2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
POST AND TELEGRAPH DEPARTMENT.
Conviction of an Officer.
Senator STEWART. - I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, the following questions : -
Is it the case that an officer of the General Division, Post and Telegraph Department, Brisbane, was convicted of larceny in February last, or some time during the present year, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment - sentence being suspended under the First Offenders Probation Act?
If so, on what date was he sentenced?
Was he under suspension at date of conviction; if not, on what date was he suspended?
Washe dismissed on conviction ; if not, why not?
On what date was he dismissed ?
Was he on duty at any period between the dates of conviction and dismissal ; and, if so, for how long?
Were any payments made to him after conviction ; and, if so, what were the amounts ?
For what reason were these payments made ?
Senator KEATING. - Last week I asked the honorable senator to defer the asking of these questions until the information had been supplied to the Department. The answers are as follow : -
14th February, 1905.
He was not under suspension when convicted, but was suspended on 26th June, 1905.
No. Because summary conviction was not deemed to entail forfeiture of office.
3rd August, 1905.
No. 7.£83 5s. 3d. was paid to him in September, 1905, as salary from 27th January, 1905, to 26th June, 1905.
Because a claim was made for payment of salary, and the Department was advised thathe was legally entitled to be paid to the date of his suspension.
Senator DOBSON. - Arising out of that reply, I desire to ask whether it is a fact that the summary conviction of a public officer for larceny does not entail the forfeiture of office?
Senator KEATING. - I am not in a position to say whether it does or does not. I would refer the honorable and learned senator to the answer given to the fourth question. I do not know whether there has’ been a reversal of the opinion which was then held.
Senator Dobson. - The sooner the law is altered the better, I should think.
Senator Stewart. - The man got£80 for doing nothing ! It is a scandal.
Senator HIGGS.- I desire to ask the leader of the Senate, without notice, whether he will be good enough to ascertain what is the view of the Prime Minister concerning the case of the six typists employed on Hansard before the Estimates are considered in Committee?
The PRESIDENT.- I would point out to the honorable senator that under the Public Service Act these typists are under the control of the President and Speaker.
Senator HIGGS. - Will you, sir, inform the Senate what the Prime Minister’s view is?
The PRESIDENT.-Ido not know what the Prime Minister’s view is, but I know what the opinion of the President and Speaker is, and that is that no alteration in the present system ought to be made.
BRITISH NEW GUINEA.
Senator HIGGS. - I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has observed that, in replying to my inquiries yesterday, he did not furnish answers to the following question: -
The names of the members of the British New Guinea Executive Council?
The names of the members of the British New Guinea Executive Council who were present at the meeting at which Mr. Richmond’s suspension was confirmed ?
Were the members of the Council unanimous in confirming the suspension of Mr. Richmond?
On what date were the papers in connexion with Mr. Richmond’s case submitted by the Federal Government to a Board of Inquiry?
When does the Executive expect to receive a report? .
As this matter concerns the administration of British New Guinea, will the Government endeavour to obtain a report from the Board before asking the Senate to pass the New Guinea Estimates?
Senator PLAYFORD. - I believe that I gave a general reply, in which it was stated that this matter is sub judice. I gave the names of the persons composing the Board to which the case has been referred for trial. I did not answer the other questions specifically, because the matter was being inquired into; but if the honorable senator desires to get that information, it will be furnished, if he gives notice of the questions, unless some good reason to the contrary is given by the Department.
Senator HIGGS. - I beg to give notice of the question.
Message received from the House of Representatives, stating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendments in this Bill.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of that reply, I wish to ask whether these telegraphists were all male employes, or whether they included any female employes ?
– I am not in a position to say. I think that they were nearly all male employes; probably I can find out during the afternoon, if the honorable and learned senator desires to know.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Commonwealth Representative on the Pacific Cable Board to favorably consider a scheme for pooling receipts with the Eastern Extension Company?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the reply, I wish to ask if the PostmasterGeneral is not aware of the names of the representatives of the Commonwealth on the Board ?
– In his question, the honorable senator asked for the names of the various members of the Board. If he will give notice of any particular information which he desires, it will be obtained.
– Arising out of that answer, I desire to ask whether the PostmasterGeneral cannot supply the names of the two representatives of the Commonwealth, even if he cannot furnish the names of those who represent other Governments?
– I do not know whether the Postmaster-General can supply this information, but I cannot. I understand that very recently there have been some changes in the personnel of the Board. I can ascertain for the honorable senator the namesof the two representatives of the Commonwealth.
– I do not blame the honorable and learned senator for not being able to answer my question at the present moment. I now ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice - 1.Has the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company been granted the use of a special telegraph line between Melbourne and Sydney ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator Higgs) agreed to -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the last statement of accounts received from the British Treasury by the PostmasterGeneral concerning the Pacific cable.
– I move -
That notice of motion No. 3, private business, standing in the name of Senator Lt.-Col. Neild, be read and discharged, and made an order of the day for the 21st December.
– I wish to inquire whether the postponment of the motion, standing in the name of Senator Neild, will deprive me of the right of proceeding with the motion standing in my name for the 30th November, with reference to the Public Service Classification.
– The question of the anticipation of debate on a notice of motion has been under the consideration of the Standing Orders Committee for some time. Various members of the Committee have suggested alterations, but none of them has been considered to be satisfactory. In fact, it is rather a difficult question. At the last meeting of the Standing Orders Committee, which I called to consider it, I had no quorum, and, therefore, was unable to proceed. The motion referred to by Senator Smith would have to be taken under the present rules of the Senate, but I am inclined to give a very liberal interpretation to them, because I recognise that an honorable senator, by putting a notice of motion on the paper, and postponing it, may be able to block the consideration of the subject to which his motion refers. Therefore, I do not propose to rule that Senator Smith’s motion is out of order.
– Do I understand that you will permit the discussion on the motion to which I have referred to proceed?
– Yes, it has already been debated. A motion can be proceeded with when once it has been moved.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
I beg to ask the leave of the Senate to amend my motion by adding the following words : -
That the Parliament should provide that the State of South Australiashall not suffer any loss by reason of the Federal Executive giving effect to the foregoing resolution.
Motion amended accordingly.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - In submitting this motion, I wish to say that I am not in any way personally interested, except in the same manner as any representative public man or any citizen of the Commonwealth may be said to be concerned in securing reliable cheap submarine telegraphy for the use of the people of the Commonwealth. The subject of this motion, which concerns two rival cables, was brought prominently before the Senate at the end of the last Parliament, towards the conclusion of the year 1903. At that time an agreement with the Eastern Extension Company was being pressed through. Parliament by the Government led by Sir Edmund Barton. It was being pressed through in defiance of protestations on the part of various persons interested in the Pacific Cable. The agreement had passed the House of Representatives, but when it came to the Senate it was held up by those of us who objected to the agreement, and by those1 who thought that before any agreement was arrived at with the Eastern Extension Company the various partners in the ownership of the Pacific Cable should be heard at the Conference which it was proposed to hold. For the information of the honorable senators who were not present during those debates I may have, to traverse some of the grounds which were covered during the discussion in T903. The Eastern Extension Company represents a) .combination of associated companies which ‘are engaged in telegraphic transmission between England, Australia, and other countries. The lines of the company comprise (1) the BritishIndian extension from Madras to Singapore with a share capital of ,£450,000 ; (2) the British-Australasian from, Singapore to Australia with a share capital of £ 540,000 ; and (3) the China Submarine from Singapore to Hong Kong and Shanghai, with a share capital of .£525,000. The combined share capital amounts to £1,520,000, which was, on the amalgamation of the company, increased to .£1,997,500, not by the introduction of fresh capital, but by the well-known process of watering. The company paid until lately 9 per cent, on the share capital, but owing to the watering process, it is paying 7 per cent, on the enlarged capital. The Eastern Extension Company is specially interested in blocking, and rendering a financial failure, the State-owned Pacific Cable j because the cables in which the principal shareholders of the Eastern Extension Company are interested, extend almost throughout the world. Sir John Bennison Pender, who is the chairman of directors of the Eastern Extension Company, is also a director of a dozen other different telegraph companies. Sir John Wolff Barry, Sir Alfred Kepple, and the Marquis of Tweeddale, who are directors of the Eastern Extension Company, are also directors of various other telegraph companies. If the Pacific Cable is a financial success, Governments in other parts of. the world, whose people now have to pay exorbitant rates and charges, will be disposed to follow Australia’s example, and have constructed State-owned cables, or buy out the existing companies. If, on the other hand, the Pacific Cable is a financial failure, then any proposal that is made to construct a State-owned cable in any other part of the world will be at once scouted. The Pacific Cable_ is a State-owned submarine telegraph line laid down in the Pacific Ocean from Australia to Vancouver in Canada. It was owned, prior to the Federation of Australia, by six Governments, under the British flag. The Imperial Parliament, in July, 1901, passed an Act authorizing the raising of a loan of £2,000,000 towards the cost of constructing the cable, and the six British Governments referred to undertook to repay this money, with interest thereon, maintenance, and other charges, in the following proportions : - United Kingdom, 5-18ths ; Canada, 5-18ths ; New Zealand, 2- 18ths ; Victoria, 2- 18ths ; New South Wales, 2 -I 8ths ; and Queensland, 2-I 8ths. Since the establishment of the Federation of Australia, of course the Commonwealth Government has taken the place of the Governments of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. It will be seen, therefore, that the difference between the two schemes is indicated by the fact that the Pacific Cable is owned by the people of the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, whilst the Eastern Extension Company’s property ‘ is owned by shareholders who may be British today, but may be American, German, French, or Russian to-morrow, the shares of the company being transferable. The literature of the fight between these two schemes - that is, between the promoters of the Pacific Cable and the Eastern Extension Company - is of a most romantic and thrilling character, at times raising to the highest pitch of enthusiasm the hopes of those who are friends of the Pacific route, and again depressing them to the lowest depths of angry despair. On the other hand, to the friends of the Eastern Extension Company the literature must be a source of exultant delight, owing to the display of great intelligence and ability on the part of the managers of that company. These gentlemen seem to have been able to move the British Government to a considerable degree. In fact, they have been able to move all parties, from the British Government and1 the Admiralty downwards. They were so successful that they actually delayed the construction of the Pacific Cable for a period of twenty years. Sir Sandford Fleming, who, in 1880, was engineerinchief of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and who is described as a man of means, leisure, and attainments, may be said to be the father of the Pacific Cable.. The author of the All Red Line - a book to which I am indebted for a great deal of information - credits him with “ unselfish, unbegrudged, and unpaid-for labours.” Sir Sandford Fleming, in 1880, gathered a great deal of information regarding the proposed Pacific Cable, and placed it before the Canadian Parliament. Interest was awakened, but nothing practical was accomplished. But a favorable opportunity presented itself for opening communications with the different Colonial Governments i 111 1886, when an Indian and Colonial Exhibition was held in’ London. The Canadian Government took up the matter of the Pacific Cable. A meeting of Agents -General was held, but they declared that they could do nothing until they received instructions from their Governments. The Imperial Government, at this stage, gave no help whatever. Its view was that, although it might be a very good thing to construct a Pacific Cable, the Colonies themselves should undertake the work, and bear the whole of the responsibility. If this were done, the British Government could see no harm in the project ; indeed, it might even be a good thing ; but it would take no part in the work. A year later, in 1887, the Jubilee Imperial Conference was held, and was attended byrepresentatives of Canada, Newfoundland, New! South Wales, Tasmania, Cape of Good Hope, South Australia, New Zealand, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and Japan, and by many gentlemen prominent in British politics. The president of that Conference at once threw cold water on the Pacific Cable scheme, but Sir Sandford Fleming, who had be.in long waiting, secured an opportunity to place arguments in favour of the proposal before the delegates. Sir Sandford Fleming said -
It is only necessary to look at the telegraph map of the world to see how dependent on foreign powers Great Britain is at this moment (1887) for the security of its telegraphic communication with Asia, Australia, and Africa. In fact, it may be said that the telegraphic communication between the Home Government and every important division of the Empire, except Canada, is dependent on the friendship - shall I say the protection - of Turkey? Is not Turkey continually exposed to imminent danger from within? Is she not in danger of falling a prey to covetous neighbours, whose friendship to England may be doubted.
Sir Sandford Fleming dealt wilh the opposition shown to the Pacific Cable scheme by the Eastern! Extension Telegraph Company. It may be mentioned that the president had laid before the Conference certain letters and statements from the chairman of that company, which were directed to showing that the proposed Pacific Cable would be a failure. In the first place, the chairman of the Eastern Extension Cable Company pointed out that, on physical grounds, such a cable was impracticable. It would be interesting to ascertain how Sir John Pender was able to play such a prominent part in a public Imperial Conference of that character. The reason, however, may be ascertained from an extract from his letter which was sent to the president of the Conference, and in which he said -
Our system is now very much in touch with Her Majesty’s Government, and we have letters from the Foreign Office to the effect that whenever discussion is to take place in regard to submarine telegraphs, we shall have full information on the subject, and representation during such Conference.
That letter may be seen in the proceedings of the Colonial Conference of 1887, on page 124. Mr. Patey, an, assistant secretary of the Post and Telegraph Department of Great Britain, whose duty it was to specially look after telegraphs, and who attended the Conference in an advisory capacity, supported Sir John Pender by saying that if the Pacific Cable were to be constructed, it would be necessary for the work to be carried down in places to a depth of from 11,000 to 12,000 fathoms, or between eleven and twelve miles. The greatest depth at which it was subsequently found necessary to lay the Pacific Cable was from three or four miles. How close the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company was in touch with Her Majesty’s Government in Great Britain at that time, I propose to show later on. The friends of the Pacific Cable were unsuccessful at the Conference of 1887. Neither the British Government nor the Admiralty wasfavorable to the proposal; they held that before such a line was constructed there would have to be a survey. The friends of the Pacific Cable had to agree that, perhaps, after all, a survey was necessary, and they asked the British Admiralty to carry out the work. The Admiralty, however, placed all kinds of obstacles in the way, stating that a steamer could not be spared for the work. The Canadian Government offered a vessel, but the offer was not accepted by the Admiralty ; then Sir Sandford Fleming and a friend expressed their willingness to undertake the expense. Again the Admiralty would have nothing to do with the proposal. In March, 1888, the Governor of Victoria cabled to the British Colonial Secretary, stating that at the Postal Conference, held in Sydney, and attended by the representatives of the Colo nies, a resolution had been passed .asking the Admiralty to make a survey, and suggesting that the expense should be borne by the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australasia. But Her Majesty’s Government in Britain at that time would have nothing to do with the proposal until, as they said, there was sufficient prospect of the money being forthcoming for the construction of the cable if a survey were made. Acting under pressure, however, the Admiralty agreed to make a survey, and offered that a vessel, called the Egeria, which had to do certain work in the Pacific, would incidentally make a survey for the purposes of the cable. By this offer the friends of the Pacific Cable were mollified, and, though they felt that some years must elapse before the survey was completed, they were satisfied at what appeared1 to be something like a practical proposal. For some time they asked no questions, but at the end of a few years they began to inquire for the report of the survey. They were then informed that the ship had been taken off the survey some years before. No explanation was given - -the reply was that the vessel had been -withdrawn.
– That vessel was employed in a part of the survey.
– The promoters of the Pacific Cable then turned their attention to another Conference, which, seven years later, in 1894, was held at Ottawa. In the interval nothing had been done except bv the promoters themselves, in the way of gathering information which would help to persuade the general public to fall in with the idea of an All-Red or Empire cable. After considerable discussion at the Conference of 1894, a resolution was carried, on the motion of Mr. A. J. Thynne, the representative of Queensland, requesting Canada to make all the necessary inquiries, and generally to take such steps as might be expedient to ascertain the cost of constructing the proposed cable. Canada undertook the work ; and, as a result of advertisements in newspapers, quite a number of practical prominent business men, accustomed to the construction of submarine telegraphs, were found to be willing to tender for the work without any preliminary survey whatever. As a consequence of the work done by Canada, and by the friends of the Pacific Cable, Mr. Chamberlain appointed an Imperial Pacific Cable Committee, which met in London in June. 1896, and heard evidence both for and ‘ against the proposal. The Eastern Extension Telegraph Company’s witnesses - or people who were either openly or secretly in favour of that company - got in some “very fine work” before the Committee. They held that it would be a physical impossibility to construct a cable, and that, if it turned out to be possible, it would cost ^3,000.000, and its work would be too slow to be of any practical use. Prominent witnesses like Mr. Preece, who was a high official in the British Post Office, said that the cable could not be expected to carry a greater number of paying letters than would amount to 3.5 words per minute ; and Mr. Hesse, who represented the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, expressed the opinion that the cable would not be able to carry more than two paving words per minute. The Eastern Extension Telegraph Company held that if the Pacific Cable were constructed, it would have to be duplicated at the earliest possible moment. But the duplication of the cable would have meant no cable at all. When, later, the friends of the Pacific Cable, in order to meet the so-called argument in favour of duplication, proposed that there should be extensions from Western Australia to the Cape of Good Hope, and thence to Barbadoes, and from that island to Nova1 Scotia, or direct to England - so that the duplicate cable might* be earning money instead of in iT idle - the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company stepped in, and proceeded to lay a cable across the Indian Ocean, between Australia and the Cape of Good Hope. Prior to the proposal to construct a Pacific Cable, the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company had asked for a subsidy of about £100,000, and a guarantee from the Governments of Australia; but as soon as the suggestion I have referred to was made by the friends of the Pacific Cable, the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company undertook to construct a line without either subsidy or guarantee. Another piece of evidence in favour of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company was given before the Imperial Cable Committee, by Captain Goodall, the commander of the company’s steamer Chiltern. Captain Goodall stated that he considered an accurate survey absolutely necessary, and that soundings in that part of the world should not be more than five miles apart; that it would be far more satisfactory in every way for the soundings to be not more than one or two miles apart. Honorable senators may have some idea of what the work would mean if a survey steamer had to take soundings, at every two miles from Vancouver to Australia. The number of soundings that had to be made by the Telegraph Construction Company, which undertook to lay the Pacific Cable, amounted to no more than twenty, throughout the whole of the distance. I may mention, at this stage, another instance of the extraordinary influence that the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company had, and still have. When Sir Sandford Fleming was studying the map in an endeavour to discover landing places for the cable, he noticed Neckar Island, which is a barren rock in mid-Pacific.
– It is not far from Honolulu.
– It is some 300 or 400 miles from Honolulu, and is absolutely incapable of supporting any kind of life. Sir Sandford Fleming thought that the island would make an. excellent landing sta/tion. and he urged the British Government to annex it, as nobody seemed to own the place. But he could get no satisfaction from the British Government. When he was conversing with a British officer, whose opinion he had . sought, the officer asked him whether he knew how the British Government .got hold of the island of Perim. It appeared, from the statement of the officer to Sir Sandford Flemming, that- a French officer had been sent to annex Perim on behalf of. France. That officer made a stay at Aden, where he was generously and hospitably entertained by the British Resident, who discovered the mission of his guest. The story is public property, so that there can be no harm in repeating it. The British Resident, while he entertained the French officer, sent a Britisher to plant the flag of Britain on the island, and when the Frenchman got there he found ‘the British already in possession. The lesson of the story to Sir Sandford Fleming was that if he desired to have Necker Island annexed for the purposes of the Pacific Cable, the best course would be to have the British flag planted at once; and with that object in view, he made an arrangement with an old British officer. In the meantime, Sir Sandford Fleming had written to Sir Charles Tupper the Canadian Commissioner, who, on receipt of the letter, deemed it to be his duty to inform the British Government as to what was taking place. Lord Rosebery, who was then in power, was very much annoyed at the action which had been taken, and declared that the island belonged to the Hawaiin Government. Whether it did or not, the fact is that some member of the British Cabinet must have informed the Hawaiian Government what was contemplated, and on- 16th May. 1904, some months after Sir Sandford Fleming proposed the annexation’ of the island, the Hawaiian Government sent a steamer down and planted their flag there. Then the British Government had to appeal to the Hawaiian Government to allow them to land the Pacific Cable there. The Hawaiian Government had, in their turn, to appeal to the United States, and the United States Government refused permission, with the result that the Pacific Cable had afterwards to be landed at Fanning Island, at an additional cost to this country, and the other partners in the cable, of some ^50,000. However, the evidence in favour of the Pacific Cable was sostrong that the Imperial Cable Committeereported, in 1897, in favour of its construction, and negotiations were opened upwith a. view to a partnership. The contract for the construction of the cable was let on behalf of the six British Governments, and’ the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company undertook to lay the PacificCable at a cost of ^1,795,000. which was more than ‘^1,000,000 less than the est mate given by the British postal authorities. The cable was opened for traffic on Friday, 31st October, 1902. When it was completed, congratulatory messages were exchanged by various gentlemen in high office- in England, Australia, and other parts of the Empire. Amongst others, Mr. Chamberlain cabled across to Canada -
Your great ideal has united the Empire. In the words of the Canadian poet : - “ Unite the Empire - make it stand compact,
Shoulder to shoulder let its members feel
The touch of British brotherhood, and act
As one great nation, strong and true as steel.”
The Right Honorable Sir Edmund Barton sent his congratulations on the completion of the cable in these words -
I trust that the connexion, and with it the community of feeling and interest, between the sister Dominions, may strengthen them and the whole Empire.
These hopes and congratulations were shared by many people throughout the Commonwealth, and Sir Sandford Fleming and the other friends of the Pacific Cable might well have been content to cry “ Success!” but the ever- watchful Eastern Extension Company had been at work. This monopoly - for it was a monopoly - charged 9s. 4d. per word prior to the proposals made for the construction of the Pacific Cable, and reduced the rate only in order to block that cable. Before reducing the rate, it persuaded the various Australian Governments to give it a subsidy of £50,000 a year. This monopoly induced a Postmaster-General of New South Wales, named W. P. Crick, to consent to an agreement which was to be terminable only by mutual consent.
– How did they induce him?
– Giving the Eastern Extension Company the same rights and privileges throughout New South Wales as would be given to the Pacific Cable Company.
– The Eastern Extension Company say that Mr. Crick suggested that clause.
– What does the honorable senator think about it?
– I produced some papers to that effect.
– I do not propose to discuss Mr. Crick.
– That was the last of the four agreements signed, and not the first.
– Since the honorable senator has referred to the question, I should say that if Mr. Crick could be got to sign such an agreement, he could be got to furnish any number of suggestions.
– Did the honorable s enator call him “ Mr. Crook “ ?
– This agreement was s igned - and I venture to think it is illegal on that account - sixteen days after, the in- auaguration of the Commonwealth. It was signed on the 16th January, 1901, after Federation had been proclaimed, and when the Post and Telegraph Department, along with other departments, were to be transferred to the Commonwealth on a date to be fixed by proclamation.
– They were under the States until March.
– They were, but surely any person who knew that New South Wales was a partner in the Pacific Cable, that she had undertaken to repay her portion of the £2,000,000 lent, and her share of the cost of maintenance, interest on construction, and charges of the Pacific Cable, should have hesitated after the proclamation of Federation about signing an agreement giving the opponent company the same rights as the Pacific Cable Company in the State of New South Wales ?
– Does the honorable senator know whether the New South Wales Cabinet saw or sanctioned the agreement?
– I cannot say that, but it was probably sanctioned by the Government of New South Wales. I understand that it was very nearly being agreed to if it was not actually signed by the PostmasterGeneral of Victoria at the time.
– It was signed in Victoria.
– There was a great deal of pressure by press and public in Victoria to induce the Postmaster-General of this State to follow Mr. Crick’s example.
– I understand that the agreement was actually signed in Victoria, but Sir George Turner’s Cabinet refused to ratify it. Senator Keating says that there was a good deal of pressure on the part of press and public in Victoria.
– On the part of the press and the commercial public.
– Perhaps this is a convenient place to refer to that.
– The New South Wales Cabinet appear to have ratified it.
– Yes, they did.
– In view of Senator Keating’s reference to the pressure ofthe Victorian press, I may remind honorable senators that in a letter which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of11th January, 1904, Sir Sandford Fleming said -
Long before the Pacific Cable was completed, the astute Eastern Extension Company, alive to its own interests, took time by the forelock, and made contracts with the leading newspapers of the Commonwealth, for the exclusive supply of press cablegrams. These contracts extend over a number of years.
It is easy to understand why so many paragraphs and articles appear in some of the p rincipal daily newspapers of the Commonwealth in favour of the Eastern Extension Company, whenwe learn that there is an arrangement between the company and the proprietors of those newspapers with regard to the supply of press news. It is because of this agreement we find in the daily press statements like the following, which appeared in the Argus of 27th July, 1903-
The Eastern Extension Company conducts its business on commercial lines. It supplies forms free of charge; it facilitates repetitions, and recognises its position as the servant of the public, instead of assuming that of an autocrat.
It is interesting to note the description “the servant of the public, instead of assuming that of an autocrat,” when we remember that, prior to the promotion ofthe Pacific Cable, the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company charged a rate of 9s. 4d. per word. The public then could get no reduction, because the company was adamant, and assumed the position of an autocrat. Here is another paragraph which appeared in the Argus of 6th January, 1 903-
The Pacific cable service has hardly been in existence for a month, but it has broken down several times.
There have been suggestions also that the Pacific Cable Company does not transmit messages as expeditiously as does the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company.
– The Pacific Cable have the world’s record.
– Honorable senators will probably remember that the other day, in answering a question, Senator Keating, on behalf of the Postmaster-General, made a statement that a telegram handed in at the Sydney Cricket Ground reached London in three and a-half minutes. The Age newspaper also has taken a prominent part in condemning the Pacific Cable. Leading articles have been published in its columns dwelling upon the loss arising from the cable each year, and declaring that it is a white elephant, which costs annually a huge sum to maintain. The Argus of the 27th July, 1903, contained the statement -
The Australian States, in committing themselves to sharing the loss, made a very bad bargain indeed.
These newspapers have not told the public that prior to the establishment of the Pacific Cable - take, for example, the year 1891-2 - the Australian States were paying in the way of subsidies and guarantees to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company no less than £59,920. This sum was paid by the five States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia. In 1892-3 subsidies and guarantees amounting to £53,363, were paid by the five States mentioned. In considering the loss at the present time of some £30,000 per annum on the PacificCable, which is met by the three States of Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales, it should be bonne in mind that prior to the completion of that cable the States of the Commonwealth were losing some £50,000 a year in the way of subsidies and. guarantees to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, besides paying a higher rate per word. The agreement, which was signed by W. P. Crick, after all only gives a right to do business in New South Wales. It might be interminable, as is claimed by some friends of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and by others who say that it should be renewed in some form or other.
– It is terminable only by mutual consent.
– I suppose that Senator Drake means by that that theEastern Extension Telegraph Company will never give its consent to terminate the agreement?
– I do not meant hat at all. I mean to say that it cannot be terminated without their consent.
– That is to say, it will never be terminated unless the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company are given valuable consideration.
– Quite so.
– Although this agreement was signed by the New South Wales Government, the Pacific Cable was still safe, because we had Victoria and Queensland’ as exclusive preserves for the operations of the Pacific Cable Company. But Sir Edmund Barton, the leader of the first Commonwealth Government - to my mind, very weakly - signed a provisional agreement which was said to take the place of this interminable agreement, and which was to give the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company the same rights and privileges as the Pacific Cable Company throughout the Commonwealth of Australia.
– But for a limited term. That is the whole point.
– Senator Drake, in his place in the Senate, has said that it was for a limited term of ten or twelve years, but other legal members of the Barton Government perused the agreement, and in their speeches induced the Parliament to believe that that provisional agreement was to take the place of the so-called -interminable agreement made with New South Wales.
– It supersedes it.
– There is not a line in that extraordinary document - that jumble of words which ought to have been put before the Senate in the form of a Bill - to say that, at the end of ten or twelve years, the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company shall cease doing business in Australia.
– Why should it?
– That question gives the whole case away.
– Would it be a disadvantage?
– I feel sure that it would not be a disadvantage, as I shall point out when dealing with the question of State-owned versus privately-owned telegraphy.
– We should get competition between the two lines.
– What an attitude the Barton Government must have taken up towards the Pacific Cable ‘Company, when they were prepared to allow the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company to go into Victoria and Queensland and enjoy the same rights and privileges as the other company for a period of twelve years, and then, after all that, to go on as usual and get all the business it could.
– It would not have any special privileges.
– The Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, which has had its cables landed in Australia for many years, would have the right to go into the Court and claim damages .from the Government for being turned out.
– It shows how worthless was the agreement, so far as support ing the interest of the partners in the Pacific Cable was concerned, that the Government should be willing to allow the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company to go into Victoria and get even more business than the Pacific Cable Company, because it can do business in a different way.
– It would not get that business through the agreement.
– Fortunately for the partners in the Pacific Cable, and fortunately, I think, for the Commonwealth, the Senate was able to stop the agreement from being ratified, and the partners in the Pacific Cable were informed that the majority of the senators would not approve of any agreement until the Conference which they had asked for had been granted. That Conference has been held. I venture to say that the opinion of the people of the Commonwealth was entirely misrepresented to the other partners on that occasion, as may be seen’ -from the report drawn up by and signed, by Sir William Mullock, Sir Sandford Fleming, and others. Honorable senators will observe a paragraph, which states that the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company was granted a special line from Melbourne to Sydney. No money was ever voted by the Senate for a special line for the company, and the Government should have told the partners in the Pacific Cable that the Senate only agreed to vote ^20,000 for a line from Melbourne to Sydney on the understanding that it was necessary for carrying on the telegraphy of the Commonwealth, and .also that in Committee the Senate struck out the words to the effect that that sum was required for the construction of “a special line for the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company.” Was it right to tell the partner’s the Pacific Cable that Australia has given a special line to their rival. The object in making that statement appears to have been to impress, our partners that Australia is irrevocably committed bv one act and another to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company. The proper thing would have been to tell the partners how many friends the Pacific Cable had in the Senate. But, no ! the Conference was misled, and the result is. that we have a most unsatisfactory report, because all the other partners in the Pacific Cable then asked was. that in any agreement passed bv the Commonwealth, there should be a definite statement, that at the end of twelve years the Eastern Extension. Telegraph Company should no longer have any rights in Australia.
– Why should it have rights for twelve years?
– Apparently, the partners in the Pacific Cable agreed that theEastern Extension Telegraph Company should have rights for twelve years, because they had been Jed to believe that we were committed to that company. We are not committed to the company, because we have still Victoria and Queensland, which ought to be considered as a close preserve for the partners in the Pacific Cable. If we could keep the business of those States, we could do away with the present annual loss of £30,000 on the Pacific Cable. It may be asked, “ How can we keep the Eastern. Extension Telegraph Company out of Victoria ‘ ‘ ? Section 80 of the Post and Telegraph Act says -
The Postmaster-General shall have the exclusive privilege of erecting and maintaining telegraph lines, and of transmitting telegrams or other communications by telegraph within the Commonwealth, and performing all the incidental services of receiving, collecting, or delivering such telegrams or communications, except as provided by this Act or the regulations.
Tha Commonwealth has the exclusive right of receiving, collecting, and delivering telegrams, and, therefore, the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company could be turned out of Victoria to-morrow. I do not suggest that it should be turned out right away, but that it should be given three months’ notice. It has no right to be here. . I have been told on good authority that when its representative wanted to open an office, he was informed that he was to do nothing until the agreement had been passed by both Houses of this Parliament, but, with’ the audacity which has characterized his employers, he opened an office. Senator Zeal has asked whether it would not be a bad thing to exclude the company.
– No, to prevent the company from carrying on business. I think that the competition between the two lines is beneficial to the country.
– The view .1 take is that the Commonwealth cannot do business as a private company can. If we publish a statement that the rale should be 3s. a word, we cannot go, as a public tody, to a private) individual, and say, “ We shall send your messages for 2s. rod., or 2s. 6d. per word.” We cannot say to a large customer, “ We shall give you a rebate on your words.” We have to charge everybody alike. Surely any one who is acquainted with’ business methods will not deny that it is very usual to offer rebates. Some time ago, Mr. Warren sent out a circular, in which he said that he had never heard of rebates being given, but in 1903, I produced to the Senate a card, issued by Reuter’s Telegram Company - whose, shareholders, no doubt, are largely interested in the other company - stating that they were prepared to give their customers a rebate on the telegrams. Reuters is another telegraph company which, I think, ought to be excluded from Victoria, because it attracts business to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company. If the two companies were excluded from Victoria undoubtedly we should get a barge share of the 553,961 words which are set down in the Pacific Cable Board table under the head of “ State of origin or destination - Victoria and the United Kingdom.” Out of those words the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company got no less than 467,493 in 1904, and the Pacific Cable only 86,468. It is no wonder that the latter company did not get half the business which was estimated by Sir Sandford Fleming when he said that it would be a paying concern. Inasmuch as the Pacific Cable was the outcome partly of the representations of commercial men in Melbourne, and the people who were suffering from the grinding rate of 9s. 4d., there, must be something radically wrong when they give to the old company 467,493 words, and to the new company only 86,468 words.
– Unfortunately, the public are very prone to do that, even with their own institutions.
– Yes, as I have seen frequently. Take the very much smaller case of the Port Jackson Steam-ship Company, which was charging the public is. 6d. for a return ticket from Sydney to Manly. Some local residents, thinking that the fare was too high, as it was, promoted an opposition company, which fixed the fare at 6d. When the monopolistic company reduced its fare to 6d. the public forsook the new company, which was responsible for bringing about the reduction, and if had to go into liquidation and insolvency. In the interests of the general taxpayers, it is the duty of this- Parliament to see that the Pacific Cable, which brought the rate down from 9s. 4d. to 3s. per word, and which saved the commercial men of Australia no less than £750,000 a year, shall not be made an .insolvent concern. I feel s.ure that this could be prevented if the Commonwealth Government would only avail themselves of their rights, and tell the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company to confine its operations to those States which were foolish enough to sign an agreement with it. The attention of the Senate has been drawn to the want of business methods on the part of the Post and Telegraph Department in connexion with the Pacific Cable. How is it that a person can get as many indicators as he likes free of charge from the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and is charged by the Commonwealth ios. 6d. per year for each indicator? A business man may require to’ have fifty indicators in London, in order to enable him to avoid the repetition of the full name and address at either end. He can go to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company and get fifty indicators free of charge, but if he goes to the Commonwealth Department he has to pay 10s. 6d. per vear for each indicator. It can be understood that when the Commonwealth charges .£25 a year for fifty indicators, and the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company charges nothing, the business is almost sure to go to the latter, no matter how patriotic a business man may be. Reuter’s Telegram Company has in Melbourne an office where it codes messages for the general public, and gives them every facility, but the same facilities cannot be obtained at the Post and Telegraph Department. Surely we have sufficient intelligence in the Post and Telegraph Department to supply such facilities to the general public. Our telegraph system throughout Australia is, I am pretty well satisfied, superior and cheaper than are the telegraph systems of private companies in other parts of the world. It may not be actually as cheap as the telegraph system in the United Kingdom, but it is even cheaper if we take into consideration the distance over .which our messages have to travel, and the difference in the population. In Great Britain there is a population of over 40,000,000, whereas in Australia there is a population of only about 4,000,000. But we are able to send a message in Victoria, or in any other State, at the rate of 9d. for every sixteen words. We can send a tele gram of sixteen words from <any part of the Commonwealth to any other part, covering a distance in some cases of 6,000 miles, for 1 S. Very few complaints are ever heard about our telegraph system or our officers. At all events, I have heard very few during my life-time - very few indeed. Surely, if we can manage a telegraph system like this, there ought to be officers in the Department who are able to do the necessary and justifiable coding for the general public, and to arrange indicators both here and in the United King1 dom for people who wish to do business with us. It may be said that because we do not do these things now, it would therefore be a mistake to send the Eastern Extension Company out of Melbourne. But I venture to think that if the Commonwealth Government is informed by the Senate and by the other House that it is the wish of the majority of this Parliament that the Pacific Cable Company shall be properly supported and made a business enterprise, the Government will very soon find means to give the people of Australia the same facilities as are now provided by Reuter’s Company and by the Eastern Extension Company. I should like to refer to the fact that Reuter’s Company not only codes messages for the general public, but is permitted by the Post and Telegraph Department to collect telegrams and pack them. That is to say, it is permitted to code messages for the general public in the first place, and to re-code them afterwards to suit its own purposes. For instance, a customer may take a message of twenty words to Reuter’s Company. That would cost £^3. Reuter’s Company can code the message and make a reduction of 15s. But after that, the company can re-code the message for itself. It is allowed by our Post and Telegraph Department, which is losing money every year, to .compete with it by taking into the post-office 100 messages which are sent by 100 different people to London. Reuter’s Company will take the messages for transmission, but it will send only one word, “London,” including the whole of the messages, in the one telegram. In other words, the company will collect ,£15 from the public, whereas it only pays 3s. to the post-office for the one word, “ London.” There is something lacking in connexion .with the business enterprise of the Post and Telegraph Department whilst that system is permitted. In case my statement may be challenged, and it may be said that Reuter’ s Company does not charge the public for more words than are paid for, I will quote from some evidence given by the general manager of the company on the occasion of the trial of a clerk, which took place in Victoria, and is reported in the Argus of the 20th October, 1.905. Mr. Henry M. Collins, the general manager of Reuter’s Company in Australia, was cross-examined by Mr. Duffy regarding the re-coding of messages so as to make them shorter for transmission after a customer had had his original message coded, and had paid for it. Mr. Collins explained that re-coding was done in a separate department from the receiving office, and by means of a different code from that kept in the receiving office. Mr. Duffy asked, “ So the company boils down the number of words from what a customer has paid for ‘ ‘ ? - The witness answered -
There is no obligation to adhere to the number of words in the first coding, and we claim to be quite entitled to re-code a message before sending it, if such re-coding is possible. “So,” said Mr. Duffy, “you send a less number of worlds than you charge the customer for?” The witness replied: “In certain cases; it cannot always be done.” But it is done, as admitted by the general manager of the company; and I may add that coding has been brought to such a high state of excellence that it has become quite - a science. I understand that the single word “ unholy “ will convey no less than 150 different words. It has been proposed that there shall be a pooling arrangement between the Eastern Extension Company and the Pacific Cable, in order to save expense; but I would respectfully urge that no pooling arrangement should be entered into - certainly none should be tolerated on the basis of the present receipts from the two schemes. It would be most unfair to give the Eastern Extension Company a proportion based on the business that it has been able to secure in Victoria and the other States owing to the action of Sir Edmund Barton and his Government in allowing it to cut in here. Sir John Pender, in a letter to the Conference in 1887, said that his company was very closely in touch with Her Majesty’s Government at the time. How closely the company was in touch with the Imperial Government may “be gleaned from the fact that in 1893, when Sir Mackenzie Bowell came out to Australia on a mission to advocate the All-
Red Pan-Britannic line, Hong Kong was expected to be one of the landing places for the proposed British cable; but the Eastern Extension Company was able to secure from the British Government the sole landing rights for cables at Hong Kong for a period of twenty-five years. The company has a. monopoly there, and if Australia wished to lay a cable to the British territory of Hong Kong to-morrow she could not do so. That is another reason why no particular consideration should be extended to this company. As to the vital necessity for the Pacific Cable, I may, mention that one of the great arguments used4 by its promoters was stated by Mr. Hofmeyer, who represented Cape Colony, that it would be a means of safety in times of war ; and Mr. Raikes, the then Postmaster-General of Great Britain, said that it afforded a greater remoteness from possible attack by foreign Powers. Another reason is that deep-water cables are not liable to the same interruption as are shallow-water cables. I have already mentioned the circumstance that the Pacific Cable is owned by the various Governments interested on behalf of the general public, whereas the Eastern Extension Company’s cables, which land in foreign territories, and might be tapped in time of war, are owned by shareholders, who might sell out their interests to foreigners. There is’ nothing to bind them to keep the shares. Some foreign company might do as was done by Disraeli, who effected a famous coup in connexion with the Suez Canal shares. There is no reason why a foreign company should not buy up the shares in the Eastern Extension Company if it wanted them in the interests of its own nation. The interests of South Australia have been mentioned, and I have embodied in my motion a paragraph dealing with that State.
– The honorable senator’s proposal is apparently that Parliament should vote a sum of money to make up the loss to South Australia.
-Possibly, if there is a loss.
– Has the honorable senator considered whether that is .constitutional ?
– Yes, and I will deal with that point. In 1870,, South Australia built a telegraph line across the continent to a distance of 1,970 miles, to connect with the Eastern Extension Company’s cable at Port Darwin, at a cost of £506,000. For many years this line was a great source of loss to South Australia. Under an arrangement with the Eastern Extension. Company and with some of the other States of” Australia, that loss was reduced, but the total loss on the overland line to Port Darwin from the time of its opening for business in 1872 up to three years ago was ,£293,283. There can be no doubt that the State of South Australia constructed the line at the instance of the Eastern Extension Company. But it. has been constructed, and South Australia has to bear the loss. That State receives a great benefit from the messages which are sent over the Eastern Extension Company’s lines in both directions, because she receives terminal rates, which bring her a considerable amount of revenue. Consequently, she is interested in the fact that the company’s lines land within her territory. But it is not in the interests of the Commonwealth of Australia that the mere question of a few thousand pounds of revenue should be permitted to stand in the way of the success of the Pacific Cable. It would be far better for us to pay to South Australia the £39,000 which we are now paying as loss on the Pacific Cable, and to make that line a financial success. As to whether we can constitutionally assist that State, I would ask Senator Drake to turn to section 94 of the Constitution, -which reads as follows : -
After five years from the imposition of uniform duties of customs, the Parliament may provide, on such basis as it deems fair, for the monthly payment to the several States of all surplus re-‘ venue of the Commonwealth.
Uniform Customs duties were imposed on the 3rd October, 1901, and, therefore, the five years will have expired on the 3rd October, 1906. Then, section 96 of the Constitution provides -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
– Does the honorable senator think that such a payment as he proposes could be made under that section?
– In my opinion, the wording of the section is sufficiently general to enable the Commonwealth Parliament to assist any State to meet a deficiency. Under that section the Commonwealth Parliament could, I think, come to the assistance of a State in the case, for example, of a very severe drought which had brought loss and ruin on a number of families - it could come to the assistance of a State for any purpose. When we, in the interests of the commercial classes, the newspaper public, and the people generally, propose to make the Pacific Cable a financial success, and when that success is likely to entail a loss on South Australia, which has undertaken great obligations in past years, I think that in assisting that State we perform an eminently constitutional act, to which no exception can be taken. I hope I have said enough to induce honorable senators who, perhaps, have not had the same opportunities to study the question as some of us have, to vote for this motion. Further. I hope I have said sufficient to gain the support of South Australian senators, who might, perhaps, be disposed to oppose the motion as affecting their own State. In any case, I trust that the proposal will be supported by a sufficiently large majority to show the Postmaster-General that we, who represent the States, have no sympathy with any movement in favour of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company - that all our sympathies and hopes arecentred in the success of the Pacific Cable - and that we look to him and the Government to promote that success.
Debate (on> motion by Senator Keating) adjourned.
– I move -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate all correspondence between the Pacific Cable Board and the Commonwealth Government having reference to a scheme for pooling receipts with the Eastern Extension Company.
I cannot see any reason why the Government should desire to keep this correspondence secret. What object can there be in secrecy? Surely the business is open and above-board ?
– I am informed that the Government have not the correspondence.
– If that be so, no correspondence can be laid on thy table. What led me to submit the motion was a paragraph which appeared in the Melbourne Age of the 21st of this month giving an account of an interview between a member of the Pacific Cable Board and the London correspondent of that newspaper, in reference to the pooling proposals. The paragraph is as follows: -
We did not pass any definite opinion on the proposal ; we simply submitted it to the Commonwealth Government for consideration, and asked Mr. Deakin to consult with the New Zealand Government. That was several months ago, and we have not yet received a statement of the Commonwealth’s views.
If that report be correct, the Commonwealth Government received correspondence, several months ago, from the Pacific Cable Board, concerning the pooling scheme; and any correspondence ought to be open to our perusal. There has been a great deal too much secrecy about the negotiations in connexion with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I regret very much that honorable senators who had not heard the motion submitted, have voted against the proposal to adjourn the debate. That division has the; effect of depriving honorable senators of as much information in regard to the subject-matter of the motion as I, at least, should like them to have before they come to a decision. This motion has not appeared on the notice-paper for any length of time; but, as soon as it did appear, I brought it under the immediate attention of the Department, with a view to obtaining the necessary information to enable me to deal with it when it was submitted. No later than when we met this afternoon, I was supplied with a certain amount of information to the effect that the motion ought not to be treated as formal, because there were further facts with which honorable senators ought to be conversant before they voted on the question. Those facts I am not in a position to lay before the Senate now; and it was for that reason that I asked the Senate to agree, as is usual in such cases, to an adjournment of the debate. So far as I can see, this notice of motion as for to-day has not appeared on the notice-paper before this morning; and, under the circumstances, it will be seen that the time allowed to the Department to prepare the necessary information cannot have been very long. Necessarily, the PostmasterGeneral, and those associated with him, desire to confer before practically handing me a brief, or instructing me as the representative of the Postmaster-General in this Chamber. As honorable senators know, it would have been out of order for me to make this explanation when I moved the adjournment of the debate.
– A number of honorable senators voted against the adjournment of the debate, because of a fear that another opportunity might not be afforded to deal with this matter before the end of the session.
– That is not the case ; there need be no concealment about it. I may read a communication which I received in this chamber just before the President read prayers, and which I placed in the hands of the honorable senator immediately on perusal. I sent for this information this morning when I saw the notice-paper and observed the motion for the first time. I telephoned from an office in the city immediate instructions to have all necessary information for dealing with the motion sent over to the House before lunch time, when I should be here. In compliance with those instructions, I havebeen supplied with the following statement : -
With reference to the notices of motion Nos. 4 and 5 on the Senate paper for to-day, I have the honour by the direction of the Postmaster-General to inform you thatit is not desirable to deal with any of the matters mentioned therein at present, as they are all now under consideration, and negotiations are proceeding with respect to them. When any conclusions have been arrived at, these objections to Nos. 4 and 5 will, of course, no longer exist, but in the meantime it is thought that they should not be made “ formal.”
That is the whole of the information I have. With regard to the motion which has just been discussed, I have this statement -
I have to state that there has been no correspondence with the Pacific Cable Board onthis subject, and that so far as the Postmaster-General is aware, the correspondence has been with the Colonial Office. There is no objection to No. 6 being made formal.
With that information I have since been in communication with the Postal Department by means of the telephone, and I was given to understand that they were preparing a memorandum upon the subject of these mat:ters for my use.
– Which matters? There is only one before the Senate.
– No; there was another being dealt with a few minutes ago, and they took them in the order in which they appear on the paper. If the information had arrived before the last motion was disposed of I should have been prepared, with a little time for perusal of the document, to put before the Senate such information as was supplied to me. It was for these reasons, and for no other, that I moved the adjournment of the debate. I can give no further information than that with which I have been supplied. Had more time been afforded me, I should probably have been ‘able to secure further information, or to assist the honorable senator in some other way to get before the members of the Senate, and also before honorable members in another place, copies of the documents which bear upon this very important subject. I can only again express my regret that the debate was not adjourned. I point out that, so far as the information with which I have been supplied is concerned, there appears to be no correspondence of the character referred to in this motion.
– Will the honorable senator give an undertaking that the correspondence wilt be tabled before the Senate adjourns ?
– There is no correspondence, so far as the PostmasterGeneral is aware. The correspondence, if any, has been with the Colonial Office.
– The Government can let the motion go, and if there is no correspondence. none can be tabled.
– That will be the position if the motion is carried ; but, later on, we might have been able to point out to Senator Higgs a way in which he might amend his motion to meet the circumstances of the case, and so have produced and circulated, not only amongst members of the Senate, but also amongst honorable members in another place, all the documents bearing upon this important question. /
– There is nothing to prevent that being done now.
– Nothing at all; and, even in the absence of the motion, I think that would be tlie course which would ordinarily be pursued. I rose merely to show why I had asked for the .adjournment of the debate. I think that if it had been agreed to, possibly honorable senators would have received information which they will not be able to get during the debate on the motion if it is now carried to a conclusion.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I cannot understand why the representative of any Government should object to lay this correspondence on the table.
– Public documents.
– Public documents, or what ought to be public documents, regarding any given matter. Senator Keating intimated that there is no correspondence. If there is none;, none can be laid on the table; but I have explained to honorable senators who were in the chamber before the vote was taken that I read in the newspapers two days ago a statement by a member of the Pacific Cable Board to’ the London correspondent of the journal in question, to the effect that the Board had corresponded with Mr. Deakin, and asked him to confer with the Premier of New Zealand, and let the Board have their opinions ; and that, although months had elapsed, nothing had been done. We wish to see the letter which was sent by the Pacific Cable Board to Mr. Deakin - if there is such a letter. Surely there can be no objection to that
– Can the honorable senator not find out if there is such a letter ?
– One would think so.
– I gather from what the Minister has said that there is none.
– The Minister says that there is none; but I believe that the motion ought to be gone on with, because we are on the eve of a prorogation, and a recess of several months. I should like Parliament to be in a position to express its opinion about the proposed pooling scheme between the Eastern Extension Company and the Pacific Cable Board. I think that the letters and correspondence on the subject might aid us in deciding whether such a scheme should be gone on with. I hope that honorable senators will carry the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the agreement between the Government and Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, having reference to Pacific Island Mail Services.
Here is another example. I have been informed that the Government were not fully seized of the contents of this particular motion when they called “not formal.” I gave notice of the motion some days ago, and, believing it to be a purely formal matter, I called “ formal “ to it. The representatives of the Government called “ not formal,” because they were not fully seized at the moment of what it meant, and thought it might give rise to some trouble. I hope there will be no objection to placing this agreement, if there is such an agreement, on the table. I hope the Minister will tell the Senate whether there is an agreement with Burns, Philp, and Company. This agreement, which was discussed in the Senate some time ago, and which some of us considered unconstitutional, ‘for the payment of £12,000 to a certain company for carrying mails, should have been available long ago. I- hope that a full explanation of the circumstances will be given.
– Can the honorable senator make any statement about the agreement as to whether it has been made or not?
– I cannot. I should like the Minister to make that statement, to tell us whether the agreement has been prepared; whether it contains the clauses which it was promised it would contain concerning the rate of freight, passenger fares, and so forth ; and when it was signed.
– As I think I informed the honorable senator since this notice of motion has been on the business-paper, there is no objection to this agreement being tabled. As a matter of fact, the agreement, although completed, has not yet been signed, and has not yet reached the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Negotiations have been going on through the External Affairs Department, and as soon as the agreement is completed and signed, it will be laid on the table in both Houses of Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– ! move -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate all the correspondence and documents in connexion with the case of A. Hart, late of the’ Post and Telegraph Department, Brisbane.
I understand that the objection of the Government to this motion is that the correspondence and papers in question are at present in the custody of the Court at Brisbane.
– I do not think they are in the Court yet, but they are in Brisbane.
– Will thev be in the Court ?
– Yes, they have been sent to Brisbane for that purpose.
– Why does noi. Senator Stewart ask for copies of these j.apers?
– I have no wish to put the Government to the expense of making copies of the papers. I am sorry that I did not move in the matter sooner, because it is very necessary that we should have copies of the correspondence and documents in this case. If we had them bet us, I believe they would reveal a state of affairs in the Post and Telegraph Department that would call for very severe comment on the part of honorable senatorswhich might result in very much better administration in the future. The Government might in any case permit the motion to pass, and let the papers be tabled in the Senate when they are available.
– I do not think there would be any objection to the motion being; passed if it were to be understood that the course followed would be that indicated by Senator Stewart in moving it. Thepapers in this case, which I understand arevery bulky, are in Brisbane at the present time, and are required in connexion with the case coming on between Hart and the Commonwealth Government. There has been a good deal written and published’ about the case by Hart and by others, and it might not be advisable that the papersshould be brought down from Brisbane, tabled here, and perhaps made the subject” of a general discussion while the matter is sub judice, as such a discussion might prejudice the decision of the case one way or the other. I” understand that there is not the slightest objection to the tabling of the papers as soon as conveniently may be, after they have been used for the purpose for which they were sent to Brisbane.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 9th November (vide page 4811), when Senator Dawson called attention to the Journals of the Senate of 19th of October, by which it appeared that the following resolution was passed by the Senate : -
That, in accordance with the most treasured traditions of British Governments and British justice, and for the cementing of the Empire into one harmonious whole, this Senate is of opinion that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland,
And moved -
That the President be requested to take the. necessary steps in order that this resolution of the Senate may be communicated to His Majesty the King, with the hope that effect may be given thereto.
– I take it that no opposition will be offered to this motion. The Senate has decided to take up a certain stand in respect of the question of Home Rule for Ireland, and it is now asked by this motion, as a mere formality, to instruct the President to forward its resolution to His Majesty the King, “ with the hope that effect may be given thereto.” I take it that the Senate is prepared to accept the motion, and therefore I shall not detain honorable senators by making a speech.
– If Senator Givens attaches to this motion the importance which I believe he does, I think he will see the desirability of agreeing, on behalf of Senator Dawson, to an adjournment of this debate.
– The debate has already been adjourned once, and it is now very late in the session. This is merely a formal matter.
– I cannot agree with the honorable senator that the passing of this motion is merely a formal matter. I think he must recognise that the concluding portion of the motion raises, if not the whole, the chief part of the question which was in issue in the Senate. I have not spoken on the question of Home Rule for Ireland, nor have I risen with the intention of discussing it on this occasion.
– Even if it did raise the whole question, it -would only be a reaffirmation.
– The question to be considered is a most important one, and that is whether the President shall be instructed to send the resolution of the Senate to His Majesty the King, “ with the hope that effect will be given thereto.” Senator Givens will recognise that the moment the Senate conveys to His Majesty a desire that Home Rule shall ‘be granted to Ireland, it is taking an active step to interfere with the House of Commons.
– On behalf of Senator Dawson, I told the opponents of this proposal that I would agree to delete the concluding words of it, provided that they would allow it to go ; but they refused my offer.
– This is the first time I have heard of the offer. May I ask if it is still open ?
– Yes, if the honorable and learned senator will agree to it.
– Personally, I cannot agree to the offer. The honorable senator will see that there is a very scant attendance to-day. I believe that a great many honorable senators were not aware that this motion would be pressed to a division today.
– If the honorable and learned senator will permit me, I shall take out the objectionable words.
– I have no authority to speak for honorable senators who are for or against this proposal. If the honorable senator would consent to an adjournment of the debate, it could be resumed on Thursday next.
– I cannot consent to an adjournment.
– If the motion is to be seriously considered, the honorable senator might very properly allow a division to be taken when there was a fuller attendance.
– I have no guarantee that we should have a fuller attendance on another day. This matter has been hanging fire a good deal.
– I shall not press my request any further. I shall vote against the motion.
– I have taken charge of this motion at the request of Senator Dawson, who, unfortunately, has been ill for some time, and cannot be constant in his attendance. In order to meet the wishes of honorable senators, I have no objection to deleting the words to which exception has been taken. The motion! has been on the notice-paper for a considerable time. The attendance is fairly full to-day, and if the debate were adjourned, it lis exceedingly improbable that the attendance would be larger on another occasion. When the objectionable words are deleted, the motion will be merely a formal addition to the resolution of the Senate, which was rendered necessary by an inadvertence on the part of Senator Dawson. I think that a motion which is submitted merely to give effect to a resolution of the Senate, should not be met. with strenuous objection. I move; -
That all the words after the word “King” be left out.
I hope that we shall be allowed to take a vote on the question to-day
– Senator Givens has acted with wisdom and judgment in proposing to eliminate these words. It certainly was an undesirable extension of the motion, because the only object of Senator Dawson’s motion was that the expression of opinion arrived at by the Senate on a former occasion should be conveyed by means of a message to the King. I am glad that Senator Givens has proposed to eliminate these words, which were practically reviving in an intense form, a matter which, to some extent, was embraced in that expression of opinion. At the same time, I am not able to regard the motion, even so amended, as a formal one. I do not propose to re-open the whole question. I should be glad if a division could be takein in at least as full a Chamber as that which considered the original motion. I think it would be well if Senator Givens could see his way to agree to an adjournment of the! debate. But whether he does or not. it would be impossible for me to allow this motion to be treated as a purely formal one.
– The honorable and learned senator will admit that this proposal was inadvertently omitted from the original motion.
– I have no doubt that it was. It would be improper for those who take a contrary view in respect of the original motion to allow this motion to pass as a purely formal one. It would be really assenting to what I regard as the vital objection, to the original motion. It will be recollected that I declined to enter into the debate on the question of Home. Rule for Ireland. It is no business of. ours: It is impossible for us to deal with a great question, affecting the relations between Great Britain and Ireland. It is not like a question, relating tq British New Guinea, or a State in the Commonwealth, as affected by that jurisdiction of this Parliament. The question of Home Rule for Ireland, embraces an immense number of issues which we are not in a position to determine. It is not a question of merely establishing a Legislature in Dublin. My objection to the claim is not because I claim, or because- 1 believe that anybody can claim, to have arrived at a definite opinion as to the relations of Great Britain and Ireland, but because I think it is outside our scope to interfere in any way with a question of that description. The Senate arrived at an opinion on the question : but Senator Dawson desires that it shall be conveyed by message to tha King. That is the. very point of interference which I greatly deprecate. It will put this Parliament in a false position. It is assuming a right which can only be effected or given evidence to by means of a message which is sought to be directed in a way which, although certainly gratuitous, might turn out to be entirely mischievous. So long as it remains merely an expression of opinion it is innocuous, but the moment it is despatched by a. message it will become a weapon for. party and political purposes, to be wielded on the platforms at the time of an election, and to be used in a way which I am. quite sure we should resent if applied to ourselves. For these rea:sons I think it is. extremely inadvisable that the resolution of the Senate should be forwarded by means of a message, and above all. that those of us. who objected to the- original passing of the resolution should assent to its being despatched tothe King as a merely formal matter, as though the Senate as a whole had unanimously decided to send it.
– When the original motion was before the Senate. I moved an amendment to the effect that the subject was beyond the scode of our legislative powers and duties; and I cannot view this motion, secondary as it is. in an-v other light than that in which I viewed the original proposition. I see no occasion to go into the matter again, and my attitude has been fully explained by the last speaker. But I cannot accept this as a formal motion, and must vote against it.
– I should like to say a word in reference to the vote which I am about to give. I strongly opposed the original motion for reasons which were stated by several honorable senators. I did not think that we had anything to do with the matter ; that we understood what Home Rule for Ireland meant ; or that we could even arrive at a definite conclusion as to what the result of it would be. But still, the motion having been passed, I look upon this motion as a consequential proposition altogether. Having passed the resolution submitted by Senator Dawson, this is merely a piece of machinery to give effect to it. Therefore I shall vote for it.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the motion, as amended, be agreed toput. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 21st September (vide page 2581), on motion by Senator Styles -
That in the opinion of the Senate, the Stateowned railways of Australia should be transferred to the Commonwealth with as little delay as possible.
– I wish to make a few remarks on this subject. It hasalways appeared to me that we ought to differentiate in Commonwealth affairs between government and business. I do not think that the
Commonwealth is as competent to undertake matters of business like the management of railways as it is to undertake matters of government. Honorable senators can, I think, see how difficult it would be to manage the railways of Western Australia from one centre of population in the East. The railways of Western Australia are not connected with the railways systems of any other States. They stand by themselves. They are worked wholly by themselves in the interests of Western Australia. I cannot conceive of any circumstances under which those railways could be managed to better advantage by Commissioners residing in, the populous centres of the East. The same may besaid with regard to Tasmania. I cannot imagine the railways of that State being managed to advantage outside of Tasmania. The railways of Tasmania belong to the Tasmanians. They are the best judges of their railway needs. They are the best judges of methods of management. The same considerations apply to the other large States. For instance, Queensland owns a number of very important railways. They are connected only at one point with New South Wales. I cannot see any advantage to be gained by putting the control of the railways of Queensland under a Commonwealth Commissioner. I conceive that railway development in the various States would be obstructed, and that difficult questions would arise between the States if it were not possible for any new line to be built without a Parliament representing the whole of the States concurring in it. We should, I venture to say, bring about a condition of logrolling and trouble which would immensely increase the estrangement between the States that now exists to some extent, and which it is very desirable that we should seek to lessen, and, in time, wholly to remove. It is quite possible that while the States remain the managers of their own railway systems, steps may be taken under which the railway system of any one State may have the advantage of the full strength of the Commonwealth in obtaining loan money. But if the whole of the railways become the property of the Commonwealth, it would be difficult for the people of the Commonwealth to make financial arrangements. Therefore I cannot see that there is any financial reason for urging upon the people of the Commonwealth a proposition which at present has very little to recommend it. Certainly, in the present general condition of business and the position of financial affairs, I can see nothing to recommend the proposal to us. I observe that Senator Styles makes his motion read that it is desirable that the railways shall be “transferred to the Commonwealth with as little delay as possible.” If there are any reasons why it is desirable to transfer the railways of the States to the Commonwealth, they are not very obvious, and they are certainly not urgent. There are other reasons why we should defer this matter for some considerable time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keating) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Select Committee on tobacco monopoly have leave to extend the time for bringing up the report to this day fortnight.
Debate resumed from 9th November (vide page 4828), on motion by Senator Pulsford -
That, recognising, as this Senate does, that it is the wish of both the Empire of Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia to maintain the purity of their respective races, this Senate hereby affirms the desirability of a treaty being made under which all questions relating to emigration and immigration may be arranged. This Senate further expresses its earnest hope that the friendship between the people of the Empire of Japan and those of the Commonwealth of Australia may be maintained, to their mutual advantage, and to the -well-being of the whole world.
– The motion submitted by Senator Pulsford is of such a nature that I think, the Senate is likely to be unanimous with regard to it. If it contains nothing else than an expression of good-will towards Japan, I am quite sure that we are all agreed as to that.
– Does the honorable senator agree with the first part of the motion ?
– There are perhaps portions of it which might be altered, but, on the whole, it is merely an expression of good-will on the part of Australia towards the people of Japan.
– Look at the statement about emigration and immigration being arranged by treaty.
– Certainly there are portions of the motion which do not coincide with my opinions; but I do not know of any reason why there should be ill-will between us and the Japanese. At the same time, it must be clearly understood that we in the Commonwealth are pledged to the principle, of a White Australia, and that if this or any other proposition in any way touches that great national principle, no matter how slightly, it cannot be entertained. The Japanese themselves recognise the great- racial difference between themselves and Europeans, and the desirability of not allowing the latter to obtain a footing, and acquire political power, in Japan.
– The Japanese are fond of Europeans as tourists, when they have money to spend, but do not want them as residents.
– That is a weakness which Europeans share with the Japanese ; indeed, in this Chamber there is an honorable senator who is president of a Tourists’ Association, the object of which is to encourage tourists to visit Tasmania. There might be no objection to Japanese as tourists coming and going - especially going. I am satisfied, however, that Australian sentiment is distinctly opposed to any Japanese settlement in this country, and no attempt by Senator Pulsford or anybody alse to foist Japanese on us can have any hope of success.
– The Japanese are more acute competitors than are the Chinese.
– I dare say; though there are not nearly so manyJapanese as Chinese in Australia. According to the latest figures published in Coghlan, the Japanese in Australia number only 3,554, as against 30,000 Chinese.
– Five thousand Japanese came into Australia last year for pearling.
– I do not think that those pearlers enter into the calculations in Coghlan, who further informs us that there are only 4,681 Indians in Australia. If there is to be any distinction made between Asiatics under our immigration laws, favour ought to be extended to people who already have some political connexions with us. The Indians belong to the same Empire as ourselves ; and I do not see why they should be regarded with less favour than Japanese. The hopelessness of furthering Japanese interests in the way pf settlement in Australia can be seen at a glance.
– Will the honorable senator read my motion?
– I admit that the motion does not expressly say that that is the object ; and I can only hope that there is no more in the proposal than appears on the surface. We are a’U iri favour of the Australians and the Japanese maintaining “ the purity of their respective races “ ; any other policy would be directly antagonistic to national opinion. The words of the motion as to the desirability of a treaty are not quite clear, bult I am perfectly satisfied that in Australia no other arrangement would be tolerated than that laid down in the Immigration Restriction Act, the object of which is to exclude Asiatics from Australia, not only for our good, but for their good. I re-echo the very fine sentiment that friendship may be maintained between Japan and the Commonwealth.
– That is ‘ something gained !
– I am sure Senator Pulsford must have heard before that we are all anxious to maintain a good understanding with Japan. It has been suggested that since the war there is a special reason for that anxiety ; but whether that be so or not, no matter how powerful Japan may become, the Australian people will, I am sure, allow no tampering with the principle of a White Australia, which has been indorsed at two general elections. My hope is that all that Senator Pulsford desires is an expression of good-will. If that be so, then I think I can promise him. not only my own support, but the support of others. I should like to read an expression of opinion by Captain Scott Harding, the Avar correspondent, who I think may be regarded as an authority. In an interview published in the Adelaide Advertiser on the 26th January last, Captain Scott Harding said -
I sympathize very heartily with the Japanese in this war, but still I think that we shall have to fight against Japan in time. I said it in the north, and every one seemed surprised, but I am convinced I am right. The Japanese are flooding China with pamphlets intended to prepare the way. It is not my own opinion. I spent a week in Manila, and had interviews with General Corben and Admiral Stirling, the American military and naval commanders. They had -no doubt that one day the Anglo-Saxon race would have to fight against Japan. Japanese spies are everywhere. At Sydney there are men, ostensibly in business, but really in the service of the Government I think you are doing quite right to keep the Eastern races out of Australia, though the Chinese, I see, are still pouring into Port Darwin and Thursday Island. After being at places like Singapore and Hong Kong and South Africa, it is quite a pleasure to walk about in Sydney or Melbourne, and see so few black and yellow faces.
Captain Scott Harding apparently did not observe so much of the “coloured agony “ in our midst as he met in other portions of the Empire; and we should be making a great mistake if we disturbed present conditions. My own opinion is that the Japanese themselves will take the advice which was tendered to them by Herbert Spencer, and exclude, as far as possible, Europeans from their country, avoiding all intermarriage and close social relations. In these matters Herbert Spencer did not mince matters, but said that if he had the framing of laws for America he would exclude the Chinese from that country. Australia is in much greater danger from an influx of Asiatics than America can possibly be, and it would be foolish to depart in any way from the principle of a White Australia.
– In order that we may give an expression of opinion which shall not be liable to misconstruction, the motion requires amendment. I move -
That after the word “ races,” line 4, the following words be left out, “ this Senate hereby affirms the desirability of a treaty being made under which all questions relating to emigration and immigration may be arranged.”
If that amendment be carried, I shall move a second amendment, to omit the word “further” after “Senate” in line 7. The motion as it stands has been very cunningly contrived. If we vote against the whole motion we shall be taken to have acted in a manner hostile to Japan, as we shall have said that we do not wish to maintain the purity of the races, or friendship between this country and Japan. Honorable senators on this side are just as anxious as Senator Pulsford can be to maintain friendship with Japan.
– I should like to know whether an amendment which is an absolute negation of the motion is in order.
– The amendment is a negation of only part of the motion.
– The amendment is an absolute negation of all that is affirmed in the motion.
– I respectfully point out that the amendment leaves out-
– I have given my ruling.
– I hope I may be allowed to put my case before a decision is finally given ?
– The honorable and learned senator may speak if he wishes, but I cannot possibly see how the amendment can be regarded as a negation of the motion.
– Then I hope I may be permitted to try to explain my point to you. Senator Pearce proposes to leave out the word “affirms,” and if that be carried the motion will contain nothing more than an expression of “ earnest hope.” The affirmation, which is the main part of the motion - which is practically the whole of the motion - it is proposed to omit; and any amendment which takes out the whole of the affirmation can be nothing else than a practical negation of the motion. I understand, however, sir, that you have already given your ruling.
– It seems to me clear that the amendment is not an absolute negation of the whole motion, though it may perhaps be a most fundamental alteration.
– You intimated that the amendment does not interfere with the affirmation of the motion. But only one thing is affirmed in the motion, and the amendment proposes to remove that affirmation.
– Would the motion, as amended, not affirm our friendship to Japan?
– The motion, if amended, would affirm nothing.
- Senator Clemons knows that amendments are constantly moved to leave out the whole of the motion except the word “That,” and such amendments are not. held to be negations.
– It all depends on what it is proposed to substitute.
– There is nothing substituted sometimes.
– There; is an attempt to make it appear that those in favour of a White Australia are animated by a spirit of animosity to Japan and other Eastern nations. I have no doubt that if we were to reject this motion, our action would be used by those opposed to the principle of a White Australia to prove that we have a hatred of Japan and all Eastern nations, and regard them as enemies. Nothing is further from our thoughts, and without bringing in any such matter, Senator
Pulsford might very easily have secured a vote of the Senate on the question whether the immigration of these people to the Commonwealth should be controlled by treaty or by law. That is really the question involved in the motion, and it should not be mixed up with the question of our friendship for or hostility to Japan. If I were unable to move the amendment, the question would be complicated, and I should be called upon to vote against something I desire to vote for or for something I desire to vote against. On the question whether immigration of this character should be controlled by treaty or by law, I ask, first of all, whether we have the power to enter into a treaty with a foreign country? As I understand the Constitution, we have no such power. Such a treaty would have to be entered into not by the Commonwealth Government directly, but by the British Government, so that Senator Pulsford’s motion really asks the Senate to affirm that a very important power given to us under the Constitution shall be handed over to the Government of Great Britain. My amendment is moved in order to let the people of Australia know what members of the Senate are prepared to hand over that power to the British Government. Let us have a division on the question, and see what members of the Senate will tell the people of Australia that they are prepared to hand over powers intrusted to the Commonwealth Parliament to the British Government, and leave them to determine our immigration policy by treaty.
– Surely we should indicate to the British Government the nature of the treaty we desired.
– On the Home Rule motion the other day, we were informed that we should not dictate to the British Parliament and Government.
– How absurd.
– The honorable senator says that we may dictate to the British Parliament in connexion with matters in which he believes, but it is absurd that we should presume to do so in connexion with any matter in which he does not believe.
– This is a matter which affects us, whilst Home Rule does not.
– Assuming that it is advisable that we should endeavour to influence the Imperial Government in connexion with a treaty, I take it that those who advocate that method of dealing with this question, in preference to the passing of a law to deal with it, do so because they are of opinion that the law which now exists on the subject irritates Japan. Is it not a fact that if we had this important matter arranged1 by treaty, it would be a constant source of irritation? We should have the people of Australia continually complaining that Japan was not observing the treaty. Whenever there was an increase of Japanese immigrants, representations would be made that Japan was not observing the treaty. The question, instead of being, as it is now, to some extent, a settled question, and part of a settled policy, would be a constant source of trouble and irritation. Representations would be made continually in both Houses of the Federal Parliament that Japan was not observing the treaty, and that we were getting more Japanese into the Commonwealth than we should be getting under the treaty. These representations would have to be forwarded to the Imperial Government, and from the Imperial Government to Japan. There can be no doubt that such a method of dealing with the subject would lead to endless trouble and irritation. Although I believe that Senator Pulsford submits his motion under the impression that the method he proposes would lead to less irritation than is caused by the present law, the adoption of his proposal would have the opposite effect. A proposal is before another place, which I cannot debate, but the object of which is, without impairing our law, to delete a word which Senator Pulsford asserts is a source of irritation to the Japanese. If that source of irritation can be removed without impairing the force of the existing law surely it will be more satisfactory to permit that law to continue and to allow its operation to effect what Senator Pulsford claims to desire. The honorable senator says that he does not desire that the Japanese shall be admitted to Australia, and that he is in favour of a White Australia. In the circumstances, if the existing Commonwealth law can be altered in such a way as to meet his views by removing what he considers to be a source of irritation, and at the same time continue to effect the purpose which he professes to have in view, the honorable senator ought not to bring in this proposal for the settlement of the question by a treaty which would undoubtedly lead to constant irritation. A treaty is always open to the objection that either of the parties to it may at any time denounce it. What would then become of the arrangement ? It would; cease to have any force. Whereas with respect to a law we are ourselves its custodians, we take the responsibility of it,, and if the people of Australia are prepared to back up that law, it cannot be -repealed, unless by force of arms. If such a treaty as Senator Pulsford suggests were denounced by Japan, we should be compelled to again go to the trouble of passing a law dealing with the subject.
– The treaty could not be denounced during the time for which it was entered into.
– Certainly not. But Senator Pulsford, in his motion, makes no reference to a treaty for any particular term.
– The honorable senator does not suppose that it would be for a day ?
– I have moved my amendment with the deliberate purpose of asking- the Senate to say that it is far better we should deal with this matter by Act of Parliament, no matter how we may differ as to what its terms should be. If amended as I propose, the motion would put a clear-cut issue before the Senate. Honorable senators who believe that the matter should be dealt with by treaty will support Senator Pulsford’s motion in its entirety, whilst those who agree with the view I have submitted will support the amendment. For the motion, amended as I propose, I shall be prepared to vote with pleasure. In my opinion, it is only fair that those who are opposed to dealing with this matter by treaty should not be placed in the position of appearing to be hostile to Japan. We have no desire to be placed in any such position. We have too often been placed in that position ; those who have opposed us on this question have often attempted to place us in such a position, and I move my amendment in order that we may avoid that on this particular occasion.
– I shall certainly, vote for the amendment, because I think it takes the heart out of the motion.
– The honorable senator does not desire to vote in such a way as to appear to be hostile to Japan.
– I recognise the truth of Senator Pearce’s statement, that efforts have been made by those opposed to the White Australia policy to make it appear that those in favour of it are hostile to Japan, and are not anxious to retain cordial relations with the Japanese nation. If the amendment is carried, it will take the heart out of the motion and entirely defeat its object, whilst it will affirm that Australia desires to retain friendly relations with Japan. As amended, it will be a harmless motion which the most rabid advocate of the White Australia policy will be able to support. Whether honorable senators believe in that policy or not they will feel themselves at liberty to vote for the motion as amended. I think that if Senator Pulsford thought there was any chance of the amendment being carried he would prefer to withdraw his motion and submit another in a more simple form.
– If the honorable senator desires to raise the question of dealing with the matter by treaty it should .not be mixed up with any reference to our feelings towards Japan.
– Senator Pearce put his linger on the weak spot in the motion when he pointed out that we have no power under our Constitution to make treaties with foreign countries, and that it would mean that we should be prepared to depute our powers to the Imperial Government. I do not think that the majority of Australians would be likely to regard with satisfaction any proposal to hand over to another authority this important power conferred upon us by the Constitution. I can quite conceive that a number of people in Australia, who are not prepared to gp all the way with those who advocate the White Australia, policy, would still very seriously object to handing over, such very important powers intrusted to this Parliament under the Constitution to be exercised by the Imperial Government or Parliament. ‘ Senator Dobson interjected that we would, as a matter of course, indicate to the Imperial Government the nature of the treaty we desired ; but once we let the control of these matters go out of our hand we shall not know where we shall end. Although I cannot at all times agree politically with the> leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the honorable senator has always won my ardent admiration for being such an intense Australian, and for his determination that the rights conferred upon the Commonwealth bv the Imperial Parliament under our Constitution shall be preserved. I cannot imagine how that honorable senator could agree to hand over this portion of our rights to be dealt with by the Imperial authorities.
– Nor can any one else. I do not think we should do so.
– No one proposes that.
– I suppose I should not anticipate, as honorable senators have not yet indicated their attitude towards either the motion or the amendment.’ I mention that aspect of the question as it presents itself to me. I believe that we are all proud of the Constitution, and jealous of maintaining and preserving inviolate all the rights conferred by it. We should hesitate very much before we give any one else the power to dea.1 with matters of this kind, which is expressly reserved to us by the Constitution. It has been pointed out by Senator Pearce, and I do not think it can be denied, that if the motion were carried in the form proposed by Senator Pulsford, it would have to be given effect to by the Imperial Parliament, as we have not the power to make a treaty with a foreign country. I shall vote .for the amendment, which, I frankly admit, would take the heart out of the motion.
– Senator O’Keefe is perfectly justified in saying - and I regard it as a great compliment, coming from, him - that I should be one of the very last men to consent to any surrender of our power - in fact, if I were the last, I still should he found resisting the handing over of any unrestricted power to the Imperial Government, to make treaties affecting the control of immigration and emigration in respect of Australia or any other subject of vital interest to our national welfare. But I think there is a misapprehension in. the minds of Senator Pearce and Senator O’Keefe on this subject. I entirely disagree with the suggestion that we should contemplate for a moment handing over to the Imperial authorities entirely the making of a treaty which is to bind Australia in relation to this matter. In. the first place, the motion is perfectly innocuous - that is to say, it is not harmful to the policy which my honorable friends have very dearly at heart, or to any question relating to Japanese immigration. It simply affirms the desirability of a treaty arrangement being made between that great power which has arisen in the East on the one hand, and Australia on the other - that is to say, a treaty arrangement which, in substance, would be between Japan on the one hand, and Australia on the other. That is not an interference with our self-governing right to pass whatever Bills we may please. My honorable friends will see that the power which has been and is again about to be exercised in what is suggested as a more attractive form to the Japanese in relation to immigration, is altogether unaffected. We can exclude any one we please, either foreigners or our own kith and kin. We have absolute power in that respect, and the Imperial authorities are not likely, at this time of day, to propose to interfere with us in any form. Senator Pulsford’s suggestion is that, without interfering with or infringing upon that great principle of selfgovernment, it is desirable that there should be a mutual arrangement made between Australia and Japan. It is not -necessary now to discuss whether an agreement could be entered into between the two countries. My own disposition is to think that it could. So long as it did not lessen or destroy Imperial interests, I know of nothing to interfere with our right to make an agreement with Japan in reference to our legislation on that subject. But, suppose that there is, and that the treaty, being Imperial in. its character, must be entered into by the Imperial Government, it would be only entered ink by the Imperial Government as our agent. They would not enter into a treaty with Japan which was hostile to us, or which was not for the purpose of carrying out our desire. I cannot contemplate such a thing for a moment.
– Cannot the honorable and learned senator contemplate that if, in their opinion, Australian interests and ideals conflicted with* Imperial interests and ideals, their leaning would be towards the latter ?
– In my opinion, the Imperial Government would not make a treaty subordinating Australia to Imperial interests. We should’ be the very first to rise in revolt against an act of that kind. We should not allow them to do so, and they would not.
– They did not refuse the Royal assent to the Immigration Restriction Bill, and that was the same thing.
-I do not wish to discuss the motion at any length. I d-‘d not intend to say a word on the subject; but I could not help rising to point out the fallacy which I think lurks in the position taken up by Senator Pearce and
Senator O’Keefe. I can see no reason why they should not assent to the motion. It does not run in conflict with, or lessen in any way, our powers of self-government, our right to say who shall or shall not enter. All it says is that, consistently with all that, it is desirable, and nobody can deny that it is desirable, that we should make an arrangement with Japan if we can.
– What is the object of the motion?
– The object of the motion is simply to affirm the desirability of giving some sort of practical effect to what, as my honorable friend quite truly says, will be left simply as an. ex ‘ pression of abstract good-will.
– Will Senator Pulsford deny that the object of his motion, in his own mind, is to have less restriction placed upon the admittance of Japanese?
– It does not say that. I am not going to affirm anything as to what the restriction shall be.
– If that is not in Senator Pulsford’s mind, why did he move the motion ?
– I think that my honorable friend is unnecessarily sensitive about this matter. He will see what Senator Pulsford in his motion affirms. Without questioning the power of Australia to regulate immigration as she pleases, to keep out the Japanese if she pleases, to pass what laws she pleases, but looking at the attitude of this nation and the position to which it has risen, he simply says it is’ desirable that we should do it in a friendly way, by some kind of arrangement. If the motion had been affirming, as my honorable friend thought it did, the desirability of handing over to the Imperial Government the duty of doing our business for us, making a treaty to which we were no parties, in which we should not be asked to concur, and with which we might altogether disagree
– I did not go that far.
– That is what I gathered was pressing upon my honorable friend’s mind. If that were the case.. I should be at one with him.
– I know that we could make our representations.
– No; they must carry out what we told them, if it is to bind us. If the motion had any tendency towards what my honorable friend thought, of handing over entirely to the Imperial authorities the duty of entering into a treaty of this kind, willy-nilly, so far as we were concerned, I should be with him, and oppose the motion. But, so far as I can see, it is simply an expression of that national good-will which we, as a great and growing nation, may well entertain for Japan, which, whatever we may think of her people, and whatever our just conceit of ourselves may be, is a much greater nation at the present moment, so far as power and position are concerned, than we are.
– The amendment will affirm that.
– No. My honorable friend said, and said truly, that the amendment would take the heart out of the motion. We may omit the last part, although it is simply a pleasant and complimentary way of affirming that we wish to keep on friendly terms with Japan. But the suggestion ‘is that it is desirable that we should try to make an arrangement by agreement - and a treaty is only an agreement - with Japan in this matter.
– The motion gives us a splendid opportunity to lay a few ghosts, and we shall do it.
– What ghost is there to be laid?
– People talk about our hostility to Japan, and all that kind of thing.
-I do not take exception to the expression “ ghost “ in that relation. It would be very unwise if we entertained’ a feeling of that kind. If my honorable friends want to lay a ghost let them do it, but it could be done much better by assenting to the motion as it stands.
– Has the honorable and learned senator altered his views with regard to the total exclusion of Asiatics from Australia ?
– I do not know that I have ever expressed myself in those terms. My honorable friend has put a proposition, which I should be very glad to discuss with him at some other time, but that is not the question we are debating now. The only point is whether we might not very fairly - without hampering our national strength or weakening our feeling against any interference bv an outside power, no matter whether it be the mother country or not - agree to this motion.
– I also entirely fail to understand the reason for the attitude which has been adopted by Senator Pearce and Senator O’Keefe. I shall not have the slightest hesitation, if asked, to state my views on this subject. I would remind those honorable senators that the Parliament of Australia has decided not to admit Japanese. But I believe that we all desire to give as little offence as possible to that nation. I do not see, in this motion, anything but an honest attempt to allay any feeling of irritation and friction which may have arisen between Australia and Japan. I can imagine that if we sought to enter into negotiations for a treaty on this subject, we should say to Japan : “ We have absolutely decided that your people are not to enter the Commonwealth, but we wish to make the arrangement with you in as friendly a way as possible. We do not wish to hurt your feelings, if it can possibly be avoided. We wish, when we enter into this treaty on the questions of immigration and emigration, to have a clear understanding with you as to the terms upon which Australians may enter your country.” There is a correlative in this matter. The other side of the question has been considered by Senator Pulsford in drafting his motion. Surely neither Senator Pearce nor Senator Pulsford can have the slightest objection to the Commonwealth discussing that matter in an amicable way with Japan, and always on the clear assumption that there is to be no modification of the policv of Australia that the Japanese are not to come into our country.
– If honorable senators on the other side do not ask for a modification why do they want an alteration made in the law?
– The amendment, which is to be submitted in another place, will, under no circumstances, make it more easy for the Japanese to enter Australia. If it will have any effect at al], it will only make it more easy for our Customs officers to keep them out.
– That is opposed to my view.
– I have no doubt that the alteration proposed will make it much more difficult for Japanese to “obtain admission to Australia. But what we ought frankly to admit is that the education test was never designed to let people in, but as a .sure means of keeping them out. No man living,, and no man who has ever lived, is or was so educated that he could enter Australia in face of the language test. We discussed that matter years ago, and we all know what the intention was.
– That is, he could not enter, in face of the language test, if we were determined to keep him out.
– Undoubtedly. It is a test designed to keep certain people out, and it is a sure means of keeping them out if there is any force in it at all.
– If the word “ prescribed “ were substituted for the word “European,” would it not be possible by administration to make it easier for Asiatics to come in?
– Senator O’Keefe must recognise that if, by the alteration proposed, it was made at least as easy to keep them out, it would not in the slightest degree affect the efficacy of the education test. If we have an education test we can keep out any man, even though he be the greatest linguist who ever lived.
– Or it would be easy to let any man in under it.
– If the Administration wished to do so; but that is not the object. What has been suggested in another place is that we should omit from the Act a certain word in order to appease the Japanese. I think that the motion of Senator Pulsford off eis a very much more desirable method of smoothing over the feelings of the Japanese, without in any waywhatever interfering with Australia’s policy. I am going to vote for it, assuming that, if , we make a proposal for a treaty, the starting point will be that Australia does not want the Japanese, and does not intend to let them in. The object of the treaty would’ be simply to provide some means cf making that definite arrangement without, if possible, hurting the feelings of the other side. And as I have pointed out, and must repeat, there is a correlative. If the treaty were applied to keep the Japanese Out of Australia, it might equally be made to apply so as to exclude Australians from Japan. Japan has -a perfect right to say that people from this country shall not be admitted into her territory. But I say at once that I believe that Japan would never adopt such a method of keeping- people cut as the education test. As every ,.>ne knows who was with me in the. first Parliament of the Commonwealth, I utterly hate the education test, because it is a subterfuge and a dodge.
– Hear, hear; I admit that.
– We all admit it. I do not believe that Japan, even though she determined to exclude Australians, would adopt such a test as that.
– Because she has not an Imperial Government over her to press her to adopt it.
– I do not wish to go into the reasons why the education test was adopted. 1 am simply stating a fact - that Japan has a perfect right to say- to Australians’, “ You shall not come into our country;” though she would probably, do it in a more direct way.
– So should we, except for the Imperial connexion.
– Let us assume that she does that. , We do not want to be shut out from the opportunity of visiting a civilized part of the world. Surely a question of that kind is a proper one to be settled by treaty. As to Imperial interference, surely we all recognise that if we are to enter into negotiations with regard to a treaty between Australia and Japan it is very desirable that the Government of Australia should conduct those negotiations. In other words, we should discuss this matter with the Japanese, and should arrange the terms on which Japan would admit Australians into her country.
– Arrangements have been entered into.
– Japanese who do not wish to settle here are admitted freely into Australia.
– Am I to understand that no modification is requisite - that it is not desirable or necessary that we should attempt to soothe the feelings of Japan ?
– That is a very different thing.
– That is the whole point in connexion with this matter.
– I understand this motion to mean that a treaty would take the place of our Immigration Restriction Act
– Not at .all.
– That is the intention. Senator Pulsford’s whole speech was denunciatory of our Immigration Restriction Act.
– On what grounds? Senator Pearce can see with me that Senator Pulsford’s motion relates not to the admission of Japanese, but to the method of their exclusion.
– Hear, hear.
– I believe- so far as I am capable of speaking for Senator Pulsford, and I am not to a great extent - that honestly that is his view; that the manner in which we have excluded them is unnecessarily offensive.
– He would admit them by treaty.
– For this reason - that by adopting that method we should avoid the risk of unnecessarily wounding the susceptibilities of a highly-civilized nation like the Japanese. I cannot see why any member of the Senate, no matter what his views are, should object to the method suggested by Senator Pulsford. Am I to understand that honorable senators opposite do not care whether we wound the feelings of the Japanese or not? That is the whole point.
– My proposal is to do by treaty what it has been proposed in another place to do by means of a Bill.
– Honorable senators opposite should not go back upon this starting point - that the Japanese are clearly to understand that they are to be excluded from Australia. If that be so, what more does Senator Pearce want?
– Then why is the treaty wanted ?
– We want a treaty, in the opinion of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, because the Japanese consider that the phraseology of our present education test is- such as unnecessarily to wound their finest susceptibilities, if we like to put it in that way.
– The Prime Minister simply says that we want an amendment of the law, but Senator Pulsford says that we want a treaty, and not a law.
– I do not think so. I agree with Senator Pulsford that what he proposes is a much better way of arriving at the same object as the Prime Minister has in View. It would enable us to secure our object without giving unnecessary offence to the Japanese, and without weakening the policy that is so dear to my honorable friends opposite.
– Is it not dear to the honorable and learned, senator also?
– I do not disguise my views. I admit that the Japanese will have1 to be kept out. I have said so half- a-dozen times. ‘ The White Australia policy is dear to me in a reasonable sense, but I am not a fanatic on the subject.
– The honorable and learned senator believes in the policy ?
– I have said so;: but I do not seek to carry it to an absurd extent. We want to keep the Japanese out, and we can keep them out; but the question is whether we cannot do it without causing any unnecessary irritation to them. When I speak of the fanaticism of my honorable friends opposite, I mean that they stick at nothing in order to carry out their ideal. They do not care how they irritate any one, so long as they secure their object.
– That is an entirely unfair way to put it,
– I will answer that interjection. The Japanese, I believe, have indicated that they do not desire to come into Australia.
– They want the Northern Territory.
– I do not believe that the Japanese Government has, either directly or indirectly, indicated that it desires that its people shall come into Australia.
– A very high official, who has written a book recently, says that there is such a desire.
– If we open the door they will come in fast enough.
– It is difficult to prove a negative, but it is my opinion that they do not want to come in. -The question is what method we shall- adopt to keep them out. I know they have expressed a certain amount of annoyance as to the methods by which we keep them out, and have expressed it very temperately. Is that denied?
– We have no evidence of it.
– I think we have had overwhelming evidence.
– When ?
– When we were dealing with the subject in the first Parliament, and since, It has been made public. I do not think there is any doubt about it.
– That is generally accented. But does not the honorable senator think thev would have been more annoyed if we had drawn a colour line?
– I do not know whether they would or not, but I should! think that they would not have been. That, however, is not the question now. It is this : We have lately had evidence of the annoyance that they feel at the way in which we keep them out - that they resent the method of exclusion more than the fact of it. I put it to the members of the Labour Party, whether if that is so, there is any justifiable reason why, if we can remove that cause of resentment, we should not do so?
– We are proposing to do so by means of a Bill.
– If we can do it without altering the fixed policy of this country, is there any reason why we should not accomplish the purpose by -agreement rather than by legislation? That is what Senator Pulsford’s motion means.
– Can the honorable senator indicate a way in which it can be done?
– I am absolutely certain that if we entered into friendly communications, preliminary to a treaty, with Japan, we could so arrange the whole matter as to leave. the power of exclusion as effective as it is now, and still do away with all the resentment which the Japanese feel. Apparently, however, Senator Pearce has made up his mind, and I suppose that nothing will shift him, even if he recognises that he is showing fanaticism. Let honorable senators ‘ask themselves the question: Who is going to make the treaty? Australia. I should not ask for this policy to be pursued if I thought that the treaty was going to be made by some one else, even by the Imperial authorities.
– Does the honorable senator say that we have power to make treaties with foreign powers?
– Of course the Imperial authorities will have to act as our agents in concluding the treaty ; but there is no difference whatever between our making a treaty directly with Japan and our making the arrangements for the treaty with Japan, leaving the final formal stages to be concluded by the Imperial Government. The Imperial assent will have to be given just as in the case of every Act we pass.
– But Japan does ‘not give its assent to an Act.
– No; and it is in order that we may work harmoniously with Japan that a treaty is desirable. Japan may agree to our terms, and if she does, we shall have removed all cause of friction. In my- opinion there is no danger in a treaty of1 the kind, and a great deal is to be said in favour of the proposal, if we wish to appease the irritation which Japan has already felt. The method proposed by. Senator Pulsford is infinitely preferable to the alteration in the law which- we know is- proposed in another place. I shall vote for the motion as it stands.
– I had not intended to speak but for some remarks of Senator Symon, which appear to indicate that that honorable senator has altered his views in regard to the total exclusion of Asiatics. I have a very keen recollection of suffering under the whip of the honorable senator’s powerful sarcasm some two or three years ago, when we were discussing the Immigration Restriction Bill. Some honorable senators, including myself, in order that the Bill might pass into law, had agreed to the education test being applied.
– I objected to the education test most strongly ; I said that the honest way would be to exclude Asiatics altogether.
– That is so. Some honorable senators and myself, as I say, agreed to the education tost, because we believed that without it the Imperial authorities would not consent to the Bill.
– That was the trouble.
– The” Imperial authori ses had previously rejected two Bills which provided for the colour test.
– Senator Symon, on the occasion to 0 which I have referred, asked. “Is not this exhibition of political prostitution on the floor of the Senate without a parallel “ ?
– That was when I thought the Labour Party had gone back on their opinion. The Labour Party were at first in favour of a. no-language test!
– On that occasion, the honorable and-, learned senator said -
So far as I am concerned, I intend to be consistent with what I declared on the hustings, and in the Senate, and I intend to vote against this educational test, because it is inefficacious for the purpose we have in view.
Further on the honorable and learned senator said -
It is not a linguistic test at all. We do not wish to admit people because they possess the faculty of writing fifty words in English, o’r in some European language, but we propose to shut them out because they are not of a race and colour of which we approve. … I warn honorable senators that if this Bill is passed in this shape, as a means of excluding Asiatics from this country, before long they will repent of it. . . . I shall be found voting against this educational test, and in favour of direct exclusion.
I ask honorable senators opposite to say whether, if direct exclusion had been agreed upon, and declared in so many words, greater offence would not have been given to Japan?
– I say there would not.
– But there is discrimination in fixing upon a European language.
– Offence is caused by placing the Japanese in the same category as Chinese and other Asiatic nations.
– So far as one can judge from the( expressions of opinion by Japanese public nien, the objection is to the classification with Asiatics in a general way. The Japanese consider themselves as super or to Asiatics - even superior to the Chinese. If Senator Pulsford’s motion means anything it means that we should prepare a way for Japanese to come into Australia.
– No, it does not.
– And further, that a way should be prepared for Britishers to go into Japan. If that is not the meaning of the motion, I do not know what is. I take the motion to mean that there) shall be free intercourse between the two peoples.
– That is not the meaning. I thought I made) the meaning quite clear.
– Than’ I see no object at all in the motion. If I were one of those excluded, I should feel greater objection if I were told that I would not be allowed in at any price.
– That is the meaning of the present law, and the Japanese know it.
– But the Act allows Japanese to come into the Commonwealth on complying with an educational test, and honorable senators know that the test app ie,d is fifty words in English.
– Nonsense !
– A man who could speak English, German, and other languages, was, I think, given a test in Greek, or a language of that kind.
– The fact is that the test applied is fifty words in a language which’ the immigrant cannot translate.
– Only the other day a prosecution against a Chinese immigrant was declared unlawful, because the test had been applied in more than fifty words of English.
– Does the honorable senator think that a Chinaman, who was the greatest linguist that ever lived, would be permitted to enter the Commonwealth if there was a determination to exclude him?
– I understand that such a man could be admitted under a relaxation of the provisions of the Act.
– But would’ such a Chinaman be admitted under the education test?
– Such a Chinaman would not be admitted if the authorities chose to apply the test in a language which he did not know.
– The immigrant Would be told that he had not passed even if he had.
– It is of no use telling us that the Japanese do not want to come to this country, or that they disfavour emigration. The fact is, that during the war with Russia, we were told that Japan desired territory in order to allow expansion for her population.
– But now that Japan has Korea and Manchuria, the Japanese do not want to come to Australia.
– That is all very well, but we know that when once the Japanese started to come to Queensland, 2,000 or 3,000 of them arrived in two or three years. The public men of Japan may say that they do not desire their people to leave their own country, but there must be a1 great number of the poor amongst them who desire to emigrate. There is not only the fact that the Japanese do not appear to assimilate with the white races, but also the danger of cheap labour. If the Japanese come here, and work for lower rates of wages, any lowering of the standard in a given industry has a tendency to affect wages in all occupations.
– It is a great pity that a proposal of this kind should have been submitted to the Senate, and Senator Playford would be wise to withdraw the motion. The honorable senator must know that there is not the remotest chance of a proposal of this kind being carried in this Chamber. I can see no reason for the motion, except, in the words of the American humorist, “ a general kind of cussedness “ on the part of the honorable senator. In the first place, we have no reliable evidence that Japan objects to the Commonwealth legislation in this connexion.
– We have no official evidence.
- Senator Smith, a few days ago, put a question on the point to the representative of the Government in the Senate, and received the answer that no communication from any source whatever had been received by the Commonwealth Government on the subject. We have no evidence that Japan, is dissatisfied with our legislation, though occasionally there is wire-pulling on the part of the black labour advocates in the various States. Those advocates interview a Consul here and there, and get the opinion of this man or the other, and the results are published broadcast in the piebald Australian Newspapers. Endeavours are repeatedly made to foment an agitation, with the object of bringing about some relaxation of the present law. When Senator Pulsford produces direct evidence to this Senate that Japan is dissatisfied with the form of our legislation, I shall, personally be prepared to consider any proposal that Japan may make. But until that period arrives, I do not see why there should be the slightest alteration in our law. The motion, in my opinion, is a most extraordinary one. It begins by declaring that both Japan and Australia desire “ to maintain the purity of their respective races.” I do not know what the wish of Japan is, but I certainly know that the great majority of the people of Australia do not wish to mix with the Japanese race, however superior the latter may be. I suppose that a number of people, even in Australia, consider that a Japanese, now that Russia has been “floored,” is better than an Australian, and almost as good as a Scotchman. There is no doubt that we in Australia desire to maintain the purity of our race. Senator Pulsford has told us that the Japanese do not wish to come to Australia. If that be so, there is an end of the matter. But we are told that the susceptibilities of the Japanese have been touched by our form of legislation. Dear me ! How susceptible the Japanese must be !
– I do not suppose they are half as susceptible as some Australians would be under the circumstances.
– It would appear that we have to carry the common courtesies of Japanese life into the arena of the world. I believe it is the custom in Japan, when one person addresses another, to use about a dozen complimentary adjectives; but Japan, now that she takes rank amongst the civilized powers, ought to learn that such modes of address are regarded as superfluous. Civilized communities do not deal with each other in that fashion, but, with as little offence as possible, express their intentions. If the Japanese do not desire to come to Australia, why is an alteration of the law asked for? The test is in some European language; and if we do not want the Japanese to come here, and the Japanese have no desire to come here, why- all this trouble? Who has moved Senator Pulsford in this matter?
– Senator Pulsford.
– Is the motive power which has set the honorable senator to work situated in Japan, or where? It may be in New South Wales, because the people of New South Wales, or at least a certain proportion of them, are not particularly loyal to the white Australia, ideal.
– I think we can give the honorable senator credit for moving this motion “on his own.”
– If Senator Pulsford has moved this motion in good faith, and I am not inclined to doubt that, the only conclusion I can come to is that he must be labouring under some hallucination, that he is the victim of a kind of mania with regard to the relations between Japan and Australia. The honorable senator, if he will excuse me for saying so, is certainly not in what I woulaca.ll a healthy frame of mind with regard to this subject. It sits upon his chest like a nightmare.
– The other side appeals to Senator Stewart.
– I have no desire to go to Japan. They can erect a wall 15,000 feet high around Japan for all I care.
– The honorable senator desires that all Australians shall hold his opinion.
– Even the beautiful Geisha girls would not induce me to visit Japan. I do not want to go to Japan. I do not know whether Senator Clemons desires to go there or not. Perhaps the honorable. senator has been there, and wishes to go back. I should never accuse Senator
Pulsford of desiring to go there, but Senator Clemons might wish to do so.
– I do not desire Australians to be debarred fromgoing there.
– Senator Clemons must be aware that we do not debar the Japanese from coming to Australia. An arrangement has been entered into by which Japanese tourists and persons travelling for information can come to Australia and look about them as much as they please. I suppose that Japan will reciprocate, and that if Senator Clemons desires to go there he will have no difficulty in securing a permit to travel throughout the entire Empire, and will be offered all the hospitalities of the country. I do not like the amendment very much more than; the motion. I think that both are superfluous. But, seeing that the motion has been brought forward, it might be better to accept the amendment than to directly negative the motion. We have no feeling of hostility towards Japan. I feel in the most friendly mood, personally, towards that country at present. Any country which can command a large number of warships, and whose people are able to shoot straight, and are very determined fighters, has my respect, and I wish to be on good terms with it if possible.
– Because Japan could wipe us out in about a week, the honorable senator feels respect for that country.
– I admit that it is probable that the Japanese, if they came down here, could wipe us out, but I have not much fear of that happening. I think that Japan has other fish to fry at the present moment. I have no doubt that she feels; rather sore after the big fight she has recently had, and will devote the next generation or two to nursing her wounds, and getting herself into condition for another struggle. By that time, probably Australia will be able to “ put up her props “ just as sharply as can Japan. In any case, I do not see any reason for disturbing our present legislation with regard to immigration. I regret very much that Senator Pulsford should allow this question to so dominate his thoughts that it seems to drive every other subject out of his mind.
– It does not drive the Tariff out of the honorable senator’s mind.
– Probably the honorable senator’s mind is something like a bed in a Japanese factory. Honorable senators must know that Japan is advancing very rapidly with the development of industries, and I am told that in many of the factories in that country the factory boys and girls, and operatives generally, sleep on the premises. Each factory is run during the whole twenty-four hours. The dayshift crowd sleep during the night, and the men, women, boys, and girls of the nightshift sleep on the premises during, the day and both shifts use the same beds. Probably Senator Pulsford’s mind is in exactly the same position - when it is not fully occupied with the Japanese question, the Tariff holds the fort, and between the two those questions retain a monopoly of the honorable senator’s intellect. I intend to vote against the motion and for the amendment, not because I think the amendment is at all necessary, but because it has been practically thrust upon us by Senator Pulsford.
– The honorable senator can vote against the whole motion.
– No, I do not desire to appear to do anything offensive to Japan. I have, as I have already said, a friendly feeling towards that country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Drake) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Life Assurance Companies Bill.
Amendments Incorporation Bill.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 22nd November, vide page 5574)
The Parliament: President’s Salary: Usher of the Black Rod : Travelling Expenses : Ventilation of Senate Chamber: Postage and Telegrams : “ Hansard “ : Library : Refreshment Room : Electric Lighting : Water Supply : Sewerage -
Divisions 1 to 10 (The Parliament),£30,176.
– I rise to move that the salary of the President be reduced from £1,100 to £600, and the salary of the Chairman of Committees from £500 to £350. Last year I gave my reasons for proposing similar reductions, and perhaps it is hardly necessary to recapitulate them. In my opinion, it is extravagant on the part of the Commonwealth to pay a salary of ,£1,500 to the President of the Senate. Last year I said I was not animated by any personal feeling. I have the highest respect for both the President and the Chairman of Committees. I do not think that we could find two other senators who would fill the positions more conscientiously, with more dignity, and with greater impartiality than they do; but the salary in each case is too high. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “The President, £1,100,” by j£5°°-
I hope that such honorable senators as are economically minded will support me.
– Does ‘ Senator Stewart propose to move a request in regard to the other item?
– I see that it is absolutely hopeless to effect any reform in a Chamber constituted as this one appears to be. It is almost as hopeless to get economy here as it was to get electoral reform in the British House of Commons. I had not a single supporter for my motion for reducing the salary of the President. If any one had echoed my sweet voice when I said “Aye.” most undoubtedly I should have called for a division; but I see that it is a forlorn hope. I need not move another request for a reduction of salary, for I am sure that if I did it would meet with a similar fate. I had a number of reductions to propose, but in the circumstances I abandon them.
– Last year I moved a request in order to protest against the objectionable manner in which the salary for the Usher of the Black Rod was set down. He was set down for a salary of £550 as “ Usher of the Black Rod, Clerk of Select Committees, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee,” and a salary of ,£50 as “ Controller of the Refreshment Rooms.” I desire to know whether the item of £550 under the head of “ The Senate ‘ ‘ includes the whole of this officer’s remuneration.
– A salary of ,£550 is on the Estimates for this officer, as Usher of the Black Rod, Clerk of Select Committees, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee, and a salary of £50 as Controller of the Refreshment Department. I consider that the latter sum is very well earned, because there is a great deal of work to be done.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I am not cavilling at the amount which we are asked to vote for this officer, but the manner in which the items are placed in the schedule. We ought to be able to ascertain at a glance the total remuneration which is received by any officer. Under this agreement an officer may be drawing three of four salaries, and an honorable senator is required to search the schedule in order to ascertain what a particular officer is receiving. Last year Senator Symon promised that this slip-shod method would be altered. There is not even a footnote to show that the Usher of the Black Rod is receiving a salary as Controller of the Refreshment Rooms.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I believe that the reason why the salaries for this officer are set down in two places is because the Usher of the Black Rod and Clerk of Select Committees is not necessarily the Clerk to the Joint House Committee and Controller of the Refreshment Department. If we put down a salary of ,£600 under the head of “ The Senate,” we should have the item of “ Controller,” under the head of “ Refreshmentrooms,” with no salary attached. I think that a foot-note ought to be provided, and I shall see that that is done next year.
– I recollect Senator Givens drawing my attention to this matter last year. I admit that it is a bad practice, but I think that the difficulty is in using the word “Controller” without stating, by means of a foot-note, that the Usher of the Black Rod is the Controller. Without a foot-note we have .no means of knowing, until we have made inquiry, whether the Controller named on a subsequent page is identical with the Usher of the Black Rod.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I desire to again call attention to the fact that the report of the Auditor-General is not in our hands when we are dealing with the Appropriation Bill. If it were available we could see exactly how much was spent on each item during the last financial year, and therefore should be in a better position to decide whether too much or enough is being asked for on the present occasion. Can the leader of the Senate say when the report of the AuditorGeneral will be ready, and if in the future it is likely to be placed in our hands before the Appropriation Bill is considered?
– I cannot inform the honorable senator when the report of the Auditor-General will be furnished. He is absolutely independent of the Government. He stands between Government and Parliament, audits the accounts, and makes a report direct to the President or to the Speaker. If there is any line as to which the honorable senator desires information, I can give it to him.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- This brings up another point with respect to the Auditor-General. The Minister has told us that he. is art officer altogether independent of the Government, but he is not independent of Parliament. His report ought to be ready in time for the discussion on the Estimates. If it is not ready, it is of no use so far as the criticism of the Estimates is concerned.’ I think that some pressure ought to be brought to bear upon the Auditor-General to have his report ready in time. In Queensland we used to have the Auditor-General’s report ready in time to assist us in discussing the Estimates. I admit that there may be a little more difficulty in the Commonwealth, but still, if the Auditor-General’s report is not to be valueless, we ought to have it before us at this time. The President has said that certain papers have been circulated.
– The information is all in the Estimates.
– We receive any number of papers, and do not know where to put them. I have been trying to find accommodation for my papers, but it is so insufficient that it is. practically impossible for me to obtain any paper when I want it, unless I put it. in a particular place by itself. If I try to arrange my papers as an ordinary man engaged in a business would do, I find the task to be hopeless. We have a little more accommodation downstairs, but even that is of comparatively little service. I do not want any luxuries. I ask for nothing more than is absolutely necessary for a man engaged in a business of this character.
– Does the honorable senator connect his observations with the item?
– Senator Baker tells us that the papers have been circulated. Goodness knows where they are now ! I have a whole bundle of papers, but I really do not know what I have or have not got.
It is impossible for me to arrange them conveniently.
– The honorable senator ought to have a secretary.
– I am quite qualified to be my own secretary, but I cannot be my own cupboard, unfortunately. If I had the faculty to carry parliamentary papers in my pocket, or to tabulate them in my brain, as I suppose Senator Pulsford does, it would be very useful. But unfortunately niv brain, although perhaps a little wooden, has not the capacity of a cupboard. I should like the House Committee to take into consideration the question of finding decent accommodation for honorable senators.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think we ought not to lose sight of the remark made by Senator Stewart with respect to the report made by the Auditor-General. Certainly it is a very important matter. On referring to the Audit Act, I find that the annual statement of the Treasurer as to the consolidated revenue fund and the receipts and expenditure for the year, has to be submitted to the AuditorGeneral, as soon as reasonably convenient after the expiration of the financial year. Then the Auditor-General has to make a report, which has to be laid on the table of Parliament within fourteen days after it is prepared. We are now in the middle of November. The financial year ended on 30th June. Perhaps the Minister of Defence will be able to tell us how it is that the Auditor-General’s- report is not yet available. It certainly would be of great service to honorable senators. Senator Stewart has laid his. finger on a’ very important point. Perhaps the Minister will see that the proper authorities are communicated with, so that in future the report may be made available in time to be of use.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I am sorry that I cannot give any information on the subject, but I will make all the necessary in-, quiries. I quite agree that we should have the Auditor-General’s report laid before Parliament at as early a date as possible. I will inquire why it has not been furnished before now.
– I know of my own knowledge that the AuditorGeneral’s report was very much delayed last year. Upon making inquiries, I found that the Auditor-General was waiting for the Treasury vouchers. It would be of no. use for him to send in a report unless he had seen the vouchers. He was waiting for them for some weeks. I expect that he is waiting for them now. Probably that is the cause of the delay. But I do not think that the Auditor-General’s report would help us very much in dealing with the Appropriation Bill.
– I wish to refer to item No. 7 in subdivision 2, travelling expenses, £50. I intend to move an amendment, but I should also like to have an explanation. I find from the Estimates that the appropriation for travelling expenses last year was j£6o, and the amount expended was ^63. The sum set down this year is ,£50. The reduction seems to be, to a certain extent, satisfactory. But I wish particularly to draw attention to the fact that the corresponding item in the House of Representatives is ]£25> and the amount actually spent last year was - nothing. I wish to have an explanation as to how it is that ;£6o was spent by the Senate, whilst nothing was spent by the House of Representatives. If £25 is a sufficient estimate under this heading for the House of Representatives, it does seem wrong that the estimate for the Senate should be ,£50. Perhaps the Minister will, first of all, explain how the £63 was spent last year, how it is proposed to spend £50 in the coming year, and why £25 suffices for the House of Representatives ?
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I think I can explain the matter to a certain extent. Nearly the whole of the £63 expended last year was for the hire of cabs for carrying the luggage of honorable senators to and from steamers and railway stations. I do not know under what heading the money for a similar service is set down on the House of Representatives side. I do not know anything at all about their expenditure.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).-.! should really like Senator Baker, if he can, to supply details. First of all, I say clearly that I utterly disapprove of this expenditure for cabs for honorable senators. On the merits, it is wrong. When there is such a comparison with the expenditure on behalf of the House of Representatives, it appears still more wrong. We have heard from Senator Baker that this money is spent on cabs. If that is the case, it is high time it was stopped.
– What are the cabs for?
– If no better reason can be given, I shall move that the item, be struck out.
– Perhaps the Minister or Senator Baker can tell us under what heading the corresponding expenditure of the House of Representatives is placed.
– I have just found it.
– Although I do not know the figures, I feel quite sure that the other House must spend a good deal more in this connexion. When Senator Clemons emphasizes the fact that the money was spent on cabs, he might have explained what the cabs were used for.
– I do not know.
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do, that the cabs are used to facilitate the business of the Senate. The matter rarely affects me, because I travel very little, but I am aware that it enables honorable senators to stay in this chamber until the last moment, and then to leave for the railway station with their luggage. The honorable senator, however, has left it to be supposed by those who read Hansard that honorable senators are in the habit of riding about the city in cabs for their pleasure.
– I never thought of such a thing.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I have been asked a question. I have just been given information, which I think is correct, that all cabs for the House of Representatives are paid for under item No. 12, “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure, £150.”
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- My reply to that is that item No. 9 of subdivision No. 2, which is now under consideration, contains the very same heading, only that the amount is different, namely, “ Incidental! and petty cash expenses, £50,” the amount expended being ^29. The corresponding item on the other side, for the! House of Representatives, shows that the estimate was ^150, and that the actual amount expended was ,£109. More was spent by the House of Representatives than by the Senate, and while, of course, I understand that Senator Baker believes the information that has been given him-
– I have just bean given the information.
– Assuming that Senator Baker believes the information, I have very grave doubts as to whether it is correct. I ask, then, if, under this heading in the House of Representatives, the estimated provision has been made for cabs, what provision has been made for the Senate; in other words, I ask what “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure “ in the Senate means? It does not mean cabs, because there is a special provision for travelling expenses ; and the explanation given is very unsatisfactory.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - It seems very inadvisable and misleading that there should be an item of this sort for travelling expenses, if it merely means, as I understand the Senate is informed, cab hire, which is not travelling expenses in the ordinary sense. It does seem to me that the matter requires explanation. I can understand cab hire being put down under incidental expenses, as appears to be done in the House of Representatives. It does not necessarily follow that the whole of the £150 is spent in cab hire; it may be that only a small portion is thus spent; and, therefore, we may not be doing the House of Representatives justice in saying that their expenditure on cabs is larger than our own.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South- Australia). - The statement made to me by the officers is that the bulk of this ,£29 was spent on newspapers provided in the rooms and offices of the Senate.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- Does Senator Baker still adhere to the opinion that, under this item in the House of Representatives, provision was made for the payment of cab hire?
– It is not my opinion ; it is what I have been informed.
– I know that, but I ask Senator Baker if he still believes the information to be good?
– Then I call the honorable senator’s attention to .the fact that in every division throughout thd Estimates there is a similar heading of “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure.”
– What is the point?
– The point is that it is extremely doubtful whether this item, in the case of the House of Representatives, does cover cab hire, when it does not, and cannot possibly, cover cab hire in ninety-nine other items ‘and sub-divisions.
– I express no opinion on the matter.
– I think a very poor explanation has been offered to us.
– Has the Minister no details of the! expenditure?
– That is what I want to know.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The item of “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure,” will, of course, vary with each Department. Im one Department the expenditure will be in one direction, and in another Department, in another direction. I should imagine that under this heading, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, there is perfect right to charge the cab hire necessitated by the conveyance of the luggage Of honorable senators to trains and steamers.
– Then what is “ travelling expenses “ if this item is for cab hire?
– I admit that under ordinary circumstances “ travelling expenses “ would not cover cab hire.
– Then tell us what the item is?
– Cab hire is “travelling expenses” in a sense; it is the “ expenses “ incurred in carrying honorable senators with their luggage.
– Cab hire cannot come under both headings; the Minister must choose’.
– As I have said, one Department may expend this money in one direction, and another Department in another.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - Surely it is, or is not, a fact that out of the .£150 the House of Representatives has spent .£109 in cabs. I cannot say whether or not it is a fact ; all I can say is that I am informed that the House of Representatives pays for cabs out of this vote. Whether that is done, rightly or wrongly, I express no opinion. As to the ,£29 which we have spent, I have already said that the bulk of it was for the newspapers provided in the rooms and offices of the Senate.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think that this matter is really becoming more and more unsatisfactory. If newspapers are obtained for the supply of the rooms which we use, the cost ought to be put down in the Estimates under a heading which we can understand.
– That is done in the case of the House of Representatives, under the heading, “ Supply of newspapers, £35-“
– Then the same course ought to be taken in connexion with the Senate. To what was devoted the balance of this incidental expenditure ? I do not quite see the same extent of impropriety as Senator Clemons does in regard to the cab hire, which, I suppose, means one cab on two days a week to go round and collect members’ luggage.
– At a cost of ,£63 per annum !
– I do not believe that every shilling of the ,£63 was for cab hire. It appears that there were no travelling expenses in the House of Representatives. A sum of ,£25 was voted for this purpose in that House last year, but not twenty-five farthings was spent.
– There is a sum of £9,000 provided “ for the conveyance of Members of Parliament.”
– That, I take it, means the cost of our railway passes.
– It means the cost of Tail and steamer travelling.
– I do not know what travelling expenses there can be in the Senate. Why should a single shilling be spent for travelling in connexion with the Senate, while nothing is spent in connexion with the House of Representatives ?
– There is some expenditure in connexion with the House of Representatives.
- Senator Baker is mistaken. We ought to have some particulars of this item from the responsible Minister.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I can give honorable senators full particulars now of the travelling expenses in connexion with the Senate.
– As to every shilling?
– Yes. The honorable senator made an assumption which was not correct, that I stated that the whole of the provision for travelling expenses was for cabs.
– That is what the honorable senator did state.
– No. The money spent for cabs for senators was £50 16s. 66. Then there is an item of £10 ios., which I spent myself on sleeping accommodation in travelling to and fro between Melbourne and Adelaide. I consider I was perfectly justified in spending that money, and I did so.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- I am sorry that Senator Baker considers that he has fully accounted for this expenditure. We have, however, arrived at the conclusion that, out of the ,£63, the sum of £50 1 6s. 6d., and a further sum of £10 ios., have been spent in the way just indicated. But, even so, I point out that that does not fully account for .£63, the total expenditure mentioned by Senator Baker being ,£61 16s. 6d. The difference is not so much; but Senator Baker confidently announced, in tones of self-congratulation, that he could account for every shilling. But for that fact I should not have directed attention to the difference. I now, however, state publicly, and advisedly - I would not think it outside, or say it outside - that, in my opinion, there is no justification for the President of the Senate, whoever ‘he may be, spending £10 10s. of Commonwealth money on his own comfort in travelling. I oppose that expenditure openly and frankly, though Senator Baker admits that it was his. In my opinion, the expenditure is wrong, and I shall vote in the direction of reducing the item. When, however, I come to consider the method in which it ought to be reduced, I see that the estimate this year is ,£50. Are we to assume that the expenditure will be ,£50 1 6s. 6d. ? In that case, Senator Baker is going to forego this expenditure of ,£io ios.
– We cannot tell ; we do not know what will be the length of the session.
– I suppose we may assume that the coming session will be more or less the length of the present session. At any rate, we have the fact that the last actual expenditure, on which the future estimate ought to be based, Avas £60 odd - namely, £50 for cabs, and ,£10 10s. for Senator Baker. Is the estimate of .£50 foi cabs, or is it intended to include the expenditure for the extra sleeping berths which the President thinks he is justified in incurring out of public money ? If Senator Baker assures me that he will no longer charge those travelling expenses, I shall leave the estimate as it is, because, apparently, it is based on the actual expenditure for cabs. Of that expenditure I personally do not approve, but the majority of honorable senators appear to think it is right. If Senator Baker does not assure me that he intends to forego this travelling expenditure, I shall move that the item be reduced by .£10 10s.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I am not prepared to give any such guarantee. I consider that I should be placed in the same position as Ministers of the Crown so far as travelling is concerned, and I understand that they also obtain an extra berth.
– I do not think so.
– I think so, and, as a matter of fact), I know that it is done. I may say that I do not participate in any wa.y. in the amount spent for cabs, as I always pay for my own cabs. So that some honorable senators get it one way and some another way.
– The best thing to do is to abolish it altogether.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out item (The Senate) “Travelling expenses, £50. “
That will enable the Committee to test the advisability of voting money for the hire of cabs which I do not approve of, but which some honorable senators think is reasonable. If mv proposal to make that request is defeated, I shall then move that the House of Representatives be requested to’ reduce the amount by* £10 10s., the expense incurred by Senator Baker.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Senator Baker has said that he thinks he is entitled out of the Commonwealth public money to have an extra berth, costing £10 10s. per year, equally with Ministers of the Crown. The honorable and learned senator has also said that some people get it one way and some another way. That is not a satisfactory argument, from my point of view. I was a Minister of the Crown, and I draw a very strong distinction between the position of the President or Speaker and that of a Minister of the Crown, who may have to carry with him a number of papers, and may be obliged to make of his compartment in the train a sort of travelling office, if he lives away from the Seat of Government. I was resident in Adelaide whilein charge of a Department, in connexion with which many papers were handed to me at the moment I left Melbourne, and I was obliged really to turn the compartment I occupied into a travelling office; but I should add that I have paid out of my own pocket for the extra berth. I thought it was right to do so, though I should have been quite prepared to reconcile to my conscience the charging of the extra berth to the Department, because I required it as a convenience for the performance of public work. However, I cannot understand why the President of the Senate, who undoubtedly occupies a very distinguished office, should be in any different position from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and during the four years of the existence of the Commonwealth Parliament Sir Frederick Holder has always travelled amongst the rest of us, and has never, so far as I am aware, charged the public taxpaver a single farthing for an extra berth and the seclusion of a whole compartment to himself. He has no public business to transact which would require the special convenience. If I thought for a moment that it would increase the status of the President or the Speaker, I would say that this should be done by all means ; but I do not think that the extra sleeping berth adds in the slightest degree to the dignity of the President. I think that Sir Frederick Holder’s dignity is preserved just as effectually by sharing his compartment with me or any other member as it would be by travelling in solemn isolation.
– I quite agree with Senator Symon in the opinions he has expressed about providing a double berth for one man. I do not think there is any fairness in that, no matter what position the man may occupy. I do not know that I should approve of the Governor-General having a berth more than myself. I think that every man should be equal in that respect.
– He is entitled to it if he pays for it.
– If he pays for them, let him have sixteen; but I do not think he is entitled to have two berths provided for him when I have only one.
I quite agree that the practice of providing two berths for one man should be abolished immediately. The question of the expenditure on cabs has not been fairly put to the Committee. Whether willfully or not, a false impression has been conveyed. It would lead one to believe that the money is expended to provide some luxury which honorable senators enjoy from time to time. That is the impression which would be conveyed to the public by Senator Clemons’ remarks.
– I have denied it half-a-dozen times. I know what the cabs are for.
– I have ‘Stated the impression conveyed by the honorable senator’s speech. The cabs are employed on Fridays and Tuesdays, and it is possible that Senator Clemons has sometimes availed himself of the conveniences provided.
– I pay my own expenses.
– I am glad to hear that the honorable senator has plenty of money to enable him to do so. The position is that many honorable senators representing South Australia, New South Wales, and Tasmania live in the suburbs of Melbourne, and unless the convenience objected to was provided they would- on Friday mornings have to bring their bag and baggage from their residences to Parliament House, and on Friday afternoons carry them to the trains or the steamer. In view of the fact that we sometimes remain here until within a few minutes of the time the express trains leave Melbourne, it cannot be said to be unreasonable that cabs should be provided to collect their luggage and take it to the station.
– Undoubtedly it is a convenience for the despatch of business on a Friday.
– The cabs are provided to enable honorable senators’ luggage to be collected, in order that they may remain at their posts here to within a few minutes of the time the trains leave for Sydney and Adelaide.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I would say that if the Committee think that I should not have this privilege extended to me I am quite willing to forego it. At the same time, I shall vote with Senator’ Clemons, that the House of Representatives be requested to omit the whole item.
– If travelling expenses are not paid to one honorable senator, why should they be paid to others ?
– Why should one honorable senator have two berths?
– Whyshould other honorable senators go in free cabs?
– They do not.
– I . am quite willing that the whole system should be abolished. If it is not to be abolished, I would ask Senator Clemons not to move a request for any reduction, because the cabs will take up the whole ^50.
– I shall’ move a reduction.
– The money has nearly all been spent.
– I do not care if it has been spent forty times over.
– It will be all the better for the Commonwealth if the Committee give the same attention to large amounts on these Estimates, running into thousands of pounds, as they are giving to this small item. I am glad that the debate has been continued, because if it had closed with Senator Clemons* first speech an- unfortunate impression would have got abroad. I do not mean to say that the honorable senator desired that. As one of those who can generally carry their luggage in their pocket, and who make use of the cabs perhaps not more than twice in a session to take their luggage from the House to the steamer, I do npt propose to object to what I consider a fair and reasonable expenditure bn cabs1 for the convenience of honorable senators who live in suburbs, 1 and who have more luggage to dispose of than I have. What occurs is that between, perhaps, 2 and 5 o’clock on Friday afternoons a cab is employed to go round to the Melbourne residences of honorable senators, who travel to their own States at the week-end, in order to collect their luggage and take it to the boat or the train. I am not too proud to admit that if I lived in a distant suburb I should be glad to avail myself of the convenience. I cannot follow the argument of Senator Baker that the other expenditure complained about can be included in the same category. The honorable senator no doubt thought he was entitled to be placed in. the same position as a Minister of the
Crown, but immediately objection has been taken to his action he has said - and -no man could say more - that if the Committee objects he is willing to forego the privilege. It is a very small matter, and I think that too much has perhaps been made of it.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).I should not have risen but for the fact that Senator Baker has said that if - he foregoes the extra sleeping berth which he has been in the habit of taking he is prepared to vole against the whole item, because he does not use the cabs provided. I do not know that any honorable senators ride in the cabs > certainly I never do. The provision of cabs has been a very considerable convenience to honorable senators on their arrival in Melbourne, and in enabling them to attend to their parliamentary duties until the last moment. Senator Baker misled the Committee, because he said that he did not use the cabs.
– If each senator had a servant to take his luggage to the train he would not want a cab.
– I pay for it.
– We are asked to vote an item of ,£204 for a servant to meet the President at the train, and to take his luggage ito and fro instead of its being taken in a cab. Only £50 is required to provide cabs for thirty-six senators, but £204 is required for taking the President’s luggage to and from the train.
– No; that is for the servant’s salary.
– That is the salary for a servant who takes the President’s luggage to and from the train.
– But he . has other things to do.
– Provision is made bv the Senate for the President’s luggage to be taken to and from the train, yet he says that if he is called upon to forego the sum of £10 10s. he will vote against the whole item, and thus take a convenience away from honorable senators who are in an exactly similar position on Friday afternoon. It was injudicious for Senator Baker to say that the expenditure is a small one. I should not care if the provision were abolished, because I could get Mayne, Nickless, and Company to collect my luggage at a cost of a few shillings a week. We now have a guarantee that our luggage will ar rive at the station in ample time, and be safeguarded by a servant of the Senate. That is a great satisfaction to every one. I do not raise any objection to the President of the Senate having extra accommodation in the train- The position is a high and honorable one, and if Senator Baker thinks it is necessary to maintain that position by having a compartment to himself it is for the Senate to say whether it will sanction the expenditure. If Senator Baker thinks that it enhances his position as President to have this accommodation, I am prepared to vote the money.
– In what way could it add to the dignity of his position?
– If Senator Baker says that the accommodation is necessary for the President of the Senate I am prepared to vote the money.
– But the Speaker of the other House does not think that it is necessary.
– I have travelled on other lines than that between Melbourne and Adelaide, and I know that Ministers have each occupied a compartment. Whether they paid for the extra berth or not I do not know.
– That makes all the difference in the world.
– -We have no right to impose upon the ‘State Government. If the compartment were occupied by two persons there would be two full fares instead of two sleeping-berth fares to be paid to the State. Very often the railway officials are obliged to make provision outside the sleeping-berths for the members of this Parliament, and to refuse to take passengers who want sleeping-berths. I have known several cases where persons have refrained from travelling on particular days because they could not get sleeping-berths.
– Does the honorable senator object to the President paying for an extra berth for himself?
– NO; but it is a serious matter to the State, which has to make a profit out of the railways, when it is deprived of a full fare. Even though it is a Minister who occupies the compartment and pays 12s. “6d. for a sleeping-berth, he does not pav the full fare.
– That is a matter for the State. If it does not like to let the berth it need not do so.
– Exactly ; but I do not think it is our contract with the
State. If the State likes to say to the President, “ You can occupy a compartment,” that is its affair. I do not intend to oppose the vote of £10 10s., but I strongly object to the insinuation that any concession is given to honorable senators in the taking of their luggage to the trains on a Friday afternoon.
– This is really a small matter. I do not see why those senators who travel a great deal by train should not have the benefit of a. cab to take their luggage, or, for the matter of that, themselves to the station. The cabs are principally used by those who come from the neighbouring States and who travel at the week end. It would not matter to me if the provision of cabs were abolished, because I have not used a cab this session, except at my own expense, for the carriage of my luggage or myself . I do not think there is any necessity for us to be so parsimonious in regard to a necessary convenience, and perhaps to allow other matters which are of greater importance to go through with little discussion. I think that a Minister is entitled to have an extra berth at the expense of the Commonwealth.
– But they do not have an extra berth.
– I have never had an extra berth in my life.
– I venture to say that there are Ministers who do get an extra berth at the expense of the Commonwealth.
– They may want privacy.
– There is every reason why they might have an extra berth, but it is not usual.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Very often it is necessary for Ministers, when travelling by train, to go through a great many papers. It is generally admitted that a Minister is entitled to have an extra berth. Why should we draw a hard-and-fast line between a Minister and the President or the Speaker?
– The President and the Speaker have not to do any work in the train.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.They might have to look up an important point in regard to the Standing Orders, and even if they had not, their position, in my opinion, is quite equal to that of a Minister. It has been pointed out that the
Speaker of the House, of Representatives does not take advantage of a two-berth compartment for himself.
– The Minister of Defence said he did not.
– It may be that the Speaker is a gregarious biped, and prefers to travel with company in his compartment. At the same time, if he desires a two-berth compartment, he is entitled to the accommodation. When a member of Parliament rises to the position of a Minister of the Crown, or President of the Senate, or Speaker of the House of Representatives, it is quite uncalled-for to object to these small expenditures. I intend to vote for both items.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item (The Senate) “ Travelling Expenses,£50,” by £10 10s.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I shall take this vote as an indication of what the Committee desires in this matter.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I wish to draw attention to the ventilation of this chamber. It seems possible from the march of events that we shall be here for some years. If that is the case, some improvement should be made in the ventilation of the Senate chamber. There is no doubt that it is a credit to the architect, in respect of its beauty, but his ideas of ventilation must have been very crude indeed. It reminds me of the habitations of the Esquimaux, about which we used to read in our school days. We were told that there was but one means of egress and ingress, and that that was also the me.ans by which smoke made its way out, and the place was ventilated. There is no possibility of fresh air coming into this chamber, or of the vitiated atmosphere getting out of it. Surely some arrangement could be made whereby the ventilation might be improved through the roof. One cannot sit here for a number of hours attending to the business of the Senate without suffering from a violent headache. If that be the case after one has sat in the chamber for five or six hours, it is very much worse when we have a long sitting, extending up to twelve hours. The lighting is also very bad for the eyes of honorable senators. The lights are very low down, and the glass work about the chandeliers is dazzling. I .trust that some arrangement will be made with the Victorian State Government whereby these details may be improved.
– For about twenty years, as a member of the Victorian Legislative Council, I frequented this chamber, and! never heard a word of complaint about the ventilation. Indeed it was generally considered to be too cold. I think it would be impossible to improve the ventilation through the roof, as Senator Pearce is aware that carbonic acid gas sinks to the ground. I may point out, however, that so long as the curtains are kept hanging around the chamber, the ventilation is bound to be defective. They are the source of all the trouble. As to the lighting, it would be the easiest thing in the world to have coloured globes instead of the white ones, which are used at present.
– (Western Australia). - I do not know whether the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat is absolutely correct in his views with regard to the ventilation of the Senate chamber. Whether the curtains a-re the cause of the difficulty I do not know, but I have been here for two years, and my experience has been exactly as Senator Pearce has described. I have sat in the chamber when the curtains have been down, and still suffered from violent headaches almost every day. I have come to the conclusion that something ought to be done, and I am pi ad that the question has been brought up. Certainly the lights ought to be altered. I do not think that the use of coloured globes would make them much better. One might as well go blind under a red light as under a white one. I hope that both matters will receive attention. I do not know much about the scientific ventilation of buildings, but I understand the ventilation of goldmines and coal-mines, and I know perfectly well’ when I get good ventilation, and when it is bad. I think we ought to have had a system of electric ventilation of an up-to-date kind for the money that has been spent.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - The Government has spent a very large amount of money on the electric lighting of this building, and I am sorry that it is not satisfactory. I agree that it is time the curtains around the chamber were taken down, and I will see that they are removed to-morrow. As to the permanent ventilation, I may remark that I have never seen a chamber anywhere concerning which half the people who sat in it were not dissatisfied. Personally, I am fond of draughts, but other people will complain that draughts are blowing their heads off. It is difficult to ventilate a large chamber properly, and still more difficult to satisfy all those who sit in it that it is properly ventilated. I am very much afraid that to adopt a perfect system of ventilation for this chamber would cost a very great amount of money, which would not be borne by the State Government.
Senator STEWART (Queensland^ - I wish to know how it is that £300 is to be voted for postage and telegrams for the current year, seeing that only £95 was spent last year?
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - The reason is that during a portion of last year the stamps were kept in the Library. During the year a change was made. The vote was split into two items, one for the Senate, and one for the House of Representatives. The sum of ;£95 represents the expenditure for a small portion of the year. The stamps used during the balance of the year were paid for from the vote £700, under the heading of “Library.” I may mention in relation to the postage and telegrams, (hat though the amount seems to be verv large, I believe that the vote will not be sufficient. Some honorable senators seem to use an enormous quantity of postage stamps and telegrams. Of course, regulations have been made to check it as much as possible, but it is impossible to keep down the expenditure.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).Senator Baker has just remarked that this seems to be a very large sum to be expended on postage and telegrams for honorable senators. It amounts to nearly £8 per senator per annum. I have never reckoned up the value of the stamps that I use in a year. But I do not suppose that the money is wasted. Honorable senators cannot be accused of wilfully abusing the privilege. Indeed, it is not a privilege; it is a right that when members have to communicate with people on public business the postage should be paid by the public. If the President sees that there is any abuse of the system, he ought to bring it before the Senate.
– I simply say that some use very few stamps, whilst others use a very great quantity.
– I wish to allude to the writing-paper and envelopes used in the Senate rooms. A very heavy paper is supplied. Probably this affects the Bill for postage. It is also a bad paper. I think the House Committee might give some attention to this matter. I know that when I send a letter consisting of, say, two sheets, I am sometimes alarmed at the postage I Rave to pay.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - The galley proofs of the Hansard reports, with which honorable senators are daily supplied, in order that they may correct their speeches, are printed on paper of the same high quality as that used* for the permanent volumes. The quantity of paper used for proofs must be quite equal to at least one number of Hansard, and must entail considerable expense. Surely it is not necessary to use the best printing paper for this purpose.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I hope there will be no change in the direction suggested by Senator Smith. Inferior paper for such a purpose might prove very false economy ; and, in any case, it is highly probable that the proofs are printed on waste-paper, left when the volumes are printed. Then, again, it is very difficult and disagreeable to make corrections on paper of poor quality.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I do not) suggest that there should be used paper of quality so inferior as to render the making of corrections difficult or disagreeable. We have such a good Hansard staff that it is necessary to make corrections only to a very small extent. What I point out is that, these galley ships are for ephemeral use, and, as a large quantity of paper is necessary, I think economy would be observed by using material of not quite such high quality.
– It is quite possible that the proofs are printed on slips of paper which would otherwise be wasted.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I have been wondering whether it is possible to effect some reduction in the cost and size of Hansard. I do not suggest that the speeches of honorable senators should be curtailed, but I think the report on the proceedings in Committee might be very much shortened.
– Speeches in Committee are more important than secondreading speeches.
– The reports of the proceedings in Committee are condensed now.
– Then I think it ought to be more condensed. Perhaps it is too much to hope for sympathy from honorable senators in this matter; they are always fond of seeing themselves in print - at least, I am. If expense is of no object, I do not see why I should restrain myself, but if economy is desired I shall endeavour to condense my remarks, in the hope that others may follow my example.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I do not agree with Senator Stewart. It is exceedingly important to have a correct report of all that takes place in this Chamber. I remind the honorable senator that for a long time a section of members in all the Australian Parliaments have suffered exceedingly from misrepresentation in the outside press, and to curtail Hansard would deprive us of correct reports. I have no complaint to make, of the way in which the reporting work has been done so far. In my opinion, it is wonderfully well done, and is a credit to everybody concerned in the production.
Honorable Senators.- Hear, hear.
– If I have a complaint to make it is that sometimes words are put into my mouth which I have not uttered. For instance, I always speak of an honorable senator simply as “ Senator,” but in the reports I am made to speak of “the honorable and learned senator,” or of “ Senator Lt.-Col. Neild,” or “ Senator Lt. -Col. Gould.” These appear to me unnecessary and invidious distinctions.
– Which are disliked by honorable senators. There is no reason for such distinctions.
– If a head stevedore became a senator, and he would have a perfect right to seek that position, I might as well speak of him as the “ honorable senator head stevedore So-and-so.” I suppose that all honorable senators are more or less “ learned,” and I desire to make jio distinction, either in regard to legal senators or senators who happen to hold military rank.
– I do not think there is any necessity for any change in the way Hansard is produced. The paper of the copy I hold in my hand is of moderate quality, and, in that respect, as well as in the size of the pages, every economy appears to be observed. The printing, too, is well done, and altogether I think that Hansard, on the ground of economy and quality, is a credit to Parliament. I altogether disapprove of the suggestion made by Senator Smith, because the paltry saving would be i!’l compensated by the trouble we should have in making corrections on common paper.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I think it would be rather dangerous to have the speeches delivered in Committee cut clown by the Hansard staff.
– Further curtailed, the honorable senator means.
– Yes. Verv often a great battle rages about what an honorable senator actually did say in Committee. I remind honorable senators that the condensation would apply to the speeches of Ministers, as well as to those made by other members of the Senate. It would be imposing rather an invidious task upon the Hansard reporters to ask them to say how much of an honorable senator’s speech should be left out as unnecessary verbiage, and how much of it was valuable. Under such a system an honorable senator might choose to say, “ I shall not be bound by anything that appears in Hansard, because my observations have been condensed in such a way as to convey a different meaning to that which they would have conveyed if they had been fully re ported.” He might claim that, by direction of the Senate, his speech had been so reported as to entirely alter the sense of the statement he made. At election times a great deal of use is made of Hansard. Very often in Committee an honorable member may make a speech upon a matter of great importance, and he might find it so cue down as to convey something very different to what he actually said. There can be no objection to the reporters leaving out interjections which have no bearing on the subject of debate, and the replies made to them. That is a discretion which might be given to the reporters. Speeches made in Committee are very often of great importance, and may be the means of altering votes or of altering legislation. If they are to be cut down in order to save some expense, it might lead to a condition of affairs which some honorable senators might find very unsatisfactory. Hansard is not a species of literature which the people of the Commonwealth read very largely, but there is no accounting for tastes, and some people do read it religiously. They take notes and make extracts of the speeches they find in Hansard, and may make use of them at election times for political purposes. In such circumstances, it would be very hard upon an honorable senator, if a speech he made were quoted against him at election time, and had been so condensed as to con.vey the impression that he had said something which was not in accord with public opinion, and not in accord with his own opinions. For these reasons, I think it is not advisable to give any instructions to the Hansard staff to cut down speeches made in Committee, because it is necessary that we should be able to rely on Ucvs’ Hansard -report for a record of what each honorable senator really says.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - As this matter has been referred to, I wish to say that we must all agree that the Hansard reporting in this Chamber is admirably done. It rarely if ever happens that corrections of any substantial character have to be made. Speaking for myself, I very seldom take any trouble to go through the proofs of what I have said - in fact, life would be too short to do it. I think we may well protest against many things that are said about Hansard reports being so voluminous. The fact is overlooked that thev form a permanent record of the proceedings of Parliament.
– And the only authentic record.
– That is so ; and it is from that point of view that I think we should consider the suggestion, and not because people read Hansard, unless, perhaps, they are abandoned to an extraordinary form of dissipation. I agree that the condensation already carried out in the report of speeches delivered in Committee is quite sufficient. I know that in South Australia proceedings in Committee have always been very much more curtailed, and to such an extent that at times on Bills of great importance there has been great difficulty in finding out the intention of honorable members, in proposing amendments, and the reasons given for them. The reports have been sometimes so much abbreviated as to make pure nonsense of the speeches made. I think that the condensation which is carried out here in Committee is quite sufficient.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I do not know who are the members of the Library Committee, nor do I know how often the Committee meet. There is a suggestion-book placed at the disposal of honorable senators’ in the Library, and very often the names of books of great importance are entered in it in anticipation of a discussion likely to take place. It is of great moment that they should be obtained as quickly as possible; but I have known books to be applied for and no notice of the application to be taken for a. month or two months, apparently because the Library Committee does not meet.
– It is not always necessary that the Library Committee should meet to enable these books to be purchased.
– Who authorizes their purchase? ‘
– I think the Speaker, who is Chairman of the Library Committee.
– Senator Stewart made a request for a number of books, which it was important we should have from various points of view, and no notice has been taken of the request.
– Perhaps the Library Committee did not think that they ought to be procured.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There is no notification given as to whether a request is granted or refused.
– The Library Committee has met only once this year.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Then it is as bad as the Printing Committee. In anticipation of an important debate coming on in a week or a fortnight’s time, an honorable senator may enter a request for a certain book, and certainly some decision on the request should be recorded by the Library Committee, or the members of the Committee to whom the power of procuring books is delegated. Very often after a particular debate is over, and a book asked for in connexion with it is useless for the session, we learn that the request for it has been approved, and that it has been obtained. The matter is one which ought to be looked into.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I am quite sure from what I know of the Librarian, that if a request is made for a book that would be useful in connexion with a debate coming on it will be obtained, if it can be obtained in the Commonwealth. I gather from what I have been told, that the Library Committee seldom, if ever, meets, and that this duty is practically left to the Librarian and the Speaker. I understand that when new books are suggested, the Librarian submits a list of them to the Speaker, and if the Speaker approves they are procured. I suggest that, as we have a Library Committee of seven, they would be better able to decide what books ought to be secured, than would two members of the Committee. I understood that it would be the business of the Committee to meet monthly, and suggest or approve of books which ought to be secured for the Library. But it appears that the Speaker and the Librarian have to take upon themselves the responsibility of ordering books.
– The business of the Library has been slummed over altogether too long. I do not know how suggestions made by other honorable senators have been received’ bv the Library Committee - and I do not think we have any right to blame the Librarian in this matter - but I entered the name of a book in the suggestion-book, and waited for several months to see whether any attention would be paid to my request. As the book was not obtained, I came to the conclusion that there was little need for the suggestion. I think that some alterations might well be made in connexion with the newspapers supplied to the reading rooms. Amongst the papers supplied there are, for instance, the London Times and the weekly edition of the Times, whilst there are many other papers published in the old country that are not supplied. The London Daily News and the London Daily Telegraph are also supplied, and these newspapers practically belong to one school of politics. Papers representing another school of politics are not taken .into the Library at all - such, for instance, as Reynold’s Newspaper, the Glasgow Mail, the Dublin Freeman, and the Manchester Guardian. Some American newspapers are supplied, but why we should have American and Canadian newspapers, when those to which I have just referred are not provided, I am unable to say. I should have made some suggestions on the subject long ago, had any notice been taken of the entry I made in the suggestion-book. The Library is a very important part of our institution, and there is unquestionably a great deal of work for the Library Committee to do if they choose to do it. If it is not done, it can hardly be expected that honorable senators will make any suggestions as to books, or newspapers which ought to be provided.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I should like Senator Playford’ to give the Committee some explanation of the items for postage and telegrams. It used to be the practice to include this item under the heading of the Library. Last year, I find that the actual expenditure was ^474
– That was only for a part of the year. During the year, the vote was divided, and separate votes set down for the Senate and the House of Representatives. More than ^474 was spent during the year.
– I find that the amount set down last year was ,£700. I understand that it has been decided to divide the votes for the Senate and the House of Representatives, and I should like Senator Playford to give the Committee some explanation of the manner in which the money is spent. On these Estimates, £300 is set down for the Senate and ^675 for the House of Representatives, so that the total appropriation is £975, as against .£700 for last year. I think that an increase of £275 °n postages and telegrams is .too much. I wish that Senator Playford would explain exactly how the postage stamps are used, and what are the rights, as apart from privileges or favours, of members of either House in this regard. Lately I have had my eyes opened to a state of things of which I must confess I had not the faintest idea. I have learned that a member of either House can practically apply for as much value in postage stamps as he likes, so long as they are marked “ O.S.”
– No ; it is limited to £2 worth.
– But how often can a Member of Parliament apply for £2 worth of postage stamps ?
– I do not know.
– Perhaps there is a limit as to each application.
– During the session?
– No. I think that a member of either House can apply for £2 worth of postage stamps every day, if he likes. Perhaps Senator Playford will explain first, if it is a fact that a Member of Parliament can apply for as many stamps as he likes, so long as he does not in each application ask for more than £2 worth ; and, secondly, if there is practically no limit to the amount -which a member of either House can spend on telegrams, presumably on public service, but possibly on private affairs in innumerable cases.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence. - I must acknowledge that my ignorance of this matter is of such a character that I cannot give an explanation. I have never got a pennyworth of postage stamps, and therefore I have not made any inquiries. Perhaps I may have had a telegram sent away, but it has always been on business connected with public affairs, and not with private affairs. Years ago I heard it stated that some Mem bers of Parliament used to get jos. worth of stamps at a time, and others up to £2 worth at a time; . but I never took the trouble to look into the matter. I considered that it -would be carefully looked into by the President on the one hand, and the Speaker on the other, and that they would see that no abuse took place.
– Is it their duty to do so?
– I was never curious enough to inquire, because I believed that no abuse would take place.
– There is a sum of £975 wanted.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - If Senator Clemons had looked at the schedule, he wound have found how that total was made up. I shall give the figures as I understand them, because the matter ought to be made clear. A sum of £g5 is debited as spent last year.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether the item of £15 under the heading of the Library covers the postage and telegrams for members of the Senate or House of Representatives?
– No; only for the Library.
– In that case, I would remind honorable senators that we have passed the item of postage and telegrams for members of the Senate.
– This is most unusual, because hitherto this item has always appeared under the head crf the* Library, and naturally I did not look for it under the head of the Senate or the House of Representatives.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - It is really the same item. £95 for part of the year was debited to, the Senate; £41°, for part of the year, was debited to the House of Representatives; and ,£474, the item on which we are engaged, was debited to the Library, making a total of ,£979 for last year. This year we are asked to vote ^300 for the Senate, and £675 for the other House, making a total of £957, or £4 less than last year’s expenditure.
– That explains the amount, but what about the method?
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I suppose I am responsible for this expenditure, so far as the Senate is concerned. It has been taken away from the Library, and put under the Senate. Some senators used to go and ask for an unlimited supply of stamps - for £5 worth at a time.
– Senators did?
– Yes. I limited the supply to £2 worth, and it caused a good deal of unpleasantness. I confess that the control of this expenditure is a matter of great difficulty. At one time I was thinking of getting a schedule made up to show the value of stamps for postage and telegrams used by every senator and laying it before , the Senate. If that is desired for next session, I shall see that it is done.
– Can it be done for this session ?
– I think that some honorable senators rather abuse the privileges. I know very well that, although I have to send the whole of the correspondence of the Senate, and all the official telegrams, I do not use anything like as many postage stamps as some private senators do.
– I shall ,ask for a return to-morrow.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I think it was a good thing for the President to show exactly the amount which is voted for postages and telegrams for the use of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate comprises about one-half as many men as the other House, therefore we shall be able .to see if one House or the other is using an extravagant amount. I do not know, but I presume that there are cases in which too large an amount is appropriated by members for telegrams and postages. It is quite” easy for some members to send off a dozen or twenty telegrams in a day, concerning matters which are political, but which at the same time are not of sufficient importance to warrant the incurring of that expense by the Commonwealth. If a motion or clause be carried, it may be possible for 1 member of Parliament to send off twenty telegrams to that effect. That expenditure is absolutely unnecessary, but at the same time it relates to political matters, and legally’ a member of Parliament is entitled to send the telegrams.
– I would ask honorable senators to confine their attention now to the item of £15 for postages and telegrams for the Library, as the item for postage and telegrams for senators has been dealt with.
– We have been thrown off the track bv the division of this vote into three! items. I. do not wi’sh the idea to go out to the public that senators are receiving -£5 or £2 worth of stamps, and either disposing of them or using them for other purposes.
– Oh, no.
– Of course, it is understood that these stamps are perforated with the letters O S, and could not be disposed of, though they might be used for private correspondence.
– The honorable senator assures the public that the stamps are not sold?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- As a member of the Library Committee, I wish to express my regret that it has met only once during the present session. I think tha,t it ought to meet more often. The fact that it meets only once or twice in the session shows that its members take very little interest in the affairs of the Library. I think that if we had an intelligent Committee - as I suppose we have - and its services were utilized as they ought to be, we might do very good work in these early years of the Federation.
– The honorable senator can always ask the Speaker to convene a meeting of the Library Committee.
– One does not like to be continually asking the Speaker to call a meeting. I think we ought to have regular monthly meetings. In that way the interest of the members of the Committee would be quickened in the work. I observe that a large quantity of fiction is continually passing through the Library. I should have thought that members of Parliament have quite enough fiction here to satisfy them. I should like to hear some member of the Committee express an opinion as to whether it is one of the functions of a Parliamentary Library to provide novels for members. My impression is that the books in ‘the Parliamentary Library should be principally of a kind calculated to help members in their work.
– A good novel will do that sometimes.
– Perhaps ; but, unfortunately, we have not many good novels nowadays. I have skimmed through a few of them, and did not find that they were of much use. I do not know whether they cost us much. Probably the President can give us some ‘information.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I am not the chairman of the Library Committee, and am not sure as to what is done; but I think that the novels are not bought ; they are, I believe, obtained by means of a subscription to a circulating library. I think that the subscription is paid by the State of Victoriabut I am not sure.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - I call attention to the fact that books, bookbinding, and insurance are grouped together in one item. That does not give an idea of how much money is spent on books, how much on binding, and how much on insurance. It would be well to tell us exactly how much is spent on the purchase of books.
– Nearly all the money has been! spent on books.
– That includes newspapers and magazines, and the binding of them.
– Can the Minister give us any information about the item ^200 for fitting up rooms in the basement ? I suppose the rooms are for the storing of books.
– Yes, for the Federal Library.
– It is for books purely- belonging to the Federal Library, which now consists of about 8,000 or 9,000 volumes.
– Two hundred pounds seems to be a large sum for that purpose. I presume that the money is spent on fittings.
– That money is wanted for shelving.
– It seems a large sum to spend on shelves.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I may mention- that the Parliamentary Library was offered one work which we could not take, and one of the reasons was that we could not find room for it. I do not know how many miles of shelving it would have occupied.
– It was something enormous. It was a complete set of the Imperial Parliamentary Papers. I am not sure, but I think that one of the public institutions in Victoria had a duplicate set and offered it to us. but we had to refuse it.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I should like to confirm what the President has said. I am not a member of the Library Committee this session, but I have been a member of it, and I think that the Commonwealth is very much indebted to that Committee for the work it has done. It has established’ the nucleus of a great Commonwealth Public Library. I am one of those who would be prepared to spend twice the amount of money set down in the present Estimates for the purpose of assisting towards that end. Every pound’ of the money has been thoroughly well spent. One of the very first things that we as a Commonwealth should seek to establish is a thoroughly satisfactory national Library, of which the community could be proud. In the United States, one of the finest libraries in the world has been established in connexion with Congress, and it is now housed in a magnificent building thoroughly worthy of it. In future, however, I think that it would be well to divide the money spent on books and bookbinding for the Library from the amount spent on light literature. I, however, should be prepared to vote for an even larger expenditure on books than has been authorized on these Estimates.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - It seems to me to be obvious that a bad practice may spring up with regard to the item “Temporary assistance.” I find that expenditure under that heading runs through almost all the Departments, and some of the votes are exceedingly large. There is a vote of £410 for temporary assistance in connexion with the Library.
– Temporary assistance has been necessary because of the commencement of a very exhaustive catalogue.
– I thought there might be some special reason for it. But I find that £400 was spent last year. If the Library has not sufficient permanent officers to do the work more should be employed, and the cost of temporary assistance represents the salaries of two permanent officers. I think it would be much better to put them on the Estimates, so that we might know exactly what we were doing. If between now and to-morrow the Minister will allow a clerk to go into the matter I am satisfied he will find that the amount which is annually voted for temporary assistance and petty cash represents some thousands of pounds.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).- I would direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that the salaries paid in the refreshment- room are exceedingly low. Take the case of the steward of the refreshmentroom, who receives a salary of .£’182 per annum. That officer virtually has to control the whole of the arrangements for that room. He has to supervise the cook’s supplies, and he is required to possess all the knowledge necessary to run an hotel. Every time that we see him he must appear in evening dress - indeed, he requires to dress much better than I can afford to do upon my parliamentary allowance. By comparison, the messengers, who receive ^156 per annum, and are supplied by the Government with their uniforms - although
I admit that they earn their money - are much better off. But I particularly desire to call attention to the sweating which goes on in the dining-room, where extra men are occasionally employed. I am informed that the head waiter there receives £2 per week, and that temporary waiters are paid 35s. per week. What they get when they are only engaged for the day or for the evening I do hot know. But I respectfully submit it is a disgrace that we should pay men who work in the parliamentary diningroom only 35s. per week, and expect them to dress according to the recognised custom. Not only must they always appear clean and tidy, but they must necessarily have acquired considerable proficiency in their calling.
– Do they get any other advantages, apart from their salaries?
– So fir as I am aware, they receive nothing beyond their meals whilst they are so engaged.
– Do they get one meal or three meals a day ?
– I suppose that they get two meals daily.
– Cannot they work elsewhere ?
– They may do so. That, however, is no justification for sweating them.
– There is no sweating.
– I have been informed in the clubs and hotels that I visit, by men who are engaged in the same calling, that, whilst the wages which our waiters receive are as good as those which rule elsewhere, they are very low, and are certainly a disgrace to such an institution as the Commonwealth Parliament.
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to accuse us of sweating.
– I am quite prepared to accept some of the blame myself. I say that we ought not to allow this item to pass without recognising that we are paying these men too low a wage. Senator Keating has interjected that thev are permitted to work elsewhere. Is it not sweating to compel them to work elsewhere, late and early, in order that they may earn a livelihood ?
– I find that they da not work elsewhere.
– I am informed that occasionally they do. I bring the matter forward so that whoever is responsible for the existing state of affairs may effect an alteration therein. I admit that these officers receive about the same wage that is paid for similar work elsewhere, but I contend that that fact does not justify us in paying them such a low salary. Surely these men should be a trifle better paid than are waiters in private employ, especially when we consider that the ordinary rate which obtains in that calling is very low indeed.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I do not think that Senator Croft is justified in using such strong language. I object to the expressions “ sweating “ and “ disgraceful conduct,” especially when the honorable senator does not know the full facts of the case. I may tell him that a great many of the waiters in the Parliamentary Refreshment-room are engaged only for a meal. They come in for that meal, and are paid the rate which is fixed by the union. We pay the union rate of wages, and if there be any disgrace attached to that rate, it is a disgrace to the union.
– Is it, indeed?
– The union fixes the rate of wages, and we have to pay it. That rate depends upon where the waiters are engaged. For example, if a luncheon is given in the President’s diningroom, the union declares that they must receive 15s. each; but if they are engaged in the ordinary dining-room, they receive only 5s. each. Why that is so I do not know. It is one of those union mysteries that I have never attempted to penetrate. Seeing that we pay the union rate of wages, I object to Senator Croft declaring that the men are being sweated. It must be recollected that, in addition to their wages, all their meals are supplied free. That is a great consideration. I would further point out that the Commonwealth is already losing very heavily over this department. I do not know what the loss was for the year ended 31st September last, but the loss for the year ended 30th June was nearly£1,100.
– That is because honorable senators are fed too cheaply.
– We tried the experiment of raising the tariff, but we lost more by so doing than we did by making a lower charge. What are we to do? Obviously we must either close the refreshment-room entirely, or continue to carry it on at a loss. I do not think that we should go out of our way to pay to the waiters higher wages than are paid by anybody else, and higher wages than those fixed by the union, especially in view of the loss which we are at present incurring.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I accept a certain amount of blame for having allowed this item to pass for two years without raising any objection to it. If, as Senator Baker says, the union rates are only 35s. per week-
– I did not say what was the union wage.
– If union men are employed for a single meal, I presume that union men are also employed by the week; and if the union has fixed the standard wage at 35s. per week, we may rest assured that it did so because the employers took fine care that a higher rate should not be established.
– The employers?
– But they get 35s. plus their keep.
– What would be the value of their keep in a case of that kind ?
– That would depend upon what it would cost to keep themselves.
– When I was working my lunch was not worth to me more than 5d. or 6d. per day.
– But all their meals are provided for them.
– That is, if there is something left after we have done.
– They have their Saturday afternoons and Sundays off.
– I had my Saturday afternoons and Sundays off when I was working, but I did not consider that that was any reason why my wages should be reduced. I would point out that the waiters do not have all their meals provided for them, because only two meals per day are served in the refreshment room. In any case, it is a disgrace for us to pay such a low wage.
– Why ? Thirty-five shillings is a very good wage, when meals are provided.
– I do not consider that £2 5s. per week, in addition totheir keep, would be too much to give them. The men are called upon to provide their own dress-suits, and that in itself involves some tax upon them. They have to learn a trade - because it is a trade - and they should be able to take home at least £2 5s. to their families. The keep of one man in a family “makes little or no difference. I trust that the House Committee will take this matter into consideration, and endeavour to increase the pay of the waiters. I am sorry to hear that the Refreshment Room does not pay, and I am doubly regretful that I cannot suggest a remedy. At the same time I shall be no party to justifying the action of the House Committee in paying so low a wage’ as that to which I have directed attention.
– I suggest that the deficiency in the accounts of the Refreshment Room might be remedied if the) tariff were doubled.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- If that were done, no one would go there at all. I should like to know what the regular union wages are t
– The waiters are being paid at union rates.
– We must recognise that some of them are afforded only casual employment, and I should go to the full length of saying that we ought to pay them the highest rates ruling outside.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I complained to the controller of the refreshment department that I had to pay 15s. each for waiters to attend upon one meal, and I asked him what rate was paid to waiters who were employed in the ordinary refreshment room. He’ stated that the rate of remuneration was 5s. per meal. I asked him to account for the difference, and he said he could not do so, beyond stating that the rate in each case was fixed by the union.
Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia). - I am somewhat confused in respect to the items in connexion with the appropriation for defraying the cost of the electric light supplied to Parliament House. Provision is made for a payment of £45° to the Railway Department, whereas the actual expenditure last year was only actual
– That is only an estimate. The amount actually paid depends upon the extent to which the light is used.
– I should like to know what price per unit is paid to the Railway Department.
– I believe 4 1/2d. per unit.
– I find that in addition to the payment to the Railway Department, provision is made for the annual charge for interest and upkeep of plant for supplying electric light. I should like to have some explanation of that item.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - When we took over these buildings from the Victorian Government, we took up the contracts running in connexion with them. The State Government installed the electric lighting plant, from which the Victorian railways, as well as this House and the Victorian Government buildings, are supplied, and it was arranged that the three Departments concerned should each pay a fixed sum per annum towards the interest on the money borrowed to carry out these works, as well as to provide a sinking fund in respect of it. Our contribution under” that agreement now amounts to ,£428 per annum, although, when we first entered into possession of these buildings, it was higher. We also pay for the light that we actually use. The ordinary price, I believe, is 6d. per unit, but inasmuch as the three Departments concerned were making the contribution I have named, the Government of the State agreed to supply them at the rate of 4 1/2d. per unit. Whether this arrangement be a good or a bad one, we cannot help ourselves, inasmuch as it forms part of the agreement under which we took possession of these buildings. I may mention that whilst our expenditure in respect of electric light is more than it used to be, we are consuming much less gas. A year or two ago we voted ,£500 per annum’ for gas, whereas the cost is now only ,£300 per annum. As against that reduction, we are now paying about £100 per annum in excess of the sum that was formerly paid in respect of the electric light. It will thus be seen that the cost of lighting these buildings is less than it formerly was. I ‘repeat that as these arrangements form part of the contract between the Federal Government and the State authorities, we cannot help ourselves, but Sir Malcolm McEacharn. who was a member of the Joint House Committee, and was familiar with the electric lighting system, informed the Committee, after investigating the matter, that the cost of lighting Parliament House was verv low. As to the point raised by Senator Smith, I may explain that the dirtiness of the water sometimes supplied in the lavatory is due to the presence pf what is termed a “ dead end.” The Metropolitan Board of Works has on three or four occasions tried, I believe at considerable expense, to remedy this state of affairs, but has not succeeded.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I have no doubt that the explanation given by Senator Baker for the dirtiness of the water often supplied in the lavatory is correct, but it seems to me that there should be a remedy. Honorable senators, on visiting the lavatory to wash their hands, sometimes find it impossible to use the water. The Metropolitan Board of Work’s undertake to supply private individuals with water capable of being used for such purposes, and surely they should not make an exception in our case. If a private individual were called upon to pay water rates, he would certainly object to an impure supply, and I fail to see why the Federal Government should be called upon to pay for such a service. . The President has told us that the Metropolitan Board of Works has found it impossible to remedy the evil, but I do not believe that it is. If the pipe now stopping at the lavatory were carried further on, we should obtain a better supply, and considering how generously the Victorian Government has treated us with regard to the use of these buildings, it is somewhat remarkable that the Metropolitan Board of Works should fail to remove all cause for complaint in this respect. I feel confident that if the Government brought the matter under the notice of the Victorian authorities, they would see that an alteration was made. Even if the change necessary to provide us with a purer supply involved some expense, the cure would be a permanent one, and would be beneficial to members of the State Parliament when they once more entered into possession of these buildings. I do not think there would be any objection to the Commonwealth Government bearing a proportion of the cost. Whilst dealing with the sanitary services, I wish to point out that this House is the only building in Melbourne which is not sewered. Under the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Act, all private premises must be connected with the sewerage system. and private individuals, irrespective of their financial position, have been compelled to incur the expense of complying with that law. I have known men to pull down private houses, or remove them beyond the ambit of the Metropolitan
Board of Works, rather than incur the expense of sewering them. If the law is carried out in the case of private individuals, regardless of their ability to bear the expense which compliance with it involves, I fail to see why an exception should be made in this case. Why should the State Government defy a law which they were instrumental in passing? Why should they not sewer these buildings, when all private and public buildings in Melbourne, including hospitals and otherphilanthropic institutions, have been connected with the sewerage system in the interests of public health?
– I stated, in answer to a question a day or two ago, that the Department of Home Affairs was again in communication with the State Government in reference to this matter, and was endeavouring to expedite the work.
– We have been put off with specious promises of that kind ever since the inception of the Parliament. We have never heard of a definite refusal from the State Government. Time after time, Ministers have promised that the matter shall be brought- under its notice - Mr. Justice O’Connor having made that promise during the first Parliament; but can the Minister of Defence inform us whether that has been done, and, if so, what reply has been received?
– We are trying to make an arrangement.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Seeing that we occupy these premises without charge, by reason of the generosity of the Victorian Government, I think we might offer to pay something towards the cost of the work.
– If we were to agree to pay interest on the money expended, it would be sufficient.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Will the Minister endeavour to have something done? Will he make representations on the subject to the Minister of Home Affairs ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.During the summer months, the condition of the earth closets in this building is such’ that it is positively unpleasant, and, I believe, unhealthy, to remain in their vicinity. I should like to know,- too, if it is necessary to employ both an engineer and an assistant engineer in looking after the building?
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - It is absolutely necessary to employ two men. The building is a very large one, and they are fully employed in looking after telephones, electric bells, and electric lighting, and in making various repairs.
External Affairs : Secretary : Commonwealth Gazette : Immigration Restriction Act, Legal Expenses : Secretary to Executive Council.
Divisions 11. to 15 (Department of External A fairs), ,£42,498.
– I intend to move a reduction in the salary of the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs, who, to my mind, like nearly all our officials, is paid too much. We, all of us, grumble about these salaries, but no one is willing to put his dissatisfaction into concrete shape.
– We grumble because we do not get enough.
– Perhaps that is because others get too much., and the division is unfair. We should have an annual report from each of the Departments of State, giving us details of the work done by them. The huge departmental machine which we have created, is a very slow and’ costly affair, growing larger, like the snowball, the longer it continues to move.
– This salary is the same as it was last year.
– We must begin retrenchment some time. The fact that an officer received a salary of £800 last year is no reason for giving him the same salary this year. In the first place, there ought to be an annual report from the Department of External Affairs, so as to give us some idea of the scope of the business dealt with, and enable us to gauge whether the Department is underpaid or overpaid, or undermanned or overmanned. I intend to move that the salary of the Secretary be reduced by £150, which will leave quite sufficient remuneration for the occupant of the position. A man in the position of a parliamentary representative ought to be more careful of the public funds, than he is of his own; because in the one case he is acting as ‘trustee for the nation. An ordinary honorable man feels more responsibility when in the’ position of trustee, than he does when dealing with his personal affairs. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “ Secretary, j£8oo,” by £150.
– I do not gather from Senator Stewart whether it his intention to reduce equally the salaries of the secretaries of all the other Departments?
– Certainly, if I succeed in having this reduction made.
– It would be invidious on our part, if, on the impulse of the moment, we reduced the salary of the Secretary of one Department, and not the salaries of the secretaries of other Departments. The Secretary for External Affairs has, I think, the whole of his time occupied with his duties; and I do not regard a salary of .£800 as too high for a position of the kind. Under the reclassification scheme, the Public Service Commissioner removed this and similar officers from the clerical division, and placing them in the administrative division, fixed the salaries at .£800. Under the circumstances, I do not know whether it is competent for us to make «. reduction ; but, if so, such action would be invidious, and possibly lead to injustice, unless we proceeded on some general policy. Senator Stewart admits that he knows nothing of the work of this official ; and the fact that the Commissioner acted with full knowledge, is some reason why we should not now make amy reduction.
– I listened very carefully to Senator Smith’s special pleading, but he has not convinced me that his arguments will hold water. As a matter of fact, the Commissioner did not fix this and similar salaries ; and Ministers have disputed the right of that official to interfere with the permanent heads of Departments.
– This very salary was increased under the classification scheme.
– I do not think so; and, at any rate, Parliament is competent to reduce any one salary, without dealing with salaries generally. Some honorable senators believe in what they regard as the grand principle of free-trade being applied to commodities, labour, and services ; but I ask honorable senators whether they would approve of positions like that under review being put up, as it were, to public tender. Anyhow, we might get as good a service by that means as we have at present. We know that individuals are pitched into positions, not because of any special fitness or capacity, but simply because they have powerful political friends behind them. If a man happens to be a brother, a brother-in-law, or a fortysecond cousin of a Minister, he is regarded as the heaven-born genius for any well-paid position there is to fill. I am not in any way criticising the particular officer whose salary is under discussion at the present time, though before we have finished the discussion on the Estimates I may have something to say about his capabilities in certain directions. I am convinced that in the Commonwealth service, as well as in other public services, highly-placed officers are paid salaries out of all proportion to those paid to officers in the lower grades. I have had some opportunity to observe the working of Government Departments, and it is my experience that very often highly-paid officers have to rely upon the superior services of lowerpaid subordinates in order that they may pull through and appear to fill their positions properly.
– Is the honorable senator going to support the request?
– Undoubtedly I am. It would be an exceedingly good thing to revise all these salaries, and establish something more like a just proportion in accordance with the services performed. I strongly object that whilst some officers are asked to work for perhaps less than a living wage, others are paid high salaries, though they do not do half the work which is done by the lower-paid officers.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I wish to see whether we cannot effect some economy in connexion with the Commonwealth Gazette. I see that we spent last year £1,69.1 on this publication, and the vote for the present year is £2,000
– So it was last year.
– That vote might very well be reduced by one half. I propose to read a few extracts from the Gazette as evidence of what I consider to be superfluities. Here, for instance, is an advertisement -
By His Excellency the Right Honorable Henry Stafford, Baron Northcote, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George; Knight Grand Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire;
Companion of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath, Governor-General and CommanderinChief in and for the Commonwealth of Australia.
I have no wish to say anything disrespectful about the Governor-General, but really I sympathize with that distinguished gentleman on the array of titles which we find in the Commonwealth Gazette. I was going to say that it would be much more British, but I will say that it would be much more Australian,, if we were to head these advertisements simply “ Proclamation by the Governor-General.” I find that the heading I have quoted is repeated ad nauseam. I have made an excellent suggestion by which money can be saved to the Commonwealth, and I should like to hear from the leader of the Senate whether the Government are disposed to save something to the Commonwealth by avoiding this excessive and superfluous verbiage in the Commonwealth Gazette. I shall resume my seat in order to afford the leader of the Government an opportunity to say a word on the subject.
– I should like the Minister of Defence to furnish some information with regard to the item of .£600 for providing interpreters’ fees, legal and other expenses, in connexion with the Immigration Restriction Act.
– I wish to move a request in connexion with the item relating to the Gazette.
– I thought the honorable senator had finished with that item.
– Believing as I do that the expenditure on the Gazette might very well be reduced by £1,000, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Printing and distribution of Commonwealth Gazette, £2,000,” by £1,000.
– The honorable senator will be sweating the workmen. What a nice thing that is for a member of the Labour Party to do !
– If the item be reduced it will not affect the wages of the workmen one iota. It will simply reduce what I have characterized as the excessive and useless verbiage which we find on every page of this publication. I trust that if honorable senators are really in earnest in their desire to reduce the expenditure they will support my motion.
– I think that the Gazette is altogether too verbose, and that the Government Printer might very well be asked if he could not furnish us with a plan of a more concise publication. I intend to vote for the motion, although I think that the proposed reduction is rather too large. The honorable senator might effect his purpose by moving a request for a reduction of the item by £1.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). – With the permission of the Committee, I shall move a request to reduce the item by £1, as an intimation to the Government Printer that we require a more compact Gazette.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Stewart) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Printing and distribution of
Commonwealth Gazette,£2,000,” by £1.
– It appears to me that this is a matter which ought to be referred to the Printing Committee. I do not see why we should vote for the motion.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - I should like the Minister of Defence to give an explanation concerning the item of£600 for interpreters’ fees, legal, and other expenses in connexion with the Immigration RestrictionAct. I desire to know what proportion of that sum is required to meet legal expenses?
SenatorO’KEEFE.- Is there not in the Attorney-General’s Department sufficient legal talent to deal with these questions?
– It depends entirely upon circumstances. In one year there may be hardly any expenses in connexion with legal matters, because there may be no disputes to be sent before the Court, or if there are the disputes may have occurred in Victoria, where we have our own staff to do the legal work. If, in every case, we had to subdivide the vote it would entail a lot of trouble. Take, for instance, the item for postageand telegrams. We should have to divide the item and show the amount- required in each case. Again, take the item for office requisites. We should have to set down full details of the office requisites. It could not be done. The item to which Senator O’Keefe refers explains itself, I think. The interpreters’ fees are large or small, according to the amount of work done, and it is the same with the legal expenses. Last year, £750 was voted, and only£585 was spent. This year we ask for a vote of£600, and of course only the amount which is required will be spent.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).As a further indication of the necessity for dividing the items, I would call the attention of the Minister to the item of £45 for “Account, record, and other books, including cost of material, printing and binding,” and the item of £200 for “other printing.” It surely would be possible to give us a clearer statement. But when we find that the£45 is put in with the £200, as being of a kindred nature, confusion is caused. I think there is need for more conciseness in the preparation of the schedule.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I direct attention to the item, “ Secretary to Federal Executive Council and Official Secretary to the Governor-General, £600.” There is also a clerk who is paid £150. I think the whole of the work could be done by a clerk at £250 a year.
– The Secretary is a very hard-worked officer.
– What does he do?
– He is the Clerk of the Executive Council, and has to prepare all the work for it, as well as keep the minutes.
– I understand that it was necessary to provide a billet for a particular individual.
– That is notcorrect.
– In any case, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Secretary to Federal Executive Council and official Secretary to GovernorGeneral,£600,” by£100.
– I have to lay upon the table of the Senate the following paper: - (I.) Mail Services, 1904-5. - Sydney-Vancouver, &c. : Postal Matter Carried. (II.) Mail Services, 1904-5. - Sydney-San Francisco, &c. : Postal Matter Carried.
In substitution of papers laid on the table 26th October and1st November, 1905.
This is the complete document, particulars of which have been obtained by mail. An interim document was previously laid upon the table, particulars of which were obtained by telegraph, as some honorable senators wanted the information urgently; but there was a slight inaccuracy in it, which now, in the light of fuller particulars, is corrected.
Senate adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051123_senate_2_29/>.