2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., andread prayers..
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the Government have considered the advisability of sending on Captain Creswell’s report on the strength of the existing Squadron to the New Zealand Government, our partners in the agreement with the British Government, in order that they may not take any steps hastily or illadvisedly in connexion with the proposed alteration in the strength of the Squadron?
– I have not thought of the question myself. I expect that the New Zealand Government have seen the reports in the newspapers, and I have no doubt they will take steps in the direction indicated. I dp not know whether it would be right for us to send to them Captain Creswell’s report. The New Zealand Parliament passed a Bill altering the provisions of the agreement to some extent, but I have not yet been able to secure a copy of it.
– Arising out of the honorable senator’s answer to my question, I should like to remind him that I did not ask about the newspaper reports, but whether the Government propose to supply the New Zealand Government with Captain Creswell’s confidential report. I should be glad if the honorable senator would answer that question.
– I will ask the Prime Minister, and if there is no objection, the report will be forwarded to the New Zealand Government.
– Arrangements were made to provide honorable senators with cabs as usual, but not at the expense of the Commonwealth.
– Arising out of the honorable senator’s answer. I should like to ask if we are to understand that the practice has been definitely introduced by the Government, and if so, whether it will apply to honorable senators sitting in Opposition, as well as to honorable senators who remain to support the Government?
– It so happened that last night no honorable senators in opposition, and who live in the suburbs, remained late. Those who did remain reside at but a short distance from Parliament House. In such circumstances as those to which Senator Gould refers, cabs will of course be provided for honorable senators in opposition. They will not be treateddifferently from other honorable senators.
– Will they also be provided at the expense of the Government. If honorable senators in opposition reside four or five milesfrom Parliament House, will Ministers, in the event of their remaining to attend a late sitting, provide them with cabs at the expense of the Government?
– I think I had better ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question. I am not acquainted with the details of the arrangements made in such cases. I know that it has been the practice in the past to make the provision referred to, in such circumstancesas prevailed last night.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether it is not a fact within his knowledge, as well as within the knowledge of most other members of the Senate, that the late Government, under the leadership of Mr. Reid, frequently provided cabs at their expense for the convenience of their supporters attending late sittings?
– I believe so, but if the honorable senator will give notice of the question, I can get the information desired.
– As Senator Givens has not given notice of his question, in accordance with the suggestion of the Minister of Defence, I ask the Minister to obtain the information. I know something of what was done by the late Government, and I never heard of what Senator Givens has suggested.
– I desire to ask Senator Gould whether, if honorable senators in opposition bad been aware last night that cabs would be provided for them they would have left as early as they did?
– I do not think that that question is in order.Questions can be asked of honorable senators concerning matters of which they have charge.
– I should like to ask Senator Gould whether, when he was a member of the New South Wales State Government, he provided cabs insimilar instances ?
– I do not think that question ought to be asked.
– And whether they were provided at the public expense.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable senator to take his seat.
– I can answer “ no “ to the question.
Commerce Bill : Conduct of Business.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House, with a view to considering the conduct of the Government in Committee last night in connexion with the Commerce Bill.
– On a point of order, I ask, Mr. President, whether you have received a written notice of this motion?
– Yes, I have.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– It is with extraordinary regret and surprise that I find myself in the position I occupy to-day. The Commerce Bill is one in which I have taken special interest. I studied it carefully. I proposed a number of amendments in it, and I was prepared to propose other amendments. Yesterday being Tuesday, I arrived in Melbourne after a journey of nearly 600 miles.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish your ruling, sir, as to whether something * which transpired in the Committee of the Senate can be a matter of urgent public importance, and the subject of such a motion as that now before the Senate.
– Especially when it can come up for discussion at a later stage.
– It may be discussed at a later stage. I ask whether the question raised is one of urgent public importance ?
– I point out that the Senate takes no cognizance of what takes place in Committee until the Committee has reported. The Committee on the Commerce Bill has reported, and Senator Pulsford is now proposing a motion of urgency under standing order No. 60. It is not for me to say whether the ques-, tion raised by the honorable senator is one of urgency or not - that is for the four honorable senators who rise in their places to support him. I therefore consider that the motion is in order. I have already ruled once or twice that it is not for me to say that a question raised in this way is one of urgency. It may appear to be a matter of very trivial importance, and yet, during the discussion upon it, it may develop into one of pressing importance. I have therefore ruled that the four honorable senators, who, under the Standing Orders, rise in their places to support a motion of this kind, are the judges as to whether the matter with which it deals is one of urgency or not.
– I was saying that I arrived in Melbourne yesterday after a journey of 600 miles. After sitting in this chamber for something like nine hours, I was fairly exhausted, and I went away on the complete understanding that the arrangement proposed by Senator Playford last Friday would be faithfully carried out. The leader of the Opposition, Senator Symon, knew that I was going away and also that I was” very anxious indeed1 to move certain amendments on the Bill prior to clause 10. I felt that I was unequal to the task, and must forego the opportunity to do so. My surprise this morning was unbounded when I found from .the newspapers that the Committee had gone right through the Bill. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the report of what occurred last Friday. First of all, I should like to say that there has been no undue time spent in the consideration of this Bill, certainly no expenditure of time warranting undue steps being taken to curtail the rights of honorable senators. Last week the Senate considered the second reading of the Bill on Wednesday, and again on Thursday night, so that a day and a half was devoted to the second-reading stage of one of the most important Bills ever introduced into any Parliament. To show how brief the time was; I may refer to the fact that on Friday morning Senator Symon arrived” in Melbourne with the express intention and desire to take par* in the secondreading debate, and the honorable and learned” senator was exceedingly surprised to find that it had been closed on Thursday night. That is a fair indication of the view entertained by am honorable senator eminently versed in public affairs as to the rate of speed with- which the consideration of this measure has been conducted. We went into Committee on. the Bill on last Friday; the consideration of it in Committee was continued yesterday and before midnight the representatives of the Government in the Senate thought they were entitled to rush the Bill through in the absence of opposition. I have here the Hansard report of what took place in this chamber on last Friday in connexion withthe suggestion made by Senator Playford. Senator Playford is reported to have said -
I may reasonably be asked what I should consider to be fair progress. It has been suggested’ to me by some of my friends that it is not wise to express an opinion on such a matter until progress has been made; but I think it is only courteous to senators on both sides of the chamber to answer the question.
– li the honorable senator in order in reading from a Hansard report of a debate of this session?
– So far as the Bill is concerned, the debates on all its stages are considered as one debate. That -is the recognised rule which has previously been followed by the Senate. I therefore think the honorable senator is in order.
- Senator Playford wenton to say -
The Bill on its second reading was discussed at considerable length.
– It was discussed only one day and one evening.
– All the more important features were discussed at length, though I admit that we did not discuss this particular clause, which I . regard as of little or no importance. The Bill naturally divides itself into three parts, and I think a fair proposal would be to devote a sitting day to considering each part in Committee. That would give honorable senators ample opportunity to express their views, which, of course, they ought to do as concisely as is consistent with clearness. If at four o’clock we have dealt with the first foul clauses, I think I could regard that as fair progress. The next part of the Bill deals with the inspection of imports and exports, and the third part relates to the prohibition of exports and imports. The whole of Tuesday might be devoted to the second part of the Bill, and the consideration of the measure concluded on Wednesday. I cannot myself make progress, because the Bill is in the hands of the Committee ; but I can rightly ask honorable senators to remain until a fair number of the provisions have been dealt with.
The report continues -
– I am exceedingly glad that we have reached the point at which I was striving when Senator O’Keefe raised the point of order, and that we have received from the Minister an intimation, courteously given, as to the course he intends to take. T think Senator Playford has put the matter very fairly. As the honorable senator says, the Bill divides itself into three parts, and the clauses to clause 4 inclusive are as important and essential as any other part of the measure. I am afrai’d that, in those first four clauses, there are a great number of matters of a very controversial character, and, without arguing them further at this stage, I should like to say, in reference to Senator Playfords very moderate, proper, and business-like statement, that under the heading of “ trade description “ there are many departures from the language of the Merchandise Marks Act, involving serious and grave questions. Under the heading of “ false trade description “ also there are departures, especially in the phrase “ likely to mislead,” to which I intend to call attention. Anything I have to say shall be characterized by brevity; and, while I ‘frankly welcome Senator Playford’s statement, I point out to him that it is possible, before we reach clause 4. for him to be satisfied, on hearing the amendments which honorable senators mav desire to move, that the business done justifies him in asking the Chairman to report progress. In the meantime I shall ask honorable senators who sit with me on this side to assist the Minister, not overlooking amendments, or withholding or refraining from repeating, if necessary, arguments again and again, while confining their remarks within reasonable limits.
I have read the statement made by the Minister of Defence on Friday. It is quite true there was no compact made - that there was no bargain entered into.
– There was no promise.
– I grant there was no promise.
– - There was a distinct promise !
– If there was no promise, there was that which would be ordinarily regarded as a binding agreement amongst honorable men. The Bill received certain consideration yesterday, and, although there was some discussion, and a considerable number of amendments moved in the earlier part of the day, it must be recognised that very often in Committee the most important debate is on one clause, and that when that clause is passed the remaining clauses are more or less rapidly disposed of. It was not fair on the part of the Minister, because there had been considerable debate on important points early yesterday, to seek to have the whole of the discussion on the remaining clauses of the Bill concluded in one day, in face of the statement that he was quite willing to give two days to their consideration. The seriousness of the position lies in the fact that so many honorable senators were absent yesterday. I know that every honorable senator is on an equal footing, but by custom and courtesy, in all Legislatures, consideration is extended to any member who takes a special or prominent interest in a Bill, if he is unable to be present. In the majority of cases, that special interest is considered to be a sufficient reason for postponing the matter for a few hours, or until the next day, to enable him to take part in the discussion. The action of the Ministry yesterday looks too much like being ready to take advantage of the absence of honorable senators, in order to rush the Bill through. Not only did Senator Playford commit himself to the Senate, but Senator Keating more or less committed himself to me personally, in regard to one of the provisions. I had endeavoured to show that there were very strong reasons why some addition should be made to the Bill, in order to make clear to exporters and importers that thev would not be called upon to include in the Customs entry numerous trade descriptions under the regulations of the measure; and Senator Keating, while declining to give any promise to adopt an amendment which I foreshadowed, distinctly said that the proper place for such an amendment was among the miscellaneous clauses at the end of the Bill.
– I said that was the proper place, if there had to be an amendment at all.
– Yes ; these were precisely the words the honorable senator used. Late on Friday afternoon, when the usual hour for adjournment was approaching, I, at Senator Symon’s suggestion, did not press the amendment, resolving to take a later opportunity. Both Ministers, more or less, committed themselves to an undertaking that there would be an opportunity afforded for the consideration due to the measure. Let me show one result of the undue haste which has been exhibited in regard to this measure. If honorable senators turn to the Bill, they will find that clauses 10 and 13 are identical, except that one deals with falsely-marked imports, whilst the other deals with falsely-marked exports. But in clause 13 the word “ importer “ appears in obvious error for “ exporter”; and I had proposed, on reaching that clause, to draw attention to the blunder, in order to have it rectified. For all that I know, the Minister may have put that matter right in my absence last night; but, at any rate, that was one of the amendments which I proposed to submit, and the .absence of which renders the clause entirely stupid. It is a fact that all, or most, of the legislation which ul’timately proves to be bad, is passed in the early hours of the morning. Clause 15, which enumerates the classes of goods to be brought under the operation of the Bill, was inserted in another place at about 2 o’clock in the morning, and in this connexion, the Minister of Trade and Customs broke away entirely from his promise to the public.
– Does the honorable senator think that this is relevant to the question of the conduct of Ministers yesterday ?
– I do: and T think my remarks on this point are highly important.
– I rise to a point of order. T submit that under standing- order 399, Senator Pulsford is not in order in referring to something that has been done in Committee. That standing order is as follows: -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the same session upon a question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made m Committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.
– Senator Stewart will see that that standing order, and, in fact, all the Standing Orders must be administered with intelligence. How is it possible for Senator Pulsford to discuss the question he has brought forward unless he does refer to a debate which has taken place in Committee? As a matter of fact, if we take the standing order literally, perhaps, Senator Pulsford is not in order, but there must be exceptions, as circumstances require. For instance, there is, or used to be, a rule of law that no wife or husband can give evidence one against the other. That rule of law, however, is broken when a wife charges her husband with assault, because no one else can give evidence. So in this case, Senator Pulsford cannot discuss the question which he has brought forward, and which four members of the Senate have said is urgent, unless he discusses what took place last night. But J do not think that Senator Pulsford is in order in discussing what took place some time ago in another place.
– I am merely pointing out the necessity for considering the fact that in another place, at a very early hour one morning, amendments were inserted which made this Bill cover a much wider area.
– I do not think the honorable senator is in order in referring to that matter. The honorable senator has brought forward a specific allegation as to the action of the Government last night.
– It has been pointed out by the Opposition that this Bill is of a very grave character, calculated to bring about a complete revolution in the trade of Australia. It has been shown that the measure largely affects our import and export trade, creates a mass of new offences, and brings into greater play very drastic sections of the Customs Act.
– Does the honorable senator think that is relevant to the question.? The honorable senator is now discussing the Bill, whereas he has given notice that he wishes to discuss the action of the Government.
– The action of which I complain is that while these opinions in regard to the Bill were expressed By the Opposition, the Government took advantage of circumstances yesterday, and by pushing the Bill through, deprived the Opposition of their just right to demonstrate the effects of the measure. ‘
– I desire to direct attention to standing order 405, which is as follows : -
No senator shall digress from the subjectmatter of any question under discussion ; nor anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the notice paper.
– I have already told Senator Pulsford that I do not think he is in order in going beyond the bounds of his motion.
– The honorable senator goes beyond the bounds, all the same.
– I have told Senator Pulsford two or three times that I think he is transgressing the standing order.
– I do not think I have anything further of special importance to say. I have drawn attention to the position, and indicated the importance of the measure which I desired to discuss, and in which I intended to move certain amendments. The Minister had made certain statements which would be taken as a pledge amongst honorable men, but last night, in defiance of that promise or pledge, the debate was closed.
– I understood the Minister to say just now, in an interjection, that no promise was made. All I can say is that if tie repeats that statement it’ will become a question of credibility. My knowledge of the matter amounts to this : Just before 10 o’clock last night, Senator Best asked me if I would pair with him, so that he and I could go home. I reminded him of clause 15 ; because he had already told us, in the course of the debate, that when clause 15 came before the Committee he intended either to move or to support an amendment in it. I reminded him of that, and asked him upon what questions te wished to pair. He said that he was against any amendment up to clause 10, and that when that clause was reached, the Senate was going to adjourn. The consequence was that I paired with him. He left, and I left some time afterwards - at all events, before the time when the Bill was rushed through. The importance of the matter arises in this way. SSenator Best arid I were both opposed to he ( Government on one point arising in clause 15. The Minister knew that very well from the debate ‘ which had taken place. Up to clause 10, Senator Best and I were on opposite sides. I was therefore induced to pair with him on the assurance that ‘the Senate was going to adjourn when clause 10 was reached. I have communicated with Senator Best this morning by telephone, and he informs me that Senator Playford told him that the Senate was going to adjourn at clause 10.
– Quite right; but that was conditional.
– I hope we shall hear from Senator Best before the debate concludes his opinion as to what the conditions were, or whether he thinks there were any. But it is perfectly clear that if the Minister made any conditions in his statement to Senator Best, that honorable senator did not communicate them to me. If there had been any conditions which! would have rendered it a matter of doubt whether we were to go beyond clause 10. I should certainly have stayed, because we know perfectly well that everything depended on the division to take place upon clause 15.
– Did not the honorable senator stay until the Opposition left en masse ?
– T left at twenty minutes past n, in the complete belief that the Senate was to sit until clause 10 was reached, and then adjourn.
– That is what every one understood.
– I heard the speech of the Minister of Defence, on Friday, and also some remarks which he made at the table yesterday. But I did not rely upon those. I went awa-y last night relying on the statement of “ Senator Best. ‘ His opinion with regard to the Bill was perfectly well known to the Minister, and to every one, because he had previously said that ‘he was inclined to agree with’ some members on this side of the Chamber that an alteration was necessary. Indeed, on one point he voted against the Government. There was another division in which he voted with the Government, and he then said, on the floor of the Chamber, that what he proposed to do was to support or move for an alteration when we reached clause 15, so that clause 5 would not apply to any goods or articles except those mentioned in clause 15. That is to say. Senator Best proposed to alter clause 15 so as -to make it agree with clause 5, as well as with clauses 7 and n. Clearly, he would not have gone away had he had any idea that clause 15 was going to be dealt with. I am perfectly sure also that he would not have offered to pair with me, and would not have told me that it was safe to go away, had he believed that it was Intended to proceed further than clause 10. I think that this question is of far greater importance than any arising in connexion with the Bill, because it is a question of honesty of method in the conduct of the business of the Senate. Unless the Minister can show that he did not make any statement to honorable senators, to induce them to leave the chamber, I think it must be admitted that he has done an action which, as a representative of the Government in the Senate, he should not have done, and one which I do not think that the whole of his colleagues would have approved. I hope that we shall have an explanation from him, and that the matter will be cleared up. At present it presents itself, to my mind, in a very ugly light indeed.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - I merely wish to say a few words. I do not intend to discuss the Bill itself. I am very sorry to think that any honorable senators were misled by any statement ‘that I may have made.
– They were, of course.
– They may have been, but I am (very sorry for it. It was done unintentionally.
– It was done intentionally, because the Minister was told aboutit last night.
– Perhaps honorable senators will allow me to speak. I have not interrupted others who have made charges against me of breaking faith,and so forth. The facts are exactly ashave been stated by the honorable senator who has moved the adjournment of the Senate. He has read the whole of my statement as it appears in Hansard; and I only wish that every statement that I have made in reference to the matter also appeared in Hansard, so that there could be no doubt as to who is accurate in reference to it. I wish to call attention to the first of the statements that I made on Friday -
I have a right to expect that a certain amount of progress shall be made with the Bill, and I remind honorable senators that we are sent here not to talk, but to do business. True, we must express our views in order to do that business; but there is no necessity to speak at length on subjects which really have no connexion with the measure, and only serve to waste time. I may reasonably be asked what I should consider to be fair progress. It has been suggested to me by some of my friends that it is not wise to express an opinion on such a matter until progress has been made ; but I think it is only courteous to senators on both sides of the Chamber to answer the question. The Bill on its second reading was discussed at considerable length.
– It was discussed only one day and one evening.
– All the more important features were discussed at length, though I admit that we did not discuss this particular clause, which I regard as of little or no importance.’ The Bill naturally divides itself into three parts, and I think a fair proposal wouldbe to devote a sitting day to considering each part in Committee.
What did I want to convey in making a statement of that character? What did I mean by a “ sitting-day “? It all depends on that day.
SenatorLt.-Col. Gould. - That is a quibble.
– There is no quibbling about it. I ask honorable senators to consider what I must have meant by using that term. In an absolutely literal sense, I suppose a day means, up to 12 o’clock at night, just when the new day commences. Bur will any honorable senator say that when I used that phrase, I meant that we should continue sitting until 12 o’clock at night? Would they not imagine that what I meant was that we should sit until the ordinary time when the Senate adjourns? What is the usual time to which the Senate sits for the consideration of measures ? We sometimes sit until a few minutes after11 o’clock.
– But the honorable senator expressly mentioned Tuesday and Wednesday.
– I am coming to that. I am now dealing with the point as to what would be conveyed to honorable senators by my use of the phrase “ a sitting day.” I made a certain proposal which, however, was not accepted by anybody. Therefore I was not bound by it. But if extraordinary circumstances had not arisen, I ‘should have considered myself honorably bound by that statement, and should have adhered to it. I said on Friday that it would be fair to devote a sitting day to each part of the Bill. I think that it might have been inferred that what I meant was that we should sit up till a little after 11 o’clock on Tuesday, but under no circumstances could it have been inferred that we should sit up to 1 2 o’clock or anything like that. I went on to say -
That would give honorable senators -ample opportunity to express their views, which, of course, they ought to do as concisely as is consistent with clearness. If at 4 o’clock we have dealt with the first four clauses, I think I could regard that as fair progress.
I did not say that I should regard it as fair progress; I only said that I thought I should do so. Still, it was a promise to me, and the promise was kept.
– By both sides.
– On Friday the hand of the clock stood’ at 4 when clause 4 was passed, I then moved the adjournment of the Senate. My speech proceeds -
The next part of the Bill deals with the inspection of imports and exports, and the third part relates to the prohibition of exports and imports. The whole of Tuesday might be devoted to the second part of the Bill, and the consideration of the measure concluded on Wednesday.
What was meant by the whole of Tuesday ? lt meant sitting up to about n o’clock. Honorable senators know that what I meant was a reasonable hour - the hour at which we have been in the habit of concluding our business. The hour for adjournment has al way si been governed by the fact that there are a number of honorable senators who live outside the city bounds, and who have to catch late trams and railway trains. But those words “ the whole of Tuesday,” did not mean sitting up to 12 o’clock or anything, like that. No honorable senator can say that he considered that that was meant.
– What did the honorable senator mean, then?
– There would have been a protest from this side of the Chamber if we had thought that the honorable senator meant sitting past 11. o’clock.
– That is the only fair construction that can be put upon “my language. No other construction can be fair. But I also used a number of phrases about being concise, and about honorable senators not unnecesarily rrepeating themselves.
– Why does not the Minister set the example?
– I do set an example.
– He is wast- ing time “ vapping “ there now.
– I do not think that any honorable senator can fairly accuse me of wasting time. But I do not interrupt the honorable senator, and he himself is very “touchy” when he is interrupted. All that I wish to point out is that the proceedings of yesterday showed me unmistakably that it was not the intention of the Opposition to be concise, but that it was their intention to repeat their second-reading speeches and other; speeches which they had previously made ad nauseam. We started yesterday on clause 5. How far had we got by halfpast 6 o’clock? , We had not passed the clause; I do not think we had even dealt with the first sub-clause. Did I not complain while Senator Symon was speaking that he was simply repeating himself ?
– But the honorable senator has done that from the beginning.
– I have done so with good cause.
– The honorable senator is always doing it with every one.
– No. There was really good cause for making the statement I did. When I found senator after senator on the other side repeating, himself, I came to the conclusion that it was their determination mot to proceed with the measure.
– The honorable senator never said so during the evening.
– The result was that towards the time when they would ordinarily have had to leave to catch heirtrams aand trains, I asked my supporters to stay, as I intended, in all the circumstances, to go as far as clause 10. That was an understanding arrived at before that time had arrived, as Senator Best knew. “ How far,” he asked me, “ do you intend to go?” I forgot the exact time he mentioned, but certainly it was not anything like half -past 11 o’clock. I said that I intended to go as far as clause 10. But I had to ask my honorable friends to give up the opportunity of going home in the ordinary way. The discussion was continued/ and before clause 10 was passed thev found themselves in the position of having lost their trams. Very naturally they came to me, and said, “ Now that we have lost our trams, we might just as well go on with the Bill.” I replied, “ I am not bound by any implied promise I have made, because the conditions’ have not been kept by the other side.” The discussion was carried on at inordinate length. Division after division was taken, when the Opposition knew quite well that they had not a ghost of a show to carry their proposal. They kept on wasting tome until my supporters had lost their trams, and them they said to me, Oh, you made a promise, and you must keep it.” My promise was made contingent upon the measure being passed up to a certain stage within a reasonable hour. I never meant that wa should keep on sitting until 12 o’clock.
– The Minister should have said so.
– Honorable senators have common sense. . When my supporters put the matter to me in that way, I felt that I was not bound ‘by anything I had said - that conditions of the promise, if any, had been broken by the Opposition. By the way, they never made a promise to me. Not a soul on the other side said that they would do anything. I considered that I was perfectly open to go on with the Bill, and complete dts consideration. I should be the last man in the world to break a promise. I have never broken’ a promise in my life. The promise .1 made regarding this Bill was always contingent, as my speech indicates, upon a fair amount of business being clone within a given day, and that day certainly was not to end at 12 o’clock at night. I am exceedingly sorry that honorable senators have been inconvenienced. If they had restrained their talking ability to anything like a reasonable extent, as I suggested in my speech, there would have been no trouble. It is not my fault that it has arisen. They brought the trouble upon themselves, and now they do not like it.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think I can compress all I have to say into the fifteen minutes which are allowed on a motion of this kind. ‘ My charge against the Minister of Defence is distinctly that he broke his word. I regret that it should have been reserved for Senator Playford to be the first Minister of the Commonwealth to break his word to the Senate, and to its individual members.
– I have done nothing of the sort.
– The honorable senator bias shown a skill in casuistry and quibbling which, I think, would have been incomparable even in the days of the Inquisition. He has read a passage from the speech he delivered last Fri day, which, whatever form of words he may use in respect of it, was a distinct statement as to the course of public business. I call it a promise and a pledge of the most solemn character. What position shall we be in if we are to have statements made by the leader of the Senate, whose duty it is to intimate what the course of Government business shall be. so that honorable senators may know when to go home, and when they may fairly, in justice to their public duties, stay away, and that faith is not kept? Are we to treat such statements as mere breath? Is it not the grossest possible quibbling to say that such a statement does not imply a bargam? It is a statement by a Minister of the Crown of what the course of business is to be, and it is his duty to see that it is faithfully and honorably carried out ; unless he gives us notice that he intends, for an adequate reason, to depart from it, and thus affords us an opportunity to make fresh arrangements. Senator Playford did not do that. He said that pressure was brought to bear upon him by his friends. But they are not the keepers of his honour, although they hol’d the whip over him. We acknowledge the difficulty in which he is thereby placed. It was as obvious as possible last night that he was in -terror of his political life. He has told us to-day that he is very sorry that he acted inadvertently. There was no inadvertence on his part. His attention was called to his promise, made not merely on the floor of the Senate, but to indi.vidual senators, time after time, and his excuse was, “ I have lost my tram.” Was that an adequate reason for the honorable senator to play false to his promise? Loaded with years of political experience, he rose here last night, and actually said,. “ I have lost my tram.” But to-day it stands revealed that that was a sham and a subterfuge. He had provided not merely a cab for himself, but cabs for his friends to go home in. It was not a question of a train or a tram, or anything of that kind. It was the lash of his supporters which forced the honorable senator to break his word, a thing which, with pathos in hi? voice, he told us he had never done. AIT I can say is, that ‘we know him now, and I shall hesitate long before I shall take his word again. It is well, I think, that Senator Pulsford should have taken this opportunity to vindicate himself in respect of the amendments which he deemed it his duty to move. I feel that I am responsible for inducing him to abstain. Why ? In fulfilment of my part of the promise given to Senator Play ford not later than the teahour yesterday, that I would move no more amendments until I got to clause 7, and would do all in my power to get as far as clause 10 within a reasonable time. Senator Playford never said to me, “ We must get this business put through by 10 o’clock or11 o’clock.” Did he say that?
– We were through by half -past 11 o’clock.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I left the Chamber just on 12 o’clock, after we had had a long discussion on the Minister’s breach of promise. At the tea hour he never said to me that clause 10 must be reached by 10 or half -past to o’clock. Was that honest ?
– I thought the honorable andearned senator would have understood that
– Was it fair dealing if the Minister had it in his mind to go beyond clause 10 if the Senate sat after 11 o’clock? To those on this side of the chamber it was double-dealing in the worst sense. The honorable senator was not bound to tell me what his intention was, but if he thought that there had been obstruction, why did he not rise at 10 o’clock and say, “ I consider that this criticism has developed into obstruction, and I now intimate that we must get to clause 10 in halfanhour, or in an hour, or by half-past 11 o’clock, otherwise I shall consider the course which I shall take ?” He gave us no notice, and we went on, believing that everything would be done in accordance with the reputation which he has hitherto held of being a straightforward and honorable politician, but which I am afraid is now suffering from a severe blemish. The higher question is not so much Senator Pulsford’s explanation as Senator Drake’s statement. Are we to conduct this political warfare honestly or not? Good faith and honour are farhigher than fifty thousand Commerce Bills, or any amount of political expediency. A Minister cannot safely sacrifice good faith in his political dealings, any more than can individuals in their private and business relations. I commend to my honorable friend two lilies from a most excellent poem -
When faith is lost, when honour dies,
The man is dead.
No one will regret more than Senator Playford, when he comes to think more fully over the matter, that he was induced or coerced by his supporters, at the point of the bayonet, to depart from a distinct pledge, or in a moment of passion or temper to abandon an undertaking, which he had given to the Senate that a certain amount of business would be done, and no more. I say nothing about his quibble about the whole day. That does not mean sitting until 12 o’clock. He got to 10 o’clock, next to11 o’clock, and then to half -past 11 o’clock.
– Not half-past 11 o’clock.
– Does the Minister draw the line at 11 o’clock?
– The latest hour, that the Senate has ever sat on an ordinary sitting day.
– Does not the Minister think that his proper course was to have risen and said, “ You are now breaking your promise. If you go on much longer in this way I shall ask the Committee to sit all night”? Some honorable senators went away, expecting that the export clauses would be dealt with to-day. Senator Best, for one, went away under that impression. Without further elaborating the most painful episode which has yet arisen in the Senate, I say that it is deeply to be regretted that Senator Playford, of all men, should have fallen away from that position of political rectitude which he has always hitherto assumed, and taken’ a part which if it were passed without notice, would redound to the discredit of this great Chamber.
– During a long parliamentary career I have heard complaints made by an Opposition of false dealing and unfair practices on the part of Governments, but the cause of complaint against Senator Playford and his colleague in connexion with this Bill is possibly graver than any cause of complaint which I have known to give rise to recrimination and unpleasantness. The excuse given by the former was a miserable subterfuge.
– On a point of order, sir, I desire to know whether Senator Gould is in order in saving that any statement made by an honorable senator is a miserable subterfuge ?
– I do not think the honorable senator should have made use of that expression.
– I accept your ruling, sir.
– The honorable senator had better withdraw the expression.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the expression.
.- I withdraw it at the request of the President; but I reserve to myself the right to think and say outside of this Chamber what I see fit in regard to it. This- is but another instance of the attempts made to gag honorable senators, and to place them in fetters. Honorable senators opposite desire to prevent a man from saying honestly what he believes. I pity Senator Playford on having been driven into such a wretched position that he has had to make this excuse for a gross, breach of faith with members of the Senate. The honorable senator has tried to induce us to believe that he meant that we should adjourn at n o’clock, but why did he not honestly and straightforwardly tell us what hour he did mean? We know what the honorable senator said on Friday last. He said: -
If at 4 o’clock we have dealt with the first four clauses, I think I can regard that as fair progress. The next part of the Bill deals with the inspection of imports and exports, and the third part relates to the prohibition of imports and exports. I think that the whole of Tuesday might be devoted to the second part of the Bill.
I point out that the second part of the Bill was dealt with on Tuesday, because it had been dealt with not later than 11.30 p.m.
– That was too late for the trains.
.- The honorable senator must be aware that the last trains do not leave until midnight.
– And cabs were provided.
– No cabs had been provided then.
.- Honorable senators who were supporting the Government knew that if they remained provision would be made for cabs to enable them to get to their homes.
– The honorable senator could have stayed, mid why does he talk about the “ gag”?
.- I am talking about the gag, and also about dishonorable conduct.
– The honorable senator talked all day yesterday.
.- I shall talk all day to-day if L see fit; I shall not as,k the consent of the honorable senator.
– Then why does the honorable senator talk about the “ gag”?
– Because it was attempted to put the gag upon honorable senators. Honorable senators were induced to go away in the belief that the Committee would noi go beyond clause 10.
– It was well known in the early part of the night that I did not propose to do so. If the business had been conducted in reasonable time there would have been” no trouble.
– As, long as the Senate is prepared to swallow any dose given to it, at the instigation of their friends and supporters of the Labour Party, everything will, of course, go on comfortably. Senator __Playford stated as distinctly as possible “that he would be satisfied if Tuesday were devoted to the second part of the Bill, and if the consideration of the third part of the measure were dealt with on Wednesday. On his own showing, the honorable senator is. proved guilty of a breach of faith, because he took up the third part of the Bill at the Tuesday’s sitting. The Minister may quibble as much as he pleases with regard to the meaning of words, but he is well aware that a parliamentary day commences at the hour set down, for the opening of the proceedings, and continues until the business of the sitting is concluded. If honorable senators will refer to what is happening in another place, they will find that a sitting which was continued until mid-day on Wednesday was still regarded as Tuesday’s sitting. Senator Playford knows that until half-past 2 o’clock in the afternoon he cannot make a move to take up the business set down for the Wednesday’s sitting. The honorable senator has branded himself as a man who has been guilty of gross deception of the members of the Senate in connexion with the conduct of its business. Two or three honorable senators were got rid of last night. The Minister knew perfectly well that honorable senators who have taken a very great deal of interest in this measure were not present yesterday, and would in all probability be present to-day. Senator Walker left at the close of last week under the impression that no more than the second part of the Bill would be dealt with until Wednesday.
– The honorable senator had a live pair all day yesterday.
– He had a migratory pair. He was paired at one time with one honorable senator on the other side, and at another time with another. The honorable senator has been deprived of the opportunity of expressing his opinion on certain clauses of the Bill, and no pair can make up for that. Senator Millen was not here yesterday, and I dare say that the Government considered it very convenient to get rid of the honorable senator, who is always keen in his criticisms and shrewd in his remarks, and who can generally make the force of any remarks he has to make felt by the Government. Then we are aware that Senator Best was cajoled out of the Chamber’ by means of false representations. I am prepared to believe that if Senator Playford had been free to act in accordance with his own judgment, he would have had some hesitation in committing such a breach of faith with members of the Senate.
– The honorable senator would have done the same thing in his place.
– I should have been very sorry to have done so. If Senator Playford had said that he intended to press the Bill through the Senate as Quickly as possible, he would have been justified, and we should have had no cause to complain. I admit that so long as the supporters of the Government are willing to remain to assist them, they have a right to prolong a sitting to get their business through, but it is a very different matter when the representative of the Government gives a promise that he does not intend to go beyond a certain clause in a Bill at a particular sitting. We cannot be taxed with any obstruction of this Bill. Do honorable senators know, how long the measure was debated in another place?
– Is the honorable senator in order in referring to the debates in another place?
– I understand that the honorable senator is referring to the proceedings in another place, and not to a debate.
.- That is so. I find that this Bill was no less than five times before honorable members in another place on’ the second reading. A motion was made to refer it to a Select Committee, and that was discussed on four different occasions. When it was negatived, and the Bill -was afterwards considered in Committee, it was dealt with on six different occasions, and on two or three other occasions in connexion with motions for the recommittal of the measure. This lengthy, consideration was due to the importance of the Bill, and the desire of certain honorable members in another place, if possible, to effect some improvement in it. Here, after a debate extending over two days on the second reading, we are charged with obstruction, though the second reading of the measure was debated for seven days in another place. When it was desired to devote three days to the consideration of the Bill in Committee, that is also considered obstruction, though in another place seven or eight sittings were devoted to the same stage. We have a far higher duty than that of supporting a Government in order to pass particular legislation, and that is our duty to the electors who have sent us here, and who have a right to expect us to- give our best attention to legislation submitted to the Senate. I am satisfied that the electors do not approve of the gag being, applied to honorable senators because one section in this Parliament desires to force certain legislation through. I ask Senator Playford whether the price of the Labour Party’s support is the passing of this measure, with all its crudities and absurdities, and .the rank injustice attempted to be perpetrated upon the community under it ? I ask whether the Bill which is now being so earnestly debated in another place is to be pressed through for the same purpose? AVe know that the Government must kow-tow to the men by whose breath they live, and bv whose breath they could be blown out of existence to-morrow. Notwithstanding their declarations of independence and of regret at the harrowing way in which the previous Government were driven, members of the present Government are prepared to eat the dirt provided for them in order to retain the sweets of office. No Government ever placed themselves in a more contemptible position than has the present Government. How can any member of the Senate ever again accept the word or the promise of the leader of the Government in this Chamber after his gross breach of the promise he made on Friday last? Unfortunately, the honorable senator has placed himself in the contemptible and despicable position of being regarded by a large section of his fellow-members of the Senate as a man whose word is not to be relied upon. I believe in fighting a Government fairly, and in the Government fighting the Opposition fairly, and I am prepared to accept defeat when the business of Parliament is conducted honestly. When two men are engaged in open conflict, and a third, taking one at a disadvantage, tries to stab him, there is little credit in a victory so achieved. What is such a victory worth ?
– Then what is the honorable senator making such a row about ?
– Because Senator Stewart has assisted in covering this Chamber with contumely in theeyes of the public by assisting Senator Playford in his breach of faith.
-The honorable senator will please take his seat. He has occupied the time allowed under the Standing Orders.
– As to the question between the leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Government, I, as a member of the Labour Party, am prepared to leave the public to judge. But something has been said to the effect that the action taken by the Government was due to coercion by members of the Labour Party.
– The Minister said so.
– The Minister neither said that he was coerced nor that he was moved to take action by the Labour Party. When midnight was approaching, the members of the Labour Party, who support the Government on this question - not like some Government supporters, who really support the Opposition - approached the Minister and pointed out– .
– Is the honorable senator alluding to me as a Government supporter ?
– I am alluding to Senator Mulcahy for one.
– I never professed to be a Government supporter.
– The honorable senators came here labelled as a Ministerialist.
– I never did.
– The honorable senator may be left to explain his position.
What happened last night was that certain members ofthe Labour Party pointed out that if the debate was going to continue they would lose their trains. The position at the time meant that the Government would either have to stop at the clause then before the Committee - which was, I believe, clause 6. and not clause 10 - and thus the Minister would not accomplish what he had set out to accomplish, or his supporters would be kept here by the Opposition until the early hours of Wednesday morning. Judging by the number of clauses passed between half -past 2 and11 o’clock, clause 10 could not have been reached until 5 o’clock in the morning.
– When was clause 10 reached?
– Not until about twenty minutes to 12 o’clock.
– Was there any debate after the division on the first part of clause 7 ?
– I shall not say there was any debate, but rather that there was much tedious repetition. There was no coercion or pressure of any kind exercised by the Labour Party, and, personally, I think that the action of the Minister was justified. The consequences’ from which the Opposition suffer were brought about by their own action. They declined to allow any progress to be made until they had penalized supporters of the Government by making them lose their trains.
– If I can make them lose their trains again I shall do so !
– I must ask honorable senators not to interject so much.
– We on this side noticed the chuckling amongst honorable senators opposite as midnight approached, and we realized that the late sitting was intended as a sort of punishment to us. If the Opposition had shown* a desire to make reasonable progress, and had, for instance, disposed of clause 5 within an hour or two, there might have been some ground for supposing that their acceptation of the offer which the Minister made was genuine. As a matter of fact, the Minister never told honorable senators on this side about any arrangement as to clause 10; all we had knowledge of was the undertaking he gave on Friday.
– I am glad the honorable senator calls it an undertaking, for that is what it was.
– It was an undertaking entered into on the condition that fair progress should be made, and I defy any one to say that fair progress was made yesterday.
– Better progress was made here than was made in another place.
– I hope the day will never come when the proceedings of this Chamber will be marked by the same unruly methods that are adopted elsewhere, especially by the section of politicians to which Senator Gould belongs.
– I do not think the honorable senator is in order in reflecting on another Chamber.
– I was drawn away by an interjection.
– I know, but it is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I repeat that no coercion has ever been exercised by the Labour Party on the Government, either last night or at any other time.
– Pressure, then !
– Nor pressure; there was not even a suggestion that the Minister should in any way break a promise. When Ministerial supporters! realized that they had lost their trains in consequence of the obstructive tactics of the Opposition, they thought it only fair that they should be allowed to proceed with business. It was open to members of the Opposition to have also stayed and dealt with the Bill. I once more deny that any pressure has been exercised by the Labour Party on the Government in regard to this or any other measure.
– I do not identify myself with any of the personalities which have been used, because I detest them, no matter from which side they come. When an honorable senator holds the dignified position of leader of this Chamber with a loyal majority behind him-
– A “ loyal “ majority !
– Surely the word is not offensive to the honorable senator?
– Not to me.
– As I was saying, when a gentleman holding the dignified position of leader of the Senate makes a declaration as to the course of business, honorable senators on all sides consider iti binding on him and his party.
– Such ‘a declaration is always conditional on certain progress being made.
– There was no condition about the declaration.
– It is always understood. A Minister would soon find himself in a mess if he made unconditional promises.
– The words of the leader of the Senate were construed by his own followers to mean that no business would be taken after clause 10. had been reached. That was the understanding on all sides. Then, when the Minister of Defences was reminded of the construction that had been placed upon his words, and informed that certain senators had in consequence left the Senate, there was a courtesy due to the Opposition, even if there had been obstruction, though, as an impartial man. I do not think that there was a single amendment moved yesterday which would not have improved the Bill. Senator Styles wished to leave, and I promised to pair with him; but I then understood that when clause 10 had been reached no further progress would be attempted. I would not have paired with any one with regard to certain amendments which I desired to see made in clause 15, because I wished the people who sent me here to see that I was present to look after their interests.. But when the proceedings reached the stage they did, there was no alternative. The Ministry seemed to make up their minds not to allow even, a comma to be altered in the Bill, and I was amongst the honorable senators who left the Chamber, feeling that there ‘was no other dignified course open to me. I should now like to reply to something in the nature of a charge which has been made by Senator Pearce. I have occupied my present seat since I entered the Chamber, and during that time there have been, I think, four Ministries’ in power. I am not a “ Vicar of Bray,”’ and I have always tried to dissociate myself from party ties, and to support all measures which I believe to be to the benefit of the country. To say that I ever professed to be a follower of the Government is not correct. I am a follower of no Government; I support any Government who do what I think is right, and oppose any Government who do what I think i is wrong, even though the latter may include friends of my own.
Indeed, some of the members of the present Government are my personal friends, and my sympathy is with them.
– The honorable senator’s sympathy is with the Government, but his vote goes to the Opposition.
– . My political conscience is my own, and my vote goes where I think proper.
– I sympathize very deeply with the Opposition in the unfortunate position in which they find themselves. Robert Burns, nearly a hundred years ago, wrote: -
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley.
The Opposition yesterday formed a very nice scheme to talk on every comma, every word, and every line of the Bill, until it was time to adjourn, and they had wearied the Government, the Labour Party, and every one else. That was all arranged as part of a deliberate policy of obstruction. So far as one can see, the evident business of the Opposition is to prevent any of the measures now on the notice-paper from becoming law this session. If the Opposition have any doubt on that point, other honorable senators have not. If the Opposition are against this Commerce Bill, they ought to remember that a number of other honorable senators wish to see it passed, and I cannot discover the reason for the remarkable display of temper this afternoon. Have any of the best traditions of parliamentary procedure been outraged?
– There has been a breach of faith.
– Has anything been done which ought not to have been done ?
– If so, it has not been done by the Government, or by honorable senators supporting the Government, but by the Opposition. At one time of my career, I was as strong an opponent of the gag as it was possible for any man to be. My reason was that until every man and woman in the country was directly represented in Parliament, it was necessary that there should be the freest and fullest discussion. But now, when every man and woman in the country is directly and equally represented, I think the decision of every question might very well lie with the majority.
– The honorable senator now affirms the gag ?
– I do, most decidedly, under present conditions. I shall be prepared, if I should ever be in a minority - as I hope to be some day, because it is bad for the system to be always in a majority - to accept the same rule. I hope some day to be in exactly the same position as my honorable friends of the Opposition are in to-day. But in that case I assure them that I shall not run away ignominiously, as they did last night.
– They had no stomach !
– And they thought the Government had no stomach ! Now that every man and woman in the Commonwealth is represented in this Parliament, after a minority has been heard, I think its duty is to abide by the will of the majority, and allow the business of the country to proceed. I hope that last night’s proceedings will be a lesson to the Opposition. If it is not, we have a whole apothecary’s shop of similar medicine which will be administered to them whether they like it or not. If the Government takes my advice it will push forward with every measure that is now upon the notice-paper, even if we have to sit day and night between now and Christmas. We ought to do something for our money. 1 feel ashamed at the end of every month, when I draw my “screw,” and find that so little has been done. And all because the Opposition will talk and talk and talk ! I trust that after this lesson they will behave themselves, and be content to allow the majority to rule. If they like to go home, we will rush the business through. We will not grumble if they stay away. But, at all events, after making their protest, they ought to succumb to the superior force of the majority.
– It was more than surprising to me when I arrived to-day to find that the Commerce Bill had made such remarkable progress. I had a distinct impression last Friday that there was then an idea to have an all-night sitting, and I therefore telegraphed to Sydney telling my family not to expect me until Sunday morning. Subsequently, however, better counsels prevailed. My reason for rising now is not to join in this debate, but to “suggest that the leader of the Senate would do well, and would take up a dignified position, if he consented to a recommittal of the Bill.
– I think that the chief point in the dispute between the Minister and the leader of the Opposition has been lost sight of. It is just as well that we shouldhave it cleared up for our own satisfaction. There has been a tacit understanding amongst members of the Senate that when we speak of completing a certain amount of business in a certain time, it does not necessarily mean going on till 12 o’clock at night. It means continuing till an hour somewhat near the time atwhich we ordinarily adjourn.
– What would that mean?
– We have only to look at the facts. Usually, our sittings continue not later than half-past 1 1 . That allows the majority of the members of the Senate to get to their homes. If, however, the proceedings are carried beyond half-past 11, there is no possibility of many honorable senators who live in distant suburbs getting home. Senator Symon in his rather heated speech has asserted that he kept faith in respect of the arrangement made. He and his party may have kept faith in the letter, but they broke it in the spirit. Fortunately, I am one of those who live within ten minutes’ walk of Parliament House, but others live at a distance ; and when honorable senators opposite talk about the courtesy which is due to them, they should consider the courtesy which they owe to others. Surely courtesy is due to those who support the Government and who live in distant suburbs. What is the use of keeping the paltry letter of an arrangement if the Opposition do not keep the spirit of it ? Senator Symon says that he feels grieved at this dispute.
– It is a breach of faith.
– What was done was forced on the Ministry by the breach of faith of the Opposition in the first place. If Senator Symon and his supporters think that there was any arrangement between the members of the Government and the members of the party to which I belong, they are entirely in the wrong. I believe that the leader of the Senate intended up to half-past 11 o’clock to adhere to his arrangement. No word passed between the party of which I am Whip and the Government. If there had been such an arrangement of course I should have known about it. There was no word of any kind between us as to continuing the consideration of the Bill beyond clause 10. But when we arrived at a period of the night when it was impossible to catch trains, several honorable senators, not secretly, but openly, called out across the chamber to the Government, “ Go on, and carry the Bill; as we have been kept here, let us do more business.” I say again that if there was any breach of faith it was on the part of the party led by Senator Symon. But the whole matter is an unfortunate one. I hope that such a thing will not occur again, and that in any future arrangement honorable senators in opposition, and who now pose before the country as the only members of the Senate who keep their word, will thoroughly understand that what is meant by finishing a certain amount of business in a day is finishing it at least before 11.30 at night.
– The discussion was only carried on five minutes beyond that time, when the Government decided to finish the Bill.
– But that made all the difference between some honorable senators remaining in Melbourne and going home.
– It meant all the difference between the Minister keeping his word and breaking it.
– I think that in any future arrangement that is made between the leader of the Senate and the leader of the Opposition, it should be understood that the business is to be finished in such time as will enable honorable senators to go out of Melbourne to their homes in the suburbs.
– It is really amusing to hear honorable senators opposite say that what occurred yesterday was entirely due to a breach of faith. What are the facts? When the Senate met yesterday, and commenced the consideration of clause 5 of the Commerce Bill’ in Committee, amendment after amendment was moved, and speech after speech was made. Those speeches were nothing but repetitions of other speeches - so much so that the Minister of Defence had to complain of second-reading speeches being made in Committee. It was admitted that clause 5 was not really contentious,, and not an important clause of the Bill But if honorable senators opposite had had their way it would not have been dealt with by the end of the sitting. We sat here patiently waiting for the Opposition to come to serious business, but there was no sign of their doing so. ft was only after about seven hours’ delay that we got beyond clause 5, and commenced seriously to discuss the Bill. If honorable senators opposite had really wished to keep to the bargain which they allege was made, but which I say was never made, that we should get up to clause 10 before adjourning, would they have occupied seven hours in considering clause 5, which they admitted to be unimportant? Would they not have confined their attention to clause 7, which they say was most important? As they did not do so, we must regard the whole of the discussion that took place on clause 5 as obstructive. Now, what are the facts with regard to the alleged bargain? On Friday last the Minister of Defence made -a fair proposal. He said that itf the Opposition would agree to go as far as clause 4 on Friday afternoon, he would consider that fair progress had been made; and that, ff on the following Tuesday, they would agree to go as far as clause .to, he would be prepared to adjourn. But it takes two to make a bargain.
– It takes one to make a promise.
– If I make a promise to a certain gentleman conditionally on his doing certain things, undoubtedly if he does not fulfil his part of the bargain I am absolved from doing my part.
– No conditions were expressed.
– The condition was that fair progress should be made with the Bill. But yesterday the whole of the talk was a mass of obstruction.
– I rise to order. Senator Givens asserts that everything said yesterday afternoon was obstruction. I ask for your ruling whether he is in order. I proposed certain amendments yesterday afternoon, but I never once spoke with the object of obstructing business.
– Whether Senator Givens’ statement is correct or not, it is not for me to say, but there have been some very hot speeches, and I am not prepared to call him to order
– I withdraw the expression that the. talk was a mass of obstruction, and say that it looked like a mass of obstruction. When we found so much debate taking place on clause 5, which was not regarded as important, we could come to no other conclusion than that there was something like an organized attempt to obstruct business. With respect to the alleged bargain which the Minister in charge of the Bill made, I think that a fair proposal was submitted to honorable senators opposite. It was never accepted. If the Opposition had had their way last night, we should not have got to clause 7, let alone to clause 10. They kept us here until itwas utterly impossible for the great majority on this side to get to their homes by the ordinary means. Was it likely that, after listening to a repetition of speeches for hours, we would agree to adjourn at .12 o’clock, and allow our opponents to go away laughing at us in their sleeves? In the face of the obstructive tactics which were exhibited, the Government were quite justified in proceeding with the Bill, and we on this side were justified in supporting their action. The Government would have been false to their trust to carry out important legislation if they had not, at the close of the session, taken strong measures to overcome the tactics of the Opposition, especially when there appeared to be in another place an organized system to obstruct all legislation, if possible. In various parts of Melbourne, and in the precincts of the Senate, I have heard honorable senators opposite say that they believe that no good legislation can emanate from this Government, and that therefore it would be well if they could be stopped from doing any work. That is the position with -which we are faced. When we know that honorable senators hold those views, are we who desire to see certain legislation passed, and which T may say has not emanated from the party to which I belong, to submit tamely to their obstructive tactics?
– Is the honorable senator referring to his “ stone-walling “ on the Papua Bill? ‘
– I did not do any “ stone-walling “ on that Bill. The senators from New South Wales may be very anxious to adjourn on Friday at about a quarter to four; but those who, like mvself, are compelled to remain in Melbourne have no desire to go to New South Wales, and therefore are free to devote to the consideration of Bills that amount of time and attention which their importance’ demands. I hope that isa the future the members of the Opposition, when they are defeated, will take their beating like men, and not come down here on the following day and whine because they did not get all their own way. This discussion has been carried on for two hours, which could have been usefully occupied.
– What is my lord doing now ?
– I am not trying to do what the honorable senator sometimes tries to do; I am not trying to take down the taxpayers of the country. I never presented a bill to the Government-
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to discuss the question, and not to be led away by interjections.
– I have never presented a bill for three times more than I was entitled to.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not discussing the question.
– Does the honorable senator imply that Senator Dobson is a take-dom ?
– Order ! I ask Senator Givens not to take any notice of interjections.
– They are worthy of the Labour Party.
– Order !
– I can produce documentary evidence in support of what I say, if it is wanted by Senator Dobson.
– I am sure that the honorable senator can !
– It is not my fault, sir, that I am led away from my argument.
– I ask Senator Dobson not to interject, and Senator Givens to confine himself to the question at issue.
– But for the interjections, I should have finished what I have to say. I enjoy a good fight as well as any one does. Yesterday evening, when the Opposition believed that the Bill was one which ought not to be passed, they were quite within their rights in putting up a good fight. Possibly if I had been in their position, I should have fought just as vigorously as they did. But while conceding to’ them their right to use the forms of the Senate, I think that the Government and their supporters have rights to be respected. Are we not to be allowed to fight? Are we expected to be quiet-
– The question is whether the Government used fair means last night.
– Order !
– It has been insinuated that the fight on the Commerce Bill has not been a fair one. We had just as good a right to fight as had the Opposition. It is not dignified, or, I think, in accordance with parliamentary custom, to renew a fight. It looks as if the Opposition were whining because they were beaten last night at their own game. We were perfectly entitled to carry on the fight when it was forced upon us. I hope that the Government will always insist upon business being done, notwithstanding any obstructive tactics which may be pursued by their opponents.
– It is absurd for any honorable senator to stigmatize the Opposition as a party who have deliberately wasted time on the Commerce Bill, when we recollect that last session, when the question of preference to unionists was under consideration, the Labour Party strenuously tried to carry their point by using the same arguments on each amendment which they submitted. I look upon yesterday’s incident with considerable regret, because hitherto I have been able to tell the critics of the Commonwealth Parliament that, so far as I could judge, the proceedings of the Senate have been conducted in a creditable manner. My fear is that yesterday’s episode will lower the Senate in the estimation of the public. The Minister of Defence distinctly broke faith with the Senate, and although he has indulged in equivocation, which, I think, only aggravates his offence, I feel certain that the readers of Hansard can come to no other conclusion than that he has created a precedent to which other leaders of the Senate may point as a covering for similar acts. It is most regrettable that any one should be able to adversely criticise the manner in which Senator Playford has conducted the Commerce Bill. Considering the great importance of the measure, the people of the States had a right to expect that their representatives would be allowed to criticise all its details. I feel sure that, upon calm reflection, Senator Playford will see that he has been led into creating a precedent which, if acted upon, must be hurtful to the best interests of the Commonwealth. Outside the Chamber I have reflected in very strong terms upon his action. I hope that it will be the last occasion on which the word of a Minister can be doubted either by the Opposition or by his friends.
– I am entirely in accord with the attitude which the Minister of Defence assumed yesterday. Senator Gould, who rose to a height of passion which almost caused sparks to fly from the pillars on this side, indulged in what appeared to me to be vindictive expressions as to the attitude which honorable senators on this side have taken up in respect of this Bill. He accused us of having applied the gag, and was particularly anxious that the public should have a knowledge of our methods in applying the gag. He instanced the case of Senator Walker. The public will certainly know that that honorable senator was aware that the Senate would sit yesterday to consider the Commerce Bill.
– As far as clause 10, as the Minister had said.
– If Senator Walker, for whom Senator Gould would appear to be sponsor, was, from any cause, prevented from attending the Senate, surely that would not justify other honorable senators in going home to wait until Senators Walker and Millen could attend, in order that they might announce their opinions on the Bill ? What gag was applied to the honorable senator? We occupied no less than six and a half hours yesterday in dealing with a line and a half in clause 5 of the Bill. During that time the honorable senator who has complained of the gag must have spoken on six or seven different occasions, and honorable senator’s opposite must have occupied five and three-quarter hours of the time in the speeches they made. When only the balance of the time was occupied » by honorable senators on this side, honorable senators will be able to discover by reference to Hansard that Senator Gould’s statement is not within measurable distance of accuracy.
– We can also refer to the last debates conducted by the Labour Party.
– I am prepared to admit that when the members of the Labour Party desire to carry on a debate,’ they will do so. Honorable senators need make no mistake about that. But they will not turn round afterwards and complain that the gag has been applied to them. If they think the occasion demands it. they will talk for six hours, or for six days, but they will not afterwards come whining to the Senate because they have not been able to secure all they desire. They will light honestly, and, if defeated, will accept their defeat manfully.
– If they are defeated fairly.
– Honorable members opposite were defeated’ fairly. If members of the Labour Party are ever defeated in the same way, they will be .prepared to accept such a defeat manfully.
– Under a similar promise?
– It is certain that the promise made by the Minister was conditional. Having disregarded every condition which the Minister attached to his promise, how could honorable senators opposite still think that the Minister should have done what they desired. If such demands were acceded to by Ministers, I am afraid there never would be any business done in the Senate so long as the present Government remained in power. A great deal has been said about honorable senators living at a distance, and having to get away in time to catch their trains. In this connexion I personally hold the opinion that no Minister, having the business of the country in his hands, should make any promise to honorable senators. We are sent here to represent the several States, and it is our duty to be in attendance in this chamber when business is to be done.
– The honorable senator will admit that if a promise is made it ought to be kept.
– If the condition precedent is carried out.
– It is unreasonable to ask that a promise should be kept when the conditions attached to it aire broken. Senator Gould knows that he assisted other honorable senators in breaking every condition attached to the promise made by Senator Playford.
– I do not. There was no condition stipulated, except “that we should get to a certain clause at a certain sitting, and we did so.
–Du.ring six hours yesterday, amendments were moved to omit word after word in a clause. There was neither end nor purpose to be served by the attitude assumed by honorable senators opposite. Their opposition was not fair opposition. If it had been, I should not have spoken on this motion. I sincerely congratulate the Minister of Defence on his determined stand. I hope that whenever any other such occasion arises, the honorable senator will display the same manly spirit.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).It is but natural that some honorable senators on the other side should be inclined to crow over what occurred last night, but, to my mind, the proceedings were such as we should be ashamed of. I am ashamed to think that the Senate should have lost the confidence which it ought to be able to place in its leader. It is in. evidence in Hansard that Senator Playford distinctly stated that he would be satisfied if the whole of Tuesday was given tip to the consideration of the Bill to as far as clause10. At twenty minutes to 12 o’clock on Tuesday clause 10 was passed, and then the Minister said that the whole of Tuesday had expired, and he was not going to carry out his promise. Why ?
– Because honorable senators opposite did not carry out theirs.
– Because he considered there had been obstruction in dealing with the earlier clauses of the Bill. Even if there had been, honorable senators hurried over the later clauses without discussion, so as to enable clause 10 to be dealt with in what was considered fair time. I remember that Senator Symon moved an amendment on clause 7, and refrained from speaking on it in order to save time.
– The honorable member did speak on it.
– During the discussion the majority of honorable senators opposite were to be found in the chamber only when the division bell rang. We were talking to empty benches, and, in the circumstances, it is very unfair to accuse honorable senators onthis side of having obstructed the business of the Senate because they desired to ventilate matters which seemed to them to be of grave importance. I hope for the sake of the Senate that we shall have fair dealing in future.
– As one who regrets what took place yesterday, I desire to say a few words on this motion. I think it will be admitted that I was a very consistent supporter of the Government. I voted with them in every division taken, with the exception of that on the motion that progress be reported. I did not vote with them against that motion, because I believed, as I believe now, that there was an understanding, known to every member of the Senate, that after certain business had been done the Senate would adjourn. It is a matter of indifference to me how honorablesenators opposite choose to conduct their business. If I were in opposition I should conduct the business in my own way. If in their view clause 5 was of most importance they were right in occupying time in the discussion of it. The fact remains that at twenty minutes to 12 o’clock last night clause 10 had been passed, and, as I understood it, the understanding with honorable senators opposite had been fulfilled. I naturally thought the Senate would then adjourn. We subsequently heard that honorable senators had missed their trains. I have no sympathy with the talk about the missing of trains when there is a question of adhering to an understanding. I live in the suburbs of Melbourne myself, and it does not matter to me whether a cab is provided to take me home or not. I have occupied a seat in the Queensland Parliament for a number of years, and I know that when we sat until 2, 3, or 4 o’clock in the morning on successive days, we got home in the best way we could or we camped on the seats in the chamber until the morning, when we could get home with some convenience. I think that is the best system to adopt.
– How high-spirited they are in Queensland.
– I do not claim that they are any more high-spirited there than are people in other places. I mention a mere matter of fact. For a very long time the party to which I belonged were in opposition, and they were prepared to carry out the work before them at all hazards. I admit that honorable senators opposite ran away last night. If I had been on their side I should have objected to that. I should have urged that they ought to go right on when there was work to be done. That, however, is a matter for their own consideration. The reason I took the course I did is that I object to play into the hands of honorable senators opposite by creating for them a considerable amount of sympathy in the minds of the outside public on the score that they have not been fairly treated. I know how this kind of thing reacts. When the party to which I belonged were treated unjustly they received the sympathy of the outside public, because they believed that we had not been fairly treated. I object to do anything which will play into the hands of honorable senators opposite by enabling them to go outside and complain that they have been unfairly treated, and that, in consequence, the Bill has been passed without sufficient consideration. I have camped in the Queensland Parliament House for two or three days and nights am end, without any adjournment, because the party to which I belonged believed that the work in which they were engaged was absolutely necessary. The majority in power thought we were wrong, and they put us down, or passed us out, until the business in hand was carried through, when they graciously permitted us to come back again and take up other business. I contend that the unfair action of the dominant party in Queensland was responsible in a greater degree than anything else for the building up of the party to which I belonged in that State. It is because I realize that this is the result of unfair treatment that I object to allow honorable senators opposite to pose as martyrs, as I believe they are now able to do to some extent. If in future there is any understanding between different sides in the Senate, I hope it will be adhered to in the letter and in the spirit. Personally, I hope that mo such understanding will be made, but that honorable senators will recognise their duty to give their attendance in this chamber, and to see that the business of the country is carried on in a straightforward way.
- Senator Turley has assumed an altogether mistaken attitude. The Minister, as Ministers frequently do, entered into an understanding with the Opposition; When these understandings are adhered to by both sides they ought to be rigorously observed. The understanding in this case was that an adjournment should be permitted if a certain clause of the Bill was reached during the day.
– How does the honorable senator know ? He was not here.
– I was within the precincts of Parliament House the whole of the day, and I should have been in the chamber but for the fact that discussion was taking place that was utterly profitless. I could not vote on the question, because I had paired for a week with an honorable senator absent through ill-health ; but I was present in the chamber for about two hours, and had to listen to repetition after repetition until the Minister of Defence complained that he had answered one question so often that he was tired of it.
– The Minister has never answered the question vet.
- Senator Gray is referring to another question, although I am under the impression that the Minister answered Senator Gray several times. A promise was made by the Minister, subject to the condition that reasonable progress was made. As a matter of fact, so far from reasonable progress, there was unreasonable obstruction by the Opposition on clause 5 hour after hour ; and clause 10 was’ not reached until, for the purposes of honorable senators, Tuesday had expired. That is to say, honorable senators at that hour could not avail themselves of the opportunities they expect to have offered to them to get to their homes on the same day.
– But the Government provided cabs.
– I never used a Government cab, and I do not want to.
– So far as I am concerned, I had no cab.
– I must really ask honorable senators not to interject.
– Nothing is of more importance than that undertakings between the respective sides of the Chamber - undertakings which are often and wisely entered into for convenience - should be observed. If an undertaking of the kind is broken by one side, there is no need for the other side to break it - it is broken already. If the Opposition keep honorable senators here until after midnight, a Minister is justified in offering some compensation to honorable senators who have suffered in consequence of the peculiar form of discussion adopted, and in compelling the Opposition themselves to remain in order to impress their views, if they can.
– The honorable senator was not here then.
– I was within the precincts of Parliament House last night. When the Opposition broke their engagement, the Minister would have been unfaithful to his supporters if he had taken any other course than that he adopted to meet the wishes of the majority.
– Clauses 8, 9, and 10 ran through without any discussion.
– And when honorable senators opposite were worn out they desired to adjourn, so that they might come fresh to-day and waste more time. I am glad that the Minister took the stand he did, because if there is fighting it should be on both sides.
– I should not have spoken .but for the constant reference to the cabs ‘which were provided for honorable senators last night. I candidly say that I availed myself of one of the cabs to take me home, but I may add that it was not until the Senate had risen, and I was leaving Parliament House, that I was informed that the Government had made any provision of the kind. I wish it to be clearly understood that there was no bargain or arrangement in this connexion between the Government and honorable senators. I understand that on similar occasions, in another place, cabs are provided for honorable members, and the fact has ceased to have any novelty. I am sorry to say that there are honorable senators on both sides, whose sense of good taste does not prevent them from making repeated references to a matter so trifling.
– There is a sense of fair play, which is. better than a sense of good taste.
– I am merely saying that I expected something better from the honorable senators to whom I refer. If the Opposition think that they can play fast and loose with the convenience of honorable senators on this side they are very much mistaken ; we are not docile and tame enough to “ lie down “ under treatment of the kind.
– Honorable senators, opposite will not again be able to get rid of the Opposition in the same way.
-The members of the Opposition did as they pleased when they left the chamber.
– I am referring to members of the Opposition who paired on the strength of the promise of the Minister.
– I noticed that honorable senators opposite were extremely anxious for pairs, for what reason I know not. It may have been with the object of reducing the number of honorable senator.”, present, so as to secure a count-out; but if that were the motive I am glad it was defeated. I ask New South Wales senators particularly whether they would not feel aggrieved if, on Friday afternoons, when they wish to catch their train, they were kept here by the action of Government supporters.
– Are there no Adelaide senators who travel on Fridays?
– My question applies to senators from both South Australia and New South Wales.
– The Senate meets early on Friday with the understanding that it s-hall adjourn at 4 o’clock.
– There is also an understanding, that the business on other days shall be concluded in time for honorable senators to catch their trains before midnight. The usual hour for adjournment is 10 or half-past 10 o’clock, and when discussion is continued beyond that hour honorable senators are put to considerable inconvenience. The majority of the honorable senators who pursued obstructive tactics, live within a short distance of Parliament House, and they seemed to be careless of the fact that other honorable senators would have to “reach their homes in the suburbs as best they could. Under the circumstances, it ill becomes, those honorable senators to sneer at the Government for providing conveyances. In the light of what has occurred in another place, and also in the light of our own experience of yesterday, the Government would, in my opinion, have been extremely unwise if they had not, in the interest of business, concluded the consideration of the Commerce Bill in Committee last night.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - The apologists of the Government have had a hard task, and I do not think they have been quite so successful as they were in the movement which they carried out last night. Some honorable senators have dealt with matters which have only tended to obscure what otherwise is perfectly plain. It is clear that on Friday last the leader of this Chamber made a distinct statement, which covered the conduct of business up to Thursday ; and it is equally clear that last night he repeated the statement to Senator Best, with’ whom he made certain arrangements.
– I had no arrangement at all with Senator Best, but begged him to stop, and’ not to pair under any circumstances. I told him the chances were that we should have an all-night sitting, and it was not until that idea, got about, that the Opposition collapsed, and allowed the last two or three clauses in the part with which we are dealing to pass.
– What the Minister now says does not affect the statement
I have made. The Minister did undoubtedly repeat to Senator Best the statement he made on Friday last, and no doubt Senator Best went away with the distinct impression that he would have an opportunity to-day to deal with amendments he desired to submit. I also went away with a similar impression ; and there can be no question that the Minister made up his mind to depart from the arrangement, and, using the opportunity presented, piloted the Bill through. I feel I have been perfectly justified in submitting this matter for discussion, and I am content to leave the question to the country. I beg leave to withdraw the motion.
– I object.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to introduce, during this session, a Bill to take over the control of quarantine?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Time will not permit of the introduction of a Quarantine Bill this session.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Lt.-Col. D. McLeish, C.M.G., Commanding 7th Australian Light Horse Regiment.
Brevet Lt.-Col. J. M. Antill, C.B., Instructional Staff.
Brevet Lt.-Col. H. G. Chauvel, C.M.G., Instructional Staff.
Brevet Lt.-Col. W. Holmes, D.S.O., 1st Infantry Regiment.
Major J. G. Legge, D.A.A.G., New South Wales.
To be Honorary Physician to His Excellency the Governor-General : -
Colonel C. S. Ryan, V.D., Principal Medical Officer, Victoria. 4 and 5. There is no official record of the Minister’s reasons.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Some officers were unable to obtain leave, which, however, was given in every case in which the convenience of the public would permit. The deserving officers, to the number of 216, have since been rewarded by increases in salary. Strict instructions were issued some time ago that every officer was to get his annual leave.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Conviction of an Officer.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The desired information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The information asked for will take some time to prepare, and cause some expense, but it will be supplied as soon as possible.
Motion (by Senator Playford) pro posed -
That the report be adopted.
– I am quite sure that it will be recognised as being perfectly fair that in considering the adoption of the report on this Bill, honorable senators should have an opportunity to address themselves to its provisions, especially in regard to those which did not receive full consideration in Committee. It will also be recognised that it is perfectly competent for us to address ourselves to the whole of the clauses, from the beginning to the end of the Bill. Possibly an amendment or amendments will be submitted later on for the purpose of securing the recommittal of the Bill for the reconsideration of certain clauses. I have no doubt that honorable senators will be prepared to consult the convenience of the Senate generally in allowing the first portion of the Bill up to clause 10 to go unchallenged, though, of course, some remarks may be made as to the desirableness of legislation of this character. But the latter portion of the Bill, commencing with clause 11, was put through last night under very peculiar circumstances, which have led honorable senators on this side of the Chamber to think that a very unfair advantage was taken, that would not have been possible without the force of numbers.
– Honorable senators opposite went away and refused to work.
– Senator Guthrie is one of those who did his utmost to prevent a proper and full consideration of the measure. If the Senate had adjourned last night after disposing of clause to, the very long debate that we have had to-day would not have occurred, we should have avoided the angry recriminations which have been made, and should thereby have conduced to the more effectual conduct of business. A fair and honest fight putup against a Bill which we consider to contain provisions that are most objectionable and injurious to the welfare of the Commonwealth. We had a perfect right to take the course we did. The measure itself, as cannot be too often impressed on the mind of the public, is one that lends, itself to an administration that would be simply damnable, considered from the aspect of the interests of Australia. I admit that by noninterference on the part of the Minister, the Bill could be so administered as to work no very great injury to the country. But the only way in which danger could be avoided would be by a most careful administration, such as I decline to believe it will receive from the gentleman now at the head of affairs.
– Rubbish !
.- No doubt Senator Playford considers that it would be perfectly safe to leave the matter in the hands of the present Government. Most Ministries suffer from the little weakness of believing that no evil can arise from their administration. I do not suppose that any Minister would say : “ I am going deliberately to do an injury to the commerce of the Commonwealth.” But there are Ministers and Ministers. Some Ministers think that the more interference there is with regard to every industry in the country the better. I do not share that view. I believe that we have gone a great deal too far in our legislation. I believe that we have over-legislated. This is a specimen of over-legislation that must do the country an immense amount of injury. Australia is at present almost a. by-word, in consequence of its restrictive legislation. Are we to continue that system, so as to become a still greater by -word? I am aware that some honorable members entertain the extraordinary idea that because this measure has been passed by another place, it ought to be looked upon as the acme of wisdom and perfection. But it contains provisions that a great many members of both Houses of this Parliament never believed to be within its compass. We learnt yesterday, though not until there had been a considerable amount of debate on clause 5, that that was an exceedingly dangerous provision. I doubt whether even the Minister in charge of the Bill was aware of its scope. Certainly he did not mention it when he moved1 the second reading of the Bill. He did not say that it was intended to hamper even’ branch of trade and to apply to every article that might be exported or imported. If that had been known when the Bill -was before the other Chamber, most assuredly it would have been objected to much more strongly - and the opposition to it was strong as it was. It is most unjust to take advantage of a House of Legislature by getting legislation passed through having effects never contemplated by those who dealt with it in the first instance. Whatever we may do with regard to this measure in the Senate, if we send it back to the other House with two or three amendments the debate there will be confined to those amendments. Honorable members in the other Chamber will have no opportunity to discuss any provisions which they passed under a misapprehension. I trust that honorable senators will take the trouble to go into the measure thoroughly, and cease to treat it in a cavalier way. They talk of the Bill having been “ stonewalled “ from this side, because we made an earnest protest against many of its provisions, when there was a deliberate “ stone- wall “ on their part. We could get no information, or defence, such as we were entitled’ to get, when a measure of vital concern to the whole Commonwealth was being considered. Whatever opinions thev may hold in regard to the Bill they showed scant courtesy to this side when they did not respond to our appeals. When a’ measure has been fought by an Opposition day after day, and it has been made clear to the Government that their opponents desire to obstruct its passage, and not to improve its provisions, I can understand them turning round, and asking their supporters to be “dumb dogs.” But there was no such obstruction offered to this Bill. It was introduced by Senator Playford in a speech which was very brief, and by no means comprehensive. I believe that he did not realize, and I doubt if he now realizes, the far-reaching possibilities of it. If he had realized! its ‘ grave importance, I cannot conceive that he. with his long parliamentary experience, would have consented to thrust such legislation down the throat of the Opposition. I dare say that he will not have much to say in defence of the Bill if he exercises his right to reply to the criticisms from this side.
– We have heard all this criticism before, and it has all been replied to.
.- Once or twice last night, when the honorable senator replied very briefly to speeches from this side, he led1 me to think that he did not realize the meaning of the words which he was asking the Committee to assist him to enact. He sard that we, on this side, were making second-reading speeches. There were three or four clauses which contained most important principles, and which called for second-reading speeches from this side, in order that every honorable senator might fully realize their meaning before he was called upon to vote. It was only right that those speeches should have been replied to at full length. Unfortunately, Senator Symon was not here to speak at the second-reading stage.
– He delivered a second-reading speech, though, on the first clause of the Bill.
.- It was a very short second-reading speech.
– It lasted for two hours.
.- The Minister must realize that if Senator Symon had dealt with the Bill at the second!reading stage, he would have occupied a great deal more time than he did when he spoke on clause i.
– No; he discussed the whole measure.
– Will the honorable and learned senator tell us! what evils the Bill can possibly do?
.- The evils have been stated so often that’ they ought to have sunk into the brain of the honorable senator.
– It is simply a Bill to provide for common honesty. A man can import or export anything he likes, so long as he tells the truth about it.
– -Is it necessary to compel a man to give so many particulars to Customs officers as are required by the Bill ? We all desire to prevent dishonesty with regard to imports and exports. If Senator Playford had introduced a Bill to carry out that purpose, with reasonable precautions and safeguards, it would have been passed through both Houses, I think, without any trouble. If the debates of the other House be referred to, it will be seen that honorable members expressed a desire to do what was fair and just between importers or exporters and the public. Senator Playford has told us that the last Government contemplated the introduction of a measure of this kind because they left behind- them a draft. That fact ought to convince honorable senators that the members of that Go vernment desired to do what was fair and just with regard to importers and exporters.
– It was a more drastic Bill than this one.
.- The Minister knows that the draft Bill which was found by the present Government in a pigeon-hole or cupboard had not been revised by the members of the late Cabinet. We have had the assurance of Senator Symon that it was not referred to him as Attorney-General for the purpose of advising his colleagues on legal points. How, then, can it be fairly said that the late Government if it had remained in office would have submitted a more drastic Bill to honorable senators for their consideration? Senator Playford knows that when ‘the members of a Ministry take office they find a num-ber of Bills which have been drafted, but not considered by the previous Cabinet. If a Minister instructs an officer to draft a Bill, it is done by the latter on such, lines as he may consider most convenient and advisable.
– The Minister laysdown the lines and the principles on which, the draftsman is to work.
.- A Minister of Trade and Customs would say to his. draftsman : “ I want you to prepare a Bill to provide for the inspection of imports and exports, and to insure honest and fair dealing.” Later on it would be his duty to seewhether the principles which he had laid’ down had been properly embodied in themeasure. And at that stage he could elicit the opinions of his colleagues. Perhaps I am presuming too much in saying that the Commerce Bill was fully considered by the members of the present Cabinet before it was submitted to the other House. Is it not a matter of common notoriety that threeMinisters differed there with regard to its; provisions? One Minister thought that it meant one thing ; a second Minister thought that it would provide effectually for grading ; while a third Minister thought that it would not provide for grading. The Ministers were not at one with regard to the effect of its provisions. There was a promise made that certain amendments would be submitted’ in the Senate in order to clear up doubts and’ difficulties which had arisen, but not oneof them has been submitted here.
– Yes ; one amendment has been embodied in the Bill.
.- Not one iota of assistance has been given to honorable- senators in their efforts to insert any one of the amendments which it was promised would be made here.
– So far as I can find out, there were only two amendments promised, and one of them - an alteration in the title - has been made.
– An honorable senator on the other side was permitted to move an amendment for the inclusion of jewellery amongst the articles enumerated in clause 15. It was taken out of the hands of a Government supporter, who, having obtained a pair, had wisely gone home.
– It was moved at my request.
.- What chance had any one on this side to submit amendments dealing with more vital questions? The Minister talks about various amendments* which have been made. In clause 1 we made an amendment to provide that the Bill may be cited as “ The Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act.”
– That amendment was promised by Sir William Lyne, and was agreed to.
.- I am glad to hear the Minister say that the amendment was promised by his colleague, but it was under discussion for hours before it was agreed to.
– A definite promise was not given. Sir William Lyne said, “I do not make an absolute promise that the amendment shall be considered, but most likely it will.”
– The Opposition were charged with “ stone-walling “ the Bill when they were advocating an amendment which Senator Playford now tells us was made in pursuance of a promise given by Sir William Lyne.
– I wanted to know from honorable senators opposite what they thought was a better title than “ Commerce Bill.” _ If they could have suggested a better title, I should have been only too willing to accept it.
– The honor- able senator is very plausible now ; but it was only with the greatest difficulty, and after two hours’ discussion that we persuaded him to accept our amendment. His supporters were so angry that they voted in a body against him. I believe that the fear they created in his mind was so great that he dare not1 then have accepted a single proposal unless it emanated from his own side. Senator Styles, who - is not a member of the caucus, was privileged to be allowed to amend the Bill.
– In that case the Government was under no pressure from the Labour Party.
.- No. The honorable senator had the gracious permission of both parties to get his little amendment introduced.
– The Opposition would have supported it.
.- It is very probable that the Opposition would have assisted the honorable senator to hand down his name to posterity as one who had assisted in perfecting the. measure. I admit that after having fought our amendment very strenuously and earnestly, Senator Playford, did, in accordance with the promise of his. colleague, assent to it with the best grace he could. I realize the difficult position he was in.
– I need not have given way. If I had not given way I could have beaten the Opposition.
.- No doubt th< honorable senator would have given wa’ in the first instance, only that he had .1 suspicion as to the effect his action might have on the Labour Party, He put up a very good fight’ for the clause, but ultimately he consented to an amendment of which, as he found, his loyal supporters did not altogether approve. It is almost impossible to think of anything to which a trade description could not be applied under this Bill. Whether a man is importing or exporting goods, he must apply such a trade description to them as may be specified by; the regulations which are to be submitted to Parliament by the Minister. Parliament is enabled to afford help to those who may be affected by the Bill, only under the provision requiring the regulations to be notified for a period of three months before thev become operative. Under clause 7 it is provided with respect to imports that -
No regulation under this section shall take effect until after the expiration of not less than three months from notification in the Gazette.
Why this assistance is given to importers, and not to exporters, I am unable to say. It mav be urged that the Government desire that this notice shall be gwen in order to prevent mistakes bv people sending their good’s to the Commonwealth from other countries. But if that be the objec three months is too short a time to give to people in other countries an opportunity of determining whether they will, send their goods to the Commonwealth under the conditions prescribed by the Government. There will, in the early stages of the operation of the Bill, be no more > fruitful source of difficulty in connexion with imports than that which will arise from these regulations. Dealing with exports, the Bill provides in clause 11 that -
The regulations may prohibit Hie exportation of any specified goods unless there is applied to them a trade description of such character relating to such matters and applied in such manner as is prescribed.
Is that a fair way in which to hamper our commerce? Honorable senators may say that revelations have been made in connexion with the butter trade. 1 ask them to turn to clause 15, and they will find that a very wide field is embraced. It includes -
Articles used for food or drink by man, or used in the manufacture or preparation of articles used for food or drink by man ; or
seeds and plants.
I should like the Minister to explain what articles of export there are that are not embraced in this clause. We have had a great deal of talk about apples, and about butter, but we have had no information as to the articles which, cannot be included under clause 15. We are asked to provide that if a man desires to export anything he must, in a trade description applied to his goods, specify their nature, number, quantity, quality, purity, class, grade, measure, gauge, size, or weight. We also provide that he shall state the country or place in or at which the goods were made or produced. What necessity is there for that? I could understand the Government of the mother country saying : “ We desire to know where goods imported into this country have been manufactured or produced,” but it is an utter absurdity for the Government of a country to attempt to place an embargo upon its own exports by requiring such descriptions to be applied to them. Further information must be given as to the manufacturer or producer of the goods, or the person by whom they were selected, packed, or in any way prepared for the market.
Will that give any guarantee as to the soundness of the goods? If the Minister grows apples and exports them to the other end of the world, what difference will it make to the man who eats them, whether they were grown by Senator Playford, or by Jones, Brown, or Smith? He will be concerned with the quality of the article, and not with the name of the producer. Again, the Bill provides that information shall be given as to the mode of manufacturing, producing, selecting, packing, or otherwise preparing the goods. During the second-reading debate it was pointed out that it is possible under this Bill to compel a man to say whether his goods have been produced by union or non-union labour. What does it matter to the people to whom we send our goods whether they are, or are not, the product of union labour? Do Ave, at the present time, take the trouble to inquire whether goods sent to us from other parts of the world have been made by union or nonunion labour? It is not part of the duty of the Government to make inquiries of this character. I can understand a man who believes in unions, and in union labour, telling a storekeeper that he will not buy certain goods unless he is assured that only union labour has been employed in their manufacture ; but I cannot understand a Government that is supposed to represent both union and non-union labour, and the sympathizers with both, requiring this information. It is utterly absurd, but the aim is clearly to play into the hands of .1 particular section of the community, and not to give a fair deal to all people in the- community. It is possible, under this Bill, for the Government to kow-tow, as I suppose they must do, to the minority of the workers of this country at the present time, and to enable them to secure what they desire. They hold their office by the breath of a particular party in the community, and I realize how dangerous it is to give them an opportunity to play into the hands of that party.
– Every Government holds its position by the assistance of a party.
– Of its own party sometimes.
.- Usually a Government holds its position because its policy is in accord with the views of a majority, but my charge against the present Government is that their honest convictions are not in accord with the convictions which are thrust upon them by the members of another party.
– They do not say that, and they must be better judges than is the honorable senator.
.- I ask Senator Trenwith to look at the history of the present Government from its inception. I ask the honorable senator to go back to a period anterior to that, and consider what was said by the head of the present Government.
– I do not think the honorable senator will be in order in going into the history of the Government.
.- I do not wish to discuss their action generally, but to refer particularly to opinions expressed by the head of the Government.
– The honorable senator will see that the motion before the Senate is for the adoption of the report.
– I submit that on that motion I am entitled to criticise every provision in the Bill, and to say how the measure is likely to be administered by the present Government. I submit that I am entitled to show that the Government have been led and guided by a particular party, irrespective of their own declared convictions, and that I shall be in order in making the references I have mentioned.
– It will only be the honorable senator’s opinion.
– I am not prepared to say that the honorable senator will be out of order, but it appears to me that he has suggested a very roundabout way of connecting his remarks with the motion.
– It is mv purpose to show that the Government should ^ not be intrusted with such powers as are conferred by this Bill. I have already said that I would .not willingly intrust such powers to any Government. I say that under this Bill the present Government will be able to turn their backs upon their honest convictions, and I believe they will do so, because, unless thev do, they know that they can be sent “packing,” to-morrow. I cannot quote many remarks .of the honorable senator in charge of the Bill in connexion with this policy, but if it were in order to read speeches by the Prime Minister and by Sir John Forrest, I could disclose a pretty state of affairs, and could show the public how dangerous it is to intrust the present
Government with these powers. Under the Bill in connexion with a trade description, information will also be required as to the material or ingredients of which the goods are composed, or from which they are derived. There is only one safeguard, that provided by clause 16, under which trade secrets need not be disclosed. Again, information must be given as to the goods being the subject of an existing patent, privilege, or copyright ; and it is also provided that a trade description includes a Customs entry relating to goods, and any mark which, according to the custom of the trade or common repute is commonly taken to be an indication of any of the matters already mentioned. All these numerous matters can be prescribed in a trade description, and in this way the whole of the industry of the Commonwealth may be placed in fetters and materially hampered. In the circumstances, it is not too much to say that this Bill is calculated to do a great deal of injury to the Commonwealth. Can it be believed for a moment that the Government and their supporters are anxious that our export and import trad 3 should be extended? Before Federation, we heard of the higher atmosphere of politics, and of the broad-mindedness which would characterize members of the Federal Parliament ; but, the fact is, that we have passed a series of restrictive measures which place tyrannical powers in the hands of individual Ministers or the Ministry. We all agree that false descriptions should not be placed on goods, but, at the same time, we ought not to insist on descriptions which are unnecessary, and which may do harm to the community or to the producer. I remind honorable senators of the letters received by this Senate from a jam manufacturer of Tasmania, who pointed out that his export trade absolutely depends, riot only on his producing a good article, but on his placing it on the market without disclosing his name or place of manufacture.
– A man ought not to be ashamed of his own State or of declaring that his goods ‘are manufactured there !
.- I quite agree with’ the honorable senator, and, indeed, I do not) believe that this manufacturer is ashamed of his own State or of his produce. But if a manufacturer of jam receives an order from South Africa, on the condition that his name shall not appear on the label, has he to decline the trade rather than comply with the condition? There are other places in the world where jams are manufactured.
– There are. no places where they can be better manufactured, and buyers would have to go there in any case.
.- I have no wish to decry the value of the jams made in Tasmania,’ but, still, it is only right that a man who desires to buy jams without having the name of the manufacturer attached to them should be able to do so. Then, in regard to the trade with the East, there are special instructions as to what produce is to be sent, and as to how it is to be sent. Of course, if any goods are sought to be exported on false representations, the guilty person ought to be punished, because such practices have a serious effect on the export trade. If, however, unmarked goods are sent at the request of the buyer, it is for the latter to see that he obtains the quality stipulated for, and, in any case of fraud or misrepresentation, the Law Courts are open to him. The great complaint about British goods being supplanted in many parts of the world by French and German goods, arises from the fact that many British manufacturers are conversative enough to think that they know the requirements of their customers better than do the customers themselves. Until these conservative notions a.re got rid of, British manufacturers will find great trouble in retaining their trade. If the desire is to assist commerce, let us remove all undue restrictions. One reason urged by the Minister in support of clause 5 is that it gives a power not exercisable under the Customs Act, namely, the power to take samples as well as to inspect. Such a provision, however, should be made in a Bill to amend the Customs Act. Another argument in favour of the clause is that an offender may be punished by the publicity given to his offence; and as an illustration, we were told of the case of the Victorian leather merchant who exported inferior leather. All these offences, however, are provided for in clause 15, coupled with’ clauses 7 ‘and 11 ; and therefore clause 5 is not required in order to cover cases of misrepresentation. Under clause 7, which deals with ‘imports, a period of three months is allowed before the regulations take effect’, but there is no such provision in regard to the regulations which deal with exports. But, whatever the faults of the Bill may be, the Government and their supporters object to any amendment. Hon orable senators from Tasmania, and the President himself, have told us how these hard-and-fast rules prejudice the export trade in apples ; and yet it has been found impossible for the Opposition to effect any improvement in this connexion. Perhaps, if an amendment had been proposed from the Government side, it might have had the same chance of success that attended another amendment from the same quarter. I would again point out to honorable senators
– “Again !”
D- - Yes; again, and again, and again, if necessary.
– In view of that statement, I must call the attention of the honorable and learned senator to standing order 407, which provides -
The President or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition, and may direct such senator to discontinue his speech: . . .
If the honorable and learned senator says that he is going to say the same thing “ again, and again, and again,” I must call him to order.
– I submit that it will be quite sufficient to call me to order when it is found that I have broken the rule. I think it will be admitted that I may repeat arguments again and again at different stages of the Bill.
– Yes; but not in the same speech.
– I assume that, if the report be adopted, I shall be perfectly in order in repeating my arguments on the motion for the third reading.
– I am referring to repetition in the same speech.
.- I hope I shall not be found offending so seriously J as to render it necessary to call me to order. Although clauses 11 to 18 have been passed, they have not yet been considered by the Committee of this Chamber.
– The Committee were perfectly satisfied with the clauses, and passed them.
.- In the best interests of the Commonwealth, these provisions ought not to be agreed to without full and ample debate, though, I suppose, even if they had been postponed until today, amy discussion would have been quite without result. I ann not very sanguine that much success would have attended the efforts of honorable senators om this side to impress their views on the Committee. Under the circumstances, I think it is a reasonable request that there should be a recommittal, and I shall be quite prepared to support a motion to that effect in regard to clauses n, 14, and, certainly, 15. [ do not think that any good object will be served by reconsidering other clauses, because they contain principles with which we can all agree. Let me point out that the clause with regard to exports would place upon every exporter of goods from this country an embargo that would operate much to the advantage of competitors in other parts of the world. Is it not fair that we, who had no opportunity of discussing those clauses last night, should have an opportunity of placing our views before the Senate and the country to-day?
– What prevented the honorable senator from doing it last night ?
.- A breach of faith on the part of the Government, in which they were aided and abetted by the honorable senator. If the Government exercised the powers committed to them under this Bill they would simply play into the hands of persons whose ideas are absolutely opposed to the wishes of the majority of the people of this country.
– If the honorable senator is not satisfied he can propose amendments at the third-reading stage.
– We can only take effectual steps to improve the Bill by securing a recommittal. Senator Best last night desired to propose that the measure should be limited to the particular classes of goods mentioned in clause 15. Why should he not have that opportunity today? If the Minister would be prepared to accept an amendment of that character a great many of our objections to the Bill would be removed. I am quite satisfied that the majority in the other House did not realize when it passed the Bill that it was assisting outside people in the way we shall assist them by means of this measure?
– How can the honorable senator possibly know what the other House realized? We have a right to assume that it did what it wanted to do.
.- The other House, having passed clause 5. recommitted the Bill for the purpose of dealing with clause 15, which was an entirely new clause, introduced in accordance with a promise made by the Minister to a deputation to limit the Bill to certain articles. Why clause 5 was not reconsidered I cannot say, but I can readily imagine.
– There can only be one reason - that the House was satisfied with it.
– No; the House thought that it had done all that was necessary ; and was it not a revelation to many members cf the Senate to find that the clause operated beyond the articles mentioned in clause 15?
– I doubt whether it was a revelation to the honorable senator.
-CoL GOULD. - It certainly was.
– The meaning was plain enough.
D- I had not read the debates that took place in the other House, but I had seen the reports of the deputation that waited on the Minister. It was not, however, till the Bill came to the Senate that I saw how widely the clause extended. If the Minister will give us an opportunity to reconsider the clauses that were rushed through last night, I can promise him that I will not give him any more trouble with regard to the adoption of the report. Let us give fair consideration to the clauses in question - in the light of the criticism of those who wish to see them amended. Will the Minister agree to take that course?
– Decidedly not; the honorable senator would think me a fool if I did, especially after the “ stonewalling “ for an hour or two to-day.
.- If the Minister had treated us fairly, the Bill would have been debated fully. He would have found that when we discovered that it commanded the support of a majority of honorable senators, we should have accepted our defeat. He may rest : assured that whenever the Opposition feel that it is their duty to fight any measure, they will act quite irrespective of the wishes of either himself or his supporters. I believe that if honorable senators who sit on the other side had been placed in a position similar to that which we occupy, they would have discussed every clause to which they were opposed, just as fully as they could. I urge them to treat us with fairness and consideration. I ask the Minister to take care in the future to carry out to the very letter any promise, expressed or implied’, that he makes, and not to allow any irritation which he may feel, because the trams and trains have been missed, or the debate has lasted longer than he anticipated, to cause him to do an act which would justify any one on this side in saying that he had broken his word. I ask the Government to give us a much better opportunity to consider their measures in the future than they have done on this occasion. The Senate is asked to pass this Bill in an incomplete form. It is one which every merchant and producer will regard as a curse, and which will give us a worse name in the old country than we have at present. I do not propose to say much more on the motion. Some honorable senator* who feel that they have been deprived of an opportunity to submit certain amendments, may propose to recommit the Bill’ generally, or, if fair treatment be not extended to them, may consider themselves justified in discussing the Bill in detail at this stage, and if necessary, on the third reading. But I trust that the Minister of Defence will reconsider the position, and consent, without further pressure, to a recommittal of the Bill.
– Notwithstanding the answer which the Minister of Defence gave to Senator Gould, it is my duty, on behalf of the State I represent, to move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 13 and 15.
My reasons for taking this course are, first, because I had no proper opportunity to submit the amendment of which I gave notice weeks ago; and, secondly, because on its merits that amendment is worthy of consideration by every honorable senator.
– It is not likely that I shall agree to recommit the clauses after the treatment I have received.
– The Minister cannot accuse me of “ stone- walling “ yesterday, because I was almost silent during the whole of the sitting. There was full, perhaps too full, discussion, but in the ordinary sense of the word I do not thi’nk there was any “ stone-walling.” But whether there was or not, he is responsible for the misunderstanding which took place, to say nothing about the breach of faith. I agree with Senator Turley, that every one understood that when clause 10 was reached we should adjourn.
– So we should have done if the clause had been reached before half -past 11 o’clock.
– Owing to what they regarded as a bond fide misunderstanding, six senators, including three supporters of my amendment, left the chamber before the crisis arrived, and when it did arrive, the rest of my supporters left. In those circumstances, it would have been futile for me to’ remain and move the amendment. I ask Senator Playford to give me an opportunity to do my duty to my constituents. There are one or two phases of his conduct in connexion with this Bill which I think are fraught with very great danger. This is not a question between the Government and the Opposition, but a question between the Senate and the citizens of the Commonwealth. If the Minister intends to deny me an opportunity of discussing, my amendment on its merits, I shall have to tell my constituents that the representatives of the great apple trade of Tasmania were not allowed to have expression given to their opinions on account of his inexcusable misunderstanding. If he makes a promise with a condition, he has no right to keep back the condition and hurl it at our heads after the mischief has been done. It is now in his power to undo the mischief which has been done. We do not want to reconsider every clause of the Bill. To show the frame of mind the Minister is in, let me mention that when Senator Pulsford pointed out that in clause 13 the expense of doing certain things is placed upon the importer, when it is perfectly plain that the exporter is meant, he laughed, and said that the Clerk could alter the word. I should like to see the Clerk alter a Bill which has come from the other House, even if it be to correct a mistake. Are we to allow the clause to leave the Senate in its present disgraceful state? Is Senator Playford to be influenced only by the consideration that he does not want the other House to get an opportunity of discussing a single provision of the Bill. If he were to take up this attitude in regard to every Bill, what would become of the rights of the Senate? Because the Ministry want to close .the session as quickly as possible, and do not wish tosend down to the other House any amendment which would require a minute’s discussion, is the honorable senator to belittle the Senate by sitting there like a stone and. declining to ask the Senate to correct a palpable mistake ? Is that a reason why he should rob us of our rights and privileges?
– How can he possibly rob us of our rights?
– His whole demeanour goes to show that, no matter what amendment may be suggested, it must be opposed simply because he does not wish the Bill to be altered.
– When the majority agree with the honorable and learned senator, the Bill will be altered.
– The honorable senator forgets that the party who sit on the other side will follow the Minister’s wrong lead. I blame every member of the party who adopts his attitude.
– Will the honorable and learned senator give an undertaking that if the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of these two clauses it will be put through before 11 o’clock to-night?
– It will not take me more than ten minutes to state my reasons for striking the word “ fruit “ out of clause *5-
– The honorable and learned senator cannot answer for anybody else.
– In view of what took place just before the adjournment for tea, I understand that Senator Playford is prepared to consent to the recommittal of the Bill. Possibly the honorable senator will make a definite statement as to what his intentions are, and we may then get on with the business.
– In the peculiar circumstances, I am quite willing to allow the recommittal of the Bill for the purpose of reconsidering clause 13, solely with the object of making a verbal alteration, by substituting the word “ exporter “ for the word “ importer,” and for the reconsideration of clause 15. So far as clause 15 is concerned, I feel that last night, about jo o’clock, I did lead Senator Best to believe that we would not go beyond clause 10. That was my intention at the time, and in speaking to the honorable senator, I had no intention whatever to deceive him.
– I quite understand that.
– The honorable senator informed me that, so far as be was personally concerned, he desired only the reconsideration of .clause 15. I remember that I said at the same time that I hoped the honorable senator would remain and help me to keep a quorum. But the honorable senator subsequently paired with another honorable senator and went away.
– That was because the honorable senator said he would not go beyond clause 10.
– We did go beyond clause 10, and in the circumstances, I think I owe it to Senator Best to recommit clause 15, on the distinct understanding that the whole matter will be dealt with by 11 o’clock, or sooner if possible; that any amendments which are to be proposed will be submitted, divided upon, and decided. I agree to, the recommittal also on the understanding that I shall be placed in no worse position than I should have been in if I had not done so. That is to say, I expect the Senate to permit the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the report to be adopted, and to have the third reading fixed for to-morrow.
– I do not think it would be fair to ask that, because, if we had gone on with the debate on the motion for the adoption of the report, the honorable senator would not have been in the same position. -
– I remind the honorable senator that the motion submitted to the Senate was that the report be adopted, and it is only reasonable to ask that I should be placed in the same position as I would have been in if I had not consented to the recommittal of the Bill. If I refuse to consent to the recommittal of the Bill, and the Senate supports me, the report will be ‘adopted, and the ‘third reading put down for to-morrow.
– Mr. President-
– The debate has concluded.
– The motion for the recommittal of the Bill has only just been put. Am I not entitled to speak on that motion ?
– No, the debate has concluded. The Minister of Defence moved that the report be adopted. On that motion an amendment was moved that the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering clauses 13 and 15, and the Minister of Defence then replied.
– No other honorable senator had an opportunity to say anything.
– I think it was only the intention of the Minister to state the arrangement made.
– I did not intend that my statement should be regarded in the light of a reply to the debate.
– Strictly speaking, I think the debate has concluded, but if there is any misunderstanding I have no desire to inconvenience honorable senators. Am I to understand that Senator Playford has merely answered a question?
– That is so.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I do not intend to oppose the recommittal of the Bill, seeing that the Minister has consented to it, though I must say that I disagree with the honorable senator as to. the wisdom and policy of the course he has adopted. I say plainly that politics is war. We have the Senate divided into two parties - one in favour of the Bill, fighting for it all they know, and the other opposed to it, and fighting all they know to prevent it becoming law.
– No; to improve it.
– Honorable senators opposite need not try to mislead me. I know they are opposed to the Bill, root and branch.
– No; we say there are some good things in the Bill.
– Most honorable senators opposite voted against the second reading of the measure. Did they believe in it then ?I say that therehasbeenafightbetween the two sides as to whether the Bill should become law or not. We have captured a position from honorable senators opposite; we have reached a certain stage in dealing with the measure, andin my opinion it is pure bunkum that we should now be asked to recede from the position we captured, and allow honorable senators opposite to resume it for the mere pleasure of belting them off it again. That is simply playing at politics. We are being asked to allow Senator Dobson to pose before his constituents as the man who has fought and succeeded in securing a recommittal of the Bill in their interests. We come here night after night to keep a House in order that practical legislation may be passed, and not that our time maybe wasted. With all due respect to Senator Best, I have very little sympathy with him in this matter, because he is a supporter of the present Government, and belongs to their party. My colleagues of the Labour Party and I do not, yet we are to sit here night after night to keep a House for the Government. How often will Senator Best sit here for that purpose?
– As often as is necessary.
– I remind the honorable senator that it would be necessary for him to sit here every hour of every sittingday were not the members of the Labour Party constant in their attendance in this chamber. This measure was fully considered last night, and if it had been thought desirable to move further amendments upon it there was ample opportunity afforded to do so, but honorable senators turned tail and left the chamber. I do not propose to offer any factious opposition to the recommittal of the measure, but I do enter my protest against this method of doing business. I can assure the leader of the Government in the Senate that on future occasions, when measures have been given lengthened consideration by the Senate, I, for one, shall not be content to come here day after day to do the same business twice over.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 13 and! 15 - resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 13 (Exportation of falsely-marked goods) :
Amendment (by Senator Pulsford) agreed to -
That the word “ importer “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ exporter.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Sections seven and eleven of this Act shall not apply to any goods other than -
articles used for food or drink by man, or used in the manufacture or preparation of articles used for food or drink by man ; or (bi) medicines or medicinal preparations for internal or external use; or
manures ; or
apparel (including boots and shoes) and’ the materials from which such apparel is manufactured ; or
seeds and plants.
– I move-
That after the word “sections,” line 1, the word “ five “ be inserted.
I have already explained my reasons for the amendment. In my opinion, clause 5 will be impotent unless it be read in conjunction with clause 15. Although, under the clause, the Minister may have a nominal power with respect to prescribed goods, inasmuch as he will be able to inspect them, and to take samples, he has no penal power.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the nominal power will be useful for the purpose of acquiring information ?
– It will not, according to my view. The whole construction of the Bill shows that the intention was to apply to clause 5 the various remedies given to the Minister in regard to the goods included in clause 15.
– I opposed this amendment yesterday when the matter was fully discussed. The argument has been that the House of Representatives really intended that clause 5 should apply only to the articles mentioned in clause 15, and that, as there are no penalties provided in connexion with clause 5, it gives the Minister power only to take samples, so far as the articles prescribed under it are concerned, and is, therefore, of little or no use. I have been informed that the majority of honorable members in another place were under no such impression ; they were under the impression that although no penalties are attached to clause 5, power would be given to the Minister to examine and inspect prescribed goods, and that that power, with the possibility that the result, of the examination might be made public would be beneficial. In the circumstances, I think it better that this clause should be left as it stands. I see the point made by Senator Best, and it appeals to me to a certain extent. But I also see the force of the contention of the other side, and I believe there are classes of goods not included in clause 15 which it is desirable should be examined. None of these goods can be prescribed by regulation, unless the regulations are laid before Parliament, and given every publicity, and I feel quite certain that the Department will never suggest regulations unless there is reason to believe that certain goods ought not to be exported. Under the circumstances, I ask honorable senators to support the clause.
– I am still inclined to think that Senator Best’s proposal ought to be adopted. Anybody reading the Bill must, in my opinion, come to the conclusion that it is a mistake to confer the power to examine all goods.
– Only prescribed goods will be examined.
- Sir William Lyne, I fancy, unintentionally, misled the depu tation that waited on him, because there is no doubt that on that occasion he did state, without any limitation, that the Bill would apply only to a certain list of articles. It is, a question whether faith ought not to be kept with the commercial men and others who take a deep interest in the Bill, and whose opposition was, to some extent, allayed by the information then given.
– If clause 5 be brought under the control of clause 15, it will be necessary, in order to make the Bill sensible, to recommit the whole and strike out certain clauses. Clause 12, for instance, provides a penalty for applying a false trade description to exports ; and I do not see how an offence can be proved unless there is power to inspect and take samples. All goods which bear a false trade description, and not only the classes of goods enumerated in clause 15, come within the scope of the measure, and it will be manifestly impossible to administer the Bill, unless there is power to take samples. There is no doubt that the desire of all of us is to deal with all goods which bear a false description.
– That is so; but I say that we are powerless.
– The power may be limited, but, at the same time, it is, in my opinion, very necessary.
– I think Senator Pearce is under a misapprehension when he expresses the opinion that if the amendment were carried, it would be necessary to deal with other clauses. In any case, in view ofthe understanding on which these two clauses have been recommitted, we are not at liberty to interfere with other clauses. Clause 9 very distinctly declares that no person shall import any goods to which a false trade description is applied.
– How can a. false trade description be proved without inspection.
– The Customs Act gives all the power that is necessary.
– I should like to know in what section.
– Section 30 of the Customs Act provides -
Goods shall be subject to the control of the Customs as follows : -
As to all goods imported - from the time of importation until delivery for home consumption, or until exportation to parts beyond the seas, whichever shall first happen. . . ‘ .
Section 31 is as follows : -
All goods on board any ship or boat from parts beyond the seas shall also be subject to the control of the Customs whilst the ship or boat is within the limits of any port in Australia.
– That section does not give the power to inspect or take samples.
– Then section 32 provides -
The control of the Customs especially includes the right of the Customs to examine all goods subject to such control.
– Where is the right to take samples?
– Section 218 provides -
Samples of any goods under the control of the Customs may, for any purpose deemed necessary by the Collector, be taken, utilized, and disposed of by any officer in manner prescribed.
No power could be more complete or drastic.
– That applies to imports, andnot to exports.
– Exactly. Senator Pearce indicated that there was no power to arrest goods that are fraudulently marked, and I am showing that under the Customs Act there is ample power.
– Only as to imported goods.
– The Parliamentary Draftsman has the following note to the clause : -
As to imports, power is now given under the Act to take samples and inspect ; as to exports, to inspect, but not to take samples.
– In my opinion, the power under the Customs Act is sufficient to deal with all possible trouble.
– The only power under the Customs Act is to deal with imports.
– There are certain powers, though not such full powers, to deal with exports, and I think it would be an improvement to lessen them.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - The only power which the Customs Act gives over exports is, according to subsection c of section 30 -
As to all goods subject to any export duty - from the time when the same are brought to any port, or place for exportation, until the payment of the duly.
From this it will be seen that the power to take samples is given onlyin the case of goods on which there is an export duty ; so that clause 12 will be practically nullified if we bring clause 5 under clause 15.
– This little discussion has made it abundantly clear that the Customs Act applies to all imports, and the only difficulty is in regard to taking samples of goods intended for export. But, after all, is it a matter of such serious moment that we need refuse to assent to the proposal of Senator Best? I should say that there are but few articles of export not embraced in the classes enumerated in clause 15 ; and, under the circumstances, Senator Pearce might very well forego his opposition to the amendment.
– If there are so few classes of goods outside those enumerated in clause 15, that is a reason for leaving clause 5 as it stands.
.- There may be goods outside those enumerated in clause 15 which require inspection, but they are so few that I question whether there is any necessity to confer the power. After all, it is a matter of policy; and we have practically arrived at an understanding in that regard - an understanding which has a tendency to satisfy, in a small degree,the many doubts and scruples entertained in regard to the measure. I urge Senator Pearce to withdraw his opposition to the amendment, and allow it to be made.
Question - That the word “ five,” proposed to be inserted, be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved m the negative.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I move -
That after the word “ apply,” line 2, the following words be inserted : “ to apples, pears, oranges, lemons, or.”
If this amendment is carried, it will mean that the fruits mentioned in it will be excluded from the operation of the Bill. I desire to thank the Minister for consenting to the reconsideration of the clause. It must be evident to honorable senators that fruits are quite unlike any; other food’s that can be mentioned. They are produced by the skill of man and the operations of nature. There is all the difference in the world between goods of that description, which cannot be adulterated or tampered with, and goods like butter, cheese, bacon, and meat, which can be. Meat may be diseased, or may not be put into the refrigerating -chamber in. time. I can quite understand the necessity of insisting upon honest trading, and upon wholesome food being exported.- But I cannot see how those considerations can apply to fruits like apples, pears, oranges, and lemons. It will be noticed that I do not include all fruits.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The argument of Senator Dobson that, in times gone by, Tasmanian apples did not sell very well on the London market, in consequence of certain growers having sent away bad apples, does not tally with the statement which he always makes, that the buyer examines the fruit. _ If in every instance the buyer examined the fruit to see if it was up to the mark, how was it that Tasmanian apples got a bad name on the London market, and realized a low price?
There is no necessity to single out a particular class of horticultural produce. All fruit should be inspected prior to shipment, and the package should indicate the quality of its contents. We have had quoted to us a letter which was sent to the Comptroller-General of Customs from Tasmania by a gentleman named Jones, who evidently knows a great deal about these matters. His trouble^ is not that apples will be inspected, but that the little ones will not be allowed to be exported. A little apple is not necessarily a bad apple. French ladies are in the habit of scenting their dresses by carrying little apples iti their pockets. I have grown1 a very small apple called api, which is most sweetly scented. I can imagine the ladies of Tasmania inducing there husbands and brothers to plant the api apple, in order that they may add to their many charms. After the apple has been grown, and; its sweet scent has been appreciated, I can imagine that the growers will want to export it. I can assure honorable senators that if a shipment of this little apple arrived in London in good condition, it would realize a good price. There are many kinds of small apples which are of most excellent flavour. It is simply absurd on the part of Mr. Jones to suggest that the export of apples would be objected to on account of their size, because we all know that some of the most valuable articles are done up in little parcels ; at least, I have been so informed on many occasions when allusions have been made to my size. I shall read what Dr. Wollaston says on the subject of little apples. Speaking of jam, he says that we should not allow the people of Tasmania to send away Tasmanian apricot jam made from carrots or swede turnips, and he goes on to say -
As to apples, the same thing applies. There will be no objection to good apples, though small, being sent away properly marked, but we desire to prevent their being branded “ Finest Tasmanian,” and so damage the reputation of the State.
In the same way we do not want pastry butter to be described as “ best Victorian.” Of course, inspection is necessary to prevent this kind of thing. If the butter is marked “ pastry,” it will go as “ pastry butter,” and so long as goods, are marked truthfully and honestly we shall not interfere with their exportation in any way. Dr. Wollaston further says -
The sections of the Bill relating to inspection are not understood. Customs officers have the right now to examine. Every care will be taken not to hamper Australian trade. It would be so contrary to our best policy to do so that such a thing could not be tolerated for a moment by Parliament.
It must not be forgotten that our regulations must be of such a character that they will stand the test of parliamentary criticism. “Unscrupulous as Ministers are sometimes supposed to be, no Minister is likely to injure his reputation by submitting regulations to Parliament which will not stand the test of fair criticism. In the framing of these regulations, the advice of experts will be obtained. I can assure honorable senators that there is no necessity to exclude apples, little or big, from inspection, any more than other kinds of produce. I ask the Committee not to agree to the amendment.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I have been rather amused at the honorable senator from South Australia attempting to teach Tasmanians, how to conduct the fruit export trade. The best answer to the suggestion that South Australian apples are better than” those produced in Tasmania is that South Australia does not do one-third of the trade done by Tasmania. A feature in connexion with the industry which Senator Playford does not understand is, that a number of English buyers now come to the Commonwealth to buy, and it must be clear to honorable senators that if the producers are compelled to brand their cases of fruit as “ inferior “ or “ e.mall “ the price will be depreciated. There can be no doubt about that. I propose to offer two good reasons why the amendment should be agreed to. One is, that not only Chambers of Com.merce, but all the fruit-growers we know of in New South Wales and Tasmania, ask that the industry shall be excluded from the operation of this Bill. That is the opinion of men who mav be assumed to know their own business, and the reason is, therefore, a strong one. The other reason why the amendment should be agreed to is that it will be quite impossible to carry out the provisions of the Bill, as applied to this trade. When we consider the enormous quantity of apples that are brought together for shipment in a few hours, it must be admitted that an adequate inspection would be absolutely impossible. The Minister made some reference to scale on fruit, but how is an inspector looking at the fruit on the top of a case to know whether there is scale on the fruit at the bottom? How is he to tell from the fruit exposed at. the top of a. case, the quality of the fruit in the middle ? Is he to turn out the whole case? I might say that that is, what is done by the buyers in England.
– I have seen them do so.
– They often buy on the brand without inspection.
– They may buy some cases of apples on the mark outside the case, but they do not regard the mark as a guarantee of quality. The cases are marked merely S.T.P. or N.Y.P., as the case may be. There is very rarely any other mark on the case, except, perhaps, the initial of the producer, in order that the goods may be identified. I say that it will be found impossible to administer this Act in the present condition of the trade. I hope that honorable senators will give some consideration to the two reasons which I have advanced before they record a vote against the amendment.
– I hope the Committee will be impressed with the seriousness of this matter to Tasmania. The apple trade in that State is now assuming national importance. The industry affords a means of livelihood to a very large number of people in the southern part of the State, whilst people in the northern part of the State are now entering into the industry, finding that they can produce fruit as well as some of those in the south, and in some cases a little earlier in the season. The trade has grown in a few years from comparatively insignificant dimensions to one of magnitude. We have undertakings for the shipment of about 750,000 cases of fruit next year to the home markets. That will involve an enormous amount of hand-, ling, which must be done expeditiously and cheaply, for when the cost of sending the fruit home and preserving, it on the voyage is considered, it will be seen that there will be but a small margin of profit left. It must be remembered that we shall only be able to get rid of our increased quantity by making our apples available in England to the poor man as well as the rich man. The industry has all these difficulties to face.
– So it has in South Australia and in Victoria, and people are not very much troubled about it in those States.
– Apples form one of the principal articles of export from Tasmania. I may tell the Committee that the growers themselves came to the Government in Tasmania and asked for legislation of the kind we are now discussing, and it was by conversation with them that we found out how absolutely impracticable such legislation would be. I am able to inform the Minister that it will be quite impossible to have anything like an adequate inspection of certain shipments of Tasmanian fruit. The whole of our shipments of fruit are crowded onto about six weeks. The big ocean liners - 12,000-ton ships - come alongside the wharfs, and have onlyfortyeight hours, or less, to stay. One of these vessels may ship 40,000 or 50,000 cases of fruit. Hobart, unlike Melbourne, has its limitations with respect to the labour available to Handle the enormous quantities of fruit that have to be shipped. A fleet of small steamers are engaged, and every effort is made, in the very short time available, to load the vessel.
– The men are working all night long.
– They are working night and day, and I may tell honorable senators that the appliances for the loading of this cargo have bean brought to such a state of perfection iri Hobart that they cannot be approached in any of the other States. Fruit can now be handled on the wharfs at Hobart without bruising, it or injuring it in any way. The leader of the Senate has been discoursing on the apple question as if he knew something about it. The honorable senator was in the old country some years ago, and saw Tasmanian apples in the London market, when they were shipped under arrangements that, I admit, were very defective. If the honorable senator had visited London in recent years he would have found that the trade is now conducted very differently. Grading, packing, and everything connected with the trade is now carried out ora firstclass lines. The producers have been compelled to improve their methods, and the Tasmanian State legislation provides for the identification of the fruit, so that the shipper of falsely-marked fruit may be punished.
– That is all we require.
– Judging from the honorable senator’s speech, and from Dr. Wollaston’s letter, it is evident that a compulsory inspection of the fruit is to be made.
– No; we shall always be prepared to accept State inspection. If the State law provides that a certain brand shall be put on the cases, So that the fruit can be identified in England, we shall be quite satisfied with that. The honorable senator need not fear that the industry will be hampered im any way
– I confess that I do not like invidious legislation, but this matter is of so much importance to Tasmania that I think we are justified in asking for spe.cial treatment. I wish the amendment had been confined to apples and pears, and if it were thought desirable to include fruit from other States, representatives of those States could have made out a case for that proposal. If we proceed under the Bill as it stands, our fruitgrowers will take fright. This year they have been encouraged to come together, and have appointed Mr. Jones as a sort of agent and manager of their co-operative industry. They are putting, the business in his hands to secure the most economical transport of the fruit. I point out that the inspection of fruit must take time, and it will be almost disastrous to Tasmania if this industry is harassed or handicapped In any way.
– We can repeal the Act if it is found to harass the industry.
– A modification of the regulations might be all that would be necessary.
– I remind honorable senators that clause 12 of the Bill will apply to apples, even though they should be excluded from the operation of clause 15. It provides that -
No person shall - a) knowingly apply any false trade description to any goods intended or entered for export, or put on any ship or boat for export, or brought to any wharf or place for the purpose of export.
That lis practically the law at present in Tasmania. General Inspection is, of course, impracticable, but there is power given under the Tasmanian law to punish a man if the description on his cases does not tally with the goods inside of them. It seems to me that all that Is necessary to bring about a healthy condition of the trade can be accomplished under clause 12. If a shipper brands his apples what they are not, there is ample power under that clause to punish him by the imposition of a penalty of .£100. Surely that should be sufficient. The industry is carried on by a large sec-, tion of the population, and I venture to say that if a poll could be taken of the apple producers of Tasmania, 95 per cent, would vote against any such legislation. If we desire to legislate for their benefit, as I am sure we all do, we ought to allow them to be the judges in their own concerns.
– They do not appear to .have made any fuss about the matter.
– They have communicated with their representatves in this Parliament. Surely the Minister does not desire them to come over in a body and storm this .Chamber? These appleproducers will probably feel the effect of the measure more acutely when the regulations, whatever they may be, are prescribed. However desirable the Bill may be in regard to other goods, it is not desirable as applied to apples, and in view of the conditions of the trade, will be found to be either mischievous or futile.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I suspect that I know more about the sale of fruit in England than does Senator Playford, or any other honorable senator, because I had experience of the trade for a considerable number of years. I have seen from 50,000 to 100,000 cases of fruit sold in one day, .and sold on the quality of the fruit, and not on any microscopic examination of marks on the outside of the cases. I can assure the Committee that it is very desirable, in the interests of the fruit trade, that it shall be left alone as far as possible. There are no goods exported that are as liable as fruit to alteration in quality and condition between the port of shipment and the port of landing. A description which may be quite correct and useful in its way when goods are shipped is altogether misleading when the goods arrive, and it does not enable the importer to forego the necessary work of examination. As the result of a wide and complete knowledge of business, I feel sure that it would be advisable to leave the matter entirely in the hands of the producers and exporters, who kno’w best how to serve the interests of the trade. For the Government to take charge of the trade and try to dogmatize as to grades, quali- ties, and marks is a mistake; and I shall be glad if Senator Dobson’s amendment is adopted.
– It will be within the recollection of the .Committee that I had the honour to present a petition from the Fruit-growers’ Union of New South Wales, the members of which are of opinion that the Bill if passed into law “ will have a serious effect upon the export trade in fruit and other commodities.” The petition - copies of which have been circulated - declares that the provisions of the Bill will prove most harassing and injurious to the exporters of perishable articles, such as fruit, and will also, we believe, be to a great extent unworkable.
The petition concludes : -
We, therefore, respectfully and earnestly pray that you will see fit to reject the measure, or, failing that, to so amend it as to cause it to press as lightly as possible on traders.
It will be seen, therefore, that not only the fruit-growers and exporters of South Australia and Tasmania, but also a large body of growers in New South Wales, feel the importance of this matter. I suppose that from the district of Parramatta a larger quantity of oranges is exported than from any other part of Australia. The association which sent the petition has existed for many years, and has directed its efforts to learning the best means of preserving fruit in sending it to the English market. The experience has been somewhat sad in regard to seasons; and it would be rather hard if, in addition to those troubles, the members were obliged, by reason of this legislation, to suffer further inconvenience. I hope that under the circumstances the Committee will accept the amendment of Senator Dobson.
Senator BEST “(Victoria). - I must confess that I feel great embarrassment as to voting on this proposed amendment. My anxiety, like that of every other honorable senator, is to offer the utmost facilities for our export trade, and to put that trade on the soundest possible basis. Honorable senators from Tasmania have entered the strongest protests against the compulsory inspection and grading of fruit for export; and the arguments they have adduced undoubtedly possess very great force. On the other hand, Senator Keating is also a senator from Tasmania, and is equally desirous to encourage the export trade in apples ; and he, conscious of his responsibility, with a full knowledge of the effect of what he is doing, deems it desirable that the provisions of the Bill should be made applicable to this particular industry.
– Senator Keating is careful not to express any opinion.
– I shall not say. that. My difficulty has been intensified by the remarks of Senator Baker, who pointed out undoubted facts in connexion with the export trade. He told us that a large number of small producers are employed, that their profits are exceedingly small, and that if they are put to the expense of storing their small shipments for proper inspection, the probability is that they will not be able to export, and must allow their fruit to go to waste. These are serious difficulties. But at the same time, on full consideration, I am impressed with the fact that it will be the duty of the Minister to accommodate the regulations to the exigencies of trade. If the regulations for one moment embarrass, or have the result of discouraging, the export trade, they will not be tolerated for any length of time.
– What regulations are required for a trade that is running well of its own accord ?
– As a matter of fact, we know that in Tasmania it has been found necessary to pass an Act, which has for its object the control of the export trade in fru’it.
– The Act was not found necessary, but it was thought that it might be tried.
– That the Act is necessary is shown by the fact that it has been passed.
– The Act is not put into operation.
– But the Act is there, and no doubt it has a moral effect, because it establishes direct control over the export trade. It provides that each package must be branded, before it is shipped, with a particular mark, and also with the name of the exporter.
– Not with the name.
– With either the name or initials.
– That is in order to identify the property.
– It is for the purpose of identification; but the passing of that Act indicated the determination of the
Tasmanian Government to exercise a control over the export trade. It is suggested that the Act is practically a dead letter, but its moral effect is at all times present in the mind of the exporter, and if he attempts any serious transgression-
– The great majority of fruit exporters in Tasmania do not know anything about the Act.
– They know that it is necessary that their goods shall be branded before they are exported.
– That is for their own benefit.
– I know; but it is in accord with the Act of Parliament.
– The packages are marked much in the same way as luggage is marked.
– -The Act enables the Government to exercise a control over the export trade.
– No, no.
– As the Tasmanian Government saw fit, by the passing of this Act, to exercise control, and as I am sure the moral effect of it is sound, it is most desirable that the Commonwealth Minister should, at least, have power to make regulations of a uniform character dealing with the trade throughout the Commonwealth.
– There is nothing in the Tasmanian Act which makes inspection compulsory.
– That is true ; but branding is compulsory.
– That is in order to identify the owner ; and no one objects.
– Under the circumstances, I am prepared to trust to the good sense of the Minister, in the hope that he will accommodate himself to the exigencies of trade, with a view to encourage the industry.
– Senator Dobson referred to the development of the export trade in Tasmanian apples, and I was about to address the Committee when Senator Best rose. If I thought for one moment that this Bill would in any way injuriously interfere with the development of the apple export trade in Tasmania, no honorable senator, or no member of this Parliament, would oppose it more strenuously. Senator Dobson desires to have apples, pears, oranges, and lemons eliminated from the operation of clauses 7 and 11. Clause 7 deals only with imports, so that, so far as the apple trade is concerned, it may be dismissed from considera tion. Clause 11 - the only clause the operation of which can be affected by Senator Dobson’s amendment - applies only to the branding of goods for export, and has no reference whatever to the inspection of them. Senator Mulcahy, I gather from his interjection, thinks that no one objects to the branding of goods ; but that it is to compulsory inspection that objection is taken. If Senator Dobson’s amendment were carried, it would not affect in one iota any of the provisions of this Bill, so fax as they relate to inspection. Clauses 7 and n are circumscribed by the clause now under consideration. Clause 7 deals with the branding of goods for import, and clause 11 with the branding of goods for export.
– But clause 14 would come in.
– If this amendment had relation to clause 14, Senator Mulcahy would lie justified in his interjection. But the effect of the amendment which we have under consideration, will be merely to obviate the necessity of branding fruit.
– Are we to understand that if Senator Dobson’s ‘amendment is carried, the fruit will still be liable to inspection ?
– Undoubtedly ; but the effect of the amendment will be that the Minister could not prescribe that the fruit should be branded. Let us see what is the effect of the present law in Tasmania. Senator Macfarlane would have us believe that the Tasmanian law is not known to the persons engaged in the fruit industry there. Others have disputed my statement that the Tasmanian Act has been practically inoperative from its inception, simply on account of funds.
– That is, so far as inspection is concerned.
– We will see what the Tasmanian Act provides. The criticism we have heard means one of two things, either that the Act appears upon the statutebook, simply as a piece of pharisaical legislator!, or that it was put there for the purpose of being enacted. Now, the first operative provision of the Tasmanian Act commences with the words -
No product shall be shipped or placed on board any vessel for exportation from Tasmania -
The word “product” is defined in the definition section as meaning -
Fresh fruit of any description, dried or preserved fruit, jam, dairy produce, eggs and potatoes, produced or grown in Tasmania, and such other products as the Governor may from time to time by proclamation declare to be products for the purposes of this Act.
After providing for the appointment of inspectors, the Act goes on to say, in section 6-
No product shall be shipped or placed on board any vessel for exportation from Tasmania unless the package containing such product is clearly branded in the prescribed manner with a registered brand of the consignor, and with the registered brand or the initials and surname of the producer, except where such product has been repacked.
– That is for the purpose of identification.
– That section provides that no fruit shall be exported unless it bears a brand showing the name of the consignor and producer, with the registered brand of the producer. We turn to the section of the Act dealing with penalties, and we find, in section 11, that -
Every person is liable to a penalty not exceeding £25 for a first offence, and not exceeding£50 for a second or subsequent offence who. . . .
There you have a provision to the effect that no product shall be exported from Tasmania unless it bears the brand of the exporter, and the registered brands of both the consignor and the producer, and subsequently you have the provision that if any person exports, or is concerned in exporting, any product, including fruit, from Tasmania that is not so branded, he is liable to a penalty of£20 for the first offence, and of£50 for any second or subsequent offence.
– Is not that Act more or less discredited and obsolete?
– It is not discredited, and it is not obsolete. It makes provision for the appointment of inspectors.
– Not for compulsory inspection.
– I am confining my remarks to the branding of products particularly.
– Every one would brand without any Act.
– If my honorable friend had confined his remarks to the effect his amendment would produce upon the brands, and had not referred to inspection, he would have been much briefer, and more to the point. But I am not now dealing with inspection at all, because I have shown that it is not affected by the amendment in one iota. All that Senator Dobson’s amendment will do is to leave fruit still open to the inspection clauses of this Bill, and, at the same time, prevent the Minister from prescribing that fruit shall bear a brand, if it is found necessary to put that provision in operation. We are not providing in this Bill that fruit shall necessarily be branded. Every honorable senator who has proposed to support this amendment seems to assume that we are absolutely providing here that fruit must be branded in a certain way. That is the whole basis of their argument. But we are simply taking power to compel fruit to be branded if it is found to be necessary. The provision of clause 11 is that -
The regulations may prohibit the exportation of any specified goods unless there is applied to them a trade description of such character relating to such matters, and applied in such manner as is prescribed.
– I think I shall have to alter my amendment to meet the Minister’s criticism.
– This may happen : The Minister may find when he takes over the administration of this measure that the fruit export trade of the Commonwealth is going on in a satisfactory manner, and that there is absolutely no necessity to exercise the powers conferred upon him by clause 11. But three, five, or seven years hence the Minister may find that a small number of dishonest persons are engaged in the fruit industry, whose improper practices are causing a great deal of loss to the great majority of honest persons engaged in the trade. He may find it very desirable to prescribe, under the powers conferred upon him by this measure, that a certain trade description shall be put upon packages of fruit. He may prescribe that the trade description shall be the name of the grower or packer of the fruit. Would there be any objection to that? “Trade description” under this measure includes any indication or description relative to - the nature, number, quantity, quality, purity, class, grade, measure, gauge, size, or weight of the goods ; or
The Minister might provide by regulationthat fruit exported from the Commonwealth should bear as a brand an indication of the particular State from which it came. lt might be found, for instance, that, so far as> Tasmania was concerned, not a single case of dishonest exportation had taken place. But it might be found, with regard to some other State - I will- not mention one, even for the purpose of illustration - that a number of instances had occurred in which exporters had sent away consignments which were not all they should be. The Minister might exercise the powers conferred upon him by’ this Bill to prescribe that the trade description to be placed upon packages of fruit should be the name of the State from which the goods were consigned. That would be a warning to those who bought outside the Commonwealth that if they purchased fruit from Tasmania it would be all right, but that if they purchased fruit from the other supposed State they would have to be wary.
– That would be a protection to the Tasmanian growers.
– It would be in that case. Senator Dobson’s amendment eliminates from the Bill that power of the Minister. I have already shown that the amendment does not affect inspection. Ii only affects the branding of fruit going forward for export. That branding is not compulsory. It is merely optional, and may lie prescribed by the Minister. It will be prescribed clearly, as all experience shows, in the way that Senator Best suggests - when the Minister finds from experience that it is desirable in connexion with a particular trade or commodity to exercise the power. Now let me show what took place in Tasmania, and what led to putting on the statute-book the Act which Senator Macfarlane says nobody engaged in the fruit trade knows anything about, and which Senator Pulsford says is discredited.
– It is permissive.
– It is compulsory, so far as branding is concerned; and Senator Dobson knows that if any one chooses to export fruit from Tasmania that is not branded he is liable to the penalties I have named.
– I know that the Act has been a dead letter.
– The Act was called into existence by the circumstances which I am about to narrate. When the South African war was on Tasmania, in common with the other States of the Commonwealth, received a large number of orders for consignments of grain. I do not know what was the practice in the other States, but in Tasmania shipments of grain very often had to go forward at very short notice. It was found not only desirable, but actually necessary, that those shipments before they left Tasmania should be inspected by the Government. My honorable friends who come from Tasmania know that. That was one of the immediate factors that led to putting upon the statute-book the Exported Products Act, which has not been repealed. When the Bill was before the Tasmanian Parliament a debate upon it took place on the 26th September, 1901. I have here a report of that debate. It shows, that while clause 6 was under discussion, the marginal note of which is -
No product to be exported unless package is branded or labelled with the name of consignor; the then Premier of the State - admitted that a great deal of the fruit sent to London was known by the brand, but it was not intended that shippers should discontinue to use the brands, Hut merely that they should also put on their full name. It was done to protect the honest exporter.
Mr. Mackenzie, who is a farmers’ representative, and sits for Wellington, in the extreme north-west of the State, asked the question, “ Why not include grain?” There is a producers’ representative wanting to extend the operation of the measure. The Premier replied -
The grain was now inspected - at least, that purchased for the War Office had been, and it had been branded with the Government brand.
Mr. Evans, the present Premier of Tasmania, who represents a fruit growing district of Tasmania, said that he - favoured the name being put on the case. The Bill was calculated to make a few honest who were inclined to be dishonest. There were a few here and there who sent out rubbish with the hope of being able to sell and get a fair return. Brands would be a greater hardship to smalt consignors than the placing of their names on the case, which could be easily done with a stencil plate.
Mr. Hodgman, who represents Brighton, another producing constituency - described the Bill as a compromise. The way out of the difficulty would be not to allow anything to leave the State unless branded according to its quality. The efficiency of the Bill would depend very largely on the nature of the regulations framed by the Governor in Council.
The Minister of Lands - Senator Mulcahy then held that office in Tasmania - said -
It was known to the Government that very large consignors used a fresh trade-mark or brand every year. Under the clause a man might change his brand as often as he liked, but his name must be on the fruit. If a producer or exporter continually forwarded good, sound fruit or other produce under a certain brand, that brand became valuable to him, and his good name was established ; but if a man sent bad stuff, his name would be known, and he would be taught a lesson if his name was on the fruit case. The Bill would certainly help the honest man, and would help to prevent the good name of Tasmanian produce being lowered.
Several other members spoke, and Mr. Hope, who is member for Sheffield, another most important producing district - wanted to see the farmer made liable for sending away produce that damaged the name of the State.
Dr. McCall, who also represents one of the most thriving agricultural districts of the State, and who has since been its Chief Secretary and Minister for Agriculture said -
The only way to make the Bill a success was to have Government inspection. An inspector could, for instance, visit the shipping centres along the N.W. coast and inspect the produce prior to shipment. If something of that nature were not done, he did not anticipate much good result from the Bill.
– In spite of all that eloquence, the Act is still a dead letter.
– Whatever difficulties there have been, have arisen in connexion with, not legislation, but administration.
– There has been no administration.
– The members who addressed themselves to the Bill, and who came from farming constituencies, claimed that it would be inoperative, because it was not strong enough. Dr. McCall wanted Government inspection, while Mr. Hodgman wanted a provision that no produce should go out of the State unless it bore an indication of its quality.
– What is the good of the Act ?
- Senator Mulcahy did not frame a strong enough Bill. In any case, everything goes to show that there was unanimity on the point that the goods should bear a brand when going away from the State.
– Every one agrees to that.
– Then I am surprised at the honorable and learned senator pressing his amendment. The only result it could achieve would be to prevent the Minister from prescribing that brands shall go on the fruit. It would not touch the inspection of the fruit.
– I intend to try to make it do that.
– I do not think that the amendment would affect the exportation of Tasmanian fruit to the extent of one case in five years. I should not have to wait for my honorable and learned friend to lead the way in opposing any legislation which would have the effect of retarding the development of that trade, which has increased so rapidly during the last few years, owing to the industry and ability of the men engaged in it. Seeing that the amendment could effect no desirable object, but would simply be a sort of placard on the Bill, making its provisions absolutely anomalous, I hope that it will not be received by the Committee.
– I do not think that any honorable senator has the slightest desire to take any step which would endanger a prosperous industry in Tasmania or any other State. I feel quite satisfied that we would do all we could to assist the senators for Tasmania to prevent the passage of a measure which was designed to do any injury to its industries. But this Bill, instead of injuring, will assist to preserve the good name of Australian and Tasmanian fruit in the markets of the old world. We have heard a great deal about inspection in connexion with this amendment, and also about the small producer shipping small consignments. But I think that Senator Keating has entirely demolished any arguments which have been advanced by Senator Dobson.
– He has no case.
– Exactly. I am afraid that the small producer has been made a stalking horse for the benefit of two big shippers. It is well known that about nineteentwentieths of the fruit which is exported from Tasmania is shipped by two big firms, who buy up all the space in the steamers, and charge the small producer what they please for the carriage of his small consignment.
– They are all com bined now. They are all co-operating. But for the efforts of those firms, the fruit industry would never have progressed as it has done.
– It is clear, from the Tasmanian communications, that the writers really do not understand the purpose of this Bill, and therefore their objections are not valid. For instance, it was pointed out in one communication that certain exports would be prohibited. There is not a line in the Bill which prohibits the exportation of any goods. Under its provisions a man can export or import anything he pleases, provided that it is truly described.
SenatorBest. - The Bill has to be read in conjunction with the Customs Act, which provides for the prohibition of goods.
– The Customs Act is not now under consideration.
– But by clause 2 the Bill is incorporated with the Customs Act.
– This is a separate measure, and it does not contain a single line which empowers the Minister or any one else to prohibit the importation or exportation of any goods, provided that they are truly described. It is simply a measure to compel men to give accurate descriptions, and to prevent fraud and cheating, and I am really astonished at the amount of opposition which it has received. I hope that the Tasmanian fruitgrowers will be told that they can export any fruit they please, whether it be small or inferior, provided that they tell the truth about It.
– Yes ; but they may be compelled by the Minister to grade it for inspection, although I do not think they will.
– I freely admit that. For a great many years I have lived at Cairns, from which, I believe, as large an export trade in fruit is conducted as from any port in Australia. Frequently I have seen 60,000 bunches of bananas - and each bunch weighs1/2 cwt., which is heavier than the weight of an ordinary fruit case - shipped in one steamer. Every bunch has to be inspected prior to shipment. As the fruit is unloaded from railway trucks or drays on to the wharf, it is inspected by a Government officer, and passed on. The fruit is continually going along the wharf without interruption. Not the slightest trouble is experienced by the shippers. Why then should any trouble occur in a Tasmanian port?
– In one case the fruit is packed, but in the other it is not.
– If a fruit-grower gives notice of his intention to ship a number of cases of fruit at a certain time, and the Government officer is satisfied by an examination of one or two cases, taken promiscuously, that the shipment is correctly described, he will pass the case for export. If, however, they are found not to bear a correct description, he may be empowered to see that a correct description is put on the shipment. It has been pointed out that a serious injury has been done to the trade of Australia in the markets of the old world by a few unscrupulous persons shipping inferior goods. Suppose that a consignment of fifty cases of Tasmanian fruit has been distributed amongst fifty towns in the old country, and found to be of very inferior quality. Tasmanian fruit has got a bad name in those fifty towns, and the whole fruit trade of the State has received a serious injury. No unscrupulous shipper or grower, merely for the sake of making an immediate profit, should be allowed to inflict such lasting damage upon a promising industry. From the quotations read by Senator Keating, it is clear that that fact was recognised to the full extent in the Tasmanian Parliament, and that some members who were particularly interested in the fruit industry went so far as to contend that the fruittrade could not be protected and nourished without an effective system of Government inspection. I also am of that opinion. I am astonished at the amount of factious opposition which has been offered to a Bill which is designed to compel men to tell the truth, and to prevent cheating and fraud. Now that the clause has been fully debated, I hope we shall proceed to come to a decision.
– Oh !
– It is not with my consent, or by my wish that I am speaking on the Bill to-night. I have listened patiently to four senators for Tasmania, and I shall be quite content to listen to Senator O’Keefe.
– There is really nothing to prevent the honorable senator from sitting down.
– I shall remain standing as long as I please. If I were interested, as some honorable senators appear to be interested, in conserving a system which permits of fraud, cheating, and lying, I might be prepared to go on a good deal longer than they would like; but I am not interested in that sort of thing, I am interested in the passing of a Bill to prohibit dishonest practices, and that is why I have been prepared to do my level best to prevent its progress through Committee being unduly retarded.
– In view of the fact that certain honorable senators have been very anxious that this question should be fully’ discussed, it is rather a fortunate circumstance that the Bill has been recommitted. I brought a perfectly open mind to the consideration of this question, and I have listened carefully to the arguments on both sides. I purposely refrained from expressing my views until I heard those .’arguments. Until Senator Keating showed that Senator Dobson’s amendment would be ineffective to achieve the object for which it has been moved, I felt inclined to vote for it. I think it is only fair to my honorable colleagues from Tasmania that I should be willing to accept their advice on questions on which they should be better informed than myself. Senators Dobson, Mulcahy, and Macfarlane, although they represent, as I do, the whole of the State of Tasmania, may, perhaps, be said to represent in a special manner the fruit-growing districts of the State. Whilst for that reason I should be prepared to give special consideration to their views, Senator Keating has pointed’ out that the amendment will be quite ineffective, and it appears to me that, keenly as Senators Dobson and Mulcahy may feel on this question, the fears they have expressed are ill-founded. I have listened to a recital of the provisions of the Tasmanian Act, and Senators Macfarlane and Dobson will be able to say whether any request for its repeal has ever been made by those interested in the fruit industry.
– No; because it is a dead letter, except as to branding.
– It has transpired during the course of the debate that the State -Act provides for what is proposed to be provided by this Bill. The difference between the legislation to which the fruitgrowers of Tasmania are subject now, and that to which they will be subject if this Bill is passed as it stands, is veryslight. Under the Tasmanian Act, the exporters are compelled to put their names er registered Brands on their cases, in order that each may be identified, and in the event of their applying a false trade decription to their goods, they are liable to prosecution. We are told that this law has never been put into operation. I suppose that is because there has been no necessity for it.
– I believe that last year there was not a single bad shipment.
– Exactly; and Senator Dobson, by his interjection, has answered his own objection to the legislation here proposed. I admit the sin’cerity of the desire of my honorable colleagues from Tasmania that the great fruit trade of that State shall not be harassed or interfered with by this legislation. They are afraid that under this Bill an inspector may be able to say to a shipper, “You shall grade your fruit.” It must be admitted that Senator Playford has had something to do with the exportation of fruit, and with its sale in England. We have that honorable senator’s assurance that no sane man occupying the position of the Minister administering this law would frame such a regulation as would permit his inspectors to unduly harass any shipper. We must come to that conclusion, because we know that if it could be shown that a regulation resulted in injury to shippers, it would be at once swept away by Parliament. In this, as in every other case, the Minister must be given some discretion in the framing of regulations. I do not believe that there will be the slightest danger that the fruit industry of Tasmania, or any other portion of the Commonwealth, will be unduly harassed, if we permit this Bill to pass. Even if Senator Dobson could include clause 5 within the scope of the amendment, I do not believe it would provide any greater safeguard for the shippers of fruit. Honorable senators must conclude that no inspector will be so utterly foolish as to do anything that will unduly harass exporters, unless he has reason to believe that an attempt is being made, by means of false trade descriptions, to foist an inferior article on the consumer. Senator Macfarlane will admit that where that is done, it can only result in injury to the interests of the honest exporter. I have come to the conclusion that I can fairly vote against the amendment. I feel satisfied that, after the discussion, Senator Dobson does not now believe that any great injury is likely to be clone to the fruitgrowing industry of Tasmania by this legislation. I am as anxious as any honorable senator can be, that this fruit industry shall attain the proportions it promises to attain in the near future, not only in my own State, but in every State in the Commonwealth. I am as deeply sensible of the value of the industry to Tasmania as any other honorable senator can be. I do not propose to vote against the amendment out of any consideration of loyalty to the Government, but because I feel that I can safely do so without the. slightest risk of danger to the producers of fruit in Tasmania.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).Having already spoken once on the amendment, I have only a word or two to say now. Senator Keating has referred to the Tasmanian Act, and I have said that it is virtually a dead-letter. The honorable and learned senator spoke of branding as being compulsory under that Act, but I can inform honorable senators, from personal knowledge, that, in nine cases out of ten, the branding consists merely of the initials of the shipper of the fruit. He requires to have a mark on his packages, just as a man requires to mark his luggage, and this marking is not done because the law requires it.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- I quite acknowledge the justice of the criticism offered by Senator Keating that, as we have not coupled clause 5 with clause 15, my amendment will not achieve all that I intended. I desire to acknowledge my obligation to Senator Playford for permitting the reconsideration of the clause. I am prepared to take a division on the amendment at once, if no other honorable senator desires to speak. I think, however, that Senator Macfarlane is quite right in saying that, to all intents and purposes, the Tasmanian Act is a dead-letter. I feel somewhat aggrieved that Senator Playford, whenever he attempts to reply to any arguments of mine, should make use of statements which are inaccurate. The honorable senator said something about desiring to prevent hundreds of cases of apples alive with the codl in moth being exported to the old country.
– I did not allude specially to Tasmania, but to Australia.
– Then the honorable senator referred to the red scale in oranges, which, he said, did enormous harm to New South Wales growers, which this Bill will prevent. When I asked the honorable senator whether there are any Pest Acts in force in England, he admitted that there are not. After leading honorable senators to suppose that there is some danger of codlin moth apples and red-scale oranges being rejected when exported to the old country, the honorable senator admits that there is nothing in his argument at all.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I desire to effect a little improvement in the wording of sub-clause a, which I regard as not very satisfactory. In the other sub-clause the articles themselves are mentioned, but in paragraph a there is the possibility of the intention being misunderstood. By the use of the words “used in the manufacture or preparation” the subclause is not confined to the raw material used, but may be read as including, for instance the machinery required in the preparation of food or drink. Owing to the looseness of the wording, a number of articles may be included which there is no intention to include. I shall therefore submit an amendment more in accordance with the clearer expressions used in paragraph d. I move -
That paragraph a be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following : - “ (a) Food or drink, and articles from which food or drink is manufactured or prepared.”
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia- - Minister of Defence). - I shall have to oppose the amendment, which I do not regard as any clearer than the words already used. The amendment is certainly briefer, but it is liable to the same objection which the honorable senator raises to the subclause as it stands, inasmuch as it affords the possibility of including machinery, I certainly did not consent to the reconsideration of the clause for the purpose of making purely verbal alterations, but in order to enable some of my honorable friends to submit really important amendments.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I am glad that the Minister has spoken in that way, because I fancy he has rather “fallen in.” If the honorable senator refers to paragraph d he will see that the word “from” is used, and I adopted the same word in drafting the proposed new paragraph a.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - Paragraph d has a great deal of iniquity wrapped up in it. After the Minister of Trade and Customs had made an explicit promise - after he had entered into acomplete understanding with a deputation - that the Bill would be practically confined to articles of food and drink, and medicine, he, at an early hour one morning, allowed an extreme and extravagant extension of this clause. I cannot say that I am extremely sanguine as to the success of an amendment, but as an expression of my disapproval, and as a protest, I move -
That paragraph d be left out.
Clause agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the report to be at once received.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ Message) :
Clause 8 (Determination of number of members of House of Representatives).
Senate’s amendment. - After clause 8, insert the following new clause : - “8a. The Chief Electoral Officer shall, immediately after the issue of the foregoing certificate, determine the number of Members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States in the following manner.”
House of Representatives’ message. - Omit “ following,” and after “ manner,” insert “ hereinafter mentioned.”
– The first amendment made by the House of Representatives is merely a verbal one, which in no way alters the principle of the amendment which the Seriate affirmed. Instead of saying “ following manner,” the amendment says, in the manner “ hereinafter mentioned.” The amendment is in conformity with the general drafting of the Bill. I move -
That the House of Representatives’ amendment be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 9 (Determination of representation of the States) -
Senate’s amendment. - After clause 9, insert the following new clause : - “9a. The Chief Electoral Officer shall forth with . . . make and forward to the Minister a certificate setting forth the number of Members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States.
House of Representatives’ message. - Omit “ certificate,” insert “ notification.”
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - The second amendment’ ‘ made by the House of Representatives in clause 9A is also of a drafting character, and does not interfere with the principle enunciated by the Senate. In place of the word “ certificate, “ which we inserted, it substitutes the word “ notification.” The amendment has a less technical signification, and is, I think, a desirable one. I move -
That the House of Representatives’ amendment be agreed to.
– On- the whole, I agree with the Minister in what he has said, but’ for all that I think that the word “certificate,” under the circumstances, would have been more suitable than the word “notification.” The word substituted by the House of Representatives is’ rather a poor one. The Chief Electoral’ Officer may write a post-card or a note to the Minister giving the results of the inquiry, but in the Bill sent by us tothe House of Representatives he was required to send a certificate, which is a much more important document. The alteration may not be sufficiently important to warrant us in dissenting from what the House of Representatives has done, but still I think that the substituted word is weak. Though I am willing to agree to it, in my judgment it is a mistake.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This -is a Bill which, though small in its dimensions, is of very great importance. It will npt require more than two or three minutes to explain it. The intention is that in the printing of our Statutes, any amendments made by means of amending Acts shall be incorporated in subsequent prints. That principle was followed in connexion with the amending Defence Act last year. It will be remembered that we passed a Defence Act a couple of years ago, and subsequently amended it. For the purpose of facilitating reference to the law as it stands,’ the Government Printer has printed the original Act, and with it the amending sections, so that the whole law appears continuously in the one document. Where sections have been deleted by amending legislation, they do not appear in the subsequent print. Of course, however, steps of that kind might be misleading in some instances, unless proper precautions were taken. Accordingly
Ave provide in this Bill that where any Act has been amended by the repeal or omission or substitution or insertion of words or figures, then, in the reprint of the Act, the Government Printer shall print it accordingly. But to guard against any misconception or misleading that might be occa sioned in reference to any reprint of an Act, the Bill provides that references shall be made in the margin or in the foot-notes to the enactment by which each amendment is made. So that if any one, in reading the Act, wishes to know whether the particular section which he is reading appears in the original Act, or is the result of an amending Act, the marginal note or footnote will show him at once. We have also provided in a subsequent provision, in which I shall have to make a verbal amendment, that -
On all copies issued by the Government Printer of any Act which has before or after the commencement of this Act been amended a short reference to every Act by which it has been amended shall be made on the first page of .each copy issued.
So that anybody will be able to take up the copy of an Act and see at once the original provisions of the Act, together with amendments and additions, without the provisions which have been deleted by subsequent legislation. On the face of the Act itself there will be an indication to the reader, either in a marginal note or footnote, so that if any individual wishes to consult the piece of legislation which formed the original of the print before him, he will have an opportunity to do so. This will facilitate reference and make our law more easily available, not only to persons who are not engaged in the legal profession, but to those who practise the law or are engaged in the work of legislation. I think it is very desirable that a measure of this kind should be placed upon the statutebook. I may mention that in 1903, in Queensland, it was found desirable to make provision of this character, and that was done in an Acts Interpretation Act. Honorable senators may notice that the Bill before them contains a reference to that Statute. I think that the experience of honorable senators in consulting, Acts will have convinced them of the desirableness of such a measure, so that when any amending Act is passed the Government Printer may. in subsequent prints show the amending sections with the original provisions. I may mention that in the Electoral Bill which we recently had before us, we passed a provision enabling the Government Printer to incorporate the amending sections in any new print of the law. What has been done in connexion with the Electoral Act, and also what has been done without statutory direction, by the Government Printer in connexion with the Defence Act, will, under this Bill, be done in connexion with. all. our legislation.
– I congratulate the Government on bringing forward this Bill. A good many of us have discovered how difficult it is to ascertain the law on any subject in consequence of frequent amendments of Statutes. This seems to me to be a practical, common-sense measure, and I thoroughly approve of it.
– The Bill is undoubtedly entitled to the praise given to it. I only wish it went a little bit further. I point out that in connexion with a measure which we have been discussing for some days past there is a clause incorporating it. with the Customs Act. We have in the two measures provisions which to some extent are counterparts one of another, but which nevertheless vary in some respects. For instance, the clause of the Commerce Bill relating to aiding and abetting offences is nearly word for word the same as a section of the Customs Act, except that the word “ knowingly “ has been added. That is an important addition to the law. There are, therefore, in two measures which are incorporated two provisions, one more drastic than the other. It would be desirable, in reprinting those Acts in the future, to make references to show that the two measures taken together are really one. I could give the Senate several illustrations of the differences between the clauses of the Commerce Bill and the sections of the Customs Act. As those measures are incorporated, I think that point might very well be considered bv Ministers, who are responsible for simplifying our legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 amended (on motion by Senator Keating), and agreed to, as follows : -
There shall be printed upon the first page of every copy issued by the Government Printer of any Act which has before or after the commencement of this Act been amended, a short reference to every Act by which it has been amended.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Senate adjourned at xo.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051115_senate_2_29/>.