2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Final Report of Royal Commission on the Butter Industry.
Pursuant to the Customs Act 1901 - Amendment of Regulation No. 101 ; and repeal of Statutory Rules1905, No. 30(Provisional Regulation), Statutory Rules 1905, No. 48.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Are the Agents-General of the States in London supplied with Commonwealth Statutes, Gazettes, Hansard, and other official publications ; if not, will the Government make arrangements for their being so supplied?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is asfollows: -
The Agents-General are supplied with all official publications with the exception of Hansard, which is supplied only to theAgents-General for Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. The other Agents-General have now asked to be supplied with copies of Hansard. The distribution of Hansard is under the control of Parliament.
– The AgentGeneral for Victoria receives forty copies of Hansard as arranged by Sir Edmund Barton, before there was any President or Speaker, for distribution to the other
Agents-General in England and to other persons. We do not know exactly to whom, the copies have been sent, but we have called for a list of the names of the receivers.
– Understanding, sir, that you and Mr. Speaker have the distribution of Hansard in your hands, I desire to askwhether you will arrange for all theAgents-General to be supplied with copies?
– I understand that they are all supplied.
– My question was prompted by a complaint on the part of the Agent-General for Western Australia that he was kept in the dark because he was not furnished with any official documents.
– I think that the honorable senator is mistaken. The complaint of the Agent-General for Western Australia was that the copies of Hansard were sent to him only once a month, and he thought that he ought to receive them once a week. He said that if he received the copies once a month he had not time to read them, but otherwise he would have time.
– May I ask, sir, that you will make arrangements to have the copies sentweekly?
– We have made arrangements.
– May I point out, sir, that you did not inquire whether the notice of motion, standing in my name, and relating to the resumption of the proceedings on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, was to be taken as formal or not formal ?
– Under the Standing Orders it does not. come within the category of those motions which may be taken as formal.
– The motion relating to the resuscitation of the Parliamentary Evidence Bill was taken as formal.
– If honorable senators will look at the Standing Orders they will see that certain motions can be considered as formal. I do not think that this is one of them, but the Senate need not debate it when it is moved.
– I was going to ask the Senate to take the motion as formal today, and to discuss the main question next week.
– The Minister will see that the matter can be dealt with when it is reached.
Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an
Act relating to Copyright.
Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to Wireless Telegraphy.
Bill presented and read a first time.
SenatorLt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I move -
That this Senate resolve itself into Committee of the whole to consider the Parliamentary Evidence Bill.
I understand that the amendments which have been proposed in this Bill by the Standing Orders Committee, and which are fairly extensive, have only very recently been received from the Government Printer. What it is proposed to go into Committee to consider is really the report of the Standing Orders Committee. The revised copy of the Bill, however, has not been circulated sufficiently long, I think, to enable the Committee to usefully proceed this afternoon. Therefore, I only propose to go into Committee formally to enable the report of that body, to be received, and possibly to passthefirst clause of the Bill, so that honorable senators may have full opportunity to consider the amendments proposed. It will be remembered that the second reading of this Bill was affirmed in the first Parliament, and again last session. It had, I think, the general support of every section in the Chamber, and after we went into Committee it was referred to the Standing Orders Committee for their report.
– Did the Bill ever get into Committee?
-It was referred to the Standing Orders Committee after its second reading was agreed to.
– The motion I now move is really in fulfilment of that which the Senate has affirmed. .
– The principle of this Bill was affirmed some time ago by the second reading being carried, and it was then sent to a committee, who made a report on it and suggested certain amendments. The course which Senator Neild proposes, to follow meets with the concurrence and support of Ministers, namely, to have the Bill and report now remitted to a committee of the whole Senate, but, inasmuch as the suggested amendments and the report of the Standing Orders Committee havenotbeen printed sufficiently long to enable honorable senators to acquaint themselves with all particulars, it is thought best that after the consideration of. one or two of the minor classes this afternoon progress should be reported, and the consideration of the Bill in Committee should be resumed at a convenient date.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
This Act may be cited as the Parliamentary Evidence Act 1964.
– It will be necessary to alter the date “1904” to “1905.” After that amendment has been carried I do not intend to proceed further with the Bill today. I move -
That the figure “4 “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “ 5.” ‘
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I desire to move the motion standing in my name with reference to the Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta Railway Survey (Bill, but I ask for leave to alter the date upon which the adjourned debate is to be resumed from July 27th to Wednesday next; I take it that this is a purely formal motion, because the real discussion will take place on the continuation of the debate on the second reading of the Bill. The debate was cut short last year by the prorogation. Senator Dobson was then in possession. I willagree to put off the resumption of the debate until a later date if honorablesenators wish, because I have no desire to rush the matter unnecessarily. But there seems to be a. general desire that the debate should be taken on Wednesday next.
Leave granted ; motion amended accordingly.
– I may mention that I think that I ought to put the motion standing in the Minister’s name as two separate questions ; because, although some honorable ‘senators may desire to resume the consideration of the subject, they may not desire to consider it on the particular date named.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That, in accordance with Standing Order No. 234, the proceedings on the Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act to authorize the Survey of Route for a Railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia,” which were interrupted by the prorogation of the Parliament on Thursday, the 15th day of December, 1904, be resumed at the stage then reached in connexion with the said Bill; and that the adjourned debate on the second reading be resumed on Wednesday next.
– I rise to a point of order. I think that, the motion is out of order, inasmuch as it is not in accordance with the Constitution. I understand that the Bill referred to in the motion was introduced in another place upon a message from the Crown, because it was a measure which involved the appropriation df a certain amount of revenue. Subsequently it came up to this Chamber, and it was under consideration when the prorogation took place. Standing order No. 234 provides that -
If, in any session, the proceedings on any Bill shall have been interrupted by the prorogation <if Parliament, the Senate may, in the next succeeding session, by resolution, order such proceedings to be resumed ; provided a periodical or general election for the Senate has not taken place between such two sessions.
I understand that that standing order relates to all Bills which are not introduced into another place bv message, and which <lo not involve the appropriation of money.
– Why does the honorable senator understand that?
– Because the standing order cannot override the Constitution which in section 56 provides that -
A vote resolution or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
That is very clear and definite, and shows that any Bill having to be recommended by message from the Crown, which comes before the Senate, and has not been disposed of when the prorogation takes places, cannot be covered by the standing order which I have quoted. Unless a message comes down to the House, in which the Bill originated, we cannot take the Bill up again, and deal with it in the same way as we can deal with a Bill of another kind. This is a matter which is outside all party interest, and should be dealt with on its merits. I bring up the point, not because it has any relation to the question involved in the motion, but because I think we should endeavour, as far as possible, to see that everything that we do is within the limits of the Constitution. One can easily conceive of a situation arising in the only House in which Bills involving the appropriation of revenue can be introduced - namely, the other place - where the Government might bring down a Bill at the commencement of a session, with a message from the Governor-General. The Senate might take an opposite view of the measure. There might be a long discussion, and at the time of the prorogation that Bill might not have been dealt with. In the next session circumstances might have changed. The Government, according to this standing order, need not even introduce the measure afresh. There might be ian opportunity to get it pushed through at the end of the session. Suppose - as we can easily conceive to be the case - that a Bill has been left over at the time of prorogation, and that at the commencement of the next session there is no evidence that it is likely to be brought up again. Towards the end of the session, when members mav, perhaps, have become tired, or when many may have been called away, the Government may take advantage of the position, utilize this standing order, and so be enabled to get through a Bill of that description merely by keeping it back for a certain, time. But we have the protection of the Constitution in reference to Bills which appropriate revenue. I contend that a message must be brought down in the same session in which a Bill appropriating revenue is submitted to Parliament. I hold that section 56 of the Constitution absolutely prevents a Bill of this description from being brought forward without a Governor-General’s message. Therefore, I submit that the motion of the leader of the Senate is altogether out of order.
– It would seem that Senator Turley’s argument rests almost entirelyon the assumption that section 56 of the Constitution imposes the necessity for a message recommending an appropriation to be received at the initiation of proposed legislation.
– In the same session.
– “ At the initiation “ were the words used. I should be glad if Senator Turley will admit that the message need only be received during the same session, because that would settle the point of order which has been raised.
– Does the Minister suggest that the Bill should be brought in first, and the message received afterwards?
– That is lovely !
– I was proceeding to argue the point of order raised by Senator Turley on the construction of a particular clause, an interpretation of which I propose to give in the light of authorities. If honorable senators will turn to Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution, they will find that the history of section 56 is given. The form of the clause as it was debated in the Melbourne session of the Federal Convention was as follows : -
It shall not be lawful to pass any vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue or moneys to any purpose which has not been first recommended to the House in which the proposal for appropriation originated by message of the Governor-General in the session in which the vote, resolution, or law is proposed.
Honorable senators will notice that at that stage the clause contained the very words which Senator Turley suggests are implied in the section. The commentators go on to say with regard to the clause in that form -
This was the shape in which the clause was debated in Melbourne, after the second report. The first point discussed was the meaning of the words “ it shall not be lawful.” They apparently amounted to a prohibition, any breach of which would render the law, even if passed, invalid, thereby enabling the courts to inquire into the question whether an Appropriation Bill has been recommended by message or not.
The rest of this comment I recommend to honorable senators opposite who rather scout the idea that a Bill can be introduced and a message received afterwards. There is an authority to whom I think some hon orable senators opposite will on many points defer -
Mr. Reid pointed out the undesirableness of this, and to prevent any difficulty arisingfrom the circumstances of a preliminary vote being taken on an Appropriation Bill before the necessary message was brought down to the House, he also suggested the omission of the words “ first,” so that the clause should read, “which has not been recommended to the House.”’ With this alteration it would only be necessary that the message should reach the House before the Bill was passed by the House.
I think that is very clear.
The Drafting Committee subsequent!” gave effect to these suggestions by omitting the words “it shall not be lawful,” and the word “first,” and re-casting the clause into its present form.
As the clause stands, there is nothing in it to directly suggest the absolute necessity that a message shall precede the consideration of the Bill.
– It must come down in the same session.
– We find that, at a certain stage in the drafting of the Constitution, there were words in the clause which would have imposed on the Executive the necessity of having a recommendation for the appropriation of money, but those very words were eliminated at the suggestion of the late Prime Minister, who, no doubt, had in his mind such a condition of thingsas has now arisen ; and, as a result, Messrs. Quick and Garran, in commenting on the clause as it now stands say -
With this alteration it would only be necessary that the message should reach the House before the Bill was passed by the House.
They do not say that the message shall absolutely precede the consideration of the Bill, but that it shall reach the House, in which the Bill or resolution originates, before the Bill or resolution has actually passed the House.
– Does not section 56 go further and say that the Bill shall be passed in the same session?
– Exactly; that is thevery point I am arguing.
– A message cannot be brought to this House.
– Quite so. The Bill did not originate in this Chamber, and it is not suggested that a message should’ be brought here. But I can assure honorable senators that a message will be brought to the other House during this session.
– What will then follow ?
– I atn not in a position to say what will then follow, but I can assure the honorable senator that there will be no attempt to pass this Bill into law during this session without bringing into the other House, in which the Bill originated, a message for the appropriation of the necessary money. I submit that it is quite competent for this course to be taken, and that, under present circumstances, there is nothing in the point of order raised by Senator Turley as to our incompetence to pass this motion.
– The substance of the matter has, it appears to me, been a little lost sight of in the remarks made by Senator Keating. There are two classes of appropriations, that for the ordinary annual services, and that which is covered by such a Bill as is now under consideration, namely, an appropriation for specific purposes. This section of the Constitution, therefore, applies to the present Bill. In addition to the point raised by Senator Turley, there is the question whether, in view of section 56 of the Constitution, such a Bill as this is one which properly comes under standing order 234 in regard to lapsed Bills. Without dealing with the narrower question as to whether a message can be brought in during the progress of a Bill, which has been introduced in another branch of the Legislature, there is the further question of substance, namely, whether this standing order is applicable to a Bill which requires a message from the Governor-General to be brought down in the same session. That evidently means in the session in which the measure originated. I venture to think that this is not such a Bill as ought to be included within the meaning of standing order 234. Section 56 of the Constitution is evidently limited to Bills which go through their ordinary course - Bills which are supported by a message from the GovernorGeneral - and is not applicable to Bills which are covered by standing order 234. It is true that standing order 234 is an extremely useful one, but it ought not to be extended in its operation in a way which might interfere with the privileges and powers of Parliament, or with the objects which are intended to be safeguarded by section 56. As this measure was introduced by a Ministry of which I had the honour to be a member, I have no doubt that everything was done in regular order, and that there was a message last year. The Bill is practically at an end. Standing order 234 gives power to revive Bills of an ordinary character, but not, I submit, Bills requiring a message from /the Governor-General. Bills such as that now before us are on an altogether different footing from Bills of an ordinary character. Our Standing Orders are subject to the powers and provisions of the Constitution, and standing order 234 is subject to section 56. That section has, so to speak, been exhausted, and if it is intended to apply it again, there ought to be a new Bill with” a new appropriation under a new message.
– Senator Keating has been supplied with the information that during the debate in the Federal Convention, there were certain words in clause 56 which we do not find now in the section, namely, “ first “ or “ previously.” While those words have been eliminated, there is another important word not eliminated, and which I think possesses the full value that “ first “ or “ previously “ would have held. The word I refer to is “ purpose,” which implies nothing else but something done previously. If honorable senators read the section, they will see that this motion cannot be passed, unless the “purpose “ has in the same session been recommended. There can be no interpretation of the words which denies that the “purpose “ has to precede the passing, of the resolution. I suppose we are now asked to pass a motion without a message, and, if Senator Keating’s .argument be sound, I would point out that the word “has” has a significance. If Senator Keating’s contention be good, we ought, instead of “ has,” to have the words “ shall have been.”
– We are not asking the senate to pass “a vote, a resolution, or a proposed law for the appropriation of revenue.” We are asking honorable senators to pass a simple motion to revive the consideration of a certain matter.
– The Bill we are asked to revive is a Bill which carries with it an appropriation of money.
– The honorable senator is “too previous.”
– I am not in the least degree “ too previous “ when I point out that the revival of the measure is practically the first step to, and a part of, the introduction of a Bill which will appro plate money. The elimination of the words in the original draft do not alter in any sense the purport of the section, as is shown by the insertion of the word “ pur- pose,” followed by the word “has,” which necessarily imply that something has to be done before we can proceed. We all know that what is necessary is a message from the Crown.
– While this is a legal point, it has been raised by a layman, and, therefore, honorable senators who are not lawyers are justified in rushing into the arena.It seems to me that Senator Turley altogether overlooked some very significant phrases in section 56 of the Constitution.
– But the honorable senator is treating it on its “ merits. “
– First of all, section 56 says -
A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed -
Not shall not be “introduced.”
– That is the point. This is merely a preliminary motion.
– Can we pass this motion to revive a Bill requiring a message, without a message?
– The passing of this motion will not be equivalent to the passing of a vote, resolution, or proposed law appropriating money. It is now proposed merely to re-instate on the business-paper a vote, resolution, or Bill to appropriate money.
– Which should be preceded by a message, and always is.
– The honorable senator is thinking of the Tasmanian Standing Orders.
– I am surprised that honorable senators do not see that the argument they put forward drives them into the position of contending that it requires a message from the Governor-General to re-instate the Bill on the business-paper.
– Is the honorable senator contending that the point should te raised when the Bill is restored to the businesspaper?
– If at all.
– Before the final passing of the Bill, because the whole thing is governed bythe words “ shall not be passed.” If the section were intended to take effect at the earliest stages of a Bill the words used would be “ shall not be proposed,” “ shall not be introduced.” or “ shall not be read a second time.” But the words are explicit enough - “shall not be passed.” The value of Senator Keating’s quotation from Quick and Garran is that it has shown that it was in the minds of the members of the Convention to make the section apply to the introductorv stages of a vote, resolution, or Bill, but, acting upon the suggestion of Mr. Reid, it was decided that it should apply to the final stages. I am surprised that old parliamentarians should contend that it is not possible to bring in a message after a Bill has been introduced. I venture to say that the Minister of Defence has many a time had occasion to submit even a second message increasing a proposed appropriation after a Bill has been introduced.
– Dozens of times.
– We know also that a Bill may be introduced, and be subsequently amended, so as to appropriate revenue, and a message is then brought down.
– That is a most common practice.
– Therefore I take it that when the Bill is re-instated a message will be brought down to the House of Representatives.
– Before the Billis finally passed.
– Before the Bill is finally passed in the Senate. It would be manifestly foolish for Ministers to have a message brought to the House of Representatives when they do not know whether the Senate will agree to restore the Bill to the business-paper.
– Has not the honorable senator known a private Bill to be barred because no message recommending it hasbeen brought down?
– When has the honorable senator known that to occur.
– Dozens of times in the States Legislature.
– It has not occurred in South Australia.
– I have not known that to occur here. I am satisfied that in this matter, although the leader of the Opposition has given a colourable support to the point or order, the honorable and learned senator will be careful not to commit his legal reputation to a positive support of it.
– I do support it. I really do not think that this is a Bill to which the standing order should apply.
– I think that contention may have the effect of weakening the reputation which the honorable and learned senator holds in the Commonwealth. I trust that the ruling of the President will be against the point raised.
– This is a very interesting point. The view I take is that if we dealwith this question now we assume that a message will be received.
– Honorable senators supporting the point of order are assuming that it has not been received.
– We shall be assuming that a message will be received by the House in which the proposal originated. Our desire as a Legislature is to do things in order, and are we in. order when dealing with this proposition or any part of it until a message has been received in the same session by the House in which the proposal originated ?
– There can be no doubt whatever that this matter is full of difficulties. I am very much afraid that standing order 234 as to lapsed Bills is going to lead us into difficulties. I am aware that many persons believe that a great saving of time will be brought about if Parliament in one session can take up the business which was left uncompleted in the previous session. The Imperial Parliament has, at different times, appointed select committees to inquire concerning this matter, and they have deliberately refused to recommend any such procedure. The difficulties brought before them were such that they thought it was not wise to adopt this Lapsed Bills Standing Order. I should like, before giving a final decision, to think the matter over; but I point out now that one or two considerations have not been referred to. This Bill undoubtedly appropriates revenue. It says so onitsface. It says, “ the sum of , £20,000 is accordingly appropriated.” There is no doubt about that. Then the third reading of the Bill was absolutely passed by the House of Representatives last session, and if we pass it this session, the House of Representatives will have nothing further to do with it. It will have been disposed of. That being so, how can it be said that a message can be receivedinthesamesession by the House in which the Billoriginated?
– Hear, hear. That is the difficulty.
– That is one of the difficulties. I quite agree with the argument that a message imay be received at any time before a Bill is finally passed. It may have passed its secondreading, and have gone through Committee, and yet a message may be received.
– That applies to a supplementary message, rather than to an original message.
– I do not know anything about a supplementary message, but I say that a message from the GovernorGeneral sanctioning an appropriation, may be received at any time before a Bill has passed its third reading. But this Bill has passed its third reading in the House in which it originated. That is one of the difficulties in my mind, and I ask that I may be allowed to consider the matter, and give a formal ruling to-morrow.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26th July (vide page 178) on motion by Senator Playford -
That Paper No. VIII., laid upon the table on 26th July, be printed.
– We have not, perhaps, seen very much of each other of late, and it is very pleasing that we should be gathered together again. I am not at all sure that I find it in any way unpleasant to be addressing my fellow senators from this side of the chamber. I passed an exceedingly happy time for four months on the other side of the table, through the goodwill of honorable senators. During that time we got through some fairly satisfactory work, though perhaps we did rot absolutely satisfy everybody. I had not an opportunity before, and I therefore avail myself of this opportunity, to thank the two honorable senators who, with great goodness and ability, moved and seconded the Address-in-Reply to the speech of His Excellency the Governor- General. I have also to convey to the Senate a message from our colleague, Senator Best, who recently communicated with me, and sent his kindest regards to myself and all his brother senators. I am sure we hope he has had an extremely pleasant holiday, and that we may have an opportunity to welcome him back here very shortly. In connexion with recent events members of the Senate have been very much in the position of onlookers, but I think it is due to the constitutional position which the Senate occupies, its status, and the influence it ought to exert, that honorable senators should take a hand, and not be mere dumb spectators of the movements of parties, or simply be in the position of silently registering action which may be taken in another place, or the changes that may ensue upon any such! action. Ministers formally introduced themselves about a fortnight ago. That was more or less a pleasing ceremonial, and yesterday they came to us in what we might call their working clothes, and accompanied by what I suppose they call a policy. The proceed’ings of yesterday were characterized by several innovations. In the first place, we had, I think, for the first time, certainly in my experience, a statement from Ministers, with respect to changes taking place after Parliament had been opened, put in writing.
– This has been a session of innovations.
– The last Government started it.
– We started it, and we were criticised for doing so, but there is no flattery like imitation. My honorable friend began his observations ‘yesterday with some little allusion to the GovernorGeneral’s speech, submitted by the last Ministry. The Ministry to which the honorable senator belongs, has attempted to follow an example which was a good one in its particular place, but! it was not at all applicable to the situation in which) my honorable friend and his colleagues have found themselves. My honorable friend said that really he was bringing down a Governor-General’s speech. That was no explanation, nor was. it any excuse for the innovation, because a statement of policy is always submitted on a change of Government occurring after the opening of a Parliament, through the medium of a .Governor-General’s speech. Personally, I have no such reverence for those hoary traditions which require the formality of a Governor-General’s speech, to induce me to extend them to an occasion when the flowing eloquence of my friend might be much more usefully employed, than that he should be bound down hand and foot within the four corners of a written instrument. It would take a good deal of binding to hold bini down.
– He was pretty safe.
– I know that my honorable friend is pretty safe, and we all know that he is inclined at times to take the bit between his teeth. But, after all, from his long experience he is not so very headstrong as to need to be treated in this sort of way and to be deprived of at least a little freedom of speech on an occasion when a few extra words would have given us perhaps some further useful explanation on the matters to which he was referring. He is an old parliamentary hand, and I am sure that the last thing in the world he would wish to be would be a kind of marionette, and therefore he said that one reason why this course was adopted was to prevent any little divergencies which might be taken hold of. It was much better to have it in that way, so that he should be carefully restricted.
– Sing the same song.
– Yes. I quite recognise the difficulty that my honorable friend, and the Ministry were in, but I thought that all that had been got over. I thought that this policy had been approved of by Mr. Watson before the Government was permitted to be formed, and I certainly did not think it would be necessary to bind down my honorable friend so strictly within the four corners of a written instrument, in case he should make a bolt of it, and some slight divergencies take place which might occasion trouble.
– But they have a whole Prime Minister now, not half a one.
– It is greatly to be admired that they should have to get this approval, as it seems the condition of their existence. When we find everything being submitted in that way, it shows that at any rate, up to the present stage there is a faithful adherence to the obligation of securing this approval, which is extremely desirable, and without which, in point of fact, they cannot very well get on.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad that my honorable friend cheers that remark, because we all know that it is so. Mv honorable friends opposite must not think for a moment that I complain of them. The country recognises the situation. We cannot have the dominant party in the situation it occupies without giving it the rights which properly belong to its strength, and the condition on which the Ministry have taken office. I see all my honorable friends opposite. They make it quite pleasant for me to address the Senate. It is a brave array.
– The honorable and learned senator is generally facing them.
– I always like to look my friends full in the face.
– And the honorable and learned senator never turns his back.
– And I never turn my back. We all know the parliamentary teetotum. Some one said yesterday that there had been a good’ deal of turning round lately, but I am bound to say that, however I may differ from my honorable friends, who I notice, keep as far away as possible from the centre of things - they do not want to have too close an attachment - they have not been in the habit of coming within the category of those who do turn round or of the parliamentary teetotum. There are .some very different persons to whom I may have occasion very briefly to allude before I have finished. Too much time must not be wasted in analyzing the psychology of the parliamentary teetotum’. But we all have in our minds - I am not going to mention any names, although I know one or two.
– Senator Dobson !
– I should not have selected my fri’end Senator Dobson .as one, and although he takes a very strong view on the Bill for the survey of a railway to Western Australia there is another gentleman who takes a very strong view on the opposite side, who is not free from the charge of turning round in connexion with recent events. As another honorable senator on the opposite side said - I think it was Senator Pearce - this is a time of new departures and innovations, and what has just been suggested to me as to my honorable friend sitting opposite is really one of the indications of these changes or new departures which have taken place. Of course, my honorable friends sit there in the body, but I venture to think that the spirit is not there. They give no doubt a moral support, and they help to fill the benches which otherwise would be occupied by Senator Styles, and perhaps Senator Trenwith. There would be a very beggarly array of empty benches on the other side but for the moral countenance, shall I say, which my honorable friends give.
– This is about the first time that Ave have been charged with having a moral countenance.
– No one will suggest that my honorable friends have ever departed from a strong moral determination to adhere to their own plat-, form and to secure their own ends. But? when I say that I am afraid that whilst they_ are sitting there, whilst their lips, and perhaps, occasionally their votes, if they think fit, may aid my honorable friends representing the Government in the Senate, their hearts are far from them. I should do them less than justice if I imagined anything else in respectto a Government whose head had denounced them as seeking to hurl this country and its interests over a precipice - a Government which includes a Treasurer who has denounced the party as a menace to the good government of this country. I do not believe it possible myself, but at the same time the object which; my honorable friends have in view is that of achieving their aims, which they are perfectly entitled to follow out, if they can.
– It is only a passing hallucination.
– It is a mere passing hallucination under which, I suppose, my honorable friends have laboured. But whilst it possesses that quality of unreality, it is to them naturally a satisfactory position to enable them to secure as much or as great an advance in respect of their own objects and policy as they possibly can. I commend them for it. I think that every party is entitled to do the same thing, and it is not the Labour Party which is to be adversely criticised for endeavouring to further their own policy by occupying the position, which they occupied for three years or more, of the third party in the parliamentary Government of the Commonwealth, and wielding the power w’hich that situation gave them. That is the situation, as the Prime Minister has said, to which we have to come back. Senator Playford diverged a little from the letter of his statement, and so blundered in reference to. for instance, the transcontinental railway. My honorable friend said - and I take this, the earliest opportunity, of correcting him - that the late Government were strongly in favour of its construction.
– I said that the honorable and learned senator’s chief was. I did not say that the honorable and learned senator and the Government were.
– My honorable friend - and I know that he uses these expressions by inadvertence - is reported to have said differently.
– I did not say the late Government were; I said Mr. Reid was.
– I shall just quote my honora.ble friend’s words -
Considering that the Government which the honorable and learned senator supported were strongly in favour of making that railway, I am astonished that he should turn round on that subject.
In the first place, the late Government were not in favour of making the railway. In the second place, I stated so last session in this chamber.
– The honorable and learned senator said that he personally was not in favour of its construction; but he did not say that the Government were not.
– I stated distinctly that I was not.
– I was reading the honorable and learned senator’s speeches this morning.
– My honorable friend cannot read anything which would give him more instruction, and I propose to add to that. I do not think there is a man in Australia but looks forward at some period or other to ‘ the construction of the railway. I am not going to discuss its merits now ; I only wish to correct that statement, and to say that mv honorable friend was further inaccurate when he attributed to Senator Clemons that he, as a supporter of the late Government, in indicating that he was not in favour of it. was turning round from the attitude which he adopted last session.
– He withdrew thatremark at once when the mistake was pointed out to him.
– I was under the impression that, as Senator Clemons was a supporter of the Government, he supported their policy, and as he was their whip I certainly thought that he supported their policy.
– My honorable friend has withdrawn the statement as to Senator Clemons, as I hope we shall all be willing to do when we make an inaccurate statement. ‘But that Senator Clemons was most strongly opposed to this Bill last session I intimated on more than one occasion to Sir John Forrest, and therefore Senator Clemons was naturally incensed when this attitude was, quite inadvertently, I am sure, attributed to him by my honorable friend. I shall allude presently in very brief terms to two or three of the incidents which led up to a situation which, perhaps, is not customary in politics, and certainly is not very usual. I say this : that no defeat of a Ministry was ever less of a triumph to the gentleman who brought it about. I do not wonder that ever since he has been living in clouds of explanation and apologetics without number. The fact of the matter is, it seems to me, that Parliament is beginning to think that in defeating the late Ministry it really whipped the wrong boy. It reminds me of an old story about a school where the punishment was conducted on the old Eton principle of bringing the boys up on a particular day of the week before the head-master and administering chastisement to them. On one Saturday - the day set aside for the purpose - a number of boys were called up by the master, who had a list in his hand, for the usual dose of punishment. When one boy was brought in he asked,” “ Well, sir, what am I to be punished for?” The head-master replied, “ I do not know ; but you are on the list, and I have to go through with it.” But after he had flogged the boy the head-master found on> examining his list that he had flogged the confirmation class ! I think the country is beginning to feel that it is the boys of the confirmation class who have been punished by Parliament, and not the real delinquent, of whom they have formed, however, a pretty strong opinion. What was the situation? The situation was this - that the present Prime Minister, having asked for fiscal peace, in October, 1903, declared it to be one of the permanent planks of the platform which he put before Australia at the general elections. He also denounced the continuance of what he called the three-party system. As honorable senators are aware, Mr. Deakin was really the first who exhibited that three-party spectre on the public platform. He had lived under it, and groaned under its servitude for three years, according to his own statement. He declared that parliamentary government had become impossible. It was intolerable ; it could not. continue. Only the other day at an Australian Natives’ gathering he said that unless the number of parties was reduced to two the working of constitutional government would be rendered impossible. He said -
He believed there were three parties in certain States, but in some one party was sufficiently strong to carry on the business of the country. When that desirable thing would be witnessed in the Federal Parliament it would be hazardous to predict.
That was lately. Recent facts have not filtered the condition of things.
– Did he not say that he accepted the present position as the expression of the will of the people of Australia ?
– Certainly not; I find nothing of the sort in She report which I have.
– He did say that.
– This report does not show that he said that he accepted it as the will of the people of Australia.
– He admitted that he Shad made a mistake.
– He has been denouncing the position from beginningto end, and I am reading his own words. The report which I have shows that he said -
When that desirable thing would be witnessed an Australia it would be hazardous to predict. We should all realize that the key to the position was in the hands of the people.
That is exactly what the late Government felt. That was the exact alternative as to the position of things which Mr. Deakin criticised and denounced. There were two alternatives - either a coalition or an appeal to the people. As Mr. Deakin says so still, I ask how could it be possible for him to assert that the will of the people, which he was instrumental in having ascertained, is represented by the present situation in that respect? It is a very strange thing that Mr. Deakin should now find that condition of servitude to be perfect freedom ! I am not saying whether the position which he formerly took up was a just position or not. But according to his own account he had felt the pinch of the parliamentary oppression of the situation from which he sought escape. He felt that some eighteen months ago. Now we have the same situation brought about a.gain, and the same difficulty has to be experienced by himself and his colleagues. He is in exactly the position of the celebrated man from Thessaly -
Who jumped into a quickset hedge
Which scratched out both his eyes;
And when he found his eyes were out,
With all his might and main,
He jumped into another hedge
To scratch them in again !
We have Mr. Deakin in exactly the same situation in respect of which he appealed to the country for relief at the last general election. The relief was not afforded in the way he desired. Then he set about forming a coalition. The coalition which he prayed and appealed for was brought about.
– He found that it would not work.
– He made it not to work. But it was he who brought it about. He was the chief architect ; he was the joint builder of the structure which he in that celebrated speech at Ballarat sought to destroy. The late Government was in truth and in substance as much the Government of Mr. Deakin, as the present Government is in name.
– “Philip sober” was horrified by the monstrosity which he had brought into existence.
– That remark is a little unhappy, I think. One ofmy honorable friend’s colleagues in my State described the Prime Minister as being up in a balloon. The rest of the Quotation was, I think -
All among the little stars sailing round the moon.
But if I were in Mr. Deakin’s place, I would rather have the quotation which my honorable friend’s colleague used, than be open to the implication contained in my honorable friend’s interjection. I wish, in two or three words, to state what came about. The fiscal question was out of the way. It had disappeared. Mr. Deakin saidit had been buried.
– It is impossible to bury a question like that.
– But it was described as being buried.
– Mr. Reid tried to bury it.
- Mr. Reid did not try to bury it. He did his best to keep it alive.
– Mr. Reid is now a good protectionist ; he would allow the present Tariff to stand as long as he lives.
– My honorable friend is dealing with something that has no relation to the matter I am talking about. At the last election, every one throughout this country was desirous that there should be a period of rest, that this fiscal strife should end. The commercial, and speaking generally, the manufacturing classes, the producers of this country, all wanted rest to re-establish or to get the benefit of their prosperity-. Those who were in favour of high duties wanted to have some experience, and to get the advantage of the high duties under the Tariff. Those who were in favour of low duties - revenue tariff duties - were equally desirous that the matter should rest for a time. The result was that Mr. Deakin’s policy of fiscal peace, which he described as a permanent plank in his platform-
– For the present Parliament.
– What he said was a permanent plant in his platform; not for the session, or anything of the kind. So far as that statement of policy was concerned, of course the agreement between Mr. Deakin and Mr. Reid was that it should not be re-opened during the session. But his. statement was that -
The tide of prosperity is just beginning to flow, and it is indefensible to prevent it by a renewal of fiscal strife. The permanent planks of the Liberal and Ministerial policy are the maintenance of the Tariff and fiscal peace.
– When was that said?
– On the 29th October, 1903.
– That was before the Tariff Commission was appointed.
– ‘That was the time when Mr. Deakin went to the country and asked the country to drop the fiscal question. That was his justification for his attitude. As late as the year afterwards, on- the 19th Mav, 1904, in a speech in the other branch of the Legislature, he said -
May I suggest, with bated breath, that the time has come when the personal bitternesses which have arisen out of prolonged fiscal and other strife may well be laid aside, let us hope for ever. When the fiscal strife revives, if it ever does -
This is only last year - it may generate similar warmth of feeling which will lead to similar exaggerated expressions, but at the present time we have surely no need to resort to those personal weapons.
That was in deprecation of the attempt of what was called the corner protectionist party to bring back this unhappy reaction, to re-open this sore. I say, therefore, that the position then was one of fiscal peace. The fiscal question was out of the way. But my honorable friend, Senator Styles, has said that that statement was m’ade before the Tariff Commission was appointed. Mr. Deakin in that celebrated speech at Ballarat, did not say that the appointment of the Tariff Commission was a breach of the fiscal peace or a breach of the compact ; but whether he implied that or not, he said, on the 1 2 th October, that his own position in regard to the Tariff was unaltered. When the Tariff Commission was proposed, and Mr. Deakin’s attention was called to thepossibility) of the motion being carried, and to the question whether it would not have an effect upon the position of parties, he derided the idea. During the course of hisspeech, Mr. Deakin’s attention was called to the matter by Mr. Isaacs, who asked tobe permitted to explain, in order that there might be no misapprehension. The words used by Mr. Isaacs were -
It is our intention, as evidenced by the notice-paper, to make the Tariff question a very live one this session.
Mr. Deakin, in reply to that, said
It is to be made a live question by a motionthat relates to an excellent object, but can have no immediate practical effect. That motion is to be carried by the votes of those who will support it only if there be nothing more important in the platform going at the time.
We know that our friends of the LabourParty do not make a plank of the fiscal question. The remark of Mr. Deakin was ian allusion to what he had previously said’ in sweeping away the idea that any help to protection could be obtained from Mr. Watson’s party. Mr. Watson, when quoting a paragraph of the alliance agreement, said -
As one who has always been inclined to a protectionist Tariff when matters more important to the Labour Party’s platform were not involved…..
That was Mr. Watson’s comment on the suggestion that there should be an alliance between the Labour Party and the protectionists for the benefit of protection. That was the point to which the alliance had! screwed up the leader of the Opposition at that time; and I wonder to what point they have screwed up Mr. Watson’s party on protection now. Mr. Deakin went on to say -
If there is nothing more important in hand, the honorable member is going to be a protectionist; if there is something more important in hand, he is not going to be a protectionist.
Then Mr. Deakin put our friend Mr. Mauger in the same category when he said -
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports frankly tells us thatthis motion is not merely a fiscal movement; not at all. He, like his leader, says the movement is only fiscal when more important questions are not involved.
The position was that the fiscal question had been got out of the way, and there was no impediment, therefore, to the projected coalition. A coalition with Mr. Watson’s party was impossible, for the reason, as Mr. Deakin himself explained, that, apart altogether from questions of policy and the fiscal question, there was the great obstacle of organization which Mr. Deakin, in a subsequent speech at Ballarat, said had to be swallowed together with the objects of the party. And even as recently as the 12th October last year, it was shown what little sympathy there was in the combined party on broad questions of policy, apart from the fiscal question which, as Mr. Deakin said, had disappeared from the arena. On being challenged, I think, by Mr. Mauger, Mr. Deakin repudiated, with something like scorn, the idea that he had ever had the slightest idea that on the formation of the Watson Government he would sit in the Ministerial corner. What was left ? There was left the coalition, of which, I say, Mr. Deakin was the chief architect - the arrangement that was brought about between himself and the free-traders. The protectionists and the free-traders had, up to the time when the fiscal question disappeared, been separated by a strong line of demarcation. But that line of demarcation having been wiped out, there was nothing to prevent their, coalescing and working together, generally speaking, with regard to other points of the programme. Mr. Watson’s party was strong, and I sayit is largely dominant in. the country at this moment. This is due to the efforts and discipline of the party, and due to other causes, quite apart from questions of policy. But they are a dominant party, and they were placed, not in the position of arbiter as a third party, but in the position either of a direct opposition, or directly in power. I say that under these circumstances,Mr. Deakin, first of all was the chief architect of the coalition. In fact, when the coalition Government was formed he joined in building it. But for Mr. Deakin, and what were at least regarded ‘as his emphatic pledges, this coalition Government would never have come into existence. But for the assurances - but for the sinking of the fiscal question by the voice of the country on Mr. Deakin’s initiative - but for the pledges which, at any rate, we believed we had of his loyal and general support, I am quite certain that Mr. Reid would never have formed that Government. Whether Mr. Reid would, or would not, have formed the Government, I am perfectly certain that one member of the Government, namely, myself, would never have entered it. Further, as honorable senators are aware, Mr. Deakin, as leader of the Protectionist Party, contributed from that party half of the Ministry ; he was literally the leader of four members of that Government.
– Does the honorable and learned senator suggest that ‘Mr. Deakin selected the four?
– Not at all, but I do say that so far as Sir George Turner was concerned, he was selected by Mr. Deakin. I do not wish to use the expression “implored,” or anything of that kind, but I say that those gentlemen would not have joined that Ministry, had it not been for the assurance given to them, and their belief, that they and the Ministry would have undeviating and loyal support from Mr. Deakin during the Parliament. Our honoured friend, Mr. Deakin’s personal friend, Sir George Turner, went into the Ministry practically as representing Mr. Deakin - as the substitute for Mr. Deakin, who was unwilling to join himself. I know that Sir George Turner was in a condition of health in which he would have preferred, almost beyond everything, to have been free from the responsibilities of office. Whatever differences of opinion as to matters of policy we may have with Mr. McLean, that no less honoured gentleman, together with Mr. Deakin’s old colleague, Senator Drake, and his staunch follower, Mr. McCay-
– Surely those gentlemen all had minds of their own ?
– Senator Higgs is a leader of political thought; and he and all of us know perfectly well, because we have had the facts stated and explained, that but for the influence of Mr. Deakin, Sir George Turner would never have been a member of that Ministry. I am not aware whether the other gentlemen had any personal communications with Mr. Deakin, or whether any influence was exerted on them, but I say that, had it not been for the relationship of leader and followers, and the circumstances to which I have referred, those gentlemen would never have been in the Ministry. Mr. Deakin is the leader of the protectionists, who brought about and invited the coalition. At the Australian Natives’ gathering the honorable gentleman gave his parable about the “three elevens in the field.” It is impossible for any one to suggest that those gentlemen were not in that Government, or that the Government was not constituted with, not merely the approbation, but with the active assistance of the present Prime Minister. We had not merely the construction and building up of the Ministry in that way, but Mr. Deakin himself referred, on the occasion of the noconfidence motion, to the presence of those gentlemen in the Cabinet as a guarantee of the strength of the coalition, and its adhesion to the bases - the basis of fiscal peace, amongst others - on which it was founded. Those gentlemen, so to speak, were the cement of the coalition, their presence in the Government was the assurance that was stipulated for and given, that, the fiscal question having been buried, the Administration, upon the other great lines’ of policy on which they were agreed, would carry on under the auspices of Mr. Deakin. In the course of the no-confidence debate, Mr. Deakin said -
Beyond and behind that programme, we have the Government itself, and I have no hesitation in saying that the four members of the Ministry who represent the party to which I have always belonged possess our unqualified confidence.
They were there for the purpose of representing the party.
We know them, we have tried them, and we are quite content to trust to their loyalty, to their principles. We could not find better men. And so of the four members headed by the Prime Minister, they are equally representative of their party, and rank as its very ablest men. We are satisfied that we can trust the Government. … I am certain that the honorable and learned member for Indi, who has served with two out of the four protectionists in the Ministry, will admit that no more trustworthy men have ever represented us in Parliament, and, certainly, no men whose adherence to that policy has been stauncher. What better guarantee for its future can we obtainthantheir presence in the Cabinet? They are there to give effect to their pledges.
They were there to give effect to the pledge that the fiscal question would not be raised, and that the Government would harmoni ously proceed on the very broad lines agreed to by Mr. Deakin.
When they cease to do that, it will be timefor us to reconsider the situation. But I do nod anticipate that any such occasion will arise.
First of all, it will be seen that the coalition was established in the way I have described. We had Mr. Deakin’s own basis made its foundation; we had the guarantee and the cement of the four Ministers who represented him and his party, and upon that footing, and that footing alone, the Reid-McLean Government took officeI admit that there was one uncertain element - at least, I admit that now, in the light of subsequent events - and that was Mr. Deakin himself. But we thought there was no uncertainty. He went up to Ballarat on the 2nd of August, and delivered a speech which set forth the policy which was his at that time, and stiff is - because I have no reason to suppose for a moment that Mr. Deakin has altered his attitude - I do not attribute that to him in any way - upon the broad lines which then separated him from the Labour Party. I refer to his first Ballarat speech, on the 2nd of August last year. What did he goup for? He went up under the auspices of a league formed to subdue, as far aspossible, “ that extreme socialistic legislation which is being brought forward throughout the length and breadth of Australia.”
– Socialism !
– I am not now entering upon the question of “Socialism.” I think that in some respects too much has been made of the expression. I holdvery strong viewsupon many of these questions, but undoubtedly the expressions “Socialism” and “socialistic “ are open to misconception, and to many varying interpretations.
– We have experienced that within the last few months.
– I donot wish to discuss now what “ Socialism “ means, or to give any definition of it for political purposes. But I say that Mr. Deakin went to Ballarat on that occasionunder the auspices of that league, and he moved a resolution which said -
That the time has arrived when it is imperative upon members of the general community to take steps to protect the Commonwealth against the sectional aims and interests - that was of my Labour friends opposite - which tend to subordinate the public welfare to their own.
A graver charge could not be brought against any political party, group, or section in any country.
Which tend to subordinate the public welfare to their own.
What did that mean? It might have been inadvertent, but I do not believe that any one has ever put a criticism of the Labour Party in a more unpleasant form - perhaps unintentionally unpleasant.
– Protectionists and free-traders have constantly charged each other in the same way.
– I amdealing now with the references by my honorable and learned friend’s chief to the socialistic position and the socialistic plat form. If my honorable and learned friend desires to introduce the fiscal question, he may. The resolution proposed by Mr. Deakin proceeded -
And that this meeting approves the formation of a National Political League.
But that is not all -
We stand to-day as Liberals - this is the Liberal -Protectionist Party to which he was referring - who recognise that those who seek to rush you over the precipice -
Now the precipice is to be taken in one leap if it can be obtained in exchange for protection.
– He discovered that the ex-Prime Minister was rushing him over a precipice, and he withdrew.
– He is always getting over these precipices. The honorable and learned gentleman was not at this time dealing with the fiscal ques tion, but on the 2nd August he was dealing with the socialistic programme - the expression is not mine - of the Labour Party, and it was that programme which he denounced in those terms, and he was going to set himself to stem that rush. He continued -
Who recognise that those who seek to rush you over the precipice are -
Are what? - the most fatal enemies of the true cause of liberal progress.
Has Tfe discovered now that he made a mistake? He has not said so yet, but if he swallows all this, and says that it is to disappear like the fiscal issue, that may be satisfactory to the Prime Minister, but it cannot be satisfactory to the country. These are not my expressions. I should not use such expressions. I do not believe in them any more than I believe in what Sir John Forrest said when he stigmatized the Labour Party as “ Shylocks who take everything “-
– We have no money to lend any one.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.That is what struck me, but Sir John Forrest stigmatized the Labour Party, even in the absence of that condition, as “ Shylocks who were always ready to take everything and give nothing.” These are now the right honorable gentleman’s allies.
– What did the honorable and learned senator say about protectionists at one time?
Senator Sir , JOSIAH SYMON.I never used language of that kind. I do not like my honorable friends of the Labour Party to be called “ Shylocks.”
– The honorable and learned senator would like to conduct an action for libel on their behalf.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.If they will take action, I shall be ready to assist them, only the expression to which I have referred was used on an occasion when it was privileged. What is their position to-day? It may be that all this is at an end, but Mr. Deakin, on the occasion to which I refer, proceeded to say -
What is more, you must swallow, not only the programme - that is the programme to rush over the precipice, and to act the part of enemies of Liberal progress - hut the organization, and, what is more, you must swallow them whole.
I am reading this with great pain, because I do not like to have these things said about my. friends of the Labour Party.
– He must have had a bilious attack when he said that.
-Itwill take a good deal of explanation, butany explanation may do for the moment. The honorable and learned gentleman proceeded -
If, in accepting every article of the programme supporting every proposal which they put forward, you once endeavour, as many of their own members have proved in this and other States, to assert your individuality, if you once try to have an independent mind on other subjects in relation to party arrangements, you are a heretic, banned with bell, book, and candle. We see, not in one State, but everywhere throughout the Continent itself, a condition of division and unrest fatal to the procedure of public business; fatal to the successful passage of legislation.
This is the testament which the people of Ballarat were invited to accept as the present Prime Minister’s opinion of the programme and methods of the Labour Party. This is his programme, and these are the methods, because the fiscal question, it must be understood, is at an end. Mr. Watson says, “ I am a protectionist when I have no other plank in my programme more important.” That is an attitude which, from the point of view of the policy of the Labour Party, might be taken to commend itself.
– Mr. Watson would also say that that was his personal view.
– I am suggesting that.
– The honorable and learned senator suggested that Mr. Watson there spoke as leader of the party.
– There is always the caucus to be considered.
– I mean to say that Mr. Watson’s views of protection might not be my views.
– Because my honorable friend leaves the matter an open question.
– I am a strong protectionist, but Mr. Watson might not be so strong a protectionist.
- Senator Higgs is as strong a protectionist as I am a free-trader. Still, I said after the Tariff was passed that during this Parliament - and I was quoted by Sir William Lyne as saying so - the interests of this country, strong free-trader though I was, demanded rest from fiscal strife for a time. I give credit to my honorable friends for their belief that protection may be a good thing, though I do not agree with them; protection may be all that they think it is, and free-trade may be all I think it is, but there is a greater thing than either protection or free-trade for the interests of this country, and that is an opportunity for the peaceful development of a man’s avocation, instead of the perpetual strife and turmoil which are incidental to the continual tinkering with the Tariff. “Tinkering” is an expression of my honorable and learned friend at the head of the present Government. We cannot sit here as practical men, and not see that a difference of a small percentage of duty, which may for the moment mean an increase in connexion with a particular manufacture, would not justify the opening of the sluice gates of the whole of the Tariff. What has alwaysbeen felt is, that the moment that, from, either the ‘ free-trade or the protectionist side, you endeavour, on points of duties, to open up some line with a view to redress an inequality, or a mischief if you please,, that moment you give opportunities toothers, who are as justly entitled to make their claims,- to come in, and seek the same kind of redress. I admitted that that was the true attitude to take. As I have said, Sir William Lyne, in addressing meetings in Tasmania, before the last elections, and as long ago as the latter part of 1903-
– Early in 1903.
– Just after I had been in Tasmania, and stated” my views, I was quoted by Sir WilliamLyne as differing from Mr. Reid in that I said1 that the best thing for this country was the cessation of the fiscal strife, atany rate.- for a time, in order that thingsmight be allowed to develop, and experience might be gained.
– Would the honorableand learned senator explain what he meansby “ for a time “ ?
– At any rate, Mr. Deakin said it was a permanent plank in his platform. We know what hesaid with bated breath. Perhaps we cannot take his rhetorical expression literally, but he said that he hoped it would be for ever in perpetuity. I am not now suggesting that the question of fiscal peace is in issue at the present time. I am merely contending from these quotations that we werejustified in looking, not only to what Mr. Deakin had previously said as to his unalterable attitude of opposition, generally speaking, to the aims and methods of the Labour Party. On the 2nd August, a few days before the formation of the coalition Government, the honorable and learned gentleman denounced ‘ the aims and methods of the Labour Party in language which admits of no doubt as to his views, and which makes it passing strange to .me that he should be able now to re-adopt the position which was described as one of servitude, existing only eighteen months ago.
– He is wiser now.
– That is one way of putting it. There is the wisdom of the serpent. I do not use that expression offensively. I do not wish to question the political wisdom of it one way or the other; I question the propriety and righteousness of it as a policy upon which to go to this country.
– If he made a mistake then should he abide by that mistake for all time?
– If he is prepared to say that he has swallowed this platform and the organization as a whole, I am quite prepared that he should. It reminds me of the verse in Alice in Wonderland, containing the parody on Father William - “ You are old,” said the youth, “ and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet ;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”
That is what I want to know. I am not going to say that it is impossible.
– It is the contortion of the legal mind.
– Has he swallowed that?
– He would have a job.
– Then we have the second Ballarat speech, to which I shall just refer for a moment. We are now assured that it was not intended to indicate any hostility towards the Government ; but, seeing that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was, if not the father, at least the godfather of the Coalition Government, it is rather odd to findhim holding up that Government to the public as being insecure and weak, and saying -
So we arrived at the present position, that in spiteof the changes, we have not yet arrived at a stable Government. The House is still divided in the way I have already described. “That is to say, all the efforts to re-establish two-party government were unsuccessful. He holds up the Government to the public of this country as a weak, unstable Government. He and we knew perfectly well all along what the strength of the Government was, and that our reliance must be on the loyal observance of the foundations of the coalition. If the Government was weak from the cause to which Mr. Deakin alluded, the continued existence of something like a three-party system, the least he could have done was not to have battered it about and held it up to obloquy for its weakness. He was the last man who should have done so. He should have endeavoured to make it strong, and, at any rate, to have abstained from these public animadversions on its weakness.
– He was the stepfather then’.
– Exactly . My honorable and learned friend went on to say, in one breath, that the appointment of the Tariff Commission did not quite destroy the fiscal peace, but it - was to all intents and purposes a modification of the agreement which had been previously arrived at on the fiscal question. It modified it to this extent -
He then proceeded to say - the statement made that the fiscal issue was not to be raised at any election preceding the ordinary election, ceases to have any force or effect.
Notwithstanding the previous statement that in terms it was not broken, that was equivalent to an announcement that the fiscal basis of the coalition was at an end. It is a marvellous thing to me that Mr. Deakin should not have taken that view, and- stated that he considered the fiscal basis of the coalition at an end when the Tariff Commission was moved for and granted in October, 1904. If such an intimation, as was given in that Ballarat speech had been even hinted at or whispered by the honorable and learned member, either the Commission would not have been issued or the step which was now taken would have been taken there and then. We had no right to exist. The only condition of our existence on which we were entitled to come before Parliament as honorable men was that, notwithstanding the Tariff Commission, notwithstanding any questions with regard to progress reports, or anything of the kind, the fiscal peace which had been proclaimed by Mr. Deakin, andassented to by the people of this country, was still in existence ; but not a word of that kind was used. Then comes a long attack on the Prime Minister’s views on Socialism. I am not venturing to discuss the views couched in thevery vaguest possible language which Mr. Deakin uttered with regard to Socialism. His nebulous views may be right or they may be wrong. But was ita loyal or friendly thing to make a prolonged attack on the policy put forward in that respect by the Prime Minister in the course of his speeches? The understanding being that this fiscal peace was to last until the next ordinary general election, that is by effluxion of time, and not to take effect upon a penal dissolution, my honorable and learned friend went on to sweep that away, to cast it to the winds, and to say -
Whether a dissolution comes next month, this year, or next year, when it comes the fiscal issue has been raised, and no election could be held apart from it.
Of course any nian can ask a question, any independent candidate can go before the country on the fiscal question, but when the leader of the Protectionist Party had invited, an opinion from the country and had accepted it, and when he had entered into a compact based on that opinion, pledging himself until the next ordinary dissolution of the House of Representatives, then I think we were entitled to some kind of notice. When the act of granting the Tariff Commission took place, we were entitled to some kind of intimation that it was regarded as putting an end to the foundation upon which the Government presented itself to Parliament. But we had no such intimation. What was our duty ? If we had any doubt. the next two sentences made it perfectly clear -
We want to make it clearly _and distinctly understood that . . . the fiscal question cannot, and ought not to be, put aside.
Of course, if that were the case, our Ministry was to drop tdl pieces unless there was an appeal to the country. The only justification for ‘ our honorably, or with any self-respect, holding office was an appeal to the country to determine the questions which were raised. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat - offering his alliance at a price - went on to say -
If the Australian Labour Leagues in New South Wales desire our assistance - that is the leagues formed for the purpose of resisting the aims and platform of the Labour Party-
– They were identified with Socialism.
If the Australian Labour Leagues in New South Wales desire our assistance, they will require to adopt protection. “ Give us protection,” he says, to the antisocialistic leagues in New South Wales, “ and we are with you,” but in the same breath he says, “ If the labour leagues desire our assistance, they will require to put protection on their programme.” To the socialistic leagues he says, “ Put projection on your platform and we are with you.” What kind of political principle is that ? Here he stands between these opposing armies, belonging, if he belongs anywhere, to the anti-socialistic, even according to his own definition, or to the anti-labour party, unless all these statements made at Ballarat on the 2nd August, 1904, are put an end to - here he stands between the two armies, and proclaims, “ I will fight with you Socialists if you will give me protection. I will fight with you anti-Socialists if you will give me protection.”
– Showing that there is not much difference between the two.
– That is not the view I present. It is a kind of political self-abasement, which is not pleasant to look upon. If my honorablefriend intended it, according to the way ir» which his language reads, and I am not aware that it has ever been withdrawn, it is an offer to barter his support, either to’ the one or the other, for protection, at a time when he was pledged to fiscal peace. Until that time it was fiscal peace, neither protection nor free-trade. Now it is art intimation to the four representatives of his party in -the Government, “ Hold yourselves immediately in readiness. Unless the leader of the Government, unlessthe leagues with which he is associated, and1 which he has assisted inframing, adopt protection, I must beckons you to come out.” That was the situation. The opposition- to us who are freetraders would have been nothing if Mr. Deakin had’ been speaking as any individual member might speak. But the honorable and learned gentleman, we must recollect, was the leader of the party which contributed half the Government. In that situation, it seems to me that there was no other course for the Government to adopt - no honorable, self-respecting course - than that which they did adopt. They had taken office on the foundation of fiscal peace and loyal coalition in opposition to the Labour Party. The Ministry was founded on a belief in the assurance thev had received, and on the pledges which they believed they had. When these were withdrawn, it was their duty to come to Parliament and say so.
– But there was no suggestion in the Ballarat speech that Mr. Deakin would have broken away from the late Government until the eighteen monthswere up.
– The intimation was an intimation that the cement of the coalition was gone. There may be an indifference to reputation, an indifference to self-respect. But there are limits; and when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat significantly intimated that at any moment those questions which we had agreed to drop might be reopened, that he was free to bargain with the Labour Party whom he assisted us into office to oppose, our course was clear. It was not merely like taking away one vote or two votes from the Government. It was changing the whole foundation of the existence of the coalition. When that was brought about, to suggest that we were to go on from day to day, liable to humiliation and to surprises, is to suggest something that it would be impossible for any self-respecting Government to do. It was impossible to conduct the business of the country honorably under those conditions. I am not questioning whether the honorable and learned member for Ballarat thought he was right in doing what he did. I am not inquiring into the reasons which he mav flatter himself satisfied his conscience. I am merely pointing to the facts. His Ballarat speech was recognised as a “ notice to quit “ by the press. Of course we pay no attention to that. But what is Mr. Deakin’s explanation ? He does not say that -it was not a “ notice to quit. “ He says that it might be a notice to quit of one month,, three months, six months, or twelve months hence. We preferred to be tenants for a definite time, such as we understood we were, not to be at the beck and call of any party under those circumstances. Personally, i am as perfectly satisfied to be of use to the country, and of assistance, if I can be, in this Senate, where I am now, as where my honorable friend Senator Playford is sitting. Surely no one could hold office upon anysuch tenure on an intimation, not by one or by half-a-dozen members of their disapproval, but after an intimation by the leader of half the Government. That was quite a different thing. Honorable senators will see that the four protectionist members of the Government were placed in an extremely painful position. Naturally enough, our loyalty to them - our sympathetic loyalty - was a considerable element in determining our action. When the motion of no-confidence was moved in October last, the members of the protectionist corner wanted a dissolution. They stated their desire over and over again. Honorable senators will find it in the pages of last session’s Hansard. Mr. Mauger, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, when Mr. Deakin said he was quite aware of the fact that the Tariff was working injustices in some particulars when he advocated fiscal peace, and that if there were new facts the thing would have to be considered again at another election - Mr. Mauger said very emphatically, “Let it come at once.” Mr. Isaacs on another occasion was similarly emphatic a,s to the need then for a dissolution. Looking at the general uncertainty which existed in the arena of politics, every one recognised that there were two alternatives - dissolution and appeal to the country to settle things somehow or other, or coalition. First coalition was tried. We came to Parliament, and believed that the coalition rested upon a good foundation. That having failed, the 0111 course was to tell Parliament that it had failed, and that in our belief the alternative was to appeal to the country. Senator Playford said yesterday that’ the late Government did not bring down the usual Governor-General’s speech containing a list of measures. The usual GovernorGeneral’s speech was brought down, and it contained what we believed to be the only piece of public business which it was imperative to settle - that is the Redistribution of Seats Bill. We believed - and through the Governor-General we invited Parliament to believe–that it was necessary to transact that particular piece of business with a view to an early dissolution. Of course a dissolution “ is not a pleasant thing to members of Parliament : but that was the course which we believed to be the only possible one for the best interests of good government under the circumstances. We believed that it was the only way to reduce the state, of chaos into which parties and programmes had, got into something like order. How did the Ballarat speech come to be made? There was a parliamentary visit to Western Australia. Mr. Reid went over. I do not know whether it was at the invitation of the right honorable member for Swan or not. Afterwards Mr. Deakin went over. At that time Sir John Forrest was halting between two things. _ There were the claims of local politics which might be regarded as a bird in hand, and there were also the claims of Federal politics, which were like two in the bush. When Mr. Reid returned from Western Australia
Mr. Deakin went over. He consulted bis friends. He consulted the Imperialist of the West and the wise man from the East, who happened to be over there at the same time. The result was that that to which Mr. Deakin had pledged himself previously went by the board, and we come to the speech to which I have called the attention of honorable senators, and which has brought about the result that we see today. The gain of it all is-
– Stable government.
– So long as my honorable friends opposite permit it to be stable.
– And a saving of £40,000 to the country.
– And the business of thecountry will go on.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON. - At any rate, so far as Mr. Deakin is concerned, he gains the privilege of submitting his programme to Mir. Watson before he is even permitted to form his Government ; and no doubt that is worth a great deal. My honorable friends opposite seem to doubt whether there was a concurrence. They say that Mr. Deakin was speaking in these matters for himself. But there are one or two quotations which I should like to make from utterances by Sir John Forrest.
– What party does he lead?
– He is the chief lieutenant in the present Government, I suppose. Not unnaturally, he was a bit indignant when his Government was thrown out of office on the former occasion, and therefore we must make allowance for what he said. He complained very bitterly that he and his colleagues and those who supported them had been hurled from the dominant position in Australia. He said that the position seemed to him to be impossible. That was the three-party system. So that it will be seen that the present Prime Minister was not speaking entirely for himself. Sir John Forrest said -
It will be just the same for those who succeed us, ifany one does succeed us. It will be no longer “Yes,” Mr. Watson,” but “Yes, Mr. Deakin,” or “ Yes, Mr. Reid,” or whoever may lead the other two parties. I have said before, and I say again, that responsible Government, as we understand it, cannot be satisfactorily carried on under such conditions.
– He was then out of office, or going out.
Senator SirJOSIAH SYMON.The right honorable member was afraid that he was ‘going out of office. That speech was delivered on the 20th April, 1904, and is reported in Hansard at page 1 147. Then the right honorable member said something which was not very pleasant -
The words of the members of the Labour Party do not coincide with their acts. They are fair spoken and full of good sentiments, and seem to overflow with good fellowship. But their caucus is their master. . . . We find that we have been hurrying to our doom, urged along by the very friends who are now ready to be our executioners. If ever a Government ought to say, “ Save us from our friends,” surely it is this Government.
– He comes back into their bosoms.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.That is exactly what he does.
– He is a prodigal son.
– And he has been given the “ fatted calf.”
– Sir John Forrest admits by his actions that he was wrong then.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.I am glad to hear that, for open confession is good for the soul, and actions speak louder than words. Sir John Forrest then went on to make a strong appeal on the ground of what he had done for the Labour Party-
I appeal to honorable members as generous men, as men who are rubbing shoulders with men of the world every day, to say whether that is the way in which to treat those who, to say the least of it, have not been unmindful of the interests of the Labour Party or of any other section of the House.
So that the Labour Party have been guilty of very blackingratitude. When the Watson Government went out of office, Sir John Forrest said -
I rejoice that honorable members of what is called the Labour Party - and as I have already defined the meaning of the term, I need not do so again - are in opposition. I prefer to see them there, or in possession of the Treasury benches, rather than directing the Government from the cross-benches.
And then he said this very amusing thing -
The Labour Party, as members of the Opposition, have now a responsibility which they never felt while they sat on the cross-benches. They are no longer a power in the back-ground, felt, but not seen……. My remarks might not be soapropos if the party were a small one, but as it is as large as, if not larger than,any other party in the House, it must be recognised that it now has a responsibility which, except when the Labour Government held office, was not apparently cast upon it. We shall now have their physic direct from their own hands. We shall not have to take physic from a third party, as has been the custom, not only in this Parliament, but in all the States Parliaments of Australia in which there is a Labour Party.
– Is that all in one speech ?
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.No; the last quotation is from a speech delivered on the 22nd September, 1904, when the Labour Party were in office, and the right honorable gentleman was in opposition. . The speech proceeded -
Hitherto they have not been so numerically strong as they are, but they have occupied the position of a third party, with the balance of power, and have wielded that enormous power that all third parties similarly situated, exercise in the administration of the affairs of a country. . . . The honorable member for Bland no longer occupies that commanding position of real power which he held for the three years, during which his party sat on the cross-benches. It is no longer, “ Yes, Mr. Watson.” The honorable member is now a humble suppliant for an alliance, in order that he may regain the power that he has lost, and which, of course, he desires again to exercise.
There are a great many more choice morsels, but I only wish to refer to those I have read in order to satisfy Senator Higgs that, so far as regards the attitude adopted by Mr. Deakin towards the Labour Party on the 2nd August, 1904, it was shared in, and very strongly shared in, by his present Treasurer.
– We could supply stronger morsels still.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON I should be glad of them for historical purposes.
– Sir John Forrest spoke about “ eating dirt.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.Has it been made a condition of the present arrangement that the right honorable gentleman should not be asked to “ eat “ any more “dirt”? Senator Pearce may supply me with a list of “morsels “ later on.
– It would be a dirty list.
– Of course, Senator Guthrie speaks in a political sense, and I am afraid that the list would be dirty. I am sorry to have to speak thus ; but when we have such changes as we have seen, we in the Senate are entitled to seek to maintain, at any rate some degree of harmony between the rulers of the country, who are in the Ministry, and the dominant party with whom they are supposed to be acting. And we should like to see some degree of some initial harmony between the members of the Government themselves. We know perfectly well that no One has spoken in stronger terms of denunciation of Sir William Lyne, than has Mr. Ewing. The last-mentioned gentleman had two planks in his platform, which he announced to the House of Representatives last year. One plank was loyalty to the mother country, and to Australian industries, and the other was to get as far away as he possibly could from the pernicious influence of the honorabl’e member for Hume.
– What about Colonel McCay on Mr. Reid ?
– Or Senator Symon on Senator Drake.
– The honorable senator is mistaken, because I never used an expression of that sort in reference to Senator Drake.
– The expressions of the honorable and learned senator during the Tariff debate were pretty strong.
– I think not. The Tariff strife on the part of the Government was conducted by Senator O’Connor, and though my honorable and learned friend spoke last year about pulverizing, I think he meant pulverizing arguments. As an honorable senator has said, there was noprospect of office when that remark of Mr. Ewing was made, though I do not know what is meant by that. I daresay, however, that Mr. Ewing has recognised over and over again that politics makes us acquainted with very strange bed-fellows.
- Mr. Ewing used the expression in thevery speech referred to.
– However, whatever criticisms may be offered, the Prime Minister is regarded as a sort of political archangel, though, perhaps, a little damaged. The Prime Minister is agreeable and amiable, but it is all the more to be regretted that there is any foundation for what I shall call the suggestion that an arrangement, entered into and acted on in the formation of a Government, which came to the House on the basis of that arrangement, should be made impossible, if not in words, at any rate in action, by departures to which honorable men are not prepared to submit. There was one matter referred to in the second Ballarat speech which was rather personal to myself, and as to which I propose to say a word. This has relation to the High Court. There are some aspects of the action of the High Court which may be said to be regrettable, or even, to use the words of my honorable friend, deplorable. I do not, however, propose to bring those aspects into controversy now.
– We must have them sooner or later.
– Naturally, I am very fully informed on the matter ; perhaps no one is so familiar with the facts as myself. It may be necessary to say a good deal - and I am disposed to sa.y a good deal - at some other time on this matter. At present, in the absence of information and documents, I believe it to be in the interests of the tribunal itself to abstain from1 discussing! these particular aspects. There are other aspects which I hope will be the subject of specific treatment. One is presented in the question whether the Court is to determine absolutely without reference to the Executive, or, indeed, Parliament, where.. and when it shall sit - whether, as at present, it is to sit at uncertain times in uncertain places and for uncertain business, and expenditure incurred at the will of the Court without control, or whether the sittings are to be specifically prescribed and a proper clear footing established. There is the question whether, as at present, Melbourne, which is the seat of the Court by law, is to be practically ignored in that character. But those questions will be better determined, and better discussed under a Bill which months ago I intimated it was my intention, had I remained in the Government, to introduce, and which I hope the present Government may bring forward. If not I shall take an opportunity of doing so. I may say, quite frankly that I do not think it would be in the interest of the country or of the tribunal itself that matters should be left in the present uncertain position. But there is another matter which has been alluded to, namely, the travelling allowances. On that question, seeing that the Orders in Council have been made public already, I have a word to say. When I took office last year there was no limit whatever to the travelling allowances. Whatever accounts the associates presented, certified by the Justices, were paid without question. ‘ Mr. Watson’s Government interfered in several of these matters. I do not wish to go into details now, as there will be another opportunity to do so. But on this particular matter, Mr. Watson’s Government sought to put a limit upon the daily allowances, and they took steps to that end, but up to the time we assumed office nothing was done. Their effort came as a legacy to me. I did not open the matter up. It was a proper thing to do, but I did not open it up. On The Estimates, as honorable senators will recollect, I reduced the amount put down for travelling allowances by about £700 to £2,000, although I had not then had an opportunity of going into the matter in detail. When the item came up for discussion here, some honorable senators called attention, to it, and took exception to the amount. Eventually the item was passed, and one honorable senator, I remember, said, “Why, that amounts to £40 a week,” which is a very great deal. But I did not know then that the travelling expenses for November came to something more like £110 per week. I promised the Senate, ‘as it was my duty to do, to exercise supervision, and investigate these matters in detail. It is not a pleasant thing, it is rather a hard and thankless task, to economize. It was the last thing in the world that I personally would have taken up, except as a matter of public duty. In fact, it is very much easier to spend £1,000 than to save one shilling. We. know that if these things are allowed to go on they not merely feed expenditure, but are apt to feed the spirit of expenditure. I found on investigation that the total expenditure on travelling allowances to the 31st December last - these are facts in public possession - amounted to £3,294 i-is. 1 id. for twelve working months, or for fifteen calender months, three of which were occupied by vacation. I then fixed a maximum. The Watson Government had proposed a maximum, and I fixed a maximum of three guineas per day, including the associate. A fixed daily rate was then requested - it is a matter of history - and the Government then, upon my recommendation, fixed two guineas per day for the travelling allowances of each of the Justices. That I thought, and still think, ample. We were then asked to undo this, and tol go back to the old method1 of allowing actual expenses up to £4 per day - that is, for £1 a day more - for each Justice with the associate. The Government adhered to the two guineas’ proposal as most liberal, and the Orders in Council, which have been published, were passed. That so far’ as I know is the position in which, unless it has been altered since the present Government took office, the matter now stands. There is a Supreme Court in Canada identical in scope and in station with the HighCourt of Australia. That Supreme Court was constituted, I think, in the year 1876. It consists of a Chief Justice and five Justices. Those Justices were originally Justices of the Court of Exchequer, because no additional Judges were appointed for what was called the Exchequer Court, which was merely a Court to transact the business in original jurisdiction, and the business in original jurisdiction was transacted until recently, when a separate Exchequer Judge was appointed, by the Justices of the Supreme Court, just as it is done now by the Justices of our High Court. The Supreme Court of Canada, in its appellate jurisdiction, is a great appellate tribunal, which in common with every other Court of the same kind throughout the British Dominions, holds its sittings in one place - Ottawa. It is not a perambulatory Court. It sits at Ottawa, and what is more, the Judges of the Court are compelled by the statute under which the Court is established to reside in Ottawa, or within five miles’ of that city. So that that Court, as an appellate Court, does not travel at all. But each individual Judge did travel, and the Judge of the Exchequer Court travels now, 10 transact original jurisdiction. Only within the last day or two I have obtained information on this point from an authoritative source in Canada. The Judges of the Supreme Court in Canada, acting as Exchequer Judges, and travelling for original jurisdiction, got a travelling allowance of six dollars perday each, which is about 25s. I have not been in Canada for some twenty-five years, but I was under the impression that hotel, travelling, and living expenses were not, as a rule, less in Canada than they are in Australia. My belief is that they are perhaps more.
– Slightly more.
– Does the amount the honorable and learned senator has quoted include the allowance for the associate?
– I think not, nor does our fixed allowance of two guineas include the allowance for the associate. I beg honorable senators’ pardon, as I did not mention that matter. The associate gets 17s. 6d. per day in addition. My information is merely that in Canada Supreme Court Judges acting in original jurisdiction get travelling allowances at the rate of 6 dollars per diem. I think Senator Turley had better assume that that amount does not include the allowance to the associate.
– Are not all salaries and allowances on a very much lower scale in Canada than they are here?
– I am going to tell my honorable and learned friend that the Judges in Canada who get that travelling allowance are in receipt of the following salaries: - The Chief Justice of Canada receives £1,644ayear,as against £3,500 paid to the Chief Justice of our High Court. Each of the five Judges in Canada gets £1,440 a year, as against £3,000 a year paid to the other Justices of the High Court in the Commonwealth.
– Are there any pensions’ paid to the Judges in Canada?
– I am unable to tell my honorable friend.
– That is a very important feature.
– It should not make so great a difference in the salaries. However, I do not wish at present to discuss the matter in any controversial spirit; I wish merely to submit these facts to the Senate. Probably I should not have alluded to the subject at all to-day, but for the fact that this information came to me by the last mail. The Judge of the Exchequer Court in Canada gets £1,232 per annum. That is the Judge who now travels and does the original jurisdiction work of the Supreme Court of Canada. I have mentioned these facts to the Senate, and I wish only to add that my position in regard to economy on this question is not new. It is over twenty years now since I first became a strong advocate of Federation in the House of Assembly in South Australia, as Senator Playford probably remembers. I have never ceased to hold that it is desirable that there should be a strong, dignified Supreme Federal Court. I looked to the establishment of a Courtwhich would fill the place and discharge the functions which have been filled and discharged by that exalted tribunal iv the United States of America, which Chief Justice Marshal, and other great, but simple-minded men, have made illustrious. When you go into the Supreme Court of the United States, as I have done, you feel that you are in the presence of a very great tribunal, which is doing justice, and, if I may use the expression, loving righteousness, clothed with the dignity of a great simplicity. There are no wigs.
The Judges wear, plain black gowns, the barristers wear neither wigs nor gowns - there are no associates or tipstaffs - but, as I sap, they are clothed with the dignity of what I may call 1a severe simplicity, and yet their decrees are priceless treasures to the nation. I believe, and always have believed, that the great efficiency of such a tribunal may very well co-exist with economy. I think that the garment of simplicity best becomes a great tribunal. If honorable senators will forgive a reference to z. word or two which I said when I spoke in this Senate on the Judiciary Bill, they will remember that before that Bill became law I took exactly the same view, and in answer to my honorable and learned friend, Senator Dobson, who was a strong advocate for economy, I said that we should first deal with the establishment of the High Court,, and we might then be as economical as we pleased. My words were -
Honorable senators must not think for a moment that I would support any extravagance. Let them cut down as much as they like, but let them secure first that we shall have a strong and capable Bench. Let us first establish our Judicature, and then consider how far we can go in the region of economy, with a view of preventing any undue burdens - subserving always the great purpose of having an efficient national Court. Let honorable senators, if they like, take away from the Court all unnecessary paraphernalia. I am no lover of paraphernalia.
And then I referred, as I have done just now, to the Supreme Court of the United States, and said as to that -
I venture to think no one could enter the atmosphere of that Court without coming away with a sense of its dignity, and filled with the utmost respect for it. We do not want lordly trappings, but we do want a capable Bench.
Again, I said, in answer to an interjection by Senator Fraser -
First settle the Court and then be economical. We are dealing now with the second reading of this measure, and I ask Senator Dobson to show his devotion to the principle, that is all. He may then be as economical as he pleases, so long as we have a tribunal worthy of the nation, and efficient for the upright and independent administration of justice.
Again, at the conclusion, reproducing from memory, perhaps not very exactly, what had been said, I think, by the late American Ambassador to England, Mr. Choate, I said -
We want a tribunal stately in intellect, stately in numbers, stately in its march towards the solution of the great questions with which it will have to deal. It need have no guards, palaces, or treasures. It need possess no claim to dignity, except that which arises from the truth and wisdom of its judgment. It need have no splendour,, but the publicity of its judgments and their essential justice.
So that, before the Bill was passed, and. when its fate was more or less, perhaps,, in doubt, I took exactly the view which I have held all along. If I may repeat what I said before, although I am no Republican - very far from it - I am a believer in, simplicity and economy, and I do not entertain the idea that you can add to thestrength or wisdom of the judgments of a great Court by unnecessary expenditure. There is only one other word which hasbeen referred to, and that is the use of the word “concession” in connexion with these Orders in Council. The rule of computation for travelling expenses that was laid down by the Order in Council, is that travelling expenses must compute from the sitting of the Court. It is the Court that travels, not the individual Judge. It is the Court that goes about, whether in the person of a Judge -or not, to administer justice, and that is the basis of computation. We were asked, however, to give travelling allowance for sittings in Melbourne. We agreed to make that exception. The Order in Council therefore went on to provide that whilst sittings were held in Sydney, and so on, the concession of Melbourne expenses should be made to such of the Justices as lived1 in Sydney. That merely meant a concession not in the sense of favour, or anything of that kind, but in the sense of an exception to the rule, in respect of the expenses during a state of things of which, personally, and from my view of the situation, I do not approve, but which does exist, and which was met in that broad way. Having mentioned these facts, I leave the matter for the present. I do not propose to say more about the items of policy, except the reference to the redistribution. The statement which was read by. ray honorable friend, and which is now in print, does not correctly represent, it seems to me, the situation. The introduction of a Bill is really a policy of delay,’, which will retain for Victoria, if she is not entitled to it, an additional member, and which, if she is entitled to it, will take away one from New South Wales. My view of the law is quite unaffected by the proposed Bill.. In my opinion, the only question is with regard to the Commonwealth statistics. I am not going to trouble honorable senators at this stage by referring to the matter in detail , because we shall have another opportunity. Ido not think it is competent for Parliament to legislate with regard to the “ whenever necessary,” in section 24 of the Constitution, but it is competent for Parliament to legislate with regard to the basis on which the quota shall be ascertained. As the law stands now, this was the position which the late Government had to face, and which the present Government have to face. A condition of things exists with regard to the constituencies, at least in New South Wales - I am not sure as to Victoria- - which, in the estimation of many persons, is a scandal, and redistribution is emphatically demanded. Last year the Government pledged themselves to redistribution, and my belief was that it was with the assent of the House. That redistribution has to be carried out under the Electoral Act, and you need to have a Commissioner in each State to divide the State into divisions. The first question he will ask you is, “ How many divisions are there to be”? You have to tell him how many, and if, staring you in the face, you have statistics which, assuming, for the present, that they are the best in the world, showed that Victoria is entitled to only twenty-two members, and that New South Wales is entitled to one more member than she has, surely your duty is to tell the Commissioner the truth, and say that he is to divide Victoria into twenty-two districts. But when he has made his division, and his distribution comes before Parliament, it is not correct to suggest, as the printed statement of Ministerial policy suggests, that this was proposed to be done by the Government as an Executive act.
– Did they not make certainfigures Commonwealth statistics by Executive act?
– That has nothing to do with this point.
– But it has.
– It has to come before Parliament. You cannot distribute Victoria into twenty-two districts by the act of the Government in adopting certain figures.
– By Executive act the late Government made certain figures Commonwealth statistics.
– We did not do anything of the kind, but we recognised certain figures as Commonwealth statistics. When the Commissioner asks, “ How many divisions shall there be?” you must tell him the number according to the population - that is, according to the statistics. When he makes up his divisions you come toParliament with his report. He distributes Victoria into twenty-two divisions instead of twenty-three, and Parliament may adopt his plan or reject it.
– Why should not Parliament tell him first?
– Parliament has no right to tell him how many divisions there should be. It is the Constitution that tells him the number.
– Why did the Government tell him, then?
– The Government merely say “ These are the statistics. They show that Victoria is entitled to only twenty-two members, therefore you will divide the State into twenty-two districts.” His division has to come before Parliament for its approval, and it has to say whether it will adopt it or reject it. When it is submitted for approval each House may say, “ We will adopt it “ or “ We will not adopt it,” and if it does not-
– Then all the work of the Commissioner is wasted !
– So it is now. If this Bill is introduced it will simply postpone the determination until a future year, leaving undisturbed the position that Victoria has one more member than she ought to have. I do not care what other State gets the member. Everybody admits that Victoria is not entitled to twenty-three members.
– Oh, no !
– Oh yes they do.
– Everybody admits it, except my two honorable friends.
– I hold that there are no authoritative figures.
– I do not know exactly what the Bill is going to do. If it is one to say when the redistribution shall take place, I submit that it cannot be done. If it is intended to define how the quota is to be ascertained, then it can be done ; but that merely affects the paragraph of section 24, which says that it shall be according to “the latest statistics of the Commonwealth.” My view on that point is, whether right or wrong, as plain and as simple as can be. It is saidby the present Attorney-General that the term means statistics collected by officers of the Commonwealth, that you cannot have Federal statistics unless they are collected by a Commonwealth Statistical Department, by, it may be, Commonwealth police, or a host of other agents who are sent over the country, as Commonwealth officers, to make the collection. I do not take that view at all. A man in the street is as good an interpreter of this phrase as the best lawyer who ever was discovered. It means exactly what it says - “ Statistics of or relating to the Commonwealth.” It does not mean statistics which are the property and asset of the Commonwealth.
– Should there not be some system by which to identify the statistics ?
– Who compiles them ?
– It does not matter who compiles them if they are authoritative.
– It does.
– Most of the statistics you rely on are declared to be estimates.
– Statistics about most matters are estimates. What are agricultural statistics ? More than half of them are estimates. The men who fill in the statement merely say, “ We estimate our crop at so many bushels per acre.”
– That is before the crops are gathered; afterwards the statistics are facts.
– They do not becomefacts merely because they are included in a report made by an officer. It is the inception of the thing which will determine whether they are statistics or not. AH statistics are to a greater or lesser extent estimates. What does the phrase “ Statistics of the Commonwealth” mean. This is a Constitution which you are interpreting. You are not to be bound by rigid rules or the technical construction which might be applied to perhaps ordinary Acts of Parliament. You are not, if you please, to have a redistribution of seats, to increase or diminish the representation of the State, to take away a member from one State and give a member to another, or to ascertain the quota untilyou get. according to that argument, a Commonwealth Statistical Office, and Commonwealth officers to collect statistics. Supposing that the members for New South Wales, which has the largest representation in the other House, were to say, “ We are not going to lose a member.”
They would resist the establishment of a Statistical Office, and the passing of a Bill, and you would never get a redistribution. You would always have an inequality of representation until you could overbear that opposition from the State which is chiefly interested. That is a situation which would be intolerable under the Constitution, and which could not work. Therefore the words “ whenever necessary “ were inserted in section 24. That is automatic. The only thing which Parliament can alter, in my view, in the mode of ascertaining the quota prescribed therein. I am not sure that I quite appreciate the way in which it is expressed in the Ministerial statement ; but if, as I understand it, the Bill is to be directed towards “whenever necessary,” then I venture to say that it will have to receive very great consideration. It will be taking away the automatic adjustment of representation provided by the Constitution, and substituting for it an adjustment bv means of an Act of Parliament, which mav be passed this year for one purpose, and which may be repealed next year for another purpose.
– Can we have an Act of Parliament adopting statistics which are not our own ?
– That remark is made on a fallacious assumption - that “of the Commonwealth” means statistics that are a sort of corporal property of the Commonwealth. The section means nothing of the kind. Are the statistics prepared by the statists” Commonwealth statistics “ ? Undoubtedly they are, in ordinary parlance. Thev are authenticated by the statisticians. Of course we should not accept statements bv Dick, Tom, or Harry.
– Ought we not to have an Act saying that we will accept the statistics of the statisticians ?
– There is no objection to an Act of Parliament to that effect, though I think it would be a very mischievous thing, from the point of view of the Constitution, that we should have anything of the kind.
– No one doubts the honesty of the statisticians.
– But they do not agree.
– I beg pardon ; they do. There were inconveniences and inequalities in the original statistics - which were adopted, by-the-by, by a preceding Government, under an Order in
Council. But that does not give them validity as statistics. It merely recognises them, subject to the redistribution scheme being approved of by Parliament.
– What does give them validity ?
-If they are recognised as statistics of the Commonwealth.
– Collectedbyany one?
– If they are considered reliable.
– Whoisto determine that?
– They are collected by the statisticians, who agree upon a basis.
– I might call my figures “ Commonwealth statistics.”
– I am not a statistician. I abhor arithmetic. We speak of doing things “ according to Cocker “ ; but i wish that Cocker had never lived.
– I understand the honorable and learned senator to say that recognising the statistics does not give them validity. What does give them validity?
– The fact that they are statistics of the Commonwealth. Recognising them simply means that Parliament adopts them as a basis to enable the Commissioners to proceed with the redistribution.
– Will the honorable and learned senator give us a short definition of what really constitutes “ Commonwealth statistics “ ?
– . They are the statistics of the Commonwealth when they are adopted as such.
– They are what the Government of the day chooses to acknowledge as such.
– But it is Parliament that has to acknowledge them. Parliament may reject them. Parliament may pass an Act saying that the quota shall be ascertained according to the population figures furnished by the statisticians of each State. Or Parliament may pass an Act, saying - by way of illustration - that “Commonwealth statistics shall be estimates of population furnished by Senator Trenwith. They may be nothing of that kind. But that does not alter the position in any way. If such an Act is passed, it is merely an Act to do that which Parliament will do when the redistribution comes before it. If Parliament chooses to say “These statisticians dreamed all these figures” it will reject the redistribution.
– Then a desirable thing will not be done because there is something undesirable in connexion with it.
– But that may mean the postponement of a redistribution, which may be absolutely essential in view of an election. Of course, the Victorian representatives are perfectly entitled to fight for the fullrepresentation of their State, and for every additional member.
– Is it a fact that all the statisticians agree about the population ?
– If we do not have a census, must wenot have a declaratory Act to say that we will accept figures made up by the statisticians?
– I will not pursue the matter with greater detail, because there is to be a Bill, which will beconsidered when it comes before us. I did not intend to speak at such length, but there were one or two matters to which I was exceedingly desirous to refer. Sofar as I am concerned, in regard to the ordinary business which comes before the Senate, so long as it involves nothing controversial, my honorable friends at the table will have from me ail the assistance that I am able to render them ; and I trust that when the session closes, so far as regards the business transacted, we shall part in the same harmonious way that I am pleased to think we did last year.
Debate (on motion by Senator Walker) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 5.55p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 July 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050727_senate_2_25/>.