2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator WALKER presented a petition from George Robertson and Frederick Victor Grey Wymark, publishers, Sydney, praying the Senate to amend the Copyright Bill so as to place Australian and American publishers on an equal footing.
Petition received and read, and ordered to be printed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice- -
– With regard to both Senator Turley’s and Senator Pearce’s questions, I have received) the following communication from Dr. Wollaston, ComptrollerGeneral of Customs : -
With reference to questions Nos. 1 and 3 on the notice-paper of the Senate for to-day, under the names of Senators Turley and Pearce, it is pointed out that the information asked for will take some considerable time to collate, and in some instances it is doubtful if the information can be obtained atall.
If a motion for a return is moved, we will obtain the information as soon as possible.
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
Do the Government consider the passage of the High Commissioner Bill an urgent matter and of pressing importance?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The appointment is important, because it will provide for the representation of Australia as a whole, but will become more urgent and important when the High Commissioner is called upon to deal with immigration, defence, finance, and kindred subjects of magnitude.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
How many of the Customs officers in New South Wales and Victoria respectively are in receipt of the following salaries : -
How many of the excise officers in New South Wales and Victoria respectively are in receipt of the following salaries : - (a)£500 per annum and over ;
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
New South Wales,£2,511,783; Victoria, £2,184,019. 2. (a) New South Wales, 5 ; Victoria, 9, after nth November, 1905, will be reduced to 8.
New South Wales, £695,692; Victoria, £648,199. 4. (a) New South Wales, nil; Victoria, 1.
New South Wales, £920; Victoria, £750.
A note is appended, which I will read, as it will explain the matter a little more clearly.
The figures given, however, do not convey a proper comparison between the assessed value of the positions in the two States. The present salaries are influenced by the State Acts in force prior to Federation. Thus it occurs in Victoria 27 officers receive salaries higher than their classification. This can only be remedied on the promotion or retirement of such officers. It would inflict a hardship upon the officers to reduce them in salary, but they will receive no increase until they are transferred to work equal to the increased salary. In New South Wales, however, only about seven officers receive salaries higher than their classification. Another factor is that there are a greater number of young officers in New South Wales than in Victoria; the average length of service of the former is 14 years, against 20 years, the average of the latter.
A typical instance of the present temporary difference may be seen in the positions of the two officers in charge of the Excise Branches of the States under review.
Both positions have been graded for similar salaries, viz., from £420 to £500. The present holder of the position in New South Wales is a young officer, who was recently receiving £290 per annum. By the classification he received an increase of £70, and will be eligible to receive further increments until he arrives at a salary of £500 per annum.
In Victoria the present senior inspector is an officer with many (40) years’ service, who has been receiving a salary of £535 per annum for a considerable time. It would be unfair to reduce him to a second class salary, but he will receive no increase whilst occupying his present position. On his transfer or retirement, an officer will be appointed with a salary in accordance with that prescribed for the position.
Several other similar anomalies occur. These, however, are to be expected in large departments classified under the various conditions which recently prevailed, but it is confidently expected that in a few years these anomalies will disappear.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, intimating that they had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
Naval Agreement - English Mail Contract -Finance and Trade - White Australia Policy - Trade Preference - Immigration - Defence - Imperial Conference - High Commissioner - Federal Capital.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Playford), proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I desire to take advantage of this opportunity to say a few words in reference to the Naval Agreement. On the 2nd of August, I asked the Minister of Defence whether any steps were being taken to keep the British Government up to the terms of its contract with the Commonwealth of Australia in connexion with the Naval Agreement Act, and the Minister told the Senate in his reply that the British Government was prepared to give us a stronger squadron, but that the matter would be brought before Parliament for ratification. Later on, I obtained from the Minister the names of the ships of the squadron at present on the coasts of Australia, and I discovered that they were far below the contract strength under the terms of the agreement. I called the Minister’s attention to this fact, and also stated that I understood he had said that the squadron was stronger at the present moment than its contract strength. That, however, I find was a mistake, as the Minister pointed out at the time. He replied : “ I could not have said it was ; it would not have been true if I had.” There we have the admission that at the present moment the squadron in Australian waters is below the contract strength. That is an interesting admission to have from the Minister, although it is a fact which could not be denied. Since then matters have drifted on, and there does not seem to be the least inclination on the part of the Government to introduce a Bill for varying the terms of the agreement. I asked the Minister on the 21st of last month, in consequence of a paragraph which appeared in the Age, whether it was the intention of the Government to introduce such a Bill immediately. While admitting that a Bill was necessary, the honorable senator said that he had heard nothing more on the subject for some time past. The position as it stands is as follows : The Flagship Euryalus is a first-class armored cruiser, and is up to contract strength. But we learn from the press that another ship is being sent out to take her place, and will be here in. November. This vessel, which is called the Powerful, does not represent the strength required under the contract on the part of the flagship. The contract is explicit that the first-class cruiser shall be an armored cruiser, and the Powerful is not such. The Powerful has only deck armour, 3 inches to 6 inches thick, and the heavy gun positions are armored with 6-inch armour. The Euryalus, on the contrary, has a belt of 6-inch Krupp steel, the deck is armored, the side above the belt is armored, the bulk-head is armored with 5 inches, and the heavy gunpositions with 6 inches, of Krupp steel. A deliberate attempt is being made on the part of the press and the British Government officials in Sydney to lead the public to suppose that the Powerful is quite as good, if. not a better vessel than the Euryalus. The representation is made that in tonnage the
Powerful is a larger ship, and that it has more guns; and these are statements of fact. The Powerful has four more 6-inch guns than the Euryalus, but I have no hesitation in saying that, as a fighting weapon, the new vessel does not represent one-quarter of the defensive power that we have in the Euryalus. In addition, the presence of the Powerful as the flagship in these waters will be an absolute breach of the agreement.
– Whoever expected the agreement to be carried out by the Imperial authorities ?
– This change has not been authorized by Parliament, and, with all due deference,. I say that the present Government are deliberately shutting their eyes to the fact that the British Government are altering the terms of the agreement. The present Government are conniving at the alteration, and so far as I can learn from the Minister of Defence
– Is the honorable senator in order in asserting that the present Government are deliberately “ shutting their eyes,” and “ conniving “ ?
– I do not think that “conniving” is a proper word to use in reference to the Imperial Government, or the Ministry of the Commonwealth. The Standing Orders declare that an honorable senator shall not impute motives.
– I beg to submit that I have imputed no motives. If it can be shown that I impute any motive, I shall be glad’ to withdraw the word.
– I do not think that “ conniving “ is a proper word to use, and I think the honorable senator ought to withdraw it.
– I am most pleased to withdraw the word ; and I express the hope that it will always be ruled out of order in the future. I shall take exception if it be ruled out of order in this particular instance, and not on every occasion it is used. On the understanding that the word “conniving” is unparliamentary and disorderly, I beg to withdraw it. I shall say that the Government are perfectly aware that the British Government are altering the strength of the squadron, and, so far from protesting, are accepting the alteration without demur - that they are not coming to Parliament for any authorization of the alteration.
– What about the relative speed, of the vessels?
– In speed there is a distinct advantage on the part of the Powerful, which runs twenty-two knots, as against twenty-one knots run by . the Euryalus. But I submit that speed is not the question at issue - the question is the power of the ship to do damage and resist damage. Under the circumstances, one knot of advantage on the part of the Powerful is not of any particular use to us.
– Did not the Powerful, with its armament, cost far more money than the Euryalus?
– What if the Powerful did cost far more money than the Euryalus ?
– I think I have seen it stated that the Powerful cost double, or it may have been 50 per cent., more than the Euryalus.
– Supposing the Powerful did cost almost double, the honorable senator is suggesting that, because of this fact, the less effective cruiser ought to be received by us with acclamation. Could an argument be more puerile?
– Surely I may ask for the facts on which the honorable senator is placing his own construction.
– The only object of the honorable senator in seeking to ascertain the facts in this way is to suggest that we shall be served better by the Powerful than by the Euryalus.
– I am not in a position to say what will be the effect.
– The Powerful is more effective in the matter of men.
– The Powerful carries eighty-five men more than the Euryalus, but as a weapon of offence and defence the former is distinctly the inferior ; and I defy any naval expert to say the contrary. As I have said, the Minister furnished us with the ‘.names of the ships at present on the station, and some credit was taken for the fact that instead of four third-class cruisers, there are seven. But when I refer to the names, I discover that four out of the seven cruisers have been condemned as useless by the authorities in the United Kingdom. As a” matter of fact, therefore, we have -only three effective third-class cruisers on the station at the present moment, in addition, according to the list, of one sloop. Senator Smith at the same time moved for a return of the number of Australians employed in the British Navy, and that return I intend to quote, because I consider it most instructive. I also intend to quote the figures given by Sir Edmund Barton on the 7th July, 1903, when he dealt with the Naval Agreement Bill. In the Royal Naval Reserve, Sir Edmund Barton promised that there should be twenty-five officers, whereas the return shows that only five have been enlisted, leaving a deficiency of twenty. Of the Naval Reserve men we were promised 700, whereas there are only 233, leaving a deficiency of 467.
– Were there any more suitable applicants ?
– I know nothing as to suitable applicants.
– There are no more Britishers to be found to serve.
– I do not suppose that Senator Millen can obtain any further particulars, because this information is not furnished by our Defence Department, but sent on from the Admiral. We were promised by Sir Edmund Barton that three third-class training ships should be almost entirely manned by Australians and New Zealanders, and that 390 men were to form the complement, whereas only 173 have been enlisted, leaving a deficiency of 217.
– Have men offered themselves and been declined, or has there been a failure of volunteers?
– I am unable to give any answer on that score ; I am only dealing with facts, and not with matters of conjecture. Sir Edmund Barton promised us that one second-class cruiser would1 be completely manned with Australians and New Zealanders, and that the complement was to be 500 men, whereas we find that only 217 are enrolled, leaving a deficiency of 283 men. The total number of men promised by Sir Edmund Barton was 1,615, whereas only 628 have been enrolled, leaving a deficiency of 987. That is to say, more than 50 per cent, of the numbers promised by Sir Edmund Barton have not been enrolled. I am laying some stress on this point, because of the reply which was given to the question asked. Senator Smith inquired what was the reason of the shortage, and the reply of the Admiralty was: -
The lower ratings are now practically complete, and further enrolment for regular service can only be made when the present men qualify for higher ratings.
I presume that that partially answers the question asked by Senator Millen. If the ratings are complete, it is clear it is useless for any other men to make application for billets. But what I want the Senate to appreciate is that the higher ratings would, apparently, absorb more than 50 per cent. of the total number promised by Sir Edmund Barton. That is an assumption ; but it is conclusively proved that the numbers indicated by Sir Edmund Barton were largely in excess of those which the Admiralty meant to employ, or can employ. It is impossible to conceive that the higher ratings on a man-of-war represent more men than the lower ratings.
– They represent considerably more ; there are more A.B.’s than ordinary seamen by two-thirds.
– The honorable senator may be right.
– The Admiralty gave the true answer, I have no doubt.
– I do not dispute the truth of the answer, but I infer that Sir Edmund Barton very considerably exaggerated his estimate, and, therefore, very considerably exaggerated the advantage to be derived by Australia from the Naval Agreement Act. I maintain that the position gives fair ground for serious anxiety on our part. An exactly similar state of affairs arose under the Naval Agreement of 1887.
– There is thesame shortage in the Imperial Navy, because Britishers will not go to sea under the conditions offered.
– The following quotation describes the position in 1887 : -
The States, however, preferred to hire their local naval defence from Britain, and agreed to rent a separate squadron, completely manned by British seamen, for that purpose. The ships of the squadron were to be armed with 6in. guns, but, as nothing to that effect was inserted in the agreement, only 4.7in. guns were supplied. Admiral Tryon had also announced that “ the officers and others of such ships as are not in active commission could be well employed to instruct the reserve forces and volunteers.” This understanding has always been evaded. There was a further understanding that,at the end of ten years, the vessels supplied “ should be made thoroughly efficient, or be replaced by more modern vessels.” This has never been carried out.
– From what is the honorable senator quoting?
SenatorMATHESON.- From a paper published at the time, and the Minister of Defences may rest assured that the statements it contains are accurate.
– Many statements are published which are not accurate.
– I know that these statements are accurate, as I shall be able to satisfy the honorable gentleman at a later date. It behoves us, under the circumstances, to watch the position very carefully. The Minister of Defence, on the authority of the British Government, has stated that the fleet in the Australian waters is going to be made stronger ; but I want to know in what sense he uses the word “ stronger “ ? Parliament is fairly entitled to the fullest information, and that information is. I believe, in the possession of the Minister of Defence, because the reply to my question stated that the Secretary of State in January last was asked when the strength of the squadron would be completed, and a satisfactory reply was received. That reply has not been placed before Parliament. The Minister knows what it is, and he states that it is satisfactory; but I should like to know in what sense it is satisfactory. Does it mean that the Admiralty intend to supply us with a larger tonnage and a larger number of small guns, or that the vessels with which we are to be supplied are going to be equal or better in armour and in big guns? That is the important question, and that is one reason why it is vital that any amendment or alteration of the Naval Agreement Act should come before us for revision. We appear to be drifting in this matter as we did before. Nothing apparently will be done, and the Bill, if brought forward at all, will be brought forward at the end of the session, when every one desires to get away, and there will be no discussion of it. It may possibly be talked out, and then the Government will continue in their present condition of apathy in regard to this agreement. I raised the point for the reason that if the agreement is to be broken, or if the British Government say that they propose to vary the terms of the agreement, the whole arrangement will be thrown open to discussion. I see no reason why we should not have a general revision of the agreement rather than a partial revision to suit the changed views of the Admiralty.
– They apparently desire to back out of the agreement, or, at all events, they do not desire to fulfil its terms.
– As I understand the position, the whole arrangement of the Admiralty has been reorganized since the agreement was entered into. Different dispositions of the fleets have been, decided on, and the Admiralty no longer consider that it is necessary to have ships. of the strength provided for in the agreement in our waters. I have nothing whatever to say against that, as I have no doubt it is fully justified by the experience gained during the Russo-Japanese war.
– The proposed naval base at Singapore will still further alter their arrangements.
– It all forms a part of the arrangements necessary to fall in with the new dispositions of the fleets which the Admiralty consider necessary. My point is that, rightly or wrongly, they desire to vary the terms of the agreement, and I contend that it can only be varied by an Act of Parliament My object is to provide that when the Naval Agreement Act comes before us for amendment we may be able to take advantage of the opportunity to amend it in the way we think best in the interests of Australia.’ What I propose to do when that opportunity arrives is to advocate the spending of the money, not on a British fleet, as at present, but in manning torpedo boats and torpedo-boat destroyers. We have so far had no opportunity of debating that question. So far as I can see, no provision appears on the Estimates for the current year for that form of defence. I am satisfied that it will be a matter of criminal neglect on our part if we fail to take advantage of this opportunity. If my suggestion is carried out, I claim that we shall get an absolutely specialized defence for Australia in place of the merely incidental naval defence we get at the present moment. I should like to explain what I mean by an incidental naval defence. No expert in these matters can deny that the British Fleet must be kept at the ‘strength required ito defend Great Britain from the combined fleets of two or more nations, whether Australian trade is taken into account or not. We merely get our defence through the British Navy incidentally, and, as arising from the fact that Great Britain must keep her fleet up to a certain strength. Our subsidy of ,£200,000 a year does not induce the British Government to add a single ship to the British Fleet. If they did not get that subsidy their fleet would be of exactly the same strength as it is at present, and in future of exactly the same strength as they now contemplate it shall be.
– But differently located.
– The honorable senator is quite right - differently located in time of peace, when it is a matter of indifference where it is located ; but in time of war located in exactly the same place whether our subsidy is £200,000 or £300,000 a year.
– That is, in the best place.
– Admittedly in the best place - for the defence of Great Britain. I say that, in the circumstances, we are not getting a specialized Australian defence, but merely an incidental defence, arising out of the fact that the British Fleet must be prepared to attack the enemies of Great Britain. I am by no means without support in suggesting that we should provide torpedo boats and torpedoboat destroyers. I was interested today, in reading Sir Edmund Barton’s speech on the Naval Agreement Bill, to find that he advocated the same thing. The reference will be seen on page 1800 of Hansard for 1903. He said -
As honorable members will see, the new arrangement does not include harbor defences. In future, as opportunity arises, and as funds allow - because we do not wish to rush into inordinate expense - it may be advisable to have torpedo boats or torpedo destroyers at each of the principal ports, as a means of special harbor defence. That will not be done immediately, but, as I say, as opportunity and funds permit.
Sir Edmund Barton, during that year, was repeatedly pressed for information as to > his intention in connexion with Australian Naval affairs, and, as repeatedly, he stated that it was not his intention that the existing Australian Naval Force should be allowed to die a natural death. But what do we find? We find that since the date of the introduction of the Naval Agreement Bill no steps whatever have been taken to keep the Australian Naval Force alive. Hardly any money is placed on the Estimates of the current year for its maintenance, and, in fact, as someone outside said to me only to-day, Sir Edmund Barton had not the pluck to put the axe to the root of the Naval Force of this country ; what he did was to ring-bark the tree. As a result, I think I am fairly justified in saying that our Naval Force is almost at death’s door. And yet this is the force on which, according to all modern authorities, we should have to depend to prevent the landing of an enemy.
– To prevent a landing on 8,000 miles of coast-line ! We could not do that with a few torpedo-boats.
– I propose to deal with that question. The defence of the coast by torpedo-boats and destroyers is also a part of the policy of Great Britain. I refer honorable senators to the following cablegram, which appeared in the
Sydney Daily Telegraph of the nth of the present month : -
News has been received by the last English mail that the Admiralty have placed orders for twelve new coastal destroyers of an entirely new type, to be built for the Royal Navy by private contract. All are to be propelled by turbine machinery, and the sum of £218,000 is to be expended on their construction during the current financial year.
Then follow the names of the firms that are building them, but that information is not material. That cablegram confirms the statements which were made by Mr. Balfour, -the Prime Minister of England, in a most interesting speech, which he delivered in the House of Commons on the nth May in dealing with the Naval Estimates. I propose to quote him extensively, because attention has not been called to what he said on that occasion, and really his observations are most important from our point of view. Speaking on the subject of home defence - that is to say, of the defence of Great Britain - and explaining the various measures which the Imperial Defence Committee of Great Britain had taken to ascertain the best means of preventing an invasion, he said that they had laid down a special concrete problem for discussion bv their expert advisers. That problem was as follows: - That the Army was occupied in some oversea expedition ; and the organized fleets were assumed to be absent from home waters. I wish to point out that that is exactly the position in which Australia will find itself in time of war. Our organized fleet will be entirely absent from the home waters of Australia.
– Not necessarily.
– I think we may fairly assume that it will be, because we all know that the object of the organized fleet is to be able to go and attack the enemy wherever he happens to be.
– The enemy may be coming to our shores, and it may be necessary to crush him before he gets here.
– For the purpose of our argument, we may do as Mr. Balfour did, and with greater justification. He assumed, for the purpose of his problem, that the British Fleet would be away from home waters. We may assume for the purpose of our problem exactly the same thing. With respect to the Army, we all know that we have none. We have only a certain number of citizen forces, which they ‘have also in Great Britain. We have no regular organized Army, and therefore our position is exactly the position which Mr. Balfour set before his expert advisers. He assumed that the Mediterranean Fleet, the Atlantic Fleet, the Home Fleet, and the China Fleet were all far away from England. Then he went on to say that England would have to be ready in a few hours to resist the attack of an expedition organized for the purpose of effecting a landing. The object was not to use field guns and field forces for the purpose of attacking an enemy who had entrenched himself on the soil of England, but to prevent his ever setting foot on her shores. For that purpose Mr. Balfour pointed out that they would have six battleships and six firstclass cruisers, which are now in reserve, with nucleus crews, ready for action. That, of course, would be out of our power, as we have nothing of that sort in Australia. But, in addition to that, they would have twenty-four, destroyers already in commission, and ninety-five small torpedo craft, that is to say, 119 boats of different sizes, available for the defence of the coast. He went on to say that he omitted submarines at present, because expert opinion might differ as to their value ; but he personally believed that they were destined to be of great importance. That, however, was his personal opinion, and, for the purpose of the argument, they were left out of account. Passing over several pages, in which other matters were discussed, he came to his definition of the use of the torpedo boats. He began by saying -
Since the old days of Nelson and Wellington, there have been great scientific changes, which all, I think, make in favour of defence.
He pointed out that the use of steam and wireless telegraphy would greatly facilitate the collection of the defending forces, and he went on to say - that is not the only change. There are two other changes introduced by the torpedo and the submarine, which must qualify the extreme doctrine of the command of the sea, which used to be held -
This is most important, because it is this command of the sea which is always thrown at us whenever we talk of an Australian localized navy. He continued - and perhaps is sometimes still held, by the socalled blue-water school. The command of the sea at one time really meant the command of the sea, of the whole of the ocean right up to the shore, and superiority in battleships gave that command. But it does not give it now in the same full sense ; and I do not believe that any British Admiral, even though our Fleets rode unchallenged in every part of the world, would view with serenity the task of convoying and guarding during hours of disembarkation a huge fleet of transports on a coast infested by submarines and torpedo boats. And let it be remembered, no strength in battleships has the slightest effect in diminishing the number of hostile torpedo craft and submarines. A battleship can drive another battleship from the sea, but it cannot drive a fast cruiser, because a fast cruiser can always evade it. A strong and fast cruiser can drive a weak and slow cruiser from the sea ; but neither cruisers nor battleships can drive from the sea, or from the coast, I ought to say, either submarines or torpedo destroyers which have a safe shelter in neighboring harbors, and can infest the coast altogether out of reach of the battleship, which ls very likely to be much more afraid, of them than they have reason to be of her. Those are great changes, and they are changes which nearly touch the particular problem on which I am asking the Committee to concentrate its attention.
Then, om page 75, he went on to say -
Assume them to have reached our coast. I ought, perhaps, to say that by the time they reached our coasts the alarm would long since have been given to every ship between the Faroe Islands and Gibraltar, and every ship available, every cruiser, torpedo boat, destroyer, every craft that could be made available for resisting invasion would be concentrated at the point of danger ; and when this huge convoy reached the point of danger, what is it to do? Disembarking 70,000 men on a coast like the coast between Portsmouth and Dover is not a very easy operation, and above all, it is not a quick operation. I do not believe anybody will estimate the time it would take at less than forty.eight hours. My advisers say that it is a most sanguine estimate. Forty-eight hours involves two nights. Then calm weather is required. The operation cannot be carried out or attempted except in calm weather. That is exactly the time at which, if torpedo-boats or submarines get their chance, they have that chance in the greatest perfection.
– What chance would an enemy have of landing upon any part of the Australian coast?
– Every chance if we had not torpedo boats.
– Independently of that, how long would it take an enemy to land? About three weeks?
– Of course, I cannot express an opinion on that point ; but I should say that it would be just as easy for an enemy to land upon the coast of Australia if there were no torpedo boats as it would be for him to land upon the coast of England - in fact, it would be easier, because on the coast of England there is a very closely settled population, and the enemy’s proceedings would not be nearly so easy there as here, where there are large tracts of deserted country.
– So it is in the United Kingdom, where there are a number of deer forests.
– Not to the same extent.
– Take the whole of the western Highlands of Scotland, where there are only deer forests.
– It is not so bad as that.
– What would become of a hostile force if they did land, and we had am army of trained citizen soldiers?
– And what would become of them if they landed upon some portions of our deserted coast? They would be starved within a week.
– It is absolutely ridiculous for persons to say that all the defence we require is secured through our subsidy to the British Navy. We have Mr. Balfour, Prime Minister of England, distinctly laying it down in words which cannot admit of any doubt that the security of Great Britain, if her fleet were away, would depend on torpedo boat destroyers and submarines.
– But he is only one man.
– He is one man, but he is also the Chairman of the Defence Committee of Great Britain. He has obtained all this information from the finest experts in Great Britain, and it may be absolutely relied upon. He is satisfied that in that way only can the security of Great Britain be maintained. Although we are paying an annual subsidy of ,£200,000, still we have not a single torpedo boat,, submarine or torpedo destroyer.
– We have a torpedo boat.
– What is the good of a torpedo boat which is nearly twenty years old?
– Money was wanted for repairs, therefore I know that we have one boat.
– We have two boats.
– We may buy one or two more.
– We are absolutely wasting our money at the present time. The money which is paid under the Naval Agreement Act ought to be used in paying for the maintenance of torpedo destroyers and the education of the crews.
– For harbor defence, yes ; but for preventing an invasion, it could not be done.
– The Minister seems to have very peculiar ideas. Surely harbor defence is equivalent to preventing an invasion ?
– Not necessarilv.
– The one is ‘supposed to lead to the other; but in this country the misfortune, is that the military organizations have full control of the defences. With the exception of one man, the whole Department consists of military officers, and the organization of a field force is held up as being the one thing to secure the immunity of Australia from attack. That principle is, I maintain, absolutely wrong. What we have to devote our attention to, im the first place, is to prevent an expedition from landing on our coasts. For that purpose it is essential that we should have torpedo destroyers and a properly organized naval force of Australians. This matter is so little understood, and the recollections of the discussion which took place in 1903 have been so thoroughly forgotten, that I propose to read a short resume of the whole position, which I printed in 1903 and circulated amongst the members of the then Federal Parliament. It will not take me many minutes to read the resume, and’ it will place on record the position as it gen stood, and what I prognosticated would take place in connexion with the’ Naval Agreement. Honorable senators can then say how far I was justified in taking the view I did. It reads as follows : -
Sir, - The Prime Minister, in introducing the Naval Subsidy Bill, never explained that the agreement of 1887 was suggested bv the Admiralty themselves solely to enable an Australianowned squadron to relieve the British fleet of the necessity of protecting floating trade in Australasian waters from the attacks of chance raiders in time of war.
The Blue Book of the 18S7 conference proves this explicitly, and, presumably, the Prime Minister will not deny tire fact. Has any reason been brought forward for a radical alteration of the arrangements then made, or to justify Australia in resigning, at one sweep, all attempts to provide for her local naval defence?
Then, as now, the British squadron in thesewaters merely formed part of the general strength of the British fleet in Eastern waters - that is, of the combined Indian, China, and Australian squadrons. It was more or less immaterial to the Admiralty how this fleet was distributed in time of peace, and to Australia the strength of the section in local waters was, really, equally immaterial, though its moneyspending power was material to Sydney. But in time of war the position would be vastly different. Then, as now, it was essential that in time of war the various sections of the British fleet should combine to deal concentrated blows on the enemy; it followed that the coast of Australia would be left without any local naval protection, such as Great Britain herself enjoys and the Admiralty, therefore, in 1885, honestly admitting the fact that local naval protection was quite as necessary for Australia as the general protection she would derive from squadrons of British battleships in action, advised the Australian States to purchase a fleet, and to arrange to protect their own coasts with their own seamen from the raids of scattered cruisers.
This is an historical fact, that can be verified by any one who cares to do so.
The States, however, preferred to hire their local naval defence from Britain, and agreed to rent a separate squadron, completely manned by British seamen, for that purpose. The ships of the squadron were to be armed with 6in. guns, but, as nothing to that effect was inserted in the agreement, only 4.7.u1. guns were supplied. Admiral Tryon had “also announced that “the officers and others of such ships as are not in active commission could be well employed to instruct the reserve forces and volunteers.” This understanding has always been evaded. There was a further understanding that, at the end of ten years, the vessels supplied “should be made thoroughly efficient, or be replaced bv more modern vessels.” This has never been carried out.
In i8q8 the State Premiers met in Melbourne, and, with one exception, resolved to continue the yea’rly subvention; and though they must alt have known that the vessels supplied ‘under the hiring contract to the States were inefficient, they made no demand for an improved type of cruiser, or for the proper armament. To Mr. Kingston, the then Premier of South Australia, belongs the credit of having opposed this iniquitous surrender of Australia’s rights, but Mr. Kingston, alas, is now a member of the present Federal Ministry !
To-day the Admiralty suggest that local naval defence should be abandoned altogether, and that the ,£106,000 paid annually, as Tent for a local defence squadron, should be paid instead to the British fleet as a subsidy, with £94,000 more thrown in, making £200,000 in all.
It is idle to suggest, as the Prime Minister does, that Australia obtains one pennyworth of defence by this subsidy that she would not obtain without it.
It is idle to suggest that the British fleet in Eastern waters will be one ship or one gun the stronger for this subsidy !
The strength of the British fleet in Eastern waters (East of Suez) must always be based on the strength of the possible enemy, and the squadrons of which the British fleet are composed can be constituted in any way that suits the Admiralty. If it was essential to Admiralty plans that the British squadron at Sydney should be strengthened, it would be strengthened, quite regardless of £200,000 subsidy, and the strength of that squadron in time of peace is a matter of complete indifference to Australia, though its money-spending power is, perhaps, a consideration to Sydney.
It is, therefore, ridiculous to canvass the strength and armament of the proposed new cruisers, and to allude to them as an increase in effective defence, secured to Australia by a subsidy of £200,000. If they are required to make up the strength of the British fleet in Eastern waters, they will be added to that fleet, -whatever happens, and their presence in Sydney Harbor in time of peace gives no extra security whatever to Australia in time of war. In time of war Australia has, in the first place, to rely on the action of the complete British navy, and her interest is that that Navy should be all powerful, not the tiny section of it quartered “in Sydney Harbor.
How the Admiralty officials must have laughed -when Sir Edmund Barton asked to be supplied with an estimate for a packet of the cheapest efficient defence they had on stock ! A squadron which should provide, to quote the very words he says he used, “ for the minimum adequate protection “ of Australia ! Surely, as he himself stated in other portions of his speech, the entire British fleet is alone capable of filling that bill.
But, on the other hand, Australia, by giving her all, viz., £200,000, as a subsidy to the British fleet, loses the local squadron, poor as it is, which she hires at present ; and, worse than all, loses all chance of local defence in time of war. The British fleet must, by all the rules of war, combine to attack the enemy, and, meanwhile, the Australian coast, and the shipping along it, will be absolutely unprotected. To-day the Admiralty, and our Prime Minister, say we must take our chance of this, and suffer in the interests of the majority ; but in 1885 the attitude of the Admiralty was very different. Then we were asked to relieve them of what they evidently considered a distinct obligation, namely, to provide for distinctly local naval defence, and we did so. We rented a squadron from them for the purpose, and it was considered that by so doing we helped substantially to lighten the defence responsibilities of Great Britain, and fulfilled any obligation that rested on us to assist in the general defence of the British world. It is useless, therefore, to now contend that, by advocating a local squadron for a specific purpose, we endeavour to shirk our responsibilities.
To-day we are asked to give up our local squadron, and to subsidize the British fleet instead. It is well to remember that, until today, the British fleet and our local squadron have existed side by side in these waters, and absolutely distinct from each other, each with its own specific duty to perform. Now, our squadron is to be swept away, nothing takes its place, and our naval subsidy is to be nearly doubled.
And what are we supposed to gain under the new agreement? The Premier tells us that 1,600 Australians will receive special rates of pay. But what guarantee have we that the pay offered by the Admiralty will be equal to the standard Australian rate of wages? It is nowhere so expressed in the agreement. The term used is “ special rates.” A. rate might easily be a special rate to the Admiralty, and yet be far below the rate at which an Australian seaman would enlist.
And, again, from where does the Premier derive his 1,600 Australian seamen? They are not in the agreement, and no verbal agreement can be relied on. All that the agreement mentions is a naval reserve of twenty-five officers and 700 seamen and stokers, to be divided between New Zealand and the whole of Australia - a mere bagatelle - and three ships to be used for training the reserve, and to be partly manned by permanent Australian and New” Zealand crews.
The Premier here again reads into the agreement that these ships will be the third-class cruisers, -each requiring 120 men. But it is nowhere so expressed. Is this another verbal understanding? But, presuming all this is so, what we shall gain in time of war will be that every man in Australia trained to naval defence will be removed from our shores in the British fleet, whether we need their services locally or not.
It is impossible to avoid the question - If local naval defence is unnecessary, why go to a vast annual expense in maintaining local land defences and military forces? It seems a most unwarranted extravagance ! And why does Great Britain do the same?
The answer seems to be that, though in theory Britain claims to hold the command of the sea, no one, even among her own Ministers, believes that her supremacy is a reality, and, therefore, local defence becomes essential.
If, ‘instead of spending the £200,000 in a subsidy, if, instead of relying on a mercenary defence, we paid our own Australians in a local squadron -
First - We should, provide with certainty for repelling any raiders that might manage to escape the British fleet.
Second - We should be certain that our own seamen were being trained with our money.
Third - We should effectively develop the sea power of Australia, which the new agreement will not do, though, in its preamble, it claims it will.
Fourth - We should encourage and develop an Australian interest in naval affairs, which the 1887 agreement never did, and which the new agreement never will do. .
Fifth. - We shall help to consolidate a sense of nationality throughout the Commonwealth, which it sadly lacks at present, and which the subsidy to the British fleet will never do.
In conclusion, the cost of a local squadron is not prohibitive.
It will be noticed that the Premier has come down 50 per cent. in his estimate of that cost, viz., from £1,000,000 annually to £500,000. Let him come down 50 per cent. again, and he will be about the mark.
The Admiralty have themselves supplied the maximum annual cost of five second-class cruisers of the Highflyer type (5,600 tons). It is for interest and sinking fund, £125,000 ; for maintenance, £242,000; in all, £367,000. That represents the maximum expense that any local squadron could be to Australia, and Australia can well begin and be satisfied with something less.
– From whom is the honorable senator quoting? Is it a case of Matheson quoting from Matheson?
– I am quoting from a letter which I circulated amongst members of Parliament. I have given my reasons for quoting it, namely, to refresh people’s memories as to the circumstances under which the new agreement was entered into, and as to the representations made to us by Sir Edmund Barton. I wish the public to realize the extent to which those representations have been carried out in practice.
– And what a true prophet the honorable senator has been.
– I am sorry that I should have been true, so far as I have been, because to the extent that I have been true Australia has lost. The most curious views are held by many people in connexion with Australian defence. Only the other day we had a most exhaustive criticism of Australia’s duty, and her obligations towards the expense of the British Fleet came under notice. I wish to review some of the opinions that were expressed by the critic to whom I refer. The speech was an extremely amusing one from my point of view, and I fancy from the point of view of the audience that heard it. Several things were proved conclusively’. First of all it was proved conclusively by the speaker, who is, I suppose, one of the most able exponents of the larger subsidy craze, that England is at present incapable of bottling up the fleets of an enemy.
– Is this Kelly ?
– I will not mention any one’s name, but my authority is certainly an expert on these matters.
– Is he an expert?
– He claims to be an expert, at any rate.
– How does the honorable senator define an expert?
– He proceeded to point out that by 1907 - that is to say two years from now - the British Fleet would be even less capable of bottling up an enemy’s fleet than at present, owing to the fact that then Great Britain would have only forty - eight battle-ships against fifty-three owned by the next three powers. He pointed out that for these reasons the battle-ships of the British Fleet had been withdrawn to Europe to watch foreign ships in western waters.
– Who pointed that out?
– The critic; ana he added that in consequence Australia was absolutely at the mercy of the new eastern power - presumably Japan. Then, having proved that conclusively, he proceeded to point out that a commerce destroyer - quite an insignificant boat - might get away and make a raid on the coasts of Australia. From these deductions he pleaded - and pleaded in most moving terms - that Great Britain could no longer unassisted bear the whole burden of naval defence, and urged that it was our duty to assist her efforts by doubling the subsidy.
– That is Kelly right enough.
– With the exception of the proposal for doubling the subsidy, I think we can all agree with the critic in the statements he made, and conclusively proved up to that point. Then he came to what we may call the funny business. The reasons he gave for doubling the subsidy were that,whether we subscribed , £200,000 or £400,000 made no difference to Great Britain, and that the latter amount was no more than the price of a third-class cruiser. When he was asked what good it would do, he said that it would call attention to the subject.
– Rather an expensive way of calling attention to the subject.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. It is the silliest proposal I ever heard of - that £200,000 in addition to the present £200,000 should be spent purely for purposes of advertisement. The thought occurred to me at the moment that it was not so much advertisement of the scheme that appealed to the critic as advertisement of himself.
– Of the schemer.
– Advertisement of the schemer.
– That is hardly a fair deduction from the whole speech, I think.
– One of the most peculiar things was this : that directly the critic ceased being funny, and tried to be practical, he fell into the most stupendous errors that any man could possibly have made. He alluded to Captain- Creswell’s report. Captain Creswell is the expert employed by the Commonwealth to give advice on naval matters to the Minister of Defence. He is our Naval Director. He had written a most interesting pamphlet in, I think, 1901, in which he set out his views as to the naval defence of Australia at that date. Those views have no doubt altered since then. Amongst the things which he advocated was the expenditure of a sum of money in purchasing cruisers of the Highflyer type at a cost of £300,000 each and a tonnage of 5,600 tons. These the critic alluded to as “a few miserable, cruisers.” He said, “ What would be the good of spending £300,000 on a few miserable cruisers?” But he was quite unaware that in a report by Sir Lewis Beaumont, who was not so very long ago Admiral on the Australian Station, dated the 6th July, 1901, Sir Lewis advocated that the British Fleet in Australian waters should consist of two first-class cruisers of 8,000 tons each, and four second-class cruisers of the Highflyer type, with two more in reserve. ‘ That is to say, Sir Lewis Beaumont advocated that we should have six cruisers of the very identical type that the critic alludes to as “miserable cruisers”! There, I submit, is a most startling example of - the knowledge - of the great erudition - possessed by, this critic.
– Either he was wrong or the Admiral was wrong.
– We might have doubts if it were simply a case of a difference between one Admiral and one critic. Our sympathies might then perhaps be equally divided, and some of us. might think that the critic was justified. But unfortunately for him, the Admiralty itself took a hand in framing reports, and came forward with a proposal of its own. Its proposal was to leave out the first class cruisers altogether, and have the whole naval defence of Australia left to five second-class cruisers of this very identical type. These were to constitute the Australian Squadron. It is perfectly clear, there fore, that Captain Creswell, when he recommended the purchase of cruisers of this specific tonnage for this specific sum, was only suggesting what would have thoroughly recommended itself to the British Admiralty. Captain Creswell, however, had suggested that, in view of the fact that these ships were not required to make long voyages, heavier guns and heavier armour might be supplied. The critic immediately interpreted that into a scheme for putting gun power into craft, which would make the latter unserviceable in a heavy sea, and he also ridiculed the idea of the shortness of the distance from the base’s. Captain Creswell had pointed out that these vessels would always be able to get supplies and_ to refit at the various bases on the coast of Australia - Sydney, Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide, Albany, Perth, and so on. The critic, however, ridiculed that idea, and suggested, I think most unfairly, that Captain Creswell was solely occupied in an endeavour to provide billets for his. friends. I appeal to the Minister of Defence, though I do not know whether the suggestion is possible, to get a report from Captain Creswell, supplementary of his previous report on the general question of naval defence. I have no doubt that Captain Creswell has, since 1901, modified his views considerably, because like all experts, he has to keep pace with the tim.es, there being no finality in either naval or military defence. If the Minister could see his way to call on Captain Creswell for a report of the kind, it would be a most valuable paper. The critic also ridiculed myself at some length, because of certain extracts which- he said I had made with some partiality, inasmuch as, in his opinion, I had not given the context. As a matter of fact, when the critic quoted from my words, he, himself, gave no context, though he repeatedly aliened that that was the offence of which I had been guilty.
– Who is this critic?
– He is a critic on these matters - a so-called expert.
– What has the Senate to do with his view?
– I call attention to these points in order that the critic’s folly and ignorance may be exposed.
– Is the time of the Senate to be taken up for that purpose?
– I think it is a material advantage that the Senate should have the correct view of the situation put before them, and I do not think the time can (possibly be considered wasted, unless, of course, the honorable senator differs from me entirely in the views I express.
– I agree with a good many of the honorable senator’s views, but I do not see why we should be called; upon to discuss what some unknown man has said.
– This unknown man is simply the mouth-piece for the expression of the opinions of his class ; and I regret to say that there is a very large section in Sydney who look at this matter from a so-called national point of view, in which, however, it is difficult to find anything national. I should now like to quote what I -did say when I read a paper on Australia and Naval Defence before the Royal Colonial Institute, on 10th March, 1903. I am accused of having garbled the context in an extract which I gave, and I should now like to justify myself by reading what I did say. It must then become apparent that I used the quotation referred to in the most rational and intelligible way. My words were : -
Does any one suppose that a Government would be tolerated for an instant in Great Britain that avowed its intention to send the entire fleet on an offensive expedition against a foreign port, leaving the British coast and commerce in the Channel unprotected, except by fortifications? And if local naval defence is desirable at home and for the mother country, why should it be condemned . when Australia is concerned”? Take, again, the example of France, and its proposals for the defence of Cochin China. M. Lanessan’s scheme provides armoured ships specially designed for the protection of its rivers and coasts, 1 and, in addition, for torpedo boats and gun-boats, in order that the actions of the offensive squadron may be absolutely free, and its base as secure as possible. If this is desirable for the Cochin China coast, why not for the Australian? It must be remembered, too, that M. Lanessan’s programme is based on all that is most modern in theoretical naval defence, the very school of which Captain Mahan is the apostle. Why, what does Captain Mahan himself say on the question? He writes as follows : - “ San Francisco and Puget Sound, owing to the width and great depth of the entrances, cannot be effectively protected by torpedoes, and, consequently, as fleets can always pass batteries through an unobstructed channel, they cannot obtain perfect security by means of fortifications only. Valuable as such works will be to them, ‘ they must be further garrisoned by coast defence ships, whose part in repelling an enemy will b: coordinated with that of the batteries.
The sphere of action of such ships should not be permitted to extend far beyond the port towhich they are allotted, and of whose defence they form an important part, but within that sweep they will always be a powerful reinforcement to a sea-going navy when the strategicconditions of the war cause hostilities to centre round their port. By sacrificing power to go- long distances, the coast defence ship gains proportionate weight of armour guns - that is, of defensive and offensive strength. It further adds an element of unique value to the fleet with which it for the time acts.”
That is the complete quotation, and one which I maintain is most suitable to the context. Captain Mahan pointed out that ships for coastal defence would act in conjunction with another fleet, and I think that view completely justified Captain Creswell in the report he made.
– Australia is, apparently, the only country in the world not worth defending !
– I think the honorable senator is mistaken in putting the matter in that way. What he should” say. is that the people of Australia are the only people who fail to appreciate the proper way of defending their country. We are doing our best, according to the lights of the Ministry, and of the majority in Parliament, to defend our country ; ‘but I maintain that we are adopting the most irrational and illogical system of defence that could possibly be devised. I am afraid I have taken up the time of the Senate rather unduly this afternoon; but I am most anxious that the Minister of Defence should understand that we are determined, or, at least, a certain number of us are determined, if possible, to . have a Bill introduced during the present session, and we shall lose no opportunity to bring pressure to bear on the Government to that end. The Minister of Defence cannot any longer pretend that’ the matter has not been brought officially under his notice ; and he is bound to satisfy himself whether the flagship at present on its way to Australia is according to contract. If the vessel be not according to contract, then the Minister must either deliberately shut his eyes to the fact that a breach is’ being perpetrated, or he must come to Parliament and get the authority of legislative enactment for the departure.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Committee the contract entered into with the Orient Shipping Company by the late Government Only during the last few days has a copy of the contract and connected papers been placed in our hands and I avail myself of the first opportunity to discuss the matter from the point of view of the Commonwealth, and more particularly from the point of view of the State which I have the honour to represent. So far as I can see, we are paying far too high a price for our “whistle.” The contract is for three years, and the subsidy amounts to £120,000 per annum. The late Postmaster-General, Mr. Sydney Smith, repeated time and again that the demands of the Orient Company were too high, and he frequently stated, openly and publicly, that £100,000 was the utmost that, in his opinion, the Commonwealth should be called upon to pay. I am reminded that the late Postmaster- General also frequently stated that the demands of the local shipping companies were extortionate, and that the Government could not consider proposals of the kind made. But, like- the heroine in Lord Byron’s poem, the late Postmaster-General, after swearing he would “ ne’er consent, con’, sen ted.”
– If the late Postmaster-General had given in to the clamours of a certain section of the press, he would have paid the shipping company £150,000 per annum.
– The late PostmasterGeneral ultimately consented to give £20,000 over and above the amount which he had said was the utmost the Common- wealth should be called upon to pay. The interjection of Senator Smith reminds me of the fact that the then Government “caved in” to the clamour raised by an interested section of the press and the public, and were willing to pay, not only £120,000, but, if necessary, £150,000 per annum, in order to placate those by whom the clamour was raised. It is common knowledge that the shipping companies trading to Australia, and almost all parts of the world, are in a combine, and if the Government once submit, there are no lengths to which we may not be forced to go in - the way of extravagant expenditure for similar services. It was quite evident that the Orient Company were bluffing when they demanded such extortionate terms. They would not otherwise have reduced their demand as they did. If the Postmaster-General at the time had kept a stiff upper lip, he might have secured much better terms than he did. There was a way by which the Go vernment could have brought’ the company to terms if they had had sufficient backbone to adopt the proper course.
-Col. Gould. - What course was that ?
– If necessary they could have done what the State Premier of Victoria did in dealing with the brick companies in Melbourne. They could ‘ have proposed to start business on their own account.
– Or what the Queensland Government did in regard to the carriage of their northern mails.
– Or what Mr. Seddon, the Premier of New Zealand, publicly threatened to do if the demands of the shipping companies were not moderated very considerably. I should like to see the’ Government of the Commonwealth adopt a similar attitude in order to protect the interests of the people of Australia. If we “cave in” to bluff of this sort on one occasion, there will be no end to it ; we shall encourage the shipping companies to adopt the same course on all similar occasions. In common with a great many other people, I should like to know, what reason induced the late Government to accede to the demands of the Orient Company after openly stating that they were excessive. There is nothing, in the papers connected with this contract to account for so sudden and radical a change of opinion, and it would be exceedingly interesting if we were given some inkling of the forces at ‘work behind the scenes which induced the late Government to do what, a little time previously, they had declared they never would do, and never ought to be done.
– I think the influence at work was public opinion.
– The public opinion of a few interested traders, and not of the mercantile community generally, and the taxpayers who have to find the money. I point out that this contract is entirely unconstitutional. Although Mr. Reid and his party are continually prating about their desire to safeguard the Constitution, and to protect the rights of the States, they have gone entirely behind the Constitution in this contract. I shall show that that is so before I sit down.
– The honorable senator has a task.
– I have not a task which is beyond any one who can read plain
English, as it is set out in the Constitution. What are the facts with regard to the service that we have at the present time? Are we any better off under the new system than we were under the poundage system ? Not a whit. We have no more steamers coming to Australia, and those that are coming are not better fitted up, and do not offer any improved facilities. The principal point we have to consider in this connexion is whether we are getting a more advantageous mail service, and I submit that we are not. We got our mails carried as expeditiously and as frequently under the poundage system. It is a very perfunctory service indeed that we are getting for this enormous subsidy. The mails on one occasion were, I believe, three days late. It is impossible for merchants and others receiving letters by the Orient service to study their correspondence and prepare a reply in time for the next mail.
– The mail arrived last Wednesday, and left on Wednesday again.
– It is worse at the Sydney end.
– That kind of thing frequently happens. We had no worse conditions under the poundage system, which was not costing us a tithe of what we are paying under the contract. Senator Gould maintains that it is impossible to prove that this contract is unconstitutional.
– No; I asked the honorable senator to prove it.
– The honorable senator said that I had an impossible task.
– I said that the honorable senator had a task.
– I always notice that in dealing with a lawyerone requires to have a sworn shorthand writer to take down his words, otherwise he will try to go behind them. Whether the task is impossible or not. I mean to essay it. I ask Senator Gould, or any one else who has studied the Constitution, whether it is not a fact that the Commonwealth Parliament, or the Government acting for the Commonwealth Parliament, have not the power to enter into any arrangement which discriminates as between State and State, and places one State at a disadvantage as compared with the others. The provision dealing with the matter is sub-sectionIII. of section 51 of the Constitution.
– Now for the discrimination.
– I shall showwhere it comes in. Under this contract It is necessary only that themails shall be landed at Adelaide. The service might end there, because the mails are landed there and are despatched by rail from Adelaide to every other part of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Western Australia. Vessels coming here with mails from the old country call first at Fremantle, and it is necessary that they should do so, because there is no railway communication between the eastern States and Western Australia. Then they call at Adelaide, and, as a matter of fact, all the mails are put ashore at that place and are distributed throughout the Commonwealth from that centre.
– Not all the mails ; parcels are not put ashore at Adelaide.
– All except parcels, and there is no reason why parcels should not also be put ashore there.
– It would mean heavy railway freights.
– I shall deal with that aspect of the question later. What are the conditions of the contract ? It is provided that after a vessel has landed her mails at Adelaide she must proceed to Melbourne and Sydney. This is where the discrimination comes in. That while these trading facilities, entirely apart from the mail service, are to be given to Victoria and New South Wales, the two States of Queensland and Tasmania are entirely left out of the arrangement. This is where I say the contract is unconstitutional. We find, under clause 8 of this precious contract, that the mail ships are to be provided with insulated spaces’ and refrigerating machinery. What for? To insulate the mails and keep them in a frozen condition whilst they are being carried between this country and England ? Will Senator Gould, or any one else, contend that for a moment? When these conditions that there shall be insulated spaces and refrigerating machinery kept in constant order on those vessels are put into this contract, it is for some purpose other than the carriage of mails. When it is made a condition of the contract that, after landing the mails at Adelaide, the vessel shall go on to Melbourne and Sydney, it is for some purpose other than the carriage of mails. What is this purpose? Is it not to afford trading facilities to the trading community of Melbourne and Sydney, and to provide proper means for the carriage of perishable produce from those ports between Australia and England?
– The honorable senator is aware that the vessels go down to Hobart sometimes.
– Only for apples.
– Whenever cargo is available.
– I shall come to that in a minute. I say that if these vessels do go to Hobart, or to Brisbane, they will do so without regard to this contract. It is no part of the duty of the Commonwealth Government to provide trading facilities for the benefit of any one or more States, and to the disadvantage of other States. There can be no doubt that this contract does that, and I am perfectly satisfied that if it is ever take?! before the High Court it will be disallowed. There is another point I should like to emphasize in this connexion. It is provided that the contractors, the shipping company, shall be at liberty to proceed beyond Sydney in the outward voyage, after calling there, and begin the return voyage from a further port, provided the vessels call at Sydney. It is not provided that they must call also at Melbourne, and I think the Melbourne people have rather overlooked this provision. I shall read the clause, which is clause 3 of the contract -
The contractors shall be at liberty, at their option, to continue the outward voyage1, that is from the United Kingdom, of any mailship beyond Sydney, after calling at Sydney, and to commence the homeward voyage, that is to the United Kingdom, of the said mailship from any port provided she calls at Sydney.
Why is there no proviso that she shall also call at Melbourne on the return voyage?
– Or at Adelaide?
– She must cai] there to take on the outwards mails, but if it were not necessary, that she should call at Adelaide for that purpose, that port would evidently have been overlooked also in this clause. I contend that it altogether wrong for the Commonwealth Government to discriminate as between State and State. Section 51 of the Constitution provides that such a thing shall not be done, or shall be illegal, and of no account if it is done. I said a little while ago that there was a way out of the difficulty in dealing with the shipping companies, if the last Government had had only a little back-bone and courage. I believe that these matters will never be satisfactorily settled until the people of Australia decide to own their own ships for the carriage of their mails and produce, just as they own their railways. It seems to be that there is no earthly reason why the people of Australia should not own their own ships, as they now own their railways. We have railways extending into almost every corner of the Commonwealth owned by the people, and it would be only a step further, and equally justifiable to provide ships for our own use. I said that this is no new proposal, and that the Premier of New Zealand made a similar proposal some years ago. I propose now to read an extract from the New Zealand Hansard for 1901, page gr. where it is recorded’ that Mr. Seddon said -
The land is there, and our policy should be that men, women, and children should live on it, and that closer settlement is demanded, and we should meet that demand in a fair and equitable manner. Then we should have to have Government steamers. It is plain to me- rand it is all in this statement - it is as plain to me as noonday, that if we have to meet the requirements of the people of the Colony, and place the producers of the Colony in a proper position, we must have steamers that will carry our products to the various ports of the world. We can afford to build or purchase, steamers ; and we can get our money as cheaply as any shipbuilding company in the world. I say, these ships can be manned and maintained by the Colony equally as well as they can by private enterprise; and if you carry your produce at the lowest po’ssible rates, aiding and assisting your railways on the land, the result will be that your producers will be masters of the situation, instead of, as at the present time, being first under the thumbs of the shipping rings, and, secondly, in the hands of the middlemen. Then, there is no provision made at the present time for meeting the necessities when our produce gets to London and the other markets; and, as I said here last session, it would be money well spent to establish cool stores at the Cape, and it would be a wise and judicious expenditure to meet the requirements in the mother country, and to have New Zealand produce put before the consumers of the old world on such terms and conditions as will do justice to our producers. Sir, I say it follows, as a natural consequence. We have laid down the foundation. We put people on the land. We give facilities by roads and by railways. We give the settlers cheap money. We do all that is possible to promote settlement, and to increase the number of producers. Our exports for last year are a record for the Colony. But, I say, whilst you are doing all this you must let your producers have the benefit ‘of their toil. You must allow the State to profit by what you have lone at home, and the only way you can do that is to break down these monopolies and see that your producers get justice abroad.
That is the way in which I should like to hear the Commonwealth Government speak in a matter of this kind, instead of weakly bending the knee at the beck and call of any shipping combine or any monopoly. If they adopted an attitude of that kind they would, I think, overcome the bluffing tactics to which, apparently, they caved in. It has been pointed out by Senator Guthrie that the contract provides that after the mails are landed the parcels which constitute a portion of the mails are to be carried on to Melbourne and Sydney by the boats in order to save the expense of carrying them by railway. That is another reason why the contract is unconstitutional. If it is necessary to do that in regard to Melbourne and Sydney, it is equally necessary to do it in regard to Queensland.
– Why not carry the parcels right on to Townsville, and up the coast, too?
– To Port Darwin?
– That is entirely begging the question.
-No, that is logical.
– It is not. The grounds I take are that under the Constitution the Commonwealth cannot discriminate between State and State. If these vessels went on to Queensland, then it would be getting the same facilities as all the other States, and every one of them but Tasmania would be satisfied. But I contend that Tasmania should not be left out in the cold any more than Queensland or any other State. So long as trading facilities are contracted for in this direction, undoubtedly the contract is unconstitutional unless ever State be given equal facilities. The sending of the vessels on to Melbourne and Sydney has no connexion with the mail contract, because, as a matter of fact, a vessel lands all her mails, excepting the parcels, at Adelaide, and thence the mails are distributed to every portion of the Commonwealth. If it is quite opposed to the mail aspect of the question to ask the vessels to go on to Melbourne and Sydney, why are they compelled to go to those ports, and to have insulated chambers and refrigerating machinery? Evidently it is required for (fade purposes. The inclusion of these conditions in the contract for the benefit of
Melbourne and Sydney amounts to a trade bounty, which is unconstitutional.
– The exporters in any of the other States can send by the ships if they see fit.
– Is the Vancouver mail-boat to go all round the coast too?
– Undoubtedly, if there is any trade service the Vancouver mail-boat ought to go all round the coast, but as a matter of fact it is paid for as a mail service only. Moreover, Sydney gets another ‘advantage which is altogether wrong. A bounty of £12,000 a year is paid by the Commonwealth to a particular line of steamers trading to the New Hebrides, and owned by Burns, Philp, and Company. To call that a mail service is a mere subterfuge, because the quantity of mails taken by the boats is infinitesimal, compared with the quantity of mails carried by other vessels. Let me show where the evil of the thing comes in. Rockhampton, or Townsville, or Brisbane - especially Rockhampton - is much nearer to the New Hebrides than is Sydney, which gets the benefit of that bounty. Before the session closes, I hope to make some remarks on this subject. Why should not a port in Queensland, which is much nearer to the New Hebrides, and which has railway facilities for the quick despatch and distribution of mails, be made the first port of call and the last port of departure for that service?
– Why not?
– That is what I want to know, unless it is for the glorification of Sydney.
– But Queensland has the benefit of the Vancouver mail service.
– Queensland has the benefit of the Vancouver mail service simply because the nearest port of call is in that State. I have no objection to the boats of the Orient Steam Navigation Company running to Fremantle and Adelaide, because they are engaged in a mail service and it is necessary that they should call at those ports for the proper discharge of their mail functions. It is wholly unnecessary, however, that these boats should call at other ports. In order to overcome the disadvantageous position in which Queensland was placed bv the mail contract, it was compelled to give an annual subsidy of £26,000 to the Orient Steam Navigation Company for the purpose of getting their boats to call at Brisbane. That is manifestly unfair and unjust. If this Parliament intends to ratify the mail contract with that company, then undoubtedly it should make good that sum to Queensland. I have no fault to find with the mail contract in itself, but when conditions are imposed which are equivalent to a trade bounty for the benefit of “certain States to the exclusion of others, then I submit that it is an iniquitous contract which should not be ratified ; and if it is ratified, then Queensland should be refunded her expenditure of £26,000. What is true of Queensland is equally true of Tasmania, and I hope that the representatives of the latter State will stand up for her rights in this regard.
– The Government of Queensland in their contract stipulated that the boats shall carry passengers. Surely that State does not expect the Commonwealth to pay for that stipulation?
– We in Queensland have a perfect right to expect the Commonwealth to pay for any stipulation we like to make when its Government and Parliament go outside the terms of the Constitution and make special arrangements with regard;* to certain ports which they had no right to make.
– Then Queensland has a right to do an unconstitutional thing ?
– No, the Parliament of Queensland has the’ power to do anything it likes in that direction.
– But it has no power to ask the. Commonwealth Parliament to pay the money.
– No; but Queensland has the right to demand that an unjust contract shall not be made unduly favoring other States, and leaving it out in the cold. I feel perfectly satisfied that if the point were raised the High Court would disallow the contract, because it is manifestly in contravention of section 51 of the Constitution. For these reasons I have availed myself of the first opportunity after the contract has been tabled to ventilate the matter. I do not know when the Parliament will be asked to ratify the contract, but when the question is raised I hope that it will be thoroughly threshed out, and that the Government will be induced to forego these obnoxious provisions which discriminate between State and State to the disadvantage and injury of Queensland and Tasmania.
– After the remarks which Senator Givens has made on the subject of the Orient Steam Navigation Company, I think that honorable senators may be gratified to know that a Select Committee is taking evidence with regard to the advantages or disadvantages of the scheme he proposes, namely, the substitution of State-owned vessels for the ordinary mail service.
– There is no Committee sitting for that purpose just now.
– I believe that the result of the investigation of the Committee which is known as Mr. Thomas’ Committee will be to show that the cost of running mail steamers far exceeds that which is ordinarily believed by honorable senators to be the case. It will be well perhaps for honorable senators to remember that within the last year or so a vessel belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Naviga’tion Company, and worth £250,000, and a vessel belonging to the Orient Steam Navigation Company, and worth, I suppose, £150,000, have been lost on our coast. That loss of £400,000 is one which the States, had they been the owners, would have had to face. It must also be borne in mind that the profits made by the steam-ship companies are in almost inverse proportion to the speed of their vessels. For instance, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company will tell us that the main profits on their lines are earned by the vessels which’ carry cargo, and have not to run at high rates of speed. To run a vessel an extra knot per hour is to increase the cost very much indeed. When we recollect that for many years the Orient Steam’ Navigation Company paid practically nothing, how can we expect that they will be willing to go on losing money, or, what is pretty much the same thing, to work without profit.
– We must be philanthropists, and pay the profits.
– That is owing to bad management. It is the worstmanaged line in the world.
– There is no doubt that people go on running businesses in the hope of times improving and profits arising. The Peninsular and Oriental Company, in 1893, lost £50,000 on its Australian trade, but owing to the profits made in its large Eastern trade, the company was, as a whole, able to pay a substantial dividend.
– The company is now building four new vessels.
– It is having a number of cargo vessels constructed. The company is depending rather on the cargocarrying trade than on the passenger and mail trade for its profits. It must always 1 be remembered that to run vessels at a high speed is very costly. If we did not desire to have our mails carried at a high speed, there would be no occasion to pay anything over and above ordinary cargo rates. We. could send them almost free of cost. But for years past it has been the policy of every civilized country of any importance, whether it is run on a protectionist or a free-trade policy, to try to get its oversea mails carried as quickly as possible, and most countries are prepared to pay, and ‘do pay, very large sums of money for such services. The money that Australia is paying is not at all extravagant in proportion to what other countries are paying. It is quite certain that if the Commonwealth had not come to terms with the Orient Company, that company would not’ have given up the trade, but it would have discontinued running its high-speed steamers, and would have run a cargo line, which probably would have returned a greater amount of money than the company had any chance of making out of the mail service.
– Then it would have lost the whole of its passenger traffic.
– I have a good deal of sympathy with the contention that we should not, in our mail contracts, impose conditions for services other than the conveyance of mails. When Senator Drake was Postmaster-General some four years ago, I stated that the contracts for the conveyance of mails ought on no occasion to be loaded up with other services. It is not fair to the steam-ship companies, and to the general taxpayer, and it may lead - and, indeed, does lead - to trouble between State and State. It would,, lie very desirable in future that we should^ arrange for the conveyance of our mails quite apart from the conveyance of cargo. I have a few words to say with regard to Senator Matheson’s speech as to naval policy. It requires considerable hardihood on the part of any senator to call the British Government to account for alleged neglect of an Australian contract or of Australian interests. The amount of money that Australia is contributing towards the cost of the most gigantic and costly navy in the world is so small that, as I say, it requires a good deal of hardihood for any one to rise in his place here and to cavil at the action of the British Government.
– Does that justify the British Government in deliberately breaking its contract?
– I do not dream for a moment that the British Government has, in fact, deliberately broken any contract, or would do so.
– Read the agreement.
– Look at the evidence that has come before us. Consider the evidence of the last few days about the new naval base at Singapore. It shows that the British Government has had the interests of Australian trade in mind in what it has determined to do there. It is, I think, very unfair, very uncalled for, and very unchivalrous that remarks such as have been made this afternoon, should be made. At the same time, I’ have on pre- .vious occasions expressed the opinion in the Senate that Australia should not be content with making a contribution towards the maintenance of the British Navy. She should also do something to look after the defence of her own coasts. I think that on one occasion I said that it would be well if we could have subsidies paid to some of the leading Australian steam-ship companies for specially swift vessels that might be turned into cruisers - because I do not at all believe in the whole of the Naval Forces of Australia going away from our shores, leaving our ports quite defenceless in time of war. I am entirely at one with Senator Matheson as regards the importance of some means of defence for our coasts and ports. Senator Playford will remember that a few weeks ago I spoke to him about forty torpedoes which I happened to know were lying in Sydney, more or less useless. They have been in store for about eighteen years, the valves have perished, and want renewing. I quite agree that the coastal defence of Australia requires looking after, in addition to what we are doing in connexion with the subsidy to the Royal Navy. I shall always be ready to assist Senator Matheson, or any other senator, or any Government, in- bringing about a state of affairs in relation to defence that will be more satisfactory to the Commonwealth. We must remember that if the whole of the Naval Forces in these waters were removed, even for a short period, it would toe a direct inducement to some solitary cruiser of an enemy to come down to our seas, and sweep all before it. I also wish to call attention to some facts which are brought out in the papers distributed in connexion with the Budget speech this year. Honorable senators are aware that, speaking generally, the finances of the States are showing some improvement. They are showing increases of revenue. But those increases are in respect of revenue collected by the States Governments themselves. When I turn to the Commonwealth accounts, I find that within the last two or three years there was also a substantial improvement in the revenue of the Post and: Telegraph Department. In the current year, it is anticipated that the revenue will be such as to show an increase of £309,000 on three years ago. That is a substantial increase. It shows that there is some movement in Australia - that some expansion of business is going fon. But when I leave that, I have done. When I turn to the main sources of revenue of the Commonwealth - Customs and Excise - what do I find? The following is something like the case:’ I take the figures for 1902-3, and deduct from them £570,000 that was specially collected on grain duties, and was quite apart from the ordinary revenue. After taking off that sum, and comparing the money .received then with the money estimated to be received in the current year, I find that there is a decrease of £292,000. But there is worse than that. Because the Government does not debit the revenue with the amount paid for bonuses on sugar. That is to say, the Government credits the revenue with all the receipts from Excise duties, but does not deduct the sum of money which is returned as bonuses.
– The revenue is credited with all the Customs and Excise duties, and the bonuses are debited against the consolidated revenue.
– If the money returned as bonuses be taken off the sugar revenue, we find that there is .a decrease of £350,000 in the current year’s revenue, as compared with the revenue of the year 1902-3. During those three years there has been an increase of population. If we estimate what the revenue ought to be on the population of to-day at the rate of three years ago, we find that instead of a falling off of £350,000 there really is a falling off of po less than about ,£700,000. This is further added to by the great increase in the amount of bonuses paid. So that there is in the current financial year a falling off of £790,000 in the revenue collected under the same Tariff in the year 1905-6 as compared with what was collected three years ago. In connexion with this, I must call attention to what is occurring in regard to sugar. We find there the combined effects df the policy of protection and the White Australia policy. I want honorable senators to note carefully the exact cost of this policy to Australia, and they will see that it is responsible for the falling away in the revenue which I have noted. I have taken some figures from page 8 of the financial papers distributed by the Treasurer. The following table will illustrate my argument : -
It will be seen that in 1902-3 the real net revenue was £719,621, in 1903-4 it was £692,601, in 1904-5 it was £500,346, and this year it is expected to be £455.830. Both protectionists and freetraders admit that every ounce of sugar consumed in Australia is increased in cost to the consumer by every farthing of the dutv °f £fi Per ton. In 1902-3 the total amount paid bv the people in the way of taxation was ,£1,057,968, in 1903-4 it was £-°95>114> in I9°4-S it was £1,082,136, while this vear on the estimates of consumption it will be £r, 122, 000. When I deduct from these amounts the actual sum received by the Treasurer, I find that the sugar industry of Australia has obtained the following moneys from the people: - In 1902-3 the amount was £338,347, or 32 per cent, of the total; in 1903-4 it was £4°3>I73, or 37 per cent, of the total; in 1904-5 it was £581,790, or 54 per cent of the total; while this year, according to the figures published by the Government, the amount will be £666,170, or 59 per cent, of the total taxation. It must be remembered that, if there was no black labour employed, the bonus paid would mean an addition of £220,000, so that black labour saves the revenue to that extent. But for a certain amount of black labour, the amount received by the Government from the sugar industry would be only £235,000, while the industry would absorb no less than 79 per cent, of the taxation. That is an immense amount, and lI ask honorable senators to seriously consider what these figures mean, especially to States which are suffering much from the burden of taxation. I ask honorable senators to investigate the matter for themselves, and ascertain what each individual State is losing by these enormous payments to the sugar industry. Is the game worth the candle ? The falling off in the revenue of the States to which I have referred is very largely accounted for by the position of the sugar industry. No doubt, there is, in addition, a great deal of weakness and uncertainty in trade and commerce; there is not that expansion and strength which we might have expected after five years of Commonwealth rule. Those of us who represent the larger States are, I think, willing to confess that, although we enjoy a larger share than before of the trade of the smaller States, business with us is not so brilliant as we should like it to be. Then, representatives of the smaller States are bound to confess that those States are losing revenue to the larger States ; and where, it may be asked, is there a State which can be satisfied with the present position of affairs? I now desire to draw attention to some of the figures which appear in the distributed papers with regard, to exports and imports, because I find the position to be very singular. In one of those papers a comparison is made between the condition of trade in Australia and in Canada. I do not know why the Minister, in having that comparison instituted, did not take care to procure the latest figures in regard to Can- ada; but I have done so, and I think I shall be able to give the Senate some veryinteresting facts. We just now hear a great deal about the prosperity of Canada, while we know, as I have said, that business is not very bright in Australia. From our import and export returns for last year we find that there was an excess of exports,, which we may call an outgo of money over receipts, of £20,500,000. That sum covered! not only all that Australia owes in the matter of interest, but also a few millions of capital, which was clearly going out of country. It represented about £5 per head of the population, or equal to between £25 and £26 for every ordinary family of five persons. In Canada, for the year ending. 30th June last, there was no excess of exports, but, on the other hand, a large excess of imports, amounting to £14,500,000, or £2 us. per head, representing nearly £13. for every family of five persons.
– Does the honorable senator know whether there were any extensive loan operations in Canada last year?
– No doubt public and private loan operations may have been carried out during the year. What I desire to draw attention to is the remarkable fact that while Australia parted with nearly £26 per family of five, Canada received nearly £13 per family of five, showing a difference of £39 per family in favour of Canada. In the “ eighties,” the amount of money coming into Australia was immensely more per family than that now going into Canada. We were paying our interest, but over and above that, millions were pouring into this country. The position now is wholly changed, largely, of course, owing to the fact that Canada is now enjoying a boom, while we are suffering a relative depression.
– Our exports are greater than those of Canada.
– That is so, but after we have paid for our imports, £20,500,000 goes to pay interest and to return money borrowed.
– That is a very good thing.
-Of course it is, but every one will admit that paying away a lot of money is very different from receiving a lot. It may be said that while Canada is getting into debt, Australia is getting out of it, and that the latter is an advantage.
– Does the honorable senator classify imports as money coming into the country?
– In the case of Canada, the excess of £14,500,000 of imports does represent money coming into the country.
– I do not think so.
– I have no doubt at all on the point, nor have I any doubt that about twenty years ago, when Victoria, in one or two years; actually imported £10, 000,000 more than she exported, the difference undoubtedly meant the arrival of money ; and a similar view is true to-day in regard to Canada.
– Immigrants arriving in Canada with capital are not represented in the imports.
– If an immigrant goes to Canada with £500 he does not carry with him 500 sovereigns, but has the money conveyed by the banks, where it is represented in the exchanges. If the immigrant, on the other hand, carries his money in his pocket, the amount of new money is increased to that extent, so that the case I am presenting is strengthened. Canada is booming along by reason of the large amount of money arriving with immigrants and for investment in one form of enterprise and another. It appears to me, too; that conditions are strengthening in Australia. In spite of business being uncomfortably stringent just now., I think there are some signs of improvement, and that before long we shall have a brighter outlook. I notice that within the last ten years Australia has exported about £100,000,000 worth of goods in excess of imports. That is a marvellous turn in the tide, when we consider the state of things some time ago, when there was great inflation in the business life of Australia. Adding the deposits in the banks and the savings banks together, as given in the Government returns, I find that in 1894 they amounted to £106,000,000, at which figure they practically remained for the next three years. In 1899 these deposits amounted to £109,000,000, whereas on the 30th of June, this year, they had risen to £131,000,000.
– May that not be regarded as indicating the closing of ordinary avenues of investment for persons with a small amount of capital.
– To some extent that is so. I for one have never used bank deposits, and especially savings bank figures, as indicative of the whole position of a country, because I am quite sure that sometimes a man puts money into a bank because he has no avenue for its employment. But I want to say that money is going into the banks, and that there is a large amount deposited there. It has increased since 1894 by £25,000,000. It appears to me that the position is an improving one, and, with the continuance of fair seasons and good prices, and especially if the Commonwealth is reasonable in its legislation, we shall have very much improved times before long in Australia. With regard to the subject of preference, it is stated by believers in the policy that the whole of the trade of Australia, or, at any rate, too large a proportion of it, is gradually going to the foreigner. Here are the figures given in the table published in these papers. Inthe year 1901 the proportion of imports from foreign countries was 27.06; in 1902, 27.13; in 1903, 29.89; in 1904, 26.15. So that in 1904 the proportion was less than in 1901. For my part, I am surprised that the proportion of imports from foreign countries is not larger than it is in view of the fact, which is sufficiently well established, that foreign countries are buying much more of our produce than is the United Kingdom. With regard to this subject of preference to which, I understand, the Government are pledged–
– Hear, hear.
– Is the Government pledged to anything?
– I should like to point out that, although the policy of preference had its origin in Canada, within the last week, very much to my surprise, we had a cable message from that country to the effect that the Labour Congress of Canada has denounced the preference proposals of Mr. Chamberlain. It is a very singular thing, too, that if our Government is enamoured of the policy of preference, and of trying to do good to the rest of the Empire, that they should have so pronouncedly taken advantage of some opportunities to aim a very great blow at the industries of Canada. There is no doubt that they have aimed a great blow at the industries of that country in the steps they have taken in the matter of the importations of agricultural machinery. I believe they have now to defend an action brought by the Massey-Harris Company for the recovery of .payments which they forced the company to make, and which the company disputes. The Government, by their method of altering the valuation of imports, and by refusing to accept the valuation of goods manufactured in inland portions of Canada, and demanding in their place seaport valuations, are compelling the people of that country to send their goods through the United States.
– They’ went beyond seaport valuations, and adopted arbitrary valuations.
– I know they are capable of doing anything in that line. What I desire honorable senators to see is that the policy of preference which they claim will do much good to the Empire, is one which they do not at all believe in if it costs them anything. I should like to say a word about population and immigration, which are burning questions in Australia. We should strive by all the means in our power to increase our population. It is admitted all round that it would be profitable for the Commonwealth and the States to introduce people to Australia. If it pays to do that, and so to increase our population, it should pay the States to make it less burdensome for people in the country Fo bring up large families. I put this forward as worthy of the consideration of the States Treasurers. I think they should strive, as far as they can, to lessen the burden of families. They should make education free. I believe in free education.
– It is free.
– It i>3 free in some States, and not in others. It is not free in New South Wales, where there is a charge per head per week for education. I think it is desirable, with a view to lessening the burden of children to parents, quite apart from the value of education itself, that education should be made free. I go further than that. The various States of Australia own their railways, and, in some States, the tramways also are owned by the Government. In my opinion, the “States Governments should be prepared to make some concessions to children travelling on railways and tramways.
– So they do.
– I am aware that thev make certain small concessions.
– They carry them free in Queensland.
– They carry them free to school, and mainly on the trams, but that is all. These concessionsmight be further extended. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, there is a way in which we could help in the matter, but to adopt it would be to raise thefiscal question. It would be by a revision of the Tariff, which would tend to makethe cost of living less than it is at present. I do mot know whether even a protectionist Government might not be inclined to lighten the burden of Customs duties, which especially affect the cost of bringing upchildren. Some three or four years ago, when the Immigration Restriction Bill was before us, and the precious contract clause was submitted, I proposed in the Senate to omit the sub-clause. Then I proposed to limit its operation to cases where labour Ad b brought in at less than the current rates of wages. But I could not get my proposed amendment carried. I understand that, to-day, the powers: that be are willing to accept such an amendment. If it had been adopted when originally proposed, it would have saved’ Australia a very great amount of disgrace.
– Due to misrepresentation.
– I am glad to know that there is now a probability that the proposal which I made may be adopted.
– The pamphlet published by the honorable senator has been a greater disgrace to Australia than has the Immigration Restriction Act.
– I hope that this Parliament will be generous, and, instead of trying to hedge such an amendment about with various provisions and limitations, will simply sweep the sub-section away altogether. The risk of the introduction of contract labour during a strike or anything of that sort is infinitesimal, and it would be a generous and a wise thing on the part of the Commonwealth Government to sweep this sub-section away absolutely. Now, with regard to the sections of the Act by which the coloured races are affected, I say without hesitation that this subject overshadows in importance any to which I have referred to-day. and any matter of legislation now before either House of the Federal Parliament. It is not creditable to Australia that she should’ have taken up the position she has assumed in this matter. Australia has been playing the fool with the kingdoms of Asia with
Japan, with China, and with India - and it is time she gave this up. As I have already shown in the Senate, and in a little pamphlet recently published, the Empire of Japan offered Australia everything she could want, irk the form of an agreement which would have been honorable to Japan and Australia.
– The honorable senator ought to be impeached for the publication of the pamphlet to which he refers.
– These are the advocates of freedom of opinion.
– The agreement offered by Japan was treated with contempt. I ask honorable senators to give heed to what I say. Japan existed many long centuries before the Christian era. For an immense period the Japanese have been a great, an educated, a. cultivated, and a refined people. China has been a great country. India has been, and is to-day, a great country. It is not reasonable, fair, or in consonance with the beliefs and prestige of the Empire that we should treat the peoples of those countries as if they were dirt, and as if we were superior people. It is not1 to be borne with that legislation such as we have carried should endure much longer. I earnestly beg of every member of the Senate to look very carefully “into this matter, and to remember not only the position of those countries in the past, and their position to-day, but more particularly to consider their position as it will develop in the near future. There is no doubt at all that Japan is a great power to-day, and will be a greater power in the future. Japan will be our friend if we want her to be our friend.
– She is our friend now.
– She is our friend to-day, and will be iri the future. It may happen that we shall yet find a Japanese fleet off our shores, sent here to help to defend us. Japan is the ally of the Empire, and it is reasonable and proper that we should remember that we have passed legislation which the Japanese look upon as insulting to them.
– No, no.i
– How can the honorable senator say “No, no,” when the Japanese representatives say that it is so. It i’s of no use for honorable senators to delude themselves with any such idea. I say that the Japanese do consider that some of our legislation involves a gross insult to Japan.
– When have they said so?
– They have said so continually.
– When have they said so offcially?
– They have made official representations repeatedly to the Government of Australia, and to the Colonial Office in London. I submit that this matter overshadows in importance any question now before this Parliament. I hope that no amendment of our Immigration Restriction Act will be attempted without an effort being made at the same time to do justice to the Empires of Asia.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).I have listened with very great respect, and not without a little amusement - to the very exhaustive address which Senator Pulsford’ has delivered. He seems to me to have run almost the whole gamut of the subject. He has presented Australia in a light in which I am sure a great number of us can hardly recognise her. I agree with him that the policy of a White Australia undoubtedly overshadows every other question which can possibly come before this Parliament ; but I do not agree with him that the policy deliberately adopted by the people of this Continent, with regard to the coloured nations of Asia, should be reversed. If I understood him aright, he pleads for the admission of the Indian, the Chinaman, and the Japanese to the Commonwealth. ‘
– I did not plead for the free admission of the Asiatic races.. What I said was that Japan offered’ all that Australia wanted when she expressed her willingness to make an agreement which would regulate the whole matter, but asked not to be included in any legislation such as was proposed.
– In any case, I understood the honorable senator to plead for the admission of these people into this country. If he does not wish them to be admitted here, why should he trouble about our legislation? If one kind of legislation will keep them out just the same as another kind of legislation, where is the need to make any change? My honest opinion is that it will be a very bad day indeed for Australia when, for any reason whatever, when even for the reason of a hostile fleet appearing off our shores, she consents to allow the inhabitants of any of these countries to come here. I look upon our
White Australia policy as being irreversible - as something which the people of Australia will never abandon or desert. I do not think it is necessary to say very much on that point, but I desire to say a few words on the subject of population. This seems now to be a most fashionable topic. Every one h’as discovered that the one thing which Australia needs is population. I agree that we want more population. We have, as has been pointed out by numberless speakers and writers, a huge territory inhabited by a mere handful of people contiguous to the coloured millions in Asia. If we desire to keep Australia white, democratic, and free, and to maintain our institutions, it is imperative that we should quadruple our population if we possibly can. I shall be with any member of the Senate or any person who will propose a feasible means of increasing our population. The first thing to do is to improve the conditions of the people here. If we are to begin with the people here, why should we not begin with our infants? Look at the infant death-rate in Australia ! Is it not something enormous, appalling? Every year we are offering a huge sacrifice of human life to bad conditions, which ought to be saved.
– How can we legislate to prevent that?
– I am not very sure that we cannot legislate for that purpose. There is a necessity for something to be done, and I think we ought, to begin as I have suggested. What is the great foe to our infant life ? The great enemy to its growth is land monopoly. I am sure that a large number of my honorable friends here will scout that idea. No doubt Melbourne is a well laid-out town. As you go up and- down its streets you see how wide, straight, and clean they are. But when you go into the houses, what do you find ? ‘ I live in probably one of the most respectable streets in East’ Melbourne, and I can assure honorable senators that in the house there is not a room into which the sun finds entrance for more than halfanhour a day. I am told that exactly the same conditions prevail in nine-tenths of the dwellings of Melbourne. Is it possible for persons to be healthy and happy in houses from which the health-bestowing influence of the sun is excluded ?
– Let them go to Tasmania.
– I should like my honorable friend to be serious. There is
Very little sunshine in Tasmania, and the evils of land monopoly are much more rampant there than anywhere else. How does it come about that nine-tenths of the people of a city in a country where there is so much sunlight are compelled to live in houses from which’ the sunshine is practically excluded? There is only one answer to the question, and that is land monopoly.
– The honorable senator might say one-tenth, not nine-tenths*
– The proposition is nine-tenths, and I instanced one of the best streets in East Melbourne. But go down to Collingwood, or to any pf the suburbs of Melbourne, and it will be found that the conditions are infinitely worse. The sanitary arrangements in East Melbourne are fairly good, but let some of my honorable friends take a trip by the railway through Collingwood, and look down upon the wretched little huts, without sanitary appliances, without comfort, without any of the ordinary decencies of life, and ask himself whether it is possible to rear a healthy, happy, vigorous race of people in such places? If “these conditions are cutting down’ “our infant life, let us begin with the population question by attacking this land monopoly .which is slaying them every year in tens of thousands. Again, Tet us look at our young men and young women. No doubt many of the arrangements of to-day are- vastly superior to those of a few years ago; but they are not nearly what they ought to be. I believe I am within the truth when I say that in_ Melbourne there are thousands of persons who have to work below the surface with the aid of artificial light during the whole day.
– That is common, to every big city.
– There would really be no necessity for that in this country but for land monopoly. At every turn we bump up against this evil. Although Australia comprises an area of 4,000,000 square miles, and carries a little more than a human being to the square mile, persons are compelled, from want of room, because land is so dear owing to the accursed land monopoly, to work underground. Again, how many of our shops and factories are ventilated and lighted as they ought to be?
– Every one of them. ‘
– Our workshops are under statute Jaw.
– Yes ; but in a great number of cases they are much more deficient in sanitation, lighting, ventilation, and conveniences, which are absolutely necessary if health is to be maintained, than they ought to be.
– That is not the case in Melbourne.
– I am talking of Melbourne. I am not sure about Brisbane, but 1 think I am within the truth in saying that, so far as these conditions are concerned, Melbourne is very much in advance of Sydney. It is not, however, what it ought to be. All these conditions affect the health of our people, and consequently the death-rate and the increase of population. If we abolish this great standing evil of land monopoly, we shall not only preserve the infants in greater number than we do, but we shall add to the adult population, and in that way increase the number of our people very much more rapidly than is being done. I know that these sentiments do not fit in with the ideas of a number of honorable senators; but they have to remember that we are continually advancing - that what was thought to be Gospel truth twenty years ago is now discovered to be the merest humbug. The fact that a large number of persons are huddled into close and insanitary dwellings in a country where there is so much land unused, and all owing to land monopoly, is a state of affairs which ought to be attacked and abolished.
– Can the honorable senator mention one’ factory .in Melbourne which comes under that head ?
– I am not going to descend to particulars to-day, because we are talking generally. If my statements as a whole are incorrect, and my conclusions are wrong, it is quite open to the honorable senator to pick as many holes in them as he pleases. I am not going to come down to individual cases. In Melbourne, the factories are very superior to those of Sydney. But they are even better in New Zealand. I went through a number of factories in Dunedin, Wellington, ChrisTchurch, and Auckland, .and I’ can assure the Senate that I never before saw operatives working under such favorable conditions. The factories were all well ventilated, well lighted, and well appointed in every way, and those conditions reflected themselves in the faces and in the work of the people employed.
– The same conditions exist here.
– I do not say that the conditions in Victoria are as bad as they are in some other States, but even here they are not as good as they ought to be. As to the population question, we find that land monopoly is the great bar to progress in the cities. When we go into the country, we find that the same is the case, even in a worse degree. Victoria is actually losing population for no other reason than that vast areas of her best lands are monopolized by people who will neither sell nor use it themselves. It is monstrous that a young country like Victoria should be losing population. There is not a spectacle like it anywhere else in the civilized world.
– But she is keeping her Chirnsides and Clarkes.
– Oh, yes; but if that state of things were happening in any other country except Australia, we should have the Australian press crying out that that country was groaning under bad Government. I do not believe that we have another example, in any part of the world, of a young country that is losing population in a greater ratio than her numbers are increasing. It is a most melancholy circumstance - and I direct the attention of the Senate to ft - that it is only under the British flag that you find that the population of any country is diminishing. Take Ireland, a country that has lost half its people during the last half century.
– What about France?
– Take Victoria, one of the finest portions of Australia, and, I believe, one of the best of the civilized world. The people are actually being driven out by land monopoly. Senator Millen talks about France. There is not a country in the world where the people are as well off as they are in France.
– Why does the honorable senator jump about like that? He was speaking of the population ; now he is referring to the material condition of the people.
– I say that the material condition of the people of France is better than that of any other country in te world.
– But the honorable senator said that it was only under the British flag that the population of countries was decreasing.
-The population of France is not decreasing. But we need not go all over the universe. AVe are concerned with Australia, and we are at present in Victoria. In this country, as has been shown in the Age. the Tocsin, and. I suppose, in other newspapers, there are millions of acres of excellent land waiting for the plough and ready for the hand of the cultivator.
– There is room in Victoria for the entire population of the Commonwealth.
– Yes ; and everyone of them, under good and wise government, would be better settled; in Victoria than spread over the entire area of the Commonwealth. In attacking abuses and bringing about reforms, let us begin here. What is the reason why this country is losing population? The only answer that can be given is that it is because of land monopoly.
– What remedy would the honorable senator propose?
– I would break up the land monopoly by a land values tax. I put this to honorable senators, who are patriotic, who say that they are desirous, of promoting the welfare and prosperity of Australia, and desire to protect her against invasion - whether 10,000 settlers between here and Geelong would not serve her better in her day of trial, if war ever came to her shores, than all the Clarkes and Chirnsides, and people of that description? I ask whether 10,000 rifles in the hands of 10,000 trusty yeomen would not be of more service to Australia than a few big land monopolists? If honorable senators are truly anxious for the welfare of Australia they will help in every possible way to break down this land monopoly, which is lying on the fair face of this land like a blight. It is worse than drought, or fire, or famine.
– Or pestilence !
– Yes, or pestilence. The breaking up of the land monopoly is the one thing that is absolutely necessary at the present moment to protect our country. We talk about bringing population from Other countries. Why should people come here? Where is the land for them- if they do come? General Booth talks of sending out 5,000 families. If they came here tomorrow I should be prepared to make a sporting wager of ,£1.00 to one that the States could find no land upon which to settle them.
– Which States?
– The whole of them.
– There is lots of room for them in Western Australia.
– Oh, yes; and there is any amount of room in the desert of Sahara. But what they want is good land near to railway lines, and they want it cheap. When I was living in Scotland I used to read the hand-books issued by the various Colonies - Canada, . New Zealand, and the Australian .Colonies; and the chief inducement held out to me, as I believe to others who have ever lived in the old country, was that if I came out here or went to Canada I could get a holding of my own for next to nothing, and that I should be my own landlord.
– We can give land in Western Australia.
– I am very pleased to hear that there is any quantity of land available in Western Australia. But nevertheless I venture to say that if these 5,000 families come here, not one of the States - not the whole of them combined - could absorb them in a decent fashion.
– Does the honorable senator still want to be his own landlord?
– I would rather be my own landlord than be the tenant of the honorable senator or of any one else ; though I have no doubt that he would be a most excellent landlord. I do not believe that he would ever put in the bailiff if I did not pay my_ rent.
– I agree with much the honorable senator has said.
– I think that we are all pretty well agreed that land monopoly is a crying evil in this Commonwealth. But where we do not agree is as to how the evil is to be remedied. I propose land values taxation; other honorable senators may say. “ Let us have compulsory resumption,” and so on. I do not believe in compulsory resumption. I believe in land values taxation. But those are details into which, probably, it would not be useful to enter on the present occasion. What we want to do is to hammer it into the minds of public men, and the people generally, that land monopoly is an evil which must be got rid of - something that is standing in the way of Australia’s advancement, even of her safety.
– The States have to do with land.
– I am quite aware of what the honorable senator says - that the lands of this continent are under the control of the States. But the Federal Parliament has control of the States, and if the Federal Parliament likes, it can either compel the States to impose such direct taxation as will break up the land monopoly, or. in the last resource, can impose that taxation itself. I will tell honorable senators in what way the Federal Parliament holds the whole situation in the hollow of its hand. Some honorable senators are freetraders. Very well ; suppose we adopted a real free-trade policy - not a mere revenue Tariff policy. What would be the result? We should immediately destroy the revenue from Customs. What would follow from that? The States would be compelled to raise such an amount of revenue from direct taxation, as would immediately break up this land monopoly. Then, suppose that the Commonwealth adopted a real protectionist policy. That also would destroy revenue. It would create industries, but it would lessen imports. The very same results would follow. The States would be compelled to impose direct taxation. I merely say this to show that what is claimed by a number of honorable senators, that the Commonwealth Parliament has no voice in the matter, is a mere fallacy. We may wait if we choose, until the States move ; but if they do not move, we can compel them. They are the oxen in the waggon, and we are the drivers, who have the whip in our hands if we like to use it. If they do not step forward and try to pull Austra-Iia out of the mire within a very short time, it will be the “duty of the Federal Parliament to do so, because the circumstances demand action at a very early period. I should much prefer the States to do the work ; and, personally, I do not wish to interfere with the States rights of taxation. But I put the welfare of Australia before any other consideration. If the people in the States will not do anything to break up the land monopoly, I shall be one to compel them, if I hold a seat in this Chamber. .
– It appears to me that the honorable senator is advocating confiscation by taxation.
– I am advocating nothing of the kind ; and I have never yet advocated theft, robbery, or confiscation.
– It is restitution.
– As Senator Pearce says, I advocate restitution. The people of the States in the past. have permitted themselves to be defrauded of their just rights; and we have come to the conclusion that this cannot be allowed any longer. We are in the position of a business man who finds himself robbed to such an extent year after year that he has either to stop- the robberies or become bankrupt. lt’ we allow the private taxgatherer to go round and calmly annex millions year after year, while the States have to go begging and borrowing for money for public works, bankruptcy will be the fate of the Australian Continent. I was going also to say - and probably this may give rise to some little division of opinion - that if we want more population we ought to do something which will encourage the growth of industries in our midst. We ought, in short, to inaugurate a stronger protectionist policy than we have at present. Here we produce wool in greater quantities than any other country under the sun. Why, instead of exporting that wool to the ends of the earth, should we not encourage woollen manufactures here? Some hundreds of years ago, Great Britain occupied relatively to some of the European countries the ‘same position as Australia occupies to-day. Britain grew wool, and produced various metals, which were exported to the Continent, and received back in the shape of cloth, tools, and so forth. But there were wise people even in those days who asked themselves the all-important question whether it was not verv foolish to continue such a system ?
– That is going back to the dark ages.
– There was just as much light in those days as now ; and, at any rate, it is not very many centuries ago since that state of things prevailed. The people of that time did just what a great majority, I believe, of the people of Australia desire to do to-day - they not only imposed a protective duty on imports, but a duty on the export of wool.
Indeed, the people of that time went a great deal further, and encouraged large numbers of artificers from Europe to settle down in England, and in that way established the supremacy which England enjoys as a manufacturing country to-day. We might do a great deal worse than follow the example then set by Britain and impose a much more highly protective Tariff than that in existence at the present time. In that way industries would be created, employment provided, and wealth circulated. Work would be found for our people, and we should be more nearly self-supporting, and, undoubtedly, a much more self-reliant community than we are at present. We are all agreed, I think, that we require more population; and to attain that end we must first break up the land monopoly, and then enter upon such a fiscal policy as will not only maintain existing industries, but create new enterprises. Senator Pulsford seems to be very much alarmed about the revenue falling, I do not share the honorable senator’s fears, because the falling of revenue shows me clearly that Australia is producing more to-day within her own borders than ever before. To me that is one of the most promising signs I could wish to see, and. so far from regarding with alarm a decline in the Customs revenue, any move in that direction ought to inspire us with hope for the future. The honorable senator also seems to be much concerned about the duty on sugar, and what the States are losing in consequence of the bonus. I make no appeal to the honorable senator, because I know that to do so would be useless ; but I ask honorable senators generally - no matter if thev do not” approve of the bonus - to consider whether it is not better to pay a bonus which establishes an important industry, than to pay taxation on sugar, in order to save the skins of the land monopolists in the various States. In New South Wales and also in Victoria there were duties on sugar before Federation, and for what purpose? To raise revenue - to save the land-grabber. The people of those States are now paying the same duty, but they are paying it in order to keep Australia white.
– And giving the money to the land-owner.
– The money goes to maintain an industry. I concur with very much that Senator Millen says, and probably he and I are nearer in agree ment, in regard to the sugar bonus, than he imagines.
– Then I must be careful !
– I admit that affairs in connexion with the sugar industry are extremely unsatisfactory ; but we cannot remedy everything in a single day. I hope that within a very few years this industry will be in such a position as to be able to live without a bonus. That is my hope, expressed freely as a Queenslander, and I know that other Queensland senators agree with me. Senator Pulsford seems to be further concerned- because our exports are much greater than our imports; in other words, it appears to me that Senator Pulsford would be in the seventh (financial heaven if we were producing nothing and borrowing largely, for only then could the ideal conditions which he seems to desire present themselves. I am glad that I cannot agree with the honorable senator as to the desirability of our imports exceeding our exports. At the present time Australia is in an exceedingly happy position. We are exporting largely, because we are producing largely, and the more we can export and sell and the less we have to buy the more we can save. If I receive a salary of ^400, and live on £100. my exports are as £400 to my imports £100 : but it does not necessarily follow that I lose the balance of ,£300.
– The honorable member means that his imports are £400 and his exports .£100.
– No; Senator Stewart exports his services, and imports £400.
– I sell my commodity, which is my services, and receive £400 per annum, just in the same way as if I had sold hay or potatoes for a like amount. As I was saying, I think Australia is in an exceedingly fortunate position ; indeed, so far as I am able to discover, she has not been so well off for a long time, and my only hope is that present conditions may continue for at least twenty years longer.
– With a land monopoly ?
– Certainly not ; but the land question meets us at every turn. If the land monopoly were abolished, not only would our population be very largely increased, but our exports would be much greater than at present. There would be more work for our railways, which would then be made to pay, and conditions would be better all round. What surprises me is that, the position being so plain and evident, the abolition of the land monopoly does not at once appeal to the vast majority of the members of this Chamber. While I do not approve of the mail contract, in so far as a difference is made between States as to the ports of call, yet I think that, considering the whole of the circumstances, we might do much worse than approve of it. In any case, it appears clear to me that for the present we are in the hands of a shipping ring.
– Which is just as bad as a land monopoly.
– Just as bad.
– Yet the honorable senator is not prepared to tackle the shipping ring- Senator STEWART.- The Commonwealth is not prepared to tackle the shipping ring at the present time. The only way to tackle a combination of this character is by the competition of ships of our own .running between Australia and Europe. Senator Fraser laughs at that idea, but why should we run railways throughout the Commonwealth and stop short our efforts at the sea-board ? I see nothing impossible in the idea of establishing a Commonwealth line of steamers to run between Australia and Europe. I believe that the producers of this country will never get fair play until we have such a line of steamers. What is more, I believe that when we have to compete with the cheap labour of Russia, India, and South America, we shall find that, unless we adopt a policy of collectivism, it will become impossible for us to compete with that labour. We shall have to do one of two things if we wish to retain our command of European markets - we shall have to reduce the price of our labour or we shall have to go in for collectivism. The opinion prevailing at present in Australia is that we should keep up our standard of labour and press on with the collective idea.
– Is it not possible to reduce the cost of production without reducing the cost of labour?
– I might of course have referred to interest, rent, and other things.
– And to methods of production.
– Yes, to laboursaving machinery, and so forth. But we find that the advantage of improvements in machinery under existing conditions is mopped up by the land monopolist. There were other matters on which I desired to say a few words, but as the hour is getting late, and I have had a fair innings, I shall make way for some one else.
– I have listened faith some pleasure to Senator Stewart. I agree with many of the honorable senator’s statements, but from others I totally dissent. I give the honorable senator credit for believing that his nostrums would be of great benefit, but it would take only a short reference to the history of any country to prove that their effect would not be what he assumes. Senator Pulsford made some reference to Canada, and I may say that I know Canada very well. I have great reason to be grateful that I was reared in Canada, because I think I developed there a spirit of thrift, and perhaps of persistency. I say, however, that with all its advancement, its increasing population, and general prosperity, Canada is not to be compared with Australia in regard to its prospects. I know both countries intimately, and I have been through Canada several times within the last fifteen or twenty years. I say that there is no comparison between the prospects of production in the two countries. It is sufficient to mention a few facts to make that quite clear. Canada suffers from the disadvantage of a very long and severe winter, when production is almost entirely at a standstill, except, perhaps, in the mining and timber industries. People there have to house their stock for nearly half the year. Where they had 2,500,000 sheep, we had, before the drought in Australia, 100,000,000. The exports of Canada are not to be compared with our exports. I think that our exports are greater per head of population than are those of any other country on the face of God’s earth. If the exports of a country are great, its imports will also be great, because exports regulate imports.
– Not necessarily.
– Without exports there will be no imports. I will commit myself to that statement. This, of course does not apply to a country like England, whose people have lent enormous sums of money to all the nations of the earth. In such a case there may be imports without apparently any shipping exports, but that is a phase of finance which is not usually considered in dealing with exports arid imports.
– We have not reached that stage yet.
– No. we have not. I have a great opinion of the prospects of Australia. I have reason to be grateful, and I acknowledge that I am very thankful for my good luck. I would be the last man on earth to say one word against Canada, and I will say this in favour of that- country, as against Australia : You can travel the whole length and breadth of Canada, and you will not find a loafer.
– Are there no unemployed ?
– There are very few unemployed in Canada.
– Are there no millionaires there?
– Yes, there are some millionaires in Canada. There are many men who have made large fortunes in that country, but they work, and the loafer has no show in Canada.
– There must be loafers there, if there are millionaires.
– Unfortunately, the natural conditions in Australia lend themselves to loaferdom. Its climate is congenial, and’ loaferdom is apparently a penalty we have to pay in a country like this for great natural advantages. There is no reason, unless, perhaps, that of misfortune, why people should not get on well here- The concentration of our people in the large cities of the Commonwealth is a very great misfortune, and every member of Parliament should strive to do what he can to drive the people out of the towns into the country. I regret to say that for the last forty years we have been legislating rather in the other direction. We have been enticing people to come into the large cities, with the result that 42 per cent, of the people of Victoria are living in and around Melbourne. That is a most unhealthy* condition of affairs, and the condition of affairs in New South Wales in this respect is nearly as bacl. It is a terrible drawback to the prosperity of Victoria that so many of her people should be concentrated in Melbourne. I do not mean to say that all the people resident in the large cities are not producers. The man who makes ploughs and harrow,s is as much a producer as is the farmer.
– The man who makes clothes is also a producer.
– That may be so, but it is not a great many years since clothes were made on the farm. It would no doubt be a backward step, but I am not sure that it would not be an advantage in some respects even now to return to that state of affairs. We have 42 per cent, of our population resident in Melbourne, and we have millions of acres of land lying comparatively idle. I agree that the people should be placed on the land, and I will do nothing to obstruct or oppose any measure designed to achieve that end.
– What about Senator Stewart’s remedy for land monopoly ?
– I say there is no land monopoly, and I think I can prove that statement. I remember the time when one could get into a coach in Geelong, travel to Colac, Camperdown, Warrnambool, Belfast, and other towns, and pass through a number of very large estates.
– There are scores of them there still.
– They have nearly all been cut up. I speak from absolute personal knowledge when I say that hundreds of them have been cut up.
– If the honorable senator’s statement is correct, how does he explain the fact that in the district to which he has referred the population^ has decreased’ since 187 1 by no less than 10,000 persons.
– That is a statement to which I am unable to say yea or nay, but the statement I have made cannot be contradicted. Warrnambool and Colac are now large thriving towns.
– There are no mining districts out that way.
– I am not speaking of mining districts, but of broad acres. I am replying to Senator Stewart’s references to land monopoly. The honorable senator is a brainy man, and I have great respect for many of his arguments. I am -able to say that, passing through the districts to which I have referred, to-day you will find that many big estates have been cut up, which were there twenty years ago. In some instances the owners have died, and the properties have been distributed. I can mention the Robertsons of Colac, a. family greatly respected many years ago. Land was forced on them by the Crown.
– How could it be forced on them?
Senator Playford. By taking their leases away and putting the land up to auction.
– They were not chained to a log and made to buy.
– I can mention an instance in connexion with which honorable senators from Queensland will be able to bear out my statement. Some three months ago a friend of mine bought 40,000 acres on the Barcoo. The Government were wanting the money, and they got it in exchange for land.
– Was it at 10s. an acre?
– Yes, they got 10s. ail acre for it. They pressed it on the purchasers, and immediately after the purchase was concluded they brought in a Bill providing for a land tax, or what I may term .a bursting-up taxi. I .- think that even Senator Stewart will not contend that that was a fair proceeding. Take the Western District of this State. I could name many men who have left large estates which have since been broken up by their families. Take the case of the Robertsons of Colac, the Manifolds, and the Blacks. Mr. Neil Black died years ago, and his estates have all been cut up. If you, sir, will travel through that country - and it is a very pleasant trip indeed - instead of finding huge estates, occupied by half-bred shorthorns or cattle of other breeds, you will see dairy cattle grazing everywhere, and lambs being fattened for the London market. Take the country right through from Geelong to Belfast, and the condition is the same. The Moffat estate, for example, bas been cut up. If time permitted I could give the names of many men who are willing to cut up their estates. I am concerned in some properties which belong to a financial institution. We are begging of men to go and take up this land, which has a rainfall of thirty inches, is situated in a beautiful climate, -and is fit for dairying, wheat-growing, tobacco-growing, and producing lambs for export, but the people will not leave the city.
– At what price is the land offered ?
– At £2 odd per acre.
– Is it heavily timbered?
– No; it is occupied by graziers. In Australia there is no land monopoly. Even on the Darling Downs, which I know as well as do the representatives of Queensland., men have cut up their estates right and left, and are anxious to do so.
– How much land does the honorable senator monopolize?
– I have 400 acres near Brisbane, where I intend to establish a dairy factory when my boy is twenty-two or twenty-four years of age ; he is too young yet to go there. I have no more there than these 400 acres.
– Nowhere ?
– Of course, I have a lot of land in Queensland, which I shall be glad to get rid of for less than I paid . to the Crown. I bought land at Aramac for 12s. 6d. per acre, and was very glad to get 10s. per acre for it. In Victoria I bought from the Crown land which I am willing to sell to any honorable’ senator for less than what it cost me. I am prepared to show my transactions with that land during the fifteen years it has been in my possession.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that, on the whole, he has never made any profit out of land transactions ?
– That is another matter.
– Why should he cite an individual case?
– In New South Wales I own some property, which I bought - it was at a time when no one else would look at it - through a respectable firm in Melbourne, at public auction, or at any rate the day after the auction was held. Is there anything about that remark for honorable senators to laugh at? Ninetenths of the properties which are sold are disposed of in that way. It is very rarely indeed that a property is sold at an auction. In nine cases out of ten the sale is made after the auction is held. Any way, I bought this property in public competition. Of course I have suffered great losses from droughts, but I flatter myself that I worked it very well. I am anxious to sell it if I can get what I paid for it, namely, 32s. 6d. per acre. I admit that it has paid very well ; I believe it is the best improved place in the district, and my employes will always vote against the Socialists.
– Is that a condition of the employment?
– I shall read a letter from an employ^ of the honorable senator some day.
– The honorable senator is welcome to read any letter he likes. I could read hundreds of letters from men who were in my employment forty years ago, and who have become nearly as wealthy as I am, simply by reason of their thrift and industry. “It is not by sitting on the stones of this building, and asking honorable senators to do this or that for him that a man will put money into his pocket. It is only by hard work and thrift that wealth is attained. The Savings Bank of Victoria has not received deposits to the amount of £10,000,000, and the Savings Bank of New South Wales has not received deposits to the amount of £12,000,000, as the result of men agitating, and trying to burst up big estates, or of Socialism or of Trades-Hallism, but as the result of what I might call Canadian thrift.
– Caledonian thrift?
– Yes; that term is equally good. It will be remembered thai when the question of the sugar bounty was being considered here, I strongly opposed the proposal of the then Government as a very foolish one. It will continue to be a foolish policy, because we have made a hideous blunder. Had we simply left the industry alone, as the State, which knew better than we did, had dealt with it-
– Queensland asked us not to leave the sugar industry alone.
– The State is almost unanimously in favour of the sugar bounty.
– Had we left the sugar industry alone as the State had dealt with it, we should now have been in a very happy’ position. The industry was making headway by leaps and bounds. It was becoming one of the most important industries of Australia, being natural to the soil and the climate. It was associated with the great fruit industry, which is almost, if not quite, as large, and which, perhaps, may be larger in time. We have gone crazy on the White Australia question. Let honorable senators not forget that I am for a White Australia.
– Oh, that will not do.
– Did the Government of Queensland believe, in a black Australia? The Government and the people of that State were just as true to the policy of a White Australia before we had any connexion with the sugar industry as we are. Had the system been continued there was no danger of a piebald people arising in Australia. But what did we do? We raised the price of sugar considerably, and thus permanently handicapped the fruit industry. When we commence to export the price will go down a great deal, and the fruit industry will not be handicapped so heavily as it is. In any case, a large and full rebate ought to be allowed upon the sugar which is used in the jam industry.
– So it is when the manufacturers export their jam.
– But not when it is sold for home consumption.
– The bounty has raised the price of sugar permanently.
– We make just as much jam as ever we did.
– No. I know that some jam factories have been closed. Senator Stewart talked about our high deathrate. But there is no country on God’s earth where so many of the people have their own houses as in Victoria. If you travel east, west, north, or south, you will find that the head of a family who is getting, perhaps, only 30s. per week, will have his own little cottage.
– Yes; but with a flyblister upon it.
– Thousands of them have not a mortgage.
– On 30s. per week? The idea is ridiculous.
– I did not say that it could be done by a man on 30s. a week. I said that it could be done by a. man getting even as low as 30s. per week. Many men are getting £3, £4, £5, or £6 per week.
– What about the man getting 30s. per week?
– I said that even some of these men had their own little cottage. I know a widow who has been saving money out of 30s. per week, earned by washing.
– They must have saved the money at the expense of proper living.
– There is no town anywhere which has a lower death-rale than
Melbourne. Now that it is sewered, together with the suburbs, the death-rate is comparatively low. In other parts of the world you will find families huddled together in attics or garrets, stories high. Let honorable senators consider the liberty, the freedom, the back yards and the front gardens, which the people of Victoria, and no doubt of New South Wales and other States, have in comparison with the people of the old country.
– A handkerchief could not be spread out in a number of the back yards in Melbourne.
– That is nonsense. Senator Stewart said that nine-tenths of the people of this city are huddled together in huts.
– He did not say anything of the kind.
– My honorable friend said that nine-tenths of the people of Melbourne are living in places where the sunshine does not enter. But there is no country in which the people have more sunshine than in Australia. I think that the sunshine should enter every (room in which a human being has to live.
– I call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– The case of the widow who earns 30s. a week is, of course, an extreme one. I realize that a man earning only 30s. a week would not be able to save any money. I am truly anxious that the wages paid in this country shall be high, that every worker shall be well paid for his labour, and that prosperity shall be general.
– How are the millionaires to make their profits if the workers are all well paid?
– Profits can only come out of production. If our farmers, wool-growers, wheat-growers, those engaged in the freezing industry, and in dairying, our coal-miners, and our gold-miners, are not prospering, the country cannot prosper. Prosperity depends upon production, whether from below or above the soil. The people of Melbourne thoroughly realize that. The cure for evils that are pointed out is to encourage men to go on the land. Were I a1 young man, if I could not go on the land alone, I would try to induce a number of my friends to join me in forming a cooperative company.
– The honorable senator would want to be at the head of the company.
– Well, some person must be at the head. Senator Higgs is at the head of our Committees. I am sure that he does not wish to detract from his own position; he got it honorably enough. Senator Pearce has said that the population of the Victorian Western District has decreased.
– I referred ta three counties.
– I cannot give absolute data for my contradiction of his assertion, but I will give facts that are within my own knowledge. I know intimately all the towns in the Western District, starting from Geelong, and going through Colac, Terang, Camperdown, and Warrnambool, to Belfast, not to mention a number of smaller places. Colac has now four times the population that it had twenty years’ ago, and is a most prosperous place.
– As the result of the Labour Party’s legislation.
– No. as’ the result of the butter industry, and in spite of the legislation of the labour crowd. Mv friends of the Labour Party will never increase the prosperity of the -country. The only thing that will increase prosperity is downright hard work, thrift, and industry. There is no royal way to wealth.
– Some people in this country have made wealth out of secret commissions.
– And the State Parliament has legislated against them. The Act was passed last week.
– It can be evaded.
– Almost any Act can be evaded if there is a sufficient number of wrong-doers.
– The Labour Party does not evade laws.
– Is it more honest than any other party?
– There are dishonest men among all classes of society, and I am certainly not going to say that the Labour Party is ‘more dishonest than any other. There is no necessity to talk about bursting up big estates. They are being divided by natural processes. I could mention a number of instances. There is the case of Quatta Quatta, the estate of the late Hon. J. A. Wallace, which was cut up some time ago. The Robertsons, of Colac, the
Moffats, the Blacks, the Manifolds, amd scores of others have cut up their estates, which are now occupied by hundreds of thrifty, (industrious people. The process is still going on. In a country like this, where we have no law of primogeniture, if the owner of a large estate dies leaving a large family, and if the sons and daughters are married, they naturally want to divide. The process will continue. In Queensland, millions of acres have come into the market, although comparatively speaking there is only a small quantity of freehold there.
– Between 16,000,000 and 17,000,000 acres are freehold.
– Not 15 per cent, of the land of Queensland is freehold. Estates on the Darling’ Downs have been cut up already. The well-known estate of De Burgh Persse was cut up the other day. That is only about forty miles from Brisbane. Much of it is now occupied by dairy farmers.
– And the land sold at £8 per acre.
– I deny the honorable senator’s statement. I bought some of it myself for my youngest boy at £4 10s. per acre.
– What Senator Givens wants is to take land for nothing which other people have paid for.
– Some of the land on the De Burgh Persse estate sold at £6 and £7 an acre, but much of it for less. There is an instance of an estate being cut up voluntarily. I know many other land-owners who are prepared and anxious to do the same. It is nonsense to talk about bursting up a land monopoly that does not exist. In Australia. land is a commodity which is sold in the market every day. Big estates are being divided right and left all over Australia. If a few industrious men choose to put their heads and their purses together, they can buy land that will give them a very handsome return.
– How many men can afford to pay £4 10s. an acre?
– If immigrants come here with £100 each, they can put their money together and buy land at £4 an acre that in a little while will return them 25 per cent. By their own labour they will be able to make little fortunes in a few years. Dairying and the breeding of lambs for the frozen meat industry are money-making businesses in the highest degree.
– If men have only £100 each they cannot buy land at £4 an acre.
– If ten of them put their money together, £^1,000 will buy a good bit of land. They can borrow money ore very advantageous terms from insurance societies and other large institutions which are willing to lend for ten years at a low rate of interest. Money is now as cheapas it has been for a considerable time past-
– They can borrow under the Credit Foncier system in Victoria for as long as ‘twenty years.
– That is quite true. I know of farmers who are borrowing at 4 per cent., and making a very handsome profit. To talk of bursting up estates is only to create a scare. There is no need for scares in Australia. We .only want people to come here with a little capital, just as they are going to Canada. The more men we put on the land the more labour will be employed in the cities. If there are four times as many workmen in the cities as there is labour for, they cannot all be employed. That is the position to-day. There are too many tradesmen in Melbourne, and not sufficient employment for them. Let some of them go on the land, and there will not be the idleness’ in the cities that there is to-day. If this . Parliament had left the sugar industry alone, Australia would have been in a better position. But of course the Trades Hall crowd forced legislation down our throats right or wrong. Thev have dona a lot of harm. We ought to leave well alone and go on sure lines.
– The people of Australia are behind the “ labour crowd “ more than they are behind the black-labour crowd.
– There is no “blacklabour crowd’.” I am just as desirous for a White Australia as is the honorable senator; and, moreover, I do not approve of a law which prevents my brother from coming here.
– There is no such section in the Act.
– There is such a section in the Act; and if I had a brother in England I _ could not bring him here under contract without breaking the law.
– Would the honorable senator make a contract with his own brother before bringing him here ?
– Why not? Is it wrong for a man in England to make sure of a billet before he goes to a new country ?
– Could the contract not be made after his arrival?
– It is unwise of a man, or a family, to go to a new country unless they are sure of employment.
– There is a similar law in Canada and the United States.
– I contradict that statement flatly. There is no law in the United States which shuts out United States citizens.
– No American law could shut out American citizens.
– We in Australia have shut out our own citizens - British subjects. It is un-English, unmanly, and ungenerous to shut out our own kith and kin.
– I do not think the honorable senator is in order in reflecting on an Act of Parliament, unless he proposes to repeal it.
– I do propose to repeal the Act.
– The honorable senator cannot propose to repeal the Act by means of this Bill.
– As I have already said, this section of the Immigration Restriction Act ought to be repealed.
– Are we not allowed in this discussion to refer to any matter, however relevant, if it has been dealt with in an Act of Parliament?
– Undoubtedly honorable senators are; but the Standing Orders provide that no honorable senator shall reflect on an Act of Parliament unless he proposes to repeal it.
– Cannot we criticise an Act of Parliament?
– The question before us is the first reading of a Supply Bill, and there cannot now be a discussion as to the advisability, or otherwise, of repealing an Act of Parliament. Of course, on a Supply Bill we may refer to almost any matter; but I do not think an honorable senator ought to stigmatize an Act of Parliament as unfair, unmanly, un-English, or ungenerous, on an occasion like this.
– I am very sorry that I have had to use the words, but I cannot withdraw anything I have said.
– The honorable senator ought to give some proof ; he ought to give the name of some British subject who has been kept out of Australia under this Act.
– Six British subjects were imprisoned on board ship for several days under the Act.
– They were not imprisoned on the ship.
– The Minister’s own chief proposes to amend the section.
– Six Englishmen were brought to Australia under contract.
– They were never kept out ofthe country.
– But they were not at liberty to land.
– They did land.
– Not until several days had elapsed.
– When these six men came, the labour crowd interceded with the then Prime Minister. Sir Edmund Barton, and there was a suspense of several days before they were allowed to land. Moreover, themen were admitted to Australia only because the Prime Minister said they were experts in their trade.
– The true value of the section is shown by the fact that the present Prime Minister is pledged to repeal or amend the section.
– Exactly ; but the labour crowd interviewed the then Prime Minister, or some other Minister, who, in order to comply with the law, declared the men to, be experts - otherwise, they would have been sent back whence they came,
– The men were not sent back.
– It is wonderful that after these events the people should support . the “ labour crowd “ !
– Why does Senator Fraser allude to the Labour Party as the “ labour crowd “ ?
– We do not object ; we are a crowd.
– And we shall be a bigger crowd by-and-by.
– I withdraw the expression, because it is the furthest thing from my thoughts tobe offensive. IfI have, said one word which is deemed offensive, I withdraw it without the slightest hesitation. However that may be, it was at the instance of the Labour Party that these six men were subjected to inconvenience and hardship. The other day, the AgentGeneral of New South Wales had to give a permit to an Englishman to come here in charge of horses ; and I do not forget the
Petriana) case, when shipwrecked men were kept in a shed under the control of the police or Customs officers.
– I thought that Mr. Deakin and Mr. Watson pushed these men back into the sea !
– Both Mr. Watson and Mr. Deakin are humane men, who would not wish to do anything of the sort. I am glad that the socialistic party are prepared to repeal this section, and I hope they will do so quickly. 1 may say that for the last few days I have been considering whether I should not myself introduce an amending measure, in order to test the question. Leaving that subject, I should like to say that we have woollen factories in Victoria which are doing very well.
– I do not think that the factories are doing very well.
– I buy blankets by the score, and I know that the factories here turn out cheaper and better goods than are sent from England. The other day the Austin Hospital authorities bought a number of pure woollen blankets at the low price of 13s. These are the kind of industries which ought to go. ahead in Australia, and if I were a Tasmanian I should start a mill on a water-course, where no machinery would be wanted. Then, again, wherever butter factories are established prosperity follows, and the value of land rises.
– Of course the value of land rises !
– The rise is not caused by land monopolists, but by the establishment of butter factories, as is shown in the instances of Colac, Warrnambool, and Camperdown, where land which a few years ago was worth £r an acre is now worth £30 or £40 an acre. But, as I say, that rise in value has not been caused by the land monopolists, but by the hard-working dairymen. We do not find land monopolists buying land ‘at £40 an acre.
– No; that is the price at which land monopolists sell.
– In very few years the value of the butter exported from Victoria, has risen to millions, and my advice is to leave the industry alone to prosper, and not to drive capital away by means of harassing legislation.^ I do not say that the capital is being driven away, but a lot is at the present moment lying idle.
– A few years ago there was no money at all in Australia.
– Australia is one of the wealthiest countries on God’s earth, and what we require is wise legislation, and not Yarra Bank oratory.
– Honorable senators were, I am sure, pleased to hear some of the views enunciated by Senator Stewart as to the necessity for population. We were quite surprised to hear those opinions from the honorable senator, and we only wondered whether he was expressing the views honestly and earnestly held by our friends of the Labour Party. We are well aware that legislation which has had a very injurious effect on immigration has been attributed to the influence exercised by the Labour Party on Governments of the past from time to time. But Senator Stewart speedily qualified his remarks. He told us that, before any steps were taken towards encouraging immigration, the whole of the landed estates must be “ burst up.” If the honorable senator is going to wait until every estate has come again into the possession of the Crown, or has been “ burst up,” he will have to wait a long time.
– The honorable and learned senator does not understand what Senator Stewart meant.
.- I understood what Senator Stewart meant when he held that we ought to do all we can to save the young life of this country, and lower the high death rate, if it be high ; and we are all in accord with him in that respect. But we do not desire to wait until all large estates are “ burst up “ before we try to induce immigration. If honorable senators will carry their thoughts back a few years, when we had a kind of semi-assisted immigration, they will remember that conditions “were much better then than they are at the present time.
– The States were then borrowing plenty of money.
.- And were spending it at the same time. Many of the immigrants brought money with them, and if we had never abandoned that system it would have been much better for this country. Under that system there were sponsors for every man and. woman coming into the country. Their relatives here paid deposits in respect of their introduction, and as soon as the new-comers arrived, we had an assurance that there would be an opportunity afforded them to earn a decent livelihood. Very many cases might be cited to prove the good that was done by the operation of that system. We have lately heard a good deal concerning General Booth’s offer to send 5,000 families to Australia. While I should gladly welcome a large number of immigrants, I should like to be sure that the men coming here are of a suitable class, and that there will be some prospect of their getting on. I should like to be sure also that the States are making preparation to give them when they come here an opportunity to make homes for themselves. I have no doubt that if we had a large number of people dumped on our shores, without any provision being made to meet their requirements, more injury would accrue to Australia than is done even by the policy we are pursuing at the present time. While I believe that the Commonwealth and States Governments should do all they can, in cooperation, to- induce immigration to Australia, I hope the matter will be conducted on such lines as will result in marked benefit to the community. No one will deny that a population well employed is of marked benefit to any country. We have heard a great deal to-day with regard to the policy of a White Australia. Senators Pulsford and Fraser have been condemned as though they were not in favour of a White Australia. Every one who is acquainted with those honorable senators must know that they believe in preserving the racial purity of the people of the Commonwealth. Senator Pulsford has warned us against treating certain nations unjustly, as if they were the dregs and scum of the earth. We might say to coloured people that we do not desire an admixture of races, but we ought not to tell them that we consider them so utterly worthless that they will be kicked out of this country if they show their noses in it. We should conduct all these matters decently, and in order. We have a population of 4,000,000 scattered over a vast continent, and yet we are standing up in front of these Asiatic nations, and saying, “There is our law; we shall not allow you to come here under any circumstances whatever.” I would ask honorable senators what power it is that enables us to enforce such a law. If we had not the protection of the British Empire behind us these nations could afford to ignore our laws.
– But we have that protection behind us.
– We haw; and how are we recognising it ? We believe that the British people are under certain obligations to us, but we forget that we are under very great obligations to them. I think that every citizen of Australia is proud to be a British subject. I am sorry for those who are not. The very fact that we are British subjects accounts for the liberty we enjoy, and even for the licence into which so many would turn that liberty..
– If we admitted large numbers of Asiatics, they would have no pride in being British subjects.
– I am entirely with honorable senators who desire to preserve our racial purity ; but there is a proper way in which to do that. We had an opportunity to deal with the Japanese by means of a treaty. Whether it is a good thing or not - and I believe it has been an- exceedingly good thing for us - a treaty exists between Japan, and Great Britain to-day, and I believe it has been the means of preventing almost all the great nations of the world being involved in the recent war between Russia and Japan. Had it not been for the fact that it was known that Great Britain must intervene if anyother nation joined! Russia in attacking Japan, it is very likely that nearly all the Continental Powers, and Great Britain herself, would have been, involved in that war.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the Queensland Government had a treaty with Japan, and that Japanese were coining into the Colony wholesale under it?
– That is nol. correct.
.- I am aware they had a treaty under which the number of Japanese who could come into Queensland was strictly limited.
– To what number?
– That was a detail of the treat v.
– When we were passing the Immigration Restriction Bill, the Japanese Consul made representations in opposition to what we were doing, and urged that the people of
Japan should not be treated as “undesirables,” but should be dealt with by means of a treaty, which the Japanese Government were prepared to enter into, and by means of which any dangerous influx of Japanese could be absolutely prohibited.
– The Queensland treatydid not operate in that way.
-Co!. GOULD. - It would have been very much better if we had adopted that plan. If the treaty at present existing between Great Britain and Japan were to be determined to-morrow, we should have a dangerous situation to confront if the Japanese decided to land a number of their people on the coast of Australia. The Japanese had every right to expect to be treated on terms of equality. In the recent war with Russia they have proved what they are. If there had been any doubt as to their character, or the degree of civilization .they have attained, they have certainly proved their humanity, ability, skill, and far-sightedness. They have proved themselves equal as a nation to any other nation on the face of the globe to-day. It is utter madness on our part to attempt to treat them with such disrespect, as some honorable senators are willing to exhibit towards them.
– If the honorable senator is so much in love with them, why does he not go to Japan and live with them.
.- I am not in love with them any more than I am in love with the honorable senator (or with his views. I am at the same time perfectly prepared to recognise the honorable senator’s right to give expression to any views in which he honestly believes.
– Would the honorable senator exclude the Japanese from Australia?
– I should deal with them by means of a treaty, and I should take care to preserve the racial purity of the people of the Commonwealth.
– Then the honorable senator would exclude them.
.- To a large extent, but by means of a treaty, and by dealing with them properly. Senator Matheson. - Then the honorable senator does not recognise their equality ?
.- I do. It is possible to recognise a man’s equality and ability without falling desperately in love with him.
– If the honorable senator recognises a man’s equality, he would not object to him as a relation.
– Not necessarily. I am sure that Senator Matheson may recognise the equality of many men with whom he would not be prepared to associate.
– Nonsense. If I recognised the equality of a man, I should be prepared to admit him as a member of my family.
– Does not Japan impose as severe _ restrictions on British subjects as we impose on the Japanese?
.- In years gone, by I believe they would not have anything to do with them.
– If the honorable senator does not wish to associate with the Japanese, would he not object to other white men associating with them?
.- I should not object to white men associating with whomsoever they pleased. I would give to others the freedom of judgment which I claim for myself. Let me bring honorable senators back to the question of immigration. The Minister of Defence wished to know whether any man had been excluded under our present law. In reply, it was pointed out that, although they have not been effective, attempts have been made to exclude people. I have a lively recollection of the circumstances connected with the case of the six hatters. Those men came out here under contract to work at a union rate of wages. They had been members of a union in England, and they came out here to take up work which they were capable of performing. They landed in Melbourne, and were received apparently as brothers by trade unionists in this city. During the time they were here it was ascertained that they had a contract, and then there followed, if my information is correct, one of the meanest things that has ever happened in Australia. As soon as they had turned their backs, the men who had received them as brothers went to the Government and said that they were prohibited immigrants, and called upon the Government to prevent them from landing in Sydney and entering upon the employment which they came out to take up. I say that is one of the meanest tricks that was ever played ; and I blame the Government of the day for not having dealt with the matter much more promptly than they did.
I will admit that under the letter of the law the head of the Government was bound to rake some action, but it should not have required six days to find out that those men had a perfect right to land in Australia.
– It need not have taken six hours if the employer had given the necessary information.
– It showed want of foresight and knowledge that the Government of the day should have permitted a scandal like that to continue one hour longer than was absolutely necessary. Although those men were ultimatelylanded, it was only on the representation that they possessed certain skill which was not obtainable in the Commonwealth. I am aware that honorable members in another place have stated that it was never intended that the law should be applied as it was in that case. When the provisions in question were passed, we believed that the intention was to prevent men coming into Australia under contracts at cut-throat wages, or in large numbers, to take the place of men on strike who honestly believed that they were contending for what was right in fighting for better wages and conditions of labour. If the law had been applied only to such cases there would have been no trouble. It is far better that men coming to Australia, or to any new country, should know that they will have an opportunity of earning an honest livelihood, than that there should be a possibility of their becoming paupers and a charge on the State. Even assuming that the difficulty in the instance to which I have referred was due to a fault of administration or a misreading of the law, it is unquestionable that it did this country a great deal of harm. It led people in the old country to believe that we are so selfsatisfied that we do not want any one to come here to help us to develop our industries and the vast resources of the Commonwealth.
– It was the party press that did all the harm.
.- But we laid the foundation for it bv our legislation. It was our fault that a lie was permitted to get a start with its very long legs. I hope that the Government will act promptly and get rid of this objectionable section.
– The Government cannot get rid of it.
.- Parliament can get rid of it, and the Government could introduce a Bill to-morrow for the purpose.
I say that it is important that there should be no delay in dealing with the matter.
– Why did not the Reid Government tackle the question?
– I am not responsible for the Reid Government any more than I am for the present Government. But let me say for the Reid Government that if they had submitted an amendment of the character I suggest, it would have been jumped on by the Labour Party, who are only now beginning to see the position into which they have driven Australia. If we were to pursue the policy of that Act we should drive the community to the extreme of want and distress. We hear a good deal of the unemployed problem, but it is largely due to the foolishness of the legislation of the Commonwealth, and of some of the States Parliaments. There is nothing like a little difficulty and trouble to open the eyes of men to the nature of the legislation which is being passed. I do not claim for any party in Parliament the ability to foresee everything clearly and distinctly, and I am perfectly willing to believe that the Labour Party, in influencing legislation, have done what they believed to be ‘ best in the interests of the country. I am also very glad to recognise the fact that they are beginning to discover that what they thought was the best, was, after all, the worst step which could have been taken. Every man who desires to see Australia a prosperous country, and to preserve her racial purity, ought to do all he can to endeavour to fill, it with white men and women. I do not care whether they come from Great Britain or from -the Continent, so long as they are suitable, reputable, and decent people. Let us, by all means, make the necessary provision to keep out diseased and criminal persons. We have no room here for such persons. We want men who are strong, energetic, and willing to work ; men who will go out and endeavour to make a, living on the land, and by that means create employment for all the men who are willing to work but have the misfortune to be amongst the unemployed in the big cities, and many of whom probably are not fit to work in the country. Get the men who are fit to work out of the big cities, and then work will be found for the others. I shall be only “too glad to see any legislation which can be regarded as placing obstacles in the way of the immigration of white people wiped off the statute-book as speedily as possible. At the same time, I am perfectly prepared to take all precautions to stop persons who are criminal, or diseased1, or unfit to work, or to be employed in our midst from entering our territory. I know that there is a difficulty with regard to the obtaining of the necessary lands, but I decline to believe that amongst all the broad acres in Australia we cannot find abundance of land for four times the population we have. It may be that there are large estates which are held privately, but we know that many of these estates are being cut up and sold. It may be, as an honorable senator interjected, that £4, £5, £6, £7, or £8 an acre may have to be given for the land, but it will never bring that price unless it is* worth it.
– £40 an acre, according to Senator Fraser.
.- I know of farming land which has realized as high as £100 an acre. I should be very sorry to give that price for land; but, at the same time, we know that there is plenty of land for which a man can afford to give £20 or £2$ an acre and make money.
– Does it not show that there is fierce competition for the land ?
– It shows that there is competition for the land in favoured localities, and very naturally so. The best land was taken up in the early days when the country was offered for sale, and it is very natural that in the settled districts there should be more land held privately. But I would point out that if you can find suitable land the State has the opportunity of resuming it, or of making arrangements by means of which -perhaps the Government may guarantee to the landholders the payment for land taken up by a suitable class of immigrants. That might be done with very great advantage to the community at large. But I decline to believe that Australia, with 4,000,000 people, has a tithe of the population which it ought to have, or, at any rate, ought to have within the next fifteen or twenty years.
– Victoria could hold the whole population of the Commonwealth.
-Col. GOULD.- I believe that Victoria could not only, hold, but support in reasonable comfort, the whole population of the Commonwealth. When we remember that Victoria is a little State, with an area of 87,000 square miles, it is ridiculous for any one to talk about it being over-populated. In Queensland, not 5 per cent, of the Crown lands have been parted with. Is any one going to tell me that the remaining 95 per cent, of the Crown lands are worthless?
– No; but they are not available for immediate settlement ; they are too distant from a market.
– Many millions of acres of these alienated lands may be far away from a market.
– I know that there are millions of acres of agricultural land which are open for settlement at the present time, and which are not far from a railway, either.
.- As the country is settled with people so the railways must go out to them. The natural wealth of the country will cause the railways to be extended. I had a great deal of sympathy with the difficulties which confronted the Government of the day in connexion with the renewal of the mail contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company. I know that the interruption of the mail service was a matter of very serious moment to the mercantile class, and consequently a matter of serious moment to every man in the community. It might not have mattered1 to Senator Givens or myself, who wanted to write a few letters, but who were not engaged in large business transactions, whether the mails were delayed for a week or two or not; but it was a matter of very great moment to mercantile men. Whatever the feeling may have been in Queensland, I know that in Victoria and New South Wales the feeling was very strong with regard to the undue delay which mercantile men thought was taking place with regard to the arrangement of the. mail services. Under the contract with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation- Company, - we had a regular fortnightly service at the time, but we had been used to a weekly service. If it had been determined to pay poundage rates we should have had no control over the dates of departure or arrival of the steamers. That would have practically limited business men to a mail once a fortnight, instead of once a week. It would have been a very serious blow to the community. The Orient Steam Navigation Company had made their arrangements for a monthly service during the slack season instead of a fortnightly one, when they found it was probable that they would not get a mail contract. That in itself spoke volumes, and although Senator Givens may regard the action of the company as a piece of bluff, still the company might just as well have regarded the action of the Postmaster-General as a piece oil -bluff. I sympathize with the honorable senator in saying that we should not pay a special sum for the provision of cool storage on the mail steamers, because that, in my opinion, is absolutely distinct from the mail service. Let it be the mail service for which we pay, and if there have to be insulated chambers by all means let them be provided by the vessels catering for that trade. But do not let it be said that, in addition to the money for the mail service, we are paying a sum for the purpose of providing special accommodation for any producers in the country, and I make that observation with every desire to see the producers prosper. When Senator Givens says that the imposition of those conditions in the mail contract is unconstitutional, I cannot concur in his view.
– Of course, not. It does not suit the honorable and learned senator to do so, but it is a fact nevertheless.
– The cool chambers on the mail boats are available for any one who may wish to use them. It would be quite impossible to provide that the mail boats should call at every port in Australia, because it would be necessary to quadruple the number of mail steamers, and thus materially increase the amount of the subsidy.
– Why did the Government put in a proviso that the mail boats must call at Melbourne and Sydney, when it is not necessary for -mail purposes that they should?
.- The parcels have to be taken to Sydney, and, of course, the mail boats call at Melbourne on the way round. Even if there were no other reason, the two great cities that represent this continent so largely, ought to have every opportunity of making their position felt, and their citizens should be afforded the fullest possible advantage which can be given to them in connexion with the mail service.
– Yes, but under the Constitution every other State has the same right. What I object to is that this concession is given to particular States.
.- This does not give an undue preference to particular States within the meaning of the prohibition in the Constitution.
– Undoubtedly, it does.
– The honorable senator should form a syndicate, and test the point in the High Court.
– I am quite sure that I should win if 1 did, but who would recoup me my out-of-pocket expenses?
– Apparently the honorable senator is so satisfied as to the soundness of his opinion that he could afford to take the chance of recovering his expenses. I do not believe, however, that he will take the chance. I concur in the remarks of Senator Pulsford, relating to the sugar bounty. With all our boasted White Australia policy, and our legislation to: keep out the kanaka, I find from a return I hold in my hand, that it has not been a marked .success after all. In 1892 there were 36,088 acres cultivated by white labour, as against 59,609 cultivated bv black labour; in other words, 37.7 per cent, of white labour, as against 62.3 per cent, of black. The estimate, however, for 1895 shows an increase in area and production, yet the increase of white latour does not show any marked increase against the employment of black labour, the proportions being 47,500 acres under white as against 78,000 under black labour, being 37.8 per cent, under white labour, as against 62.2 per cent. under black. According to these figures, the proportion of white labour has increased by .1 per cent.
– But we were told that the industry would be ruined if we passed the sugar legislation.
.- My honorable friends were told that they were seeking after an impossibility if they were trying to get the whole of the sugar-lands cultivated by white labour. I admit that the sugar bounty has been a very good thing for the sugar-growers in the northern districts of New South Wales. Formerly, these men were employing white labour, and now we are giving them a bounty of so many pounds per ton for doing what they previously did. They are very thankful to the Parliament for the legislation, because it is very good business for them.
– May I ask what newspaper the honorable and learned senator quoted the figures from?
– From a newspaper called the Journal of Commerce, published in Melbourne on the 12th September. Possibly the sugar growers in Southern Queensland have also done well out of this legislation. The Queensland Government had great experience with regard to the sugar industry. The State Parliament passed a law to prohibit the employment of kanaka labour, but a few years later it repealed that Act and permitted kanakas to be employed only in field work.
– Which law was never obeyed, but always evaded.
– I am not in a position to contradict or agree with the honorable senator on that point. Why was that law passed? Because it was recognised that the cultivation of sugar-cane would be increased by the employment of that class of labour, and would, at the same time, give a large amount of additional labour to white men inside the mills. The white men were not to be required to go into the cane-fields and do work which was not fib’ for them, but they were to do work in the mills, which they could do better than any black man. Although men may say they believed that they were doing a’ good turn . for the white men, who have to labour with their hands, I contend that they made a grave mistake, for it is no kindness to send any man into the canefields, where the circumstances are utterly unsuited to his constitution, and may perhaps drive him into his grave many years sooner than would otherwise be the case.
– North Queensland has the best climate of all for a man to work iti:.
.- I do not think that the honorable senator would like to take on the job of working in the cane fields on the coast of North Queensland, even if he received £600 a year.
– Has the honorable and learned senator ever been in any cane-fields in North Queensland ?
.- I hope I shall never have to work in these canefields.
– If it is so easy to work there, why should we pay this heavy bounty ?
– It is more expensive.
– Exactly. Senator Givens wishes to give a bounty of £10 a ton. What are we now paying? We are now paying hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for the purpose of carrying on an industry for the benefit of a few persons. We have to bolster up an industry for what, after all, is only a fad, and will not make this country one whit more white than it would be if kanaka labour were employed under the conditions which existed in Queensland at the time Federation was inaugurated.
– It was nothing better than slavery.
– Well, there is a difference of opinion as to what slavery is. We know how this fad has been extended. It is now applied to the ocean. We are going to make the ocean white if we can ; to say to the bulk of the people of this world that they are not “to earn an honest livelihood, because four millions of people in Australia desire that only white men shall be employed on the broad seas of the world.
– Who proposes that?
.- The honorable senator and his friends sitting around him. They forced this policy on a Government, which accepted it, although admitting that it was not a wise policy. In the first- instance, no man was more strongly opposed to it than “was the first VicePresident of, -the Executive Council in (this Senate. His colleagues in the other House agreed with him, but had to bow down and accept a law which was a disgrace to Australia.
– The honorable and learned senator must not use a word that reflects upon an Act of Parliament.
– CoI. GOULD.- With all respect to you, sir, and without disputing your ruling, I must say that I am verysorry that it is a crime for a senator to express an opinion straightforwardly upon the law as it stands.
– The honorable senator himself was a member of the Committee which recommended the standing order.
– I will read the standing order -
No senator shall use offensive words . . . against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal.
To say that a Statute is disgraceful is to use an offensive word concerning it.
– I believe thai technically the standing order you have just quoted is the rule in most Parliaments.
– In every Parliament that I know of.
– Then the only laws that a senator can refer to are those that he is in favour of?
– No; but it is out of order to use offensive words concerning a Statute.
– I presume that, so long as the language used is mild, a senator can criticise a Statute as harshly as he likes. However, the law affecting employment on the ocean is another one. which I hope will be repealed before long, because it has not improved our position in the opinion of many people outside. And, after all, we depend, to a great extent, upon the good opinions of those people for our prosperity.
– I do not think we need trouble much about the opinions of people outside after the statement that has been published in South Africa, that the letters of Australians may be applied for at the gaols.
– Strong opinions are often expressed; in the radical newspapers, and I suppose that what the honorable senator alludes to is taken from such a source. Senator Matheson spoke very severely with regard to what he considered to be a breach of faith on the part of the Imperial authorities as to naval defence. I am one of those who believe that the Imperial authorities are in no wise desirous of disregarding any agreement they have entered into. I heard the Minister of Defence say the other day that it was understood that there was to be some alteration, but that it would be for the advantage of Australia, and would provide for a more efficient defence. It is very undesirable that we should criticise the Imperial authorities in a. tone of grumbling or cavilling. We may be absolutely certain that the Admiralty will fulfil all its obligations. It is one of the misfortunes connected with our contribution of something like £200,000 a year towards the cost of the squadron, that it induces many people to believe that we are paving for the defence of Australia. If the Commonwealth had to defend itself, without any assistance from Great Britain, it would cost us, not thousands, but millions sterling per annum, and even then we should not be safe. I am one of those who would agree to the payment of the whole cost of the maintenance of the fleet on the Australian
Station, which has been set down at £400,000. If ever the time does come when we need defending, we shall, I am satisfied, find that our naval defence is much more effective and efficient than Great Britain has ever promised to make it. Does it not stand to reason, that, in order to maintain her prestige as an Imperial power, Great Britain would necessarily do her utmost to defend every portion of her dependencies, even to the most outlying parts ?
– She gave us all the land we have.
– She did not ;we came and took it for ourselves, and the stayathomes never had anything to do with it.
.- It does not much matter whether the land of this country was given to us, or whether we came and took it. The fact remains that it was Great Britain that settled Australia, an.d whether we emigrated to the country, or were born here,we are equally entitled to share in the benefits of British protection. In all these matters we ought not to cavil at the action of the Imperial authorities, unless we are absolutely satisfied that we are not being treated fairly. Senator Matheson alluded to the importance of torpedo defence. I have never been opposed to making provision for the defence of our ports and harbors by torpedo : boats and destroyers.
– Especially Sydney.
– Well, Sydney is the principal harbor in Australia, but I want to see Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Hobart, and every other port equally well defended. I should be very glad if the Government could see their way to make suggestions with regard to supplying torpedo boats for completing the defence of our harbors, and I should give them all the assistance I could ; but I do not want to do that at the expense of the naval defence we enjoy at present. I do not want to diminish the £200,000 which we pay to the Imperial authorities as our contribution towards the cost of the Navy.
– Does the honorable senator seriously suggest that we should get less defence if we did not pay that subsidy?
.- I do not think we should get less defence, but I certainly think we should be very mean if we did not pay our portion.
– Is» Canada mean? Because she refuses to pay a contribution towards the Navy.
– Canada has an enormous frontier line to defend.
– She pays less for defence than we do.
– Probably she does.
– The reason t the honorable senator is prepared to pay money towards the upkeep of the Navy is, that it is spent in Sydney.
.- I am glad that Senator Givens knows the reasons that actuate some people, but he does not know those that actuate me in this case. I do not propose to detain the Senate any longer. Apparently there is a desire to have a general debate on such matters on Supply Bills. Probably it is just as well that we should have such opportunities.
– After the jeremiads of honorable senators opposite, I think I may be excused for venturing to allude to several of the topics that have been referred to. It is somewhat singular to observe the change in the opinions of some honorable senators. For instance, I can remember, when we were dealing with part of our White Australia legislation, and the Labour Party was a little band of eight sitting in the corner benches, hearing Senator Fraser say almost in tears that if we passed this legislation it would mean the destruction of the sugar industry in Queensland.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– He prayed for the unfortunate widows and orphans, whose money was invested in it. But Senator Fraser has lived to see that legislation remain in existence without destruction fol.lowing in its train. I cannot forget the appeals that he made to me personally.
– Will the honorable senator quote Hansard? Then I will believe him.
– I remember that he appealed to me, because I was a “ levelheaded man “ - whatever that may mean - who, he said, would not be guilty of the indiscretions of some of my colleagues in the party.
– The honorable senator does not remember that, because he does not state what I said correctly.
– I remember also that when the Barton Government was formed, and before its legislation with respect to the kanaka question was introduced, amendments Were moved on the Address-in-Reply from the Opposition benches by certain honorable senators in this Chamber.
– Who have not varied the position they then took up.
– I have not said that they have changed. It was Senator Millen, in the Senate, who moved an amendment on the Address-in-Reply, which was practically a no-confidence motion, because the Barton Government had omitted to state definitely what it intended to do in regard to the employment of kanakas in Queensland.
– The same noconfidence I had then I have to-day.
– I quite believe that Senator Millen has no confidence in the present Government, but occupies the same position he did then on the kanaka question. I would point out, however, that the Government on that occasion did not receive pressure from the Labour Party, who were content to wait, but from members of the Opposition, who felt so strongly in the matter that they moved an amendment to the Address-in-Reply.
– Why not be fair to the other members of the Opposition, and say that they did not follow the lead I gave them.
– The man who is now acting- deputy leader in another place-
– His party did not follow him.
– And the honorable senator, who is a prominent member of this Chamber-
– The Opposition were not solid, and did not support the amendment.
– I will accept that statement from the honorable senator, although I was not aware of the fact. I now want to deal with the remarks made to-night by Senator Pulsford. When that honorable senator was! speaking, I said that his action in connexion with the Japanese nation was almost sufficient to warrant his impeachment; and I believe that had he lived in earlier days, he would have been impeached for the steps he has taken. While I believe that every citizen should have full liberty to agitate, and endeavour to educate people on the lines he believes to be right, the circumstances become altogether different when an honorable senator approaches the representative of a foreign power, and uses his position in an endeavour to get pressure brought to bear on the Commonwealth Parliament by that power. I convict Senator Pulsford of that action from his own pamphlet, which is very appropriately circulated’ with a yellow cover.
– Would Senator Pearce not allow Senator Pulsford to write to anybody he chooses ?
– But the honorable senator wrote to the official representative of a foreign power, and practically urged that official, and through him his Government, to press their agitation against Commonwealth legislation, and indicated, or attempted to indicate, that that legislation does not represent the true opinion of the people of Australia. Such a man is not true to his country, and is altogether transgressing the liberty of speech, and press, which’ is properly allowed in an endeavour to alter the laws. The honorable senator’s pamphlet deals with the British Empire, and the relations of Asia and Australasia, and, on page 22, he quotes a letter which he had received from the Japanese Consul in Sydney, in reply to a letter sent by the honorable senator. In the letter to the Japanese Consul. Senator Pulsford said -
I beg you to believe that the people of New South Wales are more liberal and more friendly to Japan than the proposed legislation indicates.
That, is to say, the honorable senator represented that the legislation which is on our statute-book is not there with the consent of the people of New South Wales. I now come to some statements bv Senator Fraser, which I took occasion to contradict at the time they were made, as to land, monopoly in the Western District of Victoria. I have had the pleasure of visiting the Western District, and spending a fortnight there, and I declare that there is no part of Australia suffering more from land monopoly.
– All the places I mentioned have increased enormously in population and wealth.
– No doubt the places mentioned have increased in population, but that only makes the total decrease of population in the district all the more significant. I visited Colac, Camperdown. Terang, and Warrnambool ; and no doubt in those places there has been a considerable increase of population, owing to the cutting up of large estates. But these instances are like the plums in a boarding-house pudding - few and far between - the great bulk of the district still being held in large estates. From 187 1 to the present time there has been a gradual decrease of population, which for the whole of the district, from Geelong to the South Australian border, represents 3,500 persons. I am now quoting from the Victorian Year Book.
– The honorable senator is leaving the towns out of his calculation.
– I am including the towns.
– Then the honorable senator is wrong in his figures.
– If the figures are wrong that is the fault of the Victorian Year Book. In 1 87 1. , in the three rich counties of Hampden, Ripon, and Grenville, there were 82,100 people, who cultivated 123,609 acres, while holding 2,180,000 acres; in 1904 there were 71,160 people, a decrease of over 10,000, who cultivated 122,121 acres, a decrease of over 1,000, while holding 2,287,000 acres, showing an increase of acres held.
– That land is all used for the production of butter, and for fattening purposes.
– These latest figures quite disprove Senator Fraser’s statement that population has increased. The honorable senator denied a statement contained in an interjection ‘ made by Senator Givens, and as the latter gentleman has already spoken, he has asked me to read a letter bearing on the matter. The interjection implied that on a station, of which Senator Fraser has control, the boycotting of men for their political opinions is allowed ; and the letter I refer to is dated 21st August of this year, and is written to Mr. James Page, member of the House of Representatives.
– Does Senator Pearce take a statement made by a writer of that kind as conclusive proof?
– Not at all; I merely read the letter on behalf of Senator Givens, in order to show that the interjection was not an idle one, but had some ground.
– May I tell the honorable senator that I am the Melbourne chairman of the company referred to, and that,
– If that be so, of course the honorable senator is only responsible in the sense that he is the chairman of the company which allows this kind of thing.
– Allows it ! I deny the statement, to begin with.
– The letter is as follows : -
No doubt you have read some of the debate on the Address in Reply in the State Parliament, and where Mr. Cameron emphatically denied boycotting local men. In reply, I say it is common in this district, and particularly on the station, which Senator Fraser is chairman of directors, to wit, Thurulgorna. The boss, Mr. McVeen, makes a boast of not giving local men shearing. Please show this to Mr. Givens or Stewart. They may be able to reply at some time to Senator Fraser.
– It is very improper to make use of such a letter. It is not that I care two straws about the matter, but it is only a one-sided statement, which may be absolutely untrue.
– But Senator Fraser said that Senator Givens had no authority for the interjection.
– Nor had he.
– Senator Givens has asked me to read his authority, and I do so for what it is worth.
– The statement in the letter holds good until it is disproved.
– I now come to deal with Senator Gould, and I ask what sort of position does that gentleman take in regard to the White Australia question ? I can understand the position of Senator Pulsford, who is opposed to all such legislation en bloc, and would repeal it; but Senator Gould was a member of the Chamber when this legislation was under consideration, and I do not remember his making any protest. I can, however, remember Senator Gould extricating the Government from a very difficult position in regard to the Bill. The Labour Party were prepared to accept the national test, but Senator Gould, who seemed concerned about the fate of the Government, raised no objection to the educational test being applied.
– I failed to make the Labour Party vote for the proposal they had advocated.
– Why did the Labour Party then vote against the very proposal they had advocated?
– The Labour Party, at any rate, supported the Bill as it appears on the statute-book, and we do so still. If Senator Gould knew of all these objections to the proposed law, and if he knew of some other course which would not offend japan and other nations concerned, why did he not submit them to us at the time? The honorable and learned senator spoke of some indefinite kind of treaty ; but already in Queenslandwe have had an experience of a treaty with Japan of the sort Senator Pulsford would like. What happened in connexion with that treaty? In the very first year of Federation, when we had our own law, some 400 Japanese were admitted to Queensland under the treaty.
– And Japanese of the very worst type!
– Japanese had been entering Queensland for years under that treaty. Why do honorable senators like Senator Gould not give us some definite understanding of what they mean? I ask honorable senators to remember the example of South Africa. What led to the late war there? Was it not the fact that there had been established in the Boer Republic a colony of Britishers, the presence of which gave the British Government a sort of pre-emptive right to interfere in. the affairs of the Republic? Had that British colony not been established I believe the flag of the Republic would have been floating at Johannesburg to-day. But simply because the Uitlanders were there in the heart of the Republic, a pretext was given to the British Government to interfere; and this led to the extinction of the. Republic. Let us apply that lesson to Australia. If we have in the heart of this country a colony of Japanese Uitlanders, we at once give the rising and powerful nation of Japan an object and a reason for interfering in the affairs of Australia. There lies the danger of the admission of Japanese, and the more powerful the Asiatic nation the greater necessity there is to keep our lands clear of aliens. I wonder that honorable senators, with this, fearful lesson before them, cannot see that by admitting the Japanese to this coun try we may te bringing about events which will be as disastrous to our national life as similar circumstances proved to the Transvaal. My firm belief is that far more harm has been done to Australia by endeavours to make political capital out of the administration of the Act than by the administration itself.
– The Act states most distinctly that men shall not enter this country under contract.
– The administration may be at fault, or the Act may be at fault, but I say that far more harm has been done to Australia than could possibly flow from the Act itself; and this is due to misrepresentations on the part of interested political parties. It is to the credit of the Barton Government that they never showed the slightest fear in the administration of this Act. Their bitterest opponents cannot charge them Avith showing fear in the administration of the Act.
– They were between two fears.
– Further, I say that every reasonable person will admit that the delay in landing the six hatters in Sydney was due not to the action of the Barton Government, but to the action of their employer, who practically defied the law, and who, when his attention was drawn, to it, refused for six days to comply with it.
– Sir Edmund Barton had to strain the law to let them in on the representation that they were skilled labourers such as were not to be found in Australia.
– That is not a fair statement of the case.
– It is true. There were numbers of such tradesmen in Australia.
– One side in this matter was represented by Mr. Anderson, the employer of the men, and the other by the trade union that lodged the objection to their introduction. Sir Edmund Barton had to be the judge, because he was the administrator of the law;. He called on the employer to prove his case, and on those who lodged the objection to prove their case. The trade union brought forward their objection, and the employer, after considerable delay, brought forward his reasons for the admission of the men ; and, acting on the evidence before him,
Sir Edmund Barton decided that the men should be admitted. I ask any honorable senator to say whether that is not a fair statement of the case.
– And the six hatters joined the Labour Party after they landed.
– That is the singular feature of the case ; and they worked their hardest to secure the rejection of Mr. Reid for East Sydney. Why should there be all this concern about the immigration of people under contract? If it can be shown that the local market cannot supply, these people, the law is clear that they can come in. On the other hand, if there is no demand for their labour, and the local labour market can supply the existing demand, these men cannot be imported under contract.
– Who is given the right to decide?
– The administrator of the Act for the time being, who is responsible to Parliament. I remind honorable senators that the great bulk of the people of the Commonwealth did not come here under contract, but as free men, and there is nothing now in the Immigration Restriction Act to prevent people paying their passages and coming out here if they please.
– Is the honorable senator opposing a modification of the section ?
– I am opposing the misrepresentation of the section which has been indulged in this afternoon.
– Then the honorable senator does not object to a modification ?
– I cannot say until I see what modification is proposed. The action of Mr. Watson on the question does not bind me.
– It might if the caucus comes to a certain determination.
– It certainly will not, as I have a free hand on the question. I defy anybody to say that the Labour Party has ever opposed the peopling of Australia. Their fondest ideal is the preservation of a White Australia, and they fully recognise that that ideal can never be realized unless white people are induced to come to this country to assist in its defence. They are therefore prepared to assist in carrying out an immigration policy, but, as Senator Stewart has pointed out, they are not prepared to assist in. bringing people here to still further flood an overstocked labour market. Of what use is it to bring people out here if we cannot find employment for those who are here already ?
– If we had more people here we should have more employment.
– That does not follow. There is not the slightest doubt that at the time when an assisted immigration policy was being pursued in some of the States they had a more serious unemployed problem to face than that which we have 10 face to-day.
– If we are going to wait until we have no unemployed we shall wait a long time.
– Senator Mulcahy must know that I do not contend that we should wait until we have no unemployed; but I say that we should not bring more people here unless we have work for them to do, or land available for their occupation. When these conditions are observed no one will be more anxious to support any reasonable system of immigration than will. the Labour Party. No member of the party has ever spoken on the subject in any other way. I have a few- words to say with respect to the mail contract. First of all, I should like to say that in this connexion we have another example of an exploded fable, lt was said some time ago that we could not get any company to carry our mails if we insisted on white crews. They are being carried to-day with white crews. It was said that white stokers would get drunk, and that we should not get our mails regularly. We are getting them regularly, there have been no riots, and it has not been necessary to call out the military.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Peninsular and Oriental Company employ only white men at the present time?
– I am speaking of the Orient Company, with whom we have a contract for the carriage of our mails. The statement made by Senator Givens seems to me to indicate that the Queensland Government, . without consulting the Government as to its ‘details, have entered into a contract with the Orient Company, and the honorable senator now demands - and he invites honorable senators representing Tasmania to join him in his demand - that this Parliament shall ratify the mail contract, and make it one under which the mail boats will run right through to Brisbane. He demands that we shall adopt the con tract entered into by the Queensland Government without consultation with the Commonwealth Government, and he says that unless we do he will raise an objection to the mail steamers going beyond Adelaide. The honorable senator further says that he has the Constitution behind him to support his demand. In the first place, when tenders were called for originally, it was not stipulated that the mail steamers should go on to Sydney at all. The tenders called for when Mr. Mahon was PostmasterGeneral permitted an alternative. The companies might tender for a mail service terminating at Sydney, or for a service between Naples and Adelaide, calling at Fremantle. The tender sent in by the Orient Company for £[180,000 made no mention of Sydney. The original tender was for a mail service between Naples and Adelaide, calling at Fremantle. It was the subsequent contract, tendered for at a much lower sum than £180,000, that mentioned calling at Sydney. I believe that contract was drawn up, not by the postal authorities, but by the Orient Company. So that for their own purpose the company agreed that their boats should go on to Sydney. That is a proof that the present contract is due not so much to the postal authorities as to the Orient Company.
– It does not matter to whom it is due, that condition should not be in the contract.
– Does the honorable senator suppose that if that condition were struck out of the contract, the Orient Company -would agree to perform the service for £1 less.
– It would not make a bit of difference.
– I do not think it would. Let us suppose that the contention submitted by Senator Givens is correct, and that Queensland has a right to demand that the mail boats under the contract should call at Brisbane. What follows? Western Australia will have the right to demand that the boats engaged in the Vancouver sendee shall go round to Fremantle, and that Burns, Philp and Company’s boats engaged in the Island mail service shall also go round” to Fremantle.
– Then a mail contract should end at the first port from which the mails can be distributed by rail.
– That proposition would mean that we must have one terminal point for these services, or other- wise the vessels engaged in them must go all round Australia. What a ridiculous position that would land us in. Do honorable senators seriously believe that the High Court would compel the Government to accept such a position.
– What is the necessity for having cold storage for letters?
– I admit that the present contract is something more than a mail contract. I admit that, to a certain extent, it provides facilities for trade between the old world and Australia.
– Will the honorable senator admit that it provides for a bounty to shipping?
– I do not think we can call it a bounty. I look upon it as a contract for mail and trade purposes, but I do not think it can be said to be a contract for trade purposes between State and State, but rather with respect to trade between Australia, as a whole, and the old world. . I shall require some stronger reasons than those advanced by Senator Givens to convince me that I should consent to the extension of the contract to Queensland, and to the addition of £26,000 to the already large sum we are asked to pay under the contract.
– Let it be a mail contract only, and Queensland will have no reason to complain.
– There is one other matter with which I wish to deal. I was twitted with having exaggerated the position with respect to Tasmanian military affairs, in combating the statement of the Premier of Tasmania. One honorable senator from Tasmania accused me of knowing nothing about the position. I take the following paragraph on the Tasmanian Defence Forces from a newspaper published in Launceston : -
Tasmania’s Defence Forces.
A little investigation has been enough to explode the State Premier’s romance about the increased cost and alleged worse condition of the Tasmanian Defence Forces under the Federal system. The State finance records show that the forces were transferred to the Commonwealth in 1 901, with £26,706 expenditure attached to them for that year. The Federal Auditor-General (Mr. J. W. Israel), who was formerly the Tasmanian Auditor-General, and has a personal knowledge of Tasmania’s revenue and expenditure, says (page 117 of his last issued annual report), that the Federal Defence expenditure on account of Tasmania for the three financial years 1901-2, 1902-3, 1903-4. was respectively £29,028, £25.376> and £42,128. It has been shown that the addi tional expenditure includes a larger contribution to the Navy, the payment for all stores, buildings, equipment, &c, out of revenue instead of borrowed money, the payment of the men enrolled for their services, and so forth. While the actual increase of the cost of the forces is not, as Mr. Evans stated, three times what it was under the old State régimé, there are also a few points of difference between the condition of the forces then and now, which bear on the assertion that they are ten times worse. The companies are enrolling up to the full peace strength. Men are joining the colours instead of leaving them. It is no longer necessary to pass uniforms on from one man to another. The line was drawn at asking a man to wear another’s pants, but to keep things going it used to be necessary to get them to wear one another’s tunics. There is one uniform still in existence, and exhibited as a curio, that did duty for sixteen years. The local officers do not have to buy sugar bags now, service kit bags are issued. Formerly there was not a single set of serviceable up-to-date light horse or infantry equipment. Instead of only one country drill hall, there are now five, but others are wanted, for reports are still received of strange mixtures of drill shed, armoury, and cattle sheds in the country. The State ammunition pouches were so defective that, when the men went out firing, their tracks were marked by trails of lost cartridges. As regards what is described as “ a large staff, with nothing to do,” when the State handed over the forces in 1901 there were five Staff officers, now there are only three. And instead of running a M.SS. account and paying for writing paper and other stores out of loan moneys, the Federal system requires payment for everything out of revenue. Altogether,’ die Premier might well wish that he had not begun to draw comparisons.
When I can quote that statement from a Tasmanian newspaper, it will be admitted that there was justification for the statements I made.
– I have scarcely ever had the pleasure of listening to a debate which has conformed so admirably to the standing order under which it has taken place. The standing order provides that the debate need not be relevant to the subject which originates it. and it must be admitted that we have kept well within the four corners of that standing order. I do not propose to depart from so good an example in the few words I have to say. Senator Pearce has somewhat unfairly stated the attitude adopted by certain honorable senators on this side on the burning question of kanaka and coloured alien immigration. He sought to institute a comparison between my action at the initiation of Federation and” the present utterances of certain honorable senators on this side, or between my attitude to-day and their utterances then. Surely, any comparison, to be of value, must be instituted between the utterances of honorable senators who sit on this side fo-day and their utterances then. My action then had nothing to do with what they are doing to-day. So far as my knowledge goes Senator Gould, Senator Fraser, and Senator Pulsford are exactly in the same position with regard to that measure as they were five years ago. I have never varied in my attitude, as Senator Pearce was good enough to admit. It was made manifestly clear that I was not supported by honorable senators who have spoken this evening, or who generally sit on this side- On the subject of the introduction of coloured men, I should like to use an argument which has always appealed to me as showing the necessity for keeping them out. The only argument I have ever used on a platform is that which was put so briefly to-night by Senator Pearce - the undesirability of giving people of any foreign nation a pretext for taking an interest in the internal affairs of this country. I have never yet heard an answer to that argument. It may be that by keeping out these people we retard the development of certain industries, or render them impossible, but we have to balance advantages against disadvantages. In the present state of the development of Australia our course is clear. No matter what the economic cost to ourselves may be, we ought to keep out any representatives of these races who, as far as we know, desire to come here for the simple reason set out by Senator Pearce, namely, that we should not, like the Boer Republic, commit the mistake of allowing the subjects of other powers to come in and settle here, or even come here under treaty, and by_so doing give a pretext or possibly occasion for the power to which they belong to interfere in our internal affairs. It is suggestive of the public interest which the question of ordinary immigration has aroused that it has been referred to by almost every speaker to-night. Nearly every public man has expressed a desire to encourage immigration - in fact, it has passed into a platitude. But passing away from that, we come down to the facts of the moment, and these are that a communication has been addressed to the Commonwealth Government by General Booth, intimating that he desires to bring out 5,000 families, and that the Federal Government has sent a reply to him. We have seen the States Premiers practically tumbling over one another in their haste to declare nhat their respective States can amply provide for all the requirements of this large army. Even Victoria, which, so far as we know, has the smallest area of Crown lands at its disposal, professes to be able to accommodate these families. I do not intend to-night to discuss what lands are available, but, speaking generally, I lay it down that there is not a single State in the Commonwealth which can at a single effort find accommodation for 5,000 families. On a previous occasion, I went into some details as to the lands which are available in the several States. I do not propose to repeat those remarks to-night, but merely to state that there is not a single State which to-day can find an area of land suitable for small settlement, and sufficiently extensive to provide a living for 5,000 families. That being the case, it appears to. me that there is a moral obligation resting upon the Federal Government to make known that fact. I admit at once that the disposal of these lands is a matter for the States, but a proposal has been submitted to the Federal Government, who stand forward really as the mouthpiece of the representatives of Australia.
– We have told General Booth to go to the Agents-General of the States, and ascertain from them what lands can be obtained.
– Is not that to some extent shirking a responsibility which rests upon the Federal Government?
– The Federal Government have no land to offer.
– I know that; but they have something more than land to offer.
– A proposal was made to the Federal Government, and although they see* these people being induced to come out under false pretences
– What the Government are doing is practically to wash their hands of the whole matter.
– We cannot interfere with the States if they agree with General Booth. We cannot stop the immigration.
– It appears to me that, . since a communication has been addressed to the Federal Government, they ought to make themselves fully satisfied that conditions exist here which would warrant General Booth in bringing out 5,000 families. If those conditions do not exist, then it is incumbent upon us plainly to tell him that Australia is not ready at this moment to receive that large number of immigrants all at once. If, on the other hand, the conditions do exist, and the Government can satisfy themselves that the States, acting in unison, can provide land, and create openings for them, they would be serving the interests of Australia if they did so address General Booth. I have not the slightest doubt but that any attempt byGeneral Booth or any one else to bring 5.000 families here will simply end in a gigantic failure, ruin the immigrants, and bring lasting discredit to Australia as a whole. It has been pointed out that today it is difficult to find land for our own people. I make that statement without wishing in any way to contradict the remarks made by Senator Fraser. Both statements, although apparently in contradiction, are reconcilable. The honorable senator is perfectly correct in saying that there is an ample supply of land in Australia. But, on the other hand, the men who wish to get land are without money. For any man who is in a position to buy at the market price, there is any quantity of land to be had, but the great number of persons in Australia who seek to get land, and probably an equally big percentage of those in Great Britain who may desire to come here, wish to obtain a holding either for a very nominal consideration, or for no consideration at all. It is quite evident that private land-holders cannot treat to any extent with persons in that financial position. It is a matter which, if it has to be faced at all, must be faced by the States. I venture to say that there are only two alternatives. One alternative is- the breaking up of large estates by the process of a heavy land tax, or by some other method, all of which I should class under the head of confiscation; and the other is bv a general resumption by the States Governments under the nearest’ approach to the cr6dit foncier system, by which land could be secured at an equitable price, and made available for subdivision on liberal extended terms to the smaller men. That is an alternative which I see in front of us. I do not believe that Australia is prepared to indorse any proposal which savours of confisca tion. The other alternative, then, remains as the only one available.
– The honorable senator does not call land values taxation confiscation ?
– Land values taxation which is intended to be so heavy as to destroy the values of land is as much confiscation as if the land were taken by Act of Parliament.
– If the tax is of such a character as to cause land to be brought into full use, it is not confiscation.
– If I have a piece of property which is worth £1, and the honorable senator comes along with a proposal to put a tax of is. in the £ on my land, he might just as well take the land.
– I would not propose such a tax.
– If the honorable senator, in his spirit of moderation, proposes to impose a tax of 6d. in the £, he will take away half the value of my land, and it will become worth only 10s.
– I would propose a tax which would make it unpayable for the honorable senator to use land for sheep, if it were fit for closer settlement.
– No matter what tax the honorable senator may propose, it must take away a portion of the capital value of my land.
– The experience of New Zealand has shown quite the opposite. Land values have increased there, because of the general prosperity brought about by land settlement.
– Exactly. If my piece of land, which, to-day, is worth £1 an acre, is subjected to a tax of 6d. in the £, and its value jumps to £2 an acre, what will happen? Taxation on the land will go up, and its value will go down. So whatever happens, the tax will take away half the present and prospective value of the land. Seeing that ‘ private lands have been purchased under the laws of the State, with the full legal and moral sanction of the community, the only thing to do, if we- have made a mistake, is to re-acquire them honestly, as we understand the word, on a reasonable valuation. The sooner we recognise that the lands which are most suitable for small settlement are in private hands, and devise a scheme under which, in fairness to the present owners, we could make them available to the small men, the sooner we shall be able to bring about that steady stream of immigration which we all desire to see setting towards the shores of Australia.
– Whenever I bear the question of defence discussed, I am struck with the fact that it is a very difficult and complicated one. I hope that when the Conference meets in London, as I presume it will next year, the question will be thoroughly discussed, and that a definite line of policy will be adopted. It involves not only the question of naval defence, but also the question of land defence as regards the whole Empire. I should like Senator Playford to say, as soon as he can, when we shall have an opportunity here to discuss the subjects which are to be debated at that Conference.
– I do not know anything about the Conference.
– Apparently my honorable friend has forgotten that I asked him if we should have an opportunity to discuss these matters, and he replied, I think, that we should. I should like him to consult the Prime Minister and make a statement on the point.
– Let the honorable and learned senator put a notice on the paper, and I shall arrange. There is a notice about the Defence Act on the paper for the sth October.
– What I want is a discussion of the questions which may be brought before the Conference, and which include not only the question of defence, but the question of preferential trade, the question of am Imperial Council for the Empire as foreshadowed by Sir Frederick Pollock, and another question which I should like an opportunity to discuss.
– The honorable and learned senator can always get a question discussed by putting a notice on the paper. I have no special desire to have it discussed.
– I had an assurance from the honorable senator that an opportunity would bet afforded for discussing the question. Am I to understand that the Prime Minister, or the Minister who will go to the Conference, is to have from the Parliament no instruction or guidance as to what the opinion of Australia is?
– That is right. They will do just what they did last time.
– That appears to me to be a slipshod way of doing the business. I was quite right in’ christening this Ministry the “ No-responsible Government, “ because Senator Playford led me, and every one else, I should think, to suppose that we should have an opportunity to discuss these matters.
– So the honorable and learned’ senator will.
– If the honorable senator is going to eat his words and to tell me-
– I never said I was going to put notices of motion on the paper and have these questions discussed. What I said was that the honorable and learned senator would have every opportunity to discuss them.
– I understand now that the Minister wipes his hands of the whole business, and that any one of us who desires to discuss these matters may put a notice of motion on the paper.
– I am very sorry.
– It is a very great pity that the honorable senator should have misled, if not the Senate, certainly myself.
– I am very sorry.
– I always learn something when I listen to Senator Matheson. I thought that he rather. impaired his speech by imputing that the Imperial Government, with the approval of the Commonwealth Government, were deliberately breaking the Naval Agreement, but on referring to what he did say, I found that he did not mean to convey the impression that they were in any way corruptly breaking the agreement, but that owing to their change ‘of policy they desired to slightly, or, if you like, greatly modify the agreement, and that they are doing this quite as much in the interest of the Commonwealth as in their own interest, because we have had the assurance of the Prime Minister that the agreement is being altered to the advantage of Australia. But I quite agree with Senator Matheson that if there is to be any alteration of the agreement, Parliament ought to approve of it. Parliament made the agreement, and I presume that it can be altered or varied if Parliament consents. But I deny the right of Ministers to alter it without the consent of Parliament. I have a word or two to say in reference to the Federal Capital. As I understand the question, the idea of driving in a peg, and so trespassing upon the land of New South Wales, is hardly considered by the Prime Minister to be sufficient to raise the legal questions which it is desired that the High Court should settle. I gather from what he has said that an Act of Parliament will have to be passed by means of which we can raise the legal issues. I think the Government ought to be exceedingly careful as to what steps they take, if any, to pave the way for any alteration of the decision to which Parliament has come. Parliament, quite as much as the Executive, ought to be a party to any modification that may be proposed. I am of opinion that if the matter goes to the High Court, and the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales seem to think that it ought to go, the High Court will not answer the questions which we desire to have settled. Instead of passing an Act of Parliament to raise those legal questions, I should think that it would be much better to pass an amendment of the Judiciary Act, so as to make it perfectly open for the Commonwealth, or for any State, or for any parties, to state a case for the opinion of the High Court on any question they please. That matter was raised by me on the Judiciary Committee of the Convention in Adelaide, and I gathered from what then took place that in our Federal Judiciary Act we should have power to state a case for the opinion of the High Court.
– There is such power in Canada, I think.
– Yes, and I cannot conceive why we have not such’ power in the Commonwealth. In Tasmania, under our Equity Procedure Act, there is power to state a case for the opinion of the Court; and I have frequently advised clients, when there has been a suit of a “friendly nature, to state a case. Then you can get a case before the Court in one document, to which both sides interested consent. It saves the trouble and expense of filing an application, filing an answer, and going through all the proceedings incidental to an equity suit. It appears to me that it would, be much better if we were to amend the Judiciary Act in the way I have stated. I cannot conceive, however, that there is any wisdom in building a Federal Capital until the population and revenue of the Commonwealth have largely increased. Indeed, it would be a wicked waste of money to think of building another capital while we have a population of only 4,000,000, one-fourth of whom reside in two cities. We should simply have Ministers rushing about from the Federal Capital to “the capitals of their States, and causing no end of confusion and annoyance. No single advantage would result to the Commonwealth. If honorable senators are in favour one day of building a Capital at a cost of three or four million pounds, another da building a transcontinental railway at a cost of four or six million pounds, and of paying bonuses to the sugar industry on an artificial basis, it is perfectly idle to talk of economy. We have adopted an exceedinglygood plan, which I hope we shall continue, of building our works out of revenue. But what is the use of spending £[150,000 a year out of revenue and deliberately refraining from the wretched policy of the States of over-borrowing, if we are going to build a capital and a transcontinental! railway, both of which works ought to stand over for a generation or two? I shall oppose any Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner in every possible way. I cannot conceive of a more extravagant piece of folly than to introduce a Bill for the purpose of paying an enormous salary to one man, who will have an expensive staff under him, until, at any rate, we have arranged to take over the debts of the States, and until the States are prepared to put their AgentsGeneral on a different footing. At the Hobart Conference every Premier objected to the appointment of a High Commissioner at the present stage. Some opposed it altogether. It is idle for the Prime Minister to say that, because the Government is interesting itself in immigration, it is necessary to have a High Commissioner to look after it. It is admitted that we have no land under out control. We have nothing to do with the land laws of the States; and, although the Prime Minister may desire, in order to counteract the injury done by some of the labour legislation to. which he has been a party, to increase the population of Australia, that, after all, is ‘“more a State than a Federal matter. Does any one pretend that one man can attend to the interests of the States in regard to immigration better than the six Agents-General who are now at home? Those gentlemen have been asked to defend the credit and honour of Australia, and to prevent us from being slandered and vilified. They are well qualified to render that service. I beg leave to think that those six men, or any six men chosen to represent the States, are able to look after the credit and good name of Australia and to show the proper trend of legislation passed by us, far better than a single man could do. I protest, in the name of my State, and in the name of economy, against this expensive office being created. As for voting a salary of £3,500 a year, I certainly shall oppose any such idea. If the Prime Minister of Australia can give up the whole of his time for £2,000 a year, that is the utmost I should vote for the High Commissioner. I should like to see some arrangement made with the States in regard to the debts before we take steps in this direction. The settlement of that question lies at the root of all our financial schemes for the future. There will be nothing for a High Commissioner to do until the debts question is ripe for settlement. There is no sign at present that the States are prepared to give up their Agents-General. For instance, New South Wales has 1,800,000 acres of land available for settlement. Would the Premier of New South Wales consent to a man from another State, over whom he had no control, selecting immigrants to occupy that land? Furthermore, we know that Mr. Coghlan is doing exceedingly good work for New South Wales and for Australia. No man whom we could possibly send to London would be likely to have at his command Mr. Coghlan’s mass of information on all subjects pertaining to this country. Is it likely that Mr. Carruthers or the people of New South Wales would consent to have an admirable representative like Mr. Coghlan supplanted by a High Commissioner? I can quite understand also that the Western Australian people would prefer to manage the settlement of their own lands themselves, and could do iti much better through their own Agent-General than ‘through a High Commissioner. The business of such an officer is to look after our finances, and when we have some financial work for him to do let us appoint him, but not: before. I hope that when the Imperial Conference meets in England it will come to some arrangement about an Imperial Council for the Empire. S’ir Frederick Pollock has suggested a scheme which may be worth thinking about, especially by our friends who are always complaining that Australia has no representation in the affairs of the Empire, and who give that as one of the reasons for objecting to an Australian contribution to the Navy. But, possibly, if we have a larger voice we shall have to arrange to contribute more in money, in men, or in some other way, and to take upon ourselves a greater share of the burdens than we do now. I should certainly like to hear from Senator Playford that we are to have an opportunity to discuss the question of preferential trade in a thorough manner. I believe, with Mr. Chamberlain, that if we are going to have high duties against Great Britain, and higherduties against other countries, preferential trade is nothing but a mockery. If we are to have a duty of 30 per cent, against the foreigner, and 25 per cent, against the British exporter, there is no preferential trade worthy of the name. The only kind’ of preferential trade to which I shall consent is a system that will largely reduceduties in favour of Great Britain. If, for instance, our present duty on cotton piece goods is 25 per cent., and we made the dutv 15 per cent, against the foreigner, and’ 5 per cent, against Great Britain, it would be reasonable; but unless we are going tohave reciprocal trade, which will, in the long run, tend towards freedom of trade, we should not go in for the system at all. I think that in this matter Mr. Chamberlain’ has by far the best of the argument.. If we cannot bind the Empire together by means of preferential trade or by commerce, then I am absolutely at a loss to know how that object is to be attained. It may be bound together a little by means of defence, but our friends of the Labour Party almost negatived the Naval Agreement; they desire to make no contribution whatever, but that we should have our own. Navy. To that view, however, I am opposed, and if that be the policy of the Labour Party, I should liketo know how they hope to bind the Empire closer. Do the Labour Party want to seethe Empire drift apart? I desire preferential trade, not because, it is a question of free-trade or protection, but becauseit is a matter of binding the Empire together. ,Let our friends the strict freetraders point out some way in which theobject can be gained, and I shall be glad to listen, to them. I think that, in regard-“ to our navigation and other proposals, we- shall have to alter our policy, as all the other nations of the world have done, in the direction of protecting ourselves from the unjust and selfish laws of other people. There is not much to be in love with in free-trade, which gives open ports to the whole world, whereas all other nations and States, except one, shut their doors in our face. I hope, therefore, that something will come of Mr. Chamberlain’s proposal, and that we shall have an opportunity to discuss this great question. I hope that the delegates who go to the mother country to attend the next Imperial Conference will go with some idea of what the wishes of the people of Australia are, as set forth by their parliamentary representatives. Every time the question is debated at Home there is a dispute between the two sides as to what the Colonies really do desire. No one seems to know in England, and no one seems to know here. Some scout the idea of reducing the duties against Great Britain, while others, like myself, are strongly in favour of that course. It appears to be absolutely essential, if the Conference is to do much good, that there should be a discussion in this Parliament on the questions which remain for settlement, and our delegates must go Home thoroughly understanding what the views of Australia are.
– Senator Dobson. always thinks Imperialistically. He has uttered some words of warning about the suggested Imperial Conference. I have some idea that the last Conference in London arrived at something like an understanding, although not a very definite one, that in five, six, or seven years there should be another meeting.
– That is considered as quite definite in England.
– The Prime Minister of England has, I understand, said something to the effect that a Conference may be convened ; and that is all I know about the matter.
– The Minister of Defence is very ignorant on the point.
– I do not know that Senator Dobson has any more information than myself.
– I know that the Conference is going to be held.
– But when?
– Next year, I believe.
– Not necessarily next year. I do not think that as yet any thing definite has been decided ; and, under the circumstances, I do not see the use of discussing a number of subjects which may or may not be brought before the Conference.
– The Minister is afraid to discuss those subjects.
– Not in the least. The policy of the Ministry on preferential trade is well known, and I can see no use in discussing that matter now.
– We do not know exactly what the policy of the Government is.
– The Government are in favour of preferential trade.
– With certain restrictions.
– The Government are in favour of raising the duties against every country but England.
– I am not going to discuss the details.
– The Minister is afraid of a discussion.
– I am not in the least afraid. I can give my own ideas on the subject, but, in doing so, I in no way bind the Government. My own opinion is that we should retain the duties as we have them, so far as Great Britain is concerned, and raise them in the case of all other foreign countries.
– To that Mr. Chamberlain would say, “ Thank you for nothing.”
– It is a proposal that will, at any rate, show Great Britain that we are willing to give her manufactures and productions a preference over those of foreign countries. The preference given by Canada is on the same lines - it is given because England allows Canadian products to enter the old country free.
– We need not discuss those terms, because they would not be accepted by England.
– It is impossible on the present occasion to deal with all the various subjects referred to by honorable senators. I came here for the purpose of passing a Supply Bill to provide for the services of the Commonwealth for two months, and that is all I wish to do. I ought, however, to say a few words on the defence matters dealt with by Senator Matheson. The matter of the Naval Agreement is not in my Department, but in that of the Prime Minister; and, therefore, I think the honorable senator might have given me some hint that he intended to deal with the subject to-day.
– It was only last night that I knew a Supply Bill was to be introduced.
– That, of course, is a fair explanation. I think, however, that the honorable senator is altogether mistaken in the view he takes of the intentions of the British Admiralty. The -honorable senator has suggested that the Admiralty has in the past, and is likely in the future, to evade the terms and conditions of any contract entered into - that the Admiralty will do something less than they have promised to do. The honorable senator also stated that the flagship Powerful, which is on its way out to replace the Euryalus, is a much less effective warship than the latter. In the first place, the agreement simply states that there shall be one armoured cruiser, first-class, and the Power ful is a vessel of that description.
– If the Minister refers to Brassey he will find that the Power ful is simply a first-class cruiser, unarmoured.
– In the Age today, in reference to the proposed naval base at Singapore, there is published an interview with Captain Stokes Rees, the officer in charge of Garden Island, Sydney, in which the following occurs : -
Neither in the opinion of Captain Stokes Rees is the fact that an important new base is being established comparatively close to Australia likely to cause any decrease in the Australian fleet. On the contrary, he is just in receipt of plans for readjusting all naval moorings in Port Jackson, with a view of providing more accommodation to replace the vessels which are being taken away. The following ships are to join the squadron : -
Powerful, first class cruiser, 14,200 tons, 25,000 indicated horse power, natural draught, 18 guns.
Encounter, second class cruiser, 5,800 tons, 12.500 indicated horse power, 11 guns.
Cambrian, second class cruiser, 4,360 tons, 7,000 indicated horse power, 10 guns.
Pioneer, third class cruiser, 2,200 tons, 500 indicated horse power, 8 guns.
Pyramis, third class cruiser, 2^35 tons, 5,000 indicated horse power, 8 guns.
The statements that have been furnished to me bv the Prime Minister respecting the proposals of the Admiralty, are to the effect that the alterations are to be in the direction of maintaining here an absolutely more powerful fleet than the contract provides for. Certain sloops which have been condemned as obsolete, are to be replaced by vessels of greater power, and when- the whole of the details are finally settled, the matter will be brought before Parliament. It will then be shown that the alterations proposed mean that, instead of the Admiralty trying to evade their obligations, and provide a fleet of less power and capacity than that contracted for, they are going to prov.de a much superior force.
– I hope the Minister will look into the subject of the flagship, because I propose to ask him a question regarding it to-morrow- or Friday?
– I shall endeavour in the meantime to get all the necessary information ; but what I have stated is all I have at present.
– Is the squadron at the present time under contract strength ?
– As I said before, this matter does not come within my Department, but I believe the squadron is not at present of the exact strength for which the contract provides. I believe that only one sloop is left, but othe’rs are coming out to take the places of those which have been removed.
– What would have happened if these vessels had been wanted during the Russo-Japanese war ?
– I do not know, but I suppose that had Great Britain become involved, the British Fleet would have managed to hold its own without the assistance of the Australian Squadron. I find that people who pose as authorities, more or less, are ever at variance on the subject of defence. They are like Kilkenny cats, and one has only to express an opinion to have it contradicted by the other. Of this we have had experience only lately. One gentleman, whose name I need not mention, but who is very well known, and, was, I believe, referred to by Senator Matheson
– I mentioned no names.
– I think the name slipped out once, but, at any rate, we know to whom reference was made. That gentleman would increase the amount of the subsidy to the squadron, and take no steps towards the establishment of an Australian Navy ; whereas Senator Matheson takes exactly the opposite view, arid advises us not to spend a penny on the squadron. Senator Matheson takes rather a selfish attitude, I think, when he says that whether we give a subsidy, or not, the British Navy will defend us; and he suggests that the money now given as a subsidy should be devoted to providing torpedo boats and torpedo-boat destroyers to resist any invasion of Australia. But that, as honorable senators will see, is a very big order “ ; because nothing we could do in the way of providing torpedo boats and destroyers would enable us, with over 8,000 miles of coast-line, to prevent an invasion of any part of Australia.
– An. enemy could only land at some port.
– An enemy could, land at a great many places where, though there are no ports, there are bays, and no difficulty would be encountered. Any enemy, with serious intentions of invading Australia, would know exactly what armament they would have to meet, and would make provision accordingly. I intend shortly to make a statement in regard to the whole question of defence, in which I shall deal with the defence policy of the past so far as the land forces are concerned. I shall show to what extent we have carried out the intentions of those who framed the defence scheme. I shall give information as to what we possess in the way of material, armament, ammunition, and so on for our land forces. I shall show how we have provided to meet the requirements of our forces on a peace footing, and also on a war footing. I shall explain to what extent we are deficient so far as regards our armaments. Then, so far as our navy is concerned, I shall give all particulars relating to the Protector, Cerberus, and one or two other small vessels which we possess. I am prepared to admit that so far as provision for harbor defence is concerned, we are, if anything, worse off now than when we took over those vessels from the States.
– Hear, hear; and who is responsible?
– I shall allow the honorable senator, if he is able, to place the responsibility. I have looked into the question. Senator Matheson asked me, so far as our naval defences are concerned, to get a report from Captain. Creswell. I have seen that officer, and I have received his report on the subject. I admit frankly and unreservedly now that the statement made by the honorable senator is absolutely accurate, and that since we took over the defences of the Commonwealth we have done practically nothing in the matter of harbor defence, and are, if anything, in a worse position than when we took over the forts and vessels provided by the States. The principal reason for that is that every year our vessels and guns are becoming more or less obsolete, and though we have replaced a few guns we have done practically nothing to improve the condition of our harbor defences. I shall be prepared to give honorable senators the facts regarding the position of our naval and military forces. At the present time there is great difficulty in arriving at a decision, and I am confident that I shall not be able to outline for the Senate what I consider should be the policy of the Commonwealth with regard to naval defence. I require a more extended opportunity to master the facts. Not only do I find that people outside who make some profession of being experts in the matter are totally at variance on many important points, but amongst the officers of the Department there is precisely the same difference of opinion. I make no pretence of being a military expert in any sense, and I shall enter into the consideration of the matter with a perfectly open mind, and with a desire to arrive at the true state of affairs, in order to suggest a desirable policy. I must deal with the matter with considerable caution, in order that I may be perfectly satisfied as to the wisdom of any proposal I submit to Parliament to improve the existing condition of affairs. In order to suggest what should be done in connexion with our naval defence and the harbor defence of our chief cities, as well as the type of guns we should get in order to replace obsolete weapons, I shall require vastly more information than I have at present. I can, however, say that I believe that it is necessary that we should make a start, in however small or modest a way, to establish the nucleus of an Australian Navy. To what extent we should proceed with the proposal in the meantime, and the period over which we should extend the expenditure necessary, are matters which require careful consideration. We might, for instance, make a start with one vessel this year, and get another one or two years later.
– By the time we got the second or third boat, the first would have become obsolete.
– Not necessarily. I am inclined to think, for instance, that that cannot be said of our rifles. I do not see how the present magazine rifle can be greatly improved. It is true that the chamber might be made larger, so that more than ten shots might be fired without putting in a new clip; but that could only be done by making the weapon heavy and cumbersome. With regard to our field guns, I shall get all the information possible, and supply it to honorable senators later on. I do not believe that I shall be able to state what the policy of the Government will be, and what they will recommend Parliament to agree to with respect to the defence of our ports, and the war vessels, as they may be called, which we ought to get. I do not think that I shall be able to say to what extent we should employ torpedo boats or destroyers, or whether we should have .one or two very fast cruisers. All these matters will require very careful thinking out. There are three things which we must consider. First of all, we must provide against invasion; then we must provide against a raid which might be made for the purpose of destroying shipping or a portion of a town ; and, thirdly, we require to make some provision against the destruction of our commerce by means of fast cruisers despatched to prey upon it. These are the three things we have to provide against, and I shall be prepared to give honorable senators every information on those three heads when I speak, as I hope to be able to do in the course of a fortnight or so. I shall take advantage of the opportunity afforded to lay a paper on the table, and I shall give honorable senators some notice beforehand as to the day on which I shall make this statement regarding the whole defence scheme of the Commonwealth.
– Can we see the reports from Commander Creswell which the honorable senator speaks of?
– No. They are absolutely confidential, and I do not propose to lay them on the table or to publish them at the present time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to pass through all its stages without delay.
– I wish to raise a point of order with regard to this motion. Standing order 98 provides : -
Notice of motion shall be given by the Senator stating its terms to the Senate, and delivering at the table a copy of such notice, fairly written, signed by himself, and showing the day proposed for bringing on such motion.
I take it that there is nothing known to our Standing Orders by the name of a “Contingent Notice of Motion.” The standing, order which I have quoted is the only one we have which deals with the giving of notice of a motion. I wish particularly to direct attention to the fact that under standing order 98 a notice of motion must state the date on which it is proposed to bring on the motion. The notice given in this case only states that the motion is to be moved contingent upon something happening.
– Will the honorable senator look at standing order 108 ?
– I proposed to refer to it, but it gives no direction as to the way in which a contingent notice of motion shall be given. It merely provides that -
No notice or contingent notice shall have effect . for the day on which it is given.
That gives no direction as to the way in which an honorable senator is to give a contingent notice of motion. The only standing order which gives such direction is standing order 98, which I have already quoted, and which distinctly lays it down that the notice of motion must state the day on which the motion is to be proceeded with. I submit that a contingent notice of motion is merely a courtesy notice, which one can give with a view to informing the Senate as to the course which he proposes to take; and a contingent notice of motion would cover such a motion as one might move in Committee without notice. I do not say that the motion submitted by the Minister of Defence is one which could be moved in Committee, but that a contingent notice of motion is a courtesy notice on the part of the Honorable senator, giving it as it would cover just such an amendment of a Bill as might be brought on in Committee without any notice at all. In this particular case it is quite obvious that the motion proposed could not have been brought on without some notice. I go back to standing order 98, and I repeat that it provides that a notice of motion must state the day on which it is to be proceeded with.
– I submit that the reading of standing order No. 98 by Senator Millen is not one that should be adhered to.
– That is another matter.
– I submit that it should not be adhered to, because it is not correct. The words on which he relied in support of his contention are the words “ showing the day for bringing on such amotion.” I submit that these words are not to be read as requiring the specification of a particular date of the month. The wording of the notice in this case is -
The Minister for Defence : - To move (contingent on the receipt of a Supply Bill from the House of Representatives) - That the Standing Orders be suspended - and so on. If the Supply Bill is received on a particular day, that is the day on which the motion will be moved, in accordance with the notice which is given in advance of the receipt of the Bill. When the Supply Bill has been received the contingency contemplated has happened, and then, in accordance with the notice -given, I submit that the motion may be moved. Standing order No. 98 does not prescribe that a particular day or date shall be specified, but that the notice of motion shall show the day on which the business is to be brought on. The Minister, instead of saying that he proposed to submit this motion on the 27 th of September, indicates that he proposes to move it on the day on which the Supply Bill is received from the House of Representatives. I submit that that sufficiently marks the day, in accordance with the requirements of standing order 98.
– I should like to say that a contingent motion is a motion to be moved contingent upon a certain thing happening ; but it should specify the day in this way : The Minister, for instance, might have given notice on last Friday, that he would, “on Wednesday next,” contingent upon a certain thing happening, move the suspension of the Standing Orders, and if when the date mentioned arrived the Bill had not been received fresh notice could be given for the following or some later day.
– The Bill might come up too late to enable fresh notice to be given in that way.
– That is possible ; but the standing order to which Senator Millen has directed’ attention provides that the notice of motion shall show the day proposed for bringing on such motion, and I submit that the true construction of that standing order is that a particular day should be named, on which the motion of which notice is given is to be considered. The object is to enable honorable senators to know the day on which they may expect that a particular motion will be debated. This motion could not come on unless a certain contingency happened. Suppose the Minister had put his contingent notice of motion in this way -
The Minister of Defence : - To move, on Wednesday, 27th of September, 1905 (contingent on the receipt of a Supply Bill from the House of Representatives) - That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to pass through all its stages without delay.
There could be no question if he had said that he would move the motion contingent upon something happening. If I choose to give notice of a motion for a matter to be dealt with on Wednesday that is a definite notice, but if I say that contingent upon the President being in the chair I shall move a motion, he may not be in the chair on that day. The contingency is that the motion will be moved on a particular day if another thing happens on that day. That. I submit, is the true construction of the standing order, although it may be a very technical one. The object in giving “the contingent notice is to let honorable senators know on what day a matter will be discussed.
– I think that when there is no standing order providing that the course outlined by Senator Millen should be followed, we should take a commonsense view. The standing order states that notice shall be given, and the Minister has given notice of his intention to move that the Standing Orders be suspended. I submit that he has followed, as far as he could, the intention of standing order 98 in stating the date by using these words -
To move (contingent on the receipt of a Supply Bill from the House of Representatives).
There are two other standing orders which deal with this question of suspension. Standing order 434 reads -
When a motion for the suspension of any Standing or Sessional Order or orders appears on the notice-paper, such motion may be carried by a majority of voices.
This motion to suspend the Standing Orders does appear on the notice-paper, and therefore honorable ‘senators have received due notice. Standing order 434 says -
The suspension of Standing Orders shall be limited in its operation to the particular purpose for which such suspension has been sought.
That, standing order is also complied with, because the notice of motion proposes -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to pass through all its stages without delay.
– I am not prepared to give to the standing order the narrow and restricted interpretation which Senator Millen thinks ought to be given. In the first place, a standing order similar to No. 433 will, I think, be found in the Standing Orders of every House of Parliament in Australia. I know that it is to be found in the Standing Orders of each House of the Parliament of South Australia, where the practice always was to permit a notice of motion to be given in the same manner as the one which has been given by Senator Playford. Standing order 108 may have no direct bearing on this question, but undoubtedly it recognises that a contingent notice of motion may be given, because it says -
No notice or contingent notice shall have effect for the day on which it is given.
How can a contingent notice of motion be given for a day when the honorable senator concerned does not know, and in some instances cannot know, the day on which the matter respecting which he is giving the notice will come on? I ask honorable senators to look at standing order 188, in reference to the second reading of a Bill. It says -
After the second reading, unless it be moved, “That this Bill be refererd to a Select Committee,” or unless notice of an instruction has been given -
How can notice of an instruction be given for a particular date when the honorable senator concerned does not know the date on which the Bill will be read a second time? He must give the notice contingent upon the Bill being read a second time. In addition to that, there is the invariable practice of the Senate of not specifying in contingent notices of motion the particular dates on which they were to come on. They have always been given contingent upon the second reading of the Bill, or upon the Bill being received from the other House, or upon some other incident. It would be manifestly inconvenient - in fact, it would be impossible in some instances - for an honorable senator, when giving a contingent notice of motion, to specify a date for it to come on. Therefore, I rule that the motion is in order.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - I would now suggest to Senator Playford that he should take steps to amend the phraseology of his motion. He proposes that all the Standing Orders be suspended, but what he wants to do, I think, is to suspend so much of them as would preclude the passage of the Bill through all its stages without delay.
– That is always understood.
– That is a very lax way of doing the business.
– Look at standing order 435.
– I only look at the wording of the motion.
– That standing order limits the suspension of the Standing Orders to the particular purpose for which it has been sought.
– Surely it is not desired to suspend the President’s right to control the Senate? If all the Standing Orders be suspended it will not enable the Bill to be put through, because it will suspend the machinery which is necessary to enable the .Chamber to carry on the business.
– -WilT the honorable senator allow the Minister to amend the motion ?
– Undoubtedly ; and I appeal to the experience of every honorable senator as to whether the form I suggest is not that which prevails in every Legislative Assembly.
– The ‘honorable senator might allow the motion to go through to-night, and it will be moved in an altered form in the future.
– If the Minister who leads the Senate is content to go on in this slovenly fashion that is his affair. I have done my duty in calling attention to the fact.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I do not know that it is a slovenly fashion. It ‘has been adopted for the last five years. It cannot be so slovenly as the honorable senator suggests, otherwise it would have been altered before. It is really a question of the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee, because, although the notice of motion is worded in this way, its operation is governedby standing order 435, which limits the suspension of the Standing Orders to the purpose for which it was sought. We only desire to suspend so much of the Standing Orders as will enable the Bill to pass through all its stages without delay. No other standing orders will be suspended if the motion is carried.
– The whole of this discussion is rather irregular.
Question - That the Standing Orders be suspended - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - We have had no explanation from the Minister with regard to this Bill. Are the salaries included in it upon the same basis as those to be voted in the Appropriation Bill at the end of the session, and are there any additional votes apart from such as are necessary for carrying on the services of government? It appears to me that, under this system, the Senate isquite unable to exercise any effective control over expenditure. It is quite true that Estimates of Expenditure are submitted and are debated in the other Chamber, but there is no opportunity for the Senate to consider them, or to suggest reductions, until such time as the Government can tell us that the money has been spent.
– Do I understand that this Bill will enable the Government to carry on until the end of October?
– Yes ; for two months.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - We are told that this is merely a Supply Bill, but really that is the key to the whole position. From the very beginning of this Parliament the Senate has never been properly recognised in reference to Bills of this character. We have never had an opportunity of exercising control over expenditure.
– Does not the honorable senator see that it is necessary to pass this Bill in order that those who have earned their salaries may be paid ?
– That has nothing to do with the question whether the Senate ought to exercise proper control over expenditure. What prevented the Government from introducing this Bill in the other House a week earlier, in order that it might be brought before the Senate without a suspension of the Standing Orders ? It is evident that the Senate, must do one of two things. Either we must go on pretending that we are exercising control, although we allow Government after Government to suspend the Standing Orders ; or we must insist upon our rights, even though it involves the public servants being deprived of their salaries for a little while after the end of the month. Some inconvenience would arise from following the latter course but if we did it once the Government would never again make the mistake of slighting the Senate as successive Governments have done in the past. Apparently, however, honorable senators are not prepared to indulge even in the mild dose of heroics which would be necessary to make a protest worthy of the name.
– When I raised a protest long ago, where was the honorable senator? On the other side.
– Fortunately I have been able to look up my facts, and am therefore able to say that if there was a backslider in the Dawson-Millen party it was not Senator Millen. I appeal to the recollection of honorable senators as to whether we have ever been able to get from Ministers in charge of Supply Bills a clear and definite statement concerning the expenditure proposed. We are usually told by the Minister that he does not know anything about the items, and cannot tell us anything. If we are prepared in this irregular fashion to pass Bills when the Minister admits that he cannot give information as to details, does it not make the whole proceeding a farce? The Minister of Defence has asked Senator Gould whether he could suggest a better course. It would have been more pertinent if he had asked whether a worse one could possibly be suggested, for I cannot conceive of a worse course being followed than the one which we are following to-day, or one more likely to lead to a frittering away of the rights and privileges of the Senate. It is rather curious, I may remark, that the Minister should have seen fit to ask this question, seeing that it was he who a month ago, when we were discussing this procedure, said, in answer to a statement of Senator Symon, that a better course had been suggested, and that he proposed to confer with his colleagues as to taking it. He added that, personally, he was strongly in favour of it.
– What course was that?
– Has the honorable senator forgotten it so soon?
– Yes, absolutely forgotten it. All that Senator Symon said was that Sir George Turner had stated that he thought, he could suggest a course that would give us a better opportunity of dealing with financial matters. That, however, was not in regard to Supply Bills, but in regard to the expenditure for the year. I do not know exactly what Sir George Turner’s idea was, and I venture to say that Senator Symon did not know himself.
– The Minister has shown that he does know what the course proposed was, and if he will refer to Hansard, which I am not at liberty to quote, he will see that he actually promised to inquire further into the matter.
– So I have done, and I find that the thing cannot be done. Until supply has been passed by the other House, it is impossible for the Senate to consider it. It is impossible for the two Houses to consider the Estimates at the same time.
– This shows that the Minister did know what the matter was, though just now he said he did not know !
– I did not know the exact scheme, but I guessed it, and found that it could not be carried out.
– So that we have the spectacle of a Minister inquiring into something, he does not know what, and finding out that what he does not know is not practicable.
– I inquired whether it was practicable to do a certain thing.
– The Minister has inquired into something, and therefore he must have known what it was before he started. He tells us that he has found that it was not practicable.
– I did not know exactly what Senator Symon meant, but I guessed.
– I consider it my duty to protest against a system which becomes more firmly established every time it is attempted. I have no desire to hamper the Government in any way, but when the present procedure is followed, I shall always take the same stand I am in no way making a personal matter of this, and I must explain that it was owing to illhealth that I was unable to attend towards the close of last year. Whenever present, however, I have always protested against the ignoring of the rights of this Chamber in this respect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2, 3, and 4 postponed.
– I see under the head of the High Court two items, viz., salaries, £260, and contingencies, ‘£350. Is this ordinary expenditure for two months?
– This is the ordinary expenditure for two months, and includes travelling expenses, which may, I imagine, be heavier in one month than in another.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - The Minister is again giving us information, which he imagines to be facts. Whyshould the honorable gentleman pretend to answer the questions, if he has not the information? There is aperfect army of officials, who ought to be prepared to give him the facts, and the honorable senator ought to be prepared with them before he asksus to vote money. I am sure there is no honorable senator who will contradict me when I say that this Chamber ought not to pass a single item until it is satisfied1 that the expenditure is justified.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The honorable senator knows that it is impossible for a Minister to be able to answer any question on the spur of the moment, in regard to the hundreds of items here. It has never been usual, nor is it likely to be, to have notes prepared against every item, as in the case of ordinary Estimates. This Bill is simply to provide for the ordinary services for two months, and is based on the Estimates of last year, which have already been approved by both Houses of Parliament. Not a penny is provided in. excess of what was previously approved.
– The Minister should not tie himself down to that statement, because I can show items.
– I am speaking only in general terms, and if there are any extra items my attention has not been called to them, as it should have been. The ordinary salaries for two months are considerably in excess of £260, but the explanation is that in the previous Supply Bill, an amount in excess was voted, which has now been carried forward. I am informed that £350 for contingencies is one-sixth of the sum voted on last year’s Estimates.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - The Minister lays down the extraordinary doctrine that Supply Bills, in contradistinction to ordinary Estimates, are to be passed without information. If that be so, why not simply ask for a lump sum? Honorable senators have a right to be informed as to any item in the schedule ; but if the Minister says he cannot carry all the information in his head, 1 am sure the Committee will believe him, and the suggestion is that he ought to have the assistance of his officers. I never knew a Minister under similar circumstances to be without an officer at hand to advise him. If it be implied that the officer cannot supply the information, the Committee will Sympathize with the Minister, but the fact would be a serious reflection on the officers. I cannot be lieve that to be the case, and it only comes to the same point again, that we are asked to vote moneys without knowing what they are for, or, indeed, without that Minister knowing what they are for.
– I do know.
– I asked for information as to contingencies, and I am given a reply as to salaries.
– The contingencies include travelling expenses, telegrams, postages, and so forth, and I think the honorable member is hypercritical.
– What I want to. know is, whether the vote for contingencies is abnormal, or whether it represents onesixth of the year’s expenditure under this heading.?.
– The amount for the year is £2,665, as shown in the Estimates where the details are set forth.
– I should like some information as to the item “Other expenditure, £1,300,” under works and buildings in the Department of Home Affairs,
– Under the same heading, there is an item of £11,030 for works and buildings in the several States, and that certainly cannot represent ordinary contingencies and salaries, or be an amount which was passed last year. I should like some information as to the proposed expenditure. There is no objection to passing a Supply Bill to pay public servants, but there should be no attempt to smuggle in expenditure for public works.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The whole of the details of this proposed expenditure may be found oh the Estimates for the year ending June, 1906, page 28. All the works have been approved by both Houses, and this vote is to enable the works to be carried on.
– If these works have already been provided for, why arewe asked to vote the moneys again?
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - If the Minister will refer to the Bill which we passed here the other day, and which had been passed by the House of Representatives, he will find that it makes provision for the appropriation out of the consolidated revenue fund of the sum of £416,911, and then follows a schedule of the different works to be carried out. So that absolutely the money required for those works has been appropriated, and this cannot by any possibility be a re-appropriation of the same money. This must be a new provision for expenditure.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I was wrong when I said that this vote was for new works. It is for the maintenance’ of works and buildings taken over, but the expenditure provided for in these votes is at the same rate as in previous Estimates. With respect to the question asked about the vote of £1,300, I may say that “other” expenditure is distributed on a per capita basis.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - I should like some information with respect to the. item of £7,000 in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act. Are we to understand that in a normal, year, when no election takes place, it costs £42,000 to administer the Electoral Act? If that is not so, there must be some extraordinary expenditure to be provided for out of this vote, and I should like some information on the subject.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The information is that £3,900 must be spent immediately in the printing of rolls, and £4,000 is the ordinary expenditure of the Department.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2, 3, and 4, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Repre-sentatives, and (on motion by Senator
Playford) read a first, time.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers’. -
Agreement between the Queensland Government and the Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited for the company’s mail-ships to extend their voyages from Sydney tq Brisbane.
Additions to regulations under the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 as to prepaid replies to telegrams within the Commonwealth, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 51 ; and regulation No. 4a as to Value Payable Post, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 52.
Senate adjourned at 11.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 September 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050927_senate_2_27/>.