2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is the Postmaster-General aware that circulars advertising German lotteries are being sent from Germany to England, and posted in England to Australia, as letters at the letter postage of one penny; if so, has. he taken any steps to check this system?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General is aware of the fact, and is taking the necessary action to bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneraloftheUnitedKingdom; it is, however, very doubtful whether the system can be effectively checked.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Has the Government any information as to when the Privy Council is likely to give its decision in the appeal of the Commonwealth Government against the judgment of the New South Wales Supreme Court in the matter of Customs duties on State imports?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Before the appeal to the Privy Council was set down for hearing the High Court of Australia came into existence, and, as the Commonwealth Government took the view that the High Court is the proper tribunal to decide the matter, the appeal to the Privy Council was allowed to lapse. It is open to any of the States to take action to test the matter.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Commonwealth has received any invitation to send . representatives to India in connexion with the visit of the Prince of Wales to that country?
– On behalf of the Minister of Defence I have to answer “ No.”
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If the Government will take the necessary steps for connecting Parliament House with the sewerage during the recess?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The buildings are the property of the State of Victoria. Some correspondence has taken place, but a satisfactory agreement as to the division of the cost of sewering the premises, if the work be undertaken, has not been arrived at. The matter will bc further considered.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers -
Correspondence relating to thesettlement of the Federal Capital Site question.
Ordered to be printed.
Amendment of Public Service regulations 263- 266 and 267A, relating to Boards of Inquiry, and repeal of provisional regulations (Statutory Rules 1905, No. 33), Statutory Rules 1905, No. 64.
Transfers under the Appropriation Act 1904-5, approved by the Governor-General, dated 21st October.
The Clerk laid upon the table
Return to. an order of the Senate of19th October, relating to the Sydney-Vancouver mail service, 1904-5.
Motion (by Senator Higgs) agreed to - That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the most recent treaty of commerce and navigation between Great Britain and Japan.
Relevance of Amendment to Subjectmatter.
Debate resumed from 25th October (vide page 4037), on motion by Senator O’Keefe -
That the ruling pf the President, given on the 25th October, 1905, in reference to the Electoral Bill, be dissented from, on the ground that such a practice as is therein laid down would unduly restrict the powers of the Senate in Committee.
-Before calling upon any honorable senator to speak, I should like to make a few observations concerning the motion as it is in print. I conceive it to be my duty, especially when my ruling is called in question, to see that the proper issue is placed before the Senate. It has been moved that the ruling of the President be dissented from, on the ground that “ such a practice as is therein laid down would unduly restrict the powers of the Senate in Committee.” What practice does the honorable senator refer to?
– The practice which you, sir, have laid down.
– I do not think that the honorable senatorhas put the issue which he wishes to submit. Standing order 194 distinctly lays it down that . no amendment can be moved in Committee on a Bill unless it is -relevant to its subjectmatter. Our practice, ever since the Parliament has existed, has been founded on that rule. What I understand that some honorable senators wish to be decided is whether my ruling correctly interprets that standing order in reference to the particular matter under discussion, not whether the practice as laid down by the standing order-
– Whether you have carried the practice too far.
– It is not the practice which is in dispute, but whether I have given an unduly restricted meaning to the words of the standing order. The practice on which I rely, and on which the Senate must rely, is that which is laid down by the standing order, and which has always been adopted here. I ask honorable senators not to confuse the issue raised in reference to instructions, and the issue now raised. Concerning instructions, we have no standing order in reference to their scope or limit, and we had no practice. I suggested to the Senate a certain theory which should be adopted, and a certain practice which should be followed, and it concurred. But in this matter we have a standing order and a practice, and therefore the two matters are fundamentally different. I ‘Conceive it to be my duty to see, as far as I can, that’ the Senate does not get into difficulties by passing a motion which does not raise the real issue. I would suggest to Senator O’ Keefe that he ask leave to amend his motion, by asserting, not that the practice is wrong, but that in this particular instance the application of standing order 194 has been such as to unduly restrict the rights of honorable) senators in Committee. That is what I understand to be the real issue, and I make these observations in order that it may be raised.
– I thank YOU, sir, for calling my attention to the error in “the motion, which necessarily had to be framed in a hurry. I think it would have been better-
-The honorable senator must not make a speech, but ask leave to amend his motion.
– I ask leave to amend my motion, so that it shall read as follows :-
That the ruling of the President given on the 25th October, 1905, in reference to the Electoral Bill be dissented from on the ground that such ruling would unduly restrict the powers of the Senate in Committee.
– The question is that the honorable senator have leave to amend his motion.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Motion amended accordingly..
– Does any honorable senator wish to speak?
– Have I not the right, sir, to state my reasons for dissenting from your ruling?
– According to the standing order 393, an honorable senator who moves a motion cannot speak again except in reply. An honorable senator who seconds a motion without speaking has the right to speak to the question, but the standing order does not provide that the mover of a motion shall have the right to speak three times. Senator O’Keefe is taken to have spoken already. Of course he has the right of reply, but he has no right to speak now.
– I understood, sir, that I was not able to speak last night, but was required to immediately hand in my dissent from your ruling in writing, so that the matter might be considered to-day. Otherwise I should have spoken last night.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– I ask the Senate to dissent from your ruling on the ground that there is a doubt as to whether the proposed amendment comes within the degree of relevancy which is required by standing order 194. Surely in a case of doubt, the Senate ought to allow honorable senators to move to amend a Bill, provided that the liberty is not in a direction which would be injurious. I am sure that no honorable senator can say that the proposal of Senator O’Keefe was of such a drastic character, or possessed such a degree of irrelevancy, as to in any way abuse the power, which the Senate should have of effectively dealing with proposed legislation. The Senate has agreed to the practice which you laid down in a previous ruling ; but as regards the degree of relevancy of an amendment to the subject-matter of a Bill, I think that you have drawn the line altogether too sharply. I ask the Senate to express its dissent from your ruling, not on the general principle, but in regard to the degree of relevancy which you have attached to this particular proposal.
– I do not think ( it would be possible to exaggerate the importance of this question, which, from the aspect of an in- struction, was dealt with! a few days ago, and which, from the aspect of an amendment, is now under consideration. It seems to me, as I said on that occasion, that it is extremely important that we should be very careful not to unduly- restrict our power of dealing with Bills. The amendment now in question is that proposed by Senator O’Keefe, which was debated more or less on the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– I then gave notice that I intended to move the amendment.
– From my point of view that is not so very material ; but notice of the amendment having been given, the matter was then elucidated and formed the subject of argument by Senator O’ Keefe. It was also a matter upon which I made a few remarks at the second-reading stage. So that we were all perfectly well aware that it was intended to submit the amendment, and that it affected the original Act which stands upon the statute-book. In my opinion the Committee is competent to consider or make such an amendment as that moved by Senator O’ Keefe. Otherwise the Committee would be entirely limited to the amendments proposed by the Government in the Electoral Act. It seems to me that there is no middle course. Because the question is - What is the purpose of the Bill? “ Principle” or “ purpose “ is in this connexion an interchangeable term with “ subject-matter.” And whilst I should be extremely sorry to see any attempt made to convert a Bill having one object into a Bill having another object, under cover of amending the existing Act, I nevertheless consider that within those limits our powers should be elastic rather than rigid. I cannot assent, and I think that lit. would be wrong of the Senate to assent, to any view which would have the effect of restricting us in relation to amendments to be made in an Act by means of an amending Bill introduced by the Government to the amendments which they propose. I have very anxiously considered this. matter, but I cannot consent to the view that, having regard to the subjectmatter of this Bill - that is, as interpreted by the word “purpose” or “principle “ - we are confined simply to making the amendments proposed to us by the Government. I consider that the purpose and principle of the Bill now under consideration in Committee is to amend the electoral law. I can conceive of a Bill being introduced for the purpose of repealing a particular section. Upon such a Bill I consider that an amendment to amend the law relating to parliamentary elections generally would be irrelevant. The details of a Bill, by which its purpose is to be worked out, ‘ are the clauses which the Government submit to us. They are the means by which the Government suggest that the electoral law should be amended. But those details, it seems to me, do not. preclude us from making any amendment in the electoral law within the purpose of the Bill. The essence of the question is whether Senator O’Keefe’s amendment is relevant to that purpose - whether it isrelevant to the subject-matter of this Bill. It may not be relevant to the amendments, which the Government have proposed.
– If this Bill becomes an Act, it will be read as one with the principal Act.
– That emphasizes the view that I take, that it is impossible to dissociate this Bill from the electoral law which is to be amended. The Government say that the electoral law requires amendment. A Bill bs brought down for the purpose. When we read the Bill a second time we affirmed the principle that the electoral law required amendment. But we did not affirm that the amendments to be made are to be limited to what the Government proposes. We say, “ We agree that the law requires amendment, and we will agree to some of your amendments, and make modifications in others. But we are going to make some other amendments of our own.”. And- it seems to me that so long as the question is viewed from that stand-point, and our amendments are within that purpose of amending the . electoral law, which is the subject-matter under consideration, they are perfectly relevant. The view which I take is, I think, borne out by two authorities by whom the distinctionis clearly drawn. That is to say, the distinction is clearly drawn between a Bill dealing, perhaps, with an existing law which a House of Parliament may not amend by an amendment that is not relevant to the subjectmatter, and a Bill which a House of Parliament may amend by an amendment which is relevant to the intentions of the Bill. The intention of this Bill is to make certain amendments in the electoral law. That is what it is brought down for.
– That is what it says.
– So it seems to me. I draw a distinction between this amendment and Senator Mulcahy’s, although’ the view which I expressed the other day was arrived at after considerable doubt. I frankly confess that I entertained a doubt as to whether we were quite right on that occasion, but I do not wash to say anything further about it. As to the principle involved, I find that May, on page 458, deals with amendments made in Bills. He says : -
Amendments are out of order that are irrelevant to the Bill ; governed by amendments already negatived ; inconsistent with or contradictory to the Bill as agreed to by the Com.mittee; or that are tendered to the Committee in a spirit of mockery ; and the Chairman would decline to put such questions from the Chair. The Chairman also, regarding an amendment offered to a Bill that was limited in scope to the repeal of a clause in a Statute -
We see the limitation there - a Bill introduced for the purpose simply of repealing a particular section in an Act, and not for a general amendment of the law - ruled that the amendment was out of order, because its object was the continuance and the extension of the clause to be repealed.
Clearly, of course, that could not be done. But May goes on to give another instance somewhat further emphasizing the same point.
The Chairman stated that, though the Committee had full power to amend, even to the extent of nullifying the provisions of a Bill, they could not insert a clause which reversed the principle which the Bill, as read a second time, sought to affirm.
Of course, we cannot do that by ian amendment. All that we have affirmed by reading this Bill a second time is that the electoral law requires amendment, and we have now to determine in what respects it is to be amended. There is even a stronger illustration in May’s next paragraph : -
In like manner, it is not within the scope of a Committee on an expiring laws continuance Bill to amend the provisions of the Acts proposed to be continued.
Of course the difference between a Bill to continue an existing Act and a. BUI such as the one . before the Senate to make amendments in the existing law is obvious. A Bill to continue in existence an Act which would1 otherwise expire assumes that all the provisions of that law remain in full force -
Nor can an amendment be moved whereby an Act still in force would be included among the provisions of a Statute law revision Bill, which dealt solely with statutes no longer in force. It has been held, however -
And this is a strong authority, it seems to me, for the position that honorable senators opposite take up, and1 as to which I feel bound to agree with them -
That a Committee on a Bill to effect the consolidation of the law on the subject to which the Bill relates, may, without an instruction -
That is, it is relevant to the subjectmatter amend the provisions of the statutes which by the Bill are to be consolidated and fused together.
That, it seems to me, is direct authority for such an amendment as that proposed by Senator O’Keefe. In fact, it is, as lawyers say, a fortiori, because there was a Bill not brought down- for the purpose of amending the existing law, but simply for consolidating it; and although the Bill was brought down simply for the purpose of consolidating the law, an amendment on the Taw sought to be consolidated was held to be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. In Canada, the point has been expressly decided - so it seems to me, with great deference to Mr. President’s view - in two instances cited in Bourinot’s Parliamentary Procedure, at page 663 -
In the session of 1S75 the House w,ent into Committee on a Bill “ to amend the general acts respecting railways.”
Just as in the Senate we went into Committee on a Bill to amend the law affecting elections -
And a question arose whether it was competent to add a clause requiring the Government to purchase goods for the use of dominion railways upon public tender, and contract only.
That was a new matter of policy -
And the committee having arisen for the purpose of receiving instructions from the House upon the point at issue, Mr. Speaker Anglin decided that such an amendment would be regular without an instruction.
If that is the case there, it seems to me that it is impossible to differentiate that principle from that which applies to the position that has arisen here.
A similar decision was given in Committee of the whole on a Bill to repeal the Insolvency laws now in force in Canada.
Then the author cites the precedent in May with regard to a continuance bill -
On the other hand, it “has been decided that it is not within the scope of a Committee to which a Continuance Bill has been referred, to amend the provisions of the Acts which it is thereby proposed to continue, or to abridge the duration of the provisions contained in those Acts.
I confess that I opposed a similar amendment to that now sought to be moved by Senator O’Keefe, when we were dealing with the Electoral Act now upon the statutebook. My own1 inclination is not in favour of it, and I would rather not see it brought up for discussion again. But we have a higher duty, than to consider our own personal predilections either for or against a particular amendment. We have to consider the scope of the duties of the Senate. We have to pay deference to Mr. President’s ruling and to the consideration which he has given to the subject; but having viewed the matter all round from its different stand-points, I am unable to see that Senator O’Keefe’s amendment can for one moment be said to be outside the scope of or irrelevant to the Bill introduced and under consideration for the purpose of making amendments in the electoral law. I have great diffidence in dissenting from the view of the President, but, nevertheless, I think that this is an amendment which is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and I also think that it would be greatly restricting the powers of the Senate to hold that we were excluded from considering it.
– Senator Symon has expressed so fully and clearly my views on the subject that, fortunately, it will not be necessary for me to dwell on it at any great length. It is important, as you, sir, seem to consider, that we should now lay down a distinct rule and practice with regard to the procedure in the amendment of Bills. What is the position with regard to the present Bill? The Government have brought down a measure, the title of which is “ an Act to amend ihe law relating to parliamentary elections.” It appears to me that that title embraces the whole law”, and, as Senator Symon very forcibly pointed out, all that we affirmed when we carried the second reading was that we agreed to the amendment of the * law relating to parliamentary elections.” You have raised as an objection to Senator O’Keefe’s amendment’ “the point that the Bill did not contain this principle when it was read a second time. That may be very true ; but in reading the Bill a second time the Senate could not insert the principle, because on the second reading the consideration of details is forbidden. All that we are required to do on the second reading is to agree to the principle of the measure, and the whole issue seems to resolve itself into the question: What is the principle of the Bill we are discussing? The principle, as I have already said, is to amend the “ law relating to parliamentary elections.” The Government, as a matter of fact, laid this Bill on the table, and said : “ Here is the electoral law, and here are certain amendments we desire to make in that law.” Immediately the BiU is laid on the table of the Senate it ceases to be the property of the Government, and becomes the property of the Senate, which can either assent to the principle or refuse assent, and in the latter case, of course, the Bill has to be withdrawn. But if the Senate agrees to the principle - that is, to the amendment of the Act - we may, in my opinion, not only consider the amendments submitted by the Government, but may amend the Bill in any particular we please. To my mind the whole Bill is placed before the Senate for amendment, if the Senate is so minded’. The parallel drawn by you, sir, does not appear to apply in this case. If the title had set forth that the Bill was to amend certain sections, or, say, Part I. of the “ law relating to parliamentary elections,” the argument which you have advanced might have weight. But the title, it appears to me, embraces the whole “law relating to parliamentary elections,” and, if that be so, the, amendment of Sentor O’Keefe undoubtedly comes within the purview of the Committee. Just consider for a moment what would happen if the ruling of the President were upheld. When the Government brought in any Bill for the amendment of a law, not only the Senate, but the Committee, would be strictly limited in its consideration of the Bill to the amendments submitted. It is much better that we should know exactly where we stand than that each individual case should be, so to speak, dealt with on its merits. If it is clearly expressed in the title of the Bill what amendments the Government desire to make, nothing more can be said ; but if the title is, as we have it here, all-embracing, the only conclusion we can come to is that the Senate has power to make any amendment it pleases. If the contrary were the case, we should be strictly limited to the amendments proposed by the Government, and the consequence would be the utmost confusion in legislation. For each amendment, or each series of amendments, an amending Bill would be required, which would mean loading the statute-book with Acts, and causing a great deal of confusion to members of Parliament and the public generally.
– And loading up Hansard.
– That is so. Would it not be much better, when amendments of a particular Act are desired, that all the amendments deemed to be necessary by the Senate should then be embodied in one Bill, instead of being contained in a number of Bills, each dealing with a particular part or section of the original Act? These being my opinions, I regret very much that I shall be compelled to support the motion dissenting from your ruling.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I quite agree with Senator Stewart that it is very desirable to lay down a rule which we shall be able to follow, and not have debates of this character recurring from time to time. I also agree with what Senator Symon has said, as to the great importance of the matter we are now called upon to consider; and when I addressed myself to the question on a previous occasion, I expressed my opinion in much the same way. The question is really not whether we are in favour of the proposed amendment, but one of greater importance, because we are laying down a principle for the guidance of the Senate on future occasions. The other day., when we were considering Senator Mulcahy’s proposed instruction to the Committee, the Senate accepted the ruling of the President without a division ; and, I think, with all due respect to what Senator Symon may say, that if this amendment of Senator O’Keefe is one that can be properly submitted, so was the amendment which Senator Mulcahy desired to propose. Senator Symon has relied’ on what was the practice many years ago. He contends that the title of the Bill gives us the widest possible scope, and that we are not confined to the amendments proposed by the Government. There have been different tests applied in the House of Commons in questions of this character. The first test was contained in the question : Does the matter come within the title of the Bill ? The title of the Bill before us is very wide,_ and if that were the only test, possibly the amendment of Senator O’Keefe could properly be considered. I look “to the House of “Commons, with its centuries of experience behind it, as the guide to us in matters of this kind ; and that legislative chamber has altogether abandoned . the principle to which I have just referred. It was found that that test was not effective, and did not assist Parliament in its work; and there was applied the second test contained in the question : Does the amendment come within the scope of the Bill in a general way ; that is, can it be said to be an amendment of the law which the Bill is designed to amend ? In turn, that test was abandoned, and, finally, the third test was ap plied, as contained in the question : Does the amendment come within the frame-work and scope of the Bill? In other words, in this instance the question is whether the proposals placed before honorable senators in the Bill are to guide them as to the amendments they can make in the principal Act. That, I believe, is the practice of the House of Commons at the present day, and it was clearly laid down by Mr. Speaker Peel a great many years ago. The reason for the practice is found in the Standing Orders, which provide, first of all, that an amendment must be relevant to the subject-matter of a Bill, and, in the next place, that, as soon as the second reading has been carried, the Speaker shall leave the chair, and the House go into Committee without any further motion. It has been; pointed out that if other amendments could be introduced we should be permitted to have another second-reading debate on the particular principle sought to be enunciated or object attempted to be attained. Senator Symon said that Senator O’Keefe, on the second reading, had indicated his intention to move this amendment, and that Senator Symon himself had addressed a few words in opposition to it. But Senator Symon failed to point out the further fact that this amendment was not embodied in the Bill placed before us for our consideration. If Senator Symon’s view be the correct one, honorable senators ‘might feel called upon to vote against the second reading of a Bill, the whole of which they approve, in apprehension of some amendment being subsequently inserted, which they would not have accepted in the first instance. Does it not appear to honorable senators that there is very strong reason for laying down that principle? It is true that Parliament may be restricted to a great extent ; but, after all, liberty consists of essential restrictions on the individual. We alt of us have to observe certain conditions with regard to our neighbours, in order that we ourselves may enjoy liberty - each one has to respect the rights of others. In point of fact, our liberty is preserved by laws which place many restraints upon us, and it is essential, if we are to proceed with business, to have certain restrictions. If, for the sake of argument, this Bill had been introduced simply for the purpose of making one amendment, then, according to the argument of Senator Symon, honorable senators would have been at liberty to deal with the whole of the electoral law in any wa they thought fit. It may be said that the Government, by this means, may be enabled to place undue restrictions on honorable senators, but there can be no restriction other than that imposed by the subjectmatter of the Bill and the Standing Orders. There is a proper way of proceeding; a resolution can always be passed, requesting the Government to introduce a measure containing certain provisions. Senator Symon says that we have affirmed the principle of the Bill that the electoral law shall be amended, but what we have affirmed is only that it shall be amended in certain respects, and my contention is that under the rule as to relevancy we can deal only with matters cognate to the amendments proposed in the Bill. Otherwise we should be entitled to go entirely outside the scope and objects of the Bill in submitting amendments. If we assume, for the sake of argument, that Senator O’Keefe succeeds in embodying his amendment in the Bill, the effect may be to provoke a prolonged debate on the third reading, not because any honorable senator is opposed to the principles of the Bill as introduced by the Government, but because it will have been so drastically altered in Committee that honorable senators who do not approve of the alterations made will not be prepared to support the third reading. Senator Symon quoted the following from May: -
It has been held, however, that the Committee on a Bill to effect the consolidation of the law on a subject to which the Bill relates may, without instruction, amend provisions of the Statutes which by the Bill are to be consolidated and fused together.
But honorable senators must see clearly that In a Bill for the consolidation of the law on any particular subject we have a measure which purports to embrace every single detail connected with the law proposed to be consolidated. Let us take this case: We have the Commonwealth Electoral Act, and assuming that this Bill is passed, a Commonwealth Electoral Act Amendment Act. If the Government should then bring down a measure to consolidate these two Acts, the whole of the matters embraced in both would be before Parliament, and open to consideration. It must, therefore, be evident that the rule quoted by Senator Symon does not assist the contention of those who are opposed to the ruling of the President. The Bill before us is not a Bill for the consolidation of the electoral law, but to submit for our consideration certain portions of the law which, in the opinion of the Government, require amendment. If honorable senators revert from the present position to the position many years ago, when we looked to the title of a Bill to ascertain what amendments might fairly be moved on it, we must also go back to the old practice of having very lengthy titles. I have seen a title which covered a full page of print. That was necessary to set out the objects of the Bill, and to confine debate within those limits. When the standing order was made, requiring every amendment to be relevant to the measure under consideration, with the interpretation that no amendment must go beyond the scope and framework of the Bill, there was noi longer any necessity for those very long titles - which I can assure honorable senators were pitfalls for every one who had to deal with legislation. It was quite sufficient then to submit a brief title which enabled the Bill to be cited very much more readily, and which, at the same time, did not leave the door more widely open for the acceptance of irrelevant amendments than was ever intended bv Parliament. I again refer honorable members to this reference regarding instructions in May -
When a Bill has been read a second time, the House has assented to the principle of a Bill. In the last few years a standing order has been passed, stating that when the House is prepared to go into Committee, the Speaker is to leave the chair without question put ; but there is a reservation made with regard to instructions to the Committee. It would be obvious to the House that if an instruction moved on that occasion were to traverse the principle of the Bill, or go so far outside the limits and scope and framework of the Bill, so as to set up an alternative scheme or a counter proposition to the Bill, that would virtually be a second reading debate over again. It would be an amendment to the principle of the Bill, and would, therefore, reduce to a minimum, and would nullify altogether, the provision which the House has passed in the standing order which states that when the House is prepared to go into Committee, I should leave the chair at once without any question put. There is nothing in the precedents, I believe, which go beyond an instruction of this nature - an instruction to amplify the machinery of the Bill to carry “out the general purpose and scope of the Bill within the general framework and idea of the Bill.
The general idea and framework of this Bill are before us, and they involve only partial amendments of the principal Act, which are set out in the Bill itself. If a different rule to that to which I have referred is followed the Senate will be landed in such a position that it will be impossible for us to get through the work which we ought to do. If this had been a Bill to amend the principal Act in only one particular, would it not have been monstrous for honorable senators to contend that because its title was “ a Bill to amend the law relating to parliamentary elections,” it would be competent for honorable senators to roam all over the principal Act to suggest amendments?
– The proper procedure would have been for the Government to set out the particulars in which it was intended to amend the principal Act.
.- I have already pointed out that that was the former practice, which was abandoned, as the result of an alteration in the Standing Orders, and the interpretation given as to the relevancy of amendments to the measure under consideration.
– Is there anything in this Bill dealing with the method of voting ?
– There are clauses in the Bill which deal with voting by post, but they are purely machinery clauses.
– To carry out the principle.
.- That is so.
– It is a matter of opinion whether my amendment would1 hot be a machinery provision.
.- It could not be a machinery provision, because it would alter the principle embodied in the main Act, with respect to the number of candidates for whom electors must vote. Senator Pearce drew special attention to clause 51 of the Bill, which provides that -
After section 198 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted.
Section 198 of the principal Act provides that-
The Court shall inquire whether or not the petition is duly signed, and so far as rolls and voting are concerned, may inquire into the identity of persons, and whether their votes were improperly admitted or rejected, assuming the roll to be correct, but the Court shall not inquire into the correctness of any roll.
To that section it is proposed in clause 51 that we should add the following: - 198a.(1)IfthecourtofDisputedReturnsfinds thatacandidate has committed or has attempted to commit bribery or undue influence, his election, if he is a successful candidate, shall be declared void. . . .
Senator Pearce contends that, as there was no power in the Court under section 198 of the principal Act, to declare the election void, this clause introduces a new principle. But does not this clause merely supply a manifest omission in the principal Act? This provision is not in derogation of anything contained in section 198 of the principal Act, but is simply an amplification of it, without laying down any- new principle. Then the honorable senator said, with regard to voting by post, that this Bill might make an alteration in the number of votes that would be recorded. That does not in any way affect the principle. We have adult suffrage, and these provisions for voting by post are only machinery to provide the electors with a means of recording their votes. The principal Act “provides that if an elector be five miles away from his polling place on the day of an election, he may obtain permission to vote by post. The alteration of the law proposed by this Bill is that he shall obtain that permission only if he is ten miles away from the polling place on the day of election. That does not introduce any new principle.
– A further principle which we adopted in the original Act is that every man must vote for the total number of members required to be elected.
.- That is so, and that is distinctly a matter of principle. Senator O’Keefe’s amendment would reduce the number of candidates for whom an elector must vote, and it is clear that there is a distinct difference between plumping ant? voting for the full number of members required to be elected. To permit plumping is to affirm the principle of minority representation, whereas the principle affirmed by the main Act is the principle of majority representation.
– I do not think that the honorable and learned senator will be in order in discussing the merits of the amendment.
– I have no desire to do so, but I say that we have affirmed the principle of majority representation by requiring every elector to vote for the full number of members required to be elected, and we are being asked to affirm the principle of minority representation when we are asked to permit plumping.
– My amendment does not necessarily involve plumping.
– It might or might not; that is left to the judgment of the elector. I submit that on the whole this ruling clearly recognises the right of the Committee, that any restriction which it may impose will be in accordance with parliamentary practice i’n the old country, and1 that it will conserve to a much greater degree the possibility of legislating and the liberty of honorable senators in dealing with questions from time to time.
– I hope that the Senate will not pass this motion.
– The honorable and learned senator may not always be in the Government.
– I am trying to view* this question as calmly as possible. I agree with Senator Symon and others that it is very important indeed that the vote shall be determined only by considerations of a principle which may apply, not only to this case, but to all cases of a similar character. I have considered the ruling of the Chairman, and also the ruling of the President, and paid some regard to the authorities which may be quoted from one point of view or the other. It is somewhat singular that, although we have direct authorities with regard to two classes of Bills, I can find no distinct authority in any book with regard to an amending Bill. Senator Symon brought forward two authorities as to the power of a Committee to amend a continuing Bill, and a consolidating Bill. But not one instance appears to be reported by the text -book writers as to the exact extent of the power of a Committee to amend an amending Bill. The two cases which were quoted by Senator Symon will bear repetition. At page 458 May says -
In like manner, it is not within the scope of a Committee on an expiring laws continuance Bill to amend the provisions of the Acts proposed to be continued, or to abridge the duration of such provisions.
I think that that authority could be applied with equal force in support of the contention that the Committee on the Electoral Bill has not the power to make the amendment indicated by Senator O’Keefe. The arguments which have been adduced in support of that proposal have all been opposed to the principle laid down in May in regard to continuing Bills, because it is urged that inasmuch as the object and scope of the Electoral Bill is to amend the Electoral Act, therefore the whole of that Aqt is before us. On two or three occasions Senator O’Keefe has asked by interjection, “ why did not the Government indicate the particulars in which the Act was to be amended by the Bill,” and urged that their failure to do so has put before the Committee the whole of the Act, and therefore it can consider an amendment to any part of that Act. Here ils a case in May where undoubtedly if that argument could be applied, it would apply with greater force. A number of Statutes are about to expire bv effluxion of time, and a Bill is brought in to continue them in operation. Could it not be contended with equal, if not greater, force, that the Committee on the Bill had under review hot merely the Bill but the Statutes which it sought to continue in force?
– Certainly not.
– I shall point out before I have finished that there is every justification for the argument I am putting forward. A continuing Bill is a small measure prescribing that, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in a certain Statute, that Statute shall remain in force until a certain date, or indefinitely. If it can ‘be argued here that, because we have before us a Bill which has for its object the amendment of the Electoral Act in specific particulars therein referred to. therefore we have before us the* Electoral Act in its entirety, it can with equal, if not greater, force be urged that the Committee on a continuing Bill has also before it the expiring Acts to which it relates. On the other hand, May says, at page 459-
It has been held that a Committee on a Bill to effect the consolidation of the law on the subject to which the Bill relates, may, without an instruction, amend the provisions of the statutes which by the Bill are to be consolidated and fused together.
I can see why there is every justification for the Committee on a consolidating Bill having such power. Consolidation takes place when there are a number of Statutes, passed at different times, dealing with the same subject-matter. In these circumstances, as honorable senators must know from experience and observation, there is a good deal of overlapping, confusion, and, in many instances, obscurity and doubt. One of the main objects of consolidation is to get into one comprehensive Statute a clear expression of the law. It would be obviously one of the advantages and incidents of the consolidation that amendments should be allowed. According to the authorities, the Committee on a continuing Bill has no power to amend the expiring law ; but in the case of consolidating Bills the contrary doctrine has been held. So. far as I can ascertain), from a perusal of the authorities, there is no express mention of the powers of a Committee over an amending Bill. It therefore devolves upon the Senate to a large extent to be guided by the peculiar considerations concerning the concrete instance now under review. Our standing order 194 provides -
Any amendment may be made to any part of the Bill, provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and be otherwise in conformity with the rules and orders of the Senate.
The keynote of the competency of a Committee to entertain an amendment is its relevancy to the subject-matter of the Bill. What is the subject-matter of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill? I am inclined to think that Senator Symon and Senator Stewart are confusing the subject-matter of the Bill with its title. We have before us -
A Bill for an Act to amend the law relating to parliamentary elections.
– Surely the title of a Bill should be consistent with its subjectmatter.
– There is a broad distinction! between the title of a Bill and its subject-matter. The history of parliamentary procedure shows that there has been a gradual development in connexion with the relevancy of amendments to the title of a Bill and its subject-matter. Senator Gould has pointed out that of recent years the titles of Bills have been mate rially shortened, because they are not considered to be of such importance as they previously were. Frequently the title of a Bill is very short, as it invariably is in the case of Commonwealth Bills. The principle I contend for is that the subjectmatter of a Bill is to Le determined by a reference to its contents, and not to its title. The subject-matter of this Electoral Bill is the amendments of the Electoral Act which are contained therein.
We have to consider this Electoral Bill, and not the Electoral Act, which is intended to be amended, in determining what is the subjectmatter of the Bill. The nature, scope, and tendency of the amendments are ascertainable by reference to the contents of the Bill. That is the subject-matter. The title does not necessarily bring within the subjectmatter of the Bill the whole of the Electoral Acf, portions of which it is the purpose of the Bill to amend. There are before the Senate other Bills. If, in connexion with some of them we were to say that by reference to the titles of those Bills, and not to their subject-matter, the relevancy of amendments was to be determined, we might have amendments engaging our attention for a couple of years. The second reading of “A Bill for an Act relating to commerce with other countries “ has been moved. The contention in regard to the Electoral Bill would lead to this position - that it would be perfectly relevant to the purpose, scope, and subject-matter of the Commerce Bill if an- honorable senator were to move as an amendment that the Commonwealth should own the steam-ships for carrying on our commerce with other countries. If honorable senators will refer to standing order 194, they will find that they are restricted to the moving of amendments which are relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill. On careful consideration, they will see that the subjectmatter is to be determined not by a literal reading of the title of a Bill, but by an exact examination of its contents. You yourself, sir, have quoted cases where extensive amendments to existing Acts might be introduced into an amending Bill designed to effect some small purpose if the contention of honorable senators were upheld. I think that, in all the circumstances, the Senate should respect your ruling, and keep itself to some extent in consistency with the position it has taken up in connexion with your ruling regarding the relevancy of instructions to Committees. Although I do not say that in that case the circumstances were precisely similar to those which are now under review, still, in the consideration of the point of order, the question of relevancy occupied a considerable amount of attention, and greatly influenced the attitude of honorable senators. Here the question of relevancy is the only matter that is to be regarded; and it is relevancy not to the Act which we are amending, but to the Bill that is before us. The object of that Bill is to be determined from an examination of its provisions, and not from a mere reference to the title, which is indeed a reference to the principal Act.
– Honorable senators naturally feel some little embarrassment in differing from the ruling which you, sir, have laid down. But I should say that your anxiety is to learn from the Senate what is its interpretation of one of the most important of its Standing Orders. I ‘am sure that you will regard any opinion which we may express as being an endeavour to assist the Senate and to assist yourself in ^arriving at a consistent practice in regard to this all-important matter. Personally, it is with the utmost diffidence and the greatest respect that I differ from your view. So far as Senator O’Keefe’s amendment is concerned, were we permitted to debate it at this stage - as we are not - I should open by saying that I am totally opposed to its .principle.
– The honorable and learned senator told me so yesterday.
– I did ; but that is quite beside the question now before us. The sole question that we have to determine is how, as a matter of practice, the Senate is going to’ determine what is the true interpretation of its own Standing Orders. We have heard some very excellent speeches both in favour of and against your ruling, but I do not know that we are very much further forward, because it is completely a matter of opinion on the part of individual senators as to which is the true interpretation. The question is - What is the subject-matter of the Bill? My honorable and learned friend who has just-, resumed his seat practically asks us to ignore the title of the Bill. I am desirous of reading the title, in conjunction with the other portions of the Bill, in order to ascertain what the subject-matter is.
– None of the authorities do that, I think.
– There is no authority who says that an amendment should not be made upon an original Act, when the measure under consideration is one for its amendment. There is no authority who goes to that length. The title of the Bill is -
A Bill to amend the law relating to parliamentary elections.
I ask honorable senators to follow that closely. If we fake those words by them selves, if is absolutely clear that the whole matter of parliamentary elections is open to consideration by the Committee. Then we look further into the Bill to ascertain exactly what is intended -
This Act may be cited as the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1905, and this Act and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902 (in this Act referred to as the principal Act), shall be read together, and may” together be cited as the Commonwealth Electoral Acts 1902-1905.
Honorable senators will see, therefore, that we have to read the two measures together in dealing with this matter.
– No; it is when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament that the two will be read together. But they are not to be read together now.
– My contention is that we have to read together the principal Act and the amending Bill. The amending Bill which we have before us specifically states that its object is to amend the principal Act. One of its terms is that the principal Act and the amending Act shall be read together.
– The language used is, “ This Act.” This is not an Act. This is a Bill at present. It is only when it becomes an Act that this measure and the principal Act are to be read together.
– That is mere sophistry.
– My honorable friend is imposing a limitation which, in my opinion, is totally unjustified by the terms of the Bill. One term’ of the Bill is that when it is passed it shall be read together with the principal Act, and the provision which I have read will be a provision of the Act just in the same way as every other provision in it. Several instances have been quoted, but what I strongly urge on the attention of the Senate is that in no instance do we find that an amendment to a Bill of this description has been rejected where it had for its object the ‘amendment of the principal Act. This Bill is one which proposes to amend the principal Act.
– Iri certain particulars.
– No, it does not say that at all. It is when we come to deal with individual provisions that Ave find in what respects it proposes to amend the principal Act. The title tells us that it is a Bill to’ amend the law relating to parliamentary elections. This is the first time within the whole of my’ seventeen years’ parliamentary experience that it has ever been doubted that a principal Act can be further amended in a measure such as this, which proposes to amend certain provisions in the principal Act. It is competent, in my opinion, for the Senate to deal with every other provision in the Act by means of amendments in the Bill before us ; and that proposition., within my experience, has never been doubted in any shape or form. Of course, it is quite competent for a Bill to be so termed as regards its title as expressly to exclude such a contention as that which I am now making. But such is not the present case. The title of this Bill throws the whole subject open. My honorable friend Senator Keating and others have cited certain precedents. Senator Keating cited an Acts Continuance Bill, in which case it was held that it was not competent in Committee to make an amendment in the principal Act. That is obviously so. The position of affairs there is that you have certain Acts of Parliament in force. Those Acts of Parliament expire on a particular date. In such a case, a Bill to continue is not an amending Bill at all. Of course, the subject-matter of Acts of Parliament cannot possibly be open in such cases, because the subject-matter of such Bills as expressed by their title is to continue in existence the Acts of Parliament to which they, relate. They are not amending Bills, but Bills to’ continue Acts in operation for a longer time. It is obvious, to my mind, that in such a case an amendment upon- the principal Act could not be made. Another case cited was that of a Bill affecting the salary of an AuditorGeneral. It has been said that it would be competent, according to the ruling of our Chairman of Committees, if a Bill were ‘brought before the Legislature to alter the salary of the Auditor-General, to amend the law relating to auditing. It must be obvious that that view is erroneous, because a Bill dealing with the salar)- of the Auditor-General would, on the face of it, show that its object was simply that. Its subject-matter would not be to alter the audit law. The salary of the Auditor-General has nothing whatever to do with the audit law. As regards consolidation Bills, it fs obvious that in such a .case there is the utmost freedom. Such consolidation Bills in themselves necessarily entail amendments of the law, and it is because a consolidation Bill involves an amendment of the law - cutting out portions of one Act of Parliament and substituting other provisions - that un doubtedly amendments of the law could be made. But my honorable and learned friend Senator Keating introduces a further suggestion. He says that, in connexion with the Commerce Bill that is now before the Senate, it would, if the ruling of the Chairman of Committees were upheld’, be competent to introduce provisions relating to the buying of steam-ships and other matters of that description. That is not relevant to the question under discussion at all.
– It is relevant to the title of the Bill.
– I think not. The question under discussion is this : whether in a Bill relating to parliamentary elections it is possible for the Committee of the Senate to amend a portion of the principal Act, when the Bill itself proposes to amend other portions. In my judgment, the Senate would seriously curtail its own rights to an extent that is outside all my experience - which, of course, is not equal to that of yours, Mr. President - and would seriously curtail the liberties of honorable senators if it permitted the suggestion to be upheld that in discussing an amending’ measure we are bound down within the four corners of the Bill before us, and have no right to make other amendments in the principal Act. In my judgment, whenever an amending Bill, the title of which indicates that it has the wide scope of this Bill, is before the Senate, and there are no express limitations in the title, it is competent for the Senate generally to revert to the principal Act for the purpose of making such amendments as may seem proper. While I cannot see my way to support the proposal brought before the Chamber by Senator O’Keefe, yet, in an important matter of principle, the Senate would, I think, be wise in giving the widest interpretation to the Standing Orders, with a view of safeguarding its own procedure.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat said that we should be unduly restricting the powers of Parliament if we adopted the ruling which you, sir, have given. I take the opportunity to point out that one of the most sacred duties of Parliament is to see that all legislation that finds its way on to the statute-book has had the fullest and most complete exercise of the mind of Parliament. To permit the bringing in of altogether new principles by amendments of a Bill in
Committee would deprive Parliament of one of its strongest safeguards. That is one point I strongly urge. The various checks and safeguards set around our method of procedure have been the growth of centuries, and the basic principle underlying them all is that the people shall have the fullest assurance that Parliament has had every opportunity of knowing what was being done. Thus we have first, second, and third readings, with proceedings in Committee, so that, stage after stage, the fullest information as to what is being done shall be possessed by Parliament.
– The same argument would apply to every amendment proposed.
– No. What we are anxious to secure, and what the Standing Orders are meant to secure, is that principles shall have the fullest consent of Parliament. We then go into Committee, not to discuss principles - although I regret to say that is frequently done - but to provide machinery to give effect to the principles we have distinctly and definitely adopted on the second reading. Senator Best urges that the title is the guide to us in dealing with the Bill ; but I submit that all recent parliamentary practice is against that theory. There was a time when the greatest possible care was given to preparing the title of a Bill, so that it was almost a Bill in itself. But, for the sake of convenience - and every one will admit the convenience - it is now held sufficient to have the title comprehensive enough to express all that is in the Bill, and there is not the slightest objection if it expresses a great deal more. All recent rulings lay it down that we should, be guided as to the scope of a Bill by what is contained in the body of the Bill.
– We have to be guided by both.
– As a matter of fact, if it be found, as sometimes is the case, that a Bill, after it has gone through Parliament, is not quite consistent with the title, the latter is considered so unimportant that it may be amended then, or at any time. All the title does is to give a general idea of the nature of the Bill to be dealt with.
– That shows the further liberty of the Committee.
– There is in Victoria a Local Government Act of an extremely comprehensive character, involving many principles. If it were proposed to amend that law with regard to, say, ‘the powers to construct tramways, the title of the amending Bill would be simply “A Bill to amend the Local Government Act.” That is all that would be considered necessary in the title, and, guided by the body of the Bill, we should be distinctly confined to the question of tramways.
– The honorable senator is quite incorrect. In Victoria a Bill was introduced to amend the Local Government Act, so as to indemnify councillors for overdrafts of 30th September, and there was inserted in it an entirely foreign, provision, indemnifying councils in regard to certain acts of negligence.
– My contention is that we are bound by the substance of a Bill - that the title only requires to be sufficiently comprehensive to express all that is in the Bill, and that it is not objectionable if it be comprehensive enough to ex.press more. The Bill itself is the guide, and it is the Bill, and not the title, that we deal with on the second reading. As to the particular measure under discussion, will any one argue that the principle discussed on the second reading was whether or not it was desirable -to amend the Elec:toral Act? The principle discussed was whether it was desirable to amend the Electoral Act in the direction indicated in the Bill.
– Does the honorable senator say that we did not discuss parliamentary elections machinery generally?
– Decidedly we did; but the question I ask is whether the principle discussed on the second reading was the desirableness of (amending^ the Electoral Act. The principle submitted and discussed was whether it was desirable to amend the principal Act in the direction indicated in the Bill. In Committee we do not discuss principles, but provide machinery to give effect to the principles adopted on the second reading. What principle in the present Bill does Senator O’Keefe seek to amend? It is not pretended that his proposal is an amendment of any provision in the Bill. It is distinctly a new clause. No doubt new clauses are admissible, and often necessary, in order to make more complete the machinery for giving effect to the principle previously adopted on the second reading. But this is a proposal to initiate an entirely new electoral principle, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. I do not pretend to say whether that principle be good or bad, but I contend that our liberty is not in the slightest degree restricted if we are prevented from discussing or adopting it as an amendment in the Bill. If we believe in the principle, it is competent for any one to introduce a Bill giving effect to it.
– I can give reasons why I did not introduce a Bill.
– The honorable senator may have perfectly good reasons, but he is in no way prevented from introducing a Bill. Our liberty might be very materially restricted if such a proposal could be made as an amendment in this Bill. Many honorable senators reside at a great distance from ihe Seat of Government, and have their own private affairs to attend to, and, having voted for the second reading of a Bill containing only principles which meet with their approval, they might absent themselves, confident that all that remained to be done was to furnish machinery to carry into effect those principles. If those who disagree with the President’s ruling are correct, those honorable senators might find subsequently that some other and entirely different principle had been embodied in the Bill by way of amendment.
– It would be honorable senators’ own fault for not being present.
– The honorable senator is not quite correct’ in that view. If it be declared a fault to be absent from the Senate, we shall ‘require some further standing order. Under existing conditions a new principle cannot be introduced into a Bill in Committee, but all amendments must be relevant to the subjectmatter, not of the Act we are amending, but of the Bill before Parliament. Senator Best fell into an error when he read from a Bill and, construing it as if it were an Act of Parliament, argued on that basis. The honorable and learned senator was reading a Bill which, if carried in its piesent form, provides that when it becomes an Act it shall be read in conjunction with the original Act; but it does not follow that the Bill must be read now in conjunction with the original Act.
– I say that we have both under discussion at the present time.
– Decidedly we have the original Act under discussion, in so far as the clauses of the Bill refer to it; but the other portions of the original Act are not now before us. That is the conclusion to which my reading and knowledge of parliamentary usage leads me, in view of all recent parliamentary practice. What decides the question of relevancy. is not the title, but the subject-matter of the Bill. If that were not sp, it would be worth while establishing a precedent to resist in Committee the introduction of so striking an innovation as the proposed amendment, containing, as that amendment does, a principle about which there is the strongest possible difference of opinion. Of course, we cannot express an opinion now as to the merits of the amendment, but it is of great importance, because it may mean a very much more equitable representation, or, on the other hand, a complete subversion of the principle of representation. To introduce a provision of that ‘character, and call it an amendment in the Bill, without showing any point in which it ils relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, would, so far from extending the liberty and the privileges of Parliament, very materially restrict the freedom of Parliament to act with due deliberation and perfect consideration at all times, and would be an immense danger to the people whom we represent. I shallcertainly vote to uphold the ruling of the President.
– I should probably agree with your ruling, sir, as being in accordance with ancient precedent, if I thought that ancient precedent were a proper guide for this Senate.
– It is in accord with modern precedent.
– If some honorable senators had their way> we should always act on ancient precedent. They take the view that because people in bygone ages, or, it may be, in recent times, have laid down a certain rule, we should slavishly follow that rule, whether it be right or wrong. I do not hold with that doctrine. 1 agree with you, sir, when you say that we are laying down a practice for ourselves; and it is for that reason that I am exceedingly anxious, in framing precedents for the future guidance of Parliament - though I hope no future Parliament will slavishly follow our precedents - to be careful that our mode of procedure is in a right direction. For that reason, I take the liberty, with all due respect, to differ from your ruling. I’ hold the idea very strongly that we should have the power to amend in the fullest possible degree every Bill brought before us. Undoubtedly, in theory, we have that power, and I believe that in practice also we have it, provided the amendments are relevant to the Bill.
– That is the whole question.
– The whole matter in dispute now is whether the amendment proposed by Senator O’Keefe is relevant to the Bill before us. Without labouring the details, an examination of the Bill from the title onwards goes to show that it is a Bill to amend the existing Electoral Act. It proposes the amendment of that Act in many and various ways. To my mind, the amendment proposed by Senator O’Keefe - the merits of which I do not propose to discuss at this stage - is merely a minor amendment, which does not deal with any important matter of principle, as some honorable senators would have us believe. It deals with the question as to how the elector, on whom we have conferred the franchise, shall exercise his vote - the limits within which he shall exercise it.
– Is not that a very important matter of principle?
– It is not. The conferring of the vote is an important- matter of principle. We deal with an important principle when we say who shall, and who shall not, have the right to a vote. We dealt with an exceedingly important principle when we conferred1 the franchise on the female portion of the population. That was an entirely novel principle, in connexion with which it might well have been appropriate to go through all the circumlocution desired by Senator Trenwith’.
– It was no newer than is this. There are more places in which female franchise exists than there are places where the Hare-Spence system is in vogue, or where plumping is permitted.
– What is the real cause of the trouble in this instance? It is that we are asked, in an amending Bill, to amend the electoral law so extensively as practically to repeal one-half of it, and the proposal is submitted to us in a piece-meal fashion. This amending Bill should have been brought down in such a form that its first clause would have proposed the repeal of the principal Act, and then the new electoral law should have been set out in full.
– And that has not been done.
– It has not been done, and that is the cause of the trouble. If that course had been adopted we should have had the whole subject under full review, and we should have been enabled to pass an electoral law in accordance with the desire of Parliament.
– And now we have not that opportunity.
– I submit that we have. I say that if the practice of introducing in this fashion amending Bills of so far-reaching a character is to prevail, and we are to be prohibited from proposing important amendments, because no reference is made to the subject with which they deal in the amending Bill submitted for our consideration, the power of Parliament disappears immediately. It becomes a mere myth, and Ministers are the bosses of the situation. What should be the position occupied by Ministers in respect to Parliament? Unfortunately, it is not what it should be. The position which they should occupy is that of a mere committee of Parliament holding certain positions in order to carry out the wishes and desires of Parliament. Instead of occupying that position they have unsurped almost the sole power in the past, and unless we take a strong stand they will continue to usurp power in the future. They come down with an amending Bill, and say, “We desire to amend .the existing ,law in this fashion, and in no other.” I say that when a Ministry adopts that tone to their masters - to the country, and members representing the people - the shorter shrift a Government of that kind gets the better for the country and Parliament also.
– Does the honorable senator think that he is discussing the question ?
– I am, because I am dealing with the cause of the trouble in which we find ourselves at present, and I am trying to find a way out of the difficulty. Ministers come down here and say, in the most arrogant fashion, “You must amend the Set in this particular direction, and in no other.” So we have Senator Keating practically telling us that it is entirely outside our province to do anything whatever with the principal Act unless we do it at the express wish and invitation, of. the Government, as if the members of the present Ministry were bosses of the whole situation, and could dictate to a free Parliament and a free people. I entirely repudiate their right to assume any such position. It will be a bad day for Parliament and for the country when any such attitude on the part of the Government will be tolerated. It is exceedingly important that the rights of the Committee of the Senate to deal with a Bill of this nature should not be too much restricted. I agree with the ruling laid down by the President that no entirely new and foreign principle can be introduced by way of amendment into a Bill in Committee. But I point out that we are not by the amendment proposed by Senator O’Keefe seeking to introduce an alteration ‘pf the law, involving a new departure, as, for instance, the proposal to adopt the Hare-Spence system of voting would have done. I think the President very properly ruled that proposal out of order. By Senator O’Keefe’s amendment we merely propose to discuss whether it is better that we should adopt the method of voting in force at the first Commonwealth election or that adopted for the second election. Apart altogether from the merits of the two methods of voting, which I do not propose to discuss, I ask honorable senators whether there is any great departure in principle involved in an amendment of this kind. Is it not a fact that the method of voting, adopted without too much consideration in the principal Act, was adopted more by way of experiment than anything else? The proposal to adopt that method was a distinct departure from the old method of voting, which gave an elector the right to vote as he pleased ; but the new method having been adopted in the principal Act, Senator O’Keefe desires that the matter shall be reopened in the consideration of this amending Bill, which proposes to amend the principal Act in a very far-reaching manner. I respectfully submit that the amendment should not have been ruled out of order, and that if the ruling is to stand it will undoubtedly restrict the right of the Committee to amend a Bill in what might be considered a desirable direction. For these reasons I am reluctantly compelled to vote against the ruling gwen by the President.
– Two errors have crept into the speeches delivered by honorable senators during this debate. We have been constantly referred to the title of the Bill. I thought that the first ruling given by the President in connexion with this Bill would have convinced honorable senators that there is nothing in the contention with respect to the title of the Bill. It is, of course, very often an important factor, because it is necessary that the various clauses of a Bill shall come within the scope of the title. But we have nothing to do with that now. The purport of the Bill, is evident from what is disclosed on the face of the Bill itself. On the face of this Bill I see nothing whatever but a number of clauses proposing alterations of the machinery of the principal Act. We are now being asked to accept as a relevant amendment a proposal which” deals with an important and vital principle of our electoral law. The other error to .which I refer is that into which Senator Best has fallen. The honorable and learned senator seems to think thai, because this Bill, when it becomes an Act, is to be read together with the principal Act, the whole of the clauses, sections, and all the vital principles, of that Act are before us. Senator. Best could not possibly have considered what that argument would lead to. I have before me a copy of the Senate Elections Act 1903, in which there is a provision that-
This Act shall be incorporated and read as one with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902.
To be logical, Senator Best would be bound to contend that, if we had before us a Bill to amend the Senate Elections Act of 1903, we could amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act in all its provisions, simply because the Bill to amend the Senate Elections Act would, when it became an Act, be incorporated and read as one with the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The arguments used by Senator Pearce were put very ably indeed. The honorable senator and the Chairman of Committees gave us a kind of analysis’ of the Bill, but I defy any honorable senator to refer to one clause in this Bill which proposes a departure from a vital principle of the original Act. The President’s ruling on the motion moved by Senator Mulcahy that the Committee should be instructed to consider the HareSpence system of voting, was to the effect that such an instruction could not be given. Senator O’Keefe has not adopted that procedure, but has simply endeavoured to move that the plumping system shall be introduced, thereby altering a vital principle of the original Act. If that can be done at all - and I am inclined to think it’ cannot - surely it cannot be done without an instruction from the Senate to the Committee. When we -debate the motion for the second reading of a Bill, we are always told that we should deal only with its principles. We did so in this case, and it seems idle for Senator Pearce to contend that, because his proposal was mentioned in the debate on the second reading, Tt was therefore discussed at that stage.
– What would the honorable senator call discussion? In what other way could a proposal be discussed?
– We were not called upon to discuss it, and, according to the ruling given, we could not discuss it. I contend that for all practical purposes we did not discuss it.
– The President did not seek to prevent the discussions of it.
– When we read this Bill a second time, we were prepared to agree to the consideration- of certain alterations of the machinery clauses of the principal Act, with such amendments as might be relevant thereto. We did not affirm that we were prepared to consider amendments involving an alteration of vital principles of the Act which were never mentioned in the Bill. I understand that that is what we cannot do. It is time we considered what really is the meaning of the Senate giving a Committee instructions upon a Bill. If there is any force in such a provision, I think that, if ever there was an occasion on which it should have been brought into operation, it was in connexion with the amendment sought to be moved by Senator O’Keefe. The President having ruled out of order the motion moved by Senator Mulcahy, for leave to give the Committee an instruction to consider an alteration in the method of voting, and the Senate having agreed to that ruling, as a matter of fairness it is hardly right that the Senate should now give leave to Senator O’Keefe to submit an amendment proposing quite as radical an alteration of a vital principle of the original Act as the introduction of the HareSpence system would have done?
– There is a big difference between the two proposals
– So there is; but both proposals contain a vital alteration of principle. Does the honorable senator mean to contend that if an elector be allowed to plump for one candidate at the next election, instead, of. voting for. three candidates, that would not be a vital alteration? If that alteration were made in the law it might affect the election of one senator in each State. In my speech on the second, reading of the Bill. I did not discuss this matter, because it was not present to my mind. I examined the Bill in conjunction with the Act, and marked the various alterations in the law which it proposed to make, but. I did not bother my head about other matters. I contend that, having affirmed that the machinery part of the Electoral Act should be amended in certain particulars, we have no right to deal with a vital principle. I think, sir, that the Senate should uphold your ruling, first, because it is right, and, secondly, because one amendment has already been shut out. If the ruling is not upheld we shall have one rule one week and another -rule next week.
– I do not see the slightest resemblance between the amendment which Senator O’Keefe has proposed and the amendment which Senator Mulcahy desired to submit. If the former were carried, the repeal of half -a - dozen words in section 144 of the Electoral Act would effect no alteration in the machinery for carrying out parliamentary elections. It does not deal with a principle of the Act, but merely enables an elector to exercise his franchise in his own way. The’ Government think it is necessary to amend sections 143 and 145 of the Act, but, according to this ruling, it is not competent for the Senate to amend section 144.
– It is in the province of the Senate to do anything in a proper way.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that new clauses have already been inserted. When the Bill was brought in, there was no idea in the mind of the Government that such provisions as have been inserted at the instance of Senator Millen would be proposed. They submitted certain alterations of the law, which, in their opinion, were required, but after the Bill was brought in,. Senator Millen gave notice of some amendments which altered the intentions of the Government, and which were accepted by the Committee without any demur. There was no idea in the minds of honorable senators that they were doing any wrong when they agreed to his proposals.
– They were simply perfecting the machinery to carry out principles which had been adopted.
– No. In their Bill, the Government proposed to give so much power to a person, whom they were to appoint, in connexion with electoral matters, and to insure that his work should be supervised by each House of the Parliament. But Senator Millen’s amendment toot away that power from each House of the Parliament and vested it in a body free from parliamentary influence. Had the amendment of Senator Mulcahy been proposed and carried, the machinery of the Electoral Act would have had to be altered from one end to the other. In this case, however, the Senate is not asked to alter the Act in any respect except to provide that an elector shall have the right to exercise his franchise as he thinks best. It would necessitate no alteration of the Act in regard to the polling booths, or the instructions to officers or the method of voting. Let us consider the state of confusion which must inevitably arise if this ruling be upheld. Senator Trenwith says that if the Government come down with’ a Bill to amend the Electoral Act, and an honorable senator thinks that it does not deal with one question which, in his opinion, ought to be dealt with, he must not seek to amend that Bill, but must introduce a Bill for the further amendment of the Electoral Act. Suppose that half-a-dozen senators thought that the Electoral Act should be amended in six other directions, then, according to Senator Trenwith, it would be necessary for six Electoral Bills to be introduced. Again, suppose that the Government deemed it necessary to amend the duty on a particular item, under the head of woollen goods, then, according to the honorable senator, the Senate would have no power to deal with other items under that head, unless special Bills were brought in. Suppose, for instance, that the Government in their Bill proposed to deal with all woollens, would not Senator Pulsford hold that the Senate was entitled to deal with any material which contained half wool and half cotton? What would he, or some other honorable senators, say, if he were required to bring in a special Bill to deal with articles composed of half wool and half cotton ?
– There is not the remotest likeness between the two cases.
– There is; because the object of Senator O’Keefe is to repeal only half-a-dozen words in a section of the Electoral Act. He is not seeking to replace the Act with an entirely new Bill. In my opinion, it is better for the Senate to allow a Committee to perfect a Bill to the best of its ability, and not to put the Government in a position to say - “ Here is a Bill to amend an Act in certain particulars only, and you cannot make other amendments of the “Act.” It seems to me that honorable senators are losing sight of the immense power which, by upholding this ruling, they will place in the hands of the Government.
– The honorable senator will make it difficult for the Government to amend any Act.
– No. What we contend is that the Senate should not place itself in such a position that it will not be able to amend a Bill in order to give effect to the opinion of the majority of its members. That is practically the position in which some honorable senators are seeking to place themselves. Undoubtedly, if this ruling be upheld, the Government will take advantage of the fact that the Senate has circumscribed its powers, and then honorable senators will begin to consider whether they cannot devise a system by which’ legislative effect can be given to the opinion of a majority whenever a Bill is submitted for their consideration.
– I emphatically disapprove of Senator O’Keefe’s amendment. I feel that the ruling object of every senator should be, as Senator Trenwith put it, to obtain ample notice of important amendments, and ample opportunity for the consideration of- vital principles. That of Senator O’Keefe is of so vital a character that I cannot see how he or any other senator can insist that it should be lugged into a measure dealing with the amendment of ordinary electoral machinery.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - I think it only right to say, and I am sure that you, sir, will agree with me, that it was not from any want of courtesy, or any lack of the usualdeference to your ruling, or of the respect which we always have for your judgment in matters of importance affecting the procedure of the Senate, that I gave notice of dissent last night. I did so with considerable diffidence. I recognise that any senator who does not approve of the rulings of the President, especially in matters affecting procedure, should not take formal steps to dissent, unless he has very good reasons foi so doing. I, however, think that I had good reasons, and you’ have confirmed me in that opinion, because in your ruling last night, you invited honorable senators to discuss the question as a matter of procedure to guide us in the future, rather than from the stand-point of whether you were right or wrong. As you yourself say, it is entirely a matter of difference of opinion. In expressing that view, you absolve honorable senators from any imputation of discourtesy. We have to consider the reasons given in your ruling, as to whether my amendment was out of order. You say -
We must adopt a practice which will enable expression to be given to the views of the Committee, and would permit the introduction of amendments, which, however, must not he foreign to the purpose of the Bill when it is read a second time. Otherwise, we shall get into confusion.
Again, you say -
The Bill, having been read a second time, cannot then be radically altered in Committee by putting in some gr-eat principle of farreaching importance not contained in the original Act itself.
Here arises the question whether my proposed amendment is one of vital and farreaching importance) and involves a question of principle. You went on to say -
I am very anxious that we should adopt a practice which shall be as convenient as ‘possible to honorable senators, and which will restrict them as little as possible in the discussion of Bills.
I, in common with other honorable senators, have expressed the opinion that if we adopt your ruling, we ‘ shall in future be unduly restricted in the discussion of Bills brought before us, either as, original measures, or for the purpose of amending Acts. As it is admitted that we are creating precedents for our future guidance, we should be very careful. The question under discussion is one in regard to which we may do something which will, in the opinion of some honorable senators, enlarge our powers, or something which will, in the opinion of others, restrict them. My contention is that we should proceed in the direction of enlarging our powers, and of discussing every measure that is brought before us in a spirit 08 freedom. I conn, to the question whether my amendment does introduce a new and vital principle into the Bill. I submit, in the first place - and this is my first ground for dissent from your ruling - that it does not contain a new and vital principle in the sense alleged by some honorable senators. I say so, for the reason that absolutely no new machinery would be required to carry into effect the proposed change in the method of voting. Not one extra official would be required by the Commonwealth; not one extra shilling of expenditure would be necessary to carry my proposal into effect. Most important point of. all, my proposal would not take from any elector in the Commonwealth one tittle of the power that he now holds. Therein lies the difference between my proposal and that which Senator Mulcahy wished to submit 1 on a former occasion. Senator Dobson has maintained that my amendment and that of Senator Mulcahy for the introduction of the Hare-Spence system of voting were so nearly alike as, to use his language, to be second cousins. I maintain that there is a vast difference between the two. If Senator Mulcahy’s proposal were carried into effect, it would- introduce into our electoral system a very large alteration of principle. It would lay it down that every elector should have a certain proportion- of his present power of ‘ voting taken from him. The introduction of the Hare-Spence system would mean that where there were three candidates to be returned the elector would have the power to vote for three in the order of his preference. Thereby the principle of compulsion is introduced. It would take from the” elector the power which he now has to give an equal vote to three candidates, and compel him to give a preference to one over others. It would compel the elector to give about 80 per cent, of his voting power to one candidate, and the remaining 20 per cent, of his voting power would be divided in the order of preference between candidates numbers two and three. But my amendment is different altogether. It would not take away from the elector one tittle of the power and privilege that he now enjoys in the exercise of his franchise. There would still be retained to him the full power to vote for whatever number of candidates had to be elected without any signification of his order of preference. I submit, in the first place, therefore, that my proposal does not introduce a new and vital principle into the Bill. Some honorable senators have contended that you, sir, were bound to rule my proposal out of order, because you had ruled Senator Mulcahy’s out of order. But for the reason that there is a vast difference between the two, I say that you might very well have ruled Senator Mulcahy out of order and still have allowed my amendment to stand, without being inconsistent. The difference is that Senator Mulcahy’s amendment introduced a new and vital principle, whereas mine only seeks to extend the principle of freedom which is already embodied in the Electoral Act.
– Surely this is a new principle ; absolutely new.
– It is not, because it would leave to the elector the full power that he has now under the Electoral Act to record his vote for the full number of candidates to be elected. My amendment simply extends the principle of freedom which is already the principle underlying the whole of our electoral machinery. You say in your ruling that we should get into confusion if my amendment were allowed ; that we should set a precedent. You lay it down that when an amending Bill was brought before us we should not touch any portion of the Act that it seeks to amend if in so doing we alter a vital principle of that Act. I take it that you did not rule that we are not allowed to 4ouch any other sections of the original Act than those mentioned in the amending Bill.
– Certainly not.
-You simply say that we can only deal with the clauses contained in the amending Bill, and with such other sections of the original Act as would not involve any alteration of principle. I have given my reasons for maintaining that the suggested amendment does not mean a vital alteration in, principle. But even if it could fairly be considered vital, the Senate would be unwise to adopt your ruling, and thereby restrict our power. It has been said that, if your ruling be not adopted, great confusion will follow; but I should like to direct attention to the confusion which must inevitably result if the ruling be allowed to stand. In the latter case, if a Bill were introduced to amend an Act in certain particulars, and an honorable senator sought to amend it in another particular, he would be told by the Government that his amendment involved a vital principle, and thereupon it would be ruled out of order, and the honorable senator advised to introduce an amending Bill, if he. desired to carry out his object, There are few opportunities to introduce private measures of the kind, but Ave may suppose that an honorable senator is granted time, and does introduce a Bill to amend an Act in one or two particulars. What then may happen? Some other honorable senator may desire to amend the original Act in a particular not covered by the private amending Bill ; and the position on a former occasion is repeated. The second honorable senator may be informed that his proposed amendment involves a vital principle, and that he must introduce a new Bill. It will be seen that, under the ruling of the President, it would be quite possible to have half-a-dozen amending Bills within a year, each dealing with only one or two sections of an original Act; and surely that would mean greater confusion than could be caused by allowing honorable senators to move any amendments they thought proper. In giving his ruling yesterday, the President said -
There would also be this great disadvantage - that if it were necessary to amend an Act of great importance, on’ which there was great difference of opinion, so far as the machinery of it was concerned, the Government would shrink from bringing down an amending measure. They would say : “ If we bring down a Bill to amend the existing Act, the whole subject-matter of the Act will be open to discussion. It will all be raked in; and, instead of having a short Bill which can be dealt with in a short time, we shall have a long general discussion, and, probably, a radical alteration of the principal Act.”
With all due deference to you, sir, I submit that that is a difficulty which could easily be avoided. The Government, if it had any such fear, could always clearly state in the title the definite intention of the Bill, and then it would be quite right to restrict honorable senators to the discussion of the sections of the original Act covered by the title. Then if a Government did not feel fairly sure of a majority, they would not introduce an amending Bill of a contentious character. Both the Government and the Senate would be per-‘ fectly safeguarded by showing in the title the express purpose of the measure.
-Will the honorable senator permit me to say that I do not think the title has anything to do with the question. Whatever a Bill may be called makes no difference to what the Bill is itself.
– In the early part of the session I intimated to Senator Keating my intention to propose this amendment in the Electoral Act, and until
I learnt that the Government were going to introduce an amending Bill it had been my purpose to take that course myself. Senator Mulcahy has devoted much time ai)d attention to the Hare-Spence system of voting, and has delivered a number of lectures on the subject in Tasmania; and soon after the session opened he assured me, that he would give me his support in the step which I contemplated. Knowing his deep interest in the subject, I suggested that he himself might introduce a Bill, and that I should support him, and that if that measure were defeated I could move an amendment in the Government Bill providing for the alternative of what has been called permissive plumping. However, I have now lost my chance of introducing a Bill, seeing that we are within a few weeks of the end of the session. When I found that the Government intended to introduce an amending Bill, I never for one moment doubted that it would be open to myself or any other honorable senator, to propose any reasonable amendment in the principal Act, although such amendment might affect sections with which the Government did not propose to interfere. If we are to be confined to the procedure which you, sir, have outlined, and in which the honorary Minister professes- to believe, what is the position? As I have pointed out, half-a-dozen alterations in the principal Act will mean half-a-dozen separate amending Balls, whereas if we follow the procedure which commends itself- to myself and others, all desired amendments can be made in one Bill. Admitting, for the sake of argument merely, that my proposed amendment does involve an alteration of principle, I submit that we should make our procedure as elastic as possible. That was the view taken by Senator Keating three or four years ago, when another measure was under consideration. The feeling of the Senate has always been in favour of enlarging, rather than of restricting, discussion, always, of course, observing reasonable bounds. If ever there was a machinery Bill, it was that dealing with the Post and Telegraph business; but an honorable senator proposed quite an innovation, when he submitted an amendment providing that only white crews should be employed on subsidized mail steamers. That amendment surely represented a most vital alteration in principle, of a much more far-reaching character than the amendment which I desire to have considered. Speaking from memory, I think that Senator Keating, who on this occasion supports your ruling, wasa strong advocate of the amendment I have just referred to. Senator Pulsford and others, on that occasion, contended that, asit was a machinery Bill, an honorable senator had no right to introduce a vital amendment, foreign altogether to the scope of the measure - that the Senate had no right to consider such a proposal. Yet two Ministers, who are upholding the President’s ruling on the ground that my amendment seeks to bring about a vital alteration in principle, voted on that occasion for the amendment then proposed.
– Does the honorable senator think that that has anything to dowith the matter before the Senate?
– I certainly think it has, and I do not think that you, sir, should prevent me from giving illustrationsin support of my motion.
– I have no desire to do so; but will the honorable senator say whether any ruling was given in connexion with the amendment to which he refers ?
– My best answer to the question is that what was then proposed was allowed. An amendment involving a new principle entirely foreign tothe purpose of the Post and Telegraph Bill was allowed to be made in that Bill. The principle with which that amendment dealt had not even been thought of when the Bill was introduced. If ever there was an instance in which an amendment was moved involving a principle entirely foreign to the purpose of the Bill, as brought in by the Government, that was surely one. If your ruling, Mr. President, was taken on the point, it must have been in favour of permitting the amendment to be made.
– I never gave any ruling on that point; it was never brought before me.
– I know that the question was raised, ‘ that the proposal that the Commonwealth should pay only for the services of white labour, was entirely foreign to the purposes of the Bill. I have mentioned the matter to show that, in the past, our practice has been rather to enlarge than to restrict the powers of discussion, possessed by honorable senators. You, sir, have ruled against my amendment on the ground that it involves a vital alteration of principle, and . honorable senators who are supporting your ruling are doing so on that ground. I feel that I am, therefore, at liberty to direct your attention to the fact that a different course has been adopted in connexion with, analogous cases which have occurred in the Senate in the past.. Another matter entirely foreign to the purpose of the Bill was introduced by way of amendment when we were considering the Post and Telegraph Bill. As brought down by the Government, that Bill was simply a measure to provide for taking over the Post and Telegraph Departments of the States, and for the establishment of a single Department for the Commonwealth. It contained no provision dealing with the wages to be paid by persons in the employment of the Commonwealth, but an amendment was introduced providing that any contractor employed by the Commonwealth Government should pay the rate of wages ruling in the district in which he carried out his contract. Surely that amendment involved an alteration of principle foreign to the Bill as introduced. These two instances entirely support my contention that the Senate from the outset has desired in regulating its procedure to give the fullest possible opportunity for discussion, consistent with the proper conduct of business, rather than to restrict it in any way. I say that, when you ruled that this amendment involves a vital alteration of principle, and is of such a far-reaching character, that it ought not to be introduced into the Bill, you must have forgotten the procedure of the Senate in the past.
– The honorable senator should remember that the Post and Telegraph Bill was an original Bill, and not an amending Bill.
– What is the difference? If we are not supposed to confine ourselves strictly to amendments which might fairly be said to be covered by the title of a Bill, we are, according to the ruling, obliged to confine our amendments to matters relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. Surely it makes no difference in our power to deal with amendments whether an original Bill is before us or a Bill to amend an Act already on the statute-book? As Mr. President has allowed, or as the Senate has allowed, amendments involving alterations of such a vital character as those to which I have referred - amendments more far-reaching in their effect, and, to a greater extent, departures from vital principles of the measures in which they were included, than is the amendment which I have proposed - and as we have established the practice of making our procedure as elastic as possible, I do think that it will be a pity if the Senate agrees to your ruling in this case, and thereby restricts us in the future in the way in which we should then be restricted. As I said at the outset of my remarks, it was with the greatest possible diffidence that I thought of disputing your ruling. I have no doubt that it is only on very rare occasions that any honorable senator has thought that he has had cause to dispute any ruling of yours. In this instance, inasmuch as you have invited discussion, I am sure you will absolve me from any intentional discourtesy in submitting my motion. I have carefully considered your ruling, and as I think it wrong, I hope the Senate will not uphold it, and that I shall be allowed to move my amendment.
Question - That the ruling of the President, given on the 25th October, 1905, in reference to the Electoral Bill, be dissented from, on the ground that such a practice as is therein laid down would unduly restrict the powers1 ofl the Senate in Committee - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 12th October (vide page 3458), on motion by Senator Staniforth Smith -
That the female employes in the Civil Service possessing equal qualifications and aptitude should be placed in the same class and receive equal remuneration as male Civil’ Servants, doing similar work.
That at least one-half of the total number of telegraphists should be in the fourth class.
That the three grades in the General Division should be abolished, and increments substituted up to at least £150.
That district allowances should be more in conformity with those previously allowed by the States, and should constitute a more equitable, compensation for increased cost of living, isolation, and climatic conditions.
That the composition of the Appeal Board should be altered so that one member should represent the Government, one member the Civil Servants, to be presided over by a Judge or Stipendiary Magistrate.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I propose to occupy only a few minutes in discussing this motion. I hope that it will be submitted to the Senate in paragraphs, because it involves several principles, and I do not think that it would be advisable toputit as one motion.
– I shall submit it in paragraphs.
– Istrongly support the first paragraph of the motion. I am satisfied that wherever women are employed in the Public Service, or, for that matter, in any industry whatever, they should receive equal pay with’ men for equal work. The status of woman should be raised, in order that she may enjoy that right which is undoubtedly hers - that of taking her part in the industrial world on an equal footing with men. While women have a right to go into any branch of industry and compete with men, they are surely deserving of the same rate of pay for similar work? Women have entered various branches of industry - the tailoring and boot industries, and many others - but the employers have invariably taken them on for the reason that they are cheaper than men. That is a reason for their employment, which, as a Parliament, we cannot justify. We should not in any of the Public Service Departments employ women merely because their services can be obtained cheaply. I shall take the instance of a lady who is an indoor telephone supervisor in Western Australia. She has been in the Department for elevenyears, and is receiving a salary of£150. We could not get a man to do her work - which I may say carries great responsibilities - at a less salary than £400. We would not expect a man to take the position at a lower salary than that. I strongly hold to the view that the Government should pay the same salary to women as to men in the Public Service. With the fourth paragraph of the motion I also agree, because I am satisfied that proper regard has not been paid to the difficulties whichI suppose exist in North Queensland, and, perhaps, in the Northern Territory, and which I know exist in various parts of Western Australia. With these few remarks I support the motion, more particularly paragraphs 1 and 4.
– If the motion be, put as a whole I shallhave to vote’ against it. Like Senator Croft, I approve thoroughly of the first paragraph. I have always maintained that mthe Public Service we have no right to discriminate between men and women whenthey possess equal qualifications, except, of course, where physical force is required. I do not understand what the second paragraph means, and, therefore, I do not seemy way to support it. I am not prepared to disagree with the present system of grading, and, therefore, I cannot support thethird paragraph. I shall certainly support the fourth paragraph. I should like to hear a fuller explanation before I say how I shall vote with regard to the fifth paragraph. I think that the time has come where women should get the rights of which, unfortunately, they have been deprived for many years.
– They are getting; them.
– I may be wrong, but from what I have heard it seems to me-‘ that for the same work smaller wages are paid to women than to men.
– Quite the contrary.
– I am very glad to hear that.In that case, the first paragraph, of the motion is superfluous.
– Like Senator Walker, I am in doubt as to some matters which are referred to in the motion. Paragraph 4 contains two affirmations. I can indorse one of them, but am not prepared to approve of the other. It will be quite sufficient if we lay it downas a principle that the climatic allowances should be adjusted so as to constitute equitable compensation for the increased cost of living, and climatic conditions. To affirm that we should be guided by the action of the States, which had a varied practice, appears to me to be rather indiscreet. What they did can hardly be held to constitute any safe guide for us. I take it that what is wanted is that the Public Service Commissioner shall so adjust these allowances; that they shall be fair and equitable to the: recipients. We can affirm that principle without giving any indication as to whether we approve of the allowances fixed by the States. Within the borders of New South Wales there was a considerable disparity in the allowances, and considerable complaint as to the allowance paid in one district as compared with that paid in other districts. Whilst I believe’ that equitable allowances ought to be granted, I am not prepared to go to to the extent of saying that the allowances paid .in New South Wales were equitable, and therefore ought to be followed. I move -
That the words “ be more in conformity with those previously allowed by the States and should,” in paragraph 4, be left out.
Debate (on motion by Senator Guthrie) adjourned.
– I move -
That, recognising, as this Senate does, that it is the wish of both the Empire of Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia to maintain the purity of their respective races,, this Senate hereby affirms the desirability of a treaty being made under which all questions relating to emigration and immigration may be arranged. This Senate further expresses ‘its earnest hope that the friendship between the people of the Empire of Japan and those of the Commonwealth of Australia may be maintained, to their mutual advantage and to the well-being of the whole world.
I feel a good’ deal of chagrin that circumstances have resulted in my being only able to commence my address at this late hour in the afternoon, with the certainty that within about three-quarters of an hour I shall have to stop. But there is “many a slip ‘‘twixt the cup and the lip “ - more so, I suppose, in political life than in any other sphere - and I presume that I shall be at liberty to resume my speech on the date to which the debate may be adjourned. Of course, I am aware that there can be no treaty made directly between the Empire of Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia. Honorable senators will notice that I have not affirmed otherwise, and they will understand that I take it foi granted that what is meant is a treaty made by Great Britain, on behalf of Australia with the Empire of Japan, under which any arrangement made could be given effect to. I propose at once to dash into the very centre of this question by considering this point : Has the Empire of Japan been insulted, or have its represen tatives expressed the view that it has been insulted, by the legislation of Australia? That point has already been debated to some extent. There are in* Australia a number of persons who stoutly deny that it has done anything of an offensive nature to Japan, and some persons even go so far as to say that Japan has never expressed any opinion in that direction. I think that, on several occasions, I have made it sufficiently clear that Japan does look upon our Immigration Restriction Act as highly offensive ; but to-day, if time permits, I shall make that clear beyond possibility of doubt. I shall first draw the attention of honorable senators to a despatch, dated 20th October, 1897, from Mr. Colonial Secretary Chamberlain to the Governor of South Australia, which may be seen at page 845 of the second volume of our parliamentary papers for the session 1901-2. Mr. Chamberlain writes as follows : -
Sir, - I have the honour to acquaint you for the information of your Ministers, that the Japanese Government has made repeated representations to Her Majesty’s Government, through her Minister at this Court, on the subject of the legislation passed by certain of the Australasian Colonies for the restriction of coloured immigration.
I draw attention to the phrase that the Japanese Government had made “ repeated representations.” So far back as 1897 the Colonial Secretary stated this. The despatch goes on -
Kato was willing to admit that, from a material point of view, there was no very great grievance of which Japan could complain.
That letter clearly and unmistakably shows that eight years ago the Colonial Secretary represented to the Government of South Australia that a strong feeling existed in Japan on the subject of Australian legislation.
– But we accepted the suggestion therein made to remove that feeling.
– The law now existing is not the same as the Natal Act.
– It is practically the same.
– No, if is not. Our law contains the European language provision.
– The principle was that people of all nations should be treated alike.
– That is not the case now.
– Pardon me; I think it is.
– In 1901 I find that Mr. Chamberlain, then Colonial Secretary, writing to the Governor-General of Australia, said -
Your Government will doubtless be able to obtain a copy of my despatch to the Governor of Victoria, No. 86, of the 20th October, 1897, in which I informed the Colonial Government of the views held by the Government of Japan on the question of the restriction of Japanese immigration into the Australasian Colonies.
The despatch referred to has not been published, but through the courtesy of the Under-Secretary of External Affairs I have been able to get a copy of it, and I find that it is word for word the same as the despatch which was sent in 1897 to the Governor of South Australia. So that on the 20th October, 1897, Mr. Chamberlain not only wrote to the Government of South Australia, but also to. the Government of Victoria, intimating that a painful feeling existed in Japan on the subject of Australian legislation, and that Japanese opinion was that that nation was very much insulted by what was going on. So that there can be no question as to the strong view held by Mr. Chamberlain on the subject. As that despatch was sent to two State Governments, I take it that a circular despatch was sent to the other Governments of the States also.
– There was one to New South Wales.
– Now let me refer to what took place in New South Wales. In 1897, under date 24th November, Mr. Nakagawa, the Japanese Consul in Sydney, wrote as follows to Mr. Reid, then Premier of New South Wales : -
Sir, - As Consul for Japan, I deem it my duty to formally enter my protest against the unfriendly character of the legislation now proposed with regard to the immigration of aliens.
Permit me to say that, so far as Japan is concerned, New South Wales has no reason to fear alien immigration. The Japanese Government does not wish to lose any of its subjects, and so far as the people themselves are concerned, they are under no necessity to emigrate- - as may be judged from the fact that wageshave nearly doubled within the last three years, consequent upon the marked development that has taken place in many industrial pursuits.
Although I am without instructions on the point, I do not hesitate to say that the Government of Japan will be quite prepared at any time to make an arrangement by treaty or otherwise that will practically secure for New South Wales, so far as Japan is concerned, all that the proposed legislation can secure.
I need not quote the whole of the letter.
– The protest was made against the colour test provided in the New South Wales Bill.
– In 1899, Mr.. Eitaki had succeeded Mr. Nakagawa as Japanese Consul in Sydney, and he addressed to the Government of New South Wales a letter, repeating the arguments and statements which had been used by his predecessor. He said : -
My Government, I am _ sure, will be quiteready at any moment to give any assurance, or to enter into any suitable arrangement for controlling emigration to New South Wales, and’ they do not wish it to be believed for a moment that they have any thought or wish to promote Japanese emigration to your shores or elsewhere.
– The Bill against which those protests were made contained a colour test. No persons of colour were to be admitted.
– It distinctly enumerated the class of people to be kept out.
– There have been changes, but every Bill of this character that has been drafted has contained clauses which the Japanese have felt to be offensive.
– Has the Japanese Government ever said so to the Commonwealth concerning; our Act ?
– I do ‘not think that Senator Playford will repeat that question when I have done. On the 3rd May, 1901 - that is six days before the opening of the Federal Parliament, Mr. Eitaki addressed the following letter to the Prime Minister : -
Sir, - I have the honour to address you on the subject of alien restriction, especially in view of proposals for legislation intended to tie brought before the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. The friendship that -exists between the Empires of Great Britain and Japan leads me to suppose that your Government would not willingly take steps calculated to wound the f eelings of the people whom it is my privilege to represent.
The Japanese belong to an Empire whose -standard of civilization is so much higher than that of kanakas, negroes, Pacific Islanders, Indians, or other Eastern peoples, that to refer to them in the same terms cannot but be regarded in the light of a reproach, which is hardly warranted by the fact of the shade of the national complexion. ‘
My Government recognises distinctly the right of the Government of Australia to limit in any way it thinks fit the number of those persons who may be allowed to land and settle in Australia, and also to draw distinctions between persons who may, or who may not be admitted. Corresponding rights belong to the Empire of Japan.
As Japan is under no necessity to find an -outlet for her population, my Government would readily consent to any arrangement by which all thai Australia seeks, so far as the Japanese are concerned, would be at once conceded.
Might I suggest, therefore, that your Government formulate some proposal, which, being accepted by my Government, would allow of the people’ of Japan being excluded from the operation of any Act which directly or indirectly imposed a tax on immigrants on the ground of colour
Then, on the nth September. Mr.. Consul Eitaki again wrote to the Prime Minister, drawing attention to what was proposed. In his letter he said : -
I would respectfully ask you to refer to the extract from my letter to the Right Hon. G. H. Reid, dated 16th May, 189% which. I enclosed in my letter to you of the 3rd May last. The extract reads as follows : - “ My Government, I am sure, will be quite ready at any moment to give any assurance, or to enter into any suitable arrangements for controlling immigration to Australia.”
On 1 6th September, five days later, the Consul again addressed the Prime Minister in the following terms : -
Sir, - I trust you will pardon me for addressing you so soon again on the subject of the Immigration Restriction Bill, now under consideration by the Federal Parliament; but I am sure you will admit that the importance of the issues involved - not only to the Australian Commonwealth, but also to Great Britain and Japan - is great enough to constitute a sufficient reason for my action.
The letter goes on -
In Japanese schools and other educational establishments the most approved European methods are adopted, and the most important works on science, literature, art, politics, law, &c, which are published in Europe from time to time are translated into Japanese for the use of students. Thus a Japanese, without being acquainted with any other language than his own, is frequently up to a very high educational standard in the most advanced branches of study, by means of a liberal use of these translations.
I draw special attention to these words -
I cannot imagine any sufficient reason why the Japanese language should not be regarded as upon the same footing with,, say, the Turkish, the Russian, the Greek, the Polish, the Norwegian, the Austrian, or the Portugese, or why, if an immigrant of any of the nationalities I have mentioned may be examined in his own language, the same courtesy should .not be extender to the Japanese. . . .
But if, in spite of all the representations that have been made upon this subject, and the alternative suggested it should become clear that the Australian Commonwealth Parliament has decided to frame an important Act, specially directing its operations against .a friendly nation, and without sufficient justification for so doing by any existing circumstances, it will be a necessity for my Government to make the strongest possible protest in the proper quarter.
I do not think that diplomatic language could be stronger than that.
– Did they ever do it?
– They did. Two days ‘later Mr. Eitaki wrote to the Prime Minister as follows: -
I have the honour to address you upon the subject of.the amendment of the Postal Bill, agreed to, on the voices, on the 5th instant, by the House of Representatives. The amendment reads as follows : - “ No contract or arrangement for the carriage of mails shall be entered into on behalf of the Commonwealth, unless it contains the condition that only white labour shall be employed in such carriage. . . .”
I am sure you will see that this amendment contains the same objectionable reproach to- the
Japanese, on the ground of colour, against which protests have been made on former occasions, and in connexion with different matters.
I have the honour to inform you,- therefore, that it will be my duty to notify my Government officially of the amendment referred to, and I feel confident that they will learn of the action of the Australian Commonwealth Parliament with extreme regret.
Then, on 20th September, the Consul again wrote to the Prime Minister, and, referring to certain remarks made by the latter, said -
I have the honour to point out that the extract from the speech I have quoted above - read in conjunction with your own declarations on pages 4645 and 4653 of Hansard - make it clear that my request that the Japanese might be treated in the same manner as the European nations, have not been of any avail, and that the Bill is unmistakably and professedly aimed at the Japanese, upon grounds which must form the subject of the strongest possible protests should it be passed.
– Was the statement that the legislation was specially aimed at the Japanese ?
– The remark by Mr. Deakin was -
We hold that the test should exclude alien Asiatics as well as the people of Japan, against whom the measure is primarily aimed.
Mr. Deakin, unfortunately, used those very words. On 10th October the Consul once more addressed the Prime Minister -
I notice, with great regret, that the third reading of the Immigration Restriction Bill has been passed by your Honorable House of Representatives, providing for an educational test “ in ah European language “ to be applied to intending immigrants.
With reference to the statements made that there has been no protest against the same provision of similar legislation when passed by the States of New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania, and that such provision has not been found to cause trouble in any one of these places, I crave permission to say that the absence of protest against the State legislation should neither destroy the right to protest against Federal legislation of the same character, nor weaken its force. And the circumstances existing at the time when the State legislation was under discussion have considerably changed, showing more need for the protest at the present time than there was then.
Not content with, writing these strong letters to the head of the Government of Australia, the Consul wrote direct to the GovernorGeneral, Lord Hopetoun.
– What replies were given to those letters of the Consul?
– The replieswere just as near nothing as possible.
– We might as well have the replies, so that both sides may be presented.
– In reply to Senator Playford, I quote the followingreply sent on behalf of the Barton Government to the Japanese Consul: -
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the nth, 16th, and 20th in-‘ stant, on the subject of the effect of the Immigration Restriction Bill (now before Parliament), sofar as Japanese are concerned. I need scarcely say that your representations are receiving thefullest consideration of the Government.
These few lines dispose of three lengthy and important despatches from the Japanese Consul. On the 5th October, Mr.. Eitaki wrote as follows to the Earl of Hopetoun : -
Your Excellency. - I have the honour to inform. Your Excellency that, during the discussion upon the Immigration Restriction Bill in the Federal House of Representatives, I communicated withthe Right Honorable the Prime Minister, ex-, pressing the hope (by direction of my Government) that the Commonwealth Parliament might see its way clear to avoid legislating in such a manner as to make distinctions affecting the-; Japanese on the grounds of race and colour.
My communications, however, were not for- ‘tunate enough to produce the desired effect ; inasmuch as the educational test decided upon isracial, pure and simple. In addition to this, the subsequent insertion of the word “ European “ in an amendment on the clause which provides for the imposition of penalties onmasters and owners of ships, emphasizes the intention of the Bill to make racial distinctions; and there has since been passed through’ bothHouses a new clause in the Postal and Telegraphic Bill, stipulating for V white labour only”” in all Government mail contracts and agreements.
Will honorable senators please note the next sentence?
I have received a cable from His ImperialJapanese Majesty’s Government, stated that they - consider the two Bills named clearly make a racial discrimination, and requesting me, on that account, to convey to Your Excellency their highdissatisfaction with those measures.
It will be seen that the Consul, was not acting alone, but on direct instructions, which the Japanese Government had thought important enough to send by cable. On the 15th November the Consul again, wrote to the Governor-General -
Your Excellency. - I have the honour to addressYour Excellency again upon the subject of the Postal and Telegraphic Bill, which has now been passed by both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament, with the clause therein (stipulating for “ white labour only ‘’’ in all Government mailcontracts) referred to in my letter of the 5th. October last.
I regret exceedingly that the communications it has been my duty to make to Your Excellency and the_ Right Honorable the Prime Minister, upon this point - explaining the light in which- such a stipulation must be viewed by my Government, and expressing the hope that the Commonwealth Parliament might see its way clear to avoid legislating in a manner which made distinction affecting the Japanese on the grounds of race and colour - have not been fortunate enough to be crowned with success.
I forwarded your letters of the 10th and 21st ultimo to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, and I understand that, with other communications upon the same subject, they have been sent to His Britannic Majesty’s Government through the Japanese Minister.
I need not enlarge upon the very great importance of the principle involved in this matter, for I am sure that Your Excellency will recognise if at once. I can only say that the earnest desire of my Government is to remove all obstacles which may work to the detriment of the friendly and commercial relations which now subsist be. tween Australia and Japan, and which have every prospect of further development to the mutual advantage of both nations in the future.
I have now quoted some twelve different letters sent to the Government, and to the Governor-General, and I shall now show what occurred in London. On the 7th October, 1901, Baron Hayashi, the Japanese Ambassador in London, wrote as follows to the Marquis of Lansdowne : -
Referring to my note of the 14th July last, and your note dated 7th September last, I have the honour to again ask the good offices of Your Lordship -in respect df the Immigration Bill now pending in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Japanese Consul at Sydney has just reported to my Government that in the lower House of the Parliament an amendment to the Bill was passed, making the knowledge of any European language as the educational test of persons to be permitted to Australia.
A comparison of the dates makes it evident that the Japanese Government had cabled, not only to the Consul in Sydney, but to the Ambassador in London, so that the strength of the feeling in Japan may easily be understood. The letter to Lord Lansdowne continues : -
He has also reported that the Postal Bill, which has passed the Lower House, provides for white labour only in Government mail contracts, and that it has been stated in the Parliament that these Bills were intended for the exclusion of Asiatics and other coloured races from that continent.
Your Lordship will find no difficulty to see therefrom that these Bills are, under the device of the educational test, aimed to discriminate against the Japanese and others of a different colour. While the Japanese Government do not object in principle to an adequate test, which the Federal Government may adopt to regulate the entry of aliens, they cannot acquiesce in a measure which makes the educational test a means to discriminate against Japanese subjects in favour of other nationalities. Moreover, the clause 4, and the proposed amendment of the Bill under discussion, seem to apply to all Japanese who may proceed to Australia, and no Japanese, even if well educated in my country, will, unless they can write in any of the European languages, not be permitted to land there, the result being practically the closing of that continent to Japanese subjects in general.
I beg, therefore, to request Your Lordship, in accordance with instructions received from my Government, that His Majesty’s Government will again induce the Government of Australia to so modify those clauses as to place Japanese subjects on the same footing with those of European nationalities.
As to the remark made in Your Lordship’s note, dated 4th September last, about the educational test adopted in two of the Australian colonies, as well as in New Zealand and Natal, I beg to state that Japanese subjects do not sojourn much in those colonies, and that, therefore, the Japanese Government have- so far refrained from entering into any discussions which were of no practical importance. As the Bill, however, which is now before the Parliament of the Commonwealth, is intended to apply in all parts of Australia, my Government is impelled to once more make their representation to His Majesty’s Government. Your Lordship will no doubt understand the sincere motive of the Japanese Government to approach on this subject. Their earnest desire is to remove the obstacles which may work to the detriment of the friendly and commercial relations between Japan and that important part of the British Empire, and to promote those relations which have every prospect of further development in the future.
– That hardly tallies with the honorable senator’s statement that the Japanese do not wish to come here.
– The Ambassador in that letter, states distinctly that the Japanese are willing to be placed on the same footing as Europeans. Three days later the Ambassador again wrote to the Marquis of Lansdowne : -
Referring to my note of the 7th inst. about the Immigration and Postal Bills represented before the Parliament of Australia, I have the honour to inform Your Lordship that the Imperial Government have received another telegram from the Japanese Consul at Sydney, in which it is stated that these Bills will, if they become law, be a severe blow to the Japan Mail Steamship Company, and that the company will be compelled to discontinue their Australian line on account of the disabilities newly imposed bv these Bills. 3 ‘
– The Japanese have not done that.
– The letter continues : -
Your Lordship is, no doubt, aware that the regular steamship service, which has been opened by that company for some years between Japan and Australia, has in no small degree contributed to the development of the trade between the two countries, and Your Lordship will share with me the apprehension that the proposed legislation will greatly affect the growth of that commerce.
I, therefore, have the honour to again request, in accordance with instructions received from my Government, that Your Lordship will use your influence so that the Government of the Commonwealth may see their way to remove from the legislation these disabilities, which will produce such an unfortunate consequence to the friendly and commercial relations between Japan and Australia.
– What was the reply to that?
– I have not the reply. That was written on the nth October, 1901. The legislation was completed, and in the years that have since intervened nothing has occurred to lessen the feeling amongst Japanese as to their own importance and greatness as a nation, or in any way to make them feel less any slur or insult cast upon them. B’ut to bring the opinion of Baron Hayashi up to date, I can refer to a cable which appears in the newspapers of this very day -
The Japanese ambassador in London, Viscount Hayashi, has been interviewed in respect to the idea said to be prevalent in Australia that the Japanese wish to emigrate in bodies to that country, and with respect to the feeling caused in Japan by the exclusion of Japanese.
Viscount Hayashi stated that Manchuria and Korea would absorb from 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 more people than Japan was at present able to spare. Australia had never been in danger of an influx of Japanese immigrants.
In Japanese official circles it was recognised that the Australian attitude was the result of labour agitations; but the unofficial opinion was based on the conditions appearing on the surface. The generality of the people did not go deeply into the matter, and believed that their feelings were intentionally wounded by those responsible for the government of Australia.
There can be no doubt as to the feeling of the Japanese on this subject. It is absurd and ridiculous for any honorable senator to profess to be blind and deaf to what is appearing on this subject.
– By the last mail, I. had a letter from Lord Avebury, who is better known, perhaps, as Sir John Lubbock, in which he makes just that remark, and wonders what the people of Australia would think if Japan legislated against Australia in the same manner.
– We should not object to it.
– I suppose honorable senators opposite would say that we do not wish to do any business with the Japanese.
– No European is allowed to hold land in Japan.
– The character of the interjections which are being made, and the tone adopted by honorable senators, do not do much credit to the Federal Parliament of Australia, nor are they calculated to lessen the feeling of resentment felt by Japan. There is no nation worth its salt in any part of the world that does not feel and resent any attack upon, its dignity. I have here a copy of a cable message received from Europe about, a fortnight ago, in which it is stated that Prince von Bulow, the Foreign Minister of Germany, on being interviewed by a representative of a Paris paper, said that -
Germany was quite prepared to place no obstacles in the way of French development, provided the commercial interests and dignity of Germany were respected.
We find the same thing everywhere. Are’ honorable senators going to refuse to behave with respect and courtesy to the Japanese, or to any other people, because they may happen to have a different tinge of colour from our own,? That is what appears to be indicated by the remarks and the tone adopted by some members of the Senate. I desire honorable senators t© bear in mind the fact that Australia has’ not” had very much experience in negotiating with foreign countries, and that, if we are going to be a great nation, and to deal direct with any foreign countries’, we must consider the feelings of the people of those countries a little ; we must view great subjects from their stand-point at least a little; and we must be willing to give as well as to take. If we do anything which they can resent, and which they can look upon, as they do upon this legislation, as thoroughly insulting to them-
– We have not insulted them at all.
– Of what use is it for the Minister of Defence to say that, when I have read letter after letter written by representatives of Japan in Australia, by the Ambassador of Japan in London, and cables which have been sent to Australia and to London direct from the Japanese Government, stating that they view these matters as insulting, and pointing out that a distinction is made, which everybody knows to be a fact, between the nations of Europe and the great nation of Japan. When all this is proved, of what use is it for any honorable senator to pretend - for it can only be pretence - that there is no differentiation as against Japan? It is clear and absolute, and the sooner honorable senators recognise it the sooner we shall be on the way to get rid of this reproach to Australia.
– We adopted the language test in order not to give special offence to Japan.
– We have given offence to everybody.
– I suppose the honorable senator contends that we have no right to keep aliens out of Australia?
– The Japanese admit that right. Have I not read letters from them admitting fully and absolutely that the Government of Australia have the right to exclude whom they will? What they complain of is that we should adopt an exclusive policy against them which is marked by an insult to their race. They ask that we shall not legislate for their exclusion from Australia in a way which we dare not adopt in dealing with a European nation.
– Does the honorable senator advocate that the word “European” should be struck out of the section to which exception is taken?
– I Believe that the Japanese Government would be quite content if the word” European “ were struck out, or if the section read “ European and Japanese.” I direct attention to the fact that this Act of ours has had various results which were not anticipated. I do not think it was anticipated that it would create for Australia difficulty and illfeeling among the people of the various islands of the Pacific. From her geographical position, Australia might have been expected to be the friend of the great islands of the Pacific. Instead of that, a native missionary coming from any of the islands of the Pacific, through New Guinea, and passing into Australia, is liable to be put in gaol for a time.
– That is absolutely incorrect. The honorable senator must be aware that missionaries are allowed to land, and have landed.
– It is not incorrect. Another difficulty that arises in connexion with this Act is shown by what took place in connexion with the Maori shearers. I suppose honorable senators are aware that some Maori shearers who came over from New Zealand were prevented from landing, but, fortunately, the Government agreed afterwards that they were to be admitted, and gave instructions that Maori shearers must not be stopped in the future.
– Then what was done in that case was the result of a mistake.
– No ; it was in accordance with the Act. Under the Act, rigidly interpreted, it was proper to exclude those Maoris. What I desire to point out is that this Act has in various ways had to be- departed from, and it will need in the future to be departed from still more. A case occurred at Newcastle in connexion with the landing of a sailor who had a very slight touch of colour. He was a Naval Reserveman, and had fought for the Empire in South Africa. He wanted to leave his ship at Newcastle, and the captain, thinking that there could be no objection to his doing so, discharged him there. This man was, I believe, a native of one of the West Indies, and the captain was prosecuted for discharging him at Newcastle. That is but another instance amongst many which I am quite certain Parliament never intended should occur under this Act. The Act has in various ways inflicted hardship upon innocent people, and has produced effects which can only be considered a disgrace to Australia.
– It has kept a horde of Asiatics out of! Australia ; that is something to its credit.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks this day fortnight.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 25th October, vide page 4037) :
Clauses 43 to 45 agreed to.
Clause 46 -
Section one hundred and seventy-two of the Principal Act is amended by adding the following sub-section : - “ (III.) The return and the receipted bills of particulars shall be retained by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, and shall be open to public inspection during ordinary office hours on payment of the prescribed fee.”
– I am not going to say that it is imperative in this case that the fee should be set out in the Bill.
– Why should a fee be charged ?
– There might be a fee charged in order to prevent vexatious inquiries, but the Minister ought to give some reason as to why the fee is not set out in this case as it is in other parts of the Bill, particularly in the portion dealing with objections to voters. Under this clause the ‘prescribed fee might be either is., which would be quite nominal, or £100, which would be prohibitive. While the Minister may say that the Department will act in sweet reasonableness, still he can see that it is so largely a matter of opinion that unless there is some reason to the contrary, it would be better to indicate in the Bill what the fee is to be.
– It was considered that the amount of the fee was hardly a matter of policy, and that, from time to time, it might be varied to meet the circumstances of the case. If the fee were fixed, and actual experience should show that it was not suitable, the Government would have to bring down a Bill to amend the Electoral Act in that respect, and we might have all kinds of questions raised, as we did this afternoon, with regard to the scope and purpose of such a Bill. It was thought thatonly experience in the working of the law could guide the officers in determining what would be a reasonable fee to impose. In Tasmania, if my memory serves me rightly, the Electoral Act prescribes’ the fee which shall be paid for an inspection of theaccounts, and I think it is is. I do not suppose that in framing the regulations there will be any deviation from what has been the practice in the different States.
– In my opinion, the fee ought to be specified in the clause, and, in order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
That the words “prescribed fee,” line 8, be left out, with a view to add the words “ fee of two shillings and sixpence.”
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - It is usual in Electoral Bills to leave these matters to be prescribed by regulation. It can only be from actual experience of the working of the measure that the Department can discover what, in all the circumstances of the case, is a fair fee to charge. With regard to objections and applications for voting all the States have had a considerable amount of experience, and, therefore, the amount of the fee is set out. From information I once received from a returning officer in
Tasmania, I do not think that the fee of 1s. has often, if ever, been paid. In fact, the regulation that candidates’ expenses shall be filed, used to be more often honoured in the breach than in the observance. There has not been such experience in this particular case as there has been in others to warrant us in fixing the amount of the fee, and, if we did, experience might teach us afterwards that it required to be altered. In such case it would be necessary to pass a special Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 47 agreed to.
Clause 48 -
After section one hundred and eighty-two of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted : - “182A. The following acts are, on polling-day, and on all days to which the polling is adjourned, prohibited within each polling booth, and within a distance of twenty-five yards from each polling booth, namely : -
Canvassing for votes; or
Soliciting the vote of any elector; or
Inducing any elector not to vote for any particular candidate ; or
Inducing any elector not to vote at the election.
Penalty : Twenty-five pounds.”
– This clause introduces an innovation in connexion with parliamentary elections. We can easily imagine that it would be a very great hardship if canvassers were refused the advantage of that shelter which we! know is afforded by a verandah in the heat of summer. Unless the Minister can offer a very good reason for making the innovation, I shall move the omission of the words “twenty-fiveyards.”
– This clause was inserted in theBill in deference to the following suggestion which was made by the Select Committee on Electoral Administration : -
Evidence was submitted by letter of the inconvenience suffered by voters owing to canvassers being allowed to carry on their work at the door of polling booths. Your Committee recommend that canvassing at the entrance to polling booths be prohibited.
If we were to provide that there should be no canvassing at the entrance, that term might be construed so strictly as to mean the immediate doorway. Therefore, it was thought desirable to fix a limit.
– Is that distance to be chalked off on the morning of the election ?
– I think we can safely trust to the discretion of the electoral officers. If there were a number of entrances, it would mean that the distance should be measured from any one of them. I do not suppose for a moment that a white line will be drawn at a radius of twenty-five yards from any one of the entrances. When the canvassers know that they must not approach within twenty-five yards it will keep the entrances to the polling booth clearer than they have hitherto been kept, and persons who are now deterred from voting, by fear of what they may have to incur in this regard, will go much more freely to record their vote.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - I. have heard no reason from the Minister for making this innovation. We can easily imagine the inconvenience it will create to canvassers, because they will not be certain as to whether they are breaking the law or not. I have not heard of any persons being deterred from going to the polling booth. We know that canvassers use their persuasive eloquence with voters approaching the polling booth.
– Sometimes the voters want information
– Yes. The clause will not prohibit canvassers from approaching voters as they advance towards the polling booth, but it will exclude them from the advantages of a shade-giving building in the height of summer. I know of no necessity for making the restriction, and unless the Minister agrees to withdraw it, I shall be obliged to move its omission.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - I thought that I gave the honorable senator a very good reason for making the provision when I stated that the Select Committee oni Electoral Administration reported to the other House that written complaints had been tendered to them of the inconvenience suffered by voters through canvassers being allowed to carry on their work ,at the doors of polling booths, and that, after due consideration and deliberation, it recommended that canvassing in such places should be prohibited. Apart from that very strong reason, however, every honorable senator must know that canvassers do stand about the doors of polling booths and thrust the cards of candidates into the hands of voters, many of whom do not care to be molested in that way. If our electoral machinery were framed and designed in the interests of canvassers, I could understand Senator de Largie’s objec tion to this clause. What we are considering is the interests of voters, and not canvassers. It is desirable that a voter should be as unimpeded in his progress to or from the poll as is reasonably, consistent with the proper carrying out of the election. Surely the interests of canvassers can be subordinated to the interests of voters !
– Will this cure the evil?
– It will to some extent. Although twenty-five yards is fixed as a radius within which a canvasser must not canvass, I do not suppose that the authorities will mark out a limit as a crease is marked off at a game of cricket. But if we fix the limit at twenty-five yards, and canvassers know that they may incur a penalty if they canvass within that radius, it will keep them outside. Of course, the distance is a matter of detail, but twentyfive yards is a fair limit.
– It is a good distance.
– It is only three yards longer than a cricket, pitch. I think that the Committee will be well advised in giving effect to the recommendation.
– It has to be remembered that nowadays we have women voters, and it is very desirable that when they go to the poll they should not find crowds round the booths. It is difficult even now to get women to go to the poll, because they do not like going through crowds. That is an additional argument in support of the provision.
– So far as my experience goes, the majority of voters are glad to receive some assistance from canvassers. No doubt some touts are a nuisance.
– They are the touts of the other man.
– But there are canvassers who legitimately represent a candidate, and who present cards to electors coming to the poll. This provision will simply drive a crowd of touts beyond twenty-five yards from the booth, where they will become just as great a nuisance as if they stood round the door.
– That is an argument for making the distance 100 yards.
– I have seen no such evil as has been described, and if it existed this provision would not cure it.
– I think that, instead of curing any evil, this provision will create evils that do not now exist. I have had experience of one or two elections, but I have never been brought face to face with any tangible reason for such a restriction as this. I am also afraid that it will create trouble. Here is one difficulty that will arise : Some of our public schools are used as polling booths. The schools are enclosed within fenced grounds. Sometimes the fence is more than twenty-five yards from the building. Does this provision mean that canvassers will have to remain twenty-five yards from the. building in, which the poll is being taken, or twentyfive yards from the fence?
– From the polling booth not from the fence.
– Then the touts will prevent people from going into the gates.
– I am afraid it will form the ground work for friction between the authorities and the citizens. No doubt if we could provide for canvassers being kept away from people’s houses on polling day and for voters going straight home after exercising the franchise we should have a precaution against every inconvenience. But as there is no possibility of doing that we had better not do what is here proposed. Motor cars play an important part in elections nowadays. This might prevent Senator Walker from going up to the polling-booth in his car. It would be better to eliminate the provision.
– Will this provision apply to vehicles?
– No; vehicles cannot canvass.
– At election times, in addition to the driver of the vehicle, there is usually a person on the box seat who canvasses for votes. Would not such a canvasser be permitted to drive up to the door of the polling-booth with electors who were going to vote?
– A voter might be delicate, and might have* to be driven to the poll.
– If a vehicle containing a delicate person could drive up to the door of the booth surely a canvasser seated on the front of the vehicle could also drive up. A canvasser goes to a committee room and obtains information as to electors who have not yet voted. Then he takes a vehicle and collects those people. He drives with them up to the polling booth. Is that not to be permitted ?
– There is nothing to prevent people from driving up in their own vehicles.
– But if Senator Walker lends his carriage to a candidate and that candidate puts a canvasser in it and uses the vehicle to bring people to the poll, we have no more right to keep him away from the polling booth than to keep away a person not a canvasser, who drives up in his own carriage. I desire it to be clearly understood that returning officers will have the power to prevent canvassers going within a certain limit.
– There is nothing to prevent canvassers going within the limit, but they must not canvass there.
– A canvasser is of no use unless he can go right up to the polling booth, and, in my opinion, this clause is all in favour of the candidate who can get a large number of vehicles placed at his disposal. Candidates are not allowed to hire vehicles, but there have been cases in which fifteen or twenty cabmen have met and decided to place their vehicles at the disposal of a certain candidate free of charge - nothing is said as to the necessity for paying for the cabs afterwards. Canvassers are placed in these vehicles, and they pursue their work right up to the door of the polling booth; and thus the candidate, whose supporters have to go on foot, is .placed at a disadvantage. If canvassers are allowed to go within the limit, where they may easily drop a judicious word here and there, the proposed clause is absolutely worthless. Up to the present time, the returning officers, with the assistance of the police, have been able to keep canvassers at a distance from the polling booth. At the last general election, the members of the party; with which I am associated, were very backward in the matter of canvassing around the polling booth, and stood away at some distance, but those interested in the success of the other side had no such scruples. We had to get our supporters to overcome their modesty, but as soon as they drew near to the polling booth a complaint was made, and the returning officer moved the whole crowd. I do not see that this evil of canvassing at the booth can be cured if, as Senator Millen says, a canvasser is not prevented from walking along the pavement in front.
– Senator Turley seems to . be labouring under a great mistake regarding this clause.
As a matter of fact, there is absolutely no distinction made between those who can afford to use vehicles and those who have to walk. There is nothing to prevent a man either walking or driving right up to the door of the polling booth, but he must cease canvassing within twenty-five yards. Two diametrically opposite arguments have been advanced against this clause. Senator Henderson, with a political experience ranging from Coolgardie to Sydney, declares that he has never seen any obstruction, or any indications of canvassing, about the door of a polling booth, whereas Senator Turley, who is familiar with the rough and tumble of politics, says that if a canvasser is worth his salt he will follow an elector right up to a polling booth.
– Senator Millen is not accurately representing my views.
– It is curious that when, at the last election, I went to record my vote at a booth where I was not known, I nearly had my arms pulled off by canvassers who implored me to vote for my opponent. As Senator Turley has pointed out, the presiding officer has, at present, power to prevent any undue congestion, and to see that access to the polling booth is kept free from obstruction; and all that is proposed in the clause is to extend the returning officer’s power a little further from the door. It will not be difficult for the police or attendants to indicate the limit of twenty-five yards, and I venture to say that the ordinary canvasser will respect the direction given him. From my experience of both city and country voting, I am convinced that it will be an advantage to have a neutral zone, within which importunity cannot be carried on. As a matter of fact, would it not be better for both voter and candidate if all canvassing could be stopped? I admit that we cannot go that length, but we may say that within a certain distance of the polling booth, the elector shall not be molested.
– Will none but electors be allowed within the zone?
– Even the iniquity of a canvasser’s business does not debar him from being an elector. I intend to support the clause.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - The discussion must have served to show the difficulties which would arise were such a provision agreed to. It would be far better to provide that canvassers shall be excluded from the polling booths, as they are at the present time. I have never known the police to experience any difficulty in keeping the doorway to a polling booth clear. I move -
That the words “ and within a distance of twenty-five yards from each polling-booth” be left out.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause; as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 49 to 55 and the Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 4 further postponed.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - Honorable senators will recollect that when I previously addressed myself to Part III. of the Bill I indicated my intention to move two amendments.
That the following new clause be inserted : - “8a. (1) The Governor-General may appoint three persons in each State to be Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the State into Divisions in accordance with this Act.
The persons so appointed shall be respectively a Judge of a Court of the State, the SurveyorGeneral or head of the Survey Department of the State, and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for State, unless the Governor-General, by reason of any such persons not being available, or for other reason appearing to him to be sufficient, thinks fit to appoint other persons instead of any of such persons.
Each Commissioner shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General.”
I had formally submitted the amendment for the decision of the constituted authority, in view of the previous decision which was arrived at, I should have been subjected to the criticisms of Senator Givens as if I had been guilty of some inconsistency. I have not said a word in support of my view that the amendment is in order. It is well known that it was given notice of long before the decision of the Senate was sought on this point. If honorable senators are not prepared to follow my lead, but wish to open up a discussion I am not going to stand by, when I see an amendment of mine being battered to pieces, without saying a word. I am quite prepared without wasting five minutes over a discussion to take the decision of the Chair on the point.
– It may save time if . I say that, in view of the decision of the Senate this afternoon, I cannot do other than rule Senator Millen’s proposed amendment out of order. I have no doubt that the principle that he wishes to embody in the Bill is a more radical one than the proposal of Senator O’Keefe which was ruled out of order to-day.
– I desire to dissent from your ruling, and I hand in a written objection.
In the Senate -
The Chairman of Committees. - I haveto report that Senator Millen has dissented from a ruling given by me, in these words -
I dissent from the ruling of the Chairman that a new clause, providing for the appointment of three Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the States into divisions, is not in order, on account of such clause not being within the scope and purpose of the Bill.
The proposed amendment, if carried, would render unnecessary - in fact, would strike out - section 13 of the principal Act, which says -
The Governor-General may appoint one person in each State to be the Commissioner Tor the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.
The Bill, comprehensive as it is, and covering so much of the principal Act as it does- - even dealing with Part III. - does not contemplate any alteration of section 13- As I took the proposed amendment to involve a more radical alteration than theamendment of Senator O’Keefe, which was ruled out of order, I thought that it would’ be merely taking up the time of the Committee unnecessarily if I did not rule Senator Millen’s amendment out of order forthwith.
– I should like to add’ a word or two to .what has been said. The Chairman of Committees has very fairly indicated what is the purpose of the amendment now in dispute. It is only right that you, sir, should know that it is an important amendment, which would, as the Chairman has indicated, remove the parliamentary veto which at present exists over the scheme of distribution prepared by the individual Commissioner now appointed by law. “ I do not know whether it will bepossible for you to have regard to the fact that this amendment, if carried, is to be followed by another, _and that it is reallyan introduction to a modification of tha- present system. So far as the amendment itself is concerned, it affects section 13 of the main Act, which says -
The Governor-General may appoint one person in each State to be the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.
My amendment provides that the GovernorGeneral may appoint three persons in each State to be Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions, and indicates the persons to be appointed. My contention is that what I am proposing to do is entirely a matter of machinery, and that, therefore, the amendment is distinctly marked as different from the matter previously submitted to your judgment.
– I contend that the amendment which Senator Millen seeks to introduce into the Bill involves an entirely new and foreign principle. It seeks to deprive Parliament of a power which it has at present. It is, therefore, a very far reaching principle indeed. Senator Millen has indicated that the amendment, if carried, will be followed by another, which is consequential on the amendment now before us, giving the Commissioners he desires to appoint supreme power, so that the division of a State which they made would not be subject to review by Parliament. The original Electoral Act provides that any division made shall be subject to review by Parliament. The Bill introduced by the Government does not propose to disturb that arrangement in any way. It does not propose to take away from Parliament the right to say finally whether the divisions made by the Commissioner shall or shall not stand. I contend that Senator Millen’s amendment introduces a new and entirely foreign principle, which goes to the length of taking away from Parliament a power which it possesses, and which the amending Bill does not propose to take away. I therefore maintain that, in view of the ruling which you have given on two other occasions during the consideration of this Bill, the amendment is entirely out of order, and cannot be put from the Chair.
– I think that Senator Millen’s amendment is one that ought to be capable of being moved in Committee; but in view of the ruling that has been given and maintained, I submit that it cannot be moved. In the Bill before us, there is no mention of the number of Commissioners. It is not mentioned whether there shall be one or a dozen Commissioners to determine the boundaries.
– There is a reference to the quota.
– But not to the appointment of Commissioners. So far as the Bill is concerned, Parliament is the only body which is indicated as having anything to do with divisions. Section 13 of the principal Act reads as follows: -
The Governor-General may appoint one person in each State to be the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.
Senator Millen’s amendment does not interfere with the amending Bill in the slightest particular. It interferes with a section of the principal Act, which is not touched in the amending Bill. If ever there was a case which is certainly connected with the principle laid down by the President in the last two rulings he has given on the point in dispute,, this is one; and while, as I have said before, I think that the amendment is one that it ought to be within the competency of art honorable senator to move, in view of the President’s decision, Which has been upheld by the Senate, I cannot see how it can be moved.
– The proposal now before the Chai’r practically is one to repeal two sections of the existing Act. It is clearly new and foreign to the Bill. The sections are numbers 20 and 21. Under them Parliament has the ultimate power of dealing with any proposed distribution. Senator Millen’s proposal is that instead of Parliament taking the responsibility of giving approval, a new and foreign body shall be appointed for that purpose. That body is to consist of three persons, who are named. After they1 have made a report, the GovernorGeneral, quite irrespective of Parliament, has to make a proclamation.
– That is the same as the provision of the existing law.
– The GovernorGeneral is really the Executive.
– But under this amendment it is on the report of three Commissioners - a foreign body - that the GovernorGeneral has to make the proclamation.
– The proclamation by the Governor-General is just the same in either case.
– In the one case the proclamation is consequent upon the act of the Parliament, and in the other case it is consequent upon the report of a foreign. body. This introduces a new and serious principle, and I submit that your ruling certainly does apply to the amendment.
– I am very much afraid that a great many honorable senators have altogether misunderstood the effect of my ruling. I never ruled, and I never intended to rule, that in a machinery Bill like this, to alter, so far as regards machinery, the principal Act, machinery provisions not referred to in it cannot be altered. I do not think that honorable senators will find in what I said, anything to warrant them in giving such an effect to either of my rulings. I am as strong as any honorable senator possibly can be in my desire to uphold the rights of the Senate, and to give the Committee of the Senate as much power to alter Bills put before it as is consistent, in my opinion, with the working out of our system of government. I do not think it is right that the Committee should be cramped to such a degree as some honorable senators have supposed that it will be cramped by the effect of my ruling. I understand that Senator Millen has moved, or wishes to move, a certain amendment which is contained in a printed paper before me. I cannot say with what he is going to follow up the amendment before the Committee, and I am not going to give any ruling on an amendment that is not before me.
– He explained his purpose.
– I cannot give a ruling on hypothetical cases. All that I have to rule on is this : Is the amendment which Senator Millen has. attempted to move, as contained in the paper before me, so relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill under consideration that it can be moved ?
– Surely, sir, you cannot ignore-
– I do; because I am not going to give prophetical rulings. I am going to rule on an amendment which has been proposed. The principal Act says -
The Governor-General mav appoint one person in each State to be the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.
Senator Millen proposes that, instead of one person, there shall be three persons. Surely that is an amendment relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– No persons are mentioned in the Bill.
-But the Act says -
The Governor-General may appoint one person.
– There is no mention of any person in the Bill.
– I do not think that has anything to do with the question.
– That is what we argued this afternoon.
– Oh, dear me, no ! This is a Bill to alter electoral machinery, and any amendment relative to electoral machinery can be moved. I never said anything to the contrary. Any electoral machinery, whether provided for in the principal Act or not, can be altered by the Committee on this Bill.
– Do you say, sir, that Senator O’ Keefe’ s amendment did not deal with electoral machinery ?
– I said that Senator O’Keefe’s amendment involved a farreaching principle of great importance, and that it did not deal with electoral machinery ; that was the whole gist of my argu ment. However, I shall not refer to that subject. All I have to decide is whether the amendment, which is in print, may be moved by Senator Millen, and I think it may.
– I should now like to lay before honorable senators the effect of the amendments which I intend to submit. Although I know that technically I should confine myself to the proposed new clause under discussion, I am sure it will suit the convenience of the Committee if I am allowed, in explaining the purpose of the immediate amendment, to refer to the amendments to be submitted later on. The present Act provides that where a redistribution scheme is necessary, the Government shall appoint a Commissioner for each State. The duty of that Commissioner is to divide the State into a number of electorates corresponding to the number of members to be returned to the House of Representatives. Having mapped the State into electorates, as nearly equal in numerical strength as possible, the Commissioner advertises the scheme, and invites objections or suggestions. Under the Act he is called upon to consider these objections or suggestions, and, after a lapse of a certain period1, he, as it were, revises his own work, and presents the scheme to the Minister, whose duty it is to submit it to both Houses of Parliament. If Parliament approves of the scheme, it then, by proclamation, becomes law ; but if Parliament dis; approves, then the scheme is thrown back into the melting-pot. It appears to be optional whether the Minister sends the scheme back to the Commissioner, but, if he does so, it is the duty of the Commissioner to devise another. What I propose is practically to remove the parliamentary veto; to provide that, instead of the scheme coming to Parliament for acceptance or rejection, it shall in- itself be final. If that amendment be adopted, it would, perhaps, place too dangerous a power in the hands of a single Commissioner, and, for that rea-. son, I submit an amendment providing for three Commissioners. Under my amendment, section 12, which provides that the State shall be divided into a number of electorates, will remain, while section 13 will provide for the appointment of three Commissioners, namely, a Judge of a Court of the State, the Surveyor-General, or head of the Survey Department of the State, and the Commonwealth’ Electoral Officer of the State. I am not at all wedded to the proposal that these particular officials shall be appointed, but I suggest them because they are officials whose special knowledge would be valuable, bearing in mind the work with which they would be intrusted. It is necessary to provide for temporary disability on the part of any or all of these officials, either through illhealth or absence owing to holidays, or other causes; and therefore I propose that the Governor-General may, for reasons which appear sufficient to him, appoint other persons to perform the duties. This latter provision is necessary to prevent a dead-lock. If the amendment now before the Committee be carried, clauses 14 to 19 inclusive will remain, leaving the procedure exactly as it is tb-day. The three Commissioners will discharge the same duties as the single Commissioner is now called upon to discharge under the Act. It is in regard to sections 20 and 21 that I propose radical amendments. Section 20 provides that the Commissioner’s report and the map shall be submitted to Parliament, and that section I propose to strike out. In section 21, which provides that if both Houses of Parliament approve of the redistribution, the Governor-General mav, by proclamation, declare the names and boundaries of the divisions, I propose to insert the further amendment that on the completion of -the work by the three Commissioners, the scheme, after the consideration of objections and suggestions, shall, as revised, become the law of the land. In other words, the amendment will entirely remove parliamentary control. And I ask honorable members whether they do not consider my proposal better and more workable than the provision in the Act? Parliament has an inherent, and a very natural and understandable objection to change. I need only refer to the fate which overtook the redistribution scheme submitted in another place prior to the last general election - a scheme which was subjected to severe criticism and thrown out. The difficulty of getting a redistribution scheme through Parliament will always be present. There will always be a temptation, both on the part of members and of the Ministry, which only exists by the support of numbers, to regard any alteration with suspicion and dislike. Not only has the Commonwealth Parliament already had experience in this connexion, but in New South- Wales, and doubtless in other States, every proposal for redistribution has’ been postponed as long as possible - has been met by either open obstruction, or, more frequently, by efforts to quietly side-track it. The natural disinclination of the average member to have his constituency disturbed is a potent factor in bringing about that fate. If we have a Commission of men whose position in the Public .Service places them above suspicion, we may safely leave this work in their hands. If we honestly desire to give effect to the Constitution, which provides for equality of representation, we must remove the question of redistribution entirely from the arena of political influence; and that can only be done by some such proposal as that I submit. The amendments simply provide that automatically, as the number of electors ebbs and flows - as the electors move ‘from one portion of a State to another - and as a State gains or loses a member, redistribution shall take place on a fixed principle, whether or not it suits the circumstances or exigencies of political parties. So far, I have heard of only one objection to the amendment now before us, and it was voiced by Senator Keating when I first submitted the proposal. The Minister said with some truth that there is always a certain amount of jealousy on the part of the House of Representatives, or the Chamber which in a State Parliament corresponds more nearly to’ the
House of Representatives, in matters pertaining to particular electorates. . But I want to see whether that argument applies to a Parliament constituted as the Federal Parliament is. I admit that there is a great deal of force in the argument as applied to the ordinary Legislative Assembly of a State; but if there is any matter which distinctly comes within the functions of the Senate, as the States Chamber, it is that which I am now submitting to the Senate as the champion and guardian of States interests. It is quite true that the High Court is the guardian of States rights, but the Senate was specially constituted and designed to be the guardian of States interests. It may happen that, accordingly as another place accepts or rejects a redistribution scheme, a State may gain or lose a member. For instance, if it were shown to-day that the State of Queensland was entitled to ten representa-. fives-
– Which it is.
– If the honorable senator pleases, I shall say that Queensland is entitled to ten members. Under the present Act, if a scheme for redistribution were prepared by the Commissioner and laid before Parliament, the nine Queensland members, joining with other members, might elect to reject it. If an election came on, Queensland, which was entitled to ten members, would be able to elect only nine, because no redistribution scheme had been approved beyond that which provided for that number. The result would be that Queensland would be practically robbed of a member, or of one-tenth of the representation to which it is entitled. It is the duty of the Senate to provide adequate machinery to insure that each State shall have its full measure of representation. This is a matter which appeals to us, because we represent the States as a whole, whereas members of another place - I do not wish to reflect on them in any way - who vote in regard to individual electorates, may reason-, ably be supposed to be under some bias. That bias, of course, may be unconscious, because we are all subject to unconscious bias ; and “it is excusable if the representative of an electorate in another place regards his local interests as perhaps of more importance than States interests. But we, who represent the States as a whole, mav be pardoned if we claim that we are in ? better position to view the interests of a State as a whole than are those who represent merely a portion of a State.
I have indicated, what seems to me a sufficient answer to the statement of the Minister, that by the rejection of a redistribution scheme a State might lose a member to which it is entitled, or might be unable to retain a member to which it is entitled. For that reason, and in order that we may loyally give effect to section 24 of the Constitution which provides that representation shall be according to population, it is not only desirable, but to my mind it is absolutely necessary that we should take away from Parliament the power t’o tamper with a redistribution scheme, or to postpone its consideration so as to deprive any State of the representation to which it is entitled. I have previously addressed myself to the question, and I propose to do no more now than to ask honorable senators to regard my proposal quite apart from any immediate effect it may have in any particular State. I have not myself considered what effect it will have in that way. We are here providing machinery which, so far as I know, is likely to be the groundwork of our electoral system for many years to come. I believe we are all agreed that political equality is the basis of our existence as a Parliament, and it should be our desire to preserve it. I ask honorable senators to give effect to this proposal to remove parliamentary influence, it may be parliamentary intrigue, and the right of Parliament to tamper or interfere with this matter, and to say once and for all that we shall put beyond political influence the question of the representation of the States in the Federal Parliament.
– I shall have to oppose this amendment. The mover of it appears to have very little confidence in Parliament, and a great deal in the Government of the day.
– My amendment does - not disclose any special confidence in the Government.
– When he has heard my views the honorable senator may be induced to change his own. I find that he proposes that -
The Governor-General may appoint three persons in each State to be Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.
I have no objection to the appointment of three Commissioners in the place of one, but the honorable senator further proposes that -
The persons so appointed shall be respectively a Judge of a Court of the State, the Surveyor
General or Head of the Survey General of the State, and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, unless the Governor-General, by reason of any such person not being available, or for other reason appearing to him to be sufficient, thinks fit to appoint other person instead of any such persons.
That is to say that the Government at any time for any reason they see fit to advance, or for no reason at all, may remove the officials referred to in this clause, and appoint three others of whom we know nothing.
– They have that power now.
– But the distinction is this : There would be no appeal from the decision of the Commissioners proposed to be appointed under the new clause. Talk about gerrymandering ! In the hands of an unscrupulous Government this would open the door to it at once. I should not have so much objection if we could be assured that the officials referred to in this clause would be the persons who would act as Commissioners, but the power is given to the Government to displace any or all of these ‘officials, and to appoint in their place three nobodies or three creatures of the Government. Then the honorable senator proposes further that each of these Commissioners is to hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. That means that the Government may at any time replace them by such persons as they think will best suit their purpose. After this is done, and the three Commissioners bring up their report, the whole business is to be at an end; Personally, I prefer to have a voice , in the determination of the question. This is a States question, and as the Senate is the States House, it is the Chamber in which such a question should be decided. Whilst I am a member of the States House, I shall claim a voice in the decision of such matters. I quite expect honorable senators to believe that they are likely to be as impartial judges of a matter of this kind as are the members of any Government. I do not think it is altogether in good taste for Senator Millen to reflect so severely on members of Parliament. The inference, from his remarks, and from his amendment, is that Parliament is not to be trusted. This matter would not affect the Senate directly, but it would directly affect the House of Representatives. Surely we are as impartial and as honest as any three nobodies who might be appointed
Commissioners under this proposed new clause.
– It is of no use for the Senate to approve of a scheme if the House of Representatives objects to it
– I think it reasonable to assume that the House of Representatives will pay more attention to a decision of the Senate than they would be likely to pay to a decision of three men in whom they might have no reason to repose confidence.
– This scheme was not presented to the House of Representatives in the last Parliament.
– I am unable to see that that proves anything. I hope the Committee will reject the amendment.
– Honorable senators should have very little doubt as to the way in which a proposal of this kind should be treated. In my opinion it is the most extraordinary proposal ever submitted tq the Senate. We have from time to time had occasion to find fault with the manner in which the Senate has been treated by another place, and by the Government of the day in neglecting to supply business for our consideration, and in belittling the powers of the Senate. In view of this fact, it is not a little strange that a member of the Senate should ask us to go out of our way to adopt a proposal which would take away one of its powers. I could understand such a charge as Senator Millen has made being levelled against the House of Representatives, where party feeling is Stronger than it is in the Senate, and where honorable members might fairly be assumed to desire to maintain existing electoral divisions. But in this, the States House in which each State is equally represented, there can be no desire for gerrymandering, or unequal representation of any of the States. It surely could not be charged against any member of the Senate that he would have any personal reason for desiring to support an unfair distribution of a State into divisions? There are two States of the Commonwealth that, in accordance with population, have a representation of some fifty-one members out of a total of seventy-five. We can easily understand that in the event of a combination of the representatives of those two States to gerrymander the other four States would be at their mercy. In the circumstances, I could understand Senator Millen objecting to another place having any say in dealing with the distribution of a State into divisions. But these objections cannot apply to the Senate. There could be no objection to the appointment of the officials referred to in the proposed new clause. It is possible that their acquaintance with the different localities and interests in each State would peculiarly fit them to perform the work of distribution. I could see no objection to our securing the services of as many Commissioners in each State as might be required to perform the work satisfactorily, but to propose that these Commissioners should finally settle the matter is preposterous. We might as well delegate any power with which we are invested to a board of Commissioners as the power to decide in this matter. I hope the Senate will give the amendment a speedy despatch.
– Strange as it may appear to Senator de Largie, I favour the amendment moved by Senator Millen. One of the strongest arguments which Senator de Largie has used was that, under the amendment, Parliament would be deprived of a certain power which it now has. I believe that by our Standing Orders and our practice we deprive members of Parliament of the right to decide any matter in which they are personally interested. I can conceive of no matter in which members of Parliament have a greater personal interest than they have in the distribution of a State into electoral divisions.
– The members of the Senate?
– No; but the decision does not rest with the Senate alone. From our short experience of the Commonwealth Parliament we have found how difficult it is to get any reasonable alteration made. As Senator Millen has pointed out, honorable members in another place particularly dislike change in this way. An honorable member representing a particular electorate may ‘naturally feel that it suits him very well as it is, and he is perhaps unconsciously biased in his opposition to any change which will alter its boundaries, no matter how desirable it might be. For that reason, I favour the creation of an independent body to deal with this matter, in which members of Parliament have so strong a personal interest. I agree with Senator Millen that our representation should be almost auto matic in its action - that, in accordance with the movements of population, the provisions of the Constitution should be automatically given effect to. If these matters are left in the hands of a particular Government or Parliament, it will be almost impossible to provide that changes in this respect shall take place automatically, as justice and equity demand. A very great controversy recently arose when it was suggested that New South Wales should gain a member, and that Victoria should lose one. We know the enormous influence which was brought to bear by press and public feeling in Melbourne against the proposal made by the late Government. It is desirable, in my opinion, that these matters should be removed from the influence of party or State faction. This is a matter in which members of Parliament have a distinct personal interest.
– What about the honorable senator’s argument on the Home Rule question, that the Irish Parliament have no right to hand over their powers? The honorable senator is now asking us to do the same thing.
– I do not ask honorable senators to give away any power which I think necessary to safeguard the interests of the people we represent. I claim that it is necessary to remove these important matters from the arena of party controversy and sectional interests in Parliament. For that reason I shall support this amendment, but when Senator Millen moves subsequent amendments I shall take the same point of order in regard to them as I took in regard to this one.
– I listened with very considerable surprise to the speeches of Senator Styles and Senator de Largie. It looks as if they are anxious to preserve all possibilities for intrigue and for the operation of un? savoury influences which members of Parliament generally, I think, try to get rid of. What was our chief object in appointing a Public Service Commissioner? Was it not to relieve ourselves from the possibility of being the instruments of corruption or of being unduly influenced? Undoubtedly it. was. What is the object sought by Senator Millen’s amendment? Is it not also to remove from the operation of Parliament matters regarding which corruption is possible? The Representation Bill provides for specified officers to arrange certain matters. Is not that provision made with the view of giving into the hands of disinterested persons matters which if left to politicians might be dealt with improperly ? The more we can bring that system into operation in the public life of Australia the purer it will be, and the more we shall be trusted by the people. I ask honorable senators to give a little attention to the fact that when there is no independent tribunal to deal with the matter of distribution we are accustomed to hear of logrolling, to find one member after another who, because the boundaries of his electorate are affected in a way which he imagines will be unfavorable to his chances of election, trying in some way or other to influence the re-arrangement which has been made, and sometimes succeeding in his efforts. Let us take it out of the power of the members of the other House to be influenced in any such way. Where it can reasonably be done, let ‘matter’s regarding which corruption might take place be put into the custody of disinterested persons.
– I hope that honorable senators will not accept the proposals of Senator Millen. It will be within their recollection that this matter was very fully discussed in the first session of this Parliament. Although the Electoral Bill, when it was before the Senate, contained provisions similar to the amendments now before the Committee, yet we know that in another place they were deleted, and the Bill was put into something more like its present form. It was pointed out, both here and elsewhere,, that the proposal to appoint three Commissioners for each State was unnecessary and unwarrantable, because the expenditure which it would entail would be quite inordinate and out of proportion to the work to be done. It is now proposed to appoint three Commissioners for each State for the purpose of carrying out this distribution. The effect of these provisions would be tantamount to handing over to, the Commissioners the duties, responsibilities, and rights, not merely of the Senate, but of Parliament generally. It will be remembered that when the original Electoral Bill came back from the other House it contained a provision that if the House of Representatives approved of a distribution it should take effect. We took every precaution’ to safeguard the rights of the Senate by altering the clause so as to provide that a distribution must receive the approval of both Houses before it could become law. We also provided that if either House passed a motion disapproving of any distribution or negatived a motion for the approval of a distribution, the Minister might direct the Commissioner to propose a fresh scheme.
– Will the Minister say what took place when the other House did throw out certain proposals ?
– In the case of four States, the distributions which were carried out under the provisions of the Electoral Act were approved by both Houses. If we replace the provision in the ‘ Act, with the amendments which are being proposed by Senator Millen, it will be a deliberate surrender of our rights and responsibilities as the .States’ House, and one which is not justified by the circumstances. The only argument which he brings forward in support of his contention is that the members of another place are, to a large extent, interested. He admits that my interjection, that the members of the House of Representatives and the corresponding Houses in the States Parliaments, are naturally jealous of their rights in this ‘ matter, has some effect; but he points out that the Senate, being the States’ House, is not to be regarded as an ordinary Legislative Council. It is not merely the members of another place who are naturally jealous of their rights and responsibilities in this regard, but also the members of the Senate, as we showed by the amendments which we insisted upon having incorporated in the original Electoral Bill. We are practically asked to brand ourselves as being incompetent to fairly and honestly approve or disapprove of a distribution of electorates, which may be carried out in a State, under the present system.
– Did the Senate have the opportunity of considering two of the schemes which were prepared two years ago?
– I am not talking of that matter. We know that one House of the Parliament, as provided in the Act, disapproved of two schemes.
– They did not come to the Senate at all.
– If the two schemes had come to the Senate, and we had approved pf them, they would have lacked the approval of both Houses, which must be obtained before a distribution can have force and effect. So far as electoral administration is concerned, the proposals of Senator Millen, if adopted, would- mean government not by Parliament and Executive, but by Commission. To whom would the Commissioners be responsible? They would be under no responsibility, except to their own conscience. In the case of high officials, in whom we repose the greatest amount of confidence and trust, we endeavour to chain them to a correct course of action by providing a measure and form of responsibility. Under the present system the members of Parliament owe a natural responsibility to the electors when determining these matters. We are asked to appoint three Commissioners - undoubtedly men who under ordinary circumstances must possess some qualifications, although they may not be qualified for this particular work - to distribute the States into electoral divisions, and to allow their scheme when completed to take effect without criticism, or asking the formal approval or disapproval of both Houses of Parliament, which’, in the ultimate resort are responsible to the country. We are asked to hand the determination of this question to three Commissioners, who, however eminent and well-inclined they may be, are still absolutely irresponsible in this regard.
– Who are disinterested !
– Which Parliament is not !
– That does not detract in the slightest degree from the force of my argument. They may be eminently high-minded, and certainly disinterested, or they may be interested to some extent. There is quite a possibility that they may have their own political leanings which unconsciously may influence them.
SenatorMillen. - Woudd they gerrymander ?
– I am not sayng that they would. The honorable senator says that they are disinterested, and I reply that they are not absolutely colourless. The point I am now putting is that they would be under no responsibility, similar to that which the Government and the Parliament are under, when dealing with these questions. I ask the Committee to reject the scheme, which is costly in comparison with the present system, which would take away not only from the other House, but from the Senate its right, and which would amount to a surrender of our responsibilities without offering us any compensating advantages.
– I shall endeavour to take one by one the arguments which have been adduced by Senator Keating in opposition to the proposals of Senator Millen. First of all he said that by attempting to surrender, as is proposed, our powers in this connexion we are branding ourselves as incompetent to deal with this matter. There is a large amount of truthin that statement, because we are incompetent to effectively and disinterestedly deal with the distribution of seats. When it was interjected just now that the Board of three Commissioners would be disinterested, Senator Keating at once retorted, “ It does not necessarily follow that they would be disinterested. They might be interested, and therefore they would be incompetent for the position.” He ignored the fact that members of Parliament are directly interested.
– Not the Senate.
– I am speaking of members of Parliament generally.
– The honorable senator includes the Senate.
– But I also include the Chamber that is directly interested in the matter. The redistribution of seats is not a matter to be dealt with by persons who are themselves particularly interested. The interests of the public have also to be considered, and the public ought to be able to feel that the redistribution of seats is made by persons who are not interested. The best guarantee for the protection of the public lies in the appointment of a body of experts.
– Think of Justices of the High Court being experts in this matter !
– The Justices of the High Court have to decide in many matters as to which they are experts to a lesser degree than they are in affairs like this. It is their duty to weigh evidence and come to a just determination. No matter how we may endeavour to eliminate from consideration our own interests in the distribution of seats, human nature will assert itself. As Artemus Ward said, there is a lot of human nature about men and women. I have been in Parliament on more than one occasion when it has been the duty of the Government to introduce measures for the redistribution of seats. It is one of the most unpleasant tasks a Government can undertake. We have to take human nature as we find it. According to the present law, the distribution is made by persons who are interested. Under those circumstances, the interests of the public, which ought to be the first consideration, are more or less neglected. It is said that we are surrendering our rights, and that we are proposing to have government by Commission. But in various matters we have already deemed it wise to appoint Commissioners to deal with large and important interests. We have appointed a Commissioner to control the Public Service, because Parliament felt itself to be to1 some extent incompetent to deal effectively through responsible Ministers with that all-important service of the State. Many of the States have Railways Commissioners, to whom has been handed over the management of great properties. Senator Keating has referred to the question of expense. I conceive that there will be comparatively little expense attached to this proposal. The Judge who would be appointed would have to give his services for a very limited time. The SurveyorGeneral and the Electoral Commissioner whilst engaged in this particular class of work would be withdrawn from their ordinary duties, but no extra money would be paid on that account.
– They are not our officers.
– But we should not have to pay for their services.
– We cannot make use of other people’s servants without paying for them.
– My honorable friend surely does not expect for a moment that we should have to pay for the services of these officers ? The States are only too willing to lend their officers to discharge important public services, especially when it is in the interests of the States.
– Each of the Commissioners was paid £100, and in the New South Wales case we also bad to pay the salary of the Judge while he was engaged in the work.
– I am surprised to learn that; but still the figures show that there is no extravagance attached to the proposal. The fee charged was very reasonable. Would my honorable friend compare that to the expense involved in the discussion ofredistribution schemes for weeks in the Houses of Parliament ? The relative proportion is very much’ in favour of the new body. There should, however, be one or two alterations in the proposal. Senator Millen seeks to destroy political influence. I suggest to him that his amendment should be altered somewhat as follows. At present it provides that the persons appointed shall be respectively a Judge of a Court of the State, the Surveyor-General, and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State:-
Unless the Governor-General, by reason of any such persons not being available, or for other reasons appearing to him to be sufficient, thinks fit to appoint other persons instead of any such persons.
I would strike out the words “ or for other reasons appearing to him to be sufficient.” I should like to have appointed a board such as is mentioned in the amendment ; but in the event of these men not being available, there should be some provision to the effect that the names of any other persons to be appointed should be laid on the table of both Houses of the Parliament ; and if not objected to within twenty-one days by either House, such persons should be appointed for the purpose. Provision should certainly be made to meet contingencies.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- Senator Best has compared the proposed Commissioners with the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner. The cases are not comparable. The Public Service Commissioner receives a salary voted by the Commonwealth Parliament, and is responsible to this Parliament. I have no objection to the standing of the officers mentioned in Senator Millen1’ s amendment, but they are State officers, over whom we have no control. Suppose a particular State could not spare the officers mentioned. Then the Government would be left to select whom they thought fit. If a dishonest Government should be in power - and there are dishonest Governments - it might appoint creatures of its own. I see no reason’ why we should not trust Parliament in this matter. The States have equal representation in the Senate. It is not at all likely that there would be a dispute in every State. There might be a dispute in two or three. Suppose there are disputes in Victoria and South Australia. There are still the representatives of four other States to sit in judgment.
– They are absolutely impotent if the other House throws out the scheme.
– Im that case a redistribution cannot take place. It is a reflection upon the members of the Senate to insinuate that they will not act fairly. Some of us may be biased in political matters, but there will always be fair-minded men who will not be biased in such a matter as the distribution of seats, and they will sit in judgment and insist upon right being done. If I were sure that the three officers mentioned in the amendment would always be appointed, and no one else, I should say, “Let us have this scheme.” But I am not sure of that. Even then I should still say that Parliament ought to have the final voice in the matter. The best of officials are not infallible, and I do not know that even the officers mentioned are able to judge better than we are. I should never consent to Parliament surrendering its control. I shall vote against the amendment.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - Senator Styles and myself are at opposite poles in politics. If a scheme of distribution for Victoria were before the Senate, Senator Styles, I am sure, would be rather suspicious of my criticism. It is possible that I. might have my views with regard to his criticism of a proposed scheme of distribution for New South Wales. I think, therefore, that it would be letter for both of us to have the schemes for our respective States removed entirely from our purview, and placed in the hands of quite independent and impartial people.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - If the argument which has just been adduced has any force, it might be applied to the settlement of the fiscal question. Senators Styles and Pulsford take opposite views as to free-trade and protection, and it would be just as reasonable to suggest that the settlement of that matter should be handed to a Commission as to leave the redistribution of the electorates to be decided in that manner. When the Commonwealth public works were undertaken by States officials there were constant complaints, and the result was that the Commonwealth Public Works Department bad to be established. If three angels were deputed to map out electorates I should not be satisfied, unless Parliament had some control over any scheme they might devise. We have no more right to hand over these powers to a Commission than we have to delegate our legislative functions. In the light of our past experience, it would be a blunder to accept the amendment.
– Does the honorable senator believe in a Council of Defence?
– Everything done by the Council of Defence comes under the review of Parliament, whereas the Commissioners suggested would be beyond our control, and would be able to snap their fingers at us. We do not delegate such powers, even to our Public Service Commissioner, whose work is subject to our criticism.
Senator BEST (Victoria). - I suggest that the principle of the proposed amendment might be tested on the first sub-clause. It is quite obvious that if the amendment be carried the balance of the clause will have to be recast, in order to provide for contingencies that have been mentioned in the course of the discussion.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - Having conferred with Senator Best, I was just about to make the suggestion which the honorable senator has laid before us. It has been pointed out that some portion of the second sub-clause of the proposed amendment is open to criticism, the strength of which I. recognise, and as I am not wedded to detail, I am only too glad to hear suggestions. The Minister, by a simple process of arithmetic, has found that there will have to be eighteen Commissioners, and he spoke of the great expense which, in his opinion, their appointment would involve. But how often are the Commissioners to’ be appointed, and for how long? The Representation Bill provides for an enumeration only once every five years, which means that if every enumeration involved a readjustment, which it would not, the work of the Commissioners would be a matter of a very few weeks once in every five years. If there is any improvement in my proposal, honorable senators should not be deterred from adopting it by the fact that a few hundred pounds would be required to carry it into effect. Even as the law now stands, there must be one Commissioner in each State, and of the two extra Commissioners proposed one will be an official of the Commonwealth. Then, what right is St proposed the Senate shall surrender by this amendment? It is not as if the Senate had the power to give effect to its views on any redistribution scheme. What opportunity was there to express our opinion, as a. whole, in regard to the redistribution scheme of New South Wales, which was simply vetoed in the other House? If the Senate had thought that scheme fifty times better than it was, we were impotent to say so. The adoption or rejection of a redistribution scheme is different from the adoption or rejection of an ordinary Bill. If we think sufficient of a Bill we may present it again and again, although it is rejected by another place, whereas in the case of a redistribution scheme it is simply a matter of exercising a veto. We have no rights in the matter, and it is proposed to surrender none now. By every Act we pass we delegate a duty to somebody. The duties of the Commissioners are limited to dividing a State into specified electorates, the number of which is supplied to them, and these electorates are to contain, within certain limits, equal numbers of electors. Is there any margin in which the Commissioners could go wrong, even if they wished to do so? I dismiss the suggestion that the Commissioners might be tempted to do anything improper ; but, even if incompetent, how could they possibly go wrong? It is not in the preparation of a scheme that there is difficulty, but in, as Senator Best pointed out, getting a House, directly and personally concerned, to accept it. The Senate has absolutely no voice in the matter, unless another place has first approved ; and I must here say that I reflected in no way in the Senate. If the scheme were submitted to this Chamber alone, I should have no hesitation in allowing the law to stand as at present, because the Senate is disinterested. It is because another place is necessarily interested in the matter, and is always open to the temptation to postpone a scheme until after the next election that I now submit my proposal.
– I cannot see that the amendment will involve much increase in expenditure, considering that under the present law there must be one Commissioner. Assuming that something will have to be paid’ by the Commonwealth Government to the State Government for services rendered, I do not think it will be a very large sum. Both Judge and SurveyorGeneral have to ‘be paid by the State Government, and, after all, we should be only taking the money out of the one pocket and putting it into another; and therefore I do not think that the argument of the Minister on the score of expense is a very strong one. In my opinion, it does not matter whether we have one Commissioner or three, but I lean to the latter idea. If there is any possibility or probability of one Commissioner being subject to political influence, that possibility or probability is lessened when there are three Commissioners. I do not feel very keenly on, the question, but I am inclined to favour Senator Millen’s amendment, in preference to the present provision in the Act. But the carrying of this amendment necessarily means a further amendment, which is really the vital alteration. I am not so sure as to the wisdom of the subsequent amendment, and, although I shall vote for the amendment now before us, I shall reserve the right to further consider the second proposal. I am rather doubtful as to’ the wisdom of handing over the supreme power to these Commissioners without giving Parliament a voice in the matter. My own opinion isthat the second amendment will not be permitted to come before us, and yet the present amendment will, at least, lose considerable force if it is not followed by that other proposal.
Question - That sub-clause1 of the proposed new clause be inserted in the Bill - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senator MILLEN (New . South Wales). - I ask the permission of the Committee to postpone the consideration of the second and third sub-clauses of my proposed clause, in order that between this and the resumption of the Committee to-morrow I may be enabled to recast them in such a way as to meet the objections urged against them by Senator Styles and other honorable senators.
– It is irregular to postpone a portion of an amendment.
– Why not allow these sub-clauses to foe carried, and recommit the new clause for further consideration.
– I am willing that that course should be followed if the Minister assures me that an opportunity will be afforded for their reconsideration.
– I have no objection to that.
Sub-clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 9 -
Section fifteen of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting the words “ a quota shall be ascertained in each State,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ the Chief Electoral Officer shall, whenever necessary, ascertain a quota for each State”; and
by omitting the whole of the last paragraph, beginning with the words “ until rolls are compiled.”
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - Section 15 of the principal Act which this clause proposes to amend, provides that -
For the purposes of this Act a quota shall be ascertained in each State as follows : -
It is here proposed that that should read -
For the purposes of this Act the Chief Electoral Officer shall, whenever necessary, ascertain a quota for each State.
I take exception to the use of thewords “ whenever necessary.” Honorable senators are aware that in connexion with’ the Electoral Bill and the Representation Bill I have been contending that our electoral machinery should, so far as the proportion of representation and the division of States into electorates are concerned, operate automatically. But here I am met with the proviso that the Chief Electoral Officer shall ascertain the quota “ whenever necessary.” When is that? The term is extremely vague, and open to all the possibilities of indefiniteness, postponement, and delay. When Senator Keating introduced the Representation Bill, he quoted these words from section 24 of the Constitution, and said that it was desirable that we should legislate - and his reference was to the Representation, Bill - because this phrase used in the Constitution was rather vague. I interjected, “ The Minister admits that it is vague?” The honorable senator replied, “ Undoubtedly,” and I then said that the phrase was vague, whether in a Bill or in the Constitution. I now remind the honorable and learned senator that he has admitted that this phrase is vague, and that I object to vagueness of this kind. I think that a clear direction should be given to the Chief Electoral Officer as to when he shall ascertain the quota. I am afraid that it will be a little difficult to amend the clause to give effect to what I desire, and that it may be necessary to draft an entirely new clause.
– It might be allowed to go as it is for the present, on the understanding that it would be recommitted.
– I have no objection to that, but I am prepared to test the feeling of the Committee by moving that the words “ whenever necessary “ be left out.
– We should know what is to be substituted.
– I propose to substitute a definite direction that the Chief Electoral Officer shall determine the quota at certain specified times, and, if honorable senators please, periodically. The matter should not be left so vague as it will be if these words “ whenever necessary “ are used. Who is to determine when the necessity will arise? We know the principle on which we have to work. Whenever the number of electors in any electorate is above or below the quotabeyond a certain specified margin, there should be a redistribution. This can only be ascertained by continually watching the movements of population, and I think that there should be a direction to the electoral officer to ascertain the quota with some frequency. The difficulty is that it is only by ascertaining the quota that we can tell whether the movement of population has been such as to render action necessary. Strange as it may seem, we must ascertain the quota in order to discover whether ft is necessary to ascertain it. All that is required to be done is to divide the electors of a. State by the number of members to which it is entitled. New South Wales, for instance, returned twenty-six members to the House of Representatives, and to ascertain the quota in that State we must divide the total number of electors for the State by twenty-six. This is done for the purpose of ascertaining whether in any electorate the number of electors hasunduly increased or diminished, and the object of that again is to -discover whether a redistribution is necessary. I do not know the feeling of the Committee or the Minister in the matter, but it seems to me that there is a very serious objection to the use of the phrase “whenever necessary.” Several alternatives might be substituted. We might provide that the quota shall be ascertained periodically, that it shall be done annually, or every two or three years, or on the enumeration days proposed to be provided for under the Representation Bill. I am not wedded to any of these alternatives, but I strongly object to the vague term “ whenever necessary.” I propose to strike these words out, and I believe that the Minister or his officers, if that is agreed to, will be prepared to assist me in drafting an amendment which may properly take their place. I move -
That the words “ whenever necessary,” lines 6 and 7, be left out.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honor: ary Minister). - These words occur in this clause, which is designed to amend section 15 of the Act, the first paragraph of which reads -
For the purposes of this Act, a quota shall be ascertained in each State as follows : -
When we were passing that Act we were formulating, for the first time, the electoral machinery of the Commonwealth. That provision could only take effect in connexion with the first determination of the quota, and, so to speak, its operation has now been exhausted, because the quota has been determined in accordance with it. It may be necessary, because of the drift of population, that the quota shall be taken from time to time, and we propose by this clause to perpetuate that provision ; but we are not fixing any specific time when the quota shall be determined, and on the contrary provide that it shall be determined “ whenever necessary.”
– How can that time be determined ?
– “ Whenever necessary “ would be whenever the drift of population, would be such as to necessitate fresh consideration of the quota.
– How can that be determined unless the quota is first ascertained ?
– Undoubtedly it can. One can note the difference in population and the difference in representation, and the quota can then be determined by dividing the whole number of electors of a State by the number of representatives for that State. As has been pointed out by Senator Millen, the words “ whenever necessary,” are used in the Constitution, and before we strike thom out here the honorable senator ought to be able to supply us Vlt something which will take their place, and will meet the circumstances of the case more efficiently than these words do. We are proposing to make perpetual a provision which was made in the principal Act only for the case of the first determination of the quota. The operation of the provision is now exhausted, but the necessity for the determination of the quota from time to time still remains. It is desirable that the quota shall be ascertained whenever occasion requires, though not necessarily every year or two years. In one State it may not be necessary once in five years, but in another State it may be. Until Senator Millen can point out better words that he intends to substitute I shall ask the Committee not to agree to his amendment.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).I think that the difficulty may be overcome by linking up this Bill with the Representation Bill. It is provided’ in the latter Bill that there shall be an enumeration day every five years, that upon that enumeration taking place the Chief Electoral Officer shall issue a certificate as to the number of the population, and divide the .State for the purpose of ascertaining the quota, and that his certificate shall be laid on the table of each House. Why can we not say that whenever the necessity is shown by that certificate-
– The quota referred to in ‘the Representation Bill has nothing to do with this quota.
– I can quite understand that the quota mentioned in this clause is different from the quota mentioned in the Representation Bill ; but at the same time the necessity for an alteration is brought about by the operation of a clause in that measure.
– Not always.
– It provides the only efficient way we can have of knowing when the necessity arises. The others are pure estimates.
– In that case, the quota is determined by population for which an enumeration is necessary, but in this case it is determined by electors who are enrolled.
– That is so. At any rate, the population is an indication of the number of electors.
– Not necessarily.
– Why has the alteration to be brought about? It is because in certain States not the number of electors, but the number of the population has increased. That was’ the reason urged for the distribution of seatst and that will be the reason urged inevery case.
– No; in New South Wales another reason was the disproportion between the number of electors in one electorate and the number in another.
– According to the statistics I quoted, Victoria is entitled to lose a’ member, andNew South Wales to gain a member. That necessitates a distribution of seats. This clause will come into operation when that event takes place. I know that the quota mentioned, in the clause is not the same as the quota which is used to determine whether there shall be a distribution of seats, but the two things are interdependent. Some provision is necessary in order to indicate that this clause comes into operation by reason of the disproportion shown by the enumeration under the Representation Bill. But certainly there is some force in the Minister’s objection that unless Senator Millen can suggest suitable words to put in, we should hot create a blank.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - Senator Keating affirms that any one can determine, when the necessity arises for ascertaining the quota, by watching the drift of population. Standing on a pinnacle, it may be possible to look all over Tasmania and see where the copulation has drifted. ButI ask honorable senators who come here from the States on the mainland if any one of them, even with the most intimate knowledge of country districts, can tell with any degree of definiteness whether population is flowing from or to an electorate? It is possible to determine that population is drifting into Western Australia because we have sources of information. But it is not possible, by mere observation, to determine whether the quota within the State is varying. How is that quota obtained? It is obtained by dividing the number of electors on the roll by the number of members which the State is entitled to return to the other House. That cannot be done by observation. It is not such a stupendous task’ that we should hesitate to say that it shall not be undertaken frequently. Thechief electoral officer has lying upon his table the electoral rolls for the States. He will be in a position to know at any time exactly how many electors there are in a State, because under this Bill the rolls will undergo constant revision. All he will have to do will be to divide the number of electors by the number of members which the State is entitled to return in order to ascertain . the quota. He can then turn to the rolls to see if any electorates fall above or below the quota, and if so whether to a greater or lesser extent than the margin. The work is not stupendous. But how can any one know that it ought to’ be done un less the figures are worked out? No one can say whether the population has drifted from one part of the Commonwealth to another without making a calculation. What I ask is that at certain periods an actual calculation shall be made to determine whether or not the quota has been preserved. It appears to me that it does not matter how frequently the quota is determined. If after inquiry it appears that the quota remains the same as it was twelve months ago, there is no necessity for action. But if there has been a change, there is a necessity for it. I admit at once that I would like to link this proposal with the RepresentationBill. . But it is difficult for me to do that. I think it is an obligation upon the Ministry, if the sense of the Committee is expressed, to make use of the draftsmen which they have behind them, and to put the provision into proper shape; If the Committee approves of my proposal, it should be for the Government to draft such an amendment as will make it link in with the Representation Bill.
Question: - That the words proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clauses 10 and11 agreed to.
Senateadjourned at 11.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 October 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051026_senate_2_28/>.