2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without . notice, whether, in view of the congested state of Government business in the other House and the few items of Government business on the notice-paper pf the Senate,, he will consider the advisability of originating here the Anti-Trusts Bill, which the press announces the Government propose to initiate in another place?
– I am not aware that the Government have finally decided to introduce an Anti-Trusts Bill. I know that the matter is under consideration. I shall make inquiries of the Prime Minister, and ascertain whether, if he intends to introduce a Bill, it could not be initiated in Hie Senate.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether, in view of the limited number of items on the notice-paper and of the importance of the question too, he will give the Senate a chance of dealing with my motion in. reference to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company and the Pacific Cable?
– Certainly, when the Appropriation Bill and the motion in reference to. the memorial to the late Queen have been dealt with. Last Friday I informed an honorable senator that I should be quite willing to devote Thursday evening to the consideration , of private business, if there was no Government business requiring attention.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following paper: - -
Return showing particulars furnished by the Premiers with reference to the number of persons registered as unemployed in their respective States.
Ordered to be printed.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he is in a position to announce what was done at the recent conference in Sydney with regard to cadets, or whether a report of the proceedings will be forwarded to him, and, if so, will he make it public?
– A report of the proceedings has not been forwarded to me. I only know from Colonel Hoad, who represented the Commonwealth, that’ the proceedings terminated most satisfactorily,, and that be is going to furnish -me. with, a report.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, if he will supply the Senate), before the -end of the session, with a cody of the conditions subject to which tenders will be invited for an English mail service, to start at the expiration of the Orient mail contract?
– I know that the conditions are being prepared. _ If, as I anticipate, thev are in a sufficiently forward state before the end of the session, I shall let the honorable senator see them.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, whether he will endeavour to expedite the preparation of the return I asked for some time ago in reference to the quantity of mail packages sent to the NewHebrides and other Pacific islands ?
– The Department will do all it can to have the return furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee (Consideration, resumed from 24th November, vide page 5759).
Home Affairs - Temporary Assistance : Incidental Expenses : Electoral Office : Public Service Classification : High Court Accommodation : Government House, Sydney : Federal Capital Site : Statistical Bureau : Valuation of Transferred Properties : Railway Accommodation: Electoral Expenses.
Divisions20 to 26 (Department of Home Affairs), £1 73.351.
– For temporary assistance,£1,393 was voted last year, and £460 is required this year. Can the Minister state how much of this sum islikely to be spent?
– There is no certainty as to what amount will be expended. The Department of Home Affairs has a good deal of clericalwork to do in connexion with the other Departments, but certainly not a pound more than is necessary will be spent. The experience of the Department has led the officers to estimate that a vote of£460 will be sufficient for the current year.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- The Committee ought to be furnished with some information as to the nature of the work which the temporary clerks have to do. So far as I can see, the Department is sufficiently manned without engaging an army of temporary men. The principle has been laid down that as few temporary hands as possible should be employed in a Department. The employment of temporary assistance has become almost a scandal in connexion with this Department. Last year nearly . £1,400 was spent in this way, and we ought to have art explanation as to why such a large expenditure is necessary.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - The vote for last year was expended in providing for the service of a temporary clerk at the Sydney office, with a salary of£156 ; a caretaker with a salary of £104; and a switch attendant at the head office, with a salary of £52. Then from time to time extra clerical assistance was required to cope with the pressure of work. As honorable senators know, the Department of Home Affairs has been associated with all the public works of the Commonwealth. In some instances there has been a greater pressure of work, and in others a lesser pressure, of work. During the early years of the Commonwealth it would be highly inadvisable to have a staff that was able to cope with the work of the Department when it was working at its highest pressure. For that rea- son the permanent staff comprises only such a number as are able to carry on the work ordinarily. When extra assistance is required it is invoked and paid for accordingly.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I desire to know at what rates temporary men are paid, and by whom they are appointed ?
– They are appointed under the provisions of the Public Service Act.
– Are temporary hands paid at the rate of £2, £3, or £4. perweek?
– If the honorable senator wishes to know the salary of any officer, or the salary attached to any particular work, I shall get the information for him.
– That is not sufficient. All this information ought to be available.
– If the honorable senator had intimated on Friday that he desired this information it would have been obtained.
– -I am not supposed to tell the Minister beforehand what information I want, and if I did I should not be able to do anything else. For all we know to the contrary, the Department of Home Affairs may be guilty of most gross sweating. The men employed there may give information to the newspapers. In that way it will be published all over the Continent, and Parliament will be blamed. The Minister in charge should give us some information as to the payments made.
– I quite admit that there is some truth in what Senator Keating says that it would never do to employ none but permanent officers in this Department, when the amount of work to be done is greatest. The number of officers employed must be regulated by the average quantity of work to be done. But I have called attention previously to the enormous amount we are paying away under the headings of “ temporary assistance “ and “petty cas,h and incidental expenditure.” For instance, £460 is set down for temporary assistance, and ^400 for inci’dental and petty cash expenditure. On the very next page of the schedule, under the heading of “ Electoral Office,” there is a vote of £700 for temporary assistance, and £100 for incidental and petty cash expenditure. Right through the schedule the same items appear. The Minister might get a clerk to go through it and take out all the items relating to temporary assistance and petty cash expenditure. He would find that the expenditure under these headings amounts to some thousands of pound’s. It is a mistake to allow such enormous sums of money to be spent practically without check by Parliament. We ought to know the details..
– I join with other honorable senators in entering ‘my protest against the large sums of money which are put down under generic headings like “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure,” and “Tem porary assistance,” over which Parliament has no control. I always regard that as a serious and ill-advised thing to do. The amount expended .last year by this Department on temporary assistance was nearly £1,400. Such an item is large enough to be sub-divided, so as to enable us to see how the money has been spent. I am not blaming any one in particular. But this practice has crept in, and it is one which I am sure is just as much reprobated by Ministers as by any of us. It is only bv continually calling attention to it, and demanding explanations, that we are likely to produce a reform. Some explanation ought to be given why the expenditure this year is nearly £900 less than the amount spent last year, and why the expenditure last year was .£1,093 more than the sum voted. As Senator Dobson has pointed out, under tlie very next heading, “ Electoral office,” we have the same kind of thing existing. We know absolutely nothing as to how the money is spent. It is obvious that there can be little or no Ministerial control. I do not see how it is possible. I join very emphatically in reprobating the continuance of this system. Whether we can get all the particulars is another matter, but certainly we are quite justified, it seems to me, in strengthening the hands of Ministers by objecting to the practice, because, after all, it is a leakage. When we have a very large item of expenditure in the schedule we know exactly hew the money is to be spent, and can dea-I with it on a proper footing. But where we have many items grouped together under such headings as these it is simply leakage. It appears to me that, we can always “do better service in the cause cf economy by stopping these little leakages than by voting against larger amounts.
– The expenditure on temporary assistance last year is accounted for bv the fact that there were a number of officers whose salaries were voted in the Appropriation Act, though the positions were not filled up for a considerable portion of the year. In the meantime, the officers were paid as temporary assistants. There was, consequently, an excess on that vote. On the other hand, there was a saving of something over £600 on salaries.
– I may take this opportunity of asking the Minister whether he can tell me how far the system of transferring available funds - not only between the various branches of the same Department, but also between the various Departments of the Commonwealth service - operates? For instance, I know that, it is not an, uncommon practice, if there is some money in one Department that has not been spent, for it to be transferred to some other branch at the request of that branch. If the Senate is going to take its proper place in looking after the funds of the Commonwealth, it is high time that we had information on this subject and considered it seriously. Say, for instance, that the Home Affairs Department towards the end of the year had ,£500 unspent, the Customs Department could say, “ Pass it on to us, and we will spend it.”
– That never occurs.
– Suppose that the administrative staff of the Home Affairs Department has a sum of £500 unspent towards the end of the year, is it not the practice for, sa.y, the Electoral Office, which is a branch of the Home Affairs Department, or for the Public Service Commissioner’s Office, to say - “We have need of extra money and you can transfer it to us?”
– The honorable senator is wrong there. The practice only exists as between me sub-departments of a Department, but not between- branches of a Department.
– Is the Minister quite sure ? Let us take; an instance in connexion with the administrative staff of the Home Affairs Department. There is an item of ^125 for “Office requisites exclusive of writing paper and envelopes.” Does the Minister wish us to understand that if that money is not expended towards the end of the year it may be transferred to “ other printing “ under the same* heading, or to “ travelling expenses “ ?
– Yes ; those items are all under the same subdivision.
– Does the Minister assure this Committee that the system of transfer merely applies to this limited area, and never goes beyond it?
– I am so informed.
– Does it never go outside the subdivision? Is money never transferred, say. from the Administrative Staff to the Electoral Office?
– I hope that the Minister is fully .aware of what he is say ing. I am not going to dispute his statement, but with the greatest of respect I doubt whether he is speaking with a true knowledge of the subject.
– I am speaking from the knowledge of the head of the Department.
– Before I sit down, I would suggest to the Minister that in regard to temporary assistance, he should pick out some item in the schedule a good way ahead, and, before to-day’s sitting is concluded, should supply us with particulars in connexion with it, and with the details under the heading of “Contingencies.” For instance, take the item, “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure.” The amount appropriated last year was *£400, and the amount expended was £356. I would suggest that the Minister should take some similar item of incidental and petty cash expenditure for whatever Department he likes, and supply us to-3ay with details taken from last year’s accounts. I am aware that if I ask him to give us the details of the ^356 spent last year in connexion with the Home Affairs Department, he cannot do it. I do not wish to be unfair, but I do wish to get information. Will he, therefore, take a similar item relative to some other Department, and, before the sitting closes, give us a detailed account of how the money has been spent? I have a suspicion that the frequent entries in reference to petty cash expenditure afford opportunities for great waste of public money.
Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia). In relation to the item “ Temporary assistance,” I wish to ask the Minister whether it is a fact that persons are employed in the public offices from one year’s end to another, whose wages are paid just as are those of permanent public servants, but who, nevertheless, are provided for under the heading of “ Temporary assistance “ ?
– I think there is a provision in the Public Service Act which does not permit a Department to employ a temporary hand for more than nine months.
– Is that rule adhered to?
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - The answer to Senator Henderson’s question is that two men are employed permanently, whose salaries are paid out of the vote designated “ Temporary assistance.” They are the men to whom I have previously referred, being the clerk and caretaker at the Sydney office.
– Is the Minister sure that there are no others?
– I am informed that there are no others. The two officers mentioned are employed temporarily because it is recognised that their services are only required .until the Commonwealth secures its own office in the Sydney Customs House, when they will be dealt with differently, or their services will be dispensed with.
Senator STEWART (Queensland.)- I have not yet succeeded in obtaining information as to the salaries paid to these temporary officers. I hope that the Minister will promise to obtain more information with regard to them. I should also like to have information as to the item .£829 for office cleaners. Is the office cleaning done by contract ? What rates of wages are paid? Are the cleaners men or women, or both?
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - The Department of Home Affairs provides for the cleaning of offices for all the Commonwealth Departments. I understand that the cleaners are paid a regular rate, and the work is not done by contract. In some instances quarters are also provided. In connexion with the Home Affairs Department there are employed two boys at ,£52 per annum, the women cleaners are paid -Ti a week, and there is also one male caretaker and cleaner at £104.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - In regard to the vote for the Electoral Office, I may say that I have had an opportunity to look over some of the Queensland rolls, which have recently been made, and I was astonished to find’ there the names of dead men and women, and of people who, to my knowledge, have left the country for some time. Indeed, in the limited examination that 1” was able to give these particular rolls, I was obliged to come to the conclusion that they were very carelessly prepared. I should like to know- exactly what system is followed in compiling them. There is a principal electoral officer in Melbourne, who controls, the whole business, but, so far as I can gather, the work is practically done locally by the chief returning officers, who act as the principal electoral officers in each State, and are always Government servants. I do not know whether the
Chief Returning Officer in Queensland receives an allowance for the work, or, if he does, what ft is. It appears to me that some better system ought to be inaugurated, in view of the fact that the rolls are very inaccurate.
– Have we not jus,t passed an amending Electoral Bill?
– There is evidently great need for amendment; but I am not sure that that Bill will achieve everything desired. There seems to be too much centralization; too little responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the States officers, and too much on those of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. In this matter, as in others, we are suffering from the curse of over-centralization - an inherent defect in our system of Federation which will have to be continually fought against, or it will utterly demoralize the administration. The Chief Electoral Officer gets the high salary of £500 for what is practically copyists’ work, and, so far as I have been able to gather, that work has been very indifferently done. Then there is the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State of Tasmania, who also acts as Public Works Officer and Deputy Public Service Inspector. That officer’s salary is £520, and he has a clerk who receives £185 a year.
– The salary of the Tasmanian officer is not severed in any way.
– Tasmania, although the smallest State, seems to cost much more than does any of the other States, so far as electoral officers are concerned.
– In the other States there are public works officers and deputy public service inspectors, in addition to electoral officers.
– Why is the whole of his salary debited to the Electoral Office? In any case, we ought to have some explanation as to the mode of compiling the rolls, because the work -is done in such a slipshod fashion as to make it evident that some supervision is necessary.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister).- -I agree with Senator Stewart that the work of compiling the electoral rolls has not been completed satisfactorily. In the first instance, resort was had to the State police; but I do not blame the police, because all they had to do waa to go round with certain forms, and leave them with the householders, with a request’ that they might be filled in and returned by a certain date. From these returns the rolls were prepared, and exhibited for thirty days before the holding of the Revision Court, in order that anybody interested might have the amplest opportunity’ to inspect them and draw attention to errors or omissions. The Revision Court was then held, and the rolls finally prepared. I know of an instance in Tasmania where in a large household - it was a place of accommodation - a lady, who had strong views on the liquor question, found, when she went to record her vote, that she had been described as following the occupation of a barmaid - the one occupation which appealed least favorably to her. In many instances, people filled in the returns with gross inaccuracy, often negligently, and often out of sheer mischief. That only showed the necessity to provide for adequate penalties for such an offence; and provision is made to this end in the Electoral Bill just passed. As to Mr. Oldham, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in Tasmania, all the work of the three offices mentioned is carried out by him for the one salary, in one office, and with the assistance of one clerk. It is very difficult to please some honorable senators. Earlier in the consideration of the Estimates, objection was raised1 to the salary of the Usher of the Black Rod appearing in one part, and the salary of the same officer as controller of the refreshment rooms in another part, it being pointed out that the total remuneration paid could not be seen at a glance. Indeed, I believe that Senator Stewart was the gentleman who raised that objection. I think honorable senators will agree that the explanation I have given is satisfactory’, and that there is no reason for alarm in connexion with these items.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I see that there is a sum of ^700 provided here for temporary assistance. I know of one officer, Mr. Brady, who, for £wo years and a half, has been practically carrying out the duties of Chief Electoral Officer of Western Australia, and yet he is amongst the temporary officers.
– Mr. Brady has carried out the duties very well.
– Very well’, indeed. Mr. Green, the Public Service Inspector, is the Chief Electoral Officer for Western Australia ; but previous to the last elections, Mr. Brady carried out the work’, with the assistance of a staff of temporary clerks,
I think that every candidate at that election will agree that Mr. Broomhall, the then Electoral Officer, had affairs in such a state of chaos, that some one with keen organizing ability was required to restore order. That work was done by Mr. Brady, who is a most courteous officer, and knows the Electoral Act so well that he can teach it to his superiors. When the election was over, and some order had been restored, the services of Mr. Brady were retained, but he is still a temporary officer in receipt of only 3 os. or us. a day. He is employed from week to week, and does not know how soon he may be discharged ; and such a position is discouraging to a man who, as I believe Mr. - Green is willing to testify, has given every satisfaction. Mr. Brady’s position ought to be made more secure, and his salary increased to a substantial amount. It is well nigh impossible for a man in his position to dress and live as he ought on his present salary. I do not want the matter discussed here, but I urge that he should be given a permanent position with higher remuneration.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - For some time past consideration has been given to the suggestion that the services of post-office officials might be availed of for a great deal of electoral work. Since the’ present Government came into office a scheme has been submitted for the re-organization of the whole of the electoral staff, and, wherever possible, consistent with economy and efficiency, the services of post-office officials will be availed of. I understand that, under that scheme, it is proposed to employ Mr. Brady permanently ;. and I may explain that it is only because arrangements have been of a tentative character that he has remained so long in his present position.
– Does not the Commonwealth Electoral Office work with the States Electoral Departments now ?
– That is so; and under the Electoral Bill which has just been passed it is proposed to use the services of the States Departments still more.
– I should like to know whether the Commonwealth Electoral Office ‘ in Brisbane has been closed altogether? I understand that the returning officers in the various States receive an allowance for supervizing the rolls, and that such returning officers are generally connected with the Post and Telegraph Department. Is the allowance paid out of this , £700 set down for temporary assistance? If not, what is the item in the Estimates from which the allowance is paid?
Senator KEATING (Tasmania-Hon- orary Minister). - The Commonwealth Electoral Office in Brisbane has not been closed, but has been removed to offices belonging to the State. I understand that there is a clerk permanently employed there to deal with Commonwealth electoral matters. Honorable senators will understand that, apart from’ the work of the central office, the work of the Commonwealth Electoral Department is not very great, unless immediately prior to, during, and immediately after an election ; but an Electoral Department is maintained in each cf the States, and any honorable senator can have recourse to it, though, as I have said, I believe there is a change in the locale of the office in Queensland. The expenditure to which Senator Stewart has referred isdefrayed from the vote of£2 1,000 for “ Expenses in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act.” That is the vote from which officers throughout the Commonwealth are paid for work done in connexion with the administration of the Act.
– Can the Minister sayhow these officers are paid, and whether it is according to some scale?
– I think there is a fixed remuneration for each officer, but I shall obtain the information before we deal with the item to which I have referred.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- It would be very much better if all expenditure in connexion with our elections were included under one heading. That would make it very much easier for honorable senators to find out how much the Commonwealth electoral system costs. I agree with Senator Croft that the officer in Western Australia to whom he referred appears to be very much underpaid at £3per week, when the cost of living and the average rate of wages in that State are taken into consideration. £5 per week would probably be a fair salary for such an officer, and I trust that the Department will see that the officer in question is better paid in future. We ought to be told how much of this£700 has been spent, and how much has been spent in each of the States.
– That vote is for the head office.
– I protest against this method of conducting the business of the Senate.
– The honorable senator’s question was answered. He has been told that the amount has been spent in the head office.
– Which item?
– The item of £700.
– Yes, that is for the head office and central offices in each State.
-Tnat is what I wish to know. The Government might just as well dump the Estimates on the table and say, “ Pass these,” as conduct the business in the way in which it is being conducted. The Minister in charge of the Committee is in a somewhat irritable mood, but I can assure honorable senators that it is painful to me to have to persist in trying to get information. If we are to exercise any oversight in connexion with the expenditure of the Commonwealth, it is absolutely necessary that we should get theinformation for which we ask. I should like to be toldhow much of this money has been spent, and where it has been spent?
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I do not suppose the Minister will answer my question, and I have no desire to set a trap; but I would ask him whether he would object to the insertion of the word “ unalterable “ before any of these items in the contingency subdivision?
– Yes, because of the provisions of the Audit Act:
– I have looked up the Audit Act, and especially the section governing all these transfers of votes. We are compelled to hurryt through the discussion of this Bill, and I regret that it is on such an occasion that my attention has been directed to the section of the Audit Act which deals so clearly and summarily with the question of transfers. I point out to honorable senators that under section 37of the Audit Act these transfers of votes are permissible; but there is a limit and a condition provided which it would be well for us to observe. The section practically’ provides that amounts may be transferred in the same subdivision., unless such subdivision shall be expresslv stated to be “unalterable.” I think that if we were to make any subdivision, especially in the Department of Home Affairs, “unalterable,” so far as contingencies are concerned, we should secure two objects.
First, we should undoubtedly secure economy.
– It might lead to a loading up of the items in the Estimates.
– I do. not think it would. The first result would be economy, and the second would be that .we should have greater care taken in submitting Estimates. At present the amounts appear to be put down in a haphazard fashion. The officers of the Department, knowing that they can transfer any one or, perhaps, a dozen’ of the votes for items under the heading of contingencies, put down, for instance, ^500 for stamps, with the idea that ^300 may be expended, and there will be a surplus “of ,£20°, which may be used to fit in somewhere else where a deficit has resulted. These contingency items will be found running throughout the Estimates, and they must amount to nearly one-half of the total sum specially appropriated. No care appears to be taken in framing these votes,. They are dumped down year after year under a happy-go-lucky system, which has but one result, and that is extravagance. If we were to put the word “unalterable” in front of some of these items of contingencies, the departmental authorities might be disposed to increase some of the votes, but I have no doubt that it would eventually lead to economy. I have looked over the Estimates for the last three preceding years, and in every Department I find the same tale of swollen Estimates. “ There is almost without exception a continually increasing vote under the heading of contingencies. The Committee of the Senate has, up-to-date, made, I believe, no alteration in the Estimates. Honorable senators have listened, or pretended to listen, to the remarks that have been made, and the expenditure has continued to increase. So far as. my own individual effort can have that effect, I propose to put a stop to the continuance of the practice.
– Under this subdivision the amount asked for this year is ^300 less than last year’s appropriation.
– There may be one or two such exceptions under the head- ing of contingencies, but, speaking com- prehensively, these Estimates are being increased year by year and gt is high time that the Committee took some more definite step to check the increase than that, of merely repeating the kind of talk in which I am now indulging. I am prepared on every occasion where I think there is a justifica tion for such a course, not only to support a motion for the reduction of an item, . but to vote for it.
– I feel very much tempted to propose a » reduction in the vote for the Public Service Commissioner, if only to enter a protest against the cavalier fashion in which the Public Service Commissioner has treated the parliamentary criticism of his classification scheme, and the suggestions made in this and in the other branch of the Legislature. When the scheme was submitted to Parliament we were told that we should have an opportunity to express our opinions upon it. Certain lines in the scheme met with unanimous disapproval in both Houses ; yet we find the protests made have been totally disregarded by the Public Service Com’missioner. The only satisfaction given to members of the Federal Parliament is the presentation of what is alleged to be the report of the Public Service Commissioner on the several matters referred to in the debate in Parliament on the scheme of classification for the Public Service. But this report is not a report on what was said in Parliament at all, but deals with some statements which were made by the Public Service associations. Here is one item - -
The grading of the general division lias been the subject of considerable criticism, and a system by Which all officers would proceed automatically to a comparatively high maximum salary has been suggested in substitution.
No such thing was ever suggested. The Commissioner’s statement is not based upon facto, so far as either House of Parliament is concerned. It is true, so far as it relates to certain proposals put forward by some branches of the Public Service. The Commissioner was asked to reply, not to those proposals, but to the criticisms levelled against his scheme by the members of either House. That is the way in which he gets out of the difficulty of answering parliamentary objections. Dealing with the question of the letter-carriers, at page 35 of his report, he sets out the objections which are supposed to have been made in Parliament.
– Was not that objection voiced in the other House?
– I have not had time to go through the .whole of the debates on the subject, but, so far as I have read them. I cannot find a solitary speaker who voiced that objection. The abolition of the grading system was advocated in each House, but the automatic increase was not advocated in the Senate by a single speaker, nor do I think it was advocated in the other House. The Commissioner puts these forward as the objections which were raised in the Parliament, and then sets himself to work to reply to them-
Officers claim to proceed to £150 per annum by annual increments of and that grading system be abolished.
We are entitled to get a reply to the criticisms which were directed against the scheme here, not to the representations made to him by public officers through their associations. The officers may or may not have advocated an automatic increase, though for my part I understand that they did. When speaking of the claims of this class I was careful not to advocate an automatic increase, because I did not believe in the idea. I spoke to many honorable senators who said that they intended to speak on the question, and they all agreed, that they would not advocate the proposal. Yet, in spite of that fact, the Commissioner picks out a statement which was not urged in the Senate, and practically bases the whole of his reply thereon. That is treating the Senate in a most cavalier fashion. It only emphasizes the position I took up when we were dealing with his report, and that was that we were practically wasting our time, and the Government were asking us to give up our power. It all emphasizes the necessity of our considering, as Senator Smith suggested, a series of amendments. We have been trapped by the Government. We were promised that our views on the Classification scheme would receive the consideration of the Cabinet,’ and that in the end the Commissioner would be asked to report thereon. So far we have not had any intimation that th6 Cabinet has ever considered our views.- I suppose they will shelter themselves behind this alleged reply, and adopt it iw toto. If they do, it will only emphasize the fact that we are giving up the control of the Public Service to one man.
– That is what we did when we framed the Public Service Act.
– I voted against the appointment of the Commissioner, but it was urged in defence of his appointment that the members of either House would have the right ito criticise, and, if necessary, censure his action in classifying the Public Service, certainly to consider his scheme in detail.
– That honorable senator appointed the Commissioner to do certain work, and now wishes to take it out of his hands.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken. The Commissioner was appointed to draw up a classification scheme, which was to be adopted, not by him, but by the Government. If he. will read the Public Service Act, he will find that the Commissioner is merely a recommendatory officer, and that the Government must take the responsibility of his scheme,, and not shelter themselves behind his reports.
– In the Act there is no provision that his scheme shall be submitted to Parliament.
– There is a provision that it shall be laid upon the table of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
– Not that it is to be submitted to Parliament.
– Is the scheme to be laid upon TEe table of either House to be regarded with reverence and awe, and not to be criticised? The Government have practically given up their right to revise the scheme. The Commissioner has not attempted to reply to the parliamentary criticisms concerning the letter-carriers. I wish to know whether the Government are prepared to accept his scheme as it stands ; in other words, whether they are prepared to disregard every criticism which has been urged in Parliament? Before this vote is passed we ought to know whether our criticisms are to receive any consideration, or whether Ministers are prepared to accept the Commissioner’s dictum.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).There are quite a number of matters to which I should like to refer in connexion with this Department, but apparently any talk on the subject is utterly useless. The Ministers listen with more or less impatience. I do not know which is the best way to ascertain the mind of the Committee.
– If the honorable senator wishes to get the control of the Pub’ic Service brought back to Parliament, he ‘can save £9,000 or £10,000 by wiping out this vote.
– I am not in favour of wiping out the whole vote, because, bad enough as the present system appears to be, the wiping out of this vote would open the door to probably a very much worse system. Referring to the claims of officers previously in the clerical, but now in the general division, the Commissioner said -
Regarding the statements made as to officers whose positions have been classified in the General Division, but who under State law or practice had a Clerical Division status, it is not considered that any rights under section 84 of the Constitution have been abrogated.
What does section 84 of the Constitution say? It says -
When any Department of the Public Service of a State becomes transferred to the Commonwealth, all officers of the department shall become subject to the control of the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.
Any such officer who is not retained in the service of the Commonwealth shall, unless he is appointed to some other office of equal emolument in the Public Service of the State, be entitled to receive from the State any pension, gratuity, or other compensation, payable under the law of the State, on the abolition of his office.
Any such officer who is retained in the service of the Commonwealth, shall preserve all his existing and accruing rights.
In Queensland, a considerable number of officers who had passed the ordinary Civil Service examination were in the clerical division, and entitled to all the increments, leave of absence, and the privileges which were peculiar to that branch. Unfortunately for some of them, however, the Commissioner classified the special work at which they were employed as general division work. I think he did quite right in classifying their work as general division work, but while doing so he ought not to have invaded the rights which the Constitution specially gave to the men wbn were doing the work. He ought not to have deprived them of their clerical status simply because he found it necessary to classify the work on which they .were engaged as general division work. I wish honorable senators to grasp this fact - that if the men were doing general division work, they were doing it for the convenience of the Department. Instead of being penalized, I think thev have a legal claim to be retained in the clerical division. A number of these men have lodged appeals with the Commissioner. In every case the appeal has been refused. In one instance, I have a documentary statement that a particular public servant was threatened by an inspector, that if he did not cease troubling the authorities in connexion with his appeal, it would be all the worse for him. I have every reason to believe that statement to be correct.
– That did not prevent the officer from getting redress from the Department.
– He has not got redress, and, so far as I can see, he is notlikely to get it.
– Who wa’s the inspector ?
– I would rather not mention his name, because if I did, I should have to mention the man’s name also. I have no authority, and no wish, to do that. This instance shows the sort of terrorism that seems to exist. This man, has had the courage openly to complain of the treatment which he has received. He has continued to press his claim for fair treatment. He is answered bv one of the inspectors with a threat. That state of things ought not to be allowed to continue. In any case. I claim that the contract entered into with these men when thev passed the Public Service examination has not been fulfilled: They dad not go into the clerical division through a side gate, as a number of officers did. They entered through the main door of the Public Service examination. They passed the examination prescribed by the States in which they lived. They were classified as clerical assistants. If they are doing general division work, and are treated as general division men, it is not their fault. They suffer in .two ways - in the first place, in respect of their increments, and in the second place, instead of being promoted in the ordinary course of events, as they would be if they were employed in the clerical division, their promotion is indefinitely delayed. They have been promised that they will be transferred to clerical work as soon as vacancies occur. But, as a matter of fact, while forty vacancies have occurred in the clerical division since the Commonwealth was inaugurated1, there have been only two transfers of these particular officers. What is the value of a promise which is carried out in that way? I know some of these men personally. They are by no means inferior officers. They’ are highly superior men. The fact that they have passed the examination is a guarantee that they are competent. I want to know what the Government intends to do. Unless something is done to out these officers upon a proper footing, the Com-, monwealth will be involved in litigation. The men are determined that their claims, shall be dealt with as they ought to be. If they cannot get justice- from the Government and from Parliament, their only recourse is to the High Court. No one in. the Senate desires that any public servant should be compelled to go to the High Court to get justice. If there were any difficulty, or any room for doubt as to their legal status, I should not insist upon their claims being admitted. But so far as I can see, there is no doubt whatever. The Constitution is clear and explicit on the subject. So far as I am able to discover, if a man was a clerical assistant when taken over by the Commonwealth, a clerical assistant hel must remain. If for the convenience of the Department he is called upon to do general division work, that is the Department’s look-out. The officer has nothing to do with it. He has qualified himself for the other branch of the service, and if, through occupying some situation in the Department, he is employed at general division work, he should not be penalized on’ that account. The Public Service Commissioner in his report defends at length what is being done. He says (page 49) -
Under the Act the Commissioner was bound to classify the office as he found it, to indicate the division in which each office was to be placed, and to establish uniformity of system throughout Australia. The method adopted is the only POSsible one consistent with the Constitution and the Public Service Act. It indicates that in the cases mentioned the position is a general division position under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, and that the officer filling it has clerical qualifications, and is eligible in the same manner as he was in .the State. Any other method than that adopted by’ the Commissioner would have been ridiculous and impossible.
I quite agree with that. So ‘ far as I know, no member of the Senate attacked the classification of this particular work in the general division. What we did attack - what I attacked - is the practical degradation of these men from the clerical to the general division. Under the Constitution the rights and privileges which thev enjoyed under the States they carried with them to the Commonwealth. I remember getting a definite promise from Senator Symon when he occupied the position of Attorney-General, that his Government would look into this matter, and rectify the grievance.
– He did not have a chance.
– The Reid Government was a ‘long time in office.
– Not so long as the country desired.
– In any case, the Government of which the honorable senator was a member did not seem to be one whit more remiss than the present Government is. I want to know what the Government intends to do - whether it intends to continue to pay these men general division increases, and to treat them in every respect as general division officers, or whether it is going to run the risk of a lawsuit. It is said that we can do nothing unless ‘wes supersede the Commissioner. But, although the Commissioner holds a very high and responsible office, the responsibility of Parliament is much greater than his. If any injustice is done to men in the employment of the Commonwealth it % is not the Public Service Commissioner that the people will blame. Parliament will be blamed. We ought to have a statement as to whether the Government intends to run the risk of a> lawsuit, or whether by Executive act it is going to restore their legal rights to men who have been defrauded of them bv the action of the Public Sendee Commissioner. Does Senator Keating intend on behalf of the Government to make a statement with: regard to these clerical officers before I deal with the case of the letter-carriers?
– I will deal with all the cases at once.
-It would be better to come’ to a satisfactory conclusion without mixing - up the cases. I will now deal with the letter-carriers. The Letter Carriers’ Association have set forth their case in .a document, from which. I shall 1 take the liberty, on their behalf, of making one or two quotations. With regard to the valuing of letter carriers’ work, they say: -
The valuing of the letter carriers’ work - which includes not only the delivering of the letters, but also the sorting and arranging of them - at j£no, j£i26, and ^138 per- annum grades is not equitable. We admit the work does not require any technical skill, but it requires honesty, intelligence, and promptitude. Letter carriers are intrusted with correspondence involving thousands and thousands of pounds per annum, and private correspondence, even- above any commercial value. On account of these facts,’ and also that the door of promotion is absolutely closed against the vast majority, in spite of all that may be said to the contrary, it is considered that the attainment of ^150 per- annum, after seventeen years’ service,, is not too much .to ask, to enable a man to live decently and rear and educate a family”.
I think that almost every honorable senator who expressed ,an opinion on the subject of grading was opposed to. the system ; and vet, as has been pointed out by Senator Pearce, the Public Service Commissioner has not seen fit to answer the arguments which were then advanced.
– He dodges the question.
– As a matter of fact, the grading system has, in my opinion, been adopted with the deliberate purpose of keeping down expenditure. I do not know who has been moving the Public Service Commissioner, but my impression is that he has tried to so arrange matters as to bring the minimum wage section into disrepute. We are often told by our capitalistic friends that a minimum wage in any industry practically becomes a maximum, lt appears to me that the Public’ Service Commissioner has been conspiring, if not to make the minimum wage the maximum, at least to so arrange that the expenditure will be the same as it would have been in the absence of any minimum wage provision. It never was the intention of Parliament, in fixing the minimum wage, to make it an excuse for barring promotion or increase of salar)’, or that loyal and faithful service should not be rewarded as in the past. That is the way, however, in which the Public Service Commissioner appears to me to have regarded the section. Whether the Commissioner has done that of his own motion, or whether he has been inspired by some power greater than himself, it is not for me to say ; the broad fact remains that the system of grading has, in my opinion, been inaugurated with the deliberate purpose of barring promotion and keeping down salaries, so as to save money. To some people it may appear exaggerated language to speak of the importance and responsibility attaching to the position of postman. We must recollect, however, that every citizen, male and female, depends for prompt delivery of correspondence every day of the year, and, in many cases, several times a day, on the postman, and the desirableness, indeed, the necessity, of rewarding these men liberally must impress itself on every honorable senator. We are told that it is only possible after seventeen years’ service for a postman to obtain a salary of ,-£150 a year. That is the fastest promotion possible, and, in ordinary cases, it must be very much slower.
– The Public Service Commissioner says that it is possible for a letter carrier to rise to the highest position in the Department.
– Of course it is; just as it is possible for the honorable senator, by some extraordinary revolution of the wheel of fortune, to become President of the British Republic.
– The British Republic has first to be inaugurated.
– Certainly ; the odds against the honorable senator are a thousand millions to one ; and these are exactly the odds in the Public Service. Although the Commissioner says that it is possible for a man to rise from the humblest rank to the highest, such promotion is by no means likely.
– A man carries the “baton in his knapsack” all the same.
– I am not so sure about that. Those members of the Public Service, realizing that they have very little opportunity to rise to the higher positions, are all the more anxious to get fair play in the situation in which it has pleased God or the Common wealth to place them. The letter-carriers say : -
Even the Commissioner, in his report, admits that an officer (Mr. Dempsey) - whose case is not an isolated one - now thirty years of age, and having already served fifteen years’ service, will not be able to attain a salary of ^150 per annum till he is forty-five years of age. He is now receiving £1X& Per annum, and will remain at that salary for several years. We very much question if he can reach £i$o at forty-five years of age. Admitting for argument sake that he can, we say, that every officer between the ages of twentyone and forty-five years requires all he can obtain under £150 per annum to rear and educate a family properly.
The Public Service Commissioner informs us that capacity, and not seniority, is to be the test for promotion - that men are to be promoted only according to their ability. But the grading absolutely kills promotion according to ability. No matter how deserving a man may be, he cannot be promoted to a higher class until there is a vacancy. The grading system kills all incentive to the men to. improve themselves, and is in direct contradiction to the principle which the Public Service Commissioner himself is never tired of enunciating. The lettercarriers go on to say : -
The Commissioner says : - “ There are in the general division of the Postal Department 1,253 positions with salaries of £150. per annum and upwards, and .3,123 positions, excluding messengers and telephone attendants, with salaries below £150 per annum.” He assumes an officer commences as an assistant letter carrier at eighteen years of age - as a matter of fact, 1,000 out of about 1,400 letter carriers are over thirty years of age - and consequently will have fortyseven years to pass through the grades, md will reach £150 per annum position before he attains fifty-two years of age. In this instance, the officer would have served thirty-four years before he would be able to receive the princely salary of ^150 per annum - a truly magnificent performance. Applying this illustration of the Commissioner to the vast majority now in the service, they will just about, at the age of retirement, be eligible to receive ^’150 per annum.
If the grievances here referred to are real, and not merely sham complaints of men who, as some people say, are never satisfied, we ought to have some definite statement as to the Government’s intentions. There is another matter in connexion with the telegraphists to which I should refer. It appears that some time ago a test examination was held in this branch, and the telegraphists contend that before entering the service they passed the prescribed examination, and they do not see why they should be called upon to undergo another, any more than are other members of the Public Service. The ordinary conditions of employment are that when a man has passed the usual examination for admission to the service, he is called upon to pass no further examination, but merely has to show that he is competent to do the work required of him. The telegraphists, however, have been subjected to a test which a number of them have failed to pass. It has noli been alleged that these men who failed are incapable of doing their work properly ; if that had been so, the proper course would have been to dismiss them. Simply because they could not pass the test - which many of them, by the way, say was not a fair one - they have been deprived of their annual increment.
– Surely if men are to be paid increments they should show increased ability, and do their work better?
– Then why is that principle not applied throughout the Public Service ?
– Generally, it is.
– I have already pointed out that when a lad enters the Public Service he passes an examination.
– Yes, an examination for a lad.
– He is never asked to cass any further examination.
– Oh, ves, he is.
– In the railway service of Victoria, at any rate, men are called upon to pass further examinations, and thev are promoted in proportion to the degree of ability they show.
– I have never heard of any examination being set to men after they had- once entered the Public Service. The only thing they are required to do is to see that the men are capable of doing the work on which thev are employed. The telegraphists themselves seem to be under the impression that the examination has been decided on to prevent promotion. On entering the service they had to undergo an examination in telegraphy,, and subsequently in other subjects ; and now to qualify for promotion they are asked to pass another examination. There are no such restrictions placed on clerks, and they wish to know why, in the circumstances, they are imposed in the case of telegraphists. There are one or two other matters connected with the administration of the Public Service in Queensland to which I desire to refer, but I think I had better defer what I have to say upon them until we reach the Post Office Estimates, because I am not quite sure what the responsibility of the Public Service Commissioner is in connexion with them.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - With reference to the remarks which have fallen from Senators Pearce and Stewart, I point out, in the first instance, that the classification, together with the amendments,, -which were circulated some time since, was adopted and approved by the Governor-General in Council at the end of last month or the beginning 08 the present month. At the time a notification’ to that effect appeared as an item of news in the various newspapers, and formal notification of it was gazetted in the Commonwealth Gazette of 4th November, and it bears the date 2nd November, 1905.
– The Government took absolutely no notice of the criticism in both Houses of Parliament.
– The Government took every possible notice of it. Speaking for myself, I can assure Senator Pearce that I spent the whole of one holiday and half of another day considering the criticism levelled at the Public Service .Commissioner’s classification in another place and in the Senate. I might further say that for some weeks before the report referred to here was tabled in Parliament and appeared in print;, a copy of it was in the hands of every one of the members of the Ministry, and its consideration was the subject of one particular Cabinet meeting. That consideration was postponed until every
Minister had had an opportunity of going through a typewritten copy of the report to which I refer. Speaking for myself again, I say that I consider that the Public Service Commissioner, whatever he may have done in connexion, with the classification or amended classification - and I do not feel competent to speak as to that with any degree of authority as compared with that of the Public Service Commissioner - 1 did feel at the time I read the typewritten copy of the report, which has now been quoted, that that officer had excellently discharged the duties which devolved upon him as one called upon to answer the criticisms levelled at the scheme in the Senate and in another place. With regard to what has been said by Senator Stewart as to officers who in some instances occupied a clerical status under the States Public Service Acts,, and who are now .designated officers of the general division, I remind the honorable senator that the Public Ser* vice Commissioner had a very difficult and complicated task confronting him in dealing with those officers. On referring to the report, honorable senators will see that if he was to secure something approaching uniformity it would have been absolutely impossible for him. to have taken any other course than that which he did adopt. At page 49, as an illustration of the difficulties with which he was confronted, it will be seen that the Public Service Commissioner explains that the system in force in the various States differed widely. In New South Wales and in Victoria a sorter was classified as “ general ;” in Queensland and South Australia as “clerical.” In New South Wales and Victoria a line repairer’ was classified as “general.” and in Queensland as “professional “ or “ general “ - according, I suppose, to the quality of the work he was doing. The Public Service Commissioner says -
The method adopted fs the only possible one consistent with the Constitution and the Public Service Act. It indicates that in the cases mentioned the position is a General Division position under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, and that the officer filling it has clerical qualifications, and is eligible for transfer to any clerical division position in the same manner as he was in the States.
I do not think that any fairer course could have been followed in the anomalous set of circumstances presented to the Public Service Commissioner.
– But while there have been forty vacancies in the clerical division there have been only two appointments from the general division.
– I point out to Senator Stewart that what the Public Service Commissioner had to do in classifying these officers was to have regard to the particular work in which he found them employed.
– I said 1 had no fault to find with that.
– I admit that the honorable senator was fair enough to say so. If he found an officer who had clerical attainments doing work in a position coming under the general division he classified that officer tor the purposes of the Public Service classification as an officer doing general division work, and at the same time that officer is designated as one who possesses clerical qualifications, and as, such is eligible for transfer to a clerical division position in the same manner as he would have been in the States. That is the course which has been followed by the Public Service Commissioner, and I s.ay that it is the most reasonable! and’ fair course which could have been followed for all concerned.
– Is it fair to the men ?
– Undoubtedly it is. A man might, perhaps, occupy an administrative position higher than that of the clerical division. There might not be work for him to do in the administrative division, and in order that his services might not be altogether lost, he might be offered a position in a much lower grade of the service. Although he has had administrative qualifications, still, when he is fulfilling the duties of a position in a lower grade which he may have been allowed to occupy, probably to prevent his getting out of employment altogether, he should not claim the privileges and rights of an administrative officer while he is fulfilling the duties of an officer of the general or clerical division. That is a position corresponding with that in which many of these officers found themselves. They had clerical qualifications, but owing to certain circumstances over which perhaps they had no control whatever, they were performing the work of officers, attached to the general division. The Public Service Commissioner has, therefore, classified them in consequence of the work of the office in which he has found them engaged as officers of the general division,’ and also as officers possessing clerical qualifications, and! as such, eligible for promotion and transfer to the clerical division. With regard to the lettercar.riers, I think that honorable senators who have perused the report made by the Public Service Commissioner on the several matters referred to in the debates in Parliament, will find an ample and complete reply in that report to what has been said to-day. The general avenues of promotion, so far from being barred to the lettercarriers, are more open under the Public Service, classification than they were in the States Public Services.
– In theory, but not iri practice.
– I do not refer to other details in connexion with the positions of these officers, because they would take too long to discuss. With regard to the telegraphists to whom Senator Stewart referred, they are obliged to subject themselves to an examination by which they are tested for efficiency, because it is not considered correct that when there are different divisions in connexion with a particular class of work to which different maximum and minimum salaries apply, that the officers should automatically proceed from one step to another, and from one division to another, carrying with it a higher remuneration, unless they are able to demonstrate an advance in efficiency.
– That is a good principle.
– These officers have, therefore, been tested for efficiencyIt may be that some have failed through nervousness, but that is a frequent cause of failure in all examinations, and it is no reason why the examination of these men should not be proceeded with. I understand that the examination to which these men are subjected is one which the Public Service Commissioner has the power to impose under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, in order to test their efficiency for promotion or for increase of salary. I have no reason to think that he has been harsh or unfair or unjust in the exercise of that power. He occupies a position in which he is obliged to ‘have regard, not merely to the interests of Parliament and of Ministers, but to the interests of the Public Service on the one hand, and of the public on the other. I have every reason to believe, and I think honorable senators will agree with me, that since Mr. McLachlan has assumed his position, he has’ clone excellent work, and with a great deal- of ability has tried as hard as any man could try to satisfactorily discharge the duties of his position. Senator Stewart made some reference to the action of a previous Government, but I think he will find that the case to which he has referred has occupied the attention of different Governments. If the course pursued by the Public Service Commissioner in this case does not meet with the approval of officers in the Public Service, and they choose to take a case to Court, the Commonwealth will have nothing to do but to present its side of the ‘ case. I believe it has been stated that the question will be tested in the Courts, and if it is, without any spirit of hostility whatever towards the* public servants, the Commonwealth Government will be doing only their duty if they see that the case is argued as ably as possible on behalf of the Commonwealth and the public at large. I understand that this case has been before one or more Attorneys-General of the Commonwealth. There are difficulties connected with it, and some amount of doubt surrounding the position occupied by officers who have been classified under the Public Service Classification, and who claim that it has abrogated certain rights they have under the Constitution. I am not prepared to enter into a discussion of that. Very telling arguments have been advanced on both sides, but, personally, I think that what has been done by the Public Service Commissioner is in perfect conformity with the Constitution, and so far as any rights they have are concerned, and which they claim are abrogated, I believe that the public servants will find that they are being afforded greater privileges under the Public Service Classification than thev previously enjoyed under the States Act.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I cannot regard the reply of the Minister as otherwise than unsatisfactory in the extreme. It clearly shows that the Government have no sympathy with these men, and that they really have not grasped theposition. I take the case of one officer whom I know. He passed a certain examination, and if he were doing clerical work, within two or three years his salary would amount to £i6q- Being confined, as he is, to the general division, his salary within three years will be about ^130. So that, not only is he deprived of a very large sum,which is something in itself, but his path of promotion is blocked, not because he is inferior to other men, but because he had the misfortune to be engaged on work which was classed as clerical in Queensland, but which the Commissioner has classed as general in the Commonwealth. If these men are doing general division work for the convenience of the Department, it ought to pay them their clerical division salaries. In other words, it ought to carry out the contract into which the Commonwealth entered with them when they passed the examination: and were admitted into the ranks of the Public. Service. I wish to elicit an expression of opinion on this matter from the Committee, because it is of no use for me to bring forward these men’s grievance time after time, and in that way give them, perhaps, some hope that a remedy will be provided, if their case is hopeless. Apparently, we earn get no consideration from the Government. Therefore Imove -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote “ Public Service Commissioner, Central Staff, Salaries,£5,213,” by £1.
If that request be carried, it will be taken, I should think, as an indication that the Committee disagree with the manner in which the Commissioner has dealt with the officers I have referred to.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I wish to refer to the vote of £12,048, under the headof “ Public Works Staff,” for salaries, contingencies, and supervision of works. We ought to have an explanation as to how the supervision of public works is carried on in the various States.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - In Tasmania, Queensland. Western Australia, and, I think, South Australia, the works are supervised for the Commonwealth by an officer who belongs to the Public Works Department of the State. In the larger States the works are supervised directly by an officer of our Public Works Department.
SenatorMulcahy. - In Tasmania there is duplication.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia.) - With regard, to the proposed vote of£94,921 under thehead of “ Works and buildings,” I wish to’ draw attention to the fact that it includes an item of£769 for the Attorney-General - namely , £243 for rent,£140 for repairs and maintenance, £250 for fittings and furniture, and £136 for rent of telephones. I think that every one must agree as to the undesirability of expanding the items which appear throughout the Estimates under the head of contingencies. It covers a great many things which it is difficult ‘to investigate. It leaves to the Department, and to its officers, a discretion which I am perfectly certain they all try to exercise to the best of their ability, but in relation to which it is very difficult to secure proper supervision. Many of the observations which have been directed this afternoon to contingencies apply to this general head of “ works and buildings.” Each item which appears in the final column, headed’ “other,” is an addition to the Estimates of the Department to which it relates. These items are very apt to be overlooked when the expenditure in connexion with each Department is being discussed. Last year,, as appears by the Estimates, there! was an appropriation of£1,185 to the Attorney-General’s Department under this heading. The expenditure during last year - when, of course, as honorable senators are aware, the late Ministry was responsible for the expenditure of the Department for the greaterpart of the time - was cut down to less than half the appropriation. Whatever credit there maybe for that, belongs, therefore, to the late Government. The saving effected upon the appropriation last year was ,£648. That was a very substantial and useful piece of work as it appears to me. The present estimate, of course, has some relation to last year’s expenditure, and is put down at£769. That is a reduction upon last year’s appropriation of£416. My belief is - I am not quite certain - that that is the estimate of the late Government, arrived at by relation to the amount of last year’s expenditure. I think, in common with all my honorable friends in the Senate, and in agreement with the views which have been expressed several times by Senator Stewart, that it is very important that every possible supervision should be exercised in relation to expenditure, and particularly as to the smaller items which are not so obvious, and to which attention is not so strongly directed when measures of this character happens to be passing through Parliament. It is in relation to small leakages that the most extreme care should be exercised, because the multiplicity of such leakages makes up in the long run a very large, and if wehad it before us in one lump, a very appalling sum. It cannot be out of place, in relation to this subject, for me to read the views of Mr. Gladstone, as narrated in Mr. Morley’s Life. They are exceedingly appropriate, and express the point of view in terms with which I think we can all concur - “The chancellor of the exchequer,” he said, “ should boldly uphold economy in detail ; and it is the mark of a chicken-hearted chancellor when he shrinks from upholding economy in detail, when because it is a question of only two or three thousand pounds, he says that is no matter. He is ridiculed, no doubt, for what is called candle-ends and cheese-parings, but he is not worth his salt if he is not ready to save what are meant by candle-ends and cheese-parings in the cause of the country.” He held it to be his special duty in his office not simply to abolish sinecures, but to watch for every opportunity of cutting down all unnecessary appointments.
He hears that a clerk at the national debt office is at death’s door, and on the instant writes to Lord Palmerston that there is no necessity to appoint a successor. “ During the last twenty years,” he said in 1863, “ since I began to deal with these subjects, every financial change beneficial to the country at large has been met with a threat that somebody would be dismissed.” All such discouragements he treated with the halfscornful scepticism, without which no administrative reformer, will go far.
He did not think it beneath his dignify to appeal to the foreign office for a retrenchment in fly-leaves, and thick folio sheets, used for docketing only, and the same for mere covering despatches without description.
I recollect that the other day Senator Stewart and others called attention to the quality of the paper supplied for use of honorable senators. I intend a little later on to offer some general observations with regard to other matter of expenditure to which it would not be appropriates for me to refer now. But I shall be able to shorten what I have then to say if I make some remarks now upon these two items. I pre sume that the item, telephones,£136, includes the High Court telephones which came under my notice at the time of my administration of the Department. If that be the case now, of course, is the time for me to deal with them, and to inform the Senate what I found and what I did. I think it is my duty to do so, as probably no one is so familiar with the subject as I am, and the information, which is in print before honorable senators in relation to the Estimates last year, is of course information arising out of my own administration.
His Honour the Chief Justice has telephoned me stating that he understands that the shelving round his room at Darlinghurst Court House has been approved, and urges me to press on with the work.
Honorable senators will observe that this telephone message was sent when, according .to the correspondence, the Chief Justice was protesting that the shelving had not been approved and against the delay in the approval.
His Honour the Chief Justice has telephoned me stating that he understands that the shelving round his room at Darlinghurst Court House has been approved, and urges me to press on with the work.
A few days later, on the 17th May, the Chief Justice wrote a letter, which, I must say, considerably surprised me -
As I understand that it is not now intended to make any proposal for discontinuing the sittings of the Full Court at Sydney, I have the honour to renew the request contained in my letter of and December last, that the furnishing of my chambers at Darlinghurst may be completed by the provision of shelves for the accommodation of my law library.
Whereas, seven days before, according to the letter of the Public Works director, the Chief Justice sent the telephone message I have already read. I do not wish, to comment on, or attempt to reconcile, the two letters; but when these facts were laid before me, I asked for the papers dealing with .the whole matter. I then became aware, for the first time, of the existence of the plans, and of the, at any rate, speculative- or preliminary estimates which had been prepared so long before as the month of December. These- papers came before me very shortly before I left office, and I have only to add that the Attorney-General has since, in rather a lofty fashion, referred to the proposed shelving as a trivial matter, which has now been settled. I do not regard it as a trivial matter in any sense or shape; I do not regard any expenditure, large or small, which comes before a Minister for sanction,, as trivial. Large or small in amount, the money is not the Minister’s own, but the money of the taxpayers, for whom he acts as trustee. I might regard a note of my own as of no consequence; but when one is dealing with trust moneys, no sum is trifling. The Attorney-General has no right to describe any expenditure, however small, of money belonging to other people, as trivial, or to sanction it, if otherwise it ought not to be sanctioned, on such ground.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - With regard to the first item mentioned by the -honorable senator, the provision of £136 for telephones for the current year is for telephones used at the head office, and private office of the Attorney-General, and for the direct lines to other Ministers’ private residences, the Crown Solicitor, Secretary of the Department, and telephones to the High Court offices. For the previous year the amount expended under the same heading was ^192. As indicated by Senator Symon, there has been retrenchment in the. matter of telephones, and the amount asked for for the current financial year is only ^136. With regard to the second item, “ Fittings and furniture,” £250 is asked! for. This vote is for furniture for the office of the Attorney-General in Spring-street, for the office of the Crown Solicitor, which is now fitted up under the same roof as most of the other Commonwealth Departments, and ‘for furniture and fittings in connexion with the High Court. The High Court, as every one knows, does not confine its sittings to any centre of the Commonwealth.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I shall be very glad if Senator Keating will obtain the information to which he has referred as to the cost of this shelving.
– The sum of , £2,585 which is required for Sydney Government House affords an opportunity to save some money, and, after the able speech in the direction of economy to which we have just listened from Senator Symon, I expect to get his support if I move a request for a reduction of the vote. I do not see any reason why the Commonwealth should contribute £2,585 a year towards the maintenance of a separate establishment for the Governor-General in Sydney. If it is just to make this provision in the case of Sydney, it would be equally just to spend a similar sum in providing a separate establishment for His Excellency in Perth, Hobart, Adelaide, and Brisbane. This vote is purely a sop, intended to satisfy the absurd, small-minded jealousy of Sydney. This is not a New South Wales matter at all. Sydney is always crying out that the Commonwealth is treating New. South Wales unjustly. But here the Commonwealth is going out of its way to expend £2,585 in order to keep up a separate establishment for the Governor-General in Sydney. I object to this expenditure, because, in my opinion, it is contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution. We are certainly’ discriminating between State and State if we maintain a separate establishment for the Governor-General in one State other than the Seat of Government, and not in all the others. I know that New South Wales does not make any unjust or undue demand upon the Commonwealth. It is the city of Sydney that is continually doing that. What is the chief object attained by the expenditure of this vote in Sydney. His Excellency and Lady Northcote will be resident in Sydney for about six months in the year, and, by reason of their official positions, will be the leaders of society, and give society functions. Society people will warm or sun themselves in the smiles of their viceregal Excellencies, will put their knees under the vice-regal table. and will enjoy all the pleasure and kudos which are to be got out of being present at viceregal functions. But where will the taxpayers of New South Wales come in? They will pay the money and provide the feasts, but they will not by any chance put their knees under the vice-regal table. It is a wasteful and extravagant expenditure which we are asked to sanction. The proper place for the official residence of the Governer-General is Melbourne, because, for the time being, it 5s the Seat of Government. Ultimately, of course, his official residence will be at the Federal Capital. When it is established, shall we be expected to maintain a separate establishment for His Excellency in Melbourne and Sydney, while we ignore other States capitals? It would be ridiculous to single out two States to be favoured in that way. Perhaps I may be allowed, to say here that it isSydney which is preventing the Commonwealth from establishing the Seat of Government in the place chosen by this Parliament. Why should we go’ out of our way to placate Sydney ? We are prepared to carry out the terms of the Constitution at the earliest possible moment. We are prepared to do everything we possibly can to carry out the bargain which was made with New South Wales, but Sydney, under the pretence that she is acting in the interests of that State, is continually blocking us.
– I would ask the honorable senator to defer his criticisms on that subject until the item £1,000, in connexion with choosing the Site of the Capital is reached.
– I brought forward the argument simply as an illustration to show the petty, small-minded jealousy which isexhibited by Sydney. I have no objection to the Governor-General visiting Sydney in the same way as he visits other cities in the Commonwealth. I think that £585 will be quite sufficient to provide His Excellency with accommodation during his visit to Sydney. Therefore, in order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote “ Sydney Government House, £2,585,”by£2,000.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - It will be recollected that the Government House at Sydney, as well as at Melbourne, was placed1 at the disposal of the Commonwealth. The obligation which was thrown upon the Commonwealth issimply to maintain the houses, and to return them to the States practically in good order and condition.
– Has any permanent arrangement been entered into?
– An arrangement of some kind was entered into, as may be seen on reference to papers which were laid before the Senate on the 4th August last. These papers disclose that, as far back as August, 1899, correspondence took place between the then Premier of New South Wales and the Premiers of the different Colonies, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It was urged by the Premier of New South Wales that, after the establishment of the Commonwealth, the residence of the Governor-General should be in Sydney when the Parliament was not sitting. If I remember correctly, the correspondencediscloses that no objection was then offered to that course being pursued, and that others fell in with the suggestion. When the first GovernorGeneral came out he landed in Sydney, and since that time New South Wales has placed its Government House, rent free, at the disposal of the Commonwealth, so that it may be occupied by the Governor-General whenever possible. It will be remembered that it is not very long since Mr. Carnithers, the Premier of New South Wales, said that the Governor-General did not reside sufficiently long in that State. A count was made of the days on which His Excellency resided in New South Wales during last year, and also in the other States, particularly in Victoria. There is no neces- sity. I think, for me to dwell at any length on the subject.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - In moving his request, Senator Givens referred to me. I wish to assure my honorable friend that his expectation is not misplaced, and that if he presses his request for a division I shall vote with him.
I think, however, that he ought to move a request to leave out the whole of the vote. .
– It is of no use to leave a balance of £585.
– This vote of £2,585 is required for the up-keep of Sydney Government House. Therefore if it be desired to express an opinion with regard to the retention of the house and the up-keep of it by the Commonwealth the proper course is to move a request for the omission of the whole sum, and not merely a portion thereof.
– I am quite willing to adopt that suggestion.
– That would be more consistent with the position which my honorable friend1 takes up.
– A portion of the vear has gone by.
– Of course part of the expenditure is incurred, and therefore it will be better to move a request for the reduction of the vote.
– I will move a request that the item be reduced by £1,000.
– That will be quite sufficient. I wish, without elaborately arguing the matter, to give one reason why I think we ought not to continue this extravagance. I say most emphatically that His Excellency the Governor-General should visit the States as frequently as is possible and convenient for him, and that the most ample, indeed generous, provision should be made for expenditure for that purpose. We do make such provision, and His Excellency has been most praiseworthy - if I may use the expression - in visiting the various States. It is not long since he returned from what I am sure must have been a most instructive visit to Western Australia. I think he has also been in Queensland. I am satisfied that in the discharge of his duties as GovernorGeneral of this great Continent, His Excellency will not be slow in undertaking such visits whenever occasion arises or opportunity offers. But I do say, nevertheless, that it is extravagant to continue a second Government House at the public expense when - I will not say whether justly or not - the country is exclaiming against heavy Commonwealth expenditure. There is no necessity whatever for it. There is no more reason why we should have a second vice-regal palace constantly maintained than that we should have other official residences for His Excellency in Brisbane or in Adelaide. I should be sorry in any way to curtail expenditure that was requisite for maintaining official dignity; but I do not think this expenditure is necessary. What is it for? It is a mere piece of arrant humbug. It is an expensive Foy, maintained principally for the gratification of the vanity of New South Wales. Really we must speak as plainly as we feel. There is no doubt that when this Commonwealth was first inaugurated, and when Lord Hopetoun came here as Governor-General, it was understood that he would land in Sydney, and* that the inaugural ceremonies would take place there. That was done. But subsequently the matter has simply! slid on. The expenditure has been continued, and we are called upon year by year to vote a large sum of money for maintaining a great house in Sydnev - a magnificent dwelling - for the purpose of an occasional occupation, which might -be abundantly and satisfactorily provided for there when required, as ‘it is in the other States capitals. Last year the argument which I am now putting was advanced by Senator Keating - when he sat where I am now standing - with all the eloquence which he has at his command. He addressed his remarks to very sympathetic ears.
– Is the honorable senator going to tell us what reply he made ? ,
– I am. I said last year that I. thoroughly agreed with my honorable friend. I will quote from what he said. I am not doing this simply in the ‘ ordinary way of bantering my honorable friend by bringing up agains!: him his previous utterances. But really he expressed the views which are in my mind better than I could do. The question then was the voting of £3,000 for Sydney Government House. Senator Keating re~ferred to the details, and questioned whether the expenditure was necessary. He said : -
I believe that at the inception of the Commonwealth it was necessary that Sydney Government House should be used by the Governor-General, who stayed in that city for some time. But since the first and second Governors-General have departed the place has been used as a residence only on odd occasions. The Governor-General, however, visits other States besides the State of New South Wales, and I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to provide him with official residences in those States. Why should one State be singled out for special treatment? The Governor-General must, of course, have a residence in Victoria while the Seat of Government remains in Melbourne. If we maintain a separate establishment for him in New South Wales, we should do the same thing in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, which he intends, I understand, to visit in the near future.
SenatorMulcahy. - Three thousand pounds is more than we pay our Governor in Tasmania.
– If the money is paid in respect to a Government House used by the State authorities as well as by the Governor-General, I would like to know why similar arrangements are not made in regard to the other States, all of which the Governor-General is expected to visit. Is the Commonwealth committed in perpetuity to the maintenance of a Government House in New South Wales merely for the pleasure of a few people in that State? This seems to be like throwing a sop to Cerberus.
There Senator Keating used the very term thathas been used to-day by Senator Givens. The word must have been burnt into my honorable friend’s memory last year. He continued -
We are trying to placate the people of New South Wales who are dissatisfied because the Seat of Government is not fixed in Sydney, and cannot be located within 100 miles of that city.
After dealing with avariety of details, Senator Keating went on to say -
We should take a stand against this expenditure, and determine that there shall be only one GovernorGeneral’s establishment, known as the Government House of the Commonwealth, and situated where the Seat of Government is.
– I hope he will take up that stand thisyear.
– I am sure that he will.
While the Seat of Government remains temporarily in Victoria, the Commonwealth Government House should be in Melbourne.
That is what I say, not merely as to Government House, but also as to’ the High Court. I wish to be consistent. I say that what applies to Government House applies equally to the High Court. Melbourne is the Seat of Government - temporarily it is true, but just as effectively the Seat of Government of this Commonwealth as the Federal Capitalwillbe when it is established. Therefore, I stand for Melbourne, although i , do not belong to this city, and have nothing to do with Victoria. I have no particular sympathy one way or the other in respect of this State. But I maintain that under the Constitution Melbourne is now the Seat of Government ofthis Commonwealth, and it should be the place of residence of the GovernorGeneral, the seat of the High Court not only in name but in fact, and the place for the transaction of Commonwealth business. The reason for that is that where the Seat of Government is situated, there communications may conveniently be made between the Government and the head of the Executive, or in, matters affecting the executive administration of the Court between the Government and the Judiciary. Senator Trenwith. however, wants to know what I said on that occasion. I will tell him.
– I know that it was good.
– I said -
There is a great deal of force in what the honorable and learned, senator, has said, and a time willprobably soon come when the advisability of continuing to maintain a residence in Sydney for a Governor-General must be considered.
Of course ; that time has come. I went on to say -
The visits of the Governor-General are much less frequent and of shorter duration than those whichhe pays to New South Wales, the present occupant of the office who has been in Australia for only a short time having already resided four months in the Sydney Government House.
Then I went on to refer to the origin of the arrangement, which I have already alluded to. I said-
The first Governor-General was sworn in in Sydney, and the inaugural ceremonies connected with the inception of the Commonwealth took place there, Sydney being at the time de facto though not perhaps de jure the Seat of Government.
Then there were some interjections, to which I need not allude. At any rate,I never hesitated to say what I say now,; that Melbourne being, as lawyers say, de, jure - by right - the Seat of Government, I object to Sydney being in any respect - either in respect of the Judiciary or in respect of the vice-regal residence - the defacto Seat of Government. The sooner we prevent the present practice becoming fixed the better. It is not with me a matter of feeling as between Melbourne and Sydney. I look at it from an ordinary taxpayer’s point of view. I consider that the additional expenditure is unnecessary. Therefore, I shall be found voting with my honorable friend, Senator Givens,if he perseveres with his proposed request. No one must suggest thatany honorable senator who votes with himis seeking in any way to interfere with the dignity or the propriety of the expenditure in relation to the Governor-General .
– Or to reflect upon him in his social capacity.
– Certainly not. I say that I have in view simply the interests of the taxpayer, and maintain that the burdens of the Commonwealth should not be added to further than is imperative.
– “Unfortunately I am the only one of the six senators from the mother State who is present to-day, and I feel that I am in rather an awkward position. I have no doubt, from the remarks of honorable senators opposite, that they are prepared to vote for the proposed request. It is quite evident that we have made a mistake in not having settled where the Federal Capital should be.
– We have settled it.
– We have settled the question of the location of the Seat of Government, but we have not put up thebuildings.
– New South Wales will not allow us.
– If would not allow us to drive in a peg.
– I really feel somewhat at a loss how to put the case from the New South Wales point . of view, but I must do my best. Let us never forget that New South Wales is the mother State of all Australia.
– She is not the mother State of South Australia. We were never part of New South Wales.
– New South Wales is an off-shoot from Tasmania, if the case is put accurately.
– In nearly all the States the Governor has a country residence, as well as his .residence in the State Capital. It seems to me to be only right that the Governor-General of the Commonwealth should also have two residences. At the time Federation took place, New South Wales was recognised as being, in regard to age and population, the leading State. There Would be a very sore feeling in that’ State, indeed, if this Parliament were, at this stage of our national existence, to deprive it of the privilege it row enjoys in regard to this matter. The Parliament of that State has provided a separate residence for the local Governor, in order, as it were, to oblige the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator know what the New South Wales Parliament and Government propose to do now ?
– Some radical fellows may, perhaps, have made a proposal.
-<- The proposal is made by the Premier of New South’ Wales.
– Then, he must be a radical, at that rate.
– What about the Sydney Morning Herald?
– I trust that the Senate will not reduce this item by one penny. Even if the vote were reduced, and the Sydney residence for the GovernorGeneral done away with, it does not follow that the money ‘would be saved ; because His Excellency would then have to remain all the year round in Melbourne, with the result of increasing the cost here. Have honorable senators considered the great value . of the property placed at the disposal of the Federal Government in Sydney ?
– We are anxious to let the New South Wales people have the full, value of it for themelves
– By reducing this vote we sh’all offend the amour propre of New South Wales, and, in that way, we may considerably damage the cause of Federation. New South Wales representatives, who have always supported Federation, are at the present time in an unfortunate position. We stood by Federation in spite of all .drawbacks; and recent occurrences have given rise to an idea that New South Wales made a mistake in entering the Federation. A reduction of this vote would certainly strengthen that feeling, and we ought not. at the present stage, to do anything to create unkindly sentiment.
– Why bribe New South Wales?
– I do not propose that New South Wales should be bribed. I have a little delicacy in speaking freely, because I find myself differing from my leader in this matter. I’ have frequently had to do so, but always with a personal feeling of pain; because we are good private friends, and it is unpleasant to find those differences between us. As a New South Wales senator, I believe that if thiFederal Capital were in New South Wales, the people of that State would agree that Melbourne should contain a residence for the Governor-General.
– Why Melbourne and not the other capital cities?
– Victoria is the second ‘largest State.
– Then why should not the third largest State have a residence for the .Governor-General?
– I should have no objection in principle to each, capital city having a residence for the Governor-General, if we could afford the cost. I am quite willing to act liberally towards the other States, as I expect the other States to act liberally towards New South Wales. Another awkward question may arise if we pass the request and’ the other House should object to our decision. Were any difference to arise in this way, and the result to be a joint dissolution, I for one would not object. I know one party which, after such a ‘dissolution, would not come back as strong as it is now. I wish to do as I would/ be done by, and I should be quite willing, if the Federal Capital were in New South Wales, to allow Melbourne to continue to have a residence for the GovernorGeneral. It is only due to the dignity of His Excellency that he should have more than one residence, and at present there could not be a better arrangement than a Government House in each of the two principal cities. If I could find stronger reasons for the stand I am taking, I should like to place them before honorable senators; but I do not think I need say more. I feel strongly that if we agree to this request, we shall do much to injure the cause of Federation in New South Wales There Is an impression amongst not a few that New South Wales and Queensland may have to take joint action in withdrawing from the Federation.
– Do not talk nonsense !
– The honorable senator will admit that Queensland^ the daughter of New South Wales, and has a much kinder feeling towards the mother State than towards any pf the other States.
– Queensland will not follow New South Wales in secession.
– I am not in favour of secession, but I recognise the fact that there is a strong public feeling such as I have indicated. If there were a referendum taken to-morrow in New South Wales, I believe that two-thirds of the people in that State would vote against Federation; and I do not want to assist in promoting an anti-Federal spirit. I wish to see the Commonwealth progress, because I have, through good and evil report, been a believer in Federation. I ,look beyond the present day, and would deplore the fact if Australia were not a united Commonwealth. For the sake of good govern - ment, and the kindly feeling which ought to prevail amongst the States, I appeal to honorable’ senators not to accept the amendment.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - It is somewhat significant that when we are discussing an item. which particularly affect; New South Wales, Senator Walker should, on this occasion as on the last, be the soli! representative, of that State present. ‘(. do not for one moment wish to convey the; insinuation that Senator Walker does noi: alone adequately represent New South Wales, but I do say that, perhaps, we are ‘ justified in drawing some inference from the fact that when this vote, which Senator Walker assures the Committee is of some importance to the State he represents, is being discussed, all his five colleagues are absent. Whether we are quite justified in accepting Senator Walker’, direct assurance that his five colleagues are at one with him–
– Or whether we should consider that his colleagues have some diffidence on the subject, for reasons which they might be asked to. explain, I do not know.
– One is ill.
– I admit that. It will be remembered that when we were discussing these Estimates on the 13th December last year. we were told by the Minister, and we knew the fact, that there was absolutely no time for us to make any alteration in the item. I have a clear recollection of that fact being pointed out, and it formed a reason which induced more than one honorable senator to vote for the expenditure.
– We shall have the same argument used again next year.
– Of course we shall. But, fortunately, from mv point of view, time on this occasion does permit us to make an alteration if we so desire. I remind the Committee that on the occasion to which I refer, more than one honorable senator expressed the opinion that before- we took the definite step of refusing the vote, it would be desirable to give -something in the nature of six months’ notice. I am going to assume rightly or wrongly that the request moved by Senator Givens will, if agreed to, operate as a notice. I say without hesitation, and I have never been of any other opinion, that there is nothing to justify this expenditure in Sydney. I have never heard an honorable senator, whether a member of the various Ministries, or only an ordinary member, except, perhaps, a New South Wales senator, venture to attempt any justification for the expenditure. I confess I am rather surprised that Senator Walker, in getting perhaps a little heated, and telling us what two-thirds of the people of his State may desire, should for one moment attempt to induce us to believe that one of .the great things that cement New South Wales to Federation is the maintenance of a Government House in Sydney.
– I spoke of the danger of offending the amour-propre of New South Wales.
– It is a very poor reason to urge that the feeling of New South Wales towards Federation is going to be materially changed, or imperilled, if the honorable senator pleases, because we refuse to vote money, for the maintenance of a residence for His Excellency in Sydney. I do not believe that that is the feeling of the Nev/ South Wales’ people. If ,1 thought for a moment that there was anything in the nature of parsimony towards the Governor-General in refusing this vote -if I thought any honorable senator entertained, ever so remotely, such an idea - I should vote against the request. I believe that every one of us, no matter how we may vote, will do so with’ the clear understanding and belief that we are not in the slightest degree reflecting on the amount of the expenditure which the Commonwealth incurs on behalf of the GovernorGeneral. That being so, let me deal with another point : I venture to express my doubt whether the people of New South Wales desire that this expenditure on a second Government House in Svdney should be continued. Senator Walker may think I i>m talking heresy.
– The Sydney Morning Herald.- does not approve of the expenditure.
– I am glad that Senator de Largie can support me in my opinion. I do not believe that if we could ascertain their opinion, the “people of New South’ Wales would signify their approval of this large expenditure. This second Government House in Sydney, in addition to the expense to the Commonwealth, means large additional expense to the State, and from this the State might reasonably ask to be relieved. If we agree to Senator Givens’ motion, we shall, I take it, be practically giving notice to terminate the present agreement.
– There is no agreement.
– It is difficult to know what the arrangement is. v Senator Sir Josiah Symon. - We simply pay the money.
– If there is no obligation to continue the arrangement, now is the time to stop it. I have pointed out that in this motion there is no affront to the Governor-General, and I have expressed -the opinion that the economy would be approved by the people of New South Wales; and to the reasons already given, may be added one, which is paramount, namely, that no logical argument can be advanced why this expenditure should be incurred in a second State, and not in the remaining four. Under the circumstances, I feel bound to. vote with Senator Givens, as a protest against’ an arrangement which was wrongly entered into, and has been wrongly continued.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I am gratified at the amount of support which the request has received from all sides of the Committee. In deference to a feeling which has been expressed, and which I share, I am quite willing to amend my proposal, so as to reduce the- vote by £1,000 instead of £2,000. I heartily agree with all that has been said as to our having no desire whatever to in the remotest degree curtail any expenditure necessary to maintain to the fullest possible extent the dignity of His Excellency the Governor-General. ‘ I should like to deal for a moment or two with the objections raised by Senator Walker. Towards the conclusion of his remarks, the honorable senator said that if he had had any more “ good reasons “ to advance he would gladly have ‘ advanced them. Apparently, however, the honorable senator had no more “ good reasons,” and, therefore, could not advance any ; all he could say was that we might offend the amour-pro-ore of New South Wales, and cause the people of that State to regard themselves as badly treated. I do not believe that the request will have any such effect in New South Wales. Sydney always arrogates to itself the right to speak for the people of New South Wales.
– For Australia.
– I believe it was seriously proposed at one time’ in the New South Wales Parliament that the mother State should be called “Australia.”
– Why should South’ Australia not threaten to secede if a Commonwealth Government House is not established in South Australia ?
- Senator Walker apparently does not know the feeling of either the Government or the people of New South Wales on this question. I point out that if we do not take some steps to gracefully retire from our possession of Government House in Sydney, there is serious danger that we may be kicked out in a very short time. Only last month Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of New South Wales, owing to the way in which he said the Commonwealth was treating that State, threatened to altogether deprive us of’ the use of Sydney Government House. For Senator Walker’s information I quote the following extract from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 27 th of this month : -
Government House, Sydney. - The end of the year will see the termination of the arrangement entered into between the first Federal Government and that of New South Wales, under which Government House _ was made available as the vice-regal residence of the Governor-General in this State. It is understood the Federal Government is anxious to continue the arrangement. On the other hand, it is stated that the State Government is not enamoured of the proposal to renew the agreement. In political circles also the opinion is expressed that the arrangement has proved a most costly and inconvenient one to this State. The renovation, repairs, furnishing, rent, and upkeep of Cranbrook, the temporary residence of the State Governor at Rose Bay, has involved an expenditure of over ^20,000. This sum had to be expended, notwithstanding the fact that the Governor-General’s residence is empty nine months in the year. It is suggested that the possession of Government House for the State Governor should be resumed, and an allowance should be made to meet the extra expenditure during the three months’ stay of the GovernorGeneral in the same establishment. The lease of Cranbrook, the State Governor’s residence at Rose Bay, terminates at the end of next year. If the suggested arrangement were carried out the rental as well as the upkeep of Cranbrook would be saved. It is anticipated that something definite will be done in the matter in a few days.
And I propose to do it now. Apparently, if we do not take action, we shall be kicked out of the place. Notwithstanding all that Senator Walker has said about injuring New South Wales by giving up this second
Government House, the people of that State are apparently of the opinion that we are injuring her by retaining it. The argument of the Sydney Morning Herald, and my own, must be admitted to be conclusive in favour of the action I ask the Committee to take. Before I sit down I should like tq say that we are exceedingly grateful to New South Wales for having permitted us to make use of Government House, Sydney.
– The honorable senator is showing that nicely.
– I consider that I am when I ask the Committee to act in accordance with the views expressed by what Senator ‘ Walker will admit to be the leading newspaper of New South Wales.
– An article in a newspaper may express the opinion of only one person.
– I am glad that the honorable senator has used that argument, and I hope that when, in future, he quotes a newspaper article to the Senate he will recollect that it may be the opinion of only one man. I am prepared to let the extract I have read from the Sydney Morning Herald go into our records for what it is worth. I now ask leave to withdraw my first request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– Adopting the suggestion that was made to me, I now move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Sydney Government House, £2,585.” by £1,000.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I am not prepared to support this request, which, if it is carried, will do considerable harm. Honorable senators whom I have heard speak in favour of it have given their case away, because they all admit that no expense should be spared to uphold the dignity of the Governor-General. They admit that it is his duty to visit the various States,, and they have deservedly praised him for the way in which he has carried out that part of his duty. I should like to know whether honorable senators who support the request have any alternative proposal to make, and whether they have considered what it will cost ? , The maintenance of the grounds at Sydney Government House appears to be costly, and the expense might be cut down somewhat; but to deprive New South Wales of the presence of the Governor-General altogether, and the GovernorGeneral of conveniences for visiting Sydney, would be a very great mistake. I support the vote as proposed., because it is in accordance with the course we have adopted ever since Federation was established. We know the efforts which . were made to secure the landing of the first Governor-General at Sydney, and we consented to vote the money necessary to enable him to land there. Ever since then there has been an understanding that the Governor-General of the Commonwealth should spend part of the year in that city, and I think I recollect reading some statistics which showed that he has spent more time in Sydney than in Melbourne. I am in favour of economy where I think it can be reasonably practised, and I should like to know the alternative proposal submitted by those who are supporting the request. Do honorable senators suggest that the Governor-General should stay at the Hotel Australia for three months during every year?
– I find that he resided for 140 days in New South Wales during 1904.
– Have honorable senators any notion of what it would’ cost to provide quarters at the Hotel Australia for the Governor-General and his establishment for 140 days? Do they know what would be the expense involved in providing a residence for him at Moss Vale, or Darling Point? I take it that the present arrangement will be found to be in the direction of economy, and not of extravagance. Senator Walker has pointed out that most of the States Governors are supplied’ with town and’ country residences, and are we going to say that the Governor-General shall not have provision made for his residence for a portion of the year in the leading city of the Commonwealth, and of a State which contains almost one-third of the whole population? What is to be done if this vote is reduced by £1,000? Of what use is it to make a protest against a certain state of things when honorable senators admit that the dignity of the GovernorGeneral must be upheld, and that it is well that he should visit all the States.
– What does Tas.manit do when the Admiral visits that State? She finds him quarters.
– We find him a house, and welcome him with open arms, and that is what we ought to do.
– We make him our guest.
– I cannot avoid, in dealing with this item, a reference to the unfortunate position in which the question of the Federal ‘Capital stands, and the squabbling there has been over the settlement of it. It would be a very great mistake now to reverse a policy which has been followed for four years, and to do so at the psychological moment when it would be much better that we should leave things alone. If honorable senators admit that we must uphold the dignity and social position of the Governor-General, and that we wish him to pay visits to all the States, how is he to spend 140 days in New South Wales next year, if this request be agreed to?.
– In the same way as he spent thirty days in South Australia.
– Or in Western Australia.
– Am I to understand that the State of Tasmania, with’ 180,000 people, is to have as much of the company of the Governor-General as is a State having a population of 1,350,000 people? That is not the way in which to carry out the Federal bond1. We have pursued this policy for four years, and now honorable senators propose to alter it, though there has been no settlement of the dreadful Federal Capital business. We may assume. that the Governor-General will be sensitive about the wrangling as to where he shall go, and how long he shall stay there, and, as a result of this course of conduct, we may find it difficult to get any person to act as Governor-General at all. We may have further sneers’ at Australia. It is said that we will not welcome immigrants, and it may be said that we will not pay our Governor-General the respect and courtesy to which he is entitled. Until I know what alternative proposal is to be put before the Committee, I shall .not support the request.
– I should be very sorry indeed to db anything at this juncture which would increase the irritation of New South Wales against the Federation. I grieve very much to think that there has been a considerable amount of friction already. For a period of four years the arrangement proposed in’ these Estimates nas been carried out with mutual satisfaction.
– It has been unsatisfactory to New South Wales.
– It has been satisfactory, because we have annually passed the vote.
– It has been disputed every time it has come up.
– It has been passed all the same.
– Because we have never had the Estimates before us in proper time.
– The fact remains that the arrangement here proposed has been carried out for four years, and it would be very unfortunate to attempt to disturb it at the present moment.
– Has the honorable senator heard what the Sydney Morning Herald said ?
– Ihave, and I have also read what Mr. Carruthers has written on the subject. I still recognise that what is now proposed is the practice whichhas been followed for a considerable time. The people of New South Wales have shown that their anxiety to have the GovernorGeneral is bond fide, by expending, as the result of his visits to Sydney, a very much’ larger sum of money than honorable senators are here asked to vote for the upkeep of Sydney Government House. It appears that they spend no less than £20,000 a year to provide a: residence for the State Governor, which is necessary, as the result of the occupation of Sydney Government House by the Governor-General. They have shown that they consider it necessary in the interests of the Federation that the Governor-General should reside for a portion of the year with them, and it would be a very regrettable circumstance if we, because of the very small sum involved, were to disturb the arrangement which has been carried out in the past, and so add to the irritation felt in’ New South’ Wales with regard to our action in other respects. I cannot, in the circumstances, see my way to support the request.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote. “ Sydney Government House, £2,585,” by £1,000 - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I desire to ask the Minister to explain the reason for the. item of £1,000 to meet “ expenses in connexion with choosing the site for the Capital of the Commonwealth “ ? Is this money required to meet expenditure which has been incurred, or to meet further expenses in choosing, the site?
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - The vote is required, not to meet expenditure which has been incurred; but to meet expenditure which may have to be incurred, for instance, on a further report, or a visit, or a survey. It may become essential to take a particular course of action in connexion with asserting the right of this Parliament to locate the site. I do not think that more than £20 has been spent in that direction since the beginning of the present financial year. The money, if voted, will not necessarily be expended.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I do not think it can be urged that I am much interested as to where the Federal Capital shall be, except that as a Member of Parliament I desire to see the best possible site selected, so that we can get away as soon as possible from the atmosphere of Melbourne - political, sanitary, and otherwise. I protest against a vote being required in each Appropriation Bill for the selection of a site. We have evidence in the newspapers, in the shape of speeches made by Mr. Carruthers and others in New South Wales, that it is not proposed to allow us to carry out the determination to which we came after careful thought and debate. My idea all along has been that we should put forward another proposal. Just before the Parliament selected Dalgety, an opportunity was given to the members of both Houses to visit a site which was popularly known as the Tooma site. I think that the best portion of the Tooma site for the Federal
Capital was Welaregang. I regret that we were not given an opportunity to vote on the merits of that site. I was greatly struck with the advantages it possesses, situated, :is it is, on the bank of the Murray. In view crf the obstruction which has been offered by the Government of New South Wales, it would be perfectly justifiable, I think, for the Federal Parliament to take in the smallest possible portion of Welaregang to suit our convenience, and to ask the Victorian Government to negotiate with us in respect to an area of land on this side of the Murray.
Senator Clemons. - No.
– Hitherto I have not said much on this question, but from this time forward I shall object to voting any money to be spent upon the selection of a site. We should take some step in order to show that we object to the stand which Mr. Carruthers and New South Wales busybodies - Tories, in particular - have taken. We should strongly resent the attitude which has been adopted by the leaders of political power, if not of political thought, in New South Wales.
– I desire to obtain from the Government some information regarding the item of £600 to meet “ Expenses in connexion with’ valuation of properties taken over from the States.” I do not know whether any properties -have yet been taken over from the States. Before we vote this item we are entitled to know the intentions of the Government, and whether any plan is being followed, in order to obtain a valuation of transferred properties. I presume that an explanation will be offered for asking the Committee to vote the enormous sum of £21,000 to meet “expenses in connexion with’ the administration of the
Electoral Act.” I also desire an explanation concerning the item of £5,000 “ towards the establishment of a Statistical Bureau.” It is very easy to put down items in the hope that they will slip through, but it is due to the Committee that the Minister should explain what is being done, or proposed to be done, especially in the case of new’ items.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). In my speech on the second reading of the Bill, I asked the Minister of Defence to supply some information with regard to the item of £5,000 “ towards the establishment of a statistical bureau.” I hope that he has been able to obtain the required information. It is our duty to see that we are not establishing another Department. Necessarily, we must take over some work from the States, and, therefore, we should also take over their officers. I wish to know if the States have refused to allow their officers to be transferred, and, if so, whether the Government propose to appoint new officers? We are also entitled to an explanation in connexion with the valuation of properties taken over from the States. I am aware that the Minister of Defence is very anxious to get this division of the Estimates passed, but I would remind honorable senators that it contains items relating to some of the most important , questions with which we have to deal. We have a right to know what progress is being made by the Government in ‘ connexion with the valuation of transferred properties. The manner in which this question has been handled has reflected no credit upon any Government of the Commonwealth. In five years, apparently no progress has been made. When we are dealing with this important question, the time of tha Committee is not being wasted. We ‘are elected to do the business of the people, and in their interests the question should be settled, and not allowed to drag on from year to year1. I trust that the Minister will furnish a full statement with! regard to the valuation of transferred properties, and the establishment of a statistical bureau
– Senator Croft has called attention to an item of £1,000 for expenses in connexion with choosing the site of the Federal Capital, and has made some remarks in reference to New South Wales with which I do not agree. I do not think that either side has shown quite that degree of good sense and moderation in approaching the subject which it ought to have shown. When, the Seat of Government Bill was under consideration, I thought that a wrong course was being adopted”. The question naturally ‘arose whether we were entitled to ride rough-shod over New South Wales, and by Act to choose any portion of that State which we might think fit, for instance, her most valuable mineral area, say, a* Broken Hill, or her most valuable pastoral area somewhere else. Without expressing any opinion on that subject, which honorable senators will see is a very serious one as between New South Wales and the Commonwealth, it has always been my view that we should have approached its consideration by resolution. We should have dealt with New South Wales on the basis of negotiations and resolutions in the two Houses before we passed a Bill in which it will be recollected we had great difficulty - I think it was done in the Senate - in moderating the word “ shall “ into the word “should,” so as, if possible, to tone down, the very peremptory way in which the provision was originally framed.
– That was done in the other House bv the Right Hon. G. H. Reid
– It was a very anomalous word to use.
– Yes. it was, but of course the intention was not so much to conform to the. strict rules of grammar as to make New South Wales feel that there was no desire to ride roughshod over her. I do not think that the remark of my honorable friend Senator Croft in regard to New South Wales was quite wise ; and as far as possible we ought to assist the Government to get out of the present tangle. But we should have some explanation with regard to the extraordinary position of two of the items. Last year we voted £;?. 500. The expenditure was 0,645. This vear we, are asked to vote £1,000. What for? Of course, no one can tell. The /It, 000 does not swell the Estimates very greatly. But there is also set down ^8,562 for The conveyance of Members of Parliament and others.
– That is for the ordinary railway fares of Members of Parlia-ment.
– T was not aware that that was so. The £1,000 is apparently the equivalent of the £1,645 expended last year. But it is hoped that no such expenditure will be incurred.
– I do not think that £20 has been spent since the beginning of the financial vear.
– Unless there is a prospect of spending the money, it is a pity that so much should be voted. As to the amount for valuations, that surely cannot mean any general valuation of properties taken over. I do not understand that there has been , any valuation of transferred properties up to the present. Then with regard to the establishment of the statistical bureau. Although I agree that such a bureau ought to be established, we ought to be careful that there is no duplication. We ought to be informed whether there is a definite scheme in existence in regard to it.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales)’. - I should like to take this opportunity to say that I regret that there has been some Unwise correspondence in the newspapers with regard to the conveyance of Members of Parliament by train”. I travel backwards and forwards from Melbourne to Sydney frequently, and can testify that I have always been well treated by the railway authorities. I bear this testimony willingly. I see no reason for the correspondence in regard to one Member of Parliament not being able to obtain a sleeping berth through his late arrival on the railway platform. No people could be more considerate than are the railway authorities. I also object to Members of Parliament being designated “ dead-heads.” The Commonwealth pays £60 per annum to each State for each member that it sends to the Commonwealth Parliament. I wish it to go forth that we are not “ dead-heads “ in the ordinary sense of the word.
– I have no doubt that Senator Walker, whenever he has travelled, has met with the utmost consideration from the railway authorities; otherwise he would not stand up here and say so. But he should not cast a reflection upon other members, whose experience may not have been as fortunate as his own. Because the honorable senator has not had trouble with the railway .authorities, it does not necessarily follow that other Members of Parliament have had the same experience.
– I have never heard other members complain.
– We are entitled to assume that those who do complain are speaking the truth, just as we assume that Senator Walker is speaking the truth. Other members having stated their grievances, it is not sufficient for Senator Walker to get up and say that he has never had any trouble. Perhaps not ; but he ought not to cast reflections on other members who say that they have had trouble. As to the Federal Capital question, it appears to me to have got into a most unfortunate position. The Parliament of the Commonwealth has practically chosen a site. I do not know whether any formal demand for the territory has been made upon New South Wales. But New South Wales has signified distinctly and clearly that she will not give us Dalgety. That attitude has been taken up by the New South Wales Government. That Government has thrown down the gauntlet, and has challenged the Commonwealth to a pitched battle on the question. It is our duty to take up the gauntlet.
– The New South Wales Government simply wants to obtain the opinion of the High .Court.
– We do not want the opinion of the High Court. We want the opinion of the people of Australia, as expressed by their representatives in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. If the High Court should decide that New South Wales has a right to have a voice in choosing the territory, I for one will support an alteration of the Constitution, so that the will of the people of Australia may be ascertained. New South Wales deliberately refuses to grant the territory that we have chosen. What is the next step? What does the Government intend to do ? Does it intend to knuckle down tamely, or to insist upon the site chosen by the Commonwealth being adopted? I say frankly that if New South Wales does not come to terms, we have the other alternative - we can remain in Melbourne. Rather than concede to New South Wales practically the right of choosing the Federal Capital, I would have the Seat of Government in Melbourne for all time to come. But is the Government going to allow this matter to drift along as it has been doing for some time past? Is the Prime Minister going to continue writing pleasant letters to the Premier of New South Wales, whilst that gentleman answers them in language more or less unpleasant?
Is the Government going to bring the matter to a head, or to allow it to drift ? Last year we spent £1,645 on the Capital Site business. This year we are asked to vote £1,000. The probability is that if the question is not settled next year we shall have another sum placed upon the Estimates ; and so on every year thereafter until doomsday - and we shall have no site, no Capital, and nothing to show for the money. I should like to hear what the policy of the Government is, and whether it is likely to lead to an early settlement.
– The policy of the Government in regard to the Capital Site question is to .give effect so far as it can to the will of Parliament as signified by the passing of the Act, by which Dalgety was chosen. It is impossible for us to do more than we are doing without the consent of New South Wales. We are going to give effect to the wishes of this Parliament as far as possible; and if New South Wales refuses to grant us the territory - well, we shall stay where we are.
– I wish to point out that communications are proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the State of New South Wales, and there may be legal proceedings. There may also be expenses in connexion with the Capital Site in other directions. It may be necessary to make a survey of ax* actual locality within the area that has ‘ been selected. It may be necessary also for inspectors or officers to go there and do certain work. The vote in question is intended to cover, and will amply cover in the opinion of the officers, all expenditure that is likely to be incurred during the financial year. Not more than £20 has been expended in this direction since the commencement of the present financial year., The money has no reference to further visits on the part of members of this Parliament, nor has it any reference to any other site than that which has been chosen. The object is to give effect to the policy that has been adopted by this Parliament by an Act which stands upon, the Commonwealth statute-book.
– Does not the Minister think that the item with regard to the Capital Site ought- to be marked “unalterable”?
– I do not think that is necessary.
– The money may be spent in any of the other directions mentioned in the subdivision.
– A good margin is allowed; and, as far as I know, there has been no expenditure transferred from one item to another.
– It could not legitimately be done. “ Senator. KEATING. - Under the Audit Act it is possible for it to be done. I shall now deal with item 3 - the expenses in connexion with the valuation of properties taken over from the States. I may say that certain properties came to the Commonwealth in connexion with the transferred Departments. These consisted of buildings of the Post and Telegraph Department and of the Department of Trade and Customs; and. in addition, there was very valuable material in the shape of apparatus, telephone lines, and so forth. According to a memorandum I have here, in January, 1901, the first month of the Commonwealth, each State was asked to supply a list of the transferred properties and this finally resulted in claims being received from New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania. But no definite action was taken with regard to the valuation until the Conference between the Commonwealth and State Ministers at Hobart in 1905. At that Conference, as honorable senators will find on referring to the report, it was resolved : -
Although that resolution was agreed to, a note was added, expressing the dissent of
Mr. Carruthers, on behalf of New South Wales : -
Note. - Mr. Carruthers intimated that New South Wales dissented from these resolutions, and would not be bound by them. Subsequently it was decided to make the first step for the Ministers to agree without appointing any one, and in the event of their failing to agree within a certain time, say three months, the other procedure to come into force.
Pursuant to the resolution, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Reid, in April last, addressed a communication to the Premier of Queensland, suggesting that Mr. Brady, the Under-Secretary of Public Works and Government Architect of that State, should come to Melbourne to confer respecting the information which might ‘be considered necessary for the guidance of officers in valuing the transferred properties, as it was considered that such a conference would be of considerable value to both State and Commonwealth officers intrusted with the duty of carrying out the principles contained in the resolutions. Mr. Brady arrived in Melbourne early in May, and discussed with the Secretary of Home Affairs and the Inspector-General of Commonwealth Works the mode of procedure which it . was desirable to adopt. Subsequently the Prime Minister suggested to the Government of New South Wales that Mr. Davis, the UnderSecretary for Public Works of that State, should come to Melbourne to confer. That gentleman did so; and subsequently Mr. Owen Smyth, the Superintendent of Public Buildings of South Australia, also came, and had a similar conference. Communications are still pending with the other States. The memorandum proceeds to state that the immediate outcome of the Conference is -
Also with respect to the technical stores and equipment, including telegraph and telephone lines, &c, as transferred property, Department of the Postmaster-General, a request has been . made to the Postmaster-General for information which will enable ruling principles to be submitted to the States for consideration, which if adopted will enable the expert officers of the Department referred to, to arrive at the values, of these properties as at the date of transfer.
By the adoption of this course, it is held that the only matters which will demand the immediate attention of the valuers will be the land, buildings, and works -
Honorable senators will see that if these ruling principles can be adopted - principles suggested in the first instance by the Conference, and submitted for the consideration of the States - so far as all the other property, land, buildings, and works are concerned, there will be a definite plan on which to work in order to ascertain the amount to which each State is entitled - and the Department of Home Affairs is now engaged upon the work of establishing a system by which this section of the valuations will be dealt with uniformly, and upon the basis adopted by the Premiers in conference.
These extracts will show the purpose for which this £600 is asked in connexion with the valuation of properties.
– If anything is to be done, that is a very small sum.
– I was going to say that if effect can be given to the procedure indicated for £600, I think the work will have been carried out very economically. It is only a small sum, and the Department will have an opportunity to show the readiness, willingness, and ability of the Commonwealth to give effect to what was agreed to at the Hobart Conference.
– If there is really to be a valuation, it is more likely to cost £6,000.
– This £600 is only for the preliminary matters arranged by Mr. Reid. Then, with regard to item 6, which is a sum of £21,000 provided for expenses in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act, Senator Turley, earlier to-day, referred to it in anticipation. The Commonwealth, in administering the Electoral Act, as I pointed out then, utilizes as far as convenient the services of officers engaged permanently in other Departments of the Public Service, such as officers of the Post and Telegraph Department, and of the Department of Trade and ‘Customs. The services of these officers are utilized when that can be done without any sacrifice of their efficiency in the work in which they are ordinarily engaged, and when, of course, there is no sacrifice of efficiency in the discharge of the duty devolving on them under the Electoral Act. In many instances, persons outside the Public Service altogether, or others engaged in the service of the States, have to be employed ; and there is a fixed rate of remuneration paid, that for divisional returning officers being £26 per annum. The work of the divisional returning officer is only that which may be done as an addition to that of an ordinary position, whether the officer be a public servant or in private employment.
– Why was the item £34,000 last year, while it is only £21,000 this year.
– The new rolls.
– Yes. In addition there are electoral registrars, who are remunerated at the rate of 2s. 6d. for every hundred names on the register, or portion of a hundred, where there is excess over a certain number of hundreds. When all this expenditure is put together it bulks very largely.
– What is paid to the police ?
– I am not in a position to say, but I understand that at present the police are not employed.
– This £21,000 includes, of course, the salaries of all the Electoral officers ?
– It does not include the salaries of the officers of the administrative branch.
– But the item is for expenses connected with the “ administration” of the Electoral Act.
– But these are only the miscellaneous expenses. We have already dealt with the administrative staff.
– Why is this item associated with the administrative branch?
– Because these are the miscellaneous expenses; they are not ordinary salaries, but allowances made to different individuals. Any week, in. the Government Gazette, it may be noticed that some half-dozen postmasters, postmistresses, or other officials, have ceased to occupy the position of electoral registrars or divisional returning officers, and that others have been appointed. The number of such officers is constantly increasing or diminishing in different localities.
– Does the item not also include a proportion of the expenses of the coming election - expenses which are distributed overthree years ?
– That is so.
– That must mean at least £15,000.
– The great bulk of this item, I understand, consists of the payments to which I have referred - payments to divisional returning officer and electoral registrars. “Very adequate facilities are provided for the electors by the appointment of these officers in all populous locali- ties, and some remuneration has to be paid to them, which, in the aggregate, makes up the largest part of the item. As to the Statistical Bureau, we have already dealt in this Chamber with the Census and Statistics Bill. When, that measure was under discussion, I pointed out that the cost of compiling the statistics of the several States at present amounts to something like £17,000, while as to uniformity, there seems to be none. There is great diversity in the system and great disparity in efficiency ; some of the Statistical Departments . are very efficient, and some are not nearly so. In a memorandum I- have here it is ‘set out that the States officers are of various degrees of efficiency; that several of them, unfortunately, are poorly equipped, and that a Federal service, equal to the most efficient office, could not be obtained at less than, the present expenditure by the States, the estimate for that service, excluding printing and postage, being £17,500. At present a number of the officers in the Customs Department are engaged in compiling statistics, particularly those relating to trade, commerce, shipping, and internal communications ; and the expenditure involved in the collection of these statistics under the present system is about £11,000 a year. Largely, “each of the States gets the advantage and benefit of this work done by the Commonwealth Customs officers.
– Two months afterwards.
– I am not speaking of when the States get the information; and to the extent to which they get the advantage, the cost of their Statistical Departments is materially diminished. The Census and Statistics Bill provides for the appointment of Commonwealth statistical officers, but it is not proposed to launch out into any extravagant expenditure in connexion with the administration of the measure. It would be hardly possible to organize a Federal Bureau of Statistics able to undertake the collection of all the statistics, and immediately supersede the various State offices. The transfer of the powers would have to be made gradually, so that there should be no interruption of the work, and in SUCH a manner as to enable the Federal Bureau to perfect its organization step by step, as opportunityoffered, and as funds for the extension of the work became available.. If a bureau is established in the Commonwealth, and the Census and Statistics tBilL is administered, it will be necessary to have, in the first place, a chief statistical officer appointed for the Commonwealth, some central staff, and offices, so that we shall be able to get immediately and directly the full benefit of the services of those officers of the Trade and Customs Department throughout the Commonwealth who do statistical work. We should also, under the policy and provisions of that measure, get the benefit of any arrangement with the States to avail ourselves of much of the work done b~y the States Statistical Departments, and we should establish a system which would be uniform throughout the States. But nothing of that kind can be done without a statistical officer, a central staff, and the necessary equipment. It is considered that the sum of £5,000 asked for will cover the provision required to be made for the salary of the*, chief statistical officer, the staff he would require, and the rent and equipment of the necessary offices.
– Do the Government propose to create a Department with this £5,000 without consulting : Parliament as to what thev shall pay the ch’ef statistical officer or the members of his staff?
– We should have to do that. There is no provision made in the Census and Statistics Bill for the salary to be paid to the chief statistical officer. Except in- the case of Judges and of the Auditor-General, it is not usual to provide for a fixed salary by law.
– But when we are voting money, should we not be told how it is going to be spent ?
– The fact of the matter is that ‘the Census and Statistics Bill has not yet been passed, and therefore the exact method to be adopted in administering it cannot be indicated. But it is estimated that £5,000 will cover the salary of the chief statistical officer, the central staff, and equipment and rent of offices.
– That means that a permanent appointment of the chief statistical officer will be made without Parliament being consulted.
– Parliament has already affirmed its desire that such an official shall be appointed, and the £5,000 is asked for in order that provision shall be made to give effect to the principles contained in the Census and Statistics Bill.
– I do not feel quite satisfied about this item of £5,000, notwithstanding the clear and lengthy explanation given by the Minister. I was going to remind the honorable senator that the Bill has not yet been passed into law; and, considering that half the year “has gone by and no agreement has been come to with the States as to how the Federal Statistical Department is to be carried on, it seems to be a little premature to ask for a vote of £5.000. As I understand the matter, the suggestions made to the States Departments have been repudiated, and they prefer that the statistics shall be collected by their own officers: Until this important question has been settled it is impossible for the Minister to say what he will do with the £5,000, or when the Commonwealth -.Office will be inaugurated. There is to be a .conference of Treasurers during the next few weeks, and I ask whether this matter might not be gone into at that conference. Some agreement as to the action to be taken might be come to between the Commonwealth and States Governments, in order that the bureau may be conducted with the greatest possible efficiency and with the least possible expense. It is certainly premature to ask for a vote of £5,000 whilst we are still at issue as to whether the States or the Commonwealth shall perform this work. If the bulk of the officers who are now collecting statistics are to continue to collect them in future, and they are States officers, I should like to know how this money is to be spent. I agree with Senator Mulcahy that we ought to know what salary the chief statistical officer is to get, and how many clerks he is to be provided with. This cannot be determined until we agree upon the action to be taken by the States and the Commonwealth. If the work is to be undertaken by the Federal Bureau the States Governments may look forward to a saving in the transfer of some States officers to the Federal Department. This would be practical politics, and would make for economy, and I suggest that in the meantime the Government should withdraw this item.
– There must be some money voted, or we cannot start the Department.
– The Government would not be able to do anything towards the establishment of the Commonwealth Statistical Department until July next, even though they should get the States to agree with them. I direct attention also to the vote of £500 set down for a new edition of the Seven Colonies. Is that money to go to Mr. Coghlan? I take it that the new edition of the work will provide us with all the statistics we shall require up to the 30th June next, and in view of that fact I ask whether there is any occasion to vote an additional £5,000 for the establishment of a Statistical Bureau?
– The £500 is money well spent.
– We are paying that every year.
– I am aware of that, but I say that the publication of a new edition of The Seven Colonies this year makes it unnecessary that we should vote £5,000 for the establishment of a Statistical Bureau.
– Why did honorable senators pass the Census and Statistics Bill?’ ,
– They did so in order that the Federal and States Governments might confer as to the best mode of establishing a Federal Statistical Bureau. They have done so to a very limited extent, and their conference has not brought them together, but has set them wide apart, since the States officers do not agree with the suggestions which came from the Commonwealth Government. In the circumstances, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Towards the establishment of a Statistical Bureau, ^5,000,” by £2,500.
With regard to the Federal Capital Site, I desire to say that the correspondence which has been going on for some time has been a bitter disappointment to me. We seem to be every day getting further apart.
– I thought the honorable senator wished to have the matter hung up.
– Speaking personally 1 do. I have always thought that we commenced a generation or two too early to talk about establishing a Federal” Capital, and every man I meet says the same thing.
– The honorable senator. meets the wrong men, -that is all.
– Strictly speaking, as the honorable senator has moved a certain request, he is hardly in order now in dealing with the Federal Capital question.
– I desire to discuss the Federal Capital question, and will be prepared to discuss the other matter later on.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I ask whether Senator Keating has considered the best mode of settling the dispute about the Federal Capital ? I do not think any of us can complain that the Prime Minister has been firm in the view that under the Constitution the duty of determining the Seat of Government rests with the Federal Parliament alone. Mr. Carruthers seems to question that, and some of his recent expressions appear to have been written’ as the result of a little loss of temper. But I do not see why the great State of New South Wales should be prejudiced in any way because the Premier has written a sentence or two which, perhaps, in calmer moments, he would be willing to withdraw. I have heard a great deal about the driving in of pegs, and commencing an action for trespass, in order to get the High Court to settle the important questions in dispute between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales. I ask Senator Keating whether it would not be a very much , better way of dealing with the matter to pass an amendment of the Judiciary Act to enable the State and Commonwealth, or State and State, or individual and individual, to state a case for the opinion of the High Court. We have such a provision in Tasmania, and it has been found to be of the very greatest use. By its means a case can be stated which will raise exactly the issue which the persons interested desire to raise. I ask Senator Keating whether he does not consider that this would be a very simple plan for securing the opinion of the High Court on the Federal Capital question ?
– They have such a power in Canada.
– I have worked for years under such a provision in Tasmania, and have found it an exceedingly useful provision. By this means we could, state every issue we desired to raise, and we could go on and ask any question we liked. I do not hesitate to say that if by driving in a peg, or committing what the New South Wales Government might consider to be an act of trespass, we could go to the High
Court, we should not get a decision upon the issues which divide the Commonwealth and. New South Wales Governments. I ask. Senator Keating whether he has considered, or will consider, the course I have suggested as a way of getting out of the legal difficulty with which we are now faced in connexion with this question?
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I was rather surprised to hear from Senator Playford that the Government have agreed to accept, as the basis of the value of transferred properties, the present value of land and buildings.
– No; their value at the time of transfer.
– That is an altogether unfair arrangement, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, and as I understand it, it is a direct attempt on the part of the States to “get at “’ the Commonwealth.
– We shall have plenty of opportunity later on to deal with it.
– The Government propose to have the valuations made on that basis.
– That is only tentative.
– Is the purpose of the conference to find out on what basis the States are prepared to act?
– Only in a tentative way.
– Would it not be much better to submit what we think should be the basis, and then, if the States did not agree, some compromise might be arrived at. I think that the fairest way in which we could deal with the matter would be to take over a proportion of the debt of each State, equivalent to the cost of the buildings and land. .
– That has been suggested, but we have to first value the properties.
– We could value the buildings.
– At what time, to start with?
– If the land on which the Melbourne Post Office stands cost Victoria nothing, the Commonwealth ought not to pay anything for it. But if the value of that land in 1901 be taken as the basis, the Commonwealth would have to pay an enormous price for it.
– It will be asbroad as it is long, because each State’ will have to pay for the land and the buildings.
– If the honorable senator looks into the matter a little more closely, he will see that if the arrangement be carried out it will mean a very considerable invasion ‘of the Commonwealth’s fourth of the net revenue from Customs and Excise. If it is called upon to pay for the land at the value in1901.it will have to pay a very large sum for what probably cost the States little, and, in many cases, nothing at all. That is a most inequitable basis. Parliament, ought to have an opportunity of deciding how the valuation is to be made. What isthe good of sending up to Brisbane for Mr. Brady ? He is agoodarchitect, but what does he know about the value of land ? We want to first settle the basis of the valuation. When the Parliament had decided what it is in favour of, surely it will be time enough then to confer with the States ! The Government’s proposalis exactly the opposite. All these conferences mean expense, and in the end this Parliament may have to knock the whole scheme on the head. Let us jus,t consider the cost of valuing the properties ! It will run into thousands of pounds. Whv should we waste all that money ? Not only is the proposition of the Government unfair as regards the Commonwealth, but it means a deliberate and wanton waste of public funds. “ It
Ought to be very easy for each State to find out how much the transferred buildings in its territory cos.t. If the land on which they stand cost nothing, then let nothing be charged” to the Commonwealth ; but if it cost something, let that be included in the bill. We ought to know what the buildings cost originally. The buildings ought to be handed over by the States to the Commonwealth just as a property might be handed over Sv one set of trustees to another setitis a much cheaper way, and, to my mind, a much more satisfactory way of doing the business. I should like to have a statement on the subject from the Government, because this seems to me to be an absolute waste of public money. In order to test the feeling of the Commitee. I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to reduce the item, “ Expenses in connexion with valuation of properties taken over from the States,£600,” by £500.
– Before a division is taken on this request, I should like Senator
Keating to answer the question I put to him.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - The honorable and learned senator has put to me an abstract question, and in reply I have to say that I nave never given a moment’s consideration to the question of whether it is desirable that the High Court shall be invested with a jurisdiction of the character which he contemplates. I understand that in some countries the Judiciary have the power to determine cases submitted to them by parties who are interested in getting a decision, but that it is not quite as great as he has suggested.
– I do not know that there is any country but Canada where the Government have the right to submit a Bill or a proposal of that kind.
– I have never considered the matter in such a way that I should feel prepared to reply to Senator Dobson in either approval or disapproval of the principle.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I wish to find out whether the members of the Committee are in favour of the transferred properties being valued on the basis mentioned by Senator Keating or at what they actuallv cost the States.
– What basis was that?
-At the market price in 1901. If that arrangement ‘ be carried out it will mean a verv distinct invasion of the Commonwealth’s fourth of the net. revenue.
– Not necessarily.
– Suppose that” the Melbourne Post Office cost £100,000 to build, and that the site cost nothing to the State. If the Commonwealth has to pay for the post office with the land on which it stands at the market price in 1901 it may have to pay £150,000. In other words, it will have to pay3½ per cent. on the balance which is against it. Senator Sir Josiah Symon. - Why should the Commonwealth get the land at prairie value? .
– Why should the Commonwealth pay any more for the land than it cost the State? When the States hand the properties over to the Commonwealth is it not like one set of trustees handing properties over to another set?
– Not quite : it is like a bargain between a vendor and a purchaser.
– It is. merely a transfer of control from one authority to another authority. If the method of valuation which includes the land at its present or recent value be carried out, it will mean a very large interest payment by the Commonwealth each year, and a corresponding reduction of its fourth of the net revenue. It will mean adding to the Commonwealth expenditure.
– I am prepared to vote for the request on the” ground that the Commonwealth Parliament ought before this time to have taken into its serious consideration the question of valuing the transferred properties and the proper method of paying for them. If Senator Stewart has moved his request as a protest against the delay which has taken place, and it is not hampered with any other condition, I shall vote with/him gladly; but if he has moved the request with a clear intimation that, if carried, it will mean that its supporters are in favour of deciding straight away that the one and only method of acquiring the buildings is that the land on which they stand shall pass to the Commonwealth for nothing-
– At cost price.
– At cost price if the State bought the land from whom?
– If the State bought and paid for the land.
– There are other properties which are not worth anything to the Commonwealth,, but which cost enormous sums to the States.
– I am afraid that Senator Stewart does not thoroughly grasp the whole of this question. He is speaking only of cases where expensive buildings have been erected on- Crown lands. In those cases he contends that the Commonwealth should pay nothing for the land, and he adds the strange reason that it has cost the vendor nothing, and that therefore it should be sold for what it cost.
– The State is not a vendor, but merely a trustee.
– The State may be called a vendor to a certain extent. There are other cases in which a State has bought land at an enormous price, and the value of the land at the present time has been divided possibly by ten, and, certain! v in the case- mentioned by Senator Keating, by four. How could a universal rule be applied to those cases?
– Suppose that we had to pay for the Queen’s Battery at Hobart at cost price?
– Exactly. There are a number of instances throughout the Commonwealth where a State has bought land at a tremendously high price, and erected buildings of various descriptions thereon. If Senator Stewart wishes to make a hard and fast rule, he will never succeed in indicating to the Ministry a satisfactory way of dealing with the transferred properties. I am prepared to vote for his request as an intimation that this subject ought to have been dealt with long ‘ ago; but I do not agree to any of his methods, at the present time, at any rate, for ascertaining their value.
– It appearsto me that the resolutions which were agreed to as a result of a lengthy Conference form a just basis upon which a settlement could be made. I do not Know that anything could be fairer than that there should be a valuation of the land as from the commencement of Federation. .
– Has the honorable senator read Mr. Dugald Thomson’s remarks ?
– Yes; he wanted the basis of the valuation to be t’he actual cost of the buildings and land. But the basis of the’ resolutions of the Hobart Conference is that the value of the land and buildings shall be taken at the time Federation came into operation. Some of the build.ings transferred to “the States are obsolete. Various forts have been mentioned by Senator Clemons. A mint of money may have been expended by the States upon some buildings, which are now useless. It would be most unjust to the people of the Commonwealth to expect us to recoup the States which have wisely or unwisely expended large sums of money in building forts, and so forth - money which may have been wasted - on the basis of the expenditure actually incurred. It is impossible to attain any degree of accuracy in connexion with this matter. Consequently all that is attempted is to arrive at a fair and reasonable basis upon which a settlement of a complex question may be arranged. The sum of £600 in the schedule is.for the purpose of carrying out the resolutions of the Hobart Conference. The late Government most properly set to work to call together the representatives of the various States for the purpose of ascertaining the best means of arriving at a settlement. The present
Government is simply carrying out the same policy. We cannot secure any scientific basis of settlement, and consequently we must act on broad business lines. I think that the proposals made are fair and just. We also have the advantage of knowing that they have been discussed by both Commonwealth and States Ministries, and are mutually satisfactory.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I shall be found voting with the Government on this subject. There has been some misconception about it. I do not regard this vote as amounting to a confirmation by the Senate of the resolutions with regard to the settlement of this very troublesome question arrived at by the Hobart Conference, nor do I regard it as settling the question of the basis of the expenditure. I take the view put forward by the Government that this amount of money is set down to cover the expense of inquiries that have already taken place, and will take place, with a view of seeing whether or not the resolutions’ of the Hobart Conference can be carried out, and what is the best method to adopt for dealing with the question. If the basis of the settlement is to be discussed now, we shall have matter for debate for the next three months.
Request (by Senator Dobson) negatived - r
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Towards the establishment of a Statistical Bureau, £5,000,” by £2,500.
Attorney-General - Economy in Administration : High Court Judges : Travelling Expenses : Associates : Tipstaffs.
Postponed divisions 6 to 19 (The AttorneyGeneral’s Department), £8,969.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - It is not out of place for us to remember that in dealing with the Commonwealth Departments in connexion with lie Appropriation Bill we are practically in the same position as the House of Representatives in granting Supply. In some quarters it seems to be assumed that the Senate really deals with the Appropriation Bill as though we were in the position of a Legislative Council, and were not joining in the granting of Supply. That, however, is not our position. We cannot too emphatically reiterate our constitutional rights. Apart from questions of form, our rights are identical with those possessed by the House of Representatives. In discussing this schedule, we do exactly what the other Chamber Joes in making grants of Supply. We go into Committee of the Whole for that purpose. We have an opportunity of comparing the details of the schedules of the Appropriation Bill with the Estimates, to make a comparison between the appropriations of last year, the expenditure of last year, and the appropriations of the current year. So that one who, like myself, has been responsible for the administration of a Department is in a position to contrast the amounts of appropriation and expenditure of last year with what is proposed for the current year in the Estimates before us. That is a circumstance that ought not to be overlooked. The Senate may well expect a Minister who formerly had charge of “the business of the Senate and of a particular Department, to supply information or to answer criticism in relation to that Department with which he was formerly concerned. Indeed, I hope the day may come when the position of the Senate in respect of Ministers who are here representing the Government of the day may be strengthened. I should like to see the time come - as I hope it will - when the Senate will have a good deal to say as to the Ministers who represent the Executive here. I hore that some constitutional modification mav be possible by means of which the Senate will have a considerable voice in that regard ; and my belief is that if that could come about it may be the means of eliminating from this Chamber a good deal of ordinary party feeling which is, to some extent - I think most honorable senators will agree with me - out of place in a States House, and might verv well, on a great number of questions, at any rate, be moderated, if not altogether dispensed with. I intend to give, all the information in mv power relating to the Department with which we are dealing, and to submit mv administration to criticism. It is an obligation which rests on me, more particularly because last year, when in charge of these particular Estimates, on attention being called to the heavy expenditure under the various items, particularly those relating to travelling expenses
– We are not dealing with travelling expenses, but with salaries.
– This is the first item of the Department.
– I understood that we were dealing with subdivision No. 1.
– On the first item my observations may be addressed to the whole expenditure of the Department. On that occasion. I promised to give special and personal supervision to this expenditure, and to see whether some remedy could not be found. Honorable senators will see, in the summary preliminary to the figures with which we are now dealing, that ‘last year’s appropriation was £10,394. During the year the curtailed expenditure under the administration of the late Government was £8,543 - an actual saving of £1,851, in respect to which, whatever credit there may be, is due to the late Government. Of that £1,851. a sum of £1,122 is saved on the High Court contingencies - that very flexible, elastic item, to which so much criticism has been directed during the course of the day. The appropriation being £3,640, and the expenditure £2,518, the saving under the head of contingencies is, as I say, £1,122. Then, again, this year’s estimate is £8,969, showing a reduction on last year’s appropriation of £1,425; and I think honorable senators will agree that that is a substantial gain. Of that £1,425, the sum of £975 is under the heading of High Court contingencies, so that, notwithstanding the increase to which I shall presently call honorable senators’ attention, there is a saving under the estimate with which we are now dealing of nearly £1,000 upon contingencies formerly charged under the heading of the. High Court. That is despite the fact that there is included the establishment of the new Court under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of last year.
– There is a separate item for the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– Under that head there- is the sum of £100, of which a small amount has been expended. As to the present year’s estimate of £8,969, my honorable friend, with approximate accuracy, referred to it as substantially last year’s expenditure. It is, however, not quite the same, being £426 more. I also desire to point out that the Government have adopted my estimate for the Secretary’s office of £2.639, n saving on the previous year of £300. The Government have, to a penny, also adopted my estimate for the Crown Solici tor’s branch, namely, £1,980, showing a saving of £100. In the case of these two branches, which are more or less the executive branches of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Estimates of the late Government are adopted practically, with the saving so effected; and that I think is something, at any rate, to the credit of the late Government. The present Government, however, have raised my estimate for the High Court from £2,665 t0 ;£4j25o, or an increase of £1,585. In other words, the whole of the increases - that is the £426 and the £400 in the Secretary’s and Crown Solicitor’s branches, together £826 have been absorbed, with £900 more, by the provision made in respect of the High Court. These figures affecting the High Court represent the difference between the administration of the present Government and the administration of the late Government in respect of this Department. How did that come about? I propose to give the Committee the exact facts and figures, on which they will be able to arrive at a _ judgment on the items when these come to be considered.
– How shall we record our judgment?
– I propose to move one or two reductions, so as to give honorable senators the opportunity. Of course, it will not be necessary for me to move any amendment in regard to the Secretary’s office or the Crown Solicitor’s branch, and, therefore, the line of difference is in regard >to that portion of the Department which comes under the heading of the High Court. The late Government took office on the 18th August last year. I found a pile of papers of considerable magnitude, entitled “ High Court expenditure and travelling expenses.” That file of papers represented the result of an investigation to which the matter had been subjected by the Watson Government, before we took office. The matter was literally a legacy to us from the previous Government, who very properly had examined into the matter, with a result of which I shall inform honorable senators. The High Court had been established a little more than, six months, when, in July, the Watson Government began this investigation. That Government found, and communicated their finding to the learned Judges of the High Court, that the arrangements under which the establishment of the Court existed were not in accord with the Judiciary Act. The High Court, in its judicial capacity, is above all Executive interference and Executive criticism, as it ought to be ; but, in regard to its administrative position, as an executive body, which it is to a certain extent in relation to its own officers and all expenditure, except so far as regards the salaries of the Judges, which are fixed by Act of Parliament and unassailable, it is just as much subject to the control of the Executive, and ought to be so, as any other Department in the Public Service.’ The High Court is not cut adrift from the Executive and all Executive control, and it cannot be. If it were, it might be a menace to the working of the Government and to the Constitution, instead of occupying the position which it ought to occupy as guardian of the rights of the States and of the Commonwealth, and the arbiter of the Constitution. As I say, the. Watson Government found that the arrangements in respect to the establishment were not >in accord with the Judiciary Act, and, following in their, footsteps, I came to the same conclusion, which to this day I hold. The arrangements as now carried out are not only, it seems to me, not in accordance with the Judiciary Act, but not in accordance with either the spirit or letter of the Constitution. This absence of accord with the Judiciary Act, which was pointed out by Mr. Higgins, the Attorney-General of trie Watson Government, need not have been unexpected under the circumstances, because we are establishing an entirely new# system. For instance, .in relation to the travelling expenses, which were the matters brought under the notice of the Watson Government, and were dealt with in the papers to which I have referred, there was no limit whatever as to amount; it was carta blanche iti regard to the sum which might be certified. Mr. Higgins pointed out that the Order in Council, which should, under the terms of the Judiciary Act, relate only to judicial expenses, w.as made to include the associates’ expenses. It was not unnatural, I think, that these - I shall not call them abuses, but irregularities - crept in under the state of things that then existed, and to which attention was called. Mr. Higgins dealt with the matter in his letter of 20th July, 1904, which is on the printed file of papers. He endeavoured to do what I think we shall all agree was natural and proper, namely, fix a maximum allowance in respect of these travelling expenses. He also proposed to revoke the Order in Council, which fixed no maximum or limit, and included the associates, and to fix the expenses of the latter at 15s. a day, under the terms of the Public Service Act, outside any Order in Council. That proposal was not favorably received. Mr. Justice Barton wrote in somewhat strong terms, and spoke of the possible results of Mr. Higgins’ proposal as w unseemly.” All the Judges, in a letter of 19th August, the day after the late Government took office, very strongly opposed the proposal, and so far as regarded the 15s. provided for the associates’” daily expenses, the. attitude taken was described in this sentence -
If, however, it is proposed to fix a definite sum. for the daily expenses of the Associates, we are sure it will not be desired by the Government tofix it at a rate which will be insufficient to enable them to stay at the same lodgings without personal’ pecuniary loss. The proposed allowance of 15s. per day would often lead to this result.
That letter came in reply to Mr. Higgins’ proposal, the day after the new Government took office.
– Why should the associates have to stop at the same hotel as the Judges?
– I can see no objection to that, but what I felt then, and what I feel now, is that it is impossible to understand why 15s. per day was not ample to enable them to stay even at the same hotel as the Judges. I tried, on behalf of the late Government before we fixed, as I shall point out in a minute, the amount we thought a fair allowance, to get the vouchers to show how this expense was made up, but I was unsuccessful.
– It is very difficult to get these things.
– I found it very difficult to get these vouchers - indeed, they were refused. I should not myself have hesitated to supply any vouchers in respect of any expense I had incurred, and which had to be paid out of some one else’s pocket. That is by the way, however. That- was the situation as it existed when the Watson Government left office. In consequence of our inability to get these vouchers with a view to settling on a fair basis what would be a right thing to allow for these expenses, which, of course, would best be shown by an inspection of the actual expense previously incurred - we were obliged to make inquiries as to the tariffs of the very best hotels, in order to see what might be done. The result was that we found that the highest tariff would have enabled the associates to live at these hotels with a sufficient margin from the 15s. per day which Mr. Higgins proposed to pay.
– Where ?
– In the cities.
– It might be more in some outside places.
– The visits of the High Court Judges are all paid to the capital cities of the different States. This was the information which the late Government had before them, and I am bound to say that I do not know why the 15s. per day should not have been considered enough. I .have always had verygreat difficulty in understanding how the amounts to which I shall now direct honorable senators’ attention could have been reasonably spent. I have stated the situation as it came before me. As I say these matters ..were not gone into voluntarily except in so far as my promise to the Senate required. I have stated the situation in the month of August last, when the late Government took office. After the “ Noconfidence” motion, which was concluded at the end of October, I investigated the matter, and this is the additional information I obtained. I found that from October, 1903, to the 30th June, 1904, a period of little more than six months, allowing for what we call the long vacation, the Chief Justice drew travelling allowances, in addition to all fares, to the” extent of £591 2s. 7d., or £328 2s. 6d. more than, £61 more than twice the amount drawn by Mr. Justice Barton, who drew £^63 os. id., and £238 more than Mr. Justice O’Connor, who drew £352 ns, 4d. There was also a difference, which was unexplained by the papers before me, of £89 between the amounts drawn by Mr. Justice Barton and Mr. Justice O’Connor for the same period.
– Did each of the Judges do the same amount of travelling?
– Exactly the same, so far as I am aware, with the exception of some travelling in connexion with two election cases, which I am going to mention. I propose to tell Senator Best what the -result of that inquiry was. Making allowance for the travelling in connexion with the election cases, one of which was heard in Melbourne, and the other at Hobart, I could not understand how the money was spent, or why the Commonwealth should have to pay it. To the £591 2.s. 7d. it must always be remembered that we have to add the expense of a personal attendant, under the name of tipstaff, for 160 days - the period for which the Chief Justice’s tipstaff was paid - at 10s. per day, with fares in addition, as against eighty days for two other tipstaffs. Such a state of things as that seemed to -me to call for an inquiry. Honorable senators will understand that it was not pleasant to make the discovery, nor was it pleasant to make the inquiry. However, on inquiry, the explanation appeared to be that the Chief Justice had his residence in Brisbane. He was seldom in Brisbane, and, of course, this practically amounted) to charging the Commonwealth his personal living expenses for the whole, or for the greater part of this period. Equally so, the personal living expenses of his associate and tipstaff, because during their absence from Brisbane they were all getting these travelling allowances out of the funds of the Commonwealth. I thought that wrong. I thought that it was on a wrong principle, as any one must see, and I expressly said that, while no one wished to interfere with the Judges choosing their place of residence wherever they thought most convenient, and most in accord with their happiness because of surroundings, associations, and so on, there should not be on that account any additional expense entailed upon the Commonwealth.
– That is a fair principle.
– And for this reason - and,, of course,’ we have an example of the result of the other principle in- the instance I have mentioned - we might have Judges having their homes in Western Australia-or in Tasmania. Of course a Judge would prefer to have his home in the place where he has lived the best part of his life ; but we might have Judges appointed who would not live in Sydney, or near that city. If such a principle were admitted, it was obvious to me, as it must be obvious to all men, that it would cause a very unjustifiable expense to the Commonwealth taxpayer, and really’ it would be an indirect way of adding to the salaries paid, not only to the Judges but to their associates and other attendants.
– The honorable senator contended that the travelling allowances; should be computed from the seat of the Court.
– Certainly. I do not wish to go into that, or to delay the passing of the Estimates by referring to the lengthy correspondence in connexion with the matter, but I do desire to place the position clearly before the Senate. I am very glad that Senator Givens has asked that question, because I say advisedly that whatever side issues there may have been, and whatever trail may have been drawn across the matter, the entire struggle throughout the correspondence has been on the part ofl the Judges of the High Court, to secure the adoption of the principle of computing their travelling expenses from their place of residence. To that principle I hold an unalterable objection. It is not seriously’ questioned in the correspondence that the universal rule is to compute travelling expenses from the seat of the Court. That is what lawyers call the domicile of the Court, and it is from the threshold of the seat of the Court that it moves on its journeys and takes its circuits. If we were to admit any other rule, such as that of computation from the residence of a Judge, then a Judge who might prefer to reside at Mount Macedon, supposing the Court sat always in Melbourne, would be able to charge travelling expenses for coming into Melbourne from Mount Macedon to his work. Without saying anything more about it, it seems to me that such a principle is indefensible. My contention is that universal principle is that of computing travelling expenses from the seat of the Court, and if there is any exceptional condition of things which would render a temporary deviation from that rule desirable or just, it ought to be dealt with only as an exception. When the Court is established at the Federal Capital, no one will contend for a moment that the computation, of the travelling expenses of the Judges should not be from there! No one will contend that Judges would be entitled to be paid travelling expenses from residences in Svdney to go to the Seat of the Capital at Dalgety in order to do the work of their own Court. I have said what I found, and I could find no minute, any more than Mr. Higgins could, of any kind to justify these extra and unwarranted travelling allowances. There was absolutely no note, minute, or anything establishing any rule of that kind. The allowance was simply drawn and paid. I thought that there must be some mistake, and I informed the Prime Minister that it ought not to go on, and he - no doubt with the best intention, but without my knowledge - communicated my views on the subject to the Chief Justice. “ I was informed by the Prime Minister that the answer, of the Chief Justice was that he intended to change his residence to Sydney, and that Sydney, instead of Melbourne, should be made the seat of the Court, and that’ then it might be an understood thing that the Judges should reside at the seat of the Court. I refused to be a party to making
Sydney the seat of the Court, and removing it from Melbourne. I emphatically, embodied that statement in the first letter which I wrote on the whole subject on 23rd December, 1904, and in which I pointed out my1 views, and asked the co-operation of the learned Judges, with a view to economy in these particulars. I shall just read one sentence, as it will shorten what I have to say -
It is not the Judge’s residence, but the seat of the Court, which is the starting point in computing travelling expenses, and Sydney, if faith be kept with the Constitution as it is, can never be the principal seat of the Court.
That was my view on that subject. I declined, as I have always done, and always shall do, to be a party to moving the seat of the Court from Melbourne to Sydney, either as a sop, or to placate Sydney, or for any other reason.
– The honorable and learned senator will be in favour of moving the seat of the Court to the Federal Capital when it is established?
– Certainly, and no prejudice can be alleged against me in regard to Victoria. It is our duty to adhere to the spirit of the arrangement which was made and embodied in the Constitution, and to adhere to the proclamation which makes Melbourne by law just as much as the Federal Capital will be, when it is established, the seat of the High Court. I shall always raise my. voice against anything which would leave Melbourne simply a nominal seat of the Court, and make Sydney or any other_city the seat of the Court in fact That was not the remedy which occurred to me. The remedy was that the rule of computation from the seat of the Court should apply, no matter where the Judges might reside The Members of this Parliament are exactly in the same position. I choose to reside in Adelaide, and I have no intention of changing my residence. Much as the attractions of Melbourne m?y be
I have no intention of availing myself of them. Tt might be better for me, as others senators do, to take up my residence here; but I prefer not to do so. There is no more reason why the Judges of the High Court should be placed in a different position from that in which every Member of this Parliament is placed There is no reason why I should get paid for travelling from Adelaide to attend to my legislative duties, or get travelling expenses while I am here, except that which is provided for every Member of the Parliament - the train fares. That is the stage which the matter had reached when the Estimates were before the Senate, when the letter of the 23rd December was written, and up to which time I had not ascertained the exact total of the expens.es. I did not get the full amount, as I now know it, until February of this year, when I found that the total expense for twelve travelling months, eliminating the vacation, was £3,294. It has been put abroad in various ways, as though these matters were not open to any body who had the opportunity of seeing the figures for themselves, as, though they were explored by me quite irrespective of what had been done by the previous Government, or by the wish of the Senate. For some reason or other, the vouchers for October-November, 1904, or some of them, at any rate, had not been forthcoming; and when they came before me in February, they revealed how the expense was. swollen up. The Melbourne sittings began on the 26th October, 1904, and ended on the 9th November, but a day or two additional was occupied by, I think, Mr. Justice Barton, in trying a case in original jurisdiction. I shall quote, without comment, the figures which were supplied to me. The expenses of the Chief Justice for about sixteen days, at the rate of £4 5s. per day, came to £68. The expenses of Mr. Justice Barton, with the additional days up to the 13th November, came fo £84 3s. id’., at the rate of £5 per day. The expenses of Mr. Justice O’Connor from the 25th October to the 10th November - for about sixteen days, at £5 10s. per day - came to £88 12s. The total expenses of the three Judges and three clerks or associates, came to £241 os. id., being an average of nearly £15 a d:v. or over one hundred guineas a week. That seemed to me to be pretty good for three Judges and three clerks,, exclusive of fares, and in addition to travelling allowances of three tipstaffs, or, as I call them, personal attendants.
– What do the travelling allowances of the three tipstaffs come to?
– Taking the average at sixteen days, their travelling allowances, at 10s. per day, would total £24. But that -is a separate matter. I think honorable senators will recognise that the figures which I have given, and which were before me, justified not only an inquiry, but the taking up of a fairly strong stand, with a view to some kind of modification.
– There is a maximum fixed now.
– Yes. After that sitting, ending in November, the Judges returned to Sydney. The Judges, who lived’ in Sydney, had, of course, no travelling allowance ‘ after their return there to the 24th December, but the Chief Justice received a total sum of £96 during the time he was in Sydney. That took him to Christmas eve, and back to Brisbane - of course, with the tipstaff, or personal attendant - where the long vacation, extending over a period of six weeks, was spent. In February the Chief Justice removed his residence to Sydney, in accordance with the intimation I have mentioned, and his personal attendant sent in a voucher, including an item of £4 12s. 6d., for a first class train fare from Brisbane to Sydney and a sleeping berth, and also an item of irs. 8d., for a travelling allowance at the rate of 10s. per day for _the time occupied on the journey. The attendants calculated their travelling allowances to farthings. I could not understand how a claim for a travelling allowance by the Chief Justice’s personal attendant, in accompanying him from Brisbane when he moved his residence to Sydney, could be made. I should have been verv sorry if I had been informed that the attendant had paid the money out of his pocket, relying ..upon getting it back. But on inquiry, I was informed that the Chief Justice had probably paid the money, and arranged with the tipstaff to «send in a voucher. I disallowed both items, and refused to pay them. The next thing which came before me was the question of employing ushers in addition to the tipstaffs, who, if officers of the Court, should have done the work. There were three associates and three tipstaffs, who were described sometimes as personal attendants - that is as valets - whose duty it ought to be, if they have any duty connected with the Court at a!T, for which they should be paid, to act as Court attendants* I found! that these gentlemen were not permitted to act as Court attendants.
– In other words,, they were not tipstaffs?
– They were not tipstaffs, ushers, or criers. Tipstaff is an obsolete expression. It gives these gentlemen an air of being officers of the Court, but in reality they are not. Originally, they were officers of certain Courts, who used to arrest people committed to custody in court. I found ;that this matter had been questioned by the Watson Government. I am bound to say that that Government seemed uneasy about these irregularities, and took steps to cure them.
– They did not have a proper chance.
– I have given the Committee the date of one letter - the 29th July. This minute is dated 6th July. It will therefore be seen that it bears out what the honorable senator has said. It was within a few days of the time when the Watson Government had the misfortune to receive ain intimation that it was not required to remain in office any longer. On the 6th July, 1904, there was this minute in which Mr. Attorney-General Higgins queried whether there was any need for these additional officers - there being three tipstaffs who were doing nothing. If my recollection serves me aright, he intimated that representations should be made to the Chief Justice on the subject. But that was not done for the reason that has already been referred to. Therefore, the matter was left to the succeeding Government. But there was this inconvenience, which I want to point out to honorable senators : It is a very undesirable thing to correspond upon many matters. It is verv much better to adjust things bv word of mouth. There is less susceptibility to misunderstanding, and all the rest of it. One of the mischiefs that flows from the fact that the Court does not sit at the” Seat of Government is that you have not opportunities for conference, and that communications must take place bv correspondence. Probably that has something to do with the inability of Mr. Higgins, during the month of July, to get a personal interview with the
Chief Justice as to these ushers. But, at any rate, I knew nothing of that until the accounts came before me for payment. When I asked for the papers they were produced, and I approved and gave effect to Mr. Higgins’ policy of questioning the need for these ushers. I did that on the 13th April, 1905. Honorable senators shall know everything that I did which has resulted in these savings and in the remodelled Estimates which are now before us. On the 13th April, 1905, I directed the duties of usher to be performed by one of the tipstaffs. But I expressly abstained from notifying the deputy marshals on the subject until I had first .of all communicated that intimation to the Judges. That I did on the 26th April by letter, in which a short paragraph was the following : -
Although there are three tipstaffs, I find it has been the practice to employ in Melbourne and Sydney an additional officer to attend the Court when sitting, in the capacity of usher, at 7s. and 8s. a day. Tt seems to me that the duties of officer may well be perforated by the tipstaffs, or one of them, and I trust it will for the present be so arranged. The deputy marshals are being instructed to discontinue the employment of additional and temporary officers to act as ushers.
I do not think that there was anything that was not perfectly courteous in that intimation. On the 1st May, the deputy marshals were informed in the ordinary way by the then acting secretary of the Department, Mr. Castle, that instructions had been issued that in future - this was nearly a week after the intimation had been conveyed to the Judges, who meanwhile had given no reason to the contrary- - no temporary or additional officers were to be employed as ushers, whose duties would in future be performed’ by one of the tipstaffs. That was done by my instructions. Honorable senators will have an opportunity of saying whether they approve or disapprove. What I say now is that one would have thought that the Justices would have seen the propriety of that direction, or, at any rate, that they would not have done anything knowingly to thwart it. But this is what happened : On the 9th May. Mr. Justice O’Connor raised difficulties in Melbourne, and, it seems, directed the marshal to write to the Department, and through the executive officer to me. that the Court could not be conducted without this additional officer. Now, I have had a very long experience of courts - I am afraid almost too fong - and that rather astonished me.
– Is the marshal a Commonwealth, or a State officer?
– He is a Commonwealth officer. I was in Adelaide at the time, and it was difficult to deal with the matter, but a telegram which I received from Mr. Castle, who was the acting secretary of the Department, stated -
Marshal, High Court, asks for authority to employ an officer to look after the jury. Represents that in his opinion -
The deputy marshal is a most excellent officer for the Commonwealth, Mr.Bingie; but I do not think that he has had any experience in connexion with courts.
In his opinion impossible to properly conduct court without when jury cases being tried.
I replied at once -
Do not understand telegram. Why is another officer necessary ; what is the tipstaff doing ? He is to perform the duties of usher and crier. Report fullyto me.
I did not wish anything to occur which would delay the progress of business. I therefore added : -
Meanwhile, authorize Marshal to make whatever arrangements in his judgment are necessary for to-day, pending report by wire.
I authorized the continuance of that arrangement, but in the meantime I asked for a report from Mr. Castle, the principal Registrar of the Court, as to whether it was necessary, in his opinion, that this additional officer should be employed. Mr. Castle reported to me on the11th May. This is an extract from his report: -
I called Mr. Stewart, the Commonwealth Officer in the Deputy-Registrar’s Office, the officer who usually represents the Registrar in the Full Court, and he informs me that, with the exception of returning the books to the Library, he has not, during his experience in the High Court, seen the second or temporary officer do any work which the tipstaff could not do. He excepted the returning of the books, because the Library authorities are very strict in requiring books to be returned immediately the Court rises, and the tipstaff is then engaged attending on the Judge. The work would only occupy a few minutes, and no difficulty ought to be experienced in getting it done. Counsel could arrange to return their own books. In my opinion -
The second officer is not necessary ; and
The tipstaff can perform all the duties needed. s
Gordon H. Castle, Principal Registrar.
I accordingly, as honorable senators are aware, did not depart from the instructions I had given. But that is not all. I particularly emphasize this because of a passage in a letter by the present AttorneyGeneral, to which I propose to refer. On the 26th June, as may be remembered by some honorable senators, there was a draught or a breeze in Court in Sydney. I received a telegram which stated that the Court required me to provide an usher, although’ it had three tipstaffs in attendance. The message was sent to the secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, and concluded, “Kindly authorize expenditure by wire.” That telegram was followed by a letter, from which the following is an extract. It is dated 12th June -
I have the honour to inform you that the Justices will not allow the tipstaffs to act as my officers, and to-day I was required by the Court to providean usher.
That did not strike me as being quite in accordance with what one would have ex- ‘ pected from eminent Judges. But I was enlightened when I found the following paragraph in the Sydney Morning Herald on the morning following the draught -
High Court Retrenchment. - A strong draught, caused by doors being left open, swept through the High Court at intervals yesterday morning. The Chief Justice became alive to the fact about noon. “ Where’s the Court attendant?” he suddenly exclaimed. “ Why does he not keep the ‘ doors shut ? “ There was no response, and Sir Samuel appealed to the Deputy Marshal. Then it was that Mr. Maybury explained to the Bench that no provision had been made by the Federal Attorney-General for a Court attendant. The Chief Justice looked amazed, but quickly concealing his surprise, he asked, “Can’t we borrow one?” The Deputy Marshal promised to try to arrange the matter. He would try to get a policeman. It might be added that their Honors’ tipstaffs were unofficially seated in Court, and enjoyed the situation.
That I can quite understand. What I do not understand is that there were tipstaffs everywhere, but not one to close a door, and to prevent this breeze getting into the court. I also did not understand a passage of Mr. Isaacs, in his letter No. 85, at page 40 of the correspondence. I am glad, however, to find that the course which I took, and the policy which I adopted, have been affirmed by the present Government, and the ushers forbidden, though in a very peculiar wav. The passage in the letter of 12th July is -
As, however, I observe from the correspondence, that there is no objection to the tipstaffs acting as Court criers and ushers, I shall be glad if an arrangement can be made for one of them to undertake the duty, so as to avoid the necessity for employing another man in that capacity.
That was not my, experience. Nor do I think any one else will gather from the correspondence that alacrity in acceding to the tipstaffs doing some work which Mr. Isaacs seems to have observed. Then there came before me the matter of the multiplicity of telephones, to which I have already alluded. My attention was next called by the Treasury to a matter which was not initiated by me in anv way whatever. This was in connexion with the steamer fares. Provision is made by means of passes for travelling by rail, in the way that is customary; but in February of this year my attention was called by a Treasury minute to steamer fares, which had been charged for travelling between Sydnev and Melbourne, and Sydney to Hobart, and back to Melbourne. In view of the fact that railway tickets are provided, and paid for by the Commonwealth, the Treasury minute questioned these fares ; and when the matter was referred to me I had it investigated, with the result that it appeared to me to be a duplication of the expenditure of the Commonwealth. No one can complain if it is more agreeable or convenient for the Judges to adopt one route rather than another; but I object, as I think any one would, to the Commonwealth having to pay twice - once for steamer fares, and once for railway fares.
– Have the Judges annual tickets over the railways?
– Yes, in exactly the same way as honorable members have passes.
– But in going to Hobart, thev had to cross the sea in any case, and there would not be much difference in the fares.
– There was, I think, a difference of about £20. However, the Treasury minute was to the effect that the Judges - but not the associates who have no annual passes - have railway passes for all lines, and asked whether they ought to use the steamer from Sydney to Hobart. On the 24th February, figures were supplied to me, showing that the difference in the fares, by reason of the sea route having been taken, amounted to about £1810s. The position then taken up by the Judges was that as the tipstaffs and associates had travelled by steamer, a saving had been made on their passages, and that that saving could’ be used literally for the payment of the additional steamer fares incurred by the Judges. The following letter, which honorable senators will find on page 31 of the correspondence, was written by Mr. Garran by my direction: -
I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of 4th May, conveying reasons offered by His Honour for travelling by the round sea trip, Sydney vid Hobart, to Melbourne, instead of going, in discharge of his judicial duty, vid Melbourne and Launceston, and also of letter of 10th May, returning the vouchers without the particulars asked for or the receipted accounts, and in reply to both I am directed to say : -
The Attorney-General desires me to assure the Justices that he does not take exception to the Justices travelling by any route they prefer, or think more agreeable to themselves, so long as it does not delay or interfere with the despatch of judicial duty. His objection simply is to the Commonwealth - having already paid fares by one route - being called upon to pay them over again by another.
His Honour’s first reason for choosing the sea trip is that “ it was more convenient.” The AttorneyGeneral appreciates that, but does not regard it as: an adequate reason for charging steamer passages to the Commonwealth, which had already paid railway fares.
The second reason is made up of several parts, and the Attorney-General desires me to say he is scarcely able to follow it. In the first place, the Attorney-General is informed that the Chief Justice’s staff did not travel with him from Sydney to Hobart.
In the next place, it is the duty of all public servants to travel by the most expeditious and economical route, and if travelling by sea to Hobart was for the staff more economical than by rail, it was their duty to travel by that route. Any saving in that way belongs to the Commonwealth, and the Attorney-General cannot recognise the right of the Justices to apply and use these Commonwealth savings in paying their own steamer fares, when their fares for the land route, to enable them to discharge judicial duty, have already been paid. The Attorney-General regards it as being too plain for argument’ or doubt that the Commonwealth ought not to pay both.
This double charge to the Commonwealth is made specially obvious from the fact that Mr. Justice O’Connor, having returned by rail from Melbourne to Sydney, the Orient Company refunded to him £2 5s. for the return ticket to Sydney - the equivalent of the railway ticket - and for which he sent cheque now held by this Department. If, therefore, he had returned by steamer, the Commonwealth, having already paid the railway fare, would have paid the £2 5s. in addition. In other words, they would not have had the £2 5s. refunded. And so with the forward halves, Sydney, vid Hobart, to Melbourne ; but, as these were used, it is not the steam-ship company which should refund to the Commonwealth.
The Attorney-General does not assent to the statement that there “ was a small saving effected,” or any saving, but if it were so, the saving would clearly have been greater if the learned Justices had not charged their steamer fares to the Commonwealth.
The Attorney-General notes with regret that on two former occasions the Commonwealth have been called upon to pay similar twofold fares in connexion with judicial visits to Hobart ; but he cannot regard that circumstance as a precedent for the continuance of the practice.
I am to express the Attorney-General’s regret that the Associates, by direction, returned the vouchers without any of the particulars or the receipted accounts asked for by me.
At any rate, the Treasurer took exception to these payments, and the matter was referred to me. I certainly agreed with the ‘ Treasurer that the saving, if any, ‘belonged to the Commonwealth. There is only one other remark I wish to make on this point, and that is in reference to a statement made from the Bench in Sydney on the 26th May, quite unnecessarily it appears to me, by the Chief Justice, as follows: -
We were yesterday informed that the AttorneyGeneral had dishonoured one at least of the Associates’ order, q
I wish to say now, as I said then, that, so far as I was concerned, there was no foundation for the statement. I immediately communicated with the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department, Mr. Garran, who telegraphed a reply that he had no knowledge of any dishonored order, and did not know to what the Chief Justice alluded. Subsequently, a communication was received from the Associate df the Chief Justice, to the effect that some one from the steam-ship office had asked for payment of the fare to Hobart. I immediately directed that application should be made for the name of the person who had done so, in order that inquiry mi’ght be set afoot in regard to an action which was perfectly unauthorized. Up to the time I left office there was no reply to that request for the name of the person who had made the application. It was, in my judgment, highly improper that the statement referred to should have been made from the High Court Bench. The next matter that came under my notice was that of the railway voucher books. It has always been the practice that the head of the Department shall issue railway vouchers.” It is not usual to distribute these voucher books amongst clerks of the Department, whoever they may be, thus placing them in a position to sign vouchers- for railway tickets., whenever they thought fit. That, however, was done in the case of the associates, and against the practice the - railway authorities in Sydney- protested so long ago as 13th May last. They regarded the practice as serious, as it made it difficult for them to deal with the matter, unless the rule were strictly observed that such vouchers should be issued only by the head of the Department, so that there might be as few official signatures as possible. Not merely was that protest not observed’, but the practice was subject to . abuse. For instance, railway vouchers were used for steamer fares ; and it is a pity that was done. Probably vouchers were so used thoughtlessly; but the vouchers, as their name implies, are intended for railway travelling, and not to be altered and used as orders for steamer fares. Then one of the associates, when in Brisbane, lost his ticket somehow or other, and, ‘instead, as one would have expected, paying his own fare, and subsequently making a claim if he thought he could show good ground for a refund, he used another voucher, in order to obtain a single ticket back to Sydney. The result was that, speaking from memory, I believe a correspondence extended over six or eight months on the question whether or not the associate should repay the amount which was charged for the ticket. That difficulty would never have arisen if this practice of handing the railway voucher books, not to one associate, but to each of the three, had never been initiated. In order to conform to the protest of the Railway Department in Sydney, I decided that the practice should be brought to an end, not as a reflection on the associates, but in order to bring the matter under proper official and Executive control. Accordingly, the letter of the 26th April, already referred to, was sent. The reply received from the Chief Justice’s Associate was -
I have the honour by direction to say that the Chief Justice is of opinion that such an important change in practice, as indicated, should be communicated to the Justices through the Chief Justice.
I pass by that, merely pointing out that all the communications had been between Mr. Garran and the Chief Justice’s associate. It was purely a matter which ought to have been communicated to the associate, because it was he who held the book of railway vouchers, and the Judges had no concern with them. That is what took place, but on the same day - and this is what I complain of - this is the way in which the matter was alluded to from the Bench. After referring to a number of other things, this statement was made : -
This was followed on Saturday by letters from the Attorney-General’s Department, making a request compliance with which would have the effect that in future each Judge would be required to apply for the permission of the AttorneyGeneral on each occasion when he desired to take his associate or tipstaff with him on circuit.
Whatever might be said as to the communication to the Government in the form I have just read, that reference is certainly a flagrant misrepresentation of what was being done. It is a distorted way of describing the request for the returns of these railway vouchers under the circumstances which I have mentioned, in order to keep in proper shape and maintain proper control over the administration of the Department. Then honorable senators will find a number of references to law books. Law books were provided running into an expense of two or three hundred pounds, and it is obvious how abuses may creep in when I say that over £31 was paid for books which were procured absolutely with out authority. Under the circumstances, with the expense occasioned by three associates and three tipstaffs accompanying the Full Court wherever they went, naturally very heavy expense was incurred. In order to save that very heavy expense, on the 26 th April a direction was given that one associate and one tipstaff at the public expense was enough to accompany the Full Court on circuit when the Court went to any other of the States, and that this should apply to the “Brisbane sittings. Railway tickets were applied for and obtained for one associate and one tipstaff, but not one word was said as to the intention to disregard the request of the Government to discontinue this retinue; but the three associates and three tipstaffs were taken as before. No intimation was given that that was intended, and what was done was simply to send in about the time the late Government left office the vouchers for travelling expenses, one of which was about £15 higher than the others, and evidently included additional expediture incurred, not by using vouchers, but by paying the expenses of the associates and tipstaffs, in rather unworthy defiance of the directions given by the Ministry of the day. These’ are the facts and figures upon which we acted. My course was perfectly clear. As I have already said, these irregularities were due to the looseness of the arrangements made. The High Court was set afloat practically without a rudder. It was cut adrift from all Executive control, and, so far as the matters to which I have referred, and on which I have given the Committee all the information in my possession, are concerned, it is still cut adrift from Executive control. I was very glad to see this morning, or yesterday, that in one respect the rule lo which I called attention as being disregarded is now being observed - that is in regard to the fixing of the sittings of the Court for the whole of the next twelve months. Until now that was not done. At the same time, it is amazing to me that it should not be done bv the Executive, and that it should be in the hands of the Judges, who would be in a very difficult ar.d anomalous position, and one from which I am sure most Judges would seek to be free, supposing any attack were made by any State because of the insufficiency of the sittings prescribed for that State. The administration of justice and the places at which sittings of the Court shall fake place are matters for the Executive. They must bear the responsibility and criticism if the administration of justice in any part of the Commonwealth is not sufficiently provided for. It is an anomalous and a disagreeable thing that that matter of policy and of Executive control should be assumed by the judicial Bench - quite inconsiderately, I feel, and at any rate, if not “inconsiderately, without a sufficient realization of what is involved. All these matters were referred to, and upon these figures, on the 25th December, I wrote suggesting the daily rate of £3 3s. as the maximum. I wish to point out that that daily rate of £3- 3s. which I suggested in December, 1904, and which was objected to, rejected, and fought against month after month, when offered by me, is exactly the same rate as that which is welcomed from the present Attorney-General, Mr. Isaacs, under the Order in Council referred to in his letter. The only difference is that he allows the £3 3s. as an average. I do not know whether that was intended to constitute a difference, but if it was, it really meant that by means of that average the provision for allowance might, in fact, be obtained when the Judges are travelling by sea, notwithstanding that the steamer fees cover subsistence. At any rate, that is the position so far as regards that allowance of 3s. per day, which is at the rate of .£3,000 a year. The amount is exactly the same as that which I proposed in the month of December, and which, as honorable senators will find from the figures and vouchers, was systematically exceeded. I can only express the hope that now that it is fixed at the same amount as that at which I unsuccessfully tried to fix it, it will in future be adhered to. Having communicated that information, it only remains for me to say what the result was. The result of my proposal in regard to the limitation, of travelling expenses was that in the first place, as 1 was informed, communications were made without my knowledge, and behind my back, to high personages, politicians and others, to whom no such communications ought to have been made. Communications were made to the Prime Minister, and influence, which ought never to have been exercised,, was brought to bear upon him in various ways. All these influences were unavailing, and the next step - taken on the 29th April - was to suspend duty in respect to the Court- fixed to be held in Melbourne on the 2nd May. This was done absolutely without warning, notice, or previous demand to me upon any matter in respect of which it was either before or subsequently suggested that any request was to be made. From the telegrams printed with the correspondence it will be seen that when that unfortunate incident took place, I endeavoured to ascertain the reason for this serious and unprecedented step, which I hope will never be repeated. But my request for reasons was first evaded and then refused. Honorable senators will find references throughout the letters- to my being well aware of this and of that; but I say emphatically, as I have stated in the correspondence, that no communication, no request, and no intimation of any desire or any grievance of any kind or description - not to justify, because nothing could justify that suspension of duty - but even to palate it, was communicated to me until what are known as the three requests which were embodied in the telegram to the Prime Minister at Moree were forwarded by that right honorable gentleman to me. Without going into further detail, I call attention to the fact that, when the resumption of duty took place, by an intimation in Court, on the 5th May, the Chief Justice sought improperly and publicly to cast the blame, in a fashion that is greatly to be deprecated, upon a most worthy officer, Mr. Castle, in respect of any want of notice as to the postponement of that Court, and the expense entailed upon suitors or those concerned in the cases to be -tried at that Court. I wish to take special exception, and this is the only opportunity I shall have of doing so, to a letter of the 23rd June, in which insinuations are made that I had knowledge of certain communications addressed by the
Chief Justice unwarrantably to the then Prime Minister. The reference is contained in this sentence -
That I had fully explained to the Prime Minister, in a letter which I believe he received in Adelaide, where he was reported to be your guest -
That is a nice sort of thing to be stated in an official letter. It scarcely conforms to the rules of propriety - the exact position which I took up in the matter. He replied by a telegram dated 27th April, in terms which leave no doubt as to his having communicated with you on the subject.
This is the sort of thing which long ago, amongst a certain class of attorneys, was described as “making evidence.” I say emphatically that these insinuations as to my knowledge of communications passing between the then Prime Minister and the Chief Justice, which ought not to have been passing between them, are entirely baseless, and that no such communications were made known to me on the subject. Moreover, at the time of his receipt of both the letter and the telegram referred to, the Prime Minister was not my guest, and in the next place, whether he was or not, I regard the allusion to his being my guest, or to anybody being my guest, as entirely unjustifiable in an official letter. I know the laws of hospitality perfectly well. I never violate them. And I say that a gratuitous reference of that kind is an unpardonable intrusion on the part of the person1 making it, and is not consistent either with good manners or good taste. I deeply regret that any momentary forgetfulness of the proprieties should have permitted that passage to be written. I do not desire to say anything further. So’ far as regards the amount which we fixed after these requests were made, the correspondence is before honorable senators.- We were requested to fix a definite daily rate. We fixed the rate for the Justices at £2 2s. a day, and for the Associates at 17s. 6d. a day under the Public Service Act, being half-a-crown a day more than had been previously fixed. When we communicated our decision, the learned Judges went back on their requests, and wanted a maximum of £4. They objected to the £5 5s. a day, “which seemed to us ample in respect of a. Full Court travelling together, and the curious reason that was given will be found on page 29 of the correspondence in these terms -
The proposal that a reduced lump sum shall be allowed to the three Justices when travelling together, now made for the first time, appears to my learned colleagues and myself quite inexplicable. It has fortunately happened that we are on terms of personal friendship, and have on most, but not all, occasions, been able to arrange to reside together while on circuit. But this is an accident which cannot be regarded as a permanent condition. It might easily happen that, for reasons which must be obvious, it might be desirable, or indeed necessary, that the Justices should occupy separate sitting rooms, or live in separate lodgings.
There is material for reflection in that. Then we went out of office, and now we find that £3 3s. a day has been allowed as a maximum, although as an average, I have no desire to disturb the arrangement. It means possibly an extra 3s. 6d. a day. I do not grudge that gain to .the Judges by the change of Government; at any rate, it is not sufficient to induce me to trouble the Committee with a request on the subject. The underlying principle by which I have been influenced throughout the whole matter of administration is, first, that we ought to keep down the expenditure as much as possible,, even on the present footing of the arrangement under which’ the High Court is conducted. In the second place, we have ai right to expect - and it is not asking too much - that die Justices themselves should assist, as far as possible, in keeping down expenditure. In the third place, I quite recognise that while the existing system continues, there must be a verv much larger expenditure than that which I should like. On these Estimates, it would be folly, on my part to ask the Committee to determine the questions which must be settled, if at all, by means of some such Bill as that which I had the honour of introducing a few weeks ago. I should be only occupying time unnecessarily if I asked honorable senators to come to a vote on any item here, with the view of either asserting or dissenting from the existing method on which the business of the Court is conducted.
– But the honorable and learned senator said that he was going to move a request for a reduction.
– I am going to move for two or three reductions, but not with a view of asserting that principle, because I quite recognise that it would not be fair to ask the Government at this singe - I did intend to do so before, but I have decided not to do so now - because it would involve a long debate on matters which are better dealt with in the form of a Bill. I think that before long, in some shape or other, we shall have to revise the present method. I do not believe that there is . a lawyer in Australia who does not see that it cannot go on, but must break down of its own weight. But if it does go on - I refer to the full High Court, with three Justices, and all the retinue of tipstaffs and associates travelling throughout the Continent - the amount which is set down here will be vastly increased; it will be doubled or trebled. Honorable senators will realize the importance of turning over in their minds the principle to which I have drawn attention, namely, that the principal seat should be observed as the permanent seat of the High Court as a Full Court,, but if on the other hand they propose that this peripatetic system shall continue, we must look forward to the time when the Federal Capital is established, and make up our minds that it shall continue then, too, because the difficulty of breaking it off will be great if it continues until then, and we shall be faced with the question of largely increasing the personnel of the Court, of largely increasing the amount of the expenditure which we now contemplate, and which can only be liable to a comparatively small reduction. So far as the mere amount of the expense is concerned, I do not at present propose to move for any reduction. I would rather assist the Government in that respect, because to keep the vote within bounds is, as I have fully learned by experience, more a matter for the responsible Minister than it is for the Parliament. The latter could never do it. I shall say very little when we come to any of the items. There are only two items I know of at present in respect of which I shall move for a reduction, and after what I have said, with a view of putting the Committee in full possession of the facts so far as I know them, it will not be necessary for me to; ad’d many observations.
– I wish to say a few words about the first Order ir* Council which has been referred to, in order that honorable senators may understand the circumstances under which it was passed. Section 47 of the Judiciary Act says -
After the appointments were made, the question arose of the method by which’ the Governor-General in Council might express his opinion as to what expenses were reasonable. It was urged that, starting with a new Court, under entirely new conditions, it was exceedingly difficult to know what the expenses would be. The plan adopted was one which I think had been followed by the Chief Justice in Queensland, and that was to pass an Order in Council declaring that the expenses to be paid should be the expenses certified to by the Chief Justice. An Order in Council was passed accordingly, and I believe it was estimated that the expense would be between £4 and £5 a day for a Justice, his Associate, and his tipstaff. In Queensland the expenses came to a little under £5 a day. Travelling is more expensive in some parts of the Commonwealth than in others, and I am inclined to think that the expenses to which the Justices will be put in travelling to some of the outside States will be even higher than those which they have to incur in Melbourne or Sydney. When the Justices are travelling, they have to pay the highest rates at the hotels; in fact, I think that sometimes they have to pay higher rates than are charged to the ordinary public.
-Why should they ?
– Because, very often, the accommodation is limited. It is a necessity, I think, for a Justice to have a private room. He should have proper accommodation for himself and also for his Associate, and where the accommodation is limited, it is not surprising that in some cases the Justices are charged high and perhaps extravagant rates.
– What capital city is there with such limited accommodation as the honorable senator suggests?
– In Melbourne the Justices had to pay pretty stiffly at Menzies’, where the accommodation was limited on account of the races being held.
– I know of one instance where very high rates were charged to the Justices, in a State capital. I have not gone into any details, nor do I wish to do so. I only rose to explain the reason why the Order in Council was passed. Although it may be urged that it was not a proper way of settling the matter, still it was much better than to leave the expenses of the Justices to be decided by the AttorneyGeneral. The only difference now is that an Order in Council has been passed fixing the expenditure ‘ of the Judges at an average of £3 3s. I do not know whether that issufficient. I hope it is. Probably a little money has been saved, but we must remember that saving money is not always true economy. I do not think that it is much compensation for all the irritation that has been caused by these proceedings. So far as the Deakin Government is concerned, and my share of the responsibility for the way in which the High Court was started, I think that everything in connexion with the Court was working very smoothly at that time, and that the people of Australia had no cause to regret the expenditure that was being incurred. As to the Judges travelling round to the various States, it was the desire of the Government of the day that they should do so. It was thought desirable, at the commencement of the Federation, that the Judges should visit the various capitals. When the Estimates were brought down by Mr. Watson’s Government, and were introduced in the Senate by Senator McGregor, some objection was taken to the amount of the travelling expenses. I then explained that, this heavy expenditure resulted from the Judges visiting the capitals, and that if Parliament was not prepared to vote this money they would not be able to continue to travel. Hardly anything was said to the Senate after that, and I took it that we were generally satisfied that it was a proper practice for the Judges to travel from State to State. With regard to the computation of expenses from the Judges’ places of residence, we have to remember the circumstances that existed when the Judges were appointed. Two of them were residing in Sydney, whilst the Chief Justice resided’ in Brisbane. There was an understanding with the Government of the day, though it was not embodied in a written agreement, that the Judges should for a period - no term was mentioned - be allowed to reside at the places where theywere then living, and that reasonable travelling allowances should be made. Afterwards, as is well known the Chief Justice, finding that there was a large amount of business in Sydney, and that it would be much more convenient, and more in the interests of the public that he should reside there, broke up his home in Brisbane and went to live in Sydney. It was understood at the time the Judges were appointed thatthey were to be at liberty to reside where they then lived.
– Why was not that put in writing in a minute?
– We are not always so exact as. that. I have nothing to say as to the correspondence which has been laid before the Senate, and which took place between Senator Symon and the Judges, except to express regret, which, I think, is generally entertained, that that correspondence ever took place.
– I thoroughly agree with Senator Symon that the expenses of the High Court should be cut down to a reasonable amount. No one wishes to lessen the dignity of the Court,’ but there is a limit to expenditure, and there is also a limit beyond which travelling expenses should not be permitted to go. Every one who has a knowledge of what it costs to travel, and what hotel expenses are in the capital cities, must admit that the charges of the Judges were out of proportion to what the Commonwealth should be expected to pay. Senator Symon performed a very good service to the Commonwealth in placing, a limit upon that expenditure. But when he proceeded to limit the sittings of the High Court to the principal cities, I did not agree with him. It is a very good thing that the High Court should travel to the various. States to try cases, instead of bringing litigants great distances to get justice. Justice should be made available readily and cheaply to every litigant, no matter in what part of the Common- wealth he resides. Therefore I do not agree that the Court should not be an itinerary Court.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I intend to move a reduction in respect of the salaries of the associates to the Justices of the High Court. Associates are altogether inappropriate to such a Court as the High Court of Australia is. There are no associates in the United States Supreme Court, and there are none in the Supreme Court of Canada, which are the two Courts fulfilling’ similar” constitutional functions to the High1 Court of Australia. There are no associates in connexion with the Privy Council. An associate is an officer connected with what are known as Courts of common law - that is the ordinary Courts of the realm exercising ordinary civil and criminal jurisdiction. I think that the true position was misconceived altogether, both in respect, of the appointment of tipstaffs and associates. The High Court occupies a very different position from that of an ordinary civil Court. It has no criminal jurisdiction, nor has it any civil common law jurisdiction in the ordinary sense. The associates occupy no place at all in connexion with such Courts as this. Personally, at my own expense, I have communicated with America, to ascertain exactly the footing of the Supreme Court of the United States in this respect. I also communicated with Canada, and with authorities, in respect of the Privy Council, and what are called the Lords in Ordinary -in the House- of Lords, which is another great Court of appeal. I find that in connexion with the Supreme Court of Canada, there is only one clerk for the whole of the Judges. He is a stenographic clerk. In the United States each Judge of the Supreme Court has a stenographic clerk, who is a. shorthand writer, and typewriter. These officers are most experienced men. Mv informant, who is an eminent barrister in the United1 States, tells mc that they are men of great experience, and that their salaries run up to a maximum equivalent to about £300 or £310 in our currency. The Lords of the Privy Council have no clerks at all. They’ receive a salary of £5,000 a year, and provide their own clerks if thev want them. The distinguished Judges called the Lords in Ordinary have no clerks.
– None of those Courts are peripatetic.
– -That makes no difference. An associate is not a walking-stick to a Judge. Having ascertained that, I thought it tetter that the services of these clerks should be .retained. I took no exception to each of the Judges having a clerk; and I think that a very liberal arrangement, especially if the clerk does the stenographic and type-writing work, as I suppose he does. What I believe is really wanted - and I commend the suggestion -to (lie present Government - is a well-salaried Registrar, in order to put the Court on a proper footing. The chief executive officer of the High Court ought to be a Registrar, stationed at the principal seat of the Court; and if it be decided that the Court shall be an .itinerating Court, he ought to have subordinate officers in the other States, if necessary. The salary paid to each of the associates is £300 par annum ; and if it be desired to retain the inappropriate name of “ associate,” I take no exception. I think. However, that the salary of £300 per annum is a. great deal too much. I find that in New South Wales the associate to the Chief Justice is paid £290 per annum, while £254 per annum is paid to the associate of each of the other Judges.
– Are associates not generally the sons, brothers, or other relatives of the Judges?
– ,Yes, and that is the case in the High’ Court. As is generally the case, the associates to Mr. Justice Barton and Mr. Justice O’Connor are men who have been admitted to the Bar; but I believe the Chief Justice’s associate is not a professional man. In Queensland each of the four Judges’ associates receives £250 per annum.
– I believe the salaries have recently been reduced from £300.
– The salary was £250 in May last.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that a man who has studied and been admitted to the Bar is not worth £^300 per annum ?
– He is not worth £300 per annum if he is merely doing clerks’ work.
– Why not abolish the office?
– I think the office ought to be abolished, but I do not propose to interfere with the retention of the services of the associates, or with the privilege of the Judges to choose them. _ It seems to me that a salary of £250 is quite enough ; but I do not wish the reduction to take effect immediate] v. I think that each of the salaries might be reduced by £25, because the end of the year is coming, and if we allow for a long vacation, during which the Court does not sit, they will have practically an equivalent of three .months’ .notice. I move_
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Associates to Justices - at £300, £900,” by ^75.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - There is some little distinction between the High Court of Australia and “the Courts to which Senator Symon made reference. The Courts which he cited were the Supreme Courts of the United States and of Canada, and the Privy Council. But the Supreme Court of the United States is not an appellate Court, which travels, and neither is the Privy Council. Much of the work done by associates is caused by the travelling on circuit.
– What work arises because of the travelling?
– I think that more than fifty per cent, of an associate’s work is owing to the fact that the Judge has 1o travel.
– Is it proper work to be done by an associate?
– An associate acts in many respects as secretary to the Judge. As a man of legal training and experience, he assists the Judge very materially, and in a way in which a thoroughly trained secretary, who was without legal knowledge, could not assist him. The associate does a great deal of work in searching up au.thorities, and so forth - what is called “devilling.” Reference has been made to the salaries paid to associates in the States, but no reference has been made to “Victoria, where, I understand, more than one associate receives a salary of £350, and others receive £250.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Senator Keating is mistaken in thinking that the associates of the States Courts do not travel. As a matter of fact, the States Courts travel in what I may describe as a much more detailed way than does the High Court, even under the present system. The States Judges go on circuit in civil and criminal jurisdiction, and it is during these sittings that the services of an associate are really absolutely necessary. In Victoria the salary of the associate of the Chief Justice is £350, whilethe normal salary is £250.
Senator DRAKE (Queensland). - Nodoubt the figures quoted are correct in regard to the other States, but that is no reason why a salary of £300 should not be paid, to the associates of the Federal’ Judges. These associates should occupy at least as good a position as the associates of the States Judges. I feel perfectly sure that in the case of Queensland, £250 represents a special reduction made during the last year or two, because the salary used to be £300. We ought not to reduce the salaries of Federal officers because the salaries of State officers have been temporarily reduced.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “ Tipstaffs - one at £175 and two at £150- £475.”
My object is to substitute an officer to be called a High Court officer.
– The honorable senator cannot initiate a new vote.
– At any rate, that is the object I have in view.
– Why not make more use of the tipstaffs?
– But there are three of them, who travel about with the Judges, and are practicallypersonal attendants.
– These tipstaffs travelled with the Judges in Tasmania, where they were not wanted, and were laughingstocks.
– There is a procession of three associates and three tipstaffs, and the latter are simply and recognisably valets.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I move-
That, the Committee have leave to sit again tomorrow.
I ask honorable senators to come prepared to-morrow to sit as long as may be necessary to pass the Bill.
– I wish to make a suggestion with a view to facilitate the transaction of business. We might not be in a position to-morrow to arrange for an early sitting on Thursday. Senator Playford will recollect that some requests have been made in connexion with the Bill. They will have to be submitted to another place, and will then perhaps have to be considered by us again. This may require an early sitting on Thursday. In the event of anything of the kind taking place, would it not be well to intimate now to members of the Senate that it may be necessary to meet at half-past 10 o’clock on Thursday morning? If that is not done, I am afraid the honorable senator will be in the same muddle on Thursday, because after the Bill is returned to another place he may have to ask the Senate to sit on Thursday morning, which we must remember is the last day of the month.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- We heard from Senator Playford the same kind of remark on Friday afternoon. I am afraid the honorable senator may tomorrow find that there will be some difficulty in arranging for a meeting of the Senate on Thursday morning. The honorable senator has not threatened the Senate, but he has used certain words, and apparently means them this time, to the effect that we may be asked to sit all to-morrow night. I point out that even though we should do so, it will not be certain that we shall conclude the business. All-night sittings do not, as a rule, expedite the transaction of business, and I therefore urge that, before the Senate adjournsnow, Senator Playford should make up his mind to make the ordinary provision necessary under the Standing Orders for a meeting of the Senate on Thursday morning. If he does that, he may not find it necessary to ask the Senate to sit all to-morrow night if he can see his way to conclude the business on Thursday morning. I deprecate all-night sittings, and I urge the honorable senator, whether we are to sit all tomorrow night or not, to make provision for a meeting of the Senate on Thursday morning.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - Iam always willing to do what I can to meet the convenience of honorable senators. We have made certain requests, and honorable senators must be aware that this Bill must be passed before the end of the month, if the public servants are to be paid their salaries at the usual time. Wednesday is the last day but one of the month. It is perfectly true, as pointed out by Sena- tors Symon and Clemons, that by meeting at 10 o’clock on Thursday, we might be able to pass the Bill by the time the House of Representatives meets, so that we could send it down to them. If we are not able to pass the Bill through on Wednesday night, I shall ask honorable senators to sit early on Thursday, if by so doing we can get the Bill through by the time the other House meets, but I shall ask honorable senators then to sit until we receive the Bill back from another place, and continuously until we have passed it. It must be passed on Thursday, or we shall inconvenience thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth who will not have their- salaries paid at the usual time. I ask honorable senators to help me to-morrow to, if possible, pass the Bill through, and prevent our having to sit on Thursday morning. If that is not found to be possible, I shall make such provision as may be necessary to enable us to sit an hour or two on Thursday morning to deal with the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051128_senate_2_29/>.