2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator PEARCE presented a petition from 253 electors in New South Wales, being the presidents and secretaries of various trade unions in that State, and representing 50,000 or 60,000 members, praying the Senate to pass into law. certain provisions in the Trade Marks Bill relating to trade, union labels.
Petition received, read, and ordered tobe printed.
– Sometimes thereseems to be a difference of opinion between the Clerks and an honorable senator as to the notice given, and therefore I call the attention of honorable senators to standing order 98, which reads as follows: -
Notice Df motion shall be given by the senator stating its terms to the Senate and delivering at the table a copy of such notice, fairly written, signed by himself, and showing the day proposed for bringing on such motion.
That standing order ought to be complied with, because a case has been brought under my notice in which there was a difference of opinion as to the notice given.
-Col. NEILD.- I thank you, sir,, and I shall be glad to be the first to obey your ruling in this matter.
– There is nothing before the Senate.
D- If I am in order-
– Are there any other notices of motion?
– I am suggesting a matter which comes under that heading. Last week I made a mistake.
– Is the honorable senator appealing against your ruling, sir?
– I understand that Senator Neild is giving notice of a motion.
– But is he givingnotice of a motion?
– I am dealing with a fresh matter.
-I understand that Senator Neild is giving notice of motion.
.- With reference to a notice of motion standing in my name for the 15th December, Hansard shows that I made a kind of doublebarrelled mistake last week. I put the business down for the 15th December, and at the same time used the phrase “next motion day.”
– What is it that the ‘ honorable senator wishes to do now?
– I wish to know, sir, whether’ it is possible for the notice in question to be transferred to the 8th December, the first motion day ?
– Lt is necessary that we should have a clear understanding as to what is being done with the notice-paper. I venture to submit, sir, that a notice of motion set down for the 15th December cannot now be altered by way of anticipation. A notice of motion may be postponed, but it cannot be anticipated, and I should like to have a ruling on the point, so that we may know where we are.
– I have never read in any text-book any report of a notice of motion being brought on before the day for which it was given. .[ think that Senator Neild several times mentioned the words 15th December. The Clerks took the notice. down for the 15th December, and I think it will have to stand for that date.
– But Senator Neild has said that he intimated that he wished this notice of motion to be set down for the first day on which notices of motion were to be taken. The honorable senator should always have an opportunity of having a < notice of motion set down for each Thursday !
– Will you, sir, intimate to the Senate whether any change has been made on the notice-paper.
– No change can be made by bringing forward a motion. The consequence of such a proceeding would be very serious indeed.
– In terms of the standing order?
– A notice of motion may be put down for a day subsequent to that which was first named, but not for an earlier date.
– I desire to ask you, sir, a question with reference to the interpretation of a standing order.
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to ask me any abstract question, as I am only here to answer questions as they arise.
asked the Attorney-‘ General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow’: -
Yes. ; 4. During 1903 licences to recruit 8S8 islanders, the number provided, for by Statute, were issued. In addition to that number approval was given to applications by the Queensland Government for the re-issue of licences to the number of 240 on account of labourers previously short shipped or rejected. 5. (a) No Pacific Islanders have entered the Commonwealth since the 31st March, 1904.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
As the Government have decided to refund all moneys lodged in terms of section 167 of the Customs Act for payment of duty on China oil, and all duties paid under protest on such oil, if applications for refunds are made by the persons making such deposits or paying such duties, will the Government refund all moneys paid since 8th October, 1901, as duties on China oil conforming I to the definition contained in Order 436 to all persons who have paid same, irrespective of whether such duties were paid under protest or deposited in terms of section 167 of the Customs Act?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
It appears to be doubtful if the duties referred to as not paid under protest or deposited in terms of Section 167 of the Customs Act, can be legally refunded, but the Government will make further inquiries, and if necessary refer the question to the Commonwealth law officers before finally deciding.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Has the Government any objection to lay on the Table of the Senate apricis of the correspondence between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of India, in relation to the admittance of residents of India into the Commonwealth under a system of passports?
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
In reference to the answer given by the Honorable the Minister to the question asked by Senator Pearce on Thursday, 24th November, in regard to the seizure and sale of certain undervalued goods in Melbourne -
Has there been a similar seizure in Sydney during the past few months?
Was the importer a person of the same name ?
If not, will the Government give the name of the person?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I should like to move that this Bill be referred back to the Committee for the purpose of considering a new clause, which is, I think, absolutely necessary to make it perfect. But probably the Attorney-General can save me the trouble of moving for the recommittal. When the Bill was in Com mittee, I drafted a clause, and showed it to my honorable and learned friend, to the effect that the Bill should not apply to any contract for the shipment of fruit from any part of the Commonwealth signed prior to the passage of the measure. Because, as I pointed out, the method which the fruit-growers adopt in employing the mail steamers to ship their fruit to England, is to work through two large fruit merchants - H. Jones and Company and Peacock and Company - who enter into contracts with the steam-ship companies. The fruit-growers have nothing to do with the companies directly. The whole of the contracts are made by these two firms. I believe that the firms have entered into contracts with the companies for two years - one for the last season, and one for the coming season ; and I think that in all fairness a clause should be prepared to save those contracts, and not make them absolutely void.
– Then the shipping companies would, for twelve months, be exempt from the Bill.
– That men can act the rogue under this measure, as they can under any Act of Parliament, is no reason why we should not insert a clause allowing things to remain as they are until the existing contracts run out. I sent a copy of the Bill to the two firm’s I have named, who have these contracts with the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient companies, and I have here a letter from the largest shipper, who hopes that the clause I have suggested will be inserted. It seems to me to be a proper clause, because, as the shipper points out to me, if the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient companies - I do not say that they will - think that the terms of the measure are so onerous that they cannot undertake to carry fruit under it without quoting enormously enhanced freights, the fruit-growers will not reap the advantage that they expected to do. But, as the firms of H. Jones and Company and Peacock and Company point out that they will be robbed of the benefits of their contracts; which apply to the whole of next year’s fruit, my contention is that the Bill ought not to be made to apply to those contracts. I am astonished that my honorable friends opposite should think it right that contracts which have been entered into - as these con- tracts have been for the last ten years - and upon which the whole of the fruit trade of Tasmania is conducted, should be rendered nugatory by an Act of Parliament. I am astonished at the sneers and jeers of honorable senators. It is another proof that sometimes they do not know the meaning of the provisions which they support. It will save time if the AttorneyGeneral will tell me that he will ask the Prime Minister to give consideration to this very weighty matter when the Bill reaches the other House. I only desire that justice shall be done, and if my honorable and learned friend will assist me to the extent I have suggested, it will not be necessary for me to move the recommittal of the Bill.
– I should like to add a word to what my honorable and learned friend, Senator Dobson, has said. I regret that I was not able to be present last week, as I was engaged in another part of the Commonwealth with the Navigation Commission. The fruit trade is entirely in the hands of the shipping companies, for good or bad; and if we force upon them conditions which they cannot carry out easily and profitably, the result must be to add to the cost of transport. Unless fair notice is given, existing contracts will be null and void. In saying this, I am speaking by the book. The consequence will be the raising^ of freights to the exporters of fruit. I think, therefore, that in fairness and justice a clause ought to be added such as Senator Dobson has proposed. The clause need not be inserted by the Senate, but may be added in another place. It should provide that existing contracts may be allowed to run for twelve months or for six months ; probably six months would be sufficient. To grant that term will only be acting with equity and justice, and without injury to any one.
– I think that this Bill illustrates the disadvantages of hasty legislation. The whole subject of bills of lading is provided for in the Navigation Bill, which was under the consideration of the Senate at the beginning of the session. The measure has been referred to a Royal Commission, which is at the present time taking evidence both in respect to the Navigation Bill generally and to the clauses which form part of the Bill under the consideration of the ‘Senate. The ‘two gentlemen mentioned by Senator
Dobson have given evidence before the Commission, and both of them said that they preferred the clauses contained in the Navigation Bill to those which are embodied in this. They see now what any one might have seen at the beginning, that the shippers are not going to get the advantages that they expired from the measure. The shipping con*,panies without a doubt intend to make themselves secure.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to this Bill ?
– I am not prepared - and I have gone into the subject as closely as any honorable senator has done- to say whether the provisions are absolutely fair all round.
– The other side have had a fair chance to put their case.
– They have not had a fair opportunity. The Tasmanian “shippers, at any rate, made very indefinite statements to the Royal Commission regarding the whole matter.
– Because they are afraid that the Bill will interfere with the fruit-growing industry.
– The Tasmanian fruit-growers have never expressed a fair opinion on the subject.
– The honorable senator is not defending the present bills of lading, is he?
– No; but I say that the question is a very intricate one, which will bear a great deal of looking into. Honorable senators know perfectly well that a large shipment of fruit when placed on board a vessel cannot be minutely examined. We also know that the largest amount of damage which occurs to shipments of fruit is caused through over-ripe fruit being shipped. In fact, the Tasmanian shippers admit that the big losses of last year were caused by the presence of fruit that never ought to have been shipped. Do honorable senators expect the shipowner to examine every apple?
– The Bill does not say that.
– The Bill says that the ship-owner is responsible. Would there not be negligence if the ship-owner took on board over-ripe fruit which caused damage? It is well known, I say again, that well-selected fruit is damaged by being shipped with fruit that is over-ripe.
– The owners are not liable in that case.
– They will be liable. They are responsible. It is their fault if they take over-ripe fruit.
– If they take over-ripe fruit which damages other fruit, they ought to be liable.
– Suppose there are a dozen shipments of fruit from a dozen different fruit-growers ; that eleven of those growers have carefully selected their fruit and put it in the refrigerators in perfect order; but that one grower ships overripe fruit, which damages the whole of the rest of the cargo. We have evidence that there is fruit lying in Tasmania to-day which has been there since last May, and which it is intended to ship during the coming season. The evidence goes to show that over-ripe fruit, on being placed in the refrigerating chambers, throws off a considerable amount of carbonic acid gas, which may damage the whole of a shipment, or even destroy it utterly. I say that if a ship-owner takes on board over-ripe fruit he is liable to damages under this Bill for negligence.
– Not a bit of it.
– It must be so.
– He is only liable for his own negligence in respect of proper loading or stowage.
– The whole question is - who is going to be responsible for over-ripe fruit which damages a whole shipment? The ship-owner, in the usual way of signing a bill of lading, signs for the case ; he does not sign for the fruit. He signs that the cases are in good order and condition.
– If a ship-owner is sued for damages, does the honorable senator say that he has to prove a negative? The onus of proof is on the man who brings the action.
– What I say is that, if some fruit is shipped by means of which a cargo of fruit is injured, the shipowner will be held to be liable. It will be an easy matter for the eleven shippers in the instance Ihave cited to say, “ We can prove that our fruit was in good condition when it was put on board the ship, but it has turned out bad.” Would not the ship-owner be liable then?
– Surely not, unless it was proved that his negligence was the cause of the damage.
– Who is going to prove that the other fruit was over-ripe?
The ship-owner must, in his evidence, say that the other fruit was damaged by the over-ripe fruit.
– I cannot see how honorable senators can avoid the argument. If eleven shippers put fruit on board a ship in good condition, and if when the fruit arrives at the other end of the world it is proved to be bad, the question arises, “ How has it become bad ?”
– It may be due to careless packing.
– If the consignee refuses to accept delivery, and an action is brought, the ship-owner will have to prove that the damage was not due to any negligence of his.
– No; the consignee will have; to prove the shipowners’ negligence.
– But it will be proved that the fruit was put on board in good condition. I should like to see the Attorney -General appearing in a case of this sort.
– I should have no difficulty.
– On either side, I suppose. There will be absolute proof that the fruit was in good condition, and that there was the mate’s signature to the bill of lading.
– That is only prima facie evidence.
– There will, no doubt, be expert evidence that the fruit was put on board in good condition, and plenty of proof that it was bad when landed. There will, further, be expert evidence that fruit can be carried in refrigerating chambers without coming to any harm; and the natural inference will be that there must have been negligence either in taking fruit on board in an over-rine condition, or in badly stowing it. According to the evidence given before the Royal Commission the Tasmanian output of applies was doubled last year, and, as the number of trees could not be doubled, the conclusion to be drawn is that the growers shipped every apple, good and bad, that was to be found in the island.
– No; it was a very wet season, and there was a good crop.
– There are other ways of doubling the output.
– Apples cannot be manufactured.
– But they can be grown.
– Last year was a phenomenal vear for growth.
– I know that, so’ far as the keeping of apples was concerned, t it was a phenomenally bad year, there being’ heavy rains, which did the fruit no good. The Royal Commission have not been able vet to ascertain the cause of the apples going bad, and there is considerable conflict of evidence amongst experts as to the best means of carrying the fruit. So far as I can learn, no method has yet been adopted whereby the carbonic acid gas can be extracted from the chambers.
– If the chambers are properly ventilated there will be no gas.
– If there are ventilators a regular temperature cannot be kept. The best of refrigerating experts say that it is impossible to have ventilators and preserve an even temperature.
– It would cost a little more, that is all.
– The fruit can be carried with the dry air process.
– But that generates the gas just as much as does the other process ; indeed, we are told that the former generates more gas.
– What destroys the apples is excessive moisture.
– We are told by experts that it is the gas, and not the moisture, which destroys the apples. There is evidence that there are varying temperatures in the chamber, but, on the other hand, experts say that it is an utter impossibility to keep an even temperature in all parts of the chamber. In one corner the temperature may be down to 32 or 33 degrees, while in another corner, with the same machinery, and with distribution as perfect as it is possible to make it, the temperature may be 38 or 40 degrees.
– A temperature of 38 degrees will not hurt apples
– the shippers ask for legislation to compel a uniform temperature of from 32 to 38 degrees, and everybody knows that a temperature of 32 degrees, which is freezing point-
– Destroys the apples.
– Such a temperature freezes the produce ; and yet it was that for which .the deputation to the Prime Minister asked.
– They did not know what they were talking about.
– That is what I say - the Senate is merely pandering to people who do not know what they want. This is a matter which was referred to the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill, and the policy of past Governments was to refuse to deal with the question piecemeal. Both this session and last session strong requests were made that one part of the Navigation Bill might be dealt with, but previous Governments absolutely refused to be a party to any such course. Indeed, one of the members of the Barton Government was compelled to resign office on this very point. Now, virtually without any notice, a Bill is introduced, and inside a week is advanced through the whole of its stages. Those interested have had no opportunity to express an opinion as to the justice or otherwise of the measure; and I hope the Senate will come to the conclusion that the Bill ought to be delayed until more evidence is obtained.
– I think that Senator Guthrie in some measure misconceives the scope and intention of the Bill. It provides that the shipowner shall not continue, as most people think he has hitherto wrongfully done, to contract himself out of all obligation to exercise reasonable and ordinary care. In any case, the objections now offered, if valid, ought to have been urged on the second reading of the Bill.
– Or in Committee on the second clause.
– The objections are of so sweeping a character, and are so directed against the principle of the Bill, that they ought to have been presented on the second reading. I earnestly hope that the Bill will be speedily carried, because it can inflict no injury on any person, while it will relieve a large number from an injury perpetrated in times past. It seems monstrous that persons should have the power to declare, by agreement,, that, while they take money for carrying goods, they assume no responsibility. Ship-owners are not asked to be answerable for landing the produce in good order, but merely to exercise reasonable care and attention, and it must be shown that reasonable care and attention have not been exercised before damages can be obtained. At any rate, all the Bill does, to start with, is to prevent the parties contracting themselves out of rights which would exist but for the agreements now made. It preserves to shippers their common law rights, which the shipowners now compel them to contract themselves out of.
– I was absent last week, and had no opportunity to comment on the measure, and, consequently, must take the present opportunity. While I do not wish to enter into the merits of the form of bill of lading in use, I venture to say that this legislation is a great mistake, even from the stand-point of those for whose benefit it is introduced. So far as I understand the clauses of the Navigation Bill, I am sure that a more satisfactory measure would have been passed if matters had all been allowed to take their natural course.
– Does the honorable senator think that the clauses in the Navigation Bill, as they stand, would better answer the purpose?
– I believe they would, because there are in the Navigation Bill provisions which are not to be found in the measure before us. I feel sure that once the shippers understand the position they have placed themselves in by rushing this’ legislation, they will realize that they have done themselves an injury. But, apart from that aspect of the matter, I must enter my protest against the unfair action of the Government in taking this matter out of the hands of the Royal Commission, and legislating in regard to it at the tail end of the session. The fact is that up to the present time the shippers have pretty well monopolized the attention of the Royal Commission. There have been witnesses galore, and we thoroughly know their side ; but not a single witness has yet given evidence on the part of the ship-owners.
– That is not our fault.
– It is the fault of every one who gives consent to this legislation.
– Senator Macfarlane is a member of the Royal Commission; what was he doing?
- Senator Macfarlane is in the same position as are other members of the Royal’ Commission who protest against this matter being taken out of their hands.
– The Royal Commission must have been asleep !
– Surely Senator Dawson does not think that we can take evidence from half-a-dozen witnesses at once.
– It must be that the ship-owners have nothing to say against the Bill.
– The Bill does not deal with matters, of general navigation.
– The Bill dealswith matters which should have been left in abeyance until the Royal Commission reported.
– The Bill deals with unfair contracts.
– Which have been going on for years.
– And which, therefore, should be stopped.
– This is not the only question of reform which was handed over to the Royal Commission. Had the interests of seamen or wharf labourers been involved we should not have found honorable senators opposite in such indecent haste to legislate.
– Can the honorable senator give us any idea when the report of the Royal Commission will be presented ?
– The report will be presented in due course.
– The report will be presented without any unnecessary delay.
– As I say, we have had a rush of witnesses on the shippers’ side. I was under the impression that Senator Gray, who I think is a little unfair in this matter, was here in the interests of the ship-owner, aswell as in the interests of the shipper. This piecemeal method of dealing withlegislation for the improvement of our navigation laws is not satisfactory, and it is unfair to the Navigation Commission, towhom the question should have been left. I question very much whether this Bill might not have been ruled out of order ontha ground that the matter with which it deals has been referred to a Royal Commission, and that such’ legislation should not be introduced until that Commission has submitted its report. I have no desire toassist hurried legislation, which I believewill do the shippers more injury than good, because the clauses contained in the Navigation Bill are more comprehensive, and’ would be more beneficial to the shippers than will the provisions of this Bill.
– They have said so themselves. The two principal shippers in Tasmania have admitted that.
– That is so. I quite admit that bills of lading as at present drawn are very unfair to the shippers, but we should hear the other side of the case before we legislate upon the matter. The present bills of lading are very onesided, in throwing all responsibility upon the shippers, and relieving the shipping companies. If the bills of lading adopted by Australian shipping companies are contrasted with those adopted by the German lines, it will be seen that the latter are more fair to the shippers.
– The honorable senator only thinks so.
– I have very good reason for thinking so, and I question whether Senator McGregor knows anything at all about the subject. If the honorable senator had an opportunity to compare the bills of lading drawn by the German companies with those drawn by the Adelaide Steam-ship Company, he would have to admit that the German companies’ bills of lading are more fair to the shippers. All Australian shipping companies have adopted practically the same bills of lading.
– Thatis it; there is a combination, and monopoly.
– I believe that is so; but I still think that the Government should not have introduced this Bill when the matter with which it deals has been referred to the Navigation Commission. As a member of that Commission. I enter my protest against the passing of this Bill.
– I am very sorry that the action of the Government, and of the Senate, should have roused the ire of members of the Navigation Commission.
– I join with the honorable senator in his regret.
– I am also very sorry that the members of the Commission who are members of the Senate did not come here with more open minds to consider the legislation on which we have been engaged while they were looking after the shippers in Tasmania.
– Honorable senators want to steal their thunder.
– We have no desire to interfere with their work.
– Honorable senators are interfering all the same.
– No, we are not. We are endeavouring to make provision for what we consider to be an urgent necessity. The’ Navigation Commission may still go on with its investigation into bills of lading and the storage of fruit and other produce, and if they think fit they will be quite welcome to propose the repeal of this measure if it should become law, and embody in a future Navigation Bill such provisions as will do away with the evils against which we are endeavouring to provide a remedy now. Senator de Largie invites honorable senators to believe that some German shipping companies are far more liberal to shippers than are the companies which have almost a monopoly of the trade of Australia. If the honorable senator had studied the evidence given before the Navigation Commission with respect to the bills of lading entered by the German shipping companies, he might have found that, so far as superficial appearance is concerned, they are very liberal, and that under them the German companies do not contract themselves out of their obligation to be careful of all goods placed in their charge; but the honorable senator would also have found that if anything happened to the goods the shippers would have to go to Germany, and have their claims considered there. Of what advantage would that be to Australian shippers ?
– That is a geographical difficulty.
– It is a very serious geographical difficulty, and the case would have to be tried under German law, and not under the laws of Australia. We are proposing a law here under which neither British nor foreign shipping companies shall be allowed to evade their responsibility. We do not desire that they should be compelled to do anything unreasonable.
– If it is contrary to Imperial law they will get out of it all the same.
– All that we wish to provide for is that when goods are given into the charge of any shipping company, they shall be compelled to exercise ordinary care in the transit of them.
– The German companies agree to do that now without any law.
– So much the better for the shippers who ship by the German companies’ vessels. We desire to put our own shipping companies on the same footing, by providing that they shall exercise all reasonable care in the carriage of produce. It must be remembered that we are proposing to provide for the safe carriage, not only of apples from Tasmania, and oranges from Parramatta, but of butter from Victoria, and cheese from Tasmania, if that State should export any.
– And wool.
– Yes, wine and wool, and everything else. Our intention is merely that ordinary care shall be exercised in the carriage of goods, and if goods are damaged in transit the shippers under this Bill is required to prove that the shipping company, or its servants, did not exercise ordinary care. If he cannot prove that he will have no redress. I have heard some members of the Navigation Commission make the statement that the Commission has taken the evidence of two of the largest shippers, in Tasmania.
– The only two shippers.
– The only two who came before the Commission.
– The only two the Commission had any knowledge of.
– They said that they shipped 85 per cent, of the total shipment of Tasmanian apples.
– Very well ; some one else must have shipped the other 15 per cent. I must say that I sympathize with the innocence of the members of the Navigation Commission. If they had given but the slightest consideration to the evidence submitted in Victoria to the Butter Commission, they would have known that the large shippers are all right - not onlydo they get their goods looked after, but they get a commission from various shipping companies for sending their goods by their steamers. It is the small’ shipper, who has a few hundred cases of fruit or boxes of butter, or small quantities of any kind of produce to ship, that we require to look after. The larger shipper can look after his own business, and there is very good proof, that he is well able to do so.
– The honorable’ senator knows nothing about the matter. The small shipper can get no space at all.
– I got space the other day for eight cases of oranges, and six were delivered destroyed.
- Senator Guthrie need not imagine that I am so silly as to believe that the small shipper cannot get some consideration.
– He cannot get space.
– The difficulty is that when he does get space, the same care is not taken of his goods. The honorable senator has raised the question that a shipping company might take in ninetenths of the cargo of fruit in prime condition, whilst the other tenth might be overripe, or under ripe, and, as a consequence, more gas might issue from the shipment than could be supplied by the Senate and House of Representatives, with the resultthat the nine-tenths of the cargo shipped in good condition would be greatly damaged. What I would recommend in such a case, and what every honorable senator should recommend, is that no. produce should be exported from any port in Australia without the strictest Government supervision. If that practice were adopted’ the small shippers, instead of sending their few cases of apples or boxes of butter direct, could give them into the charge of a State or a Commonwealth Department charged’ with this supervision, and they would then get the same consideration as; the large shippers. What Senators Guthrieand de Largie suggest is that, in the meantime, and until the Navigation Commission has taken all its evidence, made its recommendations, and a Navigation Bill has been passed into law, the small producers in Australia must remain at the mercy of theshipping companies, and be subordinate to the will of the big shippers, who can always make their own conditions for the carriage of their goods. It is in the interest of the small shippers that we are endeavouring to pass this legislation, and I hope, honorable senators will look at the matter in that light. We have no wish to treat the. Navigation Commission with any disrespect, or to do anything that would lower the: members of that Commission in the estimation of the people of Australia, but we do desire to pass legislation which we think isurgent. If the legislation which we” pass can be improved as a result of the work of the Navigation Commission, I am sure that the members of this Senate will be glad toassist the Commission in securing its improvement.
– I’ regret that anything should occur to delay the passage of this Bill, which I think is; necessary in the interest of honest dealing between shippers and ship-owners. Senator Guthrie has said that the remarks made by Senator Dobson have shown the evil resulting from hasty legislation, but the remarks which have been made by Senators Guthrie and de Largie have shown that it is exceedingly dangerous, even with the most friendly intentions, to interfere with the chicken while the mother hen is about. The Navigation Commission evidently looks upon this question of bills of lading as one of its chicks, and though we have interfered in the matter with the most friendly intention, the Commission, like the mother hen, objects that we have no right to interfere at all.
– Other Governments have said that they would not legislate in piece-meal fashion.
– Former Governments may have been entirely wrong in tak ing up that attitude. I fail to see why this Parliament should be bound by the act of a previous Parliament, when it cannot be shown to be a good decision. All that the Bill does is to prevent ship-owners from contracting themselves out of their common law obligations. Why should they be allowed a privilege which is denied to every other person? The Bill deals with a subject of immediate urgency. If the Royal Commission can suggest improvements, it will be very easy for Parliament to adopt them.
– This legislation can be easily evaded; the ship-owners will only take fruit at the shippers’ risk.
– I hold an entirely different opinion. Some honorable senators seam to run away with the idea that the Bill is to apply only to the fruit industry, whereas it applies to every kind of produce. Is it not equally important that butter should be carried under proper conditions, so that it shall not be spoiled in transit?
– There are never any complaints.
– There . have been dozens of complaints about the carriage of butter. How many shipments of meat from this country have been spoiled, owing to the failure of the refrigerating machinery or the neglect of the officers to keep the refrigerating hold at a proper temperature?
– What provision is there in the Bill to meet that case?
– It is provided that if the loss, damage, or injury be due to neglect the ship-owner shall be liable. At the present time ship-owners can contract themselves out of their common law obligations.
– So they can under this Bill.
– Only live cattle are exempt from its provisions.
– And so will fruit be..
– No, the Bill will apply to everything except live stock. I fail to see where a great wrong has been done to the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill. I believe that it is performing good work, but we are not interfering with its functions. We know that the inquiry will continue for twelve months. Shippers of fruit, butter, and meat are liable to suffer very great loss unless this legislation be passed. We are making a humble effort to rectify an evil. I fail to see why the members of the Royal Commission or any one else should take umbrage at. our action. I am exceedingly anxious that the Bill should be passed without further delay.
– It would have been well if a number. of the observations which have been addressed to the Senate to-day had been delivered when the second reading of this Bill was moved. We should have been exceedingly pleased if Senator Guthrie had favoured us with the experience he has gained from examining so many witnesses on this subject.
– We were in Hobart taking evidence at the time.
– It is amusing to hear my honorable friend taking the Government to task for daring to bring forward such a Bill. The question of the third reading has been discussed from two aspects. In the first place, Senator Dobson asked the Government to consider whether certain persons who have entered into contracts should not be allowed to continue them. And I understand from the nodding of the Attorney-General that they intend to take that matter into their consideration. My own opinion is that under the circumstances no relief in that direction should be given.
– It is the shippers, and not the ship-owners, who ask that this clause be inserted.
– The shippers are not the growers.
– The growers and shipping merchants make this request.
– The honorable and learned senator means the commission agents.
– He means the fruit brokers.
– It is only the middle-men who are asking for this alteration. I believe that the contract has one year to run.
– This measure revokes the contract.
– It should revoke all existing contracts, and prevent such contracts from being entered into. A contract might be entered into for a period ranging from ten to twenty years, and where should we draw the line?
– We must do justice.
– It is a well understood principle of common law that all carriers are answerable for any damage caused by their negligence. We contend that this contracting out of the common law liability is against public policy, and must be stopped.
– As regards perishable products, I doubt whether we can or ought to do so.
– If the shipowner can show that there has been no negligence on his part, he is not liable. He is only liable for loss or damage to goods arising from - the harmful or improper condition of the ship’s hold, or any other part of the ship in which goods are carried, or arising from negligence, fault, or failure in the proper loading, stowage, custody, care, or delivery of goods received by them, or any of them, to be carried in or by the ship -
The Government will do well to pass the Bill as it is, and to make no exceptions. Senator Guthrie practically argues against the Bill. He is opposed to its passage at the present moment.
– Until we hear the evidence on the other side.
– So far as the apple trade is concerned, if we do not pass this Bill, the growers, in not only Tasmania, but Victoria and South Australia, will lose the protection we are seeking to give them for the whole of this season. My honorable friendcontends that we ought not to legislate hurriedly on this subject, but should wait until the report of the Royal Commission is brought up: ButI submit that when our attention is drawn to a prac- tice which is injurious to public policy, and to our producers, it is our duty to take immediate steps to amend the law. If the Royal Commission should find that an alteration of this measure is advisable, it can be
I made when the Navigation Bill is being considered.
– But we have no proof that damage is being done.
– I arn very doubtful as to some of the evidence which my honorable friend has referred to. He said that over-ripe apples have destroyed apples which were shipped in good condition. I have had considerable experience regarding the shipment of apples to London. During the four years I was Agent-General for South Australia, apples were consigned to our depot, and we had the sale of them. Tasmanian apples were never in as good a condition as the Victorian and South Australian apples. Fairly large shipments of South Australian apples of different sorts were sent home. In one instance 100 cases were shipped in an over-ripe condition, and when they were landed in London they went into pulp upon being squeezed. But other shipments arrived in excellent condition. Frequently the engineers destroy a whole shipment through allowing the chambers to get far too hot or too cool. I had long conversations with engineers, and recommended that they should procure self registering thermometers, so that when the temperature got too low, cold air could be let into the chamber. When a whole shipment of apples arrives in an over-ripe condition, it is clear that they were not kept sufficiently cool during the passage. The engineers may say that they were, but it can be proved unmistakably that there was some fault or negligence somewhere.
– But some apples carry better than others.
– Undoubtedly. The shippers know the sorts which will carry well to England.
– A uniform temperature cannot be kept in any chamber.
– A uniform temperature is not needed for apples. What is needed is a temperature of about 32 degrees, and, if possible, not to exceed 45 degrees, and in that case the apples will be landed in good condition. I have taken apples home in my cabin and landed them in excellent condition.
– So have I.
– Very often the apples are packed without leaving the necessary space for air to circulate, and the result is that the outside of the case is frozen, and the contents are heated. The cold air cannot get to the apples. Sometimes, too, when the door of the refrigerating chamber is opened, icicles are to be seen hanging down on one side. The circulation of cold air has been unequal, and yet complaints are made of the condition in which the apples are shipped, and responsibility is denied. The shippers have to depend upon human beings to keep an even temperature during the passage. In nineteen cases out of twenty it is neglect on the part of engineers and others on the ship which causes all the trouble ; reasonable care has not been exercised,1. Shipment after shipment in ships, in which certain engineers have travelled, has been landed in excellent condition, while shipments in other vessels have invariably arrived in very bad condition.
– Both the mail companies give their engineers a bonus for every shipment of apples which they land in good order.
– In. years gone by that was not done, and no doubt it is only done now because it has been found necessary. I think that this Bill should be passed at the earliest possible moment, and I support its third reading.
Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania).There is no reason why there should not be a debate upon the third reading of any Bill. The stage is generally formal, but this Bi’ll is of such importance to the fruit-growers of Tasmania that a representative of that State, who was not present last week, may be excused for saying something on the subject. As a general rule, when a Royal Commission is appointed to inquire into a specific subject, and has partly completed its investigations, and when it has become possessed of valuable information, it is entitled to a certain amount of respect from the Parliament of the day. That respect does not seem to have been paid to the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill. There are two questions involved in this measure, as Senator Playford has “ said. One is that which has been put forward by Senator Dobson. It is important that this measure should not be applied to the abrogation of existing contracts so far as concerns the next six or twelve months. This point is very important for the Tasmanian fruit growers. We are now approaching the fruit season, and may this year be in a position to export even more apples than we exported last year, though that was a phenomenal season. The increase is due to the fact that each year more orchard land has been brought into cultivation. But this Parliament is about to pass legislation which, in the form ifc now takes, will absolutely annul existing contracts, or, at any rate, will impose additional obligations which those who entered into the contracts did not expect to have to undertake. The carriage of fruit to England is undertaken by four or five of the large companies. The competition between them has brought down freights to a certain extent. I assume that the leader of the Senate will in all fairness agree to have the matter mentioned by Senator. Dobson brought under the consideration of the Prime Minister, and that serious consideration will be given to it. The importance of the Tasmanian fruit trade deserves that that consideration shall be given, because, although technically .the measure applies to a large variety of products, we know that it affects the fruit trade particularly. With regard to the third reading of the Bill, I do not see that any great mischief would happen if it were not passed at all at’ the present moment. We shall probably have the Navigation Bill before us next session, and that measure includes clauses which are, I believe, more comprehensive than the provisions of this Bill.
– They are better provisions, too.
– I am not sufficiently acquainted with them to .know whether they - are better, but they are certainly more numerous. It might be advantageous to wait until we receive the report of the Royal Commission, the members of which are qualified, some on account of their past experience and some of their trade associations, to deal with the subject. What necessity is there to rush the Bill ? What great harm will be done if the consideration of it is left open for a few months?
– The subject has been under consideration for years.
– The honorable senator, with his Conservative tendencies, is not usually in favour of hasty legislation. This Bill involves very important principles. There are other subjects of great importance affecting the mercantile community which are quite as worthy of legislative treatment. There is, for instance, the subject of fire assurance, and the desirableness of compelling the insurance companies to meet the claims of persons who pay for the risks which the companies undertake.
– If a Bill of that kind were brought forward, some one would say that it was inopportune.
– I admit that the principle of the Bill is a good one, but we have to consider its immediate effects. What harm would there be if its operation were delayed for a few months ? It must be remembered that Ave cannot afford to run any risks with the Tasmanian fruit trade. We need to have all the conditions in our favour and nothing against us, if we are to conduct a profitable industry. We experienced a great deal of trouble in getting our fruit shipped to England in the first instance. We had to submit to very severe conditions and very high freight rates from the start. We have now been able to induce the large steamers to call at Hobart, and their competition has had the effect of reducing freights. Probably in time the competition would remove the. grievance in respect of the bills of lading which we have had to submit to in the past.
– Not if the companies form a ring.
– So far a ring has not been formed. If the Senate insists upon the third reading of the Bill, I hope, in common with Senator Dobson, that the Prime Minister will give consideration to the points which have been brought forward so that existing contracts may not be abrogated, . at any rate, for the next six or twelve months. May I be allowed, before resuming my seat, to read the letter to which Senator Dobson referred, and which has a veryimporant bearing on this subject. It is as follows : - 1
I would ask you, however, to endeavour to get a clause inserted providing that this Bill should not apply to contracts already in hand, as otherwise, if the mail and other companies agreed not to work under the provisions of your new Bill, it would put us in the position of not having any ships to send fruit by during the coming season, while with this clause, as we suggest, it will give us time to make fresh arrangements for the following year’s freight.
– Who is the writer of the letter?
– The secretary of the principal exporting firm, H. Jones and Company Lt’d. It has been stated by way of interjection, and I can ratify it, that this firm, and that of Peacock and Company, are the agents for hundreds of fruit-growers in Tasmania.
– When this Bill was under the consideration of the Senate last week, I warned honorable senators that they must not imagine that the absence of direct statements on behalf of the ship-owners as to what the measure would mean, was to be taken as indicating that such statements could not be made.
– The honorable senator is always a political scarecrow.
– I know Senator McGregor’s latitude and longitude by this time, and never expect him to look at matters in the right spirit. I hold in my hand a letter from one of the largest shipping companies in Australia, which shows that what I said last week as to what might be the effects of the Bill is true. The writer of the letter says -
This measure, as it leaves the Senate, clearly provides for a transfer to the shipowner of risks which, in the past, belonged to the shipper, and is an interference with freedom of contract. In our own case, I would mention that we have agreements still current with shippers from Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia, and which will remain in force for the next twelve months, in which it is clearly provided that the provisions are subject to the terms and conditions of the bill of lading form of which is attached. Apparently these agreements by me proposed legislation are To be made illegal, and the basis upon which our bargain was built up goes by the board. Really this is too much, and cannot, I think, be ia the interests of the Commonwealth. I dare say you are aware that such risks as were involved in accepting our bills of lading, as provided for in these contracts, are risks which are insurable, and surely under the conditions of our contract the difficulty might have been overcome by shippers taking out a policy. The question now arises what is our legal position, and I believe that we will be within our rights if we decide, under the conditions, and assuming the Bill passes, not to send our steamers to Tasmania or carry out any of the contracts now in existence.
– What company is that?
– I do not know that I am called upon to give the name of the writer, but he is the representative of one of the leading companies.
– Can a letter be read in the Senate without the name of the writer being quoted ?
– If honorable senators are anxious about the point I may state that the writer is Mr. D. Anderson, general manager in Australia for the Orient line of steamers. It is dated Sydney, 28th November. We have heard it stated to-day that there are only two or three shippers in Tasmania, and that these shippers represent the aggregate of the fruit exporters. Every one knows that last year these large shippers dropped manythousands of pounds. I believe it has been stated that ^50,000 was lost during the season. That furnishes another reason why we ought not to do anything which will prevent the possibility of the shippers sending freight to the steamers in accordance with their existing contracts. A good case has been made out as to the desirability of reconsidering the position when the Bill reaches the other Chamber, and I trust that the Government will accept any alterations which will tend to preserve to the trade all the contracts which have been entered into, while at the same time carrying out the objects of the Bill, which are in themselves very desirable, and which will, I think, be in the long run in the interests both of shippers and ship-owners.
– It strikes me that there is a considerable difference of opinion with regard to this measure now as compared with the attitude of some honorable senators when the second- reading was under consideration.
– Matters were being rushed then.
– The grievance which it is proposed to remedy by means of the Bill is one which has been complained of for years past. When an attempt is made to remedy it honorable senators turn round and say, “ Do not let us act in a hurry.” It is not often we hear members of the party to which I belong objecting to hasty legislation. Our general com’-i plaints against Governments are that they will not legislate hastily enough in the interests of the people. For years we have been endeavouring to induce Governments to legislate in certain directions, and our trouble has been that we have not been able to induce them to move. When the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was before us, Senator Guthrie was particularly desirous that certain clauses which formed part of the Navigation Bill should be included in the measure.
– Why did the Government resist that proposal ?
– Some of us gave the honorable senator every assistance we could, and were anxious that the Government should insert the clauses in the Conciliation, and Arbitration Bill. What ‘We were anxious to do in that case it is just as right that we should do in the case under consideration. It cannot be said that the subject is a new one, because it has been before the public for years past. The difficulty has been to provide effective legislation. Senator Dobson seems to have reversed his attitude entirely. I should like to quote from Hansard the remarks which he made upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill. He said, as reported on page 7299 -
I believe that the fruit-growers of Tasmania are watching the progress of this Bill with a very great deal of interest, and that they would like me to thank the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral for the promptness with which effect has been given to the promise of the Prime Minister to deal with this matter at once.
Something seems to have happened since the second reading, and1 we wish to know what that something is. The honorable senator who represents .the fruit-growers, thanked the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister, for giving effect to the representations made to them, and expressed the opinion that the Bill was in the interest of the producers. And now he makes a special request that Tasmania, at least, shall be exempt from the legislation for twelve months.,
– Not Tasmania, but existing contracts.
– The honorable senator knew when the Bill was read a second time that it would apply to existing contracts, and if it is a good Bill for the fruit-growers for the year after next, it is equally good for them this year.
– If the AttorneyGeneral does me justice when he speaks, he will tell honorable senators that I had this clause drawn up days ago, and urged him to accept it.
– AH I know is, that the honorable senator never submitted the clause when the Bill was in Committee.
– I shall know better next time. I could not make other people aware of the facts, and some honorable senators are now grossly ignorant of the whole business.
– All this is the effect of hasty legislation.
– I do not think it is hasty legislation, because a Bill of this kind has been desired for years. I have a note of a request made to me by shippers and consignees, when I was returned to Parliament, to see if something could not be done to afford protection in this direction. The question now seems to be narrowed down to the contention that the Tasmanian growers are the only persons interested in the Bill ; but as a matter of fact, every one engaged in the production of perishable goods, with the object of finding outside markets, is equally interested. If the Bill be altered in the way suggested, what sort of position would Senator Givens,, myself, and others be in, when we not only supported the Bill, but asked that its provisions should be extended, because we recognised its beneficial effects?
– And very justly asked, too.
– If the Bill was good then, it is good now,, and I am surprised after the Bill has been read a second time and considered in Committee, that honorable senators should be asked to reverse their decision, and either exempt Tasmania, or reject the measure. That is not the way in which I understand legislation is generally conducted. I take it, that honorable senators make themselves acquainted with the objects of Bills when they are before the Chamber; and it is of no use now attempting to reverse our decision, simply because another measure happens to be under the consideration of a Royal Commission. -I understand that if it is found that this matter can be dealt with better in the Navigation Bill, clauses will be introduced into that measure, and the Bill we are now passing will become a dead letter. Our object is to give such assistance as we can to people who have suffered through those one-sided agreements in the past, and I hope the third reading will be agreed to.
– I do not think that Senator Turley is correct in assuming that there is a desire on the part of any honorable senator that the Senate should reverse the legislation of last week. I understand the request to be that existing contracts shall be respected - that if contracts have been entered into for the carriage of fruit during the coming season the present conditions shall, under those contracts, be allowed, to prevail.
– -This Bill is introduced only because existing contracts are immoral.
– It cannot be said that the contracts are immoral, though they might be described as unfair.
– If the contracts permit of thieving without punishment they cannot be very moral.
.- There is no question that bills of lading of late years have been most unfair towards the shippers, and I daresay that in many instances, as Senator Trenwith has interjected, they have rather encouraged than prevented pilfering. It is the duty of the shipping companies to observe every care in order to protect the goods which are handed to them for transport. We should not allow any incentive to the shipping companies to relax the care and consideration which should be given to goods belonging to other people. I do not think, however, that this debate on the third reading has been amiss, for although no attempt is being made to recommit the measure for the purpose of considering the proposal suggested by Senator Dobson, the debate will give the other Chamber an idea of the feeling on the part of honorable ‘senators. As to the complaint about hasty legislation, I am, like other honorable senators, aware that some amendment of the law has been a pressing matter for years past. The different Chambers of Commerce have taken up the question from time to time, and have always been anxious that something should be done. The complaint on the present occasion is that the Bill was read a first time on Wednesday, and a second time on Thursday, and passed through its Committee stage on Friday last. Honorable senators may talk about the question having been before the public for years, but it. is to be deprecated that legislation should be pushed through at such a speed. I can sympathize with those honorable senators, who, last week, were in Tasmania, not for their own convenience, but on public business, and who had no opportunity to take part in the debate. It is desirable, when we are dealing with such legislation, that the people interested, and the public generally, should have full notice, so that they may make whatever representations they think fit. Had it been proposed to ask for a recommittal of the Bill for the purpose of inserting such a clause as that indicated by Senator Dobson and others, I should have been prepared to support that, course.
– I do not feel sorry that this debate has taken place, because I confess that it has been the means of placing before me some views which, I think, I had not fully considered last week. I have been much influenced by the earnest speech delivered by Senator Mulcahy, who has just returned from the southern part of Tasmania, which is a centre for a large number of shippers of fruit. I could not help noticing, however, that Senator Mulcahy did not tell us that he had heard anything from the small shippers in favour of the exemption of existing contracts. As a representative of a State which is largely concerned in the shipment of perishable produce, it is my earnest desire to see that no obstacles are placed in the way of those small shippers. The only representations as to the undesirability of haste are those made by Senator Mulcahy, Senator Dobson, Senator Macfarlane, and the members of the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill.
– Oh, no !
– Does Senator O’ Keefe not understand that the firms which have been mentioned allot out the space to the small growers - that those two firms contract for the whole of the space?
– I shall take it that those two firms conduct 85 per cent, of the shipping for the fruit-growers of Tasmania. That may seem like a monopoly, but if the small growers are content to have their business done in that way, I do not see that we have any reason to complain.
– All that the two firms do is to give a guarantee to the shipping companies that the space will be filled.
– I realize that those two firms may have a monopoly, but if the growers are satisfied, why should we grumble ?
– Those firms have not a monopoly in the sense indicated by the honorable senator.
– I am disposed to pay considerable attention to the representations made by the two firms, although it strikes me as very strange that there has been no similar representations from any other part of the Commonwealth.
– Oh, yes.
– Nothing has been said by the representatives of other parts of the Commonwealth to the effect that this legislation is regarded as too hurried.
– On the contrary, there has been a large deputation from the other States in favour of the Bill.
– We are legislating for the whole of the Commonwealth, and while there can be no desire to do the slightest injustice to the fruit-growers of Tasmania, there is, of course, a similar desire in respect to the shippers and producers of other States. While we do not want to do any injury to the producers, who wish existing contracts to stand, we are in the difficulty that we have had’ no representations from any other part of the Commonwealth except the southern part of Tasmania.
– Does the honorable senator not see that the ships have to go to Hobart for fruit and nothing else, and that the space is all arranged for now?
– Does Senator Dobson not see the justice of Senator Turley’s contention, that in other parts of Australia there are large numbers of shippers of perishable produce who are crying out for this legislation?
– My suggestion would not stop legislation, but would merely save existing contracts.
– If the Government think it desirable to exempt existing contracts, an opportunity will be afforded when the Bill is being dealt with by another branch of the Legislature.
– But contracts may be arranged for four or five years hence.
– Why should we delegate any of our power to another place?
– It will probably be a week or more before this Bill is dealt with in the other Chamber. In the meantime, this discussion will be made known all over Australia, and shippers and shipowners will have an opportunity to make whatever representations they please to the Government. If no representations be made in that time, then I think we shall be able 1o conclude that 99 per cent, of the shippers are satisfied with the proposed legislation. Practically the whole of the shippers of perishable produce seem satisfied with this legislation. What we have done will be known to-morrow over the whole of Australia, and there will be ample lime for those who object to this legislation to enter their protest against it. I have no desire that the producer shall be placed in such a position that he will have to say with respect to any of our legislation, “ Save ma from my friends,” on the ground that while we intend to improve his condition we are doing something which will injure it. But it does strike me as peculiar that the only objection to this Bill, on the ground that its consideration has been hasty, has come from but two or three people. If the objection raised is, a sound one, it can be emphasized before the measure is finally dealt with in another place. Objections to it may be urged from various parts of Australia, and we shall then perhaps know better where we are than we do to-day.
– The passage of this Bill through the Senate up to the present moment has been so smooth that honorable senators must be somewhat astonished at the troubled reception given to its third reading.
– We have had but a series of congratulations up to now.
– As Senator Turley has said, up to the present moment we have been congratulating each other on the fact that we were engaged in a business of the most excellent character, that we were placing shippers of goods in a position hitherto denied them by shipping companies, and were doing neither more nor less than bare justice. We now have objections to what we have done urged from various quarters. First of all, we have the members of the Navigation Commission finding fault with us because we have interfered with this, matter while it has been under their consideration. I admit at once that in ordinary circumstances, whilst any subject is being investigated by a Royal Commission,, it is exceedingly undesirable /that it. should be dealt with by way of legislative enactment. But in this particular instance we are dealing with what for years has been a crying evil, urgently demanding reform. The people engaged in the industry concerned have been clamorous for the reform provided by this measure. The Prime Minister was waited on by a deputation in re*gard to the matter, and an agitation more or less active has been going on for some considerable time to bring about this reform. In the circumstances, the Senate naturally came to the conclusion that it was right and proper that relief should be given to the parties complaining, and that action should be taken accordingly. I am quite certain that no member of the Senate desires to in any way slight the members of the Navigation Commission. I do not think there has been any occasion for the heat displayed by Senators Guthrie and de Largie this afternoon. No member of the Senate has ever dreamt of doing anything derogatory to the dignity or the usefulness of the Commission. This Bill might not be all that Senator Guthrie desires, but the Government and the Senate consider that it will be a very long step in a particular direction.
– It is on ‘the right track.
– It is on the right track, and members of the Navigation Commission might well acquit the Senate of any intention to take this business out of their hands.
– We do not blame the Senate; we blame the Government.
– The Government bring forward a measure, but as it is subjected to review by the members of the Senate, whatever responsibility exists for its passing must be shared by the Senate as well as by the members of . the Government. I desire to make a few remarks on the attitude now taken up by several honorable senators representing Tasmania. We did not hear a word about the objections which they have now urged on the second reading of the Bill. On the contrary, even Senator Dobson was enthusiastic in his support of the measure. As usual, the honorable and learned senator has turned a somersault within a very few days, and what he has blessed he now proceeds to ban. Why this change of front? I can see no other reason for it than that the shipping companies have been doing a little business in the meantime. They have been telling shippers, “You are very anxious to compel us to do certain things, but if you insist upon this measure being passed into law, and administered as you appear to desire, we shall not send our ships here, or we shall raise freights to such an extent that your shipments will be unprofitable.” We have here the old thing to contend with. It does not matter in what’ direction we turn our steps to effect reform, we have the one inevitable lion in the path to strangle, and; that lion is private enterprise and vested interests. The shipping companies have for such a lengthened period been accustomed to look upon shippers as ‘their lawful victims that now when we proceed to snatch them from their greedy grasp they immediately resent the action taken. The shippers some time ago we.re exceedingly anxious to be saved from the shipping companies. They said. “ Deliver us from these extortioners.” That is in plain Eng- lish what they meant. But now, when they find that the shipping companies have put their hoofs down, they say, “ Leave it alone; we are between the devil and the deep blue sea, and we do not know which way to turn.”
– That is not the general attitude.
– So far as I could gather from the speeches delivered by Senators Mulcahy and Macfarlane, there is in Tasmania a general fear on the part of shippers that they will be placed at a decided disadvantage.
– I have not had a word with or from one of them on the subject.
– But with commission agents ?
– Not even with commission agents ; I understand the conditions myself.
- Senator Pulsford has read a letter from a shipping agent, I presume, informing shippers that if this measure is passed into law it will be so much the worse for them. I have no doubt that an attempt will be made to bring pressure to bear upon honorable members in another place, but, so far as we are concerned in this Senate, we should strive for justice. In passing this measure we are doing that. In this Bill we merely say to the shipping companies, “You shall take up the ordinary burden of a person who contracts to do a certain, thing.”
– With goods that will not keep.
– Goods that will not keep cannot be carried to Great Britain. It is well known that apples reach Great Britain in good condition, in middling condition, and in very bad condition.
– This Bill provides that the ship-owners shall do the best they can with the machinery they have, whether that machinery is sufficient for the purpose or not.
– It is well known that with ordinary care in gathering fruit, in packing it before shipment, and in keeping the refrigerating chambers in which it is stored at a uniform and proper temperature during transit, it can be carried safely to Great Britain. But hitherto the shipping companies have had no responsibility whatever for its safe carriage.
– Not even for gross carelessness.
– I have not the slightest doubt that in many cases there has been gross carelessness in “the transport of produce. It appears to me that in considering this question, we have to think of very much more than merely the conditions existing at the present moment. Australia has, to depend, and will have to depend for a very long time indeed, for a market for her perishable products on Great Britain and Europe. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary, if a profitable trade is to be carried on between Australia and Great Britain or -Europe, that proper shipping facilities shall be afforded for Australian produce. We desire to send oranges and all kinds of fruit from1 Queensland to Great Britain, Europe, and America, if possible. We must discover the best means of transport, but if the shipping companies are to be permitted to continue their present policy of no responsibility, we shall never be able to find out the best way of carrying our perishable produce oversea. If, however, we compel them to use every means known to science, the problem will very soon be solved. I do not suppose that any Bill would do what Senator Guthrie wishes. I do not think that the Navigation Bill, or the report of the Royal Commission, would solve the problem. The problem must be solved by experiment. This Bill compels the shipping companies to accept a certain responsibility, and tHat provisibn will’ induce them,. I believe, to make experiments as to what tare the best and safest methods of carrying perishable produce to Great Britain. From that point of view, it is a most excellent measure, and one which ought to have been placed on the statutebook years ago.
– -Why not extend its provisions to live cattle?
– I am not prepared to give an answer to the question. I understand that the Bill has been considered by experts in the business, and I am quite prepared to take their verdict on the subject. If the honorable senator, or the members of the Navigation Commission, can prove to me that it is necessary to bring live stock under the operation of this or a similar Bill, I shall be very glad to do so. But up to the present, so far as I have heard, the reasons are all to . the contrary.
– There have been big losses there.
– Yes, and I suppose that there will be big losses in the future. We can only reach an approximate perfection in these matters by constant and careful experiments. The Bill compels shipping companies to experiment. Hitherto they have had no responsibility ; they simply accepted the goods at shippers risks. We wish to do away with that uncertain and unsatisfactory state of affairs, and make shipping companies responsible for the goods they carry.
– I do not think that this debate is to be regretted. I am one of those who think that on an important subject there cannot be - within reasonable limits as to time - too much discussion. We are all indebted to the honorable senators who have thrown fresh light on either the scope of the Bill or on the objects which we all have in view. I take it that my honorable friends who have delivered criticism which would have been more appropriate on the second reading, but which is none the less welcome now, feel that this is a subject for redress. I do not think that that can be doubted for a moment. Provisions relating to bills of lading were embodied in the Navigation Bill which is now under the consideration of a Royal Commission. The matter has been the subject of pressure on all hands for a considerable time. It has been a running sore for a very long period. It has been the subject of strong representations by representative fruit-growers and shippers from all parts of Australia, including Tasmania, to the Prime Minister, particularly lately. It has been the subject of resolutions passed at a conference of shippers held in Adelaide, passages of which I read when moving the second reading of the Bill. There is a consensus of opinion that this practice has gone on too long, and that it is high time that it was changed. At the same time I am in a little difficulty, because I do not know where my honorable friends are. There is no motion to recommit the Bill ; there is no distinct intimation that the third reading is to be opposed, and that a measure which is clamoured for is to be thrown out. I believe that Senators Guthrie and de Largie have no intention of opposing the third reading.
– I am going to call for a division.
– Why? Is it because the Senate has had the temerity to do its part towards legislating in the absence of the report from the Navigation Commission? Is it because of any feeling on the part of its members that they have been in any way overlooked or disregarded ?
– I mentioned a reason.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON. -I am going over them all.
– That is one of the reasons.
– If it is a subject for apology, I join with Senator McGregor in expressing my extreme regret if in any way we have wounded the feelings of the members of the Navigation Commission.
– It is not a question of wounded feelings.
– I do not say that because of the remarks which have been made this afternoon, but because it is a mere repetition of what I said in my second-reading speech, in which I frankly acknowledged the great services of the Commission, and referred to the provisions relating to coastal trade which Senator Guthrie wished to introduce intothe Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. 1 said thatthoseclauses might be dealt with separately, just as we are dealing with this urgent question separately. I said - this matter has been separated from the Navigation Bill because of the urgency of it. All of us will be greatly indebted to the report of the Navigation Commission, and I am sure that we should be glad to reconsider even the matter, it in the interval any experience could be gained which would enable us to make the Bill more effective.
As Senator Givens has said, we can only proceed step by step. Even the Senate is not composed of heaven-born statesmen, so that our legislation is not perfect. I thoroughly agree with my honorable friends in the justice of the provision which they sought to introduce. I begged them not to press the amendment to apply the Bill to all ports at the moment, and they yielded on that occasion. I read that extract because I’ acknowledged the services of the Royal Commission. I recognised that we were taking this subject out of the Navigation Bill for the moment, not in any way to exclude the benefit of whatever information it could afford us, with a view to make this legislation more effective, and, if you like, just, or with any desire to jump the claim of- that body, or anybody else. In the next place, is the third reading to be opposed because some expressions have been used about hasty legislation?
– One week.
– My honorable friend is mistaken. It is one fortnight. Is this Bill to be rejected on the third reading because it is hasty legislation? What I understand by that term is legislation so confused that it would be impossible of interpretation.
– Why did not the Government introduce this as their policy ?
– In the fust place, it was embodied in the Navigation Bill, and in the second place, pressure was put on the Government recently in view of the approaching perishable product season, and it was imperative that it should be dealt with.
– Evidently the pressure is easing off.
– No. It is not that the pressure is easing off, but that there is another pressure coming in, to which I do not think anybody ought at the moment to pay the least attention. On the 1 6th November I moved for leave to introduce the Bill. On the 17th I presented the Bill, and on the 23rd I moved the second reading.
– There was not a copy of the Bill available until last Tuesday.
– Copies were available long before that date. On the 23rd November,at the second reading stage, the Bill was exhaustively debated, and on the 24th it was discussed in Committee in a very exhaustive fashion, and the consideration of the report was set down for the 25th. A Bill of originally three or four clauses has occupied the Senate for a fortnight. Therefore, on the ground of haste, there can be no cause of complaint. Is it hasty, in the sense that we are dealing with a subject which ought not to be dealt with? Every speaker has declared the exemptions in bills of lading to be unfair. Senator Mulcahy admits that they are unfair, but he wishes us to wait before the unfairness is remedied until the shipowners are convinced. We shall have to wait a very long time before that happens. Senator Gould described the exemption as not only unfair, but unjust, and other honorable senators used the same expression. Here was an abuse existing, by the concurrent testimony of every honorable senator, and were we to stand by and allow that abuse to be perpetuated? I never heard of such a suggestion in my life. If it is an abuse we should be worthy to be stigmatized as being regardless of the interests of the people of this country if we did not take steps to remedy it.
– There are other largeabuses.
– Let us deal with the little ones to begin with. The question is - is it right, is it wise, to try to remedy this abuse? It is admitted that there is an abuse. We are trying to remedy it. Every one admits that the method proposed is a right one, with the exception of my honorable friend Senator de Largie. He says that he prefers the provisions of the Navigation Bill. My honorable friend Senator Mulcahy. says that the provisions of the Navigation Bill are more numerous and more comprehensive. He did not point out in what respect they were to be preferred. But as a matter of fact the provisions of the Navigation Bill are not more comprehensive, and they are not more numerous. What is more, they are nothing like so effective.
– They impose a condition that the ship shall be well equipped.
- Senator Guthrie says that the ship-owners very much prefer the provisions of the Navigation Bill.
– No, I said that the Tasmanian shippers of fruit prefer them.
– All I can say is that I do not know who the shipper of fruit in Tasmania can be who prefers the Navigation Bill provisions to this Bill.
– The biggest shipper.
– Who is he?
– He is a freight-broker - a gentleman who monopolizes, I am informed, 75 or 80 per cent. of the freight, and who doles it out to the shippers as a middleman.
– No, he does not. He gets 85 per cent. on his own account.
– Does he grow 85 per cent. of the fruit?
– He does not grow any of it. He is not a grower at all. My honorable friend’s statement must be made on the testimony of Jones.
– It was the firm of H. Jones and Company that made the losses last year.
– How did the losses occur? Through bad legislation.
– What provisions do the ship-owners prefer?
– We have not asked them.
– If all the ship-owners in Australia came forward, and asked that this provision exempting them from liability for their own gross carelessness should not be struck out of their bills of lading, I would not be disposed to pay much attention to it. I say that it is a monstrous injustice that the provisions should ever have been in .the bills of lading. I do not carex whether they refer to perishable products or not ; no man should be permitted to stipulate that he shall not be liable for his own carelessness. I should not have been surprised if the ship-owners had said that they preferred the provisions of the Navigation Bill as it stands, because at the end there is a loop-hole for them, and the shipper would never know where he was j because, under the Navigation Bill clauses, the provisions of a contract are only to be null and void if the Court before which any question in relation to them is tried, decides that thev are not just and reasonable. Every shipper who put his goods on board would not only have to fight the question of the negligence or careless- ‘ ness of the carrier, but would also have to fight the preliminary question of whether the conditions were just and reasonable. I say that they are not just and reasonable, j
– There is such a provision in this Bill. too.
– No, we have struck it out, because it simply raises another wall of litigation over which the small shipper of goods had to jump before, he got justice. Has my honorable friend read the Bill as amended?
– Then he knows that not only do we declare the provisions null and void, as is done by the Navigation Bill, but also, owing to the suggestions made in the course of the very interesting and instructive debate, we have added provisions which will make it absolutely impossible, in my judgment - I hope I am not mistaken - for any ship-owner to escape from his obligation to exclude these exemptions from his bills of lading. Every shipper, even the most ignorant shipper, will know that when he gets his bill of lading, that liability for ordinary care is incurred by the ship-owner, that there can be no exemption, and that if he attempts to put in an exemption of that kind, he will be liable to a penalty.
– The Bill does not provide for the very first thing that is necessary - the equipment of the ship.
– That is a question of sea-worthiness which must be dealt with in a Navigation Bill. We are , dealing with questions affecting good stowage, and that care and attention which ought to be observed. That end will, we hope, be achieved by leaving upon the shipowner the liability which every man ought to be under who enters into a contract of this description, of being responsible for due care. Is my honorable friend, Senator Guthrie, going to vote against this Bill as being less effective than the Navigation Bill in that respect ? I say that it is more effective.
– I say that it is not.
– It also is more comprehensive. Does the Navigation Bill impose a penalty?
– It mav.
– So that we are that much to the good. Is my honorable friend aware that in the case of the German ships there is no exemption from liability, but that a shipper must go to> Germany to have his case tried ? Ought we not to put a clause in the Bill to prevent that ? Is not that’ some good achieved ?
– Trie NavigationCommission is taking evidence upon that point.
– We are legislating without the evidence.
– Why did the Government appoint a Royal Commission?
– It was appointed to inquire into the subject of navigation, but this is a more immediate matter. I was greatly cheered and encouraged by the testimony which my honorable friend, Senator Turley.- read from Senator Dobson’s speech on the second” reading. But those remarks do not in any way disentitle him from pressing, forward” for consideration the points to which he objects, and which, I admit, require some examination. When Senator Turley was speaking, Senator Dobson interjected that while the Bill was going through Committee he had shown me an amendment dealing with the subject, and that I pointed out some considerations which would prevent me from supporting it or from assisting him in any way. I still entertain the same view. Senator Dobson did not move the amendment then, and I was under the impression that the amendment moved by Senator Pulsford, with a view of deferring the operation of the Bill until February, was rather put forward in substitution for the suggestion of Senator Dobson. But he has explained that that is not so. I hold the same view as I did before. I think the Bill is excellent as it stands. But if an amendment is moved in another place, of course due consideration will be given to it. I can say no more than that. If my honorable and learned friend had sought to move his amendment in the Senate I should have been reluctantly obliged to oppose it for the same reasons as were given by Senator Playford. But, in addition to that, I am not satisfied that the two firms who act for the fruit-growers in Tasmania, and who represent the interest of the middlemen
– That is not correct.
– I have an assurance that they are not fruitgrowers, but I will not press that argument. A good deal of investigation would be necessary before I could agree to an exemption of that kind in respect of alleged vested interests. A quotation Was made by Senator Pulsford from a letter, the writer of which he was good enough to mention. The author of the letter is the representative in Australia of a very great shipping company - the Orient Steam Navigation Company. We have there a suggestion that if this Bill is passed, his company will probably - “ probably “ is the expression - take into consideration the advisability or otherwise of calling at Hobart. I do not attach any importance to that statement for this reason : It has been done before ; it may be done again,, and by the same gentleman. That gentleman, for some reason, seems to have a fancy for making threats, or giving guarded hints of this kind, when he does not get hisown way. I saw in the newspapers the other day that a similar hint was thrown out as to the Orient steamers not calling at Adelaide if they did not get whatever price they chose to ask in respect of carriage of mails. Although I wish it to be clearly understood that we must do justice to everybody - even to vested interests - still, we must scrutinize the source from which these representations come.
– It has been arranged that seventeen steamers are to call at Hobart.
– Why then does Mr. Anderson say that the Orient steamers will not call ?
– The Hobart Mercury announces what has been arranged - that a quarter of a million of cases are to go home, and that seventeen steamers are to call.
– Then what becomes of Mr. Anderson’s suggestion that if we will not do as he wishes, the steamers will not call? I can only say that my honorable and learned friend will have every consideration given to his suggestion in another place, and all possible light will be thrown upon it. At presentI am not disposed to think that any injustice will be done if the Bill remains as at present.
– The honorable and learned senator is short-sighted.
– I am sure my honorable and learned friend will sympathize with me in the reluctance I feel not to acquiesce in his wishes. But I do not acquiesce, because I believe the Bill will remedy an acknowledged evil, and do no injustice to any one.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … … 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 72 to 77 both inclusive.
It will be remembered that last week I made an attempt to have these clauses recommitted. Exception was taken to the proposal by some honorable senators, who regarded it as an endeavour to take advantage of their possible numerical weakness at the moment. However, I showed there was no intention on my part to take any advantage of that Chamber, and I gave notice that I would, either on the motion for the adoption of the report, or on the third reading, resubmit my proposal. Clauses 72 to 77 deal with trade union marks, and a principle is thus introduced which is open to grave objection, not only on the part of certain members of this Chamber, but also on the part of a large section of the public outside.
– What section?
.- Possibly all the general public except a few men who are banded together in a desire to have things all their own way. Senator Pearce presented- a petition this afternoon, bearing 200 or 300 signatures, in favour of these clauses.
– But those names represent 50,000 or 60,000 people.
– There were 200 or 300 signatures, and the petition comes from one particular section. I am not surprised that the petition should have been presented, because it only shows how well the trade unionists are sticking to these provisions to which I am taking exception.
– That petition is only from the one State of New South Wales.
.- The provisions to which I refer were not contained in the Bill submitted by the Government, but were inserted1 in Committee by a majority of honorable senators.
– And there was every right to insert them.
D- That is so, and I have no quarrel with honorable senators on that score. But it is undesirable that in such a Bill there should be legislation of this character. A trade mark is not intended to indicate the class of labour employed in producing an article, but simply to indicate a certain class of goods - the good’s of a certain manufacturer, or composed of certain ingredients, and so forth. From that point of view, a trade mark is an absolutely legitimate way of dealing with goods manufactured by a particular individual. But in the clauses 72 to 77 an attempt is made to recognise certain trade unions, who will be enabled to register a trade mark, which they may, according to their own ‘sweet will, affix or refuse to allow to be affixed to goods offered to the public for sale. A manufacturer may pay union wages and observe union hours and conditions, and yet he will not be able to use this trade mark unless the trade union sees fit to allow him to do so. According to the Bill, it will be perfectly open to trade unions to allow the mark to be used by one .particular firm. I am, in my remarks, always assuming that the manufacturers, who will be allowed to use the union mark, will observe all the conditions which trade unionists demand. But there will be power on the part of the trade unions to refuse to allow the mark to be used by a manufacturer, although he may observe exactly the same conditions as those observed by another manufacturer, who has received permission to use the mark.
– Where does the honorable and learned senator find that provided ?
.- A trade mark becomes the exclusive property of the person or persons who register it, and it may be dealt with as the owner thinks fit. A trade union, for instance, might grant the use of a trade mark to Senator Dawson and refuse it to Senator Gould, although both were manufacturing under exactly the same conditions.
– And the trade union might be right.
.- If two manufacturers both observe trade union conditions of labour, it would be unfair to allow the trade mark to one and to refuse it to the other.
– There is no such provision in the Bill.
.- But the trade mark becomes the property of the person who sees fit to register, and, as I say, he may dispose of the trade mark as he sees fit. I am not unmindful of the debate which took place when these clauses were previously under consideration.
– The clauses merely give protection against sweating.
.- I deny that the clauses are a protection against sweating; or, if they are; it may be protection in the case of one firm only. I ask honorable senators to allow the clauses to be so amended that any person who chooses to manufacture under union conditions may be entitled to place the trade union label on his goods.
– The honorable and learned senator does not want to amend the clauses, but to throw them out altogether.
.- I do want to throw the clauses out, but if honorable senators are not prepared to take that course, I ask them to consent to the amendment I suggest. Should honorable senators agree to the amendment, a great deal of my objection to the clauses will be removed. It is unfair to take advantage of an opportunity to magnify trade unions at the” expense of other persons in the community. That is my first and most serious objection. Next, I object to giving any section of the community the right to a trade mark which may be farmed out to one man and refused to another, although both may be observing exactly the same conditions of labour. I do not desire to labour the matter, but merely to have a short debate and a division, in order to ascertain whether there is still a majority prepared to insist on provisions which I consider to be utterly improper in a Bill of this character.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the motion now submitted can be accepted by you, Mr. President? On the 23rd instant, the Attorney-General moved that the Bill should be recommitted for the further consideration of a new clause, and Senator Gould moved an amendment that the recommittal should also involve the reconsideration of clauses 72 to 77 inclusive. Senator Gould is now practically submitting that amendment as a motion.
– No, as an amendment.
– It is a motion, but it does not make any difference to the point of order whether it is a motion or an amendment.
– At any rate, it is a question before us. Standing order 126 is as follows : -
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order, resolution, or vote on such question or amendment has been rescinded.
A vote was taken on Senator Gould’s amendment, and passed in the negative, so that the motion now before us has already been negatived by the Senate. Standing order 202 is as follows : -
When the Bill shall have been fully considered the question shall be put, ‘“That this Bill (or this Bill, as amended) be reported,” which, being agreed to, the Chairman shall leave the chair and report the Bill forthwith ; arid upon such motion that the Bill be reported the reconsideration of any clause or clauses may be moved as an amendment.
That was done by the honorable and learned senator. It is further provided by standing order 204 that -
If a Bill be reported with amendments, a future day shall be appointed for taking the report into consideration and moving its adoption, and the Bill, as reported, shall, in the meantime, be printed ; but if no amendments have been made the report may be at once adopted.
On the occasion referred to, the AttorneyGeneral moved an amendment, which was adopted, and therefore the report stage was fixed for a later day. Standing order 205 says -
On the motion for the adoption of the report, the Bill may, on motion, be recommitted, either in whole or in part; in which case, if amendments be made, and the Bill be reported, a subsequent day shall be fixed for taking the report into consideration and moving its adoption, and the Bill, as reported with the amendments, shall, in the meantime, be printed ; but if no amendments have been made the report may be at once adopted.
That does not meet the present case. It comes under standing order 207, which provides -
On the Order of the Day for the third reading being read by the Clerk, and before the motion is carried - “ That this Bill be now read a third time” - the Bill may, on motion, be recommitted, either in whole or ia part; in which case, if amendments be made, a subsequent day shall be appointed for the consideration of the report.
My contention is that while standing order 207 gives an opportunity for the recommittal of a Bill in whole or in part, it is governed by standing order 202. That is to say, that if the question has been decided by the Senate dealing with the Bill or some portion of the Bill, under standing order 202, an honorable senator is not given three chances - he cannot at each of these stages move the same question. Otherwise it would be competent for any honorable senator to move the same question now, and again move the same question at a later stage, though it should be negatived now. There would thus be no finality. I therefore put the point whether the motion is in order in asking for what has already been negatived by the Senate.
– The question 1 am asked to decide is whether the motion now made by -Senator Gould is in substance the same as a motion which has already been negatived. That depends entirely on th.2 construction of standing order 126, which says -
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which during the same session has been resolved in the affirmative or negative -
I direct the attention of the Senate to the use of the words “ affirmative or negative “ - unless the order, resolution, or vote on such question or amendment has been rescinded.
So that if this motion to recommit the Bill or part of the Bill is the same, within the meaning of that standing order, as a former motion to recommit - and if that standing order applies to procedure on Bills - then of course Senator Gould cannot move his motion. But I do not think it does. It must be recollected that this is a question of procedure, on a Bill, and the motion, if carried, commits the Senate to nothing. It simply gives the Committee of the Whole an opportunity to reconsider a part of the Bill. In passing Bills, I think that the greatest latitude ought to be permitted for consideration and reconsideration. A Bill is in a different category altogether from a motion. When a Bill has been agreed to by both Houses, and assented to by the Governor-General, it becomes a law, and therefore the widest latitude has always been given for the reconsideration of Bills, or parts of Bills. If Senator Pearce is right in his contention a Bill could not be recommitted more than once, because if the question, “ That the Bill be recommitted,” is once resolved in the affirmative, and if a future motion to the same effect, at a different stage of the Bill, is the same, we should be twice resolving in the affirmative the same question.
– Senator Pearce does not contend that a Bill cannot be recommitted a second time.
– If we can twice move that the whole Bill be recommitted - which allows the Committee of the Whole to reconsider every portion of the Bill - then, a fortiori we can move twice that part of a Bill be recommitted, because that will only allow the Committee of the Whole to twice reconsider part of the Bill. We have often recommitted Bills several times. 1 find it laid down in May, at page 469 - and our standing order in this respect is the same as the House of Commons standing order - that,
A Bill may be recommitted as often as the House thinks fit.
– A Bill may be, certainly.
– If we can recommit the whole of a Bill, we can recommit half the Bill-
Bills have been recommitted once or twice, and even six and seven times. The proceedings on the report of a recommitted Bill are similar to those already explained ; and on report, the Bill, as amended, is taken into consideration forthwith, and is read the third time.
In another quotation from May, which I shall read, it is shown that the “ same question “ does not apply to procedure on Bills. At page 291 of May I find this statement -
In passing Bills a greater freedom is admitted in proposing questions, as the object of different stages is to afford the opportunity of reconsideration; and an entire Bill may be regarded as one question, which is not decided until it has passed. Upon this principle it is laid down by Hatsell, and is constantly exemplified - “ That in every stage of the Bill every part of the Bill is open to amendment, either for insertion or omission, whether the same amendment has been in a former stage accepted or rejected.”
It seems to me that it would most improperly tie the hands of the Senate if motions of this character were not allowed to be put. For instance, at the very last moment, it might be found that a Bill required some amendment, and it might be that it required amendment in a clause which had been formerly recommitted. If we take, for instance, the clause introduced by the Attorney-General the other day, if the honorable and learned senator finds on reconsideration that that clause requires amendment, he can move that the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of that clause. My ruling, therefore, is that standing order 126 does not apply to the procedure on Bills.
– I wish to ask the Senate not to agree to the recommittal of these clauses. Because, as I have already said, they were not sprung on honorable senators, but were agreed to after considerable debate.
– And after notice of them had been given.
– Long notice of them had been given, because they were in print for over a week before they were discussed. I ask the Senate not to consent to their recommittal, for the further reason that we can discuss the whole ambit of these clauses on the motion for their recommittal just as effectually as we could in Committee. Referring briefly to what has been said against these clauses, Senator Gould has had to build up an imaginary case in order to find arguments against them. The honorable and learned senator says that unionsmight effect a monopoly by giving their trade mark to only one manufacturer. In answer to that, I ask honorable senators what object unions could have in securing these labels, if it be not to have them as widely used as possible ? It would be suicidal for them to endeavour to secure a monopoly by limiting their use to one manufacturer.
– The honorable senator will admit that unions do sometimes make very serious mistakes.
– If they made the mistake which the honorable and learned senator suggests, they would themselves be the chief sufferers. They would suffer so much from such a mistake that they would soon retrace their action. It would be suicidal on their part to attempt to limit the use of their labels to as few firms as possible.
– We are aware that the honorable senator would have objected to a provision being inserted in the Bill requiring a union to allow every manufacturer of the goods to use their label.
-It must beone thing or the other; it is either a union label or it is not, and if we are to give a union property in a label, manifestly that union must be permitted, if it pleases, to allow its use only by manufacturers conducting union shops. If we are to provide for a non-union label, we should say so, and let it be applicable to non-union shops. To say that unions must go to the expense of registering a union label, and must then permit its use by persons conducting non-union shops, where there will be no guarantee that union conditions will be observed in the manufacture of goods, is to beg the whole question. The honorable and learned senator endeavoured to make out that unions might have in union labels some instrument of tyranny; but honorable senators are aware that the only power there is behind these labels is the good-will of the public, who are the buyers and consumers of the articles produced. If a union label is to be of any use to a union, the union registering it must secure and retain the good-will of the public. It must be in a position to appeal to the public to buy goods bearing the union label.
– The honorable senator admits that the object is to strengthen the unions, and to enable them to boycott people who do not support unions.
– Not necessarily. The object is to provide that goods shall be manufactured under proper conditions. We take it that union conditions are proper conditions, and will guarantee to the public that goods bearing a union label have been made by persons working for fair pay and under fair conditions. Honorable senators must be aware that a union label can be of value to the uniononly if the public look for it, and if members of the public entering a shop say, “ We want boots with the union label.” If unions attempt to use these labels in a tyrannical fashion, the result will be that the great body of the public who are not unionists will say, “ We decline to be parties to these tyrannical measures, and will refrain from buying goods with these union labels on them.” In those circumstances, the very fact that a union label is placed on goods, instead of being an inducement would be a deterrent to people to buy them, and the union registering the label would be the greatest sufferer. As a matter of fact, these so-called tyrannical provisions have been in operation in Western Australia for some time.’ The Bootmakers’ Union in that State has registered a union trade mark, and the Tailors’ Union of Kalgoorlie has registered a union label. They have advertised the fact, and have asked the public to buy only goods having their labels on them. In a stronghold of trade unionists like Western Australia, though by far the greater bulk of the goods sold in these particular lines have not these union labels on them, no one has ever yet heard a murmur of any tyranny, or any attempt at tyranny, by the unions in connexion with the use of their labels. The disadvantages of the ordinary trade marks law under which union labels in Western Australia are registered is that no union can register a label in its own name. The label must be registered in the name of some manufacturer, who agrees to give authority to other manufacturers to use it. The union label provisions in this Bill will enable us to do under the law what we are at present doing by subterfuge under the Western Australian law, because they will enable unions to hold a property in their labels, and to sue and be sued in respect of them. Seeing that a somewhat similar provision has been in actual operation in Western Australia for some years without any complaint being made that it has resulted in disadvantage or tyranny, I ask honorable senators to discuss the principle, of these clauses on the motion for the third reading of the Bill. I ask them to reject the motion for recommittal, on the ground that we can still discuss flie whole question, and take a vote on the principle; and that on a previous occasion, honorable senators had a full opportunity, after due notice, to discuss the details of the clauses.
– Senator Dawson has said by interjection that the object of a trade union label is to prevent sweating.
– It is a protection against sweating.
– That is not the only object of a trade union label. In my absence, Senator Drake was kind enough, on the nth August, to propose the insertion of a new clause that would have protected purchasers against buying goods produced by sweated labour. I shall read the amendment to show that our honorable friends opposite had some object other than merely to prevent sweating. It reads as follows : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this part, no trade union shall refuse to authorize a manufacturer or employer who adopts the rate of wages and the hours of employment fixed in reference to the trade of such trade union under any law of the Commonwealth or of a State to apply, if he so desires, its union trade mark to the products of the labour of the members thereof employed by him, or to the same kind of products of the labour of any employees not members of such union employed by him.
Penalty : £50.
The clause was not accepted. Now, if an employer had both trade union men and non-union men, and paid them at exactly the same rate, he would not be at liberty to use the trade union mark, proving that honorable senators opposite had in view some other object than the prevention of sweating. That object, I said, was a political one. They wished to strengthen the hands of trade unions against non-unionists. This Bill being intended for the whole community, and not for a section of it, I shall support Senator Gould if he calls for a division, but my own impression is that he ought to have brought forward his proposition at an earlier stage.. I am persuaded in my own mind that it was not merely to prevent sweating that this part of the Bill was introduced.
– It is. perfectly true, as Senator Walker says, that objection1 was offered to the amendment moved by Senator Drake on his behalf. No paid organization composed wholly of trade unionists would permit an employer who only partially recognised trade union principles, by employng half trade unionists and half non-unionists, to utilize the labels which had been registered in the interest of trade unions.
– The object is not merely to prevent sweating?
– It would be a half-and-half sort of label, which would deceive the public, because that employer would not be recognising trade union principles. If he did, all his employes would be trade unionists.
– There is nothing to prevent an employer from doing that now.
– No. Unnecessary alarm seems to be sounded by certain honorable senators in regard to the operation of these clauses. One would think from their remarks that this was an entirely new departure. They overlook the fact that in every State to-day a trade organization can register a trade mark in the names of any number of its members ; but the difference between the provisions in this Bill and the law in operation in the different States, is that when a trade mark is registered in the names of certain members of an organization, it becomes wholly their property. And there would probably be very great danger of half-a-dozen men in a union, with a label registered in their name, using influence upon employers. Under the Bill no set of men would have that power, because the label is the property of every member of the trade organization.
There is no compulsion about this legislation. There is no desire on the part of any trade union in any State to say to an employer, “You shall do this,” or “You shall not do that “ ; it is an optional matter. Trade unionists believe that this’ legislation is in the best interest of good employers. It is said that it is doing damage in countries where it is in operation. I challenge that statement. A trade union label law has been in operation in the United States for a long period. Church
And commercial organizations, municipal and political bodies, conservative, liberal, and labour men, are loud in their praise and advocacy of the principle. It has minimized sweating to a very considerable extent, and if it were doing the harm which is alleged, we should have the information at first hand. But let me assure honorable senators that all the leading American newspapers recognise the trade union label, and trade union conditions, and on all the papers that come to Australia are the trade union labels, clearly demonstrating that the statements made here to-day are incorrect. I hope the Senate will do on this occasion what it did on a previous occasion, after an exhaustive discussion, and with a fairly full attendance, when every consideration -was given to the. objection raised by Senator Gould. I trust that the Bill will not be recommitted, but that the third reading will be carried by a large majority.
– It is to be regretted that at this stage; after these clauses have been threshed out and run the gauntlet of all criticism, we should find this persistent opposition to a principle which is only fair when we have regard to the nature of this Bill. Apparently, the sense of fairness of some of our political opponents is such that they do not care a fig as to what interests are to be interfered with, so long as a certain interest is “on top “ all the while. We have just passed a measure which might very well be termed hasty legislation. Undoubtedly, the Sea Carriage of Goods Bill give’s an advantage to a certain interest in the community. It was not opposed by those honorable senators who are opposing this Bill, in which we merely ask that the same privilege shall be extended- to the working men as to manufacturers. Is this opposition the result of the agitation we have heard so much about ? Is it the result of the demand made by the
Employers’ Federation and the Chambers of Commerce for the rejection of this legislation ? Is the Government so much under the thumb of those institutions that whatever they ask shall be done at once?
– It is Senator Gould who is asking for this recommittal.
– I hope that Senator Gould will be defeated in .his attempt to prevent the will of the Senate from being carried out. A stranger would think that honorable senators on one side were sitting here in the interest of the Employers’ Federation alone. No legislation, will please them unless it bears upon it the mark of the beast. In some parts of the Commonwealth we have seen the necessity for this legislation. Tt is in operation in Western Australia. Whyshould the people of that State be deprived of a privilege? It is contended that it might encourage trade unionism. I have heard some honorable senators on the other side declare that they are the greatest friends of trade unions.
– Old unionism.
– Old unionism is dead and in a putrid state. That is the kind of unionism the honorable senator favours - unionism that is of little good to the workers. In view of the measure which has just been passed, no honorable senator can consistently oppose a provision permitting trade unions to possess the same privileges as manufacturers. If honorable senators on the other side wish to give a similar privilege to non-unionists, let them propose a clause providing that there shall be a trade mark, called the non-union label, and it shall have my support.
– The honorable senator does not see that we do not wish to distinguish between unionists and nonunionists.
– Honorable senators are asked to extend to unionists a privilege similar to that which is given to manufacturers. I hope that the motion to recommit the Bill will be defeated.
– I ask Senator Gould, in view of reasons I propose to give, not to press his motion to a division. It will still be open to him to discuss the subject on the third reading, and the views put by Senator Pearce in that regard are perfectly fair. Let me state the reasons which influence me. Of course, my honorable friends know - Senator Pearce has twitted me more than once - that I am very strongly, opposed to those provisions, first so far as place is concerned as being in this Bill, and secondly on principle. I am sure that Senator Gould will appreciate my declaration, as indicating that it is not because of any sympathy-
– What is the good of that if the honorable and learned senator is going to vote for them going into the Bill ?
– I do not purpose to vote for them going into the Bill, because they are in it already.
– Is the honorable and learned senator going to vote for them remaining in?
– No. But I am not going to move a motion for recommittal every week, and I am sure that Senator Gould would not desire me to do so, especially at a period of the session when every moment of our time is extremely valuable. My honorable friend moved a motion to recommit last week. With two exceptions every member of the Senate was accounted for in the division as to recommittal. There was an equality of voting, with the result that, according to the Constitution, the question passed in the negative. I voted with my honorable and learned friend in support of the recommittal. But I am not prepared again to support the motion to recommit. I do not take the view that because an amendment is made in a Bill with which I do not agree I ought therefore to vote against the third reading. I do not think I ought to sacrifice .1 Bill because of some provision in it which I do not like. This measure is intended for th<» regulation and registration of trade marks. I do not think that a trade union mark is strictly within the meaning of the measure at all. But the question has been fought out, and an amendment has been carried. Now the Bill is ready to be sent to another place. There is very little hope of it being passed this session. But whether that is so or not, the other Chamber will be able to deal with the whole subject. If the trade union mark provisions are retained by a majority they will form part of the Bill ; if they are rejected by a majority they will come back to the Senate for reconsideration. In view of all the circumstances, I hope that Senator Gould will not press his motion to a division.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - While it is perfectly clear that if 1 fail to secure the recommittal of the Bill, I might offer a protest on the third reading, I do not desire to occupy the time of the Senate by doing so when I can say all that I have to say now. What I wish to point out is that, notwithstanding the apparent fairness of the clauses to which I take exception, and notwithstanding all that has been said with regard to their object being to prevent sweating, and that trade unions would exercise the power given to them in a kind and benign way, I still feel that it is a very serious mistake to put such provisions in the Bill. Moreover, we have to recognise that when we were dealing with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill it was considered to be undesirable that organizations should have the right to ask for preference when they had political objects. But that very excellent rule will not prevail under this Bill as it stands. While trade unions will not be able to ask for preference under the Arbitration Bill, if they have political, objects, they will be able to register trade union marks. To that 1 have the strongest objection. Trade unions -will be able to attach their marks to goods to the detriment of other goods made bv men who are quite as good workmen, and just as loyal to their fellow-labourers, as are unionists. But because they do not join in the particular shibboleth of the majority of a particular union, the goods which thev make will be prejudiced. That is not fair. I have spoken before with regard to the tyranny of trade unions. Senator McGregor, with his little sarcastic laugh, may ridicule that observation, but he knows perfectly well that there are innumerable instances in which the greatest tyranny has been exercised by trade; unions towards their fellow-workmen. Only the day before yesterday we had the Judge of the Arbitration Court, in Sydney, censuring the members of a union for their tyranny.
– It was admitted.
– Yes, it comes to this-“ Do all you possibly can in the first place to injure non-unionists, and when you are found out, plead for mercy.” How would that do in the case of a man who was found guilty of picking another man’s pocket? Under clause 75 of this Bill, upon the registration of a trade union mark, the union by whom it was registered would be deemed to be the proprietors thereof, and would be entitled to the exclusive use of the mark for the purpose of differentiating the labour of the members of the union from the labour of other people. That is to say, every workman who was not able to join in the particular shibboleth of a particular union because of its political policy would not be able to make goods upon which this mark could De placed.
– There are members of my own union who would not vote for a labour candidate. The honorable and learned senator does not know what he is talking about.
– I know more of what I am talking about than the honorable senator does nine times out of ten. A’ trade union under these clauses means a union registered as such under the law of any State, or any number of such unions or any organization. If the clauses had gone to the extent of applying to nonpolitical unions, such as have to be registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, a great deal of the objection to them would have been removed.
– There are many trade unions which are not political.
.- Possibly. A trade union may, however, be as political as it likes, but if it registers a trade mark it is entitled to use it, and that mark can only be put upon goods manufactured by the members of a union having such a political complexion. That is unfair to other persons. I am not going to quarrel with the Attorney-General for the attitude which he has assumed with reference to the measure. Of course if he and his colleagues intend to vote against the recommittal, there is not much prospect of my succeeding at the present stage. And it is possible that the public, if I go to a division, and am beaten, may think that our objection to the clauses is weakening. I am glad to recognise that the Attorney-General is as strongly opposed to the provisions as he ever was. I am willing, however, to withdraw my motion and allow the subject to be fought out in the other House. No doubt, in due course a final decision will be given upon the subject. I quite recognise the position put by the Attorney-General, and beg, leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) read a first time. .
– I move -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Defence Bill 1904 and also the Papua (British New Guinea) Bill respectively to be read a second time this day.
I limit the motion to the second reading of these Bills, and if any honorable senator desires, the adjournment of the debate in respect to either, I undertake to consent.
– At this late period of the session, I recognise the emergent position ot the Government in regard to some of the measures before Parliament; but I hope it will be clearly understood that to-night we shall have nothing more than the proposal that the measures referred to shall be read a second time. Before the debate in respect of either Bill is proceeded with, some reasonable time ought to be allowed in which honorable senators may make themselves acquainted with its provisions. The Papua Bill, as we know, has been before the country for some little time, and, therefore, to a certain extent, honorable senators may be acquainted with its provisions in general terms. But the Defence Bill proposes to revolutionize our whole system of defence control. Whether the scheme for the reorganization of the defences be good or bad, I do not intend to debate at the present moment; but, in a matter of such paramount importance to the Commonwealth, we ought to endeavour to come to a wise decision. The desirability of a change is a matter for argument, and, at any rate, the measure ought not to be discussed until next week.
– The Defence Bill is necessary.
– I know that, and the Government have proceeded on the supposition that the Bill will be carried ; but we ought to have some days in which to consider a matter of such great importance.
– I intend to make my own speech in moving the second reading, and if any honorable senator desires then to continue the debate, there is no reason why he should not do so. I shall, however, consent at once to any request for an adjournment of the debate in respect to either Bill. No doubt the Defence Bill is important, but I hope Senator Gould will do his best to address himself to its provisions at as early a date as possible. I shall consider the question of the date to be fixed for the resumption of the debate, but at present it is my intention to move that it be tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South
Australia - Attorney-General). - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I quite appreciate the remarks of Senator Gould as to the importance of this measure. No one can realize more than I do that the first object of a free people is to provide for their own safety, which lies in an adequate provision for domestic peace and order and for defence against foreign or outside aggression. Neither in these days nor in days gone by, has right always proved to be might. We must be prepared to defend ourselves, and we all agree that union, strength, and readiness may possibly avert, while unreadiness or weakness or want of preparation may invite, war. Those general considerations underlie what we all recognise as the importance of having a thorough and complete system of defence. We must have trained men, complete armament, adequate equipment, and effective direction and command. If we secure all these, then we may rest fairly satisfied that, to the limits of our power,we are prepared for emergencies which, if they do arise, may threaten our national existence. It has been usual in some quarters to disparage or undervalue the advantages of training ; but I think most of us agree that patriotism or enthusiasm in the defence of one’s country is not all that is required in order to handle a gun or lead an army. Without training, the most eager enthusiasm, and the most deep-seated patriotism, count for very little, especially in these days of modern armament and equipment. I think we all agree further that we should not rely on the mother country. I have always held the view, and expressed it in the Senate and elsewhere, that the cardinal principle which ought to animate us in establishing a system of defence is self-reliance.
Administrative Boards, and an InspectorGeneral, for a Commander-in-Chief. The approaching departure of the General Officer Commanding, on the termination of his engagement, brought the matter, as I have said, into great prominence, and showed the almost compelling necessity for an immediate determination by Parliament as to the system it should adopt, and as to whether the former system of a General Officer in Command, or a system such as the present scheme should be carried out. It is only right that I should pay a tribute which I think, whatever views may be taken on other subjects, will be acquiesced in by other honorable senators, and by most persons in this country ; and that is a tribute to the very great energy, the constant and sincere! earnestness, exhibited by Major-General Hutton in discharging the duties of his high position, and his great services to the , tom,monwealth in organizing and in bringing to a very considerable standard of efficiency its Defence Forces. It is only right to give expression to the estimate of that officer which I hold very strongly, and which I am sure will be concurred in by all who take an impartial view of his immense energy and industry in discharging the duties of his high office. That being the immediate compelling cause, the question was what course should be taken, and what scheme should be adopted. There was only one alternative from the system of a General Officer in Command, to the substitution of a Council of Defence, with Administrative Boards, such as this scheme embraces. That, as I have stated, was very effectively worked out by the late Minister of Defence, and brought into a condition of forward preparedness, which was of the very utmost value. As my honorable friend has described Colonel Bridges as the brains of the Committee-
Committee to which I have referred. And in order that both sides may be seen, they have the very able comments on its proposals by Major-General Hutton, divided into two parts - the principles of the scheme and the details of the scheme, on the assumption of its adoption with the recommendation in that regard. That enables us to institute a critical comparison between the proposals of that Committee and the proposals of the present Government, as setforth in the memorandum of the Minister of Defence, and the views of Major-General Hutton. It is most instructive, and I am sure that honorable senators will not expect me to go through it in detail, as it would be merely repeating what they have already learned. There are one or two parts, however, to which I shall very briefly allude.
The main objects of the new system are : -
As a mere observant layman, I should say again that there is nothing more important in any department of human life than to cultivate a sense of responsibility, and there is no department of national life in which that is more important than in connexion with the military. If there has been one result flowing from recent warfare, whether in South Africa or elsewhere; if there has been one lesson which has been taught, and which ought to be learned, it is that initiative and responsibility on the part of not only the officers, but also the private soldiers, is of the last importance.
I propose to read one or two sentences from the report of the Committee to make perfectly clear what the cardinal features of this scheme are. They say -
Under the Defence Act, sections 8 and 9, and the statutory regulations thereunder, the command of the Military Forces is vested in a General Officer Commanding. He is responsible for the efficiency of the Military Forces, as well as for ascertaining and reporting upon their efficiency. He’ is also the sole responsible advisor of the Minister on all military questions.
The old regime could not be better stated than in those sentences. The disadvantages of the old system are stated in the next few sentences -
Information as to the condition of the Forces under this system must reach the Minister and Government through the General Officer Commanding, who is responsible for their efficiency ; and the Government are solely dependent upon him for advice upon all questions of policy and administration. Should the Government disagree with him, they have none but irresponsible advisers to apply to for information or advice. Under the existing system there has never been a continuous military policy. The defence policy depends largely upon the General Officer Commanding, as it did depend, previous to Federation, chiefly on the State Commandants. For an efficient administration and development of the Forces, the military policy should be continuous, and change with circumstances, and not when there is a change in the command.
That is- to say, under the old system, with a change in the command;, there might be a reversal of the essentials of the existing military system. That ought not to be. A change in the military policy should not depend upon a change of the command, but should be dictated by changing circumstances, or by changes in national conditions. Those two quotations describe the condition under the old military system and its disadvantages, and what is intended to be substituted for it, and the advantages of the substitution. , Before I refer to the Council which is to be constituted, I may remark that the ideal in connexion with the Australian defences is one resting upon a citizen soldiery. But there must be a nucleus. There may be three stages in a country’s military history. There may, no doubt, be the stage - as there is in Switzerland - in which everything connected with defence is under the control of a citizen soldiery, from administration and instruction down to the rank and file. That is impossible in this country. Subject to correction from those who are more familiar with these matters than I am, I say that it would be difficult, in a country like this, to get men. to pursue their avocations as citizens, and to afford the time which is necessary to make them competent instructional and administrative officers of the Defence Forces. As the Minister of Defence said the other day, Australia has got beyond the stage when the rank and file only are citizen soldiers. We must have a large percentage of most efficient officers in our Defence Forces, who are, in the strictest sense, citizen soldiers. But while we have got, to some extent, out of the stage in which the citizen soldiery is limited to the rank and file, we have not got quite to the next stage, in which the whole of the administrative and instructional duties would be in the hands of citizen soldiers. But that is largely the case. The third stage is where the troops and the officers holding executive commands are citizens, but not the instructional officers. That seems to be the stage which we have reached. Here the instructional duties are in the hands of professional soldiers - that is, of those who are able to devote their whole time and attention to military work, just as members of other professions devote themselves exclusively to the duties of those professions. For that purpose, of course, we must have a special staff, composed of professional soldiers who are capable of giving instruction, and who devote their whole time and attention to military duties.
– I move -
That the Hill be now read a second time.
– I am afraid the wiMin» horse is being worked too hard.
– There is no pleasure like that of addressing this
Senate, and nothing but t’he encouragement which my honorable friends have given me would induce me to undertake the task, in respect of which I ask their indulgence, of moving the second reading of this Bill immediately after dealing .with the Defence Bill. I think it right that honorable Senators should have shortly placed before them a tew of the matters dealt with in the Bill. There can be no doubt that we have in the portion of New Guinea which is a British Possession, a very grave responsibility. The interests, I was about to say the good name, and at all events the credit of Australia, is to some, extent involved in the success of our administration of this Territory. It is, therefore, very important that we should see that every effort is made to do the best we can to advance the interests and promote the prosperity of the first Dependency, I think I may call it, of which the Commonwealth of Australia has become possessed. From that point of view I invite honorable senators to bear with me whilst I refer to the position of New Guinea, and also to the provisions of the Bill. In the first place, the title of the Bill needs perhaps a word of explanation. We have always been in the habit of speaking of the island as New Guinea. The whole island, of course, is called Papua or New Guinea. The Dutch part is officially known as New Guinea; the German part is officially known as Kaiser Wilhelm’s Land, and the adjacent islands - it is rather sad to contemplate the change in the names of New Britain. New Island, and so on - are known as the Bismarck Archipelago ; and Papua is the peculiarly appropriate name for describing that portion of the island which belongs to us, and which embraces the Gulf of Papua. It is for that reason, I suppose, that we have called the Bill the Papua Bill, and shall continue to call the Dependency Papua. This island, as we all know, is the largest island in the world, if we exclude Australia. Its greatest length is 1,490 miles, and its maximum breadth is 430 miles. Its area is about 234,786 square miles, and the Possession of which we are assuming the control represents rather more than a third of what I may call the mainland, if we include 2,754 square miles, which is the area of the adjacent islands. Some of the adjacent islands are important, while others are mere reeky and barren precipices, one consisting of a mountain 8,000 feet high. In Woodlark Island there is believed to be very con siderable mineral wealth. The Possession is not merely large in area, but it is well watered. It possesses great forest wealth, and although the climatic conditions vary very greatly, still, tropical productions grow with very great freedom. So far as occupation and settlement are concerned, the climate is not by any means so unfavourable as very many’ persons think. At Port Moresby, the Seat of Government, the average temperature for four years, at 9 a.m., was 80 degrees. For the same period the average maximum was 86.65 degrees, while the average minimum was 73 degrees. The extreme range of temperature is from 94 degrees to 74 degrees Fahrenheit, at 9 a.m.
– What was the degree of moisture in the atmosphere?
– It willbe very easy to draw an inference as to what the moist condition of the atmosphere must be, when I mention that at Port Moresby the rainfall for the last seven years has averaged 41 inches, while at Daru, in the western division, the average for the same period has been 94 inches, which is about 8 feet, and which honorable senators will think is a very fair rainfall. But these records are outstripped at Samarai, near the south-east end of the mainland, where for one year the rainfall was 126! 5 inches, or about 10J feet. In that connexion we know that malarial fever prevails, but so far as I am aware, it is of a comparatively mild type. There are very lofty mountains on the island, Mount Victoria being 13,200 feet high; although some parts - I believe towards the westward - are low, marshy, and unhealthy, yet there are other portions which are, I shall not say altogether as salubrious as we should like, but comparatively salubrious ; at any rate, the malarial fever is of rather a mild type. The climate is favorable to tropical production. The cocoanut palm bears well everywhere. It is specially suited, in the dry climate, of the central district at any rate, to cottongrowing. In certain localities, tobacco of superior quality is grown. The sugarcane seems to have been very long domesticated, or to be an indigenous product. Tea. cocoa, and coffee, thrive well ; they are not indigenous. Amongst the varieties of timber on the island, we have sandal wood, ebony, and cedar. There are deposits of gold existing over a large area, and coal has been found. The marine resources consist of pearl shells and pearl, trepang, sponges, and turtle. So that we have a territory with considerable potentialities to the Commonwealth, and a very varied kind of production. It is occupied by a native population of a very interesting race. Senator Smith has been there, and I hope that he will be able, from personal knowledge and examination, to describe the products of the island, its capabilities, and the favorable view or otherwise that he took of the population. These people are not given to the cultivation of the ground, and, like many other natives, I dare say, of the South Sea Islands, they are not disposed to continuous labour if it can be helped. But I believe that in the eastern portion of the. Possession, the natives have shown themselves capable of being taught and developed. I have had an opportunity of seeing the communications by the Rev. Mr. Abel, and Mrs. Abel, who have testified to the capacity for instruction, and the facility with which these natives have learned boat-building and other handicrafts, and made themselves useful at the industrial mission. The European population number about 500, and comprise about four classes, namely, the Government officials, the missionaries, the traders, and the miners. These are distributed amongst the three principal coast settlements, Port Moresby, Samarai, of which I have heard in another connexion,, and which is, I believe a rather unsuitable place on an island in the China strait, at the eastern end of the Possession, and Daru, a place where that very ample rainfall takes place, on an island not far from the mouth of the Fly River. The officials consist of a central staff of fourteen magistrates and assistant magistrates, and ten other officials. The missionaries represent four societies, three Protestant, and one Roman Catholic. They all work most harmoniously together, They do not encroach or overlap in their respective spheres, and I believe they have all been successful in their efforts for the improvement of the natives, and the advancement of the country. The traders are scattered about in isolated places, as is natural in an unsettled country of this description, appearing wherever trade or the opportunities of exchange may call them. So far as the trading settlement is concerned, it is confined to Samarai, Port Moresby, and to the gold-fields. The mining population is naturally fluctuating. One would imagine it to be perhaps a little rough in a country like that ; but my information is that certainly at Woodlark Island, where there are quartz reefs and a battery, and the men work in small parties- and are a good deal mixed in character and disposition, they are a very law-abiding set, and offences amongst them are extremely rare. Up to now this Possession, having these resources, peopled by natives of the character I have described, and’ with a small European population, has been a Crown Colony in the ordinary sense of the term. A contribution was made by the three eastern Colonies of Australia towards its expanse up to a certain time. The contribution ceased, and about the time of Federation the question was raised as to the course which was to be pursued to provide for the government: of the Possession. Prior to 1883, it was neglected by every bod)’. The Imperial authorities took little or no interest in it; it was left to look after itself. As early as 1872, it was visited by missionaries, and in the early eighties, the gold discoveries naturally attracted a number of persons. But prior to 1883, New Guinea as a whole was altogether neglected by the Imperial authorities. In that year, authorized by the Government of Queensland, Mr. Chester hoisted the British flag, and took possession of the Island. This was disavowed by Lord Derby on behalf of the Imperial Government on the 10th July, 1883. Considerable excitement arose in Australia in consequence of that course of action. The feeling on the part of the Imperial Government was expressed very strongly by Lord Derby, and it was made the foundation by him of the suggestion that it would be all very well for Australia if she were united to act in that way, but that it was extremely inadvisable for a particular Colony to adopt such a course, and so, if I may use the expression, force on an undesirable action on the part of the Imperial Government. What Lord Derby said in the House of Lords was this -
If the Australian people desire an extension beyond their present limits, the most practicable step they could take, the one that would most facilitate any operation of the kind, and diminish, in the greatest degree, the responsibility of the mother country, would be the confederation of the Colonies into one united whole, which would be powerful enough to undertake and carry through tasks for which no one Colony ‘ is at present sufficient.
And in a despatch addressed to the Governor of Queensland on the nth July, 1883, he said -
Her Majesty’s Government regret that it should be necessary from time to time to refuse assent to proposals coming from individual Colonies for the assumption of large and serious responsibilities in regard to places and questions not specially concerning those of Her Majesty’s subjects who live in other parts of the Empire, and I trust the time is now not distant when, in respect of such questions (if not for other purposes of government), the Australian Colonies will effectively combine together and provide the cost of carrying out any policy, which, after mature consideration, they may unite in recommending, and which Her Majesty’s Government may think right and expedient to adopt.
The result was that considerable feeling was aroused in Australia. But the period of inaction which was consequent upon that attitude led in 1884 to the German Government taking possession of the northern division of the eastern half of the island. In the meantime, in December, 1883, the strong feeling aroused in Australia took shape in the Australian Convention, which sat in Sydney, and which, as honorable senators will recollect, passed a resolution strongly urging that that part of New Guinea which was not claimed by the Netherlands Government should be annexed to the British Empire. Then came the step taken by Germany, and it was not until 1887 that the portion of New Guinea with which we are now dealing was erected into a Possession by the Imperial Government, after an arrangement entered into with the three eastern Australian Colonies to provide for the expense of government, leaving, of course, the ultimate authority with the Colonial Office. I need, not enter into the details connected with that matter, but in the meantime we had the effort on the part of Australia to establish Federal union. That having culminated by the establishment of the Commonwealth, and its inauguration in January, 1901, the Government of Australia were at once pressed by the Imperial authorities to assume the responsibility of supervizing and financing the Government of the Possession. That was a course of action that was made imperative - at least, the Imperial authorities regarded it as imperative - because the guarantee of the eastern Colonies had expired, and the local revenues were not sufficient to pay the cost of government. Accordingly, when the Commonwealth Parliament met in 1901 - honorable senators will find the record of it in Hansard for that year - both Houses passed the following resolution, which is the basis of the present legislation: -
Thai this House is prepared to join in measures for the acceptance of British New Guinea as a Territory of the Commonwealth, if His Majesty is pleased to place it under Federal control.
That towards the expenses of the administration of the Possession this House is willing, when called upon, to vote a sum not exceeding ^20,000 per annum, as from the 1st July, 1901, subject to revision at the end of five years.
The next step was that which honorable senators will find set out in the preamble of this Bill, namely, the issue of an Order in Council making a formal offer of the Possession to the Commonwealth, so as to enable it to be accepted. This Bill will formally accept it, as honorable senators will find in clause 5, and will provide the necessary machinery for the purpose of carrying on the government, which, until the Bill becomes law, is carried on under the terms of the Order in Council, of course substituting the Governor-General and the Commonwealth Government for the Imperial authorities. That is the story up to the introduction of this Bill. One great drawback in respect of the prosperity of British New Guinea up to now - one which I think will be speedily removed - is the irregularity of communication. Under the proposed re-arrangement of the Pacific mail service with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, we shall have a line established between Thursday Island and British New Guinea on a subsidy of, I think, ^2,000 per annum. I wish to say in that connexion - I have not the exact figures by me - that there are two lines of steam-ships to New Guinea, calling, I believe, en route from Sydney to Singapore. One is the GermanAustralian line, and the other is the line of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. The German-Australian line is subsidized to the extent of ^22,674 per annum by the German Government, and the other - Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company - receives at present no subsidy at all. So that I think honorable senators will feel that it is one step in the right direction to establish a regular service of this character ; and a service from Thursday Island to New Guinea at monthly intervals for so small a sum as ^2,000 is something of which we have no reason to complain. I hope that will only be the beginning of larger efforts to develop the resources of New Guinea, and to make it not a burden but an advantage and ‘ a source of wealth to the Commonwealth of Australia. There are only two other matters to which I wish to refer. I do not intend to go through the provisions of the Bill, because they are highly technical. They rest upon substantially the same principles of government as already exist, with a further development applicable to the new state of things, and preserving, as we ought to preserve, the ordinances already existing in the Possession, so far as they are beneficial, and so far as they are applicable. But there are two portions of the Bill to which I think I ought to direct attention, not with a view to go into any elaborate controversy about them, but so that honorable senators may realize that they do embody questions of policy which are not overlooked. The first of them is, that in clause 20 there is a prohibition against the granting of any freehold estate in any lands in the Territory ; and, secondly, providing that- the rental of all such land granted or disposed of by way of lease shall be assessed on the unimproved value of the land, and shall be subject to re-assessment at such periods and in such modes as are fixed by the ordinance.
The latter is merely a consequential provision made necessary if the former is enacted. Personally, I think it is a pity that that provision should be introduced at the present stage of the development of the Territory. I largely sympathize with the feeling in respect of the non-alienation of land. To some extent I share it. But a rigid prohibition of all alienation of land in fee-simple, in a newly-acquired country which has yet to be settled, and where we are seeking to promote development, may retard that development and that settlement. I think it would have been better if there had been some less rigid prohibition - some provision permitting a certain elasticity in this regard, under proper regulation and control. The aggregation of huge estates in a new country is greatly to be deprecated. But, at the same time, nobody can deny that an Englishman’s great ambition is to possess a piece of land, and that a British settler going to a new country does not like to expend his capital or his energy on land which he holds on lease, however long the lease may run. He has the feeling that the land may be taken from him at some time or other. There is an inherent dislike, even on the part of Australians!, to hold land on lease.
– There are numerous instances to the contrary, even in this city.
– There is a great deal to be said in favour of the non-alienation of land in a new country. But we are now assuming a new role. We are not dealing with the Commonwealth - a settled country. We are regarding these States as our settled homes. We are becoming colonizers.
– And we are continually saying, in regard to our own country, “ Oh, if we had a chance to start again.”
– I have not said that. I frankly admit, with regard to the Territory which is to be acquired, that we may make an excellent experiment. But, at the same time, it is well for honorable senators to consider whether a little more latitude in the way of dealing with land in this new Territory under proper regulations may not be possible.
– Does the; AttorneyGeneral not see that it is paradoxical for us to try to found a Colony in New Guinea while we are advertising for immigrants to settle in Australia?
– We cannot prevent people, going to New Guinea, if they are attracted there by the prospect of finding gold. Three years ago this Parliament decided to take over this Possession, which is now in a less defined way Commonwealth territory, but which will, when this Bill finds a place on the statute-book, be placed on a footing as a Territory of the Commonwealth. All I say is that i,t is not to be assumed that it is a counsel of perfection to absolutely prohibit the alienation of land. If we are to exercise our gifts as colonizers, and follow in the footsteps of the mother country, we might, at all events, consider whether we should not avail ourselves of that tendency which lies deep in British human nature towards the acquisition of freehold land, as an inducement to quicken the settlement and development of New Guinea.
– Has not some of the land alraeady been alienated?
– That raises questions into which I do not desire to enter. I merely point out that this is one of two portions of the Bill which involve matters of policy, rather than the construction of a system of government. The other point is embodied in a clause having regard to the prohibition of the liquor traffic. This is an open question with the Government, and at this stage it is only right to say that I shall take the liberty of seeking to have this provision struck out of the measure. In saying that, I do not, of course, pledge my colleague, the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I do not wish to discuss the clause in detail, but I must say that I regard it as an absurdity. I feel strengthened in that view when I read the evidence in Parliamentary Paper No. 47, 1904, which, to my mind, is altogether conclusive against prohibition; indeed, I regard that evidence as overwhelming. We have here expressions of opinion from the Bishop, the Acting-Administrator, and all those who were asked to give their testimony on the subject ; and, so far as regards the supply of liquor to the natives, there seems practically no foundation for any such provision. In fact, it is a miracle to me that so little complaint has been possible on this score; and in regard to the 500 or so of white settlers, I think we ought not, at any rate at present, to enforce prohibition.
– Does the Attorney - General expect this immunity of the natives to go on for ever?
– If mischief arises in this connexion, we may legislate at any moment. I am not treatingthis as an essential part of the Bill one way or the other, but merely presenting my own personal view. As I say, if mischief arises in regard to the natives, or, for the matter of that, in regard to the white people, it will be time enough then to legislate on the subject. I know there arethose who hold strong views on this question from the temperance stand-point. I recollect very well that not many years ago a reverend gentleman in the southern counties of England was so enthusiastically in favour of total abstinence, that on the public platform he expressed regret that our Lord and His Apostles had done so little for the cause of temperance. I know that those who advocate prohibition in New Guinea do not take any such extreme grounds, but I say that if there are good reasons for prohibition, they do not appear in the evidence to which I have alluded.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral tell us how many licensed houses there are, and what the licence-fees are in New Guinea? I should like to have full particulars before I give a vote.
-It is not known how many licensed houses there are.
– I cannot supply the information asked for. Those are the only two parts of the Bill which deal with matters of policy, irrespective of the system of government sought to be established. This is the first occasion, so far as I am aware, on which a pure democracy, such as exists under our Commonwealth Constitution, has had; an opportunity to show how it can colonize and govern a Dependency. My belief is that, under the provisions of this measure, we shall have a system which will enable the Commonwealth to successfully govern this Territory, and to show how well it can promote the best interests of the native races, and make this a valuable and remunerative Possession of the British Crown.
Debate (on motion by Senator Staniforth Smith) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 November 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041130_senate_2_24/>.