2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, whether, in view of the early prorogation of Parliament, he would be good enough to ask the Minister of Defence to furnish a reply to the question I gave notice of for Thursday, in reference to Colonel Hoad’s reply to Major Carroll?
– The Minister of Defence returned yesterday afternoon, I believe, from Sydney. I have not yet had an opportunity of seeing him, but I shall see him during the day, and shall be prepared to reply to the question to-morrow.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice,whether, if it be at all possible in the remaining days of the session, he will give me an opportunity of moving the second reading of the Life Assurance Companies Bill, on which, I understand, there will not be very much debate - that is, if it can be done without jeopardizing otherbusiness on the noticepaper ?
– I should like very much to be able to give my honorable friend an assurance as to time to deal with the Bill. If it be at all possible, I shall endeavour to do so; but I am afraid that I cannot hold out much hope to him.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, whether we are to have an opportunity of dealing with the Papua (British New Guinea) Bill, the Sea-Carriage of Goods Bill, and the Kalgoorlieto Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill beforethe Appropriation Bill is passed?
– I propose to get the Appropriation Bill passed first ; but I intend that the Senate shall have an opportunity of dealing with these three Bills.
– Then the Government will prorogue whenever they get the
Appropriation Bill, and that means that the Bills will be thrown into the wastepaper basket.
– My honorable friend asked me a question, andI gave him an assurance of my intention to proceed with the Bills. tobacco Industry. nationalization.
– I rise to ask the AttorneyGeneral, without notice, whether, in view of the decision of the High Court in the brewers’ licensing case, that the Commonwealth could not interfere with the internal trade of a State, it is of any use for the Select Committee on the Tobacco Industry to expend further time and money in pursuing its inquiry, and whether, if it should find in favour of nationalizing the industry, it is the intention of the Government to take steps to alter the Constitution ?
– This is a very large question which I hope my honorable and learned friend will not expect me to answer. It would require the genius of a god, almost, to answer the question off-hand.
– I gave my honorable friend notice of it yesterday.
– ButI was here until half-past twelve o’clock last night.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That a fortnight’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Findley, on account of ill-health.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 13th December, vide page 8306) :
Department of Home Affairs.
Divisions 18 to24,£166,803.
– Last night the Attorney-General said he would give some information to-day with reference to the item of£550 for “ Caretakers, charwomen, and miscellaneous expenditure,” at Melbourne Government House. Apparently, more than one caretaker and one charwoman are employed. In this case only £550 is set down for at least four persons, while in other cases we have been voting large sums for individuals. I desire that those who occupy the lower positions in the Public Service should not be in any way sweated or reduced to a very small wage, on which perhaps they cannot live with any sort of decency or comfort. As honorable senators are so ready to vote very large sums to individuals for services which are very much more arduous, I desire that these persons in the lower positions should get a fair deal.
– This item of £550 includes provision for an engineer mechanic and a doorkeeper, and for other persons who, I think, are only engaged occasionally. The building is not always in occupation, and when it is occupied by the Governor-General it is necessary to have some cleaning done. Last year £550 was voted for this purpose, but only £359 was expended.
– It appears to me that a large number of persons are getting very small pay.
– But they are not permanently employed.
– I understand that officers whose duties do not keep them employed all the year round are getting very large salaries indeed. I do not intend to divide the Committee on this item, because it appears that we cannot get exact particulars as to how long these caretakers and charwomen are employed. But I enter my protest against persons occupying lower positions being sweated, while we appear to be ever ready to vote inordinate sums to persons who are fulfilling no more onerous duties in the higher branches of the Public Service.
– I notice an item of . £9,000 for “ conveyance of Members of Parliament and others.” I wish to know how much of this sum is received by each State Railway Department.
– The amount which is paid to the States for affording railway facilities is £6,600 ; and that sum is divided by theRailway Commissioners on a basis which is satisfactory to them. I cannot tell the honorable senator what proportion is paid to each State.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). -I think that, in order to insure greater accuracy, this item should be divided into two. It appears that £6,600 is paid for the conveyance of Members of Parliament by railway. I presume that the balance of £2,400 is used to defray the cost of travelling by steamers and coaches.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I desire to elicit some information in regard to the item of £400 for fire insurance. I hold that the Commonwealth should be its own insurer, and should not pay any fees to insurance companies. All the big companies now provide a fund, so as to be their own insurers. If Senator Drake will give me an assurance that that system is being pursued by the Commonwealth, I do not desire to say any more on the subject.
– It is. We are under a contract to insure the Parliament House, and the Library.
– I amquite satisfied with that information.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- I should like to receive some information about the item of £20,000 for expenses in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act.
– On some occasions in the past when I wanted information about various items in an Appropriation Bill, I handed over a list of the items to Senators O’Connor and Drake, and when the items were reached in due course, the information was always available. It is too much to expect the Minister to have the information at his fingers’ ends when an item is reached, unless he has received prior notice.
– But , the officers are always here to give the information to the Minister.
– In this case 1 can give the information which the honorable senator seeks without any delay. The amount comprises the following items: - Registration, £2,500; divisional returning officers, seventy-five, at £26 per annum, £1,950; Commonwealth electoral officers - New South Wales £250, Victoria £250, South Australia £100, Queensland £250 ; writing up registers, at1s. 6d. per 100 names, £1,000 ; books, printing, stationery, &c, and ballot box equipment, £2,600; maps £500; office cleaning. £100 ; postage and telegrams, £600; police canvass for the various States, namely, New South Wales, £.900, Queensland £2,500, Tasmania £250, South Australia £800, Western Australia £2,000, Victoria £1,250; total, £7,700. It will be noticed that the amount is larger in the large States than in the smaller ones, because the expense there is greater. Clerical assistance costs £2,200. These items make up the total of £20,000. That, of course, is only a rough estimate.
– Are we to understand that we have to expend £20,000 every year ?
– Yes; approximately that is the amount to maintain the establishment, so that everything may be ready for a general election.
Department of the Treasury.
Divisions 25 to 31, .£267,193.
– In connexion with the vote of £99 for the messenger of the Audit Office, I wish to observe that in this case, as in others, we are exceedingly ready to pay high salaries, while we appear to be sweating persons in the lower grades of the service. This messenger also, according to a foot-note, acts as caretaker. . So that he is practically at work day and night f°r £99 Per annum. I understood that there was a provision in the Public Service Act to the effect that there should be a minimum wage of £I] 0 per annum to all public officers who had reached a certain age, and had been a certain length of time in the service. Can the Vice-President of the Executive Council give us any information on the point?
– The salary does seem to be very small, but there has been an increase of £15 since last year. The salary is not up to the minimum, but I presume that this officer, for some reason, does not come under the minimum wage section of the Public Service Act. I am informed, however, by a note which has just been handed to me that the officer will get the minimum wage this year. A small sum is asked for increments and adjustments of salaries, and the officer will be paid the balance to complete the minimum wage from that fund.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- So long as I have’ .an assurance that the Government will carry out what the VicePresident of the Executive Council has stated, I shall be quite satisfied.
-! wish to say a few words with regard to the Auditor-General’s report. I have a copy of last year’s report before me. The first criticism I have to make is that the financial year came to an end on the 30th June, and we have not yet before us the Auditor-General’s report for that year.
– I am informed that the officers of the Audit Department have been working very hard indeed, but that the report is now complete, and will be laid upon the table to-day.
– It will be laid upon the table just too late.
– That is on account of pressure of work.
– I also wish to draw the attention of the Committee te* what I consider to be the incompletenessof the Auditor-General’s Report, and its general lack of information. When 1 compare it with the report of the AuditorGeneral for the State of Queensland, the small amount of information contained inthis report becomes all the more apparent. I think the Auditor-General should go very much more into details. I do not wish to particularize as to where the omissions are, but I would suggest to the Government that the Auditor-General be invited to look at the Queensland report, and to see whether in future he cannot model his report upon that. If he did, it would be of much more use to Members of Parliament than it is now.
– I will take a note of that suggestion.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - In division 27 there is the item - “ Gratuities to officers engaged in excess of office hours, £500.” I have no objection whatever to thos-3 officers being paid for overtime; but I have a decided objection to the payment being called a gratuity. A gratuity is something given to a person, which he has no legal right to claim. I would suggest that the words should be amended by substituting the word “ payment.”
– It is not worth while.
– A very important principle is involved. I have no objection to the officers being paid for services rendered ; but it is insulting to ask them to accept the money as a gratuity. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Gratuities to officers engaged in excess of office hours, ^500,” by leaving out the word “ gratuities,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ payment.”
– This is really a matter of form rather than of substance. I am not quite sure whether the word “gratuities” is correct ; but this is not a payment in the sense of being a recompense that can be legally claimed. It is not entirely a payment for overtime. It is a payment made to some State officers who have to do Federal work. Federal work is being done in the Victorian Government Printing Office, where the Government Printer has a large staff of printers and other employes under his direction. The special work that has to be done comes in rushes. There is the Hansard work going on continuously throughout the parliamentary session, in addition to which there is the printing of evidence taken by Select Committees and the printing of papers laid upon the table of both Houses of Parliament, which honorable .’Senators wish to have at their disposal within the shortest possible time. It is, therefore, necessary to ask some officers to do work which is not in the nature of work foi which they can claim ordinary payment. We make them special recognition in the form of an honorarium. Perhaps “honorarium” would have been a better word than “gratuity.” But I have an idea that we have used the word “ gratuity “ somewhere in the Post and Telegraph Act, with reference to payments occasionally made to captains of ships.
– If we were to use the word “ payments,” might not the Victorian Public Service Act prevent the officers from receiving the money, on the ground that they would be receiving payment for work other than their State work?
– That would probably be the case. The word “ honorarium “ would be as harmless as “ gratuity “ in that sense, but would have the same signification. I would ask my honorable friend not to press his motion to a division, because the House of Representatives would not think highly of us for making a request upon such a comparatively small matter.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- We have* had a disquisition on the meaning of the words “ gratuity “ and “ honorarium,” and as to which would be more proper in this connexion. I take it that neither is proper. Either these officers are or are not entitled to payment for actual services rendered. If they are entitled, I have not the slightest objection to their being paid. It is our duty to pay for all services rendered. But we ought not to make such payments by using a term which leads it to be supposed that the money is given to them as an act of grace by this Parliament.
– Could not the word “ bonus “ be used ? ‘
– Only the subtle mind of Senator Walker would discover any analogy at all between a bonus and payment for services rendered. It has been suggested by Senator Smith that this word “ gratuities “ is used in order that no one should be in a position to take from them the money earned by .these officers. The honorable senator pointed’ out that there was a tendency in Victoria to do that sort of thing.
– I said .that there might be something in the State Act which would render * it impossible for a State employe’ to receive money as wages from any other source than the State Government.
– I do not think that can be so. These are matters of arrange- ment between the States and the Commonwealth Government. As a matter of fact. Commonwealth officers render various services for the States Governments, and vice versa. I regret to have noticed that there appears to be a disposition on the part of the Victorian Government .to “ collar “ the payments made by the Commonwealth to Victorian State servants for special services rendered. I think that is a very mean thing to do. I object to the officers who earn this money being insulted by the suggestion that they are given a gratuity, or an honorarium, as an act of grace. We have no right to spend the .taxpayers’ money as an act of grace, whilst we have a perfect right to spend it in remunerating persons for adequate services rendered to the Commonwealth. I think we should not shelter ourselves behind the use of a word like this, and I shall take the sense of the Committee on the matter.
– If Senator Givens is under any impression that by calling these payments “ gratuities “ the officers for whom they are voted are not likely to receive them, or that the heads of Departments might insist upon the money being paid into the States Treasury, he is mistaken. The honorable senator’s objection is one of form, and not of substance, and I trust he will not insist on his motion for a request to the House of Representatives. The term “ gratuities “ is used because the payments are such as could not be legally demanded for services rendered. There might not be so’ much objection to the motion if the question had been previously raised, but it is rather hard that on the first occasion on which exception is taken to the use of the term, the honorable senator should proceed to the extreme length of dividing the Committee on the question.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Gratuities to officers engaged in excess of office hours, £500,” by leaving out the word “ gratuities “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ payment “ - put. The Committee divided -
Ayes … … … 3
Noes … … … 17
Majority … … 14
Question so resolvedin the negative.
– I should like to know the circumstances in which so large an amount of money is refunded from revenue.
– The amount asked for this year is £30,000, which is less than was asked for, but is rather more than was expended, last year. Fifty-five thousand pounds was asked for last year on this item, and £25,000 was expended. It is largely spent in connexion with the Customs Department, but to some extent also in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department. The honorable senator will understand that when any money is received by the Government it is paid into the consolidated revenue, and it cannot afterwards be paid out except by a vote of Parliament. It sometimes happens that a payment is wrongly made to one of the Departments. It may happen, for instance, that money is paid into the Customs Department in mistake, and that money cannot be refunded without a vote of Parliament. department of trade and customs.
Divisions 32 to 40, £269,797.
– . When Mr. Kingston was Minister of Trade and Customs he inaugurated quite a new method of managing the Department.
– A very proper method. He rendered valuable services to the Com- mon wealth.
– I have said so bofore publicly, and I repeat it now. I quite agree that in very many respects he did the right thing. I desire to direct the attention of the Government to the method adopted by the Customs Department of referring trumpery grievances to be settled by the Minister instead of deputing authority to deal with such matters to local Collectors of Customs. In cases of misdescription of goods, and other slight offences, involving, perhaps, not more than a few shillings or a pound, it would be much more convenient if the decision were left to the local collector, instead of putting in operation the whole machinery of the Department.
– Might that not lead to great abuses ?
– That practice was always followed when the Customs were under the control of the States, and no abuses followed ; offenders were punished all the same.
– Under the States all offenders were not punished.
– I am not advocatingthat the system should be altered in any way, except in trumpery cases. Very respectable firms complain of being dragged before the public, in cases where error is palpable, and none but the most innocent intentions can be shown.
– I am at one with the view expressed by Senator Mulcahy, but it comes to me rather as a surprise that local investigations of the kind do not take place in Tasmania. I know that such a system as that suggested is in operation in South Australia, and, I believe, throughout the Commonwealth; but, as Senator Mulcahy says, it may not be so. frequently applied in Tasmania as elsewhere. For a considerable time past, cases of irregularity, which, in the opinion of thelocal collector, do not involve deceit or fraud, have been dealt with by that official. For the security of the revenue, and in order to see that noinjustice, on the other hand, is done to the importer, a report is sent to head-quarters. If that report be confirmed then proceedings are instituted. I shall make inquiries as to whether the system I have mentioned does not apply in Tasmania.
– Who is to be the judge of the intention, and on what evidence ?
– Importers are not all scoundrels.
– I do not think Senator Mulcahy is justified in making that interjection, which implies that we on this side, who take exception to a particular course, think that importers are scoundrels. We are only asking that the law shall be properly administered. I asked the Attorney-General who are the judges of fraudulent intention.
– Our own officers.
– Who can be the judge of anybody’s intentions?
– Intentions can only be judged by evidence and I further asked the Attorney-General on what evidence the judgment is based.
– The evidence is often obvious in the invoice.
– Before Mr. Kingston took charge of the Customs Department, there was in the States a system which, to a very large extent, encouraged a spirit of lax commercial morality. That was bad for Australia; and our thanks are due to Mr. Kingston for instituting a new era.
– No one paid Mr. Kingston a higher tribute than I did on this same question.
–I am sorry that the method inaugurated by Mr. Kingston has not been adhered to. If any ordinary individual transgresses the law, and a prima facie case is shown, he has to face a tribunal of his country in open Court. When, however, there is a prima facie case against a merchant the method with all Customs administrators, excepting Mr. Kingston, was to have the matter “ fixed up” in the Collector’s office, or in the Minister’s back parlour over a glass of champagne. Was that sortof treatment meted out to lowly offenders? Was such a tender regard shown for their dignity or their feelings ? There ought not to be such distinctions between one class and another.
– I am not advocating, anything of the kind.
– I admit that a prima facie case is not always sustained ; but to deal with cases in the way I have described is not in accordance with the recognised equality of every citizen before the law. On every platform I have not only defended, but lauded, Mr. Kingston’s policy.
– I am not attacking Mr. Kingston’s policy.
– In time to come Mr. Kingston will be honoured throughout the Commonwealth as a man who had courage enough to treat all offenders alike, whether wealthy or poor. Instead of making the administration more lax and leaving more loopholes for escape, we should be inclined to adhere to the policy initiated by that gentleman.
– What were the salaries paid to the various patents’ officials in the States before the administration was taken over by the Commonwealth ?
– I am afraid I cannot give the honorable senator that information just now. There are a great number of officials, and, to ascertain the facts, I should have to look through the records of every one of the States.
– If I remember rightly there have been very large increases since the administration was taken over.
– Some of the officials have increased salaries as compared with the salaries they themselves received in the particular States. But those salaries are not high in proportion to those which were paid in other States; in comparison, the Federal salaries are very moderate.
– Is there a Patents Office in each of the States?
– Not now, but the former Registrars are now acting as Deputy Registrars.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- Why does the messenger in the Patents Office receive a salary of only £50 ? Is he a mere youth ?
– Possibly he is only a boy.
– Is it proposed by the Government that a Commonwealth Statistical Department shall be organized, and the services of that eminent statistician, Mr. Coghlan, secured? It would be extremely satisfactory to everybody to receive information to that effect.
– I have no doubt that an appointment of the kind would give satisfaction. Negotiations have taken place; but nothing has yet been finally settled. It would, I think, be good for the Commonwealth if Mr. Coghlan did transfer his services from the State, but, asI say, the matter has not yet been determined.
– Some time ago I asked a question regarding the action taken in regard to the collection of duties On oils which; according to the
Tariff, ought to be- free. In the Customs guide there occurs the following: -
China (in vessels exceeding 1 gallon). - Note. - This term covers the crude liquid oils of Stel1inga and Araghis, either singly or in admixture, and suitable only for burning and soap making. Free.
Under the system of administration the Department decline to allow this commodity to be handed over to the consignees, unless the latter are prepared to pay a duty of, I think, 6d. per gallon. A number of people, it appears, deposited a sum of money, from which duty could be deducted in terms of section 167 of the Customs Act, as follows -
If any dispute shall arise as to the amount or. rate of duty, or as to the liability of goods to duty, the owner may deposit with the collector the amount of duty demanded, and thereupon the following consequences shall ensue : -
The owner, upon making proper entry, shall be entitled to delivery of the goods.
Th,e deposit shall be deemed the proper duty unless by action commenced by the owner against the collector within six months after making the deposit the contrary shall be determined, in which case any excess of the deposit over the proper duty shall be refunded by the collector ti the owner, with five pounds per centum per annum interest added.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to any goods which may be detained or seized for under-valuation, or in. respect to which any attempt to evade the payment of duty may have been made.
When I was in Queensland a short time ago, a person who had been importing a considerable quantity of China oil, told me that on each occasion he verbally protested to the Customs officer against having to pay duty thereon. He wrote a letter on the subject to me afterwards, and on the 28th October I put on the notice-paper a series of questions which were answered by the I Attorney-General on, the 23rd November.
I hold in my hand letters which were sent to the State Collector of Customs, asking that the amount which had been paid under verbal protest should be refunded, so that there has been more than one request made to the Department. The duty has been collected for a number of years, and apparently the deposits must have been made for some time. Sub-section 2 of section 167 of the Act provides that -
The deposit shall be deemed the proper duty unless by action commenced by the owner against the Collector within six months after making the deposit the contrary shall be determined.
Here is money which has been deposited in terms of the Act. In all probability a portion of it was deposited for a greater length of time than six months before the order was issued. If an article is termed “ free” in the Customs schedule, and the Customs officers say that, according to their interpretation, it is liable to a duty, it is paid by the importer in the belief that the administration of the Department is fairly sound. But if it is discovered afterwards that a mistake has been made by the Department, it is only reasonably honest that those importers who have paid the duty under a misapprehension should get it refunded It was absolutely necessary for the importers to pay the duty in order to prevent their trade from drifting away from them. It has taken me over two months to get any information on this case, and to ascertain the intentions of the Government. Possibly I may be told that I am not taking the right course, and that I ought to- submit a motionasking for an expression of opinion as to whether the public should be “ taken down “ in this way by the Department when they are endeavouring to comply with the law as it is interpreted by its officers. In my absence on the 30th October this question was asked by Senator Dawson -
As the Government have decided to refund all moneys lodged in terms of section 167 of the Customs Act for payment of duty on China oil, and all duties paid under protest on such oil, if applications for refunds are made by the persons making such deposits or paying such duties, will the Government refund all moneys paid since 8th October, 1901, as duties on China oil conforming to the definition contained in Order 436 to all persons who have paid same, irrespective of whether such duties were paid under protest or deposited in terms of section 167 of the Customs Act?
The Attorney-General gave the following answer : -
It appears to be doubtful if the duties referred to as not paid under protest or deposited in terms of section 167 of the Customs Act can be legally refunded, but the Government will make further inquiries, and if necessary refer the question to the Commonwealth law officers before finally deciding.
Surely there has been sufficient time to permit the law officers to discover whether it was legal to refund the money ? I have put the question on two or three occasions, but it seems to me that unless one is prepared to make himself a nuisance he can get very little information from the Government. It is Only fair that when reasonable notice is given to the officers any information desired should be forthcoming. I have always been accustomed in Queensland to be furnished as soon as possible with the information for which I have applied. This is a small matter, perhaps, from the point of view of the Department. Whey may say it is only a matter of £500 odd spread over forty-two persons.
– From what the honorable senator says, it strikes me as being a very big question.
– It may be a very small question as far as the Department is concerned, but it is a big question to those who paid the duty on the representations of the officials, and who now find that because it was not paid in terms of section 167 of the Act they have no right to get a refund. In this case those who endeavoured to comply with the law as it was represented to be by the officials, are the only persons who are going to suffer. After they had been wrongly collecting the duty for three years, the Department decided to refund the money to those who had complied with section 167 of the Act, but not to those who believed that the official interpretation of the law was wrong, but who, nevertheless, paid the duty under verbal protest, and who are able to get an admission to that effect from the officers concerned in its collection. Unless the money be refunded in their case too an advantage will be given to their trade competitors. If any one ought to receive consideration it is the man who is prepared to endeavour to > abide by the interpretation of the law as declared by public officials. It has always seemed to me that the importers of China oil have a fair case against the officers of the Government. I may be told that it does not matter whether they, have or not ; that there are the law courts to which they can go to prosecute their claims against the Government. But I do not believe that many of these people are in a position to have recourse to the law courts. It is of no use to say that a. person can take advantage of the law when, in all probability, he has not a five-pound note in his pocket. It practically amounts to saying that he. cannot get justice unless he has a long purse, and is able to engage lawyers to fight the Crown, which fights them with public money, and can command the best talent. Probably, if a verdict was secured against the Crown in one of the lower courts, there would be an appeal involving a considerable amount of money. I desire to have information in connexion with this matter. It concerns not one, but a number of persons who have paid duty under representations made by the officials of the Government. If what is described is the law, I contend that the law is very hard upon people who are trying to be honest and to pay their way, especially as they are not in a position to know what the law is as clearly as do those who are administering the Department.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator should consider that he has reason to blame the Government for not having supplied him with information, But it seems to me that, so far as the facts are concerned, he has all the information he has asked for. What he asked, I understand, was what course the Government intend to take. He has already been told that the money will be refunded so far as it has been paid under section 167. If not paid under that section, no claim to a refund can be entertained. Getting away from the details of the case - which, as the honorable senator says, may be small in themselves - we come to a very big question upon which he desires the Government to express an opinion. That is whether, in cases where duty has been wrongly charged, and the Customs authorities afterwards come to the conclusion that the duty should be lower, all the persons who have paid the higher duty are entitled to a refund? The answer is that the Customs Act itself provides a certain course for importers to take under such circumstances. Section 167 provides -
If any dispute shall arise as to the amount or rate of duty, or as to the liability of goods to dduty, the owner may deposit with the Collector the amount of duty demanded, and thereupon the following consequences shall ensue. . . .
– That is by action; there is no question of refund.
– But the Customs authorities are prepared to refund any amount overpaid when it has been paid under written protest.
– But not under the authority of that section.
– Under a general authority contained in the Act.
– Where is that general authority ?
– What the honorable senator is claiming is that where an error has . been made in deciding the proper duty to be paid on an article, whenever the Customs. authorities come to the conclusion that the duty paid was too high, the persons who have paid the higher duty should be entitled to a refund. That is certainly not equitable. China oil is used in the manufacture of soap. It goes into consumption in that way. To illustrate the principle, takethe case of ordinary merchandise. Suppose drapery, or something of that kind has for three years been charged 20 per cent, instead of 10 per cent. That 20 per cent, has been added to the cost of the article, and the consumer has paid it. Would it be just if the Customs authorities’ afterwards came to the conclusion that 10 per cent, instead of 20 per cent, ought to have been paid to refund the amount overpaid, when the importer had been collecting it from the consumer? I fail to see how the honorable senator can establish -his claim to a refund of the duty in this case. We must lay down a broad line for all such cases. The law cannot be applied capriciously, favouring importers in one instance, and not in another. We must have a. general principle, and apply it indiscriminately throughout the Commonwealth. It is hard that any man who has a case should be unable to afford to go to law, but still that remedy is always open, and the Customs authorities will always have to pay if judgment is given against them. But, unless the authority of the Court is obtained, the Customs authorities, as I understand, are not in a position to refund money which has not been paid under protest:
– -In this matter I take the ground that if the Customs authorities, through their own mistake, have received money to which they are not entitled, they should take the initiative and refund it. I think the feeling of the Committee is that that course should be adopted, and I hope the Minister will give instructions accordingly.
– My sympathies go in the direction of the remarks of Senator Turley. He draws attention to the fact that if a man in a large way of business, knowing all the details and all the points in connexion with importation, enters a written protest against the payment of duty, he is afterwards allowed a refund ; whereas a man in a smaller way of business, who intrusts implicitly to the directions and instructions of the Customs officers, and hands over the money without making any protest, is deprived of any right to a refund. The matter is involved in a good deal of difficulty, because, as Senator Drake points out, the importer might be enabled to get a refund of money when he had already charged it on to the consumer. In a case where China oil was concerned, the Government ordered the Customs Department to allow the oil to be admitted free when it was found that a man in a large way of business in Melbourne threatened an action against them. I consider that the Government should, not as a matter of law but of justice, consider every case on its merits, and if they find that an overcharge has been made, and has not been recovered by* the importer from the consumers, they should deal generously with it.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). One or two cases of this description have been brought under my notice. I have gone to the Customs Department, where I have found that the officers give all the assistance in their power, and the money paid under protest was refunded without going to law. I have in mind two instances where that was done. I think that either the merchants or the officials in Queensland are not going the right way to work, or the results would be different.
– The difficulty arises under section 166 of the Customs Act, which reads as follows : -
If any practice of the Customs relating to classifying or remunerating any article for duty shall be altered, so that less duty is charged upon such article, no person shall thereby become entitled to any refund on account of any duty paid before such alteration.
The honorable senator sees the difficulty that arises. The law expressly provides for a case where there is an alteration in the duty.
– China oil was explicitly ordered ‘by the Tariff Act to be free of duty.
– This section certainly applies to a case where duty has been paid on an article that is afterwards found to be on the free list.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - We do not seem to be getting “ any forrader “ in this matter. The explanation of the VicePresident of the Executive Council does not satisfy me, because it does not seem to bear upon the question. He points out that section 166 of the Customs Act provides that no person shall become entitled to any refund ; and I submit that no person is entitled under section 167 to any refund, even though he has made a deposit under the terms of the Act. The section clearly states that -
If any dispute shall arise as to the amount or rate of duty, or” as to the liability of goods to duty, the owner may deposit with the Collector the amount of duty demanded, and thereupon the following consequences shall ensue.
The deposit shall be deemed .the proper duty unless by action commenced by the owner against the Collector within six months after making the deposit the contrary shall be determined.
I wish to know what truth there is in the statement that the Customs Department found it necessary to break the law in this matter only when they were theatened with an action by a large importer in Melbourne. It appears that they could readily flout the ma.r> in a small way of business, but when they had to deal with a man who was prepared to take the question to Court they admitted that his contention was right. An order, is made by the Department for the refund of this duty collected over a period of about three years, and if the Government are right in issuing such an order they will be equally right in refunding the whole of the money collected in this way. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has referred me to section 167 of the Customs Act. I told the honorable and learned senator that, there is no authority under that section for the action taken by the Government, and I desired him to refer me to any section in the Act which gives the Government power to decide matters in the way i,i which this matter has been decided. I can get no information whatever from the honorable and learned senator, who has merely talked generalities. I wished to know whether the Government, under the Customs Act, have power to make these refunds, and Senator Drake has not touched that question at all. The honorable and learned senator has talked all round it, and has said that under sections 166 and 167 certain things take place, but I again submit that these sections do not touch the matter to which I have referred. I am not contending that these persons have a right under the law to claim a refund, but I ask whether there is anything in the Customs Act which expressly prohibits the Government from making these refunds ? I have searched the Act from end to end without finding any provision of the kind. It seems to me that it is a question purely of administration. If it can be pointed out to me that there is a single specific provision in the Act which says that the Government shall not have power to make refunds where the Department has made a mistake, I shall be satisfied. Senator Drake has not attempted to do that, but has simply evaded the question. The officers of the Customs Department should know their own business, but apparently they do not, because, while it is distinctly stated in the Tariff Guide that oils of a certain sort and in certain quantities shall be admitted free of duty, they do not appear to have been aware of the fact. The average person taking up the Tariff Guide will see in a moment that it was the intention of the Legislature that these particular oils used for manufacturing purposes should bs admitted free, but the Customs Department have said in certain cases, “ No matter what the law says, our interpretation of the law is that you must pay 6d. per gallon duty on this oil.” This may be all right in the case of a man in. a large way of business, with a lawyer at his elbow to advise him in the circumstances to make his payment in certain terms, but no consideration is given to the man in a small way of business who has not the assistance of a legal adviser.
– I hope that is not so.
– This case proves absolutely that it is so. The man carrying on business in a large way, with the advice of a solicitor, makes his payment in conformity with the law, and when this question arises, his money has been deposited in a certain way, and he is able to secure a refund. But it is not so with the man in the small way of business. Now that the Attorney-General is present I should like to ask him whether there is anything in the
Customs Act which expressly prohibits the Government refunding duty paid in this way, or whether it is merely a question of providing work for the Law Courts ?’ Senator Pulsford has stated that, whilst the small man is taken no particular notice of, the Government suddenly discover that they have made a mistake when they are threatened with an action by a large importer of this commodity, and find it necessary to refund the duty which he has paid. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has directed my attention to section 167 of the Customs Act, and has informed me that under that section no one is entitled to a refund.
– The honorable senator’s trouble is that a refund is made to one and not to another.
– No; my trouble is that this is a question of administration, and not a question of law. I am contending that there is nothing in the law which expressly prohibits the Government from acting as fairly towards the small man as towards the man in a large way of business.
– Surely the Government are not permitted to pay out money to which people are not entitled?
– It is not a question of establishing a claim in that way. Senator Trenwith will admit that if a mistake is made by Government officials the Government should rectify, this mistake in the course of administration.
– Not if the law provides that it shall not be so.
– I am asking the Government to tell me where, in the Customs Act, they are expressly prohibited from refunding money paid in this way. I can find nothing expressly laid down in the law to provide that the Government cannot act fairly by all the citizens of the Commonwealth. If I aim told that the law is such that under it the Government may act fairly by one, and unjustly by other citizens. I am sure that that is a law which Senator Trenwith will assist us to alter. The Department has admitted that they have made a mistake in this matter. Here is an article which Parliament, the authority above the Government, has declared shall be free of dutv. The Government officials in a certain place have contended that this is a dutiable’ article, and those importing it must pav duty on it before they can get it. A man in a small way of business goes to the Customs Department, believing that he will get correct information. He wishes to pass entries for this oil, and the officials of the Department tell him that he is making a mistake in thinking that it is free of duty. They inform him that it is subject to duty at so much per gallon, and he must pay that duty before he can get it. He does not go to a lawyer to find out what is the best thing to- do in the circumstances, because to do so might cost him three times as much as he would have to pay to the Customs Department to secure possession of the oil which he has imported. He is disposed to take the word of the Customs officials. He does not presume that mer employed by the Government are employed for the purpose of getting money out of him contrary to law. He pays the duty demanded by the Department, and later on he discovers that the officers of the Department have made a mistake, that they have wrongly interpreted (he law, and that the commodity which he has imported is free of duty. But he has no remedy. Another importer of the sarnie commodity acting under the advice of a solicitor deposits his money in the terms of section 167 of the Customs Act, which the first man knew nothing at all about. When the departmental blunder is discovered, an order is issued - contrary to the law, which says that the deposit shall be the cause of an action before it is paid back - by which the money is refunded to the big importer. To the man in a small way of business, the departmental officers say, “ You have not established a claim - what right have you to a refund?” Senator Trenwith, I aim sure, will not consider that fair play. When the Government, exercising their powers of administration, go behind section 1.67 to refund money which has been paid under protest by a large importer, they should be prepared to exercise the same act of administration when dealing with men in a small way of business, who have paid duty wrongly charged, because thev have trusted in the ability and integrity of the officials employed by the Government to administer the law. If there was any section expressly prohibiting the Government from making refundsthere might be something said for the position taken up. I have been, endeavouring for over two months to obtain information, and’ the present is the only opportunity I know of to accomplish my object, this year, at any rate. If it is purely an act of administration, so far as the big man is concerned - and according to Senator Pulsford it is- only when the big man puts down his foot that the Government think it time to move - then it should be an act of administration in the case of the small man, who is apparently absolutely ignored, simply because he may not be acting under legal advice. The law does not provide that a man has a right to get his deposit back, but the section distinctly states that the deposit shall be deemed the proper duty unless an action be commenced within six months. 1 contend that none of the people involved have commenced action against the Collector. We have heard, indeed, of one man who threatened to commence an action - I do not know whether in that case more than six months had elapsed - but, at any rate, the Government immediately made the matter one of administration, and were prepared to make a refund. In other cases, however, no satisfaction could be got, and the Government endeavour to shield themselves behind generalities. I desire to know whether members of the Senate are prepared to say that justice shall be meted out to the big man and refused to the small man, and, therefore, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce division 37, “ Queensland,£51,934,” by
– I do not know that the request submitted by the honorable senator presents exactly the way to decide the question whether the Government have power to refund this small amount of duty, and whether it shall be refunded.
– It is the only way I have at my disposal just now.
– I think not. The effect of the request, if carried, is simply that it will go to the other House, who will disagree with it, and there would be an end of the matter.
– I shall see that the facts are laid before the other House, at any rate.
– I do not wish to persuade the honorable senator one way or another, but merely to mention that his proposal is scarcely the way in which, if there is a doubt as to the power of the Government, to ascertain whether a person is entitled to a refund of Customs duty.
– I cannot attain my object by motion.
– At any rate, I do not think this is the wav to attain it.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral point out another way ?
– I do not think there is any way at all.
– Then I am taking the only way I can see.
– If there were a resolution of both Chambers, overriding what we think to be the law, and declaring that a refund shall be made out of the revenue, the refund would have to be voted in the ordinary way. This money has, of course, gone into revenue, and there is only one constitutional way of taking it out, subject to a statutory provision to which I shall presently refer. Senator Turley, I think, will see that to reduce, this particular division by a sum of £1 is not the way to assert that there shall be refunded any particular money paid into Customs revenue. The honorable senator’s speech was a very powerful and vigorous statement of the position from his point of view, and I may say that that statement gladdened my heart as a free-trader. In all such matters, I take a very liberal view, and, when commodities are declared to be admitted free, I like them to be free. I feel always a very strong inclination , to adopt any course which will secure to the importer the admission of goods free, and, if not free, at the lowest possible duty.
– Why refund to the rich, and not to the poor?
– My friend, Senator Givens, is possessed of such, I shall not say, an impatient, but a galloping intellect, that he gets a long way ahead of the stage we have reached, while I can only approach it by slow and plodding steps. The question is very simple indeed. It is not a question of administration, but one of strict law laid’ down for the protection of the revenue, and the control of a Department which is exceedingly difficult to administer. If any looseness takes place in regard to the refunding of money paid into the revenue by way of duty on particular commodities, it will open the door to endless claims of the same character, and cause not merely a great deal of difficulty, but, possibly, a great deal of abuse. The schedule of the Tariff declares amongst other exemptions that of what is described as China oil. When the Tariff was passed, the Customs authorities had at their head a man who devoted his very life and energy to bringing it into effective operation. That gentleman, in conjunction with his officers, and, of course, under the advice of experts made classifications of the articles to be subject to duty. For any one to suppose that those classifications could be perfectly free from error, or from the necessity of change upon further information, would be to suppose an impossibility ; and of course that position is contemplated by the law. When we passed the Customs Act we provided for all such contingencies. We provided, as was necessary, that no man should be entitled to a refund of duty he had paid under a classification which, when originally made, was believed to be correct, and to cover justly, the articles referred to, simply because, on further information, the classification was subsequently altered, with the result that a lower rate of duty, or no duty, was charged.
– Of which section is the Attorney-General speaking?
– I desire to first deal with the facts and the position. Matters are always in a state of flux in regard to Customs duties. Definitions change from day to day, some commodities being .excluded at one time and included at another ; and all depends on fresh information and so forth. After the coming into operation of a Tariff such as this, it would be impossible to have, as a matter of course, refunds of duty paid under such circumstances as I have indicated. Such contingencies were contemplated when the Act was framed, and provision was made to meet them in three sections. The first of those ‘sections is 166, as follows
If any practice of the Customs relating to classifying or enumerating any article for duty shall be altered so that less duty - which, of course, includes free; a duty may be so much less that it is free - is charged upon such article, no person shall thereby - that is, shall by virtue of the simple fact that he has paid duty on articles which are now declared to be free, /but which were previously presumed to be dutiable - become entitled to any refund on account of any duty paid before such alteration.
This is the general enactment’ to guard against endless claims, and against a total disarrangement of the Customs - against opening the door to all kinds of abuses and difficulties. The Act could not be administered in the . face of endless claims of the kind. The section I have read, if taken as absolutely rigid, might seem to be hard ; and opportunity ought to be. and is, afforded to deal with the class of cases contemplated. An importer, to take the case cited by Senator Turley, relies on the following definition of China oil : -
This term covers the crude liquid oils of Stellinga and Arachis, either singly or in admixture, and suitable only for blending and soap making.
He goes down to the Customs House, and the authorities say, “ The article does not come within that definition ; it is dutiable.” Then the importer may do one of two things. He may say, “ This is China oil, and it is free.” In that case he ought to have the opportunity of paying the duty under protest, or making a deposit, and then testing the question, and it is given to him by the Act. On the other hand, he may say to the Customs officers, “ You say that this oil comes within that classification. I yield to that interpretation. I pay the duty without deposit or without protest.” The persons to whom my honorable friend wishes the duty to be refunded adopted the latter course.
– Under verbal protest.
– That is a matter of evidence with which we cannot deal
– The Customs officials are prepared to furnish that evidence.
– I have no knowledge of that, and if I had, an oral protest is altogether ineffective, as I shall show. This is not a matter of the small man and the big man, and I am sorry that ‘that feature has ‘been introduced, because it conveys an imputation which reflects upon the Customs authorities. These proceedings took place under a foreign regime, and it is a reflection which I think. should not be made. I do not believe that there is any disposition, and, certainly, there was no disposition on the part of the Customs authorities two years ago, to favour the big man in preference to the small man, or vice versa. It may influence our sympathies, but it has no bearing on the question at issue. If it described the state of things, however, it would be an allegation practically of corruption. My information is that the importers to whom my honorable friend refers, accepted the second alternative; the others adopted the first alternative. I have put the two alternatives which the law should contemplate, and these are provided for by the Customs Tariff Act. Section 163’ says -
Whenever goods -
Whenever duty has been paid through manifest error of fact, or patent misconception of the law, a refund, rebate, or remission of the duty as the case may require shall be made in manner prescribed.
Then section 167 says -
If any dispute shall arise as to the amount or rate of duty, or as to the liability of goods to duty, the owner may deposit with the Collector the amount of duty demanded, and thereupon the following consequences shall ensue : -
The owner, upon making proper entry, shall be entitled to delivery ofthe goods.
If a dispute arises, and the parties continue at arm’s length, it can only be determined by a court of law. So the section goes on to provide -
If the Customs authorities do not maintain their position, but say, “The duty is paid under a manifest error of fact, or a misconception of the law,” they are not bound to go to law simply for the fun of the thing ; they can refund the money.
– But that must be within six months of the time the duty was paid.
– Quite so. They cannot go outside the law, because of any sympathy. We must all sympathize with the man who pays a high rate, when under a more correct classification he ought to pay a lower rate, or pays a duty under an old classification, when under a new one the article would be free. But we. cannot give rein to our natural sympathy, and disorganize the Customs administration. Regulations are made which, of course, have the force of law until they are held to be ultra vires. Dr. Wollaston’s Customs Law of Australia, which is a very good compendium, gives the regulations - 125. Claims for refund, rebate, or remission of duty shall be made, according to form 42 to the Collector at the port where the duty has been paid or is payable.
That does not deal with a case where there is a fight going on under section 166, because that can only be determined by a Court if the Customs authorities will not give way. But under section 163 claims for refunds, rebates, or remissions of duty must be made according to form 42. 126. Such claims shall be made not laterthan three days after the goods have passed from the control of the Customs orthe duty has been paid., or such further time, not later than one week from such passing or payment, as the comptroller, in writing, allows. But unless made as aforesaid no such claim shall be received or allowed.
All these regulations deal with the remission or refund of duty paid under certain conditions, as provided by section 163 of the Act, and under section 167, if the Customs authorities continue to dispute the point, there is only one alternative, and that is an appeal to a Court. But if they do admit the right to a rebate or a refund there is no litigation, in accordance with the decisions of previous Attorneys-General. It is the only interpretation under which the proper management of the Department can proceed and the law be carried into effect. Even where there is an absolute disagreement, and it can only be settled at law, it must be commenced by the owner against the Collector within six months after making the deposit. I do not overlook what my honorable friend has said as to an oral protest, which the law does not provide for in any way, and the payment of the duty under conditions which entitles the importer either to a refund, if the Customs authorities give way, or to an action at law if the dispute is maintained. Hard cases, it has often been said, make bad law, and they certainly make bad administration. The smallness of the amount involved in this case does not affect the principle of the thing. But those who made the deposit in the terms of the law, and made their claims under the circumstances referred to, occupy a different position, because, about a year ago, the Customs authorities framed the following new classification: -
The term “ China oil “ is applicable only to the liquid oils of Stellinga and Arachis either singly or in combination with each other, or with the addition of a proportion of crude sesame oil.
Having made that new definition, they had to deal with those who had paid the deposit, and taken the steps which entitled them to claim a refunds Admitting that the old classification was made under an error of fact, or a misconception of the law, their duty was clear, under the authority of previous decisions of the law officers, and that was to make a refund. But in the case of those importers who had not made the deposit, and who, under what my honorable friend says was an oral protest, paid the money and assented to the liability - it may be because the amount was small, as he suggests, or it may be because they < did not know the difference - there is no legal authority to refund the money. It seems to me that if the Customs Department were to take it upon themselves to refund duties paid under such circumstances as these, and without compliance with the law-, they would be liable to be visited with the severest possible displeasure of Parliament ; in fact, it would be almost impossible that they could be allowed to retain their offices. It would be a most dangerous thing to allow that to be done. We might have swarms of applications coming before the Department, in which the officials would be required not to interpret and enforce the law as clearly laid down in the Act and regulations, but to give rein to their sympathy and good feeling, with the possibilities of obvious abuses creeping in. I can assure my ‘honorable friend that the Customs Department have every desire to act upon the principle of doing justice to everybody alike ; and if the same conditions prevail, the large importer who pays duty without a protest is no more entitled to receive a refund than is the small man who pays under similar circumstances. Therefore I am sorry that it is impossible for the Customs authorities, doing their dutv under the law which they are sworn to administer, to act otherwise than they have done. I have investigated the matter with great care. By the courteous consideration of my honorable friend. I have had a full opportunity to go into the matter thoroughly ; and I say again that it is with regret that we find that it was impossible for the Department to act otherwise. Even if it were possible for the Department to make a refund in accordance with a resolution of the Senate, it could not be done under an amendment such as this.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - The Attorney-General started by pointing out that some other method should be adopted to elicit an expression of opinion with regard to this subject. I have always understood that the best method of obtaining an expression of opinion with regard to matters of administration was t6 move for the nominal reduction of a vote. That is the course which I have taken. The Attorney-General appeals to the sympathy of honorable senators, and says that, however strongly they mav feel, thev should not express an opinion regarding the method of adminis tration. It is not a question of sympathy, but of fair dealing. The matter of collecting duties on China oil was under the consideration of the Customs Department of the States years ago. It was not until a large merchant in the city of Melbourne was ready to bring an action against the Government that they considered it; and then, whatever the Attorney-General may say. to the contrary, they gave a preference to the big man over the small man, whatever their intentions may have been. I have stated the facts pretty clearly so far as concerns the case represented to me by one of my constituents, who informs me that there are other cases in the same position. I have moved this request, because I want to know whether’ honorable senators are prepared to back up the administration, or whether they think that the Department ought to give satisfaction from the point of view of equity to all classes of the community. The Attorney-General stated that when Mr. Kingston was at the head of the Customs Department, he, in consultation with his officers, decided to adopt a certain classification of goods. No one complains of that. But I venture to say that if Mr. Kingston were at the head of the Department now, and knew of an obvious mistake, he would insist that everybody who had paid under a misapprehension should get his money back.
– He would not have the power to do it.
– The honorable senator cannot show me a solitary provision in th.; Act which says that the Minister has not the power.
– The ‘honorable senators must show authority for doing it.
– The money has been paid in one case.
– There has been no refund, unless the money was first paid on deposit under protest.
– Allusion has been made to section 166. That section simply states that no person shall become entitled to a refund on account of any duty paid before an alteration in classification. That covers the whole thing. No distinction is made in favour of those who paid under protest. The section says that no persons shall be entitled. Senator Symon also read a number of regulations, but they did not bear upon the question; and when he discovered that there were no regulations that did bear upon it, he quietly dropped the book. He reminded me of the action of a peculiar fish, which, when it wishes to hide itself, emits a quantity of liquid which discolours the water, and enables it to escape under the cover of darkness.
– Will the honorable senator point out anything either in the Act or the regulations which says that duty paid under these circumstances shall be refunded?
– I want the Government to point out where the Act expressly states that the Minister shall not have the power to refund. It is a question of administration.’
– Does not the Act say that persons shall not be entitled to a refund except under certain conditions?
– I admit that.
– If they have not complied with those conditions, they are npt entitled, and cannot be paid.
– The law says that China oil shall be free.
– But the Department has to classify articles ; and they were entitled to collect the duty in the first instance.
– Only by virtue of the classification. After two or three years, the Government decide that the oil shall be free. It would be very strained administration if a person bringing goods into the country asked for information from the Department, and if duties were charged on articles which the Department itself admitted ought to be free. I have pointed out that the Attorney-General has completely clouded’ the issue by reading a number of regulations which he says have the force of law, but which have no more bearing on this question than .they have on the rising of the moon. I have dealt with sub-section 2, of section 163 of the Act, which provides that a refund or remission of duty collected in manifest error shall be made “in the manner prescribed.” That is definite, but we have then to discover what is “ the manner prescribed.” The Attorney-General informs the Committee that that is laid down in section 167. I point out that the interpretation which the Attorney-General has put on section 167 in connecting it with section 163 15 altogether beside the mark. The honor able and learned’ senator has read something into the section which - it does not contain, whilst the words of the section cannot bear the construction which has been put on them. A dispute in this case commences when an importer objects to the interpretation of the law by the Customs officials. As the Attorney-General has said, there are two courses open to him. He can put down a deposit, and section 167 deals only with the case of a man who does put down a deposit when a dispute arises. The section provides -
If any dispute shall arise as to the amount or rate of duty or liability of goods to duty, the owner may deposit with the collector the amount of duty demanded, and thereupon the following consequences shall ensue : - The deposit shall be deemed the proper duty unless, by action commenced by the owner against the collector within six months after making the deposit, the contrary shall be determined.
The plain words of the section are, that the deposit shall be deemed to be the proper duty, unless, as the result of an action, the contrary is determined. The Attorney-General took these words, “ the contrary shall be determined,” out of section 167, and connected them with section 1 63, which provides ‘ that a rebate or remission of duty, as the case may require, shall be made in the manner prescribed. I contend that the prescription is clearly laid down in the section to which I have referred.
– No; “prescribed” there means prescribed by regulation.
– That is what I have been asking all the morning, and in reply the Attorney-General has read a number of regulations which are no more applicable to this discussion than they are to the rising of the tide.
– What the AttorneyGeneral has pointed out is that the administration has been altered.
– It is true that the classification has been altered, but the duty has been collected on this oil since the alteration of the classification, although it is perfectly clear from it that this commodity is free of duty. The words which the Attorney-General separated from their context in section 167 are rightly used in that section, and are governed by the preceding words of the same section. The Government realized that the departmental administration had been wrong, and that money had been collected from the public which the Department was not entitled to collect. The classification is altered, and a certain commodity is made free of duty ; in spite of the alteration of the classification, the officers of the Department continue to. collect duty on this article. In some instances the duty is paid under protest as a deposit, and under section 167 I contend that that deposit must be deemed to be the proper duty, unless, by action commenced by the owner against the Collector within six months after the deposit was made, the contrary shall be determined. That is the whole matter. The AttorneyGeneral has attempted to connect the words “the contrary shall be determined” with the words of section 163. I submit that the law cannot bear the honorable and learned senator’s interpretation. Where duty is paid under a protest in the form of a deposit the deposit under the law is deemed to be the proper duty, unless, as the result of an action commenced against the Government by the person concerned, the contrary is determined. It is nonsense to suggest that the contrary -is determined if merely notice of such an action is given. That would be futile, and no one could hold that it would be in the interests of the Department, the revenue, or the public doing business with the Department. I contend that the administrative action taken by the Government in the issue of order No. 480, deciding that all money paid in the form of a deposit in connexion with this commodity should be refunded, was outside the direction of the law. The Government took the responsibility of that administrative action. There is nothing in the Act to prohibit them, but if they are entitled to take such action in the interests of certain persons who have made a deposit, they are equally entitled to take similar administrative action in the interests of persons who have paid duty which should not have been collected without protest, and paid it in good faith, believing that the law was being rightly administered by the officers of the Department. I have so far received no reply to that contention. I wish to get at the bottom of the matter, in order to discover how it is that the Government can deal in one way with one section of the community, and in a different way with another. The AttorneyGeneral has said that he is sorry that statements of that kind should be made, because they amount to a charge of corruption. I 80 not believe they do. I merely make the statement that the Government have apparently felt themselves entitled to deal in a certain way by an administrative act with persons who understand the law. It appears that where people have been governed in their relations with the Depart- ment by an intention to do what they be- ‘lieve to be right, putting full confidence in the ability and integrity of the officers of the Department, the Government will not exercise the same powers of administration that they do in regard to other sections of the people. The reply which I have now succeeded in obtaining from the Government is not very definite. The Attorney-General said that the law prohibits any refund, but I contend that the law does nothing of the sort. I can only by inference conclude that the Government do not intend to -refund this money, and that that determination has been come to simply because those people did not make a deposit. Is that the answer of the Government?
– The honorable senator had the answer that the money cannot be legally refunded1.
– But it appears that money can be legally refunded to people who paid under deposit, although the law distinctly lays it down that unless an action is commenced the deposit shall be deemed to be the proper duty.
– But if we are referring to the same case, an action was commenced, and a writ served.
– The interpretation put on the law by the Government is very curious It means that as soon as an action is commenced the “ contrary shall be determined.”
– It means that the Department do not defend the action; a writ is issued and served, and the’ Department allows the matter to go by default.
– That is the whole question. Immediately the writ is issued the Government admit they are wrong, and, on that admission, issue an order to all and sundry, who have paid1 money under similar circumstances, that they shall get a refund without bringing an action.
– And then there was a fresh classification.
– But the Department has been collecting money since that classification
– How long ago?
– It may have been in June, but I cannot exactly give the date.
– The fresh classification was ordered in May, and from that time the oil has come in free. The duty must have been collected before May.
– The Government
I gave way when this man in Victoria issued . a writ.
– Apparently, that was the first time a writ had been issued.
– I am not saying that that was not so.
– Might the issue of the writ not lead to special and’ careful inquiry ?
– I contend that the section does not .Dear ‘the interpretation placed upon it by the Attorney-General, who took the words “ the contrary shall be determined “ bodily out of section 167, and connected with it section 163, although th<words have no ‘business in the latter provision.
– Even so, this was a case in which a duty Had been paid through a patent misconception of the law.
– That is what I :im pointing out. Those people paid under r misconception of the law, although they vigorously protested, this being a free article. If, as pointed out, those words are to be bodily taken out of the one section and connected with the other, a refund can take place as an act of administration.
– “As prescribed.” which means as prescribed bv the Act according to the definition.
– I contend that the words “ the contrary shall be determined “ are governed by previous words in the same section, which provide that the deposit shall be deemed to be the proper duty, unless an action is commenced within six months after making the deposit. According to the interpretation by the Attorney-General, if an action is commenced, the Government must immediately make a refund, although the action does not go on.
– If the Government allow a case to go by default.
– And though none of the others have commenced an action, the Government determined to make a refund to all in the same category. The persons whose case I am presenting have no chance to get their money back, simply because they were content, to abide by the interpretation of the law by the officials.
– And because they did not put in a written protest.
– I am contending, that the merchant who works with a lawyer at his elbow may be enabled to ruin his competitors, owing to the fact that he receives special and preferential treatment from the Department. When I asked the Attorney-General to cite any authority which prohibited the Government from dealing with this matter as one of administration, he replied, “ Oh, no, it is not our place; the onus of proof is thrown on the man who has had money taken from him, and did not put in a protest - he must prove Lhat the Government have power to pay him back.” To take shelter behind such a technicality is absolutely unworthy of a gentleman of the reputation and ability of the Attorney-General. The honorable and learned senator said that the Department was at that time’ in a state of flux. It must be remembered, however, that there are always alterations being made in the Customs duties. But when an obvious and admitted mistake has been made, and there is no law or regulation prohibiting the matter being, dealt with as a matter df administration, the proper course is for the Government to act fairly and justly between all classes. I take the answer of the Government to be that they do not intend to interfere with the present arrangement. I have been a long time getting that answer ; and if I had had it before, it might have saved considerable time this morning. The fact is, the Government were, simply a bit scared when they found that some one of importance was prepared to issue a writ. They thought it was better to come to a settlement than to fight out the question. An order was then issued which authorized a refund to be made not only to the person who had issued the writ, but to all persons who had paid the duty under protest in a similar manner. The reply is that the Government do not intend to refund the duty to those persons who, acting in all good faith, paid the money without a protest, under the interpretation and advice of the Customs officials. The only remedy which is now left to these persons is to issue a writ. ‘
– They cannot do that.
– There is no provision in the law which prevents the .Government from doing a fair thing by an administrative act.
– We want authority to pay money out of the consolidated revenue.
– Do not the Government get a large vote for making refunds of revenue?
– To make payments according to law. We cannot pay ,£30,000 away at our own sweet will.
– Where the claimant was in a position to bring an action the
Government immediately parted with the money, and they will not take the slightest notice of the claims of those persons who paid without a protest, on the advice of the Customs officials. I have moved this request as a protest against that sort of thing. I shall endeavour to ascertain how many honorable senators are in favour of justice being dealt out, not only to the man who was in a position to bring an action at law, but to the man who, in all good faith, trusted to the fair and honest administration of the Department, and ‘paid what he believed he was required to pay. Senator DRAKE. - We have heard a good deal from Senator Pulsford about this being a case in which a big firm came forward and brought the Department to its bearings. I notice that subsequent speakers have inferred from his remarks that this is a case as between a big man and a small man. I do not know how much is involved in the case brought forward by Senator Turley. A writ for the recovery of ^5 was issued by a person named Way Sing against the Collector of Customs, and it was served on the Department on the 12th March, .1904. That is the very big case which is referred to.
– I referred to the case of a Melbourne merchant named Markwald.
– That is the name of the big man who came forward and got a refund.
– I am told that there is only one case in which a writ has been issued, and a refund has been made.
– I think that Mr. Markwald put his goods into a bonded warehouse, and was allowed to take them out without paying duty.
– If the honorable senator has any definite information on that point, he can give it to the Committee. In the case of Way Sing, the Crown Solicitor was consulted, and he advised the Government that it should not be contested, and on that advice a refund was ordered by the late Minister of Customs, Mr. Fisher, who said in his minute -
Let an amended departmental decision as to what constitutes China oil be published.
In consequence of that minute, which is dated the 7th May, 1904, there was a reclassification order, and China oil was classified as free, and from that time I presume that no duty has been collected. The Government then issued an order that in all cases in which the duty was paid, under protest, or under section 167 of the Act, a refund should be made. The Department contend that there is power in sections 163 and 167 of the Act to make the refunds under those circumstances ; but in only one case has a claim been made for a refund under those conditions. What Senator Turley is really contending for is that because the Government refunded the duty in one case, everybody who for the last three years paid any duty on China oil, or on any article which was imported as China oil, is entitled to demand a refund. There is no provision in the Act to warrant a refund under those circumstances, and it would be exceedingly dangerous if there were; because it would mean that whenever an alteration was made in the classification of an article, reducing the rate of duty, every importer from the most remote time who had paid a higher rate would be entitled to a refund. It would make the Department very chary indeed about making any alteration, unless they, were positively compelled to do so. The action of the Department is, I think, perfectly clear and reasonable. I do not see how any more could be done.
– Senator Turley has laid enormous stress on his opinion that the Department treats persons who are in a strong position differently from those who are in a weak position. Apparently all through this case the Department has been confined entirely in its action by the law, as it should be. The Customs officers should have no discretion; Duties should be collected, and, when necessary, refunded under the conditions prescribed by law, else the greatest favoritism and jobbery would certainly creep in. The honorable senator says there is no provision in the law. to prevent the Government from refunding this money as an administrative act. Clearly the law says that, in the event of money being collected under an impression which was subsequently departed from, and being paid without protest, the mere fact of payment does not entitle the importer to a refund. Clearly the officers of the Department cannot pay to other persons any money, which they may choose to claim.
– And that section applies to everybody.
– No; the law goes on to place those persons who made a protest in the prescribed form in a position, under certain circumstances, to have the money legally refunded to them. In the event of an importer making a protest, and, if need be, commencing an action within six months of the time of protest, and the decision being in his favour either in a court of law or by default of the Department, the latter must refund the money which was deposited. Both processes are fixed by law, and it is not a question of whether the claimant is big or little, or whether the sum is large or small. It is possible to conceive of a very wealthy trader carrying an an extensive trade, paying without protest very large sums.
– It is not probable, though.
– I do not know that it is not. There is no question of degree in this act of administration. It is merely a question of compliance or noncompliance with clearly defined law. The Customs Tariff embraces an enormous number of items, and when articles of commerce so nearly approximating each other appear under very different classifications, there must necessarily arise from time to time errors of judgment. If it were to, be laid down as a principle that wherever there was a doubt, the importer should have the benefit of it, the revenue would suffer enormously. Therefore it is properly laid down as a principle that the duty of a tax collector is at all times to safeguard the revenue. It is an axiom that it is the duty of a citizen to know the law. It is a misfortune that the poor citizen is more frequently ignorant of the law than is the wealthy one.
– That does not justify discrimination.
– That is a misfortune we cannot get over. The duty of the Customs Department is not to discriminate, but simply to administer the law as. they know it. The man who gets a refund gets it in accordance with the law. The man who fails to get a refund fails in accordance with the law. If there is anything wrong in the administration of the Customs Department, it is not the present Government, or the Government which origially gave the decision in reference to this matter, but it is the Customs Act that is at fault. What I urge upon Senator Turley is that, supposing his contention were given effect to, justice would not be done, but very gross injustice, because the persons who have paid these duties which are now admitted to have been collected in error, have shifted the burden on to their customers.
– Senator Pulsford stated that, in this case that was an impossibility;
– I cannot conceive of a case where it is impossible for the importer to charge the duties on to his customers, if he is engaged in manufacturing. China oil is a raw material of manufacture. It is a material that cannot be produced in the Commonwealth, and must be imported. It is obvious that the duties must be added to the cost of production of the manufactured articles. The persons who have paid the duty are really the persons who have consumed the manufactured product. Therefore, the duty can be and is handed on to the consumer. But the persons who paid the duty to the Government are the only persons to whom a refund could be made, supposing there was a refund.The persons who have really borne the burden of the duty would, if there was a refund, have in addition to contribute their share to the refund. So long as there is a Tariff at all, whether it be a protectionist or a revenue Tariff, there must be mistakes. They will be disco,erd as soon as possible, and when discovered the evil will not be continued. But it is impossible to remedy the evil that has occurred, because it is impossible to reach the persons who have really paid the duty. It may be in some instances that the exporter has paid the duty out of his profits, in order to get his goods into the country. It may be that the consumer who uses the manufactured article has paid the duty. But very rarely indeed is it the merchant who actually pays the duty in the ultimate. Therefore, it is impossible to pay the duty back to the persons who have really borne the burden. I urge Senator Turley not to press his request.
– I never move an amendment upon which I do not call for a division.
– My honorable friend reminds me of a barrister in Court who, when an argument of a most potent character was being urged against his case, said, “ It is of no use for my learned friend to use arguments of that sort, because I am determined1 not to be convinced by any argument.” That is not a reasonable position. My honorable friend has argued for several hours, and seemed to hope that his several speeches would have an effect upon the opinions of honorable senators. He does not adopt a fair attitude if he says that under no circumstances will he change his opinion, although he has been endeavouring to change the opinions of others. Seeing the futility of the motion, I hope that he will not press it. We have had quite a number of extremely ridiculous divisions in this Chamber yesterday and to-day.
– I rise to order. A few days ago the President ruled me out of order, because I was passing reflections o the Committee. Is Senator Trenwith in order in saying, in the sermon which he is preaching, that the divisions which we have taken were ridiculous?
– In New South Wales there is a rule that it is quite in order to describe a call for a division as “frivolous and vexatious.” That, I suppose, is what Senator Trenwith means?
– On the point of order, I wish to say that I should be sorry to describe anything that the Committee did as ridiculous. But a division may be forced upon the Committee, not by the whole body of honorable senators, but by a section. What I wished to say was that these divisions were futile, and therefore ridiculous. I would not speak of the action of honorable senators as a whole as ridiculous. I do not believe that the decisions of the Committee, in reference to the divisions to which I referred, were ridiculous. I think they were extremely wise. But it was the minority to which I referred.
– We now have it laid down by Senator Trenwith that any action that is taken by honorable senators who’ move amendments, which they have a perfect right to move, is ridiculous if they are not successful. That is a very peculiar doctrine. It is the first time. I have ever known the action of a minority to be characterized as necessarily ridiculous. Whenever a minority in any parliamentary assembly takes action, if they have not tin requisite numbers to enforce the opinio”’ which they hold, their action is ridiculous !
– That is straining the argument.
– That is the only inference that can be drawn. The honorable senator stated that quite a number of divisions had been taken which were ridiculous. That is a matter of opinion about which I say nothing. But when he goes further and’ says that if divisions are futile they are therefore ridiculous, I contend that the inference is that every action of any minority, because they are unsuccessful, is futile and ridiculous.
– I did not catch the exact terms which Senator Trenwith employed, but I understand that he described certain divisions taken in Committee as ridiculous. Under standing order 404, no honorable senator is permitted to make personal reflections on any senator, and if any honorable senator, thinks that the statement that ridiculous divisions have been taken casts a reflection upon him, I must ask Senator Trenwith to withdraw the remark.
– Most assuredly ; I had no intention to cast any reflection upon any honorable senator. I will not repeat even the declaration that the divisions were ridiculous. But they did occupy a great deal of time, which it was obvious could lead to no result. To insist upon divisions which it is clear can lead to no result -is the kin’d of futility to which I referred. I do not think such divisions conduce to the advancement of public business. I do not say that the matter should not be discussed.
– Has that any relation to the subject under discussion?
– No, except as an argument why this amendment should not be proceeded with because no result can come of it. This subject has occupied nearly the whole of to-day. It has been threshed out from, every possible point of view. It is obvious that there is a majority against the view which Senator [Turley holds. Therefore I took the liberty to urge him not to press his motion to a division. But he says that he is not one who moves motions with the intention of withdrawing them afterwards. I venture to say that that is not a proper attitude to take up with reference to honorable senators. It is not proper for an honorable senator to induce us to discuss questions at length, and then to say that no amount of argument, no production of facts, and no evidence against the opinion which he holds will change his view, and that he will stick to it however impracticable and however stupid it may be.
– I hope that the discussion will now end. I know the deep interest that Senator Turley has taken in this question, but we have had a very full discussion, and I hope that my honorable friend will not now discuss the collateral matter which has been raised.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - I had intended to take a division at once. My object was to obtain a distinct expression of opinion from the Government. I have obtained that opinion. They state that they do not intend to do anything in this matter. But I was asked to withdraw my motion, and have been told that I am not at all complimentary to honorable’ senators in pressing the matter to a division. Although I believe that I am right, and have no reason to believe that there is a majority of honorable senators against me, I am told that I am acting in a stupid manner, because I do not withdraw. I do not usually act so stupidly as that. Senator Trenwith may consider that any honorable senator, who thinks he has a good case, and wishes to test the feeling of the Committee, is wrong because he does not choose to withdraw when he is requested to do so. If his opinion is that my action on this occasion is simply an exhibition of stupidity, he is quite welcome to it. I have had no evidence that amajority of the members of the Committee are prepared to vote against my motion. So far only the Attorney-General, the VicePresident of the Executive Council, Senator Trenwith, and Senator Pulsford have expressed any opinion adverse to it. Senator Pulsford did not go into the matter, and I am therefore asked to recognise that two official members of the Senate, with Senator Trenwith, possess the whole of the brains and intelligence of the Committee, and that other honorable senators should not be allowed to express an opinion on this question by a vote. I decline to accept any such suggestion. If Senators Stewart, Givens, and I arrogated to ourselves such a position as Senator Trenwith claims for himself and his friends, I should like to know what would be said by honorable senators opposite. I have submitted a case to the Committee, which, in my opinion, deserves reasonable consideration. It is not my practice to speak merely for the purpose of wasting time. If a majority of the members of the Committee inform me that they are opposed to me in this matter, I might feel justified in withdrawing my motion, but I shall not do so because, in the opinion of one or two. I have not submitted a reasonable case for consideration.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce division 37, “ Queensland. £51,934,” by £1 - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - On the second reading of the Bill, I directed the attention of the Government to certain appointments which have been made in Queensland of officials intrusted with the administrationj of Commonwealth legislation, governing the employment of white and coloured labour on the sugar plantations. I have contended that it is quite unreasonable to expect faithful administration of the Sugar Bounties Act if it is placed in the hands of actual enemies of the White Australia policy. I do not propose to move any request for a reduction in the vote, nor do I propose to discuss the question at length. I do not blame the present, any more than previous Governments, for the appointments to which I refer. My complaint is that the officer at the head of the Customs Department in Queensland is allowed to make these appointments at his own sweet will, and without Ministerial supervision. In my opinion, it is the duty of Ministers to see that their subordinate officers in the various States carry out the spirit and intention of the law. The spirit and intention of the Sugar Bounties Act is to encourage the growth of sugar by white labour by every possible means, and yet the head of the Customs Department in Queensland, instead of appointing officers in sympathy with the Commonwealth legislation on this subject to administer the law, has appointed men who are totally opposed to the spirit of our legislation, and actual enemies of the ideals which form the basis of that legislation. If a squatter, owning a station, arrives at the conclusion that it will pay him better to use it as a sheep station rather than as a cattle station, do honorable senators believe that he would intrust its management to a man who was totally opposed to that idea, and determined to prove it a failure? They know that he would not do anything of the kind, and if that principle is good as applied to private business it should be equally good as applied to public business,. I wish now merely to direct the attention of the Government to this matter, with a view to induce them to see whether some more satisfactory method cannot be devised for making these appointments.
Senator- Givens. - To insure that the officers charged with its administration must be’ in sympathy with the law.
Department of Defence.
Divisions 41” to 183, ,£592,127.
– The time has now arrived when honorable senators who care to do so can criticize the policy of Ministers, and their administration’ in regard to defence matters. In accordance’ with the notification which I gave a week since, I wish to say a word on the subject of the compulsory military training of youths. I should like to explain why I have not spoken on the subject before. Some months ago I gave notice of an abstract motion advocating the principle of the compulsory military training of youths. That was when the Senate met on the Wednesday in each week, and adjourned for a week at a time, and there was never more than one-half the members of the Senate present. I did not therefore care to go on with the matter. It then struck me that the submission of an abstract motion was not a practical way in which to deal with so important a question. I therefore formulated the idea of changing the .motion into one for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the subject. I then saw my friend Senator Dawson, who was Minister of Defence in the Watson Administration, and I had to wait a few weeks to learn from him whether the Government of which he was a member would support the appointment of such a Select Committee. We all remember the ex citing time which the Watson Administration had in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and the events that ultimately led to their retirement from office. I had then to wait for a week or two until Lt. -Col. McCay got fairly into the saddle. I waited upon that honorable and learned gentleman to ask him whether the Reid-McLean Administration would support my motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to consider this question. I called three times on the Minister of Defence, but, after waiting some five or six weeks, I received no answer. The Minister’s scheme was then submitted to Parliament, but I find in it no allusion to compulsory drill. I found afterwards that the Minister had not read my papers, nor had he mentioned the matter to the Cabinet ; and I must confess that I was disappointed, though, at the same time, I know the enormous amount of work the Minister has to do, and, therefore, I do not complain - I merely express my disappointment. I then saw the Prime Minister, and’ asked him if he would undertake to bring this important matter before the Premiers’ Conference, shortly to be held at Hobart. The right honorable gentleman made one or two very excellent suggestions, but said he could not give me any definite promise that the matter would “be brought before that Conference. Those facts explain ‘the cause of my delay, and, under the circumstances, it appears to me that no Minister of Defence, and no set of Ministers, regard this matter as so important as I do, or as important, I may say, as do most of the leading military men in the world. I therefore make no excuse for saying a few words this afternoon, in trying, if I can, to induce Ministers, and honorable senators on all sides of the Chamber, to regard this matter of the compulsory training of our youth as lying at the very foundation of any scheme worth talking about for the defence of the Commonwealth. I submit, with all deference, that the present scheme of defence has no foundation on which Ave can ever build up a force which will be a credit to the Commonwealth. I am inclined to compare the scheme to a bucket without a bottom, for that is certainly what it will be found to be in days to come, unless some system of compulsory military service or training is adopted. Shortly after I commenced to take an active interest in this question, I received a communication from the secretary of the National Service League of Great, Britain, expressing his pleasure that it had been brought under the notice of this Senate, and his hope that the movement which had been initiated would be kept alive. I replied to that letter, telling the secretary that, so far as I was concerned, t’he interest taken in the Question would not be allowed to flag, and asking him to send me copies of the magazines, the enormous number of leaflets, and other literature, issued by the League. I have been furnished with some very useful documents, and the few quotations I propose to make will show the vast importance of the subject. T’he principle advocated by the National Service League is that of universal military training, and the objects aimed at by such training are: -
The practical suggestions of the League are-
There is then pointed out the training that should be imposed on the youths. There are many ways of commencing, and carrying out a scheme of the sort proposed. One is to commence, as I propose, with youths ranging from 12 or 14 up to 18 or 19 years of age. I hope that honorable senators will not confuse the compulsory training of our youths with what is called compulsory service or conscription. What I propose is that we should take in hand the youths who are being educated in other ways and get hold of them before they arrive at manhood, and are involved in commercial or professional duties. The compulsory military training of such youths would not involve very much interference with their ordinary educational course. One of the
magazines which I ‘have here _ refers in very laudatory terms to the debate which took place in another place, when Mr. Hughes submitted his motion in favour, not of the training of youths, but of compulsory service. If I had my way, I certainly should impose compulsory service on this Commonwealth, and I should do so without t’he slightest hesitation. But if we cannot impose compulsory training on men between the ages of 18, and 22 or 23 years of age,
Ave must fall back on the compulsory training of our youths, if we desire to have what we call a citizen army in time to come. We have in the Commonwealth, cadet corps, and the Minister of Defence, in his scheme, proposes to bring the question of their organization before the Conference of Premiers in February. I contend, however, that cadet corps are simply a means of playing with a very important subject. In the very useful report, so far as it goes, of the Commission which was appointed to inquire into the question of making the cadet corps more useful, I find the following:
Estimate for cadets when developed. - Number of cadets 22,556, costing £13,606 for allowances, other expenses and officers, bringing up the amount to £30,700. Of this, £20,000 is required for the year 1904-5 ; to this must be added : - Arms, £21,000; equipment, ,£3,000 - total ,£24,000, or £8,000 per annum, spread over three years, so that £28,000 is required for the first year.
At the present time there are 8,661 junior cadets, and 561 senior cadets in. all the States of the Commonwealth, including those under the military system, and those attached to our State schools. If we turn to the statistics of our population, we find that, when the last census was taken on the 31st March, 1901, the youths between 15 and 20 years of age numbered as follows in the various States : - New South Wales, 70,423 ; Victoria, 58,882 ; Queensland, 23,684; South Australia. 20,007 j Western Australia,” 7,088 ; and Tasmania, 9,388; or a total, of 189,472. But, on looking further at the census figures, I find that the youths between jo and 15 years of age numbered 218,308; of youths between 12 years of age and 18 and 19 years of age, we have about 200,000; and if we eliminate 50,000 for boys who are ill, unfit, who are away, or who cannot be reached, it is fair to ‘ assume that there are about 1.50,000, every one of whom ought to receive both military and physical drill, and certainly ought to be taught the art of shooting. To take a practical view of the question, let us come to the matter of cost. Arms have to be obtained, and a system has to be started. But, as pointed out by the Commission on the cadet system, there is no occasion to incur the total expense in the first, or the second, or even in the third year. I take it that, to carry on the compulsory training of youths would, when the system was in full force, require an expenditure of from £1 00,000 to £150,000 per annum. There is no reason, however, why we should not commence next year with an expenditure of £30,000 or £40.000, which could be increased in the following year by another £20,000. The cost would depend on the number of arms, and, almost entirely, on the system inaugurated. I am told that the system reported on by the Royal Commission is rather extravagant. According to that report, each junior is to get an allowance of 10s. per year, and each senior an allowance of £1 per year, as uniform and orderly-room expenses, while an officer commanding is to receive £20 ; ‘a battalion commander, £10 ; and adjutants, captains, and lieutenants, ^£7 10s., £5, and £$ respectively. I am informed lb v a military man that, although those expenses may seem very moderate, they are rather extravagant. The principle underlying the system which I advocate is that we have a right to call on the youths of the Commonwealth to train themselves in the art of defence just as we have the right to compel them to go to school and learn to read and write. I also think that in return for all the services which the State renders to the parents of the youths, as well as to the youths themselves, we might in many cases prescribe that the parents shall provide the uniforms which may be necessary. I desire the Defence Force of the Commonwealth to be in all senses of the word a citizen force- that every soldier shall be a citizen, and every citizen a soldier. If we enter on the work of organization in an economical way, and have regard to the duty which alT men owe to the State, we can carry out such a scheme practically, economically, and efficiently. I undertake to say that any Committee which may be appointed to inquire into the matter will find that what I have outlined can be accomplished, and they will also find that it is the almost unanimous opinion of thoughtful military men in the United Kingdom, that it is the only system that can. with due regard to the adequacy and efficiency of the military defences, be adopted.
Writers in the leading English newspapers regard such a system as the only alternative to conscription or to compulsory military service. I should now like to give only a few quotations from the opinions of military men who are in favour of the- scheme. Lieutenant-General Sir T. Kelly-Kenny, K.C.B., says:-
There is nothing to be done but conscription or the ballot; we must do either the one or the other.
Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, K. G., says -
If employers of labour will not help, some kind of compulsory service will, I imagine, have to be adopted. ‘
Field-Marshal Viscount Wolseley, K.P., says -
I think myself the time has come for some compulsion being put upon the people to train in a military sense.
Lieutentant-General Sir John French, K.C.B., says-
I am greatly in favour of it (universal service).
Major-General H. Hallam Parr, CB., says -
Without the ballot all this is useless, and the time has come to admit that unless the country will again accept t:he old law of compulsory service military experts must throw up their hands in despair.
Major-General Sir John Ardagh, K.C.M.G., says -
I suppose we may come to the ballot some time or other.
Mr. Alexander Duff (General Manager of Lloyd’s Bank), says -
Honestly, if you ask me for a solution of that, the only solution I know is universal service.
Mr. T. E. Vickers (Vickers, Sons, and Maxim, Limited), says -
Speaking for my company, we should not make any outcry (against compulsory service).
Mr. Woodman Burbidge (General Manager of Harrod’s Stores), says -
I do not think they would resent it (compulsory service) ; I think it would be to their benefit.
Colonel W. C. Horsley, V.D., says-
In other words, it would be a direct form of compulsion for service of some kind throughout the country. I think that is only fair.
Colonel E. H. Baily, V.D., says-
Speaking here as an Englishman, I should like to see everybody compelled to learn how to serve his country in some form or another.
Colonel H. A. Erskine, V.D., says -
My idea is decidedly that some compulsion is necessary.
Colonel F. Haworth, V.D., says -
I do not think that they recognise that they ought (o take their share in the defence of the country. I should like to see the Militia ballot put in force, personally.
Lieutentant-Colonel E. Pryce- Jones, M.P. (Volunteers), says -
I am strongly in favour of compulsion.
Colonel H. H. Stewart (Militia), says -
The Militia ballot could be applied in Ireland, and would, I think, be an extremely good thing for the country.
Colonel Lord Raglan (Militia), says -
I think it has come to that (compulsion).
Colonel W. G. Lowther (Militia), says -
You cannot fill up without (compulsion).
Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Castletown,
C.M.G. (Militia), says- ‘
I have always held that everybody ought to be made to serve compulsorily.
Lieutenant-General Lord Methuen, G.C.B., says -
I cannot solve the problem unless the Government enforce the ballot for the Militia.
Field-Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood, G.C.B., says -
The time has come for instituting throughout the Empire a military system of “ Universal Service for Home (National) Defence,”’ and the mother country should set the example.
Major-General Sir H. Hildyard, K.C.B., says -
The enforcement of the Militia ballot seems indispensable if universal service for the home defence is to be averted.
These men would hardly speak in that way unless, as I say, the matter were one of vast importance. Considering that we are not contributing our proper share to the naval defence of the Empire, and seeing that what we ought to do is to take care that our land forces are in perfect order, and that we drill and make use of the raw material we have, it seems to me that a system of compulsory training is most admirably suited for the Commonwealth. It was only the other day that Lord Roberts in South Africa was reported thus -
Lord Roberts expressed his gratification at the progress of the cadet movement. In preparation for war lay safety and the preservation of peace. The best thing for the Colonies and Great Britain was the recognition of the possibilities of the rising generation.
Then the Secretary of the National Service League contributes a paragraph which is well worth reading -
Let us beat about the bush as we will, let us wriggle and writhe, let Ministers delude an apathetic public with fantastic figures of the cost of any scheme of universal military training, let 13 i 2 the elector be told with piteous; or pitiable, insistence that “ they will not stand it “ ; the truth, nevertheless, stares us in the face, and he who runs may read - that, if the Empire is to stand, the people will have to stand the sacrifice of a short period of their early manhood, given to training themselves to the noblest task a citizen can be called upon to perform, the defence of his country.
One objection to anything of that kind is that the freedom of the Anglo-Saxon race would not stand it, because it is contrary to the genius of the English-speaking people. But every writer- -=ana I could produce scores of quotations - will tell us in a sentence that that is all bunkum, that it is absolutely opposed to the history of our nation. Article after article points out how England has attained its present position by compulsory service, and by that only. It has been done by the pressgang, as well as “ by guns and bayonets. In the time of King Alfred it was necessary for everybody to take part in the defence. of the country. After the Restoration the law was that if a man had £6,000 in property, or an income of £500 a year, he had to provide a horseman properly equipped1; but, that if a man had an’ income of only £50 a year, or only £500 worth of property, he had to provide a pikeman. As some of the military men point out, under the ballot system in the militia force, the compulsory principle is in force in England. When they speak about enforcing the ballot system, that is to some extent compulsion on those’ who draw the lot, and are liable for service. It is perfectly certain that this scheme can only be properly and efficiently launched in harmony with the States. I can quite understand my honorable friend, Lt. -Col. McCay, desiring .to bring before the Premiers how his cadet system is to be carried- out. But I implore him to ‘drop a cadet system which is purely voluntary, and to discuss with the Premiers whether we cannot start on a larger scale some system for the compulsory training of our youth. It could be done in all large towns without the slightest trouble. In outlying districts there might be a little trouble. ‘ But the trouble in teaching the lads their drill would be compensated for by the freer use which they could make of their rifles. They would have a better physique. They would make some of the most splendid mounted troops in the world. I am under the impression that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to have for service abroad at least 25,000 men efficiently trained, and fit to go into the field. A time “will come when that necessity will be acknowledged. A time will come when we shall be engaged in a much greater war than the Boer war, and we may have to do five times as much as we then did, if ever England is engaged in a large European war, and has to fight for her very existence. To have 150,000 youths, physically capable, who are not compelled to undergo the training necessary to fit them to defend their country, and to be content with 8,000 cadets, seems to me to be a very foolish way of inaugurating a defence system for this great Commonwealth. Many boys take to the cadet system merely because they like to wear the uniform and to march through the streets to the music of the fife and drum band. But we do not get hold of the boys we want to train. They are not the State school boys, but the boys who play about night after night in the streets of our large cities, and who would make the most useful soldiers. So long as we confine our compulsory training to the cadet movement we shall get only the better class boys, who can afford to buy their uniforms and rifles, and like to play at soldiers. I wish to get hold of every healthy boy, whether he be a street boy or a college boy. I wish, the Senate to acknowledge that, just as the State teaches and compels boys to learn how to read and write, lest their ignorance should be a danger to the community, so it ought above all things to teach them the art of self-defence, lest their ignorance should become a danger to the community. We have only to take a glance at the report of the Commission which was appointed to inquire into the results and the defects of our military organization during the Boer war, to learn how necessary that training is. Out of the many of the drafts of militia, yeomen, and volunteers which were sent from London, a great number had to be drilled for four or five weeks, day and night. Some men had to be put on the horse, and almost taught how to saddle it, before they were fit to go into the field. Is that creditable to our nation? Is it not just like old England, trusting to her .grit, energy, and pluck to muddle through ? I believe that the nation which most efficiently organizes in arms or industry or politics will come out on top. Are we going to neglect organization for the youth of the Commonwealth, and yet think that we have a perfect system of defence? I hope that the Prime Minister and the Premiers will not be prevented taking action by the consideration of expense. I believe that there is not enough money voted for the equipment of our military forces either in arms or in accoutrements. I understand that some officers make out their estimates according to their knowledge of politics. If they want £600,000, they ask for £900,000, and probably, when the Minister and the Secretary have cut down the estimates, and the Treasurer has had another cut at them, they will get what they want. But I understand that the late General Officer Commanding sent in his estimates conscientiously prepared with due regard to the wish of Parliament, to save every shilling that it could. He simply asked for what was necessary, and when £160,000 was knocked off, I believe that it crippled the Defence system. If you ask any officer you meet in the street, he will tell you - if he will talk at all - that at this moment money is required for both arms and accoutrements.
– Does not the honorable senator think that we are spending enough on our internal forces?
– If my honorable friend were worth £1,000, and I offered £800 for him, he would not think that that was enough.
– I think I am worth more than £1,000
– If our Defence system requires so much money, it must be voted. If we take the military men at the disposal of Great Britain, both in time of war and in time of peace, we shall find that they are but a handful compared with Russia’s 3.500,000, Germany’s 3,500,000, France’s 3,000,000, Austria’s. 2,000,000, and Italy’s nearly 2,000,000. The National Service League points out that if we had a system for the compulsory training of our youth between the ages of 18 and 21, we should have a militia of 2,000,000, who in time of danger could be called out, and would be ready for the field in two or three weeks, owing, to their training. I desire to read a few more quotations before I resume my seat. Sir George Goldie says : -
This particular defect (the lack of a system of national military education) in our military organization has cost the country no less than a hundred millions sterling ; that it was a principal indirect course of the outbreak of war ; that for some months it left the United Kingdom practically denuded of trained soldiers; and that it produced - the most perilous international situation in which the Empire has found itself since the days of Napoleon. Only an extraordinary combination of fortunate circumstances, external and internal, saved the Empire during (he early months of 1900, and there is no reason to expect a repetition of such fortune if, as appears probable, the next national emergency finds us still discussing our preparation.
Another authority says : -
Military or naval training should be made compulsory for every able-bodied youth between fourteen and nineteen, as a branch of, or as a continuation of ordinary education. In working out the details the line of existing educational machinery should be closely followed. Military training would rank as an additional branch beside elementary, secondary, and technical education, being most nearly allied, by its compulsory character, to elementary education. “When Lord Wolseley was written to by the League, he said : -
I am much flattered by the suggestion that I should write an article dealing with the objects of the National Service League. I regret, however, that I cannot do so at present, as all my spare lime is fully occupied with other work. But in a book of personal memories recently published, I stated very plainly my views upon what I conceive to be the absolute necessity of enforcing compulsory military or naval service, in some form or other, upon all classes in the United Kingdom. The National Service League can make use of those statements in support of its proposals.
One more quotation, and I have finished. Major-General Sir A. Turner says -
At the same time, I am also convinced that drill and military exercises should be compulsory in all schools up to the age of eighteen. I look upon this early training as essential for the country, not merely for the training of armies, but for the general physique of the nation. Cadet corps and boys’ brigades are of the greatest possible use in this respect, but they do not altogether fulfil the purpose that early training would do, as recommended so strongly by Sir G. Taubman Goldie in the report of the South African War Commission. I entirely agree with Lord Methuen, Sir John French, and Sir Henry Hildyard as to the training of boys, and, finally, with Lord Wolseley, that it is advisable to spend more money on cadet battalions, which are most valuable adjuncts to the Army.
In conclusion, I should like my honorable friend Senator Drake to give some assurance, if he can, that this matter will be taken into consideration at the Conference of Premiers, to be held next month. I think it is only right that that should be done. I believe that great good will come from a discussion of the subject by the Conference. It would be a great mistake to postpone the matter for eighteen months, until there is another Conference of Premiers.
– - I regret that I have to intervene at this stage, because I know there is a general desire to get through business. But certain circumstances have prevented me from having anything to say upon the Appropriation Bill up to the present. Like others, I desired to have an opportunity to make some criticism with regard to certain items. However, my chance is gone. But I do wish to take the opportunity to indorse very heartily what has been said by Senator Dobson as to the absolute necessity for inaugurating some system of training the youths of Australia, so that they may be able, if called upon, to defend their country. I look upon it as most essential in connexion with the defences of Australia that we shall, as far as our powers will permit, act in conjunction with the States, in order to carry out some system of training our youths, especially in the art of rifle shooting. It is generally desired by Australian people that we shall rely for our defence upon our citizen soldiery, and our system is a farce if our citizen soldiers cannot hit a haystack at a hundred yards. I am afraid that that is what a number of them cannot do now. I do not think that any one will accuse me of militarism. I do not believe in that rampant spirit which some people encourage. But the very groundwork of the defences of this country must rest upon our youths; and unless we set to work early and initiate some system of training, not only in respect to night drills, but in the most essential part of training, the use of the rifle, we shall never have an efficient citizen soldiery system. This is undoubtedly one of the most important matters that the Minister of Defence can take into consideration. I earnestly hope that some arrangement will be come to with- the States Governments which will enable a system of this kind to be initiated, so that our youths may receive proper military training, and especially proper instruction, in the art of rifle shooting. I felt that it was incumbent upon me to express my opinions in regard to this matter. Senator Dobson has taken a very deep interest in it. Twelve months ago I supported his contention just as strongly as I do now. I hope that the Minister of Defence will see his way clear to give special attention to it, and that he will impress the importance of it upon the Premiers of the States.
– I cannot sit still and hear the Defence Forces of Australia defamed as they have been by the honorable senator who has just sat down. I heard him say that half the members of the Defence Forces of this country could not hit a haystack at a hundred yards. That is what I call defamation.
– T - Then we will say a third of them ; a very large number of them cannot, at any rate.
– What about Senator Neild ‘s defamation of our Defence Forces in an article published some time ago in a magazine in the old country?
.- I did not defame them. Senator O’Keefe cannot know very much about the musketry training of our troops.
– D - Does the honorable senator say that a majority of them are efficient rifle shots ?
– It depends on what the honorable senator means by “efficient rifle shots.” It is certainly untrue to say that a majority of them could not hit a haystack at a hundred yards.
– T - That was a figure of speech.
– It may have been a figure of speech, but it is not true.
– C - Could they hit a man at a hundred yards?
.- I do not think that the honorable senator would like to stand in front of them when they were firing.
– I - I should not mind standing in front of Senator Neild.
– It is quite safe for the honorable senator to say that, because I certainly should notbe guilty of any attempt at homicide, or at killing a pet lamb. I rose, not to refute the honorable senator’s statement, but to take exception to it. It was not worth refuting. As to Senator Dobson’s scheme, I am certainly in favour of training the youths of the country, and I hope that the Premiers will take the subject into their consideration at the coming Conference. At the same time. I do not know that I am prepared to adopt any particular attitude on the subject to-day. If it is desired that there should be an expression of opinion to the effect that there should be compulsory training of boys, while the people who have votes are not subjected to similar compulsory service, I am not prepared to take up that attitude. While the service is voluntary for voters, let it be voluntary for non-voters. That is fair. Why should a man who will not be a voter for a few months, or for a year or two, be compelled to give his services to the country when we do not compel any one else to give his services ? I do not agree with that contention. The experience of New South Wales is that youths are only too willing to give their services; but it has been one of the blots on our system in that State that there has been a gap between the age of 14, when boys left the Cadet Force, and the age when they were eligible for enrolment in the Defence Forces proper. The consequence was that many of them lost their enthusiasm in military matters before they were eligible to undertake the higher duty of participating in the regular defence of the country. I thoroughly agree with Senator Dobson as to the desirableness of training our youths so as to make them fit to enter the Defence Forces, and to that extent I willingly give my indorsement to his opinions, and join in his wish that the Premiers will take the matter into consideration at the ensuing Conference.
– I can assure Senator Dobson of the fact that the Government are thoroughly impressed with the importance of this subject, and I shall have much pleasure in drawing the attention of my colleague, the Minister of Defence, to the facts that the honorable and learned senator has collected since this matter was last discussed. The importance of it cannot be over-estimated. But, as I have said before, Senator Dobson must recognise that one of the difficulties in dealing with the matter is that the compulsory training of boys out of school can only be carried on’ in conjunction with the States authorities. No doubt it is an appropriate subject to be discussed by the Premiers Conference. Of course I am not able to say what will be discussed, because the list of subjects must be entirely under the control of the members of that Conference. I can, however, assure Senator Dobson that whether the subject is considered by the Conference or not - personally I hope it will be - it will not be lost sight of by the Government during the recess.
– I rise only for the purpose of pointing out that, whereas Senator Neild accuses Senator O’Keefe of having; defamed the Defence Forces of Australia, he seems to have forgotten that he himself has not only defamed them, but has heaped ridicule upon them, not merely in the Commonwealth, but in an article published in a journal which circulates throughout the Empire, and especially in Great Britain. Senator O’Keefe did not defame the Defence Forces in any way. He merely deplored the fact that the majority of our citizen soldiers were not efficient rifle shots. In doing so, he used a metaphorical figure which is employed every day in colloquial language. He said that many of them “ could not hit a haystack.” Every one knows that that is a mere figure of speech. Moreover, it is a notorious fact that the Defence Forces of Australia are not as efficient in rifle shooting as we should like them to be. If Senator Neild denies that he himself has defamed the Defence Forces of Australia, I should like to point out that not only has he done so, but that he has absolutely ridiculed them.
-Col. Neild. - What bosh !
– The honorable senator’s remarks will not bear any other construction. I am prepared to read his words.
– I should like to ask whether these remarks are in order? They cannot refer to any vote upon the Estimates, nor are they a criticism of the administration of the Government.
– Standing order 400 enables an honorable senator to read an extract if he ‘ wishes to do so from the Hansard report of the debates during the present session. I understood that that was what Senator Givens was about to do; and that the question concerns the efficiency of the Military Forces.
– And it is in reply to a charge made by a supporter of the Government against an honorable senator on this side. It comes with a very illgrace from’ the Vice-President of the Executive Council to try to shield one of his supporters who has made a reckless charge against an honorable senator on this side.
– I am merely trying to keep the debate within bounds.
– That is not part of the duty of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. That is the duty of the Chairman, and as the Chairman has ruled that I am in order, I shall proceed. Senator Neild wrote as follows: -
The people of Australia have now an ingrained belief that an Australian astride of anything with four legs, if possessed with a rifle, and a pillow case full of cartridges, is a match for an indefinite number of the best trained soldiers of any nation under heaven. That unhappy mania is shared and propagated by members of Parliament and Ministers of the Crown. The late Minister of Defence, Sir John Forrest, G.C.M.G.. recently declared in Parliament that if he had not rifles enough for the Forces he would “ arm them with pick-axes or something “ ; and the present Minister states that should England become involved in the Eastern War, he intends to rais?, the number of rifle club members from 25,000 to 50,000,’ though well knowing there are not rifles available for even the existing regiments if extended to their war establishments. The Minister apparently prefers undisciplined, unorganized mobs with rifles of every possible pattern, but minus ammunition and destitute of officers, to drilled, disciplined, armed, and officered soldiers. With such ideas permeating the community, what prospect is there of Australia developing a sound system of military, let alone naval, defence.
– There is not a word about the Defence Force in that.
– The honorable senator desired to convey to the public the impression that those are the ideas which we in Australia have with regard to defence. .He felt himself at liberty, not only to defame the Defence Force, but to ridicule Australian patriotism in an article which secured wide circulation in an English newspaper. It comes with a very ill-grace from the honorable senator that after writing such an article he should charge an honorable senator on this side with defaming the Defence Force, when that honorable senator advocated’ merely the increased efficiency of the Force. If such a charge lies against any member of the Senate, it certainly lies against Senator Neild.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - It is only because reiterated misrepresentations are finally in some quarters accepted for truth that I take any notice of the effort which has been made to place an interpretation upon words written by me which must be transparently false to any one who gives the matter consideration. The words quoted are to the effect that a certain ingrained belief is held by the people of Australia. That does not mean the Defence Force in any shape or way. The words which have been read imply no belief on the part of the Defence Force, and have no relation to it. There was a time when the very word’s which have been quoted were use’d publicly in New South Wales by an officer who had returned from South Africa, and when it was a common thing, as stated in the quotation, for public men, Ministers, Members of Parliament, and others to advocate a gospel of “ gallop and shoot,” in preference to any form of military organization. That is all my article said, and it is all I say now. The promulgation of such a false doctrine is entirely opposed to the true national spirit, not to the fictitious and meretricious public spirit of which we sometimes hear. The man who desired to defend his country, and to maintain Australian prestige, is the man who is prepared to take some little trouble about it, and to make some slight sacrifice to fit himself for it, and not the man who is satisfied with firing at a target, or galloping about on a horse in the imaginary belief that he is thus qualifying himself for military service. The capacity to shoot straight and the capacity to ride hard are very useful adjuncts, but they do not constitute the all in all of military training, nor do they constitute that military training to which Senator Dobson has referred.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I have been glad to hear what has been said about the reference of this question to the Premiers’ Conference, but when I am informed that Ministers are seized of the importance of this matter, I cannot overlook the fact that although we have had five Ministers of Defence, every one of whom has had an opportunity to consider a scheme that has been almost forced upon him, they have all rejected’ it.
– No one has rejected it.
– I think that, to some extent, they have. They have decidedly ignored it. I desire now to refer honorable senators to the comment of the National Service Journal in reference to the debate which took place more than a year ago upon Mr. Hughes’ admirable motion with respect to the compulsory service of men. The journal in question gives some extracts from the speeches made by honorable members in another place, and proceeds -
Sir John Forrest objected to the amendment as it would necessitate compulsory military service. He had put in the forefront of the Bill the principle that all service should be voluntary.
That is what I absolutely object to, because, in my opinion, there must be compulsion.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask whether the honorable and learned senator is in order in discussing, on this Bill, a matter which he should have discussed on the Defence Bill, which we passed some time ago. I submit that Senator Dobson’s remarks have no reference whatever to any item contained in the schedule to this Bill.
– I should like, on the point of order, to remind Senator Clemons that he has really wasted time by raising his objection. There are items in the schedule which have reference to cadets, and I am pointing out that the compulsory training of youths is a more admirable system than is the existing cadet system. When we were dealing with the Defence Bill, I asked the President whether I could deal with this question on that Bill, or whether it would be better that I should wait until the Estimates came on, and I was informed that I would be quite entitled to debate the question of the compulsory military training of youths on this Bill.
– I have to rule that Senator Dobson is in order. I point out to honorable senators that in a matter of this kind, the honorable senator in charge of a Bill is very much in the hands of the members of the Committee. My own opinion is that to allow a little latitude is conducive to progress in getting the Estimates through.
– I should now very much like to make a speech on the inadvisability of leaving matters of importance to be dealt with at the end of the session, because .within the last week honorable senators have shown that they are absolutely disinclined to go on with business. The quotation which I desire to make from the National Service Journal continues -
Yet, later on, we find Sir John Forrest protesting against the proposal that Australian Forces should not be liable to service beyond the Commonwealth. He objected “ to going, so to speak, cap in hand to soldiers to ask them to go on active service. Troops should not reason why.”
Altogether the debate was a most remarkable one. The Labour Party was asking for militarytraining, urging every argument of national safety, physique, and character in support of their proposal. On the other hand, Sir John Forrest, Minister of Defence, advocating reliance in the last resort on a mob in arms ! Truly an astonishing spectacle !
At any- rate, we heartily congratulate the Labour Party upon the strong logic which urges them to adopt the principle of a true democracy, that of the “nation in arms.”
– I have but a very few remarks to make, and I know the reply which will be given to them before I make t’hem. The Minister will compliment me upon having placed the matter so lucidly, before the Committee, will admit that he is profoundly impressed, and will undertake to submit what I have said to the Cabinet. I Know the exact formula. I wish to say that there is one member of the present * Government in the place where I think he ought to be. I have a great deal of confidence in the present Minister of Defence. I believe that if the honorable and learned gentleman remains in that position long enough great advantage will accrue to the Defence Force of the Commonwealth. I see no provision made in this Bill for converting the Cerberus into what she ought to be, an effective weapon of defence. This matter has been referred to time after time. She is now armed with four 10-inch muzzleloading guns that are quite obsolete, and of no service at all. A modern vessel, armed with a 9.2-inch gun, would be able to stand off and batter her to pieces. If she were armedwith four 8-inch modern breechloading guns, I am informed on good authority, she would be a match for any single vessel that might enter these waters. The Naval Defence is our first lineof defence, though we have heard a good deal to-day about cadets and small boys. As a layman, I offer the opinion that in Australia we shall have to depend for our defence mainly on the big guns of the Naval and Artillery branches of the Defence Force. If an expenditure of from £20,000 to £25.000 would be sufficient, as I am informed it would, to convert the Cerberus from a comparatively useless floating battery into a very effective one for the defence of one of the largest capitals of Australia, the proposal is worthy of consideration. I feel sure that I shall be told that the matter will be given consideration, and that is the last we shall hear of it. I direct attention to the branch of the force which is here called “The Naval Militia,” but which used to be called “The Naval Brigade,” and to which some of the finest men in the States belong. The pay used to be about £11 a year, until there was retrenchment in Victoria, when it was reduced to, I think, £7 5s., though subsequently it was slightly increased, and now stands at £8 10s. I suggest that the Government should add another £2, which would, of course, be paid throughout the Commonwealth.
– The great difficulty was in equalizing the amount throughout the States, because rates of pay varied so much before Federation.
– The pay ought to be increased in order to induce men to join the Naval Militia, because, in my opinion, we shall have to depend on big guns, and not on rifles in case of war. The men to whom I refer can go on board a vessel, take their part in a battery, or use the rifle, and when they compete with rifles at the butts, they very frequently are successful. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of such useful men throughout the Common- wealth, whom a little inducement would bring into the Defence Force. At present, the whole effective strength in Victoria is 116 men, though eight orten years ago it was 250 or 300 men. I am not belittling the land forces, but, in my opinion, Australia will never be attacked by an army, but by a fleet carrying big guns.
– The honorable senator seemed to imply that his remarks would be taken no notice of by the Government; but I hope he will disabuse his mind of that idea. I shall communicate his views to the Minister, who, no doubt, will attach considerable weight to them.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- This is the time to ventilate a matter which has occupied a good deal of the time of the Senate, but which, nevertheless, has not, in the opinion of most honorable senators, arrived at a satisfactory conclusion. It is a matter, which, to a large extent, Mr. Chairman, you had under your personal charge, namely, the case of Major Carroll. There are one or two new developments to which I desire to call particular attention, and in regard to which this Parliament is entitled to some satisfactory explanation before we conclude our labours. A statement has been made, which I, together with, I believe, almost every other honorable senator, am satisfied is correct, and which casts absolute discredit on the whole of the evidence given by the late General Officer Commanding before the Select Committee on that case. If we find a witness’s statement is in one particular absolutely vitiated, that to a large extent discredits all his other statements. You, Mr. Chairman, as particularly interested, have had questions on the notice-paper for a considerable time in regard to this matter, and, so far, no satisfactory reply has been given by the Government. The questions have been postponed from day to day on one flimsy excuse or another, and before we allow the control of the business to go out of our hands, we ought to see that justice is done to an injured citizen of the Commonwealth. It was pointed out by the Attorney-General that this Parliament is, to a certain extent, a court - a final court of appeal. It is one of the first principles of British justice and jurisprudence that the dispensation of justice must not be delayed - that for the protection of the citizens the administration of justice must be speedy and sure. But all the efforts of the Government in this connexion have been to delay justice - have been to block any final decision. I object to such a course on the part of the Government, and I intend to review the circumstances shortly. In his evidence, before the Select Committee, Major-General Hutton was examined in reference to the following letter: -
Military Forces of the Commonwealth,
May 27, 1903.
Captain and Hon. Major J. W. M. Carroll, Retired List.
Sir, - With reference to your letter of the 14th inst., I am desired by the General Officer Commanding to inquire whether you are prepared, in the event of being placed on the Unattached List as requested, to refund the gratuity awarded you on retirement. - I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
D.A.G. and C.S.O.
The important points of that letter is that it was written by the Chief Staff Officer by the direction and at the request of MajorGeneral Hutton - the letter says so on the face of it. Major-General Hutton was questioned by Senator O’Keefe, who was a member of the Select Committee, and the questions asked will be found numbered 436 to 440 in the report of the Select Committee. Major-General Hutton. on being pressed for an -explicit reply as to whether the letter was not, on the face of it, sent by his direction, made the following statement :. -
I repeat that the letter was not sent by me. It was forwarded without my knowledge, and to ascertain whether Major Carroll was prepared to hand back the gratuity which he had received.
Then at question 439 Major-General Hutton was asked -
Then why does the letter read - “ I am desired by the General Officer Commanding,” &c. ?
To that Major-General Hutton redied -
That is the usual method adopted in . official’ correspondence at Head-Quarters.
The next question was -
You knew nothing at all about the communication ?
To that Major-General Hutton replied -
No. I had no intention of restoring Major Carroll to the Unattached List, because that would have meant I contemplated his re-employment.
Ihave the Very best of reasons for knowing that When Major-General Hutton made that statement it was false, and that he knew it to be false ; and. therefore, MajorGeneral Hutton committed perjury to that extent.
– That is a very wrong thing to say without hearing both sides.
– We have been trying to get a hearing for both sides.
– What right have we here to sit in judgment on a charge like that? The honorable senator might accuse anybody of perjury under the privilege of Parliament.
– I am not accusing anybody.
– The honorable senator is accusing Major-General Hutton of perjury. _
– If I am, I am doing so on the best of evidence - on the evidence of the letter itself.
– There is no evidence whatever.
– We must either accuse Major General Hutton of giving evidence which he knew to be false, or we must accuse Colonel Hoad of writing a letter containing a statement which he knew to be false.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The AttorneyGeneral is on the horns of a dilemma.
– In either case, it is wholly unimportant. MajorGeneral Hutton is away.
– Major-General Hutton was the man who made a “ dead set “ at Major Carroll.
– MajorGeneral Hutton did nothing of the kind. The Senate has refused to adopt the report of the Select Committee.
– The Senate has not refused to adopt the report.
– Indeed, it has !
– The Senate accepted a compromise, because apparently there is a sufficient number of honorable senators to prevent–
– The report being adopted.
– To prevent the report being accepted in its entirety. The compromise was that the Government would favorably consider the matter during recess.
– What is the good of discussing the matter now?
– I discuss it, because this new fact has come to light.
– There is no new fact.
– There is evidence of a new fact, which throws discredit on the whole of the evidence of. Major-General Hutton.
– What has this to do with the Estimates ?
– Nothing whatever.
– I can assure honorable senators that burking discussion is not the way to get the Estimates through.
– I rise to a point of order. The report of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the case of Major Carroll and his retrenchment has already been dealt with and decided by the Committee. That report was not adopted, another resolution being arrived at. The honorable senator’s denunciation of MajorGeneral Hutton, and his remarks generally, would have been perfectly appropriate in the discussion of the report of the Select Committee, but now they can only have the effect of re-opening a discussion on the whole case dealt with in the report.
– I submit that on the military Estimates I have a perfect right to discuss what I believe to be an act of maladministration.
– The honorable senator has only the right to discuss the items in this division.
– The actions of MajorGeneral Hutton are perfectly open to discussion when we are asked to vote his salary.
– Will my honorable friend permit me to point out that he is discussing a matter which is on the notice- paper for to-morrow?
– It is not down for discussion, though.
– It does not need to be down for discussion. There is on the notice-paper for to-morrow a question which raises this matter, and my honorable friend is anticipating a statement from Colonel Hoad, which is not yet before the Senate.
– (There is a standing order which says that we cannot anticipate discussion. But it implies that the matter is liable to come up for discussion. A question on the notice-paper is not a matter which is set down for discussion.
– Perhaps it may save some time if I give a ruling on the point of order at once. The salary of Major-General
Hutton is under consideration, and the salary of another officer who may, or may not, have written a certain letter, under instructions, is included in these Estimates, therefore I must rule that the honorable senator is not out of order.
– These continual efforts to burke discussion are not right.
– Is it in order, sir, for the honorable senator to charge me with seeking to burke discussion when I raise a point of order?
– If the AttorneyGeneral takes the expression as a personal reflection upon himself I hope that it will be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the expression. I am very pleased to find that the Attorney-General has no desire to burke discussion. A new fact has come to light which places one officer or the other in a very invidious position. Either Major-General Hutton has said on oath what is not true, or Colonel Hoad has stated in a letter what is not true, but I understand that the latter is prepared to back up his statement by an affidavit if the Government will give him an opportunity. When Major-General Hutton swore that he knew nothing about the letter there was no means of proving whether he did or not, but the means is now at our disposal.
– Because Major-General Hutton made a wrong statement Major Carroll ought not to have been retrenched ?
– That is an entirely wrong way of putting the question.
– Does not the honorable senator think that this is all beating the air when Major-General Hutton has gone?
– No, because the effect of his action remains, and it is in our power to repair an act of injustice. A palpable ‘injustice has been done to Major Carroll, as shown by the letter which was written by the direction of Major-General Hutton, and it is our duty to see that if is rectified. I have no personal interest- to serve. I never saluted Major Carroll until to-day, and then I only spoke to him for about a minute, and that was not until after he had heard that I intended to move in this matter. He was an utter stranger to me until a day or two ago. The only desire I have is to see that this Parliament does not lend itself to a palpable injustice. If this letter , was sent by the direction of
Major-General Hutton, it shows that he contemplated the reinstatement of Major Carroll. If Major Carroll was unfit to be in the service, as Major-General Hutton would have people to believe by some of his evidence; if he was the officer who could best be spared, the letter should not have been written. Whether he directed the letter to be written or not, is a fact which could easily be proved. The Government have to a certain extent evaded meeting this issue straight out. They have evaded giving Major Carroll an opportunity to vindicate his character by taking the sworn statement of Colonel Hoad. I do’ not know exactly which officer has made a false statement, but I know that we have the remedy in our hands. I have the very best reason for believing that Colonel Hoad is prepared to make an affidavit that he had more than one consultation with MajorGeneral Hutton as to the contents of this letter before it was written by his direction. I challenge the Government to put that statement to the proof.
– Move for Colonel Hoad to be summoned to give evidence at the bar of the Senate.
– It is not possible to take that course when we are discussing the Estimates. I am taking the only course which appears to me to be effective. It has been said that Major Carroll was retrenched because there was no officer required at the time ; in fact, that they intended to dispense with a number of officers, and that he was one of those whose services could best be spared. I believe it is a fact “that very soon after he was retrenched, two officers, named Robinson and Buckley, were appointed, who had no claims on the service. One of them was brought out from England, and the other was the son of a prominent merchant in. Melbourne, who, I suppose, could exercise a great deal of influence. Is that the way in which the Parliament al lows’ the Military Forces to be run?
– Was not that brought (before the Select Committee?
– I dare say that all these circumstances were brought before the Select Committee, and they will be continually brought before the Senate until some satisfaction is obtained for the injustice which has been done. If Ave allow the Appropriation Bill to pass out of our control, the injustice will not be remedied.
New interests will demand our attention in the coming session, and this case may be forgotten. -That is evidently what the Government are playing for. They have an opportunity to verify the statement of Colonel Hoad. I am prepared to resume my seat immediately if the AttorneyGeneral Will tell me that before the prorogation he will lay upon the table Colonel Hoad’s affidavit.
– If Colonel Hoad were to make an affidavit, he would be liable to be sent to gaol, because it cannot be made except in a legal proceeding. That shows the absurdity of the whole demand.
– Will the honorable and learned senator facilitate the calling of Colonel Hoad to the bar of the Senate, where he could be examined? Or will he ask Colonel Hoad to make a written statement, and lay it upon the table before the Senate adjourns?
– My honorable friend is asking, a question which is on the notice-paper for to-morrow
– The best thing Ave can do is to postpone the consideration of this division until that question has been disposed of by the Attorney-General tomorrow. Therefore, in order to test whether he really desires that discussion should foe facilitated, I move -
That sub-division 1 of division 56 (Head- Quarters Military Staff) be postponed.
– I - I am sure that Senator Givens does not desire that I should enter into a discussion of the Carroll case. We have heard quite enough about it. Putting that case on one side, Senator Givens asks that Ave should anticipate the answer to a question, that is on the notice-paper for to-morrow. It is undesirable that the Estimates should be postponed for such a purpose. In the first place, it is not denied that a letter Avas written by Colonel Hoad. The letter itself states that it Avas written under the direction of Major-General Hutton, who has said that he has no recollection of having ordered it to be written There is a difference of recollection between the two men. That is what it comes to. Surely it is not right for an honorable senator to hurl charges of perjury against anabsent man on such a ground. In the multiplicity of affairs that have to be transacted, a man is always liable to make mistakes of this kind. It is impossible to say which officer is correct. But it would certainly be wrong to do anything to decide a question of this kind without giving one of the parties an opportunity to defend himself.
– It is a pity that the Government will not consent to the postponement of this division until we get the information which will be disclosed to-morrow. We shall then be in a better position to discuss the schedule. It appears to me that the Government are in this matter guilty of conduct which can only be described as contemptible. In the first place, this Chamber is not a court of law, where it is permissible for members of the legal profession to shelter themselves behind mere technicalities. The representative of the Government should not carry the pettifogging methods of the courts into this Chamber.
– I shall be glad if the honorable senator will discuss the postponement of the division. The merits of the question are not now under discussion.
– It is hardly possible to discuss the postponement without entering more or less into the merits of the case. But I am merely pointing out what the Government are doing. They see that there is a question on the paper dealing with the subject that Senator Givens has alluded to. Therefore they try to have him ruled out of order.
– That point has been withdrawn.
– We cannot get information because there is a question on the paper.
– Senator Drake has stated that there is simply a difference of recollection between MajorGeneral Hutton and Colonel Hoad.
– I understood that the trouble was that Senator Givens was not to be permitted to proceed.
– That is not the question. Senator Givens is quite entitled to discuss the matter. The presence of a question on thebusiness-paper is not affected by the standing order against anticipating debate. I must request the honorable senator to confine himself to the question whether the division shall be postponed.
– There are very good reasons why it should be postponed. It is exceedingly undesirable that this matter should be dealt with until we have the fullest information. Something may be disclosed by the answer to the question tomorrow which may materially affect our opinion with regard to this division. It is desirable in the interest of justice and fair play that we shouldhave a postponement.
Question - That sub-division 1 of division 56 be postponed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- As we have not succeeded in having this item postponed, the only course left to me is to discuss the subject further, and that course I propose to pursue. We were told by the Attorney-General some time ago that this Chamber occupies the position of a final court of appeal to remedy grievances and injustices. The duty of a court is to provide speedy justice. This case has been hanging fire for a very long time, and Major Carroll is being denied justice. A Select Committee has dealt with his case, and has made recommendations which the Government refuse to accept.
Committee was discussed fresh particulars have been pdf before us. Will the Government, or will they not, do what they ought to do? I can promise them that the discussion will occupy very little time if they will give us an assurance that justice will be done. 1 want nothing for myself. I do not come here to advocate things for myself, as do some honorable senators who are very loud in talking about what others do.
The letter in question was not sent by me,
Further on, in the same paragraph, it will be found that he said -
I repeat that the letter was not sent by me. It was forwarded without my knowledge, and to ascertain whether Major Carroll was prepared to hand back the gratuity which he had received.
At question 440, Major-General- Hutton was asked specifically -
You knew nothing at ali about the communication ? and to that he replied -
No ; I had no intention of restoring Major Carroll to the Unattached List, because that would have meant that I contemplated his reemployment.
The Attorney-General says that it is a question merely of a lapse of memory, and as to whether Colonel Hoad or MajorGeneral Hutton more accurately recollects what took place. I point out that it is not merely a matter of recollection, because that presupposes that Major-General Hutton gave his answers to the questions asked him without due thought, whilst we have evidence that he emphatically repeated three times that the letter was sent without his knowledge, and that he knew nothing at all about it. On the face of the letter, it. is evident that Major-General Hutton did know about it because it begins, “ I am desired by the General Officer Commanding.” Therefore, either Colonel Hoad made a false statement when he wrote that letter, or Major-General Hutton swore to a false statement when he gave his evidence before the Select Committee. We have now an opportunity to find out whether MajorGeneral Hutton was correct in the statement he has made. I have the very best reason for believing that if Colonel Hoad is afforded an opportunity to deal with the evidence to which I have referred, he will swear, if necessary, not only that MajorGeneral Hutton knew of the letter in question, but that he had more than one consultation with his Chief of Staff before that letter was sent. That is a statement which should not be ignored in dealing with this matter. It must be remembered that the injustice which Major Carroll is suffering has been inflicted on him at the instance of Major-General Hutton in the first place. He was placed on the retired, list by the late General Officer Commanding. That action was confirmed by the Minister of Defence at the time of the recommendation of Major-General Hutton, and the action of the present Government is largely based on the attitude of and the evidence given by that officer. When we find that in one specific instance Major-General Hutton’s evidence is absolutely discredited, and to use stronger terms, if Colonel Hoad is to be believed, that it is absolutely false, we are justified in holding that it is the duty of the Government to review the whole matter. I should be sorry if the Committee refused to consider it, because of any desire to be revenged upon an officer who has given some little trouble.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- I am extremely surprised at the attitude of the Government. This case was considered to be of sufficient importance for investigation by a Select Committee, who recommended the reinstatement of Major Carroll. The report of .the Select Committee was not adopted; and I think I am right in saying that the principle reason was the evidence given by Major-General Hutton, together with the statement laid upon the table of the Senate just as that officer was leaving for the old country. If the contention of Senator Givens is correct - that Major-General Hutton’s evidence has been, or is likely to be, found unreliable in one particular - then I submit that the whole of his evidence must be discounted. I can imagine the Attorney-General in a Court, dealing with a witness whose evidence has been discovered to be unreliable on an important point of this character. How the honorable and learned gentleman would rave and rant, and tear and cross-examine in his efforts to influence the jury ! Yet the AttorneyGeneral treats this whole matter with the utmost unconcern, although, in my opinion, the honour of the Senate is involved. An officer of the Commonwealth Forces was literally hounded out of his employment by Major-
General Hutton, but the Senate, on the evidence and representations of Major-General Hutton, refused to accept the verdict of the Select Committee.
Hoad to make an affidavit or a statement, with which, I suppose, the Senate would be quite satisfied. It has been contended that we ought to have Major-General Hutton’s statement as well ; but, as a matter of fact, we have already heard what Major-General Hutton has to say. It is absolutely necessary, before the Estimates are passed, that the Government should give some assurance that the matter will be cleared up as early as possible.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - We 1 have entered a very emphatic protest against the inaction of the Government in this matter. We have not received very much support. We ‘have not received that support which we should have got if other matters were not pressing for first attention upon honorable senators who desire to prorogue at an early date, and who, therefore, wish to obtain sufficient time for the discussion of those matters .in which- they are interested. I hope that honorable senators who have assumed that attitude will be content to take the responsibility of their action, because it must be remembered that we are in the position of a jury. A fellow citizen has appealed to us for justice, and we have no right to allow any consideration to stand between us and the granting of justice to him. Perhaps no good purpose could be served by pursuing the matter any further at this stage, but I can assure the Government that it will not be allowed to fall into the limbo of forgotten things. There are honorable senators who will revive the case next session, and insist upon a fair deal being meted out to an injured officer. He has been refused common justice. He has been denied an opportunity to refute injurious evidence which he had no opportunity to refute at the time it was given. All this discussion could have been saved if the Government, at the beginning, had complied with the very moderate request that the Chief Staff Officer should be asked for a written statement as to the correctness or otherwise of the assertion made by Major-General Hutton in his sworn evidence.
Department of the PostmasterGeneral.
Divisions 184 to 190, £2,533,539.
– I desire to call attention to some items similar to those to which I have previously called the attention of the Attorney-General. I have been trying to tret some explanation of the reason why certain officers have been kept below the minimum salary which the Parliament has enacted shall be paid to officers after they have attained a certain age. I find that on these Estimates two messengers are given £61 each. That is very far below the minimum provided by the Parliament. Either these are very young lads, or they are getting very small salaries.
– I shall get the actual particulars for my honorable friend if he will not delay the passage of the Estimates.
– I shall not delay their passage in any way.
– My honorable friend will find that there is no infringement of the provision to which he has referred.
– What I wish to emphasize is the fact that whereas we seem to be exceedingly liberal with our high salaries, we on the other hand appear to be somewhat parsimonious with our low salaries. A person who is getting just sufficient to enable him to obtain the necessities of life is worthy of receiving the most consideration.. We should see that no hardship or sweating is inflicted on such persons.
– Hear, hear.
Department of Home Affairs.
Postponed division 20 (Public Service Commissioner), £10,759.
—On this vote for the Public Service Commissioner, I desire to refer to several matters in connexion with the postal administration in Queensland. One of these matters was dealt with on a recent Appropriation Bill, and the Attorney-General promised to submit it to the Government, and try to see whether an undoubted grievance could not be remedied. As I have heard nothing further on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that his promise was so much wind, that he has not brought the case before the Government, and that it stands now just where it did when I previously spoke. I allude to the position of a number of classified postal employe’s in Brisbane. I forget exactly how many are concerned, but I know that they represent a considerable number. These men passed the usual Civil Service examination, were treated in every respect as clerical classified assistants, and had before them the prospect of being assistants in that grade.
But when the classification was adopted, it was found that their work was placed in the general, instead of in the clerical division. I have no complaint to make against the Public Service Commissioner for so classifying the work. I think that on the whole it was just as well that this particular branch was placed in the general division. But the increases granted to the officers are now only general division increases, and their prospects of promotion are very seriously changed. If this matter is not dealt with by the Government, it will have to be dealt with by the High Court. If the Government are not prepared to do justice, the men will have to wring justice out of them. The matter has been allowed to go on too long, and’ I now want to know whether “the Vice-President of the Executive Council can tell me whether anything has been done since I spoke last to put it on a proper footing. I am prepared to be told that the matter is in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner. But the Public Service Commissioner cannot override the law. He cannot tear up the Constitution. The Constitution reserves , to these men all the rights they possessed when the Federal compact was entered into. They formerly belonged to the clerical branch of the service. They passed their Public Service examinations. They were in receipt of regular clerical increases. But now they are relegated to the general division.
– Which class of men are these ?
– They are officers in the Brisbane Post Office. It is very difficult to ram . an idea into the heads of the present Government. They appear to be as oblivious to common sense as . the ordinary Scotchman is to a joke. Sometime ago the Attorney-General promised me that he would look into this matter. Has he done so?
– I suppose I must take his word. I want to know whether anything has been done to remedy this undoubted grievance?
– What is it that the honorable senator wishes to be done?
– I want the men to be placed in their proper division. While they were in the Queensland service they were in the clerical branch. They were in receipt of clerical pay, and clerical increments. When the Public Service Commis sioner classified the service he put them in the general division. What I complain of is that they are now paid general division increases, which are much smaller than clerical division increases. They also complain that their avenues of promotion are limited in a very serious degree. The agreement made with these young men when they entered the service has been deliberately broken. I claim that they should be granted the same annual increments as are received by other employes who entered the service at the same time as they did, but who were fortunate enough to be employed’ at work which the Public Service Commissioner classified as clerical. There is a legal question involved - whether the bargain entered into with these men by the State has not been departed from by the Commonwealth. That is a question which ought to have been submitted to the Attorney-General. If I have his assurance that the matter will be attended to, I shall be satisfied. Another matter which has caused a great deal of dissatisfaction amongst the Post and Telegraph employes in Queensland is the computation of pay for Sunday work. It appears ithat in calculating this pay, the annual salary of an officer is divided by 365. The officers contend that it ought to be divided by 313, deducting fifty-two Sundays. There is also a matter affecting the employes who have to do with the mails, which has caused a great deal of dissatisfaction.
– There has to be uniformity in the Commonwealth service.
– To show whether uniformity has been carried out, I may as well give some figures to compare the position in Brisbane with that in Adelaide. In the’ mail branch of the Brisbane General Post Office, there are 119 officers whose average salary is £147 per annum. In the Adelaide General Post Office there are 139 officers at an average salary of £163. In the Brisbane Post Office, where there is much more work to do than in the Adelaide office, there are nine paid clerical assistants. In the Adelaide Post Office there are twentyeight paid clerical assistants.
SenatorPearce. - The English mail has to be dealt with by the Adelaide office.
– There is just about half the business at the Adelaide office that there is at the Brisbane office.
– Rubbish !
– It just shows what excellent log-rollers our friends from South
Australia are. If there is to be uniformity of administration, let us place each office on the same footing. The question of the mail money which used to be paid to officers of the Department in Brisbane has been brought before the Senate on several occasions, but so far no relief has been granted. This mail money was paid in the Brisbane Post Office for about thirty years, and the officers came to look upon it as a part of their salary. They do not ask that it should be continued as hitherto, but they ask for an increase of salary to compensate them for the loss they have suffered. They ask that they should be placed in the same position financially as they were in prior to Federation, when, as a matter of fact, this mail money was as much a part of their annual salaries as was the sum voted for the purpose on the Estimates. There are a number of other matters to which I desired to refer, but at this late period of the session I have very little hope that they would be sympathetically discussed, and I have been forced to the conclusion that it is probably better that I should postpone their discussion until next session, when they may be dealt with to more advantage. Before I resume my seat, however, I must refer to the disproportion noticeable between the increases granted to the more highly paid public servants of the Commonwealth, and those granted to our poorly paid public servants. I find that the more poorly paid employes are recommended for increases of £2 per annum, or about 9d. per week, whereas in some of the higher grades the increases recommended run from £5° t0 £100 P61 annum, or from £1 to £2 per week. In my opinion the more highly paid officers were getting quite enough before the classification, whilst the very opposite was the case with many of the poorly paid employes. I know that we shall have the usual statement that good men must be paid good salaries. I have no objection to that, but when we find salaries jumped up from about £400 to £550 a year, we begin to inquire” the reason. My contention is that the Public Service Commissioner, being a civil servant of the old regime, whose particular business it was to see that the more highly paid officers received large increases annually, and who did not trouble very much about the poorly paid employe’s, has ‘followed on the old lines. As we put it in Scotland, he has “ greased the fat sow.” “ To him that hath shall be given.” He could not take from those who had so little, but he went as near to that as he possibly could. If I have gauged the feelings of the Federal Parliament aright, it is that more attention should be paid to the men who do the rough work of the Post and Telegraph Department. They are as necessary to the carrying on of the Department as are its most highly paid officers, and every one of them should be decently paid
– Are they not?
– In some cases they are not. Why should a man who is already in receipt of a sufficiently large salary be granted an increase of from £50 to £100 a year, whilst another man in receipt of the paltry annual wage of £120 is given an increase of only £2 a year ? That is the system carried out by the Public Service Commissioner throughout. I trust that the Government will take into consideration the grievances to which I have referred, and will see that they are remedied before this Parliament meets again.
– I have no hesitation whatever in giving my honorable friend an assurance that the matters to which he has alluded, as well as those to which any other honorable senator may allude in connexion with the Public Service, will be thoroughly investigated, with a view to the redress of all injustice and the removal of inequalities. But with regard to the specific matters to which Senator Stewart has referred, and which I again assure the honorable senator have been investigated in fulfilment of the promise which I gave, 1 am satisfied, as I think the honorable senator will be, that there is no foundation for some of the grievances he puts forward. The honorable senator has been good enough to ask merely for an assurance that the grievances shall be investigated, but he will perhaps allow me to give such information as I have now as the -result of inquiries already made. Taking first the last point to which the honorable senator referred - the alleged grievance that the more highly-paid officers have received large increases, whilst those at the opposite end of the scale have been treated in quite a different, and apparently in an inequitable manner - the figures show that exactly the opposite ls the case. The total increases shown by the classification, which has not yet been confirmed, and which is subject to appeal, amount to £54,564. If no classification of the service had been made, the States and statutory increments would of course have to be paid. These should be deducted from the total increases shown in the classification, in order to establish a just comparison. They would amount to £34,653, leaving the actual amount of increases due to the classification scheme at £19,911. The amount involved in increases to officers receiving less than £200 per annum - the lower grades of the service -is £41853.
– How many are there of them ?
– I am dealing with the total amounts. The increases to officers receiving between £200 and £500 per annum account for £12,092, making a total of £53,946. Honorable senators will therefore see that there is not very much left for increases to officers receiving more than £500 a year.
– Because there are not very many of them.
– I cannot say how many, but the increases provided for those officers total £880, whilst officers of the Administrative Division - the highest class - divide amongst them £400. These amounts will be found to make up the total of £54.564. Stated in percentages the figures show that about 76 per cent. of the total increases will go to officers of the lower divisions of the service, if the classification scheme is carried out.
– Those figures are of no value without a statement as to the numbers of the officers in the various divisions.
– They are of value in this way, that they show that, amongst officers receiving over £500 a year, and officers of the Administrative Division, there is but £1,280 for distribution as increases, and honorable senators cannot bring a railing charge such as that to which we have listened, when it can be shown that out of £54,564, £41,853 is distributed amongst officers receiving less than £200 a year. The official figures show that there is no foundation for the appeal which is frequently made on behalf of “ the poor man.” Whatever his faults, I think it must be admitted that the Public Service Commissioner, in his classification, has endeavoured to do justice in the distribution of these increases. The question of the mail money to which Senator Stewart has referred has been considered already, but I have no doubt that the Post Office authorities will be prepared to consider it again. The honorable senator does not disapprove of the discontinu ance of the payment of mail money. It existed only in Queensland, and was therefore an anomaly in the Commonwealth service, and was on that account discontinued. The honorable senator suggests, however, that while it is right that these payments should be discontinued as payments for mail money, they should be continued in the form of increases in salary. That would be taking money out of one pocket to put it into another. However, it is a legitimate matter to bring under the notice of the Government, and I readily assure the honorable senator that it will have consideration. With respect to the objection taken to the Sunday pay, I may inform the honorable senator that time and a-half is being paid for Sunday work, but what the honorable senator contends is that the payment should be regulated by having regard to the sum resulting from a division, by 313, instead of that resulting from a division by 365. Whilst the matter is one that may fairly be discussed, I think we should not do well to interfere with the PublicService Commissioner in its adjustment.
– It is very unfair to the man.
– At any rate, I may say that Senator Stewart has put the case very moderately, although I do not agree with him, nor do I think do other honorable senators. I may conclude my remarks by summarizing thepresent position. The classification scheme is not yet confirmed, and pending the appeals, it is undesirable, inconvenient, and possibly embarrassing to discuss details. It is not the intention of the Government that the classification scheme shall be confirmed, or brought into final operation until honorable senators, if they so desire, have had it under review. At any rate, no change due to the classification scheme alone - there being other matters affecting status, and so forth in the service which are not interferred with - will be carried into effect until honorable senators have had anopportunity to express an opinion. It is the present intention of the Government, at any rate, to afford at the earliest possible time, such an opportunity in regard to a matter of so much interest.
Second schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The President laid upon the table the following paper : -
Statement of accounts by the Treasurer for the year 1903-4, together with Auditor-General’s report.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th December, vide page 8036) :
Postponed clause 21 -
No intoxicants or opium shall be imported into or manufactured in the Territory, except by written permission of a person duly authorized by the Lieutenant-Governor, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed. . . .
Upon which Senator Pearce had moved by way of amendment -
That the blank in the clause be filled by the insertion of the following words . - - “ Intoxicants may be purchased, imported into, manufactured, and sold in the Territory only by the Lieutenant-Governor, or by officers duly appointed in that behalf, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed by the LieutenantGovernor relating to the purchase, importation, manufacture, and sale thereof.
No person other than as provided in the immediately preceding paragraph shall import into, manufacture, or sell in the Territory any intoxicants.
Penalty : £100.
Intoxicants for the purposes of this section shall mean any wine, spirits, ale, beer, porter, cider, perry, or other spirituous or fermented liquor of an intoxicating nature.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– We are all desirous, I am sure, of applying the prohibition to opium, except for medicinal purposes. We have inserted words which provide for the State control of the liquor traffic. The remainder of the clause provides for the prohibition of liquor and opium except for medicinal purposes, and if we strike out the words “ intoxicants or “ wherever they occur, and it is made clause 21 a, it will be a prohibition of opium except for medicinal purposes. I therefore move -
That the words “ intoxicants or,” line 1, be left out.
– The first paragraph of the clause has been struck out, and in lieu thereof a provision for some kind of Government control has been inserted. My honorable friend now proposes to iamend the remaining portion of the clause so as to make it read as a prohibition against opium, except for medicinal purposes. It is inadvisable that that amendment should be made, because the existing law deals with that subject. Another reason is that if the amendment were made, it wouldbe necessary to make a series of amendments.
– I shall be willing to follow the honorable and learned senator’s advice on the question.
– Since the prohibition of liquor has been struck out, clauses 22 and 23 must also come out, because they repeal the existing legisla tion and, if retained, the last condition of the Territory would be very much worse than the first. Clause 22 reads -
No person shall, except under the provisions of this Act, supply to any native . . . any intoxicating liquor or opium.
There will be no provisions in the Act dealing with the prohibition of intoxicants, so that clauses 22 and 23 must come out. The reason why they were inserted in the Bill is because it is provided at the end of clause 21 that -
Every Ordinance passed before the commencement of this Act, providing for or permitting the importation, manufacture, sale, or disposal of intoxicants or opium in New Guinea, is hereby repealed.
The ordinance to which I referred is repealed by the provision; therefore it had to be re-enacted in clauses 22 and 23. That part of clause 21 must come out in any case, not only because it repeals the ordinance so far as it relates to liquor, but also so far as it relates to arms and ammunition. If we amended the clause in the direction in which my honorable friend proposes, it would involve very great controversy. When I read the provisions in the ordinance, he will see that for the present - and this subject can be dealt with next session - there is ample restriction on the importation and sale of opium as well as of intoxicating liquor. Section 2, which corresponds with clause 22, reads as follows : -
No person shall, except as hereinafter permitted, supply to any native by sale, gift, or in any other way, either directly or indirectly, any firearm, ammunition, explosive, intoxicating liquor, or opium ; and any person offending against any provision of this section, shall, on conviction in a summary manner, be liable to a fine of not less than £23 and not exceeding£200, and to imprisonmert for any term not less than one month and not exceeding two years.
Then section 4, which corresponds with clause 23 of this Bill, imposes a penalty upon any native for having in his possession any of these things, including intoxicating’ liquor or opium, and empowers any Government officer exercising judicial functions in a summary way to direct that such articles shall be confiscated, and so on. I would suggest to my honorable friend that he should not press his amendment as to opium at the present time, and then we shall be able to reconsider clauses 22 and 23, with a view to their omission.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).The argument of the Attorney-General has convinced me, and I ‘ am confirmed in the view I now take by a reference to clause 43 of the Bill, which says that -
Any Ordinance relating to the supply of arms, ammunition, explosives, intoxicants, ‘or opium to natives - has to be submitted to the GovernorGeneral. I therefore ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
– I should like to have an assurance from the Attorney-General that there is a reasonable prospect that thisBill will be dealt with by another place if it is passed by the Senate. I am led to believe that it is not likely to be passed. If that is so, we should proceed with business that there is a reasonable chance of having placed upon the Statute-book. We ought not to waste time. I am told that we have already wasted a considerable amount of time to-day.
– I have, not made any reference to wasting time. I do not think that reasonable discussion is . wasting time. I take quite the contrary view. I have every reason to believe that if this Bill goes down to another place containing no fresh controversial amendments there is every probability of its becoming law.
– Will this amendment be regarded as controversial ?
– I have every reason to believe that there is every probability that the amendment which has been carried at the instance of my honorable friend Senator Pearce will be agreed to, and that the Bill will become law. Perhaps I am sanguine, but that is my belief, and we should certainly make an effort to secure the passage of the measure this session.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That all the words from “No intoxicants” to the end of the clause be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 31 (Legislative Council)
– I had intended to move an amendment in this clause, giving the white inhabitants of British New Guinea limited representation, but in view of the remarks which have just fallen from the AttorneyGeneral, in which he said that if there were no fresh controversial amendments, there would be a probability of the Bill becoming law, I do not intend to proceed with my proposal. If, however, the Bill is passed, I intend next session to introduce an amending Bill, giving limited representation to the white inhabitants; I desire to see this measure placed upon the Statute-book. It may be jeopardized by the introduction of a further controversial amendment, which will give rise to a long discussion. I am not disposed to take up further time, but simply intimate that I drop my amendment for the present.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I agree with Senator Smith that it is of very little use to endeavour to insert new provisions in the Bill at this stage of the session, especially if they are of a controversial character. It appears that an amendment of the character indicated by the honorable senator would give rise to considerable controversy. My own information is that it is scarcely likely that the Bill will be dealt with by another place at all. If that is so, it shows the uselessness of introducing serious legislation of this character at this late period of the session. A Bill which grants a Constitution to British New Guinea imposes a serious responsibility upon us. It ought not to be passed without the fullest’ consideration. I therefore protest against’ the manner in which the Bill has been introduced. But as it is exceedingly necessary that some kind of a Constitution should be adopted, as the Bill will in some respects meet the requirements, and as there is no probability of its passing if we further amend it in a serious direction, all I can do is to utter a strong protest, and to express the hope that on a future occasion we shall have ample opportunities to amend it.
– May I say, speaking not as Chairman, but as a senator, that I think it is a pity that the Committee are apparently agreed upon passing the Bil] without any provision in it conferring representative rights upon the citizens of New Guinea, and I hope that next session Senator Smith will be able to get an amending Bill passed. One of the great blots upon this Bill is that the people who are doing the pioneer work in the Possession will have no elective rights in regard to the choosing of the Legislative Council-
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- Before we agree that the clause under discussion shall remain unamended, will the AttorneyGeneral give us an assurance that an opportunity will be’ afforded to reconsider the matter when Parliament meets next session ? Of course, I ask for that assurance so far as the Attorney-General can give it. He may not be in office at that time. But if he is, I hope he will be able to afford us the opportunity for which we ask.
– There will be days for private business.
– It is so serious a matter to interfere with the Constitution of the Territory that I arn sure that the AttorneyGeneral will agree that any measure of the kind should be introduced by the Government. It should not be undertaken by a private senator. Facilities should be afforded for considering the subject fully. I think that is a reasonable request.
– I cannot give any assurance. Of course, the matter is entirely in the hands of the Senate. When Parliament re-assembles after the recess, any honorable senator can initiate a new Bill, and, as Senator Smith proposes to do, press it forward in this House, and have it sent up for the consideration of the House of Representatives.
– If we are to have further legislation with regard to the representation of the white population of British New Guinea, I shall be glad if the Attorney-General will request
Mr. Atlee Hunt, the Secretary for External Affairs, who I understand is about to visit the Possession, to collect information as to the white population who may be there. We do not seem to have a complete record of the number of white people in the Possession. I should like to know whether any census has ever been taken. Even the most democratic senator will recognise that before we offer any form of representative government to British New Guinea, we ought to’ have accurate information as to how many white people there are there, who they are, and what they are doing. I think that is a matter that Mr. Atlee Hunt might inquire into while he is visiting the place.
Clause agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That clauses 22 and 23 be reconsidered.
– I move -
That the following words be added - “ and also clause. 20.”
I only submit this motion pro forma, because we are told that there is a prospect of new legislation affecting New Guinea being brought forward next session. That being the case, I do not intend to press my proposal ; though I, for one, strongly regret that the Bill as it stands runs counter to an ordinance already in existence in the Possession. That ordinance permits the sale of land on conditions under which the rights of the natives are preserved. It is called the Land Ordinance of 1899. We must not forget that contiguous to the Possession are German and Dutch New Guinea; and I am very much afraid that if permission is not given to alienate land, our Possession will be placed at a great disadvantage as compared with other portions of New Guinea, which are not under our government. Every one who has any knowledge of business knows that persons who have freehold property are) ‘(more inclined to spend money and tq improve their holdings than are those who have leasehold land. The ordinance to which I have referred prohibits dealing in land with natives, and imposes a penalty up to .£100, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months. It provides, further, that after sufficient inquiry the Administrator, on behalf of the Crown, may purchase native lands in perpetuity, or upon “such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon “ by the Administrator, and the owner or owners of the land. It also provides that such lands are to be held either as Crown lands or for sale in fee-simple, or, I presume, on lease ; that lands may be granted to missions ; and that they may be reserved for public purposes. Senator Smith told us a few days ago that about- 750,000 acres are said to have been acquired by the Government under this ordinance. Consequently, that is all the land that is available for sale But not more than 50,000 acres have been alienated. I may remark that some time ago the local Government were’ in favour of granting land on certain terms to the Hall Sound Company ; but before doing so, they thought it right to consult the Governments of the Colonies that had granted £20,000 a year. It was then found that such a proposal did not meet with their approval. I had the honour to be one of the directors of the company. If the concession had been granted, we should have spent a considerable amount of money. Our object was the bona -fide settlement of the place. We intended to go in for cultivation. I did not enter into the affair with the object of making money. If I had done, I certainly should not have made any. If we do not establish industries of some kind in the Possession, it will be a very long time before British New Guinea becomes a self - supporting country. If, during next Parliament, as Senator Smith seems to expect, a Bill is introduced to amend the provision dealing with the Legislative Council of New Guinea, I shall, if spared, endeavour to bring forward a clause to provide for the sale of land in New Guinea. I now ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I do not know whether Senator Walker was in order in discussing an amendment for the reconsideration of clause 20, without really moving the amendment.
– The Attorney-General asked me not to press the amendment.
– The honorable senator has attained his object by discussing his proposed amendment in the Bill.
.- Why should he not?
– I have not the slightest objection, but I point out that honorable senators who do not agree with Senator Walker on this question should have an equal right to ‘state their objections to his proposal.
– But Senator Givens is getting his own way in the matter.
- Senator McGregor’s pet Bill will come on soon enough, and the honorable senator need not expect that other honorable senators will sacrifice the public interests to suit his convenience. Before proceeding to address myself in any way to the subject, I ask whether I shall be in order in doing so?
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I am very sorry Senator Walker has found it necessary to withdraw his amendment, because in my opinion the matter with which it deals is of the greatest importance, as affecting the future interests of New Guinea. . I agree entirely with the honorable senator in the suggestion that it should be left to the Executive to grant land in fee simple if it sees fit. I believe that it would do more to advance the interests of New Guinea to allow the land alienation ,to take place under wise restrictions, and careful administration, than to prohibit it altogether. As Senator Walker does not propose to persist with his amendment, because of .the late period of the session, I shall raise no objection to the course he has taken, but I consider it a great pity that so important a matter has not been fully considered in the Senate, especially in view of the fact that in another place honorable members seem to have been entirely in favour of non-alienation. I hope that an opportunity will be afforded to deal with the matter next session.
– I ask Senator Givens to restrain his unnecessary “ impetuosity. I must inform the honorable senator that I have no “pet Bill “ which I am exceedingly anxious to bring forward. He should have no objection to Senator Walker being allowed to withdraw his proposal for the reconsideration of clause 20, when the principles which he so earnestly advocates are already embodied in the Bill. I am sure that with many other honorable senators I am as much interested in tho-ve principles as is Senator Givens. We say nothing, because what we1 want is already contained in the Bill. We do not desire to delay the passage of the Bill when it provides for all that we ask.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- Senator McGregor is not putting the matter fairly. Senators Walker and Gould have been allowed to make an attack on the principle of non-alienation, whilst no reply is made by those who hold a different view. It is no fault of mine that those honorable senators did not have an opportunity to deal wit’h this matter before. I am awaiting a ruling from the Chairman as to whether I shall be in order in discussing the matter at this stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clauses 22 and 23 left out.
Bill reported with further amendments.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to be passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed-
That the report be adopted.
– I should not have said anything at this stage of the Bill had I not been under the impression that Senator Smith intended to move an amendment providing for the election of certain members of the Legislative Council.
– That is to’ be left over until next session.
– I think that it should be dealt with now. I am to blame for having not been in the Chamber when that was decided on, as I should otherwise have moved the insertion of a clause of the kind. I think it is a very great misfortune that such a clause has not been inserted.
– We are announcing our intention to amend this Constitution before we have actually passed it.
– What I complain of is, that an honorable senator should hare given notice of an important amendment, and should afterwards have abandoned it without any intimation to the Senate.
– Senator Smith made a speech on the subject.
– I admit that I should have been here. I still hold that it is a great pity that such a clause has not been inserted in this Bill, and I hope that the defect will be remedied next year.
Question resolved in the affirmative
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ Amendments).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After clause 1, page 1, insert new clause : - “ ia. This Act shall commence on the 1st day of January, One thousand nine hundred and five.”
.- - We may safely consent to this amendment without relinquishing any of our constitutional rights, because it is merely a transposition of clause 7 as the Bill left the Senate. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 3 - (Application of Act).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert new sub-clause : - “This Act shall not apply to any bill of lad-‘ ing or document made before the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and five, in pursuance of a contract or agreement entered into before the passing of this Act.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to with the following amendment : - “ That the words 1 pass- 1 ing of this Act’ be left out, and the words seventeenth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and four,’ inserted in lieu thereof.”
The date which I propose to insert is that on which I presented the Bill, and moved the first reading. If the words “ passing of this Act “ were allowed to remain, it would leave the door open - though I do not suppose that such a thing would be done - to arrangements being made with a view to getting the benefit of the amendment made by the House of Representatives.
– The Attorney-General has not given us adequate reason for his proposal. I understand that the amendment made by the House of Representatives means that the Bill shall not apply to existing contracts made before the 30th June next, which is practically six months from the date of the measure coming into operation. Is this the point thai was raised by Senator Dobson about contracts which were being entered into?
– Yes, but I referred to contracts which had been entered into.
– I understood that Senator Dobson, when speaking on a previous occasion, referred’ not tq contracts which had been entered into, but to contracts, which the shippers were now making.
– I was speaking of two years’ contracts, which had been entered into, to cover last season and this season.
– It was Senator Pulsford who said that there ought to be an extension to the 15th February, as otherwise there would” not be time to make contracts.
– Then it was Senator Pulsford who said that contracts were now being entered into?
– No; but, at any rate, my amendment will exclude all contracts subsequent to the date I have proposed.
– Would that not prejudicially affect some people who are in a similar position to others, whose contracts will be exempt’. Will people not be prejudiced, who have in good faith entered into contracts since the 17th November? If that be so, it would hardly be fair to those people whose bills of lading will be altogether different from the bills of lading of others who are practically engaged in the same business.
– I suppose it is because the Attorney-General is appearing as a man of peace, that we have this concession granted, nominally to the House of Representatives, but really and truly to those ship-owners who have been raising an agitation. The AttorneyGeneral is proposing, practically, to declare a close season for bills of lading from the 17th November, 1904, to the 30th June, 1905.
– If the agreements have been made before the 17 th -November.
– Under any circumstances, those bills of lading are protected from November until next June.
– While others will be subject to this Bill.
– All the contracts which this amendment protects will be made under the old bills of lading, and they will be made on terms much more favorable than could be obtained from the shipping companies, after the passing of the Bill.
– Not necessarily.
– Have there been any contracts entered into since the date mentioned in the amendment?
– If there are they will not be protected.
– The contracts entered into before the 17 th November are under the old form of bills of lading, and they will be at the lower freights. We have recognised all along that as soon as this legislation is enforced the probability is that freights will be raised.
– Not necessarily.
– But. I think there is great probability that’ the freights will be raised.
– I do not think so.
– I am certain an attempt will be made to raise the freights. Those contracts, at any rate, are undoubtedly on more favourable terms than any man could now obtain, and the persons who have made them will be able to dictate terms to the shipper. In other words, the little shipper who has not previously made a contract will be unable to obtain such favorable terms as are enjoyed by those whom we have called the middlemen.
– That is inevitable, anyhow.
– I am glad that some honorable senators recognise the fact which I have insisted upon all along. If the Attorney-General is going to be a man of peace, and give way to the shippers, I suppose I shall have to follow his example, though I do not like to do so. Not only the ship-owners, but the men who make the big shipping contracts, have had a great concession made to them.
– I am very glad that this clause has been inserted. Although I have obtained what I want in regard to the fruit merchants of Tasmania, I do not think that the Bill is quite just to others. The fixing of the month of June will carry us over the fruit season, but if there are contracts for rabbits, butter, or other perishable products, and those contracts have been made in good faith, they ought to be protected. I am not interested in those other contracts, but I do not like to hear Senator Clemons, who ought to know something about justice, say that there is a concession. There is no concession ; it is merely a matter of justice, and does not go far enough. It has been pointed out by the press that there are two sides to this question. There is the ship-owners’ side, and, although I am interested on the part of the shippers, -I do not think we have quite sufficiently considered the former.
– We have considered them sufficiently.
– The clause will remove some injustice, but not all.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland).- This is not a concession to the shippers, but, practically, protects the interests of the shipowners who have already entered into contracts. Contracts which have been entered into will be void, and others will have to be made; and, so far as I have been able to glean from previous debates, there is no protection to the grower - to the man who does not make any contract with the shipping company. In Tasmania there appears to be a system of two or three firms taking up all the available space, and letting it out to any growers who require it. I further understand that the growers, knowing that those firms secure all the space, are not usually in a particular hurry to enter into a contract until the freight is ready ; and the effect of the amendment will be that two or three firms I have mentioned will have their contracts exempt, and will be able to make more out of the growers. There will be no other space available at the same price; and from this point of view, it seems that we may be doing a positive injustice.
– No; all the arrangements are now made.
– Have the growers already made arrangements with the men who have the space ?
– From what Senator Clemons said, I took it that he, as one who understands the trade, believes that there are growers who have not yet made arrangements.
– The great bulk of them have.
– I know precisely what this sort of trade usually is. When the growers know that some person has entered into a contract for space, and is willing to sub-contract at any time, they are not in the habit of entering into a contract with the shipper before their produce is ready for shipment. This amendment would place them at a decided disadvantage. Shippers, knowing that space could not be obtained elsewhere at the same rate, would be inclined to take advantage of their position, and put up the rates against those growers who were looking round for space. If that is the effect which the amendment would have, I should not have the slightest hesitation in voting against it.
– That would not be the effect
– From what I could glean from the speeches made on this question when it was previously considered, supplemented by the expression of opinion we have had from Senator Clemons, who I believe knows something about the subject-
– He does not know anything about this business.
– If Senator Dobson says that we have been listening to a Tasmanian senator who knows absolutely nothing about the business, it is of no use for me to say anything more.
– I should like to be quite certain as to the effect of the amendment. When Senator Dobson pointed to possible trouble the other night, and asked for such an amendment as I understand is now proposed:-
– But he asked for more.
– I know that, but the honorable and learned senator’s principal object was to protect the shippers and producers of Tasmania, and of course other States, witE regard to existing contracts. The! position in my State is not quite understood by Senator Turley. Unfortunately there is a want of cohesion and cooperation amongst the growers, and but for the action of two or three firms who have received a little revilement here rather than the praise which I think they deserve, it is doubtful if we should have had these large ships coming along as quickly as they have and catering for us. What these firms do is to enter into a contract which suits the steam-ship companies. The latter have not to arrange with the producers, but are assured of their space being taken, and the contractors let out the space at exactly what they pay for it.
– At what they pay?
– In addition to a commission of 3d. per case on the shipment of fruit, they charge the same rate of freight^ as they pay to the steam-ship companies.
– Can the honorable senator guarantee that there is no secret commission given, such as we have heard of here?
– I can guarantee that the firms I have known since my boyhood are reputable, and would be above any mean, contemptible practice of that kind.
– There are a few here who’ are not.
– Because there happen to be one or two rogues in Victoria, I do not think that the whole world is dishonest. What I wish to ascertain is whether the contracts in existence on the 24th November will be respected under this amendment. It does not do quite all that is asked, but it is sufficient for the Tasmanian apple exporters.
– The proposal to insert this proviso is simply an act of ordinary justice to those who have entered into contracts. From its wording, it is perfectly clear that any contracts entered into before the passing of the Act would be respected. I take it that any contracts which were entered into to-day would be perfectly good if the Bill were assented to to-morrow.
– But the AttorneyGeneral has proposed an amendment to apply the provision to contracts in existence on the 17th November last.
– It has been urged that this provision might put shipowners in different positions. A man who makes his arrangement to-day, or after the Bill comes into operation, will be in a more unfavorable position than a man who has already entered into an agreement, but that is one of the inevitable results, when men make their contracts ahead. If the operation of the Act had been made to commence on the 1st July next, that difficulty would have been got over. There is no time to reconsider that question, and I think it will be very much better for honorable senators to accept the Bill as it stands, with the suggested amendment of the Attorney-General.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Where any bill of lading or document contains any clause, covenant, or agreement whereby -
the obligations of the owner or charterer of any ship to exercise due diligence, and to make and keep the ship’s hold, refrigerating, and cool chambers, and all other parts of the ship in which goods are carried, fit and safe for their reception, carriage, and preservation, are in any wise lessened, weakened, or avoided; or that clause, covenant, or agreement shall be illegal, null and void, and of no effect.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ diligence,” line 4, insert “ and to properly man, equip, and supply the ship, to make and keep the ship seaworthy.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to, with a consequential amendment substituting the word “any” for the word “ the” at the beginning of paragraph b.
The effect of this alteration will be that every clause exempting the owner or charterer from the liability to properly man and equip, and to make him keep the ship seaworthy, is declared null and void.
– I desire to know from the Attorney-General whether this amendment will carry out the object we have in view?
– In what way will it be effective when it is all governed by the word “ properly “ ? Have we any definition of the word?
– I think that any dictionary will supply that.
– It might be held that a vessel which was carrying only one-half of her proper crew was properly manned, when there was no definition of the term. Does it mean ten or twenty men for so much tonnage ?
– That will all be provided for.
– There is no provision in regard to that matter.
– But there will be in the Navigation Bill.
– We haveno law yet as to the proper manning of a vessel.
– I dare say that some provision of that sort will be made in the Navigation Bill.
– Will it apply to ships which carry that line of produce ?
– As regards matters of seaworthiness and so on, it will, I hope. The words in the Harter Act are to properly equip, man, provision, and so on.
– The word “ properly “ has a distinctive meaning there.
– It has no more distinctive meaning there than it has here. “ Properly “ is a much wider and better word to use certainly in the absence of any rigid provision as to manning, and so on. To properly man is an element in seaworthiness, and that is why the expression is used in that way.
– We have not a standard to judge by.
– The Courts establish standards. We know perfectly well that if a ship were sent to sea with a man and a boy when she ought to carry twenty men and ten boys, she would not be properly manned. It is all a question of what is proper in the management of a ship for the purpose of seaworthiness.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 5 -
All parties to any bill of lading or document relating to the carriage of goods from any place in Australia to any place outside Australia shall foe deemed to have intended to contract according to the law of the Commonwealth, and any stipulation or agreement to the contrary, or purporting to oust or lessen the jurisdiction of the Courts of the Commonwealth or of a State in respect of the bill of lading or document, shall be illegal, null and void, and of no effect.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ law of the Commonwealth,” line 5, and insert “ laws in force at the-place of shipment.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment does not lessen the effect of the provision, because, of course, it would mean the law of the Commonwealth if it only were in force there. It was put in this form, so that if in addition to the law of the Commonwealth there were any State law dealing with the subject, it should also, if applicable, operate.
– But the Commonwealth law will override the State law.
– If there is a law of the State we do not wish to repeal it.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After clause 6 insert new clause - “6a. (i) In every bill of lading or document with respect to goods, a warranty shall be implied that the ship shall be, at the beginning of the voyage, seaworthy in all respects and properly manned, equipped, and supplied.
In every bill of lading or document, with respect to goods, unless the contrary intention appears, a clause shall be implied whereby, if the ship is at the beginning of the voyage seaworthy in all respects and properly , manned, equipped, and supplied, neither the ship, nor her owner, master, agent, or charterer shall be responsible for damage to or loss of the goods resulting from -
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to, with an amendment omitting the words “or document” in paragraphs 1 and 2.
With one alteration, this clause is a copy of the provision in the Harter Act. I should have proposed its insertion before, but in my view it is unnecessary. It is simply recapitulating the perils and consequences from which a ship-owner is exempted at common law, and which we do not touch by the provision prohibiting him from contracting himself out of it.
– Is he exempt from faults of navigation?
– It will be better, perhaps, if I explain the origin of the clause. In the Harter Act the words “ or in the management of the vessel “ appear. I had those words struck out when the amendment was shown to me. as about to be moved in another place, for this reason - that a case was recently decided in England, in which the learned Judge - Mr. Justice Kennedy - gave a decision, the effect of which might seriously prejudice our shippers. The case was one in which a cargo of butter, owing to carelessness in the management of the temperature of the cool chambers, had been frozenand spoilt. The Judge decided that the ship-owner was not liable, because he considered that carelessness in connexion with the temperature of the cool chamber was part of the management of the vessel. Of course, that would defeat the object of our Bill to a great extent. In the other House this point was mentioned and considered. The only amendment which it is necessary to make is to strike out the words “or document.” Although we have the words “ or document “ in an earlier clause, they were put in there because a ship-owner might escape from the obligations of this measure by contracting himself out of his liability for negligence, by means of an agreement which was not embodied in the bill of lading. Therefore it was necessary for us to take into account, not merely the bill of lading, but any other documents. But that does not apply to this clause, which, in point of fact, is merely to establish a statutory form of bill of lading; and if the bill of lading is limited to the exceptions mentioned, and we make it illegal to put in other stipulations relieving the ship-owner from negligence, the measure is very satisfactory.
– That partly nullifies the effect of the Bill.
– Oh, no. A “ fault of navigation “ would not include bad stowage, negligence in regard to the temperature in the cool chambers, and so on, and would not minimize in any degree the protection given to the shipper in respect to his goods.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 7 -
This Act shall come into operation on the 1st day of January, One thousand nine hundred and five.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit this clause.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
It seems to me to be scarcely necessary to say - but I do so to prevent any possible misunderstanding - that the Bill is not for the construction of the line. There has been a sort of atmosphere created around this question, flowing, it appears to me, from some kind of misapprehension on the subject.
– We know very well what it means.
– Well, that is one thing that it does not mean; it does not mean the construction of the line. I wish that to be perfectly clear, so that honorable senators may not be led away into arriving at a wrong conclusion by any mistaken impression of that kind. The Bill does not commit, and is not intended to commit, the Senate or this Parliament collectively or individually to the construction of a transcontinental railway line, connecting South Australia with Western Australia.
– If there is no intention to construct the line, why go to the expense of the survey?
– I do not say that. My honorable friend is putting into my mouth words which I have not used.
– The Prime Minister said that the . Government were committed to it already.
– Will my honorable and learned friend permit me to go on? I am moving the second reading of this Bill, and I may be allowed to place my view of it before the Senate. I do not think that any long discussion is necessary. If this were a Bill for the construction of the line, there would be scope for very extensive discussion on the subject. It is because the Bill does not commit this Parliament or the Commonwealth to the construction of the. line, that I venture to think that there is no room for a very long debate. Nor do I think that any such discussion is needed.
– The AttorneyGeneral must allow us to have our own opinion as to the moral effect of passing the Bill.
– I am hopeful that even my honorable friend who interjects, will be in favour of passing this Bill with the same reservations as I apply to myself - that it does not commit me, as it does not commit him, to vote for the construction of the line, unless he is convinced, when that project comes before Parliament, of the necessity for doing it. I hope that honorable senators have an open mind upon the question so far, and that they are open to consider the reasons and the additional information which I am about to supply. In the first place, we all know that Western Australia, undoubtedly, wants the line. There can be no question about that. I think, also, that my honorable friends will agree with me that I am perfectly frank when I say that at present I am not in favour of the construction of the line. I wish that to be distinctly and clearly understood. Therefore, the arguments which I propose to offer in moving the second reading of this Bill are emphasized and strengthened by the fact that I do not support construction now. and do not advocate the Bill as part of the policy of the Government on the ground that it is equivalent to authorizing the construction of the line.
– The Attorney- General cannot be said to be a partisan.
– No; and the reasons which I propose to lay before the Senate ought to appeal to honorable senators with additional force on that ground.
– The honorable sena tor does not pretend that he is a free agent ?
– I am absolutely a free agent on this subject ; and if I were sitting, like my honorable and learned friend, Senator Dobson, on a comfortable seat, instead of occupying a hard chair at the table, I should take exactly the same course as I am taking now, and the same reasons which would impel me under those circumstances, influence me now. If this were a Bill to authorize the expenditure of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 for the construction of this line, the probability is that I should not be in charge of it. I think that all will admit that it is aperfectly legitimate Federal aspiration on the part of Western Australia that this line should be constructed.
– On what grounds does the honorable and learned senator base that statement?
– Western Australia is a part of the Commonwealth, and is at present largely isolated from the rest of the Commonwealth. Quite apart from the question whether this large amount of money should be raised for the purpose of its construction, no one can deny that Western Australia may, on broad Federal grounds, apart from selfish motives, legitimately advocate the railway, and legitimately push any steps she may think desirable in that direction. I go further. I say the time must come when this iron road between Port Augusta and the nearest point of railway construction in Western Australia will be constructed, and will be a symbol of that union which, although I am not in favour of the immediate construction of the line, I freely admit is to a certain extent incomplete without it.
– A bridge across Bass Strait would be a better symbol.
– Oh, that is it ! Our honorable friends from Tasmania, represented by Senator Dobson, completely give themselves away. Because they cannot get a bridge across Bass Straits, they therefore oppose this much more legi timate and much smaller Federal work between the eastern States and Western Australia. What a sad confession !
– We have not had a single argument yet. If the honorable senator would give the Senate a few arguments in support of the proposal he would save time.
– It is my duty, in advocating this Bill, to do two things ; one is to offer affirmative reasons in its support, and the other is to demolish the flimsy reasons offered in opposition. I find that the Tasmanian reason is that this railway should not be approved until a bridge has been constructed across Bass Strait.
– I said that would be a better symbol.
– The honorable and learned senator describes an £8,000,000 railway as a “ symbol.”
– I am not now dealing with the probable cost of the line. We have an example before us in the United States of America. We know that the State of California for many years was looked upon as practically outside the United States, of which it formed a part, and that the full advantages of the Union were not enjoyed and were not appreciated until railways were constructed, by private enterprise, as we are aware, and on the land-grant system to which most of us object, uniting the east with the west in that country.
– The honorable and learned senator might add that the line in that case was largely subsidized by the Federal Government, and not by the States Governments.
– I am glad that my honorable friend has reminded me of that. I refer to the United States and California as occupying a very analogous . position to our own in this respect. I do not advocate the immediate launching out into an expenditure of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 - not the inflated estimate to which reference has been made by Senator Mulcahy.
– I have had some experience of the difference between engineers’ estimates and contractors’ prices for the construction of railways.
– I am aware that my honorable friend has occupied a distinguished position as a Minister of the Crown in Tasmania. I am saying that there is a close parallel between the condition of things in the eastern States of the Commonwealth and Western Australia, and that which existed between the eastern States of the United States and the State of California. The distance to be bridged over in this case is very much less than it was in the United States. The distance overland between Fremantle, the chief port in Western Australia, and Adelaide is 1,746 miles. Of course there are two portions of the distance already covered by railway - 387 miles between Fremantle and Kalgoorlie, and 259 miles between Port Augusta and Adelaide, making a total of 646 miles, and leaving a gap of only 1,100 miles.
– That is to say, a transcontinental railway 1,100 miles long.
-Yes, between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta, of which 475 miles are on the Western Australian side of the border and 625 miles on the South Australian side.
– Is it not the other way about? Is not the larger section in Western Australia?
– No; the larger section is on the South Australian side. By comparison with the similar work which had to be undertaken in the United States to unite San Francisco with the eastern States of that Union, this is a comparatively small undertaking. It seems to me that, although we may be opposed to granting to Western Australia all that she desires at once, or at all, for the matter of that, we might fairly concede what is asked by this Bill, and that is an investigation and the acquisition of the fullest materials possible, to enable us to exercise a sound and reasoned judgment when the entire project comes up for determination. That is what this Bill proposes. It is intended to obtain, by the best possible, and the only, process under the circumstances - I know .of no other way: - the information required, to enable us to deal with the whole subject.
– An accurate survey.
– Yes, if honorable senators please, one on which tenders might be called for, so that we might have every possible information to enable us to arrive at a ripe and wise conclusion, unaffected by any elements of prejudice, which might arise from the consideration of wants of our own States, which we may perhaps consider should take precedence of this proposal.
– Why should not the States concerned supply us with this information.
– I altogether deprecate some of the remarks which fall from honorable senators representing Tasmania. It has been suggested that the term “ log-rolling “ may be properly applied to this proposal. That is calculated1 to excite prejudice, but I do not think it is quite the way in which the proposal embodied in this Bill should be designated.
– I am afraid that there will be more log-rolling over it than there has been over anything else.
- Senator Dobson always warns everybody against anything of that kind, but I appeal to the honorable and learned senator to admit that the term is not applicable to this Bill. I have stated the broad grounds on which I put this measure. The second thing which may be considered! - and it seems to me that the position is a very strong one - is the attitude of South Australia. I frankly admit that I believe that if she were asked South Australia would not pronounce in favour of the immediate construction of this line.
– If the honorable and learned senator admits that, he kills the whole thing.
– But South Australia is in favour of this Bill, and takes up the reasonable attitude of desiring information.
– At our expense.
– This is singular. I am aware that Senator Dobson is strongly opposed to this proposal, and I desire that he should consider the reasons in its favour. An additional reason is the attitude of South Australia. That State is not in favour of the immediate construction of the line, but she is strongly in favour of this survey.
– She will never be in favour of the construction of the line.
– I think Senator Styles will do a very vain thing if he endeavours to prophesy.
– I shall give my reasons for thinking so.
– I hope the honorable senator will. I think there is a good time coming in this matter. For the present all I seek is to substantiate the position which I say South Australia takes up in relation to this survey. Honorable sena- tors have before them a parliamentary paper laid on the table of the House on the 19th and 20th May, 1904, setting forth the telegrams which passed between the then Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia. The first of them asked -
Whether, in the event of the Commonwealth Parliament favorably considering t<he question -
That was the construction of the railway - you will be prepared to pass an Act authorizing the Federal authority to proceed with the work of construction.
The South Australian Government would not agree to that.
– They refused.
– My honorable friend accepts the refusal part of it, but he does not accept the rest of it. I think he should accept it all. The Premier said, and I commend this to the attention of Senator Styles -
I advised your predecessor that if it was considered1 necessary that the State should pass an Act giving the Federal Government power to make iV.ie proposed survey, we should be agreeable to ask Parliament, when it next assembled, to pass a short measure with that object.
– The survey?
– The survey in question.
– Should not the Act of Parliament come first?
– We can accept the assurance of a responsible Minister of the Crown, surely?
– We have not the condition precedent.
– We have the condition precedent, as my honorable and learned friend will see. It is the South Australian attitude to which I am referring - _ I do not suppose you intend to ask your Parliament to pass legislation providing for the construction until the survey is made, and some reliable estimate prepared of the probable cost.
That is the attitude of South Australia, and in a subsequent telegram of 12th May of this year the Premier again said -
When the survey is made and reliable estimates of its probable cost are prepared we shall be pleased to advise you as to what action we shall then ask the State Parliament to take.
There was an intermediate telegram sent, pressing the then Premier of South Australia to advise as to the disposition of his Government towards the question of authorizing the construction. The Premier of South Australia did not want to commit himself on the question, and he said in effect, “ Surely you do not want to press me 13 k to commit myself and my State until you have authorized the survey?”
– Was the then Premier of South Australia not blamed for going back on the promise of another Minister?
– I really do not want to go into that question. That has relation to communications - perfectly unauthorized, in my opinion - which passed from Ministers in South Australia at the time the Constitution was undergoing the process of discussion and approval by referendum, and when Western Australia was considering what course she should take. I wish honorable senators to dissociate their minds from the question of construction which was then under discussion, and to view this proposal on its merits. This is a Bill to acquire data and information, which, I believe, everybody desires to obtain, in order to be enabled to arrive at a sound conclusion. There was a report, presented by a Board consisting of engineers from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia,’ presided over by Mr. H. Deane. That report which has been printed, shows exactly what I have already submitted as the view of everybody who has considered the subject. The engineers did the best they could, but said -
The information to hand is not sufficient to enable us to speak with certainty and accuracy on all points. For instance, the particulars as to the possible sources of water supply for construction purposes and for locomotive use are extremely meagre, and the best route cannot be determined without further data, the obtaining of which will affect both the length of the lin« and its cost.
– That data never was obtained.
– We propose to obtain it now.
– The data had not been obtained when the engineers gave their next report.
– The object of the Bill is to obtain that data completely and authoritatively, to satisfy, amongst others, South Australia, which is what I might call a party opposed to the construction of the line at the present time. It is also to satisfy those experts whose advice may assist Parliament to determine whether or not the line ought to be constructed. At any rate, the extract which I have read substantiates what I have said as to the necessity to satisfy not merely laymen, and for !the matter of that, we in the Federal Parliament - not merely to satisfy the ordinary mind, but the expert mind - as to the need and the feasibility of constructing the line at a fair and reasonable cost, having regard to the possibilities of traffic and so forth. Senator Dobson said that nothing had been done in regard to obtaining data, but, with great respect, I must say that the honorable and learned senator is mistaken. Western Australia has been doing a good deal towards obtaining information. For instance, there is a report from Mr. H. C. Castilla on boring operations for water along the proposed route. In addition, Mr. John Muir, reported . at the cost of the Western Austra- . lian Government, to the engineer of that State, as to a preliminary examination of the country between Kalgoorlie and Eucla. . It will be seen that Western Australia has not been idle in seeking, as far as possible, to supply data; but it is quite impossible for that State to go over the 625 miles in: South Australia, in order to make a survey which, in my belief, even with the views I hold with regard to the construction of] the line, is absolutely essential, in order, to supply necessary information. I frankly admit that under many conditions there is not ordinarily a detailed survey on which; tenders can be called, until it has been determined to construct a line. But this is, an exceptional case in regard to which Parliament cannot determine to construct the line without having the fullest possible information. ;
– Is it proposed to. have a detailed survey?
– It is proposed to have a full, and, if I may use the term, exhaustive survey.
– On which quantities could be taken out?
– As far as possible.
– For £20,000?
– After the fullest inquiry, the estimate of £20,000 was arrived at, and it has been confirmed by Mr. Deane, of New South Wales, an expert of eminence, who was chairman of the Board of experts, to which I have already referred, and who regards that as a fair sum to cover the cost. Honorable senators seem to think that this proposal is somewhat sudden, and that it has not been tinder the consideration of those who have had the interests, if I may say so, of the Commonwealth in their hands. The proposal was initiated, and has been proceeded with in Parliament by three Go vernments. In the first place, on the 20th April, 1904, the Deakin Government introduced a proposal in the House of Representatives for a survey to be made. The Watson Government came into power on the 27th April, 1904, and on the 9th June, Mr. Batchelor, the then Minister of Home Affairs, proceeded with the proposal as part of the Government policy. When the present Government came into power on the 18th August, this year, this Survey Bill took its place as part of their policy, and was included in the statement made in both Houses. The debate on the subject was resumed first in Committee in another place, and the appropriation message was carried by. a large majority of something like 27 or 28. The Bill was then introduced, and the second reading was carried by a majority of, I think; 22. Of course, events in another place do not at all bind the Senate, and I do not mention these facts with a view to in any way overbear any honorable senator’s judgment, but merely ‘as worthy of consideration. On two occasions the proposal, has been adopted by large majorities in another place.
– That does not make the proposal any the better. . .
– But the fact is one for consideration. We, have to deal . with the preponderance of public opinion. .
– Western Australia has only five representatives in another place.
– The proposal has to be dealt with on its merits:
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON.- And I hope it will be dealt with on its merits. But we are here representing the people of Australia, and surely we ought to give some consideration’ to their opinion, as voiced in Parliament.” Although we are not bound by what has happened elsewhere, we are not altogether to ignore the views of successive Ministries, or the views of the more numerous branch of the Legislature, which has quite lately come back, as a whole, from the constituencies.
– I think that the opinion has been manufactured - that it is not genuine.
– The honorable senator may be able to showthat that is so ; but I take a different view. There is not room for any detailed debate, and on the grounds I have mentioned I very confidently submit the Bill for the acceptance of the House. I appeal to honorable sen- ators to assist in obtaining an early vote on the second reading. I believe that the passage of the Bill, without committing honorable senators to the construction of this great work now, or at any time, will serve the purpose of supplying adequate information which will enable this or some later Parliament to deal with the matter. In addition, I believe that even this small instalment will serve to cultivate and maintain the federal and friendly spirit which ought to prevail between east and west - that it will at least be an indication - I shall not use the word “symbol,” to which Senator Dobson objects–
– It is the AttorneyGeneral’s word.
– I believe it will be an indication of the desire of the east to be linked in amity with the west.
Motion (by Senator Styles) negatived.
That the debate be now adjourned.
– There is one thing upon which we can all agree, and that is that this is not a party question. We are told that it is a Federal question. There are three groups of persons who think over this projected survey and line. The first group are represented mainly by the senators from Western Australia, who will have the railway made at all hazards. The second group objects to the Commonwealth ibeing launched upon a career of borrowing £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 to construct a railway across what is practically a desert.
– There is the Age - a desert !
– I made use of these remarks before ever they appeared in the Age, if that is any satisfaction to the honorable senator but if I had copied them from the Age they are true. The third group, to which I find the Attorney-General belongs, regard the railway on its merits, and to that group mainly I shall address my remarks. But here let me say that the AttorneyGeneral takes up an extraordinary position. Heis willing to spend money on a survey for a railway to which he objects.
– No; I object to its being constructed now.
– Why make a survey until the honorable and learned senator has made up his mind to construct the railway?
– The survey will be as useful five years hence as now.
– The survey could be carried out five years hence as well as now. The honorable and learned senator tells us that it is going to be an accurate survey, from which a contractor could form an estimate, and that it can be done for £2 0,000. I do not care two straws who the man is who says that it can be done for that amount. I shall pledge my seat that it will cost nearer £50,000 if it is done in such a way that I could frame an estimate as a railway contractor. I have heard it said that it will cost £100,000, but the principle is just the same whether the cost be £20,000, or £50,000, or £100,000, or only £1,000. I object to the money of the Commonwealth being spent on it under any circumstances. I cannot help congratulating the Western Australian political engineers who are running this particular job.
– What job?
– I rise to a point of order.
– I am not using the term in an offensive sense.
– I ask, sir, that the honorable senator should be called upon to withdraw that remark.
– I did not use the word in an offensive sense.
– The honorable senator did not necessarily apply the word to honorable senators.
– He accused the repre-. sentatives of Western Australia of being parties to a job.
– The honorable senator is not in order if he refers to members of Parliament indulging in any political engineering. As I understood his remarks, he did not refer to members of Parliament at all.
– I did not intend to impute corruption in any way.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that he did not intend to refer to members of Parliament?
– I was going to compliment Western Australian members on the astuteness with which they have handled this matter from the beginning.
– The honorable senator said it was a job.
– I did not intend, to convey a charge of corruption.
– That is also a sneer, which has already appeared in the Age.
– I did not see it in the Age, and I am not accusing the representatives of Western Australia of trying to perpetrate a. job. If my honorable friend had been a railway man as long as I have, he would know that the expression is used every day on the railways all over the world. I propose to show how very clever Western Australians have been. To South Australia, through whose territory the railway will run for a distance of 625 miles, they hold out the bait of an offer to indemnify that State against any loss for the first ten years. If it be a proper thing to do, why offer a bait or a bribe to a sister State? In that case, does it not look as though two of the partners were to enter into a compact to fleece the other four? What would be thought if halfadozen senators went into a speculation, and I proposed to you, sir, that we two should feather our nests at their expense? I should consider that that was not a very straightforward proposal on my part. If this is a fair and proper thing, to do, why offer any inducement to South Australia? Why not offer to pay the whole of the loss for the first ten years to Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, and Queensland as well as South Australia? The next step was to induce the Deakin Government to ask that the Engineer-in-Chief of each State might report. This places no legal obligation on the part of those States to carry out the work, but to some extent it did commit the States, in my opinion, when they allowed their Engineers-in-Chief to go and report on this proposal. The third step towards the construction of this railway is the introduction of this Bill. I am not blaming, this Government in particular, Every preceding Government would have done just the same, I suppose, if it had been in office long enough. This Government is not solely to blame. I blame any Government for undertaking this work, but the present Government are no worse than others in this connexion. You, sir, are aware that Western Australia has already passed an Enabling Bill, not for this survey but for the construction of a railway. When my attention was first drawn to the measure by an honorable senator the preamble read to me like an extract from Fundi more than anything else. I do not know that any one ever saw the preamble of an Act of Parliament drawn after this fashion -
The people of the Commonwealth being desirous to enjoy die : advantages of postal and com mercial intercourse, and freedom of trade by land and by sea, which are enjoyed by the members of the Commonwealth elsewhere.
Surely the people of Western Australia have as much freedom by land and sea as have the people of Northern Queensland or Tasmania? They enjoy the best position, because Fremantle is the first, as well as the last, port of call for all the big vessels which trade between Europe and Australia. Let me show Western Australia’s idea of freedom of trade by land and by sea, and the reason I take this course is that she is appealing to the sympathy of the other States. If that sort of language had not been inserted in the preamble of an Act of Parliament, I do not know that I could have said anything. She thought so much about the Federation, in the first place, that she refused to join the other States unless they allowed her to collect import duties on Inter-State goods for a period of five years. In spite of the spirit, if not the letter of the Constitution, Western Australia has managed to get special consideration for herself in a Navigation Bill, if I recollect rightly. That is freedom of trade by sea, so far as she is concerned. What is freedom of trade by land as viewed through the spectacles of free-trade Western Australia? Not only does she impose an import duty on the goods coming from other States, but she imposes a prohibitive /Tariff on her railways as against those goods. Senator Pearce quite expected that this matter would be introduced.
– It has not much bearing on the question.
– It has, because Western Australia is appealing to our sympathy. She wishes us to build the railway, and she says that she is going to work it and control it, and perhaps carry goods from other States at the same rates as local goods. Was not the honorable and learned senator very pathetic and almost eloquent just now on the constitutional question? He desired to see this closer intercourse between the States. I propose to show how Western Australia regards this closer intercourse by quoting the railway freights on Inter-State goods from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie. Hop beer, made in the State is charged £5 os. iod., while hop beer from other States is charged £6 12s. 6d., or an increase of 30 per cent. Local coal is carried for 17s. 2d. per ton, but Newcastle is charged £1 14s. 3d., or 100 per cent. more. Local butter is charged £2 10s. 2d., but imported butter is charged £5 10s. nd., or an increase of 121 per cent. It is said that the railway is required in order that they may be able to send food more cheaply to the poor people on the gold-fields. The best way to reduce the cost of food is to charge the imported article the same rate as the local article. As regards fruit and vegetables, dried and preserved in tins, the local article is charged £z 5s. 7d., while the imported article is charged £$ os. nd., or an increase of 121 per cent. On imported dripping, vinegar, lard, and cheese, the freight is 121 per cent, more, while on jam it is 190 per cent, more than on the local product. Imported dairy produce, not otherwise specified, is charged 121 per cent, more than the local article. Imported marmalade and tomato sauce are charged 190 per cent, more than the local articles. Imported wine is charged 226 per cent, more than the local wine. No less than 279 per cent, more is charged for the carriage of imported hardwood - blue gum from Tasmania and ironbark from New South Wales - than is charged for the carriage of the local products. I thought it would be well to mention these facts in order to show Western Australia’s idea of freedom of trade by land.
– Who manufactured the figures ?
– I got them out of a book.
– What book?
– If the honorable senator will pull out the drawer under my seat he will find the book.
– But I do not know the book.
– The honorable senator cannot miss the book, because it is printed in large type that it comes from Western Australia. There is no one who could manufacture these figures, if they were manufactured, except myself. When I used the word job just now, with no intention of being offensive, the honorable senator rose in a white heat, and I thought, sir, that I should have to claim your protection, less there might be a case of assault and battery, but he now refuses to pull out the drawer and get the book containing the schedule of freights on the railways of his State.
– I am not the honorable senator’s bottle-holder.
– I am happy to think that the honorable senator is not; I should be certain to lose if he were. I want to remind the Senate that every item I have mentioned is an Australian product. There is another aspect of the novel Western Australian Act to which I have referred. An appeal is made in its preamble to the sympathies of the other States. The AttorneyGeneral fought shy of this aspect of the matter. The Western Australians would lead us ‘to believe that they have been very badly treated. In fact, in their own Act of Parliament they practically say that a promise was made to induce them to join the Federation. The Act says -
On the faith of the early construction of the railway to connect the western and eastern parts of the Commonwealth, the people of Western Australia did agree to the said constitution.
What interpretation could be put upon that statement, except that the other States agreed to the construction of the railway at .the expense of the Commonwealth, as an inducement to Western Australia to join the Federation? Premier James puts the matter still more emphatically, when he says -
It was an implied condition of Western Australia becoming a member of the .Union that an Inter-State railway should be constructed, and on the strength of the promise then made to hel Western Australia joined the combination.
That is straight enough.
– It is perfectly correct, too.
– I am delighted to hear the honorable senator’s statement that it is correct. The impression conveyed both by the preamble of the Western Australian Act, and also by Mr. James’ statement, is that a promise was made, not by one State, but by the whole of the States. But in his pamphlet, published last July, the then Premier of Western Australia said -
The history of the negotiations in connexion with the proposed union railway, is marked throughout its later stages by an extraordinary reluctance on the part of South Australia to redeem the promise given by the heads of previous Governments of that State.
There the promise is reduced to one State. Jammed into a corner, Premier James does not say that the other States promised, but that one State did. I am going to show that South Australia did not promise anything of the kind. Mr. (now Sir Frederick) Holder was then Premier of South Australia. He did promise to introduce an Enabling Bill when Federation took place, and that letter was written on the 1st January, 1900, to Sir John Forrest. But Mr. Holder did not bind his State.
He merely promised to introduce a Bill if he was. in power. Indeed, he could not bind his State. Nothing short of an Act of Parliament would be considered binding on a State. It seems to me that if there had been any condition whatever of the kind implied, when the Premiers met first in Conference in Hobart, in 1895, or when the Convention met in 1897, or when the Premiers met again in 1899, some stipulation of the kind ought to have been distinctly made.
– The railway was never mentioned at those Conferences from first to last, nor was it mentioned at the Federal Convention.
– I have read the deliberations of those three Conferences, and so far as I can see, the subject was never mentioned.
– We will show the honorable senator something a little later on.
– Western Australia pledged herself to join the Federation, and the one condition that was laid down, so far as her public men could pledge her, was that New South Wales should become a member of the Union. Nothing about the railway was said. It is rather curious that Western Australia now turns round, and absolutely accuses South Australia of having broken a- promise. I intend to show that South Australia did nothing of the kind, and that if there was a compact between the Premiers of the two States it is Western Australia herself that has broken it, and that South. Australia has never departed -from, it from that day to this. Mr. James says in his pamphlet -
South Australia had stipulated, as a Dew condition, that the line should be constructed on the 3ft. 6in. gauge.
That statement is made in his pamphlet, published only last July. But that was not a new condition. The condition was understood at the time these negotiations were carried on between Mr. Holder and Sir John Forrest, that the gauge should be 3ft. 6in. That did not satisfy Mr. James, however, for the reason that in the early part of 1901 his own engineer, Mr. O’Connor, recommended that there should be a 4ft. 8½in. gauge. Mr, James writes -
Seeing that the adoption of the 4ft. 8£in. gauge as the standard for all Australia is, in all likelihood inevitable, the State will Before long find it necessary to convert its trunk lines to that width.
That refers to the line from Kalgoorlie to Perth. Before proceeding further, I think I may fairly call attention to the small attendance. [Quorum formed.’] On the 18th May last Premier James telegraphed to Mr. Watson, then Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, as follows: -
On condition that the Commonwealth is allowed a free hand as to route and gauge of line this State will be prepared, for ten years after line is constructed, to bear a share of any loss in excess of our contribution on a population basis.
That shows that what Mr. James wanted was to substitute a 4ft. 8½in. gauge for a 3ft.. 6in. gauge. The gauge was never mentioned during the negotiations between Mr. Holder and Sir John Forrest. Mr. Holder was quite warranted in believing that the gauge would be 3ft. 6 in. for this reason: The Western Australian gauge was 3ft. 6in. The gauge of the railway from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie, 387 miles, was 3ft. 6in. The gauge of the railway from Port Augusta to Terowie, 119 miles, was 3ft. 6in. The gauge of the Petersburg to Cockburn railway, 145 miles, was 3ft. 6in. The gauge of the railway from Quorn to Oodnadatta, 454 miles, was 3ft. 6in. Altogether, including the transcontinental line, when that is completed, right through from Port Darwin, as far south as Terowie, South Australia would have connected with Port Augusta, a little over 2,000 miles of railway with a 3ft. 6in. gauge, which was also the gauge of the Western Australian railway, 387 miles, at. the end of what will eventually be- though not in my day - a railway between South Australia and Western Australia. Another fact which has to be borne in mind is that at the time of the negotiations between Mr.’ Holder and Sir John Forrest,, the estimate was that the railway would cost ,£2,500,000. That is now raised to £5,600,000. Therefore South Australia has not broken any arrangement made. If any compact at all was made Western Australia has broken it.
– There never was a compact.
– When South Australia has her railway complete across the continent, there will be over 2,000 miles of 3ft. 6in. gauge connected with Port Augusta. There was not a word said about a gauge of 4ft. 8½in. when these arrangements were being made between the South Australian and Western Australian Premiers. My contention is, therefore - and- 1 think I have shown reasons for it- that it was understood that the gauge would be 3ft. 6in., and that South Australia would have the right to determine the route of the line through her own territory. I think that was only a reasonable thing. Without committing it to black and white, Mr. Holder assumed that, as the railways in that part of the world were built on the 3ft. 6in. gauge, this railway would be constructed on the same gauge. Honorable senators will understand why I read put the freight charges of the Western Australian railways, when I read what appears to me to be almost a bribe offered by Western Australia to South Australia. I have here a letter which was written on the 18th February of last year. I do not know whether the Premier of Western Australia ever intended that it should see daylight, but it is addressed by that honorable gentleman to the Premier of South Australia, and contains this passage; -
To South Australia we offer an opportunity of controlling- with us the only line which leads direct to the richest markets in Australia, our Eastern Gold-fields.
That is to say, these two States are to combine to get possession of this railway. I think that is pretty cool. In effect “ We offer this to South- Australia as a bribe to join us.”, I recollect that this Senate strongly objected to the . States having ‘ anything to do with the construction of -our public works. That was the reason we originated a Commonwealth Public Works Department. It was alleged that Commonwealth public works carried out by States -officials cost a great deal more than they ought. I am not going into that question, but Western Australia proposes to work this railway, as I understand it, and to work the taxpayers of the Commonwealth at the same time. Can honorable senators imagine the taxpayers of the Commonwealth giving this railway into the hands of Western Australia and South Australia, when between them they will pay 15 per cent, of the deficit, while the other 85 ger cent, will have to be paid by people who would have no control of the line if this suggestion were carried out. Would not this be a beautiful haven of refuge for all . the incompetent hangers-on of the public men of Western Australia and South Australia, if we were to permit this sort of thing to take place. If we do not intend to allow these two States, or either of them, to work this railway after it is constructed, we must organize a Railway Department of our own. We must create a seventh Railway Depart ment to work 1,100 miles of railway, upon which there will not be a single dwelling from one end to the other. This is a practical question, which was not touched upon by the leader of the Government in the Senate. It should not require the possession of much practical knowledge to enable any one to understand that to work a railway of that kind must involve an enormous cost, comparatively. The reason why the railways of Queensland are the worst paying railways in the Commonwealth is because they form a number of little disconnected railway systems.
– These are very important considerations.
– On a high plane.
– The criticism may not be on a very high plane. The Senate is composed of all sorts and conditions of men. We shall, no doubt; have the theory and sentiment from Senator Smith byandby, whilst I am putting before -honorable senators the facts which-, after all, -give a better indication . of what we shall have to pay in the long run-. In the circumstances I have indicated, for the management of this 1,100 miles of railway we should have to establish special workshops, as it is proposed that, this shall be a 4ft. im. line. We must have a special traffic manager, special engineers, and machinery provided in the workshops, which would be sufficient to meet the requirements of 11,000 miles of railway. It is clear that.this line could not be worked at any reasonable rate; Four years ago . Sir John Forrest, when Premier of Western Australia, introduced a Bill for the construction of a line from Coolgardie down to Norseman, half-way to Esperance Bay. Some honorable members of the State Parliament of Western .Australia desired that the railway should start from Esperance Bay, and work inland 120 miles to Norseman, and Sir John Forrest’s main objection to that railway was that it would be isolated from the rest of the Western Australian system, and would, therefore, be most costly to work. Yet here we are asked bv the right honorable gentleman to construct a railway 4I 00 miles in length, which some one must work. We must either hand it over to Western Australia and South Australia, or create a seventh Railway Department in Australia’ to work 1,100 miles of railway, and run about a train a day - three trains each way every week - and the chances are that the traffic would not be anything like so great. Of course; this is a very fine thing for Western Australia. Same millions of other people’s money would be spent within her territory, and the line would act as a feeder to the State railways. We can very well understand that Western Australia would like to have this railway built, seeing that she would have to pay only s§ per cent, of the cost, whilst that would also represent her share on a population basis of the annual loss which must inevitably follow. The question was raised whilst the Attorney-General was speaking as to whether the proposed survey may be considered as part of the railway. According to my view, as a railway man, such a survey as that which has been described by Senator Symon - a complete and accurate survey with plans and specifications - is as much a part of the railway as is the permanent way. If we once commence this survey, according to my view, we shall be committed to the construction of the railway.
– All railways for which surveys have been made are not built.
– That is so, and, unfortunately, a great deal too much money has been wasted in that way in the Commonwealth. Victoria has wasted £250,000 in that way. The expenditure on this survey1 will probably be another waste of money if it ever takes place. If this proposal is such a good, thing as we are told it is, why does not Western Australia pay for this survey herself, if it is only a matter of £20,000?
– She could not do so without South Australia’s consent.
– How can we do it without South Australia’s consent?
– We have the consent of South Australia.
– There is a consent of a kind. I point out that Mr. Jenkins, the Premier of South Australia has already been accused by Mr. James, the Premier of Western Australia, of having broken his word. He says, “ You Have broken your word with us,” and he has pointed out that it is probable that Mr. Jenkins will do the same thing again. I find that in his pamphlet, published in July of this year, Mr. James has this to say about Mr. Jenkins -
Mr. Jenkins’ estimate of the value of the pledges given by his predecessors and himself to co-operate with Western Australia may be gruged from the statement that he made during a discussion in the South Australian Parliament, arising out of Mr. Deakin’s communication that “ no promise could be considered binding unless it were incorporated in a Bill or resolution.”
We have neither a Bill nor a resolution from the South Australian Parliament. We have simply Mr. Jenkins’ word, which Mr. James tells us is not to be taken. Yet we are asked to blunder along in the dark, spending £50,000 on the survey of this railway, when Mr. Jenkins may turn round and say; “ It does not go in the direction I desire,” or some one else may say, “ It is not of the gauge we desire, we shall not agree to it.”
– Why does the honorable senator say the survey will cost £50,000 ?
– Because £20,000 will not look at it.
– Why not say £100,000 ?
– I have heard that sum mentioned by a man who is a better judge of the subject than I am.
– We spent £7,000 on the survey of a railway in Tasmania only 100 miles long.
– I have not permission to mention the name of the gentleman to whom I refer, but he is a very high authority on the subject, and he informed me that £100,000 would not be too much for the survey of this line, if it was to be such a survey as I could tender on as a contractor. I asked him whether I would be safe in saying that it would cost £50,000, and he said that £50,000 would not represent more than half the cost. Premier James, speaking in Parliament of Premier Jenkins, said -
He announced that he had just received a letter from the latter, dated 29th September, in which it was stated that there was “no likelihood whatever “ of South Australia “ at any time” passing a Bill for the construction of the Union Railway, except upon strict conditions as to both route and gauge.
The conditions of South Australia are that the railway through her territory shall be along a route which she approves, and of the 3ft. 6in. gauge.
– That is a preposterous gauge for such a length of line.
– The line will be of no use unless it is an express line.
– I quite agree to that, and I should agree to a wider gauge than that which has been suggested; but I am pointing out the light in which South Australia regards the (proposal. With respect to the breaking of promises, I say hat if a promise has been broken, it has lot been by South Australia, but by West- ern Australia. Another point which was lot referred to by the Attorney-General is hat no expert has yet recommended the instruction of this line, and those who lave been asked to do so would not say whether they would recommend it or not. Even Mr. O’Connor, the very able Engi- neeringChief of the Western Australian railways, declined to offer any such advice.
– I think he did re- commend it; he wrote a very foolish re- port.
– I do not believe the honorable senator can show me a single re- commendation of this line by Mr. O’Connor.
– Yes, I can.
– I think not. Then : he five engineers-in-chief who were referred to by the Attorney-General, and who were asked to report as to the advisability jf constructing the proposed railway, in paragraph 11 of their final report, dated 29th July last year, say -
To question No. 8, wo find it very difficult to give in answer in view ofthe fact that the monetary oss will, for the first few years, be considerable, the revenue may prove to be higher than we have estimated, and the deficiency may tend to diminish from year to year more rapidly than has been assumed. It will be for the Commonwealth Government to decide whether the immediate pecuniary loss s so serious as. to outweigh the beneficial effects pointed out in answer No. 7.
That is the report of the Board of expert engineers from the other States, who pointedly refused, although asked by the Commonwealth Government if they could do so, to recommend the railway, It must be remembered that at that time, a great deal of trouble had been taken, and witnesses had been examined, and the Board. had a knowledge of what Mr. O’Connor and others had reported. My point is that no expert has supported the construction of this line.
– Mr. O’Connor has.
– It cannot be found that Mr. O’Connor ever recommended the line. There have been six estimates of the cost of constructing the line, ranging from £2,500,000 to £5,090,000. I should now like to show what the different States will have to contribute if this line were constructed. The figures are as follows : - South Australia, which in the years 1901-2-3 had a deficit of £103,000, would have to contribute £468,000; Tasmania, which for two years ending 31st December, 1902, lad a deficit of £297,000, would have to contribute £226,500; New South Wales, which had a deficit for three years ending 50th June, 1903, of £347,000, would lave to contribute£1,815,000; Vic- toria, which had a deficit of £648,000, would have to contribute £11,548,500; Queensland, which had a deficit of £1,496,000, would have to contribute £657,500. Now we come to Western Australia, which in the three years I have mentioned, had a surplus of £108,000 ; and for the year ending June last has a surplus of £112,000, and the contribution of which would be £284,500. This wealthy State with a surplus, asks Queensland, with her huge deficit, to assist in building an Inter-State railway. If this railway is to be built with Commonwealth money, why should not the two States treat the Commonwealth in the same way. as they would treat a syndicate? Western Australia will derive the principal benefit from this line, and it would be perfectly reasonable to ask that State to hand over to the Commonwealth fifty miles of land on each side of the whole 475 miles of railway. If that were done, I should be prepared to vote for the line.. A betterment of only is. an acre on this land would represent £1,500,000, and the people who find the money ought to have the benefit of the betterment, considering that the whole of Western Australia’s contribution to the construction of the railway is less than . £300,000. There is another alternative. If WesternAustralia had come forward and said that she could not build a railway because it was too costly ; but that she was willing to pay her proportion, on a population basis, of the cost of the Inter-State railways from Brisbane to Port Augusta, it would have been only a reasonable offer. I now want to speak of the railway as a “ going concern.” The estimates of the cost, as I say, of construction, range from £2,500,000 up to £5,090,000. Sir John Forrest’s original estimate was £2,500,000, and his second was £3,000,000; and when speaking at the Adelaide Town Hall thirteen months ago, he . jumped to £4,000,000, on the ground, no doubt, that the gauge had been increased. The first estimate of the Board of engineers was £5,090,000, and their second £4,559,000, and finally we have the estimate of Mr. O’Connor of nearly £5, 000,000.
– Does that include the alteration of the existing lines at each end?
– No; that will in volve additional cost. When the AttorneyGeneral was speaking, Senator Mulcahy interjected that the cost would be about £8,000,000, and I intend to show that that is somewhere about the mark. The cost per mile in the estimates I have already quoted, range from £2,275upto £4,627, and it is interesting to compare those figures with the actual cost of a 3ft. 6in. line such as that from Palmerston to Pine Creek, which cost £7,402 per mile. The 1,100 miles of line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie would, at this rate of £7,402 per mile, on a 3ft. 6in. gauge, cost £8,142,200, and, with the standard gauge, the cost would be considerably more. The line from Hergott to Ooonadatta, which is on a 3ft. 6in. gauge, cost , £4,752 per mile, and the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line, if constructed at the same rate, would cost £5,227,200 ; and it must be remembered that those lines to which I am now referring are in the centre of civilization, compared with the route of the proposed line. I was the first to mention a probable cost of £5,000,000 three or four years ago, at a time when we were told the line would cost £3,000,000. So far as the passenger traffic is concerned, I am ready to admit that a person travelling to Kalgoorlie from Adelaide, or to Adelaide from Kalgoorlie, could travel almost as cheaply as he does now by way of Fremantle. I do not for one moment contend that there would be a great saving by asea route ; but there would no doubt be a slight one. As to the comparison of the cost between Fremantle and Adelaide, it will be fair to take as a base the railway line : between Sydney and Adelaide, which is about the cheapest long ride in Australia.
– There will.be no goods trafficon this line.
– That is so; but a good deal is made of the expected passenger traffic. My opinion is that. people will not travel by this Inter-State line, when they, can go so much more cheaply by boat. No one who travelled between Adelaide and Fremantle, would do. so a second time, especially in the summer ; no one would make such a journey except in case of great emergency.
– I, believe thereare a few people who travel across the continent of’ America.
-.But there is no steam-ship competition there, : ‘ while on our coast between Adelaide and Fremantle, there are steamers of some of the best lines in the world ; and it must not be forgotten that the distance between Adelaide and Fremantle is about 200 miles shorter by sea than by land. Taking as a basis the present fares on the Sydney to Adelaide line, a person travelling first class by sea from Adelaide to Fremantle would save £3 14s. 8d., in comparison with the cost of a first-class fare on the overland journey, while, on a second-class fare, there would be a saving of £2 5s. But the Orient Steam Navigation Company carry steerage passengers between the two ports for £4, and as a second-class passenger could not be carried overland between Adelaide and Fremantle for less than £8 6s., we see here a saving of £4 6s.
– The honorable senator ought to make his calculation on the journey from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie, and not to Fremantle.
– I am not saying that a good deal of the Kalgoorlie passenger traffic would not go to Adelaide by rail. And in making my calculations, I have had regard to a fact, which nobody else seems to have taken notice of. A man on the overland journey would have to pay for two sleeping berths, and about eight meals, which would mean say 36s. in addition to the fare. A fact that we ought to remember is that passengers may travel from Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, or Adelaide to London, or vice versa, on the mail steamers, just as cheaply as from or to Fremantle, and that if a passenger from London lands at Fremantle he pays the same fare as the passengers who travel to Sydney. It is said that a man would leave the steamer and go overland by rail. In my opinion no second class passenger would ever go by rail except in an emergency, because he would save three or four pounds by travelling by boat. It is the second class, and not the first class passengers who make a railway pay. Second class passengers, I contend, would not have the money to enable them to travel overland by rail. They’ would not travel by railway when they could travel by boat for three or four pounds less, and lose only a day and a half, or, if you like, two days. In the United Kingdom, 77 per Cent. of the money paid in passenger fares is paid by third class passengers, while the other two classes pay only 23 per cent. between them. I ask honorable senators to look at the map upon the table for a moment. A great point sought to be made by those who favor this railway is that it would facilitate the carriage of the mails. It is alleged that two days would be saved in the journey. Mr. O’Connor said that it would take sixty-one hours to run overland, and that the contract time with the big boats is ninety-six hours, that is, a difference of a day and a half. The period of ninety-six hours was fixed many years ago, before the days of turbine steamers, which steam at the rate of twenty miles an hour. The day is not far distant when steamers will make the journey in very nearly the same time as a train.’ ‘ For the sake of argument I . shall allow that if the mails were brought by the dotted line in the map to Western Australia, two days would be saved. The contract time from Adelaide- to London is thirty-one days. But if the 1,140 miles to complete the real Transcontinental Railway from Oodnadatta to Fine ‘ Creek were built- and it is only forty miles longer than the other - then the mails could be delivered in London via Port Darwin, Port Arthur, and the trans-Siberian railway in twenty-three days, or in eight days less than the present contract time, while the Western Australian railway, at the very best, could make no more than two days’ difference - in my opinion, npt one day. As a matter of fact, the quickest journey by steamer has been seventysix hours, as against Mr. O’Connor’s estimate of sixty-one hours by rail.I have” allowed; that, on the Siberian railway, with a gauge of 5 feet, a train can be run at the rate of thirty miles an hour; it is too little.. There would be two days more saved. If .the Western Australian railway were constructed, the mails could never gain more than, two days, and then the trains would have to travel thirtyeight or forty miles an hour, which could not be done. I desire to say a few words now about the carriage of food-stuffs. We were told that this railway would be very useful.. - ,f or .the ..conveyance of passengers, mails, and food-stuffs to the markets of the eastern gold-fields, described by Mr. James as one of the best markets in the world. He offers to South Australia another little bribe in a letter which he wrote in February last year. He says -
It is to be borne in mind that the greatest markets of this State are on its gold-fields ; that these markets can’ never -be supplied by produce grown on the spot,’ but -must depend on goods brought long distances over railways. .1 . >. . .
That at first sight looks very attractive to a man who is a producer in South Australia. Mr. James says in his pamphlet -
The gold-fields generally will derive an immense advantage from an improved supply of food and general goods from South Australia.
Another little sop to South Australia. Then he asks -
Whether South Australia is prepared to make a vigorous effort to secure for itself the best and quickest means of placing its products upon the Western Australian markets.
Al] this is very tempting to* South Australia. But I am afraid that Mr. James unwittingly knocks the bottom completely out of this temptation to South Australia- to help to build, this railway by saying that all the food-stuffs could be produced within - their own boundaries, and not very far -from- the gold-fields, and therefore South Australiacould not hope to compete with Western Australia in the markets of the eastern ‘gold? fields. I wish- to show that the territory of South Australia, for a distance of 364 miles, would not grow anything. In a report,’ Mr. Moncrief, the Engineer- in-Chief for the State, describes the country between Tarcoola and the border as “ inhospitable and arid.” Mr. Muir, who has been referred to tonight as a gentleman who reported on ‘this line, was the Chief Inspector of Engineering Surveys in Western Australia. I suppose that Mr. James is directing attention to these facts in order to show that there is ‘not the slightest foundation for his statement that South Australia will have a splendid opportunity- of supplying the - markets of the eastern gold-fields. He wishes” to make it perfectly clear that the bait, he has been holding out to South’ Australia, is : nothing but a downright sham-. He. says- .. -.
Mr. Muir, Inspector of Engineering Surveys, who examined the Western Australian, country from border ‘ to’ Kalgoorlie., 475 miles, speaks of it “as well grassed,’’ ‘and states that,’ taken as a whole, trie stretch of country”. is[’ dai’ bf,.’the. finest’ he lias ‘seen’ in Australiasia arid’, would without doubt, be taken UP one day from ‘end to end.
Although this is. Mr. Muir ‘s description1 of the territory from the border- of South Australia to the eastern gold-fields,’ yet in the face .pf that statement, Mr:i james -ask-s. . us to believe that they would bring meat from South Australia and other States by fail. In another place he says- . ‘ -
Cattle., are produced in Western Australia in its far distant . .Kimberley , districts, “and there appears no probability of the -central portions of the’ -State, producing sufficient ‘cattle’ for ‘local consumption for -many years -to.. come.: ; ‘
But he does not deny that cattle will be produced there. That is an extraordinary way to convince South Australia that she is going to supply the meat-market on the eastern gold-fields, more especially when 4,000,000 acres of grazing land have been applied for as close as possible to the goldfields. I propose now to touch on the butter, grain, and other produce, and then to leave that aspect of the question. Mr. James says -
There are 2,000,000 acres under cultivation, and the wheat yield for 1903 amounted to nearly 2,000,000 bushels,’ giving a return of about 13^ bushels to the acre cropped.
In other words, Western Australia, which, we are told, cannot grow wheat, grows nearly double the average yield for all Australia, and that is the country which we are told will have to be supplied with grain by rail from South Australia. Mr. James goes on to say -
The present rapid progress of agricultural settlement in the State, which will soon approach, if not outrival the magnificent mineral development, may be judged from the fact that whereas 342,469 acres of farm lands were taken up in 1901, and 541,576 acres in 1902, the selection during 1903 sprang up to the huge figure of 1,155,517 acres
This is the country which we are told cannot produce foodstuffs for the eastern gold-fields. It is about the greatest sham I ever heard of. I have only one extract more to read, and that is from an interview which a South Australian newspaper had in June last with Mr. Commissioner George, of Western Australia -
I gathered a few weeks ago that we should have exported some grain this year, and next year wc must. . . . Some years ago we used to import thousands of tons of chaff. The trade was overtaken by the local supply three or four years ago. Our wheat fields, which were supposed to be bounded by Northam, are stretching eastwards towards Southern Cross, and the railways are carrying grain from places along the gold-fields line, where a comparatively short while ago people would have scorned the suggestion that anything would grow. The same class of country, with occasional breaks, continues right through to Kalgoorlie, and also north rind south of the line. … I am not posing as a farmer nor as a judge of land, but am influenced by hard facts in connexion with the produce of grain. . . . Fruit is being grown in increasing quantities. We have not reached the export stage, which we eventually expect to attain in regard to the citrus and apples. Grapes and peaches and similar fruits we have had for years.
In the face of those statements, surely the most fatuous could never believe for a moment that South Australia or any other State would supply meat, grain, fruit, or butter by this railway to Western Australia when constructed, and that could not be in less than five or six years. Grain could be brought from the other States, from New Zealand, or even from the Argentine, to Fremantle, and carried by rail 387 miles to Kalgoorlie more cheaply than it could be carried by ral from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. We are also told that it would be a very useful railway to carry manufactures. Does any honorable senator entertain such a stupid idea for a moment? Would it carry manufactures from the wheat-fields round Port Augusta? The manufactures would have to come from Adelaide or Victoria. Who would think of carrying manufactures by railway for a distance of 2,000 miles, when there was a boat which would carry them for a third of the money ? Those who oppose this proposal will be stigmatized as being unfederal and unpatriotic, because they object to other people’s money being spent in the building of what is purely an Inter-State coastal line. My opinion is that a man is unfederal who would use Commonwealth money to build a railway which would render useless the dock which is being constructed at Port Adelaide at a cost of half a million pounds for the sake of accommodating the big liners. If this railway were built, no liner would ever call near Port Adelaide. They are now threatening to stop calling, because the mail is not given to them. If that line were made, what inducement would there be to call? If the true Transcontinental Railway, whch has cost millions, and which this line will block for a generation, were completed, the railway would run from Port Darwin to Adelaide, and thence round the coast as far as Rockhampton. The true federalist is the man who would take these matters into his consideration, and who would say to Western Australia, “ If you and South Australia think proper to hand over to us a strip of country 100. miles wide for the whole length of the railway we shall not mind putting our money into the venture.” Who pays the deficit? Generally it is the public servants who are called on in the first instance to do so. I recollect when in Victoria we had a- railway deficit of £500,000 amongst a million of people. Queensland has had three deficits of halfamillion amongst’ 500,000 people - £1 per head per annum for the three years ending 30th June, 1903. A nice little deficit that is ! If we had a similar deficit in Victoria in proportion to population, it would amount to ?1,250,000. Yet while the States have these deficits staring them in the face, our friends from Western Australia, who have a big railway surplus every year, ask the people to contribute to a railway which, on the most sanguine estimate, would lead to a deficit of ?68,000 per annum, but which, in my opinion, would involve a far greater loss than that. But I am going to show that there is a greater objection to the line than any which I have yet mentioned. If the people of Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie become sufficiently influential, as they will do if the gold-fields increase in value, there will undoubtedly be constructed a line from Coolgardie to the coast at Esperance, a distance of 228 miles.
– It is said that it will cost’ ?1,000,000.
– At any rate, it is inevitable that this line should be constructed some day. Fremantle is 387 miles from the gold-fields, whereas Esperance, the nearest port, is only 228 miles. The port at Esperance Bay is said to be almost as fine as Port Jackson. The records of Western Australia itself show that the construction of that line is inevitable. I shall quote Sir John Forrest himself. In the first place, Mr. James,, in his pamphlet says -
There is a yet stronger feeling throughout the eastern gold-fields that the union railway should not merely from a local,’ but also from a national point of view, be first constructed.
Of course it should be first constructed, because it is to be built out of other people’s money. Here is another quotation from Mr. James -
Conclusive proof of the unanimity of the goldfields opinion in favour of the railway was afforded by the fact that all the members of Parliament for those parts had voted for ll.ie Enabling Bill, which, furthermore, had been passed by the legislature without even a suggestion having been uttered that the construction of the Esperance line should be a condition precedent.
Mr. James also said
Few people in the Eastern States appreciate the value of this Western market, and the enormous possibilities of trade which the expansion of Inter-Stale commerce by the proposed railway would open up, and, consequently, the extent to which the Eastern manufacturer and the Eastern producer may hope to benefit.
Those are strong arguments in favour of the construction of the 228 miles of rail way from Esperance to the gold-fields. I’ desire to repeat that when the gold-fields become sufficiently strong, and the people of Western Australia are satisfied that they are going to continue, there is no doubt whatever that that line will be made. Naturally the people of the gold-fields will want to get to the sea by the nearest route. Sir John Forrest, when addressing the people of Adelaide on the 10th November last year, said -
The proposed railway from Coolgardie to Esperance might be constructed, and he had tried on two occasions unsuccessfully to get it as far as Norseman.
That was objected to because the line did not go right through ; but Sir John Forrest did not want it to go right’ through, because lie knew that if the line was constructed, the traffic would go to Esperance instead of to Fremantle. I need not go into details to show, that the fares for people on the gold-fields would be very much cheaper by way of Esperance Bay to Adelaide, and from Adelaide to Coolgardie by that route, than by way of the 1,359 miles from Adelaide to Coolgardie by rail. The matter of the construction of the Esperance Bay railway attracted a good deal of attention in South Australia ; so much so that the Premier of that State only last January wrote a minute to the Commissioner of Railways, Mr. Pendleton, in which he said that he wanted to know - whether or not, in the various reports furnished in relation to the construction of a railway between Western Australia and South Australia, and the estimate given, any consideration was given to the question of the traffic being either diminished or increased in consequence of the probable construction of a line from Esperance Bay to the gold-fields.
The reply of Mr. Pendleton was as follows : -
In reply to the inquiry of the Chief Secretary, I have to say that in none of the reports or estimates made by me in connexion with the prop ;sed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie d.d I take into consideration the possibility of a line being made from Esperance Bay to Kalgoorlie (or Coolgardie); and although it is difficult to say, with accuracy, what traffic would be drawn from the first railway if the second were made, I am of the opinion that if the Adelaide Steamship Company determined to run quick and commodious steamers between Port Adelaide and Esperance Bay, a distance of about 830 nautical miles, in connexion with a line from that! bay to the gold-fields 220 miles, quite 50 per cent, of the estimated traffic for the other line would go through Esperance.
Fifty per cent, less than the estimated traffic revenue ; and that means that the estimated deficit on the line, ?68,000, would be greatly increased - probably by £60,000 Or £70,000. I look upon the construction of the line from Coolgardie to the sea-coast at Esperance as inevitable. Indeed, that it will come no one denies. Sir John Forrest, himself, in October, 1900, brought in a Bill for the construction of part of the line as far as Norseman. It was defeated by nineteen votes to fourteen. That line was to go to Norseman, only part of , the way. When it was urged that the railway should be carried from Esperance to Norseman only, Sir John Forrest said, as I mentioned a little while ago, that that was objection able, because it would form an isolated railway, and be costly to work. I have detained the Senate at some length, but I have not exhausted all the material which I had prepared. The matter is undoubtedly a very important one, but at this period of the session I can hardly expect the Senate to listen to me as carefully as I might have expected at an earlier period. I am quite aware that every one has made up his mind. If the Bill had been brought forward earlier, more attention might have been devoted to it. I am strongly of opinion that the railway ought not to be made under any circumstances, and when I think of the projected line from Coolgardie to the coast, it seems to me to be almost a crime to spend money on this Inter-State line. I should be wanting in my duty to those who sent me here if I did not oppose this scheme from every point of view. I have looked into it very carefully, and the more I consider it, the more convinced I am that no one who thoroughly understood what is proposed, and who looked at it with an unbiased eye, could possibly support it for a moment. I can readily understand the statement of the Attorney-General that he is not in favour of the construction of the railway. I can also quite believe that the more he looks into it the less he will be inclined to vote for its construction. But in the meantime I object to spending any Commonwealth money on a survey. I desire to emphasize the fact that we have not even authority from the South Australian Government to go on with the railway, even if the survey showed, that it was likely to be a paying concern. It is quite clear to my mind from what the Premier of South Australia hassaid, that that State will-never consent. In facty it would be the most suicidal thing South Australia could pos- . sibly do to consent to have this railway built, even if it did not cost her a shilling, and even if she had not to make good any part of the inevitable annual deficit.
– I approach this subject with a desire to appeal to those honorable senators who, I understand, are prepared to listen to the case that may be made out in favour of this Bill.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. I think there should be a full attendance when , the first Western Australian senator is speaking.
– I am aware that the whole question is new, so far as many honorable senators are concerned. But unfortunately it is not a question so far as concerns those organs of public opinion which, to a large extent, form the views of the people in this State. One of the great disadvantages from which this Commonwealth suffers is that public opinion on these questions is formed very largely from prejudice. I am sorry to make the statement but it is a fact that honorable senators are very largely unaware that prejudice is forming’ even their opinions on many matters. I say that because I know that in regard to this question one side has been put by the press of this State day after day, and that honorable senators have read what has been written continuously during the whole ten months of our sitting here, while there is another side to the question which is never heard in this State, except on such occasions as the present when the matter is mentioned in the Federal Parliament. We are at a great disadvantage in this regard. Honorable senators from other States are cautious not to allow the ‘press of this State to form their opinions for them on a question which affects their own States,- but on questions which affect States other than their own they’ ate. not so much on their guard against specious arguments, and perhaps unconsciously allow their opinions, on those questions, to be formed for them by the press of this State.
– I formed my opinion on this question before the press formed theirs.
-I am not referring to. the honorable senator, but to honorable senators from other. States,who are in danger of having their opinions on subjects which do not affect their own States largely formed for them by the press ofthis State.
– Is there not a danger that the representatives of the States specially concerned in this matter may be too much on their guard against the opinions of the press in this State?
– There is that danger, but the representatives of Western Australia have never objected to fair criticism. What they do object to is misrepresentation. They object to men who have never seen the country which this railway will serve, describing that country as a desert.
– That is cheap ; but that is not what honorable senators are going on.
– There are journals in this State which have a wonderful effect on popular opinion, and which, day after day, put forward the statement that the country this railway is to serve is a desert, and as some honorable senators have said that their minds are open on this question, I welcome the opportunity to put the other side to them. One objection to the proposed survey is that it is a work which the State of Western Australia should undertake. We are told that Western Australia should come to the Federal Parliament and say, “ Here are reports as to the cost of this work and the quality of the land ; here are all the data required, and we ask you to accept these reports.” What would honorable senators who are opposed to the proposal say to that ? They would say, “ This is an ex parte statement prepared by Western Australian engineers and published by the Western Australian Government.”
– Suppose Western Australia offered to find the money for a survey, and inquiry by an impartial board of experts, what then?
– In that case we should be told, as Senator Styles told us tonight, that the offer was a bribe. Senator Styles has. to-night said that Western Australia offered a bribe to South Australia in this matter. That is the way in which the honorable senator characterized a document circulated by Mr. James.
– We do not desire a State investigation for the benefit of the Commonwealth. We say that the State of Western Australia should do its own work.
– It is said that the State of Western Australia should undertake this survey, and the Commonwealth might then consider whether it Would take up the work; of construction. We are told that the Commonwealth cannot afford to take up this question. That is a pertinent objection to the construction of the railway at the present time. It certainly raises the financial question, but I ask whether members of the Commonwealth Parliament are going to say, “ We reject the proposal to make this survey because Australia cannot find £20,000.”
– No; because Western Australia should undertake her own work.
– I ask if Senator Dobson is prepared to say that we should reject this Bill because the Commonwealth cannot afford to expend ,£20,000? If that is the spirit which animates the Federal Parliament in dealing with such a public work as this, and if honorable senators are prepared to contend that the 4,000,000 people comprising the population of the Commonwealth cannot afford to pay .£20,000 to secure reliable information on which a decision may be based as to whether the construction of the railway should be carried out, then I can only say that this Parliament is not fit to govern a new country like Australia, which should be governed by men who preach the gospel of hope rather than the gospel of despair, and by men who believe in the development of the interior of this country, which is as yet undeveloped, but which has magnificent possibilities, as Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill testify. We are told that this railway will not pay. That is exactly what the croakers in Western Australia told us when Sir John Forrest proposed his water scheme.
– They said the same thing about the Broken Hill line.
– The same thing has been said about every large public work in Australia. We must be in a position to make an estimate before we can say whether this railway will pay. This Bill is a first step to enable us to estimate whether it will pay. I can understand the attitude of some honorable senators who represent Tasmania, and who contend that the Commonwealth should not take up this work at all ; but there are some honorable senators who say that if it can be shown that this line will pay, the Commonwealth should undertake its construction.
– The fact “that Western Australia has done nothing towards the construction of the railway so far,- is fair evidence that it will not pay.
– Western Australia has done all that she as able to do. I remind Senator. Keating that Western
Australia has no authority and no power to construct a line beyond her own border. I may inform the honorable and learned senator also that Western Australia was willing at one time to meet South Australia in the construction of this railway as a State work. We are told that the steamer service around Australia is sufficient for all purposes. I wonder why the people of Adelaide and Melbourne were not content with their steamer service? I wonder why the people of Melbourne and Sydney were not content with the steamer service connecting those ports? Why did the people of Melbourne and Adelaide ask that the desert between the Murray and the border should be bridged by a railway?
– They made the line on their own responsibility, and they did not ask the other Colonies to pay for it.
– Therewas no Federation at the time.
– The country was occupied.
– Senator Fraser must be aware that, with the exception of the corner at Mount Gambier, a good deal of the country between the border and the Murray River is not occupied yet. I should like to ask honorable senators whether the States of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland have ever regretted that they built the railways connecting their capitals? We know that the wealth and importance of each of the States, and of Australia as a whole, have been increased by the linking together of the States capitals by these railways. We are told again that there is no immediate necessity for the construction of this railway ; that there is plenty of time. I point out, first of all, that the survey proposed will take some time. The results of that survey must be allowed to permeate into the minds of the people of Australia. The reports must be circulated and discussed, and it will be some years before Parliament will be ready for action, even if the survey is found to be most favorable to the construction of the line. After Parliament is ready for action it will still be years before the line can be constructed; and, taking a most sanguine view, it cannot be expected that the construction of this railway will be undertaken within the next ten years. The statement has been made that this railway was not held out as an. inducement to Western Australia to join the Federation. It is true that there was no such bond entered into with respect to it as we find in the Constitution with respect to the Federal Capital.
– Or with respect to the special Tariff of Western Australia.
– That is so; but I shall leave Senator de Largie to read several letterswhich will show that statements were made by prominent Federalists holding out the inducement to Western Australia that this railway would be one of the consequences that would flow from Federation.
– Can the honorable senator mention the names of any responsible persons who held out such an inducement ?
– I can mention the name of Mr., now Sir Frederick, Holder, who, as Premier of South Australia, on the- 1st February, 1900, wrote to the Premier of Western Australia as follows
Chief Secretary’s Office,
Adelaide, 1st February,1900
Sir, following our conversation as to the possibleblocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta by the Federal authority, by South Australia refusing consent rendered necessary by section 34 of clause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill, to the construction of the line through her territory, I regard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing, in fact, quite out of the question.
To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake, as soon as the Federation is established (West and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth) to introduce a Bill formally giving assent of this Province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Sgd.) F. W. Holder.
The Right Honorable Sir John Forrest,
Premier, Western Australia.
The significance of the letter is that at that period the Federal fight was proceeding. As a member of the Federal League, who took part in that fight, I know well what were the grounds of objection raised to Federation in Western Australia.
– There was not a promise on behalf of the Federation, but a promise made by the Premier of South Australia.
– It was a promise made by a prominent Federalist.
– Let South Australia keep faith now.
– When the Federal Bill discussion was raging, the anti-Billites were asking the people of Western Australia what was the use of entering the Union. They were being told that Western Australia, like New Zealand, was isolated, - that each of those Colonies was five days’ journey from the eastern seaboard of Australia, and that Western Australia might as well lie ‘an island in the ocean as New Zealand is in the Pacific. The reply of the Federalists was that the eastern States of Australia would, as the natural effect of Federation, see the wisdom of linking the east and the west by means of a railway.
– In time.
– In time, of course. Advocates of Federation were challenged with the fact that there was no indication of any willingness or desire on the part of the people in the eastern States to do any such thing. While the fight was raging, this letter was sent to the people by a prominent Federalist, who was a Premier of a neighbouring State, and that letter, along with others, was used on every platform as an inducement to the people to accept the Bill.
– What has that to 1 do with us in Tasmania?
– I do not say that it has anything to do with Tasmania. I am speaking to the Senate, and not to Tasmania.
– But the honorable senator is asking, the people of Tasmania to contribute as much as will the people of Western Australia to this railway.
– The people of Western Australia regarded the letter as a pledge that their isolation, which was their chief objection to Federation, would be removed.
– That does not bind Queensland.
– I do not say that it does. All I have said is that in this letter prominent Federalists held out to Western Australia the inducement that its chief objection to Federation would be removed. We are now met with the argument that South Australia is to-day unwilling to allow the construction of the railway.
– That has been stated by the most prominent representative of South Australia in the Senate - Senator Symon
– And I beg to differ from Senator Symon on the point. I had the honour, along with Senator de Largie, Senator McGregor, and others, of visiting many towns in South Australia when we were conducting a campaign in support of the construction of this railway. We had large and enthusiastic meetings everywhere, and carried resolutions urging the State Parliament of South Australia to at once pass enabling legislation. At no place did we meet with a hostile reception, and at no place was there a hostile vote. But I have stronger proof still, to which I ask honorable senators from Queensland to listen. It is recognised that honorable senators from South Australia, who are elected on adult suffrage under a liberal Electoral Act, truly represent the people of that State, and, as a result of the campaign I have mentioned, arid in spite of the opposition of the powerful newspapers of Adelaide, every senator returned at the last election was pledged up to the hilt not merely to the survey, but to the ‘ construction of this line.
– Was it one of the main questions on which they were elected ?
– It was made a main question by the Adelaide newspapers, which fought as vigorously as the Melbourne newspapers do now, against the proposal.
– The honorable senator’s arguments would be more effective if the successful meetings had been held in States other than South Australia or Western Australia.
- Senator Keating, finding /the ground shifting under him, wants me to shift my ground, but I shall not do so until it suits me. I am now dealing with the objection that South Australia is unwilling to sanction this line.
– The honorable senator made the statement that South Australia was unwilling.
– On the contrary, I denied the statement to that effect made by the Attorney-General.
– A few months ago the honorable senator said that the Western Australian Government was willing to construct the line up to the boundary, and that the reason this was not done was that South Australia was unwilling to follow suit.
– Senator Keating is speaking of events which happened in 1894, whilst I am speaking of the position in 1903.
– If the two States are willing to construct the line, why do they not do so?
– I must ask honorable senators not to interject.
– I do not propose to read the telegrams exchanged by the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia, because they have been published in a parliamentary paper. But the Government of South Australia practically said to the Federal Government, “ Before we entertain the idea of introducing an Enabling Bill, we want a guarantee that there is some possibility of the railway being built; we want to see the actual data.” The Government of South Australia saw the reasonableness of asking for a survey, and they stipulated that before a Bill was introduced into the State Parliament a survey should be made. The whole position of South Australia is indicated by the fact that the people of the State are prepared, through their representatives, to vote for the construction of the railway, while the representatives in the State Parliament lay down the position that before they consent to the construction there must be a survey. So much for the contention that South Australia is opposed to this Transcontinental Railway. I now propose to show that there is a reasonable prospect of the line paying. A number of statements have been made to-night by Senator Styles; but, while I am prepared to listen to that gentleman on the question of Victorian railways, I am afraid that he knows very little of Western Australian railways. It is not fair to base arguments against the proposed transcontinental line on a knowledge of the Victorian conditions only. I can illustrate that contention by pointing to the wide difference between the cost of construction in Western Australia and other States. The chief railway in Western Australia, that from Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie, is, I suppose,’ a record of cheap construction in Australia. It was built at a cost of under £1,500 per mile, and I doubt whether there is any line in Victoria which can be compared to it from that point of view.
– Yes; in Victoria a 5ft. 3in. gauge line has been constructed as cheaply.
– I defy any honorable senator to produce figures to show a more cheaply-constructed railway in Australia.
– Yes ; there have been cheaper railways constructed in the Mallee,
– I should like the honorable senator to produce the figures. This railway in Western Australia is over 100 miles long, and was completed, as I say, at a total cost of ,£1,500 per mile. That was, of course, because the country is, so to speak, as level as a billiard table.
– And because there were light metals and a narrow formation.
– The Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie railway will compare favorably with any narrow-gauge railway constructed in Australia.
– But even as a narrowgauge railway the cost is very reasonable:
– In Western Australia the average cost of the railways per mile is £5,370 ; in South Australia £7,718, and in Quensland £7,400.
– The . honorable senator is making an indictment against himself.
– The figures show that the railways in Western Australia have cost nearly £2,000 less per mile than have the railways in Queensland, comparing nar, row gauge with narrow gauge.
– Is it not a fact that in the case of the Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie line the contractors were able to charge for -traffic for a considerable time, and that it was very largely the profits thus made which paid the contractors?
– The conditions were the same on the Broken Hill line in South Australia, and they have arisen in every State of the Commonwealth.
– I do not think they have arisen in Queensland to any extent.
– They could not arise except where there was successful’ gold mining going- on.
– Western Australiais not the only State which has gold-fields,’ nor the only State in which this practice, has been resorted to. In Victoria the average cost per mile for the railways is £i2,:r.ro, and in New* South Wales £13,272.
– In Victoria there are 200 miles of double line whicH will compare with any iri the world.
– In the gold-fields of Western Australia we cannot get navvies at fis. a day. ‘.Senator Sir William Zeal.- -The navvies were paid 10s. a day in Victoria.
– At the Waranga Basin the navvies were paid 6s.- per day. The New South Wales railways cost £13,272 per mile, while Tasmania’s narrowgauge railway cost £8,302 per mile.
-. - In the most hilly country of all.
– It is because the country to- be traversed is not hilly that this railway to Kalgoorlie will cost only a little over £4,000 per mile.
– Does the honorable senator know that there are mountains ‘of sand which would have to be faced with clay ?
– No. the honorable and learned senator can. read any report he likes, and’ he will not find any reference to sand along the route.
– I got that information from an engineer who has made a report.
–I should like the honorable and learned senator to quote his authority, because I have not found any reference to sand in any report.
– I went to some of the engineers.
– Barrows which would be left at night would be covered with sand in the morning.
– The honorable senator is referring to the country near Port Augusta. Honorable senators are falling into the error of thinking that because they know one part they know the whole of Australia. They are showing prejudice when they allow themselves to judge the route of this line by some portion of Westfern Australia, or South Australia, which they happen .to have seen. Only two weeks ago there was a report from Western Australia of a man with his wife and little children leaving his farm in South Australia and travelling with his flocks and herds right across the continent from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, landing, them in good condition there. He lost a few horses and cattle in the district immediately surrounding Port Augusta ; but after he reached the border he did not lose a solitary head ; and his stock fattened as they travelled. He showed his belief in the character of the country by immediately applying for a grazing area of 90,000 acres, seventy miles east of Kalgoorlie, on the route of the proposed rail way, and the Government showed their belief in the country by refusing to grant his application, while the construction of the line was pending. Here is a quotation which I have taken from the Melbourne Age-
Mr. Halford, who recently travelled overland from Adelaide with his - wife and family and stock, applied for a pastoral lease of 60,000 acres east of Gardunia, but the application was refused because the land came within the reserve for the proposed trans-continental railway. The Minister of Lands now thinks he can suit Mr. Halford by granting him a grazing licence in recognition of his plucky journey.
– The man who was employing camels and putting up the telegraph line along the route threw up the job because he could not do it.
– The honorable senator is talking of a telegraph line which follows the sea-coast, whereas I am speaking of a railway line which will never come nearer the coast than fifty miles.
– And the more you go in from the coast, the less- water there is.
– The more you go in’ from the coast the better the character of the- land. We have been- presented with a number of different estimates of the cost of constructing this railway. We have an’ estimate by Mr. C. Y. O’Connor, the late Engineer-in-Chief of the Western Australian railways. The success of the gold-fields water scheme, which he planned, ought to induce honorable senators to pay some regard to his estimate that the line would cost £4,400,000, or roughly, £4,000 per mile.
– He adds £400,000 on to that sum.
– He adds £200,000 as the cost of raising the loan. The honorable senator attempted to prove that there would be no passenger traffic over the line. I propose to show from Mr. O’Connor’s report that there would be some passenger traffic. Excluding the over-sea traffic, over 1,000 persons travel each week between the eastern and western States - that is 500 persons each way. The great majority of these purely Australian passengers go to the gold-fields. The great majority of the people on the gold-fields are Victorians, and strong believers in this railway. They have already to undertake a railway journey of 400 miles to get to the coast where they ‘ join th’e steamer. Is it reasonable to suppose that they would make,;that journey when they could get info a train at Kalgoorlie, and proceed over-land more cheaply, and more quickly, and with less discomfort ? Mr. O’Connor says -
On the basis of i£d. per mile rst class, fd. per mile 2nd for railway, and ocean liner rates by sea : -
These figures show that on the reduced estimate by Mr. O’Connor the journey by railway would be much cheaper than the journey by the cheapest and nastiest route, and that is in the steerage of an Inter-State Steamer.
– But the honorable senator overlooks the cost of sleeping accommodation, and meals, which would come to more than £1 a day.
– I do not overlook that matter. The great bulk of the passengers on the Inter-State railways do not have sleeping accommodation. I.t is only the favoured few who are able to afford a sleeping berth. On the Melbourne to Adelaide line it will be found that the great majority of the passengers do not travel in the sleeping cars. I have now to deal with the over-sea traffic. I have seen many passengers leave the mail steamers at Adelaide to go overland by train .to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. If this railway were constructed, many passengers by the mail boats would take the train at Fremantle, because we know that many persons, as the result of a long voyage, are glad .to go overland from the first port of call.
– That is not our experience in Brisbane.
– I know that many passengers do land and travel overland. As to the stock trade, we have to remember that there is a very large consuming population at Coolgardie, where the people are unable to produce any foodstuff on the spot, .owing to climatic conditions. They are living in mineral country, where stock cannot be grown. Our present sources of supply are principally Queensland, North Australia, and South Australia. The present method of supply is this : Cattle are driven down from the borders of Queensland, and from North and South Australia till they strike the railway at Oodnadatta. Then they are shipped in cattle trucks to. Port Adelaide; then they are put on board ship, and taken to Fremantle ; whence they are trucked again and sent on to the goldfields, where they are slaughtered. In the case of cattle coming from eastern States, they are driven to the nearest port, or, perhaps, trucked down from “Gippsland to Melbourne, and thence shipped around to Western Australia.
– Cannot they drovestock in Western Australia?
-. - Some honorable senators mav not be aware of the fact that in South Australia there is a railway running to Oodnadatta, and although possibly they could drove the cattle all the way to Adelaide if they wished, they dp not do so. They put the cattle on to trucks as soon as they strike the railway line, and send them further south than Port Augusta. Mr. O’Connor, the late Engineer-in-Chief in Western Australia, paid some attention to this question, and pointed out that the stock consumed weekly on the gold-fields was 300 bullocks and 3,000 sheep. All this stock conies from distant States. Moreover all the vegetables, the butter, and other perishable goods come from the eastern States by steamer and railway. Honorable senators know how that kind of produce deteriorates in handling. In paragraph 31, at page 1 135 of the Parliamentary Papers for 1901-2, Mr. O’Connor says -
The assumption that there would be a considerable traffic’ in cattle and sheep on this railway, is based upon the fact that freight by rail for a bullock from Port Augusta to Adelaide (in full truck loads) would be about 16s. 6d., and the sea freight from there to Fremantle, I am informed, about £4, and the railage again from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie £1 3s. 6d., making in all £6, as compared with which the cost per bullock’ (in full truck loads) at Western Australian railway rates from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, would be about ,£3 4s. 6d., showing a saving of £2 15s. 6d.
– Surely, with the splendid country there is in Western Australia, the gold-fields will not be dependent on Queensland and South Australia for bullocks for more than a few years.
– I am assuming that the supplies come from the same sources as at present. I hope and believe that the country on the route of the proposed railway will be taken up for pastoral purposes. But if honorable senators attempt to destroy my argument by saying ‘that the whole of the country on the route is going to be taken up for stock, they give me a better argument by enabling me to show that the railway will be fed by settlement along the line.
– Surely, the immense area of fruitful country already taken up in Western Australia will be sufficient to feed all the people in that. State in the near future.
– Unfortunately, the honorable senator is not aware of the fact that while we have in the south-western part of the State, ample -agricultural and horti cultural country, we have no pastoral country. We have to go to the north-western portion of the State to find pastoral country, and that is as far from the gold-fields’ markets as Port Augusta itself. Cattle could only be brought from those districts by steamer, and then by rail to the gold-fields.
– Is there not dairying country?
– We shall have dairying country in time, but we have not got it yet. Our country is heavily timbered, and, as those honorable senators who know Gippsland are aware, a generation of settlers who break their hearts in clearing the country have to die out before dairying can be started. Now, I want to deal in detail with the reports of the EngineersinChief of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Western Australia.
– They did not know the line ; it is all conjecture.’
– These engineers have reputations at stake. They are not in the employment of the Western Australian Government. Some of them are in the employment of Governments which are hostile to this railway.
– They do not recommend the railway.
– They were not asked.
– I beg pardon, they were asked ; it was one of the questions put to them.
– Their estimate of the total cost is £4,559,000. That is the final report shown on page 1269 of the Parliamentary Papers for last session. In the first year- they estimated a deficiency of £68,168. Within ten years, having in view the same rate of progress as Australia has made within the last ten years, they anticipate an annual profit of £18,219. That is to say, it is anticipated that in the first year the loss to be shared by over 4,000,000 of people would be slightly over £68,000, which will diminish. I also wish to show that these engineers say that there will be a saving of two days in the delivery of the mails between the eastern and the western States. I think that Mr. O’Connor said that two and a half days would be saved.
– Sixty hours was Mr. O’Connor’s estimate.
– The journey from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide now occupies five days. Under this scheme the engineers estimate that the journey would last thirtysix hours. Further, the cost of maintenance of the present telegraph lines would be considerably reduced ; new tracts of pastoral country would be opened up; and recent discoveries of mineral country lead to the conclusion that there are rich mineral deposits in the proximity of the proposed railway.
– What about the gauge?
– The Western Australian Parliament have passed a Bill authorizing the widening of the existing line between Fremantle and Coolgardie to the same width as the transcontinental line, whatever that may be.
– Who is going to pay for widening the line between Adelaide and Port Augusta?
– That is a matter for the South Australian Government. Now I wish to come to the question of the quality of land. I do not intend to take Senator Styles, who has never seen it, as an authority, nor do I recognise the authority pf the editor of the Melbourne Age, who sits in his chair in his room, and knows nothing about it. I am going to take the word of a man who has been over the route, and who spent some months there. We have a report from Mr. John Muir, Inspector of Engineering Surveys, concerning the proposed railway. The report is dated 31st October, 1901, and is to be found on page 1141 of the Parliamentary Papers for 1901-2. Mr. Muir says-
I was led to believe, prior to starting thistrip, that the country to be traversed consisted almost entirely of a desert composed of sand hills and spinifex flats. This impression proved, however, to be perfectly erroneous, unless a . waterless tract of country, though well grassed andtimbered, can be called a desert.
– Notice the term, “ waterless tract of country.”
– Does the honorable senator expect that there are dams there?
– We expectto find water for the purposes of a railway, but Mr. Muir found none.
For the first. 100 miles from Kalgoorlie we passed through a salmori-gum forest. The timber is good and plentiful, and suitable for mining purposes. It would be impossiblefor me to. approximate the width of this forest, but it certainly cannot be less than fifty. miles wide, and for all I know to the, contrary it may be considerably more. Interspersed through this forest are numerous flats covered with grass, as well as with saltbush and other fodder shrubs. The soilis. of good quality, and the, growth of grass and., herbage luxuriant’. For the next 100 miles the nature of thecountry, varies somewhat, being composed of alternate belts of native oak, salmon-gum, and gimlet wood. Belts of spinifex and scrub are also crossed. At about 200 miles, rolling downs of limestone formation are met with covered with a luxuriant growth of grass, and occasionally a salt-bush flat. This country is lightly timbered with myaporum, and presents a beautiful park-like appearance. Close to the coast a narrow belt of mallee runs, and further inland small belts of myall and myaporum are met with. This country is also well grassed, and salt-bush and other feed bushes are plentiful. To the north, near the 31st parallel of latitude, the country is more open. In fact, from the South Australian border for 250 miles in a westerly direction, it is one large open plain of limestone formation, fairly well grassed throughout. Taken as a whole, this stretch of country is one of the finest I have seen in Australia.
That is the report of a gentleman who has visited every State in Australia, and knows most of the pastoral districts. He goes on -
With water - which doubtless could be obtained if properly prospected for - it is admirably adapted for grazing purposes, and will, without doubt, be taken up some day from end to end. Game - kangaroos, emus, and turkeys - is fairly plentiful in the vicinity of tine rock-holes. . . At the time of our visit this tract of country must have been at its driest, as the settlers at Eyre and Eucla informed me that it was the worst season they had experienced for the last twenty years. From our observations, it was quite evident that there had been a long dry spell extending over fully twelve months, I should think Still, the grass is sound and strong, growing for the most part to a height of twelve inches. Judging from the growth of grass and other vegetation on this country, it is very evident that there must be good falls of rain over it and at regular intervals; but the ground is so porous that the rain, as soon as it falls, percolates through the limestone.
As to the geographical formation, Mr.Muir says’
The country traversed is, on the whole, flat and uninteresting. There are no hills of any magnitude, no lakes,’ and very few water-courses. The height’ of the proposed starting point of the railway ( Kalgoorlie) is 1,240 feet above sea level, and from there to Cardinia, some seventy miles, there is a practically gradual rise of 300 feet. This is the highest point attained, and” from there onward until the South , Australian border is reached, fifty-five miles north of Eucla, there is an almost gradual fall, amounting in the aggregate to some goo feet. The. most irregular formation of the country occurs between the commencing point and the Goddard’s Creek, consisting of low diorite and ironstone ridges; with outcrops of granite sandstone, and quartz. This portion of the country is distinctively auriferous, and quartz outcropsshow in many places.
I may mention that the Western Australian Government spent £1,100 on the survey. There is another important aspect of the matter that has not been touched upon by Senator Styles and the Attorney-General. That is the question of defence. I venture to say that this railway, from the point of view of defence alone, is well worthy of the consideration of the Senate. Major - General Bevan Edwards has reported that for the efficiency of the defence of Australia, this railway is absolutely necessary.
– What did MajorGeneral Hutton say about it?
– I propose to quote what he said. It has been said that MajorGeneral Hutton has reported against the construction of this line, but as a matter of fact, he has reported in favour of its construction from a defence point of view. But he has in a subsequent report said that the railway is useless if we have not an army to carry over the railway. He has used these arguments to urge the Government to provide equipment for the Defence Force. At page 31 of his second annual report, it will be found that he said -
The’ security by land of Australia, as a whole, cannot moreover be considered assured without a complete intercommunication between the States, and especially between those vulnerable points on the long coast line of Australia, for which land defence is provided. It is to be hoped, therefore, that as soon as the complete organization and equipment of the military forces of the Commonwealth are determined upon, the direct communication by railway between Western Australia and the eastern States may be carried into effect.
In that Major-General Hutton has committed .himself to the construction of this railway, from a defence point of view.
– He flatly contradicted that afterwards.
– He has not contradicted it; what he has done has been to emphasize the necessity for equipping our Army properly. We now have our Army, and we ask that Major-General Hutton’s further recommendation, shall be carried out, and that is, that in order to make that army effective from a Federal point of view, it is necessary that this railway should be constructed.” I desire to draw the attention of honorable _ senators who have referred to the water difficulty, to the report by Mr. Castilla. The Western Australian Government realizes ‘ that the water problem must be solved, ‘ and when
Mr. Muir returned, it was at once arrangedthat a boring party should be sent out. The Western Australian Government was not going to put down bores every ten miles along the route of the line, until they knew whether they would ever be required, but what they have done is this: They have proved that in the particular part of the country which Mr. Muir speaks of as waterless, so far as a surplus supply is concerned, there is an underground supply to be obtained. I direct the attention of honorable senators to Mr. Castilla’s report, as this gentleman was in charge of the boring party which was sent out by the State Government of Western Australia. I quote from a parliamentary paper, printed and laid on the table of the Senate, on my motion -
Boring for water at site No. 2, 60 miles from the coast and 30 north of Madura, 7th September, 1902, and water was struck at a depth of 411 feet on 19th September, 1902. The total depth bored being 430 feet. The water here was excellent stock water, and even fit for human consumption.
– Is it suitable for locomotives?
– He does not say that’ it is suitable.
– I have not finished the quotation. I notice that some of those honorable senators who profess to have open minds on this question, are quick to put a construction upon any argument which is offered before its statement is completed. The report continues! -
This bore has since been equipped with a pump, boiler and engine, and a large Metter’s storage tank.
Where are they going to get the water for this boiler?
– T - That boiler will be worked at a low pressure whilst the locomotive boilers would be worked ‘at the very highest pressure.
– The water for. this boiler will be taken from the bore. This’ bore, has proved the existence of water fit’ for stock, and fit even for human consumption,, in country which Mr. Muir has described as waterless. Further on Mr. Castilla reports that at a place forty miles’ on the coast from Madura -
Boring operations were commenced January, 1903, and completed in January^, 1904. Water suitable for stock being struck at a depth of 2,101 feet, the flow being 70,000 gallons.
This officer further reports -
A very erroneous impression seems to prevail regarding this country. From conversations 1 have had with really well informed people since my return, I gather that it is supposed to be a barren, inhospitable sand waste. Quite the contrary is the case. There is very little sand comparatively. Just along the sea coast at Eyre Patch there is a narrow range of sand hills, about three miles wide on the low land plain, midway between the cliffs and the sea, but it ceases about 60 miles from Eyre Patch.
I fancy the unfavorable impression must have been taken from Eyre’s work. He hugged the sea coast the whole way, and saw nothing of the back country, and his most serious disaster, the murder of his mate by natives, occurred at the place since named after him.
These plains, upland and lowland, are dotted with blowholes. They are a very peculiar feature, acting as vents and drains. They emit a roaring noise, and blow in or out according to the wind. After heavy rains I have seen considerable streams Tunning into them. This explains why there is, despite of fair rainfalls, little surface water or streams in the country.
I ask honorable senators to weigh these facts. They are not theories. They are not the statements of newspaper editors, who have “imagined vain things” for political purposes. They are facts, compiled by men who have been over this country, whose life’s occupation it has been to construct railways, and prepare plans and estimates for the guidance of Government and Parliament. Many of these men have had a life-long experience of Australian conditions, and of the construction of railways in all the States. They have come together, and have given valuable information and estimates as to the cost of the construction of this line. I have submitted’ facts also from men who have a knowledge of survey work under Australian conditions. They know the nature of this country, and they stake- their reputation on the opinion they give as to the quality of the land which this railway will serve. I have submitted facts from the reports of boring parties who have struck good sound water in what has been described as a waterless country, on the route of this railway, and at one place water suitable for human consumption. They have proved that this country can be used for pastoral purposes. I ask whether, in view of these facts, honorable senators are prepared to remove the isolation from which Western Australia suffers. Is the Senate prepared to make Federation a real thing for Western Australia? Without this railway, Federation is a delusion and a sham for that State.
It means nothing to Western Australia without this railway. Victoria has reaped a golden harvest from Federation. In three years, as the result of Inter-State free-trade, brought about by Federation, the value of the exports of this State to other States of the Commonwealth has increased by £2,000,000 sterling. The State of Tasmania, when the fiscal barriers were thrown down, and owing to the existence of a drought in all the other States, with the exception of Victoria, also reaped a golden harvest as the result of Federation.
– For one year.
– Tasmania is still reaping a golden harvest from the butter which she sends into Western Australia, and which from this year henceforth she will be able to send into that State without any barrier.
– It has to pay higher rates on Western Australian railways.
– If it had not been that Senator Dobson, and those who think with him, raised the miserable Kyabram cry of economy, we should now have had an Inter-State Commission, which would have prevented differential rates not merely in Western Australia, but in every State of the Commonwealth. When Senator Dobson quotes the differential rates charged in Western Australia, can I not claim that the same miserable, pettifogging policy has always animated the railway management of every State in Australia? Have we not witnessed Victoria, by her railway rates, endeavouring to rob South Australian railways of the traffic which rightly belonged to them ? Have we not witnessed New South Wales endeavouring to rob Victoria of the traffic rightly belonging to that State? Western Australia has only followed the silly, suicidal example of the other States of the Commonwealth in this regard. I repeat that if it had not been that Senator Dobson, and those who think with him, raised the Kyabram cry of economy, and prevented the establishment of the Inter-State Commission, differential rates would exist no longer. It is my desire to destroy provincialism, whether ‘it exists in connexion with railway management or in the minds of honorable senators, who say that because this railway will not benefit their particular corner of Australia they will have none of it. They say, “ Because our State will reap no direct benefit from this undertaking we shall have none of it.” Is that going to be the test on public questions in this national Parliament? Are we to deal with questions in this national Parliament from the point of view of the benefit which will be derived by the particular States which we represent? I warn honorable senators that if this is the spirit in which they propose to deal with this proposal it will only bring about reprisals. If the people of one State are going to use the national Parliament to block the aspirations and desires of the people of another, such action must result in reprisals.
– If it is a good line, why does not Western Australia construct it herself?
– I am sorry if I have failed to show why Western Australia should not construct this line. I have done my best, but I do not expect anything different from Victoria.” I recognise that there are in Victoria two powerful press organs which cannot see anything outside the smoke of Melbourne.
– That. is incorrect and unfair.
– It is absolutely correct. A leading journal in Melbourne describes this as a proposal for a desert railway, and is prepared to impute all sorts of improper motives to the representatives of Western Australia. And when I see a newspaper so stoop, in order to defeat this proposal- by influencing public opinion, I feel every justification for saying that those organs cannot see beyond the smoke of Melbourne. I do hope and expect that in this National Parliament, we shall get a broader and more national view of those questions, and that members will not allow their opinion to be obscured by the press. I have lived in Melbourne for four years, and during the whole of that time, I have been subject to a torrent of misrepresentation from the two journals of Melbourne on this question. The people of Western Australia have been time after time, through their representatives, insulted by those newspapers, and I take this opportunity to make known my opinion of them. The House of Representatives has, at any rat* set an example which honorable senators might well follow. In that House, the State of Western Australia has a very small representation as compared with the representation of Victora and New South Wales, and I am well pleased to recognise that the representatives of the mother State set a good example, a large majority of them voting in favour of this proposal to obtain information. We do not ask Parliament to commit itself to the construction of the line. Are honorable senators afraid of inquiry? Are they afraid to give an opportunity to prove that there is justification for this railway? If honorable senators are not afraid of such a result, let them vote for the survey. What will the Bill mean in a pecuniary sense to Tasmania? The £20,000 will be spread over 4,000,000 of people, so that the proportion to be paid by the 180,000 inhabitants of Tasmania will amount to £800.
– We have not the money.
– Are the Tasmanian people prepared to refuse, for such a purpose, the sum of £800 to a State which is their best customer, and from which they reap the biggest advantage’ by Inter-State free-trade? Are the Tasmanian people prepared, for the sake of a beggarly £800, to show themselves so parochial as to refuse to allow a question of this kind to become national ? I hope for better things in the Senate. I believe there will be a majority willing to give Western Australia all that is asked, namely, a full inquiry. On the results of the inquiry, let the issue as to the construction of the railway rest.
– Senator Pearce is to be congratulated on the masterly statement which he has just placed before the Senate. However much we may differ from that honor.able senator, no one can accuse him of want of earnestness. He has put the case from his point of view ‘ in a very clear and convincing fashion. But we have to deal with actual facts and not with conjecture ; and we ought to take advantage of the experience which has been gained in the older and more populous States. It is idle to tell us that a certain man has travelled over - a portion of the proposed route, and has said that in his judgment a line may be constructed for a certain sum of money. As an old railway man, who has surveyed hundreds of miles of line in this country, I can say, without exaggeration, that the cost- of the proposed railway is terribly under-estimated.
– As an old railway contractor I support that statement.
– It is proposed, at most, to have what engineers call a flying survey ; that is a survey which means merely looking over the leading features of the country without regard to full details, and an expression of opinion - that is, the surveyor thinks - that a railway can be made for a certain sum of money. We have heard glowing accounts of what can be done on the proposed InterState line in the way of carriage of stock, and also in the way of the cultivation of adjoining land, and the conservation of water. But a glance at the Western Australian map shows that in some places the rainfall is only 6 inches per annum, and that even on the coast range it does not exceed 19 or 20 inches. Where will it be possible to get the water for the purposes of this railway? I lived in Riverina for many years, and built large reservoirs there ; and with a rainfall of 15 or 16 inches, the water lost, by evaporation during the summer time amounted to 1 inch per day. How much would be lost in reservoirs on the ;arid plains of Western Australia? The duration of a supply of water would be measured by days and nothing would be left but mud, unless a constant supply were “secured from some other source than the rainf all. As a matter of fact, those, who are advocating the scheme, at the same time condemn it. A pamphlet published by the authority of the Western Australian Government, containing a report prepared by Mr. John Gwynneth, who, amongst other qualifications, is an associate member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in London, :is therein stated to have had “ considerable experience in railway construction and “management in New South. Wales, Victoria, and Queensland,” and to hold “ the highest credentials from those ‘ with whom he has been associated in professional work.” From the statement of Mr. Gwynneth it would appear that there is not the slightest chance of the line paying. Even supposing we do’ not pay much attention to the reports of experts who have not been over the’ country, we must regulate our judgment by the experience gained in countries where there has been extensive railway construction. Senator Pearce appeared horrified when some honorable senators intimated that there are large areas of drifting sand and other difficulties to be encountered in constructing a railway along the route proposed. Even Mr. .Gwynneth recommends that the line, if constructed, should not follow the direct route which Sir John Forrest and others recommend, but should be taken to the south, and kept a moderately short distance from the coast. One advantage of this suggestion which Mr. ‘Gwynneth points out is that a railway at or near Eucla would give facili ties; for loading and unloading metals and sleepers, which could be taken inland and on to the railway works. Mr: Gwynneth points out that the route he suggests would go over better land, with a larger rainfall, ^whereas the. direct route is through a desert of sand. Mr. Gwynneth says that the northern route, for a distance of about 108 miles, would pass through “high drifting sand hills,” as described in the reports of Mr.. A. B. Moncrieff, Engineer-in-Chief of South Australia, and. Mr. J. B. Stewart, the Inspecting Surveyor .of that State. That evidence does not bear out the arguments of Senator Pearce, .but goes to show that, instead of splendid agricultural country, there is nothing but drifting sand .hills. Do honorable .senators, who talk about the carriage of stock, know anything about the question ? After a journey of i,x 00 miles over a desert railway tract, half of the cattle would arrive nearly dead, while the other half would be in such a state of fever that they would have to be turned into paddocks before they would-be fit for consumption. As to the water supply, Senator Pearce pointed out that one or two bores have, been put down along the- route, and there is no doubt that this railway will have to depend on an artificial system, of : supply.’ There are no rivers on this line, and no means of conserving water; and the’-latter -would be. a very difficult matter- with only a few inches of rainfall.
– “-That has been said against every trunk-line constructed in Australia. .’.!.’.
– Will Senator Dawson kindly explain Where?
– On the Longreach to Rockhampton line-
Senator Sir WILLIAM ZEAL.That, is going to the northern part of Australia, and citing a little instance which may in some measure support the honorable senator’s argument. Senator Dawson knows that Queensland is blessed with a great artesian supply, which is the source of the State’s ‘wealth ; but there are none of those great wells in Western Australia.
– How does the honorable senator know ?
– That fact is shown by the formation of the country. Western Australia is a comparatively low, desert country, with large sand plains, where the water, if it percolates, must be impregnated very largely with minerals. In Queensland, on the other hand, the water, which falls on high tablelands, as, at all events, of a good quality, such as cannot be found on the country between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. On this overland railway, in addition to the 625 miles of railway in South Australia, and the 470 miles in Western Australia, there would have to be reconstructed and relaid 225 miles of line between Adelaide and Port Augusta, and several hundred miles between Perth and Kalgoorlie. On the South Australian railway a portion of the line has a gauge of 5ft. 3m., while further on the gauge is 3ft. 6in. I should like to know how overland passengers will be able to proceed with despatch over a railway with several breaks of gauge. A man leaving Melbourne would commence his journey on a gauge of 5ft. 3in., but after he had passed through Adelaide he would get on to a 3ft. 6in. gauge. I also remind members of the Senate that to make a line capable of carrying heavy traffic at a high rate of speed it would have to be wholly relaid and re-metalled, at a huge expense. The lines between Melbourne and Bendigo and Melbourne and Ballarat are first-class lines, but, after forty years of working, trains now only travel at a speed of thirty miles an hour. It is, therefore, ridiculous to expect that trains could be run on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line at anything like that speed. Furthermore, I venture to express the opinion that, instead of the line costing £4,000,000, which is the estimate, it will probably, cost more nearly £10,000,000. Mr. Gwynneth, quoting Mr. J. C. Stewart, one of the inspecting surveyors of railways in South Australia, says that, in- addition to the heavy work, it will be necessary to provide 70,000 cubic yards of soil to prevent the cuttings and banks on the railway from being blown- away and drifting with the action of the wind. A nice agricultural country that ! In the Riverina district of New South Wales during the late drought drifting sand was blown and piled up against the fences so as to cover them up for distances of hundreds of miles, and now it is possible to drive over them without obstruction. Similarly in Western Australia, after a time of hot winds, it will be necessary to uncover and dig out this railway. Yet some honorable members have spoken as though persons are anxious to travel on this railway, and stock-owners are agitating to send their cattle by it. If a man comes -to me and says, “ I have a good thing,” I ask him, “Are you prepared to invest your money in it to prove your bona fides V Similarly, we might expect the people of Western Australia to say, “ The prospects of this line are excellent, and we are prepared to back our opinion by voting a sum of money for its construction.” What they are doing, however, is trying to impose upon their poorer neighbours. What interest have Tasmania or Queensland in this work that they should be asked to pay a portion of its cost? The expenditure of £20,000 on a- survey would hardly give information worthy of the slightest consideration. I hope that honorable senators will not be led away by sentiment, or the desire to avoid hurting the feelings of the representatives of Western Australia, into voting for a proposal which, in my opinion, is a delusion and a snare.
– I shall not speak very long. If the Bill is to be carried in opposition to my wishes, I shall accept my defeat with a good grace ; but I would not dare to give a vote on the second reading without expressing my opinions in regard to the proposal. If I could conscientiously vote for the second reading, I would do so with great pleasure, but my judgment tells me that I should not be right in doing so. £20,000 is not a very large sum, but, as an old and experienced contractor, who for thirty years of his life was engaged in enterprises of this character, I say that the survey could not be carried out for anything like that amount. I do not know that it could be made for £40,000. But this is not the time, when the States, and more especially Queensland, are suffering from extreme financial depression, to squander or throw away money. I was one of a firm of three who built the line from Port Augusta to Farina, a distance of 200 miles. The country through which that railway goes is very superior to that which would be traversed by the proposed line, being good pastoral country, whereas the bulk qf that through which the proposed line would pass is a desert, unoccupied by man or beast, notwithstanding the many years which have elapsed since white men settled in Australia. There is no part of Queensland, with the exception of barren ranges, such as the Croyden Ranges, and scrub country, which cannot be occupied except at great cost, which is not being used by squatters.
– What about the western parts of Queensland?
– Most of that land is being used. The rainfall of Queensland is good compared with that of the country through which the proposed line would pass. Port Augusta has a rainfall of only a few inches per annum.
– In Queensland we had eight years of continuous drought. The honorable senator knows all about it, because of the number of stock he then lost.
– I lost £30,000 in hard cash by the droughts in Queensland, but I say that, as a general rule, the rainfall in Queensland for the last thirty years has been good. The fact that the country through which the proposed line would pass is unoccupied is positive proof that it is a mere desert. Even when we were building the line from Port Augusta to Farina, the men were instructed to leave their barrows standing on end, and the bullock yokes were stuck up in the same way, to prevent them from being’ covered by sand before the morning. What is the use of forcing this proposal through the Federal Parliament ? It is not by doing wrong things that the Federation will make headway, but by encouraging what is reasonable and proper. The line which it was proposed to construct from Port Augusta to the Northern Territory would have been a thousand times better than that which is now contemplated, because a considerable area of the country along the former route is fairly habitable. If water were obtained by putting down bores along the line proposed to connect Kalgoorlie with Port Augusta., the chances are that it would be unfit for either stock or use in locomotives. Moreover, high-pressure engines would be required to bring it to the surface.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that stock will not drink the water obtained by means of bores ?
– They will not drink it if it is brackish.
– Does the honorable senator know) of any bores which yield brackish water?
– Certainly I do. I have put down half-a-dozen bores at Thurgoona, and have obtained only brackish water.
– The water obtained by means of artesian bores is of the very best quality for all purposes.
– The honorable senator does not know What he is talking about. The water which is obtainable between the surface and the artesian springs is almost invariably brackish.
– That is absolute moonshine.
– I put down the first bore in Australia, near Cunnamulla, upon a property owned by the company of which I am the chairman.
– Was brackish water only obtained in that case ?
– No ; but in order to reach the artesian water and bring it to the surface free from contact with the brackish water, which flows in from the intervening levels, pipes have to be sunk, and have to be proof against any intrusion of the brackish water, or otherwise the whole supply will be spoilt. The brackish water flows in between the artesian” springs and the surface. In 1883 I engaged the first man who put down an artesian bore in Australia. I know that Queensland is full of fresh water, and that if the bores are put down sufficiently deep good supplies can be obtained. If, however, the bores are not very deep, and the water does not rise to the surface, it is brackish and is not fit for stock.
– The stock seem to thrive on it.
– At Thurlgoona I put down two or three bores to a depth’ of 400 feet, and the water obtained would have poisoned a native cat. The construction of a railway _ for 1,100 miles through country which does not yield water fit for use in locomotives would be an undertaking of the greatest magnitude, presenting difficulties of which no one could conceive except those who have engaged in similar enterprises. A continuous service of trains would be required to carry water beyond the first fifty miles from the termini, and unless sidings were put down at every few miles, a double line of rails would have to be laid down. I speak with the knowledge of one who has been engaged in railway construction for thirty-five years, and I am sure that if a competent railway engineer, able to offer an unprejudiced opinion, were engaged to report upon the proposal, he would fully bear me out.
– According to the honorable senator’s argument, the railway from Maryborough to Bundaberg should never have been constructed. The country between the termini is absolutely poverty- stricken, but when the line reaches Bundaberg it enters a verv rich tract.
– I know that the country between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta is of the very poorest description, and that it would not pay to construct a line to traverse it. The cost, of building a broad-gauge railway would be greatly in excess of the estimate, and, furthermore, it must be remembered that all the railways in South Australia to the north of Terowie are built upon the narrow gauge of 3 feet 6 inches.
– Should we be able to secure in England the money necessary to enable us to carry out the work?
– The credit of Australia has not yet been quite exhausted, but if we were to carry out any such wild schemes as that now proposed, we should further injure our already damaged credit. There are plenty of .opportunities for the profitable employment of capital in this great country, and we should not do anything that would ‘have the effect of interfering with legitimate enterprises. If we constructed this railway we should be handicapping the people of Australia to a very serious extent. I declare, upon my honour, as a railway contractor who has some knowledge of the difficulties of construction, and as a squatter with some knowledge of country, that Hie proposed railway would not pay for the grease used on the wheels of the rolling-stock.
– Has the honorable senator ever been over the country? *
– I have been over part of it, and I know a good deal with regard to the experiences of those who have passed through it. The contractor for the construction of th-2 telegraph line via Eucla had to use camels in carrying out his work, and was obliged in the end to throw up his contract.
– But the telegraph line follows the coast by a route quite different from that along which the railway would be constructed.
– The gentleman, who was our engineer when we were building the Port Augusta line, states that the coal for the locomotives would’ have to be imported via Eucla, or’ the other harbor. If the country is so barren that it will not grow sufficient timber to supply fuel for the locomotives, what can we expect? In almost every country there is timber growing. But in this country the rainfall is so slight that timber will not grow. Would any sane contractor import coal for his locomotives to burn while he was constructing the railway if he could get wood along the route ? It would cost five times the money if he had to use coal for his locomotives.
– Take the railway from Townsville ,to Winton. There is no coalmine on the route, and timber is used for the locomotives.
– In Victoria wood is used on some of the railways. On the private line from Echuca to Deniliquin we have used wood all the time.
– Was wood used in Victoria before coal was discovered here?
– Certainly. A contractor would be mad to use coal if there were wood to be got along the line.
– Did not the Government consume Newcastle coal ?
– Newcastle coal must be used on a permanent line on account of the sparks which very often fly from an engine when it is heavily laden.
– That is all that this gentleman proposes here.
– If there were wood along the route he would not propose to bring coal there.
– On the maps it is marked as well-timbered county .
– Are they going to run a railway along the coast when they have steamers which will run at the rate of from eighteen to twenty knots an hour? Who ever heard of a railway being constructed to run in competition with steam traffic? In the eastern States the lines have been built through country which was occupied. The steam-ship companies would” not lose a jot by the construction of this overland line. . What passenger would go by a railway through a barren, droughty country ?
– The honorable senator has shares in the steam-ship companies.
– The interjection is very silly,, because while I have chartered many ships, I have never had an interest in a ship in my life. It would not interfere with the steam-ship companies if there were half-a-dozen railways to Kalgoorlie. I went to the library a little while ago to get the work written by my good friend, Sir John Forrest, on the exploration of this territory. The book has been lent, and therefore I cannot quote some exploration notes, which, I may mention, are very much opposed to this proposal. It is sometimes said that there was an understanding that this line should be constructed. .1 was a member of the Convention which framed the Constitution. I spoke at many meetings during the Federal campaign, and opposed this proposal from the beginning. When the press of Australia knew little about the country, I spoke against the project.
– Western Australia would not have joined the Federation, except on that understanding.
– There was no understanding of the kind, and as you, sir, know, the subject was never mentioned in the Convention. If the Premier of South Australia, and the Premier of Western Australia chose to put their heads together, and come to an understanding, that does not bind the Commonwealth. It is very patent to us now, however, that South Australia is not in favour of this project. Her public men know all about ,the territory to be traversed.
– Senator Pearce has upset that argument by quoting many things which have been said particularly by Sir Frederick Holder.
– Many things are said which are not true. The Commonwealth is not bound to spend money, even on a survey, but if any money is spent for that purpose it will bind us to go a step further. I should like a high official who is not under any obligation, except to state the truth, to make a report, without going over the country. It is an undertaking to go over the route.
– A man took his family and stock along the route from South Australia to Kalgoorlie.
– In that case, why does not Western Australia, which is a wealthy State, bring up. a report, and settle the controversy? It is absurd to compare this transcontinental line with any Inter-State railway, because in each case the latter was built through country which was occupied, and consequently there was no difficulty about its construction, nor was there any water competition. No railway in the world can compete with water competition. At the present moment we have been carting wool right from the head of the Darling down the whole length of that river up to Echuca, on the Murray - hundreds of miles - because 300 or 400 miles by rail would cost three times as much. Water communication can run rings round railway communication anywhere. If this railway would benefit Australia, or even if it would benefit Western Australia, I would vote for it. I know that there are parts of Western Australia that are suitable for agriculture, and I believe that the time will come when that State will export, instead of importing. But the country which would be traversed by this railway will not be brought under cultivation, if only on account of the absence of rain. There is not a stream or a water-course for hundreds of miles. There is no sign of a stream marked on any map.
– Nor is there on the Broken Hill line, but that pays.
– I grant that if there were mines along the line my mind might be changed. But I believe there are no mines.
– What about the Tarcoola Gold-fields ?
– Does the honorable senator know of any place where there is no possibility of finding mines ?
– There are prospectors in every part of Australia looking for mines, but none have been found in this tract of country. I should be only too glad if the land could be made valuable. I have invested money in Western Australia myself, and have lost it. I have been cured of that sort of thing, and I do not wish to rush the Commonwealth into dangerous speculations. We have had our troubles, and we ought to go slow and sure for a , time. When the drought is all over, five years hence, if the people of Western Australia cannot afford to pay for this survey themselves, they may come to us again, and we may be inclined to act generously towards them. I am an old railway contractor, and in my conscience, I believe that this line would be a terrible failure. There is no justification for the expenditure of money upon it in any shape or form. For these reasons, although I regret to have to do so, I must vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– Just as a penny-piece applied to the eye will keep out the light of the sun, so local interests can be used to obscure great national ones. I feel very much as though this matter were not being considered as it ought to be. Senator Fraser, who has just spoken, said, for instance, that in Western Australia they had to import a great deal of stuff from the other States. He used, that as evidence of the unproductive nature, of the country to be traversed by the railway. But if the honorable senator will cast his memory back some years, he will find that the position in the West to-day is exactly what it was in Victoria in the fifties. It is because people in the West find it profitable to produce gold, and to buy their products from other States, that they are importing so much. But that is no argument against this line. Indeed, it is considerable evidence of the poverty of arguments against the proposal before the -Senate.
– This land has been unsettled since the establishment .of Western Australia. Senator PULSFORD. - I draw attention to the fact that we hear very much about the character of the land that lies between the west and the east, which this railway would connect. As for the work which that line would do, one important work would be the speedy transit of our mails for’ Europe. I suppose that if this line were built, it would expedite the European mails. by two days between the east and west coasts. In addition, there is the extreme desirability of making the best possible arrangements for the defence of Australia. . I - should be quite willing to see this £20,600 included in the Defence Estimates, and paid for by all Australia on that basis. I strongly urge honorable senators’ to view this question, from’ a broad, national stand-point, and not from a narrow local one.
-Senator Pulsford has, curiously enough, “dealt with two’ -matters to which f intended to refer. From the time I came forward as a federalist, I have always encouraged the hope that the day is riot far- distant when a ^railway will run -between the east and west of Australia. I believe that those of us who are genuine federalists will admit that it is only a matter of time when this railway will ‘be constructed. At present we desire information, and if for £20,000 we can get it, whether it be favorable or unfavorable to the construction of the line, the money will be well spent. In these days of practical politics, let us see what £20,000 means. We have in Australia a population rather over, than under, 3,600,000 persons ; £20.000 represents 4,800,000 pence, so that this expenditure would involve a charge per capita on the people of the Commonwealth of ijd. That is to say, Senators Fraser, Zeal, and Best would together represent an outlay of 4d. on this work, and every nine persons would contribute is. towards it. I should like to know why tenders should not be called for this survey? I am satisfied that perfectly competent surveyors would be very glad to undertake this work for £20,000. Judging from the experience gained in Western Australia, the gold area of that State extends eastward, and there is no reason why we should not expect the discovery of other gold-fields beside that at Kalgoorlie. It is a singular fact that a country which is not good for agricultural purposes is commonly found to be good country for minerals. In connexion with another matter, to which reference has been made, I would ask what proof have we that we shall not find artesian water in this country ?
– Sir John Forrest has said that there are no minerals in this country.
- Sir John Forrest is a gentleman for whom I have a very great regard, but he has not been over the whole of this country. If, the information supplied as the. result df this survey is at all satisfactory, I would ask whether this railway could, not be constructed on the land-grant principle, with the necessary reservation that the Government should hereafter have the right to take it over. It seems to me that when we have an enormous area of land lying idle, we can very well afford to offer it for the construction of a railway. I am aware that many persons object to the, alienation of a single acre .of land. I am not one who holds that view, as I believe that. if land is alienated, a. good use will be made of it. Senator Pearce has informed us that the line from Southern Cross to .Coolgardie cost £1,500 per mile to construct. It is therefore clear that there would be no engineering difficulties to surmount, and at this rate, 1,000 miles of railway could be built for £^1,500,000. I have been trying to count heads, and, so far as I can learn, the Senate is about equally divided on this matter.
– If we could secure pairs for sick men, we should have a majority of one, and I am afraid we shall be defeated by unfair play.
– I am sorry to hear that. In New South Wales, in many speeches which I had the honour of delivering in the days gone by, when I sought election as a member of the Federal Convention, I advocated a railway between the eastern States and Western Australia. I went further, and advocated, in time, the construction of a railway from Adelaide to Port Darwin. My theory is that if Ave are ever to become a great nation, we must be in a position to send our troops from one part of the Continent to another. When it comes to a matter of national preservation, £20,000 to secure reliable information would be ‘money well spent. I have no doubt that the majority of honorable senators desire that kindly feeling should exist between the east and the west of Australia, and I have not the slightest hesitation in giving my support to this proposal.
). - I join with Senator Walker in the desire he has expressed that good feeling should continue to exist between the east and west of Australia. But this is a matter which must be viewed from a practical stand-point. It must be shown that by the expenditure of the sum proposed, we shall get information which will justify us in constructing this railway from the east to the west. It may be contended that by this expenditure we shall obtain information which will enable us to give an intelligent vote upon the proposal to construct the railway at some future time. But if we take the trouble to consider the population of Australia, and the nature of the country between Western Australia and the eastern States, it must be admitted that there is a very large area of country on the proposed route of this railway which is utterly valueless, and with our sparse population the amount of traffic which would pass over this line would be so small that if it were constructed within a reasonable number of years, it would in all probability only be a cause of annual expense, far in excess of any revenue which we might expect to derive from it. I have the greatest sympathy with our friends in Western Australia, but I feel that even the expenditure of this comparatively small sum of money can hardly be justified at the present time. If I had any idea that the result of an investigation of the character proposed would give the slightest scintilla of justification for the construction of a railway in the immediate future. I should give my vote in favour of the Bill. But, from all the information we have obtained up to the present, it does not appear that we would be able to obtain an adequate return from a railway of the kind within any reasonable period. It is estimated that a railway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie would cost £5,000,000 or £6,000,000. Whether the line would really cost such an amount I, personally, am unable to say, but I do regard the question from the financial standpoint. If anything like that cost were incurred, we should have to find from £150,000 to £200,000 per annum by way of interest.
– The line would not cost more than £2,000,000.
.- There would be peculiar difficulties in the construction of the railway, and large expenses would have to be incurred.
– The engineer’s estimate of cost is £4,000 per mile.
.- That means £4,400,000 for 1,100 miles of railway, and a large amount would have to be provided for interest, even if money could be obtained at as low a rate as 3 per cent.
– Why not have a survey ?
.- Is the honorable senator prepared to sanction the expenditure of a large sum for the construction of this railway by the Commonwealth’?
– At present, certainly not ; but we wish for information.
– What is the good of a survey unless there is some prospect of building the line within a reasonable time? I am sure that if Senator Walker saw that there would not be an adequate return for years to come, he would not be prepared to involve the Commonwealth in a large expenditure for the purpose of a survey.
– We ought to have the information.
– Have we not sufficient information to justify us in saying that a railway of the character will not pay for many years to come? The strongest argument in favour of the line is that advanced from the point of view of defence. But are honorable senators prepared to in- “ cur a large expenditure on that ground? A period of four days would. I presume, be required before troops could be moved across the Continent by means of a 3ft. 6in. railway. A railway of this character, if built at all, ought to be on the standard gauge, which would, of course, mean a much greater expenditure than that mentioned by Senator Pearce. As to the argument that the construction of a line would shorten the time occupied in the carriage of the mails from the old country, I feel sure that a line to Port Darwin would be of materially greater assistance. With the fullest desire to do what I can to assist the Western Australian people, there appears to me to be, at the present time, no justification for undertaking an expenditure of even £20,000, which would really mean an indication to our fellow citizens in the west that this Parliament was favorably disposed towards the construction of the line; and I do not believe that a majority of honorable senators are favorably disposed to the project. They cannot fail to see that the railway would entail very serious expenditure for many years. I believe that all of the States are in an impecunious position, and that they find their revenues insufficient for the expenditure. It is now a matter of great difficulty to obtain money in the old country, and I do not think that the Commonwealth would do one whit better than any of the States if it were desired to raise a large loan.
– We are not going to borrow money at present to construct the railway.
– But we are going to spend £20,000 to obtain information.
– How is it proposed to raise money with which to build the Federal Capital?
D- We shall deal with that question when it arises, and, in any case, the Federal Capital will not cost £5,000,000, or anything approaching that sum. I may say that, at first, I was in some difficulty as to what action I should take in regard to the present Bill. I was anxious to hear what could be said in its favour, and I am sorry to say that, as a result of my inquiries, I feel that I would not be justified at the present juncture in voting for an expenditure of money for the purposes of a survey of the line, which I do not believe will be constructed for many years to come.
– If I had had any doubt as to the attitude I should take in regard to this measure, my mind would have been entirely made up on listening to the deprecatory remarks of the Attorney-General. The honorable and learned gentleman’s speech so utterly damned the project with faint praise, . or with no praise at all, that in a fairly long parliamentary experience I never heard a measure submitted in terms of such deprecation. If it is not proper that this line should be constructed in the near future ; and the Attorney-General was good enough to tell us that he is not an advocate of its early construction–
– Of its immediate construction.
.- Then I say that, as a representative of the taxpayers, it is no part of our duty to vote for an expenditure which it is not intended to follow up, if the survey be favorable from a constructive stand-point. If it is not desirable to immediately set about the construction of the line, it is not desirable to initiate an expenditure, the limits of which no man can tell. One of my earliest experiences in voting money, as a Member of Parliament, was in connexion with a sum of . £15,000; and I remember that, before the work was completed, the outlay amounted to something like £160,000. Is there any human being who can possibly tell what will be the final limit of the expenditure now proposed ? It is quite possible that after the £20,000 has been voted, and the work entered upon, we shall be told that if we do not spend a few thousands more - probably some score of thousands more - the whole expenditure will be absolutely thrown away. We have heard to-night from Senator Pearce that the State which is most anxious for the construction of this line has great resources, and is immensely wealthy. The honorable senator tells us that people who have lived in Victoria and New South Wales are doing uncommonly well in Western Australia, and that they occasionally visit these less-favoured States in order to spend their money amongst their poor relations. Yet it is the pockets of the poor relations which have to be rifled for the purposes of this survey. Two-thirds of the population of the Commonwealth live in the eastern States, and, according to Senator Pearce. are the poor relations of those who live in the western State, though they are being called upon to find the money for this survey. I admit that only £20,000 is being asked for, but of that amount the State from which I come will have to find , £7,000. and Victoria a similar amount, while the balance will be contributed by the four other States in different sums, the State which is to get all the benefits from the expenditure oeing that which will contribute about the least, although, according to Senator Pearce, -if is the richest in the Commonwealth. If everything is to be subordinated to the question of communication for defence purposes, I might take a different view of this proposal ; but, so far, nothing in the Commonwealth has been subordinated to defence .purposes. Not very long ago there was a proposal to mount a solitary cannon in Fremantle for the defence of that port, and the Fremantle newspapers of January and February last show that the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce formed a deputation to urge that the cannon be not mounted, because, if fired, it might break some of the windows of the town. If the defence needs of Fremantle are so discounted by the representative body of traders of that port, it is little more than farcical to ask the Commonwealth to initiate an expenditure which will run into anything between’ £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 to defend it.
– There was no objection to mounting the gun, but it was thought that it should not foe mounted on a spot right in the middle of the town.
– It was, perhaps, unfortunate that Fremantle was not provided with a sufficient number of eminent hills to give a choice. Report after report by the late General Officer Commanding the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth has been laid on the table of the Senate, and of the other Chamber, all asserting, in the most emphatic manner possible, that the railway would be useless for defence purposes, because we have no force which could be transported over it. There is evidence that Major-General Hutton’s opinions are received with a great deal of credence by some honorable members, and I ask them, therefore, to accept that opinion. Moreover, there is no likelihood of the Commonwealth having a sufficiently large force to make transportation possible in the near future. We have no right to construct the line as a mere speculation. The present military organization does not permit the bringing together in the eastern States of a number of troops sufficient to defend Western Australia. No arrangement is contained in the Defence scheme which is being adopted by the Government, and for which we have made provision today in the Appropriation Bill, whereby the eastern States could be stripped of troops for the defence of the western State. If the line is to be of use for purposes of defence, we must enormously augment our military forces. But there appears to be no intention to do that. I say emphatically that we have not a man to spare now. There is only a skeleton force in any part of the Commonwealth. Take the great district of Newcastle, New South Wales, as a typical case. The troops provided for the defence of that district do not. number 800 men, while for the Botany and Woollongong districts not 500 men are provided. That being so, it is the wildest nonsense, and the most preposterous logic, to suggest that the railway will be of service in providing for the transport of troops to defend Western Australia. I may be accused of uttering sentiments which are unfederal
– Very unfederal The honorable senator is making Australia look very small.
– The honorable senator is always la’boriously endeavouring to achieve that result. To defend a great territory we must have a large number of troops. You cannot move an infinitesimal force from place to place in ordinary warfare, though you might do it with tin soldiers out of a child’s toy box. Until the Commonwealth is prepared to pay for an adequate defence force, it is useless to speak of spending £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 on a railway for the transport of troops which do not exist.
– It would be better to spend the money in buying fighting ships.
– Very much better. Not only are we to be put to the cost of constructing the railway, but there will be an annual loss on this white elephant, I might almost say, this lunacy party’s line. If the money could be borrowed at per cent., which we know is impossible at the present time-
– New Zealand is paying more than 4 per cent, at the present moment.
– The cost of raising a loan, together with brokerage, interest in advance, and other charges, makes it impossible to borrow money for less than 4 per cent. The policy of the Commonwealth Parliament, however, has been to prevent borrowing.
– To prevent borrowing for the erection of post offices and the carrying out of similar works, which should be provided for out of revenue.
– No one who. looks at the figures will imagine that the annual deficit on the working of the line will foe a penny less than £120,000. Of course Senator Pulsford will say that
I am not acting in accordance with the true Federal spirit, when I point out that the State which sends me here would have to find £40,000 per annum to make up the deficit on a line of railway which every one who has spoken admits is not likely to earn any revenue from the stand-point of goods traffic. We know that there is absolutely no Inter-State goods traffic by railway. There is none between Adelaide and Melbourne’ or between Melbourne and Sydney, and there is absolutely none between Sydney and Brisbane.
– They are going to carry fat bullocks by this line.
.- We have been told by one honorable senator that this line will earn revenue by carrying fat stock. Another, enthusiast has informed us that the desert is such a land of Beulah that somebody with his wife and small children has travelled across it with his horned stock, horses, sheep, pigs, ‘and poultry, without losing a head after striking the beautiful and prosperous country that lies to the west of Port Augusta. These enthusiastic utterances would be admirable upon the hustings ; but they are simply thrown away when addressed to a man who has a sense of his responsibility, in the matter of hard cash, to the people of the community.
– Does the honorable senator say that the statement is untrue?
.- I say that the two statements cannot be equally valuable. If the country through which this line is to pass is so beautiful that, as the man who paraphrased Scripture said, “ The children of Israel with their horses and their flocks and their little ones “ could cross it without losing a head of stock, it is obvious that the line would not earn money by carrying fat stock. Fat stock would grow fatter and more valuable the further they travelled over this delectable country - a country so delectable that I believe even the rabbits have fought shy of it. I understand that it does not carry one goat to the square mile, one blackfellow to twenty square miles, or a rabbit to the acre.
– Rabbits cannot live without water.
– Nor do I think that human beings can, unless they are to practise some new form of prohibition.
– It may be interesting for the honorable senator to learn that some- 13 l 2 thing li’ke £[100,000 is being spent -in erecting rabbit-proof fencing on the South Australian borders, in order that the pest may be kept out of Western Australia.
.- I did not know of that ; but what I do know is that small fortunes have been made in certain cases by persons who have erected rabbitproof fences at the expense of the taxpayer, who has been what is commonly known as sweated for the purpose of political jobs in this respect. I should feel it my duty to vote for a line which actually involved true Commonwealth interests. A line that would be a service to the whole Commonwealth would be one to which I should be very much more disposed to give an enthusiastic support than a strong opposition. But, if we begin- with the northern capital of Queensland, we find that a jailway has been built by the State from Brisbane to the New South Wales border; that New South Wales has built a railway, on which she is losing £[60,000 a year, between the Queensland border and Sydney ; that she has also built a line of railway, something like 400 miles in length, from Sydney to the Victorian border; that the Victorian Government have built” their line of railway, some 176 miles in length, from the New South Wales border to the capital where we are now happily placed, and from the capital to the -South Australian border. Then again, South Australia has taken up her burden and built her line from the Victorian border to Adelaide. Now we are suddenly asked by the goldenshored State to pay not only for the building of this line, but for the survey. We are asked to pay even for the promoters’ fees of a line that will admittedly benefit only Western Australia. I cannot conceive that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to pay for the construction of a local line designed to serve local interests. It cannot be advanced for one instant that the construction of this line would be’ attended by the smallest advantage to Queensland ; that it would be of the most remote advantage to New South Wales, or of the slightest interest to any one in Victoria. Although it might have some remote advantages of a very minor character for South Australia, the whole argument that we have heard is that it would be of advantage to Western Australia. I am prepared to admit that for the sake of argument, although I think I shall be able to show that the prospective advantages are very infinitesimal. It cannot be the duty of the
Commonwealth as a whole to laboriously and profligately spend money for the benefit of only one portion of it.
– Would that be a profligate expenditure ?
– It might be. I recollect a case which occurred in a State not many hundred miles away from here, where a dispute had been going on for I do not know how long, relative to the erection of a lock-up in a country town. This town, like a. good many others, was of a straggling character. One portion existed at a certain point ; then there was a kind of a hiatus, and after passing over a distance of three-quarters of a mile, the rest of the town was to be found. There were many deputations to the Government as to where the lock-up should be placed, and finally a Government official was sent to make inquiries and report. As might, have been expected, he interviewed the mayor of this little township. He said to him, “ I want you really to tell me what, in your opinion, would 1« the most suitable site.” “ Well, look here,” said the mayor, “ it don’t matter twopence where you put the lock-up, as long as you spend the money in the town.” I think there is a moral in that simple story. It does not matter twopence whether we build this railway or not, as long as we spend the money on the survey. That is the position which is presented to us.
– Oh !
.- The honorable senator emits a kind of wail or moan indicative of great suffering. I appeal to the honorable senator as one whose sense of fairness I respect, to say whether he can find in the speech delivered by the Attorney-General, in moving the second reading of the Bill, one solitary excuse for the expenditure that we are asked to incur.
– But that may not justify the expression which the honorable senator just used.
– Perhaps not. I may be wrong, but I have expressed the opinion which has been forced upon me. The one great thing to be achieved at the present time is the survey, perhaps for some ulterior purpose not entirely unconnected with a future general election. Australia has been pretty well exploited, and we know that wherever the land has offered a chance for a man to make a home, or to raise a crop, it has been taken up with fair promptitude. If the tract of country between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta is such a land of Beulah, as has been represented, why has it not been settled long before this? The very mention of the name of Kalgoorlie points a moral, and adorns a tale. Not so many years ago, Coolgardie was the pivot of the Western Australian gold-fields, but the bottom fell out of that field, and Kalgoorlie came to the front.
– Coolgardie is still the second largest and most prosperous town upon the gold-fields.
.- It may be the second in importance; but it had to take second place, because its early promise was not fulfilled. My moral is that it is a precarious thing to spend a large sum of of money upon the construction of a railway merely ,to reach a mining centre. We do not know from one month to another what will be the outcome of mining ventures. It must be remembered that the more successful mining development is, the more quickly the resources exploited will become exhausted. Farming operations bring about opposite results. The more the soil is cultivated,, and the greater the extent to which Nature is subdued, the more valuable the land will become.
– Wonderful !
– There is nothing wonderful about it ; but it is as well that the truth should be told when a proposal is submitted for the construction of a railway to reach a mining settlement.
– Then, why do the people of New South Wales consent to the impoverishment of the Newcastle district?
– The honorable senator is not doing justice to his wellknown intelligence. If he had exercised his intellect, he would have been able to see the great difference between following the more or less narrow leads of a goldfield, and seeking to win mineral wealth which extends over thousands of squaremiles.
– In either case, the amount of wealth is being reduced by mining operations.
.- I fully appreciate my honorable friend’s enthusiasm for the gold-fields of Western Australia, but he must see that there is no possible comparison between the means of transit required to convey ounces of gold, and those needed for the conveyance of the millions of tons of coal won from coal mines, such as those at Newcastle. Having regard to the manner in which all the available lands of the Commonwealth have been taken up for the purposes of cultivation, or pastoral occupation, how is it that over the wide range of country, extending between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, there are as far as we know, no human settlements? Even the blackfellows cannot exist there. Senator Walker has stated that where the land is unsuitable for agricultural or pastoral purposes, it is likely to prove rich in minerals. I do not suppose, however, that, in his capacity as one of the leading financiers within the limits of the Commonwealth, he would ever dream of making an advance of public or private funds upon such lands on the off-chance that neath the wilderness of shifting sands, some mineral products might be found. My honorable friend, in his splendid Federal enthusiasm, has, I think, rather given himself away. We know that there are thousands and thousands of miles of desert sands in Arabia, and in the Sahara; but we have not heard of any proposal to spend millions of money in constructing railways to traverse these wastes upon the chance that valuable minerals might be found. No one appreciates more than I do the kindly enthusiasm and Federal devotion evinced by Senator Walker; but when it comes to spending the hard cash of the taxpayer upon wild-goose propositions, I cannot follow him. Would my honorable friend in his position as a director of more than one of our greatest monetary institutions be prepared to advance even one penny per acre upon the land that is to be traversed by the railway ? We are told that at one side of this 1,100-mile track there is something like 400 miles of railway upon the 3ft. 6in. gauge, whilst there is a similar length at the other end. Does any one suppose for amoment that it would be possible to usefully operate a 3ft. 6in. line for such a long distance as that contemplated ? I have, upon many occasions, travelled over the very excellent 3ft. 6in. lines of Queensland, but no one in his senses would care to travel over such lines at nighttime.
– The Kalgoorlie ex press runs every night.
.- I know that the space allotted to sleepers in narrowgauge carriages is so limited that when the conductor comes along the passage he can scarcely avoid bumping against the shoulders of the reclining passengers.
– The sleeping-cars on the Kalgoorlie line are far more comfortable than those used on the New South Wales railways.
– I am delighted to hear it. I am surprised that the State which can afford to provide such splendid rolling-stock should consider it, necessary to ask its poor relations in the eastern States, who have to put up with such inferior accommodation, to defray the cost of the survey of the proposed line. It is absolutely absurd to propose to have a line of 2,000 miles or more in length, except with the standard gauge.
– Between what points does the honorable senator mean ? The distance between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta is only 1,100 miles.
– I mean between the end of the 5ft. 3m. line in South Australia and Fremantle.
– But even then it is not 2,000 miles long.
– It is so near 2,000 miles long that we need not quarrel over the distance. I have not been pretending to occupy time with trifling details. I have been speaking rather by and large, as the sailors say.
– The honorable senator has not inquired into the subject at all.
– My honorable friend smiles when he says something which, if it were accurate, would be discourteous. I am sure that he would prefer to be accurate rather than discourteous.
– I was smiling at the “by and large” expression.
.- I feel that I am doing my duty in opposing this project.
– I hope that this spasm of economy will hold the honorable senator fast until we have done with the bush capital.
.- Thatisanother story. I do not think it is quite fair that I should be girded at in this manner, seeing that I have almost gone out of my way to give a pair. If, in my speech, I have shown a distinct opposition, I have not by my pair evinced the least possible element of partisanship.
– In that respect the honorable senator’s conduct is in startling contrast with that of others.
.- I do not wish to draw comparisons, and I would prefer not to be made the subject of them. In speaking as I have done, I have run the risk
– I am quite sure that Senator Neild will not take our very mild interjections in a personal sense.’ We recognise and give him credit for his fairness in granting a pair, and his straight-out opposition to the scheme we can understand and appreciate as that of an honest opponent. I am sorry to say that some honorable senators are not treating this question in the liberal spirit which is usual in the Senate. I have never known a pair to be refused to an honorable senator when he was on a sick bed until this occasion, so that it is a unique event in our history. There should be no such strenuous opposition to a proposal of this kind, when it is remembered that it is simply one for the spending of a paltry £20,000 on an inquiry which will enable us to say whether this great national work is justifiable or not. This paltry sum is denied to a- State which undoubtedly expects treatment more in harmony with the high-sounding sentiments which were expressed in pre-Federal days. When we contrast the finely-rounded periods of the ardent federalists of those days with the utterances of this evening, we must come to the conclusion that there is a tremendous f allingoff in the Federal spirit. There can be no gainsaying the fact that Western Australia was led to believe, by every sign it could possibly interpret, that the eastern States were undoubtedly friendly, and that some of them were pledged up to the hilt to assist in the building of this railway.
– The honorable senator would not call Sir Frederick Holder “ every sign” ?
– I do not consider that Sir Frederick Holder, the Premier at that time, was speaking for every statesman in Australia. We were told
– What is the date of that?
– July, 1900.
– The Queensland referendum had not been taken at that date.
– The other States had taken their referenda, and Federation was practically a foregone conclusion, except in regard to Western Australia, which, as I have said, was a great bar to the accomplishment of a “ united Australia” - that nice, high-sounding phrase of which we heard so much at the time. The following is the statement which Senator Symon made: -
Federation must inevitably give to Western Australia, at a very early date, the transcontinental railway, upon which your and our hearts are set. That will be one outward and visible. link to join Western Australia with the rest of the Federation. In my belief, the acceptance of the Commonwealth Bill by Western Australia will mean the speedy inauguration of that work.
There is no doubt as to the sentiments expressed by Senator Symon. There .is nothing indefinite in his statement. Everything is clear and to the point. I am pleased that to-night the honorable and learned senator is assisting in an honorable and straightforward way to carry his promise into effect. I dp not wish it to be thought that only the South Australian public men pledged themselves to this work prior to Federation.
– “One continent one people” was the cry at that time.
– Yes “ one continent, one flag “ was the cry ; but it is quite the other way about to-day.
– Hear, hear; no State has shown that more than Western Australia.
– I am sorry that Senator Keating, who then did so much’ for Federation, is taking the contrary course on this occasion.
– Western Australia is the one State that has not played the Federal game.
– I do not know of any respect in which Western Australia has deceived the other States, or has made any promises that have not been carried out. I now wish to read an extract from a speech made by a gentleman who, from his public “position, undoubtedly represented Victoria in respect of Federation. He was one of the three gentlemen who went to England to assist in getting the Commonwealth Bill put through the Imperial Parliament. Mr. Alfred Deakin is the Victorian statesman to whom I refer. On his return from the old country, he was met by a deputation at Albany, and he addressed them in the following terms : -
He had thought special concessions were necessary before Western Australia could join the Federation.
– It was Mr. Deakin who suggested the difference with regard to Customs duties for five years for the benefit of Western Australia.
– Every one who had any knowledge of public affairs knew perfectly well that unless Western Australia : received some financial consideration in that respect she could not join the Federation.
And after all, it was only money of her own that she wished to retain for a certain period. Mr. Deakin proceeded - . and special provision had been made to meet her case. If the delegates from Western Australia had put forward at the Convention any other special terms they would have been granted’.
In other words, had we insisted upon the transcontinental railway being provided for in the Federal Constitution, it would have been granted.
– I say it would not, and I was one of the members of the Convention.
– Mr. Deakin was also a delegate - perhaps the most prominent representative of Victoria in the Convention.
– He spoke for himself.
– He spoke also for other gentlemen who were delegates.
– - Nonsense !
– There is no nonsense about Mr. Deakin’s statement that - if the delegates from Western Australia had put forward at the Convention any other special terms they would have been granted.
Mr. Henry, of Tasmania, was present at Albany on that occasion, and, as showing what he thought of the feeling which prevailed in Tasmania, I may remark that Mr. Henry is reported in the newspaper from which I have taken this report to have said “Hear, hear” to Mr. Deakin’s statement.
– Did he “ hear, hear “ the statement that the Commonwealth would build this line of railway?
– He applauded the statement that if Western Australia had put forward any other special terms they would have been granted.
– That is a figure of speech.
– Mr. Henry is a reasonable man, and he would not look upon this as a reasonable proposal.
- Mr. Deakin further said : -
It had been urged as an argument against Federation that the people of the Eastern States wished to exploit Western Australia for their own benefit. There need be no misapprehension on that score. He had had private conversations with the representatives of the various Colonies, and it had been agreed that the affairs of Western Australia would require careful management, and the opinion was expressed that Western Australia practically severed from the other Colonies, would receive the best attention of the Federal Parliament.
– So it has.
– There is not sufficient generosity upon the part of honorable members opposite to grant a pair to Senator Findley, who at the present time is confined to his bed by reason of illness. At the conclusion of the meeting to which I have alluded, Mr. Deakin stated in reply to a question that Western Australia would secure the railway if she joined the Federation.
– Was Mr. Deakin a member of the Commonwealth Government when he made that statement, or did he speak merely as a private individual ?
– A little while ago we were informed that the public men of South Australia alone were pledged to support the construction of this line. When I show - as I have done - that the most prominent Federalist in Victoria was similarly committed to the undertaking on behalf of this State, Senator Zeal wishes to repudiate it.
– We are not going to follow Mr. Deakin when we do not consider that he is right.
– The honorable senator proposes to cast a selfish vote. If this Bill involved the expenditure of £4,000,000 in the construction of a railway to Western Australia, I could understand the opposition which is being offered to it. Mr. Deakin stated -
Western Australia would secure the railway if she joined the Federation. The question was one of national policy, and, personally, he advocated the construction of that railway at the earliest possible moment. For years that railway probably would not pay -
That fact was clearly recognised from the beginning. Surely if there be any virtue in the word of a public man we should be able to accept Mr. Deakin’s statement as an authoritative one. Upon the occasion to which I refer that gentleman was representing Victoria, and indeed the whole of the Commonwealth, inasmuch as he was returning from the old country, which he had visited as a representative of Australia.
– He was nothing of the kind. He was never delegated as a Commonwealth representative to speak at Albany. The only authority which he had was to speak in London.
- Mr. Deakin is a very cautious gentleman, who is not likely to go out of his way to promise anything which would be very difficult of fulfilment.
– Then why did the honorable member’s party turn him out of office?
– Senator Zeal is perfectly aware that the Labour Party did not turn him out of office. Mr. Deakin continued -
For years probably that railway would not pay, but he believed the State of Western Australia would be connected by rail with the other States just as the State of British Columbia had been connected with the other States of Canada.
– Did the Dominion Government build the railway to British Columbia ?
– We are not debating the question of who should build this line.
– Why does not the honorable member find a private company who is willing to construct it?
– Some time ago, when the honorable and learned senator was inquiring into the means by which better communication could be secured with Tasmania, he was not particular as to whether his object was achieved by means of State aid or private enterprise.
– Before this debate has concluded I shall show how much Western Australia contributes towards that service.
– There is no doubt that she does contribute towards it.
– How much?
– I travelled to Tasmania a few weeks ago, and I quickly ascertained that I was on board a subsidized steamer.
– Western Australia contributes only £35 annually to that service.
– But we have assisted Tasmania to a much greater extent in other directions.
– The Government of Western Australia has a very frugal mind.
– I do not know upon what foundation that statement rests, having in mind the large public works which have been carried out in Western Australia, despite its small population. I think that I am quite within the mark when I say that in no part of the world has 250,000 people incurred such great responsibilities in opening up the interior of the country as have the people of Western Australia. Upon the Coolgardie water scheme alone the sum of £3,000,000 was expended.
– Does the honorable senator think that that fact has any relevance to the Bill which is under discussion ?
– I claim that the people of Western Australia have shown their faith in the resources of that State. If we do not continue to develop our territory we might as well hand it over to the aborigines. If we are to leay,e that untouched we shall be of very little more use in the country than the race which we have dispossessed. If Australia is to be developed it can only be done by the cooperation of th’e whole of the people in works of this kind. It is quite unreasonable to expect a small population of 250,000 to undertake a gigantic national work of this kind. If the spirit which has been displayed by some honorable senators to-night is to be the spirit in which Federal matters generally will be dealt with, our legislation will riot do us credit. What has become of the Federal spirit and the higher political plane of which we heard so much when Federation was being advocated ? I make bold to say that the representatives of Western Australia have exhibited no narrow provincial spirit in the votes which they hav’e cast in this Chamber. I admit the charge made with respect to the special Tariff of Western Australia, but the financial exigencies of the State at the time of Federation made it absolutely necessary that we should have some such guarantee that we should be able to carry on. That special Tariff is practically a thing of the past now, and when all is said and done it cannot be contended that the people of the other States have suffered from it. in any way. Its effect has been merely th’e taking of money out of one pocket and putting it into another in Western Australia. But though the other States have not suffered from the Western Australian Tariff, there can be no doubt that that State has provided a great market for their products. The best market Tasmania has to-day is Western Australia, and Senator Keating will not be acting in the best interest of the State which he represents if he takes any action calculated to arouse a feeling of jealousy between the people of Western Australia and Tasmania. It should not be forgotten that the game which some honorable senators are disposed to play on this occasion is one at which two can play. If this narrow selfish spirit is exhibited, Wes tern Australia may also require to put it into practice in order to secure justice.
– The honorable senator should bear in mind that the other States have never asked from Western Australia what that State is now asking from them.
– Tasmania has asked us to subsidize cable lines to that State, and we are doing so at the present time in connexion with steam-ships.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The figures which have been quoted prove what I say. In Western Australia we are spending £20,000 a year extra on sugar duties, in order to subsidize the sugar industry of Queensland. Western Australia would not need to spend that money if she had remained without tHe Federation: If we had remained out we could have kept our money to ourselves, and we might, within a reasonable time, have been able to build this railway.
– The finances of Western Australia are better under Federation than they ever were before.
– Nothing of the kind ; our revenue is decreasing every year.
– Of course, that is under the sliding Tariff.
– Whatever increase of revenue we have secured has been due to a period of prosperity, which in the Commonwealth has been confined to Western Australia, and it has not been due to Federal legislation. Western Australian representatives have shown that they are prepared to treat the other States in a generous spirit, and it is in extremely bad taste that representatives of other States should exhibit such intolerable opposition to this measure involving the expenditure of the paltry sum of £20,000. Pairs have been refused to honorable senators who are unable to be present, and we could expect no more strenuous opposition if the Senate were now being asked to vote the money required for the construction of the railway.
– Does the honorable senator wish to have the matter of pairs for sick men debated? If he does we can oblige him.
– Order. It is not in order to debate the question of pairs.
– I do not wish to debate the question, but I can assure honorable senators that, prior to this evening, there has actually been touting for votes against this measure.
– I rise to a point of order. ‘ I wish to know whether the honorable senator is in order in stating that there has been touting for votes in the Senate in connexion with this measure.
– I do not think that it is a proper statement to make. I ask Senator de Largie to confine his remarks to the second reading of the Bill.
– I withdraw the statement to which exception has been taken. It would never have been made had it not been for the taunt uttered by Senator Givens. If the question before the Senate involved the expenditure of some millions of money for the construction of this railway, I could understand the opposition which has been exhibited, but such opposition to a paltry vote of £20,000 to secure information is very unfair. Many representatives of the other States know very little about Western Australia, and States at a great distance from the Seat of Government will always be under considerable disabilities in this respect. I ask honorable senators not to allow their minds to be prejudiced by a press which has shown itself unfair to distant States in connexion with most matters. I can assure the Senate that this is not the only time that this Bill will come before them if it is not passed on this occasion. If Western Australia is to remain a part of the Federation, and is to gain any tangible benefit from it, it must be connected with the eastern States by rail. I defy any one to say that Western Australia can hope to derive the slightest benefit from Federation in any other way. Without this railway Federation, so far as Western Australia is concerned, must continue to be a farce.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question put, and division called for.
Several Honorable Senators. - Withdraw.
– By leave, I will withdraw my call for a division.
– I object.
-As objection is taken, the division must proceed.
– Under the circumstances, I must vote with the “ ayes.”
The Senate divided -
Ayes … … … 16
Noes … … … 12
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the resumption of the debate be made an Order of the Day for this day.
– Make the resumption of the debate for half-past four o’clock.
– T move -
That the following words be added : “ at four o’clock p.m.”
We have devoted many hours to the consideration of the Kalgoorlie- Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, and I think that, before the debate is resumed on the second reading, there is other business which might take precedence. I do not know whether or not the Government are anxious to go on with the measure - to place it in the forefront of the business.
– Certainly we are.
– I do not think that the amendment is quite in order. A sessional order fixes the hour of meeting at half-past ten o’clock, unless otherwise ordered; and the Attorney-General has moved that the resumption of the debate be an Order of the Day for this day. I do not think that an amendment can be moved unless it proposes a future date.
– Half-past four o’clock is a future date.
– No, it is not.
– Yes, it is.
– When I am giving a ruling, honorable senators ought to keep order and listen. I was saying that a proper amendment would be to fix the resumption of the debate for a future date.
– Half-past four o’clock is a future date.
– It is not a future date.
– Yes, it is.
– Honorable senators are not in order in interjecting when I am giving aruling, and if honorable senators will not obey the Standing Orders, I shall have to name them. There is a standing order which says that honorable senators must maintain silence when a ruling is being given, and I will not be interrupted. I was saying that a proper amendment would be to move that the resumption of the debate be made an order, not for another hour, but for some future day ; and if the honorable senator will alter his amendment, and propose, for instance, Friday next, it would be in order. ..
Senator TURLEY (Queensland).- As my amendment has been ruled out of order, I now move -
That the motion he amended by leaving out the words “ this day,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “Wednesday next.”
This is a matter in which I am very much interested, because of the manner in which the people of the State which I represent are interested in it, but I have not yet had an opportunity to express the opinions which I believe are held by a large majority of them in regard to it. There is other business which the Senate can transact when it meets at a later hour to-day. I desire the postponement of this matter until we can read the report of to-night’s debate in Hansard, because I wish to fully understand the arguments for and against the proposal. It is only fair that I and other honorable senators who have not made up their minds on the question should be able to read what has been said, so that we may be able to give an intelligent vote, and one which we can afterwards justify to our electors. It is only fair, seeing that those who are in favour of the measure have succeeded in carrying the adjournment of the debate, that honorable senators who are in my position should be given a proper opportunity to fully inform their minds on the subject before dealing with it again.
– Does the honorable senator want further time to think ?
– Not on the information contained in the papers which have been placed before me, but it was impossible for’ me to remain in the chamber during the whole of the discussion, and therefore, I wish to read the Hansard report of the speeches in order to acquaint myself with whatever fresh facts and arguments may have been advanced by honorable senators who support the proposal.
– Did not Senator Pearce make the matter perfectly clear?
– I may be mistaken, but I think that I have read very similar remarks in the report of a debate which occurred in another place, and I should like, therefore, to peruse the speech of Senator Pearce in order, by comparing it with that report, to disabuse my mind of what may be a wrong impression.
– It is very difficult to hear the honorable senator, because of the conversation in the chamber.
– It is very difficult to keep order. I ask honorable senators not to converse in loud tones.
– If the debate is adjourned only until a later hour of the day, I shall not be acquainted with what has been said by the representatives of Western Australia and others in favour of the proposal. I ask honorable senators who were not present during the whole of the time that Senator Pearce was speaking if they are fully seized of his facts and arguments.
– Senator Keating, was at the time taking voluminous notes at the table, with the object, I suppose, of either supporting or controverting the statements of Senator Pearce, though I do not know- which.
– I ask Senator Turley to confine his remarks to the amendment.
– I am endeavouring to give reasons why in my opinion it is absolutely necessary in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth that this debate should be adjourned until Wednesday next. I have moved the amendment, because I wish to have an opportunity to make myself acquainted with arguments and facts that have been advanced during my absence from the Chamber. I have an absolutely open mind, so far as this question is concerned, and I think it is only reasonable that I should be given an opportunity to read in cold print the additional facts which have been adduced by Senator Pearce and others in favour of this Bill before I am called upon to cast my vote. I wish to arrive at an unbiased decision. I am sure that the representatives of Western Australia would be the last to argue that for the reason that I have been returned to this Chamber by a State whose people, because of their geographical position, or of ignorance of the true facts, are said to be prejudiced against this proposal, I should give a biased, vote. Senator Pearce and others say, “All that we ask is that justice shall be done to Western Australia.” I desire an opportunity to calmly and carefully consider the facts in order that I may give an unbiased vote. Surely honorable senators would not deny that right to me? I have not made up my mind upon the question. I have read sundry reports, and it is because of the possibility of a bias that may have been created in my mind by a perusal of those reports, as well as of the articles which have appeared from time to time in the Age and the Argus, that I wish a further opportunity to consider the new points which have been raised. I may be unconsciously biased on this question. It has been suggested that I am, because of the articles which have been published in the Age and the Argus. If that be so, there is no reason why I should not be given an opportunity to clear myself of anything of the kind. I am surprised at the hilarity displayed by honorable senators. I am considering this position in all seriousness. I think that in this matter I may fairly claim the support of honorable senators from Western Australia, and I trust that the Senate will agree to the amendment.
– I second the amendment, in order to enable me to address a few remarks to the Senate. I admit the very great difficulty under which you, sir, labour in being called upon to summarily dispose of a number of points of order.
– There is a motion and an amendment, but no point of order, before the Chair.
– It will suit my purpose equally well if the matter before the Chair be called an amendment, instead of a point of order. I desire to express my sympathy with you, sir, in the position in which you are placed at this hour of the morning, after an adjournment has been re- peatedley refused by the Attorney-General
– That is not a fact.
– Senator after senator repeatedly requested the Attorney-General to consent to an adjournment, and he persistently refused. I have missed all my trains, and I am out for the night, with the object of finishing the business now in hand. It has been proposed that the debate should be adjourned until Wednesday next. I am largely sympathetic with the honorable senator who has moved the amendment ; but, at the same time, I do not desire to unduly oppose the wish of the Government. It has been publicly intimated that they desire that Parliament should be prorogued at four o’clock to-day and. I, for one, am anxious to assist them to achieve that object. The original amendment was that the debate should be adjourned until four o’clock to-day, and with all due deference to you, sir, I do not agree with your interpretation of the standing order.
– Perhaps it will save discussion if I admit at once that I made a mistake. The standing order provides for something to be done at the next sitting, and I overlooked the fact that the next sitting will be held to-day but, still, Senator Turley accepted the position. He said that he wished the debate to be adjourned until Wednesday next, and not until a later hour to-day.
– I am very grateful to you, sir, for the statement which you have just made, because standing order 419 says -
A debate may be adjourned either to a later hour ofthe same day or to any other day.
If you, sir, will now accept the original amendment, my purpose will have been completely served.
- Senator Turley has moved an amendment which the honorable and learned senator has seconded.
– I would appeal to Senator Turley to ask leave to alter his amendment to its original form, and if leave is granted I desire to speak to that question.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - I move -
That the following words be added “ at four o’clock p.m.”
At the same time I must admit–
– On a point of order, sir, I submit that the honorable senator cannot speak twice to the amendment.
– The honorable senator, I think, ought not to speak under the circumstances.
– In my speech, sir, I gave arguments why the debate should be adjourned until Wednesday next, and now I wish to say why I think it ought to be adjourned until four o’clock this afternoon.
– I did not realize what the day was when I gave my ruling. I was wrong in preventing the honorable senator from moving his original amendment. He has obtained leave to withdraw the amendment he moved, and to move the one he wished to propose. In these circumstances I do not flunk that he ought to speak again.
– I wish to suggest for your consideration, sir, that the honorable senator will be perfectly in order in making a speech if he chooses on his fresh amendment.
– I did not rule that Senator Turley could not speak again. What I said was that I thought he ought not to do so in the circumstances.
– I know that we are approaching the end of the session, and that is the reason why I fell in with the idea that we should adjourn this debate until a later hour to-day.
– - I beg to second the amendment.
– I am pledged to see that the Western Australia senators, who are peculiarly interested in this matter, have an opportunity to take a vote upon it. Senator Turley has moved that the debate be resumed at 4 o’clock this afternoon. I understand that it is the intention of the Government to prorogue Parliament at that hour. Therefore, if I supported his proposal, I should be false to the pledges which I have given. I have pledged myself to assist the representatives of Western Australia in obtaining a division upon this Bill, before the prorogation. I am sincerely desirous of redeeming my promise, and for that reason I cannot conscientiously support the amendment of Senator Turley.
– Why does not the honorable senator submit an amendment that the debate be resumed at noon to-day ?
– I shall not allow Senator Mulcahy to dictate what I shall do. I am here to express my own views, and I am quite capable of doing so. If the representatives of Western Australia choose to name any particular hour at which they desire the discussion to be resumed
– Say halfpast ten o’clock to-day.
– That is the motion of the Attorney-General, who denied us the opportunity of adjourning at the usual hour last evening. I resent his action in that connexion. Upon a previous occasion I was deceived regarding the conduct of public business in this Chamber. The greatest idiot in the country can deceiveme once, but. it would take a very smart man to deceive me a second time. I am prepared to give the representatives of Western Australia and South Australia, who are specially interested in this Bill, an opportunity of obtaining the decision of the Senate upon it before the prorogation.
– If the honorable senator will move to fix the resumption of the debate for noon to-day I shall agree to his proposal.
– I am quite prepared to do as the Attorney-General suggests. Therefore, I move, as an amendment of the amendment -
That the words “ at four o’clock p.m.,” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ at twelve o’clock noon.”
– For some little time I have been anxious to say a few words with a view to bringing honorable senators back to a proper recognition of business considerations.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Mulcahy has stated that he wishes to bring the Senate back to a. proper appreciation of business considerations. I submit that business has beenproperly conducted, otherwise you, sir, would have intervened.
– The Senate has undoubtedly been disorderly. Many interruptions have occurred which should not have taken place, and I understand that Senator Mulcahy refers to them.
– A proposal was made that the debate should be adjourned until 4 o’clock this afternoon, and as it is well-known that the Ministry proposed that the prorogation should take place at that hour, it is clear that the intention was to prevent any further discussion of the Bill. No one is more strongly opposed to this measure than I am, but I shall take part in no unfair tactics to defeat it. If any such tactics are adopted I shall refrain’ from exercising my vote. A proposal has since been made that the debate should be adjourned until noon, and in this matter I place myself in the hands of honorable senators representing Western Australia and other honorable senators supporting the measure, who have a serious respsibility resting upon them, and are deserving of every consideration. If they assure me that they think it will be an advantage to them to secure an adjournment to that hour I shall be prepared to vote with them ; but, as in my opinion the result will eventually be the same, I should very much prefer that the matter should be dealt with at once.
– I desire to move a further amendment.
– I do not think that the honorable senator can do so at this stage. There is already before the Senate an amendment and an amendment on that amendment. I think we should get rid of the last amendment submitted before another is moved.
– An adjournment until noon would hardly suit me, as I should not have time to go home and return again. I wish to contradict the statement of the AttorneyGeneral that he did not refuse an adjournment of the debate. During my speech on the second reading of the Bill, I asked the honorable and learned senator twice to agree to an adjournment of the debate, and he positively refused. The honorable and learned senator has since denied that he did anything of the kind.
– I denied the statement made by Senator Best that I had persistently refused the request made by several honorable senators to adjourn the debate.
– The AttorneyGeneral, after keeping us here all this time, now desires that we should meet again at 10.30 a.m.
– The AttorneyGeneral said nothing about 10.30 a.m. the honorable senator will see that what the Attorney-General did was to suggest that the resumption of the debate should be made an order 6f the day for this day, when, under the sessional order, the Senate would meet at 10.30 a.m.
– I submit that in view of the sessional order, it is clear that the Attorney-General wished that the debate should be resumed at 10.30 a.m. In substance I was correct. The hour fixed is too soon, and I wish to move an amendment.
– The honorable senator cannot move an amendment now. We have a motion and an amendment, and an amendment on the amendment. Until we get rid of one of those proposals we cannot deal with another. The amendment is that we meet at 4 o’clock, and a further amendment is that we meet at 12 o’clock.
– Then I strongly object to meeting again at noon, and would prefer adjourning until 3 or 4 o’clock p.m. I should like to take this opportunity to make a personal explanation. When I was speaking on the second reading, Senator Pearce, in what I thought was rather an offensive manner for him, questioned my statements in regard to the railway rates in Western Australia, and insinuated that I had concocted or invented the figures. However, I happen to- have here with me the book which contains the Western Australian railway rat:s : for passengers, goods, and so forth, for the year 1902. This is an official publication.
– The honorable senator must not discuss that matter. The question before us is at what hour the Senate shall meet.
– I am merely asking permission to put myself right, because I felt rather sore at the time at the remarks of Senator Pearce.
– The honorable senator would be more in order if he confined himself to the question at issue. The honorable senator has already asked leave to be a little irregular, and no exception has been taken, but I do not think he ought to go out of his way to discuss the whole book to which he has referred.
– I do not propose to read the whole book, but only a few items.
– The honorable senator has already done that.
– But I am challenged - exception .has been taken to my word.
– The honorable senator cannot refer to that matter ; he ought to deal with the question before the Chair.
– I - I am asking the indulgence of the Chair to put myself right.
– Is it not sufficient for the honorable senator to say that he produces the book, which shows that his figures are correct?
– I suppose I shall have a right of reply ?
– If Senator Styles proceeds, I cannot stop Senator Pearce making another speech.
– If Senator Pearce will say that I was quite correct in the figures I gave, I shall be quite satisfied. I am not accustomed to have my word doubted in matters of the sort.
– I asked for the name of the book to which the honorable senator referred, and I was told to look in his drawer for it.
– Here is the book to which I referred.
– I must ask Senator Styles not to refer to the matter further.
– If Senator Pearce withdraws his insinuations, I shall be quite satisfied, but not otherwise.
- Senator Styles cannot now ask Senator Pearce to withdraw.
– I should like to know what the “ insinuation “ was.
– The insinuation was that I had concocted the figures.
– I merely asked for the name of the book.
– I hope that Senator Styles will drop the subject.
– I understand that Senator Pearce withdraws his insinuation.
– I made no insinuation, and, therefore, I have no insinuation to withdraw.
– I thought the honorable senator had withdrawn, or I should have liked to reply in a way the honorable senator would not like.
Senator BEST (Victoria).- The question before the Chair is practically whether we shall adjourn until 12 o’clock noon, or until 4 o’clock p.m. I listened with great interest to the speeches by the AttorneyGeneral and Senator Styles on the second reading. The speech of the AttorneyGeneral was very interesting, so far as it went, and I listened with a great deal of interest to the reply of Senator Styles, and to the able and earnest remarks of Senator Pearce. The case for this survey has been, if I may say so, laid before this Chamber by the Attorney-General and by Senator Pearce in a most ample form, and has been replied to by Senator Styles. Those speeches, and others made by honorable senators, have been so complete that we are practically in possession of all the information available on the subject. I may be forgiven for not personally referring to other honorable senators, but I must say that Senator Zeal made some most pertinent remarks, and, altogether, 1 may say, as one who has not spoken on the main issue, that we are now qualified to give a decision.
– Senator Turley says we are not.
– Senator Turley may speak for himself. Personally, 1 think that if we were to meet at 4 o’clock p.m. we should be able to come to a decision. I am perfectly prepared to decide at the present moment ; but the Attorney-General, and others who have supported him, are still thirsting for information. The AttorneyGeneral thinks that it is necessary we should meet at half-past 10 o’clock this morning, for the purpose of further debating the question. 1 do not think, however, that that idea meets with the approval of honorable senators.
– Yes, it does.
– On further reflection, I do not think that the suggestion meets with the approval of even the AttorneyGeneral . himself, because he has suggested that 12 o’clock noon would be a more convenient hour.
– The honorable senator is not accurate in saying that I suggested it.
– Then the honorable senator accepted it.
– As a fair compromise, to meet the convenience of honorable senators.
– While we were glad to hear the able and earnest speeches of the representatives of Western Australia in support of the Bill, I ask them whether they should not pay attention to the protests of the representatives of other States, who think that the time has not yet arrived for carrying out this work. To my mind, it is unfair and ungenerous to suggest that the representatives of other States are not acting properly in this matter.
– I submit that the honorable senator must confine his remarks to the question of the hour at which the debate shall be resumed.
– Undoubtedly. I was not following his remarks very carefully, but I understood him to be advancing arguments in support of the resumption of the debate at 4 o’clock p.m.
– For goodness’ sake let us be sensible, and adjourn.
– Why did not the honorable senator say that before midnight ?
– I would have been ready to adjourn then.
– If the Attorney-General had agreed to the adjournment then, this more or less unseemly discussion would not have taken place.
– I am glad that the honorable senator recognises that it is unseemly.
– Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, 4 o’clock p.m. ?;ould be a reasonable hour to fix for the resumption of the debate. If, by an extraordinary coincidence, the prorogation should take place at that time, honorable senators who are so anxious to have the discussion brought to an end will receive our sympathy. Parliament has been in session now for nearly ten months, and the Government, if they were earnest in their desire to get the Bill passed, should have introduced it earlier, so as to allow for its fuller debate. I confess that feel aggrieved that we should have been kv.pt here until this hour of the morning, and I do not feel that 1 should be- justified in further protracting the sitting. In the circumstances, I think that 4 p.m. to-day would be a reasonable hour to fix for the resumption of the debate.
– I admire Senator Best and others who, after occupying the time of the Senate at considerable’ length in discussing the question of the adjournment, express sympathy for you, Mr. President, as well as for others who have been compelled to remain in the Chamber so long. I suppose they think that because they have expressed their views on this question nothing further remains to be said. I have listened with verv great patience to the Queensland tornados, the Tasmanian blizzards, and the never-ending, talkers from Victoria, and yet I am not satisfied. When these honorable senators calmly consider the position, I think they will come to the conclusion that they have not dealt fairly with their fellow senators. Honorable senators do not seem to be quite themselves this morning, and I should like them to calm their ruffled feelings. We have discussed both the main question and that of the adjournment at considerable length, and I wish to advance some excuse for the request which was made by those who support the Bill, that the debate should be adjourned. Senator Turley has discussed the main question.
– I deny that.
– The honorable senator spoke of a bias that might be removed, and dealt with the question at considerable length. I have no desire to prolong the debate, but I think the Senate should freely understand why the request was made for the adjournment of the debate. You, Mr. President, have deprecated any reference to pairs, but I would point out that two honorable senators are unavoidably absent. Pairs were absolutely refused them. This is not a party question, but one that ought to be calmly considered. We should be prepared to extend every consideration to each other, and all that the supporters of the Bill ask is that its fate shall be determined by a legitimate vote of the Senate. The representatives of Western Australia, who are personally interested in this question-
– Not personally interested.
– They are personally interested in so far as they are representatives of the State which is principally concerned. Finding that they could not obtain the full and deliberate sense of the Senate on the question at this early hour, the)’ thought that it would be best to allow the debate to be adjourned. The Attorney-General was gracious enough to accept their proposal, and it was agreed to. He then moved that the debate should be resumed at the next sitting, which meant that it would be further considered at 10.30 this morning. In these circumstances, why should any honorable senator suggest that 4 o’clock would be the proper hour for the resumption of the debate when, notwithstanding the protestations which may be made, we all know that the prorogation of the Parliament is fixed for that hour? Those who make such a proposal are surely not treating their fellow senators fairly.
– Would three or four hours make any difference?
– Those who favour such a proposition ought to be ashamed of the treatment they are proposing to mete out to honorable senators who are conscientiously endeavouring, to do their duty. If they find themselves similarly treated on some future occasion they will have no reason to complain. Under our sessional orders the hour of meeting this morning would be 10.30 o’clock, and any one who wishes to curtail the time at our disposal by even five minutes is proposing to act unjustly.
– The time of the Senate j has often been reduced by weeks during the present session.
– If the honorable senator had not been so excited, the probability is that he, would not have been so persistent. I ask honorable senators who proposed that the debate shall be resumed this afternoon instead of this morning to consider that they are not acting fairly by endeavouring to deprive others, who are seeking to do their duty, of the time legitimately at their disposal.
– I am prepared to withdraw my motion, and to vote for the resumption of the debate at 10.30 a.m. Will that satisfy the honorable senator?
– Yes, because that is right. I strongly object to any endeavour to take away from those who are seeking to do their duty, the opportunity to discharge their responsibilities to those whom they represent. The representatives of Western Australia are actuated by an honest desire to do full justice to this question, and I trust that honorable senators will act as gentlemen, and avoid giving them the slightest cause for dissatisfaction or resentment
Senator TURLEY. (Queensland).- Mr. 3? resident_
– The honorable senator has already spoken.
– I submit that I have not yet spoken to the amendment upon the amendment moved bv myself.
– That raises an important point. There was a motion upon which the honorable senator moved an amendment. Therefore, he must be considered to have spoken both to the motion and the amendment. A further amendment has been moved, and the question arises whether the honorable senator ought to be permitted to speak again. I do not know that there is any rule on the subject, and at this late hour I do’ not think that it is fair to ask me to give a ruling of which I am not in a position to fairly consider th’e result. The honorable senator has spoken a great many times, and although I do not go the length of saying that he has not the right to speak, I do not think that he should again address the Senate.
– I would ask your ruling, Mr. President.
– There is a standing order to the effect that an honorable member may speak once upon every question before the Chair. That is the ori ginal question only. Senator Turley has spoken to the original question, and also upon the amendment moved by himself. As he did not move the original motion, he is not entitled to reply, and, therefore so far as the standing order is concerned, he is not entitled to speak again. That standing order is not, however, complete. I communicated with the parliamentary authorities in Sydney, where this standing order is in force, inquiring what the practice was. I received a reply, and announced to the Senate that I intended to adopt the New South Wales practice; but the supplementary procedure for which provision was made did not cover the point now raised, namely, whether an honorable senator, having moved an amendment, can speak again upon a further amendment on an amendment.
– I desire, sir, to know whether you rule that I cannot be permitted to speak to the further amendment on the motion submitted .by the AttorneyGeneral.
– This may be a convenient opportunity for having the whole of these matters put in order. I venture to submit that the honorable senator’s amendment must be regarded as a substantive motion.
– There is a standing order upon that point.
– Yes; the standing order upon which I am basing my point is No. 419, which reads -
A debate may be adjourned either to a later hour of the same day or to any other day.
– Standing order 141 provides -
Amendments may be proposed to a proposed amendment as if such proposed amendment were an original question.
That course has been followed, and the question is whether Senator Turley can speak after that has been done.
– I submit that the amendment, in form, moved by Senator Turley is not an amendment upon my motion that the adjourned debate should be made an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting. My motion was moved under standing order 419. under which a debate may be adjourned either to a later hour of the same day, or to any other day.
– The honorable senator moved that the adjourned debate be an Order of the Day for Thursday.
– That was the next parliamentary sitting-day.
– The honorable senator did not say anything about the next sitting-day.
– But the next sitting-day is Thursday.
– That is to-day.
– My motion referred to the parliamentary day, which begins at half-past ten o’clock. I venture to say that my honorable friend’s amendment cannot be an amendment to that motion. It really ought to be moved on the subsequent motion I shall have to propose, namely, that the Senate do now adjourn.
– When the debate was adjourned, sir, you, according to the practice, asked me “ to what day,” and I said “to the next sitting day,” which you took for Thursday. Then the amendment was moved, but it must be to adjourn the debate to another day.
– To a later hour of the same day.
– My honorable friend is mistaken. Standing order 419 says -
A debate may be adjourned to a later hour of the same day.
That is not what has been done. That phrase means that a debate oan be adjourned to a later hour of the same parliamentary day, as was done the other day on my motion. My motion is to adjourn the debate, not to a later hour of this sitting, but to a certain hour of the next sitting, that is to the parliamentary Thursday. It is indifferent to me, sir, how the question is put, but I venture to submit that, on a motion to adjourn the debate from one sitting day to another sitting day, an amendment cannot be moved to sit at a later hour on Thursday.
– Is this a point .of order, sir?
– The AttorneyGeneral is taking a point of order which seems to me somewhat technical. One of the objections to ruling in the manner he suggests is that an amendment has been moved and debated, and it is too late now to rule it out of order. It is a little difficult, no doubt, to construe standing order 419. If the Attorney-General is right in his contention, then I was right in my first contention, when I prevented Senator Turley from moving the amendment with which he started.
– I have no objection to it being put either way, sir.
– I rule that the amendment is in order, and come back to the original problem whether Senator Turley can speak again. I am afraid that I have to rule .that he can speak, but I would ask him not to exercise his right in the circumstances.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - I hope, sir, that you are not afraid that I am going to speak again. I do not know that your remark is not to some extent a reflection upon me, because I never speak unless I feel that I can make a contribution to the debate, or suggest a reason, why a certain thing should be done. I wish to controvert the statement of Senator McGregor, that when the representatives of Western Australia are able to get an honest or legitimate vote on this question, they are blocked. That is a reflection on every member of the Senate who is not prepared to vote in the same direction as those honorable senators. The only inference which can be drawn from the remark is that I am not prepared to give an honest or legitimate vote on the question. It seems to me that on this occasion Senator McGregor is taking up a partisan view. 1 gathered from the discussion that no party issue is involved. I understand that Senator Givens objected to my amendment, because he said that he had given a promise to the representatives of Western Australia. If there is one thing which should be respected by a public man, it is a promise which he has made, either publicly or privately. The honorable senator has a right to stick to his promise. Because he comes from the same State as I do, and has given that promise, does it mean that he expects to bind me?
– That is the position which was taken up by Senator McGregor, and to which I object. I deny the right of Senator Givens, because he has happened to make a promise, to bind the other senators who come from his State. I only desire to get a fair deal on this question.
– Let us adjourn until 2 o’clock.
– I am prepared to adjourn the debate until, practically, any time.
– If the honorable senator will withdraw his amendment, I shall move that the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for 2 o’clock to-day.”
– In the first place, the Attorney-General objected to my speaking at all, and now he asks me to with-“ draw my amendment. If Senator Givens will signify his intention to withdraw his amendment, and to allow the AttorneyGeneral to move for the resumption of the debate at 2 o’clock to-day, I shall be prepared to withdraw my amendment to the motion. But unless Senator Givens signifies while I am on my feet his intention to withdraw his amendment, I shall forfeit my right to speak on the question.
– I am not prepared to withdraw my amendment unless that is the wish of the Western Australian senators.
– Are the Western Australian senators prepared to agree to Senator Givens withdrawing his amendment?
– No; we wish to meet at half-past ten o’clock a.m.
– Senator McGregor has said that honorable senators have been getting excited over this matter. I take exception to that remark. I have not been excited nor has there been any reason for excitement. I agree that there should be cool and calm consideration of the question. Senator McGregor also made a statement, which is a reflection upon other members of the Senate, that certain honorable senators ought to be ashamed of themselves. Why? What have they done in the opinion of the honorable senator that they should be ashamed of themselves? Am I not acting within the Standing Orders ? Do I not believe that I am acting in the interests of people whom I have been elected to represent? I do not know why Senator McGregor is allowed to rise in his place and say that I and other honorable senators, because they do not happen to agree with his opinions, ‘ought to be ashamed of themselves. If that view were to be generally adopted there would be no diversity of opinion in the Senate. I am astounded at the attempt of the honorable senator who occupies the position of leader of the Labour Party in the Senate to turn round not on ..honorable senators opposite, but on the members of his own party, and to say that, in his opinion, they should be absolutely ashamed, because they believe they are taking a right course of action upon this question.
– That is distinctly unfair.
– I agree with the honorable senator that his own remarks were unfair. I do not think that he has- any right, either under the Standing Orders or in accordance with the courtesy that should be extended by one senator to another, to say that, other senators should be ashamed of themselves. Not satisfied with making that statement, Senator McGregor hurls threats around the Chamber. If there is one thing to which I object more than another in a deliberative body, it is the making of threats. In the first place, it is a species of intimidation. I ask Senators Gould and Fraser whether they are in favour of a system of intimidation? Is the Attorney-General - who is the very embodiment of courtesy, and who possesses that indefinable quality which enables him to secure the good-will even of honorable senators who differ from him-
– I must call the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that he is not discussing the amendment.
– I merely mentioned the Attorney-General by way of illustration. He is the very embodiment of courtesy-
– I must really ask . the honorable senator to conform to my ruling. He is only entitled to discuss the amendment upon his amendment, and he is now debating the qualities of the AttorneyGeneral.
– I understood that it was permissible to refer to the AttorneyGeneral by way of illustration. If the honorable and learned gentleman is not a fit subject to.be referred to in that way-
– I must again call attention to the standing order relating to tedious repetition. I ask the honorable senator to comply with standing order 419.
– I am endeavouring to do so. But when Senator McGregor or any other member of this Chamber makes a statement, I claim that I should have the right of replying to it. I took down the words used by Senator McGregor-
– I would call the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that he is repeating several times every argument which he adduces. We have a standing order which is intended to prevent that sort of thing.
– I do not desire to repeat my arguments. If I am denied the right of replying to Senator McGregor-
– The honorable senator has not been denied that right ; but he has repeated the same statement four or five times almost in identical words.
– I merely desire to quote the words which were used by Senator McGregor.
– Why do so four times over?
- Senator McGregor also declared that the representatives of Western Australia thought it wise to adjourn the debate in order that a division might be .taken in a full Senate. I claim that we should be better able to obtain such a vote if we met at four o’clock this afternoon than if we met at half -past ten o’clock this morning. Senator McGregor also referred to the refusal of certain honorable senators to “pair” with others.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss that matter.
– That statement was permitted to be made-
– I rule that the honorable senator cannot discuss it. He must confine his remarks to the amendment upon his amendment.
– If I cannot refer to that subject it is strange that Senator McGregor should have been allowed to make a charge of this kind against other honorable senators. I have never given a pair whilst I have been a member of the Senate.
– The honorable senator must not discuss that question.
– I do not intend to discuss it, but I submit that Senator McGregor should have been prevented from making a charge which other honorable senators are not allowed to reply to.
– Naturally the representatives of Western Australia have been exceedingly anxious that this question should be submitted to a vote. We found that, as the result of some very’ able whipping, certain honorable senators were paired, and when we came to ask for pairs for two supporters of the Bill we were refused them.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss the question of pairs.
– I shall refer to the matter on the motion for adjournment.
– As we shall have other business to transact, if, for example, the Sea Carriage of Goods Bill should come before the Senate again, I wish to intimate that I shall be prepared to move the adjournment of the Senate until 12 noon. If my honorable friends who have moved amendments on my motion will withdraw them I shall be prepared to move that this debate be resumed at 2 p.m., as that appears to be the general desire. As several honorable senators have recognised that it is only fair and just that an opportunity shall be given to take a vote on this question, I am justified in hoping that that opportunity will be afforded.
– Senator Givens only spoke for himself in the matter.
– I did not pretend to speak for any one else.
– Honorable senators representing Western Australia are deeply interested in this matter. They have shown an anxious desire to give all possible information to the Senate, and I think it would be magnanimous of the Senate to give an opportunity for a division on the second reading of the Bill, whatever may eventuate from that. If my honorable friends will formally withdraw their amendments I shall move as I have indicated.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I have already intimated my willingness, if it is the desire of honorable senators representing Western Australia, to withdraw my amendment at any time.
– For my part, I think we should leave the responsibility with the honorable senator.
– That is ungracious.
– I have no reason to complain, nor do I complain, of the attitude assumed by honorable senators representing Western Australia. I have tried to meet their wishes, and I now ask leave to withdraw my amendment in deference to what appears to be the general wish of the Senate.
Amendment of the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland).- Some time ago I intimated my willingness to withdraw my amendment, but objection having been taken by Senator Smith, I did not further press for its withdrawal. I now ask the permission of the Senate to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I now submit the question that the Attorney-General have leave to amend his motion.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the adjourned debate be an Order of the Day for this day (Thursday), at 2 o’clock p.m.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 12 noon this day.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to say a few words with regard to the position of honorable senators representing Western Australia in this debate. We are naturally most anxious that the proposal for a survey of the route of the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta should be voted upon this session. It has been promised since the first sitting day of the first Federal Parliament that this survey would be made. We found that we had a majority of the members of the Senate in favour of the proposal, and at the present. moment there is an actual majority of the members of the Senate in favour of passing the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. Senator Guthrie who is a supporter of the Bill, is at present in Sydney with the Navigation Commission, on the business of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, Senator Findley, who is also a supporter of the Bill, is on a sick bed. We endeavoured to secure pairs for those honorable senators, and they were refused.
– The honorable senator is not doing his cause any good.
– I am stating facts which cannot be denied. .
– The inferences which the honorable senator is drawing are not quite correct.
– We asked every honorable senator who is opposed to the Bill to give a pair for the honorable senators to whom I have referred, and we were refused.
– I have intervened very little in. the debate, but I must ask whether the honorable senator is in order in discussing the subject of pairs, and in bringing grievances in relation to pairs, before the Senate ?
– I do not think that the honorable senator is in order. The Senate knows nothing whatever about pairs or the private arrangements made between honorable senators. They are not in any way recognised by the Senate The honorable senator is, therefore, not in order.
– I shall not further refer to that matter. I was prepared to agree to the proposed adjournment of the debate to 10.30 a.m., because I felt that we should not allow a vote to be taken when we knew that two of the supporters of the Bill would be unable to take part in the division. The AttorneyGeneral moved that the Senate should adjourn until half-past 10 o’clock, and when an amendment was proposed the honorable and learned gentleman agreed to 12 o’clock, and now is willing that the hour shall be 2 o’clock. The party opposed to the proposed survey have had a great triumph. They have been able to prolong the discussion, and to postpone a decision until such a time as will render it impossible to take a vote on the question this session.
– The (honorable senator is debating a question which, I think, has already been debated.
– I think that, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I have a perfect right to make a statement of the kind I am now submitting.
– We have already been occupied a great many hours in debating the question as to the hour to which the Senate should adjourn, and now, it appears to me, we are commencing another discussion on the same question.
– I was ruled out of order when speaking on the question as to the hour to which we should adjourn, and I then said I should take an opportunity, under the Standing Orders, to speak on the motion* for the adjournment of the Senate. It is regrettable, from a Western Australian point of view, that, although we had a majority of honorable senators favorable to the proposed survey, affairs have taken such a turn that the question is shelved for the session.
– In reply to Senator Smith, I should like to say that he is entirely in error in assuming that I had any desire to take, or took any steps towards burking a decision on the question.
– I did not say that the honorable and learned senator had taken any such action.
– I have no sympathy with the burking of any discussion, or the prevention of any vote. It is perfectly fair that senators from Western Australia should desire a division to be taken.
– Hear, hear !
.- And I am very sorry that the motion for the adjournment of the debate was carried.
– The motion for the adjournment of the debate was carried on the votes of the Western Australian senators.
– The Senate will have an opportunity to discuss the whole matter next session, and, if they take my advice, they will endeavour to have the subject brought on at an earlier period than has been the case this year. If honorable senators take that advice, I can promise that, although I may vote against the second reading of the Bill, I shall be no party to preventing a vote being taken.
– A good deal of the trouble which has arisen is due to the action of the Government. Honorable senators were induced to remain here last night with a view to discussing the question and taking a vote, and the Government, I think, broke faith with us.
– I rise to a point of order. I have heard Senator Smith say, by way of interjection, that Senator Trenwith ‘has acted fairly right throughout, but that that is more than he can say for other honorable senators. Is that remark in order? I believe it to be a reflection on honorable members of the Senate.
– I withdraw the remark.
– I feel that honorable senators, although they may make mistakes, act fairly. The Government have entailed on us what has been practically a useless discussion during the early hours of this day. We came here yesterday determined, at whatever hardship, to sit all night, if necessary, in order that this extremely important question might be ‘dis- cussed. Speaking for myself, I confess that I was very ill informed on the mat- ter, and was anxious to keep an open mind, and to hear everything that could be said in favour of the proposition. The adjourn ment of the debate, at half -past 2 o’clock, put honorable senators in the position of having lost their night’s rest fruitlessly. I feel that that is what has led to the recent futile discussion.
– Acrimonious discussion.
– I sympathize most heartily with honorable senators who represent Western Australia, and I should be delighted if evidence could be produced sufficient to induce me to vote for the proposal of the survey. I cannot help thinking that some measure of blame for all the hours of acrimonous discussion is attached to the representatives of Western Australia. The reason they gave for desiring an adjournment did not necesitate their stopping the discussion, because they could have kept on informing honorable senators until a much later hour, and thus have delayed the mere voting until all their forces could be marshalled.
– I rise to a point of order. I heard an interjection from Senator Smith that’ the “whole thing was arranged “ by members of the Senate. I do not know whether any honorable senators entered into an arrangement, but I take the interjection as a reflection on honorable senators who declared for or against the proposal.
– I really think that these points of order are somewhat fine. I do not know what is meant by “ an arrangement,” but, perhaps, it would have been better if Senator Smith had not made the observation.
– It is known that, in a general way, I am opposed to the policy of the Government, but I have always felt it to be my duty to do whatever I could to assist in facilitating business. I feel, however, that during the night we have been somewhat badly treated by the Government.
– I think not.
– At the time I felt somewhat angry, and I am glad that a little time for reflection has removed that feeling. I feel it my duty, however, to say that when honorable senators remain, at great sacrifice, until inconvenient hours, faith ought to be kept with them ; and there ought to be an opportunity for intelligently using the whole of the time they agree to devote to public business.
– I give full credit to honorable senators representing
Western Australia for the efforts which they have made on behalf of their State.
– The honorable senator deserves discredit for what he has done.
- Senator de Largie should not have made that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– If any honorable senator wants a row, I am on, but I should like Senator de Largie to understand that the representatives of Victoria and Tasmania, whom Senator Smith especially referred to as having opposed the measure, were doing so in the exercise of their rights, and in defence of the interests of their States.
– Will, the honorable senator say that there -was no shadow of arrangement to the effect that a final vote should not be taken ?
-If , our wishes had been consulted, a vote would have been taken immediately Senator Pearce sat down.
– Honorable senators who oppose the Bill knew that a majority was in favour of it, and therefore they prevented a division being taken.
– I deny that. The opponents of the Bill are in a majority. We were anxious that there should be a division, and, in saying that we sought to avoid one, the honorable senator is acting unfairly.
– What about the attempt to count out?
– I was opposed to that. I gave Senator Smith the assurance - and I spoke for several others, as well as for myself - that we would be no parties to a count out. I should not like the House to ad,journ with the feeling that there has been unfairness. I give the most generous credit to Senators Pearce, Smith, Henderson, and other representatives of Western Australia for the fight which they have maintained. The representatives of Victoria, however, feel that this proposed survey should not be made at the expense of the Commonwealth. When the proposal is brought forward again I trust that it will not be put before us in the last hours of the session, so that it may be fairly treated.
– We have not had an opportunity to take a fair vote.
– The honorable senator and others acting with him voted for the adjournment of the debate. We have fought a fair fight.
– - That is questionable.
– The only thing that is questionable is the action of the honorable senator.
– We could not obtain pairs. That was not fair.
– I am not at liberty to discuss that question, but there is an aspect of it which Senators Higgs, Givens, and one or two others could explain.
– We have been prevented from taking a- fair vote.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I will withdraw it if Senator Smith withdraws his remark.
– I withdraw what I said.
– That being so, I withdraw my remark.
– I would deplore the fact if, at this period of the session, there were any friction or acrimony. My remarks gave no justification for the accusation of unfairness.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). I wish to say a few words on the proceedings of the night, especially as Senator Trenwith, who has alluded to them in general terms, but very kindly, seemed to put the blame for what has occurred on our shoulders. As I have been in the chamber practically the whole night I am fairly conversant with what has occurred. The representatives of Western Australia are not numerous, and they had to conserve their speakers if they wished to keep the debate going until they had the supporters of the Bill present. It was imperative that we should secure their attendance, because a practice to which I am not at liberty to refer specifically has on this occasion been departed from. Not a right, but an act of courtesy which has always been recognised by honorable senators was disregarded on this occasion.
– By whom?
– By every one who was approached.
– The honorable senator was one who disregarded it.
– I have always refused pairs since I have been a member of the Senate.
– That merely serves to confirm my statement. There is a letter in the possession of a representative of Western Australia-
– I rise to a point of order. You have already prevented other honorable senators from discussing the question of pairs, Mr. President, and, although I do not object to Senator Pearce dealing with the subject, I wish to know whether others will be given a similar opportunity to refer to it.
– I have prevented several honorable senators from referring to that question, and Senator Pearce must not discuss it.
– I am not discussing it. All that I say is that a representative of Western Australia has in his possession a letter from an honorable senator who is ill, stating that he is prepared to vote for the second reading of the Bill. When the discussion had reached a certain stage last night, Senator Henderson, who was one of the only two senators from Western Australia in the chamber, who had not spoken, moved the adjournment of the debate, because Senator Smith had intimated that he did not desire to speak at that time. The Attorney-General appealed to him not to press the motion, and other honorable senators, who support the Bill, also urged that it should be withdrawn. Senator Henderson then asked leave to withdraw his call for a division, but Senator Neild, who is opposed to the survey, objected. We must not forget that honorable senators opposite, although, prepared to discuss the matter in the lobbies, were not ready to speak against the Bill on the floor of the chamber.
– I desired to speak here.
– Neither Senator Turley nor any one else can deny that you, Mr. President, were on your feet,- putting the question, when Senator Henderson rose to move the “ adjournment of the debate. Where were the honorable senators who were prepared to discuss the matter ? Senator de Largie and myself followed each other in succession in support of the Bill, but the opponents of it were silent.
– Senators Neild, Fraser, and Gould followed each other in succession, and they were all opposed to the Bill.
– Who followed Senator de Largie from the other side? No one. Senator Henderson, in order to allow of the attendance of the senator to whom I have referred, moved the adjournment of the debate. Subsequently, he requested leave to withdraw his call for a division, but objection was taken by an opponent of the Bill. Senator Trenwith has said that a certain degree of blame must be placed on the shoulders of the representatives of Western Australia. In what way are we blameworthy ? I think the honorable senator made that statement without a full knowledge of the facts.
– I withdraw it.
– From his statement of what has occurred, I think it will be seen that the supporters of the Bill have afforded every, opportunity for its full discussion. I, for one, do not object to anything that may be said by senators opposite. I recognise that, as Senator Best has pointed out, they have a duty to perform, and that, if the States which they represent are opposed to this Bill, they have certainly a right to voice their opinion. When they remained silent, however, I think there was reasonable ground for the suspicion that, knowing that we wished to secure the attendance of the supporters of the Bill, they were prepared to take us at a disadvantage. Is it not a fact that when Senator Styles was speaking, Senator Best left the chamber, and that, although he had scarcely passed through the doorway when attention was called to the state of the Senate, he did not return?
– If the honorable senator thinks that I left the chamber with the deliberate intention to secure a count-out, he is absolutely wrong.
– The honorable and learned senator explained the matter to me.
– I accept the honorable senator’s assurance.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator thought of such a thing, but he was altogether wrong.
– We all thought that that was the object which the honorable senator had in view. It appeared to be a deliberate attempt to secure a count-out. In view of .all these facts, a suspicion was created, which has not been wholly removed, that there would not be a vote upon this question unless it could be taken when we were at a disadvantage.
– I was in the chamber when attention was called to the state of the Senate, but -I did not think of retiring. I had no desire to see the Senate counted out, for I had said that I was prepared to listen to the arguments advanced in support of the Bill by those who were better acquainted with the subject than I was. The statement made by Senator Pearce shows that when a person is deeply interested in any subject, and sees something being done, the object of which he does not fully understand, his suspicions lead him to jump to the conclusion that it is designed! to frustrate the purpose which he has in view. No doubt that is very natural, but I would point out that an uncontradicted statement of the kind made might lead the public to the conclusion that some honorable senators had been acting unfairly. We have been charged with a conspiracy of silence, with the object of obstructing business. But I absolutely deny that any understanding existed among honorable senators to that, end. Senator Higgs will bear me out when I say that when he asked me if I was ready to speak, I answered in the affirmative, and statedthatI had all my papers and documents ready. Whilst we were speaking, Senator Dobson came in, and Senator Higgs said, “ I think Senator Dobsonis going to speak first.” I thereupon made up my mind to defer to Senator Dobson. We were all anxious to -hear the opinions of the representatives of Western Australia and South Australia, who were supposed to be best acquainted with the circumstances, but there was no hanging back on our part. I was prepared to speak at any time after Senator Pearce had sat down ; but when I realized that Senator Dobson - who probably had a better acquaintance with the subject than I had - wished to address the Senate, I gave way. Surely, I cannot be charged with obstructing business, because I decided to waive my right in favour of an honorable senator whom I thought had a prior claim? I absolutely deny that there was any attempt onthe part of myself or other honorable senators to obstruct the debate. It was stated by Senator Pearce that the advocates of the railway had to reserve their speakers. Three honorable senators who were opposed to the proposed survey spoke one after the other, and no attempt was made to reply to them. Senator Smith states that he knew that the supporters of the Bill were in a majority, and yet we are told that they were not prepared to speak in reply to the views expressed in opposition to the project. One representative of Western Australia therefore contradicts another. If they had had a majority, they should surely have been in a position to offer a reply to every honorable senator who opposed the measure. I am opposed to the Bill, but it is not to be conceived that I should allow it to pass without expressing the opinions of those I represented. Were the representatives of Queensland to sit by as dumb dogs, and say not a word on behalf of their own State? I object to the unfounded statements of the representatives of Western Australia which are calculated to prejudice us in the eyes of the public.
– I hope that when we resume the consideration of this Bill at 2 o’clock this afternoon, honorable senators will do what they can generously, and magnanimously, if necessary, to enable a division to be taken on the second reading. Senator Trenwith mads a complaint with regard to my action. I would only say that the attitude I adopted from the beginning was that we should go on with the debate, and come to a division - at any rate, that we should conclude the debate. It was from no desire to inconvenience honorable senators that I , felt bound to resist an early adjournment. I strongly resented the motion for adjournment moved by Senator Henderson, and it was at my instance that he sought to withdraw his call for a division. As the honorable senator was refused leave to withdraw, I then voted with him, because I thought the refusal . was distinctly unfair.
– My honorable friend took a different view, but I thought it was distinctly unfair that the opportunity should be withheld from Senator Henderson of withdrawing his. call for a division on his motion for the adjournment of the -debate. For that reason I took the actionI did, protesting all the while that I desired the course I had laid down, with a view to having this important matter finally dealt with, to be carried out.
Question, resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.6 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041214_senate_2_24/>.