2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
DEFENCE BILL 1904.
Senator Sir JO SI AH SYMON laid upon the table the following papers : -
Transfers approved by the Governor-General under the Audit Act.
Provisional regulations concerning the amendment of financial and allowance regulations under the Defence Act 1903.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral inquired, as he promised to do, whether the professional member of the Naval Board will hold a State command also?
– That question was not put to me before. What I was asked was if other duties would be . given to him. The Minister of Defence has not yet returned from Sydney, but when he does I shall communicate with him on the subject.
– I wish to know from the Attorney-General, in reference to the cablegrams in this morning’s newspapers about the proposed Imperial Confer-;” ence, if he will have inquiries made as to the likelihood of such a Conference taking place before July next, and of the representation of Australia at it. If the Commonwealth is to be represented by its Prime Minister, will that gentleman inform Parliament” whether it is his intention to pledge the Commonwealth to any measures before honorable members have been consulted in regard to them?
– There is a good deal of the prophetic about the honorable senator’s question. I do not know to what he is referring, unless it is the cabled report of the deputation which has just waited on the Prime Minister of England, suggesting an increased contribution from the Colonies towards the defence of the Empire. I do not know anything in regard to the supposed Conference, except that it was stated some time ago that if the English Government are successful at the next general elections, the question of holding an Imperial Conference will be considered.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That Government business, Orders of the Day, be postponed until after the consideration of Notice of Motion No. 1, private business.
– Why is this re-arrangement of business proposed? I have no objection to private members being given an opportunity for the consideration of their business, but if a discussion on preferential trade be entered on now–
– It will last until Christmas.
– It will still further limit the time at our disposal for the consideration of the Estimates, and, therefore, I distinctly object to it. I understand the motives which animate the Government in this matter. The discussion of the subject has been permitted in another place, and’ it is considered that an opportunity should be afforded for a similar discussion here. To debate the subject of preferential trade now, however, is a needless waste of time, because nothing definite can be done, while it will prevent the full consideration of more pressing matters.
– I have promised on two occasions that an opportunity should be given for the initiation of this discussion, but have hitherto been unable to arrange a day. I intend now to ask the Senate to continue the debate on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill after the luncheon adjournment, so that the interval between now and 1 o’clock may be available for the discussion of preferential trade.
– I object to it as a scandalous waste of time.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senator PULSFORD (New South
Wales). - I move -
I do not propose to ask honorable senators to pay a visit to cloudland to-day. I prefer to invite them to travel along pathways where at least a footing can be obtained, and along which, with experience and knowledge as guides, we may expect to make some progress. If I am asked whether I have faith in the future of our Empire, I reply in the affirmative, because I believe in our people and that their love of freedom is no passing impulse, but is instinctive and undying. In my judgment, no other Empire depends so much for its safety and perpetuation upon theprinciples of freedom as does our own. I tremble to think what might happen if the British people, through following wrong counsel or indifference, adopted the ignoble course of penalizing the industries of other countries in order to secure greater rewards for themselves. I see the greatest dangers in the scheme now being brought forward, under which an attempt is being made to induce the people of Great Britain to penalize, more or less, the commerce of the whole world, apart from the British Empire. I admit at once that the term “ preferential trade “ is more pleasing to the ear than the term “ penalized .trade “ ; but when it is proposed to penalize more people and more trade than will be accorded a preference, it is more correct to apply the term “ penalized trade” than the more pleasant sounding phrase. Are we to ask Great Britain to penalize the commodities of all countries outside the Empire .in order that the commodities of countries within the Empire may have a preference? Are we to deliberately ask the motherland to add to the burdens of her millions of people in order that we may be placed in a position of advantage? I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to some of the factors, which, out of cloudland, must arrest attention, whilst we are endeavouring to decide whether in the years and centuries that are ahead of us the proposal to impose a penalty on one side and preference on the other rests on solid ground, and would be likely to add to the dignity, nobility, and power of the Empire. In- my judgment, the scheme of preferential trade which has been evolved is full of dangers and contradictions, and is not likely to be of any service to the Empire. In the brief time at my disposal, I shall not be able to elaborate my arguments as much as I should have desired, and, therefore, honorable senators will have to take a great deal for granted. I will ask honorable senators to think over a few matters which, in my judgment, point unerringly to the fact that the scheme which has been brought forward is neither safe nor wise. I should, in the first place, direct attention to that great country, India. The whole of _ the self-governing countries of the United Kingdom to-day- do not embrace as many as 60,000,000 of people, whereas India has a population of about 300,000,000. That vast Empire constitutes the greatest and most sacred trust that was ever reposed’ in any nation, and is one with which I believe the people of Great Britain will be slow to tamper. Not long after Mr. Chamberlain _bad expounded his policy upon the subject of preferential trade, the Governor-General of India was able to show conclusively that his scheme was not likely to add to the prosperity of India. He demonstrated, by means of statistics, that India carried on an immense trade with foreign countries, which purchased enormous quantities of its produce, and that any attempt on the part of Great Britain to aim a blow at other nations must rebound upon India.
– I am sorry that I have not time to reply to interjections, and I trust that honorable senators will not consider that I am discourteous to them if I allow their remarks to pass without comment. That well-known Anglo-Indian, Sir Albert Edward Sassoon, in an article published in a London magazine, laid his finger upon the fact that neither at the Conference of Premiers which was held in 1902, nor at any other time since, had the position of India in regard to this subject been considered^ He very much deplored that that country, with its 300,000,000 inhabitants, should be neglected in this way. When I read his statement, I wrote to Sir Albert Edward Sassoon pointing out that in Australia” I had already emphasized the neglect which was being evinced towards Indian affairs. In reply, I received a letter in which he stated that anything done ‘in Australia which evinced a regard: for the people of India would be warmly welcomed. I think that the ‘injury which would be done to India alone under any preference scheme is sufficient to stamp the whole of this policy as a dangerous one, and one which the people of England ought to cast upon one side. Then I invite the attention of honorable senators to another country - I refer to Japan. All I wish to point out in this connexion is that for a few years past Japan has been, and still is, the ally of Great Britain. Is Great Britain to penalize the trade of her ally? Then there is another country of immense interest to us - a country possessing a great history and a great past - I mean Egypt. Under British management,. Egypt is again rising to an important position in the world, and I wish to know how that country would fare under any scheme of preferential trade? I need scarcely point out that Egypt is not a British Possession, although it is under British control. Is Great Britain to penalize the products of that country? Then I come to the United States. I say that it is the dream, the -eager desire of the best hearts in English - speaking countries, that there should be a lasting and a complete alliance between the Anglo-Saxon countries all the world over. I wish to know if such an alliance would be assisted’ by .the adoption of a scheme on the part of Great Britain which would penalize the goods of America? In this connexion, it is very singular that some time ago the London Times - which, as honorable senators know, is the chief press organ of this new policy - in an article upon the subject, declared that it would be statesmanship of the very highest order if America, being an Anglo-Saxon country, were included in the circle of preferences. That statement, to a very large extent, gave away the whole scheme, because the United Kingdom imports from the United States a very large proportion of her goods. Indeed, if the imports from the United States, and from British Colonies, be added together, they total one-half of the ‘ imports of Great Britain. If we add to that amount onefourth for the raw materials included in the other half which it is not proposed to tax, we see that, under the suggestion of the Times, three-fourths of British imports would be actually free from all penalization. If 75 per cent, of British imports are to be thus admitted’, why not go further and admit the whole 100 per cent., as at present”? Then I would direct attention to the fact that there are a number of countries where the duties imposed upon British goods are exceedingly light - where, in fact, the Tariffs operating -are less severe than they are in some of the British Colonies. In this connexion, I may instance Denmark and Norway. The Tariffs of these countries are less antagonistic to British trade than is the Tariff of Canada. What position is Great Britain to take up in regard to these light Tariff countries? Is she, upon the plea of making a fight against certain high Tariff countries, to penalize other countries in which low Tariffs are operative and which subject her goods to lower duties than Chose which obtain in certain British communities to-day? As honorable senators are aware, Canada is the country which first adopted this system of preferential trade. Consequently, it would be well to inquire whether that policy has proved successful there. I notice that last week the commercial agent of that country in Melbourne delivered an address in which he stated that in the seven years since preference had been granted to the mother country the imports from Great Britain into Canada has increased by 100 per cent. I must say that whenever any person gets bewitched by that old hag who masquerades under a thick veil as Sweet Miss Preference his wits seem to go wool-gathering. We have ‘had various illustrations of that. We know that Mr. Deakin, at a public meeting, actually assured his hearers that Great Britain paid foreign countries ^800,000,000 per annum, thus making an error of at least ^500,000,000.
– I do not think he said that.
– He did. In addition to that we know that Mr. Irvine, who has recently returned from a visit to the old country, stated in an address at Horsham that it was proposed that all the goods of Australia should obtain some benefit in the mother country. Although he has been at the head-quarters of this agitation, he is apparently oblivious of the fact that wool and raw materials generally are intended by Mr. Chamberlain and others to be excluded from any scheme of preferential trade which may be adopted. He is also unmindful that if it were intended to include wool in the’ list of articles to which a preference should be granted, effect could not be given to the proposal, because the production of wool in Australia amounts to twice the consuming power of the whole of the British Empire. I find that the statement made by the Commercial Agent for Canada was quite true so far as it went, but that, in the absence of certain facts, it creates a wrong impression. It is certainly true that between the years 1897 and 11903 the imports into Canada from Great Britain increased by 100 per cent. ; but at the same time the imports into Canada from the United States of America increased by 121 per cent. In other words, the imports into Canada from the United States of America in 1903 amounted to 137,000,000 dollars, while those from Great Britain were of the value of only 58,000,000 dollars, although that was after the preferential Tariff had” come into operation.
– But that is a one-sided preference; Great Britain gives Canada nothing.
– I am speaking of the statements made by the commercial representative of Canada. He claims that the preferential policy adopted by the Dominion has been of immense good to the trade of Great Britain, and I am pointing out, in reply, that during the years to which he refers the imports into Canada from the United States increased to a far greater extent than did those from Great Britain.
– The imports from the United States would have increased still more had there been no preference to Great Britain.
– In no part of the British Empire are the imports from Great Britain relatively so small as are those of Canada.
– They would have been far less without preference.
– That is incorrect. As a matter of fact, Canada is already wearying of the preferential trade arrangement.
– Wearying of its one-sided character.
– No. The woollen manufacturers of Canada asserted during the present year that they could not fight the British woollen manufacturers if they were allowed a protection of only 23J per cent. The Tariff was 35 per cent., but it was brought down to 23 J per cent, by the reduction granted to imports from Great Britain. The woollen manufacturers of Canada raised so keen an agitation that the Dominion Parliament has enacted this year that in future the woollen goods of Great Britain are not to be admitted under anything less than 30 per cent. duty. So that to-day, instead of enjoying an advantage of one-third over those of foreign manufacture, the British woollen goods imported into Canada have an advantage of only one-seventh - a preference which is altogether too trifling to be of any value. But the Canadians have done something more than that. The Parliament has enacted that from the beginning of next year no preference shall be allowed to British goods that do not enter Canada through a Canadian port. When we remember that various Canadian ports are blocked by ice for several months in the year we must recognise the importance of this decision. Goods intended for distribution in Canada must be landed at the extreme end of Nova Scotia, at St. John,, and, carried long railway, journeys if they are to obtain any advantage under the preferential Tariff. If they are landed, at a United States port, and carried over the railways of that country into the interior of Canada, they will not receive any preference. It is obvious, therefore, that: I have been quite correct in asserting, from, the first, that no country which is. protectionist at heart will give way on the protective policy. Its people will talk of preference, but if they find that the policy of protection is being, undone in any way .by the policy of preference they will at once make a change. This is a very important matter for Aus-‘ tralia to consider. I do not care what any Australians may suggest or offer to Great Britain, if they are convinced that the policy of protection is a right one, they will sweep aside the matter of preference..’ I come now to the position of New Zealand. Some twelve or eighteen months agothe Legislature of that Colony passed art Act by which a certain preference in respect to a limited number of articles wasgiven to Great Britain. But it is not merely a preferential measure; it is called a Preferential and Reciprocal Act. Under this Act New Zealand has power to make arrangements with any foreign country in a. similar direction. If a foreign country will admit her goods at a reduced duty, or duty free, New Zealand will on her part make concessions with regard to imports from that country. Honorable senators will see at once how this arrangement for reciprocal trade with foreign countries cuts away that made for preference with Great Britain. Some two or three years ago - just after the close of the war - the South African Customs Union was formed, under which a small preference, amounting, I think, to about 2 per cent., was given to British commodities. That preference, however, does not cover a very large number of articles. There is one significant feature associated with the making of this arrangement. When the Bill to give effect to it was before the Legislative Council of Cape Colony, an amendment’ was moved, with a view to eliminating the preferential proposals, and inserting another set of a protective character. The voting on the amendment was equal, and the Government proposal was carried only by the casting vote of ‘the President. That is a very significant fact. It conveys a warning lesson, which we ought to take to our. hearts; because, as I have already pointed out, in a country which is committed to, or believes in, protection, the policy of preference cannot stand if it be carried to a point which undoes in any way the former principle. If after the great strike in South Africa this matter had been left untouched, if parties had been left to settle it themselves, and to fight out the question alone - as I suppose they will some day - it would have been better and wiser, and more in accordance with the general policy of the Empire. I would draw attention to the fact that the rewards, if I” may so call them, or the payments, under this scheme, would be very unequal. I have already pointed out that Australia would reap no benefit, so far as her main products are concerned, but Canada, being principally engaged in producing grain and meat, would be able to secure a substantial advantage. Australia and South Africa produce a great quantity of gold, which is practically a raw material in both countries, but no preference could be given to it, although it is an article of commerce, so far as South Africa and Australia are concerned. There is no way in which any advantage could accrue from a policy of preferential trade to .those engaged in the gold-mining industry. The Empire is very much greater than a number of people seem to imagine, and the list of articles which it produces in excess of its consuming power - and which cannot, therefore, obtain any advantage from a preferential policy - is also very large. We have, in addition to wool, tallow, hides, and skins, tin, and cheese, and already the imports of cheese from Canada have become so large that they practically meet nil the wants of the United Kingdom. Then we have jute, rice, tea, palm oil, cocoanut oil, ginger, rum, fish (such as salmon), gutta percha, pearl-shell, indigo, woods (such as mahogany and ‘teak), seeds, and nuts, for expressing oil therefrom, dye woods, and various drugs; making, altogether, a very large list of articles which are produced in the Empire to such an extent that it would be impossible, by any legislative measure, imposing duties on the goods of foreign countries, to give those goods any advantage. Honorable senators must know very well’ that it is proposed in England, by the action of certain duties, to transfer to the Colonies certain trade which is now done with foreign countries. But if honorable senators have not been very fast asleep, they must also have noticed that it is distinctly stated in England that “if we make this proposed agreement with the Colonies, we shall be able to use it as a lever with which we shall be able to force foreign countries to lower their Tariffs against our goods.” Very well ; but what then becomes of the advantage to the Colonies? It is, at any rate, largely reduced. The policy which starts by giving Australia and other portions of the Empire advantages, is afterwards to be destroyed by using the arrangement so made to bring down foreign Tariffs. I should like to draw attention to another fact. When a new policy is proposed, no advocate of it endeavours to insert the thick end of the wedge. He begins with the thin end. That is what Mr. Chamberlain did in regard to duties on wheat. He talked about 3d. per bushel being sufficient to transfer from foreign countries to the Colonies, the great trade that is now done. But the eager spirits who are always to be found in agitations of this sort soon went far beyond Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals. In, I think, the Fortnightly Review, of last December, there was an article by Mr. W. H. Mallock, an English writer, in which he says that the lowest duty that should be imposed is 2 s. per bushel, 16s. a quarter. He goes further than that. He says that while 16s. a quarter should be levied on wheat from foreign countries, 14s. a quarter, or is. 9d. per bushel, should be levied on wheat from British communities ; leaving to the Colonies the advantage of 3d. per bushel, which Mr. Chamberlain originally proposed. This is the natural consequence of proposals such as those made by Mr. Chamberlain. And if the advocates of this policy can have their way, we may be quite sure that sooner or later these small duties would give place to much greater ones, and that, under the influence of those greater duties, the large trade now done with the United Kingdom in many articles of food would gradually approach to the smaller dimensions which existed in bygone days, when prices, owing to duties, were much higher than they are to-day. It is also worth while to remember that under a preferential scheme there would be large numbers of articles which would be excluded from the action of preference for financial reasons.
Thus, Canada does not give preference to all British goods on which she imposes a duty. She excludes a large number of articles. And if we were making any arrangement with Canada, she would exclude from any preference such articles as Australian brandy, wines, and so on. I should like honorable senators to notice the first report of Mr. Chamberlain’s Commission. That Commission, after sitting a considerable time, issued its first report in July last. This report spoke about the development of colonial markets. The Commission also proposed that there should be a maximum Tariff with comparatively high duties subject to reduction by negotiation; again confirming what I have already pointed out that it is intended by the people who are advocating this new policy in England that the Colonies should be used as a lever to work arrangements with other countries. There is, I am sorry to say, a distinct tendency in the old country under the influence of this new policy to deny to Australia and other parts of the Empire their full, independence. One writer - I think it was in the National Review - spoke of the market which existed owing to British energy and heroism. He also spoke of how foreigners were ousting Great Britain from her own markets, evidently following up the old idea which prevailed in England years ago that colonial markets exist for the exploitation of British merchants. I want f res-trade; I want British merchants and all merchants to have access to our markets. But I do not want that under any arrangement but a full free-trade policy. , I ask honorable senators not to shut their eyes to the fact that if a policy such as this can be inaugurated, there is a party in England that will try to use it for ends of t’heir own. Indeed this policy seems to me to unsettle people’s minds, and they lose sight of what is due from one to another. Even .in the other House we have Mr. Deakin, who is, I believe, a constitutional authority, concluding a series of motions by proposing that that House shall give the Government the authority to enter into negotiations with the United Kingdom for doing certain things. His motion, if carried, cannot possibly have any effect, because it ignores the Senate. This sort of thing is continually growing. When people take up a policy such as this, they lose sight of the rights of other people.
– If the honorable senator’s resolution were carried, would not that be ignoring another place?.
– I am not asking the Senate to move the Government to do anything. Mr. Deakin is proposing that the Government shall do something, and shall do it on the authority of the other House alone.
– The honorable senator is proposing to give to the world an expression of the opinion of Australia, from one House of the Federal Parliament.
– Another point in connexion with these proposals, I think, must be obvious to honorable senators. There is in this policy nothing which can fully satisfy either the free-trader or the protectionist, but it must make of this old matter more of a battle-ground than ever, and must leave uncertainty and quarrelling everywhere. There is another phase of the question to which I wish to direct very special attention. The proposal of Mr. Chamberlain, that duties shall be imposed on breadstuffs, has raised a very strong feeling in England, and the belief that men in the British Colonies are indifferent to the cost of living in the United Kingdom has created a very painful impression. There have been numerous cables sent out to Australia, and numerous representations have been made as to the feeling in Great Britain on this subject. I have myself had many evidences of this. My honorable friend, Senator Matheson, in a very useful letter in the press, only a few. days ago, stated, as the result of his own experience in England, that it was a fact that there was a very strong feeling arising against the Colonies on account of their callousness. Within the walls of this building, and within the past fortnight, Mr. Caldwell, a member of the British House of Commons, told me of the things that had been said in Great Britain, which I should not like to repeat in this Chamber. Honorable senators may be assured that there is a very strong and a very painful feeling growing in the old country with regard to the callousness of the people of Australia and Canada, that, living under the protection of the flag, to support which they contribute but little, they should at the same time be willing to’ foster a policy which would add to the cost of living of every family in Great Britain.
- Mr. Chamberlain says that he does not propose to increase the cost of living.
– Fortunately we can calculate for ourselves.
– He proposes to remit other duties.
– I wish to savin regard to this that apparently it has not yet been recognised in the United Kingdom, and I am sure that it is not fully recognised in Australia, that if any proposal be carried under which the cost of breadstuffs is increased in the United Kingdom, it will be increased also in Australia. If this policy be adopted the cost of living will be increased in every household, not in the United Kingdom alone, but throughout the British Empire where breadstuffs are consumed. I ask honorable senators to notice the following sentence, which I take from a leading article which appeared in the Age of 6th December, only last week : -
The protectionist ought to be ready to embrace preferential trade as an integral part of his policy.
Very well, what did the Age say last month? I quote the following sentence from a leader in the Age of 7th November : -
There can no more be a moderate protectionist than there can be a man moderately honest, or a woman moderately chaste.
Honorable senators will see that it is necessary to interpret the first statement about protectionists and preferential trade in the light of the second statement that the .protectionist cannot be moderate, and there is no such thing as a moderate protectionist. Therefore the preference of the Age is an entirely different thing from the preference of Mr. Chamberlain. Honorable senators should not forget that.
– The preference of Mr. Chamberlain is unmistakably protection for the Empire.
– I should also like to ask honorable senators to seriously think out what this means : To-day Great Britain is looked upon as the “ Mistress of the Seas.”
– So she is !
– So she is ; but I wish honorable senators to consider whether she is not largely entitled to that position and that name because she guards the freedom of the seas, and whether she would not be likely to arouse antagonism and, to some extent, at any rate, endanger her position if she used her power to lessen the freedom of the seas, and to penalize the trade of foreign countries?
– That is no reason why she should allow foreign countries to have undue privileges, and favour countries that do not reciprocate.
– As I have already said, I regret that the time at my disposal does not permit me to deal with interjections, or I should very gladly do so, and honorable senators would find t’hat their interjections, instead of upsetting my argument, would support it. There is one matter to which I should like to direct the attention, especially of honorable senators who have strong feelings with regard to Asiatics and coloured races generally. I feel, that, although they express the opinions which they do, and desire the legislation for which they ask with regard to coloured races and Australia, they have no desire to create antagonism towards Great Britain. But I should like them all to consider whether there is not in this subject of preference possible grounds of disagreement within the Empire. Where the subject of preference as between white people and the coloured people of the Empire is considered I am quite certain that this question must arise. I am satisfied that in the Senate there are some honorable senators who would not as readily give a trade preference to the people of India as they would to the people of Canada. That is not a subject which I should like to see brought forward, and the discussion of such a matter could not possibly tend to strengthen the Empire. I desire to refer to the position of Australia in regard to our own commerce, and also in regard to the commerce of the United Kingdom, in order to show who are buying and consuming our goods, and whose goods we in Australia are consuming. As honorable senators know, the exports from Australia go very largely to’ the United Kingdom, in order to find a market., and I have taken the trouble to ascertain what proportion is re-exported to foreign countries. When I add to that proportion the quantity which foreign countries take direct from Australia; I ascertain the consumption of Australian goods by foreigners. Of course, the quantity which is reexported from the United Kingdom I deduct from (he quantity shipped from here to Great Britain, and, having done that, I find that in the year 1901 foreign countries consumed ^17,000.000 worth of Australian merchandise, while Great Britain consumed 11 “9 million pounds worth. Those figures must, I think, be almost startling to many people. They mean that foreign countries at the present time are consuming one-half more of Australian products than are being consumed by Great Britain. I now refer to our importations of goods, and I find that a quantity of Australian importations from Great Britain are not of British manufacture, but include goods which have been sent to Great Britain from foreign countries for shipment to Australia. From the British returns I ascertain the quantity of goods sent from the United Kingdom to Australia which were foreign, and I deduct it from the imports from Great Britain, and add it to those which appear in our figures as imports from foreign countries. I thus ascertain how much we consume of British goods, and how much of foreign goods ; and taking the same year, 1901, I find that the consumption of British goods was 22’4 million pounds worth, and of foreign is”2 million pounds worth. That is truly a marvellous position. While foreign countries consume nearly half as much more of Australian goods than does the United Kingdom, Australia consumes 50 per cent, more of British goods than of foreign goods.
– And the consumption of foreign goods will be more in proportion each year.
– If any one may grumble at the position, surely it is not the people of Great Britain, or the people of Australia. Senator Trenwith has just interjected that we shall consume more in proportion of foreign goods each year, and I have no doubt that will prove to be the case. But if we cannot find a market in Great Britain for our goods, what are. we to do? Are we to burn our goods? Or are we to send them to markets where they can be sold ? The truth is, that Australian trade is “on velvet.” We have in the United Kingdom a huge free market for all our products, and, strange to say, so far as regards those products which the United Kingdom cannot wholly consume, the great protectionist countries of Europe become free-trade, and admit them. Could any position be more satisfactory to us? Should we not be foolish to urge on the Home Government any scheme likely to lessen the advantages which we now possess? I ask honorable senators to consider how small is the area of goods actually imported now from foreign countries, against which we could differentiate. We receive from foreign countries millions of pounds worth which the United Kingdom I cannot possibly sell to us, because they are not produced there. Included in those goods are kerosene and tobacco, of which we import large quantities, wines, coffee, and certain raw materials which we need for our manufactures, special machinery and tools, and specialities of climate, of art, and of manufacture. These total a very large proportion of the goods imported into Australia, and when all are eliminated from the list of imports, there remains only a small proportion. Looking at the matter all round, so far as Australia is concerned, our great pastoral products have nothing to gain by an arrangement such as is proposed. And the gain to agricultural and dairying products would be one liable, at any time a drought arose, to come to an end, and any gain must be accompanied by an increase in the cost of living to every household in Australia. I should now like to say a few words with regard to the position of the United Kingdom. Of recent years, attempts have been made to show that Great Britain is receding from her foremost position in the world. But such statements are not supported by fact. The census of 1901 showed that in no previous years of her history had there been as great an increase in population in the United Kingdom, and that not for a long time had there been so little tendency to emigration. It is also clear that the wealth of Great Britain has increased enormously. People do not pay income tax on incomes they do not receive, and the returns show that the income of Great Britain has increased immensely. So far as concerns those who do not pay income tax, the consumption of articles of food and of luxury shows such an increase as to evidence a marvellous buying power on the part of the masses of the community.
– Is not that the case all over the civilized world ?
– It appears to me that the very success of British commerce has led people astray. Every year Great Britain is getting more and more goods - tens of millions of pounds worth of goods - for nothing, except mere interest receipts. Perhaps ^100,000,000 worth of goods is poured every vear into Great Britain for which she has to pay nothing, except interest receipts. They represent her investments. I think that all honorable senators can see that if she had to part with ^100,000,000 worth of goods in exchange for ;£i 00,000,000 worth of imports she would be so much the poorer, that her posi- ‘ tion could not be as great as it is to-day. Let me give a simple illustration. Suppose that Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones are each employed at a salary of ,£250 a year and live in two houses, which adjoin, and which belong to Mr. Jones. If Mr. Smith has to pay an annual rent of ^50 to Mr. Jones, eliminating the matter of rent, the former has .£200 a year, while the latter has ^300 a year. As the rental of ,£50 comes in every year from one house to the other it might be said that Mr. Smith is getting poorer, because all this money is going to Mr. Jones. With equal justice, it might be said that Great Britain is getting poorer because of all this wealth which is pouring into her. That is a homely explanation of the mistake which is being made by a great many persons in the old country. An incomplete grasp of statistics is misleading. What has Australia to offer to the world? Australia has nothing to offer but merchandise, while Great Britain can and Hoes offer to the world merchandise in the first place, services of ships in the second place, and the use of capital in the third place. As the United Kingdom is making money out of the world under all those three headings, we ought to add the three together in order to find out her earnings compared with those of countries which come only under the one head of merchandise. If we do this we find that the earnings of Great Britain are immensely greater, and have increased far more than appear from a mere glance at her Customs returns. With regard to statements which are made by preferentialists at home as to the superior value of trade with the Colonies and with India, I have already indicated what that is largely due to. I have pointed out that foreign countries are taking, relatively with the United Kingdom, enormous quantities of Indian and colonial produce, but the foreign countries have to pay for these products, and they pay Great Britain for them either in money or in goods, and she is able thereby to send to the Colonies the large quantity of goods which she does. That is the secret of it.. We see some goods coming here from Great Britain. The reason why large quantities of goods can come to us from the ol’d country is simply that foreign countries are taking an enormous quantity of our goods, which the United Kingdom cannot possibly consume, and in doing so they provide funds in London which pay for the goods we receive. I believe that there are persons in Australia, and I am not sure that there are not persons even in this Senate, who have the audacity to say that we free-traders are not as solicitous about the welfare and greatness of the United Kingdom as- they are. But verv little consideration will show the folly of all those statements. I believe I may claim to have done more, single-handed, to promote the commerce of the United Kingdom than all the preferentialists in Australia put together. Nay, I shall go further than that. I shall say that any free-trader who, outside legislative circles, has by his vote done what he could to promote the cause of free-trade has done more than all the protectionist preferentialists of Australia have done “ in the past, and are doing at the present time, to promote the prosperity of Great Britain. I should like to draw attention to some views I expressed as -far back as the eighties, and recent utterances, showing how 1 have worked for, and done my best to promote, the interests of the United Kingdom. I propose to read a letter which I received in 1S87 from 1 he Right Hon. W. B. Dalley, of New South Wales, the first Australian gentleman upon whom the honor of a seat on the Privy Council was conferred. I had written to the right honorable and learned gentleman pressing him to deliver a public address on the commercial relations of Australia and the mother country. Unfortunately, owing to illness, he was’ not able to do SO j but he wrote me the following letter, which is well worthy of a place in the records of the Senate -
You have suggested in your note (so admirably conceived and so felicitously expressed) the precise grounds which I should have thought would have commended the cause to all lovers of the Empire. All who are desirous of discussing a great subject, not as one to be treated in warehouses and exchanges, but in the Parliamentary Chambers, cannot fail to perceive how intimately are blended the preservation of the freedom of our commerce, and the perpetuation of our Empire. In the absence of this great thought, and in the forgetfulness of the duties which it involves, there is much to be said on the side of those to whom you are opposed, and against whom you are fighting with singular gallantry. But nothing can be said to qualify the statement that a fettered trade is a defective, loyalty to the Empire, which has based its policy upon absolute freedom, and which is rebuked, and to some extent, enfeebled before the world when that policy is practically protested against by any portion of the Empire.
I ask honorable senators to bear in mind the expression that “ a fettered trade is a defective loyalty.” I felt, for many years. that the fettered trade of some of the Colonies was a defective loyalty, and I did my best continually to point that out. Mr. Dalley was well warranted in referring to foreign countries, and saying that Great Britain was weakened by what took place In 1888 Mr. Carnegie, who in that year published his book Triumphant Democracy, took occasion to refer, in severe and caustic terms, to the behaviour of the British Colonies in treating the motherland as they did. Here is one sentence from his work : -
She (Great Britain) permits them (the colonies) to foster what they please, to trade freely with all nations upon any terms the colonies fix for her own trade with them. True, it must be said her offspring are not very grateful children ; they turn against their mother with surprising harshness.
He proceeds to make some exceedingly strong comments on the action of Canada. In the same year, 1888, which was Australia’s centennial year, a Congress of Chambers of Commerce was held in this city of Melbourne, at which I was present. I there read a paper on “ Commercial Relations with the Mother Country”; and I dwelt on the value to Australia of free markets, and of friendly commercial relations with the United Kingdom. Finally, [ proposed three resolutions, one of which read as follows : -
That the friendly policy of the mother country to her colonies calls for a friendly response from them.
These resolutions were carried by the Congress. I may, in passing, quote one sentence from my address, which indicated, I think, the position of affairs, and the possibilities in the old country -
Pray be under no mistake. The old policy of restriction in England is not yet extinct, and it is prepared to go to any extremes to restrict imports into England.
I will pass over the intervening years up to the year 1900. Honorable senators will remember that in that year, when we were preparing to take our first Federal party elections, I issued as a service to free-trade a weekly newspaper called Our Country. In the very first issue of that journal appeared an article headed “ Great Britain and Australia.” From it I take this quotation : -
Australians have become so accustomed ‘.to legislating against the country which has given them the freedom they enjoy, and under whose flag they have found safety, that they have lost sight of the anomaly of their conduct.
I followed that up in the next issue by a cartoon, which was drawn under my di- rection, representing an Australian soldier returning from South Africa, and expressing his surprise that, after being there fighting for the flag, he should find in Australia fighting going on against the flag. I want to know, as against a record like this, what any of the preferentialists of Australia can show ? The resolutions which I have moved I commend to the careful consideration of the Senate, and I ask honorable senators to join with me in declaring tha’t our love for, and our faith in, those sea-girt isles which we call the motherland, are associated with the belief that the foundations of her Empire rest on the eternal principles of freedom, and that, so long as she is true to those principles, she can face the future with a stout heart and a smiling face. If here, in this remote part of the Empire, we can do anything to strengthen her resolve to hold high .the flag of freedom, we may well be content, and fully satisfied that we have done what was best, not only for humanity in general, but for the home of our race, and that galaxy of countries which, taken together, constitute the British Empire.
– I beg to second the motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Drake) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 9th December (vide page 8199), on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When the debate was adjourned on Friday, I was referring to the fact that the movement for the subsidy in connexion with the service to the New Hebrides was a movement, mainly on the part of some interested persons in Sydney. It might be convenient if I here quoted a clause from the contract with reference to the provision for termination to show that honorable senators may, if they so desire, refuse this proposed subsidy at any time. At page 11. of the return supplied on the motion of Senator Stewart on the 22nd July, 1902, this proviso for the termination of the contract, in the event of the subsidy not being available, will be found in the agreement of 22nd September, 1900 - _ Notwithstanding anything hereinbefore mentioned the Governor may terminate the contract by notice in writing under his hand to be served as aforesaid in the event of Parliament declining or failing to vote the necessary moneys for the service, and the Contractors shall have no right of action for breach of contract or otherwise in respect of the premises. Provided that if such notice shall be given during the currency of one of the trips hereinbefore mentioned, such notice shall not take effect until the completion of such trip ; and, notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained, the contractors shall only be entitled to be paid for the service up to the time such notice shall take effect.
The inclusion of such a clause in the contract indicates, to my mind, that the New South Wales Government on 28th September, 1900, had some doubts as to whether they could get Parliament to continue to vote this subsidy to Burns, Philp, and Company.
– That was just before Federation, and thev might have desired to leave it open.
– Quite so; they might have wished to leave it open to the Federal Parliament. But honorable senators will agree that they may, with a perfectly free and open mind, decline to vote this subsidy, because there is no obligation on the Commonwealth Parliament to continue it. I was saying that this was a movement on the part of interested persons in Sydney. We can have no legitimate grounds for objection to the action of those interested persons. They are entitled to do their level best to get the subsidy if they can, and if the members of the Federal Parliament are foolish enough to vote it. But it is the duty of the members of this Parliament, and especially of the members of the Senate, since the Senate is the guardian of the interests of the States as a whole, to see that Commonwealth money shall not be wasted or spent in an irregular or unjustifiable manner. The Sydney people are entitled to get all they can.
– Hear, hear, and no more.
– But as a representative of Queensland, I ask honorable senators to look at the map, and they will find’ that the port of Brisbane is far nearer to the New Hebrides than is the port of Sydney.
– What ‘about Rockhampton ?
– Rockhampton may be nearer than is Brisbane, but I am not aware of that. A glance at the map will show that Brisbane is hundreds of miles nearer to the New Hebrides than is Sydney. If what we require is a speedy mail service, one would think that the Government would select the point of departure nearest to the New Hebrides. But no, t’hey have selected Sydney. Sydney is the starting point for all these services to the New Hebrides, to New Guinea, and to the Solomon Islands. 1 may mention, incidentally, that the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce has asked that tenders should be called for these services. Clause 5 of the memorandum placed before the Senate is to this effect -
To establish a service connecting Thursday Island or Cooktown with all the ports in British New Guinea - The inconvenience of the present uncertain means of communication has been long and keenly felt, and it is known to those intimate with New Guinea that a regular and frequent communication will do much to promote the development of the possession. This service employs one steamer.
I direct the attention of honorable senators to the words “a regular and frequent communication.” This, it is expected, will be a result of the payment of one portion of this .£12,000 to Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. But one steamer cannot give the service at present given without a subsidy. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company intend to run the Parua for the first six months, and at the end of that time they may build a new steamer to take her place. The Parua is a steamer of 106 tons, or 50 tons smaller than the boat run by Messrs. Clunn and Sons for something like two years without a subsidy. The announced intention of the Government in paying the subsidy is to open up the land at Hall’s Sound, in New Guinea. Senator Smith will be able to bear me out in the statement that Hall’s Sound is a place which is unsettled, excepting for a few black labour plantations for the production of coffee, gutta percha, and cocoanut.
– There is one abandoned plantation there, that is all.
– I was giving a much more inviting picture of the settlement.
– There is magnificent land there to be opened up.
– There is.
– Does the honorable senator know why that plantation was abandoned ?
– I am not in a position to say. Perhaps Senator Walker, as a director of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, will be able to tell us something about the matter.
– We shall challenge the honorable senator’s vote if he is a director.
– Senator Smith gives a dismal account of the place when he says there is only one abandoned plantation there. I believe that a quantity of land at the place has been taken up by different companies, though it has not been cultivated. They hold it for purposes of future cultivation or speculation.
– Only 5,000 acres.
– It appears that fivesixths of the passengers who go to New Guinea desire to go direct to Samarai from Cooktown. They prefer to make that journey, a distance of some 426 miles, rather than go round by Thursday Island, via Port Moresby, to Samarai, a distance of 957 miles, and a voyage occupying three weeks to perform. The voyage from Cooktown across to Samarai, the route most patronized, occupies but five days. Our business-like Government, with its keen PostmasterGeneral, in order to establish a speedy mail service to these islands, selects a route which it will take three weeks to traverse, when he might have selected the route from Cooktown to Samarai, which could be traversed in five days. There would be a great deal of delay caused by the adoption of the proposal of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, because they desire to call at a number of minor stations, in order, no doubt, to supply their depots with the goods which they sell as general merchants. One of the objectionable features of this proposal is the effect it will have on other companies. Honorable senators will be aware of the practice amongst business people, including shipping companies, of trying to run competing firms off the ground, and if Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, by receiving a subsidy for this service, are enabled to quote lower freights for goods and passengers, they may be able to run Messrs. Chinn and Sons off the route. I ask is that fair? Senator Drake, on Friday last, questioned the land settlement proposal of the agreement with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, and indicated that the Government were not taking any responsibility in that matter. ‘ It appears to me that that is one of the worst features of the proposed scheme. If honorable senators will look at the Appropriation Bill they will see a sum of ^6,000 set down for the present. New Hebrides service, and another sum of ^6,000, making the total proposed subsidy ;£i 2,000. When this agreement was entered into on 12 th March, 1902, it contained this clause: -
That whereas the contractors are possessed of certain lands and properties in the New Hebrides Islands, taken over by them from the Australasian New Hebrides Company, and more particularly described in the Second Schedule hereto the Contractors agree and declare that they, their successors and assignees will stand possessed of all such lands and properties in trust, to lease them to such persons, at rentals of is. per annum for every fifty acres or part thereof, and on such terms and conditions, as the Minister of External Affairs of the Commonwealth may from time to time approve, and at the expiration or termination of this Agreement, or when required by the Minister, execute’ such conveyance, assignment or assurance of their right, title, and interest in and to such lands and properties tosuch person or persons, and in such manner as the Minister may direct.
That, I think, establishes the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government.
– I do not see that it makes the Government responsible.
– Senator Drake told us, as reported in Hansard of the 17th June, 1902, page 13,708, that in effect this subsidy was to enable Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company to develop their land.
– I said that this could not be defined as a mail service.
– The honorable senator also said that it was to develop their land.
– I said there was to be a mutual advantage.
– I am anxious to know what the Government are doing in the matter ?
– Will the honorable senator quote what I did say ?
– The remarks were made during the first long session, but they were to the effect that I have indicated. From June, 1902, to December, 1904, is a period of over two years, and, surely, we ought to know from the Commonwealth Government what settlement has taken place. I have asked questions in the Senate, but the Attorney-General has, I suppose, been informed by the officials in the Department that’ the information cannot be given. At any rate, such obstacles have been placed in the way that the AttorneyGeneral has intimated’ that if I want the information I ought to table a motion for a return. On the 4th March, 1902, Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company wrote from Sydney to the Secretary of External Affairs as follows: -
We beg to inform you that our advertisements in the daily press, offering free land grants to desirable settlers, have brought us several applications from desirable persons having the necessary capital to develop the lands, but we are unable as yet to give them any definite information as to the terms of settlement or the size of the allotments they will be permitted to select.
Experience has taught us that if matters of this kind are once allowed to grow cold there is always considerable difficulty in reviving them ; we therefore beg to submit for your approval the following rough outline of the main conditions in our opinion most suitable for the scheme.
Land to be leased for 999 years at1s. per 100 acres or part thereof per annum to British subjects only, conditional upon their expending £1 per acre in improvements within two years from taking up the land, lease only to be transferable with the approval of the Commonwealth Government.
Intending settlers to show to the satisfaction of the Government that they are possessed of £1 for every acre of land they take up. Size of allotments from 50 to 500 acres.
Persons having taken up land to be granted a free passage for themselves and their families.
We would like to have definite instructions from you as early as possible as to whether these conditions would be approved of, or what alternative conditions you have decided upon. We do not wish these people to drift away from us, and if an early decision could be arrived at we might possibly be able to send away the first batch by the Mambare, leaving Sydney 1st April. We favour the plan of inducing them to form a British settlement on one island, where they could mutually assist one another.
An eminently suitable spot exists at South Santo, adjoining the French settlement at Belsiki. Particulars as to the Government’s intentions re surveying and marking off allotments are also being asked for by applicants.
Awaiting the favour of your reply.
It will be observed that the great anxiety of the company was that the Government should enter into this arrangement before the matter got cold; while the agitation was warm and ardent, the company thought it necessary to have the agreement signed. It will be noticed that intending settlers had to show to the satisfaction of the Federal Government that they were possessed of£1 for every acre of land taken up, and that the allotments were to be from 50 acres up to 500 acres. Are the Federal Government justified, in the present unsettled condition of the continent of Australia, in encouraging men who have from£50 to £500 to leave these shores ? Evidently the Government thought it was their duty to do so, because on the 6th March, 1902, they sent the following letter to Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company : -
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th inst., respecting the terms on which free land grants may be offered to desirable settlers in the New Hebrides.
In reply, I am directed by the Prime Minister to inform you that he has approved of the following conditions, viz. : -
Leases to be to British subjects only.
Area of lease not to be less than 50, nor more than 500 acres, with the right to the family to take up adjoining block, not exceeding 100 acres, if available, for each male child over sixteen years of age.
Term of lease to be for three years, at a rental of1s. per 50 acres, with a right of extension for ninety-six (96) years, at a rental of1d. per acre per annum, if at the end of the third year the settler has expended the sum of 10s. per acre on the land.
Transfer. - Settlers to have the right to assign or sublet their leasehold, or any part thereof, to any British subject on the approval of the lessors. Leases and assignments of sub-leases to be under the condition that the holders will not transmit the land, or’ any of it, by will, except to British subjects approved by the lessors or their representatives.
Then follows a clause in reference to transfer, and the last item is -
Settlers to be conveyed, with their wives and families, to the islands free in the vessels of your company.
– Very liberal.
– I suppose it is liberal. As to the wisdom of taxing settlers in Queensland, to enable other settlers to go to New Hebrides, that is a question I shall deal with later on.
– I suppose the idea is to prevent French settlers monopolizing the country.
– I desire to know what has become of the first batch of settlers who went to the New Hebrides. Is it a fact that certain of them were diverted on their way to other occupations, and that some, who arrived at the New Hebrides, thought the prospect so vile, that they left ? On those points I have been unableto get any information. I was led to ask the question by reading in the Argus of 30th July, 1902, an article by the Rev. A. Stewart, M.A., of Essendon, on “Australians in the New Hebrides.” That gentleman went to the New Hebrides, and wrote a most interesting account of his visit. In the course of that account he said : -
The s.s. Mambare, of the Pacific Fleet, owned by Messrs. Burns, Philp and Co., sailed from
Sydney for the New Hebrides on 31st May, and returned to that port at the end of last week. Both outward and inward she called at Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. After three days at Thio and two and a half at sea the Mambare touched the most southerly of the New Hebrides group, Anetiyum. Here the party of settlers who had come out as the first instalment of the Federal Government scheme of colonization, to counteract French influence in the Group, began their eager study of the islands, and their commercial value. Twenty had been selected from hundreds of applicants. Seventeen actually started from Sydney ; three were diverted to other employment by the way ; three returned dissatisfied with their explorations and the outlook ; the remaining eleven are now settled on the southern coast of Santo, which is the largest and most northerly of all the islands.
I am anxious to know from the Federal Government, who have undertaken this scheme of colonization, what Kas become of those eleven settlers. The Attorney-General, as I have already mentioned, said that this would be most fittingly the subject of a return to be called for on a motion. In the records of the Federal Parliament and Government, there must surely be some information as to how their grand scheme of colonization in the Pacific is getting along. I venture to think that the scheme is a failure, and that that failure is another reason why we should not pay this additional sum of j£B, 000 to Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. What strikes me about this proposal is _ its paradoxical character. We have passed legislation in the hopes of some day making Australia a White Australia,
– Whiter than it is?
– I mean to say that we desire to keep Australia for what we understand to be the white races- - descendants of the British and European races, such as the German, French, and others. We have passed the Pacific Island Labourers Act, under which no Pacific islanders can be brought into Australia after the 31st March, 1904, and the Federal Government may deport any Pacific islander found in Australia after 1906. I have never heard any one, excepting, perhaps, a few senators and a few members of the House of Representatives, who hold views favoured by Senators Pulsford and Dobson, express any disagreement with our endeavours to attain a White Australia. All others have said that this is a very good ideal. Both the Pacific Island Labourers Act. and the Immigration Restriction Act were passed by large majorities. Does the leader of the Senate not see a paradox in taxing the white settlers of Australia - whom we expect to employ white labour - to provide Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company with a subsidy of ^12,000, in order that other white settlers may be taken to the New Hebrides, where they will have to employ black labour?
– Then the honorable senator is altogether against settlement in the Pacific Islands?
– No; but if Australia is not good enough- for Australian settlers, let them go to the New Hebrides at their own expense. The proposal is that we should send away from Australia some of our most thrifty and energetic settlers, men who have worked hard, and acquired from .£50 to ,£500. As Senator Gray knows, in Queensland millions of acres of land are crying out for settlers of that description. In order to prove that intending Australian settlers would have to employ coloured labour, I propose to quote a letter which was sent by Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company to the Secretary for External Affairs on the nth March, 1902. It was written on the day before the contract was signed, and reads ‘as follows : -
Another important question, and vitally affecting the success of the venture, is that of the restrictions upon the obtaining of coloured labour. For the clearing and planting of this land each settler will require from half-a-dozen up to twenty natives. Under the present system, it will be impossible for them to obtain them except by illegal recruiting. We would suggest that a similar custom to that obtaining in British New Guinea be authorized, namely, that every settler be permitted to engage his own labour from adjoining islands, provided he registers them on the first opportunity afterwards before the captain of a British man-of-war, or, when appointed, the British Resident. The mission influence in the islands is sufficiently wide-reaching to insure any abuses being promptly reported to the authorities, and unless something is done to enable the settlers to obtain the necessary labour, it is hard to see how they are to make any progress wil’h the building up of their plantations.
I object to the taxation of any settler in Queensland, or, indeed, in any other part of the Commonwealth, in order to enable some other settler, who thinks he can do better in the New Hebrides to go down there, and employ black labour. The next proposal, which must inevitably follow such a course - indeed, it has already been made - is that the products of the settlers in the New Hebrides and other places, shall be admitted to the Commonwealth at a’ lower rate of duty than the products of other parts of the world.
– It has been proposed to admit them duty free.
– Yes. I cannot see any justice or equity in a proposal to tax white men in Australia to enable the white man in the New Hebrides to produce with black labour.
– The honorable senator should not discuss that point, as it does not arise out of the vote to which he is referring.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. It might be convenient here to refer to a statement which is freely made, namely, that certain French companies receive large subsidies for running their vessels. I have not been able to find out whether it is absolutely true or not. Mr. W. E. Johnson, a member of the House of Representatives, made certain statements to the effect that subsidies were paid, and a letter has been sent to Le Courier Aus.tralien by M. Ballande, a member of a French company, to which he referred, and who states that, so far as the statements concerning his firm are concerned!, they are quite inaccurate, as it does not receive a cent of subsidy.
– What company does the honorable senator refer to?
– Mr. Johnson said that certain French companies received subsidies for running the boats and also for colonizing the New Hebrides, and he mentioned the firm of Ballande and Company. A member of the firm says he is somewhat astonished that such a statement should be made in the Parliament, of what he describes, rightly, I think, as a great country, without proof being advanced. It has also been stated that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company have lost £16,000 during the year by this service, for which we pay now £6,000. While such a statement may be very useful in inducing members of Parliament to vote a subsidy, it is not a very great tribute to the business-like capacity of the members of the firm. I do not suppose for a moment that keen business men like Colonel Burns and his colleagues are likely to indulge in such an enterprise as would lead to the loss of so many . thousands of pounds. The Australian Joint Stock Company’s Year Book gives this information about the firm at page 104 : -
Burns, Philp, and Co. Limited (Merchants and Shipowners). - Registered in New South Wales in 1883. Head office, 10 Bridge-street, Sydney. Directors, James Burns (managing director), Adam Forsyth, fames Forsyth, M.L.A. ; Senator J. T. Walker, Sir Malcolm D. McEacharn, D. Patience. Secretary, R. J. Nos worthy. Branch inspector, P. G. Black. Branch offices, Bowen, Brisbane, Cairns, Charters Towers, Cooktown, Normanton, Thursday Islandy Townsville, Fremantle, Geraldton. Port Moresby, Samarai, Via, and Nukualofa, London office, 61-2 Gracechurch-street, E.C. Capital authorized, £500,000. The capital subscribed is £350,000 in shares of £1 each ; and the capital paid up is £275,000, representing £1 per share on 250,000 shares, and 5s. per share on 100,000 shares. , There are about 100 shareholders. Reserve fund, £225,000, and undivided balance, £9,299. Accounts are made up yearly to 31st March, and submitted in May. The dividends paid from the foundation of the company have been for 1883-4-5, 10 per cent. ; for 1886, 8 per cent. ; for 1887, 12 per cent. ; for 1S88-9-90-1-2-3, 10 per cent. ; for 1894-5, 7^ per cent. ; and for 1896 and thence to March, 1902, 8 per cent. The share register is kept at the Sydney office, and no transfer-fee is charged. Voting powers of shareholders - one vote for every 100 shares. The report submitted on 15th May, 1902, stated that tha gross profit from all sources was £195,263, less salaries and expenses, deprecation, bad debts, and taxation, £138,964 ; leaving a net balance of £56,299.
From another publication I find that, so far from losing money, the company is doing very well.
– As a whole.
– It may be losing money on one side and making it on the other.
– I do not adopt that view, because the following figures have been extracted from their balance-sheet: -
Surely honorable senators will not believe the unsupported testimony of those who support this proposal when they say that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company have lost £16,000 during the year.
– I should believe that at once if Colonel Burns said so.
– I am not prepared to accept the statement without proof. I do not believe that Colonel Burns would indulge in any enterprise which is calculated to bring about a loss of that sum. Is Senator Gray prepared to say that the firm lost £16,000 in the Pacific Island mail service?
– I know nothing at all about it. I am only going by the honorable senator’s statements.
– I understood that the honorable senator did know something about the matter; I should like to have further proof. If the service means a loss of anything like £16,000 a year to the firm, is not that an additional reason why the Commonwealth should cease to pay away money for such a service? I think it is. I am. very much1 opposed, as I have frequently said, to taking Australian settlers down to the New Hebrides. I object very strongly to the Federal Government taking any part in any scheme which is likely to mislead settlers or is calculated at a, future date to land the Federal Government in. some financial responsibility. Any settler’ who leaves Australia to take part in this colonizing scheme would certainly be influenced to do so by the knowledge that the Federal Government had a clause in their mail contract providing that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company should do certain things in regard to the land. We are informed by Senator Walker that there are many claimants to the land in the group.
– More claims than areas of land.
– So the honorable senator told us.
– That is why they want a Land Commission.
– For a considerable time the settlers in the New Hebrides and New Caledonia have been agitating for a land commission, whose duties would be similar to those of the Land Commission which sat in Fiji to determine the rights of claimants to land. I have here a report of the final act of the Anglo-German Commission on the affairs of Samoa.
– Has that anything to do with the question of the mail subsidy to the New Hebrides?
– I am arguing, sir, that the Federal Government has committed itself to assist Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company in gaining titles to their land, and that in doing such a thing it may be disadvantaging other British settlers in the group, who have claims for land, but who, when they come before the Land Commission, will not have the support of its influence.
– What has the Land Commission which sat in Samoa to do with the affairs of the New Hebrides ?
– If I am able to show that the Land Commission on Samoa were instructed to do certain things-
– I do not think that has anything to do with the question.
– The point is that the British Government, who have appointed a Resident in the New Hebrides, and who will agree to the appointment of a new Land Commission, will probably give that Commission the same instructions as they gave for dealing with other lands in Fiji. Part of the instructions were -
The Land Commission may, at its discretion, through iac local governing district in which the land is situated, appoint a native commission to determine the native grantors right of ownership and sale, and the result of that examination, together with all other facts pertinent to the question of validity of title, shall be laid before the Commission to be by them reported to the Court.
I am anxious to show that we should cease at once to have anything to do with this scheme of Burns, Philp, and Company to transfer titles to the citizens of the New Hebrides. The Commonwealth Government will be committing itself irrevocably, and may finally have to do as the British Government did - pay a considerable amount in compensation. In adopting this agreement, which has now been in force for two or three years, and which I consider should be put an end to, we are taking up an attitude which is totally opposed ,to the attitude which the Commonwealth Parliament has outlined with respect to British New Guinea. We have declared that the lands of the Possession shall not be sold, but may be leased at a proper rental. The same principle has been adopted in the British Fijis. The British Government cannot get a piece of land in Fiji without renting it from the natives. They have recognised the rights of the natives. But we are proposing to help Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company to take away from the natives their land for all time. That is contrary to the principle laid down by the Federal Parliament, and is opposed to the wishes of the people of the Commonwealth. I will now come to the question of whether we should interfere with the New Hebridean islands. Honorable senators will have noticed that the Government said, in reply to Senator Smith, that they would cable to the Imperial authorities the fact that information was at hand that certain people in the New Hebrides were applying for the annexation of the islands by France.
– That was brought up by the member for Reunion in the Chamber of Deputies.
– This movement for annexation by France is not a new one. Honorable senators may be surprised to hear that in 1889-
– Has the annexation of the New Hebrides by France anything to do with the payment of £12,000 or the non-payment of it?
– I argue that this subsidy cannot be justified as a mail subsidy. The Vice-President of the Executive Council admits that. He contends that it is not really a mail subsidy, but a subsidy for the encouragement of commerce, and for patriotic purposes with a view to our getting hold of the New Hebrides. I want to show that it is the desire of a number of the British settlers to be left alone, and that they do not wish to be annexed by the Commonwealth of Australia.
– British subjects?
– Yes, British subjects. My objection to the whole proposal is, in the first place, that it is a breach of the Constitution to spend the £12,000 in such a manner. The Constitution says that -
The Parliament shall have power to pass lawsfor the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth.
In regard to various matters, amongst them bounties on trade and commerce - commerce, of course, including navigation and shipping. Why are not the Government fair? I claim that it is a breach of the Constitution .to give this money to one firm. If a subsidy is to be granted, why should it not be open to every one in the Commonwealth ?
-The honorable senator has already elaborated that point.
– I thought that your view was, sir, that this was a mail subsidy pure and simple.
– The honorable senator was proceeding to argue as to the annexation of the New Hebrides by France, and I cannot see that that has anything to do with the payment of £12,000 for a mail service.
– Both the VicePresident of the Executive Council and the AttorneyGeneral, who are amused at such an argument being put forward, have themselves argued strongly that this is not a mail subsidy at all, but that the money is to be paid with a view to get hold of the New Hebrides, and,, finally, to squeeze out France. Senator Smith made the same admission in a motion which is submitted some time ago. I am proceeding to show that the payment of £12,000 for such a purpose is based upon a fallacy, and that the people of the New Hebrides do not wish to be annexed by the Commonwealth.
– They wish to be annexed by Great Britain.
– In 1889 they wanted to be annexed by France.
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to go into the history of the New Hebrides.
– It is unfortunate that at the back of this mail service proposal there is an ulterior motive - to get hold of the lands of the New Hebrides. The whole of Australia is not large enough for the Government and Senator Smith.
– There is nothing about that in the Bill.
– It is a mistake for us, under cover of a vote of £12,000 for a mail subsidy, to endeavour to get hold of the lands of the New Hebrides. The idea seems to be that Australia is not large enough for our present settlers - that we have settled all our lands in Queensland and the other States, and that we need to send men down to the New Hebrides, and to give them free passages, ,to induce them to settle there. In order to give them free passages, we are to pay to Burns, Philp, and Company £12,000 a year. We ought to let these people alone. If trade with the islands comes to us naturally, let it come. It may possibly happen in time that the New Hebrides and New Caledonia will become Australian. But I do not think .that that will be so for many hundreds of years. The French have been down in New Caledonia ever since 24th September, 1853, when the place was annexed under instructions from Napoleon III. Having been there for fifty years, they have had the same experience as Australia has had. Australia was first a convict settlement.
– Not South Australia. .
– Does the honorable senator think that a statement like that has anything to do with the vote of £12,000 for a mail subsidy?
– Perhaps I have been a little too discursive, though I do not think so. But I will bow to your ruling and come to another point. I think that the Government are to be condemned - perhaps not this Government so much as other Governments who have been longer in power. The Barton and Deakin Administrations had office successively up to the commencement of this year. There was a great deal of time in which to get information. But there is no more information to be gained with regard to this mail subsidy now than there was when Senator Drake told us two years ago that he did not expect much opposition to the proposal, and had not got all the details at hand. Knowing that this proposal was to be made, the Government ought to have had statistical records available, so as to give information to Parliament. But it is impossible to get it. When one asks for information he is told to move for a return, which will probably be forthcoming some time in the following year. I notice that the Prime Minister has said that the Government only need , £3,000 for this extra subsidy this year. The Government do their business in such a loose and haphazard way that they place upon the Estimates a sum of £12,000 when it appears that they require only £9,000. Six months of the present financial year having elapsed, if Parliament is unwise enough to grant this subsidy theGovernment will use only £3,000 of the extra amount. That is not a businesslike way to proceed. In the first place the proposal is a travesty, so far as a mail service goes ; and if the Senate intends to vote the money they should grant only onehalf of the extra amount askedfor by the Government. In other words, the sum ought to be reduced by £3,000. I can see that some honorable senators are carried away by their ideas of patriotism, and their exaggerated notions of Empire. Consequently, in all probability this subsidy will be voted. But I shall not rest content until the Commonwealth Parliament declines to vote the money any longer, because I regard it in the first place as a breach of the Constitution, and in the second place as a great waste of money.
– This vote will enable Burns, Philp, and Company to break down all opposition.
– I proposetorefer to that matter. Senator Gray said the other day that there was no other firm who could do this work. The Australian United Steam Navigation Company carried on a service for years with the Birksgate between Fiji and Sydney. They had two small steamers connected with their boats at Anetiyum.
– Who were the agents ?
– The agents may have been Burns, Philp, and Company. That firm is known in Queensland as “ the octopus of the North.” They are agents, not only for the Australasian Steam Navigation Company, but for forty other different companies.
– They are great scoundrels evidently !
– That is the honorable senator’s expression. If Senator Walker, as a director of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, says that they are great scoundrels, I cannot object.
– In the honorable senator’s mind, apparently they are. The honorable senator’s reference as to them reminds one of the reference to “ King Charles’ head.”
– I do not for a moment say, or think, that they are. The contention of those who oppose this subsidy is that if the Government were to call tenders they would find numbers of people prepared to carry out these mail services. They could be split up, and; we might have vessels running from Cooktown to New Guinea, and from Rockhampton, Brisbane, or Sydney to the New Hebrides. Senator Walker objects to my calling this firm “ The octopus of the North.”
– Not at all. That is only in keeping with the honorable senator’s general remarks on the subject.
– The fact is that this . firm is strong enough to squeeze out the small men without any assistance from this Parliament. If we give Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company an extra £12,000 a year, it will probably mean that they will run off the small people who have not sufficient influence to secure any subsidy from this Parliament. Is that fair? I am aware that Senator Walker has high ideals of equity, and I ask him whether that is fair?
– The honorable senator ought not to say that these subsidies are secured from Parliament by influence. I am sure the honorable senator does not mean that.
– I withdraw that suggestion, but this firm is so large, has so many agencies, and is so overpowering in its majesty, so to speak, that some honorable senators do not appear to think that there are any other ship-owners in the Commonwealth. I am thinking of the smaller people, such as Messrs. Kerr Brothers, who have sent a letter to the Prime Minister objecting to the granting of this subsidy unless tenders are called. I desire to know from Senator Drake, the VicePresident of the Executive Council, and an exPostmasterGeneral, whether the contract which was signed in 1902 was carried out by Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company? In that contract it is stated that the Ysabel is the steamer to be employed in the service. I wish to know from the exPostmasterGeneral what the Ysabel was doing at the Marshall Islands? I find that she made several trips to those islands although they ,are not mentioned in the contract signed in 1902. She was to call at the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, but there is no mention of any trip to the Marshall Islands, which is some 500 miles away from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Does it not seem extraordinary to honorable senators that we should be paying, Burns, Philp, and Company a subsidy to conduct a mail service, and should allow them to send their boats 500 miles away from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands to the Marshall Islands? Were they looking for letters or for copra? I venture to think that the main business of these boats is trade with the islands. They carry goods for Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, who are not only shippers, but traders, to the islands and bring back the copra produced by the natives. I do not think that is fair to the general trader, who sends his goods down to the islands ; nor do I think it is fair to the small ship-owners trading to the islands, that we should pay this subsidy. I hope, when, the time comes, that the Senate will request the House of Representatives to eliminate the vote from the schedule.
– I am not quite clear whether, on the second reading pf this Bill, one is permitted merely to allude to matters referred to in the Estimates. I am under the impression that when Senator Dobson was speaking the other day that was not insisted upon.
– What happened was this - The Attorney-General, instead of replying on the various questions which had been raised on the first reading of the Bill, craved leave to do so on the second reading. Leave was given, but I said I could not prevent any other honorable senators also referring to those questions. Subject to that, the ordinary rule applies.
– I desire to say that I, for one, have implicit confidence in Sir George Turner, as Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and I refer with very great confidence to the economy displayed in the Estimates. I fear, however, with regard to the revenue that if ‘something is not done very shortly, we shall find that the bonuses which we shall have to- pay in connexion with the sugar industry will necessitate further taxation in another form.
– We are not going in for any more bonuses.
– There must, it seems to me, be a great loss of revenue ; for, as the growth of sugar by white labour proceeds, it is quite evident that our income must fall off. The nett revenue from excise will become less and less, and I therefore fear that it will become necessary to impose other taxation to take its place.
– The excise will not become less and less. It remains the same whether sugar is grown by white or black labour. That shows how little the honorable senator knows about it.
– I shall leave that subject alone, but probably I know as much about it as does Senator Givens. With regard to naval defence, I understand that the £200,000 which we pay annually to the British Government does not appear in the Estimates, but it will probably not be wrong for me to make some allusion to the subject. I think we shall require to face the necessity for some provision for gunboats of our own to protect our harbors. I shall therefore not be surprised if next year we find the Defence Estimates considerably increased. At page 32 of the Estimates I find some allusion to the expenditure in connexion with the selection of the Capital Site. I see that for the year ending 30th June next the sum of £3,500 is put down. Some of that money has already been expended. We know that the New South Wales Government is at the present time considering the matter of granting a choice of various sites. Personally I am glad to see that they do not exclude Dalgety as one of those to be considered ; but it is quite evident that there will be a difference of opinion between the Federal Parliament and the New South Wales State Parliament with regard to the area of land to be granted or purchased.
– Is the honorable senator becoming tired of Melbourne?
– I think we have every reason to thank the Victorian Government for the excellent accommodation they have provided for us here. I do not expect to be nearly as comfortable at Dalgety, if I should happen to be a member of the Federal Parliament when it sits there. At the same time, there is a good deal to be said in favour of- conducting our business in our own premises. I feel some hesitation in making any reference to the mattei to which Senator Higgs has referred. I think I shall say nothing about it, but if it should come to a division I shall abstain from voting, as I have the honour to be a director of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, and I am not ashamed of it.
– A director of “The Octopus.”
– Honorable senators may call the firm “The Octopus,” but I daresay that Senator Stewart wishes he had some shares in “ The Octopus.” When Federation was inaugurated we were all in hope that the Federal Parliament would not require to sit so long as we have been doing. This year, we shall have sat between nine and ten months. I hope we shall in future be content with a session of four or five months in each year. I hope that next year the Government will take over the Quarantine, Meteorological and Statistical Departments, and I, for one, shall not object to the expense so involved. With regard to our mail arrangements with the mother country, I am one of those who exceedingly regret that we are no longer to have a regular weekly service. It seems to me that we have acted in a somewhat short-sighted manner. I have always disapproved of what is called the “ White Ocean “ policy. I fail to see why we could not have given a contract to companies employing coloured labour in the stoke-holds of their steamers. We are now apparently going to pay poundage to many companies who will be employing black labour in the same way. I shall not further detain the Senate except to say that I hope that at no distant date our very good friend Sir George Turner will be restored to good health. I have exceedingly regretted to hear of his present state of ill -health.
– I did not propose to address any remarks to the Senate on the second reading of this Bill, because I understood that - the Government were exceedingly anxious to get it into Committee. When I find that a Government supporter does not fall in with that idea, I may be excused if I follow his example. Senator Walker has, I believe, been considered a great financial authority in the Commonwealth. The honorable senator travelled pretty well all over the Commonwealth to explain the financial effect of Federation to the people of the States, but he has made an awful financial blunder in the few remarks which he has just addressed to the Senate. He allowed it to be inferred that he is opposed to any further bonus being, granted to the sugar industry. I venture to say that the honorable senator would not be game to mount a public platform in his own State and say so . straight out.
– I am quite prepared to stick to my colours wherever I am. I have already advocated that there should be a graduated bonus, which should come to an end in time.
– In a very long time. The honorable senator stated that as the quantity of sugar grown by white labour increased, the excise would decrease. How he arrived at that conclusion I am unable to say. It is an extraordinary statement coming from a financial authority. I interjected at the time that the excise on sugar would remain exactly the same whether it were grown by white or coloured labour.
– The excise is £3 per ton now, but there is a refund where it is grown by white labour.
– It does not matter a straw whether sugar is produced by white or coloured labour, the excise remains the same. I point out that with .the exception of the manufacture of spirits or narcotics the manufacture of sugar is the only industry in the Commonwealth on the products of which any excise whatever is levied. The bonus paid is merely a return of a portion of the excise to those who grow sugar by white labour. If the present tentative legislation is allowed to expire without amendment, what will happen?
– I am in favour of an amendment.
– And so am I. But if the Act expires without an amendment, sugar, no matter how produced, will be protected to the extent of £6 per ton, and no excise will be collected. People will have the right to grow sugar by whatever labour they may find to be available, and the product will be pro- tected. I do not think that any honorable senator desires such a state of things; and I hope the seriousness of the position will receive the prompt acknowledgment of the Government when we meet next session. The present conditions are undoubtedly blocking all enterprise and expansion.
– And expansion will be prevented if the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill is not passed.
– I have heard a great deal about this Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill.
– The honorable senator must not discuss that measure.
– I shall not discuss that Bill beyond saying that however my vote may go, it cannot be secured by any system of bargaining. I should now like to refer to the letting of the mail contract to Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company without any tenders being called for. If any subsidy is justifiable, it should be for a contract which will give the very best service; and, as a matter of fact, the service which Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company offer is not nearly the best which could be secured. I have in my possession a map issued by Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company, and from this it may be seen at a glance that if we desire a direct and fast mail service to any of the places named, some other port than that of Sydney must be marie the point of departure and return; it is all a question of distance. In giving a subsidy for a mail service, the main reason which should animate us is to obtain a fast, direct and cheap service. What right have the Government to say that the mails shall be carried from the more distant pott rather than from a port nearer to the proposed destination? We have here not only a subsidy given to a company without any tendering, but also a subsidy to Sydney at the expense of other ports nearer to the islands. The map, to which I have referred, shows that the direct route from Australia to the New Hebrides is undoubtedly from either Brisbane or Rockhampton, with both of which places there is direct express railway communication with all other parts of the Commonwealth. I cannot see how, in the face of. these facts, the Government are justified in letting a contract under which the mails shall be conveyed from Sydney. We have been told that the reason is that certain reefs in the Pacific block the way. But a glance at the map shows nothing between Brisbane or Rockhampton and the islands, but a straight ocean track, over which ani vessel may travel in safety. The Constitution provides that the Commonwealth shall not discriminate, or give one State a preference over another ; and it is difficult to see how, in face of that provision, the present subsidy is justified. As to New Guinea, the service proposed is from Thursday Island, right round to Daru Island, Port Moresby, Samarai, and Woodlark Island. As the mail will have to go through Cooktown, this means 960 miles of route, whereas from Cooktown to Samarai is only, in round numbers, some 400 miles. We are thus proposing to subsidize a company to go a circuitous route, which will delay the arrival of the mails twice as long as is necessary. The people of New Guinea wanted as fast a service as possible; but the proposed arrangement will enable Burns, Philp, and Company to serve all their little trading stations at different points on the New Guinea coast and other islands. This subsidy will, further, enable Burns, Philp, and Company to freeze out all other traders, none of whom will be able to get a subsidy. There is only a certain amount of trade to be done, and, of course, Burns, Philp, and Company want as much of that trade as possible ; and by means of this subsidy they will ultimately be giver* the advantage of the monopoly. If it were desirable to subsidize this service, why were not tenders called ? Why is one firm singled out for specially favorable treatment? We have been told .that there are no other firms competent to carry out the contract. That is not so; there are other firms competent, and even if there were not at the present moment, they could very soon make themselves competent by ‘acquiring the necessary^ vessels. So far as New Guinea is concerned, Messrs. Chinn and Sons have a far better vessel than Burns, Philp, and Company ever had, and I do not see why these local traders should not have a fair show. The same remark may be made in regard ,to Messrs. Kerr Bros., of Sydney, who were prepared to tender for the New Hebrides service. It is contrary to all constitutional practice to give a contract of the kind without calling for tenders. There has been a great deal of log-rolling in connexion with this particular matter. The head of the firm, Mr. Burns, was actually in Parliament House log-rolling, and he issued an invitation indirectly to members of the Senate to meet him andi discuss the matter..
– Was that invitation not chiefly to honorable senators opposite? I had no invitation.
– I suppose there was no necessity to invite honorable senators on the Government side whose support was secure.
– I had no invitation.
– It is a dangerous remark for Senator Givens to make.
– It is not dangerous to say that Mr. Burns expressed a desire to meet honorable senators.
– There was no harm in that desire.
– Of course not. But when Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company say that they exercise no political influence, I can say, from personal experience, that they do their best to crush out of existence any person who does not act with , them politically.
– That is a mistake, surely!
– I have given my personal word for the accuracy of the statement ; and I can give honorable senators an instance in regard to myself.
– Then the firm must be “ slated.”
– I feel in no way sore, but merely give the incident as an illustration of the methods pursued by the firm to accomplish their political ends. As a resident of Cairns for a very long time, I have a particular acquaintance with the methods pursued by the firm at that place. I know how they try to stall off opposition, and break down the small competing traders ; but, to show how far the firm will carry their political spite, I may say that during the three years before I entered Parliament I was running a newspaper business in Cairns, and that, because I did not agree with the firm politically, they absolutely refused to allow the firms for which they acted as agents, and which had previously advertised with me, to continue their advertisements, although the firms lost a considerable amount as the result. For Senator Walker’s information, I may say that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company were agents for the Australasian United S.team Navigation Company, and althoughthat company Had advertised in this newspaper for a long time, their advertisements were withdrawn directly I had political difference with the firm. I may safely say, however, that the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company, like the others, thereby lost a considerable amount of money. As I said, however, I do not feel sore on account of the paltry little bit of business that was thus lost to me. But let us look at the matter from the point of view of other traders. When a small mail service, which costs £70 or £80 a year is required, tenders are called for By the Government. I have in my mind a service in Queensland, which costs £75 a year, and for this tenders are called, and a deposit has to be lodged before the contract can be secured. Why should Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company not be subject to similar conditions? I have here a letter from Messrs. Kerr Brothers, of Sydney, dated March, 1904, addressed to the Minister of External Affairs, as follows : -
Sir, - In regard to your proposal to increase present shipping subsidy to the Pacific Islands, we would like to draw your attention to the injustice done many British people there, and actual harm done to British interests by subsidizing a trading company, and thereby building up a monopoly - one British subsidized firm trading against all other British traders there. We submit that granting an increased subsidy on present lines will in no way counteract French influence in the New Hebrides. If your Government wish to help British interests there, we would suggest that you allow produce from these islands into the Commonwealth free of duty.
-Does the honorable senator approve of that suggestion?
– I do not; but that does not alter the fact that this letter has been received by the Government, and that there are views expressed’ later on which meet with my approval. The letter proceeds -
That seems a more equitable way of meeting the case than collecting duty on produce (maize, bananas), and paying it away in the form of a subsidy to a trading company. Practically, all supplies, both’ British and French, are drawn from Australia ; but when produce is sent to pay for these goods a duty is levied on it. With regard to the mail service, we would suggest that you call tenders for a direct mail service, monthly, if possible, to say, four principal ports in the New Hebrides, but restrict such service to carrying mails, passengers, and freight - a service like that carried on to the Eastern Pacific by the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand - no trading done. For the inter-island mail service to connect, a small subsidy would suffice, but you could hardly restrict trading in this case, unless you paid sufficient just to keep a vessel running on mail service alone, as there would be little assistance’ in the way of freight and! passengers. However, by ‘calling tenders you would make it as equitable as possible. In conclusion, we may state that we have been connected with trade in these islands for many years, and know the conditions there as well as any one.
Surely when a responsible firm like Kerr Brothers say that tenders should be called for, it should be done?
– Does the honorable senator know what vessels they have ?
– No; but it is not unusual for firms to enter into contracts for performing, services before they have the means at their command for carrying them out. We have no right to assume that a reputable firm, if given a contract for this mail service, would not properly and faithfully carry out its conditions. At any rate, we can secure ourselves in the event of a failure on their part. I fail to see why Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company should be given a contract over the heads of many shipping firms who might have competed for it against them, unless some overwhelmingly good reasons can be shown for the course which the Government has pursued. I shall enter another protest at a later stage against the State I represent being, overlooked to the benefit of Sydney, as it has been in this mail contract service. If a group of islands, considerably nearer to Melbourne than to Sydney, were connected by a direct mail service, for which a large subsidy was paid, with Sydney rather than with Melbourne, would there not be a loud outcry from one end of Victoria to the other at such palpable injustice? We, in Queensland, are in a similar position. A subsidy is given ostensibly as a mail subsidy, tout mainly as a trading subsidy between Sydney and the New Hebrides, and although the ports of Rockhampton and Brisbane, which are connected by a direct mail service with all other parts of Australia, are considerably nearer to the New Hebrides, and are in the direct route, with no barriersor obstacles in the way, yetwe find that they are passed over in the interests of Sydney. The Constitution is directed against any discrimination being shown. It is no part of the duty of the Commonwealth to indulge in any discrimination of that kind. As we are sent here particularly to represent and safeguard’ the interests of the States, I take it that it will be the duty of Queensland’s representatives, or, at any rate, of such of them as are free to do so, to oppose to their very utmost this very inequitable proceeding.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to .
– After consultation with the President, I have decided, unless there be any opposition to the course, to leave the clauses now, and proceed to the schedule. That appears to be the most convenient and regular method, because, if any alteration is requested in the schedule a consequential alteration can be requested in the clauses.
Clauses 2 and 3 and first schedule postponed.
Divisions 1 to 10, £29,956.
– I rise to move requests for a reduction in the salaries of the President and Chairman of Committees. I am sure that honorable senators will acquit me of any personal motive in taking this course. I have the greatest respect for the ability and impartiality of these two officers, but my opinion has always been that they have received allowances far in excess of what they should get. The President gets an official salary of £1,100, in addition to his parliamentary allowance of £400, while the Chairman gets an official salary of £500, in addition to his parliamentary allowance of £400. Now, as economy is our watchword, we have here a most excellent opportunity of making a beginning. If we can get the salary of the President re- , duced from £1,100 to £600, and the salary of the Chairman reduced from £500 to £350, they will receive £1,000 and £750 respectively. One thousand pounds a year is, I submit, ample remuneration for the President. It is as much as is paid in any State Legislature, and. in my opinion, it is more than the services rendered to the Commonwealth merit.
– But does he not hold a higher position than the President of a Legislative Council ?
– The State Legislatures dealt in a most extravagant fashion with some of their officials, and that evil example the Commonwealth has been only too ready to follow. I am sure that there is no one in the Chamber who is more anxious for the cutting down of expenditure and the lessening of taxation than Senator Gray.
– Hear, hear.
– When we come right down to particulars, where is the honorable senator ? It is all very well to prate about economy, to say that the expenditure is too large ; but when a concrete case is submitted to honorable senators we cannot get their support.
– I always like to pay a good man well.
– I, too, believe in paying a good man well, but a salary of £1,100 a year for the President is altogether out of proportion either to the importance of the position, or to the character of his duties. Last year I should have pressed the motion to a division if I had received any encouragement, but I did not. On this occasion I am determined to divide the Committee, even if I sit alone. In the first place, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “The President £1,100” by
– I hope that in spite of the very emphatic way in which Senator Stewart has announced his intention to, if necessary,, sit alone, he will not press his motion to a division. We are all agreed that economy is the order of the day, but, of course, there is a limit to the extent to which it can be pushed. We all remember the case of the man who wished to economize in the feeding of his horse. Eventually he got down to one straw a day, but the horse died.
– Surely, the honorable and learned senator does not consider that a parallel case?
– The salaries were fixed at their present rates after considerable discussion, and it is an inopportune time, I think, to press for a reduction in the middle of a Parliament.
– The salary of the President was reduced from £1,500 to £1,100.
– On that occasion the question was not one of increase, but of reduction.
– The President and the Chairman were not to get the parliamentary allowance of £400 a year.
– It was proposed that the President should get an official salary of £1,500 a year in addition to the parliamentary allowance of £400, but the Parliament decided that the total remuneration of the President should be £1,500, and that the Chairman of Committees should receive, in all;, £900. That is all I intend to say on that question. It may not be out of place for me to express my appreciation - and I think it will be shared by honorable senators - of the manner in which the Chairman has presided over our deliberations in Committee, and discharged the duties of his high office.
– I am quite as free from any personal feeling in reference to this matter as is Senator Stewart, but I intend to prevent him from having the unpleasant experience of standing alone if he calls for a division. I think that reductions ought to be made in the salaries of the President and the Chairman of Committees. In several of the States, I know of men who have had to discharge duties involving much greater anxiety and worry than are entailed in the duties of the two officers mentioned - men who have occupied positions as Ministers of the Crown, and who have worked hard by day, sometimes far into the night - and I am obliged to add occasionally even on Sundays-for very much smaller salaries than these. Some such gentlemen have been paid at the rate of £750 a year.
– I think we all admit that the amount is liberal.
– I think it is overliberal. Although I do not see any chance of bringing about an economy at present, we certainly should bring it about eventually, and as an expression of my own view I shall vote with Senator Stewart.
– While my votes in the Senate have always been recorded in the direction of economy, I do not consider that the great State which sends me here expects that the President of this august body shall receive asmaller remuneration than that which is paid by New South Wales to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. There the salary paid is £1,500 a year. The inordinate length of our sessions, during which the President is compelled to be in attendance at all hours, is in itself an ample justification for the salary paid. Let us take the past two sessions. With the exception of a couple of months for the purpose of holding the last general election, this Senate has been sitting practically ever since the beginning of May last year. I do not consider that we can possibly hope to have as President of the Senate a gentleman possessing the large constitutional attainment’s and the great experience that our President possesses if we cut down the salary in the manner proposed. We cannot expect the President of the Senate to give up the time our sittings necessitate, and to abandon practically all personal exertion in other directions, if the emolument is to be reduced. There has been no demand from any part of the Commonwealth for such a reduction. I shall feel it to be my duty, and I believe that I shall be acting in accordance with the wishes of those who sent me here, to oppose the proposed request.
– I do not feel inclined to support this reduction, mainly because the occupants of the two offices referred to accepted them knowing what the salaries were to be.
– They can resign if they are dissatisfied.
– We can all resign if we like ; but we do not. The amount of salary was, I consider, .’a bargain made for the time being with the gentlemen who hold the positions. I would point out that the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria receives £1,000 per annum, and the Chairman of Committees receives £640, including all payments. The President of the Legislative Council receives £750, and the Chairman of Committers of that House £400 a year. But the curious anomaly, when we contrast the salaries paid by the Federal Parliament with the salaries paid in the State Parliament, is that whilst the Clerk of the Parliaments for all Australia receives £900 a year, the Clerk of the Parliaments in Victoria receives £1,200 a year, and has about half the amount of work to do. So that we can hardly find a guide in Victorian rates of payment. If the salaries of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate are to be fixed at Victorian rates we should act upon the same principle in regard to the Clerk of the Parliaments, and should increase Mr. Blackmore’s salary by £300 a year. In view of the fact that many members of the Federal Parliament declare that £400 a year is an insufficient salary, and that they would vote for its increase, it is a little bit inconsistent for us to say that” the salaries of our chief officers are too high. My principal point, however, is that a bargain was made with them, and that we ought not to break it. I hope that the Committee will not interfere with those payments. Let us go on as at present until the time comes when we have to elect a new President and another Chairman of’ Committees. Then will be the time to make substantial reductions in both salaries.
– There is no possibility of Senator Stewart standing alone if he calls for a division, because at least one other honorable senator has notified his intention to vote for the motion, and I also shall be very pleased indeed to do the same. I say at once that I shall do so without any feeling against either the President or the Chairman of Committees. I think that if you, sir, were to examine your ideas as to my motives, you would acquit me at once of having any personal feeling against yourself. We hear a great deal of talk about the poorer classes of the people, and about the necessity for exercising the most stringent economy. There are many honorable senators who will vote for the retention of these salaries ; but who will- go outside and say on various platforms that the expenditure of the Federal Parliament is too high. When we come down to bed-rock, and they are asked to support their declarations by .their votes, they will not do it. The Attorney-General tells us that the time for a reduction is inopportune. That is always the argument when any economy, or any reform is proposed. We are then told “ some other time, and some other circumstances will be more appropriate, but we cannot do it now.” I have seen various attempts to reduce salaries and exactly the same argument has been trotted out. Then we are told that it will be infra dig. for this Parliament to reduce the salaries of its chief officers at the present time. If, however, we wait until the offices become vacant, we shall be told that we ought not to reduce the salaries, because that will be attempting to bind a future Parliament. We shall be powerless to effect any reduction. In looking over. the list of salaries paid, I am struck by the remarkable disproportion of the emoluments to services’ rendered. There seems to be a huge disproportion between the salaries received by some officers wh’en the value of their services is taken into account. One man’s salary is set down at .£1,500, and another’s at £400, although the services of the latter are just as much at the disposal of the country, and just as valuable as are those of the former. I hope that a sufficient number of honorable senators will prove their earnestness by voting so as to show to the people outside that some of us are sincere in our desire to effect, economies.
– I have travelled in many parts of Australia, and I have come through more than one general election, but I have never heard a single individual complain about the allowances made to the President and the Chairman of Committees of the Senate, nor about similar salaries paid in the House of Representatives. Many members of this Parliament have stated publicly that their allowances are scarcely sufficient. I hold that opinion, and am prepared to advance it again. I hope that the day will never arrive in Australia when the allowances paid to the President and the Chairman will be reduced. We have passed through the most critical period of the Commonwea1th, so far as its finances are concerned. We have reason to hope that the population will increase, and that our prosperity will be greater in proportion to the increase. If we have been able to afford these salaries in the past, and the people have not grumbled at them, we shall be in a better position to afford them in the future. I cannot see any object in a motion of this description, unless Senator Stewart is having a little diversion at the expense of the President and the Chairman. Perhaps there may be an inclination to amuse ourselves because business is not so pressing as it might be. We have wasted the morning, and Senator Stewart may imagine that we may as well waste the afternoon. If that is his opinion, we may as well know it. As for his standing alone, I am only sorry that Senator Givens and Senator Mulcahy have decided to vote with him. To impute motives to them would be improper. Of course, they have no wrong motive for what they are doing. Their term of office is not about to expire, so that they cannot be aiming at a little cheap popularity. If they were senators who would have to face the electors at the next elections, I might say that they were taking this action with a view to their being returned again. But as I cannot attribute that motive to them, I can only assume that they are” amusing themselves and the rest of us. I hope that only the economic trinity will be found voting for the reduction when the division takes place.
– I trust that this motion will not be carried. Few honorable senators can have any idea of the amount of business which the President and the Chairman of Committees have to do. I consider that the proposed economies will be in the wrong direc tion. Honorable senators opposite were some time ago strong supporters of the proposal to establish a High Court. A very large sum of money was voted for that purpose, and though I tried’ to stave off the question for some time, until the Commonwealth could better afford the expenditure, 1 got no support whatever from Senator Stewart, and other honorable senators opposite. The honorable senator now proposes to cut down the salaries of officers of Parliament on what appear .to me to be quite insufficient grounds. If we are to have officials of this Parliament, they should be properly paid.
– Is not £1,000 a year plenty ?
– I do not think that it is. The dignity of the offices held by the President and the Chairman of Committees of the Senate must be taken into account. There are other directions in which the honorable senator might more reasonably economize. I ask him to compare the salaries paid to the two officers referred to with those paid to officers in other branches of the service. What about the salary of £2,500 a year paid to the General Officer ‘ Commanding .the Military Forces of the Commonwealth?
– This is the last time that salary will be voted.
– That is the salary which has been paid up to the present time, and there are enormous perquisites in addition. I think it is wrong to attempt to belittle the Federal Parliament in this way. If we cannot afford to pay our President and Chairman of Committees a fair salary, we should shut up this Chamber. If honorable senators really desire to economize, let them cut down their speeches. The cost of Hansard would pay the salaries of the President and Chairman of Committees twice over.
– And increase the salaries of members of the Federal Parliament as well.
– I should be prepared, if honorable “senators would support me, to abolish all pay to members of the Senate. In my opinion, it is sufficient honour to represent the people in the way we do, without any emolument whatever.
– What about the honour of being President of the Senate?
– The President and Chairman of Committees of the Senate must perform the duties of their office continually, and we should pay them well. I invite honorable senators to look through the Estimates, and see what we have already done, and propose to do. Let them consider the money which has been expended on viewing the Federal Capital Sites. The money which has been spent for that purpose and on Hansard, would cover the salaries paid to the officers of Parliament for many years to come. I shall ask Senator Stewart presently to support me when I take action- in connexion with the proposed wild-cat desert railway.
– There is no railway answering that description to come before the Senate this year.
– I shall narrowly watch what Senator Stewart will do when he is. asked to vote £20,000 for the survey of that railway.
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing that question.
– I have no wish to raise that question now; but I shall watch my honorable friend’s conduct in connexion with a certain vote, and if he does not come up to scratch in that matter, I shall be prepared to deal with him. I hope that honorable senators will not make a farce of the Federal Parliament byl belittling the importance of its officers. From the President downwards, the officers of the Senate are a body) of men of whom we can be proud. If honorable senators were to propose an increase in their salaries, I should not oppose it.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- I regret very much that honorable senators have not seen fit to receive my proposal with more favour.
– The honorable senator has not yet tried a division. That is the best test.
– I may tell my honorable friend Senator Clemons that I intend to try a division. But before we come to a division, I should like to point out the position at present existing in Queensland. We have six or seven Ministers of the Crown there, who are paid ,£750 per annum each. No man can fairly coinpare the work of a Minister of the Crown in charge of a great Department in a State with that either of the President or the Chairman of Committees of the Senate. Yet in the one case we have the President receiving £1,500 - twice as much as is paid to a State Minister in Queensland, and in the other case the Chairman of Committees receiving £900 a year, or £150 more than is paid to the Minister in charge of a great Department in Queensland. One of these Queensland Ministers has said that it is simply scandalous that we should pay such salaries to our officers in the Federal Parliament. I agree with him, and repeat that it is scandalous. We are paying far more than the services rendered are worth. Honorable senators appear to me to be extremely modest. Where is the honorable senator, with one exception- and that exception is probably myself - who is not as well qualified to hold the position of President cr Chairman of Committees of the Senate is are the honorable senators now holding those positions? I ask that question without in the slightest degree under-estimating the capacity of those honorable gentlemen. Senator Zeal, I am sure, would be prepared to fill the position of ‘President for nothing, and I am equally sure we could get Senator . Fraser to act as Chairman of Committees of the Senate at the same figure. Senator McGregor has suggested that I am having a little game with the Senate, and am merely amusing myself. I do not come here to amuse myself, the members of the Senate,, or my constituents. I come here to do sound business. I would ask honorable senators before coming to a vote on this subject to consider what it is they are paying the extra £1,100 a year to the President for. I ask them to compare the two positions, the position of an honorable senator chosen by the electors of his State to represent them in the Senate of the Commonwealth, and the position of the President of the Senate, chosen by its members, to act as Chairman of the Senate. Which of the two positions is the more important ?
– The President is also elected by the people of his State.
– Which of the two positions carries with it the greater responsibility ?
– Surely that of .the elect of the elect.
– I am satisfied that of the two positions the more important and responsible is not that of the President of the Senate, but that of a member of this august body. Some one has called it an “ august “ body. I do not exactly know the meaning of “ august,” as used in 13 e this connexion, but probably it is like the word “ Mesopotamia,” very comforting to some people. I, therefore, take the liberty of using it, and I say that of the two positions it appears to me that the position of a member of the Senate representing the people of a State isthe more important. I need only refer honorable senators to Senator Neild, who comes into this Chamber like a flaring comet with a tail of 194,000 or1 98,000 votes behind him. Is not that honorable senator’s position of greater importance than is that of the President of the Senate ? When we come to consider the duties, I say that the duties of the President of the Senate are–
– Are honorary.
– Honorary. Well, no; not honorary, . but mainly of an honorary character, for the reason that a large proportion of the members of the Senate are honorable gentlemen who have had previous parliamentary experience, and who are, therefore, amenable to the Standing Orders. Another reason is that we are all, I think, respectable, peaceable persons, who conduct our debates with decorum. That being the case, I think the duties of President and Chairman of Committees of the Senate are of an eminently easy character, and that in paying them £1,100 a year and £500 a year respectively, we are paying just a little too much for our whistle. I trust the majority of honorable senators will support me in this proposal.
– I am very glad to hear that Senator Stewart proposes to put this question to a vote. I hope that there will be no reduction moved which will not be carried to a division. IfI move any reduction on the Estimates, I shall divide the Committee on my proposal. ‘ I shall not move a reduction for fun, and if one thinks that a vote is extravagant he should be prepared to take the opinion of the Committee on the matter. I shall vote against the amendment moved by Senator Stewart, though I am under the impression that the salaries paid to the President and Chairman of Committees of the Senate should represent the total remuneration received by those officers. If Senator Stewart is prepared to submit a motion next year, or to introduce a Bill to provide that the salary set down in the Estimates for the President and Chairman of Committees shall be inclusive of . their allowance as members of the Senate, I shall be prepared to vote with him. We have been invited to consider the salaries paid by the States Parliaments, and we have been told that Ministers in Queensland are opposed to the large salaries which are voted here. On the authority of Senator Stewart, we are told that one Queensland Minister has stated that the salaries being paid here to officials are scandalous. It should not be forgotten that the salary of the Speaker of the Queensland Legislative Assembly was £1,000 a year, and it was only under a special Retrenchment Act that the salaries of Queensland Ministers, the Speaker, and members of the Legislative Assembly in that State were reduced. But for the necessity for special retrenchment forced upon the Queensland Parliament, through the exigencies of the State Treasury, those salaries would not have been reduced.
– The Clerk of the Queensland Legislative Assembly gets £900 a year.
– I should like to remind Senator Stewart that in all probability theQueensland Minister who made the statement to which he has referred takes exception to the salary which is being paid to honorable senators at the present time, because it is higher than that paid to members of the Legislative Assembly in Queensland. I am perfectly satisfied that the same honorable gentleman takes an equally determined stand in objection to the allowances made to Senator Stewart and other honorable senators. When I was before the electors last year, I had not previously been a member of the Senate, and I toldthem, when the question of salaries came up, that, while I had no experience on the subject, I believed that the salary attached to the position was not too high. I have since had some experience of it, and I am satisfied now that it is not too high. I am one of those who would be prepared to vote for an increase of that salary. I should like to know whether Senator Stewart and other honorable senators who are crying out for economy, are not prepared to vote, as I am, for an increase of their own salaries, although they are content to exercise economy by reducing the salaries of members of the Senate who have been chosen to occupy responsible positions? That is the position I take up, and I think it fair to view the matter from that standpoint.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ The
President, £1,100,” by £500 - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).I observe that while the door-keeper and housekeeper of the Senate receives £235 per annum, the officer occupying a similar position in the House of Representatives receives £245. I understand that last session a rule was laid down that similar officers should receive similar salaries, and I should like to know the reason for this departure.
– I can explain the reason for the difference. When the first Estimates were submitted to the Parliament, the Treasurer, being a Victorian ex-Treasurer, based them very much on those of the Victorian Parliament. In Victoria, the Housekeeper of the Legislative Assembly had a very much larger salary than had the Housekeeper of the Legislative Council, but the Joint Committee of the Federal Parliament decided that this anomaly should cease, and that both housekeepers should be similarly paid. It was agreed, however, that the salaries should not be made equal all at once, but that the salary of the Housekeeper of the Senate should be gradually increased ; and hence the difference.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).The explanation is hardly satisfactory, for the reason that last year both officers received £235. What has really happened is that the Housekeeper of the House of Representatives received an increase of £10.
– Perhaps I may supplement what the President has been good enough to say. The Housekeeper in the House of Representatives received his increase in salary by a special Order in Council, under which he was appointed, and he will reach his maximum salary when he receives £250. This is an exceptional increase.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I desire to move that reductions be made in the salaries of the Clerk of the Parliaments, Clerk Assistant, and Paying Officer, Usher of the Black Rod, and Clerk of the Papers and Accountant, who are, I think, paid more than they are entitled to, considering the services rendered. I move, in the first place -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reducethe item “ Clerk of the Parliaments, £900,” by£150.
I think that £750 is quite sufficient to pay the Clerk. We must remember that we are living in times when the vast body of taxpayers are in very poor circumstances.
– Will the honorable senator move a similar reduction in the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives ?
– I should do so, but what would be the good? I find that honorable senators resort to any argument to evade the straight issue - they ask me to do anything under heaven except that which I am doing now. I am prepared, when the House of Representatives comes under review, to move an exactly similar reduction.
– Is that not the particular business of the House of Representatives ?
– I think we have just as much power over the salaries paid in the House of Representatives as we have over the salaries paid in the Senate. Senator Turley, in speaking on the previous amendment I submitted, asked me whether I was willing, in proposing a reduction in the President’s salary, to propose a reduction in my own salary as senator.
– I asked the honorable senator whether he was prepared to vote for an increase in his salary.
– That is a very cheap sort of sentiment to utter. Honorable senators know perfectly well that if a motion for an increase of honorable senators’ salaries was brought forward this afternoon, I should vote for it. And I should do so for exactly the same reason that I support a reduction in the salaries of the President, the Chairman of Committees, and other officials, namely, to make the salaries commensurate with the services. I do not care about entering into personal particulars; but, in my opinion, honorable senators are the worst paid officials in the Commonwealth. There is not an honorable senator, with, perhaps one or two exceptions, who is not compelled to disburse a very considerable sum in order to get returned. When he becomes a member of this Chamber, he has to contribute in various directions so as to keep the good-will of his constituents ; and after his period of office expires, if he wishes to come back, he has to spend further sums. In addition to all this, if he does his duty as the Commonwealth expects him to do, he has to spend largely in travelling up and down his constituency during the recess.
– And throughout the Commonwealth in order to get an idea of the condition of the other States.
– That is so, in order that he may be able to assist in legislating for the Commonwealth. When we compare the position of honorable senators with the position of the officials, who are tied down to one particular spot, and have none of the expenses to which I have referred, we can only come to the conclusion that we are underpaid. That opinion I have always expressed, and I believe that senators are underpaid very largely because a considerable number of the officials are overpaid. There is not sufficient money to pay every one an extravagant salary, and, that being the case, some one is bound to suffer. I am trying to be guided by the principles of equity. The labourer is worthy of his hire, in whatever capacity he is placed. Comparing our salaries with those paid in other States, they are too high. Of course, we need not trouble about Victoria, where they have been in the habit of paying high officials very lavishly, and of sweating their minor officials.
– Nothing of the kind.
– It is the custom now. They pay Sir George Jenkins, I believe, £1,200 a year as a sort of ornamental Clerk of the Parliaments.
– Sir George Jenkins cannot say anything here, and as it is not relevant to the question why introduce his name ?
– The honorable senator is here so seldom that he does not know what takes place. Is he aware that one Victorian senator advanced as a reason why high salaries should be paid that £1,200 a year was paid to the Clerk of the Victorian Parliaments. I consider that these salaries are extravagant, and I propose to test the feeling of the Committee, but if I should be defeated I shall come to the conclusion that my brand of economy is not appreciated, and I shall not call for another division.
– The Kyabram brand.
– I am not a Kyabramite. I believe in paying every one handsomely, according to the position he fills, but I do not believe in over-paying or under-paying. I hold that £750 a year would be a handsome payment for the position of Clerk of the Parliaments.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Clerk of the Parliaments £900,” by £150 - put.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I am not satisfied with the AttorneyGeneral’s explanation as to the increase in the salary of the Housekeeper of the House of Representatives, and therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Housekeeper£245 “ by £10.
My object in moving this request is to enforce the understanding that the officers of the Senate should receive the same rate of salary as the officers of another place doing corresponding work. I know it will be argued that the other House sits longer than we do, but it must be remembered that it has more officers, and that the work is shared among them. If this increase be allowed to the Housekeeper on the other side, we shall be asked next year to increase the salary of the corresponding officer on this side. I do not propose to speak any longer, because it is not a very important point, but I hold that the salaries of corresponding officers in the Houses should be kept at the same amount.
– I ask my honorable friend not to press this request, because, as he has very properly said, it is a very small matter which is involved.
– There is a big matter of principle involved though. Why differentiate in this way between the two officers ?
– I have no such desire, and I do not think that this increase would have that effect. I fancy that the other House would not very readily agree with the request. It would be a pity to send clown a request on what’ Senator Pearce has said is a small matter.
– Why do they treat the two officers differently ?
– I expect that the other House would take the same attitude as the Senate did last year and the year before, when it resented very strongly any interference by the other House with the remuneration which had been recommended for its officers. The other House has said that a salary of £245 is what ought to be paid to this officer, and if we were to send down this request I should be very much surprised if they did not take the same attitude as we should justly take if an attempt were made to interfere with the salary recommended for an officer of the Senate.
– Cannot the honorable and learned senator see that we have no power to suggest an increase in the salary of our Housekeeper.
– I see that, and we are not suggesting an increase.
– But we should.
– Surely it may be pointed out that it is proposed to ask for a reduction in a salary which the other House has said is a proper one to be paid to its Housekeeper.
– Why do they not say that it is a proper salary to be paid to the Senate’s Housekeeper?
– We cannot propose an increase to our Housekeeper. Not only has this £245 been declared by the other House to be adequate for this servant, but the increase of£10 is an automatic one under the contract under which he was appointed. By making this reduction we should be repudiating the bargain made with the officer, which I may say involves a further increase of £5 next year, when he will have got to the maximum to which he is entitled.
– During the last year or two all the States Parliaments have had to repudiate in that way.
– If there is an over-riding reason for retrenchment all round, for what has been very properly called, and what is in certain cases, repudiation, it is all right; but I do not think that we should single out an officer who accepted his appointment on certain terms which are set forth in an Order in Council. The other House has carried out the bargain by voting an increase of £10 this year. It would justly feel, I think, that we were going out of our way if we were to ask for a reduction of the salary by that sum. Next year the salary of the Housekeeper for the Senate can be considered with a view to putting his office, if necessary, on the same footing as the other. I sympathize with my honorable friend in regard to our officer. I do not wish to discuss the point as to the number of officers on each side, but I do hold to some extent the view which Senators Stewart, Givens, and Mulcahy have given utterance to, namely, that in some respects the Senate does not require the same amount of service.
– It does not get the same amount of service.
– In some respects I think we are overmanned. But I would rather not discuss that at all. Personally, if the matter depended upon me alone, I should be glad to make an increase in the salary of this officer. But we are not voting money out of our individual pockets. We are acting as trustees for the public taxpayer. I am one of those who think that the dignity of the Senate is not to be maintained by any rivalry as to the maintenance of the expenditure for this Chamber on the same level as that for the House of Representatives. It is not worthy of the Senate to claim that our officers should necessarily be paid on the same scale as the officers of the other Souse. If that attitude is to be taken up, I may point out that there are other lines to which the House of Representatives might take exception. I find, for instance, ‘ that the travelling expenses in connexion with the Senate are set down at £6o, as against an appropriation of ,£50 last year, and an expenditure of £60; whereas the travelling expenses for the House of Representatives are only £25. If we were to insist upon absolute equality, the other House might object to that. I wish it to be understood that my sympathies are entirely with the particular officer concerned. I think he is an excellent officer. But if we send down a request of this character, we shall lay ourselves open to the imputation that we are interfering with a matter with which we have no direct concern.
– I regret these discussions on the Estimates in connexion with individual salaries. They have led to allegations that our officers are overpaid. Those statements may be correct, but, if so, it is not appropriate that we should discuss them in connexion with a measure like this. If it is generally considered that our expenditure is too extravagant, the whole subject should be reviewed at a time and under conditions when it can be completely and thoroughly discussed. To discuss individual salaries on the Estimates never leads to anything except loss of time. If an injustice is being done to the taxpayer, as would be the case if our salaries were too high, the proper way to remedy it would be for notice to be given that a particular item was going to be challenged, so that we might discuss it with all the information before us, and arrive at a satisfactory determination. Senator Stewart is an old parliamentarian, and his experience will teach him that motions of this character on the Estimates never lead to anything, except, perhaps, that occasionally the attention of the Government is directed to an anomaly that may subsequently be” removed. I do not say for a moment that I agree that our officers are too highly paid, but I admit that it is an important question, well worthy of discussion. I urge, however, that it is not competent for us to discuss that question completely and satisfactorily at the present moment.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I do not think that the honorable senator who brought this matter under the notice of the Committee really desires that the salary referred to should be reduced. But the point is that an officer of equal standing, and even longer service, on the Senate side of the building, is not being similarly treated. The Joint House Committee arranged that the salaries of the two housekeepers should be on the same footing. But we find that the salary on one side of the building has been increased by £10 after that decision was arrived at. It is therefore urged that the officer occupying a similar position on the Senate side should be placed upon an equal footing.
– It was not the House of Representatives that increased the salary ; the increase was made automatically.
– I understand that, but the increase does not carr)’ out the understanding that was arrived at some time ago. I am not arguing with respect to principle, but as to the facts. When we find that there is a violation of an understanding of this sort, this is the proper place to allude to it. The AttorneyGeneral has said that the Senate requires less attendance than does the House of Representatives, but he ought to know that we! have fewer attendants on this side. There is no more proper occasion for ventilating such a matter than when the Appropriation Bill is before us. The honorable senator who called attention to the matter did so with a view to prevent an injustice being done, and with the hope, I suppose, that some remedy would be effected on a future occasion.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I see that there is an appropriation of £5 50 for “Office-cleaners, including service for Hansard Department.” I should like to know how many of these office-cleaners’ there are, how they are employed, and what they are paid?
– I am not able to give the honorable senator that’ information at present, but I will supply it to him to-morrow. I cannot tell the number of casual office-cleaners.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland).- What is the meaning of the vote, “ Supply of newspapers, £35 “ ? Is that for the Library ?
– No; these are newspapers supplied to the club- room and other rooms used by members of Parliament. The expenditure is not for Library copies.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- I see that the sum of £999 was expended last year on books, book-binding, including insurance against fire, and I should like to know what was the actual sum spent on new books. I wish to know also whether these new books are the property of the Federal Parliament, or are to be left in the State Library when the Federal Parliament is moved to the Federal Capital ?
– The books purchased from the vote passed by the Commonwealth Parliament are the property of the Commonwealth. They represent the gradual formation of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Library.
– Except such as may be purchased to replace books belonging to the State library.
– Of course; and so also with bindings. We are under obligations to the State Parliament of Victoria in that respect, but we are establishing a Commonwealth library, and have been doing so since the inauguration of the Federal Parliament. I am unable to inform the honorable senator what proportion of the £999 spent last year was expended on new books, but if the honorable senator desires it, I shall obtain the information for him.
– What is the “ temporary assistance “ for which a vote is asked ?
– The honorable senator is aware that there is a very great deal of labour thrown on the librarian and his regular assistants, especially during the parliamentary session, because they must be in attendance while each House is sitting.
– And while each Parliament is sitting.
– That is so. Temporary assistance is often necessary to see that the books are properly catalogued, are put in their proper places, and are properly cared for.
– Is this temporary assistance required only during the session?
– It is chiefly required during the session, but at other times temporary assistance is required in cataloguing, arranging, and keeping the books in order.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I should like to ask the Attorney-General who is the Controller of the Refreshmentrooms, to whom, I notice, an allowance of £50 is made?
– The controller of the refreshment-rooms is the Usher of the Black Rod, Mr. Upward. As Usher of the Black Rod and Clerkof Select Committees of the Senate, he receives a salary of £550 a year. This vote of £50, to which the honorable senator refers, is an allowance paid for his special services in connexion with the joint House Committee.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I consider that this practice of putting a stated salary for an official in one place in the Estimates, and giving him an allowance in quite another place in the Estimates, is highly objectionable, because, under it, one can never know how much an officer is really getting, without searching the Estimates through. Further than that, I consider . that £550 a year, the salary drawn by this officer, is a very fair allowance, indeed, for the services he performs. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “ Allowance to Controller
I do so, because I consider the practice to which I have referred very objectionable, and, further, because I consider the £550 paid to this officer as Usher of the Black Rod, is decent remuneration for the total amount of work he performs. The officer himself is a gentleman for whom I have a very high regard, and my action in moving this reduction should not be viewed as in any way personal to him. It is only a sense of duty which would induce me to move any reduction in this gentleman’s salary, but I hope the Committee will agree with me that this is a legitimate item on which we might practice economy.
– I remind Senator Givens that this officer does not receive his salary of £550 for his work as Controller of the Refreshment Rooms. That is the salary paid to him as Usher of the Black Rod, Clerk of Select Committees . of the Senate, and Secretary to the Joint House Committee. This £50 is the remuneration paid to him for services, the duties of which are carried out on behalf of both Houses.
– Very onerous services?
– I do not know that my honorable friend would care to perform them for £50 a year. This officer, in this capacity, is subject to all the complaints which people might make who get something which disagrees with them in the refreshment rooms. If they suffer from indigestion they are apt to visit it upon the Controller. The honorable senator will agree that it is better that we should vote the remuneration in this way as an allowance of £50, which might be varied in different years, rather than vote a fixed salary for an office of this description, as we are all aware how efficient this officer is in the discharge of his duties, and the advantage which his supervision secures for the Parliament in respect of the services mentioned, and the expenditure in connexion with the refreshment rooms. I hope that Senator Givens will not consider it necessary to press his amendment.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “ Allowance to Controller £50 “ - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- I notice a vote of £100 “ For the purchase of a bust of the first Governor-General.” Where is that bust?
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - I see there is an item for postage. Is postage paid by the Department, or does it go free ?
Department of External Affairs.
Divisions11 to 14a, £45,477.
– This Department spends annually a considerable sum of money, and we ought to have a report of the business done so that we may be in a position to judge whether it is worth the expenditure. I hope the Government will take a note, and see that honorable senators are provided with official informa tion on the point next session.
– I shall make a note of the point.
– I desire to call attention to what appears to me to be a somewhat curious state of affairs in connexion with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. I have not gone into the matter exhaustively, but I have stumbled on one case which leads me to suspect that the administration is becoming somewhat lax. Some time ago a man named Fatta Mahommed deserted from the Peninsular and’ Oriental steamer Egypt, at Sydney, and, in consequence, the captain was fined £15 under the Immigration Restriction Act. On behalf of the Peninsular and OrientalCompany, a warrant’ was issued, charging this man with desertion, and he was arrested in Gippsland, where, I believe, he was found working on a farm. When the case came on for hearing in Melbourne, a telegram was produced from the Inspector-General of Police stating that the Peninsular and Oriental Company declined to take any action, as the desertion could not be proved. That is the first curious point in connexion with the business. It has been proved that the man deserted in Sydney, the captain having been fined £15, because he had allowed this man to go ashore; but the charge of desertion was abandoned, as I have indicated. But the funny part of the business has to come. The matter was reported to the Department of External Affairs by an officer of the Victorian , Police Force, who asked whether it was proposed to institute proceedings under the Immigration Restriction Act; but that officer, at the same time, reported that the man had been a resident in Australia for fifteen years. If that were so, the man could not be a prohibited immigrant, seeing that he had been formerly domiciled in Australia, and, consequently, any legal steps may be resultless. Under all the circumstances, I want to know, in the first place, whether the fine of £15 has been refunded to the captain or tothe Peninsular and Oriental Company, because, on the information given by the police, the fine was undoubtedly illegal. In the second place, I wish to know what evidence the Victorian police produced in support of the statement that this man had lived in Victoria for fifteen years? So far as I can gather from the documents in my possession, the mere statement of the Victorian police was deemed sufficient by the Department of External Affairs; and this indicates to me that the administration of the Act is becoming somewhat lax. We all know that if any leakage is permitted in this connexion, it will be possible to render nugatory, in a very great measure, the result sought to be achieved by the passing of the Act. I shall be glad to hear what the Attorney-General has to say on the subject, and I hope he has some reasonable explanation to offer.
- Senator Stewart takes this opportunity to offer a criticism of what he describes as the lax method of administration under the Immigration Restriction Act.
– Is that not a legitimate thing to do?
– Perfectly, and I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the criticism. But it seems to me that the instance which Senator Stewart gives shows, not defective or lax administration, but the very opposite. The remarks of the honorable senator show that when a mistake was made - as may readily occur in dealing with coloured races under the circumstances - the police and the Government, on obtaining correct information, applied a remedy as soon as possible. As Senator Stewart says, this man was allowed to be landed, and as he was supposed to be one of those aimed at by the Immigration Restriction Act, proceedings were promptly taken against the Peninsular and Oriental Company, with the result that the captain was fined. The steamer then went away with the captain, but in the meantime proceedings had been taken by the Peninsular and Oriental Company against this man for desertion. Those proceedings, however, were abandoned, and it was discovered by the authorities that this man, instead of being a prohibited immigrant, was as much entitled to land in Australia as would be Senator Stewart or myself. This man, it appears, had been domiciled in Australia for fifteen years.
– What evidence was there of that?
- Senator Stewart will not ask me to go into details ; but I know there was perfect evidence to that effect. In the case of the captain, the facts had not been completely investigated. What was the duty of the authorities? To at once refund the fine.
– Has that been done?
– Yes; so that I am able to fully answer Senator
Stewart, and show what appears to me to have been a very satisfactory result.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I am sorry to say that the explanation of the Attorney-General is not at all sufficient from my point of view. Instead of this case proving that the Department is extremely active in administering the Act-
– And careful.
– I am sure that Senator Symon sees1 the issue as clearly as, if not more clearly than I do. This man deserted from his ship, and, in consequence, the captain was fined £15. Under the Immigration Restriction Act, the man ought to have been immediately placed under arrest, and dealt with as a prohibited person.
– But did the authorities have the “man ?
– No; and that is where I .blame the administration of the Act as defective.
– “ First catch your hare.”
– The authorities did not know where the man was, and, I believe, that it was only by pure accident that they stumbled on, him when he was working on a farm in Gippsland. But it was then found, according to the police information, that he had been fifteen years in Australia, and, consequently, did not come under the Act. I am compelled to the conclusion that the officers administering the Act were not in this case as watchful as they ought to have been. The Department should issue instructions for greater care to be exercised in the future.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General if any arrangement has been made between the States Governments and the Federal Government in order to carry out paragraph e of section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act. The provision reads -
Any person who has, within three years, been convicted of an offence not being a mere political offence, and has been sentenced to imprisonment for one year or longer therefor, and has not received a pardon.
Within the last six months two very heinous offences have been committed by Chinamen on young girls at Bendigo. The offences are of such a revolting character that I could not relate the circumstances here. But speaking from memory, the sentences passed on the criminals were for longer terms than twelve months. I am sure that every person in the Commonwealth would be glad to see it rid of such undesirable characters. Here is a’ law which would enable the Commonwealth to get rid of such criminals. But it seems that the Commonwealth can do nothing in that direction unless the States Governmentsnotify them that these criminals havereceived such a sentence. I desire to ascertain if any record is kept, and, if not, will’ the Federal Government ask each State Government to notify them whenever an Asiatic is sentenced to a longer term of imprisonment than twelve months, especially for such horrible offences. I also desire toknow whether the Attorney-General is in a position to furnish the Senate with a precis’ of the correspondence between the GovernorGeneral and the Viceroy and GovernorGeneral of India, relating to the admission of Indian merchants and others under exemption certificates. I hope that it will be furnished quickly, otherwisewe shall have no opportunity of discussing the terms on which these persons are admitted.
– It was suggested just now, that the Department of External Affairs should furnish a report. That is a most excellent suggestion. We get to know extremely little of what it is doing. It has so very little to do that, apparently, it finds itself obliged to no a great deal which is unnecessary. It appears that either Mr. Deakinor his Ministry became inspired with the insane idea that the members of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth should be labelled “ Honorable.” I am perfectly unaware of any demand having been made for that title by the members of the first Parliament.
– But there is no charge for that in these Estimates?
– No; but it is one of the things which have been done by the Department, and about which we have received no information. Apparently an application was made for this label, without the. least demand on the part of the members of the first Parliament.
– It is not in use.
-I am very glad to hear that it is not in use.
– But the honorable senator uses it.
– I am not aware of it.
– The honorable senator has not rejected it. Has he sent a memorandum to say that he repudiates it ?
– The honorable senator has it, as well as the rest of us.
– I am dealing with the question as it stands. The most extraordinarything is that, whereas every other person in Australia who is entitled by virtue of his office to use the title of “ Honorable “ may use it throughout the British dominions, we alone are singled out as persons who may only use the title in Australia.
– The honorable senator is mistaken there. The members of our Legislative Council are entitled to use the title of “ Honorable,” but they cannot use it outside the limits of the State.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. I have taken care to look up this matter. There is a despatch dated, I think, in 1894, which entitles any member of a Legislative Council- -
– To use the title after ten years’ service.
– Senator Playford may not be aware of the terms of the despatch, but he may take it from me that it is a fact that any member of a Legislative Council, while he enjoys the title in Australia, is entitled to use it in any part of His Majesty’s dominions. I did not ask for this title - I do not desire it. It is putting a slur on the members of the first Federal Parliament that any restriction should be prescribed in reference to a title which does not apply to any other persons in Australia. It is applying to the members of the first Federal Parliament a distinct limitation of an honour which does not apply to any other persons in Australia using the same title.
– There are many men in Australia who cannot use the title of “ Honorable “ outside its boundary.
– The honorable senator is mistaken, I think.
– I am not certain, but I think I am right.
– I have taken some trouble to look up this matter. We, as members of the first Federal Parliament, have precedence over Legislative Councillors, and yet we have been given this inferior title. Some steps ought to be taken either to decline the honour, or to have the members of the Federal Parliament put on an equality with the members of a State Legislature. That is essential if we have any consideration for our own dignity. It would have been as well if no demandhad ever been made to get this honour from a Government which was evidently reluctant to give it. But that has been done, and now the proper thingto do is to rectify the wrong, and to put us in such a position that we shall be entitled once again to enjoy our self-respect.
– I think that my honorable friend would have been consulting the dignity of the Senate and of the Parliament if he had not discussed this subject at all, because his objection seems to be that he has not got enough.
– My honorable friend’s objection isthat when he goes to England he cannot flourish this title about. He must leave it behind him in the waste-paper basket. He says that members of the first Federal Parliament are in an inferior position in having this distinction given to them. Surely, if he does not like the title, he can disclaim it.
– I am Chinking of the dignity of the Senate; I am not speaking from a personal point of view at all.
– My honorable friend’s dignity is part of the dignity of the Senate, and he certainly does not speak for other senators in this regard. It is a reflection on his fellow senators for the honorable senator to say that they are wearing a distinction which he calls first a label and then a title. If he thinks that his own dignity as a senator is wounded he should write a respectful and courteous letter to the Colonial Secretary, and say he does not wish to wear the distinction, but I find that he has raised no protest.
– It was not the use of the title to which I alluded, but its acceptance by the Ministry.
– I really am unable to follow my honorable friend in his diatribes against this distinction, because I find his name appearing in the list of members of the Senate every week in Hansard as the “ Honorable Alexander Perceval Matheson.”
– I am not responsible for that.
– I think my honorable friend ought to be.
– I am no more responsible for that than I am when Hansard makes me refer to the Attorney-General as “ the honorable and learned senator.” I never apply to him that term. It is used by the Hansard reporter as a matter of politeness.
– The honorable senator has applied that phrase to me as he did in his speech on the Defence Bill, but he forgets one day what he said the previous day. I am perfectly certain that when he referred to me as the “honorable and learned senator “~ he was genuine, and was not indulging in airy persiflage.
– I said it is used as a matter of politeness by the reporter.
– My honorable friend is the embodiment of politeness. If he does not wish this inferior title or this label affixed to him he can always get rid of it.
– I discussed the principle, but the honorable senator is introducing this very, personal element.
– As my honorable friend has made his speech, can he not allow me to say a word without being heated and vehement about so paltry a matter?
– The honorable and learned’ senator is putting into my mouth words I never uttered. I was speaking, not from a personal stand-point, but about a principle.
– There is no principle involved. But if my honorable friend does not want the title, he can reject it. It would be a very maladroit thing for a Government, on behalf of all Members of Parliament, .to repudiate to the Imperial Government this distinction - whether it is inferior or superior is not the question - simply because my honorable friend thinks that we ought .to have the right to use it outside Australia. There is not much in it, and I hope he will see that it is not worth while bothering about. In reply to Senator Pearce, I wish to say that paragraph e of section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act applies not to the persons to whom he referred”, but to persons who have been convicted outside the Commonwealth, and who are sought to be introduced within our borders. The method which is adopted by the authorities is to make a captain declare that there are no persons of that sort amongst those who are . brought to our shores in his ships, and who are sought to be landed. If offences are ‘ committed by persons already domiciled in the .Commonwealth, they cannot be expelled 1 because of those offences. My honorable 1 friend also referred to a precis of the correspondence relating to the landing of Indian merchants under exemption certificates. I laid the papers upon the table of the Senate on the 8th December, and they show that the correspondence was initiated by the late Government.
– I overlooked the fact that the papers had been tabled.
– I wish to say that when it was announced that the title of “ Honorable” had been conferred upon the Members of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, but that it was only to be for use in Australia, I wrote at once to the Department of External Affairs, saying that if the use of the title were to be so limited, I should prefer to be relieved of it. I received a reply from Mr. Hughes, Minister of External Affairs, saying that he would communicate my statement to the proper quarters.
– There seems to have been some misunderstanding, and I should like to say that I agree with Senator Matheson as to his view. I do not see, personally, why there should be any limitation. I do not want to have any misunderstanding about the matter.
– All the AttorneyGeneral was concerned about was to make fun of me.
– The honorable senator need not be so peppery about it.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I have just now, for the first time, been able to see the correspondence to which reference has been made. The fault is mine, because it was laid upon the table some time ago. I have to express my intense surprise at its contents. Although its emanates from a Government from which other things might have been expected, as it involves the entire negation of, and an absolute departure from, the Immigration Restriction Act, that is not going to deter me from criticising it. I have a duty not only to the party to which I belong, but to the people whom I represent. I have pledged- myself to do my best to prevent the influx of coloured races into Australia. The first letter is from the Prime Minister, Mr. Watson, to the Governor-General, and is dated 15th August, 1904. It is as follows: -
My Lord, ‘ 4
I have the honour, at the instance of my colleague, the Minister of State for External Affairs, to inform your Excellency that he has had under consideration the question of so administering the Immigration Restriction Act as to afford an opportunity for Indian merchants, students, and tourist travellers to enter the Commonwealth temporarily without being subjected to any restrictions.
The next letter is from the Viceroy and Governor-General of India to His Excellency the Governor-General of Australia. It is as follows : -
The Government of India have received with much pleasure the intimation conveyed in your Excellency’s letter of 18th August, 1904, that the Government of the ‘Australian Commonwealth have decided to so far relax the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act as to permit Indian merchants, students, and tourist travellers to visit Australia under passports granted by the Indian Government. I have the honour to ask you to convey to your Ministers our cordial acknowledgments for ‘this valuable concession, and for the sympathy it evinces with the wishes and feelings of the people of India. We cordially concur with your Ministers in hoping that this exemption of the educated classes of Indians from the restrictions imposed on ordinary immigration will result in more frequent intercourse, and in an improvement of trade relations, to the mutual advantage of both countries.
In accordance with the suggestion made 111 paragraph 4 of your letter, the necessary steps have been taken to make known throughout India the relaxation of the present regulations tonceded by the Commonwealth Government, and instructions have been issued with the object of securing that the privilege is granted only to those to whom it is intended to apply. We have arranged to bring the regulations for the grant of passports into effect from 22nd October.
Your Excellency’s recent participation in the government of India must make it no less gratifying to you than it is to me to have been the means of communicating :o our Indian fellow subjects this evidence of regard for their interests felt by the Australian people.
There is attached a form which contains the requisite particulars which the intending immigrant has to supply. They are -
Name and father’s name (in English or vernacular); caste or clan; residence (a) town or village; (b) district or State; profession or business; age; distinctive marks (for male travellers only) ; purpose of visit (to bc given in full detail) ; probable duration of visit; port of embarkation; members of the applicant’s family accompanying him, and to be included in the passport; (a) names; (*) ages; (3) relationship.
These particulars have to be indorsed by a magistrate or political officer. I think it is a most singular action for any Government in Australia to take without consulting Parliament.
– A splendid action.
– That is a matter of opinion. It seems to me to be an extraordinary reversal of the policy of our Immigration Restriction Act, and it should not have been taken by any Government without consulting Parliament. If the session were not so near to its close, I should certainly table a motion expressing the opinion of Parliament that the action of the late Government should be reversed.
– The honorable senator would not succeed.
– I should succeed, unless this Parliament has altered its opinion with regard to the Immigration Restriction Act.
– That would be a vote of censure on the late Government.
– I do not care whether it be a vote of censure on all the Governments that ever existed. I am not going to alter my opinion on this subject. We have to remember that the class whom it is proposed to admit is the very trading class to which the people of Australia object. They are often called Afghans, but as a matter of fact they are Sikhs under the Indian Government. These hawkers are the very people who have been most strenuously objected to.
– This relaxation does not admit them.
– Certainly it does. Are they not merchants?
– They could not come here and hawk under this exemption.
– They could come as merchants. They have not even to apply to our Government to vise their passports. It is the Indian Government that has to do that.
– Cannot the honorable senator trust the Indian Government ?
– No, I cannot trust them in this matter, because the Indian Government do not take the view that I take of the ‘immigration of coloured people. They are not concerned with keeping Australia white. They ‘ are concerned with a black country, and quite naturally they are friendly towards the natives. So indeed they ought to be. But our desire is to keep the black races out of Australia. In that policy we have not the sympathy of the Indian Government.
– Surely the honorable senator would allow an educated Indian gentleman to travel and see the place, or an Indian merchant to have a look round and <buy our produce.
– The honorable senator knows that it was not necessary to have any relaxation of the Immigration Restriction Act to allow that to be done. The Act itself provides for exemptions in such cases. I have it before me. Paragraph h of section 3 exempts the following persons, amongst others : -
Any person possessed of a certificate of exemption in force, for the time being, in the form i i the schedule, signed by the Minister or by any officer appointed under this Act, whether within or without the Commonwealth.
Then section 4 provides that -
A certificate of exemption shall be expressed to be in force for a specified period only, and may at any time be cancelled by the Minister by writing under his hand.
– That is only to facilitate the working of the Act.
– I think it goes a long way further than that. Some time ago an Indian prince visited the Common wealth, and travelled under that exemption. Merchants have also been here.
– They would come under paragraph I.
– Not necessarily. A number of ‘exemption certificates have been issued. To my knowledge, several Indian merchants have travelled in Australia under that provision. Some time ago questions were asked as to a certain Indian merchant who was travelling with his son. Is it not a matter of fact that Ministers have freely availed themselves of this power to issue certificates of exemption to Indian merchants? They have done it before, and would do it again. But now they have handed that power over to the Indian Government. That is what I object to. While the power was held by the Commonwealth Government it could be safeguarded, but now it has been handed over to a Government that is not in sympathy with our White Australia policy.
– Surely that is carrying the White Australia policy to an inordinate length.
– I am concerned to have it carried out to the full length that is necessary to secure a White Australia.
– Would not the honorable senator allow a traveller to come here?
– Certainly ; and he could come under the provisions of the Act. But the exemption now allowed is too wide altogether, because it allows the Indian Government to let in a class that has been most objectionable - the Sikh hawkers, who go about frightening women in remote parts of the country.
– Oh, no.
– Senator McGregor himself told us some time ago that this was the class that was objected to.
– Certainly ; but that is not the class that is to be allowed to come.
– The honorable, senator told us how these Sikhs appeared at remote farm-houses striking terror into the women and children. Thev were merchants from India,
– The merchants are very different people.
– The hawkers belong to the merchant caste. We know that trades in India are run by castes; and whether a man peddles with his pack, or runs a wholesale warehouse, he is of the merchant caste.
They are all regarded alike by the Indian Government.
– How would the honorable senator like it if he wished to go to India, and were prevented ?
– If the Indian Government wished to keep that country black they would be justified in excluding me. My great objection is that this exemption gives to the Indian Government the administration of the exemption portion . of the Act. I must again express my surprise at the change. I feel sure that if Parliament had been aware of it a protest would have been made. Of course, I can quite understand the attitude of honorable senators opposite. They do not want to have any Immigration Restriction Act. They welcome any weakening of the Act as an instalment towards the free access of Indians and other coloured persons into the Commonwealth.
– I wonder at so enlightened a man so expressing himself.
– I have never hidden my light under a bushel on this question. I have never qualified my opinions. I have always stood for a rigid observance of the Act, and for the absolute exclusion of all coloured races from Australia. I say that this new policy is a distinct weakening of the principle of the Act. I enter my protest against it, and I am only sorry that the late stage of the session renders the protest ineffective.
– Senator Pearce is unnecessarily alarmed. The honorable senator makes no distinction between an immigrant and a visitor. He should understand that the intention of the late Minister of External Affairs was to save trouble to both visitors and the officers of the Commonwealth, by getting the work done in India before the visitors came out here. Under the system adopted, a visitor comes armed with proper credentials, which have only to be shown to the accredited officer in the Commonwealth to secure his admission. He may, after he is admitted, visit such places in the Commonwealth as he pleases, and if he desires to remain longer than he at first proposed, he has to apply for a renewal of his credentials. It was never intended, as every honorable senator ought to know, that this provision should apply to people coming to Australia for the purpose of carrying on their ordinary avocations as hawkers, labourers, mechanics, or anything of that kind. The intention was where visitors were con cerned, to make the administration of the Act as easy and as agreeable to both parties as possible, without in any way abrogating the intention of the measure.
– It makes it very easy for the visitor.
– If we have no objection to a man looking at our country, why should we make it difficult for him to do so? The persons to whom this provision will apply are not immigrants in any sense of the word, and there is therefore no necessity to treat them as immigrants.
– I believe I am correct in saying that the proposal outlined in the correspondence which has been read originated with the Deakin Government, and was afterwards carried into effect by the Watson Government. I believe that the arrangements made are within the provisions of the Act, and they constitute a business-like proposal. I can imagine that honorable senators who have strong convictions with regard to the inadvisability of the immigration of coloured aliens into the Commonwealth are still anxious to carry out their views with the least possible annoyance to the people of Asia. In making this arrangement Mr. Watson rose superior to the prejudices of many of his followers. He and the members of his Cabinet proved themselves to be possessed of some statesmanlike ideas. I direct attention to the fact that the arrangement made has created a very good impression in India, in other parts of Asia, and in Japan. That is worth winning for Australia, when it has been obtained by what is practically no concession at all under the law.
–I observe that a sum of ^2,000 is asked for the printing and distribution of the Commonwealth Gazette. It appears to me that the expense incurred in connexion with the Commonwealth Gazette should be debited to the Department of Home Affairs rather than to the Department of External Affairs, as it chiefly deals with matters within the Commonwealth. There is another item of £500 set down for the printing and distribution, including postage, of the Commonwealth Statutes to States Governments. I notice that last year £356 was spent on this item. That seems to me to be an exceedingly large sum for the printing and distribution of six sets of the Commonwealth Statutes.
– A number of copies are sent to each State Government.
We have been asked for more, and have usually declined.
– Will the honorable and learned senator explain how the expense in connexion with the Commonwealth Gazette happens to be stated under the heading of the Department of External Affairs?
– That is purely arbitrary. The Department of External Affairs has correspondence in relation to all those matters which come under the Chief Secretary’s Departments in the various Stales, because it has so far been the Department presided over by the Prime Minister.
– I desire to draw the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the .item of £100 for “Temporary assistance,” and to the following item :- “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure, £200.” It appears to me to be a very bad policy to set down in connexion with every Department two items of this nature. It is like telling the_ officers of each Department that; if there’ should be a little rush of work they need not tackle it, as there is a vote for temporary assistance which can be drawn upon. Then there is the item for contingencies and incidental expenditure. In the Estimates presented to the State Parliament of Tasmania, no item is put down for temporary assistance. If there should happen to be a rush of work in any Department, then overtime may have to be paid, but the officers of Departments are not invited to believe that they should not endeavour to cope with it. If they are asked to work overtime, a claim for payment for overtime is considered. I have taken out a few figures from these Estimates, which I submit to the Committee. There is asked for temporary assistance in connexion with the Department of External Affairs for the Administrative Staff, £100; Secretary, £25; Crown Solicitor, £40; then for the High Court, £40 ; and in connexion with the Home Affairs Department, Administrative Staff, £300, with £400 for incidental expenses ; Electoral Department, £800 for temporary assistance ; Public Service Commissioner, £500 ; Public Works Staff, £180; and then, when we come to the Treasurer’s Department we find the item “ temporary assistance “ down, and no figure opposite to it. Our economical friend, Sir George Turner, apparently knows what the officers of his Department are doing.
– We are not dealing with Sir George Turner’s Department.
– I am sure that the honorable and learned senator does riot desire that I should make the same speech on every page of the Estimates. I am directing attention .to the practice of putting down these votes for temporary assistance. For the Auditor-General’s Department there is £100 put down ; for the Customs Central Staff, £250 ; £500 in one sub-division, and £425 in another, whilst for the Customs Department in New South- Wales, £1,000 was voted last year, and £750 is down for this year. These figures give a total of between £4,000 and £5,000 set down for temporary assistance in connexion with the few Departments to which I have referred. In addition, there are votes for contingencies and incidental petty cash expenses. I undertake to say that money could be saved in this direction. Instead of inviting every clerk in every Department to note the fact that a fund is voted by Parliament for the Department to go and come upon, he should be given to understand that he and his fellows are expected to do the work of their Department.
– So they are ; but if there are not sufficient officers to cope with the work, temporary assistance must be engaged.
– If the honorable and learned senator has studied the politics of Victoria, he will know that great- conflicts have arisen in connexion with these temporary officers, some of whom in this State have been kept on in this way for twenty years.
– They cannot be kept on in that way under the Commonwealth Public Service Act,
– I am aware that we have done better; but if we are to provide £4,000 or £5,000 for temporary assistance, and petty cash expenses, the Senate will not know how many temporary officers are being employed, and how the money is being spent.
– Honorable senators will be able to ascertain, and can even get the names of temporary officers, if they so desire.
-=-I direct the honorable and learned senator’s attention to what I think is a grave mistake. I can understand a vote of £800 for temporary assistance in connexion with the Electoral Office. That may be very necessary when an election is coming on. I direct attention again to the Department of our economical Treasurer, Sir George Turner. There is no vote down under his Department for temporary assistance.
– Because it has not been necessary in his Department.
– Hear hear; only £2 was spent on temporary assistance for that Department last year.
– But even the Audit Department and the Crown Solicitor’s Department have their little funds on which they may draw for temporary assistance. There is not time to deal with the matter effectively this session ; but I shall be prepared next year to test the feeling of the Committee on the subject by a division. These votes are in my opinion a mistake. I can understand a vote for £500. for temporary assistance for the Department of the Public Service Commissioner, as he had his classification scheme to prepare, and the machinery of his Department to put in order. But we have arrived at a time when there should be no such item on the Estimates, and when a clerk at £200 ought to be able to do the work allotted to him. In the case of the Patent Office, a large sum is provided, which to some extent I can understand. I had the pleasure of calling at the Patent Office and asking the Chief Officer what was the cause of the delay, and he gave me some good reasons. In the initiation of a Department of the kind there is enormous work, and there had been some difficulty with New South Wales; and, altogether, I could understand extra temporary assistance being required. But in the case of the Audit Office, the Treasurer’s Department, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and the Crown Solicitor’s Office, there has been great abuse of the system
– The eloquence of Senator Dobson culminated when he reached the Crown Solicitor’s Office.
– That stirred up the Attorney-General !
– Well, it brought me to my feet. But I can tell the honorable senator what, within my own knowledge, has occurred in that office. There was a great and sudden rush of work about two months before the Estimates were dealt with, and, as it was impossible to then make arrangements for another clerk, temporary assistance had to be brought in. Are we to be prevented from doing the work of the office ?
– Certainly not.
– Then how are we to accomplish the work?
– Did the AttorneyGeneral see whether any of the scores of clerks in the next room were available to afford some help?
– There are not scores of clerks in the Crown Solicitor’s Office, which, as a matter of fact, is entirely undermanned.
– I do not say there were scores of clerks doing nothing in the Crown Solicitor’s Office, but were there not, for instance, clerks available in the Defence Department, next door, or in some other Department?
– How could I go into the Post Office, or any other Department, to see whether there was a clerk who happened to have an hour to spare ?
– It might be just as well to go to some other Department, as to go outside for assistance.
– If that is what Senator Dobson means, I have nothing more to say. I am not going round, nor am I going to allow the clerks to go round to spy out whether there is a clerk elsewhere who has half-an-hour to spare.
– I do not suggest that the Attorney-General should “ spy,” or allow any one else to “ spy,” but I say that the honorable and learned gentleman should regard himself as the trustee of the taxpayer. “Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- And so I do.
– I must ask the AttorneyGeneral not to put nasty words into my mouth; I do not want ,to “spy” on anybody.
– If the honorable and learned senator thinks the term I used disagreeable, I at once withdraw it.
– The Attorney-General has a happy nack of laughing matters down but I think he makes a mistake.
– I withdraw the expression at once. I would point out, as Senator McGregor interjected, that the money is not spent if it is not wanted.
– I have heard that argument before. We should wait until the money is wanted before we vote it.
– In one Department, last year, £100 was voted for temporary assistance, and how much does the honorable and learned senator think was spent?
– I do not know.
– That shows the folly of the system.
– The fact tells against the contention of the AttorneyGeneral.
– If the fact does tell against me, I am content. In the Treasurer’s Department, last year, £100 was voted for temporary assistance, and only £2 was spent. These sums are a mere provision; we cannot ask Parliament for 1 os. for an extra clerk. At the same time, I thoroughly agree that it is desirable
– The Attorney-General has been a long time discovering that.
– The principle to which Senator Dobson draws attention is excellent- When it is found that the necessity for assistance becomes permanent, an extra permanent clerk should be provided for on the Estimates. But that principle cannot be observed in the inauguration of new branches, such as the Patent Office or the Electoral Office. I hope the. time may arrive when the desire of Senator Dobson may be carried into effect.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - The Attorney-General proves up to the hilt the exact position which I took up. The honorable and learned gentleman has instanced two Departments in each of which £100 was voted for temporary assistance, and only small sums were spent. Could anything be more stupid than such a system of voting money in advance? Why are we going through the Estimates? To try to combine efficiency with economy, and to save the taxpayers’ pockets, if possible- The two items quoted by the Attorney-General show. I was going to say the rotten, but, at any Tate bad system that is in vogue.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- -I should like to draw attention to the division which deal with New Guinea. I observe from the newspapers that the Government intend to send Mr. Atlee Hunt to New Guinea during the recess to instruct the magistrates in their duties. That is a most excellent idea. While Mr. Hunt is there he might make inquiries as to the administration of justice in the Possession during the past few years. We have had very serious allegations made in one form or another, and it is extremely desirable to ascertain whether there is any foundation in fact for the charges. It has been stated that an individual, or individuals, were arrested without warrant, tried on trumpedup charges, and dismissed without any definite decision being arrived at, and that when the records of the Court were applied for they were not in existence. If that be true, it appears to me to disclose a state of affairs which requires careful examination. The statements may be either true or untrue, but the fact that a charge of this kind was made publicly by a person who says that he . is prepared to substantiate it is a circumstance which ought to influence the Government iri trying to get ‘the very best information on the subject. During the recess the Government ought to afford such members of the Federal Parliament as are desirous to make themselves better acquainted with New Guinea an opportunity to visit the Possession, for the administration of the affairs of which we are now responsible. There is a problem of very great importance awaiting solution in New Guinea. There are over half-a-million coloured people there, with a very small number of whites, and, as we have assumed responsibility for those people, members of the Federal Parliament ought to be given some opportunity to see the conditions of life in the Possession. By such means we shall be assisted in coming to a conclusion as to the best method of government to be adopted in the Territory. I should like the Attorney-General to say whether the Government will give Mr. Atlee Hunt the power to make investigations as to the charges I have referred to, and also whether the Government would be prepared to assist members of the Federal Parliament to visit the Possession?.
– I quite indorse the views expressed by Senator Stewart as to the desirableness of members of the Federal Parliament having an opportunity during the recess to visit New Guinea.
– That would be a great expense.
– Quite so; but I may suggest that if we contribute only £20,000 per annum for the assistance of the Possession, it is important not to deprive the people there of the income now de- rived from the duties on spirits and wines. Neither should we deprive them of the revenue which they now obtain from selling land, and which is devoted to the improvement of the roads.
– The honorable senator is now discussing the Papua Bill.
– I am merely drawing attention to the fact that if legislation which some honorable senators apparently desire be carried into effect, we must expect a demand for an increase of the subsidy of £20,000.
– I am very glad Senator Stewart approves of the proposed visit by Mr. Atlee Hunt. That visit, however, may, though I do not say it will, depend, to some extent, on whether the Papua Bill becomes law, as I hope it will. I am not quite certain, whether, in the event of that Bill not becoming law, the same necessity for a visit by Mr. Atlee Hunt will arise. The idea is that Mr. Hunt should assist in explaining the new system of government to the officials, and give what help may be necessary to bring it into operation. At any rate, if the visit is paid, I am quite sure it will be enlarged so that the results may be useful to us in every possible way, including that to which Senator Stewart has referred. I am not quite sure that the Government would fall in with the idea of affording facilities for a visit by honorable senators. On the other h,:nd information on the subject is no doubt necessary, and probably much could be obtained as to how to get there, and what to do when there, from Senator Smith, who undertook an exploration which has been of great value, not only to himself, but to the Senate. I shall make inquiries into the matter.
– I should like to have some information from the Government as to the reasons which induced ‘them to grant an extra sum of £6,000 for the mail subsidy to the Pacific Islands to one firm, without calling for tenders in the usual way ? I also desire to know why Sydney is made the port of call for the mail service, when it is not the nearest point in the Commonwealth to the places to be served. I wish to know whether it is really a mail service, or whether it is not given for a mail service as a mere subterfuge to cover some other idea? It appears to me that, to a large extent, it must be a subterfuge, seeing that we are paying for a mail service from Sydney to New Guinea. We are sending the mails three-fourths of the length of the eastern coast of Australia, when we. have, in Queensland, ports like Rockhampton, Gladstone, and Brisbane, which are infinitely nearer to New Guinea, and also considerably nearer to the New Hebrides and other places. In my speech on the second reading of the Bill, I pointed out that Brisbane, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Maryborough!, Bundaberg, and other portions of Queensland are connected with the rest of the Commonwealth by a direct train service. If it is desired to subsidize a mail service to New Guinea, or to the New Hebrides, and the other islands, undoubtedly, it is the duty of the Commonwealth to see that the service starts from the State which is in closest proximity to the ports to be served.
– What port does the honorable senator say it should start from - Rockhampton ?
– I am not particular as to whether it starts from Rockhampton or from Brisbane. If it can be shown that Brisbane is nearer or more convenient than Rockhampton, it should start from the former.
– How could boats of the tonnage that would be required go up to Rockhampton ?
– That is a peculiar idea, seeing that very much larger boats than any of those which would be required go to Broadmount, which is the deep water port of Rockhampton. If that objection applies to Rockhampton, it does not apply to Gladstone, which is, comparatively speaking, within a stone’s throw of Rockhampton ; nor does it apply to Brisbane, to which vessels much larger than those used in this trade go every week.
– Is there no special reason for the service being taken to Sydney ?
– Of course, there is a special reason, and that is what I wish to elicit.
– Has it not been so for years and years?
– It cannot have been so for years, because the Commonwealth service was only initiated comparatively recently.
– Is it riot true that Sydney has been the centre of the Pacific Islands trade for about fifty years?
– I do not know. According to Senators Gray and Pulsford, 1 the mail service is a mere subterfuge, because it is really a trade subsidy. Suppose that Tasmania were much nearer than Melbourne to some islands in the south, how would the representatives of Tasmania feel if the mail service were- to go right past their door to Melbourne? Undoubtedly they would protest in the strongest possible way against their State being overlooked and overridden.
– Queensland is not overlooked ; some of these vessels are runing from the Queensland ports.
– They do not run from Queensland ports, but from Sydney except in the case of a small service from Thursday Island round to New Guinea.
– Why ignore that?
– I shall deal with that case in a few minutes.
– But the Prime Minister has said that two out of the three services will call at Brisbane, and that he will take the other one into consideration.
– What special advantage is it to get that promise if we have not a pledge that a fair deal will be given to us? I was aware of the Prime Minister’s statement before it was quoted by Senator Drake; but it does not satisfy me, nor do I think it is likely to satisfy any Queensland senator who has a free hand. If this is a special trade subsidy, let me point out that under the Constitution Act we are prohibited from giving to any one State a right or privilege which is not given to every other State. We have no right to subsidize the trade of one particular State.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that a steamer should go right round the Commonwealth from port to port ?
– If it is a trade subsidy, we have no right to give a bounty.
– It is not a bounty.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral tell me that it is a payment for mail services pure and simple?
– Yes; why not?
– I am satisfied with that explanation, and will deal with the matter from that point of view.
– We must take all things into consideration. If we have a mail to a thinly populated part inland we do not pay for it simply the amount which is received in postages on the letters, but a great deal more.
– We only pay what the service is worth, andi we call for tenders, and the contractor has to make up any deficiency by taking passengers and goods to the public. Will the AttorneyGeneral tell me why this mail service pure and simple must go to Sydney, instead of to the nearest port which has railway communication with the rest of the Commonwealth - why it should not go by the shortest and fastest route?
– Make the payment £50,000, and then they could, I dare say.
– That would be all right for Sydney and Burns, Philp, and Company, but it would be a very bad business for the Commonwealth. I notice these continual attempts to get at the rest of the Commonwealth for the benefit of a tew large ports. Sydney has just as much right as any other port in the Commonwealth to be made the terminal port. When the conditions are in favour of Sydney rather than in favour of other places she has a similar right, but when the conditions are all in favour of other ports undoubtedly they should get a fair deal from the Government. It is contemplated by the Consitution that the Senate should specially safeguard the interests of the States, lt is the special province of the representati’ves of Queensland to see that its interests are not overlooked or overridden for the benefit of any other State, as appears to have been done. I hold in my hand a map, which has been issued by Burns, Philp, and Company to show their various services. A glance at the map is sufficient to show honorable senators that Rockhampton, or Gladstone, or Brisbane is very much nearer than Sydney to the New Hebrides. Why are we to have a mail service from Sydney right round to New Guinea, seeing that we are already paying for a mail service right up to Thursday Island, when only a continuation of the latter service is required ? Could any more fatuous argument be put forward by the Attorney-General than to say that this is a mail service? This map shows that the argument that reefs and islands intervene between Brisbane and the New Hebrides,- and so prevent a direct service, which would be shorter than the one from New Hebrides to Sydney, is all bunkum. According to the map there is neither a reef nor an island in the direct track between Brisbane and the New Hebrides, or between Rockhampton and the other places I have named. Therefore if it is a mail service pure and simple there can be no logical reason why it should not start from one of the southern ports of Queensland. Again, it has been put forward as an excuse that Burns, Philp, and Company are doing valuable work in colonization over there - that they are settling the islands in the New Hebrides and other places. The New Hebrides are not Commonwealth territory, nor are they British territory. We in the Commonwealth have no right to subsidize a company for the development of territory other than our own while we are unable thoroughly to settle our own country. If Burns, Philp, and Company hav<; valuable interests there, let them colonize if they desire to do so, in their own way, at their own cost, but do not let them beg and whine to us to get our money to do it for them.
– Nonsense ! What does the honorable senator mean by that ?
– Exactly what 1 say ; neither more nor less. They are coming to us and saying, “ Give us this increased subsidy, and we will settle our islands.” That excuse, put forward by those who are favorable to the subsidy, is a piece of utter “ flam.” It is most indefensible to ask us to find money for colonizing territory other than our own, when we are unable to settle colonists on our own lands. It is the business of Australia to retain its own citizens, and to develop its own resources, rather than to send people over the sea to develop the New Hebrides. I do not propose to say more on this matter until I get some information from the Attorney-General. Probably he will be able to put a different complexion upon it, and to show us that the proposed subsidy is justifiable. I shall wait until he does so. But until that is done, I am not content to allow this item to pass without emphatic protest. I intend to move that it be reduced by £6,000, which is the amount of the increased subsidy. If that is carried the subsidy will remain exactly where it has been for a considerable time. It will not affect the existing service ; it will not interfere with any arrangement already made ;. but it will allow the Government time to review the decision, and to make whatever arrangements of a more equitable character may be possible. I do not intend to do what I had originally purposed, to move that the whole sum be wiped out of the schedule, because I do not wish to capsize existing arrangements or to inconvenience people who depend upon them. But I hope that the Committee will agree with me that the proposed arrangement is not an equitable one, and that the amount ought to be reduced by the sum which I have named. . I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item ‘ Improved New Hebrides, Solomon, and Norfolk Islands services, new services to Solomon, Gilbert, Ellice, and New Guinea, ^6,000.”
– I think that it would have been better, as a matter of party policy, if the Government had called for tenders for this extended mail service. But I believe - in fact I feel sure - that the result would have been exactly the same, and that if we require a good service only one company would tender - that is, Burns, Philp, and Company.
– Clunn and Sons would have given us a tender.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Clunn and Sons have only one boat of 165 tons; with a 75 horse-power oil engine ! It would have been really like my honorable friend, Senator Pearce’s proposal to have a referendum in New Guinea, as to whether the white inhabitants desire prohibition. We know that they would all have said that they did not want prohibition. Calling for tenders for this mail service would have had the same result, because no shipping firm in Australia that I know of could spare six ships for this work. Even if some company were willing to spare them, any one who has any knowledge of island trade knows that it would have been impossible to carry on the service on a £12,000 subsidy, unless they had purchased land on the different islands, and had stores, supercargoes, and the whole of the paraphernalia ready. It would have been impossible for any other company to carry on without losing an enormous sum of money. Therefore Burns, Philp, and Company would have been the only firm to tender for the service. I think that the proposal now made is undoubtedly advantageous to the Commonwealth. I do not care anything about any shipping firm. That consideration has nothing to do with this Parliament. The question we have to consider is - is this proposal to the advantage of the Commonwealth? I intend to look at it purely from that point of view. The proposal was not initiated by the present Government. It was initiated by the Deakin Administration, at the instigation of Mr. Woodford, the Government Resident at the Solomon Islands, and Captain Razon, the representative of the High 1 Commissioner of the Pacific in the New
Hebrides. In consultation with them, this proposal was formulated. Then it was adopted by the Watson Administration, who went fully into the subject. To show their bona fides, they put £12,000 on the Estimates in order to carry out the services of which they approved.
– That did not adopt it.
– My honorable friend, will not deny that the Watson Government put £12,000 on the Estimates.
– It was not decided at the time they went out of office.
– If my honorable friend will read the speech of Mr. Watson with regard to this policy, he will see that that gentleman spoke in strong commendation of it. Mr. Watson used these words -
To my mind it is essential that we should keep up communication with these islands. They are important to us from a strategic point of view, and from a trade point of view there is much ti be said in favour of the proposed vote.
That is the vote of £12,000. I think therefore that my honorable friend will see that the Watson Administration, and the Deakin Administration before them, approved of this proposal.
– Can the honorable senator show that the Watson Government approved of this amount of money being given without having an agreement laid before Parliament?
– I have shown that the Watson Government put £12,000 on the Estimates, and that the Prime Minister in that Administration warmly supported the item.
– The point is as to the way in which it is carried out.
– If it is merely a matter of detail, I am quite sure that the Government will see that in every way the interests of the Commonwealth are conserved. I thought the objection was not as to the details, but to the proposal to pay any subsidies to a line of steamers at all. The advantages of the subsidy are, first of all, that it provides a regular mail service. Then there is the advantage of retaining and extending our interests in the Western Pacific, so as to keep foreign powers from obtaining strategic bases close to our shores. I know that there is a difference of opinion as to that. I believe that some honorable s enators, who are actuated by the very best intentions, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, are prepared to see any foreign power- come close into our shores, to monopolize the harbors in the islands contiguous to Australia, and to establish strategic bases and coaling stations there. But I am absolutely opposed to that view. I believe that it is a matter of extreme importance to Australia to use every means in our power to keep foreign nations from establishing strategic bases within striking distance of Australia.
– What have strategic bases to do with this vote, which the AttorneyGeneral says is purely for a mail service ?
– I am voting for the subsidy for the reasons which I have mentioned’, and for another reason which I am about to give. That is, that we are building up a mercantile marine manned by white sailors - practically by Australians - who will be of immense importance to Australia in regard to our naval defence in the future. I do not think that we can adopt a policy that is more in the interests of the Commonwealth than to build up a mercantile marine belonging to Australia, manned by Australians ; and if we have these six steamers as a result of this subsidy, it will be a stride in the right direction. Moreover, the trade of these islands is of immense importance. The value qf our imports and exports from the Pacific Islands amounts to £1,000,000 a year. A subsidy of £12,000 a year to stimulate a valuable trade like that is in itself justifiable. We send out our manufactures to the Pacific Islands and in exchange we receive products such as cocoanut oil, which are the raw material of some of our industries. That trade is not only large, is not only increasing, but it is a trade which is peculiarly important to Australia, in that it stimulates our manufactures, and leads to a reciprocal trade in our exports. Having mentioned what I consider to be the value of this Pacific trade, let me consider for a moment the cost to Australia. The proposed subsidy works out at is. 4d. a mile. The distance covered by the service is 86,000 miles per annum. If we include the service which runs to Singapore, but which is not subsidized, the total service works out at 300,000 miles a year, or iod. per mile. But I am taking simply the actual mileage covered by the subsidy, which, as I have said, works out at is. 4C1. per mile. Germany and! France are paying 4s. od. per mile in the Pacific, whilst we are now asked to pay1s. 4d. per mile, and we insist on the employment of white labour, a condition which other nations do no impose. If we turn to other British lines, we find that the Peninsular and Oriental Company are being paid for a mail service 4s. 9d. per mile, whilst the Orient Company asked 4s. 7d. per mile, and refused to take up the service for less.
– The honorable senator is referring to mail services.
– This is a mail service, and, in addition, will carry out functions which in my opinion are infinitely more important than is the carriage of mails.
– If it is a mail service, why does it not start from the nearest point ?
– Is the cost 10 be debited to the Post and Telegraph Department?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.No, to the Department of External Affairs. I do not consider that the carriage of mails to these islands is by any means the most important function which this service will perform. I think that Senator Higgs mentioned that Messrs Burns, Philp, and Company have large interests in the New Hebrides, and that in consequence they will benefit unfairly by this subsidy. It should not be forgotten that Burns, Philp, and Company have handed over to the Commonwealth their land’ in the New Hebrides. It could not be transferred to the Commonwealth, because those lands could not appear inthe name of the Commonwealth of Australia, but the fact remains that they havebeen handed over for the use of the Commonwealth.
– And they will involve us in endless disputes.
– On these lands have been expended something like £25,000, and yet the company has not only handed them over to the Commonwealth as a free gift, but has undertaken to take out to the New Hebrides free of cost intending settlers, and their wives and families.
– To what extent do they propose to do that?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.To the extent of any number that may please to go out. In view of these conditions, it seems to me that this is a contract which is exceedingly advantageous to Australia.
– Why should all the services be to one State ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Senator Givens is wrong there. The Prime Minister has said that out of these five services, the boats connected with two, if not more of them, will call at Queensland ports.
– He could not help himself with regard to those services.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I think Queensland will do very well if the boats connected with two of these services call at her ports. Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania are getting nothing from this subsidy, whilst they will contribute equally with the other States to the expense involved.
– If Western Australia possessed the nearest port from which the service could go it would be started from that port.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There is something in that contention, but it should be remembered that this trade was created, after many years of struggling, by Sydney. New South Wales at the inauguration of the Commonwealth, was actually paying a subsidy of £3,600 a year for the service to these islands, and for the Commonwealth now to take that service entirely away from Sydney would be unjust. In spite of the map which Senator Givens has displayed, I very much doubt whether the route from Brisbane to New Hebrides ports, like Vila and Havana, is any shorter than is the route from Sydney. If Senator Givens will consult the Admiralty Chart, he will find that dangerous reefs run out for a very long distance north of New Caledonia. Ships must give those reefs a wide berth, and that would increase the distance from Brisbane considerably. Queensland does not lose everything, because this subsidy will result in the accession of a considerable amount of trade to that State. . Practically the whole of the trade with New Guinea, which is a considerable, and a growing trade is to be worked from Thursday Island, a Queensland port. The proposal under this subsidy is that a steamer shall call at all ports in New Guinea up to Woodlark Island, and shall come back via the same ports, bringing produce to a Queensland port.
– That is only what is done now.
– I understand that another service which is not subsidized, and which runs to Singapore and Java, and is likely .to establish a very large trade, is going to make Brisbane a port of call. I therefore believe that Brisbane will benefit to a very large extent.
– That is not a subsidized service.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That is so, but if it brings trade and commerce to Queensland ports it will be an advantage to that State.
– But that has nothing whatever to “do with this subsidy.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Very well, I say that Queensland practically monopolizes the New Guinea trade, and that is but just because Queensland was the first State to establish relations with New Guinea.
– Queensland gets the New Guinea trade only because of her geographical position.
– Queensland is entitled to the trade, because of her geographical position, and because she ‘has opened up New Guinea. She is to get the trade by another line, I presume the line to the Solomon Islands, because, as I have before said, Queensland ports are to be ports of call for two out of the five proposed services.
– Where did the Prime Minister say that?
– In the House of Representatives. The honorable senator will find the reference at page 8156 of Hansard.
– I think that it must be admitted that Queensland will get a fair share under this subsidy.
– If there were halfadozen services to the old country passing Western Australian ports, and that State got the benefit only of two, the honorable senator would not be so well satisfied. -Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.- If Western Australia had opened ip a trade, and had worked it for forty or fifty years, any proposal to take away that trade from her would be grossly unfair. Sydney opened up the trade with these South Sea Islands fifty years ago, and to take that trade away from Sydney now would be equally unjust.
– The honorable senator might also point out that £3,600 of this money is transferred expenditure, is debited’ to New South Wales, and must be paid by that State.
– I do not propose to deal with that transferred expenditure by my amendment.
– In that case, New South Wales will not only pay one-third of this expenditure on a per capita basis, but £3,600 of it direct, and that is an additional reason why this trade should not be taken away from Sydney.
– By my amendment I do not pretend to interfere with that £3,600.
– Clunn and Sons, and Kerr Brothers have been mentioned, and while I admit that Clunn and Sons are highly reputable firms, and good traders, they cannot provide a service which would do all that we require. They have one little steamer of 160 tons, with a 75 horse-power oil engine.
– How many steamers will Burns, Philp, and Company have in the New Guinea trade ?
– I am not prepared to say, but they have the Moresby, of 1,000 tons, the Tambo, which is a large boat, the Titus, and a very fair fleet of boats.
– Was it necessary to* lump these services together?
– Perhaps it was not. But I say that Clunn and Sons could not have carried out this service. They looked for a subsidy of something approaching £1,000 a year, and, what is of more importance, they proposed to call only at Moresby and Samarai.
– That is all that is required, and it would be a faster service.
– I entirely disagree with Senator Givens on this point. If we wish to develop New Guinea, this service must call at places like Daru, Orikolo, Yule Island, Moresby, Cloudy Bay, and other places where there is excellent land for cultivation. Unless a steamer calls at these places, it will be absolutely impossible to develop them. It would be putting the money to a very poor use to subsidize a steamer which should only run to Moresby and Samarai, the political and commercial capitals of New Guinea. The land around Moresby is sterile, and unsuitable for cultivation, whilst Samarai is on a little island, and is the port of the goldfields. If it is desired to develop the plantations and the natural industries of New Guinea, we must subsidize a line of steamers which will call at various ports all along the coast. From that point of view, Clunn and
Sons’ proposal would not tend to the development of the Territory. I have said that, in my opinion, it would have been better to have called for tenders for these services. I am absolutely certain that the result would have been the same, but if that course had been adopted little rival traders could not have objected that they had had no opportunity to tender. I am satisfied that no other company in the Commonwealth could have placed six large steamers at our service for this purpose, and no company could possibly run such a service successfully that had not established Stc res on the various islands with representatives there to provide proper trading facilities, and supercargoes to conduct the trade as the boats called at the various ports. Burns, Philp, and Company is the only company that” has established itself in this way, and though I know very little personally about the company, from what I have read with regard to the development of the Pacific, it is my opinion that if it had not been for Burns, Philp, and Company, our interests in the Pacific would not be as important as they are to-day. That firm has, I believe, maintained Australia’s hold on islands subsequently annexed by Great Britain. Our interests in the New Hebrides have been conserved by their mail services, and also our interest in those lands which the firm have transferred to the Commonwealth.
– The firm have not transferred those lands ‘ to the Commonwealth.
– The firm have placed the lands at the disposal of the Commonwealth - we know they cannot transfer them, because the Commonwealth cannot accept them. The proposed subsidy amounts to is. 4d. per mile, as compared with the German subsidy of 4s. 9d. per mile, the French subsidy of 8s. 4d., the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company subsidy of 4s. 9d., and the subsidy requested by the Orient Company of 4s. 7d. per mile. It is a small subsidy, which not only benefits us, so far as the mail services are concerned, but also benefits us in our trade, and in the maintenance of our interests and influence in the Pacific, in so far as it assists to prevent foreign powers establishing strategic bases close to Australia.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia*). - I am not much concerned with the subsidies or the amounts of the subsidies which are given to French, German, or other shipping companies for carrying on trade in the Pacific. I refuse to allow my mind to be influenced or prejudiced by the political actions or connexions of any member or director of the firm of Burns, Philp, and Company. I desire to look at the question from an Australian point of view ; and I do not attach much importance to the question of whether the vessels start from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, or elsewhere.
– That lis a matter of some importance, all the same.
– It is a matter of great importance, but I hope that the Government, when this vote is passed, will see that the terms of the agreement are adjusted in the best interests of the Commonwealth. Consideration should be shown to a firm like Burns, Philp, and Company!, because thev can do this trade much more economically, conveniently, and efficiently than could any other firm at the present time.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– I shall tell Senator Givens. Burns, Philp, and Company have their business established in all the places which have been mentioned. Any other company entering into competition would have to go to all the initial expense which Burns, Philp, and Company met years ago. The six vessels necessary for a trade of this description will cost about £15,000 per annum to work, and those vessels have to be manned, provisioned, coaled, and repaired in Australia. All this means an expend’iture in connexion with the Pacific trade of from £100,000 to £150,000 per annum within the Commonwealth. Under the circumstances, is it so very unreasonable for the Commonwealth to spend £12,000 in the encouragement of a trade which will mean so much to the “Australian people, not only in wages, but in the return from the sale of produce, provisions;, and so forth ? We must recognise that a trade will be built up between Australia and New Guinea, and the islands.
– All for the benefit of Australia.
– That is so. If settlement be brought about in the islands, we shall exchange finished products for their raw materials. At the present time the trade between Australia and those particular portions of the southern Pacific amounts to over £1,000,000 per annum. Are we then to haggle about an expenditure of £12,000?
– How else are we to help our trade?
– And how are we to otherwise build up a mercantile marine, and, ultimately, as we hope, have a Naval Force of our own? I hope the day: will come when Australia, in addition to having a Citizen Defence Force, will also have an efficient Naval Force; and, if we wish to realize such a hope, we must do something towards that end at the present time. We must not forget that all we are asked to do now is to vote the £12,000. The agreement will be drawn up by the Government, in whom we ought to have some confidence. If there be responsible government, then let the Government be responsible for any agreement they may make, always, of course, allowing to them some latitude. We cannot expect the Government to make any agreement before they know what amount is at their disposal. I hope that honorable senators will regard this matter from an Australian point of view, and vote for the retention of the item. I do not blame honorable senators for exercising all their influence to get vessels to call at every possible port, but we ought first to vote the money, and allow the Government to make the most beneficial and economical arrangement possible for Australia.
– I should like to compliment Senator McGregor on the able and business-like speech he has just delivered on this subject.
– I must be wrong !
– Senator McGregor will give me credit for never bandying unmeaning compliments. I got up mainly to reply to the remarks of Senator Givens, who is loyally supporting his own State from his own point of view. I venture to think, however, that Senator Givens is act; ing not altogether in the interests of the Commonwealth at large. Sydney has been, and is, the distributing port for the island trade, principally because Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, and the Union and other steamship companies, have for years past made that city their headquarters. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company have, from a small island connexion, developed a very large trade; and, as Senator McGregor has shown, that firm is fully equipped with all the essentials of a prosperous and expanding business. They have establishments at various places throughout the Pacific for coaling, repairs, &c, and they have agencies throughout for buying, distributing, and exchanging cargoes. These facts shew that Sydney is entitled, in some measure, to the trade. As an illustrative fact in this connexion I should like to inform honorable senators that in Sydney there are two oil mills, which import from the islands’ over 15,000 tons of copra annually valued at £250,000. These were the first oil mills established in Australia, and they to a large extent revolutionized the island trade. Previously to their establishment, the copra was carried direct by vessels to France, Germany, and other continental countries, but now not only are the 15,000 tons brought to Sydney for the oil mills, but more than an equal quantity is reexported from Sydney to Germany and other parts of the world. Sydney has a legitimate trade, and that trade, whether we like it or not, must be taken into consideration. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, and the Union Steamship Company, are the only two firms whicli could carry out a contract of the character under discussion, and if they were asked to make one of the Queensland ports their point of departure, they would unquestionably , ask, not £12,000, but £50,000 per annum. The proposed subsidy forms only a small part of the basis of the island trade of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company.
– Is it a subsidy for trade, or a subsidy for mail service?
– In my opinion it is both. The firm could not carry on an ordinary mail , service without a subsidy of at least £50,000; and in that view I shall be supported by every business man. The contract is undertaken with the subsidy proposed, because the firm have all the conveniences already established for carrying on such a trade ; the mails forming only an addendum to their present ‘business. If we take upon ourselves the responsibility of governing New Guinea, we must do our best to elevate our Pacific Possessions, and, from a social point of view, make the life of the people there as . comfortable and convenient as possible. Those people are cut off from the social pleasures which are the every-day lot of Australians on the mainland ; they are dependent entirely oh those vessels for their irregular correspondence, and they ought to receive every consideration. We must regard those islands, not only from the’ point of view of what they are to-day, but from the point of view of what they will be in the future, and they ought to be developed in a manner best calculated to promote the interests of the Commonwealth at large. I sympathize with Senator Givens, because it does seem rather hard that Queensland, which, on a mileage basis, has an advantage, should not have a greater share in the island traffic. We cannot, however, get away from the ordinary conditions which permeate the civilized world in regard to business transactions. It is impossible to set aside the ramifications of an established trade, unless we are prepared to pay a very heavy price. From a purely business point of view, the Commonwealth is making a very good bargain in accepting the terms which Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company have asked.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I was somewhat startled at the singular proposition laid down by Senator McGregor, because if it means anything, it means that we should not trouble about making any postal contracts, but should trust the Government, which is responsible to Parliament.
– No; we must consider every question on its merits.
– Why not apply the same rule to other mail contracts ? Why not say to the steamers which carry the mails between Western Australia and South Australia, “ We do not ask you to tender ; we are voting a lump sum and giving the Government a free hand to make the best arrangements they can with you.”
– That is not what Senator McGregor said.
– What are we practically asked to do in this instance? We are asked to say to the Government, “ Here is a vote of £.12,000 to do with as you like. We give it to you because you have * intimated that you will give it to one particular firm for the purpose of carrying mails to the islands, and developing trade therewith.”
– Subject to conditions to be set out in an agreement.
– Subject to conditions of which we are entirely ignorant. In other cases, the Parliament knows what it is voting the money for, and in many cases, tenders are called. It seems to be assumed in this case that there would be no competition if tenders were invited. What right have we to assume that Burns, Philp, and Company is the only firm which would send steamers to the islands ? We are asked to assume a little too much in that regard. There are many large companies trading round Australia. We were told a little while ago that their trade was not profitable. I was sceptical on that point because I knew that their trade was profitable. Are we to assume that these companies, equally as rich as Burns, Philp, and Company, and equally able to provide steamers, would not compete if tenders were invited? A new steamer is being added almost every week to the fleet of one company or another. Only yesterday a new steamer arrived in the bay for one company. Why should we assume that the other shipping companies have no desire to enter into this trade? Senator McGregor says that Burns, Philp and Company have special interests in the islands which other companies do not possess. Perhaps that explains why their steamers propose to make such a detour in order to get to Sydney.
– They do not make a detour. They go from Sydney through the islands and back again, and two of the lines are to go to Brisbane.
– The steamers take a rectangular course in order to get to the end of their voyage when it seems to me that the islands could be served by a much shorter voyage to a Queensland port. Perhaps that is due to the fact that thefirm has business interests in Sydney.
– Certainly, that is part of the reasons.
– Then the subsidy is to be used to serve the business interests of a firm in Sydney. The public money should be spent to serve the public interests, and not those of Burns, Philp, and Company, or of Sydney. Had tenders been invited, we might have had a firm proposing to run a line of steamers direct from the islands to the nearest point in Queensland, and the service might have been carried out at considerably less than £12,000. We are making a very dangerous innovation. I believe that it is advisable to open up the trade with the islands. But if we intend to rely on private enterprise for our mail service, and our trade with the islands, there should be open competition. It is very unsatisfactory to give the Government carle blanche in this matter. ‘ If Senator Givens calls for a division, I shall feel compelled to vote with him, as a protest against not calling for tenders. It is said that we are giving this amount in order to develop trade. But what guarantee have we that Burns, Philp, and Company will make corresponding reductions in freights or fares? Have the Government come to any understanding with the firm on that point, or will they impose the condition that Australian goods are to be carried at correspondingly lower rates?
– We might have to give a still higher subsidy if we insisted upon making that condition. This subsidy does not enable the firm to reduce fares. But it is given with the object of securing a benefit for Australia in the shape of a more frequent, and a wider service.
– It is said that we are in danger of losing a portion of the islands trade because of the competition by German and other steamers. If the subsidy is to be of any value to the merchant in Australia, or to the settler in the New Hebrides, it must secure to him cheaper freights. But he will gain no advantage if a foreign ship still carries goods at lower rates than Burns, Philp, and Company charge.
– The foreign ships only get the advantage by reason of the fact that our steamers do not go down often enough.
– I understood Senator Smith to say that the French and German steamers were more heavily subsidized, and that, therefore, they were able to carrygoods at lower rates’ than could Burns, Philp, and Company. He justified this subsidy on the ground that it would enable the latter firm to take goods at lower rates, and ‘that, therefore, lit would encourage trade with Australia. If we are to pay _£i 2,000 a year for a mail service only, let us know that we are. But if we are to pay that sum annually for the purpose of encouraging trade, let us have some guarantee that the merchant in Australia and the settler in the islands will derive an advantage therefrom. We have no guarantee at the present moment that the firm will allow either the merchant or the settler to share in the advantage which it will gain from this subsidy
– I have never been favorably disposed towards this subsidy to Burns, Philp, and Company, because I have always felt that it did not procure for the Commonwealth the advantages which it was represented would be obtained. I cannot help thinking that there is an economic fallacy at the base of all the speeches this evening. We have heard a great deal about the trade advantages to Australia, which will arise out of the subsidy, and a great deal about the extension of her influence. I should like honorable senators to carry their minds back a few weeks to the time when Senator Smith advocated a reduction of duties to a particular group of islands in the Pacific, because, as he pointed out, the Australian producers on the islands could not remain British subjects and still make a livelihood. He pointed out that the products of the islands were barred from coming into Australia by a protective Tariff, and that in consequence every one of these settlers was gradually being obliged to become a French subject. The result of my inquiries is certainly to confirm what he said. I do not think he exaggerated the situation in the least degree.
– There is no duty on copra.
– The imposition of the duties has had the effect of shutting out all other products, except copra.. which comes in free. We are asked to give Burns, Philp, and Company an increased subsidy to trade with the islands, and the result of that trade will be that Australian influence will not be extended, but this firm of traders will be enabled to make a larger profit, or an equal profit on cheaper terms out of the settlers, who are not British subjects. Under these circumstances, I fail to see why the Commonwealth should be asked to subsidize a line of steamers simply for the benefit of a firm of traders in New South Wales, or any other State. I am not in favour of the subsidy. I do not advocate the removal of the head-quarters of the line to Brisbane, or any other port, because I do not care to enter upon an economic discussion of that sort. I oppose this vote on principle. T do not think that the Government have taken into account the results which will accrue from the expenditure of the money
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - It is singular to me that this amount of £”“12,000 which has been proposed by three separate Governments, and has probably had more attention devoted to it than any other sum in this long schedule, should be subjected to so much criticism of an unusual character. Of the total of £12,000 no less than £6,600 will be paid by New South Wales, leaving only .£5,400 to be contributed by the whole of the rest of Australia. I do not think that honorable senators have yet grasped the fact that £12,000 is an exceedingly small sum for the very large services which are to be given under this contract. I believe that £12,000 is about the sum paid by Australia for the excellent service between Melbourne and Launceston. I dare say that that is a cheap service. Presumably the lowest terms were obtained in entering into the contract in regard to it. Now, . we have a proposal under which five different routes are to be traversed all over the Pacific for the same sum. And this expenditure is proposed in competition with France and Germany, which are running mail sendees over the Pacific, and are paying a total of about £80,000. Not only that, but the boats of France and Germany are able to take any crews they like, whereas under the agreement with the Commonwealth Government the steamers under this contract will0 be obliged to carry white crews. The great bulk of the £12,000 will, I can assure honorable senators, be paid away in wages to the crews. The contract really is a very great one for the Commonwealth. In the House of Representatives, while the matter was being discussed, it was stated by an honorable member that the firm of Burns, Philp, and Company were losing £16,000 a year on their island- and New Guinea business. That is a mistake. Up to a certain time £16,000 was the aggregate of the company’s loss in establishing and carrying on the island and New Guinea business. Since then, partly owing to the loss of steamers, the aggregate loss on the business of the firm in these directions has been at least £25,000. Of course the firm of Burns, Philp, and Company have very large business connexions, and it is because they are making large profits in other .directions that they are able to stand these losses. They do not, 1 presume, ask for the sympathy of Australia. They have gone into new business as business men, looking ultimately for these trades to develop until they became profitable. Other circumstances have arisen which made the business unprofitable. But circumstances have arisen which make it desirable for Australia to make some sort of a show in the Pacific.
– What sort of a show in the Pacific?
– A show which, by having these six steamers running together, will extend the mileage.
Senathor Matheson. - Then the subsidyis only for swagger?
– Our swagger senator need not take it in that way.
– The honorable senator says that the object is to make a show - a swagger.
– Australia ought to make in the Pacific some sort of show of its ability to carry on business ; and when this proposal is made, which has been most closely scrutinized by three different Governments, and when the company is willing to -run a total mileage of about 180,000 miles, carrying goods, letters, and passengers, I do not think it needs many words to show that the three Governments were justified in coming to the conclusion that it was advantageous to Australia that the contract should be entered into. In the whole of the circumstances, this strikes me as being remarkably good business for the Commonwealth.
– Senator Pulsford points out that, as three Governments have considered this matter, we ought to agree to it. But that does not make it right. If the honorable senator had been sitting on this side of the Chamber, and this item had come as a recommendation from the Watson Government, he would have viewed it in a different light. He would then have been able to say that because it had been taken up by the previous Government, the Watson Government only took it up because they found it on the book. That is what we were told in connexion with other matters when the Watson Government were in power. Because they indorsed what had been done by previous Governments we were told that that did not make their proposals right, any more than they would have been right if submitted as their own original policy. As a matter of fact, this contract would not have recommended itself to many honorable senators even if the Watson Government had submitted it to Parliament. There were two or three . things which the Watson Government proposed with which I did not agree, although I was a member of their party. Senator Pulsford’s view that New South Wales would pay a verylarge share of this money is not interfered with by the amendment moved by Senator Givens. It is not proposed to touch the existing arrangement. If New South Wales is prepared to allow her money to be spent to assist the business carried on by Burns, Philp, and Company, let her do it, by all means. But if a larger subsidy is to be voted than we think is in the interests of the Commonwealth, and if the best arrangement is not being made in regard to routes, quickness of service, and other particulars, we are justified in taking exception to it. No one for a moment wishes to object to Sydney being a port of call for the line of steamers concerned. We are not saying that Queensland ports should be the only ports of call in Australia for the vessels that come from the South Seas. We do not desire to interfere with the business that has been established in Sydney in connexion with the South Seas. What is claimed is that this is a mail service, and that the first port of call in Australia should be the nearest port available on the mainland. The reason for that is obvious. It is that letters and correspondence should be made available for delivery in Australia at the first possible opportunity. I do not know how any one can cavil at such a proposition. It seems to me that the strongest argument in favour of this point of view has been advanced by Senator Smith, who pointed out that the whole of the trade of New Guinea will go to Thursday Island. The whole of the trade of New Guinea goes to Thursday Island now. It is said that this trade will not be taken from Thursday Island, because of its geographical position. Any one can see that Australia is so situated that it would be stupid for any one to imagine that” the trade of New Guinea could go to .Perth, Adelaide, Fremantle, or any port on the western side of Australia. It is because of the geographical position,, and the communication between Thursday Island, North Queensland, and the outer world, that the trade of New Guinea comes to Thursday Island for transhipment. But if the argument is strong regarding the trade from New Guinea, it is equally strong, or stronger, when we look at the matter from the point of view of a mail service running to the South Sea Islands. It is admitted all round that the nearest port of contact with the islands is the coast of Queensland. I am not saying whether Brisbane, Rockhampton, or Gladstone should be the port of call. The port should be that which is nearest, and where there is railway communication. By means of the railway communication in Queensland we shall be able to give the people in the South Seas a better mail service, by reason of the boats making some particular spot in that State their place of departure and their first port of call, than will be the case under what is proposed. What is asked is that if subsidies are paid by the Commonwealth Government the best service available shall be given to people who have interests at stake. The strongest argument from that point of view also seems to me to have been advanced by Senator Smith. That is, the reason why tenders should be called for’ this service. In the first place, there is not an honorable senator who believes that the Post Office should enter into contracts without giving every one an opportunity to tender if they think fit. It is because of the tender system that the big monopoly Of Cobb and Company, which existed for many years, was ultimately broken up, with the result that there has been a considerably better service to a large number of small towns than they had prior to the time when open tenders were called for. o No one will gainsay that fact in the slightest degree. It was only when smaller firms were able to tender for certain services that the people were better served, and that the Government were in a position to afford greater facilities to those who were paying the money. How much more necessary it is to adopt a similar course in a case like this, when we have complaints made in connexion with the proposed subsidy from Cooktown, and from New South Wales. The statement made by Senator Smith that it would not pay any other company to go into this trade should warrant the Government in calling for tenders in this instance, if they are anxious that fair terms shall be secured. It is pointed out that Burns, Philp, and Company have built up an enormous trade in the South Sea Islands, and that they require this subsidy to enable them to carry on and extend that trade. ‘ It will not be contended that this company, having in the course of a considerable number of years, established stores and a business in the various groups of islands in the Pacific, in New Guinea, and in North Queensland, will abandon the business they have built up if they do not receive this subsidy. I do not know that this subsidy will enable them to carry on their business more effectively than they do at present, but it is possible that it will be useful to them in meeting the competition of other people, which they have felt more keenly as they have pushed their trade to islands further out. We have no reason to believe that, by giving this subsidy to Burns, Philp, and Company, the people settled on the islands which will be connected with Australia by the proposed services will be given any better service than they have at the present time. The fact that Burns, Philp, and Company have established this business, and are alleged to be better able to carry out these services than is any one else, should induce the Government to say, “ You have established your business in these islands, and we do not think it is any part of the duty of the Commonwealth Government to help you to extend that business which you will keep going in any case. But we shall call for tenders for these services, and if any one else desires to go into this business, they shall be given the opportunity to do so.” That is all that we contend for - that instead of the Government subsidizing this company, which has built up a considerable business in the Pacific, they should call for tenders for these services, to see whether there is any one else who is willing to start trade with the Pacific. If we can get some other firm to tender, even though their tender should be about the same as that of Burns, Philp, and Company, it would pay the Commonwealth, and it would be more in the interests of the people settled in the islands, to have two firms rather than one engaged in this business. In such a case, the people settled on the islands would certainly get a better service as a result of the competition between the two firms. We should have a second firm spending money with the object of opening up trade, and there can be no doubt that the people settled on the island would be better served.
– There is not a living for two such firms in this trade.
– We are told that the trade runs to over £1,000,000 a year, and is increasing every year. Surely in such a trade there is room for two firms running small boats to these islands. The idea of firms getting boats built specially for the purpose of carrying on this trade is all moonshine. Most of the boats used in the trade, and which will continue to be used in the trade, are boats that have been run on the Australian coast for years, and have become obsolete so far as that trade is concerned. As newer boats have been brought out to take up the Australian coastal trade, the older vessels have been transferred to the trade with the islands of the Pacific. I submit that it would be wise for the Committee to insist that the Government should call for tenders for these services, in the interests of the people on the islands. We have the statement made that a North Queensland firm, as Burns, Philp, and Company used to be before they got a bigger hold, and established their headquarters in Sydney, is prepared to carry out a mail service between Queensland and New Guinea, and to carry cargo, as they are doing already in competition with Burns, Philp, and Company, for a little more than half what Burns, Philp, and Company are asking for the same service.
– And by a better steamer.
– And by a better boat. Is there any harm, therefore, in calling for tenders, and asking Burns, Philp, and Company to compete with a firm already engaged in this business with themselves? It appears to me that this is but an attempt to insure a monopoly for a firm that has used, or has attempted to use, considerable influence to that end. Honorable senators may say that representatives of Queensland are endeavouring to get facilities for that State which she does not at present enjoy, but at any rate I am not looking at this matter from a purely Queensland point of view. Senator McGregor asked us to discuss this matter from an Australian point of view, and I desire to do so, as well as from the point of view of the people who have settled in the islands, and who are endeavouring to make a living there. We are told that Burns, Philp, and Company are prepared to run half-a-dozen boats, on which they are prepared to spend £100,000 to £150,000 in provisioning and maintaining.
– Will it cost that? Is that estimate reliable?
– I do not know. I take the figures submitted by Senator McGregor. I point out that though it mightbe necessary for the extension of their trade that Burns, Philp, and Company should run five boats if they secured this subsidy, they would, in all probability, continue to run four or five boats if they did not get the subsidy. If tenders are called for these services, and another firm gets the contract, we should have four or five additional boats engaged in the trade; there would be more money spent in provisioning and maintaining the two fleets, and even from Senator McGregor’s point of view, that would appear to be the better course to adopt. Senator McGregor’s argument on the subject does not amount to a very great deal.
– It amounts to this : that the firm that is not subsidized will run its vessel with coloured labour.
– I do not know that it will. The boat which is now being run from Cooktown to New Guinea is not being run by coloured labour. How is it that the firm running that boat has not taken advantage of the opportunity to run it with coloured labour? Boats engaged in this trade have been run for years, and are now being run with white labour. I remind honorable senators that there was very nearly a big strike caused not long ago when the Janet Nickol, employed in the South Sea trade came into Sydney and wished to take a coloured crew from Sydney back to the islands. When in the Commonweal! h we desire to secure a good service on land, we call for tenders, and if that principle is good as applied to services within the borders of the Commonwealth, some reason should be given why the same principle is not equally good when applied to a mail service beyond the Commonwealth. However, this is not a mail service, but a proposal to subsidize a company for carrying on its own business.
– How can it be anything else, when we are told that there is no other company in the Commonwealth able to carry out this service?
– The honorable senator overlooks what the company gives in exchange for the subsidy.
– I am not overlooking what they give in exchange, but I point out that they have this trading business established, and will continue to carry it on.
– Their business under this contract will be to carry mails for the Commonwealth, and that is what we shall pay them for.
– It will be their business to carry anything from the Commonwealth which the Attorney-General may take down to the wharf and pay freight on. They will do business for the Commonwealth only, just in the way in which they will do business for any merchant who has:>goods to send to the islands.
– In the same way as the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Companies do business.
– No; because, in the case of those companies, there is a specific contract entered into for the carriage of mails alone.
– No; for the carriage of frozen produce also.
– That is only within the last few years.
– Within the last ten years.
– At the present time some of our contracts’ with these companies are for the carriage of mails alone, but it is not pretended that this subsidy is for a mail service only. There is also the difference that the Peninsular and Oriental Company has not a monopoly of shipping facilities between Australia and other parts of the world. There are many different lines of boats running between Australia and the various ports at which vessels belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Company call. But in this case that is not so. We are informed that if there were tenders called to-morrow there is no firm in Australia able to compete with Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company.
– Other firms could take the contract, but they could not do the work so well as can Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company.
– That is the strongest reason why the Government ought to call for tenders; and Senator Gray has said that the Union Company could do the work. That, company has a number of boats on; the coast of Queensland’, and could spare half-a-dozen for the South Sea Islands trade; but they have not branches and agencies established, as Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company have, in every little nook and bay, with men there to do trade with the natives. It was further said by Senator Gray that if a company were asked to take this contract up as a mail contract they would probably ask for a subsidy of £50,000. If that be so, what harm could there be in throwing the contract open to competition? If a firm desires to establish a trade, or to extend what little trade they have in the South Seas, what harm could there be in the Government calling for tenders for the whole service, or any portion which a firm might be prepared to undertake ? There is no reason why the Government should not obtain, not only the cheapest, but the best service, which should be made as nearly as possible approximate to a mail service by stipulating that the vessels shall call at the first port from which there is railway communication throughout Australia. If Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company tendered at £12,000, and another firm tendered at £20,000, the first-named firm would obtain the contract, under conditions which were as fair as they could be made to Australia. Another argument which has been used may be described as the patriotic argument. It has been urged that by giving this subsidy we are establishing, or helping to establish, a mercantile marine, from which we may obtain the nucleus of a naval reserve. But where are the firm getting the young chaps who go on board the half-dozen vessels round the coast? They are getting them mostly from the shore, and training them on board, thus making them seamen fit to be drafted into almost any other branch of the service. Those small vessels will get their crews from men already engaged in the mercantile marine, and if those men are called! on they will be prepared to take their place in the defenceof their country. But the bottom falls outof the patriotic view when Senator McGregor admits that if a competing firm got the contract Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company would sacrifice all sentiment, and work their ships with coloured labour. We have not often used that argument in connexion with our coastal marine, because, as a matter of fact, though not so much in Australia as in England, that marine has not been manned by Britishers, or by men who would consider it to their interest to bestir themselves in. the defence of the country where they earn their living. There are two points which we must bear in mind ; first, we should endeavour to make this service the most efficient from a mail point of view ; and, secondly, we should give any other firm or body of persons an opportunity to tender for the service.
– I have listened with very great interest to this debate, and I fancy I shall haveto support the amendment. As an old contractor, I disapprove, and always have disapproved very strongly, of private contracts. I know nothing about Messrs. Burns. Philp, and Company, or any other firm which has been mentioned, but I cannot think it right to hand over a subsidy of £1,000 a month of Commonwealth money without open competition. We are told that Messrs. Burns. Philp, and Company are the only persons who can carry on this trade successfully
– This subsidy was sanctioned by the previous Government.
– That makes it all the worse. I understand that the two previous Governments were willing to pay £12,000 per annum.
– I do not think the Deakin Government were.
– I neverheard that suggestion in Cabinet.
– I do not understand’, however, that the two previous Governments were willing to pay that subsidy without calling for tenders.
– If any honorable senator were a ship-owner, I am sure he would’ feel aggrieved at not having an opportunity to tender, and perhaps open or develop a trade with the South Sea Islands, with a subsidy of £12,000 per annum behind him. That is a large sum, and I have no hesitation in saying that it will be sufficient to pay the wages of the men on the whole of the six ships. Open competition is the principle to which I adhere where public contracts are involved. If we were a private firm of capitalists, and thought fit to give Messrs. Burns, Philp. and Company £12,000 per annum, it might be the best arrangement possible.
– There is no doubt that it is the best arrangement.
– We cannot know whether it is the best arrangement, until we call for public tenders.
– This is pure jobbery !
– I would not say that; it may possibly be the best arrangement, but still I must oppose the policy of handing over public money without public competition. I do not want to see established the precedent of giving large contracts privately.We might be told later on, in the case of public works, that Jones having contracted for one section, was the only person who could successfully carry out the next section, and that the contract ought to be given to him privately. That has been done in Australia over and over again, although it is the experience that when contracts are publicly called for in such cases, the contractor for theone section is scarcely ever successful on regard to the second.
– -“Private letting has never been done in Victoria.
– Yes, it has; John Robb, after doing one section of the Ballarat railway, was privately given the contract for another short section, although there were contractors, who would have done the work at cheaper rates. I was one who waited upon the Railway Commissioners at the time, and protested against such a policy as unsound. I shall support the amendment, without entering into the question whether the amendment proposed be good or bad, relying on the principle that public money, when spent on contracts, should be competed for publicly.
– I am sorry that Senator Styles has stated so positively that he intends to support the amendment.
– I intend to support the principle of public contracts.
– I agree with that principle, but I think that Senator Styles will see that whatever view he may take as to the advisableness of calling for tenders, such a course would be, I shall not say impossible - though I think it would be - but, at any rate, highly disadvantageous to Australia. The discussion has very properly covered a much wider area, than that which Senator Givens originally contemplated; and I desire to recall honorable senators’ attention to what is proposed, and what the points involved are. There is, and has been, a subsidy paid of £3, 600 towards a mail service to the New Hebrides and other islands in the Pacific, but that amount was paid by New South Wales alone, the Commonwealth not contributing a farthing of what is transferred expenditure. In pursuance of the white labour policy, £4,000, or an additional £400 was granted, on condition that black labour was not used, and then £2,000 per annum was granted as an additional subsidy, for the extension of the services. Those two latter sums represent £6.000, the bulk of which was paid by New South Wales. The details of the contract are set out in a summary which was laid on the table of the Senate on the nth November last, and are embodied in a contract finally entered into in July, 1902. The contractors are Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, and there are two points which have occupied, what T might call the foremost place in the debate- the rival claims of Sydney and Brisbane. It is perfectly legitimate for honorable senators to have full regard to the interests of the States which they represent. We, from Western
Australia and Adelaide, were asked whether we should be satisfied if the mail boats passed our shores ; and there is no doubt that we are bound to do the best we can in the interests of our particular States, other things being equal. We are not to sacrifice national interests, but subject to those interests, we ought to do the best we can for our own States; I say that freely and emphatically. On the other hand, I think undue prominence has been given to Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, and to their business, which I hope has been a profitable one. But whether the business has been profitable or not, it has been of distinct advantage to Australia, of which we are citizens. I deprecate many of the remarks which have been made in connexion with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. We ought to look at this question, as far as we can, detached from any firm or firms - as Senator McGregor said, we ought to regard it from the standpoint of the interests of Australia, and from the stand-point of the efficiency of the service, and in the best way to carry out the purposes we all have in view. That being the state of things, and this contract existing in July, 1902, in the hands of a particular firm, what firm is most likely to have the facilities, the agencies, and establishments to carry out the service? Where are we likely, in a hurry, or at the moment, to get the best service for the purpose of carrying out the objects we have in view ? Why, by taking those who already enjoy a subsidy of £3,600 from New South Wales, and £1,400 from the Commonwealth, in respect of an existing service which everybody admits is wholly inefficient in respect of the area it covers, and is inefficient in respect of regularity. No service is likely to be effectual for the interests of the mails or the trade of Australia, for. the development of our relations with these islands, unless it has the one important feature of regularity.
– But the honorable and learned senator told me, when I was speaking, that this subsidy had nothing to do with commerce.
– It is my fault that I did not express clearly enough what I meant, and when it is mentioned I do not think that even my honorable friend will trouble about pressing the motion to a division. That was the state of things in July, 1902. Australia was impressed with the condition of things in these islands. It was reminded of the fact that it had not a mail service running to a number of these islands, and that it had not regularity of service. The result of this irregularity was that the foreign ships were encroaching upon what ought to be the preserves of Australia for trade and commerce. Government after Government was urged to do something to extend the service, and to establish it on a regular basis. Mr. Deakin ‘s Government took the representations into consideration. After investigation, through Captain Razon, Mr. Woodford, and the other gentleman who has been referred to by Senator Smith, and quite apart from all commercial considerations, they appealed to persons who could give them an independent judgment, and a large and impartial knowledge of the whole question, and they came to the conclusion that this further extension of this particular island service could only be accomplished on the most economical basis’ at an amount which they all agreed should be £6,000. It was cut down as far as possible. Mr. Deakin declared, over and over again, on independent testimony, that that was a fair price, and everybody was satisfied that the only people at this moment who could carry out the service - having everything at their disposal - were Burns, Philp and Company. That position was taken up in January last.
– But it never passed the Cabinet.
– I only know what Mr. Deakin has said. At all events, this proposal is not brought down by the present Ministry on the spur of the moment. Mr. Watson’s Government took the matter into consideration, and indorsed the conclusions on all the grounds which have been so well stated by Senator McGregor.
– They accepted the position as they found it.
– I do not think that Senator McGregor will accept that situation for a moment. They went into the subject as honorable men anxious to promote the interests of Australia.
– The inquiry was made before thev came into office.
– They adopted the result of the inquiry and placed a sum on the Estimates for the purpose. The present Government came into office and made an inquiry. We confirmed the views taken up by the two preceding Governments, not necessarily by Cabinet decisions, and adopted their Estimates. What is the mo- 13 f 2 tion before the Committee? It is to strike out the item of £6,000, and to absolutely cancel the service, because, being without money, we should not be able to continue the service until Parliament met again. That is the situation in which my honorable friend wishes to place us.
– Will the honorable and learned senator declare that the Government will call’ for tenders for the various services?
– My honorable friend has had months in which he could have tabled a motion in the Senate.
– We cannot get to the motions which we have tabled because the Government have taken away our time.
– Let us look at the question as practical men. My honorable friend asks the Committee to strike out this item of £6,000 which three Governments, since January last, have said was necessary to provide for this service which we all want. Mr. Deakin has said that he has sketched out an agreement, but it is not entered into yet. My honorable friends will have a perfectly free hand when they come back here in a few months, because the existing contract, entered into in July, 1902, for the service which cost the first £6,000, contains a condition which was read by Senator Higgs to-day in his long and most interesting speech -
That, notwithstanding anything hereinbefore mentioned, the Government may terminate the agreement by a notice in writing in the event of Parliament declining or failing to vote the money.
All that my honorable friends need do next year - and we shall be running the service in the meantime - is to table a motion that tenders shall be called before the next Estimates are submitted, and if tenders were received for a smaller sum, ,the Parliament would not vote the money.
– We should be told that we were repudiating an agreement.
– The draft agreement provides for that course being taken ; but my honorable friends wish to strike out this item of £6,000, and paralyze the whole mail and trade services, when they would have full power in their hands to deal with the subject next year. Now, we cannot strike out this sum. It is of no use saying that we can.
– Why can I not? I could keep the honorable and learned senator here for a week on this matter if I liked.
– I should be most happy to stay, but let my honorable friend ask Senator Playford if such a thing could be done. No statesman would think of doing such a thing for a moment. How can we possibly advertise for tenders now ? The conditions are those which Burns, Philp, and Company, in conjunction with three Governments, have decided upon. What should we have to advertise? We could not advertise for tenders to carry mails amongst all these islands simply. We should have to put in conditions. What conditions should be put in ? We should have to put in the conditions which this company and three Governments have agreed upon, and the result, as Senator Smith said, would be a perfect farce. After the experience of .the next eight or nine months, however, we could alter the conditions as we pleased. Senator Styles will tell mv honorable friend at once that it would be a very novel thing if we first of all arranged with a contractor to do a job on certain conditions, and then advertised the conditions.
– It would be very improper to arrange with him.
– It would be very improper.
– When was the agreement signed?
– Practically when this amount was put on the Estimates.
– I am not here any more than any honorable senator to attempt to subsidize or give a monopoly to anybody. We are all here to do our best for the interests of Australia. We are not here to give a preference in this matter to Brisbane over Sydney, or to Sydney over Brisbane. But there is one very emphatic reason which appeals to me in regard to Sydney, and that is the fact that it is the centre of this trade. Perhaps we should have to pay a higher subsidy if the terminus were removed to Brisbane or Cooktown.
– Has this contract been signed ?
– No, it cannot be signed until the money has been voted. Senator Givens said rightly enough that this is a subsidy. It is a subsidy in its intention for a mail service. We cannot expect this firm to accept our subsidy of any particular amount unless they have trade to help them along. The Peninsular and Oriental Company would not have carried our mails at the price which we have been in the habit of paying, unless they had goods and passengers to carry as well. This is not a subsidy to assist a firm in carrying on their trade. It is a subsidy which is measured and fixed between the contracting parties by reference to the amount which they will be able to make out of their passenger and goods traffic, and which, of course, enables them to carry our mails at a lower figure, and to visit a larger number of islands. Senator Givens asked me whether this was a mail subsidy. Of course it is a mail subsidy, but whether it is a mail subsidy or not, it certainly is not a bounty. The idea that “the subsidy is unconstitutional has no foundation. I have said this much, because I feel .that the debate has been an important and interesting one. “Undoubtedly this is a matter that ought to be. ventilated. The views put forward by honorable senators are of great importance and value. I need hardly say that I shall take care that they are put before the Government, and that every care will be taken in the framing of the final agreement and in its conditions to see that the interests of the Commonwealth are thoroughly safeguarded. Even as regards the different States, care will be taken to see that no injustice is done. In fact, as the VicePresident of the Executive Council intimated, tha Prime Minister has already stated as to two of the three alternative mail services, that an arrangement has been made that the vessels shall call at Brisbane. No attempt will be made to slight or pass by Queensland in any respect. But I am perfectly certain that a very much larger sum will be required if the centre of the trade is shifted from Sydney. All these elements have been taken into consideration. The service takes in a very much larger area than our own islands. Of course, out mails go to islands that belong to foreign Governments. We cannot limit our mail service to our own Possessions, but must include other places with which we trade. I hope that, looking at this as a practical question, honorable senators will not vote for the amendment, recognising that, in any case, there will be ample opportunity to table a motion, and to reconsider the subject next session. Parliament will not vote the money again if it thinks that the arrangement is detrimental to all the interests concerned. I may add, before sitting down, that the two lines which are to call at Brisbane are the Sydney to Solomon Islands line and the New Guinea line.
– I think there is a great deal of misapprehension as to the position in which we find ourselves in reference to this question. Senator Styles has laid down a very sound general principle. Where public money has to be spent on lines that- are distinct, and where ali the conditions are clearly understood, there should be public competition. But that is not so in this case. To start with, there was a contract between a State and the firm of Burns, Philp, and Company. When Federation took place that contract was taken over and extended. Out of the performance of that contract, and out of the negotiations between the Federal Government and the contractor, have grown other suggestions that have been finally adopted by _ the Government ; but adopted in consequence of negotiations with the existing contractor. Now it is under consideration that we should increase ‘the subsidy for the purpose of developing a more satisfactory trade. The only knowledge we have as to what is possible is what has arisen out of the negotiations between the present contractor and the Government. Therefore it seems reasonable and fair, in these peculiar circumstances, to depart from the sound principle that Senator Styles has laid down. Suppose we do this fair thing for the ensuing few months until Parliament meets again, and can deal with the question more fully. We shall then have had several months of the working of this new contract. “We shall have it in a concrete form, so that we shall be able to say whether or not we desire to continue it. We shall have the advantage of experience. But at the present time what we have to consider is, first of all : Is the trade with the islands of sufficient importance to warrant us in paying out of the Commonwealth funds £6,000 as a subsidy ? For this subsidy we get a service for which, supposing there are any number of ships running, we should probably have to pay the same money. My honorable friend, Senator Styles, has been connected with many contracts, and he would Consider it ‘a monstrously unfair thing that an. ignorant person - and the Commonwealth (Government is in some respects igno- rant in connexion with this intricate question - should approach a contractor with a view to acquire fuller information in reference to matters in which they were both interested ; and that then, having got the information from the contractor, the person should say, *’ Thank you, I am now going to call for tenders on these conditions.” I shall vote for the proposed subsidy, and during the ensuing months I shall take advantage of the opportunity to look into the working of the contract, with the object of seeing whether it should be continued in the future. In the meantime the Government would be acting wrongly if they did not take the stand they are taking. It has been said that the fact that three Governments have acquiesced in this arrangement, is no reason why we should adopt it. I quite agree that that is not a sufficient reason in itself. But the fact that three Governments, with a greater knowledge of the details than we can possibly have, and with, the responsibility of looking into the matter as fully as. they could, have arrived at the conclusion that this is the best that can be done, while it is not proof, is strong presumptive evidence that is the best.
– One Government has finally dealt with the matter; the other Governments only had it tentatively before them.
– I am proud to think that Governments feel their responsibilities and recognise them. It does not matter to me whether it is a Government that T am supporting, or a Government that I am opposing ; we may lay down the principle that Governments in Australia - Commonwealth Governments, at any rate - recognise the responsibility of their positions, and when matters; come before them, which have been decided by previous Governments, hold it to be their duty to investigate and ascertain whether what commended itself to their predecessors commends itself to them. Therefore, for all practical purposes, it . is just the same to me as if this subject had been investigated separately by three Governments. I think it would be to a great extent a breach of faith if we did not vote this subsidy. Consequently I intend to support the Government.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I intend to reply to one or two of the alleged arguments that have been used against my proposal. In the first place, we have been told by the Attorney-General that if we refuse to vote this money, we shall be abrogating the whole of the mail services with the islands.
– He did not say that.
– The AttorneyGeneral is present, and he can correct me if I am wrong.
– No; I did not say that; I did not refer to the existing services in that respect.
– The AttorneyGeneral also said that if we failed to vote this money, it would be, to a certain extent, repudiation - that it would be actual repudiation, inasmuch as the agreement was entered into with Burns, Philp, and Company. But he had to admit when pressed that the agreement was not signed ; and he, as a legal gentleman, must know that no agreement is binding unless it is signed. Until the increased -subsidy is voted by this Parliament, the Government has no right to incur any expenditure.
– One of the conditions is the voting of the amount by Parliament.
– We are always told when, a Government goes in for anything of this kind, and puts a sum of money on the Estimates, that it will be repudiation if we refuse to vote the amount. If that were so, Parliament would have absolutely no control over the finances of the country. A Government could bleed the country to any extent at its own sweet will. I refuse to be influenced by a flimsy argument of that kind. We have been told that Burns, Philp and Company are the only people who can efficiently carry out these services. That is not a correct statement, and it would not be made by any one who knows , the circumstances. It should not be stated by any one who is not acquainted with the circumstances, because it is calculated to mislead.
– The honorable senator is grossly exaggerating the statement which has been made.
– If I recollect rightly, Senator McGregor said that Burns, Philp, and Company is the only company that to equip itself for the service.
– I did not say anything of the kind. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company could do it if it chose..
– It would have to do it at a great loss, as it would take months to equip itself for the service.
– In the first place, there was no necessity to let the contracts in bulk. They might have been let separately, and if that had been done, there are other firms that would have been prepared to tender. With regard to the service to New Guinea, there is a Queensland company, Clunn and Sons, already trading between Queensland and New Guinea with a better boat in every respect, than the boat used by Burns, Philp, and Company in the same trade. Clunn and Sons trade with a steamer called the Papuan, which is a vessel of 160 tons, or 54 tons larger than the vessel with which Burns, Philp, and Company carry on that trade, and they are prepared to give a better service than do Burns, Philp and Company, and at little more than half the cost. They are refused a look in at all, and I ask how honorable senators can justify jobbery of this kind, because that is what it is. It has been the desire to cover up jobbery of this kind which has led to the tenders being called in bulk.
– We shall insist upon tenders being called (Separately next time.
– The AttorneyGeneral also used that argument. He said that, if at this time next year we find that ser vice has not been conducted satisfactorily, we can refuse to vote the money, and the contract will come to an end. We have exactly the same remedy at hand’ now, and I propose to take advantage of it.
– There is no time now to make other arrangements.
– The existing arrangements will continue.
– They are not sufficient to meet the extended services required.
– I have already pointed out that so far as the service to New Guinea is concerned, we have another firm ready to jump into the business, and give us the extended service at once, with a better steamer than that supplied by Burns, Philp, and Company, and for a little more than half the money which it is proposed we should pay to that firm. What does the Commonwealth owe to Burns, Philp, and Company that it should make them a present of £1,000 for the New Guinea service? That is what is proposed, and it is a scandalous piece of business on the face of it. What are the facts with regard to the New Guinea service? Burns, Philp, and Company propose under their contract merely to serve their own trading stations. They propose to call at Daru, where there are only two Government officers, and two of their own officials. The condition of things is exactly the same at Hall’s Sound, and at various other places at which they propose to call. If our desire is to open up trade with New Guinea, and give the settlers of the Territory an efficient mail se’rvice, we should secure the best boat and the best service offered, and that is the boat and the service offered by Clunn and Sons, of Cooktown. A humble firm like that is entitled to as much consideration from this Committee as is an octopus firm like Burns, Philp, and Company. The AttorneyGeneral has .said that the only people who can carry the whole thing out are Burns, Philp, and Company; but I point out that there is no necessity for us to intrust the carrying out of the whole thing to any one firm. The point I make is that we should be likely to get a better service by dividing the proposed service into three separate contracts ; one for a service to the Solomon Islands, another for a service to the New Hebrides, and the third for a service with British New Guinea. However much honorable senators may sneer at the 160-ton boat provided by Clunn and Sons, it i* at all events, superior to the boat which is used by Burns, Philp, and Company in the same service.
– Do they employ only white labour on their boat?
– Yes, and it is the boat favoured by miners and other people who have to travel between Queensland and New Guinea.
– I understand that the Papuan has a crew of ten coloured men and six white men.
– I should like to know what authority Senator Smith has for that statement?
– A statement read out by the Attorney-General.
– I did not hear the Attorney-General read out any statement of the kind. The proposal is to give a subsidy to Burns, Philp, and Company to carry on trade with their own stations at the expense of the people of the Commonwealth, and that, instead of Being good for the Commonwealth, will be bad for this country, because it will enable Burns, Philp, and Company to squeeze out every other trader engaged in the trade with these islands. At present^ it is next to impossible for other persons to take part in this trade.
-Col. Neild. - No other trader has tried to do so.
– As a matter of fact, the Australian .United Steam Navigation
Company tried it for a considerable time, the firm of Walsh and Company, of North Queensland, also tried it, and other firms have tried it. I propose an alternative scheme for the consideration of the Government, if they must make Burns, Philp, and Company a present of £1,000 in connexion with the service to New Guinea - I suggest that they should still do so, and give Clunn and Sons the contract. _ This would result in a better service, whilst Burns, Philp, and Company would get their present all the same. I have before said that by my amendment I do not propose to interfere with the £3,000 a year which New South Wales is contributing in this matter. On behalf of the State I appeal to the Committee not to allow this vote. I appeal on the grounds of fair dealing and honesty in public transactions, and in the interests of Queensland and of the Commonwealth. I shall persist with my amendment to the utmost, so that by means of a division we may see those who are in favour of honest and straightforward business.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- Senator Smith, in the course of his very admirable speech a few days ago, said, so far as I understand, that £7,000 a year could be saved if the Merrie England were done away with, and that the contract under discussion would enable us to dispense with that vessel. As the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs may pay a visit to New Guinea, he will have the opportunity to make inquiries as to whether this saving could be effected. I am indebted to Senator Smith for pointing out another argument, the strength of which I do not think Senator Givens has realized. Honorable senators from Queensland have exhibited a great deal of opposition to the contract; but I would point out to them that when the first £6,000 was paid there were three services, all of which had to start from Sydney. Then I understand Queensland put in a claim, and the then Prime Minister arranged for two additional services, the steamers of which were to call at Brisbane. It is for those additional services that the extra £6,000 is being paid, so that Queensland is getting almost the whole of the benefit of the money.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item - “ Improved New Hebrides, Solomon, and Norfolk Islands services, new services to Solomon, Gilbert, Ellice, and New
Guinea, £6,000 “-put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Divisions 15 to 17, £10,394.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).Does the Attorney-General propose to proceed any further with the Estimates tonight ?
– I do not think it is fair to ask the Committee to proceed, considering that we met at half -past eleven o’clock this morning, and that on previous occasions the Senate has adjourned, even for a week or a fortnight, when important business had to be transacted.
– I ask the Chairman whether the honorable senator is in order. The honorable senator, though he does not mean to do so, is not treating me quite fairly. He asked me a question as to whether I intended to proceed further, and I courteously answered him in the affirmative.
– How far does the Attorney-General propose to go?
– I shall see what progress we make.
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing how long the Committee propose to sit to-night. He must discuss the item before the Chair.
– I object to the provision of £310 per annum for a secretary to the representative of the Government in the Senate. I do not see the necessity for any such officer. Who is the representative of the Government in the Senate?
– The honorable senator knows very well.
– When the Deakin Government were in power, we had the Attorney-General and the Vice-President of the Executive Council in this Chamber, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council was then the representative of the Government, or leader of the Senate.
– The positions are reversed now.
– I do not know whether they are or not. We have no official information as to who is leader of the Government here. In any case, I wish to know why it is necessary to have a secretary to the representative of the Government here? If I recollect rightly, it was said that Senator O’Connor did not receive any payment as a Minister, and that it would not be fair to ask him to do a great deal of work which might very well be done by a secretary. If the Attorney-General is now the representative of the Government the same excuse cannot be offered on his behalf, for I understand that he is paid. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “ Secretary to the Representative of the Government in the Senate,
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). It is not fair for an honorable senator to move that the salaries of any officers be left out, when he has not the slightest knowledge of the work which they have to do. Either the officers in the Public Service are doing their work efficiently, or they should not be where they are. The services of this particular officer have been of the greatest value to the Senate in facilitating the transaction of public business. The AttorneyGeneral might have a secretary and ‘ other officers at his command, but he could not always go to his office. The gentleman whose salary we are asked to omit does work in the Attorney-General’s office. If Senator Stewart would only make a little inquiry before he attacks individual positions I do not believe that he would hurt the feelings of any officer in the Public Service.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).-I object to the tone adopted by Senator McGregor. It appears to me that his short tenure of office as a Minister of the Crown has caused him to fall away in a very great measure from the principles which I consider ought to govern the members of the party to which he belongs. He has brought me to task for hurting the feelings of an officer. I do not know who this gentleman is.
– The honorable senator ought to find out first what he does.
– I know nothing about the officer. I was speaking in an entirely impersonal way. I have no desire to hurt the feelings of any one, but I have a public duty to discharge. If I think that an officer is superfluous, it is my duty to express my view, and if it can be shown to me that his services are absolutely necessary, then, of course, I shall admit that I am in the wrong. I was under the impression that the Prime Minister had no private secretary, but I find that he has, and I suppose that the leader of the Government here must be equipped in a similar fashion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I wish to know what the Attorney-General proposes to do about the books for the departmental library. I observe an item of £300 for this purpose. It is quite certain that a Law Department cannot be worked without a good library, but as there are a considerable number of law books and works of reference in the parliamentary library, within 200 yards of my honorable and learned friend’s chambers, and as we are asked to vote £400 for law books for the High Court, is it absolutely necessary to vote £300 for books for the departmental library? Was any money voted last year for law books, and are they all kept in the Department? Is it proposed to ask for a sum each year for this purpose,. or will this sum be sufficient?
– I cannot tell my honorable friend whether I shall go on asking for a sum each year for this purpose, because I may not be occupying the position of Attorney-General. if he will refer to the Estimates, he will find that while £500 was voted last year for this purpose, only £326 was spent. For that reason all that is asked for this year is £300. The probability is that in another year or so no vote will be necessary.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- Under the head of High Court, I observe an item of £185 for a clerk in the principal registry, and an item of £185 for a clerk in the district registry, at Sydney. When the first estimates of the High Court were under consideration, I asked Senator O’Connor whether there would have to be a registrar in each State, and he replied most emphatically that it would not be necessary, as an officer in the State would be able to do the small amount of work required to be done. That answer appears to be wrong, or else these two items are unnecessary. I desire to know whether it is necessary to have a clerk in the district registry in Sydney, as well as a clerk in the principal registry here; whether there are twenty or thirty, or forty cases in Sydney in the year, and, if so, whether a register of that small number is required?
- Senator O’Connor’s answer was perfectly correct. We have a district registry in each .State, except Victoria, where there is, of course, the principal registry. None of the district registrars in the States, other than New South Wales, is paid, because there is very little business to do in Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland. There is business to be done in some of the States, but very little, and, therefore, there is no fixed rate. In Victoria and New South Wales, however, there is a very large amount of business, and it is absolutely essential that there should be a registrar in Melbourne and Sydney. The remuneration which is made to them is, I think, infinitesimal in comparison with their duties. It ought to be more.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral give the Committee some information about the item of £2,000 for travel- ‘ ling expenses?
– That sum. is required to defray the travelling expenses of the Judges, the associates, and the tipstaffs throughout the year.
– A very extravagant sum.
– The amount voted for last financial year was £1,900, and it was exceeded by £54. £1,954 was the expenditure for eight months, or the period during which the Court was in existence in the last financial year. For the current year it is practically the same amount that we are asked to vote. Of course, in the first year the travelling expenses were rather more, because of the course adopted of going to the different States in order to inaugurate the High Court. During the present year circuits will only take place when there is business to be transacted. Therefore, the amounthere is literally a third less than it was last year.
– It is £40 a week, all the same.
– Has the honorable and learned senator any of the items here?
– No; but this sum includes the travelling expenses of the three Judges and the officers of the Court.
– What are the three Judges allowed per day?
– It was, stated last year that they are allowed their expenses, certified by the Chief Justice.
– They ought to be allowed to keep them down a bit.
– They are keeping them down. Surely my honorable friend must see that a reduction by one-third is a considerable one. I agree with my honorable friend that every effort should be made to keep the expenses down, and so far as I am concerned I shall take care to exercise a supervision with that object in view.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- It was stated in a newspaper some time ago that the Chief justice had issued an order to the effect that litigants would not be allowed to appeal directly from one of the State Courts to the High Court.
– I think my honorable friend must have misunderstood what he read.
– The impression conveyed to my mind was that if a case were tried in Queensland in a District Court, an appeal could not be made to the High Court direct, but the appellant would have to go first to the Supreme Court.
– Cases have been taken directly from a Court of petty sessions to the High Court.
– I am very pleased to hear that intimation.
– It has been done in Victoria.
Department of Home Affairs.
Divisions 18 to 24, £166,803.
– I took occasion some time ago to refer to. what I believe to have been substantial grievances affecting a number of Commonwealth employes in Queensland. I am at a disadvantage in having to discuss those grievances at this late hour.
– If my honorable friend wishes to have further time to deal with those cases, I shall be happy to agree to postpone division No. 20 until! to-morrow.
– I desire that the Attorney-General will to-morrow give us information in detail as to what appear to me , to be extravagant items in connexion with the administration of the office of the Public Service Commissioner. We have such items as £500 for postage and’ telegrams, £500 for temporary assistance, £75 for writing paper and envelopes, £125 for office requisites, and so on.
– I will bring all the information I can onevery item.
– It seems to me that much of this expenditure is extravagant, unless some satisfactory explanation can be given.
Division 20 (Public Service Commission) postponed.
Senator STEWART (Queensland.- I should like to know whether the commission of 6 per cent. is still being ‘paid to States officers for supervising the erection of Commonwealth buildings. I think that 5 per cent. would be sufficient. Architects do not usually ask for more.
– I presume that the same rate is being paid as was formerly paid, but I will ascertain for certain. In any case, I do not think that it would be worth while to disturb the rate which has been paid for four years for the sake of 1 per cent., especially as the amount will gradually diminish.
– I may explain from my knowledge of the way in which the work is done in some of the States, that we have much more than the services of officers1 in the Public Works Departments of the States carrying on Commonwealth work. Sometimes a certain amount of plant is required, and that is all included in the 6 per cent. Taking all the facts into consideration, I do not think the amount is exorbitant.
– I think it has already been decided by resolution that it is desirable that the work of the Commonwealth in connexion with buildings should be carried out on the day-labour system. I should like to ask the AttorneyGeneral if that is being done? Are the Government giving effect to the resolution, or are they ignoring it ?
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia). - There is a work now being carried on by the Government, as to which the day-labour system might well be applied. I refer to the Fremantle fortifications. That class of work generally lends itself to the day-labour system. I should like to ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he will obtain a report from the officers of the Department as to whether that work cannot be done by day labour ?
– I shall make a note of the matter, and see that it is taken into consideration.
– 1 cannot help expressing my regret that this schedule should be crushed’ into the end of the session when we cannot give to it that consideration to which it is entitled. I know something about the public works of one of the States, and from that experience I think that Parliament ought to be supplied with fuller information as to what officers are employed, the work which they supervise, and the cost per cent, of the supervision. Senator Dobson has made the suggestion, and I would emphasize it, that we should have an annual report from the Public Works Department, giving an account of the work done. I hope that the leader of the Senate will take that into consideration.
– I see that the salary set down for the Inspector-General of Public Works is £800. I understood that Colonel Owen was to receive £1,000 a year.
– The salary is £800 a year. My honorable friend will no doubt be gratefully surprised to find that it is less than he thought. I shall certainly give consideration to the remarks with regard to a report from the Public Works Department. I know that in the States such reports are furnished to Parliament. It is an admirable system, and I shall take care that consideration is given to the suggestions made.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I have always been dissatisfied with this Public Works Department. I see that in addition to the Inspector-General, provision is made for the salary of a Superintendent of Works for New South Wales, and a similar officer in Victoria, at salaries, of £600 each. If these officers are necessary, I do not complain of their salaries, because we need to have men of professional experience. But the point which I wish to make is that we should, as far as possible, work through States officers.” We have withdrawn from the control of the States Departments, the Defence, Post-office, and
Customs buildings. Therefore, the States officers have less to do than formerly. Many of us objected to the appointment of. an Inspector-General, thinking that the States officers could do the greater part of the work. I am aware, of course, that Sir William Lyne, when he was Minister of Home Affairs, said that he would not be responsible for public works that were carried out under officers who were not in his own control. If the Federal Parliament takes that view, there will be no such thing as bringing about harmony between the States and the Commonwealth. We ought to endeavour to use the States Public Works officers as far as possible, paying the States a 6 per cent, commission, which is a generous one. I could build a new house if I could afford it, paying 5 per cent, to an architect, and getting everything done.
– The 6 per cent, includes supervision, and the use pf plant in many cases.
– No doubt, it includes the use of scaffolding, and that kind of thing, but -still, 6 per cent, is a very generous amount indeed. There is great room for extravagance under the present bastard system, under which we give 6 per cent, to States for carrying out some works, whilst other works are carried out under the direction of three important Commonwealth officers at high salaries. Is it the duty of the Superintendent of Works in New South Wales and in Victoria to overlook and inspect buildings in connexion with which we pay the 6 per cent, commission charge? if it is, we are paying through the nose for this work under the bastard system adopted. In my opinion, this Department is making for extravagance, and not for economy
– The Department is not making for extravagance, and it is making for economy. If the honorable and learned senator had studied the matter with a little more minuteness, he would have found that we are gradually doing what he desires should be done. It could not all be done in one day, and honorable senators will remember that there was the very greatest possible reluctance displayed against the creation of new Commonwealth Departments. There was very great objection urged to the establishment of any Commonwealth Public Works Department. For a considerable time, under the Barton Government, we struggled along in a hand-to-mouth way as best we could, but as time has gone on, we have been able to establish a Department, and we are now doing for ourselves a great deal of the work in respect of which the 6 per cent, commission had previously to be paid. If Senator Dobson imagines that these officers are appointed at salaries of £600 a vear each to walk about the streets with their hands in their pockets, he is entirely mistaken. There is still some work which has to be done in the old way, but these officers have a great deal of work to do, and they relieve the Commonwealth of expense which was previously incurred in the payment of the commission to which reference was made.
– Then there must be less work for the States officials, and the States Departments must be overmanned.
– What have we to do with the States Departments ?
– We have this to do with them, that by bringing new men into the Federal Departments, old States servants must be dismissed, if there is not to be extravagance.
– We cannot help that; that is a natural consequence of Federation, for which the honorable and learned senator voted.
– I object to the creation of unnecessary Departments.
– Does the honorable and learned senator contend that this is an unnecessary Department?
– It is unnecessarily large1, considering that we pay 6 per cent, commission to States officers for doing a great deal of the work.
– We are not paying 6 per cent, commission where our own officers are doing the work.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).Some time ago we passed, in an Appropriation Ball, a vote of .£117,000 for additions, new works, buildings, &c, and on the Estimates we have another vote of £90,000 for works and buildings.
– We have not come to that vote yet.
– I wish to know why all the expenditure on public works is not put under the one heading, that it might all be under our eyes at the same time?
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I asked a question, to which I have, so far, received no reply. I wish to know whether the Government propose to take into consideration the motion passed by the Senate, at the instance of Senator Pearce, to the effect that work of this kind required to be done by the Commonwealth, should be done by day labour. The AttorneyGeneral said that that course might be adopted with respect to one work inWestern Australia, but I think that the application of the principle to all works, carried out by the Commonwealth requiresconsideration from the Government.
– I apologize to my honorable friend, if he thinks, that I overlooked his question. I thought I was answering the abstract question in> answering the specific question put by Senator Pearce. I intended to do so. The terms of the motion referred to are being; carried out wherever thev are applicable.
Senator STEWART’ (Queensland).- I should like some explanation of the matter to which I referred just now. Some time ago we passed an Appropriation Bill dealing with additions, new works, buildings, &c, in connexion with which we voted a. sum of £117,000. We are now asked tovote an additional sum of £90,000, and I should like to know why these votes have been separated?
– This vote of £90,000 has no relation whatever to what I may call the structural works and buildings, dealt with by the Bill we had under consideration the other day. That Bill dealt with new works, whilst the honorable senator will find that the item on which this vote will be expended are set out in detail, and cover rent, repairs, maintenance, fittings, and furniture.
– A vote of £3,000 is put down to make provision for Sydney Government House, and I should like to know whether this provision is made in respect of what is knownas the State Government House at Sydney, or a distinctly’ separate building, used only for the purposes of the Commonwealth. We find here such items as “ Maintenance of house, £500 ; maintenance of grounds, £1,000 ; telephones, £100; postal charges, £50; fittings and furniture, £100 ; flags, £25 ; lighting on public occasions and for offices, £250, included in the total vote of £3,000.’’’” I believe that at the inception of the Commonwealth it was necessary that Sydney Government House should be used by the Governor-General, who stayed in that city for some time. But since the first and second Governors-General have departed the place has been used as a residence only on odd occasions. The Governor-General, how- ever, visits other States besides the State of New South Wales, and I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to provide him with official residences in those States. Why should one State be singled out for special treatment? The Governor-General must, of course, have a residence in Victoria while the Seat of Government remains in Melbourne. If we maintain a separate establishment for him in New South Wales, we should do the same thing in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, which he intends, I understand, to visit in the near future.
– Three thousand pounds is more than we pay our Governor in Tasmania.
– If the money is paid in respect to a Government House used by the State authorities as well as by the Governor-General, I would like to know why similar arrangements are not made in regard to the other States, all of which the Governor-General is expected to visit. Is the Commonwealth committed in perpetuity to the maintenance of a Government House in New South Wales merely for the pleasure of a few people in that State? This seems to be like throwing a sop to Cerberus. We are trying to placate the people of New South Wales, who are dissatisfied because the Seat of Government is not fixed in Sydney, and cannot be located within a hundred miles of that city. Does the Governor-General visit New South Wales more than any other State ?
– Is there anyreason why he should do so? Victoria is the State in which he is domiciled. Even if he visits New South Wales more frequently than he visits the other States, why should we maintain a residence for him there all the year round ? How many months in the year has the present Governor-General resided in Sydney? He has been in Queensland for a longer period,I think, than in New South Wales. Is there any reason why we should provide £250 for the lighting of a Government House which is used only occasionally or £20 for flags, or £100 for china and glass, and £1,000 for the maintenance of the grounds. Surely the Government of New South Wales is able to extend hospitality to the Governor-General when he visits that State, and does not expect the Commonwealth to provide £3,000 to relieve her of that responsibility. I venture to say that when the Governor-General re cently visited Queensland the Government of that State, on behalf of its people, put its hand into the Treasury and extended to him a welcome suited to his dignity. Similarly, when he goes to Tasmania, as he will do shortly, the Government of Tasmania will supplement the private hospitality of the Governor of that State, and treat him in a manner befitting his high position. But why should the Commonwealth provide him with a house at an expense of £3,000 a year for the rare occasions whenhe visits New South Wales? We. should take a stand against this expenditure, and determine that there shall be only one Governor-General’s establishment, known as the Government House of the Commonwealth, and situated where the Seat of Government is. While the Seat of Government remains temporarily in Victoria the Commonwealth Government House should be in Melbourne, and when a Federal Territory is chosen in New South Wales, and the Seat of Government is fixed there, the Commonwealth Government House should be there, and there only.
– There is a great deal of force in what the honorable and learned senator has said, and the time will probably soon come when the advisability of continuingto maintain a residence in Sydney for a Governor-General must be considered. I would, in the first place, inform the honorable and learned senator that the vote is for the maintenance of a residence which is used exclusively and solely by the Governor-General. Not only did the people of New South Wales put their Government House at the disposal of the Commonwealth free of rent, we merely maintaining it-
– A very favorable arrangement for New South Wales.
– My honorable friend will not say that unreservedly when I inform him that, to enable them to do so, they had to obtain another residence for their own Governor,
– Would the Government accept a similar offer from Tasmania?
– The visits of the Governor-General toother States are much less frequent, and of shorter duration, than those which he pays to New South Wales, the present occupant of the office, who has been in Australia for only a short time, having already resided four months in the . Sydney Government House. The origin of this arrangement was not at all open to criticism. The first Governor-General was sworn in in Sydney, and the inaugural ceremonies connected with the inception of the Commonwealth took place there, Sydney being at the time de facto, though perhaps not de jure, the Seat of Government. Certainly, New South Wales is not a gainer by the arrangement.
– At any rate, the amount put down here is too large.
– I do not think so.
– If the GovernorGeneral had to keep up the establishment himself, he would do it quite as well for a smaller sum.
– The criticism of Senator Keating, is directed to a principle which I appreciate. This is not like the humble kind of edifice that I should live in, hut is a. palace^ and we have to consider the grounds and the expense of an army of gardeners. Senator Keating has called attention to a principle, which will have to receive great consideration at a very early date.
– Which has received consideration.
– That is so, and will continue to receive it. At present we are still very much in the experimental stage, if I may use the expression, but so far as the actual expenditure is concerned, it does not appear to me to be unreasonable.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I should like to draw the attention of Senator Keating to section 125 of the Constitution Act, from which he will see that the Seat of Government is at the present moment Supposed to be in New South Wales. That section provides that the Commonwealth Parliament shall meet in Melbourne until the establishment of the Seat of Government’ within the borders of New South Wales, so that perhaps his >emar’ks have not the force for which he contends.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- As a fact, the Seat of Government must be in Melbourne, until established in New South Wales and there is no time limit. I thoroughly agree with the remarks of Senator Keating, and I hope that that honorable senator is thoroughly in earnest, and will support a mot i oé with the object he has advocated. As a protest against this unwarranted expenditure of ,£3,000, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out subdivision 1 of division 23, “ Sydney Government House, ^3,000.”
If it is justifiable for the State of New South Wales to maintain a residence for the Governor-General, it is justifiable for Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland to do the same. The present is a most inequitable arrangement. It is as justifiable from a society or any other point of view that the GovernorGeneral should visit the other States I have mentioned, and that proper accommodation should be provided for His Excellency. On no other principle can a Government House be justified in Sydney than that it is necessary for the proper accommodation of the Governor-General ; and the same justification holds good in every other State.
– I appreciate the remarks of Senator Keating, and I think there should be a time fixed for the termination of the existing arrangement. The Federation was inaugurated in New South Wales, and there had to be special provision made for the Governor-General ; and to disallow this item now would be, it seems to me, to break the agreement.
– It would be very ungracious.
– But I urge on honorable senators the necessity to give consideration to the question of when the present arrangement shall be terminated, or when similar provision shall be made in the other States. At present the actual Seat of Government is in Victoria; but, according to the Constitution, there must be a time when that arrangement shall come to an end. There should be in the near future a termination of an arrangement which was necessary at first, but is not necessary now. At any rate, if the arrangement is necessary in a degree now it will cease to be necessary in a very short period. I hope the Government will consider this question, and, by next session, they may perhaps tell us when this dual expenditure is to end.
– There is a good deal of force in the contention of Senator Keating. It has been stated that the Governor-General spends considerably more time in New South Wales than he does in some of the other States. That may be so, but the present arrangement was apparently made at the inauguration of Federation, when economy did not seem to be ex- ercised in connexion with the office of GovernorGeneral. In my opinion, all the States should be placed on an equal footing. I do not suppose for a moment that the Government of New South Wales “make” anything out of the particular amount placed on the Estimates. A separate residence has to be provided for the State Governor at Rose Bay, so that I suppose their expenditure is quite equal to the amount received from the Commonwealth.
– Probably more.
– It may cost more, but, at the same time, when the GovernorGeneral visits any of the other States, I understand that he is entertained by the States Governors, and that the States’ Treasuries assist in bearing the expense. Apart from the fact that this system was apparantly inaugurated at the establishment of the Commonwealth”, I do not know that there is any particular reason why these items should continue to appear on the Estimates year ‘after year. The AttorneyGeneral admits that there is a great deal in the contention that the States should be placed on the one footing in this regard. I suppose that when the Governor-General is located at the Federal Capital, Melbourne will not look to the Federal Government to ask Parliament to vote a considerable sum each year for the maintenance of the Government House, which is now occupied by His Excellency.
– Oh, yes, it will.
– It is quite possible that there may be some contention on the subject. It may be urged that the same consideration should be extended to Melbourne that has been extended to Sydney. But I feel satisfied that when that time comes there will be a big majority in the Senate, if not in the other House, who will be opposed to such a discrimination being shown in favour of a State. I feel quite satisfied that the Parliament will not approve of the Government placing on the Estimates items for the purpose of obliging a few society persons, who look upon the GovernorGeneral as a sort of pivot round which to revolve. The Government ought to seriously consider whether it is not wise to bring to an end a custom which was introduced at the establishment of the Commonwealth, and to make a definite statement of their intentions next session. We cannot expect these items to be removed suddenly from these Estimates, because a contract has been entered into, and one-half of the money has been already spent. As regards the second half of the year, the servants are under engagement for a term, and notice would have to be given to New South Wales that the understanding as to the use of Government House would terminate on the 30th June, 1905. If that is the position which the Attorney-General takes up it ought to be satisfactory for the time being, and next year we may expect to find no such items appearing on the Estimates.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- It has been pointed out that a portion of this money has been expended, and consequently it would not be fair to omit the whole amount. It has also been urged that obligations for the expenditure of a considerable sum have been incurred, and that, therefore, it would not be fair to wipe it out. For that reason, I would ask leave to alter my proposal with a view to reduce the item by £500.
– As Senator Turley has said, obligations have been incurred, and we must pay the gardeners and other men.
– It does not matter what Senator Turley has said. No obligation to incur the whole of this expenditure has been placed upon us. There is no necessity to give a servant or a caretaker six months’ notice, nor is there any occasion to give any notice to the New South Wales Government, because the building is rent free. There have only been obligations incurred in respect to a portion of this money. All this talking about economy is simply useless, if we are not prepared to back up our words by our votes. I intend to call for a division, if I can only get an honorable senator to support me, because it is grossly unfair to the taxpayers to keep up this extravagant expenditure mainly for the benefit of society people in Sydney, who want a sort of circle round which to revolve, and to which the general taxpayers are never called. If society people in Sydney want this social centre, there is no earthly objection to their paving for the privilege, but to ask the taxpayers, who in very many cases are enduring great hardship and suffering, to pay £3,000 a year for that purpose is very unfair. Ifit is right to expend this money in the interest of Sydney people, it is equally right to adopt this policy at Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane. In the case of a proposal to which he is opposed, the AttorneyGeneral can always discover constitutional difficulties. I ask him if this item is not a discrimination between one State and the others.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Givens) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce subdivision 1 of division 23, Sydney Government House,£3,000,” by£500.
Senator TRENWITH (Victoria). - I would urge Senator Givens not to insist on dividing the Committee. We have not yet been able to wipe out completely the local jealousies which prevailed. To reduce this vote suddenly would have a tendency to cause bad feeling. The AttorneyGeneral has admitted that this system on the face of it contains the essence of inequity, that it cannot be continued, that it grew upon the Commonwealth under circumstances which are quite inexcusable. He has promised, I understand, to give consideration to the matter with a view to submitting a recommendation on the subject next year. In view of the extraordinary circumstances in which the Commonwealth was inaugurated, that is all we can ask. I again strongly urge Senator Givens not to call for a division, as to do so might intensify the feeling that we know to exist between New South Wales and Victoria. I do not think there is any justification for that feeling, but we know that it exists, and we ought not needlessly to do anything to increase it.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania). - I have given expression to my feelings with regard to the inclusion of this item in the Appropriation Bill, and I have heard what the Attorney -General has said with regard to it. He has agreed in substance with my criticism, and I feel sure that after the debate that has taken place, the Government will recognise the advisableness of reconsidering the whole division, and of discontinuing the present policy. I do not agree with Senator Givens, that it is practicable for the House of Representatives to reduce this item now. As pointed out by Senator Trenwith and Senator Turley, it would be extremely awkard and inconvenient to do so. We should be disturbing the arrangement made with New South Wales, which has incurred considerable expense in connexion with the Sydney Government House. I am perfectly satisfied with the views expressed by the Attorney-General, and I am not prepared to do anything which may be impracticable in making a request to the other House, to which effect ‘ cannot be given. The House of Representatives will be compelled to recognise that a change in policy cannot be made immediately. At least something like six months’ notice must be given to New South Wales. I trust that the Government will recognise what the feeling is, and that in future there will be only one Governor-General’s residence in the Commonwealth.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - We are all agreed that some reform is necessary in this and other matters. But a large number of persons who profess to be in favour of reform, always want to see it carried out next year. They are never in favour of it here and now. We have nothing to do with next year. Some of us may be dead. Yet we are to shelve our responsibilities until next year. Our duty is to see that this reform is effected now. “ What is the use of our saying that reforms ought to be carried out, and that economies ought to be effected in the interests of the States which are suffering the pangs of retrenchment, when we do nothing to give effect to our views by our votes ? Even if I stand alone. I shall call for a division.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - I think that Senator Givens is right in insisting on a division, though I do not intend to vote with him. Any one who holds strong opinions regarding matters of this sort, and who thinks it to be necessary to move for the reduction of an item, ought to push his motion to a division. But the reason why I do not intend to vote with my honorable friend, is that I recognise that the New South Wales State Government House has been handed over to the Commonwealth as a residence for the Governor- General. The New South Wales Government have entered into obligations with private people. They have rented a house for their State Governor. We know perfectly well that they could not rent a house of that kind for a week. They could not give a week’s notice, and say, “ We will clear out next Saturday.” The expense must continue so far as they are concerned. What is more, we cannot save more than a few pounds in the upkeep of the establishment in Sydney. We must maintain people to look after the House and grounds. If we were to dismiss all the men engaged in the grounds at the present time, at the end of six months we should find that it would cost more to put them in repair again than it will cost to keep them in good order all the time. It should be satisfactory for honorable senators to know, onthe word of the Attorney-General, that next year we shall not be asked to vote a sum of money to give preferential consideration to one State over that which is afforded to every other State in the Union.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I have listened with great interest to Senator Turley and Senator Keating, and I am glad to find that both of them are opposed in principle to the maintenance of an establishment for the Governor- General in Sydney. But I am sorry that they do not go further. They appear to think that when the next Estimates come before us, this (item will be omitted. What reasons have they to anticipate anything of the kind? The Attorney-General has stated that the Government will consider the matter. No doubt they will, and that they will decide to continue to maintain the Sydney Government House. I wish to point out to honorable senators who are opposed to this expenditure that the only way in which they can signify their disapproval is by supporting the amendment. Anything they may say here in the course of debatewill not for a moment be considered by the Government, and unless honorable senators are perpared to back up their statements by their votes, they are simply wasting time.
-Larger sums have been voted in previous years, and no objection has been raised.
– -The honorable senator could not have made himself acquainted with our proceedings in previous years, or he would know that a battle-royal raged round the question of this expenditure upon a former occasion. All we want now is his vote.
– The honorable senator will not get it
– If the honorable senator, and others, including Senator Keating, and Senator Trenwith, are opposed to the proposed expenditure they should support the amendment.
– We are opposed to the continuance of the expenditure, and we have’ reasonable grounds for supposing that it will not be perpetuated’.
Seantor STEWART.- The honorable senator is easily satisfied.
– -My experience is that when Governments make promises, such as that given by the Attorney-General, they keep them.
– I have no hesitation in saying that the Attorney-General is now laughing in his sleeve. I find that’ since the establishment of the Commonwealth we have spent no less a sum than £25,980 in maintaining the Government Houses in Melbourne and Sydney.I suppose that nearly half of this amount has been expended in Sydney, and practically wasted.
– A good many honorable senators have been parties to the waste.
Senator STEWART.I have been an unwilling party to it. I have always been opposed to this expenditure, and” vote’.! against it. I intend to do so on the present occasion.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce subdivision 1 of division 23 “ Sydney Government House, £3.000,” by £500 - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I note that an amount of £800 is set down for maintenance, including a contribution towards the erection of a fireplace, at Government House, Melbourne. The fireplace in question must surely be a costly one to merit special notice. Further, I would direct attention to the fact that we are contributing only a portion of the expense. I see that’ £500 is set down for expenditure upon caretakers, charwomen, and miscellaneous services. I venture to say it would be interesting to have the detailed items of this vote, that we might compare the salaries paid to caretakers and charwomen with those paid to certain other officials. It is just as important that we should have before us’ the actual salary paid to the humblest individual in the employ of the Commonwealth as that we should have before us the salary paid, even to the Governor-General himself. Caretakers, charwomen, and miscellaneous expenditure are bundle^ together, and I ask whether honorable senators, who come here representing the whole community and not a particular section, are willing to allow this to pass without a protest. I hope the Attorney-General will be able to give us some satisfactory explanation of why these people are treated in this way.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon, for Senator Pearce), read a first time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with amendments.
Senate adjourned at 12.20 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041213_senate_2_24/>.