1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the PostmasterGeneral,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice-
Is it the intention of the Government to improve the post-office buildings at Mount Gambier ; if so, when ?
– The following is the answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
It is the intention of the Government to either improve the post-office buildings at Mount Gambier, or to erect a new building. The Deputy Postmaster-General of South Australia has reported that, in his opinion, alterations, for which plans have been prepared, and some general repairs, costing together about £750, will be sufficient to meet all requirements. It has, however, been represented to the PostmasterGeneral by some of the residents and others interested in Mount Gambier that the course recommended by the Deputy Postmaster- General will not adequately meet the situation, and that a new post-office is necessary. The cost of such building is estimated at £3,000. The whole question is still under consideration.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
If it is his intention to cause to be laid upon the tableof the Senate copies of all correspondence passed between the Auditor-General, the Treasurer, and the Attorney-General, including opinions given by the Attorney-General to the Auditor-General, with reference to moneys received from the Imperial War Office by the Federal Government towards defraying the cost of sending the Australian contingents to South Africa ?
– The following is the answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
This correspondence is contained in the report of the Auditor-General already laid upon the table of the Senate.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What was the decision come to at the Premiers’ Conference in London regarding the coinage of silver by the Commonwealth ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Coinage of silver was not the subject of discussion at the Premiers’ Conference in London. The Government is in communication with the Secretary of State for the Colonies regarding the question.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table a letter from the Governor-General, forwarding a certificate under the hand of the Governor of Western Australia, notifying that Mr. Henry John Saunders had been appointed to be a Senator for the State of Western Australia.
Certificate read by the Clerk.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Transfers approved by the Governor-General in Council for the financial year 1901-2.
Transfers approved by the Governor-General in Council for the financial year 1902-3.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Lt.-Col. Gould for Senator Lt.-Col. Neild) -
That unless otherwise ordered, private orders of the day take precedence of private notices of motion on alternate Fridays.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Dobson) -
That Senator Robert Wallace Best be Chairman of Commiteees of the Senate during the present session, and until the 31st day of December next.
Debate resumed from 28th May (vide page 233), on motion by Senator Sir John Downer -
That the address in reply be adopted.
– I propose to address myself in the first instance, and mainly, to the subject of the administration of the Customs department, and as an introduction to that criticism I desire to refer to a statement in the opening speech that, “ notwithstanding the drought,” the finances of the Commonwealth are in a satisfactory state. It appears to me that by reason of the drought the Government have been putting their hands into the pockets of every man throughout Australia, andin this way helping themselves to the cash of the people. In an unusual and unexpected way they have amassed hundreds of thousands of pounds, and now they come down and coolly tell us that, “ notwithstanding the drought,” they have plenty of money. It is in consequence of the drought, and in consequence of duties which have been levied that ought not to have been levied in a time of great distress, that the Government have got money in hand. I have noticed two or three things during the recess with regard to wheat. In a country which, perhaps, we do not look upon as a very first-class country - that is Afghanistan - some time ago the Ameer issued orders that any family having more than enough grain for its own use was to sell it ; and within the last few weeks a further order has been issued abolishing for the time being the import duties upon grain. That is a country which we look down upon, but it has some thought for the consumers of food. I have noticed, too, that in another country that, perhaps, does not stand very high, namely, Mexico, similarly strong steps have been taken to protect the consumer. I read -
The Mexican Government is determined that the wheat ring that has been cornering the grain market shall be treated with much severity, and for this purpose a decree has been issued lessening the duties on wheat, and the railway rates have been reduced from the border. The Government proposes to establish municipal bakeries and to sell bread to the poor. The policy of the Government is to break up all monopolies that raise the price of living to the masses.
That has been done in Mexico. But in the Commonwealth of Australia we have caused wheat to be raised 100 per cent. in value without one thought of the consequences to the great mass of the people by so doing. Perhaps the most singular thing of all is what has occurred in Germany. I suppose that the German is the last man whom we should think of accusing of anything in the nature of sentiment. Yet,in the new German Tariff, of which I hold in my hand a translation issued by His Majesty’s Imperial Government, I find that there is a section which provides that an estimate or calculation shall be made of the amount that has been collected on the average per head by duties on grain and on meat imported during the last five or six years, and that in future the amount collected in excess of that average shall be put aside for the benefit of widows and orphans.
– How many years hence?
– I was interested to see a paragraph in to-day’s newspapers referring to the year 1910. This provision takes effect at once. It is section 15 -
If the net Customs yield per head of the population of the German Empire derived from produce to be taxed under Nos. 1, 2, 102, 103, 105, 107, 107a, and 100 of the Customs Tariff exceeds the net Customs yield per head of population derived from the same goods for the average of the financial years 1S98 to 1903, the surplus is to be used towards the establishment of a provision for widows and orphans. Provisions for guarantee will be made by a special law. Until this law-
That is until the year 1910. comes into force, the additional yield in question is to be collected for the account of the State, and is to accumulate at interest. If this law does not come into force by the 1st January, 1910, then from that time onward the interest of the additional yield, and also the additional yield coming in, are to be made over to the individual invalid insurance establishments in proportion to the insurance contribution furnished by them in previous years for the purpose of provision for the widows and orphans of the persons insured with them. The requisite statute is to be approved by the Imperial insurance law.
Well, that is an important step. So it appears, Mr. President, that more and more throughout the world, in small countries and in large countries, there is a growing feeling that the bread of the people ought not to be subject to taxation. But the Common wealth has thought differently - at any rate the Government of the Commonwealth has thought differently. They have collected moneys right and left from every householder throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and they come down now and say, “We have got plenty of money notwithstanding the drought.” There is one thing which should never be forgotten. The people of Australia owe the free-traders a great debt of gratitude with regard to the Tariff, because by action that was taken the duties which the Tariff proposed to impose on imported meats were abolished. We all know that meat has surely been dear enough. Prices unheard of before in Australia have been paid for meat, and things have been very hard in regard to it, notwithstanding that there has been no duty. But let me ask what would have been the price of meat, and how much more would the working people of Australia - the consuming classes - have had to pay if the duty of 20 per cent. on live meat, and one penny per lb. on dead meat had remained on the Tariff and had been collected, or had stood as an obstacle and bar to the importation of meat fromNew Zealand?
– Has any live meat been imported?
– A very large quantity was imported into Sydney, and there were a number of shops that for a long time sold nothing else. If it had not been for the importation of New Zealand meat into Australia-
– Live meat ?
– Live meat ; if it had not been for that importation the price, heavy as it has been, would have been very much heavier.What has this large revenue been mainly used for? I will tell the
Senate. It has been mainly used to whitewash the Customs administration. The Minister for Trade and Customs is going round the country saying - “ Look at this big revenue ; it is my stern, rigid, just administration that is collecting all this money.” In this way they are using the money extracted out of the pockets of the people improperly, as a means, as I say, of whitewashing the Customs administration, or attempting to do so. The Minister is acting like “ little Jack Horner,” who -
Sat in a corner,
Eating his Christmas pie ;
He put in his thumb
And pulled out a plum,
And said “what a brave boy am I! “
That is what the Minister is doing. He is pulling all this money out of the pockets of the people, and then he struts about the stage of Australia and says - “ What a brave boy am I ! “
– In the other House they blame him for not collecting money enough from the public.
– That is news to me. I do not think any one is likely to blame the Minister in that direction, although I am of opinion that a less drastic administration would, perhaps, bring in rather more money. But the whole talk about bringing in revenue by this rigid administration is pure moonshine. The Minister for Trade and Customs poses as a democrat. I really believe that he is under the impression that he is one. But I do not know any man who, in the official orbit in which he revolves, is more of an autocrat. What he desires to do, that he does, quite irrespective of what Parliament or the people desire or say.
– No ; according to the law.
– According to the law says Senator Higgs. What did he do ? Let me read from the report of the AuditorGeneral -
Nothwithstanding the opinions given, the department of Customs dealt with the duties collected from the date of the uniform Tariff. and so on. The Minister for Trade and Customs was a law unto himself. He defied the Auditor-General, he defied the opinion of the Attorney-General, and he persisted in dealing in his own way with the revenue. I believe, Mr. President, that it was mainly owing to steps which were taken by myself that Tasmania has since, despite the Minister for Trade and Customs, received the sum of £11,000, and that Queensland is also to receive money. I mentioned what was going on to several members representing Tasmania, and one of them I know undertook to speak to the Treasurer of that State. It was upon the representation of the Treasurer of Tasmania that this adjustment took place, and the adjustment has got to be made to the whole of Australia. It is idle, therefore, for Senator Higgs to ask us to believe that the Minister for Trade and Cust toms is a gentleman who is perfectly willing to do what the law directs him, whether or not he thinks fit.
– He gave way on that occasion.
– He gave way because he was compelled. The Ministry compelled him. I will give one or two instances in which the Minister has been overridden.
– How does the honorable senator know? He was not in Cabinet.
– We shall see later on whether I have not shown that the Minister for Trade and Customs has been overridden in more ways than one. I will give another instance of the waywardness of the Minister. Here is his new book - a guide to this wonderful Tariff of his. Honorable senators may remember that last year l drew attention to a regulation, a decision, an order - I do not know what he calls it - issued by him in which he said that all importations of free goods and goods subject to specific duties, were to be valued in the same way as goods subject to ad valorem duties are valued - that the shipping value was to be taken and 10 per cent, added thereon. I pointed out the consequence of doing that - that it was just ruining our statistics. But the Minister is deterred by nothing except pure force from a course he has decided upon. The rule made by the Minister is still followed in entering all goods j but 10 per cent does not cover the freight of the hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of grain coming into Australia. In the case of the maize which is being landed here, the freight is more like 40 or 50 per cent. In this way the valuations in our statistics are being distorted. Yet what do we do ? I, like other honorable senators, and perhaps to an even greater extent, refer from time to time to our statistics of exports and imports.
We take our Customs returns, and we say they show that we have imported so many millions of this and so many millions of that, and that the quantities received from this and that country are so much. But the Minister is totally destroying the value of our Customs returns by the system which he is following in defiance of what has been pointed out. I am certain that there is no other country in which this system of valuing bulk imports rules. The Minister for Trade and Customs is following a certain course which, as I have said repeatedly, both in the Senate and out of it, Parliament was assured would not be followed. In a speech delivered in the Senate, Senator O’Connor is reported at page 4-288 of Ilansard to have made this statement : -
Of coarse with regard to these trivial matters, which are always used as au illustration, the answer is in the first place in 99 cases out of 100 there will be no prosecution over these small things; and in the second place, if there is it is not likely that they will be pressed in any way for the recovery of the few shillings or the pound or so which may be involved.
Was Senator O’Connor sincere and honest in making that statement 1 I am perfectly sure that he was, and that he was stating what he implicitly believed would be the line of conduct adopted in administering the Customs Act. After the Act had been administered for some time, and after various statements had been made with regard to it in another place, the honorable member for Melbourne (Sir Malcolm McEacharn), according to Ilansard, page 16313, made this statement in another place’: - .
Before the Bill was discussed by this House the Minister kindly sent a copy of it, and of the regulations, to the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, and I was one of a deputation from the chamber who waited upon the Comptroller-General, Dr. Wollaston, and went through various matters with him. He afterwards submitted our representations to the Minister, and many alterations were made. When at the time we pointed out the hardships that would fall upon shipowners and merchants if the Act was literally administered, we were assured that many of the clauses to which we took exception were to be found in existing Acts, and had never been harshly enforced in the past, and that there was no intention whatever that anything but a failspirit should be adopted in dealing with merchants and ship-owners. As a consequence, those who were vitally interested in certain clauses of the Bill refrained from fighting them as they might otherwise have done.
That statement showed that certain honorable members of another place would have opposed some of the clauses in the Customs
Bill had it not been for the assurance they received that they would not be administered in a drastic manner, but would be given effect to wisely and with discretion just as were similar clauses in State Acts.
– That assurance was not given by the Minister.
– Does an assurance by Dr. Wollaston or by the VicePresident of the Executive Council count for nothing? Let me remind honorable senators that Mr. Kingston was Minister for Trade and Customs for more than nine months before the Federal Tariff was introduced, and that he then had powers similar to those in the various State Acts. How did he exercise them? Did he put them into force ? No. He allowed us to discuss the Customs Bill, knowing that certain clauses which he asked us to pass were similar to those in various State Acts - that they were only being used in cases of fraud, and that they were not being brought into force as weapons to be used against persons making innocent mistakes.
– To what clauses does the honorable senator refer?
– I refer specifically to such a clause as that under which a clerical error is called a falsification, and the importer responsible for it becomes liable to be brought before a police court. There are various other provisions, with which I suppose Senator Higgs is just as familiar as I am.
– A forged cheque might be a clerical error.
– I wish to draw attention to various statements which have been made defining the practice that should be followed in any sensible administration of the Customs department. I shall quote first from a speech delivered by the leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. G. H. Reid-
It is essentially foreign to the genius of British administration for any department of public business in dealing with any class of His Majesty’s subjects to make innocent mistakes the ground of police court prosecutions. Right through the web and texture of our principles in applying the force of authority and law to the different classes of His Majesty’s subjects we have always maintained the great sound and humane principle that we should never endeavour in the administration of our statutes to put the honest man and the swindler side by side in the police court.
That is well put, and I do not see that it contains anything to which any honorable senator could take exception. Then Senator Symon is reported in Hansard, page 16076, as follows : -
Police courts are not the places in which to rectify clerical errors, butthe places in which to punish offenders. … It is admitted on all hands, even by the magistrates, that there is no element of wrong-doing, but that it is simply a question of accident which may occur in the best regulated firms and amongst the most honest people.
Those are the opinions of two opponents of the Government. Let me now quote those of two of their supporters. Sir John Quick is reported in Hansard, page 16311, to have made this statement -
The Minister ought to be careful and not institute a prosecution where there had been merely an error of judgment. . . I hope that the Minister as far as he possibly can will not institute a prosecution in respect of merely an innocent mistake, but will always consider whether there is associated with the offence some element of neglect resulting in personal advantage or loss to the federal revenue.
Then what was said by Senator Best in the course of a speech delivered in the Senate -
Errors and mistakes are inevitable in the passing of entries and in connexion with customs business. … Who of us are not in sympathy with men whose integrity and probity have never been doubted and who have been taken to the police court because a clerk has been guilty of some inaccurate statement in connexion with a customs entry. . . I say it is harsh and cruel, and calculated to cause much bitterness to insist upon the merchants in snch circumstances (where there is no fraud) being dragged before the court.
What we demand is, that where there is no crime there shall be no resort to a criminal court. Surely that is a simple demand which ought to be attended to by any Minister worthy of the name. When the Customs Bill was before us, Ministers either honestly assured us of the way in which it would be administered or they were guilty of some misrepresentation - not in the Senate, and not in another place as regards most of the Ministers - and I cannot understand the position taken up by the Minister for Trade and Customs. He has administered an Act in a way which his colleagues have said should not be followed. The position is one which I have called upon him and his fellow Ministers, one after the other, to explain. If they do not explain it they must submit to the consequences.
– But they are not threatened with any consequences.
– How easy it is for mistakes to be made. On the basis of an estimate of the business transacted in the Sydney Custom-house, I believe that the import entries for all Australia in one year amount to the enormous total of about 500,000 ; while the export entries represent about 250,000 more. These figures will give the Senate some idea of the enormous amount of clerical work involved, especially as some entries each contain ten, twenty, or 50 items. In order to show how easy it is for a mistake to be made I shall instance a case which occurred not long ago in Sydney. An importer received a parcel of muslin of which he knew nothing. He had not ordered it, but he found it in a case containing some other goods. He took the muslin to the Customs officers who valued it at between £3 and £4 and he paid duty on that valuation. Two or three days later, however, he received the invoice which showed that the value was between £19 and £20, as the muslin was of a very special kind, and he went at once to the Customhouse and paid the difference. That illustrates how easy it is to make a mistake. I have before to-day mentioned an extraordinary error which took’ place in the Sydney Customs-house some time ago, when a Customs clerk in compiling the statistics relating, I think, to boots and shoes, made an error of. £100, 000 in his addition. He carried over the mistake from page to page till the final total was reached, but it was never discovered until I challenged the figures. Then the collector wrote to me that a mistake had been made. It was a mistake of one figure, but it occurred in the sixth column and thus made a difference of £100,000 in the total. These illustrations show how easy it is for clerical errors to arise, and how serious a simple error may sometimes be. I have now an opportunity of showing how business is done through the Customs. I have here an invoice of a shipment of goods landed in Sydney to the order, not of a very big house, but of a suburban retail establishment.
– Is it a genuine invoice 1
– I decline to answer that question. The invoice comprises no less than 22 pages, and embraces 448 different items, although the total value is only £354. The firm in question, conducting only a suburban retail shop, had to employ a custom’s firm to clear the goods for them. They went to the Fuller Carrying
Company of Sydney, and gave them the invoice with instructions to pay the duty, and the firm in question proceeded to follow out their orders. What did they do 1 In regard to £7 worth of goods they entered them at the Customs-house at a duty of 5 per cent., when they should have been entered at a duty of 15 per cent. There was there an error made involving a shortage of duty to the amount of 1 5s. 5d. Then in one page of this long invoice they came across a lot of muslins, which were invoiced in a peculiar way. Instead of being invoiced .by the yard, it happened that they were remnant pieces, and were invoiced at so much the remnant, and were valued at 5s. and 6s. each. The firm’s clerk said to himself, “ That cannot be the price at per yard, these are muslins made up.” And so he entered the goods as apparel, and though they were liable to a duty of only 5 per cent., he paid duty upon them at the rate of 25 per cent. Being a small quantity the total duty only came to £1 9s. 2d., but the amount of duty overpaid was £1 3s. 4d. The amount underpaid in the other case being only 15s. 5d., it is clear that the Customs authorities received 7s. lid. more than they were entitled to. What did the Customs authorities do 1 They proceeded against the firm for the short payment. They said afterwards that they did not know there had been an over-payment. Though that information was given in the court the prosecution was not withdrawn, and being proceeded with the firm had to pay a fine of £5, and 5s. 6d. costs, on account of the error involving the short payment, although the Customs authorities were money in hand. The firm had to do more than that, however. The Customs authorities demanded that before the goods were taken away the firm should give a bond for their value. We must remember that whenever an error occurs, however innocent and trivial, if it is an error upon which the Customs authorities can secure a conviction in court, the goods are liable to forfeiture, and a fine inflicted in court is a legal condemnation of those goods. This firm, therefore, had to give a bond for the value of these goods before the Custom-house authorities would allow them to be removed. Although they knew all the circumstances of the case, and although this took place so long ago as last August, it was only on the 28th April last that the Collector of
Customs in Sydney wrote to the firm cancelling the bond in these terms : -
I beg to inform you that the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has decided that in this instance the forfeiture of the goods shall not be enforced.
– The honorable senator does not complain about that?
– “Shall not be enforced “ - after duty had been overpaid ! That is surely adding insult to injury. Yet I am asked to believe that the Customs administration is honest, just and proper.
– It was in this case, at all events.
– It would not have been honest if the Customs had kept the goods.
– Was it honest to bring a man into court when he had overpaid duty?
– They did not know that he had overpaid.
– They had known it for months, and had made no attempt in the interim to settle the matter. Let me go further with the experience of this firm. This day week, in Sydney, this firm was again had up at the police court in connexion with a matter which was just about as paltry as the previous one.
– They must have some suspicion of them.
– If Senator McGregor happened to be doing any business which led him into contact with the Customs-house, and he were to offend the lowest employe in the department, that officer would be enabled to throw upon him reflections of a very objectionable and undeserved character.
– It is very mean of the honorable senator to suggest that an officer would do such a thing.
– Would he do it?
– Does my honorable friend, Senator Styles, know anything about human nature?
– Probably not. I hold in my hand the summons issued to the firm to which I have referred. They are charged with having passed an entry which was “false” - that odious phrase which all honest men object to when levelled at them when they have fallen into some simple mistake.
Senater Drake. - It is the term used in the Act, is it not?
– I know there is that provision in the Act, and the Minister has power to use it, and ought to.use it where he knows or expects that there is fraud at the bottom of what has occurred.
– But it seems that these people were in the habit of making mistakes.
– I object to the honorable senator’s interruptions.
– I must ask Senator McGregor not to interject. The speaker has appealed to me, and the standing orders strictly prohibit interruptions.
– I have the particulars of this case. I have here the invoice which shows that there was one case of linings shipped to Sydney, and entered at Sydney in the month of August last year. The firm passed the entry at the Customs, and described the goods in the entry as linings according to the invoice. There were six different descriptions of linings ; but one portion of the shipment worth £7, out of a total value of £32, happened to be a lining which had a little stripe in it. It was absolutely a cotton lining, but because of this little stripe the Customs authorities said that it was partly a silk lining. And because of that silk stripe they decided that the lining was liable to the duty on. goods containing silk. The contention was perfectly right. Now, what took place ? The firm who had imported these goods went insolvent, and the Customs agents were told by the Customs authorities that if they gave a guarantee that they would pay the value of the goods if their forfeiture was decided upon they might take delivery. The agents said - “ No, we cannot guarantee the value of these goods when the real owner of them has gone insolvent, but we are willing to pay the difference in duty if it is due.” They were not sure that it was due, and they sent to the Customs various samples of goods. I may say here that the parcel of linings upon which the extra duty was claimed was invoiced at 13½d., while other linings in the same shipment valued at 15½d., were properly charged duty at 5 per cent. only. These goods remained in the custody of the Customs from August last till the 27th May last, when the firm received this summons to appear at the Water Police Court. What were they to do ? The owner of the goods was bankrupt j they had passed the entry according to form, and they thought the trustee in the the insolvent estate would have fought the case, because they were not sure that the stripe was really silk. However, they said that it would be the safest and cheapest thing in the end to admit that a mistake had been made, and allow themselves again to be fined £5. Now, what was the amount involved ? It was only 15s. 3d. The mistake was as simple and transparent as possible. I have here the invoice which says so many yards of “striped sleeve lining.” This is another instance, and will any honorable senator venture to tell me that the Customs Act under which things of this kind can be done is being rightly administered ? I shall now draw the attention of the Senate to two or three matters of a different character.
– Will the honorable senator give us some on the other side - the just cases.
– Some time ago a foreign vessel called the Barfillen arrived at Newcastle to load a cargo of coals for some far foreign port. The cook of the vessel during the voyage to Newcastle, as all ship’s cooks do, had been collecting the -cook’s perquisite in .the shape of the waste fat, known always in shipping circles as “slush.” When he arrived at Newcastle a man came on board and offered to buy it. There was about 2 cwt. of it, and the utmost value that he would be able to obtain for it would be somewhere between ten and fifteen shillings. The cook sold the slush and delivered it to the man who bought it. What did the Customs authorities do? They said there was a duty on “slush,” only they did not call it slush, they called it tallow unrefined ! “There is a duty upon this of 2s. per cwt. It is under Customs control, and you had no right to move it.” The cook who owned the fat and sold it was summoned to the police court and the man who bought it was also summoned to the police court, and they were each fined £5. I suppose the captain of the vessel came to the relief of the cook and advanced the money, because in this case the fine was paid and he was able to go away. But the shoreman could not raise the money and he went to gaol. The Customs authorities themselves admitted in court that the cook of the vessel knew nothing about the regulations. From inquiries I have myself made, I believe that the man on shore did know that he was running a risk, but I confess that I have not much sympathy with a Customs administration that draws “slush” into the net. I am, however, chiefly referring to the case of the cook of this vessel who was a foreigner visiting our shores, and was treated in this way by being mulct in the sum of £5 and costs. Is that honest, fair, or reasonable ? Is it administration of which we may be proud, or such as should satisfy us? Take another cass, which happened not long ago. The Orient steamer Oruba arrived in Sydney, and on board there was a young sailor named Tingey. He had, whilst in London, been given a small parcel sent by a sister in London to a sister in New Zealand. It contained some small articles of drapery and a bible. He was to bring the parcel to Sydney, and there post it for New Zealand. In the full light of day he went ashore to go to the Post-office, and he was stopped by a Customs officer. He was treated even worse than the man in Newcastle, because he was put under arrest for moving something that was under Customs control. He was taken to gaol, and was subsequently brought before the police court and fined £5, and the parcel, was confiscated. Two or three days afterwards, when I had ascertained all the facts of the case, the Prime Minister was advertised to speak in Sydney. I made all the facts public, and asked him to express some opinion on administration of that sort. What did he say? He said he had seen this statement in the newspaper, and sent for the papers in relation to it. He told that big meeting that the man ought not to have been arrested, and that there was no ground for the infliction of a fine; and he added : - “I have ordered that the confiscated parcel shall be returned and that 80 per cent, of the fine shall be remitted.” You might have talked till doomsday before you would have got that amount of reason out of the Minister for Trade and Customs. That is one case in which perseverance has brought about a small measure of justice. But a strange thing happened in connexion with that case. The gentleman in Sydney who was representing the sailor wrote to the Customs authorities in Melbourne, and they replied a fortnight after the speech by the Prime Minister, stating that they agreed to return the parcel, but” that they could not remit the fine. This has led to some controversy ; but in the other House a da or two ago the Prime Minister repeated his statement, and said that he was going to see that his promise was carried out.
– Mr. Kingston ought to resign after that.
– Mr. Kingston had nothing to do with it. It was done by Sir Goorge Turner, who was acting for him.
– Excuse me, Mr. Kingston had everything to do with the infliction of the -fine.
– The court inflicted the fine.
– Yes, but the prosecution was instituted under the administration of Mir. Kingston. If my honorable friend had been administering the Customs of Australia, he knows as well as any man knows that this prosecution would have been impossible.
– In our colony, when I was a Minister, if a man came on shore with silk, we would arrest him straightway, and make him explain himself pretty quickly, too.
– Under circumstances such as I have narrated, an arrest would have been an impossibility.
– It would not have been in South Australia.
– I have stated the true facts of the case, and shown the position taken up by the .Minister for Trade and Customs, the Prime Minister, and the Treasurer. It ‘ appears that the letter declining to remit the fine was written on the authority of Sir George Turner, who did not know at the time of what had been said by his chief in Sydney, and it was not written with any intention of disputing the decision at which his chief had arrived.
– That might easily happen.
– It only shows what room there is for difference of opinion. Let me now refer to another case which occurred only a fortnight ago. The ocean steamer Sierra arrived in Sydney from San Francisco. The chief steward was a man named Hannigan, who had been sailing between those ports for eighteen years, and the voyage to which I refer was his last one. He had brought with him a few small presents for some friends in Sydney. He instructed the barman to take these to the Customs officer in his box on the quay. Anybody who travels knows this usage.
You take the goods to the Customs officer and he fixes up the amount of duty, and settles it for you. The chief steward gave the boy who took the goods a £10 note, as he had no smaller English money in his possession. When the boy got to the gangway he was stopped by an officer still within the ground of Customs control, and told - “ No, you shall not pay the duty. You are moving goods without right. You shall not take them back, nor shall you take them to the Customs officer’s box. You are to be summoned.” So the Customs authorities summoned the steward, the bar attendant, and also a cabman who was employed at the ship to take the things away, and who was carrying some of the parcels to the Customs box. At the police court there was no defence. There could be no defence to a charge of having moved the goods before they got the leave of the Customs authorities. If a Customs officer chooses to bring an action there -can be no reply to it. Each person was fined £5 and ‘costs, and, like a man, the steward paid the fines, amounting to- £15, and costs amounting to 20s. In that way, after running for eighteen years between San Francisco and, Sydney, he has finished up his connexion with the Australian trade.
– Very likely he did the same tiling many a time and never passed entries through the Customs.
– My honorable friend wishes to throw suspicion all round. If he were travelling he might be asked to take charge of a parcel, or of a present. If there is a Minister who is determined that every possible opportunity for suspicion shall be availed of, and a charge laid on every occasion, what possible chance is there of business being got through in a creditable way ? What possible chance is there of avoiding all such prosecutions as those which have been disgracing Australia and arousing the indignant spirit of our people during recent months ?
– Oh, no.
– What I say is quite right. I am speaking specially about New South Wales, in which there is rising a spirit of intense indignation at the administration of the Customs.
– One out of twenty.
– I am not exaggerating ; the statement I am making is absolutely true. Other charges have been made from time to time in regard to Inter-State certificates. Let me now give the particulars of a case in which the Treasurer came to the rescue and quashed a fine that was imposed some time ago, and then let honorable senators tell me if they ever heard of anything more ridiculous. In Sydney there is a firm named Bich and Co., with branch houses in Bourke and in Brisbane. The firm were sending two bags of rice from New South Wales to Queensland, and they had paid duty on 9S-J- lbs. In the Inter-State certificate the weight of the rice was put down as 100 lbs. instead of 9S£ lbs. There was some difference of duty on 1^ lbs. of rice which affected the statement in the Inter-State certificate. ‘ This was alleged to be a falsification, and the firm were dragged to the police court and fined. I wonder if Senator McGregor indorses an action of that kind. What has been done in connexion with that case ? In the Sydney press of yesterday I read this letter to the firm from the Customs department -
With reference to the proceedings taken against you by the department in respect to an incorrect Inter-State certificate for certain rice, I beg to state that the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs Having reviewed the circumstances connected with the matter, has decided that the fine imposed may be refunded. -
– Does the honorable senator object to that ?
– Is that unjust ?
– That is the decision arrived at by Sir George Turner many months after the fine was paid, and, mind, not bv Mr. Kingston. Sir George Turner has stepped in and reviewed the case. I know of no case, however trivial, however unjust the fine, and the proceedings may have been, in which Mr. Kingston has voluntarily come forward and attempted to rectify the injuries done and to lessen the results of a harsh and cruel administration. In Sydney we have a firm named Warren and Strang connected with the boot and shoe trade. They have had several experiences of the Customs. In one case, of which I have already stated the particulars, a mistake was made by the Customs. On another occasion, a few weeks later, the firm received a parcel of tray cloths enclosed in a case of muslins, but without advice being received. The case was passed and opened in their warehouse, when the parcel was discovered. On the same day the mail arrived, and brought an invoice for the goods, value £8 os. 3d., duty being 20 per cent. They immediately communicated with the Customhouse, explaining the mistake and pay.ing the duty. In these two instances the firm only did what was right, and what we should expect any honest firm to do. From America another shipment arrived for the firm which I said deals with boots and shoes, and unknown to them in one case was a small shipment - about £10 worth - of calf skin. This time the Customs people found out the enclosure before the case was delivered, and summoned the firm to the police court. The firm wrote to the collector and drew attention to what had been done on two prior occasions. It was all of no avail. In the police court they desired to fight the case and give evidence of what they had done on the two previous occasions, and the solicitor prosecuting for the Customs objected to their bringing forward that evidence of their honesty. Is that the sort of administration of which we Gan be proud ? The firm was fined £5, and I for one do not know what has become of the goods.
– In Adelaide I do not think they are allowed to make post entries.
– It appears that the Customs were dealing with people who were very unscrupulous, and the revenue might be greatly defrauded. I know that I used to fine such offenders pretty heavily when their tricks were found out.
– What sort of tricks 1
– Putting goods in a case and stating that it contained goods other than those which it really did contain. That is a false statement.
– If the honorable senator knows anything about trade and commerce he must be aware that it is a very common thing for a parcel to be enclosed. Persons going to or from England are constantly asked by friends to take charge of a small parcel or perhaps a large parcel and it is a common thing for a small quantity of goods to be enclosed in a larger package through some friend. In this world where mistakes are constantly happening is anything much easier than now and then for the advice of such an enclosure being made to fail?
– Then it ought to be punishable for it opens the door for any amount of fraud.
– I am quite agreeable for a fine to be inflicted, but I am not agreeable, nor would my honorable friend be agreeable, if he received a parcel of the sort to be charged with having made a false entry and fined £5.
– I am surprised that they were allowed to make those post entries.
– What else could be done ? I happen to have a memorandum a,bout post entries. It shows the style of the administration. It is from a firm in Townsville, and is contained in a letter written to me. This’ firm had been prosecuted for a simple clerical error, and they said that they were very much astonished a day or two after to receive the following letter from the Customhouse : -
Customs and Excise Office.
Townsville, 25th April, 1903.
I have the honour, by direction, to inform you that post entry may be accepted for the duty short paid by you on two casks of spirits ex bond.
Your early attention will oblige.
On inquiring what it meant from their Customs clerk, this firm found that it concerned post entries in connexion with the locker’s return. A Customs official had gauged the goods, and had given the firm’s clerk the quantity on which the entry was to be passed. The entry was taken to the Customhouse, and according to the re-gauging given by the locker made at the Customhouse when the calculation was being made, the locker’s mistake was discovered. Then, notwithstanding the fact that the mistake was made by the Customs official, the department wrote in this sort of way, that “ post entry may be accepted.” They did not say that the mistake was theirs, and made by their official. They did not say - “ Be good enough to pay shortage in the form of a post entry.” They wrote as though this firm had done something wrong and said - “ Post entry may be accepted.”
– It did not hurt the firm.
– I object to this style of administration. I object to this tone from Customs officials. I object that when everything is done straightforwardly and according to the Customs officers’ own finding that any firm should be addressed in this fashion. To show the Senate some of the difficulties of the position ; I should like it to be known that since the Tariff was agreed to by Parliament thousands - literally thousands - of Customs decisions have been formulated, and orders have been made public. Some time ago I treated the public of Sydney to a list of 100 of these. I will treat the Senate to about ten of them. I do not think that honorable senators have seen them. Here is one decision with regard to sewing-machines -
Machines, sewing.- Heads or working parts above plate, free ; other parts, of wood and metal, 20 per cent, as furniture ; cover, if of metal, 2d per cent.
Sewing-machine accessories. - Oil cans containing oil for lubricating, cans 20 per cent. Oil dutiable under Item S4. Instruction books free, whether imported with or separate from machine. Leather belting in the piece, 20 per cent.
NoTE - The Minister has decided to admit one belt free for each machine if accompanying same.
The next decision is as follows : -
Coffin Furniture - Mixed metalware unplated, 15 per cent. ; metal and plated, 20 per cent. ; balance, 20 per cent, as fane)’ goods.
Then comes sen sen. This is a Chinese article. The first decision said it was to be entered as confectionery at 2d. per lb. Then another decision came out that it was to be entered as perfumery at 20 per cent.
Drugs in bulk, such as roots, leaves, seeds, &c, not mixed or compounded, free, if not spices.
Chains, key for outside wear, 25 per cent. , as jewellery.
Chains, key, not for wear, free.
Watch keys of all kinds, whether for hanging on chain or otherwise, are dutiable at 20 per cent., as accessories to watches.
Then there is a definition of mining picks -
Officers are instructed that mining picks in the Tariff are to be taken to mean double-ended pointed picks, and single-ended picks with hammer head, not exceeding 44 lb. weight.
Here is another order -
Claims for discount are not to be allowed if supported only by statement in the invoice in a handwriting different from the body of the invoice. Where the handwriting in the invoice showing discount is different from that in the body of the invoice, then corroborative evidence is required.
I will not go any further. Those are some of the decisions given under the Tariff Act - some of thousands in the new Tariff Guide that has been published. I believe that the decisions total altogether something like 10,000, so that the lot of the importer at best “ is not a happy one.” I want to say now that, despite all the statements about publicity, there is a large number of decisions which are given in private by the Minister. I have told the Senate that a conviction in a court carries with it the forfeiture of the goods - that is, when the Minister chooses to enforce it. The Minister is a law unto himself absolutely on this point. There is case after case in which a man has been taken to the court, and the court has said- - “ This is a trivial matter ; there ought to be nothing done, and no fine imposed.” But the court has inflicted the minimum fine, which, unfortunately, is £5. Then, what has the Minister done ? Has he given up the goods ? No. He has retained them. There are lots of cases in which, despite the declaration of the court that there was no crime involved, and that nothing but a mistake had occurred, the goods have been retained for months and months. In many cases it seems as if there were a determination that they should be finally confiscated.
– The only proper course is to have a committee to inquire properly into the administration.
– I agree that that is the only straight course. The Minister ought not to be allowed to administer the Act in a way which may be thought by some to be for the purpose of obtaining political capital.
– How can he help what the people think ?
– That is the last use to which any Act of Parliament should be put. The Postmaster-General said the other day’ that these matters ought to go to the court, and that the court ought to decide whether the mistake made was an intentional ope or not. Let me tell the Senate that in nearly every prosecution which has been undertaken by the Customs the department has, in the first instance, decided whether it was a case of fraud or not. Case .after case has gone before the magistrate, and the prosecuting solicitor has said in court that there was no imputation of fraud, but that what was alleged was a pure mistake. Surely there is a decision. If the Minister has decided that there is no fraud, why go to the court at all ? And why, if you have gone to the court, have the audacity to say that you have done so in order to let the court decide? The whole thing is a subterfuge and a misrepresentation.
– An innocent mistake.
– Is it an innocent mistake on the part of the Crown to prosecute a man whom the department knows to be innocent ! Let me go a little further and hit a little harder on this subject of the method of acting adopted by Ministers. The Ministry tell us that they are going to do everything above board - everything in sight of the public - and leave decisions for the court, when in fact they are not doing so. Let us see what is going on in the Postmaster - General’s department. The honorable and learned senator told the Senate the other night that he was much “ shocked “ at what was going on in his department, that he knew that letters were being inserted in parcels, but that he would not have any prosecutions. He said more than that - that he would not sanction any publicity in regard to fines which he inflicted.
– I have not done so yet.
– He deprecated making public the results of his own private inquiries. Now then, I want to point to something which in my opinion is rather serious in regard to that department. The Postmaster-General, as the Senate knows, deals with troubles of this sort himself. He inflicts, I suppose, a paltry fine on somebody. But the Minister is doing something more than that. He is himself judge and jury in grave cases of embezzlement. If the Ministry find it incumbent on them to take a man” to the police court in connexion with three-hap’orth of rice, or some paltry error, are they the persons who should undertake to settle in private a grave case of embezzlement ?
– Is not the honorable senator going to give us particulars of that statement ?
– I am about to refer to them. In the Auditor-General’s report, under the head of defaults,. I find, in connexion with the Postal department, a record of fifteen cases where officers employed at the Post-office “have embezzled money, and where the matter has been dealt with, more or less, by the Minister. Let me show what has been done. I will take New South Wales. There are seven cases of officers in New South Wales. In four of those cases the police court was appealed to. One man was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment; two others to twelve, and a fourth to eighteen months.
Two of the nieu who were sent to gaol had paid in the amount in default. But T find a lot of other cases - one in Brisbane, where the amount in question was £495 4s. 2d. - where there was no prosecution. I suppose the man in question had rich friends.
– That is only the honorable senator’s supposition.
– At all events the money was paid, and the man was dismissed. Here we have fifteen cases under the heading of “ defaults,” in only five of which prosecutions took place. In the remaining ten the men. concerned were asked to resign, and did so, or were got rid of in some other. way. The money was paid, and the matter was hushed up. That is what is taking place in the Postal department under an administration which we are told strives by every means in its power to do everything in the eyes of the public. Cases involving hundreds of pounds are quietly settled, while trifling clerical errors involving nothing at all are brought before the police court. The whole thing will not bear, investigation. An order issued only a few days ago by the Customs department in regard to catalogues introduced into Australia through the Postoffice provides that -
Duty must be paid on catalogues printed outside the Commonwealth and posted separately to customers here, otherwise they are to be seized under section 35 of the Customs Act.
What does that mean ? Occasionally I receive from London publishers a catalogue of new books, but if I accept the next. that reaches me I shall be liable to be taken to the police court, and charged under the Customs Act with moving goods subject to the Customs control. Could anything be more absurd? I find that the new German tariff contains a provision that goods imported through the Post-office, weighing up to 250 grammes - that is a little over 8 ozs. - shall be free of duty. Yet in this Commonwealth I may find myself some day visiting the police court, and being fined £5 for moving, without payment of duty, a catalogue sent to me through the post. I shall do my best to avoid the risk. As a matter of fact I have already written to the Postal authorities in Sydney directing that they are not to place any catalogues in my box at the Post-office, or to deliver them to me. But has the Postmaster- General nothing to say with regard to so absurd a decision ? Has he nothing to say on behalf of the thousands of people in Australia to whom catalogues and price lists are sent % Why should not a price list come in free ?
– It is dutiable.
– Yes, a single catalogue, dutiable at 3d. per lb. according to weight, would be liable to an impost of something like half a farthing.
– Publishers at home might send out a great many catalogues.
– Why should they not come in free ?
– Why should they not pay duty1?
– How can duty be paid upon them 1 I get special books, perhaps of a political character, sent to me, and catalogues of such books are not distributed broadcast throughout the land. Perhaps 100 or 200 may be sent out he:-e at a time, and every man who receives one will be liable, under this decision, to serious consequences. This is the precious administration of the Customs department which we are asked again and again to believe is a wholesome one. I have no desire to labour the question of Customs administration, although it is a very sore point with me. Before the close of last session I told the Vice-President of the Executive Council that there would be no peace until the whole matter was settled, and I say again that there will be no peace until that stage has been reached. Let the law be honestly, fairly, and reasonably administered, and let there be an end to proceedings such as those now going on. I should like to give the Senate the details of a case which occurred recently in Sydney, but it would take too long to read the affidavits. Briefly stated, the facts are that about six or nine months ago a Sydney importer named Goldring imported a lot of watches mainly for the Christmas trade, and that these watches were seized by the Customs department. The importer has by every means in his power appealed to the Customs department to hand them over to him. He has tendered money : he has offered guarantees and bonds ; he has written letter after letter, and his solicitor has done the same. His invoices, papers, and other documents have been seized, however, and still the Customs authorities have not brought any prosecutions against him, nor have they given him any information of the charge against him. They have simply taken his goods, and more or less ruined his trade. Only a day or two ago this importer, as a last resort, appealed to the Supreme Court of New South Wales for a mandamus to compel the Collector of Customs to state the charge against him, and to return his books, in order that he might proceed with his business. What did the Minister for Trade and Customs do ? Did he meet the man straight out? No; he defended the action, and said, “the Court has no jurisdiction.”
– The Judge said that.
– That was the defence raised by the Minister, and it was successful. A State Court has no power to issue a mandamus against an officer of the Commonwealth. Behind that want of power the Minister is sheltering himself. Meanwhile, the goods of the unfortunate importer are being detained, and his business is being hung up and practically destroyed. Is this a state of things that we can tolerate? I shall pass now from the unfortunate Customs administration and deal briefly with a few matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s speech. In the first place I wish to say that I shall hail with gratification the establishment of the High Court. I shall do all that I can to hasten its creation, because until it is established there can be no relief for a man hampered, as is the importer to whom I have just referred. The statement contained in the Governor-General’s speech with regard to the report of the commission on the federal capital site is of a very indefinite character. We are told that it is hoped we shall have it at an early date. I trust that we shall, and that the Government will impress upon the commissioners the- urgency of the matter. Then we. ave told that a Bill is to be brought before us dealing with Conciliation and Arbitration. My support of measures of that kind will be great, in proportion as the principle of compulsion is absent. I. have always held that when employes ask for an interview it is a scandal for their masters to refuse to meet them. I do not hesitate to say that I know of nothing’”” more reprehensible than that. The employers presumably are the better educated and the more gentlemanly of the two classes, and it is not only ungentlemanly, but unworthy of educated men to refuse a request that they should meet their employes in conference. I should agree to inflict whatever penalty was asked upon employers who refused a conference, but I have no belief in compulsory conciliation. The Prime Minister went to England under a very strong promise and pledge that he would commit Australia to nothing, but he seems to have almost absolutely committed us in the matter of the proposed naval subsidy. We are in a position in which it is very difficult to escape from agreeing to the payment proposed. I admit that the sum is not much in view of the services which will be rendered, but in my judgment the proposal, if carried out, would not place Australia in the satisfactory position that I should like to see her occupying. When the flying squadron has flown away, we must of course be without its services. My opinion is that an enemy would seek to take advantage of an opportunity like that, and that in the absence of any naval power on our coast one hostile cruiser might do us very grave harm. Therefore I think we have to consider carefully what ought to be done in this matter, and I venture to throw out a suggestion. When the war between Spain and the United States broke out, it was found in the United States that a number of the great ocean-going vessels could render very great service if fitted with two or three heavy guns, and sent forth as cruisers. I do” not see how we are going to get out of paying the subsidy of £200,000 per annum ; but at the same time I fail to see how we are to get rid of the responsibility of keeping some defences round our coast. I, therefore, throw out a suggestion that whilst agreeing to this payment, we should make some arrangement by which perhaps half-a-dozen, of the pick of Australian coasting steamers would be subsidized and made available as cruisers, should it become necessary to watch our shores.
– They are not fast enough to be of any value. They should be able to do twenty knots an hour.
– There may be that objection at present, but with the aid of a subsidy we should get a better class of coastal steamers. Of course, we could make arrangements for the use of the big oversea boats, but out of the whole number of vessels trading to Australia only those which happened at the moment to be on the Australian coast would be available if any trouble arose. We could not very well undertake to subsidize the whole of the P. and 0. and Orient Companies’ liners. I should like to say something now with regard to the patents laws. I have always been a great believer in the value of patents, and I have always attributed the great prosperity of America very largely to its most liberal patents laws. But just fancy the difference : A man in America gets a patent for a few pounds, which gives him protection over a population of 80,000,000, whilst in Australia a man must at present take out half-a-dozen patents, and when he has done so his invention is protected over a population of about 4,000,000. That is not the way to do very much good, and I am anxious to go somewhat further than having patents which merely give protection over the Commonwealth. I desire to bring about a system of Imperial patents. I wish the Australian patent to be valid in the United Kingdom. I see that at the Imperial conference a suggestion was made by the Commonwealth Government with regard to the mutual protection of patents, and I shall read what is said on the subject in the report of the conference -
The conference also discussed the subjects of the mutual protection of patents and the purchase of ocean cables, which had been suggested by the Government of the Commonwealth. In regard to the first of these subjects, the accompanying memorandum, prepared by the Comptroller of the Patents office, had been circulated to the members, and while it was felt that it was of too technical a nature for effective discussion at the conference, there was a general feeling that it was desirable that the recognition throughout the Empire of a patent granted in one part of it should be facilitated, and. that an inquiry should be instituted as to how this could be effected, and the following resolution was passed : - That it would tend to the encouragement of inventions if some system for the mutual protection of patents in the various parts of the Empire could be devised. That the Secretary for State be asked to enter into communication with the several Governments in the first instance, and invite their suggestions to this end.
It was to this suggested correspondence that the question of which I gave notice to-day had reference. I wish to know whether any correspondence has taken place upon this subject, and whether the Bill which the Government are about to introduce is to be a measure limiting the patents law solely to the Commonwealth, or whether there is any hope of that greater achievement of a patents law which shall give Australian in ventors protection throughout the length and breadth of the British Empire.
– So the honorable senator is a protectionist 1
– Yes, I desire true protection - sometimes even from Senator McGregor. Now, with regard to the question of the Western Australian transcontinental railway. I have no hesitation in saying that the project has my warm sympathy. I hope that the railway will be built. I think it is desirable that it should be built. But there is something to consider. The present is not the time when millions are to be had for the asking. I think we ought to decide that it is a desirable project, we ought to keep it before our minds, and we ought to be taking steps that will tend to make the object easy of achievement when we think the time has actually arrived. I venture to throw out the suggestion that as the project would, we hope, and may presume, be of material advantage to the State of Western Australia, the authorities of that State might consider whether they could not facilitate the achievement of this object by offering to bear some fixed proportion of the’ loss which must arise in the earlier stages of the history of such a line. Now with regard to the mail services and coloured labour, I confess I look back with some gratification to the time when the debate took place in the Senate upon the Immigration Restriction Bill, and when the clause excluding contract labour was under discussion. I moved an amendment proposing to limit that exclusion to those who were contracted for at less than current wages. It was a very simple amendment, and I think a very desirable one, and its acceptance would have saved Australia from a considerable amount of discredit and disgrace. I hope this session will not pass without our being able to do something to rectify the blunder that was then made. I think the amendment which I proposed ought to have been accepted, but of course when the measure was before us we were all dominated by the central object of the Bill, the exclusion of coloured races, and we perhaps lost sight to some extent of the odds and .ends of the thing, and dealt merely with contract labour and white people and so on in various forms. As regards the mail services I hope we are not going to be so foolish as to cut off our noses to spite our faces. I hope we shall still be. able to arrive at some sensible way of settling the mail contract business, and that we shall not be relegated to a service of out-of-date slow:going tubs to conduct the mail business of the Commonwealth. I do not hesitate to say that a little calmer feeling is gradually coming over even the most excited Australians on the subject of coloured labour. I see that the men on the Japanese men-of-war now visiting us are being received wherever they go’ with acclamation.
– That is at the dictation of national courtesy. We do not want them to remain here.
– National courtesy is all I ask for ; and I wish to dissociate Australia from the national discourtesy which disfigures some of our legislation. I never have been an advocate for throwing Australia open to all coloured races. I do not believe in any policy of the sort. If we take, for instance, the European and Chinese races, we shall . find that the white races are practically spending races, whilst the Chinese are a saving race. The European will say with regard to his wages - “ How much can I spend ; what money have I to spend V ; whilst the Chinaman says - “ What money can I save 1” That is a wide racial difference, and objection to Chinese labour rests not so much on logic as on a strong instinct, and an instinct which is a true one.
– Then it must be logical.
– It is because the white races spend their money that with them trade is brisk and profits are large, and good wages and big wages are desirable. The Chinaman, on the other hand, argues, as I have said, from the point of view of saving, and if people wish to put all their money into stockings there will be very little left for trade. The people of spending and generous instincts do not mix very well with those who practise what I may reasonably call a meaner econony. These races are therefore ‘better kept apart. But let all the arrangements be conducted honorably. Let us insult no race, but give them the treatment which we expect from them. I should like to refer to the subject of .contracts for the purchase of goods. The various departments of the Commonwealth Government have to buy a great many things in the course of a year. I have been looking at some of their contracts, and it does not appear to me that there is any system about them. For instance, in buying provisions I notice that in some places they buy tea at 7d., Sd., ls., and 2s. per lb. Why this sort of thing should . be - I do not know. Then the Commonwealth has to make very large contracts .for some goods. Take, for instance, an article so insignificant as sealing-wax, and we find that the Commonwealth buys twenty, thirty, and forty tons of that commodity at a time. I believe that there is only one maker of sealing-wax in Australia, and I wish to know whether, when a contract is being made, advantage is taken of the section in the Tariff Act which gives the Commonwealth power to import free of duty. Is the Commonwealth taking advantage of that section to obtain the goods which it requires for its own services as cheaply as they may be obtained? Another matter I should like to mention is that of life assurance. This certainly cannot be thought of this session, but it is a matter which should be borne in mind, and which should be dealt with as early as possible. It is desirable that Parliament should consider the subject of life assurance so as to safeguard the people of Australia from wild-cat schemes of life assurance. I can tell honorable senators that there are some of these afloat to-day and taking a good deal of money out of the pockets of Australia. There is only one other subject to which I desire to draw attention, and that is the subject of preferential trade. Honorable senators have listened to me so long, that important as this subject is, I propose to make my remarks upon it very brief. As a free-trader, I object to the proposal for preferential trade, and if I had the misfortune to be a protectionist I should still object to it. I cannot conceive of any protectionist favouring the proposals for preferential trade as they are now brought forward. The Australian export trade is really in a remarkable position. It simply stands upon velvet, and we cannot improve its position. We produce large quantities of farm and dairy produce, and for as much as we have to spare of this we have an open and free market in the old country. The people there will take as much as we can send, and a great deal more than we are able to send at present. Then we have also a free market for our wool in the United Kingdom. But here arises a very singular position. Australia produces a very much larger quantity of wool than the United Kingdom can or does take.
What becomes of the balance? It is taken on the continent, and here, in regard to our pastoral products, which the Empire cannot wholly consume the great countries of Europe have thrown aside their protective policy and become free-traders, and they give us free admission. On the free list of the new German Tariff will be found wool, hides, skins, and various other pastoral products.
– Raw materials.
– What does it matter whether they are raw materials or not ? They are what we have to sell, and what we have to sell the world is ready to take from us. When Australian trade stands on velvet why interfere with it? It cannot be bettered. How different is the position in which the trade of Great Britain stands ! The old country has to fight for admission for her products. Nowhere has she to fight harder for admission than amongst her own kith and kin in the Commonwealth of Australia. Whilst declaiming about their love of the mother country, the Government do their best to impose big duties. The Minister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer bring in measures and boast that they expect to reduce the imports by the amount of £5,000,000. As the bulk of our imports come from the old country what a straight - out blow is intended to be given to the country we love. Protectionists or free-traders, there is no doubt that we do love England. But this extraordinary freak in the protectionist mind I cannot understand ; it is for them to explain it.However, what I am pointing out is the wonderful difference between the position in the world of our export trade and her export trade. Great Britain has to fight for the entry of her goods everywhere. We have free admissions for all the goods which we can produce. Where the Empire cannot take them the great countries step in, throw aside their protectionist policy, and give us free admission.
– They are very glad to get the raw materials.
– No doubt they are. In the year 1899 Australia bought from France, Germany, and Belgium goods to the value of £3,000,000, and those three countries bought from Australia goods to the value of £9,000,000. Is not that a most extraordinary balancesheet? We buy only £3,000,000 worth, and sell £9,000,000 worth, ard we are asked to bring in a differential Tariff to penalize France and Germany. What does it mean ? If we give a preference in one direction, we inflict penalties in other directions. Whether I be a free-trader or a protectionist, this fact stares me in the face, and it cannot be got over : that the great countries of Europe are buying enormously more from Australia than they are selling to her. Is not that a good thing to let alone?
– They do it because it pays them.
– Of course it does, and they would be foolish if they bought when it did not pay them. Another point I wish to draw attention to is the general idea of this preferential Tariff. Honorable senators little know I think that even in Great Britain it is very little recognised how big the Empire is, and how big its producing power is. Of course we know that the old country is a great producer of manufactured goods. Taking it all round the Empire is an enormous producer of raw materials, and in regard to a great many articles she is undoubtedly producing more than she can consume. I suppose every body admits that when an article is produced in excess of the consuming power of the Empire it cannot be benefited by a preferential duty. That is agreed to by protectionists as well as by free-traders. Now, let me read a list of articles in which this position has already been arrived at : Wool, tallow, hides, skins, tin, coal, gum, kauri, jute, rice, tea, coffee, palm oil, cocanut oil, rum, pepper, ginger, pearl shell, certain kinds of fish, such as salmon, &c., indigo, dye woods, and various drugs. The list might be extended. Of all these items the Empire to-day is producing more than it can consume, and is depending on the rest of the world for the consumption of the balance, and with our enormous extent of country we are rapidly increasing our production, in the matter of agricultural and pastoral products and grain of various kinds. Take the importation of mutton into Great Britain. It is getting very large, and it looks as if the time will not be very far distant when the Empire will be producing more mutton than it can consume. I wish now to refer to the basis of this agitation for preferential duties. The country of its origin, if I may use the term, is Canada. I propose to read a brief extract from an article in theNorth Atlantic last year, by Mi-. John Charlton, M.P., a member of the Anglo-American Joint High Commission on British Preferential Trade and Imperial Defence. In the course of this article he says -
Canada desires preferential entry into the markets of Great Britain for her wheat, flour, oatmeal, animal products, timber, wine products, and fish ; and she desires the preferential treatment without surrendering the essential features of her own Tariff policy, which is a moderately protective one. She would readily grant to Great Britain preferential treatment to a greater extent than at present, but she would probably decline to permit this preference to reach a point that would threaten her own industries, established under the moderate protection inaugurated in 1878. It may be assumed with confidence that neither Canada nor Australia can accept absolute free-trade with Great Britain. The dream of certain classes in these colonies is that preference, to an extent that would give them material advantage in the British markets over foreign countries, can be obtained, while they will be allowed to retain the distinctive features of their own policy at present in force. A preference of this amount (10 per cent.) as against the United States, Russia, and other food-export countries, would give to Canada and to the wool-growing and to the mutton and beef-raising interests of Australia very important advantages.
That shows the ignorance at the bottom of this preferential idea, because this Canadian writer is not aware that we produce wool so largely that a preferential Tariff can do nothing for us in this respect. He goes on to say -
She (Canada) has no preference in the British market whatever, while she gives British manufactures the preference above mentioned. When moderate duties were recently imposed upon grain by the British Parliament - amounting to 3d. per cwt. on wheat, and od. per cwt. on flour - it was supposed that Canada, in return for the preference of 33k per cent., would be relieved from the operation of this taxation upon her grain products. This supposition was ill founded, and no recognition of Canada’s preference has been deigned by the British Government. The result has been a slight soreness of feeling, which could easily be made more acute by injudicious action in the future on the part of the Imperial Government. . Last session
I introduced into the House of Commons at Ottawa the following motion : - “That this House is of the opinion that Canadian import duties should be arranged upon the principle of reciprocity in trade conditions so far us may be consistent with Canadian interests : that a rebate of not less than 40 per cent, of the amount of duties imposed should be made upon dutiable imports from nations or countries admitting Canadian natural products into their markets free of duty : and that the scale of Canadian duties should be sufficiently high to avoid inflicting injury upon Canadian interests in cases where a rebate of 40 per cent, or more shall be made upon the conditions aforesaid.1’
These statements indicate very clearly the basis of the agitation for preferential duties in Canada. I do not think that any morepurely selfish policy was ever suggested than that put forward on behalf of Canada. They desire to keep up their duties to such a point that, after the 40 per cent., or whatever the allowance may be, is taken off, they will still be distinctly protective totheir manufactures, and they ask Great Britain to impose a Tariff on the importsof food, from which Canadian farmers and producers shall be free. That is not a policy which I think can commend itself to GreatBritain. It is- a policy which carries with it the seeds of its own defeat. It must be defeated ; it cannot possibly be agreed to,, and it is so unsatisfactory that the people of Canada themselves, when the matter is onceexplained to them, will be the first to repudiate such an attempt to rob the working people of Great Britain. I look forward to the coming elections in Australia, with great interest. I shall strive to bring about the return of a free-trade Government, which will bring the Commonwealth into line with the United Kingdom in its fiscal policy, and I believe that when once an important section of the Empire, like Australia, has sided with the old country in the matter of Tariff, all this talk about preferential duties will cease.
– I do not propose to follow Senator Pulsford through the whole of . his speech, but I shall begin where he left off with his slight reference to preferential duties. Judging by the cablegram in the Aye to-day, the time is close at hand when every public man in Australia will have to declare himself either foi- or against preferential duties. I notice that Senator Pulsford made a reference to what is known in free-trade circles as natural protection, although he did not call it by that name. I wish to point out to him that the butter sent from Australia’ enters the United Kingdom on exactly the same terms as does the butter sent from Denmark. But we have to get it carried in cool chambers 11,000 miles. No cool chambers are required foi- the Denmark butter, which has to be carried only 800 or 900 miles. Great Britain gives her own people no preference. The foreigner sends his goods under the same conditions as our people send theirs. The American sends his wheat 3,000 miles; we send ours 11,000 miles, and we had to pay the same duty after April of last year that the American had to pay. It is the same with the Argentine Republic. She sends her wool and wheat to Great Britain under the same conditions as we do, only she is 4,000 miles nearer to Great Britain. She sends her stuff . about 7,000 miles, and we send it 11,000 miles. Great Britain does not give her children the slightest preference in comparison with these foreign countries. So I do not know that we have a great deal to be thankful for. Free-traders always fall into one mistake about this matter. They speak of the mercantile community or the buyers and sellers of Great Britain as though they were the Government of Great Britain. A man goes into a business like buying wheat or tallow to make money out of it, and he buys that article which pays him best. The nation has no control over the transaction. But the nation can show some preference if it thinks lit. Senator Pulsford has made some references to the Postmaster-General, who will, however, be able to speak for himself if he is given an opportunity of speaking again in the course of this debate. He compared the Postmaster-General’s method of dealing with those who try to over-reach the Postal authorities with the method adopted by the Minister for Trade and Customs with those who try to over-reach the Customs authorities. . The Postmaster-General made it clear the other day, to my mind at all events, that the reason why he deals with these cases and inflicts fines is that the offenders are nearly all of the poor and ignorant class who do not understand that they are breaking the law if they stick a letter into a parcel. They think it is all right, and that it does not matter, because it does not cost the Government any more to carry a parcel with a letter in it than it would cost to carry the parcel without the letter. But that cannot be said in the case of the importers. They are not ignorant people. They are well informed, and are surrounded by educated people who understand thorough])’’ well what they are doing.
– What about the ship’s cook?
– Honorable senators opposite have attached undue importance to the “ slush case.” It is a farce to talk so much about it. Senator Pulsford has reflected upon the Minister, because he administered the Customs of Australia for nine months without taking any extreme steps. But the honorable senator knows perfectly well that during that time the Minister had to administer six different Tariffs, and had at the same time to prepare his measures, including the Tariff, for submission to Parliament. He knows that during that period the Minister must have been up working day and night, doing enough for two or three men. Yet the honorable senator grumbles, because the Minister did not look into all the details for himself, as he is now doing. Of course he did what any other business man would do under the circumstances. He allowed the various officers to administer the Tariffs then in force, until the Commonwealth Tariff was passed, and we had uniform customs duties, when the Minister hhnself took charge. He only had the name of taking charge before. I agree with the action of the Minister in every respect. I think it was his duty to do as he has done. He may have over-strained it a little at times, but there is nothing like launching a large new concern properly at first, so as to let every one understand from the highest to the lowest that they are to act strictly in accordance with the letter of the law. No doubt the Minister had that in mind. He thought - “ If we can start this thing well at the commencement it will run smoothly after a little while.” And what after all are these mistakes of which we have heard so much ? I suppose that during the time to which I am now referring there must have been £15,000,000 or£l 7,000,000, probably nearer £20,000,000, collected in customs duties. I suppose there have been hundreds of thousands of entries. And after all, seeing that a new Tariff had to be administered by men who had got into grooves under othersystems, I think there have been very few complaints, and very few reasons for complaint. The Minister may have been harsh at times, but he acted rightly in being harsh in launching a new system. That seems to me, as a business man, what any business man would have done who had to start a new system. He would be very particular at the outset, knowing that when things got into smooth working order everything would go rightly. The honorable senator accuses the Minister of doing what he has done for the purpose of gaining political kudos. Whether he did so or not, he has got it.
He is now the most popular man in public life in Australia. Senator Gould may laugh, butitis quite true. This importers’ friend to whom I am now referring - Mr. Kingston - stands head and shoulders above every public man in Australia in popularity. And I say advisedly that he is the importers’ friend. I decline to believe that the bulk of the importers of Australia are dishonest men. The bulk of them are honest, but if only, three or four in a hundred are dishonest, is not the Minister the importers’ friend if he brings them to book ? The honest and straightforward importer ought to be glad to see the dishonest persons punished. There may be cases of hardship, but I should like to know whether in the conduct of any business that any honorable senator has anything to do with cases of hardship do not arise. It must be so in connexion with the biggest concern in Australia, where there are hundreds of people to come into contact with every day. There are cases of hardship in small business concerns. At all events, in my opinion the Minister for Trade and Customs has acted very wisely and very well. I understand that when an honorable senator is speaking on the address in reply, he is at liberty to wander over the political field in almost every direction. That is the reason why I have followed the tracks of the boisterous previous speaker, who has wandered all over the country. But I should like now to speak in rather a different strain. I am going to refer first of all to the matter of the £200,000 naval subsidy. I am sorry to say, as a supporter of the present Government, that I am entirely opposed to any bargain of the- kind. In 1887 a bargain was entered into between these six States - then colonies - and the Imperial Government, under which the Australian colonies agreed to pay £106,000 a year as their share towards the maintenance of the British Navy. Under that agreement there was what is known as the Imperial fleet, and also the Australian squadron, the former consisting of eight ships of various sizes, and the squadron consisting of seven ships. The latter is now known as the Australian auxiliary squadron. The capital cost of that squadron was £854,000. These States have paid £1,500,000 already for property originally worth £854,000.
– What ‘about the maintenance ?
– I understand about the maintenance. I do not base any argument upon these facts, but I wish to observe that for the £1,500,000 which we have paid, we have not got a gun to show nor a trained man to put forward. ‘
– If we had had the other arrangement we should have spent double the amount, and had nothing to show for it.
– Honorable senators are aware that there was a conference of Australian naval experts who, I believe, originally came from the United Kingdom some years ago. Having come from the United Kingdom they must have been .good men.
– Not necessarily.
– I thought that, as a matter of course, they would be good men if they came from the British Navy. At all events they were naval experts, I take it, and knew more about the subject than any man here knows. They sat in 1899, and this is what they say in reference to the Australian auxiliary squadron, in the up-keep of which these States have spent £1,500,000.
When the Auxiliary Squadron was first established by agreement between the colonies and the Admiralty, it was generally understood in Australia, at any rate, that the ships would form a means of drilling and training Australian seamen. This expectation has never been realized. . . Payment in specie in return for naval defence, furnished in toto by the mother country, makes no vance whatever. Twenty or 50 years hence Australia’s ability for sea defence - self defence - will be as to-day, and as it was ten years ago.
– What is the honorable senator quoting from 1
– From the report of a conference of naval experts. The conference consisted of Captain Hixson, from Senator Gould’s own State ; Captain Creswell, from South Australia ; Commander Collins and Captain Tickell, from Victoria ; and a representative from the State of Queensland. The other two States now forming the Commonwealth were not represented. These are all officers who were trained in the United Kingdom. They are experts. As a layman I am bound to accept their opinion as valuable. They were . paid by the States because of their expert knowledge. If they were not worth the money that was paid to them the States would not have kept them, I suppose. The other day Senator Dobson startled me, as he sometimes does, by interjecting, while Senator Symon was speaking, that instead of paying £200,000 towards the British Navy, our fair share would be nearly £4,000,000. I wondered how he arrived at that figure, and he told us in his own speech how he arrived at it. He said that on a population basis our share would be from three to three and a half millions sterling. I understand from that argument that because Australia contains about one-tenth of the population of the “United Kingdom, we ought to pay one-tenth of the annual outlay on the British Navy. That is surely an extraordinary argument. I never heard such an argument in the whole of my life. I looked up Senator Dobson’s speech in Hansard to see if I had made a mistake, and I found that this was really what he meant - that we ought to pay one-tenth of the total cost of the British Navy. That would be on the assumption that the two little islands lying off the west of Europe constituted the glorious British Empire, on which the sun never sets. But Great Britain is only a portion of that Empire. It is true that she forms the heart of it, but so far as concerns area and population, she is only a portion of an Empire which consists of three hundred and sixty-one millions of people.
– How many of those are blacks?
– A great many of them.
– And the honorable senator would pole-axe them.
– No I would not, though I am not in favour of their being employed on board the steam-ships which are subsidized to carry our mails. They are to be kept out of the count in a case like this, but are to be employed on our mail steamers. If I am correct, and I believe I am, in estimating the population of the Empire at 361,000,000, we form oneninetieth part and not one-tenth part of the British Empire, and on a population basis we ought to pay one-ninetieth of the £33,500,000 per annum required to keep the British Navy going. But I am going to show that we should not pay anything.
– The honorable senator would put us on an equality with the coloured subjects.
– Great Britain trades with the merchants of Ceylon, India, the Mauritius, and Hong Kong. Is her trade with the coloured.people there worth nothing?
Are they not to pay a share, whether white , or black, if their trade is protected ? As I have said, we ought apparently to pay a oneninetieth part of the £33,500,000 representing the cost of the British Navy, and that would be £372,000 a year.
– Is it £33,500,000.
-I think my figures are practically correct. I have looked up the Statesman’s Year-Book on the subject.
– Do they include India’s contribution ?
– I think so. But a difference of £1,000,000 will not affect the proposition I am about to state. What is it that the navy has to protect ? It is not our merchandise that has to be protected, but the “ships themselves. We run many ships, but, so far as oceau-going vessels are concerned, not one of them is owned in Australia. They are all owned in Great Britain, and all the income which thev earn belongs to Great Britain.
– What about the bullion sent home from here.
– If the ship is protected, and belongs to Great Britain, every shilling which she earns going to Great Britain, the Imperial authorities are bound to protect the bullion.
– But that bullion is our property.
– If the honorable senator sends sovereigns from here to Ballarat he does not protect themj the State which runs the railway by which they are carried does so. In the same way Great Britain should protect the goodswhich are put into her vessels, just as the. German or French Government would do in the case of goods sent by vessels owned in those countries. From that point of view it would appear that we should not pay anything towards the maintenance of the Imperial fleet. . But these facts do not relieve us from the duty of protecting our coastal vessels. We have a right to protect out coastal trade in any circumstances. If we were to pay half the cost, while Great Britain paid half, that would be a fair way of dealing with the matter. The respon sible authorities at each end would each practically pay half, leaving out the ports of call, which really ought to pay something, as long as we do so.
– We are ‘not going to pay half under the- proposed arrangement.
– Not onefiftieth of the cost.
– I have pointed out already that we form one-ninetieth part of the 36.1,000,000 people constituting the British Empire—-
– How many white men are there % That is a fair way of considering the matter.
– I cannot say. The question put by the honorable senator is a very fair one, but, white or black, they are all British subjects-
– The honorable senator would not allow the black British subjects to come here.
– But their trade has to be protected as well as our own. If a ship is sent from Ceylon to England with a - consignment of tea, that shipment, which has been grown by coloured men, has to be protected just as has a shipment of wool grown by white men in Australia.
– And their ports have to be protected.
– Exactly. A reasonable way of dealing with the matter is to ascertain, first of all, what would be our share on a population basis. I am taking Senator Dobson’s own words. On a population basis, our share seemingly would be £372,000, that being a one-ninetieth part of the cost of the British Navy. But the authorities at the other end should be required to pay half, and our share would thus Le £186,000 per annum.
– The Imperial authorities are asking for only £ 200,000 a year. «
– They have asked for enough. We may take it that when the authorities at home go into these matters we are only as a parcel of children compared with them.
:-They ask us to pav five-twelfths of the cost.
– No. What they have done has been to take figures similar to those used by Senator Dobson. Perhaps they have taken the white population of the British Empire.
– We are asked to pay five-twelfths of the cost of the Australian Squadron. The cost is not to exceed £200,000, but it may be less.
– I would point out that under the old agreement provision was made for two fleets - for an Imperial fleet and what is known as the “ Australian auxiliary squadron,” one comprising eight vessels and the other seven. The arrangement will be upset by the new arrangement, and there will be one fleet instead of two separate ones.
– That was the case before.
– No. I arn going to show why the authorities in Great Britain desired this alteration. It is made quite clear. If all the vessels on the Australian States were combined and called a “ British Imperial Fleet,” then, as a matter of course, the Admiral would be in a position at any time to say to his officers “ Such and such a vessel shall go to the China station and another shall go to South Africa,” and so forth. In this way we should be left wholly unprotected. But under the agreement- entered into in 1887, between these States and the United Kingdom, that could not be done.
– They did it, nevertheless.
– Then they broke the agreement, and, therefore, we should not trust them again.
– That is unworthy of the honorable senator. Senator STYLES.- If they broke the agreement—
– - Was it not done by arrangement 1
– I do not know. I was not aware that the agreement had ever been broken. Senator Gould informs me, however, that it has been, and I assume from his interjection that the Imperial authorities broke it in spite of us. Of course, if we consented through our representatives to the adoption of that course the matter must end there.
– Of course, it does.
– I propose to make it clear why in a landsman’s phraseology the authorities in Great Britain desire to see one body of ships here instead of two. The agreement made in 1S87 between Great Britain and these States provided that the squadron -
Shall consist of five fast cruisers anc! two torpedo gun-boats as represented by the Archer (Improved type) and Rattlesnake classes. … Of these three cruisers and one gun-boat shall be kept always in commission.
I come now to the point to which I desire to direct special attention -
These vessels shall be retained within the limits of the Australian station. . . and in times of peace or war shall he employed within such limits in the same way as are Kor Majesty’s ships of war, or employed beyond those limits only with the consent of the colonial Governments.
The stipulation that these vessels shall be employed beyond these limits “only with the consent of the colonial Governments” is what the Imperial authorities want to break through. As a matter of fact there were seven colonial Governments concerned, because New Zealand was a party to the
Agreement, and paid about £20,000 per annum, in addition to the £106,000 per annum which we contributed. I have not had the privilege of reading the agreement now proposed : I do not think it has yet been distributed, but I understand that there is to be only one fleet, in substitution for the two fleets - the fleet and squadron as they are willed, at present on the station - and that it is to go away jit any time the Admiral sees fit. That is, I believe, the substance of the agreement, and that is what I strongly object to. I strongly object to Australian money being paid under any such agreement. I, for one Australian public man, hold that we should not pay away our money in this way without having some voice in regard to the manner in which it is to be expended. We are to tie ourselves down under this proposed agreement nominally for ten years, but in reality I think it will be for fifteen years. The old agreement was to run for ten years, but it is still going on, and probably the one now proposed will remain in force for fifteen years.
– The total naval force is not to be restricted to the squadron.
– I have not seen the agreement. I am only going on the documents to which I have had access. In regard to Australian matters I prefer to take the opinion of the naval experts which we have in Australia. Honorable senators have before them two documents bearing on this matter - one a report of the naval conference, and’ the other a report by Captain Ores well, formerly of South Australia. The impression made upon my mind in reading his report is that he is a very good man for his position. He was one of the board of experts which sat in 1899, and since then he has prepared a report of his own. As a matter of fact he was at one with the other members of the board, who said an expenditure of £191,000-
Controlled by the Federal Government, would be sufficient to provide for the maintenance of five second-class cruisers in peace time . . and for the raising and maintenance of a reserve of sufficient strength to provide not only for manning these vessels in time of war, but also to furnish a source from which men would be vailable to meet Imperial naval requirements and to make up waste.
I submit that we must listen to these men.
– But they propose to give us only one ship at a time.
– I apprehend that we cannot expect to get five second-class cruisers at once. I believe that a secondclass cruiser of the “highflyer” type is generally of 5,600 tons burthen, and would cost about £300,000. As each one of these vessels was put in commission under the scheme proposed by the board we should say to the Imperial authorities - “ Take some of the others away.” I know enough about the matter to satisfy me that the five cruisers referred to in the board’s report would blow out of the water in avery short time the whole of the fifteen vessels at present here. There is only one among the fifteen which could stand amongst them. That vessel has a big gun.
– Is that the Protector ?
– No, I am referring to the Royal Artlmr, a vessel of about 7,700 tons, which has one 9-2 gun. The proposal is that we should have a couple of vessels of that kind.
– Under the proposed agreement we are to get one firstclasscrusier, two second-class crusiers, four thirdclass cruisers, and four sloops.
– The second-class cruisers referred to in the agreement proposed probably are only small vessels. In his report dated 7th February, 1902, Captain Creswell said -
An appropriation extending over ten years, setting aside £300,000 to £350,000 nnnuaily for naval defences, would be a more satisfactory arrangement. It would suffice to provide a lleet of five crusiers suitable for-our defence, and leave no debt.
It would provide a sinking fund as well. Captain Creswell went on to say -
If continued even at a reduced amount it would provide for all renewals as required.
Referring to the special type of cruiser, not for long sea voyages, but for the defence of Australia, he savs -
By adapting our design to the favouring conditions of a- long coast line with many coaling ports, we can . . . largely increase the armament and gun power. . . . Gun power can be so largely increased in an Australian ship that she would be equal to a ship twice her tonnage.
Captain Creswell is one of our leading experts in Australia, and he explains that if a vessel has not to go long journeys, she can have double the gun power in proportion to her tonnage that a vessel would have if she had to go all over the world.
– For £350,000 a year more.
– No, £300,000. I went into this matter before I saw this report, and it seemed to me that five of these ships could be provided for £1,500,000. The working of them would cost about £150,000 a year, interest £45,000 and sinking fund £80,000, making £275,000 a year. Assuming that it would cost £300,000 instead of £200,000 a year, it must be remembered that X200,000 a year means Is. per annum per head of our population of 4,000.000. Theother £100,000 would mean 6d. per head more, and I do not think we should find one man in 100 who would grumble at that.
– And the ships would belong to us.
– And, asmy honorable friend says, the ships would belong to lis.
– The estimate is £300,000 a year, and £47,000 a year for maintenance, up-keep, and interest.
– I think not. Captain Creswell speaks of from £300,000 to £350,000. He says that to set aside £350,000 annually for naval defences - and that includes everything, and not merely the ships - would be a more satisfactory arrangement, that it would suffice to provide a fleet’ of five cruisers suitable for our defences, and would leave no debt behind. And if continued, even at the reduced rate, it would provide for all renewals as required - that is, new vessels.
– No; that would not include new vessels.
– This is one of the great disadvantages under which the Senate labours.. We have here several honorable senators who are well acquainted with military matters, to whom I listen with the greatest attention upon those subjects, but so far as I know we have no one here who can lead us upon questions like this, and in the absence of such advice we must be guided entirely by the experts wh m we pay. Of course I am aware that an Australian has no honour in his own country, and that if we require a man, whether it be to manage a railway or to build a ship, we send to some other country for him. For all that, we have managed to build our own railways, and we shall build our own ships and work them, too, aswell as pay for them.
– What would be the probable condition of these ships at the end of ten years ?
– They would be obsolete in five years.
– I thought that would come, and I admit that it is a very pertinent comment.
– It is not the case sofar as the South Australian gunboat, the Protector, is concerned.
– That is so. TheProtector is 19, and the Cerberus is 30- years1 old, and is as good a vessel as when she. was first sent here.
– With muzzle-loaders ?
– She needs to be rearmed, I admit. Her. armament maybe out of date, but the vessel herself, is not out of date, and if she had 8-incli> breech-loading guns in her, I am told shewould now be more than a match for a.nj- vessel that could find its way intoHobson’s Bay. It must be remembered that the Orlando, which is on the China, station, and which was the flagship on thisstation, is fifteen years old. One of the vessels of the Australian Squadron, thePenyuin, for which we are paying, was built in 1876. She is still in harness or in commission, as the)’ call it in the navy,, somewhere in the Southern Seas. I should, like Senator Zeal to find out, as he may do from “ Brassey’s Annual,” when every one of these ships was built, and whatshe cost. There is another point to be considered : Australians would man our own ship’s, whilst the ships coming from England are manned there, and change their crews, every two or three years. While I was in Adelaide two or three weeks ago, 139 men and officers, bringing the numberup to 150 or 160, were coming out toreplace some of the men on the vessels of” the Australian squadron because they had. been three years on the station. Nearly every shilling earned by the men on board the fifteen vessels is sent to Great Britain-
It is not expended here amongst the people who do the paying.
– Do not the men spend their wages here 1
– No; most of them send their wages to their wives. I am told that what they spend here is only a trifle.
– There is not very much for them to spend.
-They have not much to spend, but they send their wages home, naturally enough, . to their own people. With our own fleet it appears to me that there would be perhaps £150,000- it is not a great deal, but it is something - to spend amongst the people of Australia who pay for the fleet.
– This agreement proposes that four of the ships should be manned by Australians and New Zealanders.
– I did not know that, and, like the old Scotchman, I still have some doubt on the subject. I understand from Senator Gould that the squadron was taken away at one time.
– One vessel.
– The statement was made by the board of experts, who sat four years ago, that not one Australian had been trained to naval warfare in the ships of the squadron, although it was understood that they were to be so trained.
– The proposed agreement is clear upon that point.
– Yes ; three drill ships and one other vessel are to be so manned.
– When the matter comes before us later on I hope to be better primed.
– Four of these ships are to be manned by our own men.
– I understand that perfectly well.
– Then why did not the honorable senator say so 1 He kept it back.
– I have just ‘told honorable senators that I have never seen the proposed agreement. I have also said that it was understood that the other vessels were to be manned to a certain extent by Australians, and yet the experts have told us that not one Australian was trained on board of them.
– Was it in the agreement 1
– I do not know.
– Why not suspend judgment until the honorable senator knows what is really in the agreement 1
– My judgment is already formed. I do not care two straws what the agreement is. I shall go for an Australian navy to protect our own floating trade, and not to protect oversea trade at all. If Great Britain protects that trade, she will do her duty, foi1 all the money goes to her, and not to us.
– So she does protect it.
– And quite right, too. It has been pointed out by the Aye that if we did not spend ls., Great Britain would have to protect that trade. What we require to do is to protect our own coasting vessels that carry the trade which belongs to the Commonwealth. We should spend our money in doing that work.
– And wo should then be doing our duty.
– We are willing to do that, and I ask whether that is nob coming to the assistance of the British Empire. If we have five vessels of our own here the whole of these fifteen vessels may be taken away, and used for service in other parts of the world. We are quite willing to pay £300,000 a year, and 1 am prepared to say that 99 out of every 100- men in Australia will .agree that we should pay £300,000 to have our own ships manned by our own men, who will spend their money amongst us, and live amongst us, and who will have an interest in the place, which no men coming here from the United Kingdom can possibly have, because they will be interested in defending their own homes, their own people, and their own property.
– The proposal now made is to destroy the Australian navy.
– There is one little question upon which I should like to say something, and that is the employment of coloured labour in mail boats. I was delighted to listen to Senator Pulsford this afternoon upon this subject. I could almost believe that one of the labour senators was speaking when the honorable senator came out so straight. The labour senators I think were absent when Senator Pulsford told us that he disliked the coloured man and would keep him out if he could. I think I am right in saying that I was the first federal member of either House who directed attention to this question of coloured labour in mail boats. All the rest thought of it no doubt, but I was the first to mention it, and I refer to the fact only to show that I desire to be consistent. The argument is that we cannot do without coloured labour in the mail boats. “We are referred to the P. and O. Company who have used coloured people for many years past, and coloured labour on the mail boats is said to be indispensable because they use it. But up till within a year or two the Orient Company, whose boats are quite equal to those of the other company, so far as a landsman can judge, worked the whole of their vessels without coloured labour.
– They have had to give that up.
– They employ coloured men only as stokers, even now ; and I can tell the honorable and learned senator that I went from here to Adelaide the other day on the Orotava, which had not a darkie on it at all. Senator McGregor was also on board that vessel, and I do not know that he saw one.
– I never smelt one.
– I am told that on the French and German mail steamers only Frenchmen and Germans are employed, men who will spend their money in their own country.
– There is a stipulation in connexion with the German line, that none but Germans shall be employed.
– 1 am told that that is so.
– The French boats employ Arab stokers.
– A subsidy of 8s. 4d. per mile is given to the NorddeutscherLloyd line.
– But there is a bigger question behind all this, and one of very much more importance to my mind as a Britisher, and I am as English as they are made I hope. That is the danger of our vessels becoming manned by coloured crews or aliens of any kind.
– As they are in Great Britain.
– That is at the bottom of the whole of this question. The Mercantile Marine of the United Kingdom has, in times gone by, been the recruiting ground for the British Navy. That is where the men came from who did the “ deeds that won the Empire.” We are, of course, told by the jubilant free-trader that the oversea trades of the United Kingdom is expanding. So it is, largely expanding every day. They say to us - ‘‘Look at our enormous mercantile fleet,” arid when we look at it, we find that 70 per cent, are “ boys of the bull-dog breed,” and the other 30 per cent, are coloured men or white aliens.
– The black-and-tan terrier breed.
– For the fifteen years ended 1900 it was shown by returns laid before the British Parliament that there were 43,000 seamen added to the mercantile navv of the United Kingdom. Of these 19,000 were coloured men, and 12,000 were white foreign aliens, so that 3 1,000 out of the 43,000 sons of the sea were not British-born at all, and only 12,000, or about 28 per cent., of the increase in fifteen years to the mercantile navy of the United Kingdom were “ boys of the bull-dog breed “ coming from the country from which we hail, and the rest were aliens. That is the most serious aspect of the matter, and it is very much more serious than the employment of one or two aliens in half-a’-dozen ships, and anything which this Parliament, or anybody, can do to stem that tide should be done, even if it involves loss. When )Tou find a paper laid before the Imperial Parliament only two yeais ago, showing that out of 43,000 additional hands in fifteen years there were 31,000 aliens, it is about time to think over the matter, and to take every possible step to prevent the spread of this thing.
– What do the shipowners caret They will sell their souls for money.
– Like most other persons, ship-owners desire to make as much money as they can. I do not know that my honorable friends in the labour corner care about money, but I must say that I should like to make much money. I do not know, however, that I should care to employ these darkies. We are told, as we were told to-day by Senator Pulsford, to give the grand old mother country a show. So far as I can see, the ship-owners in the old country are giving the grand old foreigner and the grand old darkie all the show.
– How is the honorable senator going to assist to get rid of these foreigners ?
– What I favour is the exclusion of coloured men from the two lines of mail boats that we subsidize at the rate of £36,000 a year each. When we pay such a large subsidy as £72,000 a year to the the two companies we ought . to have a voice in the.determination of a matter which affects not mere] y Australia but the Empire.
– And even that subsidy does not enable them to pay their way.
– If we did not give them the subsidy, in my opinion, they would still come here. We do not subsidize the German or French lines.
– The German line is subsidized to the amount of Ss. 4d. per mile, and the French to the amount of 6s. 8d. per mile, as against a subsidy of 2s. 7d. per mile to the British lines.
– Let Great Britain subsidize her steam-ships, and send them here. Let her follow the good example set by Germany and France, and serve Germans and French as her own people are served in France. No British ship is allowed to coast from port to port in France; the coasting trade is all done by French-owned vessels. Let us hear what my friend Captain Creswell sa)’s -
The great want of every previous naval war has been men to man our ships. Wholesale impressment can no longer be enforced to make up the number. . There is at the present time a shortage of some thousands of officers and men necessary to raise the fleet to actual war strength, even allowing for a response by 7o per cent, of the Naval Reserve - a liberal allowance.
That statement, not written with that intention, contains a caution against our doing the very thing which my honorable friends opposite wish us to do - that is, to man the boats with coloured labour. I am sorry that the leader of the Opposition is not present, as I have something to say about him. I desire to show the inconsistencies of that honorable and learned senator who is in favour, hot merely of a white Australia, but of a British Australia ; who would exclude white foreigners if he could, and who is yet in favour of employing coloured labour on the mail boats. It- is a little inconsistent, I think.
– “British ships,” I think, was the phrase he used.
– This is what Senator Symon said the other day when he was speaking on this very question.
I am not going to stigmatize it in any way, but I hope it will be repealed. I am dealing with the difficulties created by this extraordinary and absurd - I was going to say disloyal, but I hardly like to use that term - I will say “imprudent” provision introduced into the Postal Act.
I am now going to quote from what I am sure some of my honorable friends would think was from a speech delivered by a labour member, but it is from a speech delivered by Senator Symon in the Senate in November 1901, in which he advocated not a white Australia, but a British Australia, so that he would exclude even white foreigners.
– Was be electioneering 1
– No; that charge is only made against the members of the Government by the f ree-trade party when they have nothing else to talk about. This is what he said -
We are nearly all of us agreed that Australia is peculiarly fitted to be the home of the British race. Speaking generally, we are agreed that if it is possible we should make Australia the resort and home of ourselves, of our children, and of all of the same blood who choose to come here, especially I would say of all of the same blood.
That statement was made by an honorable and learned, senator who would not support the exclusion of the coloured men from the mail boats, but would exclude Germans and Frenchmen from Australia. My honorable friends in the labour corner do not go so far as he does, I am sure. He further said -
I am, and always have been, an advocate of keeping Australia - I would not limit it to Australians only - for those of British blood so far as we possibly can.
He does not say anything about British subjects there, but men of British blood like ourselves. It will be recollected that in 1 896 a conference of the political and permanent heads of the six colonies of Australia and of New Zealand was held in Sydney, and from their report I propose to read an extract to show that the Government were quite warranted in taking up the attitude which they have done, and in inserting the provision excluding coloured aliens in the Post and Telegraph Act. It reads as follows : - “ This conference, having considered the reply of the London office to the stipulation of the Hobart conference with regard to the manning of the mail boats by white instead of coloured labour, recognises fully the force of the reason given by the Imperial Government .against insisting on the exclusion of coloured labour, vi-/,. , the necessity of discriminating between various classes of British subjects; but, in reply, would “respectfully point out that by some steamship companies the labour of the contributing colonies is excluded from employment, and an invidious preference given to the labour of countries whicli do not contribute to the maintenance’ of the service. Ivo injustice would thus be done by the stipulation that the labour of the countries subsidizing the service only should be employed. And’, therefore, this conference is of opinion that the mails to and from Australia and Great Britain should be carried by ships manned with white crews only.
That resolution was telegraphed to London ; a reply came back from the Postmaster.General, and then the president of the conference sent this telegram to London -
Much regret you decline to do anything re coloured labour. We are not in a position to call for tenders on our own account, and are therefore compelled to accede to your proposal.
This pronouncement on behalf of all the colonies should be listened to, especially as it was made so long back as 1896. I propose now to say a few words on a subject which will interest- Senators Pearce, De Largie, and Staniforth Smith. It may be called the alleged “transcontinental” railway. It is not a transcontinental railway ; it is only a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. Before the colonies federated, Sir John Forrest gave the estimate of the cost of construction as £2,500,000 ; a few months later he raised the amount to £3,000,000 ; it is now stated at£5,000,000, and, no doubt, in a year or two it will be given as £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. At the present time the estimate is i” 5,000,000 if water can be found, and £6,200,000 if it cannot be found.
– I think that my honorable friend will find that my statement is correct when he refers to the report from which he quoted the other night. He then put the case for the construction of this railway very nicely and mildly, and did not ask us to commit our-‘ selves to anything until a trial survey had been made. The first step which the Government should have taken before a shilling was spent, if they were going to do anything in this matter, was to get.the legislative consent of South Australia. The Minister for Home Affairs has had a number of gentlemen traversing a part of the route, and he proposes to have a survey made’. How does he know that South Australia will agree to a survey being made? If I recollect aright, the Commonwealth cannotconstruct, or make a yard of railway in any State without the consent of that Stategiven in the shape of an Act of Parliament.
– South Australia may wish to know what the cost will be before she gives her consent.
– Then let South Australia ascertain the cost. I object to any money being spent on this scheme, although. I may be called unfederal, unpatriotic,. . and narrow-minded. AVe are told that thisrailway will serve a national purpose:. that is the ground on which we areasked to assent to its construction. Senator Pearce told us that if it is built,, the English mails will reach Melbournetwo days sooner than they now do. If theproject comes before the Senate at a laterstage, and the details are gone into, I shall show that it cannot possibly be so. Arewe to spend several million pounds of the taxpayers’ money merely to land the English mails here two days sooner than at present? Surely that is no great reason to justify this expenditure. I heard an honorable senator - I think it was Senator O’Keefe - interject that the railway would be a firstrate thing in case of war. Of w Lat assistance would it be then 1 Senator Pearce has said that in Western Australia there are 62,000 men between the ages of 21 and 45 years. He will find, if he refersto the returns, that there are 70,000 men in that State between the ages of 20 and 50 years - men who could do some fighting for their country as citizen soldiers - and by the time this railway was built, there would be 100,000 men between those ages, supposing that its construction were begun to-morrow. Surely if 50,000 men were available they could repel any land force likely to be landed in. Western Australia, especially when we remember that 70,000 or 80,000 Boers kept 200,000 Britishers at bay, so to speak, for two years, and the attacking troops had only half the distance to travel.
– We shall not have an. ammunition factory in each State.
– That is quite true, but I suppose that a’ supply of ammunition will be provided. An enemy’s vessel would, have to bring her ammunition ; she would not manufacture her own supply, and weshould provide our own supply. ‘ lt- is quite clear to me that this line is not required for defence purposes, so far as a land force is concerned.. It could not be used, I think, in the case of the bombardment of Fremantle. It would be of no service in that respect. You could not take guns and put them into the forts when the action began. 1 1 would not be a bit of good to Western Australia. She would be able to defend herself against
Aiiy land force. The true defence for that State is good batteries, with good guns ‘in them.
– Does the honorable senator put his opinion against that of military experts?
– No, I am only expressing my opinion as a layman. But that is how the matter affects my mind, and I happen to have a vote in this Senate.
– The military expertssay the railway will be of value.
– I shall read what they say with a great deal of interest, but it seems to me that the only point that they have put forth up to the present is with reference to a naval attack, and a rail- way would not assist in meeting that. I shall be told that I am very unfederal in opposing the construction of the railway. But I am going to show that it is the men who support the line who are really unfederal. Who gave us the overland telegraph line? South Australia, with only 200,000 people, showed the way. South Australia now has 580 miles of railway north of Port Augusta, paid for out of her own pocket. She has altogether 840 miles of railway from Adelaide in the direction of Port Augusta paid for out of her own pocket.
– The honorable senator means owed for.
– Paid for out of the Britisher’s pocket.
– Of course, paid for out of borrowed money, as this Western Australian railway will be if it is built at all. No matter when it is built, it will be paid for out of borrowed money. I am only pointing out how unfair it would be to do damage to South Australia. She is at present building a harbor at a cost of half-a- mill ion of money to accommodate ships that come to her shores. This expenditure has been incurred - millions of money over the railway, and another halfmillion for shipping accommodation - and the whole of it is to be thrown aside for the sake of this so-called transcontinental line. Then we are going to add insult to injury by asking South Australia - if the line is to be paid for on a population basis - to pay nearly £500,000 to ruin herself.
– That would be her share on a population basis, for she has about one-tenth of the total population. She is to be asked to pay £500,000 for a railway that will postpone the completion of her own north and south transcontinental railway indefinitely. If the railway now running to Oodnadatta was completed to Port Darwin, it -would be possible to run a train from Adelaide to Port Darwin, so as to bring the English mails to the Eastern States in about eight or ten days less time than is now the case. We could connect Port Darwin with the trans-Siberian railway by steam-ships, and We conld then save quite eight or ten days in our European mail service.
– Does the honorable senator think that Western Australia should build the line herself and still keep so large a proportion of Victoria’s population as she does now?
– My honorable friend, Senator Smith, told the people in the North-eastern district of Victoria, some time ago, that four out of every six men in Western Australia were Victorians. According to that statement Western Australia is merely a dependenc)’ of Victoria. What would become of Western Australia if you took the Victorians away ? There would be no Western Australia left - no one to fight for.
– Our State is Victoria’s milch cow.
– I thought when I heard that statement, that the honorable senator had made a good point in favour of Victoria.
– Victorians are making Western Australia.
– There is another matter - that of the federal capital. I do not think I should have said anything about it, except that I interjected while Senator Millen was speaking on the subject. I only wish to explain that the Commonwealth Bill of 1898, framed by the Convention, was rejected by New South Wales ; then another Bill was framed by the Premiers of the six States, who had no mandate from the people, and no mandate from their respective Parliaments.
– But the people condoned their offence.
– The Bill was placed” before the people of Australia, and it was accepted by them. The people had to accept the whole of it or none. I suppose that the great bulk of the people preferred to accept it, even with that blot upon it - and it was a blot. This Parliament should have been allowed to decide where the capital was to be. But it is in the bargain that the capital shall be in New South Wales, and no one wants to get off from that bargain so far as I am aware. All I have to urge is that it shall remain in abeyance until such time as we have a greater population, so that there may be more people to bear the money loss which will be entailed in building this bush capital. Senator Pulsford this afternoon cried aloud about the grain duties, which, he said, had imposed taxation of about £500,000 upon the people for one year. Suppose it is true that those duties increased the price of grain to the consumer by £500,000 for one. year. Senator Pulsford is in favour of the erection of the federal capital, which would compel the spending of £500,000 every year for many years - and this for the erection of a town which is not required. Five hundred thousand pounds, according to Senator Pulsford, is too much to be paid upon grain in one year, although the money goes into the Treasury; but £500,000 per annum is not too much to spend upon a capital that is not required at all ! Last session many of my honorable friends opposite and myself were at one in refusing to sanction the expenditure of borrowed money on additions to post and telegraph offices throughout the Commonwealth. That resolution was a good one.
– But this is a great national work.
– It would be a great national blunder. The capital is not required for legislative, administrative, industrial, or defence purposes, and I hope to goodness that Parliament will not go any further than talk about it. It is in the Constitution that the capital shall be in New South Wales. That is a bargain. But there is something else in the Constitution - that the seat of government shall in th meanwhile be in Melbourne. It is only a question as to howlong. What is a fair and reasonable thing, seeing that the people of Victoria have spent £ 50,000 upon a new Parliament House, handing over this building to the Federal Parliament; that they have leased a new residence for the State Governor and handed over the large mansion, on St. Kilda-road to the Governor-General and that they have incurred lots of other expenses? Surely every fair-minded man will say that we should not “ up stick and away”’ directly after Victoria has done all this.. We have been told that New South Wales, came into the Federation on account of this provision in the Constitution. I do notthink so poorly of the people of that Stateas to believe that a matter like that would have brought them in. What induced them more than anything else to enter into the Federation was the prospect of Inter-State free-trade, which was something worth trying for. 1 1 was not for the sake of a few buildings being stuck somewhere in the back blocks that they came in. As a matter of fact, their own Premier is opposed to the building of the federal capital. He has spoken out and said - “ I prefer that, as a. matter of course, the capital should be in Sydney, but, failing that, it should be in Melbourne.” I understand that kind of talk. Sir John See has spoken like a shrewd, level-headed, business man. He would prefer to see the capital site question remain unsettled rather than spend some millions of money in the backblocks of New South Wales on works that are not required, and which will be a burden on the people for all time, whilst not increasing the wealth of Australia by a single pound, nor adding to the population of the Commonwealth by a single person. If the capital is erected it will simply be filled with people who will leave other parts of the Commonwealth togo and live there. They may as well remain in the States where they live at present as go there to make new homes.
– Is the honorable senator going back on the promises, he made at Bombala and elsewhere ?
– I was not there. I had more discretion than to go trotting round there when it was raining hard. When I was at Orange I asked some people how much they thought we should have’ to pay if the capital were fixed at that place. One man to whom I spoke said, “ 04 not much !” I said “What do you call ‘much’?” He said, “ Oh, £3,000,000 !- You can buy the whole town and enough land for the capital for about £3,000,000.”
– Did you not say the capital was going to be in the bush?
– Yes ; and Orange is in the bush. It is about 200 miles from Sydney. If I remember rightly it is a bush town. I am aware that there are some honorable senators who do not know what the word “ bush “ means. It is culled “ in the country “ nowadays. It used to be called “in the bush” when I was a boy. I have to refer to one other item, and then I have done. I allude to the proposed establishment of the High Court. I know no more about the subject than any other honorable senator knows, but my opinion is that the High Court is not required, because we are over-judged now. Victoria has six Supreme Court Judges. Sir Hartley Williams is about to retire on his pension, mid the Government are not going to replace him. It is found that Victoria does not require six Judges. I doubt whether she wants- five. We are very much over-judged, and it seems to me as a layman that the Supreme Courts of Australia could furnish a Bench when required at any time. All .that has to be done is to give these men some little consideration for their extra work and to let them decide any question that arises, giving them the full powers of the Federal High Court. That would be a sensible thing to do. I am sorry that I shall have to oppose the Government in so many of these little matters. Of course we know that we who oppose them in the Senate cannot turn them out. We may damage them a little, but we cannot displace them. I certainly have no desire to displace the Barton Government. But, at the same time, I am not going slavishly to follow the Barton, or any other Government, in every detail.
– But the honorable senator is going to knock out- nearly all their policy?
– I have only dealt with three or four of the smaller items. The High Court is one that will entail an outlay of £30,000 oi £40,000 a year.
– More like £60,000.
– If it is not required 60s. would be too much. If it is required let us pay the men well and properly.
– What will it cost if we pay the State Judges to do the work ?
– We might have to distribute two or three thousand pounds a year amongst them for hearing half-a-dozen cases t
It is a singular thing how unanimous the lawyers are in this matter. I should be sorry to insinuate that they are so eager because they see the prospect of more work to do ; but they seem to have a weakness in the direction of the manufacture of more courts. They say that there may be adispute at any time between two States. Well, there has been a difference of opinion between South Australia and Victoria ever since! can recollect about a slip of country about 2 miles wide On the border between the two States. But there has been no quarrel about it.
– But they had no jurisdiction in each other’s territory.
– There was such a’thing as an appeal to the Privy Council if they had desired to appeal to it, but they have not done so. Those who have had the destinies of Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales in their keeping ‘for a generation, have never come to any serious disagreement about these matters, and I do not think that anything more serious is likely to arise between the people of the different States. They have all sprung from the British race, which is noted for its level-headedness. Napoleon described the British as a nation of shopkeepers, because they always look to see which side will pay best. There is no magnificent sentimentality about them, although, of course, there may be a little when they are on the stump at election time. I hope that the Government will not feel alarmed when I say that I am going to vote against all the measures that I have named. My vote will not do them very much damage, but I am not quite sure that they will get some of these matters through.
– During the debate on the address in reply, there has been a great deal, of discussion with regard to the administration of Acts passed last session. It is not my intention to touch on any of those matters. I think that they have been very well discussed, and that the discussion has to a certain extent obscured some of the very important matters which we are asked to legislate upon during the present session. I think that some of the subjects are of such magnitude, and will be so far reaching in their effect, that even in the debate on the address in reply very considerable discussion is required in order that we ma)’ form opinions and arrive at a decision in regard to them. The measures that we shall have to deal with this session are so numerous, and so important, that I am certain it will be quite impossible for us to do adequate justice to all of them during the five months at our disposal. Instead of endeavouring to make amendsfor their failure to call Parliament together at an earlier date, the Government are accentuating the difficulties under which we labour, by asking us to sit only two and ahalf days a week. They ask us to meet practically for only eighteen or nineteen hours a week, although many of the important measures we are promised are of a very urgent nature.
– That is for the commencement of the session.
– It is just as necessary that we should sit four days a week at the commencement of the session as that we should do so towards the close of the session. If all the measures outlined in the Governor-General’s speech are to be legislated upon, there is danger of an endeavour being made to rush them through at the end of the session. Measures of such importance should not in any circumstances be rushed through. I can see no reason why such important measures as the Defence Bill and the Judiciary Bill should not be introduced right away. If the Defence Bill were introduced here, as it could be, and the Judiciary Bill introduced in another place, both could be discussed and dealt with without delay. Instead of that the
Government propose that the Senate shall sit for two days and a half each week dis- cussing trivial matters such as the standing orders and a Patents Bill, and practically marking time while waiting for another place. Why have we to wait for another place to deal with these measures ? Simply because of the personal feeling of certain Ministers who desire to introduce their own Bills. The Senate is to be placed in a false position, and the whole business of the Commonwealth is to be delayed and interrupted because certain Ministers, from personal feelings, wish to introduce their own measures. I notice that two measures to which prominence was given last session, are not mentioned in any way in the Governor-General’s speech. We had a committee appointed last session to report on the question of decimal coinage. That Committee held a great many sittings, called a number of witnesses arid furnished “a very voluminous and excellent report. The Government, however, have evidently dropped the whole matter and do not intend to deal with it in any way this session.
– Does the honorable senator wish us to deal this session with that matter as well as with all the other Bills mentioned in the Governor-General’s speech?
– I was going to say that we should at the earliest opportunity substitute a decimal system of coinage for the archaic and obsolete methods at present in use. We shall not have sufficient time to discuss such a question this session ; but I hope that the Government, if they happen to be in office next session - which is hardly probable - will bring in a measure to deal with it. Another matter to which no reference is made in the Governor-General’s speech, is the question of old - age pensions. I believe that more than half of the members elected to this Parliament pledged themselves when on the hustings to support that necessary provision. They waxed very eloquent on the sufferings of aged people who had borne the heat and burden of the day, and who, when they had reached oldage, were left to penury and starvation. They gained much applause, and no doubt not a few votes, in consequence of their utterances on this question, but now the Government have dropped it. * There is no mention of it in the Governor-General’s speech, and honorable senators generally by a tacit accord have agreed not to mention the matter at all. We are told now that the cost of maintaining a system of old-age pensions would be so enormous that it is impossible to introduce a measure providing for it during the period covered by the “ Braddon blot.”
– Who is the honorable senator referring to %
– Not to the Government’s utterances, because they veil them in such a way that they commit themselves to absolutely nothing if they can help it. But there can be no doubt that the Government have dropped the proposal for an Old-age Pensions Bill.
– In the first GovernorGeneral’s speech that matter was made subject to the financial condition qf the Commonwealth.
– The “ Braddon blot,” as it is called, is the excuse now put forward by the Government for shelving this matter. It is an excuse which they use to shield themselves from many attacks for sins of omission and commission. It is given as a reason for many broken promises on the part of the Government, and, in fact, it seems to me to be a very great source of comfort to them. It is like the little boy’s definition of a lie - “a very present help in time of trouble.” We are told that during the operation of the Braddou section it would be impossible to bring in a measure providing for oldage pensions - which would probably cost £1,000,000 - because it would be necessary to raise £4,000,000 in order to make the requisite provision. But I would ask honorable senators to consider seriously whether that would be necessary. Last year, in addition to the three-fourths of the revenue which the Braddon section insists shall be returned to the various States, we banded over a surplus of £800,000.
– I think the honorable senator wished, the other day, to use that surplus for post-offices.
– If the Government are not going to use it for this work it might as well be put to some other useful purpose. It is estimated that the surplus for the present financial year will amount to £1,200,000 - that that sum will be handed back to the States over and above what they are entitled to receive under the Braddon section.
– And they want it.
– They are entitled to the whole.
– It is not necessary that we should raise an additional £4,000,000 per annum in order to provide for old-age pensions. It is quite possible to institute a scheme and to pay for it without any additional taxation. The replv, of course, is that to do so would be to starve the revenue of the various States, and perhaps to leave some of them in an unfinancial position. I do not believe in money being raised through the Customs, except on articles of luxury and ostentation, and such things as spirits and narcotics ; but, in my desire to redeem my promises on the hustings, I should be willing to vote for a duty on tea and kerosene imposed for the specific purpose of providing for old-age pensions. That would bring in £500,000 a year. I have already said that it is estimated that we shall have a surplus of £1,200,000 for the present year, and that couli be utilized.
– Would not direct taxation -be better ?
– Both the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition have said that they are opposed to direct taxation, and, therefore, it is not now within the range of practical discussion. The cost of establishing a federal system of old-age pensions is estimated at £1,000,000, but it must be borne in mind that the ‘ people of New South Wales and “Victoria have recognised their responsibilities and have instituted schemes of their own. They constitute two-thirds of the people of Australia, and thus the extra cost to Australia of an old-age pension scheme would be onethird of the. total sum, or about £330,000. If honorable members of this Parliament are going to redeem the pledges which they made on the hustings, they should endeavour to institute this scheme which the majority of them promised.
– We did not promise it, although the honorable senator may have done so.
– The majority of honorable members of both Houses pledged, themselves to it.
– My suggestion for a Government tobacco monopoly would provide the requisite funds.
– There are many means of providing the money if the Government were desirous of initiating the system. There are two measures outlined in the Governor-General’s speech which are of special importance, because they not only affect the Commonwealth, but are of Imperial concern. I refer to the Naval Defence Bill and to a measure relating to preferential duties. These measures are of immense importance, because they practically essay to lay the foundation of an Imperial or Pan-Britannic Kriegsverein and, an Imperial Zollverein. They demand very wide and very careful consideration. Proposals in regard to preferential trade, however, are not likely to be discussed this session, and therefore they warrant nothing more than passing comment. At the present time the British Ministers are undoubtedly coquetting with protection. I think thatGreat Britain would make a fatal mistake if she abandoned the policy which has been the chief factor in her magnificent expansion, and ever increasing wealth and power, and
I sincerely hope that Australia, at the next election, will return a Parliament pledged to a revenue Tariff which is the stepping stone to a proper free-trade policy. In the event of Great Britain declaring herself in favour of preferential trade with the colonies, and in the event of Australia deciding to continue a protectionist policy, it would be well worth considering, as a choice of two evils, whether it would not be in the interests of the people of Australia to fix lower duties in respect of British goods than those relating to foreign articles in order to obtain a corresponding advantage. In any event the matter is worthy of consideration. I sincerely hope that Australia will return to free-trade, and that Great Britain will not alter the course that has so greatly enhanced her prosperity. With regard to the naval subsidy, I am convinced that if the present proposals of the Government are carried out, they are bound to prove unsatisfactory, and can only be of a tentative character. They are opposed, certainly to the desires and intentions of the people of Australia. The people of Australia do not wish to be dragged into the vortex of militarism, nor to pay large sums of money for other people to protect us. They do not desire to hand over considerable sums of money to be spent by a Parliament over which they have no control. We have in Australia an army for local defence which I think is efficient, and which has.acquitted itself well in other parts of the world. Is there any reason why we should not have a fleet of our own for local defence 1 The people of Australia will never take any real interest in naval affairs until they have a navy of their own, manned by Australians. The only way in which Australians can be induced to take an interest in naval matters is to have ‘ a fleet of their own manned by Australian people, and that is what we should do if we desire to follow in the footsteps, of Great Britain in connexion with our naval policy. lEe have for ten years past been paying a subsidy aggregating over £1,000,000 sterling, and, so far, we have not had a single Australian trained in the fleet. It is impossible for us not to recognise the tremendous advantage which Australia possesses in being under the lens of the British Navy, lt is the most powerful navy in the world, and it is a very great advantage to Australia to have its protection ; but it will be time enough for us to talk of contributing to that navy when GreatBritain allows us, and Australia decides toaccept, a voice in its control. In the meantime, it is better for us to establish a navy of our own for local defence, which will save us from the incursions of hostilecruisers which might do an immense amount, of injury. In Canada, Sir Wilfred Laurier, a very able and patriotic statesman, has seen that it would be impossible for the Canadian people to contribute sums of money to Deallocated and spent by the Imperial Parliament, and for other people, to defend their coastal interests. He stated plainly,, as I think Sir Edmund Barton should havedone, that Canada could not approve thedesire set forth by Mr. Chamberlain. Tlieperusal of the kaleidoscopic opinions given by naval experts on the subject before us is bewildering to the mind of a layman. Upto a few years ago the Admiralty was. unanimously in favour of an Australian navy - a local fleet. Sir William Jervoisin 1S79 wrote a minute to that effect. SirPeter Scratchley, who had been sent outhere to report upon -the defences of Australia, wrote to the same effect in 1881.. In 1885 the British Admiralty instructed Admiral Tryon to put forward a proposal on their behalf that the Australian colonies should purchase a fleet of theirown in order to provide sufficient protection for the large floating trade in Australian waters. It was thus announced,, on behalf of the British Admiralty in 1885, that it was necessary in the interests of Australia and of the Empire, that Australia should purchase and own a fleet. Admiral Tryon advocated anaval sea-going force localized to the Australian seas, a force additional to that of the personnel and materiel of the fleet of the Empire provided - for by the Parliament in London. Sir Henry Holland, in speaking of the clause of the agreementin which it was provided that the squadron should always remain in Australian waters, said -
The Imperial Government has now given thisundertaking, and we consider that the mereknowledge of this fact - that is, that the fleet must remain in Australian waters - will distinctly reduce the risks of attempted aggression in Australian waters.
Instead of purchasing a fleet the colonial. Premiers agreed to an annual payment of: 5 per cent, on the cost of the squadron, and in 1887 an agreement was come to on those lines. The squadron was to consist of five vessels of the Archer type, and two torpedo boats. That is the agreement which is still in force. It was ‘suggested by the British Admiralty and laid before the colonial Premiers by Admiral Tryon, and will remain in force until 1905. Now we are told by naval authorities and by voluminous press writers that the very scheme instituted by the British Admiralty means “a short-sighted craze for local defence,” and “ a foolish doctrine.”
– And the ships are now obsolete.
– The bargain that we made with the British was not carried out. Guns of the calibre for which we stipulated were not put into the vessels. The whole agreement has been a very, lop-sided one, and it has not been ti good one from an Australian point of view, because the vessels are not effective against modern armed cruisers of great speed with very heavy guns.
– That would always happen.
– The fleet for which we are at present contributing a subsidy is admitted to be practically a farce. It is well worth our while to note that whilst all the naval authorities in Great Britain have turned a complete somersault, and now state that it is a foolish absurdity for us to talk of having a navy for Australian defence, they adopt a different principle with regard to Great Britain. They have a Channel squadron, a Home squadron, and they are now instituting a North Sea squadron, whilst they have in addition armed cruisers which are not allowed to go more than 70 miles from the coast in the South of England. Let us suppose that the British Prime Minister, or ths naval authorities, sent these fleets in time of war to some foreign place on an aggressive expedition and left the British coast bare, do honorable senators think that any British Ministry who consented to such a thing would last a week ? Such a. course of action would be abhorrent to the British people. Yet the Admiralty, whilst recognizing the necessity for having a fleet, or several fleets, continually patrolling the shores of Great Britain refer to it as being absolutely unnecessary, foolish, and a “shortsighted craze for local defence” when we 2 d 2 propose the same protection for Australia. How can these statements be reconciled ? Fifteen years ago they advocated that we should take steps in the direction of having an .Australian fleet, and now they say .that that is all wrong, though in the case of Great Britain they still insist upon coastal defence by special fleets, which are not allowed to leave the coast. In 1905 the existing naval agreement will come to an end, and I think it is far better, and far more in the interests of Australia and of the Empire, that the Australian people, if they cannot purchase them, should hire four or five fast armed cruisers from Great Britain. According to Captain Cresswell, such vessels of 2,000 or 3,000 tons, with heavy ordnance, could be got for about £150,000 each.
– That would cost a lot more money.
– The existing agreement does not come to an end till 1905, and it is proposed to increase the subsidy. If the proposal to increase the subsidy were not agreed to, possibly some money might be. put by towards the purchase of cruisers.
– They would be obsolete in a few years - that is the trouble.
– It seems always to be laid down as an axiom by opponents of an Australian navy, that Australian boats would become obsolete in a few years ; whereas everyone knows that the boats of other navies do no become obsolete in fifteen years.
– The Archer type is obsolete now.
– “What about the Protector ?
– She is obsolete now.
-She has been reported upon as being seaworthy and up to date for particular work, and she is I think nineteen years old. If we had four or five swift armed cruisers Australians would take an interest in naval affairs. But under present conditions when they know that they have to hand over a certain amount of money to another Parliament to spend, and have to pay other people to defend -them the Australian people do not, and will not take any interest in naval matters. I say that it is in the interests of
Australia and all concerned that the Australian Parliament should adopt a policy which Australians can approve instead of adopting a tentative policy which can only be a source of discord and ill-will.
– We shall be getting men trained in the meantime.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Several honorable senators have spoken with regard to the construction of the transcontinental railway, and those who have spoken against the project have shown such an utter want of grasp of the large’ principles which underlie that question that it is necessary for me to very shortly state the facts of the case. It is admitted by all people, I think, that Western Australia came into the Federation in the belief that the result of the union would be the construction of the transcontinental line. I would go further than that, and say that that belief was justified. If we had not the actual promise, we had the implied promise of nearly all the leading statesmen of Australia, of those who took part in the various conferences and conventions, that it would be built if we entered the union. We also had the assurance of the leading statesmen of South Australia, some of whom are now the very ones who are the most bitter in their opposition.
– Who are they?
– Mr. Solomon is one of them. Writing to Sir John Forrest, Mr. Kingston said -
Replying to your letter of 22nd inst., South Australia has already intimated favour of federal undertaking of railway connecting east and west..
In a further communication he said -
The federal construction of this railway is, in our opinion, entirely the best means of carrying out this great Australian undertaking.
– Was not that written ten years ago?
– It does not matter if it was written ten years ago or only yesterday ; the principles are exactly the same now as they were then. It was written, before the referendum was taken, by the Premier of South Australia to the Premier of Western Australia, and in that letter Mr. Kingston conveyed the opinion to his Cabinet.
– Does the honorable senator say that Western Australia entered the Federation on the understanding that that’ project was to be carried out ?
– On the tacit understanding that it would be done. There was not a leader or any one else in Australia who said one word against the project, although it was largely discussed before the federal referendum was taken.
-If that is so, the people of Western Australia are’ a most selfish people, because they have a five years ‘ Tariff of their own.
– That Tariff was made, not by Western Australia, but by Sir John Forrest, a member of the Commonwealth Government.
– But still that was the only term of the bargain.
SenatorSTANIFORTH SMITH. - There was this implied contract - thatthetranscontinental railway would be built. Continuing, Mr. Kingston, in his letter to Sir John Forrest, said -
We hope it will not be long before Western Australia and South Australia are co-operating in the Parliament of the Commonwealth to bring this about.
When Mr. Holder was Premier of South Australia he gave a promise to the same effect. If there had been any doubt in the minds of the people of Western Australia that this railway would be built, a very different vote would have been given, and that is recognised by the Commonwealth Government. What do they say in the ‘ first Governor-General’s speech which was addressed to this Parliament ?
Isolation was the chief obstacle to the earlier adoption of the Federal Constitution by Western Australia, until the hope of closer connexion influenced the people or the West to risk the threatened perils of the threatened political union of the continent, which their vote iit the referendum did much to complete.
There is an admission that we entered the Federation in the hope that that project would be carried out. If we want a true federation - a federation in spirit as well as in act- I ask honorable senators, Is it possible to consummate that federation when we have a portion of the people of Aus tralia living on the eastern littoral, and a portion of them living on the western littoral, divided by thousands of miles of uninhabited country ? At the present time it is just as difficult for us . to get to the eastern States as it is for us to get to India, or for the people of the eastern States to get to New Zealand.
– Does the honorable senator favour the floating of a loan of £5,000,000 to build that line ?
– I favour the construction of the line at whatever cost. Some persons aver that the ground dividing the west from the east is sandy waste desert, but it is nothing of the sort. They ask, Why is not the country inhabited 1 When you have 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 persons in a continent nearly the size of Europe, you cannot inhabit all the land, although a great deal of it is very good land.
– Is not the real question whether it is fit for habitation 1
– I shall endeavour to satisfy my critical friend even on that point. If we want a closer union, a truer federation, we must have that railway communication. There is too great a separation between the people of the east and’ the people of the west for them to generate that federal sentiment which should permeate us if we are to become a great nation. We want to increase the community of interest ; we want to facilitate trade and commerce, and draw the people more closely together so that we may feel that oneness which should be felt under a federal system. If we desire to make the Federation a success we ought to look at all these matters, not from a parochial stand-point, not from the standpoint of the various States, but from an Australian stand-point. I have heard speeches in the . Senate, and read the reports of speeches in the other House, the authors of which have undoubtedly shown a parochial feeling, not on this question only, but on many other questions, and I as a federalist have regretted it exceedingly. When a measure has been under discussion I could tell before certain members rose what their views were ; because it did not suit the State which they represented. There is too much of that feeling exhibited in the Senate and also in the. other House, and if it is to be continued then the Federation will not be the success which we hope and desire it shall be. Now, we have the selection o’f the federal capital site to consider. The federal capital will be of no benefit to Western Australia. The selection of a site will have to be made, I hope, this session. The Constitution says that the capital shall ultimately be in New South Wales, but it also says that for the present it shall be in Melbourne. The intention and the spirit of the Constitution is that we should use reasonable haste in selecting the site in New South Wales, but the Act does not insist upon our going there for the next one’ hundred years. Many honorable senators who have spoken have said - for instance, Senator Styles, who preceded me, said - “ There is no hurry for us to go there. The Act does not force us to go. Let us stay in Melbourne for the present.” The spirit of the Act, and the spirit of the federal contract, is that we should go to New South Wales with all reasonable haste - at any rate within ‘a few years from the present time. That was the intention of the Constitution which many honorable senators have endeavoured to flout. Although it would suit me better to stay in Melbourne, I intend to vote for the selection of the site, and I hope that it will be made this session. Again, take the question of the bounty on sugar grown with white labour. The question is asked by the Ministry - Are the people of Australia willing to contribute per capita in order to pay the rebate on sugar grown with white labour 1 Senator Symon said that if this is done, this bounty of a few thousand pounds will injure the federal feeling in South Australia. It will be an expense to Western Australia as well as to South Australia to substitute the bounty system for the present system, but I am prepared to say, on behalf of the people of Western Australia, that we are quite willing to bear our share of the burden imposed upon us as the result of obtaining a “ White Australia” policy. We have said to the people of Queensland - “ You shall not have coloured labour.” We have increased their cost of sugar production ; and as a compensation we have voted for a duty on sugar, and we have allowed them a rebate of £2 if their sugar is grown with white labour. We do not want a “ white” Australia only so long as it does not cost us anything, but we are quite willing to bear our share of any burden which is imposed upon us in order to attain that great end. There is, too, the question of communication with Tasmania. If the representatives of that State can show us that it is necessary in the federal interests, at a reasonable price, to improve that communication, I shall be perfectly willing to vote with them, because I recognise that we must look at these matters from an Australian point of view. Many honorable senators, not consciously, but unconsciously, are adopting a very parochial spirit in discussing these great questions which concern the interests of the Federation, and which should serve to draw people together in a true federal spirit. Let us look at the question of the transcontinental railway from another aspect. We are going to discuss at great length this session, our military and naval defences. This line is one of the most important factors in the defence of Australia. It forms a portion of the defence scheme which was the origin and basis, I believe, of the federal compact. Reporting in 1889 on the military forces and defences of Australia, Major-General Edwards said : -
No general defence of Australia can be undertaken unless distant parts are connected with the more populous colonies in the south and east of the continent. . . . If an enemy were established in Western Australia you would be powerless to act against him. . . . The interests of the whole continent therefore demand that railways to connect Western Australia with other colonics should be made as soon as possible. . . . If an enemy were established in either Western Australia or Port Darwin you would be powerless to act against him. Their isolation is therefore a menace to the rest of Australia.
In his report on the defences of Australia Major-General Sir Bevan Edwards said -
It is hoped that the contemplated extension of the railway communication between South Australia and Western Australia may be accomplished at an early date, as without such extension Western Australia is always liable to isolation in time of war.
These are the opinions of competent military men who have been reporting on the defence of Australia, and they both state that it is absolutely necessary in the interests of defence that the States should be connected by railway communication. We are talking of spending £200,000 a year on the navy and about £600,000 a year on the military defences ; and surely it is just as well to consider that point of view as one factor in the necessity for constructing the line. We have heard a great deal about the sterility of the country through which this line will pass from people who have never been over it, who know nothing about it, and who have not taken the trouble to read the reports of the experts. Honorable senators who have spoken against this scheme have been, I cannot say eloquent, but at any rate voluble, ‘ when they have come to the question of the sterility of the route. They speak of sandy wastes, of desert country, of the awful work of constructing the line through such a fearful, treeless, waterless waste as that part of Western Australia is. They seem to be especially voluble when speaking about something about which they do not know much. They are somewhat like Mark Twain, who once said that if he had to deliver a lecture, and was allowed to choose his own subject, he would choose astronomy, because he knew nothing about it, and there was more room for the exercise of his imagination. We have the report of a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, Mr. Muir, who has been through Western Australia : who has been over every inch of the country to be traversed by the line, and has reported fully upon it. He knows what the country is like between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta which this proposed railway will cross. He says : -
For the first 100 miles from Kalgoorlie we passed through a salmon-gum forest. The timber is good aud plentiful, and suitable for mining purposes. It would be impossible for me to approximate the width of this forest, but it certainly cannot be less than 50 miles wide, and, for all I know to the contrary, it may be considerably more.
Then he says -
To the north, near the 31st parallel of latitude, the country is more open. In fact, from the South Australian border for 250 miles in a westerly direction, it is one large open plain of limestone formation, fairly well grassed throughout.
So that from the South Australian border for 250 miles towards Kalgoorlie we have open rolling downs and well grassed country. Then Mr. Muir makes this statement : -
Taken as a whole, this stretch of country is one of the finest I have seen . in Australia. With water - which doubtless could be obtained if properly prospected for - it is admirably adapted for grazing purposes, and will, without doubt, be taken up some clay from end to end.
Here is a report from a. man, who states, unless he is telling a deliberate untruth, that .the country is splendid pastoral country, well grassed, and, in fact, some of the best country he has seen in Australia. He tells us that there are some 10,000,000 acres of well-grassed country. There is no surface water, and that has led some people astray. The rainfall is fair, but the ground is of such’ a loose and friable character that the water sinks right through it.
– That is only 250 miles out of 1,200.
– But in that 250 miles you have practically gone half the distance, so far as concerns the Western Australian portion of the line. More than half of it is in South Australia. Mr. Muir goes on to say -
Apart from the facilities that would be afforded to railway construction, and the maintenance of the railway service when completed, by artesian water being struck on this waterless tract of country, it would be of incalculable profit to the State in another direction. At present there are millions of acres of splendid pastoral land lying idle in this portion of the State, solely because water has not been conserved. Once let it be known that artesian water has been discovered, and what is now nothing better than a waste would be transformed, in a very short space of time, into one -of the most important stock -raising centres in our State.
Then he goes on, with regard to the cost of -construction -
The construction works for the railway will be very light, and will be, practically, the laying down of a surface line for the whole length between Kalgoorlie and the border.
That is another very important point. With regard to the question of artesian water, Mr. Muir admits that what we require is an artesian supply. He points out that if we had artesian water this country would hold a very large population. Now Mr. Gibbs Maitland, who has been a Government geologist in various States of Australia, and who has the reputation of being a thoroughly sound man, has reported upon this matter, and states that the whole of the ground from the South Australian border to within 100 miles of Kalgoorlie is artesian or sub-artesian in character. I was speaking some time ago to Professor Gregory, of the Melbourne University, who is probably one of the best geologists who ever came to Australia. He has made a special study of the -artesian water supplies of Australia, and he told me that there was no doubt in his mind that the whole of the country between the South Australia border and Kalgoorlie was artesian. These two reports are worthy of all the credence we can give to them. We have had boring operations carried on at Madura on the Great Australian Bight by a party who went 60 miles inland, and they struck; stock water at a comparatively low depth, and plenty of it. Near the coast on the South Australian side, they have been boring and have found water along the stock route.
– Suppose you have artesian wells, but no grass - you could not feed the stock.
– But we ha ve plenty of grass there, as I have already shown.. We have a very fair rainfall, but the
Water sinks into the ground. There is no surface water. I have read from Mr. Muir’s report that for 250 miles he sawsome of the finest grass country he ever saw in Australia. We have also the report of the commission appointed by the Federal Government with regard to this scheme, and it is interesting as showing their view of the cost and of the probable revenue. The line via Tarcoola would be 1,100 miles long. The first cost of construction, to admit of highest speed, rails 70 lbs. to the yard, gauge 4ft. 84in., would be £4,305,956. The Eucla branch and wharf - which I do not know are necessary - would cost £165,000. Contingencies at 10 per cent, would come to £447,095 ; interest during construction, £172,132; total, £5,090, 1S3. We have had three estimates made - one by Mr. O’Connor, Engineer in Chief of Western Australian lines, one from Mr. Muir, and this one which I have just quoted, and which is the highest estimate given. Therefore we shall be right in saying that this sum is, at any rate, the maximum cost. But since then they have gone into the matter more fully, and have inspected various places. They have seen reason to reduce their estimated cost of construction. So that in any calculation which we make, or any consideration which we give to this matter, we can well say that the cost of the line will be under £5,000,000. Now, what about the revenue ? They say that the annual revenue will be £205,860 ; working expenses, and interest at 3£ per cent, would be £292,556, showing a loss at a start of £86,696 a year. That is the cost which we are asking Australia to incur foi” this federal railway. It is worth it, not only from the federal and military point of view, but also from the commercial aspect. The experts appointed by the Federal Government tell us that the cost at the very inception would be £86,000 a year, a loss less than the amount we are paying as a subsidy to get our European mails a little earlier. But there is an important point which I wish honorable senators to notice. They give an estimate of the revenue in ten years time. The)’ estimate that the revenue then will be £411,720; working expenses £210,000; interest, £17S,156 ; total, £388,156, showing a net profit at the end of ten years’ time of £23,564 a year.
– That is like Mark Twain’s lecture on astronomy !
– My honorable friend would take exception to the Decalogue if he takes exception to the reports of the leading engineers of the various States, who have gone very carefully into these matters.
– Talk of the exercise of the imagination !
– My honorable friend is the best exemplification we can have of that. There will also be a saving of two day’s in the mail service . consequent upon the opening-of this line. Then the telegraphic communication will be improved. The report states that the telegraph communication could be rendered more secure at small capital cost by making use of. the railway telegraph line. The effect both in South Australia and Western Australia will be the opening up of new tracts of country for mining and pastoral development and the improvement of the revenue on existing lines in South Australia. That is the view of the leading experts of the whole of the States. Then, it is clear that there must be a considerable traffic on this line. When we consider that it will affect a population of a quarter of a million of people on one side of the continent by bringing them into communication with three and a half millions of people on the other side, it is evident that there must be a considerable amount of traffic. It has generally been stated that this line will affect Western Australia principally ; but I contend that it will benefit South Australia and the other States far more than it will benefitWestern Australia. At the present time the richest gold-field in Australia is Kalgoorlie.
– No, Arltunga !
– That is richest in imagination only ! If the people of South Australia and the eastern States have direct communication with a place like Kalgoorlie, is not that of commercial advantage to them t What an advantage was it to South Australia to have railway communication to Broken Hill ! Would it not also be a benefit to them to have communication with 60,000 people on the gold-fields of Western Australia?
– Western Australia put up a Tariff against the other States.
– That will be all over by the time this railway is. constructed. If a gold-field like Kalgoorlie had broken out at Kimberley in the northwest of Western Australia, and situate 1,000 miles from Perth, the Government of that State would not have hesitated tobuild a line there because it would have been a payable commercial undertaking. And with these 60,000 people within a couple of days’ journey from Adelaide, there would be an immense traffic on the transcontinental line. There would be a traffic in live stock and goods apart altogether from the carriage of mails and passengers.
– I think the tradingwould be mutual, but the line would open up all the honorable senator’s beautiful land.
– I am glad that the honorable and learned senator admits that it is beautiful land. Light has gradually penetrated my honorable and learned friend’s mind in regard to this subject. Mr. Muir reports that a great deal of aurif erous country is passed through, and there is no reason why a very rich gold-field should not be found along the route.
– The honorable senator is altogether too hopeful.
– My honorable friend has had no experience of gold mining, and therefore he thinks that all the gold-fields in Australia have been discovered. He never made a greater mistake. There are probably more undiscovered gold-fields in Australia than have yet been found.
– But we generally find them before we build a railway to them.
– Kalgoorlie was notdiscovered when the line to Coolgardie wasbuilt.
– This is what Mr. O’Connor reports -
The railway from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide would be much . cheaper than by the sea route, estimating the railway fare at Id. per mile first classand six-tenths of a penny second class. The first class rail fare from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide would be £5 13s. 3d. , and by any of the ocean liners £10- ISs. ; by rail second class £3 8s., by boat £8 0s. 10d.
That estimate, of course, includes the boat fare and the rail up to the gold-field. Mi-. O’Connor’s report continues -
As the immigration from the eastern States toWestern Australia is mostly to the gold-fields, and :is this amounts to thousands a month, that in itself is an enormous revenue. The consumption of meat on the eastern gold-field at present averages 200 bullocks and about 2,000 sheep a week, and it is estimated that a large proportion of this would go by the overland railway. The railway freight on a bullock from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, in full truck loads at existing railway rates, would be £3 4s. 6d., while from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie by sea the cost would be £5 3s. (id. It is thus laid down that at the existing vailway rates it would be cheaper to send stock from the eastern States to the gold-fields by rail than by sea. As we obtain a large quantity of stock from the eastern States, it. must be seen that the line would earn a very large revenue in respect of freightage. I unhesitatingly assert that the Government should immediately have a survey of the line made and bring in a Bill for its construction as soon as possible. They are adopting a hesitating attitude in regard to the matter. They insert a paragraph relating to it in the Governor-General’s speech at the beginning of each session, and they g° to Western Australia and give glowing accounts of what they propose to do, but unless they do something definite before the next election there will not be much chance of a single representative from Western Australia supporting them. The Government, without committing themselves even in regard to the construction of the line, should at any rate have a survey made, and thus secure an accurate idea of the cost. They should also obtain the fullest particulars as to what the freightage would be. The matter should not be considered purely from a commercial point of view. The Commission, consisting of the leading engineers of each State appointed by the Government, have, said that there would be a loss of £80,000 a year at the start, but that that would be followed at the end of ten years by a profit of £23,000 per annum. Are the people of Australia willing to make a sacrifice to that extent in order to carry out defence recommendations made by the leading generals who have visited Australia and reported on the subject, and in order to bring the people of the east and west of Australia more closely together in their commercial relations. I repeat that the members of the Commonwealth Parliament should regard this matter from an Australian point of view. They should ask themselves - “Is it in the interest of Australia that this line should be built 1” I ask them only to do that, but I am afraid that unconsciously they regard matters of this kind merely from the point of view of their own State. They ask themselves the question - “ Will it benefit Victoria or New South Wales,” or some other State which they represent, and if it will not they vote against it, just as some of them say they will vote against the sugar bonus because it does not benefit’ their individual State. There are other matters which I propoesd to touch upon, but I have already taken up more time than I intended to occupy, and I shall defer my remarks on those subjects until the measures in question come up for discussion. - Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I did not intend to say anything this evening, but the constant reiteration of the word “ Customs “ this afternoon brought up a number of old memories, and made me feel inclined to say a word or two in defence of the Minister for Trade and Customs, if, indeed, that defence is necessary. Before I pass on to the matter of the Customs administration, I wish to say that I think that the arrangements made for the opening of Parliament were inadequate. I consider it a disgrace that the members of the Federal Ministry should have been compelled to stand in the passage leading to the chamber while the Governor-General’s speech was being read. As we number only 36, there should be ample room for us on the front benches, and the members of the House of Representatives might very well be invited on such occasions to take up the unoccupiedseats in this chamber. I do not see anything in such a course which would lower our dignity. On the contrary, I think it might add to our influence, and certainly it would bring about a much better feeling between the two Houses. To make honorable members of another place stand outside the chamber itself on such an occasion - as if this were a ground sacred tothe members of the Senate - is to make them appear like a lot of poor relations. They certainly cannot be regarded in that way. Like ourselves, they are representative men, and although, perhaps, on account of our larger constituencies we may- consider ourselves slightly more responsible to the people than they are, I venture to think that in their opinion they are equal to us in every respect. Although the matter is only a small one, it has certainly created some friction which might very well be remedied. As one has great scope in dealing with the. addressin reply, I wish also to refer to Hansard. I hope that during this session the proceedings of the Senate will be reported verbatim. I know that owing to the length of the last session, which extended over some seventeen mouths, there was certainly reason for curtailing the reports in view of the 16,000 pages or more over which they extended. But the present session will not last more than four or five months, and the Commonwealth can well afford to pay for the expense of a verbatim report. As for myself, I do not think that I receive fantreatment at the hands of the press, and therefore I look to Hansard to protect me. Some of my speeches have been described in the most opprobrious terms. It was said on one occasion that I inflicted on the Senate “ two hours of drivel.” Thus it will be seen that Hansard is my only protection against libels of the kind. I hope that the staff will be able to give us verbatim reports of our proceedings during the present session. “With regard to the Governor-General’s speech and the items therein, I take exception to Senator Dobson’s attitude on the question of conciliation and arbitration. The honorable and learned senator’s speech was a very eloquent one. If one were permitted to make extracts from it he would certainly find in it sentences expressing great sympathy with the working classes ; but if we take the honorable and learned senator’s conclusions on the question of arbitration it would hardly be ‘ possible to find a stronger opponent of those very working classes than he is.
– All I urged was that we should wait and see how the New South Wales and New Zealand Acts work.
– The honorable and learned senator referred to the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in New Zealand, and quoted one or two instances in which great dissatisfaction had been expressed by employers and by members of trade unions. Some one interjected at the time that it was possible to find defects in every Act of Parliament. Cases of hardship can be found in connexion with the administration of every Act, and if ever the honorable and learned senator’s Divorce Bill becomes law he will prove to be something more than human if it can be administered without being challenged. I have here the report of an interview published in the Melbourne Herald, with Sir Joseph Ward, a prominent member of the New Zealand Government.
In referring to New Zealand and its prosperous state, Mr. Ward had some remarks to make in connexion with conciliation and arbitration. . The following is an extract from the report -
How have you found the conciliation and arbitration courts work ? ‘ Very well indeed. Occasionally of course there is a little friction, but this is not any greater than is to be found in reference to the decisions of ordinary courts of law.”
Has there been any alteration whatever in reference to the constitution or methods of the conciliation and arbitration courts since the members of the Victorian Factories Commission visited New Zealand about twelve months ago ? “No alteration of any kind has been made in the law. It has worked very satisfactorily throughout the whole colony. ::
Mention is then made of the fact that Mr. Seddon had been reported as having spoken unfavorably in reference to a Supreme Court Judge presiding, and on that point Mr. Ward said - “ Yes. The way that arose was this : Some comment had been made bv- those who were affected by an award made by the court. Mr. Seddon then made the statement that it was undesirable that the judgment of a Supreme Court Judge should be criticised in a way that was not complimentary to the dignity of the Supreme Court Bench. But the Premier has made a specific statement since, that it is not contemplated to make any change. “
He proceeds - “ All I can say is that not only the workers, but some of the big industrial concerns in New Zealand express themselves strongly in favour of the existing system. Personally, I have, no doubt whatever that no change will be made as regards a Supreme Court Judge presiding. That is one of the strong points. The question is, what is the likeliest machine that will help to keep the peace between employer and worker ? I think we have the machine now, and I will be very interested to see how you get ulong in Victoria if the recommendations of .the commission are adopted. You can take it for granted that in New Zealand both sides went into the matter very deeply before any scheme was considered to be workable, and it is also certain that if there was any weak spot in the system of arbitration and conciliation courts it would have been discovered long ere this, and the courts would not get the support that they undoubtedly .do receive.”
There is the opinion of a prominent member of the New Zealand Government with regard to these arbitration courts, and if we except the one or two instances only in which dissatisfaction has been expressed, and consider the overwhelming balance in favour of the system of arbitration and conciliation in force in New Zealand, we must come to’ the conclusion that it would be a very good- thing for us in Australia to have something of the kind. While I am speaking about New Zealand, I should like to say that that country is one which has more labour legislation than any other Australian State.
– If not any other part of the world.
– “If not any other par.t of the world,” as my honorable friend says. Ever since the time of the late John Bal.lance labour legislation has been introduced ;and passed and added to in that State, and so far from having the result, which some good people in Victoria anticipate, of driving capital out of the country, the capital “invested in the country has been increased, the wages of the workers have been increased, and their hours of labour have been shortened. Touching the question of the naval defence of Australia, I shall briefly say that while I am very grateful to the Barton Administration for carrying out the wishes of the people as expressed in the return of members of both Houses, I think that if they go on as they have been doing during the last few months, they will get into serious trouble. I regard the agreement signed by Sir Edmund Barton as a great mistake.
– It was not signed
– It was signed subject to ratification by Parliament : but if Iremember rightly, Sir Edmund Barton gave the Parliament to understand that it would not be signed until Parliament was consulted.
– The right honorable gentleman was told to commit himself to nothing.
– However, I think a very great mistake was made. The Prime Minister of Australia should have taken the same stand as the Premier of Canada. Honorable senators may talk about the advantages we derive from the defence of these coasts by the mother country, but let us remember what was said by the late Chief Justice Higinbotham of Victoria - that any danger to Australia in time of war will arise from our connexion with the old country. We are in a position of splendid isolation, and though some honorable senators may say that it is a good bargain for us to agree to pay £200,000 increased subsidy, I personally think that it will be money thrown away. There is such a vast sum at present invested by English capitalists in Australia, and they derive such magnificent incomes from their investments, that they are not going in any way to neglect to defend that property.
– That is a patriotic argument.
– We are quite willing to defend ourselves ; but I take it that the public of the Commonwealth, if they understand the matter, are not willing to pay £200,000 as a tax to assist the War department of the old country. If we are to spend the money, let us spend it on a force of our own, and let us keep control of it. But to pay £200,000 as a subsidy for vessels which may be sent away from here at the very time when they may be wanted seems to me to be a foolish proceeding. At a later stage, when the matter comes up for discussion, I shall do my best to oppose the ratification of the proposed agreement. I should like honorable senators who are in- favour of this subsidy to say from whom they expect attack 1 Is there any particular nation on the face of the earth at the present time that they expect is going to attack Australia 1
– We cannot say these things in public, but we can imagine that if England said she would not protect us, we might have Australia taken possession of by some other power.
– Senator Playford fears attack if the other nations of the world get the impression that we are no longer under the aegis of the old country. The honorable senator must not forget that there are other people besides British people settling in this country. What about the Canadians, the Americans, the French, and the 100,000 Germans who have found homes in this country ?
– They would co-operate with the Fatherland.
– Certainly they would co-operate with the Fatherland, supposing Italy came here to attack us, an unheard-of thing - something which I think can only be inagined by somebody who has militarism on the brain. .1 feel satisfied, and the opinion is held by military experts whose names I shall give to the Senate later on, that our very isolation would prevent us from being attacked by any nation.
– We are not so very far distant from the- eastern countries.
– Another matter in connexion with which the Federal’ Government has made a mistake is that of the’ agreement with the Eastern Extension Cable Company. It is all very well for the Postmaster-General to tell us that certain agreements were entered into, by individual States, that they were practically perpetual, and that this particular agreement has been forced upon the Commonwealth by a member of the New South Wales Government, who signed some agreement with the Eastern Extension Company, without consulting the Parliament of New South Wales. To enter into an agreement such as is proposed by the Federal Government seems to me to be most unbusinesslike. Does the Postmaster-General think for a moment that he and his department will be able successfully to cornpete with the enterprising business men of the Eastern Extension Company for the business to be done with cablegrams in Australia ?
– That means that the Government cannot carry on a business as well as a private company?
– It means that they cannot carry it on in the manner in which the Eastern Extension Company carry it on.
– Not when they give that company all the concessions which have been given them.
– They agreed with the company to charge a certain price per word, but do they think that the Eastern Extension Company, whose representative some time ago said that they had £800,000 profits in a reserve fund put away to fight the Pacific cable - do they think that those gentlemen are going to act in a high-minded and honorable way ?
– They have also repaired fleets and laid down cable lines out of profits.
-Is there anything in the agreement to prevent the Eastern Extension Company making rebates to their customers on the stipulated price of 3s. per word?
– Yes ; because they have to charge those rates.
– How does the honorable and learned senator know that they will not make reductions to their customers’?
– That would not be charging the rate.
– How does -the honorable and learned senator propose to find out whether or not they are doing that kind of thing?.
– And what of the number of individuals who have a life right to send free messages over their lines?
– We cannot get to the East or to South Africa with our Pacific cable, and we are therefore bound to deal with this company.
– This company fought the Pacific cable successfully for twenty years. And how did they “fight it, but with the large profits they were able to make from the prices they charged for cables ?
– And from the big subsidies they were getting.
– The Eastern Extension Company was mo3t unscrupulous in its methods. It is a company whose methods of dealing with visitors from Australia to the old country is, I am told, palatial. It receives the Australian, and treats him right royally. It even goes sofar as to grant him, for life, the right to send cables free, in order that the interests of the Eastern Extension Company may be fostered in Australia.
– I never heard of it when I was in London, and I was as much in touch with the Eastern Extension Company as anybody.
SenatorHIGGS. - The very fact that the representative of the company said in London” We have £800,000 with which to fight the Pacific cable” should apprise honorable senators of their methods. .
– I do not believe that was ever said, and the honorable senator cannot produce evidence of it.
– I shall tell honorable senators why I cannot do so at the present time. When these States succeeded, in spite of the Eastern Extension Company, in getting the Pacific cable, I thought the battle was over, and I destroyed the material I had connected with the affairs of the Eastern Extension Company. When I went to Queensland recently I tried to get some more, and I was informed that the documents were in a place in which they were not available to me. Now we find that the Barton Government has gone so far as to enter into an agreement in which it has surrendered itself and the Commonwealth to the company.
– No, that is not so.
– They have agreed to a charge of a certain sum per word when they ought to have known the unscrupulous character of the men who manage this company. They have proved themselves to be unscrupulous in the past, and if they had not been unscrupulous they would never have fought the State owned Pacific cable for so many years. They could not have fought it so successfully for twenty years if they had not been unscrupulous.
– Considering that Mr. Sandford Fleming broached the matter in 1894 I cannot see where the twenty years comes in.
– Senator Playford does not know everything.
– He knows that.
– The honorable senator has been Premier of South Australia, and has had ‘ the administration of Customs there, he has also been to the old country, where he taught the people a good deal that they never knew “before, but I can appeal to’ the Postmaster-General to say whether the Pacific cable has not been on the board for twenty years. This agreement is one of the things which are leading the Barton Administration to destruction. When we place our policy before the people, and are given a mandate, we are all right, and that is evidenced by the passing of’ the Adult Suffrage Act, the Pacific Island Labourers Act, the Immigration Restriction Act, and other measures of that kind. But when we’ get away from the public, and without a mandate transact business which is not in keeping with their wishes, as shown by the support given to the Pacific cable, we are going on the wrong task. I regret that I have to make these remarks, because so far as I know no other Government has had the privilege, and I believe the pleasure, to introduce so many measures of great benefit to the people. of the nation in such a short period. Now with regard to the success of the white Australia policy as carried out by the Government, I am very glad to.be able to say that in Queensland that success has exceeded our most sanguine anticipations. Thousands of cane-growers have registered to produce cane by white labour, and, contrary to the dismal forebodings of Senators Pulsford and
Fraser that the people of the Commonwealth would have to pay about £1,000,000 for this sentimental aim of ours, they are now getting sugar cheaper than they did before federation. I have received several letters which bear out that statement. A large firm in this city named Moran and Cato, with 40 or 50 branch stores, write in these terms : -
Herein we beg to submit information as to price sugar required in yours of 13th inst.
In 18!)9- 23cl. per lb”, 12 lbs. 2s. (id., 13s. 9d. per 701b. bag, 22s. per cwt.
In 1893- 2^1. pei- lb., 12 lbs. 2s. 3d., 12s. lOd. per 70 lb. bag, 20s. (3d. per cwt.
I then asked what class of sugar was being sold at those prices, and to that question I received this answer -
In reply to yours of 20th inst., we beg to inform you that the sugar referred to in ours of the 10th inst. is of the quality known as 1A, and is the best sugar ordinarily used by householders.
From Messrs. Anthony Hordern and Sons, of Sydney, I received a letter, in which they regretted that they could not supply me with the price of sugar during those two years, because it was then, as it is now, a fluctuating quantity. But from the secretary of the Balmain Co-operative Society I received a letter stating that sugar was sold in Sydney at 2d. per lb., and with tea at If d. per lb. His letter is as follows : -
Our retail price for all these sugars is 2½d. per lb., and is the same as is charged in all the principal shops in Sydney, but local shopkeepers have always made a cutting line of sugar, and have been selling at 2d. per lb., or with tea at l£d. per lb.
I wish to ask Senator Pulsford, and those who believe with him that the price of sugar was going to be higher, how it is that the grocers in Sydney are charging 2 £d. per lb. while the grocers in Melbourne are charging 2 Jd. per lb. I suppose the excuse made in Sydney, that it is owing to the Tariff, is more likely to appeal to the general householder. Senator Pulsford had a great deal to say about the administration of the Customs department. He complained of the Minister prosecuting a number of good people when he might have acted in another way. The Customs Act has been described by the Board of Customs in the old country as a model Act, and I think that the Minister is only endeavouring to administer the Act as it should be administered. Let us understand what are his powers. He may institute prosecutions against importers who are guilty of wrong-doing, or he may hold an inquiry. The first section dealing with prosecutions reads as follows: -
Customs prosecutions may be instituted in the name of the Minister by action, information, or other appropriate proceeding -
In the High Court of Australia : or
In the Supreme Court of any State ; and when the prosecution is for a pecuniary penalty not exceeding £300, or the excess is abandoned, the Customs prosecution may be instituted in the name of the collector in
Any County Court, District Court, Local Court, or Court of summary jurisdiction.
With regard to the inquiry, section 265 says-
If any dispute shall arise between any officer and any person with reference to any contravention of this Act, the Minister may, in manner prescribed, with the written consent of such person, inquire into and determine the dispute, and shall have power by order, which shall forthwith be published in the Gazette, to impose, enforce, mitigate, or remit any penalty or forfeiture, which hs shall determine shall have been incurred.
Section 267 says -
The Minister in holding an inquiry under this par t of this Act shall hold such inquiry in public, and mny -
Summon the parties and any witnesses before him.
Take evidence on oath.
Those who are objecting to the administration of the law ask, why does not the Minister hold inquiries ? They have charged him with going beyond his duty - with being a despot or an autocrat, simply because he declines to take upon his own shoulders the hearing of these cases, and simply says to the parties-“ Go before a Judge of the Supreme Court, or before a magistrate, and have your case tried in a court of law. Do not ask me to try it in my office. I refuse to try it.” He, however, sends these people to the police court, and the case is tried there. I ask those honorable senators who are complaining of his administration if they can cite a prosecution instituted by the Minister which has been dismissed. My opinion is that the general public of Queensland are extremely well pleased with his action. Senator Pulsford to-day cited the case of a man with a Bible and the case of a man with a barrel of fat; but I should like to know whether he has not heard of cases where all kinds of artifice have been used to smuggle in goods. I venture to say that if Senator Playford would take the trouble to speak he could tell us some of the tricks adopted by smugglers in bringing contraband articles.. I believe that in the New South Wales Treasury there is a quantity of gold which nobody has been game to claim, and which was discovered in a cask of tallow at the Lucknow mines. The Customsofficers had every reason, I think, toinquire into the case of the cask of fat. The Minister is a very much maligned man,, and it is not right that the side of the objectors to his administration should get intoHansard without something being said on his behalf.
– He has said a loton behalf of himself to-day.
– I- am very glad to hearthat he has. He may not have referred to> an incident in connexion with Queensland. On the 10th August, 1901, there appeared! in the Brisbane Courier an article with thisheading in large black type -
Customs leakages. The warehousemen complain. Unfair influence of official laxity.
Remember that, please.
– It was mentioned by Mr. Kingston.
– There are certain honorable senators who have a higherappreciation of their duty than others haveSome roam all over the building ; otherssit here and do their duty. If I had been roaming around, perhaps I might haveheard this quoted. I shall not go into thematter as fully as I understand it has been gone into elsewhere, but I wish to pointout that there was a deputation which waited oh the Treasurer of Queensland. -The following firms were represented : - Messrs. Stewart and Hemmant, D. and W. Murray, R. Eraser and Co., R. Reid a,nd Co., R. Armour and Co., Mr. A. M.. Kirkland, and Mr. Robertson. It waspointed out to the Treasurer that therewere great leakages in- connexion with the Customs. The Customs department was at this time being administered by Mr. Kingston, and this deputation pointed out that there were great leakages on thepart of officers, and that they hoped that the Treasurer of Queensland would takesome action to induce the Minister to cause a closer scrutiny to be made.I will briefly quote the opinion of one member of the deputation - Mr. Stewart - as given in the Brisbane Courier of 3rd August, 1901.. Mr. Stewart, we. are told, asserted -
That for some years past heavy leakages haveoccurred which might have been averted with the exercise of ordinary care, and which have led to a very material diminution in the revenue. In fact, Mr. Stewart avers that the amount thus allowed to slip through the fingers of the Customs authorities would have been more than sufficient to make good the financial difficulty which now exists. By means of false invoices, Mr. Stewart states, there have been systematic frauds worked upon the Customs department in the past, and they are still being carried on. His firm has more than once submitted, not only to the Collector of Customs, but to the Treasury, proofs of the dishonesty which is being practised, though, strange to say, the warnings have been unheeded.
Mr. Stewart went on to say that he believed, that the loss of Customs revenue during three years in the soft-goods trade alone, amounted to not less than ,£250,000. As a result of the visit of the deputation, Mr. Cribb, the Treasurer, -wrote down to the Minister for Trade and Customs that there was no doubt good cause for complaint, and urged the Minister to instruct his officers to be more careful. The Minister at once sent up an inspector - Mr. Mason - who conducted his inquiries in a most impartial way, and as the Minister himself would have conducted them had he been doing the work. Mr. Mason discovered certain things, and some of the members of this deputation was very much surprised at what followed. Indeed, their action reminds me very much of a story I once heard about my honorable friend, Senator McGregor. Manyyears ago, when in Victoria, Senator McGregor was in the habit of travelling on the railway lines. In order that he might not be bothered about finding a second-class carriage, he bought” a firstclass ticket, and got into the first carriage he came across. On ohe occasion, when he was in his working attire, he got into a first-class carriage where there were two well-dressed young men. As soon as he put in an appearance these two young men called the guard and asked that he might be removed.. The guard, jumping at conclusions - as many of us do - said to Senator McGregor - “Come out of that ; you are in the wrong car.” Senator McGregor said - “ No, I won’t come out ; I arn all right here.” “ Well,” said the guard, “ show me your ticket.” Senator McGregor said - “ You say to me, according to the regulations, ‘ Tickets, please,’ and I will show it- to .you.” He showed his ticket to the guard, and of course the guard saw that it was all right, and was going awa)’, when Senator McGregor called him back and said - “Having looked at my ticket,’ would you be kind enough to look at thetickets of these two gentlemen 1” Theguard did so, and it was then discovered that these two well-dressed young men in the first-class carriage had second-class, tickets. This deputation in Brisbane, or some of the members of it, who went to theTreasurer of Queensland, wanted theMinister for Trade and Customs to inspectthe other fellow’s invoices, but not to inspectany of theirs. When the Customs officer inspected the invoices of some of these firms,, he discovered, as I dare say many of usalready know, many irregularities. The firm of Robert Reid and Co., for one, wasfound to have indulged in a number of what might be called, morally speaking, “ secondclass “ invoices. The case occupied sometwenty days in hearing in Brisbane, and the firm was found guilty on all points, fined £50, and had to pay the costs, which, it is generally understood, amounted to some- £8,000.
– And were found guilty of fraud.
– Yes ; and if they had been prosecuted as some other people have been prosecuted for conspiracy, the evidence would have put all the members of the firm in gaol. Senator Pulsford, it appearsto me, wants some distinction to be made. I admire the Minister for Trade and Customs for bringing every offender up beforethe bar and letting him stand his trial, irrespective of his position. I saw in Victoriathe other day where a dairyman was fined because there was about a tablespoonful of water in half-a-pint of milk. The dairyman said - “ I did not put the water there ; it was put in by one of my assistants.”’ But the man was fined all the same, and hehad to appear at the police court with the common order of delinquents - theperson who steals, the person who gets drunk, and so forth. I have notseen any account o£ a deputation of milkmen waiting upon the authorities, and asking that a special court should be appointed for them, so that they should notbe asked to mix up with smugglers and others who have to be tried. Some peoplewant the Minister to” bring before the courtthe person who has very little influence in the community, and to allow the influential persons - the richer ones- to be dealt with in some back parlour. I think I cannot, dobetter than give an extract from a leading: article in the Ballarat Courier of the 26th May. The case is very well put there from our stand-point -
A certain class of superior persons would have this sort of differentiation between persons accused of defrauding the Customs. The Minister - “Who is this reported? Thomas Snooks. Is he anybody?” Officer - “No, sir: only in a small way of business. He has no friends in power!” The Minister - tend him to the courts;” and Thomas Snooks is sent and duly exposed to public gaze as a man who tried to defraud the Customs, and was bowled out by the astute Customs officers. Minister - “Who is this? Robert Reid? Not the Minister of Education for Victoria, surely ; not a former Minister of Customs for that State?” The clerk - “Yes, sir, the same ; but it is only a mistake, sir ; sent a young lad to pass the entries ; meant a few thousands on their side, sir ; but evidently only a mistake.” Minister - ‘ Ali, we must be careful. Take a cab at once ; go to the honorable gentleman’s office, ask to see him alone, and then invite him to come and see me at once. It will never do to exhibit a man of his influence and standing- in the court. Quite a mistake, of course.”” Clerk departs and returns with the gentleman. Minister - ‘ 1 Oh Mr. Reid, so sorry to trouble you but - “ Mr. Reid - “ I am very busy, and could wish you had not wasted my time. The thing is a mistake of course.” The Minister - “Yes, I just wanted to hear that from yourself. Quite an unavoidable error. Have a glass of wine and a cigar - I’ve a very good cigar ; never paY duty, you .know. Ha ! ha!” A little later. - The Minister - “Yes; so sorry to trouble you. Good morning.” The visitor - “Good morning;” and the veracious journals of the day would relate how an error had been made by some officious Custom-house clerk who stupidly wanted to regard a small inaccuracy in a highly-respected merchant’s entries as a fault deserving the attention of the Minister, and would end their paragraphs with- - “ We understand the officious clerk is to be reduced a grade.”
Now, sir, some honorable senators have said that they hope there will be some alteration in the administration of the Customs. T hope there will not be ; and if ever it happens that any Minister for Customs departs from the policy laid down, by Mr. Kingston he “will certainly find me an opponent. Another proposal was made by an honorable senator in this chamber to alter that procedure, and that was to revert to the old order of things that existed in Victoria when the Minister, in his private office, used to settle disputes. We have heard of a case of a merchant being fined £1,000 when, in the opinion of those who knew most about the case, he ought to have been find £5,000 ; and the man who was fined afterwards invited the Minister to his house, and the Minister dined there, after fining the merchant - clearly showing that the man considered himself very lucky in getting off at so low a price. I hope there will be no reversion to that order of things. Senator Pulsford and those who agree with him have their own opinion ; but I incline to the view that the very great increase shown over the estimated revenue within the Commonwealth as derived from’ the Tariff is due, very largely indeed, to the fact that the importers who smuggled goods in the past now pay duty. I do not think that many of these importers felt very guilty in smuggling goods. Most of them considered that it was a fair thing to do in the ordinary course of trade. They knew very well that their neighbour carrying on business in the same line on the opposite side of the street was possibly importing goods at a low figure and undercutting them, and they tried to follow his example. Now I believe the)7 are all placed on the one footing. If they make false entries, or try in any way to avoid payment of the proper duty, the Customs authorities are likely to prosecute them, and very few of them will endeavour to do so. The whole general public of the Commonwealth will thus be benefited in every respect. From what I know of it, I believe that the Postal administration is being carried out very well by our honorable and learned friend, the Postmaster-General. The case of the boy Martin, which was referred to a few evenings ago by Senator Neild, is only a trivial one. I have seen the papers, and I am satisfied that the boy whose services were dispensed with could have expected no other treatment. To my mind, there was sufficient evidence to prove that he was a boy who was not a credit to the service.
– Rather precocious.
– He was evidently precocious for his age, very inquisitive, and very neglectful of his duty. Perhaps the lesson he has received will be a very good thing for him in after life. T do not think that any injustice was done ; on the contrary, I consider that the department acted quite within its rights. Sometimes it is a severe punishment to discharge an employe; I think that suspension is very often the better method. But in the present instance the boy seems to have been repeatedly guilty of wrong-doing, and, having regard to the discipline of the department; there seems to have been no other course open to the authorities than to get rid of him.
– That was the recommendation of the board of inquiry appointed under the Statute.
– With regard to what the honorable senator said about trying an . offender twice. I would point out that the second trial was evidently necessary and justifiable when asked for by an official of the department. It was due to the department that that inquiry was held, and I do not see that any injustice whatever was done to the boy by further inquiry into his case. There is only one other item to which I desire to refer.
– What about the six hatters?
– I understood that the case of the six hatters was to form the basis of a vote of censure on the Barton Administration. I cannot understand why the leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. G. H. Reid, who, I regret to learn from a press report, is in the employ of the Employers’ . Federation of Australia, has not had the courage to move that vote of censure. I saw in the JJallarat Courier a few days ago a statement that when an appeal was made for funds to carry on some federal elections - they wanted some £20,000 - it was stated that the Employers’ Federation had all they could do to find Mr. Reid’s expenses. I hope I am not giving utterance to anything . which is not true. I should be very sorry to do so. A reportof a speech which I made some time ago, and in which I referred to Mr Reid, was given in such a way that it conveyed an erroneous impression regaining him. I very much regret that the report appeared in that form, and I should regret to give utterance to anything that would be a misstatement concerning him or any other man. But a report certainly appeared in the Ballarai Courier, setting forth that, according to one speaker, the Employer’s Federation had all they could do to find enough to pay Mr. Reid’s expenses.
– They could not assist this political fund because they had to raise Mr. Reid’s expenses.
– I suppose the honorable senator has a strong suspicion as to the way in which that was brought about ?
– The statement appeared in the press.
– But one can get anything he wants in some sections of the press.
– There is a song which I heard at the theatre the other evening that exactly fits this matter -
It’s only what I’ve been told you know
I don’t know whether it’s true,
But just as it was told to me 1 tells it unto you.
– I understand the honorable senator exactly.
– The honorable senator misunderstands my motive.
– I understand it perfectly.
-The honorable senator should have been present to hear what the representatives of Queensland had to say regarding the Customs administration. He would have been much more edified than he was by listening to anything about the leader of the Opposition in another place. Touching the six hatters, we have no objection to our own fellow workers in the old country coming to Australia. But let them come here unfettered in any way by agreements ; let them come and learn the conditions under which men labour here, and, having done so, let them make their agreements if they desire to do so. The Prime Minister carried out the law. I admire him for it, and I hope that the law will never be altered in this respect. Of course I know that Senator Pulsford would not only admit men under contract, but would open the doors of this country to all the Hindoos and all the coloured men and women of India, whom he regards as our brothers and sisters. Those of us who support the action of the Prime Minister stand on a different footing altogether. Those who are in favour of the section under which the employer who introduced these hatters was required to give an explanation, desire to keep Australia, for the white races. They say it is better for the white races, and for the world as a whole, that Australia should be preserved in this way, and I hope that there will be no alteration of the Act. I shall refer this evening to only one other item, and that is the proposed legislation in connexion with New Guinea. I sincerely regret that . a Queensland statesman should have ever been induced to annex New Guinea. I think it involves a great waste of money, and that it will provea danger in the future. This reaching out for more territory when we have such a lot of unsettled territory is I like the selfish way . in which many good people throughout Australia act when they get the chance. Very good land is cut up in Queensland, and a farmer goes out and takes up 160 acres. Then he sees a selection near lira comprising another 160 acres, and he reaches out to grasp that. He has not cultivated, nor half cultivated, the first block before he obtains the second one, and in this way he goes on until he has obtained perhaps 640 acres. A good many other people do the same thing, with the result that settlement is retarded, and the farmers themselves have burdens to carry which are a drawback to them all their lives. In view of the fact that we have such a vast area of country unsettled and fit for settlement, it appears to me to be bordering on the ridiculous for us to go i*ight away to New Guinea and to try and establish settlement there. We shall be fortunate indeed if New Guinea does not bring us into trouble at some future time. I wish we could rid ourselves of the whole place.
– Why did net the honorable senator raise that objection when we were discussing it? He raised no objection then.
– The honorable senator cannot remember everything. If he turns to Hwtswrd he will find that he has done me an injustice. I said then what I have said in regard to the New Hebrides, and what I shall say relative to all our attempts to establish an Australian Empire before we have settled our own great continent.
– Has the honorable senator already gone back on republicanism!
– I have not gone back on my belief in a republic. As the honorable senator has mentioned that matter, I, at the same time, wish him to understand that I have a great deal of sympathy with republican institutions. I am perfectly loyal. I shall be loyal to the King of England while he is King of England - loyal to the Crown - but if it is ever within my power to influence the public in favour of republican institutions, I shall do what I can in that direction.
– That is loyalty.
– Certainly it is. I repeat that I am loyal, and shall be loyal, to the King of England while the people of England allow him to remain King ; but in my opinion it would be fur better for the people of England, and far better for the people of Australia, if there were a republic in both countries. I am looking forward to the time when it. will be possible in Australia, and in England, too, for the poorest child of the poorestparents to work his way up to the highestposition in the land if he has the requisiteability. I should like -to know whetherSenator Pulsford can see anything objectionable in that desire. At all events, I donot. I hold these views, and if the peopleof Queensland are not satisfied that I,asone of their representatives, should do , so, they will be able to make a change when thetime comes. I trust that wherever I am,, and whatever position I occupy as a publicman, I shall always have the courage togive expression to my public sentiments,, whatever they may be.
– It was not my intention to address the Senate during the debate on the address in reply, because, as a rule, I look upon such a debate as being practically a waste of time, unless there is something serious to complain of upon whichthe Ministry are attacked strongly and vigorously, and there is something to answer. Most of the questions dealt with in the Governor-General’s opening speech haveto come before us eventually in Bills, which will have to be dealt with in detail. Theonly persons who gain by a debate on theaddress in reply are the members of a. clever Ministry who, hearing what members, of Parliament generally say during thedebate, gauge what measures are likely toreceive considerable support, and what measures are likely to receive little or nosupport. If they are wise they adopt, this plan : Those measures which arelikely to receive the greatest amountof . support are put first upon the noticepaper and are dealt with, but those towhich considerable objection has been taken,, and against which the chances are that they will not be carried, are kept low down on the paper and become at the end of the session what are known amongstpoliticians as “ the slaughtered innocents.”
– The honorable senator seems to know the game.
– But I could not: sit still after listening to the speech of Senator Higgs and his references to the Eastern Extension Company. The honorable senator no doubt speaks what he believes to be true, but I can assure him that he makes a very great mistake when he talks about the conduct of the Eastern Extension Company with regard to the Pacific cable being in any way unscrupulous.- I know the heads of the Eastern Extension Company. I knew the late Sir John Pender well. He was a man to whom the Empire owed a great deal, because after the first break-down of the cable between England and America, he and Mr. Thomson, who was afterwards made Lord Kelvin, put their hands into their pockets, and between them they did all they possibly could, and eventually succeeded, in laying down the second cable. They did more for telegraphic communication between the Empire and the various parts of the world than any other men I know. Sir John Pender was a most honorable, upright, and straightforward man. So far as the Pacific cable was concerned, he opposed it undoubtedly in the interests of his own company, and quite right, too. That is what Senator Higgs would have done had he been in his position. But he did so in a manly, straightforward manner. I also know the Marquis of Tweeddale, the present chairman of the the company, and Mr. Hessy, the secretary. While I was Agent General for South Australia I knew that our interests, and the interests of the Eastern Extension Company were the same, as we had a line across South Australia to Port Darwin connected with the company’s cables at Banjoewangie. We were interested with the company in securing that as much business as possible should pass over our line. In my opinion, we in South Australia were much too kind-hearted and considerate to the rest of Australia in. dealing with that line, because from the time that overland line was constructed to Port Darwin until about 1896 we lost between £300,000 and £400,000. That money went in some cases, of course, into the pockets of our own people, who used the line; but the very great bulk of it went into the pockets of merchants and others in the other Australian colonies, who used the line.
– Did the Eastern Extension Company lose much like that ?
– No ; they did not lose.
– They never lose.
– Then why should South Australia have lost ?’
– We should not have lost, and it was a great mistake on our part to make the reductions we did in the charges for carrying messages over the line. We knew that there was a considerable amount of jealousy aroused, especially in Queensland, over the construction of that line. The people of that State thought they would get the line through their territory, and because it happened that the line was constructed in our territory, they always opposed it, and said all the nasty and disagreeable things they could possibly say of it. I can, therefore, thoroughly understand that Senator Higgs, who hails from that banana-land, has heard all sorts of statements made and never contradicted, which he believes to be gospel, and which are not gospel at all. It is because of this that the honorable senator has made the statements to which we have just listened. I opposed the Pacific cable at the conference held at Ottawa in 1894, in the interests of my own State. I opposed it in London during the whole of the time I was there as Agent-General, in the interests of my State. I considered that, as we had a line of cable connecting with Banjoewangie, which connected us with all the Eastern countries, Japan, China, and India, and that as we had another connecting us with Africa, there was no room for a further cable, and that its construction would undoubtedly involve us in a considerable loss, because the’ only trade which such a cable could get would be from Canada, America, and possibly from a part of Europe. What has been the result? The result has been exactly what I foretold, and we have suffered a loss of £90,000 on the first year’s business.
– We had no cable to Africa, when the honorable senator opposed the Pacific cable.
– No, but before the Pacific cable was absolutely agreed upon we had a cable to Africa, which had been promised for years by the Eastern Extension Company. The English Government required a cable to South Africa, which they did not desire should touch upon the foreign possessions along the western coast of Africa, as other cables touched upon French and German colonies on the African coast. They, resolved to take a cable from close to Lands End right on to Gibraltar, from there to the Island of Ascension, thence to the Island of St. Helena, thence to Cape Colony and Simon’s Bay, across from there to Durban, and then they had not far to go to Mauritius. From there
2 13 2
it was to go to Keeling Island, and from Keeling Island to Western Australia. The British Government, after the original troubles in South Africa, found that it would be desirable to have a direct line to South Africa, and the Eastern Extension Company agreed to lay it. We knew for years and years that there was going to be a connexion brought about in that way. I shall not go further into that subject, but I say with regard to Sir John Pender and others, that they acted most honorably. They did no underground tricks, but what every man looking after his own interest would do, what Senator Higgs would have done in the same position, and what every intelligent man would do in the circumstances. With regard to the arrangement made by the PostmasterGeneral to allow the company to open offices in the Common wealth, all I have to say is that four States, Western Australia, South Australia, New -South Wales, and Tasmania had previously agreed to allow them to .open offices, and to allow them to open offices for all time.
– That is so.
– What the PostmasterGeneral has done is to make an agreement under which they are allowed to open offices in the other two States as well. The old agreements with the States to which I have specially referred are to be set aside, and there is to be a new agreement with all the States, lasting only for twelve years, at the end of which time fresh arrangements can be made. No matter what we did, we could not prevent the company having offices opened in the States to .which I have referred, including as they do some of the principal States, the mother State, the important State of South Australia, and the important State of Western Australia, which will be a very big State within a very few years, and will possibly beat some of the other States which are now of more importance. When that is considered, I think it must be admitted that the Postmaster-General has made an excellent arrangement with the Eastern Extension Company. Now, .1 have something else to say about Queensland, the State which Senator Higgs represents. I have something to say about the sugar duty and the rebates thereon. I have to say that, speaking of my own State of South Australia, I think it is a scandalous shame that we should be called upon to pay one penny towards the rebate upon sugar grown by white labour in Queensland. For years past most of the States, and practically all with the exception of Queensland, have been true to the idea of a white Australia. Some of them, and especially South Australia, at considerable Joss to themselves, kept the yellow and the black man out. Queensland did nothing of the sort. She allowed them to come in, and used them for the growth of sugar. Now it is proposed that we should try as far as possible to ease the’ sugar cultivators down, and agree to give them a rebate on sugar grown by white labour. Surely it was never intended that those States which subjected themselves to considerable loss in keeping out the yellow mall and the black man, should now put their hands into their pockets to help to pay Queensland, which State was not true to the sentiment of a white Australia? Let us take the case of South Australia. I admit that we allowed a certain number of Chinamen to come in to make the railway to the auriferous fields near Port Darwin. It was a railway of 120 miles in length, and the question was raised whether white or coloured labour should be employed in its construction.
– Who was Premier of South Australia then ?
- Sir John Bray. I have heard it said that I was concerned in this business, and I have also heard it said that my old comrade, Charles Cameron Kingston, was a party to it. But we both opposed the action of the Government in giving the tender to Miller Bros., on the understanding that they should be allowed to use what labour they liked. So far as Mr. Kingston is concerned, I can say that no man in the whole of the Australian States has been more true and consistent in his advocacy of a white Australia, and in this matter a considerable amount of injustice has been done us by the circulation of so evil a report. Immediately after the construction of that line a law was passed in South Australia to prevent any more Chinamen coming in.- We saw the mistake we had made. A considerable section of the South Australian Parliament looked upon it as a mistake at the time. The minority then became a majority, and very soon afterwards they brought in a Bill to stop that kind of thing in the future. What has been the result? The result has been that practically ever since we have lost from £50,000 to £100,000 a year. We Iia ve lost also in another way by the policy pursued. For instance, when I was in London as Agent-General for South Australia, a gentleman well known in the financial world there and a man of considerable means came to me and said - “Now, Mr. Playford, we intend to form a chartered company to take over the Northern Territory from you. We will pay the whole of the money you have spent upon it in hard cash” - We had spent practically .f3,000,000- “ We will take the territory over from you and form a chartered company.” It was something like the Matabeleland Company of which we have heard so much, and of which’ the late Cecil Rhodes was the head. I said to this gentleman - “ Put your offer in writing. But there is one point to be considered : What about labour?” He said - “ We -must have a free hand as regards labour. You sell the territory to us and we shall deal with the Imperial Government as regards labour. We must have absolutely a tree hand as regards labour.” My old colleague, Mr. Kingston, was Premier at the time, and I told this gentleman - “I expect you will not get it.” I wrote a letter to Mr. Kingston in which I told him that there would not be the slightest trouble in South Australia getting rid of the Northern Territory, that the chartered company was booming, and there would be no trouble in floating the whole thing in London. The only point was as to whether he would allow them a free hand in the matter of labour conditions. I also said that, looking at the interests, not of South Australia alone, but of the whole of Australia, although we were a small colony, and could by this arrangement get rid of the whole of our liabilities, including the continual liability of about £100,000 a year, we could not make a more fatal mistake than to allow of the influx, of a coloured population to that Territory. I pointed out that they would settle there and breed there, and that though they might not trouble us so long as we lived, they would eventually become a menace to which the trouble of the negro in the United States would be a mere fleabite. I said - “ If you agree to the proposal you send me one word,” and I gave him a code word.’ If he disagreed he was to send me another word. Very soon after Mr. Kingston got my letter, a Cabinet meeting was held, the Cabinet said “No,” sand that was the reply.I received.. Here we are, then, in this position in South Australia, that we have shown that we believe in a white Australia to our financial loss. At the same time, we do not believe in putting our hands into our pockets to help Queensland, which has not shown her belief in it at all, which has never suffered any financial loss in the matter, but which now, in accordance with the policy of the Government, deliberately comes forward and says - “ Oh, you pay your share amounting to £5,500,” when I contend that we ought not to be required to put our hands into our pockets at all. If there is a State which ought to be exempted from such an imposition it is undoubtedly South Australia, which has suffered quite enough for doing all she possibly could to keep Australia white.
– South Australia has a bigger proportion of coloured aliens in her Northern Territory than has Queensland.
– We have 2,000 of them altogether. I wish to say a few words about the creation of the High Court. This Parliament ought to be specially economical, because all the States, wit,h one or two exceptions, have suffered severely from the drought. It will take some years before these States can recover, and during that time we ought to do all we possibly can to return to their Treasurers, through the Customs, as large a sum as possible, so as to prevent the imposition of unnecessary taxation. I shall always be found voting on the side of economy where it is wise and judicious ; but when I come to the cost of a High Court I am met with this position, that it is absolutely necessary. It is suggested that the Chief Justices of the States should be asked to constitute the High Court - they would not undertake this duty without being paid for their services - and that this arrangement should last for a few years, or for a number of years, as the case might be. I do not like a makeshift of that kind. If we are going to establish a High Court, and its creation is absolutely necessary, it had better be constituted on the lines of the Supreme Court of the United States than be. composed of the Chief Justices of the States. It does not follow at all that no Chief Justice of a State would be appointed to the High Court Bench. No man can serve two masters, and the Chief Justice of a State, no matter how he might try to be fair, just, and honorable, as I have no doubt every one of them would be if appointed, might have some little inclination to favour the State which he served as against the Commonwealth. It . is far better that there should be no room for any suspicion. It is far better that we should have our own independent Judges. The only question to be considered is whether the amount which it is proposed to pay for their services is not excessive, and whether the expenses in connexion with the court cannot be cut down to a reasonable extent, always remembering that we must have efficiency. I shall be one of those who will assist to cut down the expenses if it is shown that it can be reasonably done. Coming to the question of the naval subsidy, Senator Higgs has said that he believes in the formation of an Australian Navy. I, too, believe that it would be a great deal better foi) Australia if we had a navy. But we are not in the position of those who sang in England a few years ago - “ We have the ships, we have the men, . we have the money, too.” We have not the trained men : we have not the ships ; and it appears to me that we have not the money. We cannot afford to buy a fleet at the present time, and to go into the London money market for that purpose would, I believe, be a great mistake. The Imperial Government certainly protects us. If we were dissevered from the old country, and the Imperial Government gave it out to the world that they took not the slightest interest in Australia or its concerns, I wonder where we should be with the yellow man. We might be in rather a tight fix with the yellow man in the northern part of the Commonwealth. I shall not pursue that line of thought, because I cannot imagine the time will ever come when we shall be severed from the old country, and shall belong to the wonderful republic which Senator Higgs has alluded to so feelingly. Of all the forms of government which I have been able to read about; of all the forms of government which have ever existed in this world, the one which is most satisfactory and least troublesome to the people, the one which causes the least friction to the people, and which is practically the least expensive, is undoubtedly a constitutional monarchy. In the new naval agreement provision is made for training our men, and, after all, that is one of the most important points to be considered. We need to get the trained men before we secure the ships. To buy the ships before we train the nien is like a man getting a wife before he buys a house. At the present time, and for the period which is stipulated, it is eminently desirable that we should enter into this agreement, and pay this exceedingly small sum to Great Britain. Considering that the neighbouring colony of New Zealand has entered into the spirit of the thing, we may as well follow her example, pay our share of the subsidy, and get our men trained ; and then, when possibly we may be in a more prosperous position than we are in now, we may talk about buying ships, to be manned with the men we have trained if we can only find the money. At the present time, however, it is premature to talk of buying ships. We shall do nothing in that direction if we refuse to pay this subsidy. It would be meanness on our part not to make some contribution to the mother country, which certainly does protect us, and would protect us against any hostile force no matter from what quarter it might come. I am highly amused at my honorable friends from Western Australia referring to what they call the transcontinental railway. I have never ‘ heard of a railway to run along a coast being called a transcontinental railway. The general understanding of a transcontinental railway is that it is one to run from the coast on one side of the continent to the coast on the other side. But our honorable friends from Western Australia - that land of sin, sorrow, and sand - will insist upon using this high sounding phrase of “ transcontinental railway.” I believe that they will carry their point from the very fact that the people will not understand that after all it is only a railway to run along the coast. I have some- knowledge of the territory in South Australia ; first, from having seen some of the land ; second, from talking with those who have gone over the route of the line; and, third, from having, when Commissioner of Crown Lands, sent out an expedition to report to me on the Nullarbor Plains. The fact is that on the border line of Western Australia and South Australia there is an immense area of well-grassed land. The puzzle is that it grows good bushes, and is well grassed. It is one immense crystalline limestone formation in which all the water runs away, in which you cannot make a dam until you get to some granite outcrop. I thought that we might be able to get artesian water. “When I was in otti.ce I suppose I spent over £5,000, and I believe that South Australia has spent from £10,000 to £20,000 to that end. We sank to a depth of 3,000 feet, but we never got artesian water. We got water to How up a considerable height in the case of the tubing, and when it was pumped up it was always found to be Stock water which could not be used for engines. It appears to me that our experience on the Nullarbor Plains will be repeated elswhere along the route of the line. The country, with the exception of a slip round Port Augusta, right away to Kalgoorlie, with the exception of a slip round Eucla, has never been taken up by the pioneering squatters. If they could have made dams they would have taken up the laud. If they could have got wells they would have taken up the land. It has not been taken up, not because it has not food for stock, but simply because it is waterless. For the whole distance from Port Augusta, except near that port, to Kalgoorlie, the railway would not pick up one ton of freight on the one hand, or one passenger, practically, on the other hand. It would never pay. The absurdity of the proposal to adopt the 4ft. 81,in gauge is apparent, when it is mentioned that the railway from Perth to Coolgardie, in Western Australia, as well as the railway from Terowie to Port Augusta, in South Australia, is built on the 3ft. 6in. gauge. To connect those two railways with a line built on the 4ft. 8½in. gauge would be the very height of absurdity. Over this plain country there would be no big cuttings to be made. There would be no trouble in making a railway. It could be made very cheaply - practically on the surface. With a 3ft. Gin. gauge a train could travel at the rate of 50 miles an hour, in a straight run, without the slightest difficulty. That rate would be quite fast enough for any purpose, especially as there would be no passengers to be picked up, and the whole distance could be run without many stoppages. There is only one ground on which its construction can be defended. If it is required for defence purposes, then the- rest of the community might put their hands into their pockets to the tune of say £50,000 or £100,000 per annum to make up the loss which would be occasioned. They ‘ might find that sura every year for defence purposes, just as we find the money to insure our buildings against fire. But for bo other reason can its construction be advocated in fairness to the rest of the community. As it is not to come before us in a definite form this session, I shall not pursue the subject any further. Another point which has not been touched upon here or elsewhere, so far as I know, is the creation of the Inter- State Commission. I question very much whether it is wanted at the present time. I do not know what questions wo have to bother about, except the Murray River question, which may have to be dealt with by the High Court, and possibly by the Privy Council eventually.
– How about the railway freights on the South Australian railways ?
– I know of no trouble between South Australia and Victoria at the present time. There used to be a little trouble, and there may be some now, but any difficulty could be overcome by constituting the Inter-State Commission of the chief managers of the State railways, and it might not be necessary to pay those gentlemen very much for their services. . I do not believe that there is any necessity at the present time for an Inter-State Commission, although possibly one may be necessary in the future. I shall wait to hear what are the arguments in favour of its establishment. If it can be shown that by means of an unjust tariff the railways of one State are competing unfairly with those of neighbouring States, and that it necessitates the appointment of an Inter-State Commission, of course I shall be prepared to vote in that direction’. But unless that justification can be shown I am not prepared to saddle the community with a very large annual expense for a commisssion which, when appointed, would have little or no work to do. A great deal has been said about the Customs administration. I do not propose to go into this question at any length. I had the pleasure of listening to my old colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, to-day, when he wiped the floor of the other House pretty well with his opponents in his usually vigorous style. I know that there is no more honorable or straightforward man than
Mr. Charles Cameron Kingston. He will do what he believes to be absolutely right, and in the interests of the public. He is not at all given to taking advantage of anybody. He has not a “ down “ upon anybody. One individual said on one occasion that it was in consequence of the Minister having some special dislike to him that certain action was taken. I know that that statement is absolutely false. If anything, he is a good deal too fond of forgiving his enemies ;’ and he has forgiven some which it would have been a good deal better for him if he had not forgiven. But be that as it may, I listened carefully to a great many of Senator Pulsford’s statements. There is one case of which he made a great song. It is that of a sailor who came ashore in Sydney with some silk and a bible, and who was very improperly, according to Senator Pulsford, interfered with by a Customs officer. Sir, he was very properly interfered with. People are not allowed to bring on shore silk, which is a highly dutiable commodity, without giving notice to the Customs officers, and those officers did right in arresting the man. The only point I have any doubt about is as to whether they might not have said to him - “ You say you are going to post the silk and the bible by parcels post to New Zealand, and that it was given to you in London for that purpose.. Come along to the post-office and let us see you post it and put the direction upon it, and we will let you go.’ Something of that sort might have been done to see if the man had any bona fides. But you must not allow these people to come ashore with dutiable commodities without paying duty. I know how tobacco, and cigars and all sorts of dutiable goods are smuggled in this way by ships’ officers. My honorable friend, Senator Charleston, who is an engineer, was once on board a steamer that regularly ran into San Francisco, and he can tell many curious stories of how years ago ships’ officers used to smuggle things in, and divide the spoils amongst themselves. We have to watch them very closely. With regard to the promised Bill for the establishment of a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, I shall heartily support it. I believe it is a proper step to take. If there is a trouble with labour extending beyond the borders of any one State, and affecting two at least, it becomes pretty serious, and it is a great deal better to save all bother than to allow serious strikes to* take place, causing severe injury to the public. No one has said anything about the High Commissioner in London. 1 say that the appointment- of a High Commissioner is absolutely premature. You want no High Commissioner in London until you float a loan there. If the Treasurer is going to float a loan, he should have a High Commissioner there, whoshould certainly do the inscription of ourstock. These States have lost hundreds, upon hundreds of thousands of pounds because they did not do the inscription of the stock for themselves. For several years in the State of Victoria - and also in the State of New South Wales— the Government waspaying £500 per million to various banks for inscribing their stock. We in South Australia were doing the same, paying the firmof Glynn, Mills, and Co. I took up the work when I became Agent-General for South Australia, and did it myself. I did it in the first year for £105 per million, and on the next occasion for £85 10s. per million. I dare say that it is now being done for less than £80 per million. The sum I saved in that way for South Australia was two or three thousand pounds a year while I was Agent-General. The agents in London for the Crown colonies have undertaken the inscription of stock from the very time of the passing of the original Inscription, of Stock Bill, and this work only coststhe Crown colonies about £90 per million. I think that Messrs. Ommanney and Blake were the Crown agents when I was at Home, and they told me that they had done the work for the -Crown colonies from the very inception, and had saved those coloniesa very large sum of money. Therefore, I say that our High Commissioner must start with the inscription of our Commonwealth stock for the first federal loan floated in London. .And that first Joan ought to beadecentsized loan - certainly not less than a million. The idea of the Treasurer floatinga loan of £500,000 was a mere pettifoggingtiling - it was ridiculous. You must not float in London, for the Commonwealth, less, than a million, at least - a couple of millions, would be better. . Then you can test themarket to see what your stocks are quoted at on the Exchange. You can see what their value is as compared with all other colonial stocks, and be able to tell whether you will save any money by consolidating your-
State loans. You cannot tell that before, because you do not know what )Tour stocks will be worth. When your federal loan gets among the Stock Exchange quotations and people are dealing with your stock, and working upon it, and there have been a great many transactions in connexion with it, and other states of things exist, and you can compare the quotations from day to day from the Stock Exchange, so that you can see the difference between the Commonwealth loans and State loans, you can say whether the Commonwealth can take over State debts in payment for the premises which have been transferred to it by the States. We shall then be able to say that at a certain price we can float on the London market at n certain figure, and can save a certain amount of interest o:i the transaction, which will be very beneficial to the Commonwealth and the States. But until you have floated a Commonwealth loan in London, you cannot talk about consolidating stocks. A great many of the people who talk about consolidating State stocks, have not the remotest idea of the trouble there is in reference to the matter. You fancy that you can get people who have got stocks belonging to an individual State to give up their stocks in return for Commonwealth stocks or bonds, and you think that you are going to gain a lot of money by the transaction. As a matter of fact, you are going to gain nothing by it practically. People will want more than an equivalent. The colony of New Zealand tried that years ago. They formerly had provincial Governments. Those provincial Governments issued loans. The interest on these loans ranged from 7 per cent, to 5 per cent. Then they had established a central Government, and the central Government offered to the people who had the provincial bonds - and, therefore, only the security of the provinces - the security of the whole of New Zealand. But they had the biggest trouble in the world to get the people to give up their provincial stock. They offered a 4 per cent, stock, and in one instance that I know of they had to pay £136. for a £100 bond to get people to come in. There was one of the 7 per cent, loans which they tried to consolidate at 4 per cent. They got about £15,000,000, I think. But there was a considerable ‘ number of stock-holders who would not come in under any circumstances. The result of that transaction - although it appeared at first sight that because of the difference, in interest between 7 per cent, and 4 per cent., it was a good thing for New Zealand - was, as I said to the Agent-General for New Zealand before I left, a total loss to that country. I said to him, “ Many of those loans of yours would have run out in due course, when you could have borrowed the money again at 3 or 3-^ per cent. You have saddled yourselves with 4 per cent., and, because of the amount you have paid to redeem the old stocks, with a vastly increased debt. You are paying a higher rate of interest than you would have paid if you had let those stocks run out.” I wrote a long report upon this subject to Sir Frederick Holder, now the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and who was then the Treasurer of South Australia. Although we ‘had a number of G percent, and 5 per cent, bonds, and also a lot of 4 per cent, bonds, and although we were then borrowing at Z per cent. - we could not borrow at that rate now - I told him that I would not advise him to attempt to consolidate our stocks, because the people in London who held our bonds would just say - “ It is all very well ; we have got those bonds which are worth so much in the market; if you want to buy them from us you must give us that money and something else to induce us to give up the bonds.” Because an equivalent amount to what they could have obtained in the open market would not have induced them to part with the bonds. They would have nothing to do with an offer of that kind. You must give them more than an exact equivalent; and every penny you give them beyond that equivalent is so much loss to you. It will be clear from this, I hope, that this consolidated stock business is not so easy as a great many people have been led to believe from what has appeared in the newspapers. There is only one other point to which I wish to refer, and that is the federal capital. I say that, in common justice to New South Wales, we ought to settle that question as soon as we possibly can. We have agreed to an Act of Parliament, and we are bound to abide by its terms. I see that an attempt is being made in some of the newspapers to have the matter reconsidered - to have another referendum, and to obtain the decision that either Sydney or Melbourne shall be the established capital of the Commonwealth*
Any such attempt ought to fail. We have agreed to the Constitution, and are bound to our agreement ; and the sooner - in common fairness to the people of NewSouth Wales - we settle the matter the better. But at the same time I am not prepared to spend any money for some time to come. We must be in a far better position financially before we can alford to build the capital. I do not believe that we can spend a small sum and put up with cheap and nasty buildings. That would be a great mistake. If we are going to lodge our people in wooden, shanties - which probably will be burnt down if we do - it will be a great mistake. AVe must do the work decently,, but we must wait until we have the money to do it with. But, in justice to New South Wales, we should tell that State what position we have fixed upon, because she is keeping outof the market lands that are ready for settlement. She is keeping out of the market those sites which have been favorably reported on by Mr. Oliver and others ; and we should not retard her progress by delaying the selection of the site question any longer than is necessary. Astc the preferential trade business, we have heard the speech of Senator Symon. His imagination ran riot in that portion of his address in which he taxed Mr. Chamberlain with having brought this subject forward as an electioneering dodge - as something sprung upon the people of England as a surprise. I can tell honorable senators that so far as Mr. Chamberlain is concerned, he has had this idea in mind for a good many years, and has not kept it to himself. When I was in London in 1S97 or 1898, there was a big meeting of Chambers of Commerce, at which Canada was represented, and members of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of such large centres as Liverpool and Glasgow were present. Mr. Chamberlain, on that occasion, reviewed the whole situation, and left no doubt upon the minds of those who listened to him that personally he was in favour of establishing some system of preferential trade within the borders of the Empire. He had. no special scheme to advocate at that time, and he spoke with very great caution, as befitted a man occupying the important position he then held. But he left no doubt upon the minds of those who could read between the lines that his feelings undoubtedly were in favour of preferential trade within the Empire. I may add that
I had a conversation with Mr. Chamberlain on the subject. When I first saw him he had some idea - as Lord Rosebery also had - of a Zollverein, under which there would be freetrade between various parts of the Empire and a Tariff against the outside world. I told Mr. Chamberlain that so far as my own State was concerned - and I believed I could speak for the various Australian States as well - we could not agree to airything of that sort. It would ruin our manufactures and we should not be able to get from the Tariff on goods which would come from outside sources sufficient money to meet our wants. If we were prepared to do anything at all it would be on the give-and-take principle. I said “If you will put an extra duty on foreign wines, South Australia will give you some preference over some foreign manufactures. If you put a duty on wool you may say that it is a tax on raw material, but on raw material, which is re-exported, of course you can remit the duty. You might put a tax on wheat, butter, fruits, and a great many lines with which we could supply you, while we might meet you with a preferential trade in other directions in which you could supply us. But, certainly, free-trade between Great Britain and the various parts of the Empire, with protection against the outside world, would not suit us under any circumstances.” I look upon the whole question as being, at the present time, in a nebulous state. It may rise eventually into some great planet - into some shining star - but it is in a nebulous state at the present moment ; and, until we hear something more definite as to what Mr. Chamberlain proposes to do - what preference he is going to give, upon what particular articles he is going to give it, and what we shall be asked tobe prepared to give in return - we need not seriously discuss it. Personally, however, I look at it as being a good tiling, because it will not merely bind the people of this country together by bonds of sympathy - it will bind them by stronger bonds - bonds of interest; and if our mutual interests can . be joined by something of this sort the bonds of Empire will be much stronger factors than they are at the present time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 June 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030603_senate_1_13/>.