2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
DEFENCE DEPARTMENT: ENGINEER.
Senator GUTHRIE. - I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, the following questions : -
Did the Defence Department recently advertise for an engineer holding a first class corticate from the Board of Trade?
Has any appointment been made from the applications received ?
If not, whatare the reasons?
Senator PLAYFORD. - The Naval branch of the Department of Defence advertised for an engineer. In their advertisement they stated that he must possess a first class certificate, and they recommended me to appoint a man with only a second class certificate. I returned the papers, with an intimation that the conditions contained in the advertisement and in the regulations would have to be complied with; in other words, that the officer to be appointed would have to hold a first class certificate.
Senator Guthrie. - And no appointment has been made?
Senator PLAYFORD. - Not that I know of. I do not believe that the officers in question had the right to make an appointment. They had only the right to make a recommendation to me, and I have refused to confirm the appointment if one has been made.
Senator GUTHRIE. - Arising out of the reply, I wish to ask the Minister of Defence if the person who was recommended by the Naval branch for appointment is not now in the Government employ ?
Senator PLAY FORD. - Personally, I do not know that such is the case, but I have been informed thatthey took him on whatthey call probation. What I have said is an accurate statement of the case. They asked me to approve of the appointment and I refused.
Senator Guthrie. - And he is still employed ?
Senator PLAY FORD.- I do not know.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, a question concerning notices of motion on the business-paper of the other House relating to the introduction of two Bills by two Ministers, and either of which could be originated in the Senate.
– Will the honorable senator name the Bills?
– I refer to a Bill relating to foreign companies carrying on the business of life assurance in Australia, which is not a Money Bill, and a Bill relating to quarantine, Which also is not a Money Bill. In view of the fact that the Minister of Defence has already foreshadowed an adjournment of the Senate because of want of business, I wish to ask whether it is not possible for him to get the two Ministers in another place to allow the Ministers in the Senate to introduce these measures here, and so give us some work to do?
– I had no knowledge that it was intended by the Ministers in question to introduce these measures in another place. Directly that knowledge came to me I spoke to the Prime Minister on the subject, as I had been constantly asking for as much work as it was possible to give to the Senate. I can assure my honorable friends that I have been looking after the Senate’s interests as others have been doing. I pointed out to the Prime Minister that in this session there would be a goodly number of measures containing money clauses which it would be impossible to introduce in the Senate, and that in my opinion the particular measures now referred to should be originated here. He agreed with me, and the notices of motion relating to the two Bills standing on the business paper of the House of Representatives will, I believe, be read and discharged, and I shall have possession of the measures next week.
– I desire to ask the leader of the Senate, without notice, at what time he expects to get the report of the Queensland Sugar Labour Commission, and if shortly after it is received he will make a statement as to the policy of Ministers with regard to the deportation of the kanakas.
– I ask. the honorable senator to give notice of the question, as I think I had better not give an answer offhand. I believe that the deportation of the kanakas is a matter for the State and not for the Commonwealth.
– Has the Minister any idea when the report will be ready?
– No; it is not a Federal Royal Commission.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Report, with proceedings, minutes of evidence,and appendices of theRoyal Commission on the Tobacco Monopoly.
Report, with appendices and minutes of evidence, of the Royal Commission on the Navigation Rill.
Memorandum on the anti-trust legislation of the United States of America, and the legislation of Canada and New Zealand for the prevention of dumping.
Ordered to be printed.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following paper: -
Document respecting proposed Federal Capital sites in the Yass, Lake George district.
Ordered to be printed.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
In reference to the answer given by the Minister to the question asked by Senator Pearce relative to the notification of the assent by His Excellency the Governor-General to certain Bills -
Has it not been the continuous practice since the inauguration of the Federal Parliament for such assent to be notified to Parliament?
If so, why has there been a departure in regard to these two Bills?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
It was just a littleoversight for the moment, but it was rectified as soon as possible.
– I would like, sir, to ask whether that is an answer to my question ?
– The honorable senator cannot expect an answer to that question, but he can ask another question.
– Well, I ask whether it was not possible for the Royal assent to the Bills to be notified to Parliament this session ?
– Will the honorable senator ask, without notice, whether it is the intention of the Minister to remedy the omission ?
– Again the Minister might be asked whether in the case of other Parliaments it is not the custom at the beginning of a session to report any assent which has been given to Bills during the recess?
– I shall look into the matter. I have only just had this answer handed to me. I am sure that it has been out of no disrespect to Parliament that the report has not been made. I believe that at the time of the prorogation the Bills were overlooked, and the Royal assent was not given when theGovernor-General was here. The omission was found out, I believe, the same afternoon, when the Royal assent was given.
– The Minister must recognise that he has an aptitude for overlooking things.
– And he has an opportunity for rectifying any mistake.
– I do not know ; but if I liked, I think I could shunt the blame possibly on to the officers of Parliament.
– No; the officers of Parliament have nothing to do with the matter.
– Not with the assent to Bills?
– No. It is the duty of the President and Speaker to present Bills to the Governor-General for his assent, and when that has been done they have nothing more to do with the matter until they receive a notification from His Excellency that the Bills have been assented to.
– The officers of Parliament have to hand to the GovernorGeneral certain Bills for his assent.
– Yes - the President and Speaker.
– And is it not part of their duty to see that His Excellency receives all the Bills which have been passed by Parliament?
– In the present case the Bills were presented) to the GovernorGeneral. When Bills are presented to His Excellency by myself or the Speaker we cannot force His Excellency to assent to them or to send back a message that he has clone so. After the presentation of any Bills we have nothing more to do with them until a message is sent back, and, as a rule, a message is sent back. In the peculiar circumstances surrounding these two Bills no message could have been sent back.
- Mr. President-
– I understand that the officers were not at fault. When. I suggested that they were. I only expressed a thought which occurred to me at the moment.
– Mr. President, has the Minister any more right than any one else to jump up when another senator is on his feet, and addressing the Chair?
– We are getting a little irregular. I understand that Senator Pearce asked a question arising out of the answer to his question.
– I think it is only fair to our officers to remind the Minister that at the time the Clerk of Parliaments drew attention to this omission. We all of us remember the interruption which occurred here. The omission was not rectified, and therefore the blame does not rest with the Clerk.
– I spoke without looking into the question. I thought that the Clerk of the Parliaments did send the Bills to the Governor-General.
– The Speaker, and not the Clerk of the Parliaments, presented the Bills. The Clerk has nothing to do with the matter. They were the Speaker’s Bills, and the Speaker presented them. We have nothing to do with them.
– My attention has been called to this point. We must not only consider the Standing Orders referred to by the honorable senator, but must also consider standing order 14, and the practice of Parliament. According to the ordinary practice of Parliament, as a matter of courtesy to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, no business is taken until the Add ress-in-Reply has been disposed of. That was the general rule. In many Parliaments the first reading of a Bill was movedto vindicate the right of Parliament to conduct its own business in its own way ; but as a matter of courtesy, no other business was done. When we framed our new Standing Orders, it was found to be inconvenient to strictly adhere to that rule, and we altered it to a certain extent by providing that certain motions should be taken before the Address-in-Reply was agreed to. Those motions are the fixing of the days and hours of meeting and the appointment of Standing Committees.
– May I draw your attention to the word “includes “ in standing order 14?
-If it had not been for that word, we could not have taken any business whatever until the AddressinReply had been disposed of. Clearly that word “ includes “ enables us, according to our own Standing Orders, to do certain formal business before we agree to the AddressinReply. When we come to the other Standing Orders to which Senator Neild has referred, we find that? the word “ formal,” as there used, has a different signification altogether. It refers to business which the Senate has declared shall not be discussed. There, as I say, it has a different signification to what it has in standing order 14. I think we should get into difficulties if I were to submit a great many of these motions which can be put after the Address-in-Reply has been disposed of, before that has been done; because, having put the question of whether they are “ formal “ or “ not formal,” it is for the Senate to give the answer; and we might go on with a great’ deal of business before the Address-in-Reply was disposed of. I think it would be far wiser to adhere to our former practice.
– With great respect, may I submit for your consideration whether, assuming the strict accuracy of the views you have just enunciated, it will not be equally inconvenient and equally likely to lead to the difficulties you have suggested as to dealing with purely formal motions, for questions to be asked and answered ?
– There can be no discussion on questions.
– Nor on formal motions, with great respect.
Debate resumed from 14th June (vide page 201) on motion by Senator Styles.
That the following Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General.
May it please Your Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express ourloyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– Some of the matters towhich I had intended to refer in my speech were dealt with by honorable senators who addressed themselves to the motion yesterday. The most important matter to the State which I represent is that which was touched upon by both the Tasmanian senators who have contributed to the debate. I am disappointed that no reference is made in the Governor-General’s speech to the intentions of the Government as to whether the bookkeeping system offinance under which we are at present working shall be continued,or we shall avail ourselves of the terms of the Constitution, and discontinue that system at the end of five years from the passage of the uniform Tariff. I have already given notice of a motion for the 5th July upon this subject, and shall then take the opportunity of testing the feeling of the Senate. I notice a smile on the face of some of my friends from Western Australia. I know we shall be told of the very large amount of money which Western Australia would lose by the distribution of the revenue, on a per capita system, and that that would be a serious bar to the introduction of the only real and true Federal system. But I would ask my Western Australia friend’s to remember that when the States joined in Federation they expected that sooner or later it would be a real and true Federation. There can be no such Federation until there is a federation of the finances of Australia.
– When it was suggested by one of the larger States that help wight be given to the poorer States the honorable senator’s State became indignant.
– I do not know that the honorable senator has an.y authority to say that Tasmania became indignant, although one or two persons in Tasmania may have expressed their feelings.
– Senator Millen has merely made a vague and unintelligible remark.
– I think it willbe a long time before the State of Tasmania will wish to derive any help from any other State that is not due to her as a right under the Constitution. Getting away from the interests of any particular State and coming to the crux of the question, I maintain that the terms of the motion of which I have given notice to-day truly present the case as it exists -that there will be no truly Federal spirit, such as is necessary if this great Commonwealth is going to accomplish the work it is intended to do, until we have a true federation of the finances. I admit that the senators from Western Australia, inasmuch as this is a States house, have every right to stave off the day as long as they possibly can ; and I admit that it does look as if there were an endeavour on the part of the representatives of smaller States like the State of Tasmania to benefit their constituents by the distribution of the surplus revenue per capita. It may appear as though they were wanting to put their hands into the pockets of the Western Australian people. But I would ask the Western Australian representatives - because that seems to be the only State which publicly objects to this proposal-
– New South Wales also.
– I feel certain that New South Wales will be found to exhibit that truly Federal spirit of which her representatives so often talk when the proposal is definitely made. We are faced with the position that all new expenditure is now being borne by the people of Australia according to population. Sir George Turner declared, and I believe was backed up by constitutional authorities in his Government and in the Parliament, that all new expenditure must be borne per capita, no matter where the money is expended. Sir George Turner discovered that under the Constitution no such expenditure could be debited’ to the State in which it was spent. We do not know where new expenditureis going to be incurred in the future. We only know that a great deal of new expenditure has been incurred in some of the States.I do not think that I am acting unfairly when I call attention to the extent to which Western Australia has benefited. We in Tasmania have had to bear our proportion of that expenditure according to population..
– Tasmania does not bear an undue proportion.
– We bear our share in the only fair and Federal way - by, a per capita distribution of the burden. I remind the New South Wales representatives that£20,000 was authorized to be spent last year for the construction of an entirely new telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne. We were called unfederal when we objected to that being placed in the “ new expenditure ‘ ‘ column and being equally borne by the people of all Australia. I objected myself, and must object again; and I take it that in the interests of the State I represent it is my dutv to object to this system of debiting expenditure until the revenues go into the common pocket.
– Until Tasmania gets that half-million.
– It is not a question of half-a-millon. Western Australia might lose to-day under theper capita system of distributing revenue, but we cannot tell what will happen in the next year or two. Even now the ratio between the States is gradually becoming less. As the State of Western Australia becomes more even as compared with the other States - that is to say, when the men of Western Australia to a greater extent take their families over there-the consuming power of the people per head will be equalized.
– If we are approximating to a common level, there is no need for the motion which the honorable senator is to submit.
– There is need of it, because we know very well that we have to face new expenditure. In all probability there will be heavy new expenditure on account of defence in some of the States. No one is going to object to any proper expenditure for defence purposes, no matter in which State it occurs. No representative would be silly enough to object to his people paying their proper proportion towards the defence of Australia. But still we must acknowledge that the people in the States which have to bear their share of this proper and reasonable expenditure are likely to be wanting in the Federal spirit, and to have a grievance against the Federation and the Federal Parliament, until the system of distribution of revenue is the same as the system of distribution of expenditure. Last year there was rather a warm debate on the question of the carriage of mails between this State and Tasmania. It was contended by some of us that it was properly new expenditure, that the£11,000 should be placed in the new expenditure column, and should be distributed per capita. Those honorable senators who objected to that view, declared by a majority that, in their opinion, this should be regarded as transferred expenditure, and we had to pay the whole£11,000. I think I have a right to call attention to this question. I remember that Ministers told the Senate that the whole matter of the carriage of mails and the payment therefor would be taken into consideration during the recess, and that the system would be placed on a more satisfactory basis. I hope that that has been done, and that when the Estimates are before us we shall see that a fairer system of apportioning the expenditure has been adopted. When speaking on the States debts question, Senator Mulcahy referred to the fact that nothing had been done in connexion therewith. While of opinion that no good would result from the taking over of the States debts as proposed, Senator Mulcahy suggested that the Commonwealth should take over the debts as they mature. It appears, however, that under section 105 of the Constitution, which had apparently escaped Senator Mulcahy’ s attention, that cannot be done; the Commonwealth cannot take over a debt in any one State without taking over debt to a corresponding amount from each of the other States. The most statesmanlike proposal on this subject has, in my opinion, emanated from Mr. Watson, the leader of the party to which I have the honour to belong. Mr. Watson’s suggestion is that the people of the Commonwealth at the coming election should be asked to approve of a simple alteration of the Constitution, giving power to the Commonwealth Parliament to take over any debt in any one State at any time that may be thought opportune. If such a scheme were carried out, the people generally would get the benefit of the saving, if any, in the rate of interest. Of course, we know there are great difficulties in the way of taking over the debts. - The States Treasurers are averse to. the Federal authorities assuming control, but nevertheless thesimpler method suggested by Mr. Watson has found favour amongst those who make finance a special study. His Excellency’s speech refers to one other matter which affects, and is likely to affect, Tasmania rather considerably. In the paragraph relating to preferential trade if is stated that negotiations are now being conducted between the Commonwealth and New Zealand. Considering that New Zealand has not yet joined the union, the first study should be the interest of the people within the Federation. There are several products of my own State, the producers of which are now receiving some benefit from Federation, owing to the fact that free markets are presented to them on the mainland. If, however, a preferential Tariff were entered into between the Commonwealth and New Zealand in connexion with those products the Tasmanian producers would suffer serious loss. I hope that the Ministry, who have a voice from Tasmania in their councils, will keep this view of the matter before them when such articles as potatoes, hops, barley, and fruit are under discussion in any negotiations which may be conducted.
– We get no fruit from New Zealand.
– I understand that New Zealand grows a quantity of fruit, and may become a competitor with Tasmania in the markets on the mainland. At all events, New Zealand is outside the Federation, whilst Tasmania .is within ; and I hope the Government will’ pay due regard to the interests of our own people, who have to pay whatever extra cost Federation has thrown on the public expenditure. In view of the notice of motion I have given to-day, it is interesting to me to note that the other day Mr. Norman Ewing - who was formerly a member of this Chamber, and is now a can didate for the position of representative senator for Tasmania - stated that the Opposition believed in the distribution of surplus revenue under the per capita system.
– Why should he not say that?
- Mr. Ewing may be quite right, and I’ should like to know whether he is, because, if so, it will probably .gain a great deal of support for him in his candidature.
– Mr. Ewing is not the first man who has told the people of Tasmania that.
– He is the first who has done so to my knowledge.’ I did not know that Senator Clemons-
– I have not said anything about myself.
– I do not know where any Federal member or candidate has stated that the Opposition, as a party - meaning, I take it, the Opposition leader as well - are favorable to that policy. It is news to me, as I think it must be news to a large number of people in Tasmania. From interjections which I heard from the bench occupied by New South Wales senators just now, when I gave my notice of motion, I take it that some of them, at least, would be hostile to such a proposal.
– The honorable senator does not think he is fathering the proposal, does he?’
– I should like to know whether this candidate is correct when he says that the Opposition - meaning, to the people of Tasmania, the Opposition under the Opposition leader - is favorable to that method of distributing the surplus revenue.
– He meant the Tas,manian opposition in the Senate.
– He must . have meant the Opposition in the Federal Par liament, because the Tasmanian opposition within this Chamber would not be strong enough to carry such a proposal. There must be a majority in both Houses.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the proposal ?
– Indeed I am.
– Then why does the honorable senator complain?
– I do not complain, but merely wish to tell the Government that if the Opposition leader is taking that federal stand the Government may find that they ought to take it also.
– The Government ought to “ go one better.”
– While I certainly do snot agree with much of what Mr. Ewing has said, I hope that that part of his policy - whether he is returned or not - will be adopted. Mr. Ewing has come as another Daniel to” judge the Labour Party, and has made a number of statements, which do not concern the Senate. This particular part of his policy, however, I am very pleased with, and I hope it will be found that the majority of the Opposition favour what seems to me a Federal proposal. Some honorable senators, particularly one from Tasmania, referred last night in scathing terms to the proposal by Mr. Watson that the Commonwealth Parliament should impose a graduated land tax. It is only right that, in apply to those gentlemen, I should give reasons for the attitude I have already taken up on this question on various platforms in Tasmania during the last three or . four months. I admit quite candidly, with Senator Mulcahy, who says this is a State matter, that if there was any chance of the States tackling this great problem within a reasonable time, it would be better to leave it tq them. But I have to judge the possibilities of the future by our experience of the past. In Tasmania, at any rate, where it is considered by a large number, and possibly by a majority, that a graduated and progressive land tax would be one step towards bringing into use, and making, easy of access, land now idle, such a policy would never be adopted by the Legislative Council. In my opinion, a progressive land tax will not, and cannot be, adopted by that Legislative Council. That has been shown by the attitude of that Chamber in regard to other proposals of the kind in the past. In all the States the cry has been heard that such a land tax is unconstitutional. Such a statement, however, is nonsense ; we have only to look within the four corners of the Constitution to ascertain our powers and limitations. We know that direct taxation is one of the powers given by the people to the Commonwealth Parliament. But we are told1 that there is an unwritten law - an understanding amongst the people - that the exercise of this power is against the spirit of the Constitution, and is not intended to be resorted to except in an emergency. It is also said that such a tax would be an unwarrantable invasion of States rights. Now, what are States rights? Are not the people who elect the States Parliaments exactly the same who elect the Commonwealth Parliament? When we put States rights on the one hand, and the good of the people on the other, I think the vague cry in regard to the former may be disregarded. If the representatives of all the people of Australia, im both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament, are satisfied that there is not much chance of a fair progressive land tax, which will have the effect of bursting up large estates, passing the States Parliaments within a reasonable time, we shall be only acting within our rights, and, indeed, only doing our paramount duty to the people who returned us, if we support such a policy. I regret that Senator Mulcahy is not present at this moment, because he always expressed himself in favour of progressive land taxation, and as an ardent advocate of any measure to assist in bringing the land to the people. I am only sorry that Senator Mulcahy does not agree with the proposed method of achieving this desirable end. I have nothing further to say in connexion with His Excellency’s speech. The vague and empty cry of anti-Socialism which has been raised from one end of Australia to the other seems to me too hollow to call for contradiction. Those who raise the cry are creating a bogy to frighten people in a form of Socialism which does not exist, and never will exist, in Australia. It was only a day or two ago that a man named Johnson - a member of the Federal Legislature, who ought to have been ashamed to utter such lies - publicly repeated the silly, absurd, miserable slanders that have been refuted time after time.
– What about the Worker?
– The Worker has nothing, to do with legislation.
– Mr. Johnson has denied the accuracy of the report.
– I am glad to hear that he has apologised.
– He put the blame on the reporter.
– Then I hope that the reporter will be forgiven his sins. Apart from Mr. Johnson, and others occupying responsible positions who utter these slanders, the fact remains that the same absurd stories are being circulated by various organizations. They have been, and are being, circulated publicly in the State of which I am a representative by members of the female branches of the National Association, and they are being circulated privately to a still greater extent. It is declared that the Labour Party and the Socialists wish to invade the sanctity of the home, to break the marriage tie, a’nd so forth. Those who make these statements must know perfectly well that they are deliberate falsehoods. If they do not, their ignorance is such that they should not set themselves up as guides to the people. This attitude on the part of a certain section of the community is remarkable when contrasted with the homage which they paid in - Victoria the other day to that great man, Mr. Richard Seddon. He was in this House only a week ago, and I had then the honour of listening to a speech that he made, which ranks amongst the finest I have ever heard. Mr. Seddon received homage from persons of all shades of political thought, from the so-called Socialists as well as from the antiSocialists.
– Who are the Socialists to whom the honorable senator refers?
– I am alluding to the Labour Party.
– Then the honorable senator admits that they are Socialists?
– It is the honorable senator who has applied that name to the party. What does he think of the inconsistency of public men and powerful newspapers, who in one breath, so to speak, denounce the legislation which our party are endeavouring to pass, and in the next render homage to the great man, Mr. “Richard Seddon, who has just passed away. Even the honorable senator and those of his political cult have joined in declaring that the late Mr. Seddon was one of the greatest figures in the politics of the Empire.
– We can often admire a political opponent.
– But those to whom I refer have never described the late Mr. Seddon as a political opponent. They have joined in eulogizing his mighty work.
– He was an idealist.
– If he was an idealist he was certainly a most practical one. Did not an honorable member in another place, who belongs to the senator’s party, say, “ the Empire is poorer to-day because Richard Seddon is dead “ ? Is it the mere holding of ideals that helps a man to make the Empire greater, or is it the carrying of those ideals into practical effect? We have heard not one word against the splendid work which the late Mr. Seddon compassed within the twelve or fourteen years of his strenuous life as a Minister. We have heard nothing against the legislation that he passed in New Zealand. When/ he visited Victoria, those who rail against the Labour Party almost went on their knees to him as a great figure in the politics of the Empire - as one who had initiated legislation that had made New Zealand prosperous.
– Did he believe in the caucus ?
– We are speaking not of the caucus, but of the prosperity of New Zealand, which is due entirely to the legislation passed and /administered by Mr. Seddon and his colleagues.
– Due to the ministerial caucus there.
– Quite so. The outcry against the caucus is very amusing. Some of those who are most vigorous in their denunciation of the iniquity of the caucus, are Cabinet Ministers - members of the most intense form of caucus that has ever existed. . At the present time, a gentleman who is angry be cause he is not a member of the Federal Cabinet, is touring Australia and telling the people that they will be ruined if they submit to caucus government. Does not this show the hollowness of the outcry? It will be a good thing for Australia when the majority of the people decide to accept legislation similar to that initiated by Mr. Seddon, and which has made New Zealand prosperous. Long after every member of this Parliament is forgotten, the memory of that great man will live. There is no necessity to. raise a monument to his memory ; one is already erected in the hearts of the people, and the practical legislation passed by him will cause his name to be engraven in imperishable letters on the hearts of future generations in New Zealand. Every newspaper and public man now declaring that legislation similar to that passed by Mr. Seddon will ruin Australia* admits that New Zealand will be the poorer because of his death. Are they not adopting an inconsistent attitude? I should like this charge to be answered. I should like these men and these powerful newspapers to say why a set of Statutes which have made one country great will ruin another. Those who’ object to our proposal to pass a progressive land tax as the first step towards bringing the land within easier reach of the people, cannot deny that the land system adopted by New Zealand is at the basis of its prosperity. There is irrefutable proof of that fact. Inquirers can find no other reason for New Zealand’s prosperity. Those who are prepared to tell the truth must admit that there is little chance of any of the States Legislative Councils passing similar legislation, and yet they object to the power to carry such a law being exercised by the Federal Parliament. When it is proposed to exercise it, they declare that it is unconstitutional, and when it is proved that we have the constitutional power to take this action, they shift! their ground and saythat it would1 be against the spirit of the Constitution. The question will not be dealt with during the present session, but I hope that a majority will be returned to the next Parliament pledged to a progressive land tax, which must ba a great factor in giving the people easy access to the land at reasonable rentals - a progressive land tax such as Mr. Watson has said he will advocate, and which, we are advocating at the present time.
.- - I should not have! spoken to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply but for the remarks made by the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat with reference to the bookkeeping section of the Constitution. The period fixed for the bookkeeping system, will expire during the present year, although it may continue as a constitutional enactment until the Parliament otherwise provides. At the Conference of States Treasurers, held recently in Sydney, a proposal was made that the revenue of the Commonwealthshould be distributed on a per capita basis, instead of, as at present, under the bookkeeping system. Opposition was raised to that proposal, and several of those who made it appeared to be ashamed of it. They seemed to recognise that they were asking for something that was not honest. Western Australia was not represented at that Conference, and that fact was pointed out by the Treasurer of Queensland who urged that the position of the western State should be considered. The Premier of Tasmania replied, however, that it was not the duty of the Conference to put forward the views of Western Australia, and consequently three out of the five Treasurers present voted for a resolution asking that £500,000 now contributed by the tax-payers of Western Australia should be expended in the eastern States. Such a proposal can be stigmatized in only one way : It is an impudent, barefaced proposal of public robbery. Because the majority of the taxpayers of Western Australia, as the result of its progress, happen to consist of adults, that State is contributing about £7 per head of the population to the Customs revenue. On the other hand, Tasmania, owing to its stagnation, has a population composed largely of women and children, who are contributing only a little over £2 per head to the revenue.
– There are more men than women in Tasmania.
– The proposal is put forward’ that Tasmania should reap the harvest of Western Australia’s progress, and that taxes paid by the people of that State should be expended in the other States of the Commonwealth. The excuse put forward by the honorable senator, who to my surprise has championed this infamous proposal, is that since the Commonwealth Government have initiated the system of distributing expenditure on a tier capita basis, the same principle should be applied to the distribution of revenue. What has been the result of the per capita distribution of expenditure. Last year Western Australia received under this system about £20,000 more than that to which she would otherwise have been entitled. I would point but to Senator O’ Keefe that the system of distributing expenditure on a tier capita basis was not proposed bv Western Australia. The representatives of that State in the Federal Parliament never demanded it, and it was not as the result of action on their part that this expenditure of £20,000 was incurred. Another point is that whilst our revenue remains fairly steady, and can be gauged with something approaching accuracy, our expenditure varies, so that, while £20,000 in excess of the sum to which Western Australia would otherwise be entitled may be expended this year on a per capita basis, it may be that next year a greater expenditure will take place in Tasmania. You cannot compare Federal expenditure with Federal revenue, because the one is steady while the other fluctuates all over the Commonwealth, although the total amount may approximate year by year. But if the per capita system is wrong, are we to perpetrate a greater wrong? Are we to say that because last year Western Australia reaped, an advantage of £20,000 she is to be robbed of £500,000 ? Is thatto be the remedy applied? The proposal has only to be looked at by any honest man for him to come to the conclusion that it is a preposterous one. I am certain that no Government would ever hold the Treasury Bench for long which would propose the remedying of one evil by creating another evil. If the charging of expenditure on a per capita basis is an evil, let it be remedied by adopting the bookkeeping basis, and then certainly. Western Australia would have no reason to complain j it might be that it would not lose anything. But it is wrong to remedy an evil by perpetrating a greater injustice.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– The honorable senator left” the Chamber when I was suggesting something.
– I could not help leaving.
– I hold that if there is an injustice inflicted bv pursuing the per capita system, it should be remedied by reverting ‘to the bookkeeping system, and debiting to each State the expenditure therein.
– They tell us that that is- unconstitutional.
- Sir George Turner, who first introduced the system, has a doubt as to whether it is constitutional or not. He says that some authorities tell him that it is unconstitutional, and that others tell him that it is not. When legal minds differ, who shall decide? In this case, Sir George Turner made himself an umpire, and decided to adopt the per capita basis. I venture to say that had he decided to continue to follow the bookkeeping system, not a protest would have been heard from Western Australia, because in the first years of Federation that was the system in vogue, and its representatives never raised any protest against it. Not a protest was heard.
-Still, the per capita system is there, and it cannot be changed now.
– I think that it can be changed. If the bookkeeping system was legal in the first years of Federation, it is legal now. The question has never been tested yet.
– On certain items it was tested in the Senate.
– As I said before, it is by no means certain that under the per capita system Western Australia would continually reap an advantage at the expense of other States, and next vear the advantage may possibly be reaped by Tasmania. It will all depend upon the decision of the Government as to where public works shall be carried out. Take, for instance, defence works. It could reasonably be argued that the placing of guns at Hobart is the best way of effectually defending, Victoria.
– I do not object to extra expenditure for defence in any State.
– The increased expenditure in Western Australia last year was chiefly due to the large expenditure on the defences of Fremantle.
– I did not object to that.
– I am sure that every Australian will recognise that the defence of our ports, wherever they may be situated, is an Australian matter. Therefore, there is no just reason why such expenditure should not be charged on a per capita basis.
– That is the truly Federal system.
– I do not propose to take up more time, but I do raise my protest against the proposal which has been made. I feel sure that the Government and the Parliament would never for a minute tolerate a proposal which would rob the taxpayers of Western Australia of £500,000 annually.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [11.34]. - It is really quite refreshing to listen to a little discussion between the members of a very important body known as the “ Caucus “ ; because I understand that, generally, matters are debated amongst themselves, that the majority rule, and that the minority very humbly follow in their train.
– Yes, but most of the honorable senator’s friends tell us that in caucus we are bound hand and foot.
– Possibly this is one of the matters which are reserved from decision by the caucus, and therefore we hear a contention ‘between two of its members as to the way in which certain funds should be administered. It is also interesting to notice that, as soon as these gentlemen who believe inequality, a fair distribution of wealth, and all the rest of it, begin to find that one is poor and the other is rich there is a difference of opinion. We know that it is laid down as a principle by a great many senators that it would be a good thing to put everything into a common pool, divide it amongst the contributors, and have a fresh start. Judging by his speech, that is exactly the way in which Senator O’Keefe would like to see the revenues of the Commonwealth appropriated.
– Is not that the true Federal system?
– I am not disputing it.
– Yes, but the honorable senator will not vote for it.
.- The honorable senator has told us’ all this. Yet Senator Pearce, who believes in the true Federal spirit, says, “ No, my State is too well off to put its money into a common pool so that the poor State of Tasmania may have a division.”
– Nothing of the kind. He does not want his State to be robbed.
.- Unless my ears deceived me, Senator Pearce said that he did not see that this principle was a fair one. In fact, I understood him to speak of it as an “ infamous “ proposal.
– So I did.
.- The rich man says that it is an infamous proposal that the poor man should share his wealth.
– Who makes the proposal?
.- I am glad to notice that Senator Pearce is beginning to realize, after all, that if a man has made money fairly and justly, it is rather rough upon him to be asked to divide it with a man who is very badly off.
– I realized that long before I ever saw the honorable senator.
.- I am glad to know that the honorable senator has realized that fact. I have been wondering whether, if he represented Tasmania and Senator O’Keefe represented Western Austrafia, their opinions would have been exactly the same as they are to-day.
– Mine would.
-Will the honorable senator put down his wealth, and let us equally divide it?
– I should not, perhaps, object to a general division of all the money in the Commonwealth. But I do not think that either Senator Pearce or Senator O’Keefe would be prepared to agree to a bargain of that kind. If they will not do it in the case of their States, they will not do it in their own case.
– The best way is to do as the Bible says - to kill the proprietor and divide the inheritance.
.- Possibly that might be an easy way out of the difficulty.
– This kind of stuff is all right for the platform, but it is rather rough upon us to fire it off here.
– Really I thought that my two honorable friends were talking to their constituents.
– We were talking on a big public matter.
– Yes ; but my honorable friends will have to go before their constituents by and by. I do not object to this proceeding because I recognise that the last sessionof a Parliament is generally taken advantage of by those members who haveto go before their constituents to strengthen their position as much as possible. Therefore my honorable friends must not get very angry with me for chaffing them a little over their difference of opinion.
– We are amused.
.- I am glad to hear that my honorable friend is amused. In his speech Senator O’Keefe passed a very high panegyric upon the late Mr. Seddon. It is true that men of all shades of opinion recognised Mr. Seddon’s great abilities, and the great work he had accomplished. But it must be borne in mind by my honorable friend’s that they cannot expect everybody who recognises the ability and the talents of the man who has passed away to say that they appreciate and believe in the whole of his public utterances and public work. I should be very sorry indeed to think that the day would ever come when public men would not be able to appreciate the talents and services of men who advocated views which were opposed to their own. Public men, no matter what their opinions may be, can all do good? work for the States, and it is only by means of differences of opinion that we manage to find out eventually what is the best proposal in the long run for the people.
– Practically all Mr. Seddon’s work was in the direction to which the honorable senator is opposed.
.- If my honorable friends who talk about the relative difference between New Zealand and Australia will refer to Coghlan, they will find that, while the public debt, brought about to a large extent by Acts of Parliament, amounts to£57 8s. 8d. per head in the Commonwealth, it amounts to £6811s. per head in New Zealand.
– For what purpose was the money spent in New Zealand ? Was not a great deal of it spent upon the purchase of estates which now belong to the Colony?
.- Really, I am not in a position to go into details at this stage. I want to get honorable senators to realize that there is a great difference between the amount of public debt in the two countries, and that it has been brought about in consequence of certain legislation.
– But has the honorable senator differentiated between interestpaying public debt and non-productive public debt ?
– I believe that in most of the States there is an endeavour being made to cover the interest on the outlay by getting revenue from various public works constructed with loan money. But in any case we must realize that a heavy debt has been placed upon the shoulders of every person in the community, and that taxation has to be imposed to providie the money which ultimately will have to be paid, as well as to meet the interest on the loans and the ordinary outgoings of the Government. Unless a loan be expended in such a way as to yield a full return in interest, it is adding day by day to the indebtedness of the country and to the struggles which its people have to undergo.
– Was not the honorable senator’s point that New Zealand had a larger non-productive public debt than Australia? Does he mean to say that that is the case?
– I mean to say that New Zealand has a larger per capita public debt than has Australia, but I cannot go into the details now.
– But the honorable senator must know quite well that a large proportion of New Zealand’s public debt is interest-paying.
– And a large proportion of the public debt of the States in the Commonwealth is interest-paying. I believe that all the railways of the various States are either interest-paying now or very soon. will- be. I make these remarks by the way, in order that my honorable friends may realize that while persons may appreciate a man who has passed away, they might not like to see many Acts of legislation which he had assisted to pass adopted in Australia.
– Because the hon.orable senator does not want the same prosperity.
.- That is a gratuitous interjection, which is not correct, because I take it that every member of the Senate desires to see the fullest measure of prosperity possible in Australia, though we may differ as to the way in which it should be brought about. I give the honorable senator credit for being animated by that desire, and I claim the same credit for myself and for every other senator.
– Well, carry out Mr. Seddon’s policy.
.- I might retort to the honorable senator “ carry out some one else’s policy and the result will be very much better,” but he would not agree with me.
– If the honorable senator could give proof I might.
.- Passing away from that question, I was very glad to learn that Senator Playford had taken steps with a view of insuring more work for the Senate to do. On several occasions it has ‘complained of having been to a certain extent ignored by the other House, and certain efforts have been made in order to assert the position which it ought to occupy. But I am sorry to say that it has not always followed up the expression of opinion to which it has given vent, either by means of a resolution or otherwise. It depends entirely upon senators individually as to whether the Senate shall occupy the position which it is entitled to occupy under the Constitution, or a purely subordinate position, such as that of the Legislative CounCil of a State in relation to the other branch of the Legislature.
– And it depends upon the Ministry as well.
.- It depends upon every individual member of the Chamber, and it also depends, possibly to a greater extent upon the Ministers who represent the Government here. Because after all, the leader of the Senate is naturally entitled to more weight and influence than any other member, and I am very pleased to recognise that Senator Playford has pointed out very strongly to Mr. Deakin the necessity of providing us with more business. I trust that he will continue to take the same interest in the proceedings of the Senate as he has shown by that statement, and will insist that we shall not be left idle while there is work waiting in the other Chamber. If that be done the Senate will be put in a proper position, and the despatch of Government business facilitated. If there is a certain amount of work to be done, and it can. be done in four or live months, it is evidently better to allow it to be done in that way than for us to wait upon the other House, and then to force business through in a verv short time. In the course of Senator Styles’ speech, in moving the Address-in-Reply, he took occasion to refer to the Tariff, and there was a little interchange of opinion as to whether fiscal peace should prevail, or whether this is an appropriate time to reopen the Tariff issue. It has always been my impression that there was a clear and definite understanding between Mr. Reid and Mr. Deakin that the Tariff question ought to be left severely alone during the present Parliament, but that it was quite possible that the whole question would be raised during the forthcoming elections. I entirely dissent from any attempt either to convert the present Tariff into a high protective or a free-trade Tariff. I am perfectly willing to do what has been offered by the leader of the Opposition in another place - to allow anomalies to be rectified! during the present session.
I do not think that honorable senators have a right to expect more than that. Nor is there need to do more. While I do not believe in a protectionist policy - while I believe that the incidence of taxation might be altered materially by the reduction of duties to the advantage of the community - still I do not want to see the whole Tariff issue brought up again. Therefore, I am prepared to do anything which is reasonable to remove anomalies, so that there may be jio complaints of unfairness as to the way taxation is being levied through the Customs. But I entirely dissent from the idea that we should) discuss this question with thi- view of increasing the duties. In fact, it will be quite impossible to do anything. Of the kind this session. Senator Styles quoted a. remark by Mr. Reid as to the number of men employed in the manufacturing industries. When he compares those figures with the number of men engaged in. the primary industries of the country, he will see that the employment given by manufacturers is comparatively insignificant. We are all aware that there is a large number of persons employed in factories. But there is a greater number employed in the primary industries. While Australia remains as she is now, a sparsely populated country, the bulk of our people should not be absorbed in the manufacturing industries of the great cities. We want to see our men spread over the land, and to lake advantage of the opportunity to encourage the pastoral, the agricultural, and the mining industries, together with the many kindred industries in connexion with them. Those honorable senators who wish to see a large number of persons employed in manufactures, must bear in mind that as they increase artificially the cost of living, while they may be doing a certain amount of good to a handful of people, they are doing a great amount of injury to the great bulk of tha consumers, upon whom the strength of the country depends. Unless our primary industries are developed to the fullest extent, the country can never progress. We have no right to increase artificially the cost of living to a dozen people, in order to give One individual a little better wage than he would otherwise have. Even the few individuals who benefit find1 that the system reacts upon them, and that their £1 is not nearly so valuable as it would be under another set of circumstances. We are confronted with another cry - that of land taxation. We were told by Mr. Deakin, iri one of his speeches, that though he had always been in favour of land taxation, he thought it a matter that should be left to the States, and that the Commonwealth should not take it up. A month or six weeks elapsed, during which Mr. Watson strongly urged land taxation. Then the Prime Minister suddenly discovered that we can take up land taxation in order to find the money for old-age pensions. This seems to me to be the thin end of the wedge, which it is intended to drive up to the hilt, in order to bring about a scheme of land nationalization. It is proposed to tax the man who has put his money into land, and to increase his burdens so that his property shall become worthless. Do the advocates of that policy think that it is going to increase the prosperity of the country? Do they really believe that the land of the man who has only £5,000 worth of property, is going to be increased in value through heavy taxation imposed on those who have larger estates? Do they realize that there is hardly a man in this country who has land of his own who does not require to get accommodation and to borrow money upon the security of that land in order to develop it ? I say that the man who has £3,000 or £4,000 worth of land will find that he cannot raise money upon it, for the simple reason that the lenders of money have to look forward to a rime when certain properties will be thrown upon their hands. They will have to foreclose on a proportion; and then they will find that their land is not worth) a snap of the fingers, because they hold more than £5,000 worth.
– Has that been the effect in New Zealand?
– The method adopted in New Zealand when the State wanted a piece of land to cut up for settlement has been to pay for it at its full value. I am perfectly prepared to see that system adopted by the various States. But here! it is proposed to tax land ultimately up to the value of is. in the £1 for the express purpose of taxing ou’t the landholders Immigration will never be encouraged by that policy.
– Who proposed that?
.- Mr. Watson in one of his speeches said that he would impose a tax up to is. in the £1.
– Did Mr. Watson say that on behalf of his party or did he intimate that he gave it as his individual opinion ?
.- The opinion of the caucus is formed by the individual opinions of its members ; and we know perfectly well that Mr. Watson is not the most extreme man in the caucus.
– The honorable senator is not fair in giving that as the limit of the tax.
.- The limit may be 2s. in the £1, for all I know, but I am sure that is. is quite enough to do great mischief. Honorable senators talk of offering inducements to immigrants to come to this country. They will not come unless they can acquire land and homes of their own. The labour members of this Parliament have not advocated the bringing of men into this country to enter into the manufactures of the State. They say, “ Place them upon the land.” I reply that if we wish to do that we must not, at the same time, impose such taxes as will drive people off the land. Something has been said on the question of Socialism. It is all very well to talk of Socialism as being a bogy. It is all very well to say to those who are anti-Socialists that we must not judge by the utterances of extremists. But the Labour Party have themselves to thank if we form our impressions from the men who advocate their cause on the platform, and who talk of continental Socialism as being the object aimed at. I do not say that the members of the Labour Party in this Parliament would go to the extremes advocated on the Continent. I do not believe that they would. But thev have advocated the nationalization of all means of wealth and the nationalization of all land. Thev would even nationalize industry and capital, and bv that means put everything in the hands of the Government. That is an extreme proposal, that would work the greatest possible injury to every man in the country. It behoves every man who does not believe in that system to put his views clearly before the public, and let the electors of this country judge as to what opinions are best in the interests of Australia, and what are likely to be detrimental to it. I say, withnall respect for honorable senators opposite, that I believe their objective to be one of the most dangerous platforms that could possibly be put before this community, ‘and, so far as my vote is concerned, it will never assist them to attain their end. I see also that they want to nationalize what they call the tobacco monopoly, the sugar monopoly, and other enterprises that are doing good work, at any rate so fax as the shareholders are concerned, and, I believe, so far as the people are concerned also. They wish to nationalize all these things, and to put everything into the hands of the Government. Governments - I am not speaking particularly of the present Government - are about the most incompetent body of employers to be found in any great industries of this character. Private companies and individuals can carry on such work far better in the interests of the community than can any Government, no matter how honest or able or determined to do their duty the latter may be.
– What about the Sydney trams as compared with the trams in other places where the people are robbed ?
– The honorable senator is harking back to the old contention that because two or three great enterprises may be placed in the hands of the Government, therefore all enterprises ought to be conducted by the State. We ought to be very careful in regard to the cry of Socialism or antiSocialism. Protectionists who think that, by a coalition with the Labour Party, they will be able to obtain high protective duties, must bear in mind that, while they may get assistance at the elections, and for the time being, a higher Tariff, the Labour Party has declared in favour of nationalizing all industries as soon as- they are strong enough, and so destroying any chance of protection for the individuals. Such a coalition is the most dangerous that any body or party could enter upon. It will truly be a case of the protectionist lamb lying down by the side of the labour lion to be gobbled up very soon. I should like to make some reference to the question of defence, in regard to which there has been an uneasy feeling for many years past. Time and again before Federation was accomplished, we were told that under the Commonwealth the system of defence would be materially improved, and Australia put in a better position to take its own part in the event of Great Britain being involved in war. Can any one say that our defence system is now better than it was when each State undertook its own share? Nay, more, is the condition of the defences of Australia to-day not infinitely worse than it was when each individual State was called upon to look after itself ? What has been the system? We have passed from one system to another. Are we one whit better off? We have never gone to the root of the matter. In Great Britain the authorities determined to have a Council of Defence, and we immediately set to work to devise a similar Council for ourselves. We got rid of our General Officer Commanding and appointed an Inspector-General, whose reports, however, are subservient to the determination of his junior officers, and of men who are not in an independent position, that is, not independent of the Minister. The whole of the service is under the control of a Council of Defence, the members of which have neither the experience nor the knowledge of the Inspector-General. The Council of Defence has to determine the policy subject to the Minister, who may override all. While we have every respect for our friend, the Minister of Defence, can it be said that he, by his training or knowledge, is qualified to determine the difficult questions which must arise from time to time in regard to the defence of this great country ? It is absurd to suppose that the honorable gentleman is so qualified. If we had had a different body of men available to compose the Council of” Defence the experiment might have been better justified. I am not blaming the present Minister for the state of affairs ; he was not in office at the time the change was made, and made without sufficient consideration. It would have been much better if Australia had waited to see how the change worked in Great Britain, when we should have had a clear object lesson.
– There is the same system in Canada.
D- At present the system is practically on its trial, and in mv opinion it has been adopted here at too earl v a. date, when we have not men who’ are fully qualified to carry it into effect as efficiently as is necessary. Colonel Antill made a speech, when he was retiring from the Forces, and if ever there was a condemnation of the change of system, it is to be found in the words of that officer. Colonel Antill was a man of experience, who had been trained and placed on the Permanent Staff, and he left the- Forces in order to better his position by going on the land. In a Sydney newspaper of two days ago, which I picked up in the. train, I found an article headed “The Military
Muddle : Disgusted Officers : What is it Coming to?”
– There is nothing in that article ; it is all rubbish,- to which there is a complete answer.
.- Of course; it would be ‘a strange thing if the Government had not a complete answer to everything. The newspaper gives a report of an interview with a military man - I do not know who he is - as to the reason for Major Hilliard’s retirement. This officer spoke as follows : - “ He is one of the most valuable men we have,” continued the officer, “ but I don’t think a yearning for pastoral pursuits has driven him to throw up a profession for which he was eminently suited, and in which he was so successful. No, the sa.-ne mismanagement that drove Antill from the service in disgust has proved too much for Hilliard.”
The interview goes on to declare that it is not the men we can afford to lose who are leaving the Forces, and the officer concluded by saying -
Anyhow, it looks as if soldiering in Australia had arrived at the gold-braid-and-button stage. There is no place for men who know their work.
That may or may not be true; and I see the Minister laughs at the statement.
– I laugh it to scorn ; there is no truth in it.
.- We are told over and over again by military men that there is a feeling of disgust and dissatisfaction throughout the whole Forces - permanent, militia, and purely volunteer.
– No, no.
.- There must be some radical cause for this state of affairs.
– The honorable senator is altogether wrong.
– One of the leading professional officers of the Commonwealth says that the trouble is due to what happened under the late General Officer Commanding, and that it will take twenty-five years to put matters right.
.- We know that Senator Neild has a “ bee in his bonnet “ in regard to one General Officer Commanding. That officer is now gone, and we have made a change in regard to the administration. Has there been any improvement in consequence of that change ?
– There has not been time.
– The Forces are now really in a worse position than they were before.
– The Forces are now in a better position than ever. There are more men in the Forces, and they are better armed and better prepared) to meet an enemy than ever before.
– I am very glad to have that assurance from the Minister of Defence; but the information which comes to me is of an entirely different character.
– And so is my information.
-What are we doing, in regard to our defences? We are getting more rifles and ammunition, and a report is to come from people at Home as to the best system we can adopt generally. It is good to have more rifles; but when is the Government going to establish a small arms factory within the Commonwealth ?
– It would not pay.
.- Is defence a paying concern? Is it not a matter of insurance for which we have to pay to insure our safety ? Whether money can be made out of it or not, we ought to have a factory for small- arms here, so that in time of difficulty, when we may not be able to import ammunition, we shall not have to throw down our rifles and beg consideration from the enemy.
– The honorable senator is a good protectionist. I am glad to hear him say that.
.- Then I ask the Minister if there is a port in the Commonwealth fitted to stand against an attack?
– Yes, of course.
– I suppose that Sydney is about the most strongly fortified place in the Commonwealth ; but where would Sydney be against some of the war vessels which might possibly be sent here? The other day the Minister of Defence stated that if any war vessel attempted to run into Sydney Harbor there would be such a hail of lead on the deck that it would find it impossible to get out again. But would any war vessel attempt to enter Sydney Harbor until the forts had been silenced? Would such a vessel not lie a few miles off the Heads and shell Sydney to pieces? We require guns to keep such vessels well off the coast.
– And we have them. There are 9.2 guns at Coogee and Bondi.
.- What would those guns be against 12 -inch guns?
– We are told there is no chance of a battle-ship coming out here against us.
.- Then what need is there for a 12.5 gun on an ordinary protected cruiser which does not come within range of a 9.2 gun?
– What does the honorable senator know about the matter?
.- The other day a lecture was delivered in Sydney by the well-known writer, Mr. Frank T. Bullen, who pointed out that the Powerful, great ship as she is, would be helpless against the small Japanese cruiser then in Sydney Harbor, simply because the latter carried a 12.5 gun.
– The honorable senator is talking, of cruiser against cruiser, whereas the question is cruiser against forts. In the forts there are 9.2 guns, which can keep any armoured cruiser away.
.- I know we have, at any rate, some 9.2 guns, but we have also a great many guns which are not worth the iron they are made of. We cannot, of course, defend our whole coastline, but we want strong defences for our cities, and the naval base, wherever it is,ought to be made impregnable.
– And it is impregnable.
– Reference has been made to the usefulness of torpedo fleets, and if a proposal is introduced to carry out the suggestion offered!, I shall be prepared to support it, so that we may have some floating defences, as well as the fixed defences on shore. The amount of damage clone by the bombardment of any of our great cities would be simply incalculable.
– Bombardments do not cause so much damage, after all. Look at the result of the bombardment of Paris.
.- A great deal of damage was done to Paris.
– There was precious little.
– In any case, such an event would greatly damage the prestige of Great Britain, and the Government ought to take every possible step to make this country practically impregnable. We talk a great deal about the annual expenditure on our defences, but if we compare it with the expenditure by some smaller countries, with no greater population than ours, or with the expenditure of Great Britain, we find it to be a mere bagatelle. It would be a wise policy to expend more on our defences.
– We spend annually over £1,000,000 now.
.- It would be wise also not to regard officers who happen to be Australian as the only officers capable of taking charge of our defences. That has been suggested, and we also hear that our Inspector-General is to be an Australian.
– Hear, hear !
.- That is to be the qualification.
– Oh, no.
.- The qualifications ought to be fitness and ability.
– We have men with such qualifications.
– If we have Australian officers possessing the requisite ability, no one would, be better pleased than I should be to see them appointed to these high positions. But we should not imagine in regard to military or other matters that an Australian must necessarily have a monopoly of ability. No one is more anxious than I am that Australians shall occupy the most prominent positions in the Commonwealth service, but I do not wish them to do so at the cost of efficiency.
– And it will not be done at the cost of efficiency.
.- The Minister is acting wisely in sending to England and India officers who are to receive special military instruction. I hope that he will send still more away, for in that way we shall help to fit Australians to fill the high positions in the service. I deprecate the cry of “ Australia for the Australians,” irrespective of merit. “ We have practically the whole of the British Empire from which to make a selection, and we should be careful to recognise merit and to appoint the most capable men. If that be done, I shall be satisfied. I have no desire to further discuss the Address-in-Reply. I regard the Vice-Regal Speech as a verv fine electioneering platform. It is very verbose, and commits the Government to little. As a rule, that is, I suppose, regarded as one of the advantages of an electioneering speech, although a few that have been .delivered here have certainly been definite and clear. I have no doubt that the Address-in-Reply will be carried without difficulty, and that by-and-by we shall have an opportunity to discuss more fully many other matters that are touched upon in it.
– In ordinary circumstances, I should not have spoken to this question, because I think that in the vast majority of instances, there is a considerable waste of time in connexion with a debate on an AddressinReply. At the same time, such a debate has its advantages. It enables the Opposition to criticise the action of the Government during the recess, and to point out what, in their opinion, are the weak spots in the Administration. It has also the advantage of enabling the Government to meet any charges than may be brought against them. At times, it has the further advantage of enabling a want of confidence motion to be levelled at the Ministry - a privilege that has been exercised on numberless occasions. I do not propose at this stage to discuss at great length the question of Defence, which has been raised by Senator Gould. I merely wish to deal with two or three points that have been raised during the discussion, and in which the administration of mv Department has been called in question. I am at one with Senator Gould in the belief that we ought to secure the most competent officers available, and that if we have not suitable men in the service, we should, if necessary, obtain them from outside. But when we have in Australia officers equally as well trained and as able as any fromthe mother country that! I have ever met, it is only fair that we should encourage them. It is only reasonable that we should show them, that provided they display the requisite ability and acquire the necessary knowledge, the prizes of the service will be open to them. That is all that I ask.
– That is all we ask withregard to the appointments in New Guinea.
– Exactly. When Senator Gould dealt with the question of the ability of our officers to take high positions in the service, he showed that he hasnot that knowledge which I have obtained, during the last few months, in administering the Department. If he had, he would” not have said what he did. We have more than one officer eminently capable, and able to show a record superior even to that of the present Inspector-General. We have men who have seen more service and passed higher examinations than he has - men who are as able and as competent in every respect as he is.
– Men who have worked up from the ranks ?
– I am very glad to hear it.
– In no case shall I agree to the appointment of an officer unless i am perfectly satisfied that he is eminently suited for the office which it is proposed he shall fill. We have many good officers, and to encourage the young men who are joining our service we should say that the prizes are open to them if they show that they have the requisite knowledge and character.
– We must give them an opportunity.
– And we are doing so. The Boer war gave many of our officers an opportunity to acquire special knowledge in actual warfare. We have in the service men who have passed high examinations at Hythe and elsewhere, and who. from their records, stand practically second to no Imperial officer whose services we are likely to obtain. I intend, as far as I can, to encourage our officers. We have in our service many young men who are second to none to be found even in the British Army - men who have studied at Home, and who have made themselves masters of their work, and are enthusiastic and competent in every way. As to the complaint by Senator Gould that, instead of having a General Officer Commanding, to whom the Minister should apply for all necessary information, we have a Military Board. I would remind him that I was not responsible for the appointment of that body. As a rule. I do not care a fig about boards. During my political career I have knocked more boards “on the head,” so to speak, than has an v other honorable senator. I know that a board will work very well when it has at its head a highly competent man, who is practically the board. In the absence of such a man the system does not work so effectively ; as a rule, a great deal of confusion and trouble arises, just as has occurred in connexion with the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales. As one who has worked with the Military
Board, I am able to say, however, that it proceeds on different lines from those usually adopted by such bodies. Usually the Minister in char.ge of the Department in connexion with which a board has been appointed does not occupy a seat upon it. The members of the Board meet and make their recommendations to him. All that he sees is the recommendations which they forward, and he arrives at a decision after reading the papers. The advantage of the Military Board, however, is that the Minister is a member of it. All important questions have to come before it. and the Minister hears what can be said for and against them. In this way he gains a great deal of information, and is able to determine the questions coming before him much more intelligently than would be the case if the Board were a thing apart from him. The position would be different if he did not hear all that was to be said for and against any proposal. Sometimes the Board takes up an antagonistic position to a proposition submitted to it, and arguments are advanced against it. The Minister thus enjoys the unique advantage of hearing all that can be said in favour of or in opposition to a proposal submitted to the Board in his presence. The system has been in operation for only a verv short time. I did not appoint the Board, and I am in no way responsible to it, but I do say that so far it has worked very well. Here is the position that I take up in regard to it : We know that in New South Wales particularly there is a very strong feeling against it. But not one of those who criticise - and severely criticise - it can give a concrete instance of a wrong or baneful action by the Board. I have asked its critics to point to one case in which its action has had an injurious effect. I have said to these men, “ Bring forward one case. Do not say, ‘ I do not believe in Boards ; Boards do not do this or that,’ but mention a case showing that, during the last six or eight months the Board has taken action that has had an injurious effect on the service.” What has been the result? One man in Sydney has said that the Forces are disorganized ; that the position is not as good as. it was, and that there are not so many men in the. Forces as there were when Major-General Hutton was in charge. I find, however, that since the Board was appointed, the number of men . in the Forces as compared with the number when
Major-General Hutton was General Officer Commanding has increased by nearly 2,000. In New South Wales alone, where we have helped the rifle club movement in every possible way, we have nearly 2,000 more men in the rifle clubs1 than we had in Major-General Hutton’s time.
– But what control has the Department over the men in the rifle clubs?
– It is not a question of control. In this democratic country we allow men to control themselves as far as possible; we give them all the liberty possible. We know that the members of the rifle clubs who learn how to shoot constitute a reserve force which, in time of war, will be useful to us. We have no special control over them. We have passed certain regulations relating to the clubs, We give them a supply ‘of ammunition, and we have helped them by providing rifle butts and other conveniences. We are doing all that we can to encourage the rifle clubs and constitute one oi the best and cheapest forces we could have. It is one which in time of invasion we could1 depend upon, after it had been drilled for a few weeks, to give as good an account of itself as the Boers did in South Africa, and that is saying a good deal. It is said again that the position is worse than it was before the Military Board was appointed. As a matter of fact, it is eminently satisfactory. I shall ask Parliament shortly to vote a sum sufficient to enable me to purchase more field guns. The Field Artillery is the most important arm of the service. I shall ask Parliament to vote a sum for the purchase of a number of the finest artillery guns, the 18-pounders, that are known in the world - a number sufficient to bring us up to absolute war strength. I shall also ask for a vote for the purchase of ammunition to supply every gun with 500 rounds. Then I shall ask the Legislature to pass a vote for the purchase of another 10.000 rifles. Last year a vote for the purchase of 8,000 rifles was agreed to. and I propose to make the further addition I have indicated. Parliament will likewise be asked to vote a sum sufficient to enable us to place our supply of ammunition on an absolute war footing, so that if a war broke out next day we should be able to say we had sufficient ammunition for the needs of all our men. We could to-day, if necessary, bring into the field without difficulty a force of 60,000 men trained or partially trained. In the course of my tour through the Commonwealth I said to the colonels of the various Militia regiments, “ In the case of war we should want you to double your numbers. Would you be able to do that?” When I put this question the other day to Lt.-Col”. Williams, of Ballarat,’ he said, “ I can double my regiment in a day or two, not by the addition of men who have not been drilled, but of men who have passed through the ranks in years gone by, and would be only too glad to come forward.” We can double our forces. Then we have that grand reserve of nearly 40,000 riflemen on whom we can fall back.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that he has 40,000 riflemen, in addition to the 60.000?
– No, I never said anything of the sort. The honorable senator is a most marvellous man.
– The honorable senator said that he had that number to fall back upon.
– I said that we could double our present force of 20,000 men, and that then we should have a reserve of 40,000 riflemen to fall back upon.
– That is 80,000 men.
– It must be remembered that amongst the riflemen there would be a certain number of elderly persons, who would! not be able to take their share of the work. By deducting 20,000 from the actual number that we have now, and making a very great allowance here, we could put into the field an effective force armed with the finest artillery that the world knows of to-day, and armed, as regards the greater proportion, with the vervbest rifle, and as regards the balance with the second-best rifle. We could put 60,000 men into the field in a very short time to meet any force, but we shall never! want them, because no such force would ever come here to attack us.
– We should never want to do so until the British Navy was wiped off the face of the sea.
– Exactly. I desire to Say a few words in reply to Senator Millen, who evidently took up the position of leader of the Opposition. His remarks were couched in his usually fair spirit. He indulged in severe criticism, but when it is examined it discloses that the Opposition have very little cause for complaint against the Government, and advance no reasons for offering any special opposition. What was the burden of his statement? After going back into the dim and misty past, he looked up the records of Parliament, and said that in the past the Barton and Deakin Ministries brought forward programmes which were a great deal too big, that they were never able to carry anything like a fair proportion of the measures which they had foreshadowed, and that the present speech was merely a continuation of that policy. He declared that we talked of asking Parliament to agree to the passage of measures which would never be brought forward, and which, therefore, would never be passed. If we are continuing the policy of the Barton Ministry, it shows, at all events, that we are consistent. The honorable senator could not say that there is any special inconsistency about the Deakin Ministry, nor did he try to show that any part of its policy is inconsistent. His second point is not the one which the members of the Opposition usually make. They generally say, “ The Governor-General’s speech is very long and very wordy, but there is nothing in it.” On this occasion, however, all that is reversed. Senator Millen says, “ This is a long speech certainly, but there is too much in it. We have got too much to do, and we cannot do it.” I would suggest that, if we were to raise our aims a great deal higher, it would be a wise policy in the circumstances.I think that Senator Millen will find that we are in earnest in what we propose, and that we shall bring these measures forward, when the Parliament will have to deal with them. Whether they will be thrown out or not is another matter. I think he will find, however, that nearly all, if not all, the proposals which we say we intend to ask Parliament to consider - and they are not very numerous, if honorable senators will glance through the speech - will be submitted before the end of this session. The honorable senator went on to point out that two years ago I made a promise which I had not kept with reference to striking out of the speech the words “ Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,” as a preface to the paragraph relating to the economy with which the Estimates would be framed, and the expenditure of the votes arranged. Two years ago I believe I did make a promise. I have not looked up the matter, but I will take my honorable friend’s word that I did. I have only one excuse - if it is an excuse - to make, and that is that I forgot about the promise. If I had not forgotten that it was made, I guarantee that it would have been carried out. On the first occasion I was Minister for only a short time, and during the intervening two years a great many things have occurred, and I have had a considerable amount of work to do in connexion with the working of my own Department. It was simply a lapse of memory on my part. I promise that if I am here next year the use of this phrase shall not recur, so far as I am concerned. I promise that if I cannot prevent it occurring again, even if I am not here, and somebody else is in my place, he will be properly warned by my secretary as to what I have said on the subject, and then, if he chooses not to carrv out the promise I made to the Senate, he will have to take the consequences, whatever they may be.
– Hear, hear ! That is quite fair.
– There are two points - in fact, several points - which Senator Dobson made. His speech was offensive in more ways than one.
– I am very sorry.
– The honorable senator made offensive remarks relating to the Government, and most objectionable statements relating to the Labour Party. He used strong language - not guarded language at all. He put his remarks in the strongest possible way he could, and in art offensive way to them.
– Let them speak for themselves. There was nothing offensive about my remarks.
– I shall let them speak for themselves. I am only pointing out what the honorable senator did.
– The question is whether my remarks were offensive or not. I only spoke about machine politics.
– Oh !
– Does the Minister want to gag me?
– No .
– I only repeated what the Prime Minister had said.
– The language which the honorable senator used was, I consider, highly objectionable.
– Let the Minister quote one sentence about the Labour Party which was offensive.
– I have not got a copy of the honorable senator’s speech, but he said that the members of the Labour Party came here, and were absolutely gagged - that they had no independence.
– They have none.
– Of course they have.
– What rubbish !
– They differ among themselves, as we saw only a short time ago, when Senator O’Keefe made one statement, and Senator Pearce another.
– That is not what we mean by the term “ independence.” They are controlled by a machine outside, as the Minister knows.
– Then the honorable senator made a statement relating to the presence of three parties in Parliament, and said that the Ministry were dependent upon the Labour Party’s vote. That is perfectly true.
– What is there offensive about that remark?
– I have not the slightest objection to the statement in itself, but I object to the offensive way in which it was uttered, to the reference to our being at the beck and call, and under the domination of the Labour Party, and all that kind of thing.
– The Minister is accustomed to it, surely? The Government are “ mortgaged “ to the Labour Party, so somebody said.
– We have, as the honorable senator says, three parties in Parliament, and because no one party has an absolute majority we must have a coalition between two of the parties to carry on the government of the country.
– We do not like to see the tail wagging, the dog.
– The honorable senator does not want tha dog to be wagged at all, I suppose. Where a Parliament comprises three parties, and no one party has an absolute majority, the only way in which the government can be carried on is by two of the parties working together. Senator Mulcahy will not dispute that statement, I think, because he knows that if necessarv, I could cite hundreds of cases in which that has occurred. Lord Palmerston’s Government, for instance, was kept in office by the Tories, though he was a Whig, because they did not like their opponents. The Radicals did not like Lord
Palmerston, and the Tories would not join with the Radicals to turn him out.
– No; but the Tories were not a machine governed by an outside organization.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the Tories were not a machine, that they had no definite policy and no caucus, that they did not arrange amongst themselves as to how they should vote, that they had no “ whip” to whip them up.
– They were not a machine.
– They were a machine.
– Order ! I ask the Minister to address the Chair, and not Senator Dobson.
– I beg your pardon, sir, because I have no right to turn my back upon the Chair. However, I do not wish to pursue that subject any further.
– It is a nasty one.
– I only know that the party to which I belong, and which we may call the Liberal Party - in one sense I do not care what it is called - are nearer in their views to the Labour Party than to the Conservative Party opposite. The Labour Party cannot support the Conservative Party, but they can support us and do consistently and fairly support us. If any senator is behind the times, I think it is Senator Dobson. Usually in a British Parliament in these days there are three parties- the party in office, the party in the cold shades of opposition, and the Labour Party ; but in the Senate there is a fourth party, and that is a party by the name of Dobson. He is an independent party, because no party can depend upon him. The Conservatives cannot depend uoon him, nor can we. When we were discussing the Tariff, it was difficult to find out where he was, or how he was going to vote.
– I was not a machine.
-If it was a question of imposing a duty on an article, such, for instance, as hops, in which his State was interested, the honorable senator was a protectionist, otherwise he was a rank freetrader. We never knew when we had him. Referring to a gentleman who had stood up in Parliament and said that he was an independent member, Lord Palmerston once said, “Well, gentlemen, my experience of independent members is that they can never be depended upon.” Senator Dobson also objected to my action in visiting different parts of the Commonwealth. He considered that the duty “of a Minister of the Crown, especially a man who was working the big Department of Defence, the ramifications of which, extend from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, is to sit quietly in his office, gather his officers round him, hear their reports, and give his decisions. That,I think, is not the way in which to govern a big Department.
– I did not say anything about that.
– An immense Department, which spends over £1,000,000 a year, wants some looking after. I think it is wise for the Minister of Defence, if he is not intimately acquainted with different parts of the Commonwealth, to pay a visit to them to see the defences over which he has some control, to meet the various officers in the different States who are under him, to inspect the drill halls, rifle ranges, magazines, fortifications, and so oh. I hold that when he has made such visits he is better able to decide on questions than he would have been if he had remained in the barracks at Melbourne. By my visits I gained an immense amount of information. It is of very great use, and possibly will be of still greater use by-and-by. Yet Senator Dobson criticises my action, and says that I ought not to have done anything of the sort, that I had no right to go round with a number of officers about me. I really forget how many he said I had in my train. It was one of the most sensible actions I ever took, and it would be better for the Commonwealth if Senator Dobson and other legislators would go to parts which they have never seen. If the honorable senator were to go to the sugar plantations in Queensland, look at the kanakas, and make some acquaintance with those of whom he has spoken so much ; if he were then to go to Western Australia and see its different places ; in fact, if he were to go to any of the States - I do not care which of them - and gain fresh information, he would be better able to perform his duty as a senator than he will be if he remains in little Tasmania, and twirls his thumbs in his office.
– I have plenty to do there.
– The honorable senator said that I did another thing which was wrong. He said it was an awful sin for me to give information to the press. I stated that Major Hawker’s conduct was reprehensible. I made that statement in a minute. I said that he deserved punishment, and I left it to the Military Board to decide what the punishment should be.
– The Minister repeated that to the press.
– It was not repeated to the press until the official papers had been minuted and sent to the Military Board. I contend that, as I was dealing with a public officer, I had a right to let the public know what I had done. The public naturally expected to know what I, as Minister, thought about the case. I consider that I dealt very leniently and kindly with Major Hawker under the circumstances. I shall, whenever I think it necessary, give information to the press which will be of interest to the public. I am not one of those who desire to keep everything in the dark. There is certain information which we cannot give to the press, but it is my intention wherever I can to take the public into my confidence, and to dothat through the medium of the reporters, whom I have found to be, on the whole, men possessed of rather vivid imagination. At times a few words used by me will make a paragraph, and occasionally I am rather astonished to find that the newspapers make mistakes in attributing to me things that I have never thought of in this world, and am not likely to think of in the next. Then I am told that I am a regular cur - although the honorable senator did not use that word - because Mr. Crouch wrote a letter to me about certain junior officers, and, Mr. Crouch being a supporter of the Government, I did not, in the opinion of Senator Dobson, answer him as I should have done if I had had more courage.
– The honorable senator should not put words into my mouth which I never used. I say that he was lacking in courage.
SenatorPLAYFORD. - The language used bv Senator Dobson would be interpreted by any one who did not know me to mean that I had been a cur. Captain Crouch wrote to me asking that certain people should be treated leniently, and I replied that the whole matter had been handed over to another authority. Was it necessary for me to insult the man? Let other people form their own opinions as to whether it was a proper letter to write, but it was not for me to insult the writer ofit, whether he was the poorest man in the Commonwealth, or a Member of Parliament. Therefore, I gave him a proper answer. Then Senator Dobson cannot understand why Captain Collins was sent to London to do certain work in connexion with supplies for the Defence Department. He considers that that work could equally well be done by the Agents-General. He alleges that I have made a great mistake there, and have simply thrown away public money. Let me give the history of the affair. When I took office as Minister of Defence, I made inquiries as to how we obtained stores from the mother country. I knew that there must be cash transactions amounting to considerable sums. I found that the supplies required for defence purposes for any particular State were ordered through the Agent-General for that State in London. The Defence Department was, therefore, dealing with six different Agents-General. I inquired whether that method of transacting business did not conduce to a considerable amount of extra labour. I asked, “How does it work?” The reply was, “ It does not work well at all.” I found that the late Government had taken the matter into consideration, and had come to the conclusion that the whole of the business should be done through one AgentGeneral. lt can readilv be imagined which Agent-General of the six was to be chosen when we know that the matter was dealt with by the then Prime Minister, the Right Honorable George Reid. The one, of course was the Agent-General for New South Wales. He was to transact the whole of the business in connexion with the supply of stores from London to the Commonwealth. The proposal was sent on to Mr. Carruthers, who agreed to it. Practically, so far as I can see, the matter was settled, though no actual effect was given to the arrangement before the late Government went out of office. After the inquiries which I made, I would not give effect to it. I came to the conclusion that we could do the work more satisfactorily and better for ourselves. When I first took office the Secretary of the Defence Department, Captain Collins, was away on leave. He had taken the six months leave to which he was entitled under the. regulations, and I did not see him for some months; but I had the advantage, in the meantime, of the services of my under-secretary, a most able and conscientious officer. When Captain Collins returned, I asked him to make, a report on the whole subject. I will read one passage: -
There is no doubt that it would be much more satisfactory to have an office of our own than to conduct the business through officers over whom the Commonwealth has no direct control. The cash transactions in London are very considerable. On the 30th September last the Agent-General for Victoria acknowledged cash on Commonwealth account amounting to£98,000. The remittances made to the various AgentsGeneral, for which vouchers have not yet been received, amount to£330,201. Bills not yet matured are now in the hands of the AgentsGeneral to the amount of£67,157. There is no doubt that under the arrangement which we have entered into with the Government of New South Wales,which, of course, would not be carried out if a Commonwealth office were instituted in London, we should have to pay a considerable annual amount to that State, as we should impose on their Agent-General the necessity of keeping separate office and bank accounts.
The report points out that the then system of conducting the business through six Agents-General would not work; and, although the late Government had agreed that it should all be done through the AgentGeneral for New South Wales, I said, “ No ; I believe that it will pay us better to have our own office and to work through our own officers.” I brought the whole subject before the Cabinet after obtaining a report from Mr. Halloran, of the Treasury, who backed up what Captain Collins said, in addition to which he mentioned other things to prove that we were not being served satisfactorily by the existing arrangement. I therefore came to the conclusion that it would pay us a great deal better as a Commonwealth to be served by our own officer. I hadnot the slightest idea of doing anything in connexion with a High Commissioner’s office. I never troubled my head about the High Commissioner. I was simply working for my own Department.
– Is the new svstem working satisfactorily?
– The new system has only just commenced, but I am certain that, under the able management of Captain Collins, itwill work satisfactorily. We also have in London an officer from the Treasury, who is attending to the accounts, and there is not the slightest doubt that the whole business will be a great deal better managed than it has ever been before. Honorable senators can imagine what trouble we had when we were conducting the business through six Agents-General. Sometimes articles that ought to have been shipped by sailing vessels at the lowest possible freight were sent by steamer, and we had to pay steamer freight. In a variety of ways we can save money. For instance, every AgentGeneral who received an order from the Commonwealth acted through the War Office. They simply passed the order on, and never took the slightest trouble about it afterwards, except to keep the account and pav the money. The War Office used to send on the order to the contractors, and then charged us a certain percentage for doing the work. Captain Collins said: “I can go direct to the contractors, , ascertain the price paid by the War Office, and the contractors will make up the goods, pack them, and send them out, without our having to incur all this intermediate expense.”
– But who will look after the inspection of the goods?
– We have our own officer to inspect them.
– Did not the AgentsGeneral know that they could go direct to the contractors?
– Thev did not do it. If we are to have our business properly managed we must have our own office in London, and manage it for ourselves. We must have the officers under our own control, so that we can call them in question if necessary, and order them to do the things that we require. The only difference between what the late Government had arranged to do and what we have done is that the present Government has appointed an officer of its own, whereas the late Government said : “ We will do the work through the AgentGeneral of one State.”
– It is not intended to make Captain Collins secretary to the High Commissioner ?
– No. I never discussed the question apart from the requirements of my own Department. What we have done is by no means mixed up with the High Commissioner question.
Silling suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– One point was alluded to by Senator O’Keefe, and also by Senator Pearce, who asked whether the Government were going to make any alteration in the mode in which the Tariff revenue is distributed after the term of five years has. expired. The Treasurer has that matter under his considera tion, and he informs me that when he delivers his Budget speech he will be prepared to state what it is proposed to do. The Constitution lays it down that, until otherwise provided by Parliament, a certain mode shall be adopted, and if any alteration is intended, a Bill will have to be introduced. Of course, if it is, proposed to make no change, the distribution will go on as at present. Senator Dobson, in speaking on defence matters, was good enough to say that the proposed new cadet scheme is “ mean “. - that is the usual style of the honorable senator - that it is “ paltry,” “ pettifogging,” and “ unworthy of the Commonwealth.” The honorable senator, it will be seen; piles on the adjectives j and his words are a direct reflection on me as Minister of Defence. I was very curious to know what that honorable senator would have done had he been in mv position, and he told us. There are over 200,000 boys in the Commonwealth between certain ages, and Senator Dobson would make it compulsory on all, or the greater portion, to undergo a certain amount of drill. The honorable senator will have nothing to do with the Education Departments of the States, but contends that we have a perfect right to ignore. them, and to pass legislation to achieve the end he desires. He would provide that these toys should, under penalties, undergo drill for so many days in the year at certain stations, to be appointed, and this would involve the appointment of truant officers, and the creation of all sorts of machinery to carry out the scheme. When I hinted that if there were 100,000 cadets, or half the number contemplated by him, the cost would be £150,000 per annum at the start , he did not make it at all clear where the money was. to come from. Senator Dobson is constantly crying out for economy and declaring that Tasmania has been seriously injured financially by Federation. He contends that Tasmania has lost, I do not know how many hundreds of thousands of pounds in consequence of the union, and yet he proposes to deliberately increase the military vote, so far as his own State is concerned, by a very large sum. In the past Tasmania has absolutely begged the Commonwealth not to pav the members of the Militia Forces in that State the same rate of pav that is given on the mainland, on the ground that, as a small State, it cannot afford the money. Yet Senator Dobson came forward with a gigantic scheme which would involve the Commonwealth in an enormous expenditure immediately. Honorable senators know that it was the late Sir Frederick Sargood who inaugurated the cadet system in Victoria, where it was first adopted in Australia, and under the scheme of that gentlemen the Victorian Government worked with the Education Department. At the inauguration of the. Commonwealth the administration of the Defence Forces, of course, was handed over to the Federal Parliament. Victoria is the only State in which the -Commonwealth has taken over this administration, so far as the cadets are concerned, and it has been considered for years that it would be undesirable to apply the policy to the whole of the States on the same lines. Three years ago a conference of officers met and drew up a scheme “for establishing a cadet system throughout the Commonwealth. That scheme was considered by my predecessor, who regarded it as a little ton ambitious, costing, as it would, ^40.000 or -£50,000.
– It was not ambitious, but costly.
– These schemes are always costly. The result was that my predecessor drew up a memorandum, which was submitted to the Premiers’ Conference at Hobart. He modified the scheme very considerably, and, so far as I can ascertain, it met with general approval. But he did nothing in the matter, and the memorandum was there when I took office. I came to the conclusion that the scheme, in its main features, was good, and as I told honorable senators last year, I determined to introduce the system. Having approved of the principles, and made certain modifications in the scheme, I saw that it would be necessary to obtain the co-operation of the States, in order to make it a success. I got the Prime Minister to write a memorandum to the various States Premiers, asking each to send a delegate to a Conference to be held in Sydney. As my representative, I sent Colonel Hoad, one of the most able officers, together with the Under-Secretary, Mr. Pethebridge. The report of that Conference was unanimously adopted, and it was forwarded to the various Premiers for their approval. The report proposes that in New South Wales the strength shall be 7,500 cadets; in Victoria, 6.000; in Queensland, 2,600: in South Australia, 1,870 ; in Western Aus tralia, 1,200; and in Tasmania 900; making a total of a little over 20,000.
– Is the only reason for limiting the number the consideration of cost?
– I am not going to argue the question, with the honorable senator, but merely to state the case: I do not desire to be led away on the question of cost. Of course, the cost is a very serious matter, and I have no doubt that had I proposed to provide ^150,000 for a new cadet scheme, the honorable senator would have been the very first to adversely criticise the scheme, and complain bitterly of the cost it would- cause to his own particular State, which, according to him, has been so frightfully injured bv Federation.
– There is no reason to exaggerate.
– I ask whether the language of the honorable senator, which I have quoted, is not a trifle exaggerated. The honorable senator said that the proposed scheme is “ mean,” ‘paltry,” “ pettifogging,” and “unworthy of the Commonwealth.”
– So it is.
– That is ,the kind of language used by the honorable senator ; vet, when I, on my part, use the mildest in my vocabulary, he objects.
– No; the. Minister is talking about j£i 56,000, and there is a difference between that amount and ,£30,000.
– The result was that the Premiers all agreed to the scheme, and undertook to give us the assistance of their Education Departments in order to administer this branch of our Forces on the same lines as in Victoria. Western Australia represented that there had not been quite as many cadets allotted to that State as it was entitled to, and suggested that the number should be 1,500 ; while at the same time South Australia complained that it had been allotted too many. On this, I agreed to take some from South Australia and add them to the number in Western Australia; and by that means the total number was kept at a little over 20.000. The whole of the States then agreed to the scheme as drawn up. The minutes of the Conference, and the whole of the papers have been laid on the table, or will be laid on the table, and honorable senators will have an opportunity to ascertain the position of affairs. We have now got the various States in line in regard to, not a large, but a moderate, scheme, on the lines adopted in “Victoria. The Government propose to take over the cadet system as established in New South Wales, and also a smaller scheme that has been carried out in Western Australia; and bv this means the whole of the cadets will be brought under one administration. It is proposed to make use of the school teachers wherever possible as drill instructors. As to this, Senator Dobson complained bitterly that we propose to use teachers, and not competent instructors. But we are going to have competent instructors, because every one of the ^teachers who will be allowed to drill the boys will have to pass a certain examination showing his fitness for the work. The instruction to be given is not of a very high character, but preliminary to a great extent ; and if we can get the services of competent teachers for a very small honorarium I contend that the moderate scheme will provide a foundation on which the Commonwealth may build in the future. If subsequent^ it is decided to extend the scheme as Senator Dobson desires, that may be done : but we all know that there is a day for small things in all new organizations. It is no use trying to rush to extremes at once; we had better start in a small way, and when the teachers have been obtained, and have got used to the work, provision may be made for 160,000 cadets, if it be> deemed advisable.
– I suppo.se the Minister knows that the scheme proposed does not apply to one-tenth of the youths of the Commonwealth ?
– I do not know whether the scheme applies to one- tenth, one-hundredth, or any particular proportion of the youths ; but it applies where it never applied before. The scheme is a good beginning, which I can, recommend to Parliament, and which I believe I shall be able to pass. Had) I proposed a more ambitious scheme I might have failed altogether. The scheme has been approved bv the States, and we must work with the States. I do not say that we are to be bound to the States in any way, but the States all form part of one Commonwealth, and are as much interested in the defence question as we are ourselves. Wherever we can we ought to work with the States.
– That goes without saying.
– Of course it does. VVhy does the honorable senator ob ject tq the teachers having anything to do with the instruction?
– Because the regulations provide that before a person can be an instructor he must be a teacher.
– Nothing of the sort. A number of men, who are not teachers, but who are special instructors, will go about to train the teachers and inspect the school’s. They will instruct boys, and have a general .supervision’ of the whole system.
– Is it not a fact that the instructors of the boys must beteachers ?
– No, not all of them. The instructor of the boys at any particular school is to be a teacher.
– That is what I say ; he must be a teacher.
– But over and above, there will be men to go round and inspect, and see that the teachers are competent, and do their work.
– I understand that.
– -Why should we not make use of the services of the teachers in this way in reurn for a small honorarium? In the great majority of casesthe teachers are enthusiastic in the movement, and will do all thev possibly can to promote it. I do not think I need say anything more on ‘ the subject ; if necessary. I can refer to it again on the Estimates. The Government have no reason to complain of the way in which their very lengthy programme has been ‘ received in this and another place. I trust that when we finish our labours, before going to the constituencies, we shall be able to show that in the last session of the Parliament, which is often given up to talking to the electors, we have done some really solid work.
– Will the Minister kindly tei!1 us whether the Government propose to do anything in regard to the kanakas at the end of this year?
– That is not in my Department, and I really cannot answer the question. From my reading on the question, it appears that the Commonwealth is not specially called upon to deal with that matter, seeing that the kanakas have to be deported by State law.
– But what if the State does not intend to do anything?
– Does the Minister say that the kanakas have to be deported under State law?
– Yes. Every man who brought .a kanaka into Queensland had, so far as I remember, to deposit a certain sum with the Government of the State, to.be used for the purpose of deportation.
– It is a Federal law under which thev are deported.
– No ; the kanakas are deported under a contract made according to State law.
– If kanakas do not reengage they have to be deported, and I know the money is there to pay their passage.
– But a penalty of £100 is provided for any one who engages a kanaka after the period has expired.
– I never lay claim to knowledge that I do not possess. I have not looked into the question, and I cannot give the honorable senator a definite answer, but I have no doubt that after consulting the Minister to whose Department the matter relates, I shall be able to supply him with the information he desires. If he puts a question on the notice-paper, I shall be very pleased to answer it.
– A .matter that has not been touched upon during this debate, although it is one of the greatest importance to the Commonwealth, and has lately attracted considerable attention in Australia and New Zealand, is the question of the control of the New ‘Hebrides. Unfortunately, it has recently assumed a phase most unsatisfactory to Australia I have always held that our external policy should not be one of extra-territorial aggrandisement, but that we should use every endeavour to keep foreign nations from forming a cordon of strategic bases around Australia. ‘ It should certainly be our effort to keep foreign powers from closing in upon Australia and establishing strategic bases that must always be a menace to our safety.
– If the honorable senator were living in Germany or France, he would be paralyzed by the number of foreign nations round about him.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The honorable senator may disagree with my views on this question. I am not professing to speak on behalf of the Senate ; I am merely expressing my own opinions, and they are fortified by authorities far more capable than I am. Captain Mahan has laid it down that the United States should endeavour to keep other nations in the Pacific at a distance of at least 3,000 or 4,000 miles from its shores, since cruisers are ineffective when at a greater distance from their coal supplies. The British own all the! islands in the Pacific to the east of Australia, with the exception of New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. The ownership of the New Hebrides, which is in dispute, would be absolutely of no importance to Australia, but for the: fact that there are in the group some excellent harbors suitable for use as strategic ‘bases. It is unfortunate for the’ Commonwealth that those harbors exist. So far as the territory is concerned, we do not want it, and it is evident, from their action, that the British authorities do not want it. The point is that not only are the New Hebrides within striking distance of Australia, but that they lie on the flank of what will be Australia’s principal trade route, when the Panama Canal has been completed. If those islands fall into the hands of a foreign power, our principal trade route will be menaced, and we shall be liable to be cut off by a strong foreign power possessing magnificent harbors on our flank. The blame for this has been laid with . wonderful unanimity at the door of the British Colonial Office ; but any one who has studied the history of the NewHebrides during the last fifty years, will recognise that Australia is equally blameworthy. We have done nothing except complain of the inaction of Great1 Britain. It is quite evident! that the New Hebrides are of special importance to Australia, whilst, speaking generally, they are of no value to Great Britain. Notwithstanding this, we have refused to do anything in our own behalf ; but have been content to complain incessantly of the failure of Great Britain to take decisive action. Twentyfive yea rs ago the New Hebrides were practically owned and controlled by the British people, yet the French residents there now outnumber the British residents, and the French trade preponderates. A year or two ago, the Anglo-French agreement was arrived at, but Australia has always been kept in the dark by the Department of External Affairs as .to what is being done, and we do not know what despatches, have passed to and fro. Before the representatives of the different powers met to consider tha terms of the proposed agreement, I urged that the New Hebrides should be exchanged for territory in Senegambia, as well as on the banks of Lake Tchad, which the French were exceedingly anxious to secure, in order to make more effective their vast African possessions. I made that suggestion, not on my own initiative, but upon that of a prominent French authority, M. Paul Leroy -Boileau who suggested that the New Hebrides should be exchanged for those small territories. When the text of the Anglo-French agreement was published, I was much aggrieved by the discovery that apparently nothing had been done by Australia to give effect to this suggestion, and that Newfoundland had jumped our claim, settling her difference with the French - which had been going on since the Treaty of Utrecht - by means of the handing over to the French of the very territory that should have been exchanged for the New Hebrides. In the absence of any statement that such an exchange was urged on behalf of Australia, it must be admitted that we have been very lax. The agreement is a self-denying ordinance, in which both powers agree not to annex the New Hebrides. That being so, it is impossible for us to ask Great Britain to abrogate a clause in the agreement which her representatives have signed. It must remain in force until conditions in the New Hebrides change so completely as to make the agreement untenable. The position will then be altered bv one or other of the nations obtaining what is known as effective occupation. The French Government have used every endeavour to induce their people to go to the New Hebrides. On the other hand, Australians who have gone out there have not received fair treatment. I venture to say that Australians are better colonists, man for man, than are the French. The AngloSaxon is a better colonizing power than is the French, but our colonists in the New Hebrides have been subjected to the most appalling disabilities. Whilst the French have placed the islands on the most favoured colony basis, we have shut our doors to those whom we have’ sent out there. Prior to Federation, when their produce obtained free entry into New South Wales, they were doing very well, but since then the position has been changed. The agitation for Federation was initiated because of the position in regard to the Pacific Islands, and yet, strangely enough, as the practical result of Federation, British colonists in the New Hebrides are in a worse position than before. This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. The unfortunate Australians who have gone out there have been practically marooned ; they have been left without help. The French give the produce of their colonists free entry into New Caledonia, whereas the produce of the Australian settlers is shut out, not only from Noumea, but from the Commonwealth. As a last resort, they must either sell their lands to the French or take out naturalization ‘papers, and become French subjects.
– Why did they leave Australia ?
– When they left here the produce of the islands could be imported free of duty into New South Wales.
– But why did they leave here? There was plenty of land for them in Australia.
– Why have men left Australia for South Africa? Every man has a right to determine for himself what occupation he will follow. An old-established British planter in the New Hebrides has just returned there with the intention of changing his nationality, since Australia has treated her colonists there so badly. Let us contrast the policy which has the approbation of Senator Higgs with that of the late Mr. Richard Seddon, who was just as good a protectionist as he is. What did he do in like circumstances? He knew very well that the all-important question was that of defence, and when he secured for his Colony the islands lying between New Zealand and Panama, he did not raise any miserable, petty-foggy question about the free entry into New Zealand of a few bags of maize from the Cook Islands. He allowed absolute free-trade between the Colony and those islands.
– There is not much maize grown in New Zealand.
– The quantity raised there is far greater than is that produced in the State of which the honorable senator is a representative. The quantity produced in the New Hebrides by Australian settlers is so small that if it were exported to Australia it would not affect the price of make by one farthing per bag. The quantity we import from New Zealand at present is larger than that which would come from the New Hebrides if it were admitted free of duty. I proposed some time ago that we should allow maize grown on land owned by Australians in the group to come in free for a period of five years, by which time their cocoanut trees would be in bearing. That proposal was rejected. Each successive Minister for External Affairs said that nothing could be done, but when Mr. Seddon came over here and proposed that some action should be taken in this direction, every one said at once that it was most necessary that a decisive step should be taken.
– Every one did not say so.
– I sincerely hope that decisive action will be taken by the Commonwealth, and that something will be done to prevent these important harbors from falling into the hands of a. foreign power, and being used against us in the future. The two strategic bases in the New Hebrides are Havana. Harbor in Sandwich Island and “Vila Harbor on Mallicolo Island’. These are superior to Noumea Harbor; in fact the latter is not a safe harbor for a strategic base, because when the wind is blowing in a certain direction it is not safe for shipping, and therefore the French cain not form an effective strategic base which could be used against Australia., unless they get hold of the New Hebrides. The Anglo-French agreement, owing to the composition of the Board, has been decided in a way which is most injurious and detrimental to the interests of Australia. Monsieur St. Germain, the Chairman of the Board, when it was all over, said that the French had achieved an unhoped-for success. If the French were so jubilant at the result of the agreement, we may be very sure that the British came off very badly. In fact, the British were absolutely out-manoeuvred in the whole of the negotiations. If we glance for a moment at the composition of the Board we can see easily what was the cause of that result. The Frenchmen on the Board had lived in New Caledonia and the New Hebrides, and possessed a practical knowledge of the whole of the requirements. Of the British representatives on the Board not one had ever been to the New Hebrides’, or knew anything about the group personally. Monsieur Picanon, Governor of New Caledonia, had toured through the group every quarter, and was thoroughly au fait with the conditions and aspirations of the residents. He was recalled by the French Government, and made a member of the Board. Captain Bourge, who was commander of the steamer Pacifique, which runs between Sydney and Noumea, and is a thorough authority upon harbors and seaway, was another Frenchman on the Board; with a full practical knowledge, while Monsieur St. Germain had lived for a number of years in the New Hebrides. France was represented by three experts with practical knowledge, while Great Britain was represented by men who had never seen the New Hebrides, and naturally the French over-reached the British in their negotiations. The result is that thev made a proposal with regard to a judicial tribunal, which is most injurious to Australian interests. They propose that the Court shall consist of one British subject, one French subject, and a chairman who shall be neutral; and appointed by perhaps Holland or Spain. The system proposed is - first, that disputes between French and British subjects shall be settled by the mixed court : secondly, that disputes between whites and natives shall be settled by the mixed court; thirdly that disputes between French, subjects and natives shall be settled absolutely bv a French Judge; and fourthly, that disputes between British subjects and natives shall be settled by a British Judge. Any one who is acquainted with the local conditions will know that the French people are pushing their way by selling guns and spirits to the natives. If French subjects are to be tried by a French Judge, we may be quite sure that they will get off on some technical point ; and if British subjects are to be tried by a British Judge, we may be quite sure that they will not get off. We know the traditions of the British people there, and their actions in past times, and, therefore, we may be satisfied that British offenders will be heavily fined. We can never put down rum and arms selling there unless every case be tried by one mixed Court. If a British subject were being tried, then the British member of the Court could explain the British system of law, and the three members could come to a decision as to the facts of the case. If a French subject were being tried by the mixed Court, the French representative could explain the French law, and the three representatives could come to a decision on the facts. But as the Court is now constituted, it will accentuate the present inequality between the powers of the French and the
British. The French will continue to sell their liquor and arms in the New Hebrides, and the British rightly will be -prohibited from doing so. Then we come to a proposal with regard to municipal government. The British, who are nearly equal in number to the French, are scattered throughout the island, while the French are congregated round the principal strategic bases, and the inevitable result of this municipal system will be that, under the municipal laws, the french will absolutely control every port in the group which is of any importance. They will control Vila and Port Sandwich ; they will also control the only harbor in the Island of Santo - the most northerly and largest one - because the French are settled nil round there, and, naturally, at an election their- representative will be returned. That system will practically hand over the government of the New Hebrides «to the French people. Another matter which I think will interest Senator Higgs, . who, I observe, has disappeared, is the question of the renewal of the importation of criminals into New Caledonia. In that island there were two newspapers called La France Australie and La Caledonie, one of which was strenuously opposed to transportation, and the other strenuously in favour of the system. The French have been talking lately with re- gard to the necessity of getting rid of their criminals, and sending them to New Caledonia, and it is very significant that the whole press of New Caledonia is now absolutely in favour of the proposal. I do not know whether the Government of the Commonwealth have taken any action in the matter; if they have, Parliament has had no notification of it, and I presume that even Senator Higgs will agree that the question of the renewal of the transportation of the offscourings of the French gaols to the Pacific is one which could well be considered by the Government. I do not intend to dwell further upon that subject, but to speak about the defences of our principal strategic bases within’ the Commonwealth. I was very much surprised to hear a proposal that the strategic base of Albany should be practically abandoned! in favour of the port of Fremantle. There is not in all Australia a more, important strategic base than Albany. It is a magnificent harbor, suitable for holding the largest squadron of battle-ships. It is the only port which is right on what is, andi will be, our principal trade route. All our commerce - our wheat, our gold, and our wool - goes past Albany to Great Britain and Europe. Yet some individual has said that this base should be practically abandoned, and that we should devote our attention in Western Australia solely to Fremantle. If we take the opinions of the ablest experts who have reported upon the defence of Australia - I allude to men like Sir Peter Scratchley, Sir Bevan Edwards, and Sir Edward Hutton - it will be found that they all insisted upon. the immense importance of Albany as a strategic base, and pointed out that Sydney, Thursday Island, and Albany are the three strategic bases of Australia. Yet some person not half as competent to judge as those experts, who were paid to give these reports, is now calmly proposing the practical abandonment of Albany - a port which is in railway communication with the most important parts of Western Australia, and one which any nation would like to make its base, if there were a concerted attack upon Australia, -while it is the most favorable base from which to destroy our ships and commerce. We rightly fortified Fremantle, and I hope that when the guns are obtained for that port they will be 9.2 guns, and not the 6-inch guns which it was previously thought would be sufficient there.
– They were 7.5 guns which it was previously agreed to order.
– What guns does the Minister propose to put in there now ?
– We are waiting for the report of the Imperial Council of Defence on the subject.
– I hope that the suggestion that Albany should be practically deprived of its garrison, and that it should not be regarded as an important strategic base will not be considered until we get some competent authority to report on the matter. “Before sitting down, I wish to refer to the bookkeeping system. It is evident to every one here that the bookkeeping section in the Constitution was a recognition of the unequal per capita contribution of the various States to the Federal revenue, on account of the divergent conditions. If it had not been. inserted, what would have been the effect upon Western Australia? The taxpayers of Western Australia would have had to pay to the Treasurers of the Eastern States £2,600,000, not one penny of which they would have had a valid claim to. According to the Constitution, the bookkeeping system is mandatory for the first five years and permissive afterwards. What was the clear intention of the framers of the Constitution? It was that the bookkeeping system should be continued so long as the inequalities continued. If the bookkeeping system was right, just, and necessary in, the first five years of the Federation, is it not equally right, just, and necessary during the second period of five years, if that inequality still exists?
– I think that the honorable senator is wrong in his contention that the bookkeeping system was intended to remain as long as the conditions of revenue were unequal.
– I think that my honorable friend’s wish is father to the thought. He is so exercised with regard to getting more revenue for Tasmania, and keeping her people, who, I may say, are the most lightly-taxed people in the Commonwealth, that he would be quite willing to put his hands into the Treasury of Western Australia, if he had the chance.
– I am talking of a fact - that the words “ Parliament may provide, on such basis as it deems fair,” were placed in the Constitution to enable Parliament to do whatever it thought to be necessary after the expiration of the five years.
– It was impossible for the framers of the Constitution to tell that these inequalities would not disappear in five years’ time. Therefore, they made the provision mandatory for five years, and permissive afterwards. Why ? Simply because they were unable to say whether the then existing conditions would continue, and they left it for Parliament to decide. I have no fear that there will be any proposal to abolish the bookkeeping provisions. I have too much confidence in the justice of my fellow Australians to believe that theywould allow such a thing to happen. I do not believe that this Ministry, or any Ministry that will come into existence, would dare to propose such a thing.
– What about the States Premiers?
– We do not care about the States Premiers. It is the members of the Federal Parliament who have to act under the Constitution ; and if certain Federal members want to exploit one State for their own benefit, the Australian people will absolutely repudiate such an unholy undertaking.
– Oh !
– Senator Dobson is one of those who have strenuously advocated the sweeping away of the bookkeeping system. I have read some of his speeches delivered in Tasmania. He has been posing with one hand in Western Australia’s pocket and the other on his heart, saying, “ Let us do justice as between State and State ! “ I have not the slightest fear that any Ministry will venture to make such a proposal as he desires. But there isa fear that some Ministry may try to get behind the bookkeeping sections by proposing a sliding scale, which will be, in its results, almost as bad as if the bookkeeping sections were abolished.
– The sliding-scale principle was adopted in the Constitution itself.
– There is not a word in the Constitution to the effect that the bookkeeping system should give place to a sliding scale.
– There is with regard to the special Tariff.
– We are not talking about the Tariff. What is the difference between sweeping away the bookkeeping system and removing it bv asliding scale ? Simply that the one method is sudden and the other is gradual. The second method is like cutting off a dog’s tail one joint at a time to save pain to the animal, instead of cutting it off all at once. The result is just the same. The only fair thing to do is to renew the bookkeeping system absolutely, and intact, for at least five years - until, at any rate, we have to consider the whole question of our finances when the Braddon section expires. If there is, at the end of that time, still a great inequality amounting to , £400,000 a year - the loss of which would mean the absolute stoppage of development in the young and vigorous State of Western Australia - the bookkeeping system would have to be continued for a longer term. But while the present inequality regarding Western Australia exists, we can take steps to have a common purse for such of the States as are anxious to have one, if their anxiety is not stimulated by their desire to exploit Western Australia. There is no difficulty about it whatever. It is quite easy to have a common purse for Tasmania, South Australia,
New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, quite apart from Western Australia.
– Victoria has always stood by Western Australia.
– She has, and we quite recognise her justice in doing so. None are more annoyed than the representatives of Tasmania at finding that Victoria and New South Wales are on our side, and that they will be unable to exploit the other States for the benefit of their own.
– One would think we were all robbers !
– After listening to the speech of the honorable senator, in advocating the abrogation of the bookkeeping system, one would form a very poor idea of the honesty of Australian politicians. I refer especially to Senator Dobson, who, in the recess, went all over Tasmania pointing out the desirableness of advocating the abolition of the bookkeeping provisions, and pointing out how much his own State would make out of Western Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Senator Keating, and read a first time.
Bill presented by Senator Keating, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Col. Neild) agreed to-
That there belaid upon the table of this Senate copies of all papers connected with the proposed erection of a building for military purposes in the Centennial Park, Sydney.
Motion (by Senator Col. Neild) agreed to -
That there be laid upon the table of this Senate a copy of the contract or agreement made between the Commonwealth and the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales for the conveyance of Members of the Federal Parliament.
Motion (by Senator Col. Neild) agreed to-
That there be laid upon the table of this Senate copies of all documents relating to the question of the selection of a site for the Federal Capital, of a later date than those last laid upon the table.
Motion (by Senator Millen, for Senator Macfarlane) agreed to -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the resolutions carried at the recent conference of officials and fruit exporters held in Sydney, at the invitation of the Minister of Trade and Customs, in regard to regulations under the Commerce Act.
– I move -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions, as proposed by His Honour Judge Murray, the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the said State into Divisions, in his report laid before Parliament on the 7th day of June, 1906.
I need hardly remind honorable senators that for some time past consideration has been given by those interested to the question of therepresentation of the States of New South Wales and Victoria, in the House of Representatives. Before the beginning of last session it had been intimated in various quarters that New South Wales was not receiving the proper measure of representation to which she was entitled under the Constitution, and that the State of Victoria was receiving more than her share. Some discussion took place as to how, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution, representation should be reapportioned, so that each State would get its proper measure. In order that there might be no doubt about the procedure, an Act was passed, called the Representation Act. By virtue of the provisions of that measure, an inquiry has to be instituted as to the population of the several States, for the purpose of determining the representation to which each is entitled in the House of Representatives. We provided for what was called an Enumeration Day; and we decided that every census day should be an enumeration day throughout the Commonwealth, and that between the decennial censuses there should be an intervening day - about fiveyears from the census - which should also be an enumeration day. And on every enumeration day, whether such an enumeration day as I have mentioned, or a census day adopted for the purpose, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth must ascertain thepopula lion of the whole of the Commonwealth and of each of the States. In accordance with the provisions of the Act, the nth of December last was fixed as the enumeration day, and on that day. the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth ascertained, according to the principles laid down in the Representation Act and schedules, the population of the whole of the Commonwealth and of the several States. Those figures were obtained bv communicating with the Statisticians of the various States, and asking for returns showing the numbers of the people as on the 30th September, 1905. in each State. The information was received from the various Statisticians on the 10th January of this year, and on the ] 2th January the Chief Electoral Officer furnished the certificate required by the Representation Act, showing the number of people in the Commonwealth and in the several States, and a copy of that certificate was published in the Commonwealth Gazette on the j 6th January. That certificate has, since the assembling of Parliament, been laid on the table of the Senate. In accordance with that certificate, as issued and gazetted - I stale refer more particularly to it later - the Chief Electoral Officer on the 1 6th January reported as to the necessity or otherwise of a redistribution of the States of New South Wales, Victoria. Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, and on the 2nd February as to the redistribution of the State of Western Australia. So far as New South Wales and Victoria, were concerned, the figures relative to population showed that a redistribution was necessary. The figures showed that New South Wales was no longer entitled to twenty-six representatives, but to twentyseven ; and that Victoria, instead of being entitled to twenty-three members, was entitled to only twenty-two. With regard to Queensland, the figures as to population revealed .no necessity for redistribution; but the amending Electoral Act of last session, section 23, sub-section 2, paragraph b, provides, that -
A proclamation directing a redistribution of any State into divisions may be issued whenever in one-fourth of the divisions in the State the number of electors differs from a quota ascertained in the manner provided in such Act by a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less.
In the State of Queensland it was found that in five out of the nine divisions the electoral population was either above or below the margin of allowance. It was in con- sequence of the necessity imposed by the Electoral Act for a redistribution, whenever such a contingency occurred in a certain proportion of the electorates of a State, that Queensland had to be redistributed. In regard to the States of South Australia and Tasmania, neither the provisions of -the Representation Act nor the Electoral Act necessitated a redistribution of these States. Later on a proclamation was issued, directing the distribution of the State of Western Australia, In the case of Western Australia the figures revealed no necessity for a redistribution. As honorable senators know, Western Australia-
– Is the Minister now dealing with the whole of the States?
– I am taking the opportunity to deal generally with the whole scheme, so as to avoid the necessity of repetition in. the case of each of the other motions. Proclamations were issued in regard to Victoria and New South Wales on the 23rd January, necessitated by population, and by reasons that were shown for a different measure of representation than heretofore enjoyed by those States. Queensland, on the other hand, had a proclamation issued on the same date, because in the existing divisions there was a deviation from the principle laid down in the Electoral Act, section 23, sub-section 2, paragraph b - the provisions of which I have already quoted. These circumstances were in existence in regard to Queensland, and in consequence a proclamation for a redistribution of that State was issued, under the provisions of section 23 of the Electoral Act. As honorable senators are aware, Western Australia is entitled to five representatives by virtue of the Constitution, irrespective of what the population may be, and the same applies to Tasmania, and, indeed, to any other State if the population falls below the necessary number to entitle it to five representatives. The circumstances were not entirely similar to those in Queensland, but in one electorate there was a deviation from the quota - I forget for the moment which way - of one-fifth more or less. The preceding Administration had taken steps for a redistribution in the case of Western Australia. It was deemed advisable, in order, while other redistributions were taking place, to have a redistribution in Western Australia, so as to have no single, electorate out of harmony with the general provisions for deviation from the quota.
For that reason a redistribution was directed by proclamation in the case of Western Australia. In every case a Commissioner was appointed, as provided bv the Electoral Act. The Commissioner selected in each case was one who had been appointed for a similar purpose by the preceding Government. But in order to prevent any technical objections which might be hereafter raised, the Government took the extra precaution of, so to speak, recalling the existing commissions, and issuing to each of those gentlemen another commission, superseding the former one, and thus practically doing the work de novo. Honorable senators have had furnished to them the plans of the proposed schemes of redistribution, and the reports made by the different Commissioners, and I am now moving, in accordance with notice, that the distribution with regard to New South Wales be agreed to. It will probably be interesting to honorable senators to know briefly what is the effect of the distribution. According to the determination of the Chief Electoral Officer, in pursuance of the provisions of section 9 of the Representation Act, New South Wales was entitled to twenty-seven members in the House of Representatives, Victoria to twenty-two, Queensland to nine, South Australia to seven, and Western Australia and Tasmania to five each. According to the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer previously referred to, the population in the various States on the 30th September, 1 905, was : - New South Wales, 1,483,393 ; Victoria, 1,214,098 ; Queensland, 506,935 ; South Australia, 372,768; Western Australia, 247,072 ; and Tasmania, 178,627, making, a total for the Commonwealth of 4,002,893. In accordance1 with section 10 of the Representation Act, a quota has to be ascertained by dividing the total population of the Commonwealth by twice the number of the members of the Senate, namely, by seventytwo. That figure divided into the total population gives a quota of 55,595, with a remainder over of fifty-three. Then, in order to determine the representation for each of the States, the population of each State has to be divided by the quota, and if on such division there is a remainder greater than one-half the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State. In the case of New South Wales, when the quota of 55,595 is divided into the population, a quotient is given of twenty-six, with [llj-2 a remainder of 37,923. That remainder is more than half the quota, and, consequently, New South Wales is entitled to twenty-seven representatives instead of twenty-six. Proceeding in the same way in regard to Victoria, a quotient is given cif twenty-one, with 46,603 over. The remainder is more than half the quota, so that Victorian representation has to have one added, making twenty-two representatives. In regard to Queensland, the quotient is nine, with 6,580 over, and that not being more than half the quota, nine remains as the number of representatives. In South Australia, the quotient is six, with 39,198 over, and that being more than half the quota, the State becomes entitled to seven representatives. The return as to Western Australia is interesting. The quotient is four, with 24,692 over. The remainder is less than half the quota, so that the proper representation to which Western Australia is entitled, apart from the constitutional provision, is four and not five. Under the Constitution, however, Western Australia is entitled to five representatives. In the case of Tasmania, the quotient is three, with 11,842 over, and that being less than half the quota, the representation to which Tasmania, apart from the Constitution, is entitled would be three, but, as in the case of Western Australia, the representation remains at .five. With those figures, the Chief Electoral Officer supplied the different Commissioners, who received their instructions with their commissions. In the case of New South Wales, the Commissioner chosen was Judge Murray, who is responsible for the redistribution which I am now submitting for the consideration of the Senate. As honorable senators are aware, there were previously twenty-six electorates for New South Wales, and under the proposed redistribution there will be twenty-seven. Under the existing distribution of twentysix divisions the quota is 25,895, and under the provision of the Electoral Act, which allow for a deviation of one-fifth either way, the maximum number of electors that should be in any electorate in New South Wales is 31,074, and the minimum 20,716, the margin of allowance being 5,179 either way from the quota of 25,895. In the twenty-six divisions there are several electorates where the maximum is exceeded and several where the numbers do not reach the minimum. Those above a maximum are Dalley with 1,709 above; East Sydney with 39 ; Lang with 6,475 > Newcastle with 1>555 i North Sydney with 7,515; Parkes with 5,730; South Sydney with 189, and Wentworth with 620. Here we have eight electorates out of harmony with the provision of the Electoral Act, in so far that the number of electors is in excess, not of the quota, but of the maximum number of electors allowed by law for any division. The electorates in which the numbers are below the minimum are : - Barrier with 724 below; Bland with 902; Canobolas with 633; Darling with 6,548; and Riverina with 4,723. That makes five electorates which are out of harmony with the principles of the Electoral Act in so far that they contain, numbers below the minimum required bv the Electoral Act. Honorable senators have had an opportunity to inspect the maps exhibiting the changes, and I have here a list of the proposed divisions showing what part of the present electoral districts are contained in them, together with the estimated electoral population resident in each. In East Sydney, which takes in parts of the present divisions of East Sydney, Wentworth, and West Svdney. the estimated electoral population is 27,994. West Svdney has an electoral population of 28,040, whilst a new division which takes in parts of the present electorates of Lang, South Syd’nev. and West Sydney, and! for which the name “ Cook “ has been suggested by the Commissioner, has an estimated electoral population of 26,400. South Sydneyhas an estimated electoral population of 27,162; Wentworth, 25,594; North Sydney, 25,9.16; Dalley, 27,620; Parkes, 26,363 ; and Lang, 25,986. A new division, comprising parts of the present electorates of Illawarra, Parkes, and1 Parramatta, for which the name “ Nepean” has been suggested, has an estimated electoral population of 25,921 ; and! Parramatta, an estimated electoral population of 26,339. These are the metropolitan and submetropolitan divisions, and they have a total electoral population of 293,335. Honorable senators will ses that there is very little variation in the electoral population of all these divisions. In addition to these eleven metropolitan and sub-metropolitan there are sixteen country, or extra metropolitan divisions, the population of which ranges from 27,000, which is above the quota, to 21,000, which is below it. In no instance is there a deviation from the quota to the extent of more than one-fifth above or below. The electoral population of the divisions is as far as possible preserved on an equal footing. Of these sixteen divisions only one is new in name and substance. I refer to the division for which the name of “Mitchell “ has been suggested, which takes in parts of the present electorates of Bland, Canobolas, Macquarie, and Robertson, and has an electoral population of 24,040. The Commissioner who has proposed the redistribution has suggested certain names for the new electorates, but as honorable senators are aware, the Electoral Act leaves to the Governor-General in Council the power ro proclaim the names and boundaries of the divisions. The function of the Commissioner is to distribute the States into electoral divisions. Due consideration is, of course, paid by the Governor-General in Council to any legitimate representation or suggestion as to the naming of the electorates, but the names of “ Cook,” “ Nepean,” and “ Mitchell “ have a particular significance, especially to those who are acquainted with the history of New South Wales. I do not propose to do anything further than submit the motion in the terms in which it is couched. Every opportunity is afforded by the Electoral Act to those who wish to register objections to the proposed divisions. Certain representations have been made to His Honour Judge Murray, and after carefully considering them he has given effect to some and set aside others. Honorable senators who choose to peruse_the comprehensive report that His Honour has furnished upon this subject will find for themselves his reasons for not acceding to certain representations, and the reason why, in other instances, he thought that the suggestions were worthy of acceptance. I have much other information before me, but I am afraid that I should weary honorable senators if I attempted to give it to them. I shall be very pleased, however, to supply any further information that honorable senators mav desire.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Victoria into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Mr. C. A. Topp, the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the said State into Divisions, in his report laid before Parliament on the 7th day of June, 1906.
Without repeating what I have already said as to the history of the proclamation for the distribution of the State of Victoria into electoral divisions. I shall proceed ro ask the Senate to indorse that made by Mr. Topp. The Commissioner was faced with the difficulty of having to reallot representation, the State having 10 lose ona of its twenty -three representatives. I shall show honorable senators what in effect the suggested alterations mean. The total enrolment of the State under existing conditions is 616,426, and this, divided amongst twenty-three divisons gives a quota of 26,801. As I have already pointed out, that quota can be departed from to the extent of one-fifth above or below, so that the maximum deviation is 32,161, and the minimum 21,441, the margin of allowance above or below the quota of 26,801 being 5,360. We find that under existing conditions, there are six electorates in which the deviation is in excess of the maximum number of electors allowed by the law. These are the divisions of Balaclava, where the number in excess of the maximum allowed, is 1,489, Bourke, 1,220; Kooyong, 7,062; Northern Melbourne, 1,175; Southern Melbourne. 305 ; and Yarra, 8,109. Then under the existing arrangements, there are five electorates, in which the deviation is below the minimum of 21,441. These are the divisions of Corinella, 628, below the minimum; Gippsland, 633; Indi, 1,239; Laanecoorie. 854; andWimmera. 3,531. That makes in all eleven divisions in which the electoral population is out of harmony with the provisions of the Act, as to the maximum and minimum numbers of electorsal lowed for any division. It was necessary, of course, in the redistribution to overcome these anomalies. The redistribution I now submit changes the electoral population of Balaclava from 33,650 to 28,069, and that of Ballarat from 30,280 to 28,342. I may say, in passing, that the quota under the redistribution is 28,019, and that the margin of allowance of onefifth either above or below the quota is thus 5,604. The electoral population in anv one of these divisions must not be mora than 33,623, or less than22,415. I have already given the figures relating to Balaclava and Ballarat, and the electoral population of the other divisions under this redistribution will be as follows: - Bourke, 28,753; Kooyong. 30,014; Melbourne. 29,506; Melbourne Ports, 29,237 ; Southern Melbourne, 31,348 ;
Yarra, 28,180 - instead of as at present 40,270 - Bendigo, 28,616; Corangamite, 27,738; Corio, 28,416; Echuca and Moira - a combination of portions of the existing divisions of Echuca and Moira., 27,387 ; and Flinders, 26,358. The divisions of Corinella and Laanecoorie disappear. The remaining divisions, Gippsland, Grampians, Indi. Mernda, Wannon, Wimmera, and parts of Corinella, and Laanecoorie - which will be amalgamated - have an electoral population ranging in round figures from 25,500 to 27,500. Honorable senators will see that in the new redistribution, regard is had to the provisions of the Electoral Act with respect to the number of electors in each of the divisions. I may say, in emphasizing the request I have put to the Senate, that the redistribution has evidently had the greatest care bestowed upon it by Mr. Topp. He made the redistribution last year, and’ since then, in accordance with the amending Act, he has proposed the redistribution now under consideration which, it seems to me, should be a very satisfactory one. Apparently, it is so regarded, because, although the Act provides that a map with a description of the boundaries of each proposed division shall be exhibited at post-offices and public attention invited thereto, also that suggestions and objections with reference to proposed subdivisions may be made during the thirty days within which the maps are on exhibition at the post-offices in the State, I understand that not one member of the public has availed himself of the opportunity to offer an objection. In these circumstances, I can with confidence submit the motion to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions, as proposed by Mr.R. H. Lawson, the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the said Slate into Divisions, in his report laid before Parliament on the 7th clay of June, 1906.
This proposed redistribution has not been necessitated by any alteration of the measure of representation to which Queensland is entitled in the other House. It has simply been brought about by reason of the fact that in certain divisions there has been a deviation from the maximum and minimum percentage as prescribed in the amending Electoral Act of last session. There is in essence, so to speak, no alteration of the existing divisions, but simply a readjustment of their boundaries to meet the necessities of population as provided by the Act. In this State, where, under existing circumstances, the quota was 26,019, the maximum 31,233 and the minimum 20,815. A deviation, so far as excess above the maximum is concerned, occurred in the case of Brisbane and Oxley. In Brisbane the excess was 2,786, and in Oxley 471. There were three cases where the electoral population of the division was below the minimum of 20,815. Capricornia was below to the extent of 146, Kennedy was below to the extent of 456, and Maranoa had a shortage of 2,629. Under the proposed redistribution the quota, the maximum and the minimum are still the same, and therefore the margin of allowance is still 5,204. There are some cases where the electorates gained. The figures which I intend to read are deviations, not from the maximum or the minimum, but from the quota, and the allowable deviation is 5,204. Brisbane was above the quota by 2,973, Darling Downs by 1,307, Herbert by 100, Moreton by 2,034, and Oxley by 2,848. None of these goes near the allowable deviation of 5,024. On the other hand, Capricornia was below the quota by 2,048, Kennedy by 3,908, Maranoa by 2,981, and Wide Bay by 324? All these are as near to the quota as it is possible to get it, regard being had to all the other considerations which are mentioned in the Act, such as the existing State boundaries, the physical features, the means of communication, and the community or diversity of interest. I understand that on the part of those who are interested and familiar with all the circumstances no serious opposition has been offered to the proposed redistribution.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Western Australia into Electoral Divisions, as proposed by Mr. M. A. C. Fraser, the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the said State into Divisions, in his report laid before Parliament on the /lh day of June, 1906.
The circumstances which brought about a. redistribution in the case of Western Australia are unlike those which brought about a redistribution in the case of the States with which we have dealt. In this case there was little deviation from the allowable number, except in the case of one division. The preceding Government had taken steps to have Western Australia as well as the other States redistributed, and although, so far as we could see, there was no electoral necessity, still we, in superseding the Commission, issued a similar Commission to the former Commissioner, Mr. Eraser, who, I understand, is a very capable officer and has applied himself to the work with a great measure of success. He occupies the position of Statistician and RegistrarGeneral of the State. Under existing circumstances, with a total electoral population of 116,199, to elect live representatives the quota is 23,240, the margin of allowance 4,648, the maximum 27,888, and the mintmum 18,592. In the case of Coolgardie, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, and Swan, the number of electors enrolled within each division was within the margin of allowance , but in- the case of Perth it was above the maximum, the enrolment for that division as supplied to the Commissioner being 28,224- That was the most populous division in the Western State so far as electors were concerned, while Coolgardie was the least populous, having an electoral population of 19,031. The new redistribution is, of course, based on the same quota of 23,240, the same maximum, minimum, and margin of allowance as the existing distribution. Coolgardie, instead of having 19,031 electors, will have 22,624, which is 616 below the quota; Fremantle will have 22,924 electors, which is 316 below the quota, and Kalgoorlie will have 22,173 electors, which is 1,067 below the quota. On the other hand, Perth will have 24,523 electors, which is 1.283 above the quota, and Swan 23,955 electors, which is 715 above the quota. Honorable senators will see that so far as the different States are concerned something more approaching to equality of electoral population is preserved under the proposed redistribution, while at the same time there is no verv considerable deviation even from the quota itself in any particular instance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 June 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060615_senate_2_31/>.