2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Sir John Forrest and the Labour Party.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer the following question, without notice -
In view of the remarks of the Right Hon. the Treasurer, Sir J. Forrest, reported in the Age of 1st November, that of the19 State Assembly seats in his electorate, none were won by Labour candidates at the recent election, is it the intention of that honorable member (seeing that he is a Minister in a Government supported by the Labour Party) to resign his seat in the Cabinet; or resign his parliamentary seat, and contest the constituency to ascertain if his position in the Government meets with the approval of his constituents ?
– Before the Minister replies I wish to ask a pertinent question, so that he can answer the two questions at the same time.
– I think that the Minister had better answer the question of Senator Croft first, and then arising out of the reply Senator Millen can ask a question.
– I have not seen the report in the newspaper referred to, and therefore I am not in a position to give an answer. If the honorable senator will give notice of the question I shall be in a position to furnish an answer.
– I shall give notice of the question.
– Arising out of thismatter, I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether, in view of the fact that the constituencies in Western Australia have clearly pronounced against the Labour Party, he considers that it is the duty of the Labour senators to resign, and place their seats at the disposal of their constituents ?
– Surely the honorable senator does not expect an answer to that question ?
– Does Senator Millen wish to give notice of the question?
– The Minister has expressed his inability to answer the question, so that I do not think it would be worth while to give notice of it.
– I understand, sir, that when the motion of Senator Givens, to dissent from your ruling on Senator Millen’s amendment in the Electoral Bill was called on yesterday, you made the following statement to the Senate : -
Before calling on any honorable senator to speak to the question, I wish to direct attentionto the fact that an answer I gave to an interjection by SenatorPearce is not correct, if the question has been properly stated. According to Hansard, he asked, “ Will you, sir, permit me to ask whether Senator O’Keefe could have moved hi; amendment on a Bill dealing with this subject for the first time?” and my answer was, “No, ] do not think he could.” I thought the honorable senator referred to “ this Bill,” not to “ a Bill.”
I wish to say, sir, that I am perfectly certain that my interjection was in regardto “a Bill,” not to “this Bill.”
– I do not know that that is. a personal explanation.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Report by the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs on British New Guinea.
Ordered to be printed.
The Clerk laid upon the table
Return to an Order of the Senate of 20th October, relating to the postal matter carried by the Sydney-San Francisco mail service, 1904-5.
Return to an Order of the Senate of 26th October, giving a copy of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Great Britain and Japan.
Ordered to be printed.
SenatorPULSFORD asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The Customs Tariff exempts from duty certain articles, if for use in industries, subject to departmental by-laws, e.g., rice for manufacturing starch. Also, the Customs Regulations provide, under Section 89 of the Act, for manufacture of goods in bond on the following, conditions as to payment of duty : -
It is to be remembered that in cases where the complete article is dutiable, e.g., ingredients delivered for tobacco, and for starch) the articles used in the manufacture are not delivered absolutely free, duty, at import or excise rates,, being charged either upon the ingredients themselves or upon the completed product.
asked the Minister representing the’ Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the reply, may I ask the Minister to say by whom the instructions have been given?
– I cannot answer that question without notice.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the reply, I wish to ask the Minister whether I am to understand that the Government only intended to bring in the amending Bill on the distinct understanding that the squadron, as provided, would be as strong as, or stronger than, the contract squadron?
– If it should turn out that the report of the Naval Director is accurate, and that the amended squadron is not up to contract strength, do the Government intend to insist upon compliance with the requirements as to strength ?
– I move -
That the Senate approves of an extension of the arrangements entered into on the 30th October, 1903, by the Commonwealth Government, for the carriage of mails between Australia, Fiji, and Canada, by the steamers of the CanadianAustralian Royal Mail Line, upon the following terms : -
That the period of the contract be further extended from 1st May, 1905, to 31st July,1906, with a proviso that if neither party gives not less than three months’ notice of termination prior to the latter date, the contract shall continue until the31st July, 1907.
That the amount of subsidy payable by the Commonwealth be at the annual rate of , £23,863 12s. 3d. for the period from 1st May to 31st July, 1905, and at the annual rate of£26,626 16s. from the 1st August, 1905, the difference between the two amounts being the Commonwealth proportion of a total increase of£6,000 -per annum.
In moving this motion, I think it is desirable to briefly indicate how the present system of communication between Australia and Canada came to be established. So far back as 1893 New South Wales and New Zealand entered into a contract for the establishment of a line of steam-ship communication between Australia and Canada. So far as this side of the world was concerned, the parties to the contract were the Postmaster-General of New South Wales and the Postmaster-General of New Zealand, while the contracting steam-ship company was represented by Mr. James Huddart. In 1896 the contract was extended! for a further period of three years, while in 1899 it was again extended but for a period of four years. At this time the only Colony in Australia which! was directly included in the contract was New South Wales, and it was renewed with several very important variations. In the first place, Mr. Huddart retired1 from the position of contractor, so far as the steam-ship company was concerned. His place was taken by the Queensland firm of ship-owners, Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, and the contract was renewed,, not for three years, but for four years. The original contract prescribed that there should be a steamer running between Australia and Canada, via Wellington, Fiji, and Honolulu every calendar month. But on this second renewal of the contract, that provision was altered to a steamer every four weeks. At’ this stage, when Mr.Huddart dropped out of the contract, his place was taken by Burns, Philp, and Company, and when New Zealand dropped out of it her place was taken by the Colony of Queensland. So that honorable senators will therefore see that the original contract, so far as it concerns us, was that betweenNew Zealand and New South Wales and Mr. James Huddart ; afterwardsNew Zealand and Mr. Huddart dropped out, and it became a contract between New South Wales and Queensland on the one side, and Burns, Philp, and Company on the other. In addition to these variations, Brisbane was adopted as a port of call instead of Wellington, for very obvious reasons. That renewedcontractin the course of time expired, in the year 1903, and at itsexpiration it was renewed by the Commonwealth Government for a period of two years. At that stage another alterationtook place in the parties. Burns, Philp, and Company dropped out in 1903, and the renewal was made with another steam-ship, company, the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand, who are now carrying on the contract under the terms of that renewal - and under the terms of the extension which is at present under consideration - under the name of the CanadianAustralian Royal Mail Line. In 1903 the extension was for two years, and the contract was to expire at the end of last July. Before the contract expired at the end of July, another extension was agreed upon by the then Postmaster-General and the contracting company. The particulars of that extension are these : The term of the extension is fifteen months, from May of this year till the end of July of next year ; and from May to July the subsidy to be paid was to be at the then current rate, which, as far as Queensland and New South Wales were concerned, made a total of £23,863 12s. 3d,.’ For the remaining twelve months - that is to say, from the end of last July until the end of next:
July - the subsidy was to be at the rate of £26,626 16s. per annum. The notice that is required for the termination of the existing extension is /0 be at least three months ; and that three months’ notice must be given not later than the 30th April, 1906. Unless such notice be given, the contract would remain in force for a further period of twelve months - that is, until the 31st July, 1907. I have just indicated that the subsidy to be paid for the twelve months from the end of last July until the end of next July is £26,626 16s. It is desirable, I think, that honorable senators should know exactly what has been the subsidy paid in the past for this service, and how it has been proportioned. From the very inception of the contract, New South Wales has been interested in it, at first in conjunction with New Zealand, and afterwards in conjunction with Queensland. In 1893 the service was first established. From the period 1893 to 1903 New South Wales paid annually towards this service ^10,000. From the period 1899 to 1903 - that is, from the period when Queensland first came in until 1903 - Queensland paid .£7,500 per annum, which amount had, between 1893 and 1899, been paid by New Zealand, making a total annual subsidy paid by the two Australian States, Queensland and New South Wales, of £17,500 per annum. But since the renewal that took place in 1903, the contribution of New South Wales towards the subsidy has Been £13,636 7s., and Queensland has been paying ^10,227 5s. 3d., making a total paid bv the two States of £23,863 12s. 3d. As I have already said, for the first three months of the fifteen months of this extension which the Senate is asked to ratify, payment is being made at that rate. Other countries are interested in this contract besides Australia. They are Fiji and Canada. For the ten years ending 30th April, 1903, the contributions paid by the countries interested were - Canada,. £25,000; New South Wales, £10,000; New Zealand (or Queensland), £7,500; and Fiji, £1,500; making the total annual subsidy to the company £44,000. In 1903, when the Commonwealth Government, on behalf of Queensland and New South Wales, renewed the contract for two years, the subsidy was increased ; and for the two years and three months ending 31st July last the following contributions towards the total subsidy were paid by the several countries to which I have referred : - Canada,. £34,090 18s. 8d. ; New South Wales, £13,636 7s.; Queensland, £10,227 5s. 3d. ; Fiji, £2,045 9s- > making a total subsidy of £60,000. In other words, two years ago the subsidy in respect of this service was increased from £44,000 per annum to £60,000 per annum, and in the case of New South Wales and Queensland there was, of course, a corresponding increase in the subsidy paid. I would point out to honorable senators that for the period, ending 30th April, 1903, out of the £44,000 per annum paid in respect of this service, Canada paid £25,000, and New Zealand and Queensland together paid £17,500; whilst for the period1 ending 31st last July Canada’s contribution of the £60,000 was £34,090 18s. 8d., and the contribution of Queensland and1 New South Wales was £23,863 12s. 3d. It must be obvious to honorable senators that, although that subsidy is professedly distributed amongst the various countries interested on a per capita basis, Queensland and New South Wales are paying a larger proportion of the total than would represent the ratio between their total populations and the population of Canada. In other words, the population has not been estimated as the population of all Canada on the one side, and the population of New South Wales and Queensland together on the other side.
– Why should it be?
– I am not saying whether it should or- should not be, but I am stating a fact - that the populations have not been estimated in that way. Queensland and New South Wales have been paying seemingly rather on the basis of the Australian population than upon the basis of their own populations. Their proportion of the total subsidy would not be so near to Canada’s contribution if they were only paying on the basis of their own population.
– They are paying the same proportion as under the renewed contract of 1899 ?
– Yes, I think so; at any rate, there is very little variation.
– So far as concerns the payment of a contribution on a population basis, they entered into it with their eves open.
– In the first instance, they entered into it in 1893, when New South Wales paid £10,000 and
New Zealand (and afterwards Queensland), .£7,500. 1 That made a contribution of ,£17,500 from the two States; and their contribution at present - or until the 31st July- is .£23,863 12s. 3d., out of a total of ,£60,000, showing that their proportion of this subsidy is related more nearly to the total population of Australia in comparison with Canada than to the population of the two States, New South Wales and Queensland, in comparison with Canada. In connexion with portion of the extended period that is now under consideration, namely, from the 31st’ of last July until the 31st of next July, it is agreed to pay a subsidy of ,£66,000. Of that sum the Commonwealth’s contribution will be ,£26,626 16s. The other countries that I have mentioned as being interested in the contract will pay as follow, namely, Canada’s contribution willi be ,£37,090 18s. 3d., whilst Fiji will pay ,£2,282 5s. 4c!. In connexion with the previous extensions, New South Wales and1 Queensland, as I have already indicated, bore the cost of the subsidy. That cost it is now proposed to distribute.
– What did Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia pay in the previous years?
– They contributed nothing by way of subsidy.
– Except poundages.
– Poundage was paid in respect of mail matter sent. I will give those particulars directly. The total contribution paid from Australia - that is, from Queensland and New South Wales - will in future be borne by the several States of the Commonwealth upon a f er capita basis, and I shall mention what will be the proportion borne by each State in such event. New South Wales will pay £9.738 9s. 9d. ; Victoria, ,£8,088 4s. 2d.
– Those” are not the figures in the Estimates for the current year.
– They are the figures so far as concerns the twelve months, though not perhaps for the fifteen months.
– I am referring to the figures contained in the Estimates of the Government.
– Probably the figures referred to by the honorable senator make allowance for the poundages received, which would reduce the total. The Estimates, in other words, perhaps show the amounts net, but I am showing what would be the total contribution if we did not get the benefit of a few hundred pounds by way of poundage. New South Wales, as I have said, will Pay ;£9>738 9s- 9d- ; Victoria, ^8,088 4s. 2d. ; Queensland, .£3,486 2s. 3d. ; South Australia, ,£2,490 ira. 4d. ; Western Australia, ,£1,619 3S- 6d. ; and Tasmania, £1,204 5s- i making a total of ,£26,626 16s., which is the amount Australia is paying of the total subsidy of £66,000. Some reference was. made by Senator Matheson to a variation in the figures supplied in connexion with the matter. The figures to which the honorable senator has referred probably deal with what would be the net payment by each State, because some allowance is to be made for poundage, of which we get the benefit in connexion with mail matter sent.
– From whom would we receive poundage?
– From New Zealand. There is a difference of, I think, some . ,£223 in our favour, because we pay poundage in respect of some lines running from New Zealand to San Francisco that are subsidized jointly by the United States Government and New Zealand. The last extension of this contract was from 30th October, 1903, and was arranged by the Commonwealth Government on behalf of the two States of Queensland and1 New South Wales. That was for two years, but the present proposal is to extend the contract for a period of only fifteen months, leaving it to either party up to the end of April, next year, to give at least three months’ notice of the termination of the contract. Failing that notice being given, the contract will remain in force for another period of twelve months; that is to say, it will not come to an end until the 31st July, 1907. The mileage fate;, worked out on the present total subsidy of ,£66,000, comes to 5s. 3d., and of this 5s. 3d. the Commonwealth’s share amounts to a fraction over 2s. per mile. The ports called1 at will be those called at in the past - Sydney, Brisbane, Fiji,’ Honolulu, and Vancouver. The time occupied in the1 transit of the mails from Australia to Canada averages 21 days 10 hours, and for the transit of mail matter to or from England, by way of this route. 37 days, as against 33 days by the Orient Steam Navigation Company, and 31 days 16 hours by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s boats. Honorable senators will note that the extension proposed is not for any lengthy period, but for a period that will be just about sufficient to enable the parties interested to effect some arrangement likely to be more satisfactory than thu present one. I said just now that I would supply information as to the amount of mail matter conveyed by this service. During the year 1904-5, the international correspondence despatched from the different States by this service was as follows : - New South Wales, of letters, 2,0I 21bs
IOZ. ; other articles, 23,673^. 120zs., cost £13,636, representing the amount of the subsidy paid by that State. Victoria, of letters, 7801bs. 120zs. ; other articles, 10,443lbs. 40ZS., cost ,£689 3s. 8d. in poundage.
– And it is now proposed that Victoria shall contribute £8,088 4s. 2~d.
– That is so; but the honorable senator will notice that the difference between the weight of mail matter sent by Victoria and New South Wales is not represented by the difference between £689 3s. 8d. and £13,636.
– There is a very substantial difference. What is the object of the alteration in the incidence of the cost ?
– Victoria sent a little less than half the mail matter sent by New South Wales. Queensland’s mail matter sent by this line was very much less than that sent by Victoria. Of letters, Queensland sent 420lbs. 11½OZS., other articles, 7:8601bs. 120zs., but Queensland paid during that year her share pf the subsidy, amounting to £10,227 5s. 3d. South Australia sent, of letters 7 75lbs 70ZS., other articles 4771bs. 90zs.
– What is she to be made to pay for that lot?
– Her share of the subsidy will be £2,490 us. 4d.
– What did she pay before for poundage?
– She paid, during the year under notice, £64 14s. Western Australia sent, of letters 13lbs. 20zs., and other articles 96 lbs., for which she paid in poundage the sum of £8 2s. Tasmania sent, of letters, 125lbs. 130zs., and of other articles 7791bs. 15J0ZS., at a poundage cost of £92 2s. id.
– She will now have to pay about ,£1,500.
– Her share of the subsidy will amount to ,£1,204 5s.
– What is Western Australia to pay under the contract?
– Her share will amount to £1,619 3s. 6d.
– For about 15lbs. weight of mail matter.
– For coming into the Federation.
– The proportion of letters sent by this service during the year under review works out as follows : - New South Wales, 59 per cent.-; Victoria,. 22 per cent. ; Queensland, 12 per cent, y South Australia, 3 per cent. ; and Tasmania and Western Australia, 4 per cent. The proportion of other articles works out in this way : - New South Wales, 51.5 per cent. ; Victoria, 28 per cent. ; Queensland,. 7 per cent. ; South Australia, 1.5 per cent. ; and Western Australia and Tasmania, 2- per cent. Then the percentages of cost are as follow : - New South Wales, 55.18 per cent.; Victoria, 2.79 per cent.;. Queensland, 41.39 per cent. ; South Australia, 0.27 -per cent.; and Western Australia and Tasmania, 0.37 per cent. It will be seen that while New South Walessent 59 per cent, of the letters, and 61.5 per cent, of the other articles, she paid” 55 per cent, of the cost, and Victoria, while sending 22 per cent, of the letters, and’ 28 per cent, of the other articles, paid, during that year, only 2 per cent, of the cost.
– Has there been no consideration of trade?
– I propose to deal! with that aspect of the question. Queensland, sending 12 per cent, of the letters, and 7 per cent, of other articles, pai d 41.39 per cent, of the cost; South Australia, sending 3 per cent, of the letters and 1.5 per cent, of the other articles, paid 0.27 per cent, of the cost. The figures for Tasmania and Western Australia appear to have been worked out together ; and whilst they sent 4 per cent, of the letters, and -a per cent, of other articles, they paid 0.37 per cent, of the cost. I do not wish honorable senators to consider this as entirely a mail contract. It is not a contract which from the point of view of a mail contract alone could be defended on any ground. That is to say, we should not be asked to contribute .£26,626 16s. a year for the benefit to be derived from this service as a mail service. The position, so far as the whole of the Commonwealth is concerned, is that, roughly speaking, the amount of money which we would have to pay for the mail matter sent by this service at poundage rates, if it still continued to exist, would be a little over £3,000. Instead of that, we are paying £26,626 16s., or something like £23,000 in excess of what we would actually have to pay at poundage ratesfor the transport of the mail matter we send. But I remind honorable senators of this feature in connexion with the contract. As I have pointed out, there are other parties to the contract, as well as the two Australian States which I have mentioned. There are Canada and Fiji. Canada pays a subsidy amounting to , £37,090 18s. 8d., and that subsidyis paid by the Canadian Department of Trade and Commerce, and not by the Canadian Postal Department. It is regarded as a trade subsidy. When this line of communication was established honorable senators will remember that a good deal was said about the necessity and desirableness of having an “all-red” route between Australia and Great Britain.
– At what date was that ?
– In 1893, when Mr. Huddart was negotiating with the New South Wales and New Zealand Governments.
– Why did not all the Australian States contribute, if that was the case?
– I do not know. If New South Wales was more patriotic than were the other States, of Australia in that regard, there is no reason why she should be punished now. There can be no doubt that sentimental and patriotic considerations had a good deal of influence in the establishment of this line of communication in the first instance, but I think that unless very good reasons were shown why such a service should be discontinued’, and unless it could be pointed out that the maintenance of the service would be highly disadvantageous, we should hesitate for a very long time indeed before we cut off this communication which has existed in the past. What we ask in connexion with this matter is that ratification shall be given by the Senate to the arrangement entered into for the extension of this contract until the 31st of July of next year. I have pointed out that, so for as the transport of mail matter alone is ‘concerned, this contract would be wholly indefensible.
– The honorable senator has not said anything about the trade point of view.
– I shall come to that presently. The honorable senator seems to be very impatient ; but I desire to deal with these matters in their order. I say that, as a mail contract alone this would be indefensible. It was established, in the first instance, partly for sentimental and partly for patriotic reasons, and by persons animated with the hope that it would eventually lead to increased commercial relations between Australia and Canada. So far as Australia is concerned, I do not think the development of trade has been what the least sanguine person in Australia anticipated. According to the figures, the trade between Australia and Canada during 1900- 1-2-3-4 was as follows: - In 1900, the imports from Canada amounted to£237,707, and the Australian exports to Canada to £67,857, or a total volume of trade of £305,564; in 1901, the imports from Canada increased to . £330,788, and the Australian exports to Canada decreased to £37,543, showing a total of . £368,331;in 1902, the imports from Canada increased still further to . £346,560, and the exports from Australia to Canada further decreased to £33,622, or a total of , £380,182; in 1903, the imports from Canada further increased to . £352,939, and our exports further decreased to £24,837, or a total of £37 7,7 76; and in 1904, for some reason or other, there was a reversal of the process, and Canada’s exports receded to £222,064.
– That was less than in 1900.
– It was less than the exports ever were during these years.
– Were the larger amounts not due to the grain imports?
– I am not in a position to answer the question; but possibly honorable senators, who have given some minute attention to thetrade relations of the Empire, may be able to do so.
SenatorPulsford. - The larger importations were due to the drought, when considerable quantities of wheat were purchased, and the decrease is owing to our better seasons.
– In 1904, the value of the Australian exports took an upward turn to £29,352, showing a total volume of trade for the year of £251,416. I am not in a position to speak with any authority as to the explanation which has just been suggested by Senator Pulsford; but I have here the chief items of import from Canada during 1.904. These imports comprise apparel .and textiles, £20,656 ; boots and shoes, ,£9,854; drugs, chemicals, medicines, and perfumes, £17, 747 ; fish, £23,495; agricultural implements and machines, £26,926; machines and machinery, £10,498; timber, £59,966; and bicycles and parts, £13,648. In the same year, the chief items of export from Australia were butter, .£3,054; coal, £4,347 ; cocoa-nut oil, £2,022; skins and hides, £4,684; undressed timber, £2,307 ; and wool, £2,620.
– The export of wool ought to be more than that, unless Canada gets her Australian wool by way of, London.
– It is probably the case that the greater part of the Australian wool for Canada goes through the United Kingdom. Honorable senators will see that the history of this contract, and the relations between Australia and the various companies, show many points for consideration.
– Does the Minister defend the contract from a trade point of view?
– I say that it would be highly undesirable for us to terminate the contract now, without giving ourselves an opportunity to look round and make the best and the most of existing arrangements.
– But does the Minister say that the trade results have been satisfactory ?
– I do not; but I was pointing out that the contract demonstrates many things. In the first instance, although we propose to pay our proportion of the £66,000 per annum to this shipping company, I do not think anybody would be rash enough to say that that company is doing very well out of the contract. This contract originated in 1893, when New Zealand and New South Wales were the parties, so far as Australasia was concerned, with Canada and Fiji as the two other parties. The contract was renewed during 1896, for a further period of three years,- and, in 1899, when an opportunity was presented to renew it, what do we find? New Zealand went out of the contract, and the place of that Colony was taken by Queensland. Incidentally I may mention that we are given to understand that New Zealand would very much like to be taken back as a party to the. contract.
– Cannot we let New Zealand become a party ?
– It is not for us to do that now, because there 1must necessarily be a certain amount of negotiation. The company, which at present carries out the contract, is, I understand, willing to re duce the amount Australia is paying by some £6,000, if their vessels are allowed to call at a New Zealand port. That is a factor we must keep in mind in connexion with the ratification of the contract. We are only asking ratification for a limited period, so that opportunity will be given by negotiation to modify the existing contract in such a way that it will be more acceptable, and of more benefit to us. When New Zealand ceased to be a party, in 1899, Mr. Huddart, who had been the projector of this service, also ceased his connexion with it after six years’ experience. Messrs. Bums, Philp, and Company then took up the contract, and held it for the extended period, from 1899 to 1903. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, being a Queensland firm, naturally had some advantages which an outside firm could not enjoy. But what followed? At the end of 1903, Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company dropped out of the contract, which was then taken by the Union Steam-ship Company, who have carried it out for. the last two years. We are now asking that the contract, subject to the terms set out in the notice of motion, shall be ratified by the Senate for a period ending, on the 31st July next year. I have already pointed out that in the interval we may be able to make arrangements whereby New Zealand ma)’’ become one of the contributing States, and thus reduce the payment made by us by about -£6. 000. There are other factors which must be considered. Since the contract was entered into, neither the class of steamers, nor the frequency, of communication, has been) very much improved. At first the steamers ran even’ calendar month, whereas now they run every four weeks, while the speed is not very great, averaging 13 or 14 knots an hour.
– I understand that New Zealand pays a poundage on the mails carried for that Colony; is there a uniform rate?
– The poundage fate is that fixed at Berne by the International Postal Union, and Ave receive about ,£600 in poundage from New Zealand. That Colony and the United’ States jointly subsidize the San Francisco line of steamers, and for mail matter which goes from the Commonwealth by that line we pay a small sum in poundage, which leaves a balance in our favour of the ,£200 or £300 referred to by me just now in reply to Senator Matheson. Honorable senators will therefore see that, as I have said, this contract has not to be regarded entirely from the point of view of postal services.
– Nor from a trade point of view, according to the figures which have been quoted.
– I pointed out that the trade results have not, by far, been all that was anticipated. Honorable senators know why this line of communication was first established. Sentimental considerations, rightly, I think, operate in the minds of many people very strongly indeed, and will prevent them doing anything to break the existing means of communication. If by any action on the part of this Parliament or Government, or of any other Australian Government, this present means of communication between Australia arid Canada were abolished, it might be very difficult to obtain a new contract on even anything like the terms to which I have referred. On the other hand, I have shown that ample opportunity will be given between the present time and the end of July of next year to take advantage of our experience, and of the knowledge which we have of what New Zealand and the Union Steam-ship Company are prepared to do if a New Zealand port of call can be included. I do not think, I say again, that anybody could defend the contract from a postal point of view alone. It is evident that Canada does not regard, the present arrangement as a postal contract in the strict sense of the word, or, otherwise, the cost would be debited to the Canadian postal administration, whereas, as I have pointed out, it is debited to the Trade and Commerce Department. If we regard the ,£26,000 as a trade subsidy, even though that subsidy has not been productive of the good results we might have anticipated, it becomes a question whether we can impose this burden on the two States of New South Wales and Queensland.
– In what light does the honorable senator now regard the contract ?
– I am inclined to think upon the facts that it is a trade subsidy.
– And it has been so regarded all along bv the two States.
– Quite so. The two States entered into the contract in the first place, mot for the sole purpose of facilitating postal communication either with Canada or the old country, but in order to develop the trade relations between New South Wales and Queensland, on the one hand, and Canada on the other.
Senator. (Matheson. - And ‘Queensland and New South Wales regarded it. as a special trade subsidy.
– That may be. We are now asking for a ratification of the extension of the contract for a certain period.
– For a renewal.
– A renewal or extension! subject to certain terms. If we deal with this as a trade contract, and not as a postal contract, it is more than open to doubt whether we can debit the cost to two States of the Union, because ‘then we should be discriminating in a way contrary! to the Constitution-. The figures I have quoted may not be satisfactory even to those who were the least sanguine ; but it is desirable that honorable senators on such a motion should be made acquainted with not only the history of the contract, but with all the facts, whether these be favorable or unfavorable.
– Under this contract will Australian postal matter go free from Vancouver ?
-I understand so; but if I am misinforming the Senate I shall correct the error before we go to a division.
– May not this route become the main one for sending letters to Great Britain?
– Undoubtedly it may. When we ratified the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s contract a short time ago it was decided to terminate it at the earliest opportunity. On the other hand, if may Le necessary to have our principal means of postal communication with Great’ Britain through Canada, and if we still had this company as a contractor for the Commonwealth, undoubtedly we should be in a better position to bring about any such result than we should be in if a contract for the carriage of mail matter between Australia and Canada had to be entered upon de novo. In the light of these circumstances, I ask honorable senators to agree to the motion.
– ls it intended to make an allowance to the States which do not derive a benefit from the contract?
– It is simply proposed to distribute the burden of the contract on a -per capita basis, as has been done recently with new works and buildings, and other matters which cannot truly be spoken of as being administered as at the time of the transfer of the Department to the Commonwealth.
– But in the case of the contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company the Government made an allowance to Tasmania and Queensland.
– We are. acting on exactly the like principle in this case. The contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company was one for the carriage of mails from Naples to Adelaide; and, apart altogether from any other consideration, every State was contributing to that service on a per capita basis, including Queensland and Tasmania, which were never visited by the mail ships under the terms of the contract. On the other hand, this is in fact a trade contract primarily, and a mail contract incidentally, and, being a trade contract, we cannot discriminate between the States unless we are prepared to violate the Constitution. Consequently, the burden of the subsidy must be borne by the States according to their population.
– The renewal of the former contract would not be a violation of the Constitution.
– We cannot renew the contract’ for the two States as a Commonwealth act without violating the principle of the Constitution against discriminating between States.
– From what date has the subsidy been charged on a per capita basis ?
– It has been charged from the end of May last, and the determination to adopt this plan was announced by the late Prime Minister on his visit to Brisbane in the following month. I think it is the correct and only course which can be adopted in connexion with the ratification of the contract. We do not ask that the contract shall be ratified for an indefinite period, but for a period sufficiently long to enable the Commonwealth. Government, and those who are interested in the matter to arrive at an arrangement which will be much more satisfactory in the light of our past experience.
– If the Minister’s law is right, may there not have to be adjustments made prior to May last?
– That may or may not be the case; but that is a matter which would have to be dealt with administratively hereafter.
– After having listened carefully to the Minister’s statement, I must say that this is one of the most neglected and unsatisfactory services in the Commonwealth. The contract, I understand, was practically entered into by a previous Administration. There was so little time in which to consider the matter that the Commonwealth had either to withdraw or to accept the conditions as they now exist. Since the service was started in 1903, we have had no improvement in the vessels.
– Yes. There is a twin-screw steamer running now.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There has practically been no improvement in the service, and the vessels are old and slow.
-Col. Gould. - Not all.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The increase has been not in the speed” or the size of the vessels, but in the subsidy. From 1893 to 1899 the subsidy was £44,000; from 1903 to 1905 it was £60,000 ; and from 1905 to 1906 it was £66,000. During that period the Australian share has increased from £10,000- to £26,626. The boats are of about 3,500 tons, and only go at a speed of 13 or 14 knots an hour.
– When was the Australian share £10,000?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.From 1893 to 1899, when” New Zealand paid £7,500. We are/ now paying the enormous subsidy of 5s. 3d. a mile. If it be compared with the subsidies paid for efficient services, it will be found to be the highest of all. The subsidy for the Pacific mail service averages is. 4d. a mile; the Norddeutcher-Lloyd Steam Navigation Company are paid a subsidy of 4s. 9d. a mile ; while the Orient Steam Navigation Company are subsidized at the rate of, I think, 3s. 8d. a mile. Undoubtedly the Vancouver mail service is not only the most highly subsidized, but is, I suppose, the least efficient of all the services to Australia.
– Two shillings a mile is all that the Commonwealth pays.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The subsidy paid to the company is 5s. 3d. a mile, and our share of it comes to 2s. id. a mile. From the postal point of view, it is absolutely the slowest service we can get to London. Let us consider the time which it takes to send a letter by each route to London. By the Canadian line from Sydney it takes 37 *</inline> days
– We must send commercial agents to Canada.
asked the other day if it was the intention of the Government to appoint commercial agents in Canada in order to endeavour to create fresh -markets for Australian produce and manufactures. I do not wish to see this line stopped. It gives direct connexion with Canada, and with judicious management it could be improved. I believe that for a subsidy of £[66,000 a very much more efficient line of steamers could be obtained.
– If it is not a passenger route, it would be useless for the Commonwealth to pay for good steamers.
– It is a passenger route, and would become more popular if we had decent steamers. The route through Canada is very beautiful, and one which many people would prefer to take.
– Then the honorable senator would subsidize a line for passenger purposes?
– I should be very sorry, on general grounds, to see the line stopped. But the service is useless from any point of view at the present time. I think it could be made efficient. I have endeavoured to point out -that first of all we could get a better line of steamers for the £[66,000 we are paying. Secondly, we should be able to increase our trade connexions and the quantity of our exports by having commerci al agents in Canada. Possibly in time there might be preferential trade between Australia and Canada, which would decrease the tremendous duties which at present keep Australian produce out of Canadian markets.
– What exports does the honorable senator think we could increase ?
– At the present time, our exports are butter, hides, coal, and wool. On butter in Canada we pay 2d. per lb. duty ; on hides, 15 per cent, j on coal, 20 per cent, ad valorem ; on wool, ijd. per lb.
– Which of those exports .would be increased by having better steam-ships ?
– I think’ that undoubtedly a stimulus would be given to the butter trade.
– Do they not make butter in Canada?
– The Canadian winter is very severe. The ground over 1a great area is frozen and buttermaking falls off tremendously. Just at that time we have large quantities of butter to export from Australia. Owing to the fact that the two countries are on different sides of the equator, it is possible for us very much to extend our export of butter. The same holds good, I have no doubt, with regard .to hides and wool. I am certain that Canada uses far more Australian wool than is sent by the present steam-ship service. If we had a better service, .and the duty on wool were less, I believe we should have a very much larger trade with Canada.
– If the wool gets there now, what does k matter by what route it goes?
– If the cost of the wool is increased through the way in which it is sent, we should extend the trade by decreasing the cost. The most unsatisfactory feature of this matter is that the renewed contract is already in operation. It commenced last May. We have to give notice of its termination next April. It is possible that at that time Parliament may not be sitting. It will be extended by Executive act. The Government will undoubtedly say “ We will extend it for another twelve months.” The Government have not time to arrange with the Union Steam-ship Company, or any other company for an improved service between now and next April It would take at least two years to do that. In the case of the Orient Steam Navigation Company the Government have just given notice that the contract will terminate in two years’ time from next January. But it is quite impossible tQ say, in the case of the Canadian line, that next April we will refuse to continue the service, and at the same time make arrangements for a fresh line of steamers, or for an improved service.
It is very unsatisfactory that we should pay a subsidy amounting to 5s. 3d. per mile, with a prospect of .the contract being renewed from year to year, without an opportunity being afforded for the present or another company to arrange for an improved service.
– Notice can be given in
– That does not give time for competition to come into play, and if the contract was not renewed, the connexion between Canada and Australia would be absolutely stopped. I think that it would be better for the Government to agree to a continuation of the service for two years, and then to come to the determination that the service, as at present constituted, shall absolutely end, calling for tenders for a more efficient service at once, than to renew the contract as now proposed. In considering this and kindred matters, the Government ought, in my opinion, to lay down a definite policy to submit to Parliament with regard to mail subsidies to all parts of the world. We should consider the whole subject as to whether we shall pay subsidies, and if so, on what routes. At present we attack some matters on the impulse of the moment. First of all, the Government says to us, “ This contract is already in operation, and we must assent to it.” It comes before Parliament, and Parliament assents to it. Next year exactly the same thing occurs. There is no time to look round. If the Government were to work out a careful and proper scheme for mail subsidies, wherever we desire to pay them, we should be able to make up our minds upon a suitable plan, and should know exactly what we were doing. We are told that this is not merely a mail subsidy, but also a commercial subsidy. It seems that certain States have subsidized steamers for the purpose of increasing their exports, and that the Commonwealth can take over those services when requested. What would honorable senators say if Western Australia started a steam-ship service from Perth to India or China, and then came .to the Commonwealth and said, “ This is a Commonwealth matter, and we desire you to take it over.”
– This subsidy was entered into before the inauguration of the Commonwealth.
– The principle is the same.- If it were proposed to this Parliament that Western Australia should have a subsidized service, in order to increase her export trade, the idea would be laughed at.
– Western Australia has four services at present - the French, German, P. and 0., and Orient services. What more does she “want ?
– Western Australia does not subsidize them.
– She takes advantage of them.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.What I have to say, to sum up, is that this is the worst service that the Commonwealth is subsidizing. It neither helps our exports nor does it assist us in mail matters. Yet we seem to fear that, owing to the position in which we are, if we do not renew the contract we shall absolutely cease to have “direct communication with” Canada. I really think that the Government should either continue the service for two years, and say definitely that the contract willi cease then, unless it is improved, and try to arrange with New Zealand and Canada for an improved service I think that New Zealand would join with us. I am aware that she is already subsidizing the Oceanic Steam-ship Company, but I understand that she is willing to participate with the Commonwealth in a new service, provided the vessels employed1 call at Auckland. I am satisfied that we can get a far better service for the £[66,000. I believe that if we had a more efficient service, and had commercial agents in Canada, we could, possibly with the further aid of a reduction in Canadian duties, create new markets for Australia, which would in time become very valuable.
– I think that, without exception, this is the most remarkable proposal that has ever been placed before the Senate. Both the mover and seconder of the motion had not a single word to say in favour of it. They condemned it from every possible point of view, except - so far as Senator Keating was concerned - the sentimental aspect ; and1 I submit to the Senate “that sentiment is not altogether a matter which should induce the Government to bring in an expensive proposal of this sort. The only thing that Senator Smith could say in favour of the motion was that in the course of a year or two we might get a more efficient service ; and’ when I pressed him as to what benefit to Australia a more efficient service would be he was absolutely nonplussed. It was simply a parrot cry which he took up from Hansard, or from hearing some one else make such a remark in the Chamber, and he personally could not justify the sentiment to which he had given expression. Senator Smith enumerated what our exports were. With one exception our exports by these subsidized steamers are articles produced in Canada. It must therefore be clear that no extra- efficiency in the subsidized service would1 be of the least avail in increasing our exports to that country. The export of coal to Vancouver is the only trade that shows any, promise, and the coal is not carried iti the subsidized steamers. I therefore fail to see that any more efficient service would benefit Australia in the least in this respect, unless we are entitled to anticipate a largely -increased export of cocoanut oil, which is not produced in Canada. Our exports of this commodity at present amount in value to £[2.000, and I hardly think that even Senator Smith would consider an increased export of cocoanut oil sufficient to justify the payment of a subsidy of £[66,000. I need not make a long speech, because Senator Keating has admitted very frankly, first of all, that this service is of no value whatever as a mail service.
– The honorable senator said it was of very little value.
– I took the Minister’s words down most carefully, and what he said was that he could not defend the service as a mail service in any sense.
– He said practically the same of it as a trade service.
– The honorable senator practically said the same thing of it as a trade service. He showed by the statistics he quoted that our trade was falling away each year, until last year, when it increased in value by some few thousands of pounds. As a matter of fact, this subsidized service has been, according to the admission of the members of the Government themselves, a failure from every possible point of view. Yet they come before us to-day and ask us to renew the contract’. Really they d’o not leave us any option, for they have practically renewed it already because a term of months has intervened between the termination of the extension of the last contract and the commencement of the contract we are now asked to affirm, and we certainly must go on with this contract.
– Are we committed to it?
– We are practically committed to it. We really have no option but to ratify it. It is another of those cases commencing with the naval subsid’y agreement, in which the Government have come before us time after time to say, “ You have no option but to confirm what we have done, because the Government are pledged.”
– What would happen if the Senate did not ratify the contract?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator what would happen. I «an only suggest that he should ask Senator Keating, as representing the Attorney - General. The honorable senator will no doubt ask for notice of the question, and will then be able to supply Senator Clemons gratis with a legal opinion on the subject. I have no desire to waste time in dealing with what has been admitted by the Government already. But what I do desire to deal with is their colossal impudence in coming before us and suggesting that Australia should pay for this fiasco on a -per capita basis. It is necessary to touch upon the history of this contract. The original contract was made in 1893, New Zealand, New South Wales, and Fiji being the three Australasian partners with Canada in the payment of the subsidy. The contract was then admittedly a _ trade contract. It was anticipated that an improvement in the commercial relations of the various countries concerned would be fostered bv this service. The contract was renewed for a further period of three years in 1896 by the same parties. In 1899 it was again renewed for four years, but at this stage New Zealand retired, and Oueensland took her place. Again, I should say that at that time it was considered a trade subsidy, and not a mail subsidy, in any sense. In 1903 the contract was again renewed by the Commonwealth - and this is the point to which I direct special attention - on behalf of the two States interested, Queens- 0 land and New South Wales. That is a point which was carefully evaded by Senator Keating in his speech, but it is of most material importance in the consideration of the proposal now brought before us bv the Government. The subsidy paid in 1893 by New South Wales and New Zealand was £17,500. The contract was renewed in 1899 at the same figure, the amount being paid by New South Wales and Queensland. In 1903, when the Commonwealth arranged for a contract on behalf of the two States- interested, the subsidy was increased - this also is most important - and became £25,863, payable by the two States of New South Wales and Queensland, the increase in the amount being £6>3<33-
– What was the reason for that?
– The sole reason for the increase in the subsidy was that the contracting steam-ship company said that they could not carry on the service for the subsidy they had previously been paid. There was no stipulation then made for increased speed, or an improved service. No advantage whatever was reaped by the Commonwealth in securing an extension of the contract for an increased subsidy on behalf of the two States. There was no consideration for the increase of the subsidy, except the continuance of the existing service on the same lines. Now we are asked to ratify a contract involving, the payment of a subsidy of £26,626, or an increase of about £3,000 on the last increase. There is no alteration whatever in the terms of the contract stipulating for increased speed, or improvement of service. We are simply to pay the extra £3,000 for the continuation of the service under existing conditions. I wish to prove to the Senate that when the renewal of the contract took place in 1903, it was perfectly understood, and clearly recognised by all parties that New South Wales and Queensland were the only States interested, and that the .subsidy was increased by the Federal Government, simply and entirely on their behalf. I shall not ask the Senate to take my ipse dixit for that, as I propose to quote shortly two or three remarks made by leading statesmen when the matter was before Parliament at that time. The references may be found in Hansard for the 1st July, 1903. At page 1642 it will be found that Sir Edmund Barton is reported to have spoken as follows : -
If the proposal now put forward is adopted by the House, the Commonwealth on behalf of New South Wales and Queensland will pay ^6,363 12s. gd. extra. … It will be £23,863 12s. gd. instead of ^17,500 on behalf of Queensland and New South Wales. … As the bulk of the advantage to be obtained from it will be reaped by New South Wales and Queensland, it has appeared to us to be right and constitutional that the expense shall be charged back in the way proposed.
On the same page it will be found that he said -
The service, however, is a promising one, inasmuch as the number of passengers is increasing, and a full cargo is taken from Canada nearly every trip.
I have quoted that to show how very in-, accurate in his forecast Sir Edmund Barton was in this respect. I take it that it was very largely upon his representations to Parliament that the contract was renewed in 1903. He is also reported at page 1643 to have said -
The carriage of mails to England by the Canadian route occupies three or four days longer than by the Suez route.
That, therefore, was known at the time. Sir William McMillan also spoke on the subject. He represented Wentworth in New South Wales, and may be taken to have known what the feeling of the New South Wales Government was. He said -
It is understood that ‘the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland knew of the proposed transaction, and acquiesced in it.
Mr. Joseph Cook, who is also a representative of New South Wales, spoke on the subject.
– Is he a statesman?
– He is now the deputy leader of the Free-trade Party in the House of Representatives, and I assume that he fairly comes under the heading of “ statesman.” At page 1645 °f Hansard, for 1903, he complained that the House had not received particulars of the agreement, that they were asked to enter into it blindfold, and that the service was not paying. Mr. Watson, another statesman, a representative of New South Wales, and one who. I believe, if I have not been misinformed, is the leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives, is reported at page 1654 of Hansard, for 1903, to have said -
Honorable members need not fear that States other than New South Wales and Queensland will be called upon to bear any burden in this connexion. . . . To my mind there is no doubt that the proposed expenditure is as much transferred expenditure as would be the payment of an increased sum for the carriage of mails between two towns in any one State.
I think I have made it clear that, at the time this contract was renewed in 1903, it was perfectly understood that the subsidy would be paid by the two States of New South Wales and Queensland only, and it was considered by Parliament to be a perfectly fair and just arrangement that the payment should be made in that way. With one exception, I am unable to find that a single person raised a voice in protest, and I will deal with the protest that was raised later on. From a postal point of view, it has been already pointed out that this ser- vice is of very little value. The time taken to transport mails between Brisbane and England, via Vancouver, has been shown to be 37 days 10 hours. By the Suez Canal, the time taken from Brisbane by the Orient boats is 33 days 7 hours, and by the Peninsular and Oriental boats, 31 days 16 hours.
– From Brisbane?
– Yes, from Brisbane. These are figures which were given in another place; they are Ministerial figures, which I have taken from Hansard, and I presume they are accurate. It has also been pointed out that if the mail matter carried by this service were paid for at’ poundage rates, it would cost ,£3,200, which leaves a balance of £[23,000. This £[23,000 is admittedly paid as a trade subsidy for the encouragement of commerce. A most remarkable fact ds that, without any subsidy whatever, the San Francisco line, simply because this is the natural mail route, carries 81,000 lbs. of mail matter as against 38,000 lbs. carried by the Vancouver line. It is perfectly clear that the Minister was quite justified in saying that, so far as the mail service is concerned, this subsidy has no justification. I lay some stress on this point, because, unless it be a mail subsidy, I see not the least justification for the Government attempting to debit States other than Queensland and New South Wales with any portion of the expenditure.
– The honorable senator is entirely overlooking the speed and regularity of the Vancouver service.
– Exactly the same speed and regularity are afforded by the San Francisco line.
– Do the boats of the latter line run as often as the boats of the other liner
– The boats of the San Francisco line run every month > but that fact is not very material, considering that, almost without exception, the English mails are sent by the Suez Canal-
The result, as has been very fairly pointed out, is that we are actually subsidizing steamers to bring manufactured goods from Canada to compete with the manufactured goods of Australia.
– Surely that is not objectionable to the honorable senator, as a free-trader ?
– If the competition were flowing in the natural channels of trade, I should have less objection; but that we should put our hands into our pockets to enable the manufacturers of Canada to send goods here more cheaply than they otherwise would, seems tome to be a most extraordinary proposition to come from an alleged protectionist Government. I use the word “alleged “ because it is obvious that the result of the subsidy is that just described.
-The Government have never alleged that they are protectionists.
– I understand that the leader of the Government has repeatedly alleged that he is a protectionist, and has advocated, in theory, protectionist measures.”
– “In theory.”
– I carefully said “ in theory.” We have been told that the Postmaster-General of thelate Government entered into this contract ; but when I refer to the printed paper placed_ before us, I discover, to my amazement, that the draft agreement was submitted to the skipping company only onthe 20th September of this year. Under these circumstances, how could the late Postmaster-General have possibly entered into this agreement?
– Most likely the Postmaster-General had promised, in the course of correspondence, to enter into the agreement.
– This draft agreement was submitted to the company on the 20th September, and it was only on the 2nd October that the present Government received the acquiescence of the representatives of the company in New Zealand to the terms of the contract.
– The agreement may have been actually entered into long before the formal agreement was drawn up.
- Senator Best is a lawyer, and he suggests an explanation which certainly had not occurred to me. Some evidence ought to have been brought forward to prove that the late Postmaster-
General did commit us to this agreement. No correspondence of any sort has been produced, and we have simply to rely on the word of the Government, which, while it does not run counter to, does not seem to run parallel with the printed paper. An even more important point is that the agreement under discussion is simply a short one adopting two previous agreements, which are called “A” and “ B.” Being of an inquisitive disposition, I went to the Postmaster-General’s office, and asked to be shown copies of these two agreements; but, as the Senate will learn with surprise, I was told that the agreements were locked up in the safe, and were not available. That is very curious, especially when we remember that during the debate of 1903 exactly similar conditions prevailed. Mr. Joseph Cook, Sir John Quick, and several members of another place complained that particulars of the agreement were not available. I take the strongest exception to this mode of bringing business before the Senate. We are asked by the Government to ratify an agreement, the particulars of which are not within our knowledge, and have not been available since 1903. I consider that this is a scandalous method in which to lay business before the Senate.
– The Government are squirming under the criticism of the honorable senator !
– I do not expect that my criticism will have the least effect. I am prepared to see the business carried on now in exactly the same way that it has been carried on since Sir Edmund Barton formed the first Commonwealth Ministry. So long as the Government have a majority, they are absolutely indifferent to the condition in which business is placed before us. So long as a brutal majority can force through a measure, the Government ignore the claims of Parliament to that information to which we undoubtedly have a right.
– If there was no “ brutal “ majority there would be no Ministry !
– I have always found Senator Playford most reasonable, and I ask him whether he thinks it right that we should be asked to ratify an agreement which honorable senators are unable to peruse? As to the sentimental aspect of the case, it is rubbish to urge this contract on the ground that it provides for an “ allred “ route. The service to the Cape is an “all red” route, and yet we are not asked to subsidize it with ?26,000.
– And there is the service to Singapore..
– That also is an “all red” route from one British Colony to another; and we might multiply the simile over and over again. It has just flashed across my mind that there is one export which might be increasedifSenator Smith’s idea were adopted, and we had a more efficient service. I can quite believethat the same idea was lying at the back of Senator Smith’s mind, namely, that we should by this means enable wealthy tourists to travel with greater ease to Canada. That seems to me about the only possible, export which we could increase.
– Does the honorable senator not think, that trade would be increased ?
– I say distinctly that I do not think it possible that the export trade from Australia to Canada could be increased by this means. We have been told that the articles exported are butter, coal,cocoanut oil, hides, timber, and wool, and I do not think that any honorable senator is honestly of opinion that the trade with Canada, in these commodities could be increased to any large extent by a subsidy.
– I should be sorry to think that trade could not be increased by this means.
– When Senator Dobson speaks it will be interesting to learn’ in what, particular commodity, in his opinion, there is likely to be an increased export by means of the subsidy. I trust I have satisfied the Senate that this is an old service instituted for the benefit of twospecific States, and that it would be absolutely contrary to the Constitution to’ charge such a service on a per capita basis against the other States. I hope I have satisfied Senator Playford on those points. The honorable senator is again’ silent. I should here like to quote from remarks made by Mr. Deakin in 1903, when he was, I believe, AttorneyGeneral, on the question of assessing this charge against all the States per capita. I am glad to see that Senator Keating has come back, because I was asking a, question just now in reference to the constitutional aspect, of this proposal. I understood him to say that, in his opinion, it was quite contrary to constitutional prac tice to allocate this subsidy to two States only - in other words, that it should be distributed per capita on a constitutional basis amongst all the States.
– If I am right in regarding it as a trade subsidy, and not as a mail subsidy..
– The honorable and learned senator draws a special distinction between a trade subsidy and a mail subsidy. The payment is increased to a slight extent, but in other respects it is on all-fours with the agreement of 1903 as I think the Minister admits. What the Prime Minister said in 1903 will be found in Hansard, at page 1659. Mr. Wilks had moved the addition of the following words : - “Such increase to be equitably apportioned among all the States,” and his amendment was intended to have the effect of the proposal which is submitted to us by the Government to-day. After referring to the service to the Pacific Islands, Mr. Deakin said -
In addition, to that, we arranged for an entirely different service. Provision was made for a new boat to carry on a two monthly service to the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. This almost doubled the distance covered by the service, we multiplied the number of stopping places to the extent of nearly doubling them, and made arrangements for land settlement. Therefore the contract Was practically a new one, with conditions designed to confer benefits upon the whole Commonwealth. The present proposal -
That is for an extension of the Vancouvermail service - is for an extension of an existing contract for two years only. At the end of that time itwill be necessary to take the whole of the mail contracts of. the Commonwealth into consideration,
Mr. Joseph Cook. But a new agreement has to be made.
Mr. DEAKIN. No, there is merely a continuation of the old agreement with very slight alterations, in, the direction of providing greater conveniences.
In the present extension there are no greater conveniences provided, so that Mr. Deakin’s opinion would be stronger in regard to this agreement than it was in regard. to that of 1903.
– Smith. - Was. he speaking of Burns, Philp, and Co.’s Pacific Islands mail service.
– No; of the Vancouver mail service, and on an amendment by Mr. Wilks.
– The Van couver, mail service does not go near the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. Mr. Deakin was talking about another contract.
– I need not stop to explain to the honorable senator that Mr. Deakin was talking about the CanadianAustralian mail contract, as that is generally understood. He went on to say-
The additional sum is being granted on the ground .that the former subsidy was insufficient to defray the cost of the service.
Mr. Joseph Cook. Does not the fact that an additional sum is being granted necessitate a new agreement ?
Mr. DEAKIN. No. Every year a number of mail contracts fall in, and they are renewed at certain rates, perhaps higher or lower, than those hitherto prevailing. The money paid in respect of them continues to be transferred expenditure for the maintenance and continuance of the Department as at the time of transfer. The fact that contracts fall in, and new tenders are called for the same service, does not involve new expenditure, because the contracts are intended to secure the maintenance of the Department as at the time of transfer. The mail service proposed is precisely the same in every respect as that which was formerly carried on, except that a larger sum is to be paid to the company. As time goes on, existing contracts will expire, and new contracts will be made, involving changes of routes or other material departures, and these will involve new expenditure; but the renewal of a contract such as this one cannot come within that category. The amendment of the honorable member can have no effect, in view of the provisions of the Constitution, and I hope therefore that he will withdraw it. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo had called attention to what must be a prominent consideration when we are dealing with any contract in regard to the present service, or any others which fall in within the next two years, and he may rest assured that it will receive due consideration at the hands of the Government.
After reading Mr. Deakin’s careful and considered opinion in 1903, I am amazed at the Government, with tha* gentleman as Prime Minister, daring to propose in 1905 that this subsidy should be apportioned per capita among the various States. I move -
That the following words be added to , the motion : - “(c) That such subsidy shall, as heretofore, be borne by the States of New South Wales and Queensland, the remaining States contributing only, as heretofore, upon a poundage basis in respect of their mail matter carried.”
– This question seems naturally to divide itself into two parts. First, whether it is desirable, in the interests of Australia, that the contract should be ratified; and, secondly, how the cost should be distributed. It is quite evident, I think, ‘ to every honorable senator, that if we look at the contract simply from the mail or trade point of view, we experience a disappoint-, ment, that there are neither sufficient mails nor sufficient trade to warrant us in saying, that Australia ought to pay all these thousands of pounds, notwithstanding the fact that Canada pays so much more. But there is another and a much higher ground from which we ought to look at the matter, and that is the Empire ground. I have heard very little said about the great Dominion of Canada. Senator Matheson and Senator Smith were very careful to avoid making any reference to her position. We must remember that under this very agree-, ment, Canada has to pay about ?37,000, and that the little Colony of Fiji has to pay two or three times the amount against which the big State of Western Australia, by its representatives, to-day is kicking. I think that the .Senate may well be asked whether, granting that the service is not very successful from the .mail or trade point of view, there do not exist reasons which, while actuating Canada., should also actuate Australia in continuing it. That great ground has been neglected, but it is the one on which I believe the Government ask for our votes, and certainly it is the one on which I feel that I can support their proposal. Seeing that the money has to be paid, how should it be distributed ? Honorable senators cannot but be struck by the quotations which Senator ‘Matheson has made from political utterances of two years ago, but let me remind them that a widespread difference has been made in the distribution of the expenditure. Not only is there now proposed a redistribution in regard to this special expenditure, but the accounts for this year show a very material ‘ change in the distribution of what we know as “ other “ expenditure in regard to the whole of Australia, and I think it illbecomes the representatives of any State to accept changes which will tell in their favour and refuse to accept changes which’ may tell somewhat against them. I wish to direct special attention to the position of Western Australia and her contribution to the taxation of the Commonwealth. The charging of this expenditure on the per capita basis gives her an enormous advantage. She has a population which’ contains an infinitely larger proportion of adult males - in fact, she has a working , population more than equal to the working population of South Australia, but she is escaping with infinitely less taxation than the latter State.
The estimate of. revenue collected by the Commonwealth in South Australia this year is ,£663,000. It is expected that Western Australia will contribute to The revenue to the extent of £[1,032,000. Taking the contributions to revenue as representing the relative tra.de in the two States, it would seem that the trade of Western Australia is about 50 per cent, more than the trade of South Australia. But, then, let us see what the two States are paying relatively in respect of “ other “ expenditure. If honorable senators refer to the papers distributed, they will find that South Australia, on that’ account, is being debited with £[44,000. How much is Western Australia debited with? Something less than £[30,000. Whereas if Western Australia paid on the same basis as South Australia, in comparison with income, Western Australia would be called upon, instead of paying about £[30,000, to pay no less than ,£68,000. That is simply startling. These differences exist widely throughout the whole system of distribution of Federal - that is new - expenditure. It ill-becomes senators from Western Australia to speak as they have done this afternoon. In fact, I go so far as to say that the representatives of Western Australia are doing their great, important, and growing State a very illservice in trying to make out that she is so intensely mean as amendments such as that moved by Senator Matheson would seem to indicate.
– I never mentioned Western Australia once. I referred simply to the constitutional question.
– I know that the honorable senator did not refer to Western Australia. He left that to me. He avoided it, and I am mentioning it. The honorable senator wishes to relieve Western Australia of her share of this payment. I am showing that it is an entirely fair thing that Western Australia should be called upon to make this contribution, seeing that she is benefiting by the present method of distribution in other ‘matters to the extent of many thousands of pounds.
– What is the honorable senator’s ground principle for the per capita distribution ?
– I am indicating that if we divide these payments per capita Western Australia must escape a great deal. Western Australia is escaping a great deal, and, because she is escaping these payments, she could, even if she had to stretch a little point, afford to be generous. But I am not asking Western Australia to be generous, but simply to be just.
– Does the honorable senator say that this amount should be paid per capita?
– I am quite willing for Western Australia to pay more. When I ask that she shall pay per capita, I am letting her off very cheaply. I am willing that she should ‘pay per capita, plus 50 per cent. That would be a fair thing, perhaps, to ask Western Australia to pay, in consideration of her prosperity and of her ability to pay. But, in consenting to accept the per capita payment, I am indicating that that payment is- one of a very small character.
– Does the honorable senator contend thai all the States should pay this subsidy per capita?
– I do.
– Because it is a mail subsidy ?
– I have dealt with that point. I divided my subject into the question whether the contract should be entered into, and I defended it upon high Empire grounds. Having so satisfied myself that Australia can. be called upon to join with Canada in maintaining this service, I am now. dealing with the question of how the payment can reasonably and properly be divided. But I have not done with Western Australia yet. I should like honorable senators to notice how the expenses of this Senate are allocated. The total expenditure in connexion with the Senate, according to the accounts, is £[21,387. In the Senate every State has equal power. Western Australia sends six senators and New South Wales sends six. But is the £[21,000 divided equally? Does each of the States pay a sixth? No. What New South Wales will have to pay this year is £7,872, and Western Australia will pay £[1,353 towards the expenditure in connexion with a House in which both States are equal.
– The Constitution provides for that.
– I know that the Constitution does. I will carry the point a little bit further. I will show how the method of payment affects the salaries of honorable senators. There are six senators from Western Australia in the Senate. New South Wales pays on account of senatorial salaries a sum equal to £883 for every one of her six representatives. The State of Western Australia pays towards the salary of each of her six senators,£152. When we see facts like these, I think we are entitled to ask Western Australia to be reasonable, to be just, even if she cannot be generous. But I am quite satisfied that Western Australia herself, apart from some of her representatives, who, I really think, have mistaken their mission, is quite prepared to take her just and proper share in the expenditure of the Commonwealth’.
– I do not propose to go into the merits of this mail service, so far as the shipping matter is concerned, but I wish to address myself to one point. That point has been touched upon by Senator Matheson, and I was going to say by Senator Pulsford, but it would be more correct to say that it was evaded by him. The point is one which is present in theminds of every one, and it is this: Whether it is a right and fitting thing that the Commonwealth should pay this subsidyper capita. I think it is generally admitted that if it were purely a trade subsidy, it could not be contended that it should be paid per capita. With that contention I agree. If it were a trade subsidy only two States would be benefited by it, namely, Queensland and New South Wales; and it would obviously be wrong, under those circumstances, for the burden to be borne per capita. But it has been argued that it is purely a mail subsidy, and that, therefore, the payment ought to be made per capita. That is a proposition that was advanced by Senator Keating.
– I never made any such proposition. I said that if it were a trade subsidy we should be abrogating the Constitution in saddling two States with it.
– I am dealing with it solely from the mail subsidy point of view. I understand that this contract, from the first word in it to the last, deals only with the carriage of mails. If I am - not correct in that statement, I hope that one of the representatives of the Government will make the point clear. As they are silent, I assume that there is no provision in the contract for those requirements of trade which we know are provided for in other mail contracts. That being so, it is a proper thing that, no matter what State we may represent in the Senate, we should consider, and, to the best of our ability, make up our mind, as to whether the payment for a purely mail subsidy should be per capita, or should be charged against the State or States directly interested.
– All the States are directly interested in a mail subsidy.
– I am delighted to hear Senator Givens say that. I hope that he will back up his words by assisting me later on. It is admitted that, inasmuch as this is a mail subsidy, the whole Commonwealth is benefited by it. But now let me remind the Senate that this is a renewal of a mail contract that was in existence before the Commonwealth was inaugurated. There is at the present time an exactly similar mail service in existence. From the point of view from which I am dealing with the matter it stands on very much stronger groundthan this service, but the expenditure upon it is treated! as “ transferred expenditure.” I refer to the mail subsidy of £13,000 that is paid for the conveyance of mails, without any trade conditions between the Island of Tasmania and Australia. That is on precisely the same footing as this contract for the Vancouver service. But the treatment is totally different. Tasmania pays every penny of that subsidy, with the exception of a “sop “ which was wrongly thrown to her the other day. That is to say, she pays , £1 2,000 per annum for the conveyance of, mails from one part of this Commonwealth to the other. Yet we are asked that the whole Commonwealth shall subscribe per capita for the conveyance of mails from the Commonwealth to a place beyond the seas. If that is right, then a fortiori, the Commonwealth should pay per capita for the conveyance of mails to Tasmania.
– Poundage is paid on every ounce of mail matter that goes into Tasmania from other States, and is credited to Tasmania.
– Precisely ; and Tasmania is perfectly willing to pay poundage so far as she participates in this Vancouver service. But is that the proposition ? Tasmania is not given the option.
– The , £13,000 Tasmania pays is only for what comes out of Tasmania.
– If is a mail service between one part of the Commonwealth and the other.
– It is treated on the same principle as are the services between the other States.
– This service is not being treated on the same principle.
– Because it is an extra-State service.
– Because it is an extra-State service the payment is to be per capita, whilst the cost of Inter-State services is to be treated as “ transferred expenditure “ ?
– The same principle is applied to the services between New South Wales and Victoria, and between Victoria and South Australia.
-The Minister forgets that there is no other oversea’ service in which we are concerned between the States.
– There is the. service to Western Australia.
– Each State carries to the other at its own cost.
– As a matter of fact, when I asked Senator Keating how the mails were conveyed between Western Australia and the other States, he admitted that they were conveyed by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam- Navigation. Company’s boats chiefly, and the cost was met on the per capita basis.
– Because that is included in the Adelaide-Naples contract.
– I admit that, but surely that is a complete answer to Senator Keating ?
– As I pointed out in dealing with the Orient contract, Western Australia is the only State which forms an exception to the principle to which I have referred.
– It forms a veryfavorable exception from the point ofview of Western Australian finance, and in this case an exception is made which is largely adverse to Tasmania. We ought to decide the question, and say whether in the case of mail services the payment of subsidies should be charged on a per capita basis. I am perfectly willing to agree to a uniform system. I shall be prepared to vote for the motion now before the Senate if Ministers will give me their assurance that in the next Estimates to come before us a sum will be set down to cover the subsidy paid to the company carrying mails between the mainland of the Commonwealth and Tas mania, and that it will be charged on a; per capita basis.
– The honorable senator will vote for what he has just said iswrong, provided that a “ sop “ is thrown tothe State he represents.
– Senator Givensdoes not understand me. I am not prepared definitely to say that itis absolutely right that these payments should be on a per capita basis. I admit that there isa very considerable weight of authority; for that view. I am aware that most of the members of this Parliament, competent by legal training to give an opinion, wilt say that it is proper that these mail subsidies should be paid for) on a per capita: basis. Thatmay be right, and I do not care to set my opinion against that of a majority. Personally, I think it is wrong. I have said already in this Chamber, and I now repeat, that in my opinion many, of the services put down in the Estimates as “ new expenditure,” arewrongly so placed, and should still remainas transferred services. But assuming that it . is right that they should be paid for on a per capita basis, I am willing to accept that decision on condition that the principle is uniformly applied. I am prepared to vote for the payment of this subsidy for the Vancouver service on a per capita basis on one understanding only, and on no other, and that is-, that the mail service between the mainland of the Commonwealth and Tasmaniashall also be paid for on a per capita basis. I do not appeal to senators representing; Tasmania to vote in that way, because such an appeal in their case should be unnecessary, but I appeal to every honorable senator, no matter what State he represents, to insist on uniformity in this matter. It may , be that Tasmania will suffer, butsurely no honorable senator will say that it is right that the principle should be applied in the case of every other State but Tasmania. I make my appeal with confidence. The only understanding on whichI can agree to vote for the ratification of this contract is that to which I have referred. It is well within the power of the Ministry to give me the assurance for which I ask. They have entirely in their hands the decision as to what shall becalled “ new expenditure “ and what “ transferred expenditure.” There is nothing toprevent them putting on the Estimates a sum ofmoney to pay the subsidy required? for the conveyance of mails between the mainland of the Commonwealth and Tasmania. If they are certain that this Vancouver service should be paid for on the per capita basis, they will be shamefully neglecting their duty if they do not do what I suggest. I want their assurance in the matter before I can vote for the motion. I should like Senator Playford, -who is supposed to be leading the Senate, to give me some intimation as to how I should vote. If the honorable senator will tell me that a sum will be put on the Esti mates in accordance withthe fair request which I have made I shall be prepared, to vote at once for this motion. Unless he will do so the honorable senator must see that I cannot vote for it. Will the honorable senator make me any answer ?
– I will deal with the whole question, when replying.
– I do not . require the honorable senator to go into the whole question, but since Senator Playford remains dumb I appeal to Senator Keating
– Why should not Senator Playford remain dumb when the honorable senator puts his question in such a way - “ Who is supposed to be leading the Senate?”
– The honorable senator first utters an insult, and then expects an answer to his question.
- Senator Playford will not answer any one. Senator Matheson made an appeal to the honorable senator to which he has not yet replied. That, at any rate, is not very consistent with the dignity of the Government if it is even tolerably polite. I put at to Senator Keating that I can and will vote readily for the ratification of this contract, on the assumption that the expense is to be met on a per capita basis, but I must havethe word of the Government that a sum of money will be set down in the Estimates to pay the subsidy for the conveyance of mails between the mainland of the Commonwealth and Tasmania. Senator Walker may laugh at my request, but if the principle of payment on a per capita basis is rightly applied in this case, it would be rightly applied in the other-
– I think the honorable senator has made a good point.
– Until I get the assurance for which I have asked I cannot vote for the ratification of this contract, although the principle adopted for the payment of the subsidy may be right.
– So the honorable senator’s vote is up for sale?
– No; I do not belong to the Labour Party. It is the Labour Party’s vote that is up for sale. My vote is to be had to secure uniformity, and against any unfair treatment of any State.
– Does that mean that Senator Clemons is prepared to concede that Tasmania should contribute to the expense of the mail services of all the States ?
-If the same principle is applied to all the States. It has been held that this ‘ and other expenditure, such as that proposed for telephone communication between Melbourne and Sydney, which we discussed the other day, is rightly considered “new expenditure,” to be borne on a per capita basis. The Ministry have indorsed it, at any rate, and only the other day it was decided that all the States should pay on a per capita basis for the cost of establishing telephonic communication’ between Sydney and Melbourne. I said then - as I say now - that in my opinion that -was wrong. But if my opinion is to have no weight, and it is finally decided that that and similar expenditure is properly debited to all the States on a per capita basis, then I say that the principle must be applied uniformly.
– How could this be paid for otherwise than on a per capita basis ?
– It is only a little while ago that this service was not paid for on a per capita basis.
– That was because of an existing contract.
– I would point out to Senator Fraser that when the contract was renewed last year, involving a subsidy for the conveyance of mails between the mainland and Tasmania, a service on precisely the same footing, Tasmania had to pay every penny of the subsidy, with the exception of certain rebates in the shape of poundage fees.
– I agree that that subsidy should be paid for on the per capita
– If that were done I should have no objection to this proposal. I contend that the application of the principle of paying for these mail subsidies on a per capita basis should be uniform. That is my position, and Senator Henderson must see that I am, in cosequence, compelled to vote in the way I have indicated.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to go further, and make the cost of the transport of mails between any one State and any other State a per capita charge ?
– No; I see no analogy between the two cases.
- Senator Clemons has argued that this Vancouver service is a transferred service, and must be treated as such, and charged to the States that originally entered into the contract for it. The honorable senator contends that this is merely a renewal of a contract that previously existed between two States of the Commonwealth, in conjunction with Canada and a particular steam-ship company, and that, therefore, the other States have nothing to do with it. Even if the honorable senator’s argument were correct from the constitutional stand-point, he takes up an exceedingly mean attitude, because he knows that for a number of years Queensland and New South Wales paid the whole of the subsidy , for this service, though it was an Australian mail service. Notwithstanding what Senator Keating has said in introducing the motion, I defy him, or any one else, to point to a single line in the agreement showing that it is a trading contract, or that it is anything but a mail contract, pure and simple. It is a mail contract, and for some years New South Wales and Queensland have been paying the whole of the subsidy for a service from which Australia, as a whole, has derived very considerable advantage. When the contract was entered into at first, the subsidy paid by Australia was £[17,500, of which New South Wales paid £[10,000, and Queensland £[7,500. The Other States did not contribute a farthing. In 1903, the Commonwealth Government extended the contract for a further period of two years, the subsidy being increased to .£23,863’ 12s. 3d., of which New South Wales paid £[13,636 7 s., and Queensland paid £[10,227 5s. 3d. So that Queensland and New South Wales have been bearing the whole of the subsidy for a service from which the Commonwealth, as a whole, has derived almost as much benefit as have those two States. The only contribution the other States made was a very small amount in the shape of poundage payments for mails carried from those States by this service.
– What benefit does the honorable senator think the other States derived from the service?
– If . there is any benefit whatever derived from direct mail communication with Canada they got it, as did Queensland and New South Wales.
– The honorable senator knows that the mail matter the other States sent by this service was a bagatelle.
– Never mind that, they made use of the service, and paid only an infinitesimal portion of the cost. The contributions asked from the other States are not sufficient to cause all the noisy objection with which this proposal has been greeted. Western Australia, under the new agreement, on a per capita basis, will have to pay ,£1,619 3s- 6d. per annum.
– What does Western Australia pay now?
– Very little.
– Western Australia pays only £[8, and that is all the service is worth to her?
– Western Australia at present has the advantage of a direct service with Canada, and with the United Kingdom, via Canada, for the payment of the noble sum of £[8; and that State desires to continue loafing on the other States. All the States, except Western Australia, had provided the great bulk of their own fortifications, and other public works, prior to Federation, and1 have now to contribute on a per capita basis, to the cost of similar works in the younger State. Of course, it is only right that the Commonwealth should pay for public works of the kind in Western Australia; but considering the benefits which that State .enjoys under the per capita system, the objections on the present occasion come with very bad grace from Western Australian senators, who are prone to tell us that their State has derived no advantage from Federation. Senator Clemons’ arguments were fairly put from his point of view, but I contend that the Vancouver mail service is not, and cannot be regarded as, a transferred service in the true acceptation of the term. It always was an Australian service, of advantage to every State in the Commonwealth. This is a contract to carry mails between Australia and Canada, and, therefore, Australia, as a whole, should pay for; it. If it is to be regarded as a transferred service, the Orient mail service should have been treated on the same basis, seeing that prior to Federation there was noper capita agreement, the State contributing certain fixed amounts. I admit that the benefits derived from the Vancouver service, either from a mail, or a trading point of view, have not been commensurate with the amount of the subsidy. Some honorable senators seem to think , that trade and the facilities of communication will be considerably augmented by the subsidy, and I hope that may be so, though I have considerable doubts. At the same time, if it is considered desirable that this contract should be entered into, New South Wales and Queensland ought not to be left to pay the whole of the cost. For a number of years these two States’ have borne the whole expenditure, and conferred almost equal advantages on all the other States, and it is only just that the cost should now be contributed on a per capita basis. I agree with Senator Clemons that Tasmania suffers a hardship in having to pay such a large amount for the conveyance of mails; but Queensland is almost as badly off in this respect as is Tasmania. There is a mail service from Gladstone, along the coast, as far as Normanton, and that costs Queensland, I believe, considerably more than Tasmania pays for her sea service. If, in the case of Tasmania, this is to be regarded as a transferred service, then the service in Queensland should come within the same category.
– Tasmania will either pay; as for a transferred service, or on a per capita basis, provided the method adopted be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
SenatorPlayford. - It is uniform as between Queensland and Tasmania.
– The Tasmanian service is coastal.
– And so is the service in Queensland.
– There is a distinction between the two.
– The Vancouver service is oversea, and carries mails from Australia to countries beyond, whereas the Tasmanian service is between States, and involves only the run across Bass Straits. The regular communication between Launceston and Melbourne by fast vessels, such as the Loongana, attracts a greatmany tourists, and is a distinct advantage to Tasmania, apart altogether from the conveyance of mails.
– Tasmania has to pay every penny for that.
– I should have no objection if the Braddon section were abrogated -altogether, because Ithinkwe should get on much moresmoothly if everything were on a per capita basis.
– But the Constitution is there.
– And, therefore, I propose to act constitutionally ; and it would be absolutely contrary to the Constitution to charge an oversea mail service to any one State on the per capita basis. I hope the representatives of Western Australia will not continue to attack every proposal which does not confer immediate practical benefit on that State.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– In the case of the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s mail contract, it was proposed by a Western Australian representative that Queensland should not be allowed the concession of mileage rates.
– I supported Queensland on that occasion.
– And so did I.
– Queensland representatives are prepared to accord the other States the same treatment on the present occasion that was accorded to Queensland in the case of the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s mail contract; and if a proposal be made to that effect I shall support it.
– What will be the good of such an arrangement with the other States, when there are no mails and no trade? The honorable senator would appear to be willing to waste the money.
– That is not a fair way to put the matter. I do not admit that there are no mails and no trade for the other States. At any rate, it cannot be said that there are no mails from Western Australia, seeing that under present conditions that State pays£8 in poundage.
– That is of no account; the estimates under this head show a blank.
– A blank means an unknown quantity. I do not feel at all anxious about this matter : but I contend (that the representatives of the various States should be prepared to treat this question in a Federal spirit. I should be willing to support a proposal of the kind I have indicated, but beyond that, Queensland representatives ought not to be asked to go. I hope honorable senators will not persist in their un-Federal attitude and try to force two States to pay for a service which is purely Australian.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).The Senate, it appears to me, has not considered a most important aspect of this question. It is evident that this is neither a postal service nor a commercial service in the ordinary sense of the terms. It was instituted because of a desire to have a service in Australian or New Zealand ships, the owners of which would treat the Australian public fairly. The American service ousted the Australian service, owing to the laws which prevent Australian ships trading between Honolulu and San Francisco ; and that brought the Vancouver line into existence. Senator Clemons will remember that some time ago I asked a series of questions in the Senate as to the application of the -per capita system to the mail service of Tasmania, and Senator Keating promised that the matter should have consideration. My hope is that the consideration given to the matter will result in the service from Victoria to Tasmania being placed on that basis. That, however, is by the way. The service from Australia to Vancouver was established from patriotic motives ; and it is undoubtedly of great advantage to have a service which does not traverse a foreign country. America is friendly to-day, and we hope always will be j but, after all, America is a foreign country, and if we can encourage trade in our own ships - because the Union Steamship Company is practically Australian - we shall do Australia a great service. Germany and France both subsidize their merchant fleets in order to encourage trade, though France in no way benefits. Germany has benefited’, but I am inclined to think that she has benefited more from the technical knowledge and great industry of her people than from any subsidy she has given to her ships. There are one or two other stand-points from which I view this proposal, but it seems to me that patriotic motives ought to be our principal guide in dealing with it.
– I agree with Senator Pulsford that we are called upon to consider this proposal from two standi points: first as to whether the agreement isdesirable* and, secondly, the incidence of the payment of the subsidy. I am in full accord with the patriotic ideas expressed by Senator Pulsford and Senator Macfar- lane. From the Empire stand-point I am. anxious to encourage and cement the closest relationships between Australia and otherBritish communities. Therefore I feel that we must be prepared - to makesacrifices which, we hope, will ultimately result in material commercial advantage. The incidence pf the payment of the subsidy is a matter to which the Senate requires to give the closest consideration. I agree with Senator Clemons that practically we are only justified in dealing with this contract as a mail contract. We have to observe that vast and serious alterations are going to take place, and we must be prepared, I admit, to meet all the obligations which, from the financial and trade stand-points, are imposed upon us by the Constitution. If the alterations be serious, that imposes upon us the additional’ responsibility of careful consideration. According to the figures which have beensubmitted, New South Wales has hithertopaid to this service £13,000, and isnow required to pay £9,650 ; Victoria has hitherto paid £744, and is now required to pay £[8,000; Queensland’ has hitherto paid £10,227, and isnow required to pay £3,457 ; South Australia has hitherto paid ,£64, and is now required to pay £2,470; Western Australia is called upon to pay £1,606 ; and Tasmania, which has hitherto paid £109, isnow called upon to pay £1,194. If it is clear that, according to the terms of the Constitution, the several States are obliged to bear this altered incidence of the subsidy, then undoubtedly we must accept the situation. When any objection has been taken to the form of the motion it has beensaid, by the representatives of Queensland,, and, I think, by one or two representatives of New South Wales, that an un-Federal spirit is being exhibited. I trust that they will permit a statement of the various aspects of the proposal from which the representatives of other States are called upon toview it. Prior to Federation, New South Wales and Queensland, conceiving that it would be to their mutual advantage, undertook the responsibility of initiating a direct service with Canada. That was done primarily in the interest of those States. Whenthe Post and Telegraph Department was transferred, the Commonwealth, had to take over all existing contracts. It is quite true that, within the last year or two, :Some alteration has been made in this particular contract, and the proportion of benefit derived therefrom has been varied to some extent. The official figures for each State are as follow : - New South Wales, letters, 59 per cent.,- other articles, 61 per cent. ; Victoria, letters, 22 per cent., other articles, 28 per cent. ; Queensland, letters, 1.2 per cent., other articles, 7 per cent. ; South Australia, letters,. 3 per cent, Other articles, 1.50 per cent. ; and Tasmania, letters, 4. per cent, other articles, 2 per cent. No figures for Western Australia are given in the return. I do not hesitate to say that quite apart from- the constitutional aspect, it would be reason - able to urge that the States should bear the onus of this subsidy in proportion to the benefits they derive. But the only true test, I submit, is to regard this contract from the mail stand-point. If it were permitted by the Constitution, I should be prepared to agree to the payment by each State of the proportion of the cost indicated in the figures I have quoted; but my view is that it was contemplated that, at the time of .transfer, existing services should henceforth be known as transferred services, and the cost of them debited to the particular States. So long as the various existing contracts which had been entered into by the several States- were continued, the cost was to be proportionately borne by them as at the time of the creation of the Federal body. The question, therefore, is whether under the Constitution they should be treated as “ transferred “ or as>” new “ expenditure. If it be “new” expenditure, it is obvious that it must be debited on a per capita basis.
– Is it not a new contract ?
– No. It is simply proposed to extend existing conditions for a period of fifteen months, in order that in the meantime some permanent arrangement may be made. If it be a new contract, the expenditure must be charged on a per capita basis ; but if it is a renewal, or mere extension of an old contract, the expenditure must be debited on, the original basis.
– Then, if a contract has once been made, it must always exist.
– My argument does not mean anything of the kind. When we say that a contract, instead of expiring on a particular day, shall be continued to a later date, that is a mere extension, and is therefore subject to the provision in the Constitution.
-Col. Gould. - Who is making the extension - New South Wales and Queensland or the Commonwealth?
– Let me, in reply, ask the honorable and learned senator who made the extension in i 903 ? To quote his words, as nearly as I can remember them, Sir Edmund Barton said, “ The onus is thrown upon us to act for the several States in regard to existing contracts. As New South Wales and Queensland get the bulk of the benefits from the Vancouver mail service, it is desirable that the contract now about to expire should be extended.” In this matter we are acting, not for the Commonwealth, but for the original contracting States. If it can1 be proved that this is a new contract, the position will be different. But, in my opinion, this is merely a temporary expedient for the purpose of enabling the Commonwealth and the several States to ultimately come to a more satisfactory arrangement. To show that I am not viewing this proposal merely from the stand-point that the alteration would be somewhat disadvantageous to my State, let me point out that when a like proposal was considered in another place, in 1903, it was admitted by all the constitutional authorities that, it was not a new contract, but an extension of the existing contract. Sir Edmund Barton, who was a recognised constitutional authority, and had a special interest in New South Wales, admitted at once that it was “ transferred,” and not “new,” expenditure. In 1903 the contract was renewed.
– By whom?
– It was renewed by the Commonwealth, for and on behalf of New South Wales and Queensland. Sir Edmund Barton gave it as his reason for renewing the contract that; the bulk of the advantage would gp to those States.
– Have not Sir George Turner and other authorities- altered their opinion?
– I did not quote Sir George Turner, and I do mot know exactly what his opinion on the subject is ; but I quoted a -high constitutional authority whose prejudices would naturally lead him- to favour New South Wales.
– The people of New South Wales did not think so.
– New South Wales returned Sir Edmund Barton to the Federal Convention and to the Commonwealth Parliament, when he offered himself for election.
– That was the era of promise.
– My present purpose is not to discuss personal matters, but to ascertain what is the true interpretation of a provision in the Constitution. I have laid down the proposition that, in 1903, under identically similar conditions, it was admitted by the highest authorities that the expenditure on this mail contract was transferred expenditure.
– W - Was there any increase of the subsidy at that time?
– Making it a new con- tract.
– There was an increase of subsidy in 1903, and there is also an increase’ at the present date.
– There are different contractors.
– The position is precisely the same so far as the contract is concerned. In 1903 the conditions were identical in every way.
– Suppose New South Wales had objected to the renewal of the contract, and the Commonwealth authorities had elected to renew it ; would it still have been transferred expenditure?
– There would not have been a renewal at all in those circumstancesThe original parties to the contract would have denounced it, and the onus would have been thrown on the Commonwealth of making a new contract or not as it pleased. The Federal Government took over the contracts which existed at the time of Federation. The Constitution provides for the debiting of/ expenditure in connexion with those contracts to the several States affected. Consequently, I hope that I have satisfied honorable senators that this contract is practically, to all intents and purposes, the same contract as was originally entered into by New South Wales and Queensland, and which was renewed, as Sir Edmund Barton said, for and on behalf of the two States by the Federal Government, as it was their duty to do. It was quite competent for New South Wales and Queensland to denounce that contract.
– Was it competent for the Federation to renew it, whether the States liked it or not ?
– Not on behalf of the two States. In that case, it would have been a new contract altogether.
– There were new contractors.
– My honorable friend ignores the fact that the Commonwealth had to take over all existing contracts, and to act in those matters for and on behalf of the several States. Consequently this renewal took place in 1903.
-Col. Gould. - With different contractors.
– The honorable senator contends, I understand, that the Commonwealth had to take over the renewal of those contracts.
– What I say is, that a mere extension of the term is a continuance of the same contract.
– Though there are fresh contracting parties?
– There were new contractors on either side.
– May I put the point again? A contract existed at the time of Federation. The contract had to be taken over by the Federal body.
– It terminated, and it was renewed by new parties.
– No; it was the duty of the Federal Parliament to .renew it, on behalf of the States. As Sir Edmund Batton said, the bulk of advantage in connexion with this contract appertains to Queensland and New South Wales, and they having originally entered into it for their own advantage, the Commonwealth renewed the contract on their behalf.
– That was a mistake on his part.
– I have sought to demonstrate that if a contract expires on a particular day, and it is decided that it shall be extended to some other day, it is the same contract. We are driven to ascertain for ourselves what the true interpretation of the Constitution is, and in that respect we have to bear in mind the opinion of Mr. Deakin.
– If I understand the honorable senator’s argument aright, it is competent for the Commonwealth to go on renewing this contract year after year to eternity, and to regard the expenditure incurred under it as transferred expenditure ?
– I do not say anything of the kind. I say that the States themselves would at once have denounced the contract if they had disapproved of its renewal .
– Had they power to withdraw ?
– The Constitution transfers the power to the Commonwealth.
– Undoubtedly, but if the Commonwealth desired to do anything unjust to any particular State, it would be undertaking a grave responsibility.
– I am anxious to know whether the Commonwealth had the right to say, at the termination of the contract, “ We object to this contract being renewed.”
– I should say that technically the Commonwealth would have power to do so. But no doubt the Commonwealth would! be; guided by the desire of the States in the matter. My; honorable friend must assume that the Commonwealth would not deliberately do an injustice to a State. Technically, I repeat, the Commonwealth would have a right to do what is suggested, but in practice it would not do it. Sir Edmund Barton said that it was in the interests of the States that the contract was renewed in 1903.
-Col. Gould. - At the request of the States?
– I cannot say that. At any rate, the representatives of New South Wales and Queensland did not object to the contract being renewed in 1903 in the interests of their States. But let me ask honorable senators to listen to the calm judgment of the Attorney-General of the day on this very question. Speaking in the House of Representatives on the 1st July, 1903, Mr. Deakin said -
Every -year a number of mail contracts fall in, and they are renewed at certain rates, perhaps higher or lower, than those hitherto prevailing. The money paid in respect of diem continues to be transferred expenditure for the maintenance and continuance of the Department, as at the time of transfer. The fact that contracts fall in, and new tenders aTe called for the same service, does not involve new expenditure, because the contracts are intended to secure the maintenance of the Department as at the time of transfer. The mail service proposed is precisely the same in every respect as that which was formerly carried on, except that a larger sum is to be paid to the company. As time goes on, existing contracts will expire, and new contracts will be made, involving changes of routes or other material departures, and these will involve new expenditure ; but the renewal of a contract such as this cannot Come within that category.
There is the whole case. Are we justified in these circumstances in agreeing to the renewal of the contract with an alarming alteration of the incidence of the subsidy which increases the burden of my own State alone from £744 to £8,000 ? I admit at once that 1 should not be justified in taking any notice of the incidence if we were constitutionally required to bear this burden. If the Constitution requires us to do it, it is our duty to” do it. But the Senate has to satisfy itself that the terms of the contract, as interpreted by the Constitution, are such that it is the duty of Victoria and of other States, which are to be largely mulcted, to make this contribution.
– Take it to the High Court then.
– Why take it to the High Court, when we can settle it here? Undoubtedly, so far as external mail services are concerned, they must be dealt with on a per capita basis. But this is a new matter altogether. It is a question of serious and grave consideration as to whether a lumber of other services should be’ debited on a per capita basis; and I think that the time has arrived when we should settle exactly what are our constitutional rights. It is idle, however, in a case such as this, to attempt an individual departure, and a departure which, according to all precedents, is totally unjustified.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - Senator Best admits that there is some fairness in the expenditure under this contract being charged upon a per capita basis, but he raises certain legal technicalities which he thinks ought to override what really is a principle of common justice. I admit at once that if the honorable senator can prove that under the Constitution the whole of this outlay should be charged against the two States which are materially interested in it, there would be much to be said for his point of view-. But we must bear in mind that in 1903 when the contract was renewed, although the payments were continued by New South Wales and Queensland, there is not a tittle of evidence to show that it was entered into at the request of those States.
– Queensland complains that the contract was renewed without her being consulted, and has asked to be relieved from it altogether.
– That explanation at once disposes of the groundwork of Senator Best’s argument that the contract was renewed on behalf of the two States. It shows at once that the Commonwealth recognised that it had to take into its own hands the making of a new contract. While the Attorney-General at that time, Mr. Deakin, regarded it as fair to continue the proposed charges against the two States, we must remember that since then a great many matters of expenditure have been charged on a per capita basis that previously were not so charged. Only the other day we passed a Works and Buildings Bill, under which all the charges were made upon a per capita basis. If the works that are now to be carried out in the Melbourne Post Office had been undertaken in 1903, they would have been charged against the State of Victoria. The expenditure upon them will be something like £30,000, and under the per capita system which has been introduced every State in the Commonwealth will have to bear its proportion. Wherever it has been possible to charge expenditure upon a per capita basis that has been done, and it is only when we come to the question of a mail service that it is argued that another principle should be adopted. How can this be said to be a renewal of a service, when, as Senator Keating has told us, Queensland expressly protested against being compelled to share in the cost of carrying on the service any longer? It would be monstrousif it were in the power of the Commonwealth to say at any time, “We are determined to carry on a contract for the benefit of one or two States at the expense of those States,” unless those States in the first instance requested that that should be done.
– Or were consenting parties.
.- I go further, and say that such a thing should not be done until the States interested requested the Commonwealth to enter into such a contract on their behalf. It must not be forgotten that it is only the Commonwealth Government that can enter into a mail contract of this description, and once they take a service into their own hands and renew it they assume responsibility for it. What are the facts in this case? Although Senator Best has regarded what took place in 1903 as merely a renewal of an old contract, it was really a new contract that was entered into, not with Huddart, Parker, and Company, the previous contractors, but with the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand.
– And the incidence of the subsidy remained the same.
.- Exactly, and that was because neither New South Wales nor Queensland made any great noise about it, or protested against the contract.
– Queensland did protest that the arrangement had been madewithout consultation with her, and she subsequently asked’ to be relieved.
.- Queensland complained that she had not been consulted in the matter. In view of the history of the manner in which we have charged expenditure on the per capita basis, the Senate cannot fairly or justly attempt to saddle two States of the Commonwealth with the cost involved in the extension of this new contract for a. period of twelve months or two years. I admit at once that the Senate has a perfect right to say to the Commonwealth Government : “ We do not think it. desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth that this service should be continued.” We have a right to call upon the Government to give notice of the cancellation of the contract. We should then be in an entirely new position, and could debate the question of whether the service should or should not be continued’. I remind honorable senators that, instead of this being a service that is going back, it is one which in the hands of the present contractors will assuredly improve year by year, if only ordinary consideration is extended to the contractors. Senator Smith has said that neither in the matter of steamers, speed, nor accommodation has this service been improved in any way whatever. But since the Union Steamship Company have had the service in hand one new steam-ship, the Manuka, has been added! to the service. She is a twinscrew steamer, well fitted with passenger accommodation, and is of some 4.700 tons burden.. She is certainly a great improvement upon some of the steamers previously running in this service. Another steamer, theMahoona, a turbine steamer of5,500 tons burden, which has run eighteen knots on a trial trip, is also to be placed in this service. That shows that the Union ‘Steamship Company, with their usual public spiritedness and desire for progress, are looking to .this line in order to make it much more attractive than it is at the present time. 1 have no doubt they will do that, not only that they may continue in receipt of the subsidy from the Government, but in order to induce passengers to use the line, and make this a popular tourists’ route. The present contractors are certainly showing a desire to assist the Commonwealth by providing a very good service. I ask honorable senators whether it would not be an advantage to the Commonwealth if we did not get a return of is. from this service, to keep such a trade route open for the benefit of the Commonwealth, of Canada, and of Great Britain? At present, I admit that the service is a slow one, but only quite recently the Pacific Company, of Canada, proposed that an arrangement should be made by means of which we could get 18- knot .steamers on this side, while steamers of equal speed would be provided on the other side in order to expedite the delivery of mails and the transit of passengers between the two countries. Even if we do not go further than Canada, in my opinion, it is a great thing, from a national stand-point, that Canada and Australia should be united by a regular mail service. I agree with Senator Smith in saying that it would be well for us to appoint an agent in Cana’da in order to further develop the trade relations between the two countries. I admit at once that it must be a disappointment to every one interested in this service to find that the trade ‘ developed has been so small during the many years it has been established. We know that years ago, instead of trading to Vancouver, our ships traded via Honolulu to San Francisco; and we know also that that service was interfered with under the shipping laws of the United State’s. The United States Government, since taking possession of Honolulu, have permitted trade between that place and San Francisco to be carried on only by American ships. Our ships carried on trade without the payment of any subsidy; but what is the position to-day with regard to the service between Australia and San Francisco? America pays a subsidy of something like £60,000 a year to an American line of boats.
– And they are proposing to double it.
-Col. GOULD. - Yes, in order to retain arid develop their trade. New .Zealand contributes something like £20,000 a year to this service. That Colony is now prepared to take advantage of the Vancouver service, and is willing to contribute the £20,000 to subsidize this service because the people of New Zealand desire that the Colonies of the British Empire should be bound together, and are prepared to use all their efforts to that end by means of steam-ship communication. We know that Queensland recognises that so long as the conditions are fair and reasonable, it is desirable that she should contribute towards this service, but it would be a very great loss to that State if, what I believe to be, the New Zealand proposal were carried out, that is, if we dropped’ Brisbane as a port of call, and the ships of this service went direct from Sydney to New Zealand. I do not ‘ wish to see that done. I prefer to see our own States linked up, and if we could link them up by having the boats call at Brisbane, and go from Brisbane to Auckland. I should be very glad to see that done. Honorable senators should bear in mind that this service also links us with British territory in Fiji. That is a very important feature. From patriotic reasons, it will be admitted that this is a line of communication which we should use our best endeavours to maintain. I hope that honorable senators, in dealing with the matter, whatever they may consider to be the technical reading of the Constitution, will recognise that it is far more important that the States of the Commonwealth should in this matter work together, and that a service which may be primarily in the interests of one State, must be advantageous to the Commonwealth as a whole. Neither Queensland nor New South Wales can be prosperous without benefit to the rest of .the Commonwealth. The time may yet come when a service will be proposed of special interest to some other State, and I for one, as a Commonwealth representative, will be prepared to. recognise that it is the duty of the whole qf the States of the Commonwealth to assist in such matters. This leads me to a reference, in passing, to the Tasmanian service. I recognise that the service between Melbourne and1 Launceston stands on a different footing to that between Sydney and Melbourne, for instance. With only an imaginary line dividing the two States of Victoria and New South’ Wales either State may very well bring its mails to and from that line; but between Tasmania and the mainland’ of the Commonwealth there is a strip of ocean and for my part I should be perfectly willing that the States of the Commonwealth should bear on a per capita basis the expenditure necessarily incurred in the transit of mails between the mainland of Australia and Tasmania.
– In order to carry lottery tickets?
– We get the benefit of the postal revenue.
– I am not referring to the lottery tickets. They may or may not be carried by the subsidized steamers. We have made it illegal for them to be sent through the post, and that is all I am concerned about.
– Tasmania derives more than the subsidy from them.
– I am aware that Tasmania does very well out of them. We may put on one side the statement that the service proposed under this contract is the same service as that which existed previously. We may recognise that it will be a service for the benefit of the Common- wealth generally when it is regarded as beneficial to New South Wales and Queensland. I hope that whatever opinions honorable senators may hold with respect to the technical reading of the Constitution this matter will be dealt with in a. broad, liberal, and Federal spirit. If was always said that when the States came together these matters would be dealt with as Federal matters. What New South Wales gives on the one hand she expects to receive on the other, and so also does Queensland. Senator Pulsford alluded to a statement of the relative cost to two or three different States of carrying on the Senate. Whilst I recognise that there is a great disparity in the amounts contributed by different States, I recognise also that there is a great disparity in the revenues of different States. I am, therefore, prepared to accept and to justify the existing position with regard to the expenditure incurred in the representation of the various States in the Senate, and I do so on the general grounds which I have indicated. I should like to say a word with regard to the position of the Commonwealth if the Government of any State were encouraged to establish a separate mail service or to open up trade and commerce relations for its special advantage.
– No State could establish a separate mail service.
– It has been suggested that this service is intended really for the benefit of two States. If that be the case, it would be competent for the Government of any State to come to the Commonwealth Government, and say, “ We wish to have such and such a contract entered into for our benefit.” That contract might possibly operate to the detriment of other States, and we should be going back to the position occupied by the States years ago, when each conducted its own affairs, and did all it could for its own advantage, irrespective of the injury which might be done to adjoining States.
– Western Australia is running a service now, in connexion with Singapore.
-Col. GOULD. - That is a matter which may have to be dealt with later on. Western Australia has a larger revenue per capita than has any of the other States, and also an immense advantage in that it contributes nothing more for the maximum of benefit than do the other States for the minimum. I do not complain of that, because it arises merely from the accident of position; and Western Australia is entitled to the advantage under the Constitution, and on every principle of fair! play and reason. I trust honorable senators will regard this question from the broad stand-point of national welfare, and not from the narrower view of the welfare of any individual State.
– A great deal of attention has been directed to Western Australian senators. The plea of urgency has been put forward, in the belief, I presume, that we from Western Australia might make some terrible mistakes in casting our votes on this question. I say at once that I support those honorable senators who are so anxious that this contract shall be ratified. If I had had the slightest doubt as to how to record my vote, the eloquent, thrilling, and Federal appeal made by Senator Givens would certainly have prevented me from taking one step in opposition. I favour the ratification of this contract, because I believe that it represents the national spirit which has been so much lauded and which ought to be recognised and fostered by honorable senators, no matter from which State they may come. On those grounds, I feel that gratitude which all Western Australians ought to feel to Senator Givens for his beautiful homily on the Federal spirit. As the honorable senator stood there so clearly defining our position as the citizens of a great nation, who ought to extend their view beyond the confines of any one State, I wondered whether he was the same senator who, not long ago, on the floor of this Chamber, appealed for mercy and protection from Western Australia, in case that State might steal £2,500 of Queensland money in an endeavour to further the unity of this great Commonwealth. We are ready and anxious to have some line of communication between Queensland and Canada and other countries with which we desire to have relations in the way of trade and commerce. But when it is a matter of strengthening the Federal tie, and ‘uniting the States of the Commonwealth more closely, we show a very small spirit indeed. We then exhibit our selfishness to the full, and it is simply a matter of getting the big crowd to squelch the small fellow. I refuse to be a party to anything of the kind, even though other people may plead guilty to leanings in that direction. I shall vote for the ratification of this contract, because I believe that such services are essential to the welfare of Australia, and because each State ought to be prepared to pay its share irrespective of any particular or immediate advantage to be gained. On that point I wish to place special emphasis. Senator Gould reminded us that the development and prosperity of New South Wales affected proportionately all the other States; and the same argument may be applied in the case of Queensland. When Western Australia prospers, however, there is a very different song.
– No, no!
– It would appear that in the prosperity of Western Australia there lurks a sort of enmity towards the eastern States. I can only trust that we shall cultivate the Federal spirit clay by day.
– I congratulate Senator Henderson on the fine Federal spirit he has displayed, and ask him to remember that some New South Wales senators voted with Western Australian senators on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, which was regarded as a Federal matter. As to the motion before us, I understand that if six persons enter into a partnership, the con tracts made by each have to be fulfilled, and that when they have been fulfilled, if the partnership chooses to renew them, they become partnership contracts, the partnership being the contractor. Honorable senators object to the action of the Government, but I would point out that New South Wales and Queensland might claim that the arrangement now entered into should be made retrospective, and date back- two years, tothe time when the previous contract - which was really a new contract - was made by the Commonwealth, and the liability of those States ceased. That would have been a fair position to take up. At that time the contracting parties were the Commonwealth and the steam-ship company ; and the agreement was distinctly a Commonwealth agreement, as it is now.
– If it were not so, we should never get real Federation.
– We increased the subsidy two years ago, and now we again propose to increase it. Reference has been made by Senator Gould to the advantage of an All-Red route; and any such advantage which might accrue from this contract would be shared by all Australia, and not merely by New South Wales and Queensland. In time, I hope that we shall have New Zealand with us ; and I do not see why there should not be an arrangement made for a branch service from Auckland to Fiji, to connect with the main service.
– Such an arrangement would not be accepted.
– It ought to be possible to make some satisfactory arrangement with New Zealand. Canada has behaved very generously in this matter, even more generously than Australia has, and we are not showing that measure of gratitude which might be expected from us in considering, as we appear to do sometimes, only our own interest in connexion with a large question which has its national or Empire aspects. I may add that I hope the day is not far distant when all postal expenditure will be charged per capita, and when we shall really be one community. Until that day comes, Federation cannot be said to have been consummated. I intend to support the Government proposal.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).The appeal to honorable senators to show a Federal spirit is exceedingly refreshing. I join with Senator Henderson in complimenting not only Senator Givens, but also Senator Gould, Senator Best, and Senator
Macfarlane, who are very anxious on this question, in which their States are peculiarly interested, to encourage a Federal spirit. I intend to support the motion, because I believe it will mean the extension of a service of a public nature. Whenever such a proposal is submitted, it shall have my support, no matter how it may suit my State.
– I hope that we shall all do the same.
– I hope that we shall all act in that way in the future, because I think that to-day many honorable senators have made themselves look rather foolish, in view of the statements which they made when the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill was under consideration.
– Bring it forward again awd we shall have the fight renewed.
– In that case we should have Senator Givens asking : “ Why do not South Australia and Western Australia, who will derive the greatest benefit, survey the route?”
– I would again ask that the power to build the line should be obtained before expending any money on a survey of the route.
– I think it will be found on record that Senator Givens and others have declared that it is the duty of South Australia and Western Australia, who alone would be benefited, to survey the route, if not to construct the railway.
– Queensland has protested against the continuance of this contract.
– I am not complaining about the action of Queensland, but it is rather peculiar that Senator Givens has only called upon honorable senators to display a Federal spirit when they have been asked to consider the question of the sugar bounty, an additional subsidy to the Orient Steam Navigation Company and the Vancouver mail subsidy. I opposed the additional subsidy to the Orient Steam Navigation Company, because I believed, and still believe, that the extension of that service to Brisbane was really a trade matter. I hope that the Senate’ will frequently be asked to consider some proposals which will specially benefit Queensland and New South Wales, in order that their representatives may receive a little education in the Federal spirit and national sentiment.
– The motion and the amendment open up one or two questions of very great im portance. I am weary of the question) of how proposals for the expenditure of money may affect the finances of my State. I look forward to the time when the bookkeeping system will be done away with, and we shall have a real Federation. Every vote I can give in that direction wilt be given with pleasure, and without considering my ‘State. Although it may rather seriously affect the interests of” Tasmania to charge the expenditure on thismail contract on a per capita basis, still I cannot forget that only a few days ago a principle was adopted under which it will’ make a gain of £2,700. I propose to support the motion and oppose the amendment. I do not lay down any condition with regard to my vote, for I am quite satisfied’ that, in view of the Prime Minister’s promise, Senator Playford will see that the position of all the States with regard to mail contracts will be considered, and1 steps taken to lay down a uniform basis. It is perfectly clear that we cannot have one mail contract dealt with orrone principle and another mail contract dealt with on another principle. I can’ quite understand that in settling this point very difficult and complex questions will have to be considered. On the one hand, Western Australia gets her mails carried between Perth and Adelaide under a contract to which she only contributes on a per capita basis. On the other hand, Tasmania has a special contract for the carriage of her mails across Bass Strait, while probably the mails to Northern Queensland are carried’ under special contract by steamer for much farther than 160 miles. It appears to me that a uniform system will have to be laid down, if justice is to be done to all the States. I favour the ratification of the Vancouver mail contract, because it will enable our mails to be carried entirely through British possessions,, and because, in process of time, it mav become the main channel for the transmission of our mails to the United Kingdom. We could still avail ourselves of such steamers as came here, and that had refrigerating chambers for the export of produce, and the carriage of mails on the poundage system. I utterly disagree with senator Matheson, who seems to think that it is almost impossible for trade with Canada to increase. Considering that the seasons in Canada are opposite to ours, I should say that there is every possibility, nay, a probability, of our trade increasing in the near future. But since Senator Keating has plainly told us that, in his opinion, this contract cannot be defended purely as a mail contract, but is more of a trade contract, I think it will devolve upon the Government to see that practical steps are taken to increase our trade. In view of the fact that, as the result of the presence here of two commercial agents, the exports from Canada to Australia are far larger than our exports to that country, I think it will be the duty of the Government to see that a commercial agent is sent to Canada as soon as practicable. I feel quite certain that, with the aid of a little commercial energy and a practical knowledge of markets, our trade can be extended. With the increase of population in Canada it is1 quite likely that they will not grow some commodities, which we can produce, in sufficient quantity to supply their demands.
– What commodities?
– Every now and then we may be able to export a larger quantity of butter or other produce.
– Every now and then., but not regularly.
– In view of the diversity of the seasons, the area of the country, and the increase of population, I should think that the chances are as ten to one that the trade wilh increase, if we take wise and practical steps in that direc-tion.
– The honorable senator does not say in what respects the trade will increase.
– In this matter my honorable friend is a pessimist. We are dealing with two gigantic countries, and for the purposes of his argument he declares that an increase in trade is impossible. If we adopt a laissez faire policy, and think that we have done everything that is possible by paying our share of this subsidy of £[66,000 to a line of mail steamers, then I agree with ray honorable friend. But do we intend’ to stop at that? I think it is our duty to try in every possible way to get a better return for our money. I cannot follow Senator Best in the arguments which he has adduced. I take it that this is absolutely a new contract, because the subsidy is increased by £[6,000, and the names of the contracting parties are altered.
– Had we not better see the contract, if it is a new one?
– It is a. new contract in every sense of the word, and would, I think, be viewed in that light by any Court. Senator Best has very rightly reminded us of the opinion given by Mr. Deakin in 1903, but he will not pay any attention to the fact that it has been overruled’.
– By whom?
– By the Parliament. Not Only Rave Sir George Turner and other notable authorities in another place explained that they were wrong in adhering to Mr. Deakin’s opinion of 1903, but it has been overruled in connexion- with two or three Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bills which have been introduced and passed.
– That is not renewal of a contract.
– The honorable senator is making an absolute mistake.
– Order ! I must ask honorable senators to allow Senator Dobson to proceed with his speech.
– As the result of the overruling of that opinion, Senator Best got some very expensive post-offices provided for his State.
– I believe, sir, that I am in order in saying “ question, question.”
– Strictly, no interjections are in order.
– On a point of order, sir, I understand that, under our Standing Orders we are allowed ‘ to say “ Hear, hear,” and “ Question.”
– There is no objection to the honorable senator saying “ Hear, hear,” but, strictly speaking, all interjections are out of order.
– Since Sir George Turner announced that he had changed his opinion1 on this point, the cost of all new post-offices has been debited on a per capita basis. Everything is trending in the direction of doing away with the bookkeeping system, and I propose to vote in that direction whenever I can, in the hope that the time will soon come: when the Parliament will be in a position to distribute the surplus on such terms1 as it may think fair, giving bonuses or special terms to any State which may need them. I am convinced that we shall be acting most unwisely if we do not adopt a policy which make this Commonwealth a real Federation as soon as possible.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). Both this evening and previously I have heard many references to the Federal spirit. I have never discussed a question from that stand-point, because it has always seemedto me that it was one of the easiest things m the world to assume that the Federal spirit was necessarily in favour of the proposal submitted by an honorable senator who was making an appeal of that sort. What is the Federal spirit? It is a loyal adherence to the Constitution, and therefore, when we take the Constitution as our guide, all references to the Federal spirit are mere ad. captandum appeals. I wish to ask Senator Best, as a lawyer, whether it is competent for one party to a contract to renew it. He is silent.
– On the general principle, no.
– Did not the honorable senator inform the Senate a little while ago that it was competent for the parties to this agreement to renounce it?
– I said so.
– And when they renounced it, surely their liability would cease. There were three parties to the
Original agreement - the shipping company, New South Wales and Queensland, and Canada. One of them, Queensland, renounced it. She represented to the Federal Government that she did not desire a renewal of the subsidy, and ought not to be made chargeable with any portion of the cost, if it were renewed.
– Where did the honorable
Senator learn that?
– The Minister stated it during the afternoon. The very fact that Senator Best asks me when’ it was stated, indicates that it would have modified his argument if he had heard it at the time. Does he mean to say that it is competent for one party to a contract to renew it without the consent of the other party ?
– I said that, technically, the Commonwealth had a right to renew the contract, but that it would be an outrage to do so without the consent of the States concerned.
– But the honorable senator also said that any party to the contract had a right to renounce it. Queensland did renounce it: and consequently any obligation that might attach to Queensland ceased. If Queensland withdrew from the contract, what became of it? Is it competent for the Federation) to say to New South Wales, “ Whether you like it or not, although your partner has gone out, we shall renew the contract, and charge the cost to you “ ? That is the position to which we are now reduced. .
-. - Queensland did renew the contract in 1903.
– She renounced it.
– It was not sostated in the other House.
– If the honorablesenator would confine his attention to the Senate he would know that the fact was stated here this afternoon.
– It was certainly not stated by the Minister in his speech.
– I believe the Minister was not aware of the fact until Senator Best brought forward the argument upon which he relied. Then he obtainedthe information, and when he stated the fact, I went over to him, and he confirmed it to me. The contract was renewed by the Commonwealth Government in 1903 at an increased price, and with altered conditions.
– Not with altered conditions.
– Yes, there were to be better boats.
– Mav I quote the authority upon whom the honorable senator relied - Mr. Deakin. He said -
This is merely a continuation of the old agreement, with very slight alterations in. the direction of providing greater convenience.
– Greater convenience on the old ‘ships - yes.
– Then the honorablesenator^ does admit that there was an alteration in the conditions?
– There was an improvement in the machinery of the boats. That is all. The same ships ran, only they were tinkered up. I happen to know that to be a fact.
– An increased price was paid, I presume, partly in consequence of the altered conditions. If the Commonwealth was entitled to renew “a contract as frequently as it liked, and with altered conditions, let us see where we should’ land ourselves. It would be possible for the Commonwealth absolutely to ruin a State financially if it could repeatedly renew an agreement- made by the State before Federation, aria after the conditions. T submit that the view of Senator Dobson is a sounder one, that when the agreement terminated the obligation of the State terminated also; that if the Commonwealth then sought to renew the agreement, it practically became a fresh contract ; and that the liability of the -individual States was removed.
– Did not Sir Edmund Barton say that it was renewed in the interests of New South Wales and Queensland?
– Sir Edmund Barton said many things, but as I understand there is a general desire to prorogue this Parliament before Christmas, I do not propose to discuss them all. I wish to say a word or two with regard to the Tasmanian mail matter. It does appear to me that Tasmania has a reasonable cause of complaint against the Federation. I cannot agree with the contention of Senator Clemons, who has sought to prove that the costs of. the transfer of Tasmanian mails to Australian States on the mainland should be charged per capita. The principle adopted with regard to the rest of the States is, that each State pays for the transit of its mails to neighbouring States.
– To its own border.
– Unfortunately, Tasmania’s border is Wilson’s Promontory.
– New South Wales pays the cost of taking her mails to the Victorian border, and Victoria pays the cost of taking her mails to the New South Wales border. The Commonwealth should apply that principle to Tasmania in the case of mails to “the mainland, But the Commonwealth is not carrying that principle into effect fairly and equitably. As I understand, Tasmania is charged with the whole cost of subsidizing the boats which carry mails both ways, while the mainland States only pay poundage rates on their letters to Tasmania.
– But the Tasmanian subsidy is paid for more than mail carriage.
– Some portion of.the subsidy is paid for the carriage of mails, and it appears to me that an equitable portion of that subsidy should be chargeable against the mainland States. At least onehalf should be paid by the mainland States, and the other half bv Tasmania. Certainly Tasmania ought not to bear the whole cost. Suppose she declined any longer to bear the expense of the subsidy. Then the Commonwealth would have to subsidize vessels to take mails to and from Tasmania.
– South Australia carries the Western Australian mails, and the English mails to her border, without getting anything for it.
– If the honorable senator will look at the Estimates he will see whether South Australia gets nothing. One of the biggest sums1 is for the transit of mails.
– But English mails and Western Australian mails are carried for nothing.
– Only when a special train is put on.
– The Tasmanian position does seem to me to be to some extent unjust. As I have shown, if she declined any longer to subsidize the steamships the Commonwealth would have to do so. We ought not to place upon Tasmania any pressure to adopt drastic methods of that kind. I therefore trust that before long the Government will take this matter into consideration. But “I would suggest to Senator Clemons that it ite hardey desirable that he should penalize States with which he has no quarrel merely because of art injustice which is done to Tasmania. The better course for him to adopt would be to vote on this occasion as I feel sure his views would lead him to vote, and trust to the good sense of the Government and of Parliament to adopt some reasonable plan in regard to Tasmanian mails.
– It It has been admitted during the course of the debate that Tasmania has not had fair treatment in reference to the cost of her mail arrangements. I, in common with other Tasmanian senators, have always held1 that, opinion. I am glad that at last we have secured an expression of the same view from Queensland and New South Wales senators, and I hope that that fact will not be lost sight of by the representatives of the Government in the Senate. I feel that Tasmania has not had fair treatment in connexion with her mail services-, I intend to go a step further than honorable senators representing New South Wales and Queensland. I propose to record my vote for the amendment, as a protest against the action taken by successive Governments in dealing with Tasmania.
– The honorable senator will not accept the promise made.
– N - No; I am tired of accepting promises. It is, in my opinion, a mistake that there should have been so rauch question about this expenditure being ^distributed on the per capita basis.
– The honorable senator proposes to do wrong because he thinks the Government are doing wrong.
– N - No; I should be sorry to think that the Government are intentionally doing wrong. It may be that in this matter they cannot avoid doing wrong, because previous Governments have done wrong, but I propose all the same to record my protest against the treatment meted out to Tasmania in the most emphatic way possible.
– It will be assumed that the honorable senator thinks the amendment fair.
– I - I repeat a remark which I used when we were considering the proposed establishment of telephonic communication between Melbourne and Sydney, that until we have a common purse for receipts, we should not have a common purse for expenditure. When we have a true Federation, and all payments are made on the per capita basis, only then will it be fair to charge an honorable senator from any State with provincialism if he casts his vote ®n matters of finance in a way which benefits his own State particularly. Such action may be held to be narrow-minded, but it is forced on honorable senators.
– What is there narrow-minded about it, _ if the proposal is not just?
– I - It is not just that one State should be treated as Tasmania has been treated. That has been admitted by honorable senators, who are anxious to see the motion carried as submitted.
– I am not particularly anxious to see the motion carried.
– I - I believe that Senator Givens will be found voting for it. It is not denied by the representatives of the Government that fairer treatment might be afforded to the State of Tasmania. I believe that the time when all the States will receive uniform treatment can only be hastened by the representatives of a State in this the States’ House, when they consider their State aggrieved-
– Punishing another State ?
– Becau - Because the representatives of that other State appear to be always ready to punish them. It is all very well for Senator Millen to put it in that way, which looks very well for him, but very bad for me, but the honorable senator is well aware that what I propose to vote for is uniformity. Until we have uniformity I think I cannot be charged with desiring to do any injustice to another State, by voting as I propose to do on this occasion, because of the way in which my own State has been treated. Senator Dobson has always been an advocate of economy, and has been watchful of the finances of his own State, but I must confess that I am unable to understand his attitude on this question. It seems to me that, until we have a Government willing to place all the States on an equal footing in these matters, we must continue the present haphazard system under which senators representing each State try to secure the best terms they can get for their State.
– The Government have promised to consider our ease.
– I - I want something more than promises. I remind Senator Dobson that we have been here for five years, during which time we have been living on promises. I now want something more. Senator Gould has reminded .me that honorable senators cannot give us any more. The honorable senator and Senator Givens have said that their sympathy is with, the State of Tasmania. I. feel that the best way in which to keep their sympathy alive is to show that we are prepared to do what we think is fair when they show themselves prepared to do what is fair. In this way, I am in hope that we may induce them to urge their views upon the Government.
– And the honorable senator proposes to vote in the contrary way to that in which he desires them to vote.
– No; No; I desire uniformity, and until we have it, I think I am right in casting my vote as I propose to do, for the amendment. It has been stated by the .Minister that this cannot be regarded as a mail contract, if we consider its cost; and it must be patent to us all that there are only two States - New South Wales and Queensland - that will derive any practical benefit from it as a trading contract. As under the system adopted up to the present, Tasmania has been made to pay more than she ought to pay for mail communication, I shall vote for Senator Matheson’ s amendment, as a protest against the treatment which the State I have the honour to represent, has received in this respect at the hands of .successive Federal Governments.
– I do not propose to occupy the attention of the Senate for many minutes with the .remarks I intend to make on this subject, but I should be sorry to allow the motion to go to a division without saying a word or two on it. There is, I think, no difference of opinion in the Senate in respect to the ratification of this contract. I understand that the Senate is unanimous that the arrangement made by the ]ate Government, and which ihe piesent Government has submitted for the approval of Parliament, is one which ought to be ratified.
– Provided two States pay for it. That is the unanimous opinion.
– No; I believe the unanimous opinion is that the contract should be ratified, because it is a proper arrangement to have made, in order to secure die carriage of mails, and valuable steam-ship communication between Australia and another part of the Empire.
– I do not approve of it.
– There is, I find, one dissentient voice. I approve of it, and that is sufficient to justify my vote. The amendment has brought specially under our notice two issues ; first of all, whether the per capita distribution of the amount to be paid by the Commonwealth under this bargain is warranted bv the Constitution, and secondly whether the per capita distribution, in the circumstances, is fair and just.
– There is a third in the precedent laid down by the Senate in the ratification pf the .Orient contract.
– That may also be considered, but the two main questions arising under the amendment are those which I have stated. I shall refer later to the circumstances to which Senator Guthrie has alluded. I agree largely with what Senator O’Keefe has said in respect to the introduction of the phrase, “ Federal spirit.” If a proposal is just and right, I do not see that we require any allusion to the Federal spirit in order to induce us to carry it. On the other, hand,, if we, by the best exercise of our judgment, consider that a proposal made isneither fair nor just, then no appeal tothe Federal spirit ought to induce us toassent to it. I, therefore, agree with. Senator O’Keefe, who, quite naturally, deprecates these appeals to the Federal spirit,, which are made as though they should override the consideration of whether a proposalis fair and just. So far as I am concerned’ on a question of this kind, involving the expenditure of Commonwealth money to becontributed1 by the taxpayers of the country,. I shall never agree to support any proposal,, whether small or great in amount, because of an appeal to the vague Federal spirit if I believe it to be unjust and unwarranted. I am afraid, however!, that I cannot agree with. Senator O’Keefe when he proposes to votefor the amendment, assuming that the proposal to distribute the expenditure on ai per capita basis is just and fair, as a protest against the treatment of Tasmania.
– I - I did not admit that the per capita distribution- was fair.
– If the honorable senator objects to the motion on. the ground that it is unfair and unjust,, that the incidence should be per capita,. there is a great deal to be said in favour o.f t that view. But then the honorable senator might have said that he would vote for the amendment, not as a protest against the treatment of Tasmania, but because the proposal was unjust or unfair. Two wrongs, do not make a right. If, as everybody must admit, Tasmania has been badly used in respect of the large sum she is asked” to pay for the transfer of her mails across the Straits, that ought to be remedied. But that fact is, in itself, no reason for refusing to assent to a per capita distribution of the incidence of the amount payable under this bargain if- it is constitutional, and if it is fair and right that that should be done. Every one of us agrees that there should be some re-adjustment in respect of the amount paid in the way stated by Tasmania, and probably in respect of other amounts paid by other States. I da not at all- wonder at the lack of faith Senator O’Keefe displayed in thepromises of the Government.
– Which Government?
– Thehonorable senator referred to the present Government.
– - I - I may relieve the honorable senator’s mind on that point, by saying that I have more faith in the present Government than I had in the last Government.
– That cannot be due to the promises, because they were made by the last Government, and not by the present Government, and, therefore, what Senator O’ Keefe has said, while it may be regarded as a very agreeable pleasantry, is not applicable to the remarks which he made. But, as I say, “ promises are pie-crust,” and the honorable senator declines to be led away, even by promises made now, and expresses his intention to vote, as a protest, in support of the amendment. If everybody else acted on that principle we might defeat what was deemed a fair proposal, and not merely inflict an injustice, perhaps, on another State, but continue an injustice under which the two States more immediately concerned might be labouring. The two questions left are whether this proposal is fair and just, and whether it is in accordance with the Constitution. The arrangement entered into by the late Government was, in my opinion, a very proper one, and, as Senator Keating said this afternoon, it cannot be regarded entirely from the point of view of a mail contract, because it rests altogether on a wider and1 broader basis. That was the view taken by the late Government, and I presume it is the view taken by their successors. The arrangement was entered into in order to maintain an existing link between Australia and another part of the Empire. I dare say that the mail matter, if any, which goes by that route to England is infinitesimal, there being another service from Sydney to San Francisco.
– And a more frequent and) rapid service.
– British ships are not allowed to go into the American trade.
– That is a question with which I do not desire to deal. The late Government may have been right, or they may have been wrong, in making the arrangement they did on broad national grounds.
– Imperial grounds.
– I shall not use the abused word “Imperial,” but say that the late Government were under the impression that it would be a good thing to have this expenditure of £[66,000 in order to continue, encourage, and develop trade with our sister Commonwealth in
Canada. I then thought, and still think, this to be a great national object.
– The effect is to give a bonus to Canadian manufacturers.
– I am not advocating any bonus, and would stand shoulder to shoulder with Senator Matheson in putting an end to an autocratic method of dealing with the Customs, and seeking to impose heavy protective duties by a sort of rule of thumb. I take the view expressed by Senator Millen and others that this contract is literally and practically, so far as the two States are concerned1, a new contract. We have no right to take a contract out of the hands of those States, and having, for national purposes, multiplied the amount, turn round1 and ask those States, to accept an entirely new bargain. Technically this is an extension, but in substance it is a new contract.
– The word “extension “ is used in the motion.
– That is so, but in substance and fact this is a new bargain, entered1 into by the Commonwealth on broad national ground’s.
– It is not such a new contract as to take it out of the category of transferred services.
– I am not sure that it is not. At any rate, if this is to be regarded as the identical contract which these States entered into - I do not think it is - and which they handed over on the inauguration of the Common- « wealth, then it seems to me, at present, that there is irresistible force in the view put before the Senate this afternoon.
– This is not the same contract that was current at the time of Federation.
– I do not take the view that it is the same; it is a renewal, But on totally different terms. I remember perfectly well that the basis on which the agreement” was made was published in the press at the time. I am not sure that the Government assented altogether to the per capita arrangement, and I question whether it had reached that stage ; but some reference was made to the subject by the late Prime Minister in speeches he delivered before that Government went out of office. I wish to say that there has been a slight change. The view taken by the late Prime Ministerand from which I certainly do not dissent - was that it was only fair and just, putting aside the constitutional question, that the contributions should be -per capita, because Queensland was the only State not then brought into touch with a subsidized mail service. We know that quite lately that condition of affairs has been altered, and, therefore, I do not think Queensland - or New South Wales either, but particularly Queensland - is in so strong a position now as before to insist on the fairness and justice of a per capita distribution of the cost. We have recently assented to a payment to Queensland in connexion with the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s mail contract by which that State is brought into touch with’ a subsidized mail service through the instrumentality of Commonwealth money. That has removed to some extent the cause of complaint to which allusion was made by the late Prime Minister.
– Queensland is still paying £[21,000 of her own money to get communication by means of the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s boats.
– And I frankly say that Queensland ought to have paid the lot. It was probably in consequence of the promise made by the late Prime Minister that Queensland abstained from any further negotiations in respect of this particular bargain, and sought to get mail connexion by means of the Orient service. I think the constitutional aspect is a very strong one. I should have voted for the amendment if I could have brought myself to regard this as the old contract; but, believing it to be an entirely new contract, though called an extension, I take it to be within the terms of the Constitution, having regard to both letter and spirit. It is only fair and reasonable to carry out what was indicated by the late Government, and I- shall not be able to vote for the amendment.
– With’ the terms of the motion generally I cordially agree, because I believe we are doing right in opening, and keeping open, communication between Australia and Canada. The argument that this is a mail contract, and nothing more, is absolutely fallacious. When the route was first opened the appeal made to the New South Wales and ‘Queensland Governments was based! on the desirableness of maintaining communication for the purposes of trade. These were the grounds stated by Mr.- Huddart, who pioneered the company, and who did not lay any stress whatever on the necessity for a mail contract. I am only sorry that the original agreements have not been placed before the Senate, because I believe they would have shown that they were intended for the purposes of a trade contract. In the case of the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s mail contract the Senate laid down the principle that, after the boats passed Adelaide, it became an arrangement for the purposes of trade, and that, therefore, every State ought to benefit; and in order to secure uniformity we must apply the same principle to the contract before us.
– Move an amendment for a mileage rate to other ports.
– I am satisfied with the poundage rates; if Senator Givens is dissatisfied, let him move an amendment. It is a matter of gratification ‘to me that we are subsidizing what is virtually an Australian company employing Australian crews, and spending to a very large extent the revenue which is derived from the traffic in Australia. The line from Sydney to San Francisco has been mentioned. What is our position in that regard? The Americans have absolutely driven the Australian ships off the route, and the proposal before the Senate involves the question of keeping open another route. The subsidy which Australia and Canada are giving is small when compared with that which the United States give. At the present time the United States are subsidizing their boats to the amount of £70,000, and I believe that there is every chance of the Congress agreeing to a proposal to raise that subsidy to ,£130,000. That is a large trade subsidy, in which no British ships can participate. If we withdraw the Vancouver mail subsidy, undoubtedly the ships which are now trading between Vancouver and Sydney will be withdrawn, and replaced with ordinary tramps. I feel sure that other countries which subsidize their ships - France, for instance, subsidizes her ships for every mile which they run - will very soon pay vessels to do the trade between Canada and Australia. It may be said by some honorable senators, “ That will be an advantage to Australia, because we shall get cheaper freights.” But it must be remembered that it will build up a trade which will be done by foreigners instead of by Australians, and that to a very large extent Australia will be robbed of what ought to be a recruiting ground for her defences. I intend to support the amendment and the motion.
– I cannot allow the question to be put without explaining the vote I propose to give. I noticed that while Senator Keating did not attempt to defend this grant as a mail subsidy, other senators did. If it is a mail subsidy, we are paying very dearly for our whistle. We are paying such an extravagant rate that that fact alone ought, I think, to be sufficient to condemn the proposal. I propose to consider it as a trade subsidy only. I think it can be shown to be differential treatment in favour of New South Wales as against other States. For many years before Federation, and since that time, Western Australia has had a subsidized trade mail service to Esperance,, on its southern coast. The contract wilt expire this year, and the Government of the Commonwealth have announced that they will call for tenders for a mail service by sea and by land. We know very well that a mail service by land will cost very much less than a mail service by sea. What will be the result? The Government have said that unless Western Australia will pay the difference between the lowest tenders in each case they will discontinue the service by sea, and institute a service by land.
– That is a service within the State !
– If the Government are going to lay down a policy that trade subsidies are to be divorced from mail subsidies, it should apply to every mail service throughout the Commonwealth. The fact that the mail service to Esperance is an internal service does not affect the ques.tion, because the cost is debited to the State. The Senate, however, indorsed a departure from this rule when the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s mail contract was submitted for its ratification. When the representatives of Queensland contended that the service between Adelaide and Sydney was of the nature of a trade subsidy, and for that reason threatened to vote against the motion, the Government threw them a sop, and said, “ We will make you a repayment in consideration of the fact that the service between Adelaide and Sydney is a trade subsidy.”
– Why does not the honorable senator move for a similar mileage rate in connexion with the Vancouver mail service ?
– I protested and voted against the action of the Govern ment; but I was overruled, and by a majority the Senate established that precedent. I should now be false to my duty if I did not insist that . Western Australia and every other State should be treated in precisely the same way as Queensland and Tasmania have been treated in that regard. To my mind, Senator Symon quite overlooked the fact that this question cannot be viewed in the same light as it could have been had not the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s mail contract been ratified with that addendum. He says that in his belief this is a new contract, and that the cost should be debited as “ new “ expenditure. Are we justified in dipping into our one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue for this purpose, in view of the fact that the very States which are to receive the prime benefit - New South Wales and Queensland - have been the loudest in condemnation of what is called the growing extravagance of the Commonwealth Parliament? Time and again the Premier of the former State has pointed to the increase under the head of “ new ‘ ‘ expenditure. If the contention of Senator Symon be correct, here is another sum of £[29,000 which is to be taken out of the one-fourth, and I suppose that next week Mr. Carruthers will be pointing to the rapid increase in the “ new “ expenditure. He will not point to that particular item, but will in general terms condemn this Parliament for being extravagant. If the States are sincere in their complaints against this Parliament, here is an opportunity afforded to New South Wales to spend this sum in the interest of her own trade expansion. I shall be very much interested, in watching the attitude which certain honorable senators will take up on this question,’ because we have recently heard a great outcry about the. dumping of agricultural machinery into the Commonwealth. We have heard about the iniquity of cheap agricultural machinery being imported for our farmers, and the Government are to be moved to take action to prevent its introduction. On referring to the trade statistics, I find that the biggest item of our Canadian imports is agricultural machinery.
– Yes; but not from Vancouver.
– Inasmuch as the figures have been quoted as evidence of our trade with Canada, I assume that some of this agricultural machinery finds its way from Vancouver.
– None of it.
– The factory of Massey, Harris and Company is situated about half-way between the coasts of Canada, and I believe it is just possible that as much of their machinery comes through Vancouver as from the eastern coast.
– Most of it is shipped from the United States.
– I cannot accept the disclaimers until it is proved that my belief is not well founded. Of our exports to Canada, practically the bulk is raw material; while of our imports from Canada, practically the bulk is manufactured goods. Whether the imports be agricultural machinery or not, the principle is the same. If we are going to subsidize this mail line, how can we consistently raise the duties in order to prevent Canadian manufactures from coming into the Commonwealth ? I shall watch with interest to see if honorable senators are prepared to subsidize this mail line to the extent of £29,000 per annum in order that Canadian manufactures can be brought into the Commonwealth to compete with Australian manufactures, and I suppose, later on, to raise an outcry to stop their importation by means of increased duties’. In 1894 we imported from Canada £26,284 worth of agricultural machinery, £10,498 worth of machinery and tools, and £51,000 worth of undressed timber. Much of this undressed timber is Oregon, which comes into competition with the jarrah of Western; Australia. Practically, I am asked to compel my State to make a contribution to assist the Canadian merchant to land undressed timber here more cheaply than he otherwise could do, in order to compete with our jarrah.
– It would not pav the steamers to carry timber.
– Let us drop all humbug and cant. If we wish to subsidize this mail line, we must inevitably assist Canadian manufacturers to land their goods in the Commonwealth more cheaply than they otherwise could do. It is mere cant and humbug on the one hand to say that we are .in favour of opening up trade by subsidizing an “ All-Red ‘ ‘ line, and on the other hand to raise an agitation to keep out the very goods which are carried by the subsidized vessels. I intend to vote for the amendment, because of the precedent which the Senate laid down in connexion with the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s mail contract, and if it is defeated I shall vote against the ratification of theagreement, in order that New South Walesshall be spared the proposed increase in. Federal extravagance about which her Premier is so fond of orating.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).There are one or two matters that I think ought to be cleared up to the satisfaction? of the Senate before this motion is finally disposed of. I expected to hear Senator Symon deal with one of them. I think he ought to have given the Senate the reason why this contract was not submitted’ to Parliament by ‘the late Government, of which he was a member. The old contract expired on the 1st May this year. Consequently, there was no time before itsexpiry for the present Government tq takeaction. But the late Government during, last session ought to have brought the subject before us. The Senate is now in thispeculiar position : It is asked to ratify the agreement under consideration, when, as a matter of fact, no other course is open to it. That being the case, we have simply been, wasting time. A great deal of attention has been given to the InterStateaspect of the question. I was under the impression that the first thing to which the members of the Senate should devote their attention was whether this contract should be renewed or not. If I had been called upon to vote after the speech delivered bv Senator Keating. I should certainly have voted” against the ratification of the agreement. The; honorable senator told us that it’ wasof no use to Australia as a mail contract, and1 of no use as a trade arrangement. In the first place, the correspondence taker* by the route is very limited in quantity, and in the second place he informed us that the trade is continually decreasing. Under those circumstances, I put it to honorable senators, whether we are warranted’ in throwing away £26,000 of “Commonwealth money, which is very urgently required in other directions? Several honorable senators from New South Wales have talked about the bonds of sentiment. I was not aware that there was any sentiment in business. If we are to be sentimental about the connexion between Canada and Australia, I do not see why thepostoffice should be loaded up with £26,000 per annum on account of that idea. If we are prepared to pay hard cash for our sentiment, let us be honest, and vote the money out of the general revenue of the Commonwealth for the purpose. Do not let us add to the post-office expenditure. As the contract is, Senator Keating tells us, useless for mail purposes, why ask the post-office to pay for it?
– It is positively dishonest.
– It is; positively dishonest. It is indefensible from every point of view that I can look at it. The agreement ought to be rejected by the Senate. I have no sympathy with this sentimental idea of keeping up communication with Canada. Why should we trouble about Canada ? Will Canada buy any goods from us if she can get them cheaper, or more conveniently elsewhere? Shall we buy goods from Canada just because Canada is a portion of the British Empire? We do not buy goods from Great Britain - our dear old mama - if we can buy them cheaper in Germany.
– Sensible people.
– Of course, they are sensible. The hard-headed Scottish instinct dominates the honorable senator’s mind. There is really no sentiment in business, and it is a good thing that there 5s not. I find, on reference to the returns, that our business with Canada, instead of increasing, is actually diminishing. Our sales to Canada are rapidly approaching vanishing point. We are asked to pay .£26,000 per annum for what? There was a trade between Canada and Australia last year, amounting both ways to about £[300,000, for carrying which the company received a subsidy of £[60,000 from Canada and Australia. In other words, one-fifth of the entire cost of the commodities carried was paid in subsidy. That may be a most excellent thing for the shipping company, but from my point of view, at all events, it is not good business either for Canada or for Australia. Of course, Canada can do as she pleases.
– The only redeeming feature is that it is a good honest company.
– I really do not trouble about the fact that it is an Australian company, and that its ships are manned by Australian sailors. If that principle were carried into effect, as a number of Australians would like to see it, we should be led into the most extravagant and unbusiness like proposals. Let us deal with every question on its merits. What merits has this proposal ? None whatever. I was altogether astonished to find the Government bringing forward an actual proposition for the renewal of this agreement. The Senate ought to have some information as to how it is that am additional sum of £[3,000 is demanded.
– The company simply asked for it, and the Government said yes.
– If the company had asked for £[10,000, I suppose the Government would have consented. My view is that we ought not to renew the contract. But if the Senate, .in its wisdom - we hear a lot of talk about the wisdom” of the Senate ; in fact, we hear more of it than we see of it - decides to renew the contract, I must vote against the amendment, apart altogether from the fact that I am a Queenslander, and that Queensland is supposed to benefit from the contract - though I cannot see where the benefit comes in,.
– Queensland gets all the trade.
– The trade is very little. The vessels simply call at Pinkenba,1 land a few passengers, mails, and parcels, unload two or three tons of goods, and then proceed to Sydney. I do not grudge New South Wales and Sydney any trade which may be derived from the service. But if this “contract is to be renewed, it appears, to me that it is not a New South Wales or a Queensland contract, but an Australian contract. As I read the Constitution, neither Queensland’ nor New South Wales, nor any single State, nor any combination of States, has the right to make a contract with any party outside of Australia for the carriage of mails. Is not that what the Constitution provides ? Can any State enter into a postal contract with South Africa, for instance?
– We are told that this is not a postal contract.
– I am, sure that if we had the contract before us, as we ought to have, we should not find a word about anything else than mails in it. No State can make a mail contract outside or inside Australian territory. The States have no jurisdiction in that matter. If the contract is to be ratified, the expense ought to be borne on a -per capita basis. Complaints have been made that a number of members of the Senate are extremely wanting in the Federal spirit. I repudiate that assertion entirely. I endeavour, so far as I am able, to deal with every question that arises on a
Federal basis and on its merits. Some honorable senators have talked about the Western Australia railway. I do not wish to discuss that very much vexed question, but I may say this - that it ought to be a sufficient answer that the Federal Parliament has no power whatever to construct railways or take over railways already constructed, without the consent and concurrence of the States interested. That is the attitude which the Senate took up in dealing with the railway question.
– Do not apologize.
– I am not apologizing. I am only stating what I am sure must be clearly apparent to a gentleman of Senator Matheson’s powers of perception. I think the best thing the Senate can” do with “this contract is to refuse to ratify it. I intend to vote in that direction. I think it is a bad contract ; that it is unnecessary ; and that it involves a wasteful expenditure of money. I think it means loading up the Post-office with charges that ought not to be made against that institution. For all those reasons my vote shall go against ratification. But if the Senate agrees to ratify the contract, I shall feel compelled to vote against Senator Matheson’s amendment.
– I do not intend to occupy the time of the Senate at any very great length in replying to the debate, but one or two matters were dealt with in the course of the discussion to which I should like to make a short reference. I agree with Senator Symon - though I suppose that if the honorable and learned senator had stayed a little longer, he would have found some cause to modify the opinion he expressed - that, in the main, the discussion has revealed that, with the exception of, perhaps, one or two, the Senate is unanimous in the desire to affirm the contract as a contract.
– With most honorable senators, it is because they cannot help it.
– It may be so; but if we are satisfied that the Senate desires to ratify the extension that was .entered into so far back as May last, in view of the amendment which has been moved, the question arises as to how the expense of the proposed extension is to be borne. ‘ I said in my opening remarks that, from the point of view of a postal contract, I did not think that this was an arrangement which could be defended at all. Although it may in its terms and on the face of it, appear to be a mail contract, the figures I gave show clearly that it could never have been entered into primarily and solely for the purpose of the transit of mails. I would ask every honorable senator, who believes that the proposed extension should be .ratified, whether he thinks it should be ratified for the purpose of securing a mail service? I think that every such honorable senator would answer “ No “ to the question . and would admit that he desires that it should be extended for the period indicated in the motion, but not for a mail service. He could not any more than I can justify its extension for postal purposes, and, that being the case, there must be some other considerations in connexion with the contract which force honorable senators to the conclusion that it is desirable that it should be extended until the 31st July, 1906. I can only conclude that those considerations, not being mail considerations, must be considerations which ought to be regarded as Commonwealth considerations, and as apart from those affecting the two States that have been more particularly interested in this service in the past. So far as Queensland is concerned, it has transpired during the discussion, that when the Commonwealth extended the contract in
I9°3i Queensland subsequently protested that she had not been consulted in the matter. Since the renewal of the contract in 1903, and before the extension proposed in May last, and which . the Senate is now asked to ratify, Queensland has asked to be relieved of her responsibilities under the ‘ contract.
– Does the honorable senator make that statement himself?
– Yes. I have been given to understand by the Department that Queensland has asked to be relieved, for any further period, from the responsibility which she had originally incurred under this contract. If either House of the Federal Parliament desires to extend the contract, will it, in the face of such a request from Queensland, be contended that it would be equitable and fair to do so, and then ask Queensland to bear the proportion of the expenditure entailed which she has heretofore borne? In all the circumstances, we must regard this as a contract entered into by the Commonweath on behalf of the Commonwealth as a whole, and not on behalf of Queensland and New South Wales. Senator Pearce has made some reference, in expressing his opposition to the motion, to a mail contract proposed in the State of Western Australia. If I understood the honorable senator correctly he referred to a contract for a mail service to Esperance. In connexion with that service, alternative routes are possible, one by land and one by sea. I understand that if the sea route were adopted it would be more expensive than the land service, because in connexion with the sea service there would be additions which would make for a trade route which would not be present in the case of an arrangement made for the land service. Senator Pearce has asked why the Commonwealth should take up this attitude, and assert that it is prepared to pay for the sea service only a sum which will ‘at be in excess df that for which the land service could be provided. The reason for that is obvious. It is a duty cast upon the Commonwealth under the Constitution. If a mail service can be carried out for a smaller sum by land than by water, by reason of the fact that the difference between the two services is that the water service is a mail service plus a trade service, and the land service is a mail service only, the Commonwealth cannot pay for anything over and above its reasonable obligation as a trustee for the whole of the States in regard to postal matters. But once we come to deal with a contract for a service from the Commonwealth to some country outside, or from one State of the Commonwealth to another, , then we can be influenced by the factor of a combination of a trade with a mail service for this reason : Section 51, sub-section 1., of the Constitution provides -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
Trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.
In other words, the power of the Commonwealth with regard to trade and commerce is limited to trade and commerce between the Commonwealth and outside countries, or to trade and commerce between the States. In the particular case to which Senator Pearce has made reference, the trade and commerce would be between two points in the one State, and the Commonwealth could not, in that case, go beyond its ordinary obligation to provide a mail service, and subsidize a water service which would combine a trading with a mail service. Reference has been made by several honorable senators to the position of Tasmania. I must say that I am exceedingly gratified to find that the position of that State is now so much better appreciated in this connexion than it was some time ago. The matter dealt with here is one which has engaged my own attention for a very considerable time. The records of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and of the Treasury will show that so far as this matter is concerned, before the present Government came into office, I pressed its consideration on the two Departments named time and again by means of written communications.
– Why did not the honorable and learned senator press it in the Senate? We never heard his voice onthe matter in this Chamber.
– Because I have invariably found that the course I adopted is the most expeditious way in which to secure the attention of public Departments.
– It has not proved so, the honorable senator will admit.
– In this particular instance it has not proved so; but I should add that it has proved so to this extent : That one of the first things dealt with when the present Government came into office - and my honorable colleague can bear me out in the statement - was. arising out of the very representations which had been made by me to deal with the whole subject of the -mail services of the Commonwealth. Senator Clemons. - The Minister surely does not claim the addendum to the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s contract as resulting from such communications ?
– I do.
– Then I repudiate it, and I am ashamed of it.
– I point out that, although Senator Clemons had an opportunity to vote against it, he did not do so. I say that it is perfectly correct and absolutely justifiable in every sense of the word. The whole question of mail contracts and” the allocation of their cost must be dealt with comprehensively.
– If the matter to which the Minister has referred was consequent on the representations made to the Department, why was it not included in the motion as originally submitted in another place ?
– Because effect was proposed to be given to the same thing: in another way. Precisely the same effect would have been secured, but the proposal made to secure it would have taken a different form.
– Without consulting Parliament.
– No, not without consulting Parliament.
– The addendum to which I object was not submitted with the motion in another place.
– It was added to the motion in another place during the discussion which took place there.
– Not by the Ministry.
– No; but the Ministry proposed to do just what will be done by the addendum, only it was intended that it should be done in another way. The results would have been exactly the same. As I was saying, there is now under the consideration of the Ministry the advisability of having one comprehensive scheme for dealing with all mail contracts. However, as honorable senators will recognise, these contracts fall in at varying periods, and it is only when the obligation is cast upon the Government to deal with these contracts that they can be brought into line with a comprehensive scheme. Until we have a comprehensive scheme completely framed1 we must deal with particular contracts as they arise in such a way as to give effect to the principles which we wish to see applied uniformly hereafter.
– After these remarks, I shall take an early opportunity of asking the Government to help me in doing justice to Tasmania.
– As each instance came up we have given effect to the principles determined on. If we had decided to wait for months before we had a comprehensive scheme ready for submission it is possible that it would have been necessary to charge for this service under the old system. There are cases throughout the Commonwealth owing to divergent administrations in the past in connexion with which the greatest anomalies have arisen* We have the case in Western Australia to which reference was made this evening, and to which I made reference when dealing with another contract not long ago. Then we have the case of mail communication,. for instance, like that between South Australia and the Northern Territory. It cannot, in one sense, be regarded as a coastal service, and yet it must in other senses be so regarded. We have a case where mail services meet on the Northwest coast of Western Australia. A boat coming down from Port Darwin connects with a boat belonging to Western Australia, and paid for by the Government of that State to carry mails on from that point. These are things which cannot be dealt with in one day, but they must be dealt with in a comprehensive way, so that one principle shall apply throughout to similar cases. So far as the present contract is concerned I say that this is to some extent an instalment of the principle which will be made applicable to all similar contracts of a postal character, so far as the intentions of the present Government are concerned.
– Do the Government propose to make many contracts on a trade basis ?
– That is “a matter which will engage the attention of the Department as each case arises. After the discussion it seems to me that really the only point at issue is not as to whether it is desirable that this line of communication should be maintained, but whether the expenditure involved should be charged to two of the States, as heretofore* or to the Commonwealth. I will just, say in conclusion, what I said in my opening remarks, that, practically every member of the Senate has affirmed, in the course of his criticism of the motion, that it is desirable we should continue this communication, and no honorable senator would attempt any more than I should myself to defend the continuance of the communication as a mail service purely. Reference has been made to the sentimental and patriotic considerations and considerations connected with trade, and thev bear far more strongly upon this question than do any considerations connected with the present transit of mail matter, from here to Canada, or from here through Canada to Great Britain. If we have decided to ratify this extension agreed upon in May last, we should undoubtedly treat it as a Commonwealth matter, and the expense involved should be allocated in the proportion, and in the sums payable by each of the States as indicated in my opening remarks. There will be a good opportunity during the course of the year expiring on the 31st July next for the Government to give the fullest possible consideration to the whole of the circumstances, and taking advantage of past experience to effect some arrangement which will be more desirable and beneficial to us as a Commonwealth.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the af firmative.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I desire to call attention to clause 14, which proposes an addition to section 23 of the original Act. That section gives the Governor-General power to direct the distribution of a State into electorates, and the proposed addition indicates the conditions which shall precede such a proclamation.
– Does the honorable senator intend to move that the Bill be recommitted?
– That is not my intention. I merely wish to indicate an alteration which I think should be made, and to invite the Government, if they approve of my suggestion, to take steps to have an amendment effected in another place. Clause 14 provides that the proclamation may be made whenever there is an alterationin the number of members of the House of Representatives to be elected for a State. That is all right, but the clause in paragraph b goes on to state that a proclamation may be made - whenever in one-third of the Divisions in the. State the number of electors differs from aquota ascertained in the manner provided in this Part by a greater extent than one-fifth “more or onefifth less. . . .
It appears to me that to require that in onethird of the electorates there shall be a variation from the quota to so great an extent before there can be a redistribution, is giving rather a loose interpretation to the requirements of the Constitution, which provides for equal numerical representation. In a State like New South Wales, where there are twenty-six electorates, nine would require to be . out of joint, as it were, before any redistribution could take place. To take ‘an extreme case, seven electorates might be reduced to one thousand electors each, and yet there could not be a redistribution. It might be much more serious if seven electorates were to vary to such an extent, than if there were a much larger number of electorates with smaller variations.
– Does not paragraph c, which provides that the proclamation may be ‘made “ at such other time as the Governor-General thinks fit meet the case?
– The whole of my efforts have been directed to making the electoral system as automatic, and as little subject to the caprice of parliamentary or Ministerial influence as possible. While I admit that under paragraph c the Executive might provide for such cases as those to which I have referred, I rather think that, in view of paragraph b, a Ministry might reasonably hold that they werenot required to take any notice when the disturbance in the electorates was . to a less extent than that set forth. Senator Clemons knows the axiom that where certain thingsare expressed, other things are excluded ; and I fear that aMinistrymightconscentiously feel their hands’ to be tied. With a view to expediting public business, I refrain from moving my amendment, butdraw the attention of Senator Keating to the point, in the hope that he will bring it under the notice of his colleague elsewhere. It is a difficult matter to deal with, but I suggest that it should be settled, not so much in regard to the number of electorates which may be out of joint as to the percentage which is at variance with the quota, or to a combination of the two. .
– I agree with every word that Senator Millen has said, and I had intended to move that “ onethird “ should be struck out, with a view to insert “one-fifth.” However, I did not move in the matter, because of the presence of sub-clause c, to which Senator Clemons has called attention. In a large number of the ‘divisions there might be inaccuracies, and yet the inaccuracies or variations might be much greater in the smaller number of divisions. I think it would be a mistake to allow the proportion to remain at onethird.
– Senator Millen spoke to me on this subject earlier in the evening, and I brought it under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs. I understand that this is a question which1 has received consideration not only from the present, but also from the late Minister of Home Affairs. The object of sub-clause c is to make provision for a class of cases in which it may be necessary to have a redistribution, although the variation is not that referred to in sub-clauses a or b. In each of the States of Western Australia and Tasmania there are only five electorates, and if the proportion were reduced to one-fifth, only one electorate need be out of balance in order to necessitate a redistribution.
– That could not be possible. One electorate could not be wrong without disturbing another electorate.
– I think it could in Tasmania, where four electorates have been taken out, and the rest of the State made into one electorate ; and I think I am right in saying that there is a greater discrepancy in one electorate than in the others.. It is, so to speak, the electoral residuum of the State after carving out of four electorates. On the other hand, there is a State like New South Wales, in which six or seven electorates may be out of balance, and it may be desirable that there should be a redistribution. For that reason, paragraph c was inserted in the Bill which was originally: drawn under the direction of the late Minister of Home Affairs, and was acquiesced in subsequently. I think it will meet the case. I told the Minister I would give him more fully the suggestions which Senator Millen briefly indicated to me early this evening.
– Could not words be put in to make it clear that the one paragraph is not a qualification of the other.
– I shall endeavour to see that some words to that effect go %in.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Report adopted.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators have had the Bill in their possession since the 5th October, and doubtless, even before it came here they were) in many instances’ very familiar with its most important details. It will not be necessary for me to occupy their attention at any very great length, because it is a machinery Bill in the truest sense of the word. So far back as 1902, a Conference of Statisticians was held at Hobart, at the instance of the then Premier of Tasmania, the Honorable N. E. Lewis, and it addressed to him a communication on the 15th February of that year. At that particular time, if I remember rightly, there was also a session of the Australasian Science Congress in Hobart. The Statisticians had a Conference quite apart from the Congress, with regard to their own work, more particularly in view of the fact that since the advent of Federation, it would be to some extent modified. I propose to quote the following passages from the beginning of their report : -
We, the representative statisticians of the Australian States and New Zealand, having attended the conference convened by you to consider matters bearing upon uniformity of statistics of the Australian States and New Zealand, have the honour to submit to you the following report : -
The advent of Federation has introduced another factor into the statistics of the Australian States. Before Federation, the statistics of commerce and shipping of each State were taken independently, and, as far as trade relations were concerned, the various States were, to all intents and purposes, as foreign countries. With the introduction of a uniform Customs law, trade between the States became free, and it was consequently no longer necessary for Customs purposes, to ascertain the quantities and values of goods of local productions sent from one State to another. Nor was it requisite to follow a ship from port to port, registering its tonnage at each place, as if it were a fresh ship. Again, in regard to finance, the Commonwealth, from its inception, took from the States their largest source of revenue, as the right to levy duties of Customs’ and excise ceased to be a function of the State ; and when, subsequently, the Postal administration was also transferred to the Government of the Commonwealth, the States became second in importance to the Commonwealth as collectors of revenue. It is obvious, therefore, that these radical changes would affect the statistics of the States in a material way, and, to meet the altered conditions, concerted action was necessary. As a consequence of such considerations, correspondence took place between the several statistical offices, resulting in an invitation being issued to the Premiers of the Federated States and New Zealand by you, as Premier of Tasmania, to hold a conference of statisticians, at Hobart, for the purpose of securing uniform presentation of statistics, and to make suggestions to meet the altered condition of affairs which has arisen since the establishment of the Commonwealth. For the correspondence .leading to the convening of the conference, see appendix III.
Then they set out the proceedings, and submit a report as to the best methods to be thereafter adopted for carrying out the work of the States Statistical Departments. On page 7 of the report, under the head of organization, and . inter-relationship between the Commonwealth and the State bureaux of statistics, they make the following reference to the establishment of a Federal system of statistics: -
Having devoted some considerable thought to this important matter of the harmonious relationship between the central statistical bureau of the Commonwealth, soon to be established by special legislation, and the several independent State bureaux of statistics, it is the general opinion among the members of the conference that the whole work of collection of the materials of statistics, whether for State or Commonwealth, had better be deputed to the officers of the several State bureaux of statistics. This would avoid confusion and extra expense such as would surely arise ii double machinery were employed upon the same statistics within the same region; that is, the local State officers would be charged with dual functions. As officers of the State, they would be under the direction and discharge the functions which they ‘now carry out for the State. In addition they, co-operating with the central bureau of the Commonwealth, could prepare all statistics required in a more concentrated form for the publications of the Commonwealth, of course, under a definite agreement between the respective Governments of State and Commonwealth’.
Reference °is also made to the expense of maintaining the dual functions of the State and Commonwealth bureaux. The report says -
The importance of securing uniformity in the preparation of the various State statistics becomes more apparent, however, when the necessities of central and local bureaux of statistics are taken into closer consideration. In the meantime, and until a Commonwealth law has been enacted in connexion with statistics, -the adoption generally among all the Australian States of the provisions for securing uniformity, recommended in this report, will be oi very great value, and will smooth the way to their future relationship with the central Commonwealth bureau to be established.
Honorable senators will therefore see that at that Conference, convened by the Premier of Tasmania, as the result of correspondence which is set out in an appendix, the Statisticians had in mind the establishment of a Commonwealth bureau of statistics, necessitated by the alteration which had arisen from the assignment of certain “State functions to the Commonwealth. As the Statisticians point out, the whole system of our Customs, so far as concerns Inter-State transactions, has been radically altered. The system of appropriating, so to speak, the revenue arising from the post and telegraph service has also been radically altered. Then, in regard to our trade relations generally, other factors have arisen, consequent upon, our Federal status. All these are circumstances which combine to give rise to certain necessities in connexion with the statistics of the Commonwealth.
– Have not most accurate statistics as to Inter-State trade to be kept now? By whom is that work done - by the Statisticians or the Customs officers?
– Partly by the Customs officers and partly by the Statisticians. In some instances I think that Customs officers do the work, and for the Statisticians.
– There have not been such radical alterations in trade and commerce that they do not want the whole of the statistics usually supplied.
– There are statistics of an Inter-State character which are not really necessary for Commonwealth purposes. There are other statistics of the Commonwealth which it is desirable should be taken on a uniform basis, and be supplied to one central .authority, so that they may be marshalled in proper order and form. On the 22nd September, 1904, the Central Council of Employers of Australia held their annual conference at Adelaide, and communicated to the late Prime Minister a copy of a resolution, in which they affirmed the desirableness of a Federal system of statistics being established as soon as possible, in order that accurate and reliable data with regard to the Commonwealth should be readily and easily available. The States Statistical Departments cost about £[17,000 ,a year. Throughout the various States the Customs officers do a large amount of statistical work, which, however, has only relation, I understand, to Customs work, to trade and commerce, and interchange of commodities, over which, of course, the Department has an opportunity of keeping some surveil- lance, and the cost of that work is about £11,500 a year.
– It takes £[11,500 a year for the Commonwealth to run one or two Statistical Departments, while the States run their Statistical Departments at an annual cost of ,£17,000 !
– Yes ; but it must be remembered that the States are getting the benefit of this expenditure of ,£11,500 by the Commonwealth.
– There is an enormous discrepancy.
– Prior to Federation this work was done by the States officers. It’ may be that in many instances States officers, who are primarily engaged for other purposes, and paid a salary therefor, also do statistical work, and its cost does not appear as a charge against the Statistical Department. For instance, take the Customs officers who are now engaged in doing the statistical work for the Department of Trade and Customs. I am not quite certain whether .any portion of their salaries prior to Federation was charged against the Statistical Departments of the States. . From what we know of the general allocation of expenditure, in many of the States it was not usual to take out of one Department a particular expense incurred for the purpose of furnishing information to another Department. It is quite possible that if the States were carrying out their present statistical work without the aid of the Commonwealth officers in the Trade and1 Customs Department, they would find that the expense they would have to incur would be consi’derably over £[28,500. Under section 51 of the Constitution the Parliament has power to legislate with respect to census and statistics. In most of the States provision has been -made, by some legislation or other, for statistical work to be carried out regularly and permanently. On the other hand, in some States provision has been made for a census to be carried out on a particular date. Of course, the operation of such a Census Act was exhausted with the carrying out of the census, and ten years after - wards another Act. had1 to be placed on the statute-book for a similar purpose. In Queensland, I think in about 1875 or 1876, what was called a Quinquennial Census Act was passed. Under the operation of this Act a census was held every five years, and every alternate census - that is, the census taken in the year ending with “ 1,” like 1 88 1 and 1891 - synchronized with the census held in the other States. Quite recently, however, they have dropped the quinquennial census, and now take a census in just the same manner as other . countries do, namely, on the last day. of, March or the first day of April in the year ending with “1.” Quite recently a Bill was introduced in the United States Congress with the object of a concentration of statistical inquiry’ and information. These words were used by one of the senators: -
The reason we do not want to leave the gathering of these statistics scattered in these several Departments is that we want accurate statistics. We want them speedily gathered, because stale statistics are worthless, and I conceive that we would advance the interests of the business world, the industrial world, the scientific world, if we would keep the Census bureau here in this Department (Commerce) and bring all these other statistical bureaux under the same organizing head that we propose to put in charge of this new Department. Then, without friction, without jealousy, simply with a view to the ascertainment of reliable results, organize one bureau that will do all the work and give us complete satisfaction with its results.
– There is one central authority there which is not proposed here.
– Yes. As far as Commonwealth statistics are concerned, we intend to use the State machinery as far as we can, and I think we shall find, in doing so, that the officers connected with the Statistical Departments of the several States are men conversant with the work of compiling statistics of the States. Under this Bill they will be asked in every instance to furnish the central bureau with statistical information having reference to their own immediate regions. They are, in my opinion, the most competent men to do that. By a system of dual control we shall be able, to get our work done quite as efficiently, if not more efficiently, than by the organization of a new Federal staff, and shall also be able to get it done far more economically than we could otherwise do.
– Will it cost less on the whole?
– I think considerably less, because we shall be able to US: the clerks who are already engaged in the
Customs Department for the purpose of compiling statistics, more particularly relating to trade and Customs, to do other statistical work in their owns localities that is not now done in connexion with their position of Customs officers, but which is within their own purview.
– There will have to be a Federal Department, with all its paraphernalia.
– We are only providing for a chief statistical officers and the expense will not be anything like as great as the honorable senator seems to apprehend. The Commonwealth experts will furnish information concerning InterState transactions, navigation statistics, shipping statistics, postal and telegraphic statistics, and defence statistics. All these matters would naturally come within the domain of the Commonwealth Statistical Department.
– Still, the statistics will be collected bv States officers.
– Collected on uniform lines.
– But by States officers.
– As far as possible.
– They could not be turned into Federal officers.
– They will be acting as Federal officers when doing work for the Commonwealth, just as a State court invested with Commonwealth jurisdiction becomes for the time and purpose a Commonwealth court.
– The Commonwealth will have no control over them when they are doing its work.
– Undoubtedly; but that is a matter entirely for arrangement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Governments of the States.
– This Bill does not give the Commonwealth Government that power.
– The Bill provides that the Governor-General shall have power to arrange with the Governments of the States. That will mean - in every instance that an arrangement will have to be made, so as to get the services of States officers for the work that we want them to do.
– As most of the statistics will be Federal, does not the Minister think that the Commonwealth ought to have control of the officers, and let them do State work when required?
– I think it will be undesirable to take that course at this juncture. The States have their own Statistical Departments, each of which works on its own particular lines. Recently the Statisticians of the States have met in conference, and in their report to their Governments they expressed the opinion that it is desirable that the statistics of the States shall be compiled as recommended in respect of those matters which are peculiarly within the province of the States.
– That does not touch the question of- control.
– It does, to this extent : That these gentlemen were the highest authorities in the Commonwealth upon these subjects, and that they have unanimously recommended that the States should continue to carry on their own Statistical Departments.
– That is to say, the heads of States Departments voted for the continuation of their Departments.
– The honorable senator may put that construction upon it if he pleases, but the fact remains that, whatever their motives were, these men did make the recommendation I have mentioned after a lengthy conference. They stated that”, in their opinion, a Commonwealth bureau should be established, and should be so arranged that advantage could be taken of the officers in the different States organizations. If, of course, we determined to disregard the recommendations of these Statisticians, and to have a Commonwealth Statistical Department of our own it would be a more costly matter. We think that the best thing to do in all the circumstances is to take advantage of the States’ officers, and to have a Commonwealth Statistical Office for the purpose of collecting and arranging their statistics on a uniform system. We can obtain the best results that we can desire by the adoption of that system, and shall avoid laying ourselves open to the charge of unwarrantable extravagance by the establishment of another separately organized Commonmonwealth Department. We, therefore, propose, in clause 4 of the Bill, that a Commonwealth Statistician shall be appointed. We empower that Statistician to delegate his powers to any person for a limited time, or within a limited area. We make that delegation of authority revocable in writing. In clause 6 we provide, as I intimated in response to an interjection by Senator Millen, that the Governor-General may - enter into an arrangement with the Governor of any State providing for any matter necessary or convenient for the purpose of carrying out oigiving effect to this Act, and in particular for all or any of the following matters; which are enumerated in paragraphs a, b, and c. There comes the answer to the criticism of Senator Millen. We provide that the Governor-General may secure the services of officers of a State for Commonwealth purposes, and in making that arrangement it would undoubtedly be the duty of the Government to see that the arrangement was such that the Commonwealth could command the services of the officers in such” a way as to secure the results required.
– If one State refuses to make an arrangement what happens ?
– Then I suppose the Commonwealth would have to adopt the alternative of appointing its own officers, and could point out that the expense incurred was not due to the Commonwealth but to the State.
– Sir William Lyne’s great argument for creating a Public Works Department was that he declined to work through State officers, because they were not under his own control.
– He is working under State officers, to a great extent, now.
– I am not concerned with Sir William Lyne’s difficulties with certain States’ Departments. So far as this Bill is concerned, we are prepared to make use of States’ officers, and we therefore leave it to the Governor-General to arrange with the States Governments for the performance by States’ officers of duties that may be imposed upon them under this measure for the collection and compiling of statistics, and the supplying of statistical information that will be wanted by the Commonwealth. We provide in the same clause, in paragraph 2, that all State officers, when executing any duties under this measure shall be for the purpose of the execution of those duties deemed to be officers under the Bill.
– Still they would be under State control.
– They would be.
– I presume they’ would be entitled to some remuneration.
– Undoubtedly; the Commonwealth would not make use of their services, for nothing ; but by utilizing their services in this way we shall expect . to get the work done much more cheaply than if we had a complete staff of our own. We provide that the officers shall take the oath of secrecy. That is a usual provision in Bills of this character. As to the census, we provide the necessary machinery in part 3. We provide, in accordance’ with the principle that regulates the taking of the census in “nearly all civilized countries, that it shall be decennial, and shall be taken in the year 191 1, and thereafter every tenth year, on a day to be proclaimed. In some countries it is taken on the 31st March in that year; in others on the 1st April. The reason for proclaiming that it shall be on a day to be fixed is that in case the greater number of the States fix upon a particular day we shall make our census synchronize with their day, but shall be able to secure the convenience of a possible census that might be taken by a State for its own purposes. On the other hand, if we pass this Bill, one or two States may say, “We will not have a census at a1 but will rely upon the Commonwealth census, which will show the population of the State, the characteristics of the population, and so on.” They may rely upon this. On the other hand, one or more of the States may decide to take their own census apart from the Commonwealth.
– Surely there would be no reason in that?
– No; but I am simply referring to the possibilities. In the event of some of the States taking a census of their own, we shall be able, by virtue of the provision that makes the census day a day to be proclaimed, to synchronize it with the particular day decided upon by the State, and it is possible that in that way we should save a considerable, amount of expense.
– A State like Western Australia might decide to take a census every five years, when it is going ahead so fast.”
– That is quite possible. The duty of making the census is cast upon the Statisticians by clause q. A householder’s schedule is provided for in clause 10, which is to set out the matters upon which inquiry shall be made.
– They are substantially the same as those which are now provided for.
– That is so. It will be found that a household is defined and where several sets of persons or families are living in one building, provision is made that they may each be regarded as occupiers, so that the fullest information can be obtained. Then in clause 12, provision is made with respect to the particulars to be specified in the householder’s! schedule, and they are to include -
– Must the religion be stated.
– Yes, but there is a provision in the Bill under which any one who objects to do so is not bound to state his religion. Then, an obligation is thrown upon the collector. Where any person supplied with a householder’s schedule desires him to assist in filling it in, the collector is bound to do so, according to the information supplied. On the other hand, if a collector requires any information to complete a return, the obligation is thrown upon persons to whom he applies to supply the information correctly under a penalty, on summary conviction. Then, with regard to persons who are not residing in what are deemed to be dwellings under the Bill, provision is made for the collection of particulars in regard to them. One very important part of the Bill is clause 16, at the beginning of Part 4. It sets out that-
The statisticians shall, subject to the regulations and the directions with the Minister, collect annually statistics in relation to all or any of the following matters -
Vital social and industrial statistics.
Imports and exports.
Factories, mines, and productive industries generally.
Agricultural horticultural viticultural dairying and pastoral industries. (f) Banking insurance and finance.
Railways tramways shipping and transport.
Land tenure and occupancy ; and
Any other prescribed matters.
There may, of course, be matters from time to time not comprised under the headings here stated, about which it will be neces sary to secure statistics, and these matters, as occasion arises, will be prescribed.
– Why is population, omitted ?
– That will be provided for in connexion with the census.
– We might require particulars of population at other times.
– I do not know whether that would not’ be covered by paragraph a - “ Vital, social, and industrial statistics.” The matter is one which can be appropriately dealt with in Committee, and, at all events, there is no desire to exclude population statistics. Then there are other clauses, under which persons receiving householders’ forms must fill them up, or be liable to a penalty, and the same thing applies with respect to the duties of persons to answer questions put to them. There is the ordinary power conferred upon those charged with the compilation of statistics to enter factories, mines, and other such places, in the discharge of their duty,to secure the information required. Provision is made in clause 20 for the publication of statistics. This is a very important matter. Honorable senators are aware that we had in New South Wales a very excellent handbook, brought out by Mr. Coghlan. We had a book - The Seven Colonies, as it was called prior to Federation, and now is called The Commonwealth and New Zealand - by the same author. Then, so far as Victoria is concerned, we have The Victorian Year Book, and honorable senators have from time to time received a publication from Western Australia, issued by the Statistician or RegistrarGeneral for that State. In all these publications the statistics are prepared by the States Departments, and are published as such. Although the information- they give in connexion with the States in which they are published may be very complete, exhaustive, and interesting, still, to the outsider, they convey very little Australian information of practical value, unless he desires information in respect to a particular State. We have no publication dealing with the Commonwealth generally that will stand comparison, in the matter of completeness, with The Victorian Year Book in relation to Victoria, or with the Western Australian publication in relation to that State. We require that some publication and documents shall from time to time be issued dealing peculiarly and particularly with the Commonwealth- as a commonwealth.
-Col. Gould. - Coghlan’s book gives a very great deal of that information.
– It does, and it is a very excellent book. But it does not give the same amount of detail in connexion with the Commonwealth as a New South “Wales publication would, in connexion with New South Wales, or as, for instance, the official year-Book of New Zealand gives with regard to that Colony. . We provide, therefore, in clause 20 for the publication of Commonwealth statistics.
– Why limit the publication to statistics collected ‘ pursuant to the Bill, when a publication might include by-State and Commonwealth statistics?
– The publication of a State’s statistics would be peculiarly a. matter for the State itself.
– A joint publication might save expense.
– That might be so. We provide here for the’ publication only of Commonwealth statistics, but possibly an’ arrangement could be made with a State for the joint publication of the Commonwealth and the- State statistics, separately distinguished. Clause 21 makes the provision with respect to information concerning a person’s religion, to which I have already referred.- Then follow provisions dealing with the duties of officers, desertion of duty, the making of untrue returns, and failure to observe secrecy in accordance with their declarations. Penalties are also provided for in the case of forgeries of forms, or the making of false returns. ‘ There is also, in clause 27, provision made for a matter dealt with in the Statistician’s report, and it is provided that statistical information shall be transmitted through the post free of charge. The final clause makes the usual provision for regulations, which it may be necessary from time to time to’ make in order to properly give effect to the provisions of the Bill. < Honorable senators will see that the object of the Bill is to at once set about compiling Commonwealth statistics, and in order that they may be obtained as accurately, expeditiously, and as economically as possible, it is proposed to take advantage df the existing Statistical Departments of the several States. When advantage is taken of them, statistics collected, and the census taken from time to time, opportunity will be afforded to publish to the world as apart from, and distinct from, the several handbooks and yearbooks of the States, such information as will be of the greatest interest in connexion with the Commonwealth itself. The Commonwealth will be able to present to the world the most important statistics relating to itself as one community. It is desirable that we should be placed in that position as early as possible, and I believe that honorable senators will agree with me that this Bill will afford us the means_ to achieve that end with the greatest possible despatch and accuracy.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051101_senate_2_28/>.