trouble and grievances : even then they had no right to throw the whole community into confusion. There was a constitutional course for them to adopt. It might have taken up a little more time, but they would have gained the respect and help of the community at large. An honorable senator urged one of the strongest possible reasons against this Parliament passing a Bill to establish a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, when he said that if there were a strike in one State, we might depend upon it that it would be accentuated until it spread into other States, in order that it might come under this measure. If honorable members wish courts of conciliation and arbitration to deal with such matters, why do they not see that the States establish them ? The Parliament of New South Wales has established a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and the law provides that in the event of the railway men feeling themselves aggrieved they shall have the right to take their grievance before the court. Why do not people agitate here, and urge the Parliament of Victoria to pass a similar measure?
– They cannot, because they are press-ridden here.
– It does not follow that if they cannot do it to-day they may not be able to do it to morrow.
– We have been agitating for a number of years.
.- No doubt it takes time to bring about a change in the law ; but do not create a greater evil in order to meet a lesser one. I admit at once that originally it was considered that a Federal Act would deal with a great maritime strike such as that which occurred some years ago. It was recognised that it would be impossible for any one State to deal with a strike of the kind.
– The railway strike could not have spread to any other State unless its Government took action similar to that of the Victorian Government.
– I do not believe that the men in New South Wales would be mad or foolish enough; especially in view of existing legislation, to place themselves in such an unfortunate position.
– They could not strike under their Act.
.- -Under the provisions of the Act they cannot strike, but last season we had a strike of shearers that lasted a considerable time, and caused a good deal of loss, inconvenience, bloodshed, and litigation. Of course, the law was invoked, and the strike came to an end. .But at the same time it did not- prevent the occurrence of a strike, although it was intended to have that effect. I contend that courts of arbitration are still on their trial. I know that there is a large number of workers in the community who do not altogether believe in courts of arbitration. AVe know that so dissatisfied were the men with one or two decisions in New Zealand that they wished to have a Judge removed in order that somebody else might be placed 6n the Bench. AVe know that in New South Wales the labour party is urging an alteration in the constitution of the court, so that men will be selected to deal with each dispute and thus become pure partisans.
– -What does the honorable and learned senator believe in as a preventive of strikes if not of arbitration ?
.- The honorable senator is putting to me a difficult conundrum.
– Is it coercion1!
.- No : I believe in men having the utmost possible liberty. I cannot see that the cause of labour will be advanced unless we have very careful and prudent men on the Bench. The success of this experiment will depend upon the way in which the law is administered. I can conceive of an administration which will cause universal discontent amongst employes. I can also conceive of an administration which will cause universal discontent amongst employers. It is a very difficult and delicate problem to deal with, and we must wait until we see the provisions of the Bill. * The project to build a transcontinental railway must depend to a very great extent upon the result of the inquiries which are being made. AVe can all sympathize with the desire of Western Australia to be connected by rail with the eastern sea-board. AVe can all realize that it would have a tendency to cement those bonds of fraternity which we desire to see existing between the different States. Whether a transcontinental railway would ever provide grease for the wheels or not, it would be of great value foi1 defence purposes-. Whether it is desirable to deal with the question at the present time or nob must depend largely upon the reports we have as to the possible paying character qf the line, and as to how far we shall be justified in incurring the expenditure. When we find that neither Western Australia nor South Australia has attempted to build its portion of the line, we may reasonably conclude that the Governments of those States were afraid of incurring financial difficulties in building a railway which probably would not pay for many years.
– AVe have just constructed a water scheme at a cost of £3,000,000.
– Western Australia has shown great enterprise in carrying- water to. the gold-fields. I recognise that the State has advanced by leaps and bounds during the last few years, and long may it continue to so advance. I hope that the day is not far distant when we as prudent men can agree to the construction of such a railway as is desired by its representatives. But our decision must depend largely upon the reports .which are obtained from time to time. I should not feel satisfied unless 1 made some allusion to the administration of the Customs department. In Sydney, and in Newcastle, it is held in universal execration by the merchants. AVe placed certain drastic powers in the hands of the Minister, after getting an assurance from the Vice-President, of the Executive Council that they would not be wielded unless for a very good reason. AVe have the Minister for Trade and Customs saying that he is not going to judge between a mistake and a wilful infraction of the law. If a man does a certain ‘ thing, whether it is done wilfully or un wilfully, whether the mistake is made honestly or not, he is to be prosecuted and the magistrate is placed in this wretched position that while he may know that the ‘person is quite innocent of the most remote idea of defrauding the Customs he must fine him £5.
– For his carelessness.
– No. In cases where men have found out before they completed their returns that they had made a mistake and asked that it should be rectified, they have been prosecuted and fined £5. It is enough to make a man’s blood boil to think that such acts of manifest injustice can be perpetrated under a federal law. The Prime Minister spoke of a case in which he said he was satisfied that the man should not have been prosecuted and fined, and that the fine should be remitted. Another Minister said - “ We will remit a portion of the fine,” thereby showing that the man was properly prosecuted, but that the offence was a small one, and that therefore it could be condoned to a very great extent. I am speaking in general terms of the administration, and only mentioning one or two cases which occur to my mind at the moment. Of course, in those cases where fraud has been proved the prosecution has been perfectly right. Where the Minister has good reason to believe that it has been committed and cannot be proved he has a perfect right to order a prosecution. But where he knows that .no fraud has been attempted or contemplated his administration is condemned in the eyes of the people, when he uses the law for the purpose of prosecuting a man under such circumstances merely for the sake of uniformity. I do not suggest that he is acting out of personal malice, but he is such a slave to the idea of uniformity that he cannot realize the fact that there must be some discretion exercised in these matters. We all recollect the prosecution that took place during last session in connexion with the firm of Sargood, Butler, Nichol, and Ewen. The prosecuting counsel said - “ We attribute no fraud, and no desire to commit fraud, no dishonesty, and no desire to commit dishonesty, but we prosecute for a simple mistake.” It caused no loss to the revenue, it was rectified before all the papers had gone through, and the magistrate took it upon himself to dismiss the case.
His decision was appealed against, and the Full Court said that he was bound to convict and fine. It is monstrous that we should place any portion of the community in such a position. The delays that have occurred time after time with regard to decisions have not helped at all to satisfy the people with regard to the administration of the department. Of course the Minister might have thought it was better that he should have sole control in his hands, but in a Commonwealth composed of States so widely scattered, it was a great mistake for him to throw any obstacle in the way of obtaining speedy decisions upon points that crop up from time to time. There was always the power of the Minister to review decisions if mistakes were made, and take care that no similar mistake was made again. Although I am an opponent, and shall always be, of any system of customs such as we have in existence, levied for purely protective purposes, nevertheless, I believe the administration could have been of such a kind that the people would have said - “ We do not agree with the law, but are prepared to abide by it until we can get it altered.” Australia is largely interested in her shipping affairs, and the more we can do to help the shipping industry in getting through its work in the different ports, the more we shall be assisting Australia. We want to induce shipping to come to our shores. We want to enable our people to send their produce to the other end of the world upon the most favorable terms. Every disadvantage placed upon shipping is a disadvantage placed upon our own people. They have to pay for it in the long run. If by restrictions we hamper and harass the shipping that comes to our ports, we may depend upon it - for time is money - that the people of Australia will have to pay for the delay. We do not benefit ourselves - we only harass ourselves by that policy. Whether we be free-traders or protectionists, or adopt the policy of the labour party, every man who is a true Australian wants to advance Australian interests as far as he possibly can. With a population of only four millions of people in Australia we are only in our infancy. We want to see 40,000,000 people here. The more people we have here the more work there will be for our men, and the better will our position be in the world. We do not want to make Australia a close reserve for the few individuals who are here at the present time. But I am afraid that much of our policy has that tendency. Canada is welcoming people into her territory. She realizes’ that population is wealth. Statisticians tell us that every individual in a country is worth a large sum of money to it.
– Where would the honorable and learned senator put the people whom he would bring here ?
-Col. GOULD.- Where did we put the people who came here after the gold rush of 1851 1 They got scattered in every direction. Only a handful stuck to gold digging; others went into various occupations. We want to offer inducements to people to come here, because every man who comes is of benefit to the country.
– Give them a chance of getting on the land.
-CoL GOULD. - I wish that the legislation of the different States would give people every possible means of getting on to tho land. So far from being favorable to shutting up the land, I would welcome every measure that would enable us to take large estates and enable people of smaller means to live upon them.
– After you do that you can talk about more population.
– All the States need increased population. We need to go iti for a good system of irrigation. That would help us to no mean extent. I hope that when we receive these various measures ‘ from the Government they will be in such a. state that wo shall be able to deal with them without great delay, and that they will realize that in the framing of our legislation all sections of the community have to be considered. We should legislate upon the principle of fair play to all. I hope, for instance, that the Inter-State Commission Bill will be shorn of the very objectionable features that existed in the measure introduced during last session. It was abandoned - and very properly abandoned - last year by the Government as a measure which was not suitable to the wants of our community. There are a few matters of great importance that will have to be dealt with in that Bill ; but very few people were satisfied with the measure which originally came before us. Again, I am glad to know that the Government are going on with the Bill for the establishment of the High Court. As Senator Symon said to-day, that if one of the essentials of the Commonwealth itself.
– Essential to the lawyers.
– No, essential to the people not to the lawyers. Many points of importance will crop up from time to time which ought to be settled by the Full Court of Australia. There is, for instance, the question of taxing State imports. See the absurd position that occurs in Kew South Wales where the State is building railways. The Government imports railway material paid for with borrowed money. It is mode to pay a heavy duty upon the iron thus imported, and it gets back three-fourths of the duty that it has paid upon the iron bought with borrowed money, and puts that sum into its pocket as revenue legitimately earned. There is a good reason why there should be no charge upon the imports of the State for material that is to be used for public purposes. An instance of the necessity of the establishment of the High Court occurred in Victoria recently. It was sought to establish the point that the Customs Bill was inoperative, because it was at variance with the terms of the Constitution as being a taxing measure. According to a decision given by the learned Chief Justice, it was held that in passing the Customs Act we had gone beyond the powers conferred by the Constitution. Very properly, another case of a similar kind went to the Full Court, where a different decision was given. Here, in the one State of Victoria, are the Judges divided on this one important question. When a similar cose occurs in Kew South Wales, we do not know what the Judges may decide. If a case occurs iri South Australia, we do not know what the result will be. ‘ The decisions may be all alike, or they may be different. We should have the law laid down- by the High Court, so that lawyers may be able to advise their clients reliably, and merchants may know what to do. I therefore welcome the determination of the Ministry in this respect. Whether we shall have three or five Judges is a matter upon which I am not yet prepared to give an opinion. I am inclined to believe that when we establish a High Court if we start with three Judges it will be a very fair thing to do, and -will enable us to deal properly with the very important questions which arise. We do not need at this stage to have sufficient
Judges to send all over Australia. ‘ Three Judges will be sufficient to constitute .the court, and we shall then have a tribunal that we have every reason to believe will be beyond all party consideration, above all passions and prejudices, and will decide questions that arise in . connexion with the interpretation, of the Constitution upon fair and legitimate grounds.
Debate. (on motion by Senator Drake) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 May 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030527_senate_1_13/>.