2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for External Affairs, without notice -
In the Legislative Assembly to-day, Mr. Ho ran asked the Premier - (1) whether he was aware that the Grosser Kurfuerst on. her latest trip brought 49 Italians to this State; (2) whether it was correct to designate 39 of these as miners; (3) in view of the fact that the gold-fields were already over-supplied with miners, would he ascertain whether these men came under contract; (4) whether he would utilize the State police to ascertain where these 39 Italian miners were distributed and employed, and give such information to the House.
Mr. Rason, in reply, said “I am not aware of (he fact, but have instituted inquiries to obtain the information desired.”
Will the Minister inquire if the officer administering the Immigration Restriction Act at Fremantle ascertained whether these men were brought out under contract?
In view of the fact that there are numbers of miners unemployed in Western Australia, will the Minister instruct the officers at Fremantle to see that the contract labour clauses of the Act are effectually administered?
– I had not seen the paragraph until my attention was directed to it a minute or two ago. I shall bring ‘it under the notice of the Minister of External Affairs with a view to obtaining the information desired. Under the Contract Immigrants Act recently passed, we shall be able to follow these men to the gold-fields, and, if necessary, deal with them in a manner that would have been impossible under the Immigration Restriction Act.
– Will the Minister make public during the recess the result of the inquiries? Further, will he, during his contemplated visit to Western Australia, consent to receive a deputation bearing on the question of the alleged continued importation of contract labour into Western Australia ?
– I shall askthe Minister of External Affairs to make public any information he may have to communicate. The primary object of my proposed.’ visit to Western Australia is to obtain a. little rest; but I shall be pleased to listen to any representations that may be made to me regarding matters of public interest connected with Commonwealth affairs.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister of Defence to the fact that vessels are arriving within the Commonwealth weekly with immigrants under contract or agreement to serve as members of the crews of vessels in Australian waters, at rates of pay below those ruling in the coastal trade. I desire to know if it is the intention of the Government to enforce the provisions of paragraph c of section 4 of the Contract Immigrants Act, under which the Minister is required to approve of the terms of a contract only if, in his opinion -
The remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment are as advantageous to the contract immigrant as those current for workers of the same class at the place where the contract is to be performed.
– I can only make inquiries. I know nothing of thecircumstances referred to by the honorable senator, but I have no doubt that the officers of the Department will look into the matter.
– Will the result of the Minister’s inquiries be publicly announced ?
– If the Minister can arrive at a decision, he will no doubt announce it.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. President, if the report of the Joint House Committee with regard to the Refreshment Room has been adopted, and whether it is intended to submit their decision for the approval, or otherwise, of the Senate?
– The report has not been adopted. The honorable senator will, no doubt, recollect that under the Public Service Act Mr. Speaker and myself are appointed as Commissioners to act in all matters affecting the parliamentary officers and servants.. We consider that we have power to act in that capacity.
– Without consulting Parliament?
-Yes. We have the same powers with reference to the officers and employes of the two Houses as the Public Service Commissioner exercises in reference to ordinary public servants. A minute has been signed by Mr. Speaker and myself to the effect that the three officers of the refreshment department, after finishing up the work of the session, shall receive a month’s leave of absence on full pay.
– Are they not entitled to a month’s notice under any circumstances ?
– They may receive more than a month’s leave, but, as a preliminary, we have grantedthem that term, upon full pay. They will be asked to send in a record of their public services, and the Speaker and myself will consider what compensation, if any, they will be entitled to owing to their retrenchment. I think I may also say - although I have no authority from Mr. Speaker - that they will be treated most liberally.
.- May I ask if it is contemplated that you, sir, and Mr. Speaker should absolutely determine whether the proposed arrangement should be carried out. or if, when we meet again, we shall have an opportunity of considering the matter? I think that honorable senators ought to have an opportunity to express an opinion on the subject.
– What is the good of presenting a report if we cannot deal with it?
– We are not being called upon to deal with the report, but I am discussing the action that is pro posed to be taken by theP resident and Mr. Speaker. I shouldlike to know whether an opportunity will be given to honorable senators next session to approve or disapprove of the recommendations of the Joint House Committee.
-No definite conclusion has been arrived at, but I have had a consultation with Mr. Speaker on the matter, and our action, or recommendation, or whatever it may be termed,will depend to a great extent on the tenders received. Our present intention is to call for tenders before Parliament meets again. We shall make some temporary arrangement for the first week or two of the session, and when the tenders are received they will be submitted to the Joint House Committee for consideration. I do not see what else we can do. We do not desire to take upon ourselves any more responsibilitythan is necessary.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until a quarter to 3 p.m. to-morrow.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That all returns to the order of the Senate not yet made be forwarded to the Clerk not later than one month after prorogation, and that the same be bound up with the Blue Books of the session.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).There is a possibility that some reports of considerable interest to the country may come in later than one month from the date of prorogation. In the case of the State Parliament, the usual time allowed was two months, and I would ask Senator Playford to adopt a similar rule. There is every hope that the Select Committee on Tobacco Monopoly, which is to be converted into a Royal Commission, will report within a month.
– I take it that if the report of that Commission is sent in to the Governor-General within two months, and referred to the Government, the latter will have power under this motion to include it in the bound volumes of parliamentary papers for this session. It is only reasonable to extend the time to two months, as is done in the case of the State Parliament.
– I think that the time is one month.
– Perhaps I was wrong in saying that the time was two months, but, in my opinion, it is a very reasonable period to fix. What is the general course adopted? Very often before the bound volumes of the papers have been issued three months have elapsed. Last year they were not distributed to honorable senators until nearly four months from the date of prorogation.
– The honorable senator will see that if the period is increased to two months the issue of the Blue Books will be postponed by another month. It takes a considerable time to prepare and bind the volumes, and the honorable senator will get the papers in the ordinary course of post.
– If the Royal Commission sends in a report the honorable senator will receive a copy, together with the evidence quite apart from the bound volumes.
– I think that the Minister is wrong, because the rule is not to distribute the report of a Royal Commission until it has been laid upon the table.
– No; the reports are distributed in recess.
– I am anxious that the report shall be placed in the hands of honorable senators before the re-assembling of Parliament. If the resolution of the Senate is that all papers which are in the hands of the Government within two months from the date of prorogation have to be included in the bound volumes, certainly they will be distributed. I hope that we shall receive the report of two Commissions within that time.
– It is a matter of perfect indifference to the Government whether the time is fixed at one month or two months. Unless an early start is made with the binding of the sessional volumes they will not be distributed before the reassembling of the Parliament. Senator Guthrie has expressed the hope that two Royal Commissions will report before the expi ration of one month.
– No; two months.
– The Royal Commissions will not be able to submit a report within a month. I can assure the honorable senator that the report, with the evidence, will be printed and distributed to honorable senators as soon as possible after it is received.
– The Minister gives me an absolute assurance to that effect?
– I do. That course is usually followed. Directly the Government receive the report of a Royal Commission it can be distributed or withheld. A report would have to be tabled in the Senate before it could be included in the sessional volumes.
– But the reports would be included if sent in.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Senator Pulsford has inquired about certain statements made by Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of New South Wales. With reference to the exclusion of the State Savings Bank from the Government Post Office, in Sydney, the Secretaryto the Postmaster-General has promised to have the matter looked into, and information will be forwarded to the honorable senator. The other statement that a number of auditors were bundled out of their billets does not contain a word of truth. On the table inthe Library the honorable senator will find all the papers relating to the subject.
– Are all these men retained in the Commonwealth service?
– They were never in the Commonwealth service, but in the State service.
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
Order in Council of 8th July, 1901, was in force, i.e., unaltered, entitled tothe benefit of said Order?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. There was no Order in Council permitting officers to retain their rank. It was a Cabinet decision, which was not gazetted as an Order in Council. A “ General Order “ cannot confer any rank on an officer, an Order in Council being necessary for that.
The officers who served with Australian Contingents in South Africa numbered 848, of whom-
If the Cabinet decision of 8th July, 1901, had been fully acted upon prior to the date of the amendment ofsuch decision, viz., 30th April, 1902, 180 out of the 240 officers referred to in (i) would have been permitted to retain their higher rank as brevet rank in the Commonwealth Military Forces, but, it is found on inquiry that it was only acted upon in 29 cases. The Cabinet decision having been held in abeyance in the remaining cases pending the result of representations which were made to the Minister by several Commandants, and which finally ended by the Cabinet, on the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding (Major-General Sir E. T. H. Hutton) substituting the word “honorary” for “brevet” in the minute of 8th July, 1901.
Captain (now Captain and Hon. Major) J. W. M. Carroll, returned to Queensland, and resumed duty with the Instructional Staff in that State on the 10th May. 1902.
I do not want to hear much more about Major Carroll.
– The Minister will hear a lot about him.
– I have tried to do justice to him.
Consideration of Standing Orders Committee’s report(vide page 6897) :
– I move -
That the report be now adopted.
It will be remembered that some time ago considerable discussion centred round an amendment which an honorable senator desired to have inserted in a Bill to amend the Electoral Act. It was pointed out that the amendment, although it had strict reference to the subject-matter of the Act, had no particular direct reference to any of the subject-matters of the Bill. Although the decision of the Chair was upheld by a great number of honorable senators, still, many of them expressed the opinion that our standing order on the relevancy of amendments was one which, if read correctly, imposed restraints that ought to some extent to be removed. Accordingly, the Standing Orders Committee were invited to consider the question of standing orders with regard to amendments in amending Bills, and, in due course, it recommended the adoption of a standing order which would, to some extent, remove the restrictions.
– No; it did not make any recommendation.
– At any rate, after some discussion, the report was referred back to the Standing Orders Committee, with an instruction to consider the whole question, and draw up a standing order in conformity with the opinion which seemed to find most favour with honorable senators. It has recommended the adoption of the following additional standing orders : - “ 319A. An Instruction can be given to a Com mittee of the Whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act, to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, but are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to amend, provided that such motion shall be carried by at least fifteen affirmative votes.” “319B. An Instruction to a Committee of the Whole requires notice, and can only be moved before going into Committee on any question.”
In moving the adoption of the report, I would point out that, after all, the effect of the first proposed standing order is limited to Bills which have for their object the amendment of existing legislation. It is quite possible that when our standing orders as to the relevancy of amendments were framed the framers had in their mind Bills which were complete in themselves, that is to say, Bills which dealt once and for all with a particular subject. But when we come to deal with a Bill which has for its object the amendment of an Act in some particular, obviously, although the Bill itself may not contain any reference to certain important features of legislation, still it recalls vividly to the mind of every honorable senator the main principles and features of that Act. Under these circumstances, it is quite reasonable to have a standing order under which an honorable senator could move in the case of an amending Bill amendments which, although they were not relevant to its immediate subject-matter, still had a direct relevancy to the subject-matter of the principal Act.
– Speaking as a Minister, does not the honorable senator think that these proposed standing orders might embarrass the Cabinet?
– Would not the control of business be taken out of the hands of Ministers to some extent?
– It would always be for the Minister in charge of a Government Bill to express the Government’s attitude with regard to an amendment, and then for the Committee to decide whether it was inadvisable to go further in amending the Act which the Bill purported to amend in a certain particular. The first of the proposed standing orders is safeguarded in two very important respects. First, an amendment must be relevant to the subjectmatter of the Act sought to be amended, and secondly it must have the support of at least fifteen senators. When the concrete instance came up as to the relevancy of a proposed amendment, I think I indicated that my support of the President’s ruling had no reference to the policy of the standing order, because I considered that it did to a certain extent unduly restrict us in the consideration of amending Bills. With the safeguards embodied in the proposed standing order, I think that the Senate will be well advised in adopting the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee.
– I second the motion formally. The proposed standing order does not appear to me to meet the case at all. Its purpose is to permit of amendments being moved in an amending Bill upon subjects which are relevant to the subject-matter of the original Act. but which do not come within the purview of the amending Bill itself.
– Amendments on an amending Bill can be moved, anyhow.
– I am quite aware of that.
– What is the object of an instruction?
– I do not think that an instruction is at all necessary.
– It would represent the feeling of the Senate.
– Ifhonorable senators will allow me, I intend to suggest what I regard as a much better method. The proposed instruction must be moved before any Bill which is under consideration gets into Committee. The ordinary practice is for a Bill to pass its second reading, and to be immediately taken into Committee.
– The instruction would intervene before the Bill was taken into Committee.
– I submit that all this, procedure is not necessary, and will give rise to almost unlimited opportunities for “ stone-walling.” In cases of this kind all that I think is necessary is that notice of proposed amendments shall be given before any Bill has passed its second reading. If that were done, every honorable senator, in voting for the second reading of the measure, would know that he was also voting upon the principles contained in the amendments other than those embodied in the amending Bill.
– The honorable senator would make the Senate a “dead-house” all right.
– I think that my proposal is a much simpler and much more business-like one than that which is contained in the document which I hold in my hand. Under the proposed standing order, fifteen honorable senators, must votein favour of any instruction being given to the Committee. Why is that?
– Why would the honorable senator stop amendments from being moved in Committee?
– There is very good reason for that. If notice of those amendments were not given before the second reading of a Bill was carried, honorable senators would have grave cause to complain if other amendments which had no reference whatever to the Bill under consideration were subsequently introduced.
– They might make it an entirely new Bill.
– Is the honorable senator referring to all amendments?
– I am discussing the amendments referred to in the proposed standing order. The proposition is that when an amending Bill is brought before the Senate, any honorable senator who wishes to deal with a subject in the original Act which is not dealt with in the Bill, must obtain an instruction to the Committee of the Whole before he can move an amendment. He must also secure fifteen affirmative votes.
– Does the honorable senator propose to convert the fifteen votes into thirty-five?
– My suggestion is that there should be no vote at all.
– Irrespective of whether the amendments are relevant or not ?
– Of course, they would be relevant to the original Act, but they might not be relevant to the amending Bill. Surely honorable senators can see what I am driving at.
– The honorable senator led us astray by saying that this proposal went too far. Now he wishes to go much further.
– I did not say anything of the kind. Either I must have expressed myself in a very indistinct manner
– Did not the honorable senator say that the proposal was going too far in the wrong direction?
– Probably I did. I say that honorable senators ought to be permitted to move amendments which are not relevant to the Bill before the Senate, but which are relevant to the original Act, merely by giving notice of those amendments before the Bill has passed its second reading.
– Would it not be hampering honorable senators too much to insist upon relevancy?
– I do not think so. The procedure laid down in the proposed standing order is that notice of an instruction to a Committee of the whole must be given, and the motion must be carried by fifteen affirmative votes. Why should that be necessary?
– To save waste of time.
– It may be the cause of wasting a great deal of time. In any case I am astounded to hear Senator Turley talk about waste of time. What are we here for but to manufacture new Acts of Parliament, and to put old ones into the crucible? We must progress with the times. Aswejourney through life we probably get broader and better views. Seeing that we have made a departure in the right direction, I think that we ought to go a little further, and place no obstruction in the way of honorable senators who wish to submit amendments. I would ask you, sir, if it is competent for me to move an amendment in the proposed standing orders?
– As the honorable senator has seconded the motion, he cannot do that.
– Perhaps, as Chairman of the Joint Standing Orders Committee, I may be permitted to say a few words. We have a standing order which provides that all amendments to Bills must be relevant to their subject-matter. That standing order, until it is altered, binds the Senate. There is no reference in that standing order to the relevance of amendments to an original Act at all. Whether a Bill proposes toamend an Act, or whether it does not, the amendments must be relevant to its subjectmatter. If we are going to alter that position at all, we must do so by new standing order. If the policy of that standing order is objected to - and I admit that there is room for objection - we must frame new standing orders. It is now proposed that an instruction may be given to a Committee to make amendments in a Bill which are not relevant to its subject-matter, but which are relevant to the Act which it is proposed to amend. It is quite evident that, so far as instructions are concerned, there must’ be some limit imposed. For instance, upon a Bill to amend an Audit Act, no one would suggest that an instruction should be given to introduce a proposal relating to a sugar bounty. There must be some limit, and that limit ought to be defined.
– The limit is the original Act.
– As to instructions on an amending Bill, it is proposed in these proposed new standing orders that the limit shall be that amendments must be relevant to the subject-matter of the Act which it is proposed to amend. If we are to alter the present practice, I do not see how we can do better than adopt the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee. I confess myself that that recommendation does not entirely satisfy me.I should have liked some more general standing order to have been framed, but. after a great deal of consideration, I am unable to suggest any new standing order which I think would be preferable. Honorable senators who are not on the Standing Orders Committee should recollect that the Committee have considered this matter over and over again. A large number of new standing orders have been suggested to meet the case, but, after viewing the question in all its bearings, the Committee have come to the conclusion that the proposed new standing orders axe the best’ they can recommend. There is one aspect of the case which I ask honorable senators to consider. Under the Constitution, the Parliament can discuss and legislate on only a limited number of subjects, and, as time goes on, and we have legislated on these matters - and we have legislated on a good many already - most of the measures which come before us will be Bills to amend Acts already passed. These new standing orders, therefore, will have far-reaching effects, and will probably come into operation on most of the Bills we have to consider. I admit there are a great many difficulties surrounding this question, and that it is not possible to suggest a standing order that is not open to some objection. After all, what are standing orders? They are only a matter of the balance of convenience. All our standing orders are for the convenience of senators - to enable questions to be discussed and legislation passed within limits. If we do not wish’ to provide for such limits, we do not require any standing orders. If we are to be entirely untrammelled as to what we shall provide in the Bills which come before us, no standing orders are necessary ; we can insert all manner of irrelevant matter. That, I think, would be most objectionable. I hope the Senate will give due effect to the deliberations of the Standing Orders Committee, and will, at all events, give credit to the members of that Committee for considering this question time after time. They have now recommended two new standing orders, which, in the opinion of the Committee, will give greater power to the Senate in the matter of instructions to a Committee of the Whole than is possessed at present, but which are not open to the objection that they will allow a Committee of the Whole to roam around at their own sweet will, and insert in Bills provisions entirely foreign to the subject-matter. I hope that the considerations which’ I have placed before hon- orable senators will be given due weight, and that the new standing orders will be adopted. As .1 said before, the standing orders do not entirely satisfy me, but, at the same time, I must confess that for months I have been trying to devise some new rule which would be more general and suitable, and have been unable to do so. I hope that the Senate, will not unduly enlarge the powers of the Committee of the Whole, so as to make our legislation objectionable by the presence in Bills of provisions which have no relation to the subjectmatter.
– I feel quite sure that every honorable senator thoroughly appreciates the keen attention which the Standing Orders Committee have given to this matter, but, at the same time, we reserve the right to take exception to a proposal if we consider it will not tend to the satisfactory conduct of business. I am opposed to these proposed new standing orders, but that, of course, does not mean that I am opposed to the members of the Standing Orders Committee. I should prefer the standing orders on the subject of instructions to remain as they are, rather than adopt a rule of this kind, which I regard as exceedingly dangerous. In the past, I know, honorable senators have desired to insert in amending Bills amendments not relevant to the Bill itself, though relevant to the principal Act it was sought to amend, and, under our present standing orders, have not been permitted to do so. The object of the proposed standing orders is to remedy that state of affairs. While that, in a sense, may be a desirable object, we must not forget the dangers to which we may lay ourselves open. It is a good old parliamentary maxim admitted throughout British Parliaments, that standing orders are intended, not only to facilitate the conduct of business, but also to protect minorities, and certainly this is a view of which we ought not to lose sight. If the mere temper of the Chamber from sitting day to sifting day is to be the sole guide, then let us. away with all our standing orders - tear them up, and put them in the waste-paper basket. The provision for fifteen affirmative votes is no compensation for the dan-, ger to which the minority would be exposed under the proposed standing orders : and it appears to me exceedingly strange that old parliamentarians should suggest a rule of the kind. So far as I understand
– Not unless the Chairman had an instruction to do so.
– As Senator Stewart pointed out, after the second reading of a Bill has been carried, and before the President gives way to the Chairman, notice must be given.
– No: the honorable senator has not read the second suggested standing order.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I have read the second suggested standing order.
– How can notice be given then ?
– It can be given before the Senate goes into Committee.
– Notice will have to be given previously.
– How long previously ?
– On the previous day.
– That is so.
– If that be the intention, why not express it in plain, unmistakable language? I have an objection to words which do not convey the precise meaning in the minds of those who use them.
– According to our Standing Orders, “notice” means notice for another day.
– Then that should be stated in plain terms in the proposed new standing order 319B. We are often told that we cannot do this or that, but frequently these are the very things that are done. We have improved the language in which the Chairman of Committees puts proposals from the chair, and we should take a similar course in regard to these proposed new standing orders. It was interjected, I think by Senator Turley, that the necessity for fifteen affirmative votes would mean a saving of time. In my
– There is the same principle in force in the standing order, which requires nineteen affirmative votes.
– It is. in effect, a second reading of the new proposal.
– This is absolutely a new departure. An honorable senator may be in favour of the principle of a Bill, but opposed to the manner in which it is proposed to carry that principle into effect, and he gives notice of amendments. All that is legitimate; but, under the present proposal, an entirely new Bill may be evolved - a Bill which has not the least resemblance to that contemplated in the order of leave. Is that the method in which we are going to conduct our business ? The danger of the proposed new standing orders may be illustrated by the notice of motion which Senator Trenwith has on the businesspaper to-day. That motion is strictly relevant to the Tariff, and under these standing orders the whole of the Tariff would be open to discussion.
– If the majority wished.
– Thatis what I am pointing out, namely, that the protection of the minority would disappear, simply because on any particular day the majority might desire to re-open the whole of a question such as that of the Tariff. I may say that personally I agree with Senator Trenwith that his motion deals with a matter of very great urgency, which ought to be disposed of before the prorogation. But under the new standing orders, instead of one legitimate, urgent grievance being removed, there might be re-opened the whole question which it took the first Federal Parliament seventeen months to deal with’.
– If the majority of the Senate think that the question of the whole Tariff is urgent, and should be re-opened, while the honorable senator thinks that only one particular item should be considered, surely the will of the majority has at least as much right to obtain as the will of the individual.
– I do not say that the whole question of the Tariff should not be re-opened if the majority of the Senate desired that it should, even though I might hold the contrary opinion. I do not suggest that, but I say that if an honorable senator, believing that there was pressing need for an alteration of one item in the Tariff, brought the matter under consideration, the whole Tariff might, under these proposed standing orders, be thrown open for discussion.
– These standing orders do not apply to a notice of motion of the character to which the honorable senator has referred.
.- But the object of the motion could not be carried into effect except by way of a Bill.
– Precisely. A tricky Government, watching their opportunity from day to day, could, by the exercise of a little skill and patience, use these standing orders to put legislation on the statute-book which was not desirable. Such a procedure should not be tolerated. I sincerely believe that, when we are dealing with important questions, we should have some means of securing finality in regard to them. You, Mr. President, have mentioned that in future the majority of the Bills submitted to us will probably be amending measures, and that therefore the general principles upon -which we have been legislating will not be affected to any great extent. An amending Bill is brought in because, from experience, we have learned that, whilst the principle of the existing Act to which it relates is good, the methods we have adopted to carry it into effect are defective. We therefore adopt other means subject to the limitation imposed by our present standing orders. But under these standing orders both the principal Act and the Bill by which it was proposed to amend it would be open for discussion, and therefore we could -never hope to secure finality. For these reasons I am strongly opposed to the proposed standing orders. If we are to have irrelevant matters - matters quite outside the order of leave introduced - the best thing we can do is to abolish the standing orders and pass a law providing that the minority shall have no rights.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).T agree with the general policy of this very small report, printed on a very large sheet of paper. Before proceeding to discuss it. I should like to point out that, sin-2e there has been so much talk about the cost of stamps used by honorable senators, we might reasonably take exception to this small report of eight lines being printed on four pages of foolscap size.
– The cost is only a few shillings.
– The same might be said in regard to the stamps.
– This report must be bound up in the Blue Book, so that it was necessary to have it printed on a sheet of the ordinary size.
– I am satisfied that I could print the whole of this report on one side of an ordinary sheet of writing paper.
– The report^ must be so printed fEat it will go into the ordinary binding.
– That is a red-tape rule that ought to be done away with.
– The honorable senator would complain if the report were not in the bound volume.
– Does the honorable and learned senator mean to say that this report could not have been printed, at all events, on one page, instead of on four? Coming to the main question, I wish to say that I support the general policy of the proposed standing orders, but that I think that an amendment is necessary. I move -
That the -words in proposed new standing order 3igA “provided that such motion shall be carried by at least fifteen affirmative votes “ be left out.
– The proposed standing order which the honorable senator seeks to amend is quite dangerous enough as it is.
– I invite, honorable senators to say that those who neglect their parliamentary duties have no right to expect consideration. It is only fair to add that all parties in the Senate have’ been ‘ most consistent in their attendance, but we know that the members of one party in another place are often absent. That party is conspicuous by the frequent absence of its prominent members. The leader of the Opposition in another place-
– Does the honorable senator think that that has anything to do with the proposed standing orders?
– I propose to connect it with the question before the Chair. The action taken by one House is frequently used as an argument for the adoption of a similar course by the other.
– Why provide that a Bill shall be read a first and a second time, and so forth. Why not allow the Senate at any moment to take a certain course ?
– I think that, as the result of a ruling given by the President, we were all agreed that we should have some such power as that proposed to be conferred by the standing orders.
– That is the object of the standing order, which the honorable senator seeks to amend. It is safeguarded as much as possible, but the honorable senator wishes to abolish that safeguard.
– I hold that those who neglect their duty as members of the Senate have no right to be considered, and that the provision as to a motion for an instruction to a Committee of the Whole being supported by at least fifteen affirmative votes is. therefore, unnecessary. If this proposal were put forward in another place, where some honorable members are repea ted ly absent–
– That has nothing whatever to do with the question.
– I am dealing with the proposal that there shall be at least fifteen affirmative votes, and I should like to know whether I am not permitted to illustrate my argument by referring to the state of affairs in another place?
– I do not object to the honorable senator referring to the attendance in this Chamber, but I do not think he ought to reflect upon honorable members of another place.
– I am not seeking to reflect upon them.
-I think that the honorable senator is.
– I certainly have no desire to do so. I am simply pointing out that there is no necessity for the provision as to fifteen affirmative votes being cast for a motion for an instruction to a Committee of the Whole, since members of each party in the Senate are fairly consistent in their attendance. It is a matter of notoriety that the attendance of certain honorable members in another place–
– I have already asked the honorable senator not to refer to another place; we have a standing order which forbids an honorable senator from reflecting on another branch of the Legislature.
– I repeat that I am not reflecting on another place.
– The honorable member is finding fault with honorable members of another place for their failure to attend regularly.
– I have no desire to reflect upon “them, but I certainly think that the concluding words of proposed standing order 319A are unnecessary. I trust that the Senate will accept my amendment.
Amendment not seconded.
– I think that Senator Dawson was on safe ground when he took exception to this proposal. The Standing Orders Committee are not in absolute agreement in regard to it, and I am one of those who have not looked upon the proposal with any degree of favour. It must be borne in mind that the whole question was first referred to the Standing Orders Committee, and that, in a report which was laid on the table of the House, they pointed out that they were unable to make any suggestion. The outcome of that was that a motion was submitted by Senator Pearce that the Committee be instructed to prepare a standing order containing a provision substantially in agreement with that now before us. That motion was agreed to. But the point is, that in the first instance the Standing Orders Committee were not in favour of taking action, and that in the next place, in submitting theseproposed standing orders to us, they have simply followed out the decision of the Senate. The standing orders are certainly open to the objection indicated by Senator Dawson - that they take away the protection that should be accorded the minority. At present, we require not only that leave shall be obtained to introduce a Bill, but that it shall be read a first and second time, considered in Committee, and finally read a third time. A discussion may take place at any of these stages, so that there is ample opportunity for honorable senators to consider, and reconsider the principle involved in any Bill submitted to us. If we are going to allow instructions to be given to a Committee of the Whole to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, but are relevant to the subjectmatter of the Act that it is proposed to amend, it will be possible to have a second reading debate without the protection afforded by the preliminary stages through which a measure must ordinarily be taken. All that will be necessary, in order to introduce entirely irrelevant matter, will be to give notice the day before the second reading of a Bill is agreed to. This will not only take away the protection now given to a minority, but will relieve the Government of the day from the responsibility rightly attaching to them in matters of legislation. Senator Trenwith has shown that by motion, an instruction could be given to a Government to introduce legislation dealing with a particular question. If the Government recognised that failure to carry out the instruction would involve a Ministerial crisis, all that they would have to do would be to say to their supporters: “We are not prepared to stand or fall upon a principle of this kind, but if von can secure its insertion in an amending Bill that we will introduce, we will accept it.” In that way, the Government would be freed from responsibility, and run no risk. I aim not desirous to see Ministers relieved of responsibility in every direction, but we know that they are being relieved of it by alterations in practice and procedure. Again, the proposal enables instructions to be given to deal with matters that probably would not otherwise be dealt with. It is all very well to say that fifteen members of the Senate would have to support the motion. But let honorable senators bear in mind that when a matter having no party complexion was brought up, a minority of honorable senators who had considered the question might, by argument, be able to persuade the majority to vote with them. If, however, the matter was brought up whilst those who were capable of so influencing honorable senators were away, a* fair expression of the opinion of the Senate would, not be obtained. On the other hand, if the proposal were formally embodied in a Bill, instead of being made the subject of an instruction to the Committee of the Whole, those honorable senators would be able to make their arrangements to be present, and to state their opinions. There are other objections. As a member of the Opposition, I point out that these suggested standing orders will enable an Opposition to “stone- wall” a Bill to a greater extent than is permitted by our present Standing Orders. Four of five senators might submit instructions which would have to be considered after the second reading of a Bill, and those instructions would be debated night after night, with the object of defeating the Bill to which the minority was opposed. Such standing orders would play directly into the hands of an Opposition. The Senate ought to be enabled to deal within reasonable bounds with all matters that are brought forward. I have always set my face against standing orders affording opportunities to “ stone- wall,” or delay the transaction of public business. I shall always do so. But if, while I sit in opposition, a standing order deliberately gives me .opportunities to “ stonewall,” and block legislation that I do not like, I shall probably take advantage of it. It should be realized that we are now dealing with rules that have been in operation for many years in other parts, and have been found to work satisfactorily. The reason why a change was made some years ago in the House of Commons was to avoid the possibility of rushing through the second reading of a Bill which members did not think would be brought forward for consideration. If a Government chooses to bring forward a Bill, well and good. It takes the responsibility. If a private senator desires to submit a proposal, and cannot secure an opportunity upon a Bill, it is always possible to take the sense of the Senate upon a motion. But do not let us destroy all Ministerial responsibility, or give additional opportunities for “ stone-walling,” and interfering with the proper course of proposed legislation. It has been suggested that in regard to a matter of this kind, upon which there is much difference of opinion, it is a mistake to come to a conclusion on almost the last day of the session.
– Has not the matter been considered by the Standing Orders Committee ?
.- But the members of the Committee are not agreed.
– This proposed standi rar order has, been considered bv the Committee under pressure. The Committee did not recommend the alteration in the first instance ; but the Senate asked that th» subject should be reconsidered.
– The Senate ‘did not ask,, but instructed, the Committee.
.- In view of the divergence of opinion in the Standing Orders Committee, and in the absence of many honorable senators., it would be much better to postpone the further consideration of the subject until next session.
Motion (by Senator Millen) -
That the debate be now adjourned, - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I voted against the adjournment of the debate because the subject is fresh in the minds of honorable senators, and we are well able to come to a decision upon it. It is not perhaps a fitting subject with which to wind up a very long session, but there is no advantage in waiting six months before we decide it.
– There is no advantage to be gained by adopting the standing orders now.
– The two cases which give rise to the proposed standing orders were rulings given by the President, under our existing standing order, and in accordance with the practice of the Senate that no amendment could be made in a Bill unless it were relevantto the subject-matter of that Bill. When Senator Mulcahy proposed that the Committee of the Whole, in dealing with the Electoral Bill, should consider the question of compulsory voting, you ruled that he could not move in that direction, because the proposal was not within the scope of the Bill. The second case occurred when Senator O’Keefe proposed to consider in Committee the question of plumping at elections. Our standing order regarding instructions is apparently of no value. Some amendment is necessary in order to make it effective. The proposal of the Standing Orders Committee that we shall be permitted to consider matters in Committee not relevant to a particular amending Bill, but relevant to the principal Act, will enable us to give effect to the existing standing order. The fear expressed by Senator Stewart and Senator Gould that such a standing order as proposed will give rise to “ stonewalling “ is groundless, in view of the standing order providing that the Senate may at any time divide upon the question under debate. So that if, in. the opinion of the majority, any question before the Senate had been sufficiently debated, or had been moved for the purpose of obstruction, the motion “That the Committee do now divide “ could be submitted, and the obstruction would be brought to an end.
– The only party likely to move the “gag” is thatto which the honorable senator belongs.
– I do not take the view that the majority of the Senate should be entirely at the mercy of the Government of the day ; and I was very glad to hear Senator Keating observe that if at any time an instruction were moved regarding a matter which the Government did not consider ought to be inserted in a Bill, the Government had the right to withdraw the Bill.
– Would not twenty senators’ be at the mercy of fifteen under this standing order, because they could keep on moving instructions ?
– Only instructions that were relevant.
– They could treat every clause in the Bill in the same way.
– That might be attempted, but we have never had any such experience in the Senate. The standing order providing for the question “ that the Senate do now divide” has never been put into operation except on one occasion, when Senator de Largie proposed that the editor of the Argus should be brought to the bar of the Senate for insulting the memory of King James. There is no analogy between the Senate and other legislative bodies in which obstruction might take place. We are only a small House of thirty-six members all told, and I do not think that the whole of the members of the Senate have ever been present at the same time. Our average attendance is about twenty-four, and ample opportunity might be given to every honorable senator to exercise his full right of debate. But the opportunity to exercise the full right of debate will not be given if we are hedged in and limited by the will of the Government in regard to any proposed amending Bill. If the Government chose to introduce a Bill amending the Tariff in respect of the duty on harvesters, as a result of the carrying of the motion submitted by Senator Trenwith, we should be limited to the consideration of the duty on harvesters, though the majority of honorable senators might be of opinion that the duties imposed on various other articles should also be considered.
– In such a case would it not be the duty of the Government to bring down a Bill and proceed in the ordinary way ?
– The new standing, orders would enable the majority of the Senate to have their way. If the Government introduced a Bill dealing only with the duty on harvesters, in the circumstances I have mentioned, any member of the Senate might move, under these standing orders, that the duties on several other articles should be considered by the Committee. As I understand that several honorable senators desire to discuss other business, I shall not debate the question at length. I wish to quote two or three cases in regard to instructions which are referred to in May. There are several classes of cases in regard to instructions, and at page 839 of the 10th edition of May it will be found that the first class referred to comprises -
Cases when an instruction was necessary to empower a committee on a Bill to consider the amendments proposed by the instruction.
I mention one or two of the cases coming under this class. There was a Bill introduced in 1862 dealing with markets and fairs in Ireland, and the proposal for an instruction was to insert provisions for the equalization of weights and measures in all mercantile transactions throughout Ireland. Evidently the Bill did not contain provisions dealing with this matter, and so an instruction to consider it was moved. In the case of the Representation of the People Bills of i860 and 1866, an instruction was moved to insert provisions for restraining bribery and corruption at elections. Under class 2, dealing with cases when instructions were unnecessary, because the Committee possessed the power which the instructions would confer, a reference will be found at page 841 to the Western Australian Constitution Bill of 1890. In the case of that Bill it was not considered necessary to move an instruction - to insert clauses enacting that the ‘ Bill should not come into operation until the Act recited in the schedule to the Bill, which conferred a Constitution upon the colony, was amended, by assimilating the franchise, and the qualifications of members of the Legislative Council and Assembly of Western Australia, to those of other Australian colonies.
That would appear to have been an important amendment of the measure, and it was considered that an instruction was not necessary to enable the Committee to deal with it. The third class of cases covers cases of instructions ruled out of order as being foreign to the subject matter of the Bill., and at page 841 of May, a case quoted is that of the Arms (Ireland) Continuance Bill of 1886, on which an instruction was moved - to insert clauses dealing with the law relating to poor law guardians, labourers’ dwellings; and the franchise in corporate towns in Ireland.
It was’ ruled that that instruction could not be moved, because the matters proposed for consideration were not relevant to the subject matter of the Bill. Class 4 covers cases of instructions to extend the scope of a Bill, and the pases quoted would meet that in which Senator Givens proposed that the application of the provisions of the Commerce Bill should be extended to the States of the Commonwealth. That was ruled out of order in Committee of the Senate, because the Bill did not refer to commerce within the States, but with foreign countries.
– Could an instruction have been given in that case?
– Not according to our practice. One of the cases’ quoted in May is that of the Sunday Trading (Metropolis) Bill of 1855, in connexion with which an instruction was moved - to insert a clause applying the provisions of the Bill to the United Kingdom.
That was not disallowed under the practice of the House of Commons. If we had previously adopted this standing order Senator Givens could have moved an instruction to the Committee to consider the amendment he d’esired to submit in the Com- 1merce Bill. I think that the proposed standing order is one which, without taking away any of the responsibilities of the
Government of the day, will give the majority an opportunity to carry out their wishes. There would have been no danger in permitting Senators O’Keefe and Mulcahy to move the instruction they proposed for the amendment of the Electoral Bill. My firm conviction is that the amendments they desired to move for proportional representation, and to allow of plumping, would have been rejected if they had been considered in Committee; but I still think it would have been right to have permitted the honorable senators named an opportunity of submitting their amendments.
– Had they not an opportunity to introduce a separate Bill ?
– I am glad Senator Millen has mentioned that point. If the honorable senator will look at the businesspaper he will see that private members of the Senate have practically no chance of having even a resolution dealt with, to say nothing of a Bill which would have to pass through several stages.
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) - put.
That the debate be now adjourned,
The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the report be adopted - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I have given notice of a motion which asks the Senate to express the opinion that Parliament should at once impose a duty of £25 on every stripper -harvester, and of 21/2d. per lb. on all parts imported separately, brought into the Commonwealth. I regret that I have not been able to move the motion earlier in the session, when it might have been effective in producing the result which I desire to bring about; but it is obvious that that result cannot be obtained by moving it now. Any discussion that might take place upon it under present circumstances would be purely academic, and it might be considered that I am taking an unfair advantage of some honorable senators if I proceed with it. I shall, therefore, refrain from moving it.
– The honorable senator should not havespoken to the motion if he did not intend to move it. I will put the question that the motion be withdrawn.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 5251), on motion by Senator Givens -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, the refining and wholesale distribution of sugar within the Commonwealth being almost entirely controlled by one large business corporation, constitutes a monopoly which is inimical to the best interests of those engaged in the production of raw sugars and the citizens of the Commonwealth generally; and this Senate affirms the desirableness of nationalizing the said monopoly, so as to secure to the people of the Commonwealth the whole of the benefits accruing therefrom.
– I wish to express my gratification at the very full discussion which the motion has received and the generous criticism which it has met with from honorable senators. It is especially pleasing to me to find that, although my conclusions have been disagreed with, no honorable senator has disputed either my facts or my figures, or has had anything to say against my presentment of them. I wish merely to add one other piece of evidence in support of the fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is a monopoly which is exerting its power and influence in restraint of trade, and to prevent competition. I hold in my hand a copy of a contract made with an Adelaide firm, and still in existence, which every customer of the company must sign if he wishes to obtain the rebate of 10s. per ton which is given to those who agree to deal solely with the company. It will be seen that this rebate is of considerable importance to firms buying, perhaps, 3,000 or 4,000 tons of sugar, or even more, annually, and that those who do not accept the company’s conditions are placed at a great disadvantage. The agreement to which I refer was drafted in, and has been in operation since,1896, and I can vouch for the accuracy of the copy which I now read. It is as follows: -
Dear Sir, - In consideration of a bonus of ten shillings (10s.) per ton to be calculated on the 31st December and 30th June each year as per your circular of 27th November,1896, and payment of which is to be made to me as stated hereafter, it is understood that from this date my dealings in White Sugars shall be confined exclusively to sugars of your manufactures.
This arrangement to be terminable on three months’ notice in writing from either side.
The payment of the bonus to be made by the Company on purchases which I may make direct from you, and upon all purchases made through Messrs.– , the bonus to be refunded by this firm on your behalf.
I am, Dear Sir,
I commend the motion to the Senate, and hope that it will be carried unanimously.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to express to you, Mr. President, to the Chairman of Committees, to honorable senators, and to the clerks, my sense of the great consideration which has been shown to my honorable colleague and myself during the time that we have been intrusted with the conduct of Government business in this Chamber. We are exceedingly grateful for the kindness which has been shown to us, and are very pleased that our relations with the Senate have been, on the whole, of the most amicable character. It only remains for me to wish every one a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
– On behalf of the honorable senators who usually sit on the Opposition side of the Chamber, I desire to say that we heartily reciprocate the kind wishes expressed by the leader of the Government. I should like to add an expression of my appreciation of the manner in which we have been treated by you, Mr. President, and by the Chairman of Committees, in the conduct of debates, and to place on record our acknowledgment to the clerks, to the Hansard reporters, and to the whole staff connected with this building, for the efforts which they have made to assist us. We have had many battles to fight in this Chamber, and although they have been strenuous, they have left no trace of bitterness in the minds of any one of us, so that we can honestly and cordially wish each other success and prosperity. I hope that, when we meet again, we shall all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year.
– On behalf of myself and the officers of the House, I return thanks to the leader of the Senate, and to Senator Gould, for their kind appreciation of our efforts. I consider that our officers are entitled to a very extended leave of absence, because of the conditions under which they have had to work during the past six or seven weeks.
– The Hansard staff in particular.
– It has been decided by Mr. Speaker and myself that the members of the Hansard staff shall not be called upon to do any work until the end of February, and most liberal leave will be given to the other officers of the Senate.
– I. too, wish to thank the leader of the Senate and Senator Gould for their kind appreciation of my efforts. When I entered upon my duties as Chairman of Committees I did so with fear and trembling, because I knew that scenes have occurred in other Parliaments, for which, perhaps, errors of judgment of Chairmen of Committees had been partly responsible, but which, at any rate, have not enhanced the reputation of certain men or the dignity of the Parliaments concerned. Honorable senators, however, have shown such respect to the Chair that my duties have been congenial, andI am very grateful for the manner in which I have been treated. I wish to express to you, Mr. President, to the Clerk of the Parliaments, and to the Clerk Assistant, my thanks for the generous guidance which I have received in the discharge of my. duties, and to Senator Dobson for his ‘readiness to act as Deputy Chairman. I have been asked by some of those sitting round me to acknowledge the good wishes of Senator Playford, and I believe that I express the feeling of every honorable senator when I say that I hope he will enjoy to the full his contemplated holiday in Western Australia. Our support of the Government has been spoken of in some quarters as if it amounted to control, though we are not in a position to support them on every measure; but we can honestly say that we are grateful to them for the manner in which they have treated us. I think we are specially indebted to the Minister of Defence, who stands almost unique as a Minister of the Crown, owing to the candid and frank manner with which he endeavours to supply honorable senators with the fullest possible information. Senator Keating has undoubtedly enhanced his reputation since he has occupied the position of an honorary Minister. One particular measure - the Copyright Bill - will for all time stand to his credit. The fact that that measure was so speedily passed through this Chamber and another House was due to the almost perfect way in which it was presented by the honorable senator. I do not know that I can say anything further than to wish you, sir, Ministers, and the officers of the House a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to ask you, sir, whether you have noticed a paragraph in yesterday’s Melbourne Age stating that the Refreshment Rooms are being closed owing to the supply of inferior meals at high prices, and to their being ill-cooked, &c. I also desire to know if any effort will be made by those in authority to prevent a recurrence of these cowardly attacks on defenceless servants, who have performed their duties to the satisfaction of honorable senators. Further, I desire to ask you whether there is a special tariff for the press, whether they enjoy the use of rooms, telephones, and other conveniences which are provided here at the expense of the general taxpayers; and, if so, whether in future the enjoyment of such privileges will be made contingent upon good conduct. .
– My attention had not been called to the paragraph; in fact, I had not seen it, but if it is to the effect stated by the honorable senator it is not correct. I am not at present in’ a position to say what privileges will be enjoyed in the future by the press.
– Is there a special tariff for the press?
– I am not sure, but I think so.
– In view of that answer, sir, I desire to ask why we should not make the supply of untruthful accounts by the press a reason for their exclusion from the enjoyment of any privileges. We are a long-suffering body, and really some steps should be taken to put an end to the circulation of the lies which have appeared in the press day after day ?
– As regards the terms upon which the press shall be allowed to use the Refreshment Rooms, that is a question which the Parliament may, if it chooses, take into consideration. Otherwise, I do not think it is intended to alter the present arrangements.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers: -
Memorandum by the Agent-General on the question of the office of High Commissioner in London, furnished at the request of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
Defence Scheme for the Commonwealth. - Copy of telegram to the Secretary, Imperial Defence Committee, London, and reply thereto, respecting the preparation of a general scheme of local Australian defence.
Ordered to be printed.
Transfers approved by the Governor-General, dated19th December.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to call for joint and separate tenders for the following mail services ; steamers to run -
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. I will refer these questions for inquiry and report.
Debate resumed from 25th November (vide page 5660). on motion by Senator Pulsford -
That, recognising, as this Senate does, that it is the wish of both the Empire of Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia to maintain the purity of their respective races, this Senate hereby affirms the desirability of a treaty being made under which all questions relating to emigration and immigration may be arranged. This Senate further expresses its earnest hope that the friendship between the people of the Empire of Japan and those of the Commonwealth of Australia may be maintained, to their mutual advantage and to the well-being of the whole world.
Upon which Senator Pearce had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ races,” line 4, the following words be left out, “ this Senate hereby affirms the desirability of a treaty being made under which all questions relating to emigration and immigration may be arranged,” and that the word “ further,” line 8, be left out.
Amendments agreed to.
– I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– The motion is perfectly harmless now.
– I know that it is harmless, but still, in the absence of Senator Pulsford, I think that the debate ought to be adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator is not in order in speaking to the question of adjournment.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
That, recognising, as this Senate does, that it is the wish of both the Empire of Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia to maintain the purity of their respective races, this Senate expresses its earnest hope that the friendship between the people of the Empire of Japan and those of the Commonwealth of Australia may be maintained, to their mutual advantage, and to the well-being of the whole world.
– For the sake of eliciting information, I desire to ask you, sir, whether the Orders of the Day, which have been postponed, and made Orders of the Day for the next sitting day, will take priority over any other Orders of the Day. because, if they do, I decidedly object to the procedure.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- As this is the last sitting day of the session, each honorable senator will have to take the necessary steps next session to restore his business to the notice-paper.
Order of the day for the report of the Select Committee to be brought up, read and discharged.
Order of the day for the resumption of the debate on motion by Senator Dobson read and discharged.
– I - I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, whether, in view of the possibility of very important business having to be transacted, the certainty that, at least, a couple of months will be required between the close of the next session, and the date of the elections in December, and the statement made in the press this morning that it is intended to have “a short, sharp session” next year, he can give the Senate an indication of the date when the Parliament is likely to be convened ?
– I am utterly unable to give to the honorable senator the information which he desires. The view of the Ministry probably is, that “ sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.”
– The Minister does not regard the Parliament as an evil?
His EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNORGENERAL entered the chamber, and, being seated, a message was forwarded to the House of Representatives, intimating that His Excellency awaited the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber, who, being come with their Speaker,
The Clerk of the Parliaments received from Mr. Speaker the Appropriation Bill, and the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1903-4 and 1904-5.
His EXCELLENCY was pleased to notify to the Clerk of the Parliaments his assent to the following Bills: -
Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 1903-4 and 1904-5.
His EXCELLENCY was then pleased to deliver the following speech: -
It is my privilege to release you from arduous labours, which have resulted in the passage of an unusual number of useful and important measures, including the legislation for the session promised by , my Ministers, on assuming office after the Session had commenced. They will now be free to devote their attention for the remainder of this Parliament to the progressive Australian policy which they announced five months ago.
The difficulties inseparably connected with the Federation of six separate and independent States into one federal union are being gradually overcome. There is, good reason to hope that a time is arriving when the Commonwealth and the States will be found in active and harmonious co-operation in their respective spheres of authority in promoting the welfare of Australia.
I am happy to congratulate you upon the fact that the country has rapidly recovered from the losses sustained by the drought a few years ago, and that our financial position has been greatly improved by the increased volume and prices of our products. The Commonwealth has entered upon an era of prosperity. Trade is flourishing. The last two years are unexampled in the yield and value of our primary productions.
The agreement made with the Eastern Extension Company in 1903, subject to the ratification of Parliament, the consideration of which was postponed to permit of the holding of a Conference in London of the partners in the Pacific Cable, has now been ratified by Parliament, subject to the expressed condition that the separate State contracts with that Company, made, prior to Federation, are terminated, and that the federal agreement shall determine on 31st December, 1915.
Contracts with the Orient Steam Navigation Company for the conveyance of mails between Australia and Europe, via Suez; and with the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand for an extension of the Vancouver Mail Service for a further term, have been approved by you.
An appropriation of£2 5,000 has been made to allow the people of Australia to join with their fellow-countrymen in Great Britain and other parts of the Empire in the erection of a memorial in London, in grateful recognition and affectionate remembrance of the personal worth and beneficent reign of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria.
A valuable report relating to the representation of the Commonwealth in London has been laid before you, and will be carefully considered by my advisers during the recess, with a view to taking such action as, may be desirable in the interests of Australia.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
Unfortunately, the definition of the territory of the Seat of Government has not been completed, but it is hoped that the pressing question involved, which has been the subject of prolonged inquiries, and exhaustive debates for several years, will be determined by this Parliament.
The Representation Act completes the machinery of the Constitution relating to electoral representation by making provision for definite periods at which the determination of the number of Members for each State in the House of Representatives shall be fixed.
My advisers regret that the Bill for the encouragement of manufactures by means of the duties inserted in the Tariff conditionally upon the iron industry being sufficiently established, and the Bill for the Preservation of Australian Industries recently submitted did not become law during the Session. Measures similar in character will be introduced as early as possible. In the meantime, my advisers will take such action as is possible and necessary to secure the interests of Aus tralian producers, and consumers, against the unfair encroachment of foreign or domestic Commercial Trusts, which operate to the detriment of all classes of the community.
Standing Orders have been passed which, while recognising the right of every honorable member to the full expression of his, views, have diminished the opportunities for the obstruction of public business hitherto possible under the Temporary Standing Orders.
Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
I thank you in the name of His, Majesty for the liberal Supplies which you have granted for the services of the Commonwealth.
An urgent need of the Commonwealth is the adoption by Parliament of a definite and comprehensive scheme of defence adapted to the special circumstances of Australia. For this purpose it is, necessary that the proportionate strength of our Naval and Military Forces should be determined in relation to the protection of our coasts. Advice upon the latest methods of port and harbor defence has been sought from the highest authority, and 1 now have pleasure in informing you that the Imperial Council of Defence has consented to assist the Government in this regard with expert opinion.
Public interest is being generally manifested in the efficiency of our land forces. Steps have been taken which it is confidently believed will place the Cadet and Senior Cadet Corps of the various States of the Commonwealth upon an uniform and satisfactory basis. A large consignment of new rifles is being obtained, and the number of citizens connected with Rifle Clubs is being considerably augmented. The supplies of cordite have been supplemented.
The Immigration Restriction Act, embodying the policy of a White Australia, has been amended so as to insure more effective administration while removing unnecessary discriminations in its terms.
The regulation of the introduction of contract labour is now provided for in a separate Act, which, while offering a special exemption favouring immigrants of our own blood, insures to all who arrive here under contract the benefit of Australian conditions, and safeguards them against misrepresentation.
The encouragement of desirable settlers from the mother country by conjoint action in association with the States as proprietors of the soil will continue to be a principal aim of the Commonwealth. A practical method of accomplishing it should be devised at an early date.
The passage of the Bill extending the period for which a bounty upon sugar will be paid to the growers of cane who employ white labour must assist the settlement upon our rich northern coasts of a larger population of our own race.
The Act providing for the acceptance of Papua as a Territory establishes a Constitution for its Government which, for the first time, places its administration and development under the effective control of the Commonwealth.
The Secret Commissions and Commerce Acts will materially assist in promoting the fair dealing that fosters production and facilitates trade.
The former forbids any secret loading of expenses by which the fruits of the producer’s labour may be diverted to the illicit profits of his agents, and at the same time supports the honest action of agents who deal justly with their principals.
The latter enactment will assist to prevent the exportation of inferior goods to the detriment of our export trade, and to protect (he public by requiring a proper description on goods or packages containing imported articles.
The Census and Statistics Act will enable the Commonwealth to establish a central bureau of statistics, collect the census, issue returns with respect to the matters under its special jurisdiction, and collate information as to the progress of Australia.
A measure has been passed providing for a uniform law for the registration of Trade ‘Marks and their protection throughout the Commonwealth, thus doing away with the complexity and expense occasioned by the necessity of dealing with them in six States under six different laws. The enactment extends equal consideration and rights to all who participate in the production of Australian commodities, represses fraud iri relation to trade marks, and provides better guarantees to the public of the origin and quality of merchandise.
A valuable Amending Electoral Act has been placed upon the statute-book, which provides appropriate machinery for perfecting administration for the cooperation of the Federal and State Governments in electoral matters, and for more effectively carrying out the intentions of Parliament.
The Copyright Act contains an uniform copyright law, which covers literary, musical, dramatic and artistic copyright throughout the Commonwealth. ‘ This measure, framed with due regard to the latest English drafts for legislation and the international aspect of the subject, comprises numerous advantages that will be appreciated bv authors, artists, and publishers, as well as the public.
Among other useful measures that have been passed may be mentioned those relating to life assurance, wireless telegraphy, and providing for the incorporations of amendments in all reprints of Acts.
I now declare this Parliament prorogued until the 31st day of January, 1906.
Senate adjourned at 4.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 December 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051220_senate_2_30/>.