2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
If he will cause to be laid on the table, without undue delay, all correspondence between the Government and the High Court referring to the question of expenses and the places where the Court shall hold Sessions ?
– The matter is under the consideration of the Attorneys General, who desires me to ask for a postponement of the question for a week.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If he will cause to be laid on the table, without undue delay, all correspondence between the Department of Home Affairs and the Government of New South Wales having reference to the site for the Federal Capital?
– Copies of all correspondence since the passing of the Seat of Government Act are now being prepared and will be laid on the table.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government during the present session to introduce legislation providing for the prohibition of the importation and sale of opium?
– The Cabinet is favorably considering this question.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice - :
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of that answer I desire to ask the honorable senator what is the penalty for a breach of the agreement to return the islanders, and in other ways to comply with the terms of the bond?
– I am not sufficiently well acquainted with the Act to answer the question. I am not a walking encyclopaedia in these matters, and if the honorable senator will give notice pf a question I shall get him all the information which he desires.
– In Western Australia the penalty is ?100.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers’ to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will the Government deal at an early date with the Senate’s recommendation concerning Major J. W. M. Carroll, passed on motion by Senator Sir Wm. Zeal, at a meeting of the Senate on the 1st December, 1904?
– I have not yet brought the matter before the Cabinet ; but I shall do so, and when it is considered I shall let the honorable senator know the result.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, npon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask whether there is any possibility that those persons who are entitled to a vote will have a chance of sending in their objections in the case of a misprint or anything of that sort?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of a question for the next day of sitting.
– The honorable senator cannot give notice of a question now.
How many colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, and second lieutenants respectively are provided for in the authorized establishment of existing regiments and corps, Military Forces of the Commonwealth?
How many officers of each rank respectively were there on the 30th June,1905?
How many officers of each rank respectively had, on the 30th June,1905, qualified fortheir present commissions or existing positions?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
– Before the business of the day is called on, I beg to lay upon the table a statement with reference to the circulation of the noticepaper. Some time ago Senator Pearce called attention to some delay in its circulation, and I obtained a report - I do not think it is necessary to have it printed - which any honorable senator can look at.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Pursuant to the Electoral Act 1902 - Technical descriptions of proposed Victorian electoral divisions.
Pursuant to the Audit Act 1901 - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council for the financial year 1904-5, dated 5th and 21st July, 1905.
Pursuant to the Public Service Act 1902 - Regulations Nos. 36 and 104, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 46; No. 89A, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 41 ; No. 155, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 42.
Pursuant to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 - Provisional regulations, Statutory Rules 1905, Nos. 12 and 23.
– I desire to move a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. Until the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s speech has been adopted by the Senate-
– I rise to a point of order. A number ofpapers have just been laid upon the table, and I do not know whether the Minister of Defence proposes to move that they be printed.
– All the papers except one are in print, and I propose to move presently that that one be printed.
– Any regulations which are issued under an Act should be printed. Any regulation made under an Act is part of that Act, and it is highly desirable, I think, that Members of Parliament should know what regulations have been issued under an Act. I intend to move that papers numbered1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8 be printed.
– Standing order No. 14 provides that -
No business beyond what is of a formal character shall be entered upon before the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s opening speech has been adopted.
Now, if we are to conform to that standing order, , and to carry it out, we cannot have another discussion on a matter which is not formal ; and I understand that the leader of the Senate desires to move that the Standing Orders be suspended, after which he will move for the printing of one of the papers which have been laid before the Senate, in order to enable him to expound the policy of the present Government. That seems to me to be a proper method of pursuing business. Because otherwise - unless another motion is made which would lead to discussion - the motion which the Minister desires to move not being formal, it could not be considered according to the Standing Orders. I understand from the leader of the Government in the Senate, that all the papers which he has laid on the table, with the exception of one, have been printed, and therefore there is no necessity for Senator Neild to move in that matter. The position is, of course, one of an extraordinary character, owing to circumstances which have supervened. I think that the leader of the Government is pursuing a proper course in moving the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable him to introduce some matter which is not formal before we have adopted the AddressinReply to His Excellency’s speech.
– Under ordinary circumstances the Minister who has to announce the policy of a Government upon a change of Ministry, lays a paper on the table, and moves that it be printed. In submitting that motion he makes a statement to the House as to the policy of the Government, and what they propose to do in the way of work during the session of Parliament. Discussion can then take place. But we still have the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s speech before us.
– Would it not be well to adopt the Address-in-Reply, and then to move that the paper be printed.
– I do not know what discussion might take place. It might take a considerable time to dispose of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply.
– Will my honorable friend allow me to say a word or two in order to’ assist him? I merely wish to suggest that we should make an end of the discussion upon the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. My honorable friend Senator Trenwith moved the adjournment of the debate on the last occasion. As he is not now in his place we may take it, I think, that in all probability he does not propose to proceed with the debate. But in any event the statement which my honorable friend Senator Playford is to make will not prevent further debate. Therefore I think that, instead of establishing a precedent by discussing the policy of the new Government whilst we have an incomplete debate as to the policy of the late Government upon the paper, the simplest plan would be to let the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply be passed, and. then to proceed with the consideration of the policy of the new Government.
– Does the honorable and learned senator undertake that the Address-in-Reply will be allowed to go by the board?
– Unless there are some special reasons to the contrary that seems to me to be the simplest way to proceed. I therefore suggest, with a view of clearing the paper, that the debate on the Address-in-Reply should be first concluded.
– I have thought the matter over from every point of view, and I am satisfied to proceed with the course that I have suggested to the Senate. That is to say, I wish to make a statement to the Senate, after which the matter will” be open for discussion. I do not expect that the debate will take place immediately, but after it is concluded we can finish the debate on the Address-in-Reply. I prefer to suspend the Standing Orders and to proceed inthe way Ihave indicated.
– I need not point out that then we shall have to discuss two policies at the sametime.
– I have not the slightest objection to that if the Seriate wishes it. But I do not think that the policy of the late Government is open to much debate.
– How will the Government get rid of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply ?
– We can get rid of it right enough. I prefer to proceed in the way I have proposed. I do not see that any one will be injured by it. After we have suspended the Standing Orders I can make my statement; then the debate will be adjourned ; then we can take up the question and finish it ; after which we can dispose of the Address-in-Reply. I may say that as far as the Government is concerned we propose to approve of the Address-in-Reply. It contains only two clauses. The first says that we are loyal people and the second clause is to the effect that we thank the Governor-General for his speech. I move -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable a motion to be moved with a view to the making of a Ministerial statement.
Question resolved in, the affirmative.
– The honorable senator is correct. I had forgotten that.
– As this is the time for rearranging private business on the paper, I move -
That Private Business, Order of the Day No. 1, be an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
– Under what standing order?
.- The standing order that regulates the order of business.
– The honorable senator is quite right - that is standing order “No. 70.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I take it that the motion that has been carried, at the instance of Senator Neild, will not disturb the order of private business, and that Senator Neild’s Order of the Day will not take precedence of those motions which are not formal ?
– We have already decided that none of the motions under the heading “ Private business “ are formal. Order of the Day No. 1, standing in Senator Neild’s name, will now be an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
– My question is - What will be the position on the notice-paper of that Order of the Day?
– It is rather a complicated question. I will read a memorandum with reference to it -
The Senate, not having yet sat on a Thursday since the passing of the sessional order re precedence of Orders of the Day, should the Se’nate now sit on without a break the following will be order of business : - To-morrow, Thursday, 27th July, Orders of the Day come first - that is before notices of motion; on the 3rd of August, motions come first; on the 10th August, orders come first, and so on.
– I move -
That paper No. VIII. laid upon the table on 26th July be printed.
Under ordinary circumstances, when the Governor-General attends Parliament to open its proceedings, a speech is put into his mouth by the Ministry of the day. That speech generally alludes to important matters ‘ which have taken place during the recess, and also indicates the measures that the Government intend to bring before Parliament during the session. On the occasion of the opening of the present session, no such speech was delivered. We were not favoured with the usual announcements by His Excellency. Therefore, so far as the present Government is concerned, we consider that practically we have to bring before Parliament what is, to all intents and purposes, really a Governor-General’s speech. Under the circumstances, we think, in bringing this statement of our policy before the two Houses, that the P.rime Minister in the other House, and that I, as leader of the Senate, should tell the same tale. To accomplish that object, it was necessary that we should put the speech into writing ; and. therefore, the Prime Minister, in another place, and I, in the Senate, will read–
– Could not the two Ministers agree upon a verbal statement?
– There might then have been some little divergence, that would have , Deen taken hold of. Therefore, we shall both read the same statement.
– Are the Government going to ask the Senate to suspend the standing order which prevents a senator from reading a speech?
– In order that the Government may make the same statement to the two Houses, that statement will be read.
– It cannot be.
– Yes, it can; The Standing Orders are suspended, and amongst others, that special standing order which says that a senator shall not read a speech.
– Did the honorable senator indicate that intention? We will see when he tries it on.
– Very well, then ; I will try it on at once, and see what the result will be. Under the suspension of the Standing Orders, I think I am at perfect liberty to read any statement which comes from the Cabinet to this Chamber, just as I should be at liberty to read a statement which might be sent from the head of a Department in relation to any official subject.
– Does the Minister place both on the same level ?
– A statement from the Cabinet may be above a statement from the head of a Department, but it is on the same plane as other statements which are made to the Chamber. I am aware of the standing order which prohibits the reading of speeches. It must be remembered, however, that I am not making a speech, but making a Ministerial statement ; and even if I were to read a speech the Standing Orders have been suspended, and, under the circumstances, I should be at liberty to do so. That is why I declined to accept the suggestion made by Senator Symon. I moved the suspension of the Standing Orders, because I foresaw the trouble which) might arise.
– Have all the Standing Orders been suspended?
– Then we may do as we like.
– The Standing. Orders were suspended for one particular purpose.
– I do noi: mean to say that the Standing Orders have been suspended for any other object than that I stated, the object being to enable me to make a statement; and if I chose to read that statement, I submit that I am at liberty to do so.
– That is not making a statement, but reading a statement - a perfectly different matter.
– The leader of the Senate moved the suspension of the Standing Orders in order that he might be enabled to make a statement which should take precedence of the resumption of the debate on the Address-in-Reply.
– That is all. I may shorten the discussion by stating that the Standing Orders were suspended for one particular purpose, namely, to alter the order of business to enable the leader of the Senate to make a speech; and declare the Government policy, prior to the adoption of the AddressinReply to His Excellency’s speech. Any other question will be dealt with as it arises.
– I propose to read the statement, and, under the circumstances, I think I am perfectly justified in so doing.
– We may argue that afterwards.
– I desire to raise .1 point of order, namely, that the Minister of Defence is proceeding to read a speech in contravention of standing order No. 392-.
– Which Is suspended.
– I understand that, in accordance with the practice of this and other similar .assemblies, the Standing Orders have been suspended for only one specific purpose, and only to an extent to enable that purpose to be carried out; therefore, the standing order I have mentioned remains in full force. The Minister for Defence has deliberately told us that he proposes to break that standing order, and he proceeds to break it. I ask your ruling, Mr. President, as to whether the Minister is entitled to do so.
– I understand that the Minister for Defence undertakes to do what the Governor-General would have done had His Excellency been here, namely, to read his speech.
– But Senator Playford is not yet Governor- General.
– To me it seems perfectly fair and proper - I do not care two straws about the Standing Orders - that the Minister for Defence should, under the circumstances, be allowed to do as he proposes. I am sure that Senator Symon will admit that the procedure proposed is quite proper.
– Is Senator Styles addressing himself to a point of order ?
– I merely desire to express my views, as other honorable senators have done all round the Chamber. Had the Minister for Defence been permitted to proceed, the statement would have been made before now.
– I understand the point of order raised to be in the form of the question - Can a senator read his speech? Undoubtedly, according to the Standing Orders, a senator cannot do so.
– What I desire to do is to make a statement from the Cabinet.
– It has always been the practice, however, to allow honorable senators to read extracts. They can also read statements made to them, and this is a statement, I understand, in regard to matters on which the Cabinet have decided. I do not think that the standing order contemplates that extracts and statements shall not be read. I quite agree that speeches may not be read, and I do not understand that the leader of the Senate proposes to read his speech. However, at present, I do not know what the Minister proposes to do. He proposes, I think, to read some extracts.
– Not extracts.
– The Minister proposes, I understand, to read a statement which has been agreed on in Cabinet and I do not think he ought to be debarred from doing that.
– Do I understand, Mr. President, that you rule that the Minister is entitled to read what he has already told us he intends to read?
– Ido not know what the. statement is.
– I had started my speech. I stated that the Cabinet had considered the policy of the Government, and, having put itinwriting, had asked me to read it to the Senate. I can make my own comments on that statement, I suppose, as I go along.
– I ask you, Mr. President, now to give a definite ruling. The whole Chamber realizes that what Senator Playford intends to do is to read a Ministerial statement. I think there is no doubt about that. I want a ruling for future guidance in the conduct of the business of the Senate, and I ask whether, under the Standing Orders, the leader of the Senate is entitled to read a Ministerial statement.
– Before you giveyour ruling, Mr. President, I should like to point out that the Minister of Defence has already commenced his speech.
– “ Speech” !
– The Minister of Defence has already connmenced his speech.
– Is it the speech that the Minister proposes to read?
– The Minister of Defence has already spoken as to the attitude which the Government maintain towards the present situation, and has pointed out how it differs from the attitude of the previous Government. He has told us that the present Government have a policy which they desire to submit to this and another Chamber, and he proposes to read a statement which has been agreed on in Cabinet, and which members of the Cabinet think ought to be submitted in precisely the same terms to both Houses. Having read that statement the Minister will be free to continue his speech, and make whatever comments he likes.
– “ Speech “ !
– Then it is a speech?
– The Minister of Defence had been speaking for five minutes before he proposed to proceed with the reading of the statement.
– I did not hear him.
– That was because Senator Clemons was listening to some honorable senator beside him.( and other honorable senators about the Chamber were also talking.
– I heard every word the Minister of Defence said.
– When the Minister of Defence proceeded to read the statement,the did not say that it was his speech.
– He has said so more than once.
– The Minister of Defence referred to the statement as something he would read in the course of the speech, which he had already begun ; and, under the circumstances, I submit it is permissible for him to follow the course he has indicated.
– I rise only to draw attention to the extreme inaccuracies of the statement just made by the Honorary Minister. Senator Playford, over and over again stated that what he had to say he was determined to read, and that the Standing Orders had been suspended to enable him to do so. I submit that it is not competent -for the Minister of Defence to read the statement under the suspension of the Standing Orders, which has been granted to enable him merely to reverse the procedure of the Chamber in the order of business, and not to reverse the methods of transacting the business.
– I understand that you have already given your ruling, Mr. President ?
– I have already given my ruling, but I shall give it again if desired. Undoubtedly the leader of the Senate is not entitled to read his speech. But the question arises - Can he read a statement containing, the decision of the Cabinet in respect to the policy of the Ministry? I think the Minister can read that statement, and that he ought to be allowed to do so. I do not think we should strain the Standing Orders to the extent suggested.
– Then we ought to alter the Standing Orders.
– If honorable senators will look back on the proceedings of the Senate since the commencement of the Commonwealth Parliament, they will find numbers of occasions on which statements and extracts from books, even extracts from newspapers, have been read : and surely, if that be so, a statement of the decision of the Ministry as to their policy mav be read. I do not know the length of the document, or what it contains, but I am not going to stop the leader of the Senate from reading, a statement of the policv on which the Ministry have decided. I. understand that the statement is not the Minister’s speech, but only an incident of his speecH-that he intends to make a speech of which it will form a part.
– May I be permitted to say one word on the point of order?
– What is the point of order? The President’s ruling has already been given.
– Perhaps Senator Dawson will allow me to proceed. I shall not discuss the point of order, but simply point out that every honorable senator must agree - at least I do - with the limitation you, Mr. President, have suggested in regard to the interpretation of the standing order. The whole difficulty has arisen from the fact that the Minister of Defence stated, with considerable emphasis, that he was going to read his speech - that he would read his speech.
– I never used the word “ speech “ ; I used the word “ statement.”
– The Minister has forgotten. The honorable gentleman with great firmness - I shall not use another word sometimes employed - declared that he would read the speech, and that he considered the whole of the Standing Orders had been suspended. That was the statement which led Senator Millen to say “Then we may do as we like.”
– I was not aware that I made use of the word “ speech “ attributed to me by Senator Symon.
– Perhaps it was an inadvertence.
– I moved the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable me to make a statement of the Government policy. I never knowingly made use of -the word “speech,” but tried to abstain ; if the word crept in it was inadvertently. Surely the Senate will not object to receive a statement from the Cabinet - a statement which explains and gives reasons for the policy which the Government intend to adopt? Surely the Senate will not object to me, as representing the present Ministry, reading a statement of that sort? The statement which I am desired to lay before honorable senators is as follows: -
An occasion of this kind would usually require some general statement from the new Administration charged with the leadership of the House; but in the present instance, in order to economize time, that can be very briefly summarized. This Ministry adheres to the practical policy sanctioned by the country at the last general election, and already submitted to this House, and exists for the purpose of giving effect to it.
A majority of the members of the Cabinet are directly responsible for the programme submitted to Parliament in 1904, which was then accepted in almost every particular by our present colleagues, so that we represent to-day the same policy and the same party.
The circumstances of our assumption of office prevent a formal submission of our programme in a speech from the Governor-General, but this is rendered comparatively immaterial, because the speech of His Excellency at the opening of this Parliament remains almost as completely applicable now as sixteen months ago, when it was delivered.
To refresh the memories of honorable members, i will rapidly run through the programme then formulated, and now re-submitted.
Taking the subjects mentioned in the order in which they appear in His Excellency’s speech of March, 1904, honorable members will find - The taking over of the debts of the States (1), and compensation for transferred properties (2) mentioned in the third paragraph. The discussion on the first of these has been advanced a stage by the Hobart Conference, whilst the joint valuations for the second are now about to be commenced.
As to the question of the transferredproperties, I might inform honorable senators that I think we are in a fair way to arrive at some conclusion in regard to the amount of moneywe shall be required to pay in the form of interest at3½ per cent. on the value. Valuators have been appointed, and the whole matter taken in hand. In the matter of the taking over of the States debts, nothing practical was done at the Hobart Conference, since no agreement could be arrived at. The points of difference resolved: themselves into two. The States representatives unanimously desired that the provisions of the Braddon section of the Constitution should be made perpetual. The Commonwealth Treasurer at the time, Sir George Turner, said, “ No, but I am quite willing to agree that they shall be continued in operation for another twenty years, making thirty years in all from the date of the inauguration of the Commonwealth.” That was one point of difference. The other point was with respect to borrowing money in the local market. The representatives of the States desired that the whole of the borrowing in the local market should be confined to themselves, and they did not approve of the Commonwealth Government borrowing in that market. That suggestion was not agreed to by the representatives of the Commonwealth.
– What a very inaccurate statement.
– The statement is absolutely accurate. However, the papers will be submitted to the Senate, and the honorable and learned senator willbe able to see them for himself.
– I shall not see them here for the first time.
– The honorable and learned senator will be able to comment upon the papers when they are submitted to the Senate, and I shall no doubt have an opportunity to reply to his comments -
A Commonwealth system of old-age pensions is now under inquiry by a Royal Commission, and will be considered atthe first opportunity (3).
The encouragement of rural occupations (4), in particular by means of preferential trade (5); bounties for new products (6) ; and speedier and cheaper transportation of meat, butter, and fruit, under improved conditions (7), will be attempted as soon as possible. To attract population (8), and to make provision for the appointment of a High Commissioner (9), are kindred ends to be achieved, together with, and in relation to, the matters just mentioned, with which they are closely allied.
A Bill relating to navigation and shipping (10) in the light of the report expected from the Royal Commission now sitting, is in contemplation. The Bill, for the establishment of the iron and steel industry (11) is under revision. (12) Two Ocean Mail Contracts provisionally accepted will be submitted, while (13) the whole question of subsidies for sea carriage will be brought under review as part of the general forward policy already alluded to.
The two mail contracts include one with the Orient Company, and another in connexion with the Vancouver line -
We hope to receive reports from the Tariff Commission, probably during the present session, and to take them into immediate consideration.
The Budget will be framed upon the same plan outlined in 1904 (14). A continuance ofthe Sugar Bounty for a further period will be proposed (15). The Pacific Cable Conference is now being held, and will shortly report upon present and future ararngements (16). The Western Australian Railway Survey Bill (17), the Papua Bill (18), and the Trade Marks Bill (19) are approaching their final stage.
– Are they? The Western Australian Railway Survey Bill is not near finality yet.
– Considering that the Government which the honorable and learned senator supported was strongly in favour of making that railway, I am astonished that he should turn round on that subject.
– The honorable senator knows well that I am not turning round. No one should know that better than the honorable senator.
– Turning round is popular in politics to-day.
– I shall vote now on that question as I voted when it was last before us.
– The honorable and learned senator did not vote on the question when it was submitted by the last Ministry, because it did not go to a division in the Senate.
– The honorable senator knows very well how I would have voted.
– I. believe that the Bill was talked out by Senator Dobson, who, I understand, is entitled to continue the debate upon it to-morrow, and if his powers of talk should be equal to the task, may talk it out this session, as he did last.
– The honorable senator has made a gross misstatement about me.
– The honorable and learned senator can explain subsequently. I know that he was a consistent supporter of the previous Government-
– Why should the honorable senator make a statement which he knew to be utterly untrue when he made it.
– I did not know the statement to be untrue. The honorable and learned senator makes use of very strong language, and he has no right to do so.
– Order. I call on Senator Clemons to withdraw his statement.
– I withdraw the statement, and I say that the honorable senator’s statement was inaccurate, and he ought to have known that it was inaccurate.
– It is quite in order for the honorable and learned senator to say that a statement is inaccurate, but it is not in order to say that it is untrue.
– I did not know that the statement I made was inaccurate. I knew that Senator Clemons was a supporter of The previous Government; the exPrime Minister made a distinct statement that he was very much in favour of the Bill, and thought the railway ought to be constructed, and for the moment I thought that Senator Clemons, as a strong supporter of the previous Government, had turned round on the question. The statement I was reading proceeds: -
The Bill for an Inter-state Commission appears no longer urgent, as the pre’ferential rates on railways have been practically abolished, and differential wharfage charges are being removed.
I may say, with regard to that, that the Premiers at the Hobart Conference agreed to do all in their power, and they have the power if they chose to exercise it, to put a stop to preferential rates. I have made inquiries as to how they were carrying out their promise, because it is one thing to pass a resolution committing one. to do certain things, and it is quite another to do them. I find that instructions have been given in all of the States, and that preferential rates on the railways will cease in a few weeks.
– Will the honorable senator permit me to point out that we have just adopted” preferential rates in New South Wales.
– The Commonwealth permits the States to manage their railways as they please. So far as their own people are concerned, they can make what rates they please. If, for instance, there is a mine in a particular part of a State, and the State authorities think that it is desirable that the produce of that mine should be carried in a certain direction to the seaboard they can make a Tate on the traffic in that direction lower than that which they charge for traffic in other directions. That does not affect the interests of the other States. Where preferential rates injuriously affect the people of other States we step in and say that the people of the other States shall be treated in the same way as those of the State establishing the preferential rates.
– Are not the Victorian coal rates grossly one-sided?
– Are not the Tasmanian rates also one-sided? I shall not say they are grossly one-sided, because I do not believe they are. At all events, this is the position. If we find that there are any preferential rates established by which the people of one State are given an advantage over those of another, we can appoint an Inter-State Commission to put a stop to them. If the States Governments will agree to put a stop to them, they will relieve us of the necessity of going to considerable expense in the appointment of an Inter-State Commission, for such a ‘Commission would be very expensive; and as the money would have to come out of their own pockets, they will be wise in the matter, we hope, and will take care to establish no preferential rates to which we can object.
The amendment of the Electoral Act (20), projected in 1903, will be laid Before you this session, providing for more effective administration.
The other Bills promised relating to -
In addition to these there are now measures to be brought forward this session. (27) The Government is of opinion that the constitutional method, of determining the precise time at which the representation in the House of the people of the respective States shall be increased or diminished according to their numbers is by an Act of the Parliament. The dangers of leaving changes of this character in the hands of any Ministry, and of permitting them either to be set on foot at any moment merely by Executive Order, or to be delayed at Executive will, are obvious. Parliament itself should decide, subject to the Constitution, when and in what circumstances the representation shall be altered. A Bill to accomplish this will be introduced. Another important Bill will, it is hoped, effectually suppress what are known as Secret Commissions so far as they exist in the field of Commonwealth jurisdiction. (28) In the light of the evidence before the Butter Commission the urgency of coping with the evil will be generally appreciated.
– Another interference with private enterprise.
– Will the honorable senator explain how that comes within Commonwealth jurisdiction?
– It would in the matter of exports.
– So far as external and Inter-State trade is concerned.
– Exactly; our Taw advisers have advised that we have power to interfere with and prevent the institution of these secret commissions in such cases, though of course we cannot interfere with what may be taking place within a State.
– Suppose a merchant and ship-owner in Victoria chose to arrange a commission in connexion with the shipment of butter, how can the Commonwealth Government interfere with them?
– We can argue that out when the matter comes before us. I am not prepared to deal with it now.
– I merely wished to know if the honorable senator could explain it now.
– It is a question for a lawyer, and I shall get a lawyer’s opinion on the subject before I deal with it. The statement proceeds: -
Several Bills considered in part last session will be revived by resolution, and, where necessary new amendments will be added.
Among other matters engaging the serious attention of Ministers, and upon which it is intended at a later date to make proposals of an important character, that of Defence (29) . is specially deserving of reconsideration, particularly in view of recent developments.
Short Bills relating to the Law of Evidence (30); Audit Act Amendment (31); Wireless Telegraphy (32) ; Census and Statistics (33) ; Weights and Measures (34) ; Designs (35) ; and Property Acquisition (36) will be placed before you.
This list of subjects may be divided into two parts. The first is made up of minor Bills, aiming at useful but independent additions to the ordinary machinery of Government. The other consists of major Bills, embodying a progressive policy of development of the resources of the Commonwealth, intended to be carried outby systematic effort here and in the Mother Country, and, if necessary, in the sister dominions of the Empire.
It may not be possible to complete this programme, though with the help of Parliament a great advance can be made before the next recess. The policy as a whole can be pushed far onward if we are able to follow a business-like session this year with a longer session next year, devoted to questions of the first magnitude, approached steadily and consistently from the practical side. At all events, so far as Ministers are concerned, this Parliament will be afforded, as it has itself demanded, another opportunity of fulfilling the purposes for which it was elected’, and justifying the confidence of those who look to us to foster the national interests of Australia.
– What about the site for the Capital ?
– I have now informed the Senate of the Ministerial policy.
– May I ask Senator Playford if honorable senators will be supplied with copies of the statement he has read.
– I have only the one copy ; but I have no doubt the Prime Minister lias taken steps to have numberless copies of the statement printed, and they will be circulated at an early date.
– Could we have an illuminatedcopy for framing?
– During the early part of the session, the Senate has often experienced difficulty in filling up time profitably, as we have not been in a position in the past to introduce many of the important Bills which have been submitted. We have had to wait until another place dealt with those measures before we have had an opportunity to consider them. I shall do my best to bring before the Senate as much work as possible.
– Is that why the number of Ministers with portfolios has been reduced in the Senate?
– Hear, hear. Senator Playford should explain that.
– We appoint Ministers, and reduce and increase their number according to what suits our position best.
– If the Government want a little more support, they appoint a few more Ministers - an excellent idea.
– We are now in this matter in exactly the same position as were the Barton Government. That Government had a Minister without a portfolio in the Senate, and one with a portfolio.
– But the Minister without a portfolio had an official position.
– What does it matter about an official position in which there is nothing to do? I occupied the position to which the honorable senator referred, and I can speak with experience. What is in a name? We call a Minister the Vice-President of the Executive Council; but he has nothing special to do; it is only an official name. “A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” The Minister who now occupies a position in the Senate as an honorary Minister has a seat in the Cabinet in the same way as other Ministers, and considers and votes on all questions submitted in Cabinet in just the same way as do other Ministers. The only special work which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has to do is to preside at meetings of the Executive Council in the absence of the Governor- General .
– And they last only about half-an-hour.
– I can only repeat that I shall do all I can to get as much work as possible before the Senate. I hope I shall succeed ; but I am a little doubtful, as the House of Representatives has charge of the Estimates, and will have some Bills which are of a highly contentious character to deal with. Before those Bills are submitted to the Senate, it may be necessary for me to ask for an adjournment for a fortnight or so. The present position is that the Government have given notice oftheir intention to proceed in the Senate with the consideration of the very debatableBill introduced last session relating to the sur vey of the proposed railway linebetween Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta, and that the are also ready to give notice of their in tention to introduce Bills relating to copy right, wireless telegraphy, and other mat ters. These are not of supreme import ance, nor are they of a very contentious character, but they will, at all events, provide work. ‘ Looking round the Seriate, I must say that -I anticipate that honorable senators will also bring forward a considerable amount of private members’ business.
– Can the Minister for Defence say when the Estimates are likely to be presented to the Senate?
– It is impossible for me to say when they will be submitted to the Senate, for theyhave not yet been considered by the Cabinet. Their preparation was in a forward state when we took office, but each Minister had, of course, to go through those relating to his own Department. The Treasurer has now dealt with them, and expects to be in a position to submit them to the Cabinet next week, and ata very early date to make his financial statement. But when another place will dispose of the Estimates is quite another question. They contain much contentious matter, and as they will doubtless give rise to considerable discussion, I can- not say when we are likely to submit them to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) adjourned.
Order of the day read for the resumption of the debate, adjourned from 7th July (vide page 152), on motion by Senator Feaser -
That the following Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General.
May it please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellencyfor the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That a Select Committee of the Senate be appointed to inquire into and report upon -
The existence or otherwise of a combine, trust, or monopoly in the industry of the manufacture, importation, and sale of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes within the Commonwealth.
If such combine, trust, or monopoly be found to exist, as to its effect on the industry, and on the Commonwealth.
As to tbe advisabilityor otherwise of the Government taking over the industry of such manufacture, importation, and sale, or any part thereof.
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
That the Committee report to the Senate on 9th August, 1905.
I have not come prepared with facts or figures relating to this motion ; but I do not think it is necessary to deal with it at any length, as the whole question has already been debated. The constitution of the Senate is indeed the same as it was on a previous occasion, whenI moved a similar motion and gave all the facts and figures relating to it. It was then agreed that a S elect Committee should be appointed. That committee was appointed, sat throughout last session, and took a large quantity of evidence, which was very valuable, not only from my own stand-point, but from tbe point of view of many others. It would be a hardship if the committee, which lapsed under the Standing Orders with the close of last session, were not reconstituted, and allowed to proceed with its inquiries so as to be able to report to the Senate on the evidence submitted. I do not think that it would take very long to complete the inquiry. Last session it took the evidence of officials of the Department of Trade and Customs, which was largely of a statistical character, as well as that of manufacturers and wholesale sellers of tobacco; but ihe evidence of the retailers in a smaller way of business and of the operatives yet remains to be received. The work of the committee was practically set aside under the standing order, by which all Select Committees cease their operations at the end of the session during which they are appointed. I do not anticipate any opposition to this motion, but should any objection be raised, I shall be in a position to reply. I would, however, urge the Senate to agree to the appointment of the committee, so that it may bring the inquiry to a conclusion. If the motion be passed, I shall move the further motion of which I have given notice, providing that the evidence taken before the Select Committee which sat during last session be laid on the table of the Senate, so that it may be referred to the newly appointed committee. I shall also ask the Senate to agree that the membership of the committee shall be the same as that which’ took evidence last vear, so that there may be really no break in the continuity of its thought and operations. I am sure hon orable senators will agree that the question of the nationalization of the tobacco industry is not one whit less interesting than it was last session.
– It is more interesting than ever.
– Perhaps it is. Honorable senators must have been impressed by the fact that the Japanese Government, in floating a loan to enable them to carry on the war with Russia, relied very largely for its success upon their ownership of the tobacco industry.
– That was the asset they offered by way of security.
– It was put forward as an asset in connexion with two of their largest war loans, and was accepted as security for loans amounting to upwards of£30,000,000 that were raised ‘ in the world’s markets. It is a significant fact - a fact that may be a tribute to the Japanese as a nation, or to the worth of this asset - that the loans were subscribed many times over.
– -Does the honorable senator think that the success of the loans was due to the fact that the State tobacco monopoly was offered by way of security, or to the Japanese successes in the war?
– I think that it was largely due to the success of the Japanese in prosecuting the war with Russia. I do not wish to make capital out of the fact, and have mentioned it only to show that financiers in the world’s market evidently regarded such an asset as satisfactory. The Russian Government have apparently been impressed with the success of the Japanese loans so floated, for, according to a statement which appeared recently in the Age, they are already making inquiries as to the possibility of nationalizing the tobacco industry in that country. Unfortunately, I cannot read the newspaper extract in question, because, having been called upon unexpectedly to deal with the motion, I have not got it with me.
– They may be driven to nationalize private property in Russia before they are very much older.
– Perhaps so. In such an event, the owners of private property in that country could not do better than send for Senator Dobson to speak on their behalf in the same eloquent and vigorous manner that he has spoken at various times on behalf of the capitalists of Australia. As to the operations of the tobacco combine in Australia, I am more than ever convinced that our action last session in passing a resolution in favour of the nationalization of the industry, and in appointing a Select Committee to deal with this question, has deterred it from doing in Australia what ithas done and is doing in other lands.
– Our action resulted in the farmers of Queensland obtaining a better price for their tobacco.
– The combine is not prepared to give us material and evidence to work, upon, and, but for our action, I am satisfied that the tobacco smokers of Australia would have felt before now the effect of its operations. But I wish to draw attention to the fact that in New Zealand, where the same combine is operating, Mr. Seddon, in one of his notable outbursts, recently gave the trust notice that if they continued to carry on as they have done, he will be prepared to take drastic action, and we know that when he speaks iri that manner he usually means something. I feel convinced that he will not be satisfied merely with enacting antitrust legislation. I do not think that it would be proper for me to comment upon the evidence which has been given before the committee. Having filled the office of chairman of that body, I feel that I am under an obligation to reserve any comments which I may have to make in that connexion. I merely wish to add that that evidence is very valuable, from all points of view, and I think that the Senate would do well to place it upon record in its papers, and to empower the committee to complete its inquiry and to furnish a report. I claim that its members have not in any. way exercised a bias - in fact, so far as the evidence up to date is concerned-
– The honorable senator ought not to anticipate a charge of that character.
– I do not anticipate it. So far, the evidence taken has really been against the nationalization of the industry rather than in its favour.
– Will the honorable senator tell me who were the members of the committee?
– Last session the committee was composed df Senators Grav. Findley, Keating, Stewart, Styles, and the mover.
– Obviously we shall require to appoint a new committee.
– There are only one or two changes that need to be made. Senator Playford has informed me that he will now be too busy to attend to the work pf the committee, and consequently I would suggest - I do not wish the committee to partake of a party character - that Senator Drake should take the place of SenatorStewart, and that Senator Story should fill the position previously occupied by Senator Playford. By adopting that method we shall still have a representative from each State, and the committee will be constituted - so far as parties are concerned - in the same way as it was last session.
Debate (on motion by Senator Clemons) adjourned.
– I move -
That there be laid on the table of this Senate a copy of the correspondence in the case of Mr. Mcintosh, a blind gentleman on tour, and his treatment by the Customs authorities at Hobart.
I have no intention of making a long speech upon this, motion, but I think . it would be well for the public at large to see the whole of the correspondence relating to the matter, and thus to remove any misapprehension which may exist.
– I merely wish to say that the Government entertain no objection to the passing of this motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 July 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050726_senate_2_25/>.