1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator WALKER presented a petition from the Western Federal Capital League, New South Wales, praying the Senate to have prepared a ratio of values to distinguish the relative importance of . factors in connexion with the Federal Capital Site.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, whether the regulations under the Electoral Act which the Government promised to lay on the table before the end of the session have yet been prepared, and, if not, cau he indicate when they will be ready 1
– 1 shall ascertain and let the honorable senator know by tomorrow .
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he knows whether the Estimates for the Senate, as sent by the President to, and adopted by the Government, and submitted in the printed Estimates of Expenditure, have been altered by the House of Representatives, and, if so, in what manner 1
– I believe that the Estimates have been altered in three particulars. The House Committee, of which I am a member, recommended the Treasurer to place on the Estimates an addition to the salaries of three officers, so as to place them on an equality in that respect with the corresponding officers in another place, and the Government adopted the recommendation ; but the other House knocked out the increases.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he can give any information as to the reason for the sudden drop in Queensland’s Customs receipts 1
– No ; but I shall snake inquiries. I was not aware that there has been a drop in the revenue.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers :-
Appointment of Lt. W. Mailer.
Ordered to be printed.
Transfers under section 37 of the Audit Act.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following return to order : -
Proposed Pacific Cable Conference : Telegram.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
If it is the intention of the Government to take advantage of the obvious opportunity that will be presented by the forthcoming Conference of the Partners in the Pacific Cable Company to obtain from the Eastern Extension Company an -option of purchase of the cable between Tasmania and the mainland upon terms advantageous both to that State and the Commonwealth ?
– The matter will be considered by the Cabinet.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The Government is not yet in a position to reply to these questions.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow :-
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Note. - Postage and telegrams were not charged for prior to 1st November, 1902, except in South Australia and Western Australia, and except as regards postage (only) in Queensland.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In view of the continued increase in the number of Asiatics in Western Australia, will the Government consider the advisability of enforcing the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act by withdrawing the permission given under regulations allowing the importation of Asiatics for use in the pearling industry in Western Australia and Queensland?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Government has no information that there has been an increase in the number of Asiatics in Western Australia, but an inquiry will be made.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In reference to the statements made by Mr. Clay ton Mason, Collector of Customs, Western Australia, which were brought under the notice of the Government by question on 18th June, 1903, and which the Government then promised to take into consideration -
Has the Government yet decided whether an appointment should be made of an officer to administer the Immigration Restriction Act ?
Has such appointment yet been made ; if not, why not?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Since the date mentioned, changes have been made in connexion with the work, which appear so far to be satisfactory, and to render unnecessary any additional appointment.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers tothe honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That Senator Playford be appointed a member of the Standing Orders Committee in the room of” Senator O’Connor, resigned.
– I move -
Whereas on the J 8th June, 1903, the Senate (in Committee) considered the proposed standing -order : - ‘ The following motions are not open to debate, shall be moved without argument or opinion offered, and shall be forthwith put by the President from the chair and the vote taken : -
That the Senate do now adjourn. (6) That the Senate do now divide. lc) That the debate be now adjourned.”
And whereas Senator Lt. -Col. Neild moved - ““That paragraph (a) be omitted,” advancing as a reason why his amendment should be carried that in the majority of British Legislatures the rule is to permit a member on the motion for adjournment to debate matters requiring redress,
And whereas after argument for and against (see Hansard, pages 1065, 1066, and 1067), the -amendment by Senator Lt. -Col Neild was carried on the voices,
And whereas this decision was reported to and adopted by the Senate,
And whereas on the motion, “ That the House do now- adjourn,” it is the practice of the House of Representatives to debate matters not relevant to the motion for adjournment,
This Senate is of opinion that members of :the Senate should on motion, “ That the Senate do now -adjourn,” be permitted to debate questions not relevant to the motion. “The object of this motion is to afford the Senate an opportunity to express an opinion as to whether the absence of a certain paragraph from the standing order entitles honorable senators to debate matters not relevant to the motion - “ That the Senate do now adjourn.” If honorable senators will refer to Hansard of the 18th June last they will see that when Senator Neild moved to strike out that paragraph, and advanced certain arguments in favour of his motion, it was opposed by the Government, and also by the President. The Government, in the person of Senator Drake, considered that to allow -a debate of .that character would lead to interminable discussion, and I think, sir, that you pointed out that it would be -very objectionable on a Friday afternoon when honorable senators would be anxious “to catch’ their trains to permit of a discussion of that kind. Although you, sir, and Senator Drake advanced, from your point of view -some forcible arguments, the majority of honorable senators carried, the amendment on the voices, showing clearly to my mind that the intention was to permit debate <in this motion. However, whether that was the intention or not, the time has arrived when the Senate may give a definite expression of opinion. On looking through the Hansard reports I find that the statement of Senator Neild that this practice is adopted in most British Legislatures is true. I find from the official reports that in the Canadian House of Commons various matters are debated on the motion for adjournment. I consult the Ilansard report of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, and 1 find, that, on the 24th September last, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, four different questions were discussed - the Budget statement, despatch of business, the presentation of the address in reply, and compensation to retired railway employes. In the same Chamber, on the 10 th September, on the motion for the adjournment, the House discussed the unemployed question, cold storage, the labour bureau, and Flinders-street railway station. In New South Wales, on the 9th July, on the motion, “ That the House do now adjourn,” the Legislative Assembly discussed the Wilcannia railway, distress in the west and north western districts, the parks vote, the Public Works Committee, and colliery weighing machines.
– Did they not have a fight?
– Hansard does not describe the little affrays that take place in that Chamber. On the 4th July, on the motion for adjournment, the Legislative Assembly discussed the registration of firms, the Victorian railway strike, the Broken Hill water supply, distress in the country districts,’ the Cobar to Wilcannia railway, and Black Wattle Bay. Now I come to the Hansard reports of the House of Representatives, and I find that on the motion for the adjournment they have discussed many questions. On the 4th September, the House of Representatives discussed on the motion for adjournment the Tasmanian mail . service, the Federal Capital site, and the Queensland Telegraph-office. On the 30th September they discussed the opening of the High Court, the Federal Capital site, and the recruiting of Polynesians. Honorable senators will see from this list of quotations what a great necessity there is for having a practice by means of which honorable senators, if they are not satisfied with the action of the Government in dealing with public questions, can discuss them at any length they please on the motion for the adjournment. We must bear in mind that a debate on the motion for the adjournment has no statutory effect on any given question. We do not pass a law ; we do not ask for a decision of the Senate ; no vote is taken. Such a discussion merely gives honorable senators an opportunity for bringing forward certain grievances which they in their wisdom or otherwise think require redress. It is said that it would be very inconvenient on Friday afternoons when honorable senators wish to catch their trains to discuss matters of this kind. In the first place it must be remembered that the Senate was not created for the purpose of catching trains on Friday afternoons ; and in the next place those honorable senators who wish to get away on Fridays will be able to rely upon the generosity of honorable senators not unnecessarily to cause them to stay a day longer in Melbourne. A senator is not compelled to stay; and if any senator thought that his official duties required his ‘presence, he would be able to get some one else to act in his stead. I hope the Government will not oppose this proposal to formulate a practice. One great advantage in having such a discussion is the publicity which is given to any matter requiring redress.
– An honorable senator can always get that by asking a question without notice, as is frequently done.
– What redress did I get the other day when I asked the Government whether they proposed, in the Papua Preference Bill, to allow boots and shoes to come from New Guinea with a preference of 20 per cent., and sugar with a preference of £20 a ton? The Government simply replied that it is not customary to give information in the Senate regarding Bills which are before another place.
– Then something else besides drawing attention to the question was desired by the honorable senator.
– It all depends on what the Attorney-General means by “ drawing attention “ to a question. Sometimes it is very necessary to emphasize a point. A senator is not at liberty in asking a question to reflect in any way upon the administration of the Cabinet ; but, if it were necessary to criticise the Government, that could be done upon the motion for the adjournment. I can understand Senator Drake’s objection to a motion of this kind, but that objection would be largely diminished if th.
Government would only fall in with thewishes of the Senate, and appoint one or twoother senators as Cabinet Ministers, so that Senator Drake would not have so much todo as he has had sometimes when the VicePresident of the Executive Council has; been away, and he has had to take upon himself the whole burden of defending: the Ministry. The honorable and learned senator knows that a discussion on the motion for adjournment cannot, except in an indirect way, harm the Government. If at any time it becomes necessary to criticise^ the Government, I am sure that the majority of honorable senators will deem it only right, and just that that opportunity should beafforded. Why should we who are so anxious, to differentiate between the Senate and an ordinary Legislative Council be debarred from, availing ourselves of the practice which prevails in other legislative bodies f The only valid reason, to my mind, is that it may bevery inconvenient at the end of the week, when honorable senators desire to go away to their own States, to raise a discussion on the adjournment that might prevent them,, from catching their trains. I’ sympathizewith those honorable senators who are put to a great deal of inconvenience in having; to come here. They fear being kept in Melbourne for a whole week and being unable to go home to attend to their privatebusiness. But I feel certain that honorablesenators are not likely to infringe upon theconsideration that has always been shown, to their fellow senators, so far as I can remember. I am one of those who are compelled to stay in Melbourne during the wholesession. But those of us who are in that position have not, I think, shown a want, of consideration for honorable senators whocome from South Australia and New South. Wales, and who are able to go home at theend of the week. Therefore, I trust that, the majority of honorable senators will support my motion.
.- - I suppose that I am a little bit prejudiced; with regard to this matter, because I comefrom a State where the proposed practicedid not prevail, and where we got on- exceedingly well without it. It is a singularthing that the standing order was carried on the voices, and yet that paragraph a, alluded to by Senator Higgs, was. left out. That having been done, I supposethat the honorable senator thinks that i£ any senator likes to debate the question, “ That the Senate do now adjourn,” he has -a right to do so. Where then is the necessity for submitting this motion 1 Why does not Senator Higgs test the point when the motion for the adjournment is moved 1
– I think the honorable senator submitted this motion at my request.
– I did not care to dispute the President’s ruling.
– Personally I am opposed to the motion, and there are a great many reasons why the proposed practice should not be adopted. I cannot see the slightest necessity for it. Any honorable senator who has anything urgent to bring before the Senate can always, at the commencement of the proceedings; move the adjournment to an unusual hour. I cannot see what earthly good it is to delay the adjournment taking place when it is moved at the end of a sitting, and when honorable senators naturally wish to catch their trains and trams, and go home. The adjournment of the Senate at the end of the sitting is always moved by the leader of the Senate, and if this motion be accepted, honorable senators will have the opportunity then of getting up and talking on any question they like, and there will be no stopping them. It will not matter whether the questions raised are relevant or not. Any senator who wishes to annoy another senator will be able to take advantage of the motion for the adjournment to do so. Although up to “the present time we have not had a disagreeable member of the Senate, there is no telling who may be sent here in the future. The adoption of this practice will give honorable senators an opportunity of criticising the Government, but the Government need not take the trouble to reply: Under the circumstances, I think that Senator Higgs might as well withdraw the motion. We have done very well for the last two or three years under the old standing orders of the Parliament of South Australia, and it cannot be pointed out that ;any injurious result has followed from keeping to the rule under which we have been working for so long. I can imagine circumstances under which a senator would, on the motion for the adjournment, :get up to debate questions, and hardly anybody would listen to him. The only way to stop his talk would be by counting out the Senate. That course would be troublesome to the Government, because then they would have no right to alter their business-paper, and the lapsed motions would go down exactly as they stood at the time when the sitting ended ; whereas, under ordinary circumstances, the Government have the right to put the business in such order as they think convenient. The Government are always willing to listen to criticism. Honest, straightforward criticism is advantageous to a Government, because if they are reasonable men they will possibly be able to see the error of their ways. I never object to criticism so long as it is straightforward’ and honest. But I cannot see the special good of criticism that is made just at the usual hour of adjournment. What good can it do ? There will be very few members to listen to it, and it will not be of any effect ; whereas, if an honorable senator at the commencement of a sitting moves the adjournment of the .Senate till an unusual hour there will be numbers of senators to listen to him, and perhaps more attention will be paid to his criticism.
– My view of this proposal is entirely unchanged. I think it is undesirable that on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate a debate should take place, and that matters which are not relevant should be discussed. I do not think that Senator Higgs has made out a strong case in favour of a course contrary to our present practice. He says that, honorable senators may desire to call attention to particular matters. I say in reply that honorable senators have always had ample opportunities of doing so. They have been in the habit, by means of questions, of calling attention to any grievances which might exist or any matters that required immediate attention. It appears to me to be perfectly clear that Senator Higgs desires something more than he admits. . He wants to be able on the motion for adjournment to direct attention to any particular matter.
– Hear, hear ; if it is necessary.
– That is a sort of threat held over the Senate, and I think it undesirable that threats of that kind should be encouraged. When we reach the point when the adjournment of the Senate is moved by a Minister, it must be moved at the general wish of the Senate in every case. Are we going to put it in the power of any individual senator or group of senators to say, “ We will now start talking and will not permit the Senate to adjourn “ ? In ordinary cases in the Legislative Houses of the States, when the usual adjournment hour is late at night, if members choose to get up a discussion on the adjournment, the’ House is compelled to sit till a late hour. But it has become the practice for this Senate to adjourn at 4 o’clock one day a week for the purpose of enabling senators who live in other States to catch their trains. It would be very unfair to put it in the power of a few senators to say, “ We have some grievance, and if we do not get a promise that it will be removed, we shall take the opportunity of speaking om the adjournment and preventing senators who live in other States from going home.” The consequence will be that either those senators will be prevented from catching their trains or they will go away not knowing what questions- may be raised in their absence. Senator Higgs has alluded to the motion “ That the Senate do now divide,” but he knows that during the discussion of the standing order which permits that motion to be put it was agreed, by way of compromise, that it should not be carried unless by thirteen affirmative votes. Therefore it is not likely to be carried in a thin Senate after 4 o’clock on Friday afternoon, when honorable senators are anxious to get away. Senator Higgs’ motion will put it the power of a few senators to upset the arrangements entered into by a majority. That does not seem to me to be fair. Honorable senators generally have always tried to act together in a friendly way in order to convenience the majority ; but if Senator Higgs’ proposal is agreed to, and we agree to a practice under which the motion for the adjournment of the Senate may be debated at any length, we shall probably do away altogether with the friendly feeling which has always existed amongst us with respect to motions for the adjournment. Ample opportunities are afforded under the Standing Orders to any honorable senator to bring forward any matter he may desire to have discussed in an orderly way. Under the peculiar circumstances connected with the Senate, the motion “ That the Senate do now adjourn “ ought to be carried or negatived without debate, and should not be made an occasion for long speeches. Senator Higgs is quite within his rights in bringing the matter forward, and is correct in his statement of facts in the preamble of his motion. The matter was very slightly discussed in dealing with the Standing Orders, but there is no doubt that it was supposed that by striking out thereference to the motion “ That . theSenate do now adjourn,” honorable senators would be given an opportunity to debate any subject on that motion.. The President has ruled that, according to astrict interpretation of the Standing Orders, everything said upon the motion “ That theSenate do now adjourn “ -must be relevantto the question. He has said that he mustrule in that way unless by resolution the* Senate indicates a desire that he should ruleotherwise, and permit the discussion of” irrelevant questions. I hope that honorablesenators will consider the matter carefully,, and if they believe that no irreparableinjury will be done, or that honorable senators will suffer no undue restriction of theright of debate, they will hesitate tointerfere with the practice which hasbeen adopted in this Chamber hitherto, and which on the whole has given very satisfactory results.
– When the alteration of the Standing: Orders referred to in this motion was made, it was evident to every honorable senator that’ the intention was to give an opportunity for the fullest consideration of any matter of urgency that might arise at any time.
– There is no reference to urgency in this motion.
– I am putting my case, and the Attorney-General must recognise that there could be no other object for the alteration made in the Standing Orders. What was the reference to themotion for the adjournment of the Senate struck out for ? Was it not for the purpose of exempting that motion from the number of motions upon which irrelevant matters may not be discussed? Why should any objection be raised at this stage to what was done when we dealt with the Standing Orders? I know that when an attempt was made to discuss a question on the adjournment of the Senate, there was some little agitation in the minds of honorable senators as tothe possibility of losing their trains, and I believe that it was to some extent in consideration of this that the President refrained from giving a definite rulingwith respect to the position in which =an honorable senator placed himself in raising any irrelevant discussion on such -a motion. But I ask you, sir, and the Attorney-General, for what reason the alteration of the Standing Orders was made 1 Was it for fun ? Were honorable senators jesting with each other when, after discussion, they decided to strike out certain words from standing order 416 1 Was that all nonsense, intended merely for the purpose of wasting time ? We all know that it was “for the purpose of putting members of the Senate in exactly the same position as members of another place in this respect. We have honorable senators here who will probably not vote for Senator Higgs’ motion, and yet at various times they cry -out against any comparisons being made of the Senate with a Legislative Council or any body of that description. But when an honest attempt is made to place honorable senators in exactly the same position as honorable members, of the House of Representatives, in respect of questions of urgency or otherwise, “they say there is nothing in it. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has mentioned the custom which prevailed in “the State from which he and I come, and he has stated that we have ample opportunity for discussing matters of urgency, by moving the adjournment of the Senate at the commencement of a sitting. That is a very inconvenient practice, and, if Senator Higgs’ motion is agreed to, it will do away with the necessity, except on very special -occasions, ‘initiating a discussion at such a stage. During a sitting of the Senate, any matter of importance may suddenly arise. Great Britain may declare war with Russia ; a rebellion may take place, in India, -or another war may break, out in South Africa, and it would be a very convenient time for honorable senators., to express their views in connexion with a subject of that description, on the motion “ That the Senate do now adjourn.” I do not see why they should not be given that opportunity.
– They might abuse it.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has said that the motion, if agreed to, would give an opportunity to a cantankerous senator to annoy other members of the Senate. I ask honorable senators to look around the Chamber, and say whether there are any such characters here. I do not know a single member of the> Senate who in the past has not been prepared to resume his seat when he has learnt that his fellow senators would be subjected to inconvenience.if he unreasonably continued a discussion. We have every reason to believe that in the future equal care will be taken by the electors in the selection of honorable senators, and we have no cause to fear anything of the kind suggested. If an occasion, should arise when it is necessary to discuss a question on the adjournment of the Senate, honorable senators should be given the right to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the motion for adjournment, and I do not think that it will ever be abused. I remind honorable senators who suggest that the practice would be abused that any honorable senator who so offended would receive no sympathy from the members of the Senate. Every member of the Senate recognises his obligation to pay some little respect to the feelings and convenience of his fellow senators. I believe that the recognition of that obligation will be sufficient to prevent any abuse of the proposal submitted by Senator Higgs. I point out that the provision which Senator Higgs seeks to carry is already in existence, and the adoption of this motion will only confirm the previous action of the Senate. If an epidemic broke out in any State, involving danger to the safety of citizens in other States, and something might be done by the Senate to avert the danger, would it not be the duty of any honorable senator, on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, to. call attention to the matter, and suggest a remedy ? We know that in Victoria recently there was such a thing as swine fever. Senator Fraser will probably know something about that. We know the honorable senator is interested in. connexion with all kinds* of production - cereal, animal, ‘ and mineral. The honorable senator has always led us to believe that if an epidemic occurred in any State which might involve the safety of the herds in anyother State, and we could do anything to save the situation, it would be our duty, if a discussion on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate would effect the purpose, to initiate such a discussion. Honorable senators are aware that there has been an outbreak of smallpox in Tasmania, and. Senator Dobson will probably know some-, thing about that. If it were necessary for the protection of other portions of the Commonwealth that a matter of that kind should be brought before the Senate, it would be our duty to initiate a discussion upon it, and to suggest such action as might result in securing the safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Seeing that in every other Parliament in the world this opportunity is afforded for discussion, that the House of Representatives has a similar provision, and that we should have some confidence in the wisdom of those with whom we are associated, we ought to give ample opportunity for the discussion of any question on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. With that intention in view, and with no thought that any honorable senator will be found to abuse the privilege, but believing that it will always be exercised in the best interests of the Commonwealth, I hope the motion submitted by Senator Higgs will be carried.
– I should like to say a word or two upon this matter. The position is this : As stated in the preamble to Senator Higgs’ motion, an amendment to standing order 416 was carried in Committee of the Senate, and the Senate afterwards adopted the resolution of the Committee, that the words “That the Senate do now adjourn “ be left out. But the Senate did not carry the matter any further. We did not alter standing order No. 405, which provides that all discussions shall be relevant to the motion before the Chair. We made no alteration of that standing order, relating to the motion “ That the Senate do now adjourn.” So that we have left the motion “That the Senate do now adjourn” governed by standing order 405, though some honorable senators undoubtedly did . intend to provide that any matter might be discussed on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. Senator McGregor has asked whether honorable senators agreed to amendment upon standing order 416 for fun. Undoubtedly they did not. Under the Standing Orders, as they came from the Standing Orders Committee, the motion “ That the Senate do now adjourn” was to be put without any debate. Under standing order 416, as amended, the motion could be debated ; but it seems to me that that debate is governed by standing order 405, and must be confined to the question whether the Senate do adjourn or not. I am indebted to the courtesy of Senator Higgs for having brought forward his motion in this form. It is only right that honorable senators should; say whether or not they desire to alter standing order 405. This is not a question involving the status, position, or power of the Senate. It is merely a. question of convenience as to the manner in which public business may be best carried on. I remind honorable senators thai for three years, practically speaking, weworked under a standing order which provided that this motion should be putwithout debate. I ask Senator Higgs, whether, in consequence, any single member of the Senate has been prevented from bringing forward any grievance. There has not been one occasion of the kind that I know of. It is quite true that in most Houses of Legislature irrelevant matters, may be discussed upon the motion for theadjournment. But we must not forget that we have two standing orders peculiar tothe Senate under which grievances may bebrought forward.
– We have no grievanceday.
– We have a standingorder under which, upon the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend,, any matter may be brought forward for discussion. That is peculiar to the Senate. We have also a standing order which provides that, before the business of the day is entered upon, a motion may be madethat the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until an unusual hour. That is alsoa somewhat novel standing order, and honorable senators have an opportunity under it of bringing forward grievances which is not open to membersof all ordinary Houses of Legislature. But I do mot think that this is a matter of any great importance. It is entirely a question for honorable senators to decide, and I would ask them to consider whether or not we shall get on any better than we havedone under our Standing Orders. I would ask any honorable senator to bring forward an instance in which’ he has been prevented from ventilating a grievance at the earliest opportunity under the standing order which has been in force for the last twoyears and a half. Only the other day five> Bills were brought up to the Senate. On the motion for the first readings of thoseBills, any matter could have been discussedNo honorable senator made an attempt todiscuss any question, and the first readingof each Bill was passed without debate-
Does not that show that there was nothing urgent in the mind of any honorable senator which required to be brought forward ?
– We always take the first reading of a Bill as formal.
– We have a new standing order which says that the first reading of any Bill which the Senate may not amend mal’ be debated, and that the debate need not be relevant to the subjectmatter.
– Honorable senators have only observed the old parliamentary practice.
– It has been done away with.
– Yes ; but it is observed by honorable senators notwithstanding the new standing order.
– I do not think that honorable senators can- plead that they did not know of the existence of the standing order, because, not very long previously, on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate might not amend, we had a very long debate, in which all manner of questions were discussed, and the debate was adjourned until the following day. So far as I am myself concerned as President this is a matter in which I have not- the slightest feeling. Whatever the Senate may decide, I shall most cheerfully administer its decision. It does not matter to me in the slightest degree whether or not the debate on a motion for adjournment is to be relevant to the subject-matter. I am only expressing my opinion as a member’ of the Senate as to what would be the most convenient practice. I shall vote against the motion. Of course, we cannot alter the standing order this session, because we have a rule which says that a decision cannot be altered during the same session unless certain formalities are complied with; but the session is so near its end that I shall have no hesitation in carrying into effect any resolution which the Senate may arrive at.
– I intend to support the motion, and I must confess that I am rather astonished at the opposition which it has received from the Government and several honorable senators. The reasons for the opposition have been of a most surprising character. For instance, the Attorney-General was afraid that some cantankerous senator would use the rule as a weapon with which to badger and annoy other honorable senators. I was wondering whether it was in order for him to say, or even to assume, that any honorable senator would be cantankerous. I do not know what the meaning of the word is.
– I do not think that I used the word.
– I really cannot say whether it was used by the AttorneyGeneral or Senator Playford, but it was used by one Minister or the other. In any case’ if Senator Drake did not use the word he appeared to be very much afraid that honorable senators might abuse a right of this character. I ask honorable senators whether it was ip order or consonant with the dignity of the Attorney-General for him to assume gratuitously than any honorable senator would abuse any form of the Senate.
– Yes; all power is abused sometimes.
– Evidently the honorable senator has a very guilty mind, and if his conscience could be laid open to public view, I think it would present a very sorry sight. I think it was ungenerous for the Attorney-General to assume that any honorable senator would abuse this privilege or make use of his position to annoy, badger, or cause inconvenience to any one. The only assumption on which our rules should be founded is that every honorable senator would do the best he could to promote the public interest. We have not had an example of a rule being abused. The House of Representatives has a rule which permits of irrelevant questions being discussed on the motion for its adjournment. Have we heard of the rule being abused ? And if it has not been abused, is Senator Drake entitled to assume that we are such a disreputable set of persons that we cannot be trusted with the same privilege as our brethren in the other House ? I do not know whether he intended to insult honorable senators, but it appears to me that that is really what he has done. In his view, the members of the other House are grown men, who can be trusted to use such powers as they possess with discretion and moderation, but we are mere children, who cannot be permitted the same degree of latitude. If the members of the British House of Commons, and the members of the Canadian Parliament, can be trusted with a privilege of this character, and if it has been found to work beneficially in the public interest in other Legislatures, why cannot it be introduced here 1 If all the evils, which the Minister so laboriously pleaded would ensue here, had resulted in the other House, would not the standing order have been abolished? It has existed there for nearly three years without provoking a complaint. No one has abused this privilege, and it is profitably taken advantage of at the close of almost every sitting, as honorable senators can see, if they refer to the reports of its proceedings. How is it that we find any honorable: senators opposed to the proposition of Senator Higgs f I think that Senator McGregor gave some very excellent reasons why it should be adopted. Unforeseen contingencies are always arising in public matters. And it is always desirable that at the end of every sitting honorable senators should have an opportunity of questioning the Government or bringing forward any matter of public importance which has arisen probably suddenly. Iri your address, sir, you said that we had ample opportunity of bringing up grievances, and you referred to Supply Bills ; but as a rule we do not have a Supply Bill brought in more often than once a month. You also referred to the fact that honorable senators at the begin ning of a sitting can move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss any question of urgent public importance. No doubt that statement is true, but very often honorable senators do not desire to take that course. On the final motion for- adjournment an honorable senator might merely wish to elicit information which could be conveyed in the shortest possible time, and without provoking any debate, whereas when a matter is brought forward at the beginning of a sitting, there is always a probability that it will be as exhaustively debated as the rules of the Senate will permit. I would appeal to Senator Drake and other opponents of this motion to reflect and see whether they cannot change their minds. I do- not believe that the privilege, if granted, would be abused. My experience has been that honorable senators in all parts of the Chamber have always been ready to accommodate themselves to the convenience of others. The Attorney-General said that on Friday afternoons honorable senators wish to get away to Sydney and Adelaide, and that if this motion were passed a discussion on some question might be raised, and prevent them from leaving. On no occasion has an honorable senator attempted to interfere in any way with the convenience of the majority: The utmost good will and readiness to comply with the desire of others has been displayed on all sides of the Chamber, and there appears to be no reason for anticipating that anything different will happen in the future.
– I intend to support the motion, because I think it ii desirable that honorable senators should have the fullest opportunity of bringing forward any grievance, or calling attention to any matter of importance. In the circumstances< under which the Senate ordinarily adjourns, it is not at all likely that this opportunity of ventilating a grievance would be abused. When the motion for the adjournment is moved, whether early or late, honorable senators are all ready for leaving, and it would be almost with an ill grace that tHey would remain behind - certainly they would not be prepared to stay behind to listen to anything which was of no moment. I do not think for a second that there would be any serious risk of the privilege being abused. I wish to tell you, sir, that your statement that the non-existence of this power has been no obstacle to the submission of grievances is, with respect to one case, inaccurate. Had such a rule been in force last session I should have been enabled to refer to a subject which I was unable to reach for a long time. During the months of July and August I - was put to a good deal of inconvenience and, I confess, to a little annoyance by my inability to bring forward a matter which to me was of some importance. Had a rule of this kind been in force I should certainly have brought forward the subject, and I think the Senate would have considered that I was not abusing my privilege. In all the circumstances I trust that even the members of the Government will withdraw their opposition to this motion, and grant this very reasonable privilege to honorable senators.
– I quite agree, sir, with your statement that there is ample provision in standing order 182 to enable honorable senators to ventilate a grievance on the first reading of any Bill which the Senate may not amend ; but at the same time I do not think it would do any harm to allow a grievance to be ventilated on a motion to close the- sitting of the
Senate. If you rely absolutely on that standing order then you invite honorable senators to start the ventilation of their grievances at the commencement of the sitting, whereas if this motion were passed only real grievances about which honorable senators felt deeply would be likely to be ventilated. It is scarcely necessary for me to point out that when the adjournment of the Senate is moved at the beginning of a sitting, the ventilation of the grievance probably occupies three quarters of the sitting, and practically the sitting is of little value. It is for that reason that I deprecate inviting honorable senators to ventilate their grievances at the commencement of sittings, and advocate that provision should be made for them to discuss matters in which they are interested at the end of the day, when only really tangible grievances are likely to be mentioned.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I am sorry that so many honorable senators oppose this motion. If they reason with themselves for a moment they will see that if there is likely to be any danger accruing from carrying it, that danger already exists. Senator Drake knows that we can debate the motion “ That the Senate do now adjourn “ and can advance reasons why the sitting should be continued. Any honorable senator who desires to prove obstructive can do so. The intelligence and ingenuity ‘ of honorable senators is sufficient to enable them to delay the business if they were cantankerous enough to wish to do so. There are hundreds of different subjects that might be discussed if it were desired to cause delay. But my only wish is to give an opportunity to those who have genuine grievances to bring them forward at the close of the business of the day, so that they may be considered and dealt with as soon as possible. Those honorable senators who do not wish to listencan go home. Those who think that the sitting has lasted long enough can either leave or move “ That the Senate do now divide “ ; -whereupon, if it is wish of the Senate, the debate will be cut short.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is the duty of the Federal Government to at once undertake the transhipment of those kanakas who desire to return to their islands, or who are not under engagement to work on sugar plantations.
Honorable senators must have been very much surprised to see in the newspapers quite recently a telegram stating that the recruiting of kanakas had been stopped in the Solomon Islands, and that kanakas were not being deported to their islands. I find that this state of things has arisen through the action of Mr. Woodford, the Government Resident in the Solomon Islands, in prohibiting therecruiting and the landing of kanakas. The majority of kanakas have come from the Solomon Islands, which consist of a group of about thirteen or fourteen. I cannot understand why Mr. Woodford has taken this action. The Government of the State of Queensland have, I believe, put themselves in communication with the Colonial Office, in order to endeavour to get the prohibition removed. I think that the Federal Government has authority under the Pacific Island Labourers Act to deport kanakas who wish to return to their islands, and also to deport those who are not under engagement to work on sugar plantations. The figures giving the number of kanakas who have been brought into Queensland, and the number who return annually, show that on an average about . 1,500 kanakas arrive every year, and about 800 or 900 return.
– What period do those figures cover?
– I am speaking particularly of the year 1900, when 1,743 kanakas were brought into the Common wealth, and 940 were deported to their islands.
– Is that the last year for which the honorable senator has figures ?
– Yes. It will be found that that is about the average. At any rate fully 800 kanakas have been in the habit of going back to the islands every year. Owing to the action taken by Mr. Woodford, these departures are stopped. I venture to think, although I have not any statistics at hand, that there must be hundreds of kanakas in Queensland at the present time who wish to return to their islands, but who are not permitted to do so because the recruiting vessels have ceased to recruit.
– Has the honorable senator any information to that effect ?
– Only the information appearing in the Queensland Hansard with reference to a question which was answered by the Premier, to the effect that Mr. Woodford, the Government Resident, had stopped recruiting, and had issued instructions that no more kanakas were to be lauded at the islands until further legislation had been passed. That seems to me to be a sufficient reason why the matter should be brought before the Federal Parliament by means of a motion of this kind. Section 8 of the Pacific Island Labourers Act reads as follows : -
An officer authorized in that behalf may bring before a Court of summary jurisdiction a Pacific Island labourer found in Australia before the 31st day of December, 1906, whom he reasonably supposes not to be employed under an agreement; and the Court, if satisfied that he is not and has not during .the preceding month been so employed, shall order him to be deported from Australia, and he shall be deported accordingly.
The Minister may order a Pacific Island labourer found, in Australia after the 31st day of December, 1906, to be deported from Australia, and thereupon he shall be deported accordingly.
Section 11 says -
The Governor-General may make regulations for carrying out this Act.
Up to the present evidently the Government have not drawn up regulations to carry out the Pacific Island Labourers Act. It is a matter of surprise that the Government have not done so, because the GovernorGeneral, Lord Tennyson, some time ago advised the Imperial authorities not to give their assent to the Act until the regulations had been passed or framed.
– How could the regulations be passed before the Act was assented to?
– The Attorney-General knows very well that the Governor-General advised the Colonial Office in that direction. Knowing that the Government have had a great deal to do, I make due allowance for the fact that the regulations have not been drawn up. But Senator Drake will see the great necessity there is for their issue, from the fact that Mr. Woodford, the Govern ment Resident, has stopped recruiting, and that, such being the case, the labour vessels have ceased to go to the islands, and the kanakas who wish to return are prevented from doing so. We have power under the Act’ to deport kanakas who wish to return. The kanakas can claim the right to be deported. In fact, it is part of the agreement under which they are engaged that they are to be returned whence they came. Let me read to Senator Drake a copy of a letter which appears in the Worker newspaper of 8th November, 1902. It is there related that a northern correspondent, who does not wish his name and address to be disclosed, has forwarded a copy of a letter received by one kanaka from another. I will not attempt to give the Senate the benefit of the kanaka dialect, but I will read the letter as best I can. The extract is as follows : -
This is what Newboo writes to Manowel “ You tell em me you want to go home, but Government he no let you fellow go. Me too. Me been ask em Government plenty time before. Him he gammon alonga you and me fellow all the time. Me ask him, he say, ‘ Schooner he no stop where he go alonga place belonga you. You go work lit bit, b3’-and-by schooner he come up.’ Me go more; him he tell me fellow, Schooner he go - finnish ;. too late now. You go work little bit. ‘ . . . Me want to go home to father and sister ; want to look alonga face belonga me, but all same cant help it.” Newboo consoles his mate and himself by referring to “ the minister’s” promise to give him “plenty school suppose Government no let em you and me fellow go home.”
Honorable senators will recollect the deputation of kanakas that waited upon the GovernorGeneral at Rockhampton, and who presented a petition asking that they should not be deported. Some of them were able to prove that they had been in Queensland for twenty or thirty years. Some were able to prove that ‘they had married and reared families. In giving reasons why they should not be deported, they said that they were brought into Queensland on the understanding that they should be returned to their islands, but that that understanding was not carried out. They said - “We were not permitted to return to our islands, and we settled here, find ought to ‘be permitted to remain.” I feel certain that under the regime of the late Government in Queensland no attempt was made to return the kanakas to their islands in accordance with the spirit of the agreements. I mean to say that the Queensland Government did not put themselves out of ‘ their way to return kanakas. Now we have a new Government in power there, and I have no doubt that they will co-operate with the Federal Government in carrying out the Act.
– The Queensland Government have not carried out their own Act.
– There is no doubt that a great deal of the administration of the Pacific Island Labourers Act rests upon the shoulders of the State Government. But the Federal Government also have a duty to perform. At any rate they should make inquiries as to whether there are any kanakas in Queensland who desire to return to their homes, and should consult with the State Government to see whether they will provide facilities for those kanakas to return. Within a very few months the recruiting of kanakas must stop. Not a single kanaka can be brought into Queensland after next March. The Government will, therefore, realize what a great necessity there is for preparing a set of regulations to carry out the objects of the Pacific Island Labourers Act. I am sure that the Government must know from the records that hundreds of kanakas have been unable to rat arn to their islands.
– From what source does the honorable senator get that information ?
– The Attorney-General will not deny that several hundreds of kanakas have been returning every year up to the commencement of this year. The honorable and learned senator understands the kanaka traffic as well as any one. No one will attempt to give the honorable and learned senator any information upon the subject. He knows that hundreds of kanakas had been returned to their islands up ‘ to the end of last year. We are informed that the recruiting and the landing of kanakas at the Solomon Islands have been stopped. Knowing, as we do, that hundreds of kanakas have been in the habit of returning to their islands every year, it must necessarily follow that hundreds will desire to return during 1903, and the stoppage of the landing of kanakas at the Solomon Islands will prevent kanakas being returned to their homes. It is the duty of the Federal Government to move in this matter. I do not think they should move without consulting the State Government, but they certainly should make some attempt to see that kanakas who desire to go back to their islands are given an opportunity of doing so. Out of the 1,500 kanakas who may be brought into Queensland, during a given year, making allowance for the average of 300 who die every year, there must be a large number who find that Queensland and the work on the plantations is not what it has been represented to them to be, and who are desirous of getting back to their homes. I hope Ministers will see their way clear to take some action in this matter.
– I do not for a moment blame Senator Higgs for bringing this matter forward. But I think the honorable senator will, admit that at present he is taking action upon somewhat scanty information. I presume that if the honorable senator had any case he would have brought it forward, but no case has yet been submitted to show that the law is not being carried out at the present time. Last year we passed a Federal Act, which, as honorable senators are aware, is being carried out through the instrumentality of the State Government. The State laws for certain purposes are still in existence, and I presume that action is being taken under them. The Federal law is being carried out by a State agency, and I am so far unaware of any instance in which either the State or the Federal law has not been given effect to. I should learn with very great regret that the gradual deportation of the kanakas had slackened off in any way. Honorable senators must be aware that that would make the task of the Federal Government in 1906 very much more difficult. Senator Higgs has referred to the arrivals and departures for the year 1900, but he must bear in mind that the diminished importations of kanakas under the Federal law commenced only in the year 1902. The Federal Act provides that in the year 1902 the number that may be introduced .”hall be only three-fourths of the number returned to their native islands, and in 1903, the present year, not more than half of the numbers returned can be introduced. During last year and this year, we may safely conclude that the number of kanakas in Queensland has been considerably reduced. I point out to Senator Higgs, if he speaks now of there having been diminished recruiting in consequence of a recruiting ground being stopped, that that will cut both ways, because the number introduced depends under the Federal law upon the number taken back. If there is a very small importation, the probability is that the number in the Commonwealth is being considerably decreased, and I hope it is.
– The number in Queensland on the 30th June, 1903, was 8,014, as against 9,327 at the time of the 1901 census.
– That is a ‘diminution of over 1,300 up to that date. That is a very considerable diminution, and the reduction of the number must increase from this time, because there will be deportations and no importations after March of next year. No’ licences to recruit can be issued after the 31st December of this year; but under licences issued previous to that date, the importations may continue until about March of next year, when they will absolutely cease. The deportation through the running out of the terms of the agreements will continue, so that we hope that between now and the end of 1906 the number of kanakas in Queensland will be very considerably decreased. I have no official information that Mr. Woodford has reported against the return of islanders to the Solomons, nor do I know whether the report applies to the ‘whole of the Solomon Islands. It may perhaps apply only to some particular islands, where conditions are disturbed, and where for that reason it may be considered undesirable that islanders should be landed. Honorable senators must bear in mind that the Government gave apledge to Parliament in connexion with the return of the islanders, that they should not be returned under conditions which would involve danger to their lives. If Mr. Woodford’s report is to the effect that it is not safe to land islanders at the Solomon Islands, there are good humanitarian reasons for discontinuing the deportation of kanakas to those islands. No case has yet been reported to the Government in which the law is not being carried out. Section 8 of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, to which Senator Higgs has referred, provides in the first paragraph for the carrying out of the Federal law, through State instruments. “ The officer authorized in that behalf.” ‘ who is at present one of the State officers,, under that section may bring before a Court of summary jurisdiction any Pacific islander whom he reasonably believes is not employed under any agreement. If it is proved to thesatisfaction of the justice that the islander is not under any agreement, the magistratemay order him to be deported from Australia, and he must be deported accordingly. I have not heard yet of any case of failure tocarry out the Federal law in Queensland. Certainly, before we take- any such action as Senator Higgs proposes, we should be perfectly satisfied that the StateGovernment is not causing the Federal law to be . given effect to. The second paragraph of the section to which the honorable senator has referred, dealing with the period after the 31st December, 1906,. provides that the Minister may order a Pacific islander to be deported from Australia, and that he shall thereupon be deported accordingly. It becomes clearthat from that time the duty will be thrown directly upon the Federal Government of seeing that the kanakas are deported. I think that up to that time we shall act wisely in leaving the matter to be carried out by the State Government, especially when we have a feeling of confidence, which Senator Higgs indicates that he has, that the Government of Queensland will do its duty in this matter. I offer noobjection to the suggestion of the honorable senator, that we should make inquiries and find out from the State ‘ Government of Queensland exactly what are the facts, how many kanakas there are in Queensland at the present time, and whether there has been any hindrance to the deportation of those who should be deported, according toeither State or Federal law.
– What about the regulations ?
– The matter is being attended to in the Department for External Affairs, and I suppose that when the officers of the Department get a little spare time from the burden of work which has fallen upon them of late, it will be dealt with. So far as I am aware, no ill effects have resulted from the fact that the regulations have not been framed up to the present time. I presume that on the understanding that inquiry will be made from the Government of Queensland to find out how the matter stands, Senator Higgs will not be disposed to press his motion. If the honorable senator will inform me that he will not press his motion to a division, I will undertake to suggest to the Prime Minister that an inquiry should be made. Is Senator Higgs satisfied with that proposal 1
– I should rather reply later on.
– I do not think that this is a motion which should be carried at the present time. Senator Higgs admits that we are not in possession of the facts.
– I have referred the honorable and learned senator to information appearing in the Queensland Ilansard.
– I have not time even to read the Federal Hansard, and I certainly have no time to read State Hansards. The information which the. honorable senator has given from the Queensland Hansa/rd comes to me as something new, but it is information that was given in answer to a .question put in the Legislative Assembly in Queensland, and certainly that is not a sufficient ground upon which to found a motion of this kind. If Senator Higgs has heard something which he thinks necessitates an inquiry, we shall have an inquiry made, and find out -all. that is necessary.
– Does the honorable and learned senator deny that it is the duty of the Federal Government to see the Act carried out?
– I think that the Government are doing their duty at present, in allowing the Federal Act to be carried out through State instrumentality. At present, State officers are administering the Federal Act, and no case has been brought before us to show that the Act is not being properly carried out by the State authorities. That being, so, it would be exceedingly undesirable for the Senate to pass a motion of this kind, which would practically amount to an assertion that the State Government of Queensland has not been doing its dutv in this matter, and that it is necessary that we should take the duty out of its hands. I think it would be rather unbecoming to assume that the State Government has not in this matter done its duty, and to pass a motion of this kind can only mean one thing, and that is,- that the duty hitherto performed by the State Government has not been properly performed. I hope Senator Higgs will not press his motion, and if I am in order, I will move that the debate be adjourned.
– The honorable and learned senator cannot move that motion, having spoken to the question.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).There certainly appears to be some screw loose in connexion with this matter. We are all aware of the legislation passed a session or two ago to stop the traffic in kanakas, and to send those introduced home to their islands. The Imperial Government is aware of the legislation we have passed, and we find the Colonial Office issuing an order to the effect that the recruiting and landing of Solomon Islanders is prohibited, pending further legislation. So long as this order remains in force, apparently not a single kanaka can be sent back to his island. The Federal Government should at once ascertain from the Colonial Office whether this step has been taken under official instructions, and if so, what are the reasons for it. Being naturally of a suspicious turn of mind, I do not say that any such thing has happened, but knowing the friendly relations which exist between Senator Dobson and Mr. Chamberlain, I cannot help thinking that it is possible that the honorable and learned senator may have recommended this to Mr. Chamberlain, as a method of checkmating the Federal Government in the deportation of kanakas. I can. discover no reason for the issue of an order such as this, unless the motive behind it is to place some barrier in the way of carrying out the legislation passed by the Federal Parliament. I do not know whether Mr. Woodford, the Government Resident in the. Solomon Islands, has given any reasons for the issue of the order, but it is a remark-‘ able fact that immediately after the Pacific Island Labourers Act was passed it was discovered that there was considerable danger in landing these islanders in their native places. I was a member of the Queensland Parliament for years before I came down here, and every session when the Estimates were being dealt with, I asked questions as to whether there was any difficulty in landing kanakas, and the invariable answer I received was that there was- no difficulty, and that there was never any trouble between the recruiting vessels and the- natives. But immediately this Federal legislation was passed it was discovered that there was some very great difficulty in landing kanakas upon the islands from which they came, that they were being slaughtered on account of being landed where they ought not to have been landed, and that every obstacle was placed in the way of returning them to their homes.
– Were they recruiting from the same island 1
– They were recruiting from exactly the same island. This circumstance, in my opinion, gives an air of suspicion to the whole transaction. It almost appears to me as if this new move on the part of the Government Resident was merely a contrivance to place some impediment in the way of Federal legislation and the intention of the people of Australia being given effect to, in order that breathing time may be secured for the advocates of coloured labour, during which time it may be possible to reverse the public verdict.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that 1
– I do not know whether I believe it or not. I am not going to “ give myself away,” but I have had such ample .and unfortunate experience of the black labour party that I am inclined to regard with suspicion every move they make. My experience of the party in the past has been that they have stopped at nothing to gain their ends. Although beaten now and again, and repulsed often, they have never abandoned their design of developing the northern part of Australia with coloured labour. Having that experience, I am more than justified in coming to the conclusion that, although now, as we may say, beaten decisively, they have not abandoned all hope of bringing the public round to their way of thinking. On no other assumption can I explain the extraordinary position taken up by the Colonial Office.
– Why has recruiting been stopped ?
– I really cannot say. It is the duty of the Federal Government to ascertain why recruiting has been stopped, and some communication ought to have passed between the Federal Government and the Imperial authorities on the subject. The very fact that the Federal Government seem to be without any information appears to me to place the matter in rather an unfavorable light.
– -Is not there information that some kanakas were killed on being returned to their islands 1
– I do not know whether or not that is the information.
– The honorable senator need not “ give himself away,” but is not. that the fact ?
– I cannot say. T. have already pointed out that these discoveries about killing, wounding, and eatinghave been made only since the Federal legislation has been passed. Either such things occurred before that legislation or they did not ; and on the evidence of the Queensland Government they did not occur. I took particular care, as may be seen from, the Queensland Ilansard, to ask almost every session whether there had been any rowsbetween the native Polynesians and “ boys “ who were being landed from Queensland ? The invariable answer was that there had been no rows, but that the sweet spirit of peace brooded over the Solomon Islands - that there was no trouble either about the> landing of “ boys “ who were going home or about the recruiting of “ boys “ who desired, to come to Queensland. But, as I have said more than once, immediately theFederal legislation was passed the whole scene became one of turmoil and slaughter.
– -We got at the facts then.
– How was it that we did not get at the facts before ?
– That was the honorable senator’s fault.
– How could it be my fault, or the fault of the party to which I belong? We questioned the Queensland Government, and if the Government told, lies were we responsible 1 The fact of the matter is that the whole traffic, immoral in! itself, has been conducted in a most immoral fashion. I may say at once that I was. suspicious there wa& trouble in the landing of these “ boys,” and also in the recruiting.
– And yet the honorable senator was satisfied with the answers he received.
– I was compelled to be satisfied. I could not tell the members of the Queensland Government that they were liars. I was bound to accept their answers as truthful. I had my own misgivings, and that was the reason I put the questions. We are not, however, concerned with the past, but with the present. The Federal Parliament, with the sanction of the people of Australia, has passed a particular law which involves the sending of a large number of kanakas to the islands within the next few years. Unless the embargo on the part of the Home Government is removed those kanakas cannot be returned. What are we to do with the kanakas t If we are not permitted to send them home, are we to keep them in Queensland1! I for one object to the latter course. Even if these men are coloured, the contract with them ought to be carried out, and after they have served a certain time in Queensland they should be returned to the islands from whence they came. I find that on the 30th September this year the Queensland Premier was asked in Parliament -
To that the Premier replied -
It will be seen that, apparently, recruiting has been stopped, and what I have read shows what the Queensland Government have done. What are the Federal Government prepared to do? Have they taken any action 1 Are they going to carry out the will of the people of the Commonwealth as expressed in an Act passed by the Federal Parliament t We ought to have some distinct statement from the VicePresident of the Executive Council on the matter this afternoon. I do not think that Senator Higgs will be inclined to press his motion if he gets an assurance from the Government that they will second the action which apparently has been taken by the Queensland Government in making a representation to the Imperial authorities that unless the embargo is removed very great inconvenience will arise, and the internal policy of the Commonwealth will be interfered with. Before the debate concludes, we ought to have n more definite statement than that which has already been made by the Attorney-General.
– I trust that Senator Higgs will accede tothe request of the Attorney-General and withdraw his motion. If, however, the motion be pressed, I would point out that in one direction it does not seem to express; the intention of the mover. The motion speaks of transhipping kanakas who desires to return to the Islands, but not a word i& said there as to those kanakas whose engagements have not expired. I take it that Senator Higgs does not propose to return, kanakas who are under engagement.
– I think the following words, “ or who are not under engagement to work on sugar plantations,” had better be omitted, because the honorablesenator will then probably get the support, of the Senate for the first part of themotion, words being added excepting thosewhose engagements have not expired. As tothe danger of kanakas going back to theIslands, I would remind honorable senators, that on the 5th December, 1901, I drew their attention to extracts from a document prepared by the Secretary of the South Sea. Islands Boys’ Association, who said -
One of their claims is that they may be allowed’ to remain in the State and not be forced back totheir islands where their friends are dead, and, perhaps, the whole of their tribe slaughtered,, and they, too, would meet with the same fate.
We know, unfortunately, that it would in some cases be absolutely unsafe to attempt toreturn kanakas to their own islands. I shall not, however, discuss that subject now ; but evidence was given by a man who had accompanied returned islanders, and who said that he had actually seen a child taken from its parents and killed. Be’ that as it may, I think that Senator Higgs forgets that there is a new Ministry in Queensland, which, judging by the antecedents of some of the members, will take care thatthe Act is carried out in its entirety. Twomembers of the Labour Party are in theQueensland Ministry, and they, at all events, will endeavour to <see the Act carried into effect so far as the authorities of that State are concerned. If Senator Higgs will alter his motion in the way I have already suggested, it will probably be carried, but I think the assurance of the Attorney-General should suffice - that under the circumstanceseverything necessary will be done to conduct this traffic in’ accordance with the.Act.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I do not wish to press the motion to a division. The Attorney -General has given an assurance that he will cause inquiries to be made, and I am sure that he will find I had good reason for bringing this subject forward. I believe the Government will administer the Act sympathetically, but, at the same time, I urge the great necessity there is for regulations dealing with the deportation of the kanakas. I feel sure that, after a given time, the Queensland Government may request the Federal Government to take over the entire administration of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, and supervise the -deportation of kanakas. I beg leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That this Semite urges the Government to bring under the notice of the Admiralty the pressing necessity of having . a complete survey of the north-west coast, so that it may become less -dangerous to the lives of those who trade along that coast, and also for the safety of the growing commerce of the north-w est.
It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that” some months ago I drew attention to the necessity there was for a survey of the north-west coast in order to minimise the danger to shipping, which since that date has been somewhat intensified. On the 26th June last, I asked the present Attorney-General -
To those questions the Attorney-General replied - 1 and 2. As far asI am at present aware, there is only one surveying ship on the naval station. If the honorable senator will furnish me with particulars of the dangers in question the Prime Minister will make a communication to the Governor General, with a request that he will invite the Naval Commander-in-Chief to consider it.
Since that date I have supplied the Government with such information as came readily to hand from ship-owners in Western Australia, bearing out my contention as to the extremely dangerous nature of the northwest coast. There have been two very serious shipping accidents on the coast since I asked the questions which. I have read. One accident was to the well-known trading steamer, Sultan, and the other was to the steamer Bullara, which carries the mails, and both of these vessels struck on uncharted rocks. The result in both cases was considerable damage and a great deal of inconvenience, and the accidents fully justified the questions which I asked. This is a matter which requires attention at the very earliest moment, but, so far as I know, nothing has been done.
-By the Admiralty.
– By the Admiralty, of course. The north - west . coast is not naturally more dangerous than any other part of the Australian coast, but there has never been anything like an exhaustive survey made. The trade of the coast is of considerable importance to Western Australia, seeing that the whole of the meat supply for the State comes from the north-west district, and of course its cost is very considerably increased by the rates of freight. When we consider that life and property are in constant danger, and that the trade will naturally increase owing to the spread of settlement along the coast and also in the interior, I think it will be recognised that it is the duty of the Federal Government to urge the naval authorities to remove these very great drawbacks. The Australian Squadron is provided with all the scientific appliances for carrying out a survey, and the ships have ample time at their disposal. It would be much more satisfactory to the people of the Commonwealth, and much more beneficial to all concerned, if the ships were occupied in this useful work rather than laid up most of their time in Sydney harbor. I felt that if I were to allow the session to close without bringing forward the matter, I should be wanting in my public duty. From time to time the people of Western Australia have drawn attention to the necessity for a survey. The ship-owners of Fremantle have drawn attention to the occurrence of two accidents, and passed a resolution in favour of a survey being made. When all these facts are considered, it will be seen that the very dangerous nature of this coast can only be ascertained by making a complete survey. The many uncharted rocks, reefs, and shoals, and the strength and uncertainty of the currents, about which’ very little is known, are dangers which can only be minimized by the Australian Squadron carrying out a complete survey which we may very reasonably expect it to do. This part of the coast of the Commonwealth has been neglected more than any other part. “When it is remembered that it extends for some thousands of miles, it will be seen that it is utterly impossible for us to encourage settlement unless facilities can be given to vessels and others to do business along the coast. I hope that the Government will press the urgency’ of this matter on the attention of the powers that be, and that ,a survey will be carried out as soon as possible.
– I think that Senator De Largie is to be thanked for bringing this matter under the notice of the Senate. He has not exaggerated its great importance not only to Western Australia, but also to the rest of the Commonwealth. He will remember that the information which he was good enough to furnish to me was communicated to the right quarter, as I promised, and any additional information which he may have will be gladly forwarded by the Government to the Admiralty through the proper channel. But I do not think that he is likely to get much help from the Australian Squadron. I believe that, as a rule, the Admiralty do not care to ‘ send expensive warships to look for uncharted rocks, in case they should be found in some unexpected and disastrous way. This work is always done by special ships. At the present time there is only one survey ship on the coast. That, no doubt, is one of the difficulties to be overcome. I dare say that the Admiralty have at their command a number of survey ships, and that if we could convince them of the absolute necessity for making a survey they would send out a ship. The Government have no objection to the motion, and we shall be very happy to receive from the honorable senator any information on the subject, and forward it to the proper quarter, with a request that the necessary action may be taken.
– I desire -to say a few words in support of the motion. Of course, none of us would contemplate the sending of an expensive warship to do this work, because it would not be suitable for the purpose. Some four years ago Western Australia was visited by a proper surveying vessel, called the Pengum, and, no doubt, if this matter werebrought under the notice of the Admiralty in a pointed way, . it would be sent, out again. It was also employed in. Esperance Bay, and along the southern coast in doing useful work. The necessity for a survey of the north-west coast is very urgent. The Sultan was a very valuable vessel, built only five or six yearsago, and she was practically lost by running against an uncharted rock. The disaster that recently happened to two valuablevessels proves that it is imperative to makean early survey. . There is a great and increasing trade between Western Australia and Singapore, and all the vessels have topass over practically an unknown sea. When I mention that in our north-west ports the tide rises and falls to the extent of 30 or 40 feet - the greatest rise and fall of tide known to occur in any part of the world - honorable senators will understand what an immense effect it must have on the currents. I think that the Government should press this matter upon the attention of the Admiralty with all the influence that they can command, because the trade is. increasing rapidly. Only recently our north - west squatters have opened up a trade with South Africa in cattle. It is not a very big trade at the present time, but the vessels have to go over this unsurveyed water. Again, the local steam-ship companies charge a higher freight in respect to goods sent to that quarterthan is charged in any other part of Australia, simply because of the dangers which exist and the big premiums which arecharged by marine insurance companies. I hope that the Government will take immediate action in the interest of not only property, but also life.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I support the motion, which I may point out refers to only the “north-west coast,” meaning, I presume, the north-westcoast of Australia. The north-west coast of Tasmania is just as important to that State as the north-west coast of Australia is to the Commonwealth. The north-west and west coasts of Tasmania require to be surveyed very badly indeed. For years the Admiralty has been urged to make a survey by the State Government, the Chambers of Commerce, and the Marine Boards ; and the old cry is always raised that the- Imperial Government have not the ships available. On one occasion a surveying schooner did come down, but the weather was so rough that she did not stay very long. There are a great many uncharted rocks, whose existence is only made known in very bad weather by the break of the sea. Therefore, the small steamers have to keep a long way off this very dangerous coast. I hope that in any action which may be taken the Government will not forget the claims of the north-west and west coasts of Tasmania.
– I heartily indorse the remarks of Senator Macfarlane. It has been my fortune to live for eleven or twelve years in the western part of Tasmania, and I have known a number of most disastrous shipwrecks to occur owing entirely to the presence of uncharted rocks along the west coast. I certainly intend to give my hearty support to this motion, and I do not think that either Senator Macfarlane or myself can be accused of provincialism or narrow-mindedness if we also impress upon the Government the necessity of requesting the Admiralty to consider the claims of Tasmania in this regard. Only a few years ago a splendid vessel called the Australia was wrecked in a place where the presence of a rock was entirely unsuspected simply through going a few yards closer to the coast than the ordinary route. A proper survey of practically the whole coast line of Tasmania is urgently required in the interests of life and property.
– -I think it is most important that the north-west coast of Australia and the west coast and other parts of Tasmania should be surveyed at once. But it appears to me that this question, like every other, resolves itself in the last resort into a question of money. I am inclined to think that the Admiralty would put themselves out to send ships here to make both surveys, if the Commonwealth undertook to bear a fair proportion of the cost. When I was in office I had to write to the Imperial authorities with regard to getting part of the Tasmanian coast surveyed ; and it generally did resolve itself into a question of cost. Nine months ago His Majesty’s ship Egeria, one of their largest surveying boats, was sent to Vancouver, and was to remain there probably for three years ; but a friend tells me that the Admiralty state that she may only be kept there for twelve months. If the
Ministers will make immediate application to the Imperial authorities, it is quite possible that the Egeria or some other ship may be supplied to do this work if fair terms can be arranged.
– I do not suppose that any honorable senator will disagree with this proposal, but at the same time I should like to ask some of its earnest supporters to think a little about what they are asking, when they come to consider questions affecting British shipping and a question such as the naval subsidy. I think it does not bespeak the soundest of political principles, or show the truest spirit of independence, that we should be prepared to go cap in hand to the British Government and ask them at their expense to send out ships to survey our coast. It appears to me to be anything but statesmanlike for us to press the Home Government to undertake work like this - which, as we all know, they are ready to do to the best of their ability - and reward generous actions with such proposals as are too frequently and too strongly supported by certain sections in the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I think I can explain the provisions of this measure in a very few words. The British Extradition Act of 1870 applies to all British possessions, with this modification - that although the powers and functions under that Act may be performed by the Governor of any British possession, such a possession may legislate on the subject. If such legislation is passed, one of two things happens. Either the Imperial Act does not apply, or the local Act is read as part of the Imperial Act. Each of the States of Australia has passed an Extradition Act, with the exception of New South Wales: in each case providing that the powers and functions pertaining to extradition shall be vested in the Governor of the State, and that the power shall be exercised by a police magistrate. In New South Wales, however, the old power has to be exercised by the Governor of the State. What we propose to do in this measure is this - We first of all provide that the functions shall be .’exercised by the Governor-General ; that is to say, that the warrant of extradition shall be issued by the Governor-General. Thereby we make the whole of Australia one unit with regard to extradition. We then propose that the duties which are exercised in Great Britain by a police magistrate may in Australia be exercised by any stipendiary magistrate authorized by the GovernorGeneral for that purpose. That concludes the first part of the Bill, which really treats the States as a whole, with results, of course, that must be very satisfactory wherever extradition is applied for. The remaining clauses are taken from the Canadian Act, and they refer to cases where it is desirable to bring back criminals for crimes committed in the Commonwealth. At the present time, in order to procure the extradition of such criminals, it is necessary to work through the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with the result that very often delay occurs. A criminal might escape in consequence of that delay. The two clauses taken from the Canadian Act provide that where an extradition crime has been committed in the Commonwealth we may make application direct to a foreign Government to obtain the extradition of the criminal if he has sought refuge within their territory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment ; report adopted.
– I beg to moveThat the Bill be now read a second time.
At about the end of July, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Sir George Turner, made his Budget speech to the House of Representatives. I have had the pleasure of reading through that speech with a considerable amount of care, and, as an old Treasurer, I can say that a more full, a more straightforward, and a more complete statement of the financial position of the Commonwealth could not have been made. There were no frills about it ; it was a quiet, sensible, intelligent exposition of the financial position of the Commonwealth. Sir George Turner also furnished a most complete set of figures in connexion with the financial operations of the Commonwealth from the very commencement. I am quite sure that my honorable friend, Senator Pulsford, has looked through those figures with a considerable amount of interest, and has at his fingers’ ends any amount of information gleaned from that source with which he intends to favour the Senate. Of course, the position of a Federal Treasurer is very different from that of an ordinary State Treasurer. Most of our States Treasurers at the present time are puzzling their brains to know how to make both ends meet. I think there is hardly an exception to that rule. In some of the States the Treasurers are trying on the one hand to reduce expenditure, and on the other hand to makeup deficiencies by some increased taxation that shall not be too unpopular with the people. I do not look upon it as an altogether fortunate thing for a Treasurer to have an overflowing revenue, because there is always a danger when a Treasurer, a Government, and a Parliament can dip their hands practically as deep as. they like into the coffers of the State, of extravagance taking place. My experience in South Australia was that when we came out with a surplus of some £100,000 or £200,000 - it is a long time ago since we did that - the next year there was a considerable amount of extravagance. There were a number of roads which required tobe made, and of bridges that had to be constructed, with the result that in the following year there was a deficit.
– Did South Australia, ever have a surplus when the honorable senator was Treasurer?
– Yes, there were very considerable surpluses. I never came out with a deficit, and I was responsible for five State Budgets. I do not think that any other ex-Treasurer of South Australia can say that. Under ordinary circumstances, I might simply refer honorable senators tothe Budget statement of Sir George Turner, and to the various papers he has laid before Parliament. That would practically be the course adopted in one of our Legislative Councils. But the Senate has powers which the Legislative Councils do not possess.The Senate has the power to make requests, which ordinary Legislative Councils havenot. The Senate represents the States, and the States are deeply interested in the finances of the Commonwealth ; because, if there be any extravagance on the part of the Commonwealth Government, the States are the sufferers. They receive less from the
Commonwealth Treasurer, and therefore have to make up the deficiency by extra taxation. Therefore, I think I may be pardoned for making a brief Budget statement, which, in the language of the -aborigines, I might call a “ pickaninny Budget.”
– Hear, hear; by a pickaninny Minister.
– In the year 1902-3, the estimated receipts were £11,570, 104. The actual receipts for the year were £12,105,878, or an increase over the estimate of the Treasurer of £535,774. That increase is made up -as follows. Customs and Excise were estimated to return £9,115,000; but they actually produced £9,685,153, or an excess of £570,153. The .reason for that increase, so far as the Commonwealth was concerned, was rather an unfortunate one, because it was due entirely to the drought. The drought in the first place spoiled the sugar crop in Queensland, which was barely half what it had been in the preceding year. The result was that a number of the States had to import sugar, and had to pay duty upon if; at the rate of £6 per ton. That increased the Customs revenue. Then there were the duties on grain’ and fodder, which, in consequence of the drought, increased the revenue to a very considerable extent.
– By £500,000 or £600,000.
-There was an increase of a little over £500,000.
– Duties on food.
– Not so rauch on food - on grain in certain cases, and in other -cases on feed for stock. Stock-owners had to import a quantity of hay from New -Zealand and other parts. I turn next to the receipts of the Post and Telegraph Department. The two great revenueproducing Departments of the Commonwealth are the Department of Trade and Customs and the Post and Telegraph Department. The estimated Post-office receipts were £2,444,400. The actual receipts were £2,404,650. That is to say, the receipts were below the estimate to the extent of £39,750. These figures show that the Customs receipts were considerably above the estimate, but the Post-office receipts were slightly less than the estimate. When we come to the amounts that : have to be returned to the various States, we see that they benefited to a considerable extent from the unfortunate drought. New South Wales benefited to the extent of £469, 15b ; Victoria benefited to the extent of £245,641 ; Queensland benefited to the tune of £95,61S ; South Australia benefited to the tune of £26, 137 ; Western Australia by £8,999 ; and Tasmania by £37,059. Those large amounts were, it may be said, due almost wholly to the extra revenue received from imported sugar and imported grain and fodder, which were brought in to feed our stock - until, at all events, the rains came again. Now we come to the totals. The estimated amount to be returned to the States by the Treasurer last year was £7,317,848. The actual amount returned was £8,200,457, or £882,609 in excess of the Treasurer’s estimate. This was made up by increased receipts from Customs amounting to £535,774, after deducting the loss on the Post Office and a balance of £350,147 which was not paid over to the States, and which was unexpended at the time. The estimate of expenditure made by the Treasurer for the year 1903-4 is £4,320,449, an increase on the estimate for 1902-3 of £418,690, made up of new works and buildings, in excess of the amount actually expended last year of £266,322; new expenditure of £11S,729, including £75,000 more for electoral expenditure; £30,000 for sugar bounties; £91,635 additional expenditure in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department, occasioned by increments to public servants, and the operation of the minimum wage section of the Public Service Act ; £30,000 for the Pacific Cable and other expenditure. Honorable senators will see that we have to incur a very considerable amount of extra expenditure which we have not had to meet in previous years. I have now to deal with the question as to how the States may expect to fare this year in the matter of the surplus which the Treasurer will be able to give them. We expect this year that New South Wales will receive £489,373 less than last year, in consequence of the extra expenditure to which I have alluded ; Victoria, £160,859 less; Queensland, £114,365; South Australia, £37,183 ; Western Australia, £129,667 ; and Tasmania, £17,546 less than last year. The total estimate for 1903-4 is £7,251,464, as against a total actually paid in 1902-3 of £8,200,457, or £948,993 less than the previous year’s payments. That is accounted for by anticipated reductions in Customs receipts to the extent of £539,703, and an increase in expenditure of £418,690.
– How much of that is due to the operation of the minimum wage provision of the Public Service Act ?
– About £40,000. From all sources the total estimated receipts for 1903-4 amount to £11,566,175, as against actual receipts in 1902-3 of £12,105,878. The Treasurer, as honorable senators will observe, estimates that he will receive less this year than last year by £539,703. Dealing with the items upon which he expects to receive less, the first to be referred to is that of Customs. The Treasurer estimates his Customs receipts for 1903-4 at £9,107,000, and the actual receipts from this source in 1902-3 amounted to £9,685,153, the balance against the estimate for this year being £578,153. He estimates that in 1903-4 the Post Office Department will return £3,450,000, whilst the actual receipts for the previous year were £2,404,650. These figures indicate a slightly increased estimate of revenue to the extent of £45,350. We very frequently gauge the accuracy of a Treasurer’s estimate of Customs receipts from the actual receipts received on the first two or three months of the year, and I have received from the Treasurer a statement of the amount’ which has been received for the first three months of this year. The total estimate of receipts from Customs for the year is £9, 107,000, and the actual receipts for the first three months have amounted to £2,461,821. The actual receipts during the. corresponding period of the previous year amounted to £2,526,764. Honorable senators will notice that these figures indicate a falling off of revenue, and show that we have received less during the first three months of this year as compared with the corresponding period of the previous year by £64,943. But if we take the three months’ period as the fourth of the twelve months, making up the year, we shall find that the receipts show an increase upon the estimate of the Treasurer to the extent of £189,000. It must be remembered that during the first three months of the previous year there was very little received from sugar duties, or from duties upon grain and fodder, whereas during the first three months of this year the receipts from grain, fodder, and sugar have been considerable. We anticipate an excellent sugar crop in Queensland this year, and we anticipate throughout the States sufficient grain not only to supply our own wants, but to provide a considerable quantity for export. We look for good, fodder returns also. We shall, therefore,, find that the nine months left of the present financial year will show a considerable falling off in revenue’ receipts from Customs duties, and the chances are that, after all, the Treasurer’s estimate will not be very greatly exceeded. I believe that it will beslightly exceeded. I have noticed that some of the States Treasurers havetaken it into their heads to believe that they will receive a considerable increase upon the amount which the Treasurer estimates that they will receive. In my own State the Treasurer has made allowance for an increase of some £30,000.. What the State Treasurers do is, of course, their own look-out. The Federal Treasurer has told them what he believes he will be able to pay them. They have been acting upon the experience of last year, when they received a considerableincrease ‘upon the amount which the Treasurer estimated they would receive, and they are anticipating similar treatment this year.. The chances are that they may be left in the lurch, and the South Australian Treasurer, who estimates that the amount he will receive will be £30,000 in excess “of the Treasurer’s estimate, may find that theexcess will not amount to more than £10,000- or £20,000. I believe that the Treasurerwill have a surplus over his estimate, but I do not think it will be a very large surplus,, and it would be wise for the States Treasurers not to anticipate that they will receive, as they did last year, a very considerable sum in -excess of the Treasurer’s estimate.
– The honorable senator believes that there will be a good harvest throughout Australia.
– Speaking for South Australia I have not the slightest doubt that there will be a good harvest, if - and there is always an if in these matters until the grain is reaped and put in thebae - the crop is not effected by red rust, which is the thing we have to fear most. Weshall certainly have a heavy hay crop, even though we should get no more rain. Therewill also be a good wheat crop, even though we should get no» more rain, and we haveonly to fear the red rust, which is a fearful thing. In one year in South Australia it destroyed a whole crop, which would have- resulted in one of the finest harvests we ever had in that State.
– Does the honorable senator think that the consumers will get bread and meat any cheaper.
-I think they will get meat cheaper, but not bread, and I am not sure that it is desirable that they should get bread too cheap’. “We -desire to live and let live, in the Commonwealth. I know that in some portions of South Australia farmers were only getting ls. 6d. a bushel for grain, and, of course, “there was cartage down to the seaboard to be met. They hope to get a fair price for their wheat, and every one will benefit if a large section of the community, such as the farmers, get a fair price for what they produce. There may be a cry for a “ cheap loaf,” but if it is secured by means of low prices paid to the farmer, the cheap loaf is a curse rather than a blessing to the community. I have now to deal with the Post and Telegraph Department. I find that the actual expenditure -tor 1902-3 was .£2,569,017, whilst the estimated expenditure for 1903-4is £2,S23,502, or an increase of £254,485. This is accounted for by the Treasurer in the following way : - The expenditure on new works and buildings was £141,535 in 1902-3, and is estimated at £297,744 for 1903-4, an increase of £156,209. I am sorry to say that the increase in the expenditure in the Post and Telegraph department is considerable. It must be remembered that the expenditure upon new works and buildings is paid out of revenue, whereas in South Australia, and I believe in the majority of the States, all new buildings and additions to old buildings are paid for out of loan money.
– Not in Victoria.
– I do not think that Victoria is much better than her sister States in this respect.
– I think so. She shines in this particular.
– I am very glad to hear it. We are paying for these works out of revenue, and, as I have said, the increase of expenditure on this head,” is estimated to amount to £156,209. There is a loss of £29,400 estimated on the Pacific Cable, or in round numbers, £30,000 ; and an increase in the cost of the Vancouver mail service of £6,700.
– What is that for ? There are no new steamers used.
– I know nothing of the details as I have never managed the Department, but I ana informed that the increased cost will be £6,700. In connexion with the Tasmanian cable there is an increase of £2,250, and in connexion with the West Australian mails, an increase of £1,250. Then, a further increase of about £50,000 is shown in consequence of the increments which the Commonwealth is bound to pay to the State servants who were transferred with the Department. New appointments to the number of 213 are responsible for an increased expenditure of £15,000, but against that there has to be shown a saving of £25,000, the result of filling up vacancies at lower salaries. Altogether, the expenditure shows an increase of £297,000 as compared with the previous year. I desired to have a return showing the comparative cost of the Post and Telegraph Department under the States and under the Commonwealth, but the Treasurer was unable to have it prepared. I have been able, however, to get a statement showing the receipts over expenditure in the Department in the various States from 1899 onwards. The figures in regard to 1899 are taken from Coghlan, who cannot be absolutely relied on, and therefore honorable senators must make a certain allowance when dealing with his calculations in this connexion. For instance, Coghlan states that in preparing the figures for 1899 he has not taken into account the cost of maintenance of buildings, which cost, as well as all other expenditure, except for new works and buildings, has been included in 1901-2 and following years. It is not certain that Mr. Coghlan has been able to ascertain the amount of expenditure in 1899, which was then defrayed from votes of Departments other than the Post- oflB.ce. The interest on cost of buildings, etc., is not included. It will be seen,- therefore, that the figures in regard to 1899 must be taken with a little “ grain of salt,”though they may be regarded as substantially accurate. The figures may appear inflated, because in many instances work was formerly done by the Department and paid for, which is not done now. For instance, in South Australia the Post and Telegraph Department printed all the stamps, and did printing for other Departments, with the result that in that State the Department wa3 credited with revenue which is not received by the Commonwealth. In New South Wales the receipts over expenditure, in 1899, amounted to £31,052 ; in 1901-2, during which the Department waa’ partly under the State and partly under the Commonwealth, the amount was £40,944 ;in 1902-3, it was £70,254; while the estimated excess of receipts over expenditure for 1903-4 is £53,701. In New South Wales the Post-office has been returning a larger sum under the Commonwealth than it did under State management. When we come to Victoria, however, we find a different state of affairs. In the latter State a system of penny postage was adopted just about the time when the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth. With the twopenny postage in operation the receipts over expenditure amounted to £52,369, but with penny postage they dropped to £17,585. There was a “little increase in Victoria lost year, when a profit of some £46,603 was shown, and a profit of £46,967 is expected’ during the present year. Queensland, in this connexion, is the most unfortunate State: According to Coghlan, the loss in Queensland in 1899 was £48,912; in 1901-2 there was a marvellous loss, which I have never heard explained, of £102,505 ; in 1902-3 the loss was actually £103,242; and for this year the Treasurer estimates a loss amounting to the enormous sum of £119,118. In South Australia, according to Coghlan, there was in 1899 a surplus of £61,675, which, immediately the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth, dropped to £32,845; in 1902-3 there was a still further drop, the surplus being only £17,607 ; and it is estimated that this year the surplus will be only £8,079. Very soon it may be feared that no surplus at all will be shown on the working of the Department in South Australia, although before it came under the control of the Commonwealth it earned a- profit of some £60,000 a year after the payment of all working expenses.
– That is accounted for by the Eastern Extension Company’s agreement.
– It is because of the Pacific Cable and a variety of other matters, which it- would take too long to enumerate.
– Cable messages arc now being sent by another route.
– But the South Australian Department still receives the terminal charge of 5d. In the matter of receipts as compared with expenditure Western Australia comes out badly. In 1399, the loss was £26,738 ; in 1901-2, the loss had increased to £30,940 ; and in 1902-3, to £44,814; while this year the estimated loss is £51,121. The State which shows the worst return, however, is Tasmania, which started in 1899 with a surplus of £22,177, but which.. next year showed a deficit of £15,713. In 1902-3, Tasmania pulled herself together a little, showing a deficiency of only £9,240, but the State Treasurer, for some reason which I have not been able to ascertain - though, no doubt, it is a good reason - estimates the loss for this year at £14,266. Summarizing these figures, it will be seen that when the Commonwealth took over the Post and Telegraph administration, there was a surplus over working expenses of £91,623, there being no loss in any of the States, except Queensland and Western Australia ; whereas for this year the estimated loss is £75,758. ‘
– That is because charges are being made against revenue which were formerly made against loans.
– Not altogether. I know that under the Commonwealth there is being spent £ 100,000 odd on works out of revenue, which works under the State management would undoubtedly have been paid for out of loan money, and to that extent we have, of course, a perfect right to make a deduction from the loss.
– And we must also consider the reduced charges for telegrams.
– Then we must not forget the penny postage in Victoria, some £40,000 a year to provide for the minimum wage of £110, and the increments which must be paid to transferred servants, amounting, I suppose, to £50,000 or £60,000.
– That covers the whole deficiency.
– I should like to see the Post and Telegraph Department worked without a loss. I contend that when a State performs services such as carrying letters, parcels,- or sending telegrams, the payment should be sufficient to cover all expenses, and, if anything, there should be a little profit. In Great Britain the profit on the working of the Post and Telegraph Department amounts annually to £4,000,000, whereas in Australia we have to face a loss of £75,758.
– The Post and Telegraph services form part of the develop- ment policy of Australia.
– They maybe part of our development policy, but it is very unfair to the great mass of the people’ that there should .be this great loss annually. Insurance societies, banks, and other huge business concerns send an immense quantity of correspondence through the Postoffice, and the payment received in return for the service is not sufficient to cover the expense. The loss has to be made up by the general public, the great majority of whom send very few letters. As to Customs receipts, I shall have to show a considerable decrease in some of the States as compared with the results under State management. It must always be borne in mind, however, that if a State shows, for instance, a deficiency of £100,000 in the Customs receipts, the people are all the richer for it, since the money remains in their pockets.
– The Minister will have the free-traders on his track directly.
– There is no doubt of the truth of what I have stated, and we must admit it, whether we be free-traders or protectionists. The Customs receipts per head of population under the Commonwealth and State ‘Tariffs are shown in the following table : -
The average per hoad was £2 ls. 5£d. under the States Tariffs, and is £2 5s; 3d. under the Federal Tariff, or an increase of 3s. lOd. When we consider what a fight we had in both the Senate and the other House, and how the free-traders on the one hand and the protectionists on the other were not perfectly satisfied with the duties, it is astonishing how closely the earning capacity of the Federal Tariff approximates to that of the States Tariffs.
– What would have been the position if the Government Tariff -had been adopted 1
– - I was not in the Government at the time, and therefore I do not know. It strikes me that the Customs revenue would not have been more than it is, because if my honorable .friend has any knowledge of what a protectionist Tariff means, he knows that it is not a revenue ‘ Tariff if it produces the desired results- th» manufacture of articles in the country. The answer to the question of my honorable friend is that very likely the revenue would havebeen less than it is, and that there would have been a good deal more work in the country for the. people to do. In an interesting little return, the Treasurer shows the. net gain or loss to the States under the Federal Tariff as compared with the ‘States Tariffs of 1900. lt is shown that in 1902-3, New South Wales has gained £1,578,594, Victoria has gained £58,154, Queensland has lost £342,025, South Australia has gained £20,866, Western Australia has gained £200,204, while Tasmania has lost £142,997. As regards the total for the three years, I find that New South Wales has gained £3,687,599.
– How has she gained it?
– lam stating the. position from the point of view of the Treasurer, not the taxpayer.
– From the point- of view of the bushranger, not the poor, taxpayer.
– Considering that in New South Wales factories are being built which are threatening to swamp the Victorian manufacturers in a short time, and that that State has rich deposits of coal and iron, and is likely to become the Philadelphia of Australia, the honorable senator has no reason te complain of the Tariff. I consider that the people of his State have done remarkably well ; and now a bonus which the rest of the community will have to provide, is to be given to her cane-growers who produce sugar by white labour, which they have always employed - about the most cruel thing ever inflicted -on the rest of the community. During the period of three years, Victoria has lost £71,020, Queensland has lost’ £1,085,645, South Australia has gained £69,518, Western Australia has gained £554,676, while Tasmania has lost £410,676. I do not intend’ to trouble honorable senators with many remarks about defence. I know very little about the subject, and therefore I have to refer them to the Treasurer’s speech for - informationThe Defence Force has cost less in . all the States except South Australia, in which there has been an increase over the State expenditure of 1900 of £7,600, and Tasmania in which there has been an increase of £6,700. In Tasmania, like South Australia, the forces were worked on very economical lines, and the result has been that we have had to increase the rate of pay and various perquisites of the men, and quite justifiably too, I think. Other States appear to have been more extravagant, and therefore, after deducting those two amounts, we hope to be able to save a total sum of £200,000 this year. In all the States a good many persons have been charging the Commonwealth with extravagance in a variety of ways. In South Australia the changes have been rung on the cry of extravagance to an extent which has been perfectly alarming to some of us, especially those who have to appeal to their constituents shortly. This continual harping on the part of certain newspapers and public men, on the gross extravagance of the Commonwealth, is a troublesome thing. It will be recollected that at the Adelaide Convention Sir Frederick Holder laid on the table an estimate in which the new expenditure in connexion with the Commonwealth was set down at £300,000 a year.
– That estimate was framed for only five States.
– It applies to six States in a great many cases. For instance, it includes an item of £4,000 for a President and a Speaker ; and an item of £14,400 for thirty-six senators at £400 each. There is a considerable amount of doubt as to who is responsible for the estimate. Sir Frederick Holder says - “ I only laid the estimate on the table ; I was not responsible for it.” Sir George Turner, as Treasurer for Victoria, and Mr. G. H. Reid, as Treasurer for New South Wales, put their heads together and manufactured it. That is the assumption, but Sir George Turner says, “ I do not recollect anything about it; I am not responsible for it.” So far as I can ascertain, nobody will father the estimate.
– The Finance Committee prepared it.
– The Finance Committee did not care about taking the responsibility. It has turned out, however, to be a most wonderfully accurate estimate. Some persons reckoned the cost of the
Commonwealth Government at as high as £500,000 ; but I have never heard of a lower estimate than £300,000. The Adelaide estimate was quoted to the people when they were being asked to vote for the acceptance of the Constitution Bill. I told the people of South Australia, from public platforms, that their proportion of the cost would be about £40,000 a year, and on that understanding they agreed to enter the Federation. The press of South Australia has been denouncing, to an extent which is perfectly surprising, the gross extravagance of the House of Representatives and the improper conduct of the Ministers in taking the members allowance of £400 a year in addition to the Ministerial salary. The estimate which was laid on the table of the Adelaide Convention provided for the payment of thirty-six senators at£400 a year, the payment of seventy-six representatives at £400 a year - of course including those members who would hold Ministerial office - and the remuneration of seven Ministers with the sum of £12,000 in all. Where is the fairness of this charge which is rubbed in so persistently? The question was raised in the other House last session, and it was resolved that Ministers - who did not vote - were entitled to the members allowance of £400 a year in addition to their Ministerial salary. Yet it has been represented by the press and public speakers that we have done something which the Constitution did not contemplate. What do these people tell the public that it contemplated? The men who drew up the estimate that was laid on the table of the Convention by Sir Frederick Holder, then Treasurer of South Australia, evidently intended that Ministers should receive £400 per annum as members of Parliament as well as their salaries as Ministers ; and they provided for that in their estimate.
– The charge is that the estimate of £300,000 was exceeded in the first session.
– I will show the honorable and learned member that we have not exceeded it, and shall not exceed it.
– There is £300,000 in one lump sum for the protection of the sugar industry.
– We have not spent that yet. Sir George Turner’s estimate of the cost of Federation is £324,946.
– Did he add £52,000 for interest on public buildings 1 That is the estimate that was laid before cbe Convention.
– We fire paying interest because we are paying rent. Is not the rent we are paying for the buildings in Spring-street practically interest 1
– That is only about £5,000.
– It is a good deal more than that in all the States. I shall work out these figures in my own way, and shall prove that we have not exceeded the £300,000 if certain facts are taken into consideration, which, it will be admitted, I am placing in the proper position. We have got down in our Estimates this year, under the heading of Federal Expenditure, £75,000 for electoral expenses. That sum certainly ought to be spread over three years. About £30,000 of the amount has been incurred in the compilation of new rolls, and is certainly an expenditure that ought not to be charged to one year. Let me show honorable senators how I work it out. The expenditure classed as “ other” means the purely Commonwealth new expenditure. The expenditure classed as “ transferred” is for the transferred services. The “other” expenditure for 1902-3 was £316,2 1 7. We should take off that amount straight away £60,826 for sugar bounties. That expenditure was never taken into account when the Adelaide estimate was prepared, and it is money which we have to pay for the policy of a white Australia, that is unmistakably believed in by the vast majority of the people of Australia. We are also paying £20,000 a year for New Guinea. That was never taken into account, and, therefore, must be deducted from the amount which has to be classed as “ other” expenditure. It was not expected at the time of the preparation of the Adelaide estimate. The sugar bonuses for last year amounted to £60,S26. and for the present year 1903-4 £90,000 is put down for that purpose. In addition to that, there is a sum of £15,000 for printing-office machinery, as against £6,359 in the preceding year. Contingencies for 1903-4 amount to £4,724, as against £1,527 in the preceding year. Electoral expenses for the present year amount to £75,000, as against nothing in the preceding year. The amount for the Governor-General’s establishment is £6,015, as against £3,196 in the preceding year. We have £434,946 set down by the Treasurer as “ other “ expenditure for 1903-4; but, if we leave out the cost of New Guinea, £20,000, the sugar bonuses, £90,000* and deduct £50,000 for electoral expenses - being two-thirds of £75,000 - that makes- £160,000 which has to be deducted. With, these deductions we only have left £274,946, and that sum is considerably less thant £300,000.
– Has the honorable senator added £50,000 for interest ?
– We can strike that off in a variety of ways. Taking it all through, I consider that we have worked this Commonwealth, for the first three years, of its existence up to the present time, well within the estimate laid before the Convention. But even if we had exceeded it for this year, which I do not admit, we only have to look back two years, when we shall find that the expenditure classed as “other “ was far below the £300,000. In “the first, year of the history of the Commonwealth itwas only £275,862. For 1902-3 the Treasurer put down the “ other “ expenditure at £316,217, from which large deductions should be made ; and I contend, and I think I have shown, that for the present, year, if we make the very proper deductions, which I have made, we shall be well below the £300,000. It must also be remembered, that an estimate made seven or eight years ago is not to stand for all time. It is not to be expected that, becausewe say we can start the Australian. Commonwealth at an expenditure not exceeding £300,000, the expenditure is goingto continue at £300,000 for all time. That, was never anticipated. In all fairness wemust add a fair proportion for the growth of population, and the increase of the needs of the Commonwealth.
– In all fairness thehonorable senator ought also to add £40,000” for the minimum wage.
– That is not part of the expenditure of the Commonwealth, strictly speaking. It is expenditure upon the transferred Departments. All I wanted to do, and what I think I havedone, is to prove that this charge of extravagance which is made throughout theStates, and which I am sorry to see theTreasurer of South Australia is so exceedingly fond of taking up, is, when, critically examined, and when the figures are looked into fairly, seen to be quite unjustified. There is certainly no justification for it in regard to salaries. It has been said that we have been paying exorbitant salaries, but a return has been laid upon the table in which the salaries of the Clerks of Parliament and of other officials are contrasted with the salaries of the Clerks of Parliament and other officials in Victoria and New South Wales. Our officials do not receive anything like the salaries that are paid in those States. It is the same right through, so far as concerns the heads of our Departments. It is found that in the majority of cases the Federal officers are absolutely receiving less than is paid to State officers performing similar functions in Victoria and New South Wales.
– The Clerk of the Parliaments in Victoria receives £1,200, whereas the Federal Clerk of the Parliaments receives £900.
– Quite so; and, running all along the line, it will be found that we have been working our Departments as economically as could reasonably be expected. I know very little about the finances of Western Australia, but I am quite aware that in Tasmania and South Australia the salaries paid have been lower. The Civil Service of Tasmania was the worst paid Civil Service in Australia before federation commenced. In South Australia our officers have not been too liberally paid, but certainly we have not sunk to the lower depths that have been reached in Tasmania. Of course if a comparison is made between the Federal salaries and those paid in South Australia and Tasmania, the results are different. But it is quite evident that the salaries paid by the Commonwealth are not anything like as high as are those paid in Victoria and New South Wales. We may be said to have arrived at a medium between the parsimony of the two States I have mentioned, and that which is the reverse of parsimony in New South Wales and Victoria. Perhaps I may now be allowed to allude to the other financial Bills which are now before theSenate. Imayas well deal with them in one speech, as they all have relation to the same subject.
– I think that this procedure is not exactly in accordance with the Standing Orders, but as these Bills are undoubtedly connected with each other and would be contained in one Bill except for the provisions of the Constitution, which require that they shall be divided, I think that perhaps it may be permitted to the honorable senator to deal with all of them in the one speech.
– The Commonwealth Treasurer adopts a course that has not been followed in South Australia with regard to excesses on votes. In South Australia the Treasurer lays upon the table of the House of Assembly a statement showing the excesses on votes together with the votes themselves, and the statement is referred to the Committee of Supply. In Committee of Supply these excesses on votes are sometimes taken line by line and sometimes in a lump. They are voted on and agreed to, and are then included in the ordinary Appropriation Bill for the year. In South Australia we did not allow an excess on votes unless it was passed by both the Cabinet and the Executive Council. A Cabinet and an Executive Council warrant had to be issued before the Treasurer could get any excess over the amount voted by Parliament. When that warrant was granted the Treasurer took the money out of the ordinary consolidated revenue. But Sir George Turner adopts another plan. It is the plan that has been adopted in Victoria. He takes what he calls a Treasurer’s advance. In this case it is a sum of £300,000. That is intended to cover all excesses on votes. The Treasurer draws on that sum, and has not to obtain any excess warrant at all. The Treasurer has been drawing on his advance since the Commonwealth started, and now he wants Parliament to vote the money so that he can close up his advance and get the consent of the two Houses to the sums he has been spending.
– The money has already been spent.
– Of course it has been spent. There are excesses on votes of £6,968 to be voted for 1902, and there are excesses on votes of £107,997 to be voted for 1903. That is the reason why we have a special Bill for expenditure which in South Australia would be included in the ordinary Appropriation Bill. There is also another Bill, for new works and buildings, the amount being £422,283. The Treasurer has introduced the Bill in this form, because it is a measure which the Senate can amend. In South Australia we included the votes for all new works and buildings in the ordinary Appropriation Bill. But a different course is adopted in the Commonwealth, because the Treasurer thinks that under section 53 of the Constitution - and T believe he is absolutely correct - the Senate may amend the measure, owing to the fact that it does not impose taxation or appropriate revenue forth ordinary annual services of the Government. It is a special appropriation for special work. It is not an annual appropriation, and the Bill is introduced in this form that honorable senators may, if they choose, propose decreases in the items by ordinary amendments, though, of course, they cannot carry increases in the items. Then there is another Bill dealing with excess votes for new works and buildings, covering an amount of £1,004 for 1902, and £2,635 for 1903. This is also a Bill which the Senate may amend. It deals with new works and buildings, and is, therefore, submitted in this form. We have here a Bill covering the ordinary annual appropriation in connexion with which the Senate may make requests, and two other Bills which the Senate may amend, one dealing entirely with new works, and the other dealing with sums taken out of the Treasurer’s suspense account for new works for which the Treasurer has not received the authority of Parliament, and for which he seeks authority in this form. I do not know that I have anything more to say on the subject, and I ask honorable senators to assist me in passing these Bills as quickly as possible.
– We have listened to a speech from the Vice-President of the Executive Council in which the honorable senator has shown his appreciation of the position which the Senate should take in the Federal Legislature. Hitherto the practice adopted has been to introduce measures of this kind without any attempt to explain any of their provisions, and to leave it to honorable senators to drag out any explanation they desired. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in introducing this measure as he has done, has adopted a wise course of procedure. The Senate, possessing the powers which it does possess, should not be treated as a Legislative Council in these matters. Senator Playford has referred to some matters which are new and which were not touched upon in the Budget speech delivered in another place. He has referred to , one subject which is certainly interesting the minds of the public, and that is the relationship existing between the States Governments and the Federal Government in matters of finance. I was very pleased to listen to the emphatic terms in which the honorable senator dealt with the allegations of extravagance that are sometimes brought against the Federal Parliament. The people of Australia entered into the Federation with a view to economy, and if charges of extravagance can be successfully brought against the Federal Parliament, it must be evident that it is not carrying out one of the objects contemplated by the people in agreeing to the Federation. I do not think that this can be termed an extravagant Parliament. I have seen no indication of extravagance, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council has in my opinion successfully combatted the suggestion. There are some matters to which reference may be made on this Bill which I shall deal with when we get into Committee. The question raised by the Appropriation Bill which attracts most attention is certainly that of the expenditure upon the Defence Department. It is right that that should be so, because as regards the expenditure in the Post and Telegraph Department, it is very much of a routine character, there is no question of policy involved, and it maybe summed up in one word - “administration.” With good administration there will be economy, and with bad administration there will be extravagance in that Department. We have, therefore, in dealing with it, merely to criticize the administration of the Postmaster-General for the time being. When we come to deal with the Defence Department, we find that, in addition to the question of administration, certain big questions of policy require to be considered, and there can be no more fitting time in which to bring these forward than when we are dealing with the Appropriation Bill. The lines on which the money is asked for are those upon which the General Officer Commanding and the Minister believe it to be necessary to carry out their policy ; and if the Senate desires to alter that policy it can do so effectively only by altering the amount of money proposed to be voted for defence purposes. Oh the subject of the administration of the Defence Department, it appears to me that there is still an attempt to undulyshape a policy in the direction of hindering the development of the citizen forces, and assisting the development of the paid forces, and when I say paid forces, I refer to the militia as well as to the permanent force. Nearly every member of the Senate has at different times expressed his concurrence in the rifle club movement. We are agreed that it is a movement which should be encouraged. But when we look to the policy of the Government and the General Officer Commanding the forces, it would appear that, in one particular at all events, they are not disposed to treat the members of rifle clubs in the same way as the members of the militia forces. A man joining the militia force is given the use of a rifle free during the whole of the time which he remains a member of the force. But if he desires to join a rifle club he must buy his rifle and must pay cash for it. If we really desire to encourage rifle clubs we should either lend the rifles to members of those clubs while they continue to be members, or we should allow them to buy their rifles on extended terms of payment. It should not be forgotten that the men who will be the most efficient members of rifle clubs will probably be working men who usually have not the money to spare to buy rifles. 1 should like honorable senators to indicate their desire in this matter by increasing the vote for rifle clubs, with an intimation that we desire that the rifles should be lent to members of the clubs, or that they should be given to them on a system of extended payment. It is to some extent deplorable that when we have before us the first Appropriation Bill which we are in a position to criticise effectively - because in the case of the last Appropriation Bill the money had been spent and we could do nothing in the way of effective criticism - the leader of the Opposition and other prominent members of the Senate are absent. If there be an occasion when it is desirable that we should have a large attendance of honorable senators, it is certainly when we have to deal with the first Appropriation Bill, which we are in a position to alter.
– It was brought to us too late in the session.
– It is not brought to us so late as to prevent our doing something with it. I propose to indicate by reference to figures in the Estimates submitted by the Government what appears to me to be a serious wrong done to the citizen forces by the Defence Department. In order to do so I shall make a comparision between the figures for the years 1902-3 and 1903-4. My object is to show honorable senators that the Government is hindering the development of the citizen forces by its policy, and also to show that the saving in the Defence estimates is more apparent than real. As a matter of fact, taking into consideration the decrease in the military force there has been an increase in the military expenditure. From the figures supplied to us we find that in 1902-3 there were 1,793 permanent men provided for. On the present Estimates for 1903-4, 1,463 men are provided for, or a decrease of 330. Of militia we had in 1902 13,874, and the Estimates for 1903-4 provide for 14,138, an increase of 264. Of volunteers, and I desire particularly to direct the attention of honorable senators to these figures, there were provided for in the Estimates for 1902-3, 1 1,724 ; whilst in the Estimates for the present year only 7,297 are provided for, or a decrease of 4,427. The total decrease in the number of the military forces is 4,493, but there has also been a decrease in the number of the naval force. The total decrease in the naval force is 341, making the total decrease for the whole of the Defence Force. 4,834, or nearly 5,000 men. One would naturally expect that such a large decrease in the number would involve a corresponding decrease in the expenditure. I give figures taken from the Estimates, though I do not put them in exactly the same way as they appear in the Estimates, because there they seem to show a decrease in expenditure, whilst when we come to analyze the figures we find that in some important respects an increase is shown instead of a decrease. The expenditure for 1902-3 on the permanent force amounted to £187,265. The estimate for the permanent force for 1903-4 is £194,657, ah increase of £7,412 in the expenditure, although the force has been decreased by 330 men. I am not referring now to the amount voted for contingencies. If honorable senators will look into the Estimates they will find that whilst the amount to be voted for the pay and general up-keep show an increase, the total amount shows a decrease ; and this is secured by cutting down various votes for contingencies. I shall indicate some of them when we get into Committee. But as it would involve a lengthy operation, showing an increase of £10 here and of £50 there, it is not convenient to refer to the matter further at this stage. In the case of the militia, the expenditure in 1902 was £116 016. The estimate of expenditure for 1903-4 is £146,202, an increase of £30,186. In the case of the volunteers, in 1 902 the expenditure was £25,670, and the estimate of expenditure for 1903-4 is £24,211, a decrease of £1,459. There has been a decrease of 4,427 in the number of volunteers, whilst the decrease in the expenditure upon volunteers amounts to only £1,459. Honorable senators will see that the savings claimed by the .Department are more apparent than real. The estimates for the Defence Department indicate quite a different state of affairs. They show a grand total of expenditure in 1902-3 of £667,489, whilst the estimate of expenditure for 1903-4 is £657,804, an apparent decrease of £19,685. Seeing that the expenditure on the permanent force has increased by £7,000 odd, and on the militia by £30,000, where is the saving ? It is manifestly a saving in book-keeping only. I now wish to refer to the Department of the Postmaster-General, in which there has been a large increase in the number of employes. When honorable senators are criticising the increase in the expenditure of the Post and Telegraph Department, and attributing the whole of that increase to the minimum wage, I hope they will not forget the fact that during the year the employes in the Department have been increased by 262.
– My information is that the increase is 213.
– I take my figures from the Estimates. Manifestly these new employes have to be paid, and the extra money required must amount to a large sum.
– The increased expenditure consequent on the appointment of new employes is £15,000, less a saving of £25,000 by filling up vacancies at lower salaries, so that in this connexion there has really been a saving of £10,000.
– At any rate, there is the fact of the increased number of employes, and the expenditure has been increased by £103,567.
– There is an increase in the total expenditure, but that is due principally to new works .and additions being paid for out of revenue instead of out of loan.
– There have been some new works ; but while under the States regime, the business people, who derive the greatest advantage from the postoffice, had to pay from ls. to 3s. for their telegrams, they now can send messages at prices varying from 6d. to ls. The people who are denouncing the Federal Parliament so strongly - and they are largely the business people- -might credit us with having reduced the charge for telegrams, from- which reduction they receive practically the sole benefit. Those people who are anxious to form leagues, and pass rash resolutions denouncing the extravagance of the Federal Government, ought to remember that they are deriving benefit from the decreased revenue. If there was one Department which it was thought would be improved by the advent of Federation it was the Customs Department. We all remember the Customs-houses along the borders, and we all contemplated that on their abolition the officers would be employed on the coast, with the result that there would be a substantial saving. As a fact, however, the number of employes in the Customs Department has increased.
– Then there is gross mismanage men t.
-There is a “screw loose” somewhere, when, having abolished the Inter-State Customs-houses, we find that during the year there has been an increase in the number of employes of fiftyfour.
– The issue of Inter-State certificates has to be provided for.
– But the issue of the Inter-State certificates does not need anything like the staff which was formerly employed. For instance, I remember that, prior to Federation, on the journey between Adelaide and Melbourne, there used to be Customs officers at Serviceton to check luggage, whereas no work’ of that kind is now required.
– There is a decrease in the expenditure this year of £5,677. I do not think that all the Customs-houses can be abolished until some time this month.
– If there has been a decrease in the expenditure to a slight degree, there has, at any rate, been an increase in the number of employes.
– I cannot, of course, explain that fact.
– I hope the Minister may be able to explain the fact in his reply. It would be a foolish policy to engage -officers when the services of the Inter-State officers will shortly- be available for duty on “the coast. If in the meantime officers are necessary on the coast, temporary hands might be employed.
– I suppose that the new hands engaged on the coast are temporary, and that the permanent officers from the border Customs-houses’ will take their places.
– The one fact which will most strike the attention of the States Treasurers will be the enormous falling-off in “the money which they will receive this year, -as compared with the money they received last year. The Minister indicated the reason - namely, that the drought no longer operates, and the poor farmer no longer gets the benefit of the protective duty on wheat, which was going to make him flourish as the green bay tree. The farmer had to pay duty on his seed wheat, and the revenue benefited to the extent of £600,000. This year, however, the farmer has more wheat than Australia can consume, and consequently he will have to export. The duty, of course, is is still in force, but it will be of no benefit to the farmer, and the Treasurer, as I say, will receive some £600,000 less in revenue. That money, of course, will remain with the people, and those who will be the better off for it, will be those who had to pay the duties on fodder and seed wheat last year. In the Bill which has been submitted, providing for the expenditure on works and buildings, there is a singular feature which I hope we shall not see again, namely, the dame proportion of re-votes.
– These are the votes not expended last year, and brought forward.
– -I think that it is a most iniquitous practice, which gives a splendid opportunity to those who wish to make out a case of extravagance against the Government. Last year we voted a large sum for buildings, and we got the credit of the expenditure, and abuse all over Australia for yoting the money.
– But we voted it out of revenue.
– At the same time, it was one of the sins which went to the , record of extravagance against the Govern.ment, because it helped to mount the total of the money which we got the credit of expending, but which, as a matter of fact, we did not expend by more than one-half.
– It was spent by the States.
– We got the credit of spending it, but the States Treasurers, who abused us for voting it, spent it themselves.
– They did not spend it.
– But they had the pleasure of adding it to their surpluses. Here it is proposed to vote the same money again, and we shall once more receive abuse for being extravagant. Out of £13,921 voted for post and telegraph offices in Western Australia, no less than £7,216 isa re-vote of money which was on last year’s Estimates, and should have been spent last year. That is the result of delay, . very largely on the part of the Department for Home Affairs.
– The Department for Home Affairs was not properly organized so as to be prepared to go on with the- work at the time.
– And there were the requests of some of the States Treasurers that the money should not be spent.
– In the case to which I am referring, Western Australia had a surplus, and did not want the money spent in other directions.
– Western Australia is the only wealthy State.
– I do not know; Tasmania reaped a rich ‘ harvest from fodder at the expense of the Commonwealth last year. The fact is that all the delay is owing to circumlocution. First of all, the Postmaster-General has to be induced to agree to the building of a post-office, and then the Department for Home Affairs has to set the wheels in motion in order to produce plans and estimates.
– We cannot start until the money is voted.
– After the money is voted, the Department for Home Affairs has to be moved in order that it may cooperate with the Public Works Department, say, in Western Australia, and the latter has then to co-operate with the Lands Department in order to get the title to the land on which to build a post-office. The title” having been granted, the matter has to be “referred once more to the Public Works
Department, and after the plans and specifications are got out a communication has to be sent to the Department for Home Affairs, and from thence the plans are submitted to the Postmaster-General, who approves. The Postmaster-General (heu sends the plans and specifications back to the Department for Home Affairs, from which they are transmitted to the Public “Works Department. Upwards of eighteen months were thus occupied in the case of two postoffices, each of which had to cost £500, at Crown Hill and Trafalgar, in “Western Australia. It is time that the practical common sense of a gentleman like the Vice-President of the Executive Council infused a little business method into the Government administration.
– I do not administer all the Departments.
– I hope the Minister will use his influence in order to have business done in a simpler manner. In the case to which I have referred, it must have cost almost as much in postage as would have been required to erect the buildings. When we get into Committee I shall draw attention to certain flagrant cases bearing out my general remarks on the Defence Department, and there are one or two other matters on which I shall ask the opinion of the Senate
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is to be congratulated on introducing us to a regular Budget debate, because he has taken a new departure which is to be commended. Before referring to the accounts, there is one matter to which I desire to draw the attention of the Senate, and that is a matter relating to the Customs administration. In October last year, when I was discussing the Customs administration generally, I instanced a number of prosecutions in Sydney - I think some ten prosecutions had taken place in one day - and I referred specially to one prosecution in connexion with some goods valued at £37. In May last, the late Minister for Trade and Customs was in Sydney, and at a public meeting he made a very severe at tack upon myself, and said that what I had stated to the Senate in that regard was untrue. The exact words which he used were - “ There was not a word of truth in it.”
– Does the honorable senator think that his remarks are relevant’ to the subject-matter of the Bill f If hewill refer to standing order 182, he will see that on the first reading he could havemade any remarks which- he liked, but on the second reading he ought to confine himself to the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– Surely, sir, my remarks come under the head of Customs administration %
– The honorablesenator will remember that the Senate has adopted a new procedure. On the first reading of a Bill which it may not amend the debate may extend to any matter, but on the second reading the ordinary rule of relevance applies. Of course, if the honorable senator can connect his remarks with, the amount tobe voted for the Customs Department I have nothing more to say.
– I am exceedinglyaverse to getting in any remarks by a side wind. I like to do things in a straightforward, honest way, and to-morrow afternoon I shall move the adjournment of theSenate in order to refer to this matter.
– Surely it is connected, with the proposed vote for the Customs. Department.
– I thought so, but it has been ruled otherwise.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. What I said was that if he could connect his remarks with theamount to be voted for the Customs Depart ment, I had nothing more to say.
– I did not risewith the intention of connecting my remarkswith any special item in the Bill. I shall take the course which I have indicated. I desire to say a few words with regard to thesubject of the State debts, but I do not know whether it is in order to discuss the subject of finance generally.
– I think the honorable senator has confused this motion forsecond reading with a motion to go intoCommittee of Supply. The Standing Orders have expressly provided a stage - the first reading of a Bill of this nature - at which any matter can be debated, and by inferenceto the motion for second reading the ordinary rule of relevance applies. It is my duty to carry out the Standing Orders, and I think that honorable senators ought totry to help me to do so. I do not think that the debts of the States have anything; to do with the Appropriation Bill.
– Events are decidedly against me to-night. The VicePresident of the Executive Council certainly made what may be described as* an all-round Budget speech.
– But I confined myself to the items in the Bill. I did not go into the question of the State debts.
– The honorable gentleman did not refer to the question of the State debts, and he did not strictly confine himself to the Bill.
– I think so.
– I shall reserve any remarks on that subject until another opportunity.
Honorable Senators. - Let us have them now.
– I must ask honorable senators not to try to induce an honorable senator to break a standing order.
– I do not wish, sir, even by a side wind or by the help of -any honorable senator, to break your ruling. If I am unable to bring before the House now what I think- 1 ought to be able to do, I must take the consequences. One of the striking features of the accounts which have been presented is that the revenue for the year shows a very large decrease. I find that last year we had an increase of £627,000 over the estimated receipts from -agricultural produce and food items generally. This immense amount was taken -out of the pockets of the people and given to the States Treasurers, and, at the same time, a large expenditure which the Government had been authorized to incur on public works was not incurred. They propose to -carry out those works this year, and they are not expecting to collect the revenue which was collected last year. The consequence is that there is a difference of about £1,000,000 in their figures. That is not a piece of very good financing. With all this unexpected revenue which was coming in last year, they were not humane enough to allow the bread of Australia to be free of taxation.
– The Executive have -to carry out the law. Let the States pay the duties.
– I know exactly what the Government have to do,- and what they want to do. What they have done is what they wanted to do.
– They suggested that (the States should pay the duties.
– We know exactly how and why it was worked, and the result.
– The States Treasurers would not do it.
– The States Treasurers received a large amount of extra money, and, at the same time, they were relieved of a payment which they were to have made in respect . of public works. This year the extra money is net obtainable, but the works which were not executed last year or other works are to be executed, and the consequence is a difference in the returns to the States of about £1,000,000. That is bad financing. With the large amount of extra revenue that the Government collected last year they might have carried out the authorized public works. If they had expended £200,000 or £300,000 on public works last year, instead of spending the money this year, they would have paid less over to the States Treasurers, who, in this coming year, would have been in a less ‘serious position than they are now placed in, because, as we all know, when they get money it is spent. I am almost ashamed to say that I belong to New South Wales when matters of finance are referred to; because, during the last two or three years its finances have been conducted in a manner which can make no representative proud of her in that connexion. I wish to refer to the figures relating to sugar. Senator Playford has told us the cost of Federation. I think he was justified in stating that the cost has not seriously exceeded the estimate. He could not have gone honestly into the whole business and claimed the same result, because I find that the estimated revenue from Excise duty on sugar is £330,000. The Excise rate on sugar is one-half the Customs rate, but, as everyone knows, the consumers are paying the full amount. There is a loss of £330,000, and out of that sum which is expected to be obtained, the Government estimate to return to the growers, under the name of rebate, the sum of £90,000, so that Federation, as carried out by the Government and sanctioned by Parliament, in the item of sugar alone, has cost Australia about £400,000. I have mentioned this matter before, but it is desirable to let the public mind get fully saturated with the fact. It is expected that the sugar production in Queensland will continue to grow. If it continues to grow the revenue
I will continue to decrease, and the amount paid by the people, but not into the Treasury, will grow from £300,000 to £400,000, until perhaps the industry swamps the £1,000,000. I see that the Government expect to collect a revenue of £22,000 from the Id. Excise duty on starch. That means that Australia will lose this year about £22,000 in order to keep a certain starch factory going, lt would have been far more profitable if the Government had said - “ Let us give the makers of Silver starch £10,000 a year to go out of the business, or pension all the men whom they employ.” If that course had been taken Australia would have been thousands of pounds in pocket.
– We should have had no competition with the importers then.
– The importers are so numerous that the competition between them is ample. I repeat that £22,000 is lost through the relatively low rate of the Exciseduty on starch. Of course, there are losses in other directions.
– We cannot lose with an Excise dutv.
– We can. The Excise duty is Id per lb., . while the Customs duty is 2d. per lb. . If the Excise duty were not imposed, £44,000 would be collected from the Customs duty. Everybody knows that the Excise duty enables a firm of starch-makers to get this extra money. I should like Senator Playford to state what is meant by the figures on page 5 of the accounts with regard to the duties on Government imports. The estima’te for amounts paid by States on Government imports is given at £136,000. 1 was under the impression that it had been ruled by the Courts that this money could not be collected.
– We are collecting every penny of it from every State.
– Perhaps the. honorable senator will inform us what is being done with “ the money - whether it is paid month by month into an accumulated fund or not.
– I am not quite sure.
– Perhaps the honorable senator may be able to obtain a little information before he replies. In connexion with the cost of buildings for postoffices, I should like to bring under the notice of the Senate some amounts contained in the Appropriation Bill numbered 27. There are contained in that measure a large number of proposals for expenditure for additionsto post-offices and new works and buildings. I think it would be well if therewere some understanding that in future insmall country towns no more than a certain, limited amount - say £400 or £500 - should be expended on buildings for postoffices. .Taking New South Wales I. find set down - Lismore post -office, £1,650; Milton post-office, to. complete, £975 ; Moree post-office,’ to complete, £375;. Orange post-office, to complete, £1,478. Orange is a fair-sized country town, and perhaps that amount may not be too large.’ Then to complete Wellington post-office we have £1,200. Under the heading of new works and buildings, I find Barmedman postoffice £800 ; Bodangora post-office, £800 ; Bulahdelah post-office, £600 ; Canowindra, post-office, £900.
– Does the honorable: senator object to this work being done 1
– I object to costlypostoffices being erected in small countrytowns. I think we ought to be able tobuild a post-office for a country town at an. expenditure of, say, £500.
– Not if we have “brick buildings.
– Inverell is not, a large town, but there is a sum of £4,000- to complete the post-office there. That is. absurd. I have no doubt at all that the.words “to complete” indicate that the expenditure is entirely due to the New South Wales State Government, and that the: Federal Government is merely completingwhat has been begun. We also have Temora post-office, to complete, £2,500- In the figures for Victoria I find, the item Malvern post-office, to complete, £1,600. Under new works and buildings, I find Cobram post-office, £1,500;, Korumburra, £2,500; Minyip, £1,500-; Numurkah, £2,000 ; Richmond South postoffice, to complete, £2,000 : Terang postoffice, to complete, £2,500 ; Woodend postoffice, £1,500 ; Yarrawonga post-office,. £2,000. It appears to me that theseamounts might be very -materially cut down without great difficulty. A number of thesmall country towns do not need large postoffices. Their business is very small, and buildings might be erected on an average for half the amounts placed upon these Estimates.
– But we have to provide quarters for the postmasters and their wives and children. It costs £500 to build ai decent dwelling-house.
– The whole matter should be reviewed. I do not think the people would submit to anything of the sort in an old country like England. In many respects the Government might take steps to lessen expenditure. They might ask the State Treasurers and the State Parliaments to send representatives to consider whether by joint action it would not be possible to reduce expenditure. The administration of various departments has been taken over by the Commonwealth, and yet the local, or State, expenditure has not been decreased - certainly it has not been correspondingly decreased. Let me refer to the civil service. We have an expensive Commonwealth Public Service Department, but I do not think that the Public Service expenditure in any one of the States has’ been reduced, at any rate not to any corresponding degree. Then there is the Department of Audit.
– It is not our fault.
– I know it is not. Rut what I am pointing .out is that the great central Government of the Common- 1 wealth should do its utmost to bring together the States Premiers, and show them how expenditure could be reduced. If the Government were to show them they would show the people of Australia, and if the people of Australia were shown these facts -they’ would put pressure upon the States Governments, and ultimately bring about some reduction in these large items of expenditure.
– The States Governments would resent our interference.
– I should not care whether they resented it or not. We have to do our duty to Australia, and if the States Governments do not of their own action take the right steps they ought to be forced to do it by the votes of the people.
– Oh, no ; we must confine ourselves to the Constitution.
– I am not at all afraid of what I am saying. I should be glad to repeat it in New South Wales during the elections. I have no hesitation in saying that the Central Government of Australia ought to have taken some steps to try to bring about a reduction in expenditure. Another important matter is the electoral expenditure. The expenditure upon electoral affairs throughout Australia is really very heavy. But I have- not seen that any attempt has been made by the Federal Government to induce the States Governments to work in unison with them in trying to get the electoral lists dovetailed one into the other. There are separate lists in all the States. It only requires business arrangement to make the same lists available, so that there may be a saving in this line alone of tens of thousands of pounds.
– There is not the same franchise in the States.
– It is quite possible to raise objections to all reforms, but it is also possible for honorable senators, if their heart is in the work, to effect very considerable reductions in the expenditure that is now weighing so heavily upon Australia.
– I do not intend to go into the Estimates generally, but I wish to say something in regard to that portion of them which deals with Defence. When the Defence Bill was before the Senate I did not speak upon its second reading, because it was merely a machinery Bill, laying down the broad lines on which the defence of Australia was to be conducted ; and it did not afford us an opportunity of saying how the money should be apportioned between the various lines of defence. We have now for the first time an opportunity of discussing the defences of the Commonwealth in a proper manner, because we have laid down the line of policy that we intend to adopt. The Defence Department is probably one of the most important services transferred to the Commonwealth, and yet, even up to the present time, we have not got a Defence Act under which the Department is to work. Our treatment of the Defence Department from the very start has been injurious, spasmodic, and haphazard in its method. For over two and a half years - we took over the Defence Department in March 1901 - we have been working under the States Acts, and we have brought about a system that is worse than the systems that were carried on by the various States. The General Officer Commanding, Major-General Hutton, arrived in Australia in January, 1902, and lie immediately started to organize the forces. But he was placed in a very invidious position in being told to re-organize the forces without Parliament having laid down any broad lines of policy which we wished him to pursue. In his report, Major-General Hutton complains that the absence of any specific statement, or any definite defence policy on which to base a military system, has most seriously complicated the difficulties of the situation. I think that the Government are to blame that in this most important service we have not in operation a Defence Act under which the forces are organized. No definite’ instructions were given to Major-General Hutton as to how he should organize our forces.
The PRES [DENT. - Does the . honorable senator think that his remarks are connected with the Bill before the Senate ?
– Yes, sir, because I am going to speak of the apportionment of the money among the various lines of defence. MajorGeneral Hutton is a professional soldier. Professional soldiers do not as a rule entertain a very high opinion of volunteers, rifle clubs and cadets, whom they look upon as amateurs - as toy soldiers. Their desire is to have as many professional soldiers as possible ; or, if they cannot have them, to nave partially-paid men, who are more amenable to their desires. We have had no opportunity up to the present of stating on what lines we wish our defences to be carried out. We first had to adopt the provincial system in force in the States, and then we have had inaugurated MajorGeneral Hutton’s system, which I think is one which is not in accord with the desires of the people of Australia. The apportionment of the expenditure between the various lines of defence for a place like Australia - an island continent - seems to me to be most extraordinary. We have a defence expenditure of £771,000, divided up in the following manner : - Upon our first line of defence - that is. our sea power - we are spending £200,000. Upon our second line of defence - our fortifications - we are spending about £70,000. Upon our third line of defence, the arm which will only be brought into effect if the first and second lines are broken down, we are proposing to spend £500,000 a year. If we had had an opportunity afforded to us before to consider how we should apportion our military vote between the various lines of defence, we should have insisted upon a larger sum being voted for our sea defence, which, being our first line of defence, is of most importance.
– We leave that to themother country.
– I am aware that the honorable senator is in favourof that course ; but I am not. I say that we should have had a larger sum voted for our sea defence, and the nucleus ‘of an Australian Navy should have been started.
– But we have passed, the Naval Agreement Bill.
– It is. true that the Bill has been passed, and we cannot alter that ; but we are paying for ourdefence, and getting other people to under- take the dangers of defending us. We mustnow consider how we should apportion the Defence vote between the second and third lines of defence - our fortifications and our internal forces. A very casual glance at these Estimates will show that most improper and dangerous reductions have been: made in the votes for our fortifications. Our second line of defence consists of our fortifications and garrison troops. Our garrison artillery consisted in 1898-9 of”, 2,948 men, whilst at the present moment,, the number has .been reduced to 2,411, of which 755 are permanent, 1,576 militia, and 80 volunteers. There has been a reduction in the number of men manningour forts and strategic bases of 537, and this reduction has been made against thestrongest protest on the part of MajorGeneral Hutton. In his report the General Officer Commanding has said, referring: to this reduction -
A further reduction can only be viewed with the most serious apprehension, as the numbers now laid down are quite inadequate for the duties required of them.
Our forts are manned in such a way that we are 537 men short of the minimum number required to properly defend our harbors and strategic bases. At Thursday Island we had 101 men, and the number has been reduced to 53. At Albany wehad 40 men, and the number there has been reduced to 30. At the central naval basein Sydney there were 278 permanent artillerymen, and the number has been reduced to 217. There has been a reduction of 119 men at these three strategic bases. The garrison at the capitals has been reduced from 312 to 239 men, or there has been a total reduction of 192 men in garrison artillery. It must not be forgotten that these men are trained experts ; they may be called military mechanics. .They require- to go through a long course of training to enable them to become expert sappers, engineers, gunners, and so forth. I am informed that it takes three years at least to train these men properly The 537 men to whom I have referred have been discharged. Some of them have gone to South Africa and elsewhere, and though -for our safety it is absolutely necessary that we should replace them, we can only doso by getting other trained men, or by getting men whom it will take three years of training to make efficient. This is a very absurd and dangerous system of economy. With respect to the permanent forces, I think there might be some reductions made in them. I find that there are 1,279 men in the permanent force.
– What does the honorable senator call the permanent force ?
– I ref er to the professional soldiers, and I find that there are 1,279 of them.
– They are the men who man our forts, and the honorable senator was grumbling just now because their numbers were reduced.
– I was referring to the garrison artillery, the majority of whom were militiamen, and eighty of whom were volunteers.
– The 80 are all in Tasmania.
– That may be so. We have 1279 men, and they cost us £127,286, or nearly one-fourth of the total military vote. Cannot the number of these troops be reduced in some way? Of these permanent troops we have in the garrison artillery 755 men. They cannot be reduced. There are 84 engineers, and they are absolutely necessary ; but there is an instructional staff of 204 men. I think there could be a reduction made here. When it is remembered that we had no instructional staff for our internal forces before Federation it can scarcely be contended that we now require 204 permanent instructors, in addition to lieutenants, captains, majors and colonels for our citizen soldiers. The number comprising our Head-quarters Staff and district staffs amounts to no less than 71. I do not think there can be much reduction in the Head-quarters Staff if we are to have an effective Defence Force, but I do think that there might be considerable reduction made in the district head-quarters staffs. Any money saved by reductions in the instructional staff and the district head-quarters staffs might be spent in supplementing the numbers of militiamen or permanent men manning our forts. When we come to deal with the volunteers, we find that the volunteer forces of Australia have been practically decimated since General Hutton arrived. There is nothing left of our volunteer forces but a few thousand men in the infantry. We had 12,109 volunteers in 1901, and in the present Estimates we provide for 6,669, and of that number 6,056 are infantry, so that practically the volunteers who were used as mounted troops, field artillery, garrison artillery, and so on, have been disbanded or merged into the militia. Dealing with the mounted troops, I suppose it will be agreed that the Victorian Mounted Rifles comprised a body of men of whom that State might be justly proud. They always acquitted themselves well, and they certainly had no desire to be changed into a militia force. Of these there were 1,360, and they have been converted into militia, against the wishes of the men, at a cost of £8,704.
– I have no doubt they will accept the extra money.
– In Western Australia an expenditure of £5,689 has been incurred in converting volunteers into militia. This conversion of volunteers into militia represents an expenditure of not less than £14,393. There is absolutely no necessity for this expenditure, and no reason for it, except that a professional soldier desires to see paid or partially-paid men instead of volunteer regiments. Major-General Hutton says, in his report, that the Minister instructed him “ that the militia and volunteer forces of Australia should not be reduced in numbers,” and yet this is the result.
– Parliament insisted upon a reduction in military expenditure.
– Parliament insisted upon a reduction of the Defence vote by a lump sum, and whilst MajorGeneral Hutton has largely increased the militia forces, he has practically wiped out the volunteers, and has appointed a number of professional soldiers as an instructional staff, who are not necessary. The Colonial De fence Committee also adopts a hostile attitude towards the volunteer movement. They say in their report -
With the exception of the nucleus of permanent troops the military forces should consist entirely of troops serving on the partially-paid system.
Honorable senators will see that professional soldiers are totally opposed to the volunteer system, and for many reasons they desire to have the paid men and the professional soldier. This is contrary to the wishes of the people of Australia. The Victorian Rangers have been exceedingly badly treated. Many of them volunteered for service in South Africa, and they have always given a very good account of themselves. They have been forcibly converted into Australian Light Horse. Many of them are workmen who cannot afford to keep a horse, and they have the choice offered to them of becoming Australian Light Horse or disbanding. There have been many serious complaints received from these men concerning the action taken by the military authorities. They w-ere perfectly willing to continue as volunteers, and they have been forced to become militia at considerable expense to the country. When we speak of the necessity for saving, I ask why it should be necessary to make these conversions from volunteers to militia against the wishes of the men themselves, and at such great expense to the country? Although we cut down the vote to such an enormous extent, we find that whilst in 1899 the number of militia was 10,89S, in the present Estimates we provide for 15,318. If we allow- for sixteen drills at 8s. a day, this involves an increased cost of £28,000. The militia are divided in this way : mounted troops, 4,776 ; field artillery, 932 ; garrison artillery, 1,576; engineers, 553 ; infantry, 6,443; army service corps, 225 ; medical corps, 490 ; and veterinary department, 21. There are many reasons given by military authorities for believing that militiamen are better for certain work, such as the work of garrison artillery and engineers, than volunteers. It is said that they are more regular and reliable, and that when there is no military fever, volunteers do not turn up at drill. But there can be no necessity for converting mounted troops and infantry into militia, and if the mounted troops, numbering 4,776, and the infantry, numbering 6,443, were converted into volunteer forces, as they might be without any injury to the effectiveness of our Defence Force, we could effect a savingof £71,801 a year. I hope that honorablesenators will consider this question of the conversion of the large bodies of infantry into militia contrary to the wishes of themen, at a great expense to the country, and without adding in any way to the effectiveness of this arm of defence. When we come to deal with rifle clubs we shall find that they have been cut down with an unsparing handThere are 31,441 men in the rifle clubs inAustralia, and on these, according to the Estimates of 1902-3, there was spent. £31,211, which sum this year is reduced to £27,435. All kinds of disabilities have been placed on rifle clubs since Federation came into operation, instead of their being encouraged in every way as a splendid arm of defence. I should like to see the largestpart of the money devoted to internal1 defence spent on rifle clubs, because if we had such clubs throughout Australia, armed with good magazine rifles, we should be very safe with our third line of defenceBut the policy adopted towards rifle clubs seems to be one of hostility. Before Federation, in all the States excepting Victoria, and Western Australia, members of rifle clubs got their rifles free, but now members have to pay cost price. Why should a member of a rifle club, which is one arm of defence, be placed in a position different from that of a, volunteer or a member of the militia,?’ The militia are paid 8s. for every drill, and are supplied free with accoutrements, rifles and ammunition, and the volunteers have a per capita grant with arms and ammunition free. Members of rifle clubs, however, who receive nothing for their services, have topay cost price for their rifles, though it is true they are supplied with 200 rounds of ammunition free, and 200 rounds at half price. Are such conditions likely to encourage rifle clubs ? I am informed that in the rifle clubs there are more than 7,000- members who have no rifles; and that is not a condition of affairs which should beallowed. In Western Australia rifle clubs were started at various centres, and it was found that the members had to pay for their ammunition three times the price that was demanded from members of similar clubs in Victoria, and, as I say, rifles had to be purchased at cost priceMany of the members of the clubsin Western Australia .could not get rifles, even at cost price, owing to the Government being out of stock. The volunteer vote has been reduced in Victoria alone from t’27,550 to £19,002. There are in stock some 27,347 Martini-Enfield rifles, many of which are idle ; and, surely, these might be devoted to arming members of rifle clubs. These rifles, though they are not magazine, are excellent for target practice, and for teaching shooting ; they take the same cordite cartridge as the magazine rifles, and could be well lent for the purpose I have indicated, instead of being stored up in barracks. The travelling facilities of members of the volunteer forces and the rifle clubs have been reduced. They are allowed to travel free to the nearest butts, but have to pay for their travelling to competitions. The Colonial Defence Committee, which is a body in England supposed to advise on matters Australian, recommend in their report that rifle -clubs are not required - that unless the members wear uniforms and attend a certain number of drills no money should be spent on such organizations. Major-General Hutton, although he has spoken in favour of encouraging rifle clubs and cadets, seems to have adopted the policy of the Colonial Defence Committee. The volunteers, who are an important line of defence, seem to have been treated in a shameful manner. Practically nothing has been done for the cadets. Major-General Hutton in his report says -
It is much to be regretted that no funds are available for the development of the cadet military system. I trust that at an early date a system as valuable to the future of the Australian nation may be seriously taken in hand.
Major-General Hutton recognises the importance of training cadets, and yet, at the same time, money is being spent in converting able and efficient volunteer forces into large bodies of militia. The total sum set aside for the cadets is £4,743, and it must be admitted that that is an increase on the sum voted last year, namely, £2,541. There are six paid instructors for the whole of the cadets, three of these instructors being in Victoria. The -balance of the instruction to the junior branch of the defence forces is given by certificated school teachers, who impart rudimentary drill.
– We ought to have an Act passed putting the cadets on a proper footing.
– I should like to see every State School with n cadet force, so long as the service is voluntary. When we come to consider the matter of the warlike stores, we find that they are dangerously inadequate. MajorGeneral Hutton in his report states : -
The military stores and equipment are in a most unsatisfactory condition throughout the Commonwealth, and the situation can only be viewed with the gravest concern. Modern equipment for cavalry, artillery, and infantry (a proportion of rifles for the troops on their peace establishment and a small proportion of field guns excepted), may be regarded as non-existent.
– Senator Matheson gave us all that information a few weeks b ago.
– Then I shall have the pleasure of giving it to the Minister again, because apparently Senator Matheson’s words have had no effect - on account of importunity we may be successful. Major-General Hutton states that the arms, ammunition; and equipment required to make the present force effective would necessitate an expenditure of £4S6,2S3. It is proposed that this expenditure shall be spread over four years at the rate of £125,000 a year. It therefore follows that not until 1908 will the members of the force, who are being provided for on these Estimates, be property equipped with arms and ammunition. We may hope that an enemy will be courteous enough not to attack us until that time, because otherwise the. result might be very serious. If the enemy is kind enough to wait until 1908 we may be in a position to have our Defence Force armed to “a minimum of safety,” to use the words of Major-General Hutton. When the Government are asked to vote this £125,000 a year, they reply- “No; we think it is too soon to have these men armed to a minimum of safety by 1908, and therefore we will grant only £70,000.”
– There is so much proposed for arming the Cerberus, and other defence works.
– The Minister is wrong ; and the attitude of the Government shows criminal neglect when we consider that for the next ten years, perhaps, our forces will not be properly armed. The expenditure on medical stores is reduced by £1,000; on arms and ammunition, by £31,000 ; and on the field artillery, by £23,000- a total reduction of £55,000. If our first line of defence were broken down, and the people of Australia came to realize how ineffective our second line of defence was in not being properly manned and armed, there would be some Australians looking for the Government with a noosed rope. Our total force, exclusive of the cadets, consists of 54,771 men, and we are possessed of 21,464 magazine rifles, including 1,700 which have been ordered, but have not arrived.
– We have the old Lee-Metford rifles, which are very good and take the same cartridge.
– These are the rifles of which I am speaking, and even if we include ‘ all the Martini-Enfield rifles, which are not magazine rifles, we have not as many as would supply our troops.
– We could get plenty of Winchester rifles.
– I suppose the Minister would go to the shooting galleries for the Winchesters, or as Sir John Forrest has said, pickaxes could be used. We are paying £5 10s. lid. per 1,000 rounds for cordite ball-cartridge, or £1 per 1,000 more than the price at which the British War Office supplies similar ammunition. Why should we pay an increased price by 25 per cent, to a private firm manufacturing in Australia? Surely the Commonwealth, as has been suggested by Major-General Hutton, might start an ammunition factory, and reap the benefit of the profits made. The Colonial Ammunition Company is under no obligation to keep a large stock of raw material, and if war broke out and the first and second line of defence were broken down - and it is only in such a contingency that the internal troops come into operation - what would be the effect? There would probably not be enough ammunition to enable us to fight for a week. We find that in our fortifications we are 537 men short of the number requisite to secure the minimum of safety. The instructional and district headquarters staff could be reduced. The volunteers have been practically wiped off the face of the earth. We have allowed about 6,000 infantry to exist, and all the other branches have been either disbanded or merged into an expensive militia. If we converted the infantry and the mounted men of the militia into volunteers, we could effect a saving of over £70,000 a year to make up the deficiency in some of those branches of defence which are absolutely necessary to insure our safety. The volunteers -are dissatisfied with their treatment. There are many men who would be glad to act as volunteers, but if they have to be paid’ 8s. a day they will decline to serve. ‘ There are any number of farmers’ sons and others who would be glad to serve their country as volunteers, but who will decline to do so as paid militia. The rifle clubs have been subjected to all kinds of disabilities ; the cadets have been absolutely neglected ; and the supply of arms and ammunition is greatly deficient. When we come to the item of rifle clubs, in Committee, I intend to move a request for an increased vote.
– No branch of the service is in a satisfactory state.
– No, but the branches on which the money has been spent are the militia and the permanent men. The expenditure on the professional soldiers has been largely increased, but the citizen soldiers - I allude to the volunteers, the riflemen, and the cadets - have been starved in order to increase the expenditure on the professional and partially-paid soldiers. Honorable senators should consider very carefully how they will apportion the expenditure between the garrison forces and the fortifications and the internal forces. Towards the end of the session we are inclined to look at these matters somewhat languidly, but this question is one of the most important which we have had to discuss during the session. We desire to put our defence establishment upon a proper basis ; and this is the first opportunity which we have had of taking any definite step in that regard. We must also bear in mind that if the first line of defence were broken down, the internal forces on whom £500,000 is being spent could only travel over about two-thirds of Australia ; that it would be absolutely impossible for these men to go to Western Australia, if it were attacked. The General Officer Commanding and Major-General Sir Bevan Edwards have pointed out that from the strategic point of view that trans-continental railway is absolutely necessary. We are spending £5.00,000 a year on our internal forces on the supposition that this third line of defence would be of great use if the other two lines were broken down, but it could not possibly be sent to Western Australia without a transcontinental railway. It must be admitted that, from a military point of view, it has very strong claims on our consideration.
– May I ask’ if there is a line on the Estimates for the construction of a railway to “Western Australia 1
– No, sir; not even for a survey.
– I am suggesting, sir, that we ought to ask for a sum to be placed upon the Estimates for that purpose, because it is of no use for us to spend £500,000 a year on our internal forces if they can only be sent to those portions of the Commonwealth where hostile troops are not likely to land. If we spend such a large sum on our internal forces, we ought, at any rate, to provide facilities for their getting to any part of Australia which might be attacked. A hostile force would be far more likely to attack Western Australia than the populous eastern States, because it contains an enormous amount of gold and a number of gold mines ; and if it were attacked the people of the eastern States who would be desirous of helping us to repel the foe would be absolutely impotent. I do not intend to discuss these questions any further at this stage, but I hope that honorable senators will look carefully into the Estimates to see how injuriously many of the arms of defence have been affected by the alterations which have been made, and to endeavour to put our military forces on some coherent and sensible basis.
– At this hour I do not intend to say very much, as probably in Committee not a few of us will have some remarks to offer. Senator Playford referred to the estimate of the cost of the Federation which was laid before the Adelaide Convention. At that time, in 1897, the estimate, except perhaps as to the parliamentary allowances, was framed on the basis of five States coming into the Union. Six States came into the Union, and since then the Commonwealth has taken over the control of British New Guinea, involving an additional annual expenditure of £20,000. I think that if any one is open to the charge of extravagance -it is not the Federal Government. In fact, so much do I admire the economy of the Treasurer, that I wish he would form a class and instruct the States Treasurers, particularly in New South Wales, how to manage their affairs. The States Parliaments are so extravagant that every now and again ‘ they attribute all the extra expense to the Federal Government, which, in my opinion, is very outrageous. With regard to the Department of Defence, we have had so full a statement of the position from Senator Smith that I do not propose to make many remarks. I notice that the total. vote for defence is £677,579. There is no allusion to the increased subsidy for naval defence; probably the agreement will not come into force until the beginning of next year, as the Parliament of New Zealand has not yet decided to contribute its share. But presuming that we had to pay£47,000for the financial half-year, the- total expenditure would be increased to £724,579. When we were discussing the Naval Agreement Bill I made some allusion to the necessity of spending a larger proportion of our money on naval defence than on the land forces. Our own naval forces number only 1,122, of whom none are to be found in Western Australia or Tasmania ; while our land forces number 22,898. So that we have actually twenty military men for every naval man that we employ. I, therefore, think that a larger proportionate expenditure should be incurred in connexion with coastal defence. T listened with much pleasure to the remarks made by Senators Pearce and Smith respecting rifle clubs. It seems to me that so far as it can be legitimately done we ought to encourage riflemen to become efficient. I should not object to the provision of an inexpensive uniform, which would show that they did belong to rifle clubs. Certainly we ought to encourage the cadet forces. We have also a large number of retired drilled men, who, no doubt, would come to our assistance in case of an attack by an enemy. I am not at all afraid that we should not make a very good fight, but at the same time to be forewarned is to be forearmed. I hold in my hand a letter from Parramatta, in which it is stated that at a public meeting held there some months since, attention was drawn to the fact that the Lancers’ Regiment - a very useful one hitherto - is somewhat handicapped by the withdrawal of the subsidy to their band. No doubt there is an attempt to be economical ; but in this case it has had a very disastrous effect. It seems that the Lancers are very proud of their band, and hitherto the regiment’ has been a most prominent part of the cavalry force of New South Wales. I shall not detain the Senate any longer, but in Committee I hope, in common with others, to make some remarks regarding matters arising under the Estimates.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia -Vice-President of the Executive Council). - I wish to say only a few words in reply. Senator Pulsford has asked me to say whether the amount paid by the States on Government imports would be collected and paid back to them. My answer to the question is that the amounts paid on Government imports are collected and repaid to the States. There is no necessity for us to wait for a decision by the High Court on the point which was decided by a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales against the Commonwealth. We are appealing to the High Court, and if the appeal is not sustained, the States will have no claim on the Commonwealth, because the amounts have already been paid over to them. It is said that the cost of post-offices is too high. But that all depends upon the locality. Senator Pulsford’s idea that we can build a decent post-office which would accommodate a postmaster and his family, and provide sufficient accommodation for telegraph and postal purposes, for £500, including the purchase of the site, is simply absurd. It would not be possible to do it. Looking through the list, I came to the conclusion that, at all events, the Federal Government were not more extravagant in the expenditure of money upon post-offices than were the States Governments. Now I come to Senator Smith. He has given us a very intelligent, and to me an enlightening, address because I do not profess to know much about military matters. I have received a considerable amount of information from him on the subject. But he has indulged in, I will not call it abuse, but in adverse criticism of a friendly character, because the Government have not done something. We know that last year the Parliament was determined that the Defence estimates should be cut down. It was said that we were spending a great deal too much money, and it was urged upon the Government that it was absolutely necessary that we should reduce the expenditure. The other House was particularly persistent in that respect, and there was an echo of the same feeling in the Senate. The Government agreed to cut down the Defence estimates by over £100,000. But the usual result follows. It always does follow, wherever estimates are cut down.
Of course something had to be done in the way of dispensing with the services of various individuals. Whenever work of this kind has to be done, it is never possible to please everybody. The position reminds me of the old story of the man who was being flogged. If they whipped him high, or they whipped him low, he did not like it. And so it is with the members of this Parliament. The Government make reductions in accordance with their wishes, but there are still plenty of critics who say that the reductions should have been made in some other directions; and if they had been made in other directions, others would have been just as displeased. Senator Smith has spoken of the rifle clubs and the volunteers. So far as concerns the rifle clubs, we are going to give them a number of privileges which they do not at present possess. We are going to lend to them, without any expense, the reserve of MartiniHenry rifles that we have in stock - until at all events we obtain the better pattern magazine rifles. We are also going to give them a sum of money for their rifle ranges, and we intend to give them something in the way of a grant. In other ways we are going to help them - for instance by giving them something like 200 rounds of cartridges per man for use at their practices.
– They have that now.
– We are going to give them a little more than they have now. Indeed we are going to do all we can to help these forces. I quite agree with Senator Smith that we ought as far as possible to depend upon our volunteer forces and upon our rifle clubs rather than upon the paid militia and permanent forces. I have not the slightest doubt that the new Minister for Defence will gradually but surely bring about a state of things very different to that which now prevails, and under which more attention will undoubtedly be paid to the volunteer forces. I have nothing further to add except that I am very pleased to find that the Budget speech which I made! to-day has given considerable satisfaction to the majority of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 9.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 October 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19031007_senate_1_17/>.