2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has definitely decided not to interfere with the land belonging to the Nudgee Orphanage for the purpose of obtaining a site for a rifle range?
– I have definitely decided, so far as I am concerned.
Bill read a third time.
Dissentfrom President’s Ruling.
– Before the debate, on the motion of SenatorClemons to dissent from my ruling, is resumed, I desire to say a few words to more clearly indicate the position I take up. I conceive it to be my duty to uphold the ruling of the Chairman of Committees, unless I am sure that he is wrong. In this particular case I am not only sure that he is not wrong, but I think that he is right. Some fear has been expressed lest a precedent may be created which might unduly cramp the proceedings of Committees in future cases. I do not think that the fear is well grounded, because each case, as to whether an amend- ment is relevant or riot relevant to the subjectmatter of a Bill, must be considered in reference to all the surrounding, facts and circumstances, and it is very unlikely that another such occurrence will be exactly on all fours with what has taken place in this instance. Since last night I have looked through all the decisions in the House of Commons and various State Parliaments which I can find, and I can only find one which has any bearing on this particular question. Even then I do not see that it is on all fours; but the principle involved seems to me to be the same. It is a case which happened in the House of Commons on the 8th April, 1861. The second reading of the London Coal Mine Duties Continuance Bill was moved. Its object was to continue a tax on coal which was brought into London, and the purpose of the tax was to provide funds for the improvement of that city.
Mr. Ayrton moved, as an amendment to the question of the second reading - “ That in the opinion of this House the coal tax and the London Bridge Approaches Fund should be continued until the 31st July, 1862.
Mr. Speaker said he did not see anything in the Bill about the London Bridge Approaches Fund, and therefore the amendment of the honorable and learned member for the Tower Hamlets was not in order.
It will be observed that it was an amendment to the motion for second reading and the Standing Orders of the House of Commons - from which ours have been copied - provide that all amendments to the motion for second reading should be strictly relevant, as ours do. Perhaps this case is not exactly similar to the case under consideration, but the question of relevancy is a matter of degree, and not a matter of principle. It seems to me that the case I have quoted may be argued to be somewhat similar to the one under consideration, because the Speaker said that he saw nothing about the LondonBridge Approaches Fund in the Bill, and in the present case I can see nothing about the construction of a railway in the Bill. I give the information to the Senate for what it is worth.
– Am I, sir, to interpret your ruling as meaning that it will not be competent for the Committee to attach any conditions?
– That is exactly what I did not rule. Undoubtedly any conditions can be attached which relate to the survey. But can a condition be attached that it shall not be made until the
Government of South Australia have agreed to a transfer of the State debts ? I do not think that any one can argue that. I admit that such an amendment would be less relevant than is the proposed amendment, but it is only a question of degree.
– Have you, sir, ruled that the question of the survey stands absolutely apart from that of construction of the railway ?
– Undoubtedly, so far as the standing order is concerned. The Bill provides for a survey, but it says nothing about the construction of a railway. I dare say that a man in the street might connect the two things, and perhaps he might be quite wise in so doing.
– Does not the Bill connect them?
– No; it says nothing about the construction of the railway.
– May I ask you, sir, how we are to safeguard the interests of the taxpayers if we are to engage in projects which we have not the right to undertake?
– That is a question which I do not think I ought to be called upon to answer. It is not a question relating to the construction of the standing order. It is a matter for the Senate, and not for me to determine. Does any honorable senator wish to speak?
– The order of the day has not been called on yet.
Debate resumed from 12th September (vide page 4438), on motion by Senator Clemons -
That the ruling of the President - that the following amendment to clause 2 of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, viz., to insert the following words “ Upon the State of South Australia giving the necessary permission authorizing the construction of the railway through that State” is out of order- be dissented from.
– Does any honorable senator wish to speak ?
– Mr. President-
– The honorable senator will remember that when he moved the motion it was seconded, and that the debate was adjourned. He cannot speak again except in reply.
– I do not propose, sir, to dispute your ruling, but to ask you to rule on a point of order. Standing order 415 reads as follows: -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once, and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the Senate, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day.
I submit, sir, that the standing order provides that immediately upon the dissent from the ruling being put in in writing the debate - the word is, I think, a little erroneous - must be forthwith adjourned.
– The standing order says “ and motion made.” I asked if the motion of the honorable senator was seconded, and it was seconded.
– Precisely, but I am submitting to you, sir, that the standing order contemplates that the motion must be made and seconded. A motion must be seconded before there can be any debate.
– The mover of a motion can always speak before it is seconded.
– I contend, sir, that this is a standing order which requires a particular interpretation. The practice which was adopted on a previous occasion, and which was followed last night, was that immediately the ruling was taken objection to, the debate, in accordance with the standing order, was adjourned practically automatically. I believe, sir, that if I had attempted last night to speak to the motion you would have ruled - and if you had done so I would not have taken exception to the ruling - that, in accordance with the standing order, the moment that the dissent was put in, the debate had to be adjourned.
– Not until after the motion had been moved. Will the honorable senator read the standing order?
– It does not say “ and motion debated.”
– It says “ and motion made.”
– I submit, sir, that it means that directly a motion is made without any speech, the debate is, for obvious reasons, forthwith adjourned. Suppose, sir, that after I had entered an ob- jectiontoyourrulinglastnightIhadpro- ceeded to debate the point at length, and that the seconder had also done so.
– Did the honorable senator move a motion last night?
– I simply entered an objection to the ruling of the President, and drew his attention to the fact that Tinder standing order 415 the debate must be forthwith adjourned.
– But the honorable senator moved a motion.
– I am not conscious that I did.
– The honorable senator moved a motion, and it was seconded.
– I shall admit that, sir, if you like. I remember you asking if the motion was seconded.
– If the honorable senator had chosen to debate the point last night, I should not have stopped him.
– If such a case recurs, there will be nothing to prevent an honorable senator who enters an objection to a ruling from proceeding to debate it at any length, or to prevent the seconder of the motion from following his example. The position, I take it, is that after the mover of the motion has spoken, and its seconder has spoken, the debate must be forthwith adjourned.
– That is the position.
– Then it is extremely difficult for any one to understand what is the object of the standing order when it says that the debate shall be forthwith adjourned.
– I must look at the standing order as it is.
– I submit, sir, that the standing order was framed in that way because it was considered that a motion to dissent from a ruling of the Chair was one of so important a character that the debate - that is to say, the whole question of debating it - should be forthwith adjourned in order that in the interval every one should have the fullest opportunity to consider the point involved. I submit, sir, that however you may rule on the mere wording of the standing order that is its true intent and purpose, and that for no other conceivable reason would it have been provided that the debate should be forthwith adjourned.
– I distinctly remember thatonseveraloccasionsthepointraised by Senator Clemons has been decided. The motion to dissent from the ruling has been made, and seconded, and the debate has been forthwith adjourned. The reason why I asked the honorable senator whether he had moved a motion last night was because in the rough Hansard proof I. do not see his name mentioned as having moved a motion, nor do I see the name of a seconder. The object of the standing order is to give the President time to consider the arguments brought forward by the mover of the motion dissenting from his ruling, and to look up authorities.
– Take the analogy of a dissent from the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. The motion of dissent is put in writing, and it is reported to the President.
– I do not think that dissent from a ruling of the Chairman of Committees is so important as dissent from a President’s ruling.
– The standing order, makes the two distinctly analogous.
– The standing order requires that the mover must submit his motion in writing. In doing so he may or may not use arguments. But in moving he makes his speech. Then, if the seconder chooses to speak he mav do so, and the mover may speak in reply at the termination of the debate. Senator Clemons had his opportunity last night. If he had chosen, he could have spoken for an hour or two.
– He should have an opportunity to look up authorities also.
– An honorable senator should be sure of his ground before moving to dissent from a ruling of the President, and should look up authorities before he does so.
– The standing order is clear, and I do not think that any argument will alter my opinion.
– I wish to point out that the practice in New South Wales is in accordance with the principle enunciated by Senator Clemons - that upon dissent being handed in the whole proceeding is adjourned to the following day. I have a distinct recollection that on one occasion I moved a motion of dissent from a Speaker’s ruling, and what I have indicated was the practice then followed.
– Was the New South Wales standing order the same as ours ?
– No, I am simply stating what the practice was. The New South Wales standing order, No. 161, was as follows: -
A ruling of Mr. Speaker may only be dissented from by Motion : provided that Mr. Speaker shall be entitled to put the question when Debate on any such Motion shall have exceeded thirty minutes, and that no Member shall, without concurrence, speak to such Motion for more than ten minutes. Notice of such Motion shall be given and set down to be considered within three sitting-days of that on which the ruling was given, and shall take precedence of all other business on the day appointed, and if not moved on that day, shall lapse.
– That is an entirely different standing order from ours.
– I am pointing out that the invariable practice was to adjourn immediately to another occasion within three days. The result was that when the matter came on again, the dissentient stated his case for the consideration of the House, and debate followed. It appears to me that if your ruling be correct, Mr. President, the standing order must be an extremely ‘defective *one, because it imposes an obvious disadvantage upon the senator who challenges a ruling, and who should have a right to state his case for the consideration of the Senate.
– He has the right of reply.
– Senator Clemons had the right to state his case last night.
– I am discussing whether he should have the right to-day. That is the whole point.
– To carry out the hornorable senator’s suggestion it would be necessary to give a day to the mover and another day to the President after the mover had spoken.
– That is stretching the point to an absurdity. The whole question is whether, when a senator takes upon himself the responsibility of challenging a ruling, there should be a reasonable opportunity for him and for other honorable senators to look up authorities, so as to be in the position to state his case clearly.
– The practice and procedure in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales seem to me to have no bearing upon the point, because the standing order of the Senate and that quoted by Senator Millen are so absolutely different. Our practice ought to conform to our standing order, which seems to me to be perfectly clear -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President -
That is the first thing to be done - objection taken - such objection must be taken at once -
That is clear - and in writing, and motion made.
So that four things have to be done and have to coincide. There must be an objection taken; it must be taken at once; it must be in writing; and then motion must be made and seconded.
– The question need not be debated then.
– The mover may or may not debate it, according to his own wish. But, having moved, and the motion having been seconded, the question is put. Then what happens? The debate is adjourned. This matter has come up several times previously, and the practice has been in accordance with my ruling. For instance, I find amongst the decisions of the President of the Senate for 1905 the following : -
A senator having moved to dispute a ruling of the President, and having resumed his seat, cannot afterwards speak on the motion, but he has the right to reply.
It is a fundamental rule of the Senate that when a motion is moved and seconded the mover cannot speak again unless in reply. But the seconder of a motion who does not speak in seconding it has a right to speak subsequently. Therefore, I rule that that is the interpretation and meaning of the standing order, and the practice of the Senate.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [10-55]- - I regret that Senator Clemons has not had an opportunity to give his reasons as the first speaker this morning. As he has taken the responsibility of submitting a motion dissenting from your ruling, I think it highly desirable that the Senate should have an opportunity to know exactly what his reasons are. I do not wish it to be understood, however, that I am taking exception to the ruling which you have given. Personally, I concur in the opinion expressed by you as to the construction of the standing’’ order. But it is unfortunate that it should be so. Last night I was under the impression that when the motion of dissent was moved and seconded formally, Senator Clemons would have an opportunity to speak this morning, . not simply in reply, but in support of his motion. Although it- is- true that a clever” speaker can make very effective points in reply, and may even manage to influence one or two votes upon a matter that is in doubt, still he loses an advantage if he is not allowed to speak before the debate is entered upon. Passing to the question now before the Senate, I think that the case which has been mentioned by the President in regard to the coal tax can be clearly discriminated from the present position. In that case, as I understand, there was an absolute dissimilarity between the amendment and the Bill under discussion. But where is the irrelevancy in the case with which we are now dealing? It is perfectly true that, having authorized the survey, another Act of Parliament would be required after the survey was made to enable the railway to be built. But still the survey is a preliminary step in connexion with the railway, which cannot be built until the survey has been made. In the English case which has been referred to the Lon,don Coal Mine Duties Continuance Bill was under discussion -
Mr. Ayrton moved, as an amendment to the question of the second reading - “ That, in the opinion of this House, the coal tax and the London Bridge Approaches Fund should be continued until the 31st July, 1S62.”
Mr. Speaker said he did not see anything in the Bill about the London Bridge Approaches Fund, and, therefore, the amendment of the honorable and learned member for the Tower Hamlets was not in order.
The whole point was that the London Bridge Approaches Fund had nothing to do with the London Coal Mine Duties Continuance Bill. The coal dues were to be continued for a specific period. That, I presume, was a distinct fund, although possibly it depended on the revenue received from the coal duties. In that way, I submit, we may distinguish between the cases there and the case now under consideration. I know that if an honorable senator, on the second reading of a Bill, takes exception to it on the ground that it goes beyond the title or the order of leave, then that Bill may be ordered to be set aside; and, f admit that once that stage has been passed such a step cannot be taken- in Committee. I urge, however, that, in order to ascertain whether art amendment is relevant, we are entitled to refer to what would have been the position if the Bill had been initiated with such a provision in it. If we find that the presence of such a provision would not enable you, sir, to order the Bill to be set aside, it is strong evidence of~the relevancy of~ the amendment to the subject-matter of the Bill. If I am right in that contention, then any amendment proposed in Committee that would not have previously caused the Bill to be set aside, is thoroughly in order, although there is nothing in the Bill referring to the absolute construction of the railway. You, Mr.
President, have pointed out that each case of this kind must stand by itself. Nevertheless, every case forms a precedent in the respect that it lays down a certain principle which may be applied if an amendment of a like character be subsequently submitted. Therefore, the Senate ought to be “very careful in adopting a ruling that would, I submit, unduly restrict honorable senators in their legislative work.
– This .’is “ redtapism ‘ ‘ with a vengeance !
-Col. GOULD. - I suppose that the honorable senator means that the red tape ties a little too tightly. If we tie ourselves up in so hard and fast a way, we may, on some future occasion, find ourselves unable to do justice to measures which come before us. There are honorable senators who are opposed to the measure, but whose objections might be removed at once if a condition of the kind proposed - which, after all, is a fair one - could be introduced. On the other hand, there are honorable senators who say that, even if this condition were imposed they would still oppose the Bill. Then, honorable senators who voted for the second reading, believing that every provision of the Constitution would be observed, might very well say that, if this addition be not inserted, they will vote, not only against this clause, but - in the event of the clause being carried - against the third reading. It is a matter of serious and great importance as to how far this ruling may be adopted by the Senate. This is not a question to be regarded from a party point of view, relating as it does to a matter of relevancy ; and only on the point of relevancy should the matter be argued. Although I voted against the second reading, I think I can free myself from any bias or prejudice. At any rate, I have endeavoured to discuss the question on its merits simply as one of the relevancy of the amendment.
.- It seems to me that the ruling of the Chairman, and consequently the ruling of the President, is right. I am sorry we have not had an opportunity to hear Senator Clemons. While the balance of convenience may be in favour of having the whole of the debate at the same time, I think that literally the reading of the standing order is against that course. However, we shall have an opportunity to hear Senator Clemons in reply; and I shall endeavour, as far as possible, to keep an open mind. At present it appears to me that the whole issue is whether the subject of a survey for a railway route can be kept separate from the question of the construction of a railway. If these two subjects can be dealt with separately it is clear that the amendment is not relevant.
– Is there not another question, that is, whether the subject of the construction of a railway is -relevant to that of a survey for a railway ? Obviously the two subjects can be dealt with separately ; but the question is one of relevancy.
– The question is whether the subjects can be dealt with separately ; and, if they can, then the introduction of one subject into a Bill dealing with another is not relevant. While I am not sure that a railway could not be constructed without a survey, I am perfectly certain that a route may be surveyed and no railway constructed.
– There are dozens of such instances in Victoria.
– Up to the present point the Government and Parliament have desired to treat the two matters separately and to deal in the first instance only with the matter of a survey. Can an honorable senator thrust in an amendment which would compel the two subjects to be united in a Bill, in which the Government and Parliament desire to have them kept separate? I think not; and, therefore, in my opinion, the ruling by the Chairman and the President is quite correct.
– This is mere hairsplitting !
– Not at all; it is most important. The illustration cited by the President is quite to the point. If in a Bill’ dealing with one subject, an amendment relating to another subject may be introduced, then there is no limit to the number of subjects which may be dealt with in a Bill. If, as a condition in the Bill before us, there can be introduced a reference to a subject not connected with the subject-matter of the Bill, we may introduce references to any subject whatever. Therefore, I think the President is quite right in saying that if the proposed amendment is relevant, it would be quite competent to impose a condition that the survey should not be made unless South Australia agreed to some arrangement with regard to the transfer of the States debts; in each case matters would be introduced foreign to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– What has the States debts to do with the subject of the Bill ?
– Nothing, and neither has railway construction.
– What is the object of the survey?
– Never mind what the object is.
– When we sow seed, do we not expect to reap the harvest?
– That does not always happen. There may often be surveys without railway construction ; and the Government and the Senate are quite justified in dealing with the two matters separately. The Bill has been introduced to deal with nothing but a survey, leaving the question of construction for the future.
– Does not the survey partially commit us to the construction?
– I do not think so, because no one in supporting this Bill woul’d be committed to the construction of the railway. The very object of the survey is to ascertain whether the construction would be justified ; and the question of the construction may or may not be submitted afterwards, and must then be dealt with as ai separate subject. If my contention is correct, that the two subjects are separable, then the President and the Chairman are quite right in ruling that the amendment is not relevant. It would have been quite different if the amendment had dealt with the matter of the route - if, for instance, the amendment had provided that the Minister, having obtained the consent of the Governments of the States interested, might do so and so - but the very fact that the mover of the amendment has been compelled to introduce words relating to railway construction is some evidence that his proposal is not relevant. If the amendment were relevant, it would not be necessary to mention any subject not included in the subject-matter of the Bill-.
– It seems to me that the question we are now discussing is more important than the question of the survey. The ruling that has been given is of such a character that I submit, with the greatest respect, it may, if adhered to, dangerously cramp our operations in proceeding with legislation. As you, sir. properly observed last evening, the whole question is one of relevancy. How are we to arrive at a conclusion as to relevancy? . It seems to me that, by a common-sense process, we ought to endeavour to ascertain if there is any tangible, practicable, business connexion between the two issues. Of course, a survey is not the construction of a railway; but a survey is undoubtedly part of the construction of a railway. A survey may be undertaken and completed without any subsequent construction, but it is quite impossible to think of a survey without at the same time thinking of construction. Surely that fact in itself creates a ground of relevancy between the two subjects. The question we have to consider is not whether we should construct, but whether we should survey. We are not in the proposed amendment suggesting construction, but that there should be attached a condition in connexion with the survey that will render construction possible if it should subsequently be considered desirable. If we were to make the survey first, and then required the consent and found it impossible to obtain it, obviously the cost of the survey would have been completely thrown away. That practical difficulty in this case indisputably creates a relevancy in the proposed amendment. It will be admitted that it would be in order to move an amendment to the effect that the surveyors in making the survey should have consideration for a certain gauge, 3 ft. 6 in. or 4 ft. 8£ in. That amendment would deal with the question of construction, but it would at the same time be relevant to the question of survey. If surveyors, in making a- survey, aire instructed to have regard to the construction of a railway on a 2 ft. 6 in. gauge, they will be able to select a route , and provide for grades and curves which they would not dream of if the survey they were authorized to make were for a line to be constructed on a 4 ft. 8$ in. or 5 ft. gauge. In the Bill before us provision is made merely for the survey of a route for a railway, but we could relevantly amend the measure by making provision for the survey of a route for a railway to be constructed on a particular gauge. We cannot possibly dissociate from our minds the construction of the railway when we are making provision for . the survey of the route it is to take. I directed your attention, sir, to the fact’ that last evening you expressed yourself as in grave doubt in giving a ruling on the question. That was easily understandable, because you had to give hurried consideration to the question without time to look up authorities, and the subtlety of the issue might well give rise to doubt. I respectfully submit that, in the event of doubt existing, as to the proper interpretation of a standing order, it is in the interests of free discussion that the decision given in connexion with it should be such as to afford the widest possible range for consideration by the Senate. I am satisfied that honorable senators, in voting on such a motion as that now before the Senate, will be influenced by no personal feeling. I think I can say that for honorable senators, and I certainly do so for myself. I have had a lengthy experience of your work, Mr. President, first of all in the Convention, when, in occupying the chair, you proved not only that you had a remarkably masterly and complete grip of parliamentary proceedings, but, in addition, the ability to arrive almost by intuition at the correct view to be taken of any question submitted to you. That is my opinion of your capacity, and if I feel called upon in this instance to differ from your ruling no personal feeling can be said to have any part in the course I take. It is impossible to be quite sure as to the right decision on delicate and. intricate issues. Our only test in such a case is to count heads. even though the majority should be wrong. With the greatest possible diffidence I shall vote against your ruling, because I am aware of no other means of arriving at a decision on the delicate and complex issue before the Senate. I hope that honorable senators will be prepared if there is a doubt, and if they are not quite sure-
– To give the benefit of the doubt to the President.
– No, but to give a decision in favour of a wider opportunity for consideration by the Senate. There will be no reflection on the President in carrying a motion disagreeing with his ruling in such a manner. I am sure that you, sir, will agree that if there is a possible doubt, perhaps the best thing we could do would be to pass such a motion.
– The President is in favour of the greatest latitude being afforded to the Senate in such matters.
– I am sure of that. This is a question of greater importance than the construction’ of the proposed railway. The matter involved is the interpretation of our Standing Orders on lines which, while not giving opportunity for undue licence, will afford the fullest opportunity for the expression of the will of the Senate on all issues. I urge that there is a distinct and unmistakable relevance in the amendment, and if I were in doubt, I think it would be right to take such a course as would afford the widest opportunity to the Senate to express its will. It is difficult in doubtful matters to be sure which is the right side to take, but we can always be certain that in matters of this kind, we shall be on the right side if the course we take makes for greater freedom of discussion and action.
– I join with Senator Trenwith in bearing testimony to the excellent manner in which you, sir, presided over the Committees of the Federal Convention. 1 then acquired a very considerable regard for your judgment in these matters, and it has not since been lessened in any way. I thoroughly approve of your ruling in this case, and’ I take the liberty of pointing out that Senator Trenwith makes a slight error as to the relevancy of the “proposed amendment. I voted for the second reading of the Bill in the hope that we should derive valuable information from the survey, and that if the report of the surveyors were favorable business might possibly result.
– If the honorable senator could get the information he desired from the survey with the positive knowledge that Ave should hot be allowed to construct the line, would he be prepared to support the Bill?
– The honorable senator will permit me to say that I have hopes that if the Governments concerned do not see their way to construct the line it may be found possible to induce a private company to construct such a line on the land grant principle. We should have communication between1 all parts of the Commonwealth, and it becomes the Federal Parliament to promote the true Federal spirit. This Bill does not necessarily refer to a railway to be constructed by the Commonwealth Government, and if the survey be made the line need not necessarily be constructed by them. I approve of the President’s ruling, and I trust the Senate will support it.
– In common with other honorable senators who have spoken, I do not support the motion to disagree with the ruling of the President because 1 have any particular pleasure in doing so, but because, like Senator Trenwith, to whose forcible speech I listened with much pleasure, I recognise that by too strict and too literal an interpretation of our Standing Orders we might not only not facilitate the transaction of our business, but actually create for ourselves .difficulties which ought not to be called into existence. T appeal to Senator Walker, in dealing with a matter of this kind, to consider it from the point of view of a man asked to decide a purely business question. If the honorable senator, were the director of a company, and some person asked the company to spend .£20,000 on the survey of a proposed railway, the very first question, the honorable senator would ask would be, s ‘ Shall we have the right to build the railway if the survey proves that it would be desirable to do so?” If the person proposing the survey were to reply, “ We will consider that afterwards,” Senator Walker and any other sensible man would turn upon him and say, “ You are asking us to spend .£20,000 on a survey without any definite understanding that after it is completed we shall be permitted to build the line.”
– The Government might encourage persons to offer to do it, subject to the right of the Crown to resume it hereafter, and the information might well be worth having.
– I am putting the question from a purely business point of view.
– Only the State Government have the right to enter into negotiations with persons to build ‘a railway on the land grant system.
– I am not dealing with the question of a land grant railway, but merely offering an illustration. The point under discussion ought not to be regarded merely from the stand-point of a strict interpretation of the standing order. The Standing Orders were made for our convenience, and we are not here for their convenience. It will be remembered that on a particular occasion a certain person said - “Man was not made for. the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man.” We might very well apply that idea to the transaction of our business. We are asked to authorize the survey of a route, but because there is no mention in the Bill of the construction of a railway, an amendment to make the consent of a State a condition precedent to the survey being made has been ruled out of order. That decision may be strictly in accordance with the standing order. But if that is the case, it is -only proof to me that our Standing Orders ought to be altered, and their scope enlarged. That, I take it, is the object which Senator Clemons had in view when he submitted the motion. Where we find the Standing Orders to be defective, because they cramp our freedom, stifle our energy, and interfere with the transaction of the business of the country, we ought to sweep them away without any compunction, especially when there is a reasonable doubt as to their interpretation. I ask honorable senators to be guided by common sense. When the survey of a railway route is proposed, what is the usual corollary? Is it not the building of the line itself? Or, if not, are we going to roam over the Continent surveying probable or possible railway routes without paying any heed or having any consideration to the building of the railway after the routes have been surveyed. You, sir, may have interpreted the standing order aright, but I submit that by all the dictates of common sense the Senate ought not .to permit itself to be bound by the ruling. It reminds me of the habit they have in China of putting boots on a girl’s feet, and never permitting her feet to grow. If we were to allow that sort of thing to continue we should be “ cabin’d, cribb’d, and confin’d “ in every direction. Instead of meeting here as a number of individuals representing the interests of the country, and responsible to our constituents for what we do, we should become the slaves of standing orders, manufactured by ourselves. We are asked to consent to the survey of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in South Australia, and it is proposed in the Bill to insert as a condition precedent that the States concerned shall give their consent to the building of the railway if that, in our opinion, should be deemed desirable. Surely that is a condition which any ordinary sensible business man would insert in an authority of that kind ! If we cannot assure ourselves that we shall be permitted to construct the railway, why should we waste £20,000 in making a survey? Have we money to throw about in that reckless fashion ?
– The honorable senator is not discussing the ruling, but the merits of the proposal.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but I was of opinion that it would be in order for me to make that observation. In any case I have stated the reasons why I disagree with your ruling, and why I think that the Senate should adopt the wider, freer, and more businesslike interpretation of the standing order which has been suggested.
– We are engaged in discussing a matter of vast importance, and I think that the gravest responsibility rests upon the Senate, and also upon you, sir. If you continue to hold the view that the question of the construction of the railway is not relevant to the subject-matter of this Bill, then, to some extent, you have cut the ground from under my feet as regards the arguments I proposed to offer. But I trust, sir, that you have an open mind on the point, and I ask you to consider earnestly^ the position in which the ruling of the Chairman, confirmed by yourself, is going to place the Senate. By passing the second reading of the Bill, we affirmed the principle that we are in favour of spending ^”20,000 on the survey of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie with Port Augusta. It is the duty of every honorable senator, and I think that a great responsibility rests upon you, sir, to see that we get the benefit of the expenditure on the survey. Not a single surveyor could set a foot upon the territory of South Australia without her consent, and even if the survey were made, the railway could not be constructed without her consent. We know from the State that she will not give her consent unless the route, the gauge, and any other matter she likes to mention, suit her convenience. It must be apparent to you, sir, that if we are to be bound by your ruling, every shilling of the proposed vote may be wasted unless we first obtain the consent of South Australia to this survey being made. The survey might show that a railway could be built as cheaply as has been estimated, and that it would be a greater success than we dare to anticipate. But, on the other hand, we might run the risk of losing every shilling of the proposed vote. . ‘Surely, then, the Committee has the right to amend the Bill in such a way as to make certain that the Commonwealth shall secure the benefit of the proposed expenditure. I submit, sir, with the deepest respect, that unless you decide the constitutional point to which I direct attention. you will practically confirm a course of action which may result in every shilling of the proposed vote being lost. I can quite understand the ruling which you have given more than once that it is not your duty to decide a constitutional point unless a decision is absolutely necessary for the immediate transaction of the business of the Senate. I contend that the occasion has arisen when the responsibility devolves upon you to say whether the Bill is constitutionally before the Senate or not. If you still think that it is not your duty to decide such a point, I submit that you, with your eves open, and honorable senators, with their eyes open, are going to sanction an appropriation of ^20,000, which may be thrown away. The constitutional point is clearly mixed up with the consideration of the ‘‘Bill, and the dilemma in which we find ourselves shows the absolute necessity for you. sir, if you can see your way, to decide it. I recollect that in some correspondence Western Australia said that she would set apart a strip of land or give a guarantee provided that the Parliament of the Commonwealth had the sole voice in fixing the route and constructing the railway. In order to try to meet the very difficulty in which we are placed in regard to South Australia, Western Australia was willing, in every possible way, to submit herself to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. But South Australia, because she believes that she might be injured if a certain route were adopted, will not give her consent to the proposal when we all know that according to the Constitution that is absolutely essential. It is not a question of what we may think is the constitutional point. Our only power to deal with this Bill is derived from paragraph xxxiv. of section 51 of the Constitution. I contend that the presiding officers in each House ought to see that the business of the country is constitution ally transacted, and that it will lead to endless trouble and disastrous consequences if you, sir, rule that it is not your duty to see that the plain letter of the Constitution is respected. The Bill says that the Minister may cause a route to be surveyed for the purpose of a railway. Cannot we lay down conditions with regard’ to it ? The first thing that has to be determined is the question of gauge.
It is impossible to have a proper survey without knowing whether what is required is a 4 ft. i in. or a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. the PRESIDENT. - Does the honorable senator say that the question of gauge has anything to do with the construction of the standing order?
– I am combating the idea that we ought to treat the survey as being distinct from the construction of the railway. I think it would save endless trouble if you, Mr. President, would take a wider view of the matter, and ask yourself whether you can, as President, get away from the plain wording of the Constitution
– By passing the second reading of this Bill, we have affirmed the desirableness of authorizing the survey of a route for a railway. In order to ascertain whether the amendment is relevant, we may reasonably ask ourselves this question : Does the amendment in any way contradict or violate the decision at which the Senate arrived in passing the second reading? I maintain that the main principle of the Bill having been affirmed, it was competent for the Committee to affirm that the surveyshould take place under such safeguards and conditions as might commend themselves to honorable senators. The amendment is merely a safeguard of that character. It names a condition under which the survey shall take place. In reply to an interjection of mine when delivering your ruling, you said that you did not contend that we could not attach conditions. If ii: is competent for the Committee to determine the conditions under which the surveyshall take place, I ask whether the condition proposed is not one which is relevant ? Some misunderstanding has arisen in considering the question of relevancy in reference to the connexion which exists between survey and railway construction. I do not desire to press that view. But the Committee has a right to insure that if the survey is made the fruits of the survey will be ours. We ask for an assurance that if the Commonwealth spends ,£20,000, it shall be allowed to reap the results and consequences of that expenditure. Let me give a parallel case. In New South Wales there is a Public Works Committee and in Victoria there is a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways. Suppose that in New South Wales a Bill were introduced to authorize the construction of certain public works. Would it be incompetent in Committee for a member to move to insert the words “ subject to the recommendation of the Public Works Committee?” In this case the principle of the Bill is the undertaking of a survey. In the other case it would be the construction of a public work. If it would be competent for a member to move to insert the words “ subject to the recommendation of the Public Works Committee,” I argue that it if equally competent for a senator in Committee to move to insert words making the survey subject to the assurance that the astern of the South Australian Government shall be obtained. The two cases are parallel. When this Bill was before the Senate last “year, an amendment similar in its purpose was moved on the motion for the second reading. The words of it were -
That the Bill be not furthur considered until evidence that the Parliament of South Australia has formally consented to the Commonwealth constructing that proportion of the proposed railway which would be in South Australian territory has been laid on the table of the Senate.
– Does hot the honorable senator see the immense difference between an amendment on the second reading and an amendment proposed in Committee ?
– The question then before the Senate was “That the Bill be now read a second time.” According to the restricted ruling which you have given, the word “now” could have been struck out, and a specific time - say six months ahead - inserted. But instead of that, it was proposed that a condition be inserted requiring the consent of the South Australian Government.
– The Committe has only delegated powers. That is the point. The Senate itself has not delegated powers.
– I admit that a distinction can be drawn between the Committee and the Senate. But still I urge that the Committee can introduce into a Bill any amendments which are pot in violation of the principle determined by the Senate itself. The Senate has determined that it is desirable to make a survey. What the Committee seeks to do is to impose safeguards so that the work authorized may be properly carried out, and to secure guarantees that when the money is expended the fruits of the expenditure shall be realized. That is not a con- dition which violates the principle of the Bill, or is foreign to it.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [11.55]- - * do not think that it is necessary to say that when the Senate considers a motion dissenting from the ruling of the President that involves no element of antagonism to the Chair. I am sure that you, sir, are the very last man who would suggest anything of the kind. A ruling from the chair is given by you as the mouthpiece of the Senate in interpreting the Standing Orders which constitute the guide established by the Senate for the conduct of its own proceedings. Their interpretation by you in the first instance is always subject to revision by the Senate, and no one is more ready to welcome full and free discussion on any ruling given from the chair, or to approach the consideration of such matters with a more open mind or less wedded to foregone conclusions. As. the embodiment of the constitutional procedure of the Senate, that single desire of the chair is to sc.! that the rules for the government of our procedure are correctly interpreted and carried out for the furtherance of the business of the Senate and the insuring of full discussion. If I thought that this Bill had about it any such ulterior object as that suggested by Senator Walker, it would fmd no favour in my eves. But I decline to believe that any one has any belief that, under cover of a Bill authorizing the construction of this railway, it is intended to promote its construction bv some private company. As has been interjected, that could not be done by the Commonwealth, because the land to bc granted is in the possession of two States. We can therefore easily dispose of that point. The question is whether the Senate considers that the particular “amendment which has been moved ought to be discussed in Committee. We are not now considering whether the amendment should be adopted. I say at once that I shall vote against the amendment if it is submitted in Committee. But at the same time no reason has been given which ought to preclude the Committee from having an opportunity to debate it. I will state why. The principle affirmed by the second reading of the. Bil/ is that the Minister may cause a survey to be made. There is no stipulation as to when- the survey, shall be made, or on what conditions. Surely it is reasonable, as a mere matter of common-sense, that, when the Bill gets into Committee, we having affirmed the principle that the Minister mav cause a survey to be made, conditions may be attached as to time, or, it may be, the approval of a particular body or individual. I dissent altogether from any attempt to circumscribe or curtail the power of this Senate in relation to a Bill which merely affirms a permissive principle. Strongly as I may be opposed to the suggested conditions, that fact does not weigh with me at all - it is as mere dust in the balance as compared with the right of the Senate to full and free discussion. I agree with Senator Trenwith, that if there is any doubt as to whether the amendment is- relevant, and doubt ought to be resolved in favour of full and free discussion. That view means nothing more than that we desire the question to be debated. We would not be committed in any shape or form - we should merely affirm that we regard the amendment as a very proper one for the Committee to have a full opportunity to debate. It is from that point of view I regard the matter. When this Bill, which is simply permissive, gets into Committee again, we shall, as I say, have a perfect right to- attach such conditions as to time and the other matters I have indicated.
– And as to route, and gauge, and so forth?
– I say nothing about details. It might be proposed to attach conditions so utterly irrelevant as not to be considered for a moment. I am also free to admit that this amendment might have been better worded, and have contained words not open to any objection. If the amendment had’ been worded so as to provide that the Minister might cause such a survey to be made, but that such a survey should not be made or entered upon until the State of South Australia had given permission for, or sanctioned bv Act of Parliament,- the construction, I cannot see how it could have been regarded as irrelevant.
– -That is precisely what the amendment is.
– I take that to be the position, or I should not express the views I have in regard to the relevancy of the amendment. The words of the amendment are a mere paraphrase, meaning, as they do, that the survey shall not. be undertaken until South Australia, by Act of Parliament, or in some other way. adopts the policv of the construction of a railway. And that is a question which, I think, we are perfectly entitled to discuss in Committee. I do not even put the matter on the broad ground taken by Senator Millen. It is not necessary to have an assurance that we shall reap the fruits of this expenditure of ,£20,000. That is not the object of the amendment - the object is merely to impose conditions on the permission we give to the Minister in regard to the undertaking of a survey. If we cannot impose such conditions, when has the Minister to make the survey ? Has it to be twelve or twenty years hence? I contend that we may impOse limitations, either in regard to time or conditions. Surely it would Le relevant to propose that the Minister might cause the survey to be made as soon as he had received a report from, say, the head of the Public Works Department of the Commonwealth that a point between the terminii in the Bill had been determined on for the starting of the survey. If it be admitted, as I understand it is, that it is competent to discuss in Committee whether the survey shall or shall not be made until it has been consented to by South Australia, surely the other proposal I have just indicated could also be introduced.,- Why should we not impose the condition that South Australia shall consent to the construction of the railway ? Is it a question of degree? Are we to be permitted to discuss little conditions, and to be prevented from discussing great and vital conditions? I ought to say here that I do not agree with the view expressed by Sena-, tor Dobson; on the contrary, I agree with what you, Mr. President, have said as to this question having nothing whatever to do with the Constitution.
– Except where the Constitution refers to the consent of the States. ‘
– If that stipulation were not in the Constitution, we should still have the right to provide that the survey should not be made without the consent of South Australia. The consent of South Australia may be a motive in the minds of honorable senators ; but, as I said two years ago, when introducing a similar measure, I do not believe that under present circumstances or at the present time
South Australia would give consent to the construction of this railway. That, however, . has nothing to do with the point under discussion. I shall vote against the proposed amendment in Committee, but that amendment is just as relevant as the question whether the Minister may make the survey within the next twelve months. ‘ In the interests of the fullness of debate, and in furtherance of the great principle which you, sir, have enunciated from the chair over and over again - the principle by which you have been (guided, very frequently in giving your own vote - I shall, if there is any doubt, vote in favour of affording an opportunity to debate the question in Committee. I also wish it to be absolutely and unequivocally clear that, as Senator Drake has pointed out, this Bill does not commit us in any shape or form to support a proposal for the construction of the line. But Senator Drake - though tentatively, and subject to further consideration - puts that forward as a reason against the relevancy of the amendment. I submit that it is not a reason against the relevancy of the amendment, though it may be an excellent reason for voting against the amende ment, unless something is said convincingly in support of the latter in Committee. It is well, however, that it should be absolutely clear that by this Bill we do not in any way commit ourselves to the construe- ‘’ tion of the railway. If the admission of this amendment would have any such effect, my attitude would be altogether different, because at present, and under present circumstances, I should regard the construction of this railway as utterly disastrous to the national interests of the State I represent..
– On many points I entirely agree with Senator Sir Josiah Symon, who, however, appears to have overlooked the main object of the amendment. While arguing that it would be perfectly proper to impose fair and reasonable conditions with regard to the survey, the honorable senator forgets, apparently, that the amendment refers not only to the survey, but to the necessary permission for the construction of the line.
– That is a condition as to time and is perfectly relevant. It is proposed that there shall not be a survey until consent has been given to the construction of the line when the survey has been made.
– The honorable senator contends that this Bill in no way commits us to the construction of the railway ; and in that he is perfectly right. This measure is introduced for one specific purpose - for the survey of a route for a railway - and Senator Symon has forcibly pointed out that it has no connexion with the construction of a line.
– It has connexion with a line.
– The survey might show that it would not be advantageous to construct the railway.
– Is not the object to ascertain whether it is desirable to make a railway ?
– Undoubtedly ; but I do not think it is proper in a Bill, which simply permits a survey, to provide that, before the survey is made, somebody must consent to the construction of a line.
– There could not be a better reason for the amendment !
– That is only the opinion of the honorable senator. I do not wish to restrict the Senate or the Committee in the fullest and freest discussion of the question, but I certainly am of opinion that the President and the Chairman were perfectly right in their ruling that the amendment does not come within the scope of the measure.
– I should like to offer a few observations for the consideration of SenatorClemons particularly, seeing that he is the mover of the motion before us, and will undoubtedly reply at some length. The decision upon which your ruling was given, Mr. President, was a decision in Committee. Under standing order 251 the Committee may consider only those matters referred to it ; and the matter in this instance was a Bill for the survey of a railway. Senator Symon has emphasized the difference there is between a proposal for a survey and a proposal for the construction of a line, and has pointed out that honorable senators, in voting for the second reading of the Bill, are in no way committed to the construction of the line. As to Senator Symon’s argument concerning the time at which a survey should be made, is it not a straining of the meaning of “ time” to claim that it may be defined by inserting a condition that, until the consent of the South Australian Government has been obtained to the construction, a survey shall not be made? In my opinion an amendment as to time must, in order to be relevant, fix some specific date, and not be couched in such general terms as to merely amount to a suggestion that we ought to have the consent of the South Australian Government to the construction of the railway. In considering this point we should have regard for the rulings given in the Senate, and the Standing Orders dealing with instructions to Committees. You will remember, sir, that when a Bill was before the Senate proposing several amendments in the electoral law Senator Mulcahy wished to move an instruction to the Committee that the elections should be conducted on the Hare system of preferential voting. The honorable senator was ruled out of order on the ground that the subject-matter of the Bill as it passed the second reading did not enable him to move such an instruction. We afterwards so amended the Standing Orders that SenatorMulcahy might, if he wished, move, in connexion with such a Bill, that it be an instruction to the Committee to provide for preferential voting. Senator Pearce was ruled out of order in an attempt which he made to make provision in the Bill for the use of voting machines. Senator O’Keefe was also ruled out of order when he desired to have a provision inserted in the same Bill to permit of plumping at elections. If it was necessary, under our new Standing Orders, that Senators Mulcahy, Pearce, and O’Keefe should ask for instructions to the Committee before they could introduce provisions concerning preferential voting, ‘ voting machines, and plumping in an Electoral Bill, surely it is reasonable to argue that if Senator Givens wishes to insert in a Bill for the survey of the route of a railway a provision concerning the construction of the line, he should first get an instruction from the Senate to enable such a matter to be considered by the Committee on the Bill.
– What is the difference between survey and construction?
– I think that there is a very great deal of difference. Before any one can be authorized to construct the proposed railway there will have to be a new Bill passed. I submit that it is not right to introduce into another Bill, by way of amendment, a wide and divergent proposition, which will require the passing of a separate measure to give it effect. I should like to remind honorable senators that the Standing Orders are intended for the protection of the majority, as well as for the protection of the minority. If we are to be permitted in Committee, on a Bill making provision for the survey of the route of a railway, to introduce amendments relating to the construction of the line, what logical objection could we raise to an amendment providing that the railway to be constructed must be an electrical railway? If such an amendment were to be considered in order, any amendment whatever relating to the construction of the railway might be moved, and if -that were to be allowed it would be in the power of the minority to paralyze the action of the Senate.
– No; the majority would still carry the day.
– I do not think that in such circumstances as I have described it would be in the power of the majority to give effect to its wishes. The commonsense interpretation of the Standing Orders, I think, is that any amendments submitted in connexion with this Bill, which has passed its second reading in a certain form, must be relevant to the question of the survey, and not to the matter of the construction of the line. I hope that honorable senators will support your ruling. I feel sure, however, that if a majority of honorable senators dissent from it you will not take any exception to the decision. In fact, you said so almost in so many words when giving your ruling last evening.
– When you were giving your ruling this morning, Mr. President, I asked, by way of interjection, how the interests of the taxpayers could be safeguarded if the ruling were to stand? You said that that would be a question for the Senate to consider. A Committee of the Senate is, after all, only a body to which the Senate has relegated its powers for the more convenient discussion of a matter under review. If the Senate is to have the right to protect the interests of the taxpayers it is essential that a Committee of the Senate shall have the power to insert such conditions in any Bill submitted to it as will insure that the money of the taxpayers shall not be wasted on any project which the Commonwealth Parliament has not the right to pursue to completion. It has been argued that the survey and construction of a railway are two entirely different things, and that those who support the proposal for a survey of the proposed line- do noli, therefore, pledge themselves in any way to its construction. Some who are prepared to support the Bill have admitted that they are strongly opposed to the building of the railway. This presupposes that the Senate will deliberately vote away large sums of the taxpayers’ money on a project which those who have voted the money away do not desire to see carried to its completion.
– Who said that?
- Senator Symon said that he considered that the building of the proposed railway would be disastrous to the State he represents.
– Under present circumstances.
– And that voting for the Bill in no way committed him to “the construction of the line.
– I said the same thing two years ago.
– The honorable senator wound up with an emphatic expression of his opinion that South Australia would never consent to the building of this railway by the Commonwealth, and that if built it would be disastrous to that State. That is a declaration which should be considered by honorable senators. Last night I challenged the Minister of Defence to say whether the State he represents is in favour of the construction of the line.
– The honorable senator has been defying me for -a long time, but I do not take any notice of his challenges.
– The question before the Senate is whether my ruling is correct or incorrect, and it1 has nothing whatever to do with the merits of the railway.
– I have been trying to show that if it is the right of the Senate to safeguard the interests of the taxpayers, > and that if we are debarred in Committee from inserting in the Bill a provision having that object, the Senate may be deprived of its power to safeguard the interests of the taxpayers in connexion with any “ wild cat “ scheme that may be proposed. I strongly hold the view that a survey is not only a necessary preliminary to the building of a railway, but that it is part and parcel of the construction of the line. The survey involves the laying down- of the permanent plan on which the railway shall be built. As a part of the survey of a railway pegs are driven into the ground, and specifica- tions are prepared showing how much cutting or filling up must be done at certain places. Pegs are also placed in position to fix the radius of curves.
– What part of the construction of a line is a survey of a railway that is never built?
– It is a necessary preliminary part. I can point to many instances in Melbourne where the foundations have been laid for houses that have not been completed. Even the beautiful cathedral in proximity to this building has not yat been completed.
– This building itself has not been completed.
– That is so, but it is still a portion of the construction of the complete building. In the same way the survey of a railway is a portion of the construction of the line, even though it should not be proceeded with. For these reasons’ I hold that the amendment I desire to move is perfectly relevant. I have no desire to waste time in- discussing a. ruling on a point of order, and I would prefer to address myself to the merits of the real question before the Senate. I hope that we shall shortly have an opportunity to discuss the provisions of the Bill in Committee, and that we shall be able to amend them in any direction that the Committee considers desirable.
– I should like to say that not only do I feel myself in no way embarrassed by your ruling this morning that I could not address myself to ‘this motion, but I willingly admit that the opportunity I have had of listening to the observations of honorable senators has been to me of material assistance, and the right of reply I have as mover of the motion, in the circumstances, confers on me ai distinct advantage. I hope to summarize the arguments which have been used, and to put the question at issue in a concrete form). I .take it that you have ruled the amendment out of order because it does not come within the title of the Bill as passed on the second reading.
– I never said a word about the title, but only about the subject-matter of the Bill.
– Very well, the subject-matter of the Bill. I believe it is agreed that any amendment which imposes a condition upon the Minister might properly be inserted in this Bill, provided only that it is not a condition which is outside the subject-matter of the Bill. I recognise from your ruling, and from the remarks which have been made, that the question has to a certain extent been narrowed down by you to whether an amendment relevant to railway construction can be held to be relevant to a Bill, the subjectmatter of which is to make provision for the survey of a railway.
– That is the point.
– I recognise that you rule that it is the point to which you have specially directed our attention, and around which all the discussion has focussed. I desire to draw your attention to several matters which are directly connected with that argument. In the first place, let me point out that the object of the Bill is to authorize the- survey of a route for a railway. Suppose that an honorable senator proposed an amendment to divert the object of the Bill to a survey of a route for a tramway or a roadway, obviously if would be quite proper for you to rule it out of order, because it did not come within the subject-matter of the Bill. Clause 1 says that -
This Act may be cited as the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Act.
To my mind the short title of the Bill connects the question of a survey directly with the question of a railway, and you admit that you have to recognise that the question we are dealing .with is purely that of a survey. I should think that the short title would go a long way to dispel any difficulty from your mind if an amendment were suggested which dealt with the question of a railway as separate from the question of a survey. But I go further than that. This is not merely a Bill to authorize a railway survey, but it contains on its face a clear statement that it authorizes the survey of a route for a specified railway, and that is a line to connect a point in Western Australia with a point in South Australia. It does not say that it is to be a survey of the” country between one point in Western Australia and another point in South Australia, but a survey of a route for a railway from one point to another. Let me mention here, lest it should be overlooked, that the authority you cited this morning does not. to any material extent, support your ruling.
– I said I did not think that it was on all-fours, but that it was the nearest one in point I could find.
– I am very glad, sir, that you mentioned that fact, because, in the meantime, I have had the opportunity of looking up the case. I think you will agree with me, without taking up time to go into the case, that in the debate on the question in the House of Commons, it was very clearly recognised that the essential thingto be considered was whether there was any parliamentary object to which the money “which was to be appropriated could be properly applied. In other words, the test was, “ Can Parliament say that it has a proper parliamentary object in voting the money?” That test can be very closely applied to the present case. Can we say that the Parliament has a proper parliamentary object in voting a sum for a railway survey if circumstances now exist which would prevent that railway from being constructed? To confirm that view, sir, let me mention another point which, perhaps, did not come under your notice. Last night, in Committee, an attempt was made - and I am still connecting the. question of a survey with the question of a railway - to alter clause1 so as to make it read -
This Act may be cited as the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Exploration Survey Act.
There a distinction was sought to be drawn between the two kinds of surveys. It was indicated that it was a desirable thing that the money should be appropriated for a survey for exploratory purposes, and the very fact that the amendment was ruled out of order only emphasizes the contention that the only point we have to consider in connexion with the Bill is that it authorizes a. survey for a railway.
– Will the honorable senator permit me to bring under his notice the fact that Senator Givens’ amendment was that the word “ Survey “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the. word “ Exploration.”
– My recollection is clear that the object of Senator Givens in proposing the amendment was to make the Bill authorize a survey for exploration purposes; in other words, a survey to explore the country. It will be admitted, I think, that he sought to insure that the vote of £20,000 would be expended on an exploration survey.
– That is my recollection, but whether Senator Givens worded his amendment so as to convey that meaning I do not know. But I believe that any amendment he might have moved in that direction would have been ruled out of order, because the Bill provided essentially for a railway survey. It emphasizes my contention that the question of a survey is inseparably bound up in the question of a railway.. When Senator Higgs was referring to some remarks made by Senator Symon with regard to a time limit, he said that it would be absurd for us to put in an amendment which would have the effect of postponing the operation of the Bill until some time had been definitely fixed. I take it, sir, that if an amendment were proposed, adopting the phraseology of the amendment of Senator Givens, to insert the words -
Upon the State of South Australia giving the necessary permission authorizing the survey of a route for a railway through that State, you, if appealed to, would at once rule it in order.
– I wished to make quite sure on the point.
– I said so last night.
– I instanced that case merely to meet the contention of Senator Higgs. I hold that in regard to a time limit, precisely the same condition would apply. I think that the honorable senator will now see that any objection that he might have to the amendment of Senator Givens, so far as it would appoint an indefinite time, must necessarily fall to the ground. It has been argued as though we were asking that the Minister should not do something - not until the Parliament of South Australia had taken certain action, but until the Parliament of the Commonwealth had passed a Bill authorizing theconstruction of this railway. I cannot help thinking that such an idea has been confusing the minds of more than one honorable senator. There is no material difference between out imposing a condition which would necessitate a subsequent Act of this Parliament, and a condition which would simply have for its direct object the bringing of this project within the scope of this Parliament, pursuant to the rule laid down in the House of Commons. Suppose that this were a Bill to authorize the survey of a route through German New Guinea, with a view to constructing a railway. If an honorable senator were to move an amendment to the effect that the survey of a route should notbe proceeded with until the Commonwealth had obtained the consent of the German Government to the construction of a railway through its territory, I believe that it would be accepted at once as being in order, Where is the difference between the two propositions? In either case the object of the mover of the amendment would be to give some parliamentary object to the Bill, so that there is no difference between the two cases. I think I have given sufficient reasons to show where the direct connexion between the question of a railway and the question of a survey is established in. almost every line of the Bill. But I propose to go just one step further. I submit, sir, that it would be quite competent for an amendment to be moved which would be outside the title of the Bill.
– Undoubtedly, because there is power given to the Committee to amend the title.
– Precisely. Such an amendment would be quite in order, because the title of the Bill could be amended subsequently.
– The only test is as to whether the amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and to standing order 251; which says that the Committee shall only consider the matters referred to.
– I admit that. The real test, after all, is whether this is a Bill to authorize a railway survey. I do not know, sir, whether you intend to make a supplementary statement. It is within your province to do so, and perhaps it would be desirable if you were to deal with my arguments on the point that the Bill has for its object a direct purpose, and that is, to authorize - not any kind of survey, but a survey of a route for a specific railway. The fact that the terminal points of the railway are indicated shows that the construction of a railway is the essence of the Bill. I would remind you, sir, that in clause 1, for the first time, it is called a “ Railway Survey Act,” thus confirming the long title. I do not think that it is right for us, in considering this matter, to pay no attention whatever to that parliamentary object. I do not say that the whole intent of the amendment is to give to this Bill a parliamentary object. The phrase will be well understood, however - that is to say, it should be possible for Parliament to follow up the effect of its own work when it has passed a Bill and voted money. On those grounds alone I should say that such an amendment ought to be allowed in Committee. I know of nothing in the
Standing Orders which should be interpreted so as to render it impossible to move an amendment to make the Bill efficacious. Without that parliamentary object we are asked to do something which can be of no value whatever. The term “railway” has not been omitted from the Bill. We are not asked to pass a survey, but a railway survey. If the word “ railway “ had not been in the Bill the argument which I am now advancing with regard to the parliamentary object would not apply, but the fact that the survey and the railway are mentioned together makes it necessary to consider that some parliamentary object can be and ought to be attached to the Bill by way of amendment. The question of the railway, upon which the whole point hinges, is clearly indicated in so many words throughout the Bill, and also in the intent, spirit, and scope of the measure.
– I have nothing further to say on the matter. I have already intimated once or twice that I have many doubts on the point in dispute. I am not at all sure that my ruling is right, and I shall leave the question to the Senate.
Question - That the President’s ruling be dissented from - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30p.m.
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from 12 th September, vide page 4438).
Clause 2 -
The Minister may cause a survey to be made of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia.
– I move -
That the following words be inserted at the beginning of the clause - “ Upon the formal consent of the South Australian Parliament to the survey being received.”
In order to save time, I do not propose to debate this amendment until I have your ruling, Mr. Chairman, as to whether I am in order in moving it.
– The honorable senator is in order.
– As honorable senators know, we, as the Commonwealth, are strictly limited by the terms of the Constitution in our powerswith regard to railway construction. Those powers are subject entirely to the consent of the State or States within the borders of which we propose to acquire or construct a railway. In order that the interests of the taxpayers may be safeguarded, it is only right and proper that, before we proceed to expend a considerable sum of money in the necessary preliminary steps to’ the construction of this railway, the consent of the South Australian Parliament should be obtained. It may be said that we already have that consent ; but that is not so. We have had statements made by succeeding Premiers of South Australia ; but the Premiers and Governments are only for the time being - fleeting shadows which are here to-day and gone to-morrow. We have seen Premiers apparently seated in office so solidly that an earthquake would be required to remove them, and yet they have been displaced in a moment; and’ the same may Be said of Governments. Even if the consent of the Premiers were to be taken seriously, we must always remember that their action may be entirely repudiated by their successors.
– And so with Parliaments.
– The action of every Premier is subject to review and ratification by Parliament; and, as Senator Guthrie has said, there is exactly the same position in regard to Parliaments. We know that if a Parliament passes an Act authorizing a certain work, that Act may be repealed or annulled by a future Parliament. At the same time, however, an Act passed in a session cannot be repealed in the same session, so that mere fluctuations of office do not apply as in the case of the promises of Premiers. It is something new to me to be told that there is any possibility of an Australian Parliament doing any act in the nature of repudiation. I do not think that a single instance of the kind could be pointed to; and I feel absolutely certain that in the future, as in the past, we shall find the Parliaments of the States fulfilling every obligation. If this amendment were carried, we should have some safeguard, which is highly desirable and necessary before undertaking the expenditure of a large sum of money in an enterprise which might otherwise be stopped at any moment. Another point is that no Premier, past or present, has the power to authorize us to enter private lands, in order to make a survey ; such a power can only be conferred by Act of Parliament.
– I think that all the land on this route is leasehold.
– Is that not private land?
– Will Senator Guthrie tell me that there is not an inch of private land between Port Augusta and Coolgardie? Is there no private land in Port Augusta? No Premier of South Australia has a particle of power to give us any right to enter on private lands; and what we should require is an act of indemnity or authority from the Parliament of the State. This is a view which requires very careful consideration before we commit ourselves to the passage of the Bill. This clause is the crux of the measure. It authorizes us to make a survey for a certain purpose; and, as I have pointed out again and again, we have no right to undertake or to complete that purpose without the consent of the people and Parliament of South Australia. Without labouring the point any further, I submit the amendment in the hope that it will receive the serious attention of the Committee.
– The amendment is one which may be considered by the Committee quite apart from any views which honorable senators may hold as to the desirability of constructing this railway, or of even making a survey. The Senate has affirmed the desirability of making a survey ; but I do not think for a moment that that committed honorable senators to authorize the survey on any other than common-sense business lines. We should incur the possibility of very serious complications if we did notplace ourselves in a perfectly unchallengable legal position. No one, I think, will dispute the fact that the Commonwealth has absolutely no right to send a survey party into any State. The Commonwealth has no right to drive a peg or lift a sod; it does not possess those rights in regard to States lands, and it certainly does not possess those rights, unless they be expressly secured, in regard to private lands.
– The South Australian Parliament is the only body to give those rights.
– I quite agree with the Honorable senator ; but, while I approve of the spirit of the amendment, there are one or two slight defects in it to which I invite attention. Let it be assumed, for the sake of argument, that the State of South Australia, while it has not given legal sanction to the survey, will remain quiescient, and not interfere with the survey party or prevent that party carrying out the duty assigned to it. But there are private interests to be considered.
– Where are those private interests?
– Is the whole of the country unoccupied?
– The whole of the country is more or less in pastoral occupation, and there is a condition in the leases to allow surveys to be made.
– Here we have a statement from a gentleman who has occupied the position of Commissioner of Lands of South Australia; and I am beginning to understand why that State has not progressed more rapidly. Here we have a gentleman, who was intrusted with the enormous power of administering the Crown lands of South Australia, makin? such a statement as that there is a condition in those leases allowing a survey of this kind to be made.
– The Minister of Defence ought to know.
– There is no doubt about that; and I am expressing my unbounded astonishment that this gentleman, who ought to know, apparently does not know.
– I say that the Minister does know.
– I challenge the honorable senator to produce any lease or any Land Act of South Australia which gives authority to the Federal Parliament to enter on private lands for the purposes contemplated by this Bill.
– Not the Federal Parliament.
– The Minister is gaining a little knowledge, so that the debate cannot be said to have been wasted. I assume that the conditions of leases in South Australia are on all-fours with the conditions of other leases throughout Australia; and there may be a condition by which the State Government, which grants the leases, reserves to itself the right to enter upon the lands for the purpose of making surveys in connexion with roads or railways. That power, however, rests with the State Government; and there is no power conferred on the Federal Government to conduct a survey of the kind. It may be, and probably is, the fact, that a State Government, having reserved this power, may, by a proper legal method, delegate it to the Commonwealth ; but that can only be done by Act of Parliament. No one can say that this power can be delegated by a mere administrative act. We have been told that this land is all under Crown lease; but it may be necessary, in approaching the termini of the railway, to traverse private lands.
– Precious little; there are some one or two allotments in Port Augusta, through which I at one time caused a railway survey to be made.
– Are there not the same circumstances at Kalgoorlie?
– I do not know.
– I do not care if only a quarter of an acre were involved. Although my honorable friend, in his desire to have this money spent in his own State, may ignore the interests of individuals, I am not prepared to do so. It would be a monstrous thing if we we’re to judge the merits of a proposal of this .kind not on the advantages which it offers, but on the question whether it would interfere with the rights of many people or of only one. The good sense of the Committee will decide that we should not do an injustice merely because it would be limited to one individual. I have endeavoured to show that we have no legal right to prosecute this survey.
– Then it will not be prosecuted.
– Then the Minister intends to support the amendment, because he admits that nothing can be done under this Bill.
– No, I say only that if nothing can be done in the way the honorable senator suggests, then nothing will be done.
– It is possible to do many things illegally, and I desire that what is done under this measure shall be done legally, that there shall be no injustice done, and that we shall not sow a crop from which we must reap a forest of litigation. The statement has been made more than once that we have the consent of South Australia to the survey.
– So we have.
– I shall ask the Committee to decide whether we have the promise of South Australia to consent even to the survey from the remarks of the South Australian Premier at the time one of the promises in connexion with this proposal was made. I do not intend to read the whole of the correspondence on the subject.
– Take the last letter, signed by Premier Price.
– I shall refer to one or two earlier letters. What constitutes a binding promise on the part of a sovereign community? It is not the word ofa Premier, or even a resolution of Parliament. There is only one way in which a sovereign community can be bound; and yet all the evidence we have of the assent of South Australia to this project is an assurance bv the Premier of the State that South Australia will not object to it. It is necessary that we should consider what the promise of a Premier of a State is worth. When Mr. James was Premier of Western Australia, and Mr. Jenkins occupied a similar position in South Australia, some correspondence took place between them with regard to a proposal made under which the Premiers of the two States had undertaken to pass through their respective Parliaments, stage by stage, a Bill authorizing the construction of the line. When. for reasons into which I need not enter now. South Australia failed to redeem that promise, Mr. James wrote to Mr. Jenkins, and rebuked him for the nonfulfilment of the promise. This was Mr. Jenkins’ answer : -
No promise can be considered binding unless it was incorporated in a Bill or resolution.
The proof of that is that Mr. Jenkins himself shortly afterwards: disappeared from the office of Premier of his State.
– He did not make the first bargain.
– No, but he has laid down what constitutes a binding promise on the part of the State.
– The promise made by Sir Frederick Holder was to take the opinion of the Parliament of the State.
– It might have been a promise to do anything, and yet Mr. Jenkins’ reason why he could not carry out the promise was that it could not be held to be binding unless it was incorporated, in an Act of Parliament or resolution. If Mr. Jenkins might excuse himself from carrying out the promise of his predecessor on that ground, the gentleman who may bePremier of South Australia in three’ or six months’ time might, if he were asked to give effect to the promise of the present Premier of the State, answer in the terms used by Mr. Jenkins - “ No promise can be considered binding unless it was incorporated in a Bill or resolution.”
– A Premier of a State might agree to a survey being made. That is a very small matter. =
– I am dealing with a promise, and it does not matter whether it concerns a small or an important question. The Premier of South Australia might dispose of any claim put forward as to the validity of the promise, bv saying that it could not be considered binding unless it was incorporated in a Bill or resolution. That should be a warning to the Commonwealth that the only promise or note of hand that South Australia is prepared to redeem must be one that has received the approval of the Parliament of the State. That is a perfectly sound constitutional position for the Government of any State to take up. It is a refusal to allow the temporary occupant of a high position to commit the Parliament of his State to any obligation. In view of the assurance we have that South Australia will recognise only a promise that is incorporated in an Act or resolution of Parliament, we can disregard the telegrams and letters on which Senator Playford relies.
– Mr. Jenkins said that the promise of South Australia was not required for the survey?
– If Senator Smith tells me that I should pay no attention to anything that he says, unless it is put in writing, I shall be disposed to think that that must apply equally to an important or an unimportant matter. It is because of the changing attitude - I hesitate to use the word “shifting” - of South Australia that we must take every precaution we can to prevent the useless expenditure of the money proposed to be appropriated by this Bill. If we incurred the considerable expenditure which would be necessary to equip a survey party, and were then pulled up by South Australia as the result of some opposition to the proposal which had been developed there, our expenditure would have been wasted. As business people, and especially in view of the fact that we are handling other people’s money, before we despatch a survey expedition to South Australian territory we should be perfectly certain that we have a legal right to do so, and that the Commonwealth will be protected against the possibility of claims for compensation later on. We have made no provision1 for anything of that kind so far, and it is my intention later on to move an amendment which will enable those whose property will be damaged in any way by the survey to apply to the Commonwealth for compensation. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the attitude of South Australia on this question is extremely uncertain. Senator Symon has to-day expressed the opinion that South Australia will never sanction the Construction of the line, although apparently that State is prepared to sanction the expenditure of money on the survey. In the very remote possibility of the survey, as.it proceeds,- showing that the line has some attractive features, and is likely to gain a large measure of public support, it might happen that the Government of the day in South Australia would stop the survey. In any case the shifting attitude of the South Australian authorities renders it incumbent upon us to get an absolute and clear legal title to prosecute this survey. I need not read through the whole of the correspondence on the subject, because honorable senators are aware that, boiled down, it means that the Premier of South Australia, after fencing for a considerable time with the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth on the question of the construction of the line, has affirmed that that State will consent to the survey. That brings us back to the position taken by South Australia in the earlier stages of the communications with Western Australia, and I ask the Commit tee whether we can accept a mere assurance of that kind as a sufficiently good and legal title to prosecute the work of the survey? I trust that honorable senators will accept the amendment. If, as Senator Playford says, South Australia is a consenting party, it will not be difficult for the Parliament of that State to pass a short measure to that effect. As a matter of tact, in one letter included in the correspondence, the Premier of South Australia expresses a willingness to take that course. I shall not detain the Committee while I search for the letter, but later on I shall quote a statement in which the Premier of South Australia has said that, if the Commonwealth should so desire, he will be prepared to ask his Parliament to pass an Act authorizing a survey. Seeing that he has given that undertaking, and that the amendment only makes for safety, I ask honorable senators to accept it.
– I think that the amendment of Senator Givens is a perfectly legitimate one for the Committee to make. It has been forced upon us by an expression of opinion from the representatives of South Australia. The leader of the Senate has given us distinctly to understand that the Government of South Australia, must be first consulted regarding the question of route, and that otherwise they will not agree to anything. When he was introducing the Bill, he said, at page 2474. of Hansard -
I can quite understand that before the Parliament of South Australia would be prepared to agree to the building of the line they would require to be assured of two things - the route to be taken, and the gauge to be adopted for the railway. The route is a most important consideration for the State of South Australia, because if the line goes in one direction it will be of very little use to that State, whilst if it goes in another direction it will be of use. If the line does not traverse the mineral country in South Australia, it will not be of as much use to that State as it will be if it is taken by way of* Tarcoola, and thus opens up the mineral country.
Last year Senator Playford expressed exactly the same opinion. Speaking on the 7th August, 1905, he is reported, on page 1098 of Hansard, to have said -
The route proposed goes by Tarcoola. It goes a considerable distance inland, and for probably 300 miles from Port Augusta we should have a water supply. … So far as that part of the country is concerned, there are catchment areas from which’ we can secure a water supply. . . I am not arguing now in favour of any particular route.
Evidently/ according to the papers we have in our possession, more than one route has been proposed - but I am pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of the route proposed. It would then have to go through a large extent of sandy country.
The honorable senator went on to point out to the Senate that South Australia must be consulted with regard to the route We have heard a great deal about promises of all descriptions. Our attention has been directed to the correspondence between the Premier of Western Australia and different Premiers of South Australia regarding the survey of a route and the construction of the railway. One of the great arguments which have been adduced in favour of the Bill is that certain irresponsible persons have made definite promises, and that those promises have not been redeemed. The result is that the representatives of Western Australia say that they have ‘a grievance against the other States of the Commonwealth because certain promises made yeans ago at public meetings in one place and another have not been carried out. In South Australia there is likely to be a difference of opinion regarding the route of the line. Is the Bill to provide that the survey must be carried out by the Tarcoola route or by the Gawler Range route, or By both routes, in order to satisfy the Minister? If so, I am convinced that a vote of £20,000 will not cover a tenth of the work which it is proposed to do. There were different views submitted to the Engineers-in-Chief before they made their first report. One of the nine points which were submitted to those gentlemen for consideration and report was “ 4. The route recommended.” In their report they say -
Alternative routes have been suggested, and we are at present not in a position to decide which is the better.
Here we have a number of engineers who, presumably, were furnished with all the available evidence; who visited South Australia, and took the opinions of officers in not only the ‘ Railway Department, but also the Lands Department, and other persons; and yet who reported, on the 12th March, 1903, that they were not then in a position to decide which was the better route. Will the leader of the Senate assert that it will not be possible for South Australia to say whether she will allow a survey to be made by the Gawler Range route, which is 60 miles shorter than the Tarcoola route? The Engineers-in-Chief go on to say -
On the one hand, it “nas been urged that, to induce the fullest passenger traffic, the shortest route should be selected, which is via the Gawler Range.
If there is one thing more than another that has been urged in the reports which have been submitted to us for our guidance, it has been the question of the passenger traffic which would be likely to go over the railway, if constructed. That will be a great consideration with the Parliament of South Australia in determining the question of route. If, as is stated in the report, the shortest route should be selected, which would induce the largest passenger traffic, in all probability South Australia will say, “ Yes, we will allow the Commonwealth to make a survey which it cannot make without our consent, but it shall go in a certain direction, and in no other.” We do not know whether the Premier of that State has ever consulted the members of his Parliament. Quite a number of its members, I take it, hold definite opinions regarding the routes of railways to be constructed in the State. I think that most of us have had sufficient parliamentary experience to know that after the terminal points of a proposed railway have been decided by a House of Parliament, the next question to be considered is the route. Some honorable members will contend that the railway should be taken in one way, while others with. perhaps, more or less knowledge of the country to be traversed, will declare that the railway would have a better chance of paying if it were taken by the route which they believed to be the best one to adopt. In their report, the Engineers-in-Chief continue -
On the other hand, the South Australian Government strongly advocate the Tarcoola route,
In view of the fact that the report was signed on the 12th March 1903, we cannot say whether the opinions of the majority of the members of the Parliament of South Australia have undergone a change or not. We do not know whether, even today, they are in favour of the route which the Engineers-in-Chief say has been most favorably considered by their Government, and this has, wc feel convinced, much to recommend it, not only because it appears to be the route favoured by one of the States most interested in this railway -
The Commonwealth’ will have to obtain the consent of South Australia before the Minister can send his officers into the State to make a survey. Probably he will say, “ Oh, we can send our officers along, and the Government of South Australia will not interfere with them.” But if I do not make a mistake, when it was proposed to take a similar step in New South Wales in connexion with a site for the Federal Capital, we were told that the officers of the Commonwealth would have no right to go there to do the work without the consent of the State Parliament. That trouble has been going on for the past two years. If, in consonance with the terms of the Constitution, New South Wales declined to permit the Commonwealth to send officers into its territory totake surveys and report on what, in their opinion, would be the best site for a purpose which has to be carried out under the Constitution, then how much more is it necessary for the Commonwealth to ask the consent of a State to do something which the Constitution does not empower us to do without that consent ? In their report, the Engineers-in-Chief go on to say - but also because the adoption of such a route would probably result in bringing additional local traffic, which would help to make the whole line a profitable undertaking.
The report, I repeat, was signed on the 1 2th March, 1903. As you, sir, are aware, many times a railway has been projected between two points, and has not been carried out, but after a lapse of time a railway has been projected between the same points, but in a different direction, because the population has increased more rapidly in that direction than in the other. On, the route which was first proposed, the population has remained so stationary that there has not been the same possibility of its paying as there was a few years previously. Conditions have altogether altered as between the two propositions. We know that in this case there are alternative routes. The engineers go on to say -
Construction, cost, traffic, and working expenses will depend on the route chosen.
There is a large question to be considered not only by this Parliament, but by the South Australian Parliament, in the matter of route ; and I take it that when we ask the Government of South Australia, as this amendment proposes to do, to give its consent to a survey being made in South Australian territory, it will take into consideration which route should be selected. Naturally the South Australian Government will desire to secure for the railway as much traffic as can be obtained. Naturally, too, it will desire the line to be built at the lowest cost. The engineers proceed -
To settle the question, we recommend that the Gawler Range route be carefully inspected.
This route will be 40 miles shorter than that via Tarcoola, and being nearer the coast, a portion of the cost of the connecting link from Eucla would be saved.
I understand, from what I have been able to glean, that the country nearer the coast is much better than that via Tarcoola. If that be so, the coastal route is the one which the South Australian Government will in all probability favour. The engineers say -
For defence purposes we think that a distance of 10 miles would be sufficiently far inland for safety, having in view the physical characteristics of the coast.
I suppose that the engineers went along the coast and satisfied themselves that there would be sufficient protection. Surely, before the South Australian Government would consent to money being spent upon a survey via Tarcoola, it would take into consideration such a circumstance as that. It is not likely that South Australia would give the Federal Government a free hand. The Parliament of Western Australia has already passed a Bill giving the Commonwealth power to construct the line, select the route, and determine the gauge. We are not asking the South Australian Parliament to give us anything like the same freedom as has been given by Western Australia.
– But it is doubly necessary in the case of South Australia, because the length of her territory through which the line will pass is much greater.
– That is so; and from what I can glean from the Minister who introduced the Bill, the character of the country in South Australia is much worse.
– Oh, no.
– It is a moot point whether it could be worse !
– Last year Senator Playford described it as nothing but rolling sand hills.
– In South Australia ?
– Nothing of the sort. I never described it as being of that character for the whole distance.
– I am not saying that.
– Then why does not the honorable senator qualify his statement ?
– Part of the country in South Australia is a great deal worse that that through which the line would pass in Western Australia. The engineers proceed -
We are, however, in favour of the more northerly route, as there can be little doubt that whatever the prospects of Tarcoola and Mount Dunstan may be, these districts must assist in bringing revenue to the railway. We have there, fore assumed the adoption of this route when making our estimate.
Although the engineers submitted alternative routes, they believed that the South Australian Government at that time approved of the route which they recommended. Subsequently, however, they submitted another report, which is rather more definite. They evidently considered that the South Australian Government was biased in favour of a particular route, and they asked for information with regard to it. In their next report, dated. 27 th July, 1903, they stated that some of the information that they required they were still lacking, one part of that information being with regard to the Gawler Range route. Thev said -
We understand that the Gawler Range route is regarded unfavorably by the South Australian Government, while the Tarcoola route is preferred owing to the prospect of probable further development of the district, and as best serving the traffic which will result.
For these reasons, they put on one side the further consideration of the Gawler Range route. Not that they had altogether abandoned the idea, but that they believed that the South Australian Government was inclined to favour the Tarcoola route. How can we form an opinion as to which route the South Australian Government is likely to favour with information like this before us? The engineers say -
For’ these reasons we have put on one side the favorable consideration of the Gawler Range route, although it may prove to be 60 miles shorter, and presumably proportionately less costly.
So that we have the experts in the first place giving it as their opinion that the Gawler Range route was 40 miles shorter than that via Tarcoola, and two months afterwards we have them declaring that the Gawler Range route would probably be 60 miles shorter, and proportionately less costly. I submit that this is a matter for consideration by. the South Australian Government, in order that it may date definitely which it regards as the better route. I take it that the question of expense will be considered by South Australia. That State is likely to be influenced by the fact that shortening the railway by 60 miles will lessen the cost of construction, and reduce the working expenses. . We have been told that that railway will cost ^3 1 000 Per mile- To shorten the route by 60 miles would save nearly £200,000. South Australia is not, I suppose, a rich State, and would object to spend money unless it was likely to obtain a commensurate return. If the consent of Queensland had to be obtained for the construction of a line, the Parliament of that State would certainly take into consideration the cost to which it was pledging its people before the survey was allowed to be made. There are some people with very big ideas, who urge that we” should “ think continentally “ - who apparently would have lines all over Australia until the map assumed the aspect’ of a spider’s web. But that is a day-dream. We know that South Australia may decline to give the Commonwealth the necessary authority to carry out any such work. When this Bill was under discussion last year, Senator Croft read a letter written by Mr. John Gwynneth, an engineer on whose ‘ reputation a great deal was said by the representatives of Western Australia. Mr. Gwynneth in that letter stated that if the route he proposed, going south to the Gawler Ranges, via Fowler Bay and Eucla, were adopted, the work could be carried out for >C3> 700.000, and that the number of sleepers could be reduced by 2.000, and the quantity of ballast by 1,800 cubic yards, per mile. Is that not a consideration? I take it that all this, information will be before the South Australian Government and Parliament when the question of giving permission for the survey is under their consideration. It will be for South Australia to choose the route ; and the best nian would be for the Parliament of that State to set forth by Bill their desire in that respect, and at the same time to give permission for the survey. Only a limited amount of money is provided for the survey. and that amount will by no means be sufficient if two separate routes have to be examined for hundreds of miles in different directions. According to the opinion of men who may be regarded as competent, the sum mentioned in the Bill will not prove sufficient for even one survey ; and if two surveys have to be made the expense will be greatly increased. We have asked
South Australian representatives whether the necessary permission will be given by that State; and from all sides we have teen told, “ Oh. yes ; the South Australian people are quite willing for the Commonwealth to spend £8,000 or , £10,000 in South Australia in making a survey, but are not prepared to give the Commonwealth power to do anything else.” But is South Australia prepared to give even the power to make a survey ? No such power has been given to us yet; and if we refer to page1102 of Hansard of last year, we shall see that in the discussion on this Bill Senator Playford quoted the following telegram from Mr. Price, the Premier of South Australia, to the Prime Minister: -
We have no objection to survey Western Australian Railway but desire to be consulted as to the route -
That was the opinion of Mr. Price, but not the opinion of Parliament. What is the value of that assurance to the Federal Parliament? The telegram proceeds - it must be understood that this in no way binds us to ultimate approval of policy.
That telegram was unctuously quoted by the Minister of Defence; but what is its value? Have we not heard sufficient here about public men breaking their pledges? Have we not heard of numbers who have given pledges, and who have practically declined to carry them out, or, at any rate, have taken no further notice of them? We have had mentioned the names of halfadozen public men who are said to have induced by promises, since unfulfilled, the people of a State to enter Federation. In the face of all this; what is the value of that telegram from the Premier of South Australia? I contend that it is not worth the paper on which it is written, so far as any guarantee to the Federal Government is concerned. Even if such an undertaking or promise did hold good, it will be seen that as a condition, South Australia claims the right to decide the route. Various routes have been favoured by engineers on various grounds ; and. under all the circumstances, if ever there was a reasonable amendment, it is that now before us. We have no right to pass legislation when the Federal Government and Parliament may be flouted by a State Parliament and left in a helpless condition. I sincerely hope that honorable senators will pass the amendment, and thus make it imperative that the consent of South Australia shall be obtained to the survey.
– The amendment ought to receive the support of every fair-minded senator. I intend to read certain correspondence between the various Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth and the Premiers of South Australia, from which it will be seen that three Prime Ministers - Sir Edmund Barton. Mr. Watson, and Mr. Deakin - all insisted on the consent of South Australia to the construction of the railway before the survey could be under taken. The present Government, however, are more or less under the influence of one of its members, and have weakly, and, to my mind, unconstitutionally, departed from the lines laid down by their predecessors. The two letters which I propose to read first are most important. Honorable senators have been accused by the supporters of the Bill of breaking faith with the people of Western Australia. But the correspondence will disclose the fact that it is not the Senate or the “Commonwealth which has broken faith, but the Government of South Australia. The first letter is from Mr. Jenkins. Premier of South Australia, to the Prime Minister, and is dated 31st July, 1901 -
Sir, - In reply to your letter of 23rd inst., I have the honour to inform you that prior to the submission of the Commonwealth Constitution Act for the approval of the people of Western Australia, namely, on 1st February, 1900, the Honorable F. W. Holder (then Premier of South Australia) wrote to the Premier of Western Australia (copy of letter herewith) undertaking on specified conditions to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this State to the construction of a line of railway to the Western Australian border.
On the nth June, I telegraphed to the Western Australian Premier as follows : - “Re Kalgoorlie railway. A Bill will be introduced into our Parliament, as agreed by Mr. Holder, 1st February, 1900, but we strongly insist upon line joining your State forty to sixty miles north of Eucla.”
I have, &c,
G. Jenkins, Premier.
The Bill has not yet been introduced. Here is Sir Frederick Holder’s letter, about which we have heard so much. It is addressed to the Right Honorable John Forrest, Premier of Western Australia: -
Chief Secretary’s Office,
Adelaide, 1st February,1900.
Sir, - Following out conversation as to the possible blocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Port- Augusta by the Federal authorities by South Australia refusing consent rendered necessary by section 34 of clause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill to the construction of the line through her territory.
That is a matter on which I laid considerable stress in the course of my remarks during the debate.
I regard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing, in fact quite out of the question.
To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake as soon as the Federation is established (West and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth) to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this Province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament.
I have, &c,
I direct the attention of the Committee to the special features of Sir Frederick Holder’s letter. The first point he emphasizes is that under the Constitution it is absolutely necessary to get the consent of the South Australian Parliament before even a survey can be undertaken. His second point is as to the improbability of South Australia withholding such consent. He says that it is quite out of the question, and he thought that it was altogether outside the range of probability that the consent of South Australia would be withheld. These are matters which should influence honorable senators, no matter to what extent their minds may be affected by prejudice. I have no doubt that if, on a question of this kind, certain honorable senators have made up their minds to have their way in riding rough-shod over the Constitution, they will not give these points the attention they deserve. In this connexion I deliberately charge the Government not only with trying to evade the Constitution in a most mean and contemptible fashion, but also with having deliberately abandoned and betrayed the rights of the States. A more weak, contemptible, and pitiable exhibition of what can be accomplished by judicious pressure and active organization by a hustler within the Cabinet I have never seen.
– And with weakkneed members of the Cabinet to influence.
– Yes; when a strong man meets a lot of weaklings there can be only one result. I have come to the conclusion that the sooner our governing Committee is swept clean of these people the better it will be for the Commonwealth. We do not know what wild-cat scheme may be thrust upon us if we have people like these in charge of our concerns. We do not know by what contemptible evasions of the Constitution such schemes might be introduced in either Chamber and carried through. We have a flagrant example of it in the Bill we are now discussing. The Government, of set purpose, have so framed this measure that no conditions can be imposed with regard to the survey, and in doing so they have deliberately violated one of the articles of the Constitution. When that sort of thing can be done deliberately by a Government, I say that, so far as I am concerned, I have lost all confidence in that Government. If they can betray us in one thing, it is only a step to something else. I propose to read the following letter from Sir Edmund Barton to the Premier of South Australia, dated 19th September, 1903 : -
Sir, - I have the honour to invite your attention to the correspondence on the subject of the Transcontinental Railway that passed between us in 1901, and particularly to your letter of 31st July of that year, in which you enclosed a communication from Mr. Holder, then Premier of South Australia, dated 1st February, 1900.
In the course of that letter, Mr. Holder undertook to introduce a Bill giving the assent of South Australia to the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in the Parliament of Western Australia.
In your letter of 31st July, 1901, you incorporated a copy of a telegram that you had sent to the Premier of Western Australia, in which you confirmed Mr. Holder’s undertaking, and stated that your Government insisted on the line joining Western Australia 40 to 60 miles north of Eucla.
Since that correspondence the project has received careful consideration, and I am now informed that a Bill authorizing the construction of therailway has been introduced into the Legislature of Western Australia, and has passed its second reading in the Legislative Assembly.
I shall be glad to be informed whether you have taken any steps towards the introduction of a similar measure into your Parliament, and if not what is the intention of your Government, in view of Sir Frederick (then Mr.) Holder’s communication, and your confirmation thereof, both already mentioned.
I have, &c,
This was the reply to that letter: - 29th September, 1903.
Sir, - In reply to your letter of 19th inst. I have the honour to informyou, as I have previously informed the Honorable the Premier of Western Australia, that it would not only be unjustifiable but useless to submit to Parliament a Bill for the construction of this railway (of which this State’s share of the cost would amount to a very large sum), without being in a position to give Parliament information as to the cost of the scheme.
I have, &c,
Here we have Mr. Jenkins absolutely refusing to bring a Bill before the Parliament of South Australia authorizing the construction of the railway. In contrasting his attitude with that of Sir Frederick Holder, I have only to say that nothing short of an Act of Parliament authorizing the survey of this line ought to satisfy the Federal Parliament. The word of a Premier is of no more value than the wind that blows. Sir Frederick Holder was in office in 1900, Mr. Jenkins in 1903, Mr. Price- is in office in 1906, and heaven knows who will be there next year. Before any definite step is taken by the Commonwealth in this connexion, we should have as a warrant for that step an Act of the South Australian Parliament. ‘The present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Mr. Alfred Deakin, wrote a very long letter to Mr. James on 16th October, 1903. I shall quote several paragraphs from it; but it is not necessary that I should read the whole of the letter, because a portion of it has no application to the aspect of the question which the Committee is now considering. Mr. Deakin wrote: -
Sir, - On the 1st October I had the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 29th September on the subject of the railway to Western Australia, in which you state that without further information it would be not only unjustifiable but useless to submit to your Parliament a Bill consenting to the Parliament p_f the Commonwealth constructing the great national work of connecting the State of Western Australia with its partners in the Federation by means of a Transcontinental Railway.
Under the circumstances I hope you will permit me to remind you that this Government has from the beginning of the negotiations on this subject relied on the promise given by Mr. Holder on the 1st February, 1900, in a letter to the Premier of Western Australia. That letter was published at the time throughout Australia, and is said to have been largely used to influence the people of the Western State to enter the Federation. The terms of the promise then made were so definite, and so unfettered by conditions, that this Government had not anticipated that there would be any demur to their being readily fulfilled.
Surely that is sufficiently definite to satisfy any one. That was the opinion of Mr. Deakin in October, 1903. No doubt a great many things have happened since that date, and apparently Mr. Deakin no longer holds the opinion he expressed then. But although! Mr. Deakin has abandoned what was no doubt a good, honest, patriotic, and constitutional position, a section of the members of the Senate have not deserted their duty. I ask honorable senators, and parti- cularly those who represent Western Australia, to listen to this statement in a later portion of Mr. Deakin’s letter -
To make a complete survey might cost £20,000, and before asking the Commonwealth Parliament to approve of this expenditure-
– It is Mr. Deakin who writes in this way ?
– Yes, Mr. Deakin, the old Deakin, of .three years ago, before Sir John Forrest had squeezed him - had broken his back. it is only reasonable that the consent necessary under sub-section 34 of section 51 of the Constitution should be obtained. Your Government and Parliament have much better information now as to the probable cost of the work than when Mr. Holder’s promise to the Government of Western Australia was made in 1900, and I should be glad if you could see your way to consider this sufficient for present purposes, and at the earliest date pass an Act authorizing the Federal Parliament to proceed with the work. This has already been done by the Legislature of Western Australia.
In regard to your apprehension as to cost, it may be fairly pointed out that the ultimate decision with respect to this great project rests with the Federal Parliament, and it may, I think, be presumed that that Parliament, in which the interests of South Australia are fully represented, will in this, as in all other matters, be careful not to involve the people of Australia in a large expenditure without a reasonable prospect of commensurate benefits to the Commonwealth.
May I ask you, therefore, relying on this assurance, to take an early opportunity of complying with the undertaking entered into by the Premier of your State in 1900, an undertaking which, as I have said, was widely published at the time, and which has been implicitly relied on ever since by the Government and people of Western Australia, as well as by the Government of the Commonwealth in the action it has already taken.
It will be observed by honorable senators that on the 15th October, 1903, Mr. Alfred Deakin, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, was of opinion that under paragraph xxxiv. of section 5.1 of the Constitution, it was absolutely necessary that the consent of South Australia should be obtained before any action in connexion with the construction or survey of this railway was taken
– He does not say that now.
– No; he has abandoned the position, which he took up then; but that is no reason why we should be false to what appears to me to be our manifest duty. I have quoted the views of the Barton Government and the Deakin Government, and now I come to certain correspondence, telegraphic and written, which passed between the authorities of South Australia and the Watson Government. On the 7th May, 1904, Mr. Watson as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, telegraphed to the Premier of South Australia in these terms-
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway under consideration. Shall be glad to be advised whether, in event Commonwealth Parliament favorably considering question, you will be prepared to pass Act authorizing Federal authority to proceed with work of construction. As you are aware, this has already been done by Legislature of Western Australia. Greatly obliged if you will favour with early reply.
The reply to that telegram is dated the roth May, 1904, and reads as follows: -
Replying your wire 7th instant, Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta railway, I advised your predecessor on 22nd February, that if it was considered necessary for the State to pass an Act to give the Federal Government power to make the proposed survey, we would be agreeable to ask Parliament, when next assembled, to pass a short measure- with that object. I do not suppose you intend to ask your Parliament to pass legislation providing for the construction until survey is made, and some reliable estimate prepared of probable cost.
On the nth May, 1904, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth sent the following telegram to the Premier of South Australia : -
Your wire 10th inst., Kalgoorlie - Port Augusta railway. Shall be glad if you will kindly advise me disposition of your Government towards question of authorizing construction. The possession of your views upon this specific point will be of considerable value to the Government in considering question of survey. Will you kindly favour me early reply?
The reply from the Premier of South Australia on the 1 2th May, 1904, reads as follows : -
Replying your wire nth, Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta railway, when survey is made and reliable estimates of probable cost are prepared, we should be pleased to advise you as to what action we shall then ask the State Parliament to take. The question of making survey has already been decided by your predecessors in office. Unless you intend to repudiate their obligations -
That is a nice attitude for a man who was deliberately repudiating the obligations entered into by his predecessor -
Unless you intend to repudiate their obligations, you need no further information in order to. justify you in asking your Parliament to provide necessary funds for that purpose.
To that communication. Mr. Watson sent the following reply by wire, on the 13th May : -
Regret you appear unwilling to intimate probable attitude of your Government towards
Kalgoorlie Port Augusta Railway until after considerable expense that survey will necessitate will have been incurred. May I take it that unless survey discloses facts not now known, involving very substantial increase on present estimates of cost, you will advise your Parliament pass Bill conferring necessary authority on Commonwealth to construct line, in accordance with promise of South Australian’ Government when Mr. Holder was Premier? You will readily perceive that Federal Parliament may naturally be reluctant to authorize substantial preliminary expenditure unless they have some assurance that such expenditure will not be rendered resultless by your subsequent unwillingness to act in accordance with promise referred to. In reference to latter part of your telegram. The question of adopting or modifying the policy of our predecessors is a matter for this Government to determine.
– That is a very businesslike statement of the position.
– Yes, and the pity of it is that not only has the present Prime Minister abandoned the business-like attitude which he previously took up, but the late Prime Minister, Mr. Watson, has also followed his evil example. On the 17th May, 1904, the Premier of South Australia sent the following telegram to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth : -
Replying to yours of 13th, I have nothing to add to mine of 12th inst., further than to state that survey and reliable estimates are always prepared before we ask Parliament by Act to sanction the construction of any line of railway.
Surely the Premier of South Australia, who dictated that telegram, knew perfectly well that when his Government ordered a survey of a railway line to be made, it would not have to appeal to another Government for liberty to construct it ! If had the power to construct the railway itself, without appealing to any other representative of the House of Caesar. But the Commonwealth Government are not in that position. When a survey of this railway Has been made, at a cost of £20,000 or ,£30,000, or £40,000 or £50,000, they must go cap in hand to the Premier of South Australia, and says “ If you please, sir, can we have your permission to build the railway?” And they may be met by a decided negative. If Senator Playford has any voice in the matter, it never will be constructed. I do not know how he can reconcile that position with this other position of putting his fist into the Treasury of the Commonwealth, and spending any sum between £20,000 and £50,000 of the hard-earned cash of the taxpayers on something which he knows will be absolutely useless, so far, at least, as he is concerned. Never in all the annals of history have I read of any conduct more wretched and more to be deprecated on the part of a responsible Minister of the Crown. The honorable senator says, “ If I have any power, this railway never will be built.” The expenditure of this money will be absolutely resultless, and yet. because he happens to be a member of a Government, which includes Sir John Forrest, he deliberately thrusts this proposal upon the Senate. I would rather be in my own position to-day, humble as it is, than be in his shoes. That is all the correspondence which I consider it necessary to read.
– The honorable senator omitted to read the last communication- from Mr. Watson.
– On the 18th May, 1904, Mr. Watson addressed this letter to the Premier of South Australia: -
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 17th inst., further respecting the Kalgoorlie - Port Augusta Railway
From this correspondence, one fact stands out with the greatest prominence - that each of the three Prime Ministers whose letters and telegrams I have read was of opinion that the consent of South Australia to this survey was absolutely necessary under paragraph xxxiv., section 51 of the Constitution. If any man was qualified to interpret the Constitution, that man was Sir Edmund Barton. As a constitutional lawyer, I believe he is almost without a peer in Australia. He was leader of the Federal Convention, and took a very active part in framing the Constitution. He was one of the foremost men in submitting it to the people of Australia. Sir Edmund Barton said distinctly that the consent of South Australia was absolutely necessary before we could take any step. Mr. Deakin said the same, and Mr. Watson, apparently bowing to the superior knowledge of the gentlemen who had held the office of Prime Minister before him followed in their footsteps. If those three Prime Ministers were right, the present Government must be wrong, and stands convicted of having overridden the Constitution, and trampled it under foot. But if the Government and another place have seen fit to ignore the Constitution, the responsibility which rests upon us, who more especially represent the States, is all the greater. It is incumbent upon us to see that we neither violate the Constitution ourselves, nor permit any one else to do so, if it be within our power to prevent them. “The Senate is particularly the guardian of the Constitution, which is the bond of partnership between the various States. It embodies the articles and conditions of agreement under which the Federation of Australia was brought about, and without which we could have had no Commonwealth. I maintain that the amendment of Senator Givens is not only reasonable, but absolutely necessary unless Parliament is to be placed in the position of a mere mendicant sitting at the gate of South Australia. We are asked to spend from £20,000 to £50,000 on a survey through a portion of the territory of South Australia. The South Australian members, in a most cynical fashion, one and all declare that; while they are prepared to vote for the Bill, as the money will be spent in their State, they have made up their minds that no railway will be built. Senator Symon said to-day that its construction would be one of the most disastrous things that could happen to South Australia. I do not believe that a single one of the South Australian senators - although they are voting for the expenditure of this money - would vote for the construction of the line. Really, mv command of the English language is not sufficient to enable me to express my opinions frankly within the Standing Orders regarding men who take up that position.
– Shall I move to suspend the Standing Orders to enable Senator Stewart to describe this conduct as he would like to do?
– In any case, I submit that if the Senate desires to maintain its self-respect it will insist upon the proviso moved bv Senator Givens. If we are to spend from £20,000 to £50,000, let us, at any rate, have an assurance that, after the expenditure, if we so desire, we shall be able to construct the railway without being placed in the wretched position of not being permitted to do so unless what we propose meets the views of South Australia.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [4.24]. - Senator Givens has, I think followed a wise and consistent course in submitting his amendment, which is one that the Government should accept. An affirmative vote has been secured in favour of the survey, but it was only obtained in consequence of the representation of the Government that the survey would ‘be made with the consent of the South Australian Parliament. Now, I ask whether we really have that consent, and what is the nature of it? I understand that a telegram has been received from the present Premier of South Australia; but that is not the consent of the Parliament of that State. It is merely the consent ot one man who may be out of office next week. Mr. Price’s communication reads -
We have no objection to survey Western Australian Railway, but desire to be consulted as to route. It must be understood that this in no way binds us to ultimate approval of policy.
But that does not bind the Parliament of South Australia. If we commenced to make the survey the South Australian Government might say, “We shall not consent to your entering upon our territory for that purpose.” Then what would our position be? Unless we were prepared to become trespassers absolutely upon the Crown lands of South Australia, we should be unable to go there. If we attempted to do so the South Australian Government could eject out officers, and the Government would be amenable to an action for intrusion without legal authority. I am perfectly clear that, even if we pass this Bill, it will not be worth the paper it is printed upon without the consent of the South Australian authorities. But what will be the position in regard to private individuals? The representative of the Government has told us that it will not be necessary to enter more than two or three private allotments in order to make the survey.
– It will not be necessary to go through any, because those lands have al! been surveyed.
– But unless the consent of South Australia is definitely obtained, the Commonwealth may find itself in the absurd and ignominious position of being hauled up for trespassing upon land without authority. Is there power under the Constitution to authorize our officers in this summary way to enter upon the property of any individual or of a State Government? Unless there is such a power, the Commonwealth Government will” find itself absolutely out of Court. I invite honorable senators to picture the absolutely absurd position of the Government of the Commonwealth if it ‘passed legislation which the Court held to be without ‘the slightest justification under the Constitution. The Parliament of Western
Australia rightly passed an Act to enable a survey to be made ; and this renders the consent of that State absolute, ami impossible of withdrawal, except by means of a repealing Act. One cannot conceive that any Government or Parliament in Australia would pass any Act to repudiate a permission thus granted, if on that permission, the Federal Government had taken action ; and it is clearly and unmistakably the duty, of this Parliament to see that the Com- monwealth is similarly protected in the case of South Australia. The papers in regard to this question have already been quoted, but I think it would not be amiss to read one or two of the communications. Mr. Jen/kins, the Premier of. South Australia, in June, 1900, telegraphed to the Premier of Western Australia as follows: -
Re Kalgoorlie Railway. A Bill will be introduced into our Parliament as agreed by Mr. Holder, 1st February, 1900, but we strongly insist upon line joining your State forty to sixty miles north of Eucla.
The Bill has not yet been introduced.
On the 1st February, 1900, Sir Frederick Holder, who was then Premier of South Australia, thus communicated with the Premier of Western Australia: -
Following our conversation as to the possible blocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie- to Port Augusta by the Federal authority, by South Australia refusing consent rendered necessary by section 34 of clause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill, 10 the construction of the line through her territory, 1 regard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing, in fact, quite out of the question.
To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake, as soon as the Federation is established (West and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth), to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this Province to the construction of the line by the* Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament.
The South Australian Government have failed to pass, or even to introduce, such a Bill. Is it to be contended that the Premier of a State can bind that State without specific legislation? Certainly, a Premier may make a promise and call on Parliament to redeem it ; but” we know that Parliament, if it thinks fit, would be perfectly justified in refusing to take any such action. In such case, the plain duty of the Government would be to resign, and give place to those prepared to deal with the matter in accordance with the .will of the people; but the new Government might not be prepared to give the necessary consent. It may be suggested that we should not delay the passage of the Bill, because it is reasonably certain that the State Parliament will pass the necessary Act if called upon to do so. In reply to that, I ask - where is the urgency for the Bill? We have been told of certain promises that were made to Western Australia by advocates of Federation, to the effect that such a railway would be constructed. But we have also been told that under present circumstances it is improbable that South Australia will ever consent to the construction of the line. How, then, are the promises of the gentlemen to whom I have referred to be kept? These were simply opinions and promises of individuals; and if the Parliament of South Australia refuses to consent to the construction of the line, it will be perfectly within its rights. Trade between east and west is at present conducted by means of good lines of steamers. A transcontinental railway would take a considerable time to construct, and would cost a great deal of money; and I think that, in such a matter, we ought to act upon the old maxim, “ Hasten slowly.” In view of the probable attitude of South Australia, it is all the more necessary to get authority for the proposed survey. We have been told that a transcontinental railway is of immense importance from a defence point of view ; and I admit that it would be very desirable to have all the various cities and States connected. But when the question was referred to the military authorities, Major-General Hutton forwarded a minute to the Minister, in which the following occurred : -
It may be as well to state at once that a force of the requisite strength, organized and capable of taking the field, does not at present exist in Australia, and that there are at present no local means of equipping such a force. The organization is wanting ; the departments necessary for a mobile army have yet to be created ; and there are neither sufficient guns, arms, equipment, nor ammunition available. It will, therefore, be seen that the construction of the railway, as contemplated, would under existing circumstances confer no advantage to Australia in its present condition of military disorganization and unpreparedness. ‘The most that could be expected from the military situation at present existing -would be the concentration of a certain number of armed men, who, without adequate organization, administrative departments, or the required equipment, would be quite incapable of coping -with even an inferior number of an invader’s troops, carefully trained, organized, and equipped with the latest modern appliances, as they unquestionably would be.
It will, therefore, be seen from the foregoing that, important as ‘it would be for defence purposes to possess Inter-State communication as proposed, the establishment of railway communication would in itself be of small value without a military force being in existence which could be utilized by its means with any reasonable hope of success.
Are we in a better position to-day than we were then, in regard to our Defence Forces ?
– I think that on the occasion of a Bill for misappropriation, some member of the Government ought to add his effort to those of other people who desire to steal, and assist in forming a quorum.
– Are you, Senator Dobson, going to allow that statement to pass? Senator Clemons has said that the representatives of the Government ought to be in the. Chamber to add their efforts to those of honorable senators who desire to “ steal.”
– I am afraid that the word is not in order.
– I withdraw the word “steal,” and substitute “misappropriate.”
– I ask that the word “ misappropriate “ also be withdrawn. In supporting this Bill I have no intention to misappropriate Commonwealth money, and I object to have such a term flung at me by any honorable senator.
– The point of order cannot be raised unless there is a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
-Col. GOULD. - I contend that we are not in a position to fulfil the requirements clearly set forth by MajorGeneral Hutton. I know that the Minister of Defence has been taking steps to increase the number of the forces, and to provide the equipment pointed out as necessary ; but I ask whether in the position of Aus tralia to-da.y it would be possible, assuming we had this railway, to concentrate the whole of our troops in Western Australia in case of possible attack. To begin with, it would take days to move the troops across the Continent, and we should certainly receive no notice from an enemy who intended to attack a particular place. We should have to find means for the defence of all our capital cities; and the troops, unless they were immensely increased in number, could not be moved from place to place, with any degree of safety- to the country. If, for the sake of argument, the troops were conveyed to the west by rail, the whole of the eastern seaboard “would be left without any defence.
– Will the honorable senator kindly connect his remarks with the question before the Chair.
.- The whole question of this railway in relation to defence was referred to Major-General Hutton, who then commanded the Military Forces, and I was pointing out that in view of the minute of that officer, there , is no urgency for this railway from a defence point of view.
– The question before the Senate is the insertion of certain words relating to the consent of South Australia.
– My point is that this amendment may be agreed to, because there is no urgency for the Bill. I am endeavouring to show also that there is no urgency from a defence point of view, seeing that we are wanting in all the elements of a mobile force. If a verv serious attack were made on Australia, it would be made at some spot where there was absolutely no defence.
– Is there any connexion between this twaddle and the amendment?
.- I object to the impertinent and insulting observations of the honorable senator.
– I hope Senator Henderson will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I must say that I find it somewhat difficult to connect Senator Gould’s observations about defence with the amendment.
.- Perhaps that is due to my poverty of expression, but I have already endeavoured to show the connexion. I shall not dispute your ruling, and will not press my arguments with respect to defence for the present.
– The Chairman has not ruled that the honorable senator cannot discuss the question of defence.
– I have not given a ruling that the honorable senator is not in order, but I have found it difficult to connect his remarks with the amendment, and I am hoping that he will be able to do so.
– I have explained that the proposed railway is advocated because of its supposed value from a strategical point of view, and for defence purposes. I have tried to show that it would not be of great service in that connexion, and there is, therefore, no reason, on the ground of urgency, why we should not accept the amendment. I have referred to the position which the Commonwealth would find itself in if hostile action were taken by the Parliament of South Australia, or by any individual in that State occupying leasehold or freehold land which would be affected by the survey. The Minister of Defence, by way of interjection, stated that the Government of South Australia had the right to enter upon Crown lands held under lease for the purpose of a railway survey. But it does not follow that any other body or individual would have the right to do so. If the South Australian leaseholder under the Crown believed that his property was being injured by a survey of the proposed railway, he would be able to bring an action against the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth Government could not justify their action by saying that it was authorized by an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament, or by the assent of the Premier of South Australia. They could justify their action, not bv virtue of an Act of the Federal Parliament, but only by virtue of an Act of the South Australian Parliament, which some persons would regard as an inferior tribunal. We are, in this matter, entirely in the hands of the State of South Australia. I ask -the Committee to consider what our position would be even if we passed the Bill and it received the assent of the State Parliament of South Australia, aria- if that State ultimately would not consent to the construction of the railway. We shall practically be saying to the people of Western Australia, “ Here is a toy for you. We are willing to give you the £20,000 to play with to keep you in good humour, but no satisfactory result, from your point of view, can follow from it for many years_to come.” Are we to treat Western Australia as a naughty child that requires to be pleased to make her behave herself? I ask the Committee to accept the amendment, which will merely give effect to what the Minister of Defence has already virtually promised the Senate.
.- No one can accuse me of wasting time this session, nor would I be a party to anything of the kind. Having read the amendment, I think it is right that it should be embodied in the Bill . If we place ourselves in the position of shareholders in a company about to construct a line of this kind, I ask whether any member of the Committee would agree to put 20,000 shillings of the shareholders’ money into a scheme of this kind without some such safeguards as would be provided for by the amendment? Would any honorable senator put twenty shillings of his own money into such a scheme, when he knows that, without a guarantee of the kind, the possibility of any result must depend on the goodwill of some one else who is in no way bound. I find that on the route of this railway, which will be 1,100 miles in length, there is no private property. That shows that the country is not worth occupying. People have gone far away to the north-west of Western Australia to take up country, and here we have 1,100 miles of coast lands without a single soul on them. Miles of this country would not keep a wallaby, let alone a man. I repeat my statement that a South Australian squatter told me that he went over this country for 700 miles towards Kalgoorlie, with the object of taking up land which he could have had for nothing, and found no land that he would take up. We know very well that, if this country had been of any value, much of it would have been occupied fifty years ago. People would not have gone to the far north-west of the State to establish cattle stations if they could have found ssuitable country for the purpose close to Port Augusta or to Kalgoorlie. I fail to see what possible objection there can be to the amendment. If the Parliament of South Australia bbelieve that the survey could be carried out in a proper way, and agree to the subsequent construction of the railway, they surely will not object to’ say so in an Act. The amendment would mean only a delay of a few ‘months until the South Australian Parliament had time to pass such a measure. If it were found that thev would have nothing to do with it, we could not go on. Before we spend the taxpayers’ money, for which we are trustees, we should take every precaution to see that it will be wisely expended, just as we should do if we had to pay the money out of our own pockets. We must hhave the consent of South Australia .to the survey ; and why should we not . have it before we spend any money on the scheme ? Even though we all believed the construction! of the proposed railway to be a good scheme, it would be merely a business-like precaution to secure the consent of South Aus tralia to the survey before we drive a peg in any part of the country. If honorable senators who are so anxious that the line should be constructed believe that the South Australian Parliament will give its sanction, why should they be afraid to wait until that has been done? If they do not believe that, why should they vote for the expenditure of a single shilling on a project which they know cannot be completed ?
.- I should like to know the attitude of Ministers with regard to the amendment. It is very extraordinary that they should sat dumb.
– The amendment is moved merely for the purpose of defeating the Bill. 8
– The Minister is aware that from the first I have considered this a most unjustifiable proposal, and I have a right to ask what attitude Ministers take with respect to’ the amendment. Does not Senator Playford know tthat there can be no answer to the statement that we are bound to get the consent of South Australia by an Act of the Parliament of that State ? Does he not know that every shilling of this money will be wasted if we do not get that consent ? If the honorable senator cannot justify this proposal, it is his duty to go back to the Prime Minister and tell that honorable and learned gentleman to return to his first opinion, and not allow the rights of the States to be violated; to tell Sir John Forrest that he is not any longer to dominate the Cabinet, and to drag us into additional expenditure which must be absolutely futile ; to tell him also that he will not get Senator Playford to set aside every business instinct he possesses, and forego the safeguards which every man who is not a fool would insist upon having. If Ministers, by a majority of one, gained honorable senators know how. insist on pushing this Bill through, I undertake to say that it will never become law in its present state; and unless it is materially altered in the direction suggested by the amendment, it will never be acted on, and will only bring humiliation on Ministers and disaster on the Commonwealth. It will only accentuate the strife which has arisen between the advocates and the opponents of the Bill. Can the Minister of Defence account in any possible av for the Prime Minister changing his opinion, and acting contrary to the expressed view of every Prime Minister of the Commonwealth that the consent of South Australia is essential, or is he going to sit there dumb? This is the most extraordinary position I have known in my short political career. How my honorable friend can quietly stand by and see the rights of the States violated, the clear provisions in the Constitution ignored, and every line that the Prime Minister wrote trampled upon, I cannot understand. Did he listen to that impudent telegram in which the Premier of South Australia said, with brutal frankness, to the Commonwealth. “ When you have made a survey, and we know what the estimated cost of the railway is likely to be, and the route by which it is to be taken, then we shall consider what we shall ask our Parliament to do.” Has any one ever known of a greater instance of impudence and audacity ? He does not say that the State Parliament would then determine what it would do, but that the State Government would then determine what they would ask the State Parliament to do. Therefore, we have two gauntlets to run, and there is the possibility of every shilling of this vote being wasted. I must express my surprise at the position taken up bySenators Pulsford and Walker, and lately by Senator Symon. We have been told by Senator Symon that there is no possibility of the Parliament of South Australia consenting to the construction of this railway through its territory. I ask Senator Playford if he does not confirm that statement?
– If the Minister does not confirm the statement directly, he confirms it indirectly, by telling the Senate that the only consent which the Commonwealth has obtained is that .Mr. Price, the Premier of South Australia, has no objection to about £.12,000 of Commonwealth money being spent on workmen in that State, squandered amongst storekeepers and licensed, victuallers, but that he desires to be consulted as to the. route and the gauge. Yet on ‘that so-called consent we are asked to vote £20^000 for a survey. I hope that Senator Playford, is proud of the position in which he finds himself’. I advise my honorable friend to go back to the Prime Minister, and tell him that if the Government want to save their honour, dignity, and prestige they will withdraw the Bill at once. I cannot understand the Bill being allowed to go on.
– Is the honorable senator discussing the Bill or the amend ment ?
– I am discussing the amendment in connexion with the Ministry, and pointing out that I cannot understand how Senators Playford and Keating can sit here and not support us in seeking to introduce a business-like safeguard. The telegram from Mr.’ Jenkins indicates the course which South Australia is going to adopt, and his statement is confirmed by Senator Symon and Mr. Price. We shall have to go as absolute mendicants to the Government of South Australia and consult them. Certainly the termini are mentioned in connexion with .the survey, but if they do not like either terminus it will have to be altered, or if they do not like the survey to be made bv one route, it will have to be made by another. In the end, if the majority in either House of the State Parliament should disapprove of the project our money will have been wasted. That is an unanswerable argument in favour of making the amendment. Will Senator Playford give the Committee any explanation as to the change of front by the Prime Minister? Has the latter changed his view because Mr. Reid told the people of Western Austrafia, that they ought to get the railway, as it was a necessary complement to Federation, and came’ away like a curly-headed boy, although in the Convention he said that it was unthink-able for the Commonwealth to interfere with the States, except with regard to a railway for defence purposes? Is it because Mr. Reid made the statement to the people of Western Australia that the Prime Minister is prepared to follow in his footsteps, although he will have to eat tons of dirt? I cannot understand how the Prime Minister, for whom I have always enterstained the greatest respect, can lend him-‘ self to such a thing. I have not a shadow of confidence in the Ministry. Any Ministry that would perpetrate a job of thissort deserves to forfeit the confidence of every elector in the Commonwealth.
– Every Ministry, that has existed has done the same, thing.
– At last the cat is out of the bag ! We are told not to follow a multitude to do evil. Because a number of Prime Ministers have proposed to do a grossly wrong thing, my honorable friend and Mr. Deakin intend to follow in 4he footsteps of the sinners. I wish them joy of their sins, and their Bill. I do not believe that it will ever get through the Senate, and if it does it will not be acted upon, because the gross wrong o’f it would appeal to the electors from one end of the country to the other.
– Now the honorable senator is telling us the meaning of the amendment - that the Bill will never get through the Chamber.
– It will never get through the Chamber, because it is burdened with wrong doing, injustice, party politics, degradation-
– The honorable senator will see that he is speaking about the Bill in general terms.
– I am pointing out that in view of the certain statements in the correspondence the Bill will be a sham unless this amendment be made. Will Senator Playford try to shorten the discussion by stating whether the Government intend to stand by the Bill without an amendment ?
– We will not accept the amendment, and, if necessary, I shall give reasons for not doing so.
– I have been waiting since half-past z o’clock to hear that statement. Did not my honorable friend hear himself called a traitor and his conduct described as contemptible? I could hardly believe mv ears when. I did. But my honorable friend sat dumb. Several hours have passed, and no explanation could be wrung from him until this moment. Does he not think that his conduct calls for an explanation ?
– Mv honorable friend’s conduct cannot be explained, nor can the Jump- Jim-Crow conduct of the Prime Minister be explained. A responsible Prime Minister corresponded for weeks and contended for months that the consent of South Australia is essential, and because that cannot be obtained, and he has a majority behind him, and wants to retain the support of the labour members for Western Australia, he pitches the Bill at the Senate without that consent which he knew to be absolutely essential. I am astonished at his action-
– I thought that the honorable senator would bring in King Charles’ head somewhere.
– In this case King Charles’ head is the non-compliance with a requirement in the Constitution. Senator Stewart did admirable work in reading the correspondence which has taken place.
– He only wasted so much time.
– I have not been wasting time, but have been trying to administer the castigation which my honorable friend and his colleagues richly deserve, and they will hear more of this before the Bill gets through the Senate. Let me revert to the letter in which Mr. Price says that the State of South Australia requires to be consulted as to the route and the gauge. Is mv honorable friend going to consult Mr. Price before he enters into a contract for a survey? Does he intend to correspond * with Mr. Price before he tells the surveyors where to start the survey, and by what route to go? Is he going to allow Mr. Price to boss the Government and the Parliament of the Commonwealth ?
– Mr. Price has never made any such stipulation.
– After the Premier of South Australia has issued his directions is the Minister of Defence going to consult the Premier of Western Australia and say, “ The railway will have to be taken by this route, or South Australia will not consent to its construction. What have you to say on that point ?” Are the Federal Ministers, the Premier of South Australia, and the Premier of Western. Australia to form a little conclave, and to decide b« which route the railway is to be taken? Is that what Mr. Price means when he says, “ I desire to be consulted as to the route?” My honorable friend does not know where the Bill will tate him. It is proposed to do a grossly illegal thing, and no one can, tell where it will end. I can quite understand that an action might be brought against the! Commonwealth for taking a theodolite and a chain on to the territory of South Australia. Any storekeeper or licensed victualler near the border of the State who thought that the railway was not going to be taken by his .door might object ; any single person in South Australia could object, and render our legislation nugatory. I must appeal again to Senator Pulsford. When he appealed to me I answered his appeal by saying that Tasmania has no money to pitch away in helping Western Australia, the richest State in the Commonwealth, to do what it has had to do at its own expense. I ask my honorable friend if he intends to act contrary to his business principles and commonsense, and insist on the Bill being passed without an amendment of this kind? Does he not see that by his vote he will compel Tasmania to contribute £900, which may be absolutely wasted, because he will not do what he would do in transacting his own business or in managing a trust estate, and that is to ask for the consent necessary to render the expenditure of £20,000 beneficial?
– He says “ Trust the Government.”
– I have done with trusting a Government. I should like Senator Keating to be present to tell us for what reasons he has changed his vote. It is a most extraordinary thing that he should change his opinion when he knows the financial straits of Tasmania, and is aware that the Commonwealth is very close up to the limit of its spending power.
– I do not think it is good form for a senator to abuse a colleague.
– I regret having to say anything against Senator Keating, who is absent. I have been waiting in the hope that he would appear. But does Senator Playford lav down the doctrine that a senator is not to criticise another senator from his own State? My honorable friend’s- argument is too silly. The Committee has a right to expect that Senator Keating will explain his vote. I confess that I do not understand it, nor do I think that he, with his well-trained legal mind and his business capacity, will be able to explain it either.
– What the honorable senator is saying is hardly an. argument for or against the amendment.
– I hope that Senator Playford will tell the Prime Minister that he cannot get on with the measure, and that it had better be dropped. I cannot find words to express what I think about the Bill. It is really so bad that the best thing the Government can do is to drop it into the waste-paper basket.
– I very much regret that the fever which afflicts several of my honorable friends shows no sign of abating; but, with a little patience, I hope we shall soon see an improvement in their condition. We have had a succession of phantoms springing from those fevered brains, and trotting through the chamber, with the intention of frightening us and making us believe things that are not.
– Is the honorable senator in order in saying that the object of this amendment is to frighten certain honorable senators?
– I do not think that Senator Givens will expect me to rule the observation out of order.
– I did not think that the English language contained words which were capable of frightening Senator Givens. I express the earnest, nope that we may be able to get through the Bill with a little more speed than has hitherto been attained. We are all aware of the object with which each move has been made; but I trust that, with a little patience on the one side, honorable senators may soon return to a more reasonable method of debate, so as to enable the business of the Senate to be transacted.
– Senator Dobson has expressed his surprise that I have not spoken to the amendment before the Committee. But it appeared to me, from the lengthy speeches which have been delivered, and the way in which the amendment was moved, that it has only been brought forward for the purpose of causing delay. Therefore, I was content to saynothing. But if Senator Dobson really wishes me to express -my opinion, I will do so. I do not agree with the amendment, and I will tell him why. In the first place, it says that the survey may be made only upon the formal consent of the South Australian Parliament being obtained. I reply that we have obtained from the South Australian Government all the consent that we require, and that is necessary. Secondly, it is unnecessary to insert Senator Givens’ amendment, because if, after the Bill is passed, it is discovered that the consent of the South Australian Parliament is required, that consent will be obtained before a penny of the money is spent. We consider that the consent of the Premier of South. Australia is quite sufficient for our purposes ; but, if that should happen to be not the case, we shall have to go to the South Australian Parliament, in any event, and there is no necessity to provide for that in this measure.
– What about Mr. Jenkins’ letter?
– Why should we rake up things that are past? We have a definite promise from the present Premier of South Australia giving us the authority of his Government to make a survey. I contend that he has the power to give us that promise.
-Another Premier next week may revoke it.
– I do not believe that there is the slightest fear of that. No South Australian Premier would ever think of revoking it.
– What is the meaning of Mr. Price’s stipulation that he shall be consulted as to the route?
– South Australia says very properly that before the construction of the line is determined upon, she must be consulted.
– The gauge should be fixed before operations are commenced.
– The survey does not depend upon the gauge. It does not matter from the point of view of taking levels whether the gauge is to be 3 ft. 6 in. or 4 ft. 8½ in. I do not intend to discuss the matter further, because I believe that the amendment is merely brought forward with one object, and that is to delay the passage of the Bill.
– I very much resent what Senator Playford has said with regard to the motives of honorable senators in supporting the amendment. Sofar as I am concerned, it represents such a minimum of what is desirable, that I positively could not accept the measure on any terms unless some such provision were in it. But it appears to represent more than the maximum that Senator Playford is prepared to concede. I cannot imagine any reason why an amendment which may commend itself to the cool and impartial judgment of a majority of the Senate should be rejected, not on its merits, but apparently simply because it is an amendment. What is the reason ? Is it that the Government is so delighted with having carried the second reading of the Bill by a majority of one that it has determined not to run the slightest risk, even in respect of an amendment in Committee? Or is it that the Government is pursuing the course that I think they have invariably adopted throughout the session, of degrading the Senate? I have had to mention more than once that the Senate is rapidly becoming more or less of a registry office for another place.
– A majority of the Senate can insert any amendment it pleases; but I do not believe that this is a reasonable amendment, and what is more, there is no necessity for it.
– If that is the Minister’s objection, I will confine my remarks to it. I shall give reasons why the amendment should, in my opinion, be adopted. First of all, we cannot go on with the survey unless we obtain the consent of the South Australian Parliament ; that is to say, unless we are prepared to run the risk of being stopped when we have started the work. When the Federal Government wishes to institute a survey on any land, it should, first of all, make sure that it has power to do it. At present, we have no such security. If the Government were to start a survey without the consent of the South Australian Parliament, it might be stopped at any moment. Indeed, any private individual in South Australia would have the power to put us in a ridiculous position by saying, “ You have now done a part of. your survey, but, in my opinion, you are not doing the work in a proper way, and, therefore, you must be stopped.” These are absolute facts which no one can deny. I am now dealing solely with the merits of proposed amendment, without which the Federal Parliament will deliberately court humiliation. If the Bill were allowed to pass without this amendment, the South Australian Government might allow the survey to proceed to a certain point, and then decisively say, “ Thank you very much ; we have extracted from the Commonwealth an expenditure of £8,000 or £10,000 in such directions as seem to us desirable, and we have no further use for you - outyou go !” Unless the South Australian Parliament consents in wide terms - and I shouldlike to have an opportunity to discuss the terms - to a survey by the Federal authorities, any one of the various positions I have tried to picture might be brought about. It is a serious reflection on the competence of this Chamber when we frame legislation without first inquiring what our power is in the intended direction; and that is precisely what we are now doing. We are giving all the sanction we possess, as a legislative body, to a Bill, with the full knowledge that the exercise of the power it seeks to confer may be stopped at any moment. In the case of an ordinary Bill that would be folly ; indeed, I should regard it as degrading. Every such Bill that we pass is one more sign-post of the gradual humiliation of the Senate since this Parliament was instituted.
– The term “degrading” is hardly parliamentary.
– I wish you, Mr. Chairman, would help me to describe the continual downfall - I suppose I may saythat - of this Senate in the estimation of, not only people outside, but of any senator who, like myself, has been a member for four or five years, and who calmly considers the trend of our legislation. I suppose that possibly it is due to the pernicious example which we set ourselves some time ago. At any rate, the present case is typical ; it is only one of a series. Continually it is proposed that we shall do something, with the full and admitted knowledge that we have not the power.
– Was not a very similar Bill introduced by the Reid Government? No objection was then taken.
– I was opposed to that Bill in every line and clause, and had I had the opportunity-, I should have treated it exactly as I propose to treat the Bill before us.
– Not quite so badly, I think.
– As a matter of fact, I think I had more success in stopping that Bill than will accompany my efforts in connexion with this measure.
– Senator Keating was not then a Minister.
– Senator Keating, I am sorry to say, is not in a position to help me on the present occasion.
– There is no doubt3 that Senator Clemons was bitterly opposed to the Bill introduced by- the Reid Government.
– If I did not say much in regard to that Bill, it was only because I was busy elsewhere; but I did all I could to defeat it.
– If that Bill had got into Committee amendments would have been moved.
– Nothing would have stopped me from moving amendments ; but my object was, as on the present occasion, to defeat the Bill. It does not matter to me which Government introduces the Bill, I shall be opposed to it now and for all time.
– Do not say for all time.
– I will take the risk of the statement. Even, if I change my mind - though I do not think that is at all probable-T-I should still vote against the Bill ; and I shall do everything I can in a fair and legitimate way to defeat it on the present occasion.
– After that statement how can you expect the supporters of the Bill to agree to any amendment which you propose?
– I have been “ side-tracked “ ; but I can tell Senator Playford that, while he has been out of the chamber, I have devoted myself entirely to dealing with the question on its merits.
– The honorable and learned senator is not “side-tracked,” but is acting under instructions.
– Whose instructions ?
– The instructions of the Opposition caucus.
– There is no combination on this side - call it “ caucus “ or what we will - which could produce such an effect as thirteen men compelling twelve men to turn topsy-turvey. There are many honorable senators on both sides of the Chamber who are opposing the Bill with the absolutely honest conviction that it is a wrong measure to pass. That remark applies to many worthy colleagues, as well as to many worthy opponents of Senator Findley.
– The supporters of the Bill stone-walled the measure yesterday afternoon, in order to give Senator Keating a chance to make up him. mind.
- Senator Playford has been careful to say that this amendment is not bad in itself, but that it is simply redundant. How is it that the position created by Western Australia for the. reception., so to speak, of this Bill in the Federal Parliament is so totally different from the position created by South Australia? I frankly recognise that Western Australia has to a considerable extent shown her bona fides in her efforts to obtain this railway.
– The honorable and learned senator refers to the Western Australian Parliament?
– Yes; and no one would refuse to accord a proper recognition to Western Australia’s legislative efforts in this connexion. Between what Western Australia has done, and what South Australia has not done, there is an enormous gap.
– There must be some reason.
– I have no doubt ; and the amendment proposes a proper safeguard. It is not suggested that South Australia should be placed in precisely the same position as Western Australia ; and that is why I was careful to indicate my view that if I vote for the amendment I am certainly not going to be satisfied with it. The amendment, in my opinion, represents the minimum, and even if it meant the whole, South Australia would not be in anything like the same position as that in which Western Australia has voluntarily placed herself. I should like to know what is the attitude of the South Australian people to-day. I ask any South Australian senator why There has been this evidence of bona fides by Western Australia, while there has been practically none given by South Australia? I can see nothing in the attitude of the South Australian Parliament and people except a desire to get as much Commonwealth money spent in the territory as they can without committing themselves to the slightest possible extent. More than one South Australian senator frankly recognises that this Bill will almost satisfy their entire desires. It is a plain fact, which I am not going to disguise, that they recognise that the great advantage to be got out of the Bill is the spending of the money on the survey.
– The great advantage is to get information for the Commonwealth.
– If the Commonwealth Parliament desire information from such surveys, there are many other places in connexion with which that information would be much more productive and valuable. If Senator Guthrie justifies the Bill simply on the ground of getting information, it is the same sort of miserable ground that the survey party would cover. If we have to spend £20,000 in acquiring information, let us spend it in regions which are likely to produce more desirable results’ than could possibly be obtained in the South Australian desert.
– We have no power to spend money in exploration.
– But if this money is to be used for the purposes of exploration let us frankly say so. If Senator Guthrie, instead of being anxious to get as much Commonwealth money spent in South Australia as he can - I hope the honorable senator does not object to that statement
– I do, decidedly. I have not asked for half as much money for South Australia as the honorable and learned senator has for Tasmania.
– I am not going to enter into a comparison between the greedy demands of South Australia and the sufferings of Tasmania. On the question of exploitation, it is just as well that I should say that honorable senators from South Australia expect to be able to get money out of the Commonwealth under this measure which they could not get out of private individuals under any possible circumstances. South Australia would appear to be firmly determined to secure the expenditure of as much of this £20,000 as possible within her own borders.
– And we are prepared to pay our own share.
– That is so excellent a rejoinder that I think we should put it into figures. Senator Guthrie thinks that it is very laudable for South Australiato be prepared to spend , £1,200 of her own money in order that at least £10,000 of the money of other people should be spent within her territory. Anxious as South Australia is to secure that expenditure, sheis not even decent in what she does in order to bring it about. The attitude of South Australia generally with regard to this proposal is contemptible, because, while she is evidently greedy to have this money expended within her borders, she is extremely careful not to show her bona fides in this matter in the way Western Australia has done. Will Senator Guthrie say that the South Australian Parliament is prepared to pass a Bill to enable the Federal authorities to undertake this survey and to complete the proposed railway as they think fit?I regret that I see no indication on the part of the Ministry, or even on the part of the Committee, to insist that before any step is taken under this measure, South Australia shall be asked to do what Western Australia has done. Will Senator Guthrie deny that that is refused by South Australia.
– I do not say that it Will be refused.
– It is refused by the Minister of Defence. Is Senator Guthrie going to vote for the amendment ?
– The honorable senator will know when I vote.
– I wish the Committee to tell South Australia that if she desires that money shall be spent on this survey, it is right that she should do what Western Australia is prepared to do.
– Why should the honorable senator dictate the policy of South Australia?
– I arn not doing sc. I merely ask Senator Guthrie to recognise that if this amendment is not giveneffect, South Australia will not have moved one step in the direction of putting herself in the same position’ as Western Australia. Even should the amendment be given effect, she will not have done as much as Western Australia has done. But the amendment will at least give South Australia the opportunity to do something in the same direction as her co-partner, Western Australia, to facilitate the useful expenditure of the ,-£20,000 proposed for the survey of this railway. With reference to Senator Playford’s remark about the consent of the Premier of South Australia, it should not be necessary to say that we need not pay the slightest attention to the statement that in this matter the Premier of South Australia can do what the South Australian Parliament can do. That is an argument which on any other ocasion would be scouted as utterly ridiculous. Honorable senators would not agree to accept the if se dixit of a Premier of a State who is here to-day and gone to-morrow. Senator Playford has said “ What does it matter whether this amendment is inserted in the Bill or not? If we find that we cannot spend the money as we wish, we will not spend it.”
– If we find that it is necessary to get the consent of the Parliament of South Australia before we spend the money, we shall get it.
– If the Government do not get it - what then?
– Then there will be no money spent. There is no necessity for the amendment. I think that the consent of the Premier of South Australia is sufficient, and I say that if it is found that it is not we can go to the South Australian Parliament.
– I dismiss the reference to the consent of the Premier of South Australia, because Senator Playford must know that if he were to take a test vote of the Senate on that point he would be in a hopeless minority. The honorable senator has intimated that the amendment is unnecessary, because the Federal Executive would only spend the money if they thought fit. That observation places this proposal in the same category as the votes for the purchase of a trawler, and for experiments in connexion with wireless telegraphy, which we discussed in the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill. On that occasion Senator Playford told us that we must trust the Executive. He now says that we must trust the Executive in this matter. He says, “ If it is necessary to obtain the consent of South Australia the Executive will do that. They will make all the necessary arrangements, and we need not bother.” I expressed my view of a request that we should abrogate the ordinary functions of Parliament when we discussed the trawler and wireless telegraphy. It is the function of Parliament to ascertain what the Executive are going to do. If Senator Playford’s suggestion that all that is necessary is that we should trust the Executive is correct, it is not necessary to pass this Bill at all. I have said that I do not attach a great deal of importance to the amendment, and I have indicated that I propose to move other amendments, which I think will be more effective.
– I think that honorable senators are now inclined to come to a reasonable conclusion upon the amendment. The letters quoted by Senator Stewart in his admirable speech have had a considerable effect in bringing members of the Committee to a more reasonable frame of mind. It is admitted that we are making what is only a reasonable request, and that the amendment should be embodied in the Bill. In asking the consent of the Parliament of South Australia, we do so only in order to safeguard the interests of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. Mr. Deakin, who is a high authority, has said emphatically in one of the letters quoted by Senator Stewart that he considers that the formal consent of the South Australian Parliament to the survey is essential. The precautions which that honorable and learned gentleman thought necessary three years ago must be equally necessary now. If we do not get the formal consent; of the South Australian Parliament to this survey, the money we are asked’ to vote on this Bill wilt be wasted. If the Commonwealth Government is to carry out the survey thev must secure a staff of surveyors, who will have to be given an engagement for a fixed term. It will cost a considerable sum to equip the expedition, because it is likely that a amel team, vehicles, and means for the conveyance of water will have to be provided. Unless the amendment is accepted, if there were a change of Government in South Australia, or, as the result of an agitation against the proposal, the operations of the 1 surveyors were stopped, we should not have the right to put in a single survey peg in the soil of South Australia. In the circumstances, the Committee willi be well1 advised1 in accepting the amendment. Every member of the Committee will acquit me of any intention to stone-wall the measure. I did not speak for more than five minutes on the motion to dissent from the President’s ruling this morning, or for more than ten minutes in moving the amendment. The whole of my remarks on this Bill up to the present have occupied less than an hour in delivery. Our desire has been to improve the Bill. I believe that as a conseqeunce of our action it will be materially improved, and I hope that after this long discussion, the Committee will see the desirableness of inserting this very reasonable amendment.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.0]. - I confess that I have been greatly exercised in my mind in regard to the amendment. I have listened to all that has been said on both sides of the question. I have been under the extreme pain of listening to a very severe attack upon the State ;I represent, and to opprobrious expressions which are perfectly unjustifiable. I cannot understand what circumstances in connexion with the carrying put of the survey could warrant the term “ indecent “ being applied to the position of the State of South Australia.
Probably I should not have risen to speak if it had not been that I desire most emphatically to repel those accusations, and to say that the attitude of South Australia is that which I endeavoured to explain about two years ago. I then stated ihat she was animated by a desire, so far as the survey was concerned, to get all the information that was possible, and that she was favourably disposed to the survey, but unfavourably disposed to the construction of the railway. As I said earlier in the ‘ day, her indisposition towards the construction of the railway has been very greatly strengthened by present circumstances, particularly in relation to the great question of the development of the Northern Territory and its connexion with the south. If there is any question of isolation it is considerably stronger in regard to the Northern Territory than Western Australia. If there is any question of menace from outside attack, that also is a thousand times stronger in the case of the Northern Territory than it is in the case of Western Australia. No one can blame South Australia, I venture to think, for taking all those things into consideration, and for being filled with the fear, whatever her desire may be in regard to the acquisition of information by means of a survey, ‘that possibly the construction of the railway to Western Australia might impede the realization of her hopes, and might have the very serious result of leaving open to outside attack and hostile occupation the northern half of this Continent. We know perfectly well that if there was any attempt by an outside foe to occupy any part of Australia, and to partition the Continent, it would be from the northern part that if would come. After listening to both sides very attentively I rather agree with what Senator Playford has said with regard to the amendment. Mv view of the Bill is that it will not enable a single step to be taken towards carrying out the survey b» the Commonwealth without the enactment of a law by the Parliament of South Australia, not merely giving its consent, but prescribing the method that the surveyors must pursue, and, if that became necessay, providing for compensation to be given to the owners or occupiers of land through which the survey must be made, I think that there is occasion for regret that, with the feeling existing in favour of a survey, a short Act has not been passed bv its Parliament embodying the formal consent of the State and making the provisions which I have generally indicated. If South Australia is to be reflected upon at all, it can only be for not having adopted that course. I have said over there again and again that it would relieve many members of the Federal Parliament of a good deal of embarrassment in that respect if they would only pass a short Bill confined to the survey, and if they like guarding themselves from any ulterior consequences or inferences being drawn therefrom. But Senator Givens seeks to move an amendment with regard to the consent of that State. I am not sure that it would do any harm to the Bill if it were made, because I believe that the Parliament of South Australia would immediately pass an Act giving the consent of the State to the survey. On the other hand, I am inclined to the view which Senator Playford has also taken. Believing, as I do, that the Bill will not involve the expenditure of a. single shilling until a step of that kind is taken by South Australia, I think it is unnecessary to put in the amendment.
– Suppose we admit that it is unnecessary. If it will give satisfaction to honorable senators, it can do no harm.
– It is like the direction of a newspaper to a correspondent to sign his name to a letter “ not necessarily for publication, but as a guarantee of good faith.” Senator Dobson has urged that if the amendment were not made, the vote of £20,000 would be thrown away.
– Would it not give them a reason for thinking that the Parliament wouldsanction the construction of the railway ?
– There is that view to be considered, as I shall point out in a moment. The money would not be thrown away, as Senator Dobson has contended, because the consent of South Australia is necessary to enable any expenditure to be made. If it did not give the necessary consent - in parliamentary form, I take it - the money would not be spent. But there is the point which Senator Zeal has just mentioned, that it is an assurance that the Parliament of South Australia, which represents, for the moment its people, are assenting parties to the policy of making a survey. On the whole, whilst I think that the amendment would do little harm, knowing as I do what is the position of politics in South Australia, and the feeling of its Parliament, I would be disposed to suggest to the Government that they should assent to the amendment on that ground. But if they do not, then on the ground I have indicated - that the survey cannot be carried out without the parliamentary sanction of South Australia - the Bill would be a mere piece of waste paper, unless that sanction were given. I shall vote against the amendment if the Minister declines to accept it and it goes to a division.
.- I understand that Senator Symon supports the survey, and thinks that the Parliament of South Australia will give its sanction thereto, but that he has a. grave doubt as to whether after the survey was made it would sanction the construction of the railway.
– Under present circumstances I do not think that it would.
– With all respect to other honorable senators, I think that the honorable and learned senator is in a better position to know the feeling in South Australia than are the great bulk of us.
– All that the amendment asks for is the consent of South Australia to the survey.
– Why go on with the Bill until that assent has been obtained?
– It is too late to get it.
– It will not be too late to defeat the Bill when its third reading is moved. There is another aspect of the question to be considered. Relying upon the promise of the Premier of South Australia, we might survey a route for a distance of several hundred miles, say, to Tarcoola, but a change of Government might then take place in the State, and the new Premier might say, “ We have obtained a railway survey as far as Tarcoola. We are not going to allow you to go any further with the survey. You cannot construct a railway, but we do not mind doing that for ourselves, now that you have spent many thousands of pounds in surveying a line to our gold-field.” I do not say that that position would be created, but it might be. and therefore it is the duty of the Committee to take every possible precaution against a mishap of that kind. My opposition to the Bill is materially strengthened by the declaration of Senator Symon, that in his opinion the Parliament of South Australia will not sanction the construction of the railway. His opinion is. I take it, worth having in a case of this kind.
– It is said that an opinion which is not paid for is not worth having.
– I think that the Commonwealth will have to pay if it does not take the honorable and learned senator’s opinion. I shall oppose the Bill at every stage.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.14]. - I do not wish that there should be any misapprehension on the part of Senator Styles. I was not discussing the position in regard to the construction of the railway, but merely the position in regard ., to the survey, the principle of which has been affirmed by the Senate - that is the position I took up - and its bearing upon the amendment. I pointed out that, so far as South Australia is concerned, she must give her consent in parliamentary form before even her own surveyors or those of the Commonwealth are allowed to enter private lands through which the survey may have to be carried out. In answer to an interjection, I merely repeated what I have said all along. When introducing the Bill in 1904, I said in regard to South Australia-
That State is not in favour of the immediate construction of the line, but she is strongly in favour of this survey.
I also expressly said that the passing of the Bill was not intended to commit any honorable senator, and certainly did not commit me in any way with regard to the ultimate construction of the line.
– Will it not commit the Commonwealth?
– I think noi. Almost every one who has spoken in support of the survey has declared that he is not in any way committed. The Commonwealth is not committed unless Parliament is committed.
– If the survey is part of the construction of the railway, and we secure permission to make the survey, will not that commit the Commonwealth to the construction of the line in the estimation of the people of Western Australia?
– What my honorable friend means is that if the Commonwealth authorizes a survey in relation to the railway, that is an indication that it will authorize the construction of the line. I hold a different opinion. Any Act that is passed with a view to sanction the construction of the railway will expressly empower its construction, and give authority to take lands which are necessary for the pui pose.
– There must be a survey before the. railway is constructed; and will not the making of the survey give to Western Australia a claim in regard to the construction of the line?
– I think not. I assure my honorable friends that if I thought so I would not support one single line of this Bill. Not only that, but my personal feeling is so strong that when I. have an opportunity I shall bring this question before the people of South Australia in a very concrete shape. My views are thoroughly well-known there, but the question has not been put as an issue to the people of South Australia. Their feeling is against the construction of the line; and that feeling has been intensified lately by what has happened in connexion with the Northern Territory. I pledge myself that when I have an opportunity I shall put this matter before the people of my State in exactly the way that I am now putting it before the Committee - that I support the survey in order to obtain information, but that I am not committed to the construction of the line, and that personally I do not think that it would be advisable for South Australia to consent to its construction. If the people of my State, having considered that view, chose to give a mandate to their representatives to vote for the line, the position would be different. But I do not regard a vote for the survey as in any way pledging the Commonwealth to expend’ money in constructing a railway to connect two States
Senator Sir WILLIAM ZEAL (Victoria) [6.20]. - It appears to me that if Parliament agrees to make the survey, the Western Australian representatives and people will feel themselves greatly aggrieved if practical steps are not taken hereafter towards the construction of the line. It is not with a view to obstruct the passage of the Bill, but to test the bona fides of the Western Australian senators that I make these remarks. It has been frequently stated that a railway should be constructed between South Australia and Western Australia capable of carrying our mails and our troops. Every one who knows anything about railway matters is aware that involved in the making of a survey is the question whether what is contemplated is a light line or what is called a first classrailway. Now, which proposal does the Government contemplate in this instance? If a first class line be intended, a preliminary survey for a cheap line will be perfectly useless. Therefore, I consider that a condition should be inserted in the Bill as to what the Government intends to do. The Bill at present is entirely silent upon that point. I do not oppose the measure because of the cost of the survey being £20,000 ; though it seems to me that if Western Australia is so deeply interested in the project the least she can do is to give proof of her bona fides by depositing the money to enable the survey to be made. If Western Australia had done that, she would have secured my sympathy. But what has she done ? She asks the eastern States, which are very little concerned in the construction of the proposed line, to vote money for her benefit. Is that a fair proposition ? If Western Australia is to derive such great advantages from the railway, why should she not show her bona fides in the way I have suggested? If she does not, she admits that she is contemplating a bargain which is not a fair one to the eastern States. It should also be determined whether the line is to run direct from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, or is to pass by way of Eucla. It is perfectly monstrous to put the proposition before the Senate in its present form. Before the Bill is disposed of, the questions which I have suggested ought to be satisfactorily tested, andwe ought to state plainly in the Bill what kind of railway it is proposed to construct.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Committee have leave to sit again after the Papua Bill has been disposed of.
– I should like to ask whether, if this motion is carried, the further consideration of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill will rank as new business which cannot be taken after halfpast ten o’clock, or whether it will be regarded as businesswhich, having been dealtwith in the earlier part of the sitting, can be resumed after that hour?
– I think it will be new business, but I understand that an arrangement has been made.
– We are asking for an interpretation of the standing order.
-I think that under the standing order any business except that under discussion at 10.30 p.m. would be new business.
– If that be so, this business cannot be resumed after half-past ten?
– No. The intention of the standing order I understand to be this - that if the Senate is engaged upon certain business at half-past ten o’clock, it can continue the consideration of that business all night if it chooses, but that no new business can be taken. Thiswould be new business.
– There is no trouble about that.
– Then I understand, sir, that youwould rule that the further consideration of the Bill would be new business?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended front 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Order of the Day read for the resumption of the debate on the motion -
That the Papua Bill be now read a second time.
– Perhaps I had better make a short statement to the Committee. I am pleased to say that I have come to a compromisewith my friends on the other side in regard to the amendment submitted by Senator Givens in the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. I am willing to accept that amendment on the understanding that the Bill is taken through its Committee stage this evening, and that the third reading be fixed for Wednesday next. I shall endeavour to communicatewith honorable senators as to the timewhen the third reading will be taken ; and it will then be open to honorable senators to consider the measure fully, and move a recommittal if they sowish. My desire now is to postpone the Papua Bill until the Committee stage of the Bill under discussion has been disposed of.
– As Senator Playford moved the adjournment of the debate he cannot now submit a motion for the postponement of this Order of the Day. Therefore I move -
That the resumption of the debate be postponed until after the Kalgoorlie toPort Augusta Railway Survey Bill has been reported from the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed).
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia) [7.50]. - I do not think that it is generally known that a survey has been made of the first portion of this route from Port Augusta to Phillips’ Ponds. When the Minister of Defence and myself were Ministers together in the South Australian Government in 1884, that survey was made.
The Commissioner of Public Works (Honorable T. Playford) laid on the table : -
By command -
Plan and estimate of railway from Port Augusta to Phillips’ Ponds.
Ordered to be printed.
Phillips’ Ponds, I think, is about 120 miles from Port Augusta on the route to Tarcoola, and the survey ran through the whole of the land which had been alienated from the Crown. I do not know, but I presume, that this survey would be sufficient for the purposes of the Bill now under discussion, seeing that, as I say, it passed through the whole of the alienated land, and extended absolutely to the edge of the third-class pastoral country. There is no necessity, so far as I can see, for obtaining the authority of the Parliament of South Australia to enter on those lands which have been alienated from the Crown, in order to make the survey.
SenatorSir RICHARD BAKER.- I say that this particular survey extends for about 120 miles, and is on the route to Tarcoola.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Second Re ading.
Debate resumed from 30th August (vide page 3640), on motion by Senator Stewart -
That the Bill’ be now read a second time.
.- The law on the statute-book in regard to Papua is that there shall be a Legislative Council for the Territory, consisting of the LieutenantGovernor and of the members of the Executive Council, together with such non-official members as the GovernorGeneral appoints under the seal of the Commonwealth, or as the LieutenantGovernor, in pursuance of instructions from the Governor-General, appoints under the public seal of the Territory. Then so long as the white resident population is less than 2,000, the number of non-official members shall be three ; but when the white resident population is 2,000 or more, an additional non-official member shall be elected for each , 1,000 of such population in excess of 1,000; provided that the total number of non-official members shall not exceed twelve.
– Elected by whom - by the white residents?
– Yes. Then it is further provided that any non-official member may be removed at any time by the Governor-General, and shall vacate his seat at the end of six years from the date of his appointment, but may be re-appointed.
– They are not to be elected by the people.
– I am now only stating what is the present law. What Senator Stewart proposes is that all the members of the Legislative Council shall be elected.
– Not all.
– Well, at all events, a considerable portion. So far as I have been able to gather, from glancing at the reports of the debate, when the Bill was before the Senate, the suggestion in regard to the elective principle was not pressed. The European population of British New Guinea is divided into Government officials, missionaries, traders, and miners. Honorable senators have seen the plan which has been issued, and which shows that the largest portion of the Territory is under no control. There is an immense extent of territory with an exceedingly sparse population. There are three principal coast settlements, namely, Port Moresby, which is the Seat of Government, and is situated ‘ about the middle of the south coast ; Samarai, which is unsuitably placed on a small island in the China Straits, at the eastern end’ of the Territory ; and Daru on- an island not far from the estuary of the Fly River. There are one or two small settlements on the goldfields, of which Tamata, on the Mambare, in the northern division, is perhaps the most important. The Government officials consist of the central staff, numbering nineteen ; the magistrates and the assistant magistrates, numbering fourteen, and other officials, numbering ten. The missionaries represent chiefly four societies - three .Protestant and one Roman Catholic. The Protestant missions do not overlap, as by an old arrangement the London Missionary Society occupies the south coast, the Anglican mission the north -eastern coast, while the Wesleyans occupy the islands which lie to the east. The Roman Catholic Mission has its centre at Yule Island, near Hall’s Sound, east of Port Moresby, and works chiefly in that vicinity. The traders are scattered about, often in isolated places chiefly on the coast. Excepting those who aim principally at supplying the wants of the white population, and reside at Samarai, Port Moresby, and on the goldfields, they are mostly engaged in barter with the natives obtaining trepang - beche de mer - pearl shell, sandalwood, and copra. The mining population is found on the various alluvial fields which lie in the eastern and north-eastern parts, and also at Woodlark Island, where there are quartz reefs and a battery. Many of these men work alone or in small parties, and being of mixed character have, at times, caused trouble to the natives and the Government. On the whole, however, thev are a law-abiding _ set of men. and crime amongst them is rare. That is the information I have received from the Department dealing with the affairs of New Guinea. I have here a return showing the number of white persons at present representing British New Guinea. The European population of the Central Division numbers 192 ; the Eastern Division, 176 ; South-eastern Division, 147 ; Southern Division, no; Western Division, 1 1 ; and North-eastern Division, 6 ; making a total of 642, of whom 150 are females. Honorable senators will see that the total white population- of the Territory at the present time does not reach anything like the figures referred to in the Papua Act. When the Papua Bill was under consideration in another place, at the time Mr. Reid was Prime’ Minister, an amendment was moved, in which it was’ proposed that the members of the Legislative Council f;f New Guinea should be elected by adult suffrage of the white resident population. Speaking to that amendment,- Mr. Reid said - i am sorry I cannot accept the amendment. I hope the time will come when some form of election will be used in connexion with the government of this interesting dependency, but as matters stand we have to remember that the great mass of the people in Papua belong to the native race, and are subject in many respects to the domination of a few white people. We all know that when a small number of white people are living under white institutions, with a very large number of black people, the questions which arise between the blacks and the whites often involve a conflict between the direct money interests of the whites, and the just rights of the blacks. In view of the enormous preponderance of the black population, none of whom will be allowed to take part in the proposed elections, I do not think we should adopt the elective principle. The main object of the Government is to exercise the most beneficent influence upon the natives.
The point the right honorable gentleman made was that the white population was an exceedingly /small one, and frequently came into conflict with the native population, and if the whole management of the Territory were placed in the hands of the white population it was possible that the natives would not receive the justice to which they are entitled. I shall not argue whether that was a right or a wrong view to take.
– That is not what is proposed now.
- -Mr. Webster interjected, in the course of Mr. Reid’s speech -
We are legislating for years ahead. and Mr. Reid, in reply, said -
I do not regard the matter in that light. I look upon this measure as making a start is regard to a very difficult subject, and I look forward to the time when we shall greatly improve on the Constitution provided for .in the Bill. I do not see my way to accept the elective principle at the beginning of this experiment ; although it may be worthy of consideration later on. In starting this dependency, I think that fi t is safer for us to follow the lines which have been carefully thought out by two previous Governments.
The reference there was to the Watson and Deakin Governments. The elective principle, as suggested in that amendment, was not carried, and it was resolved that the provisions of the law as we now have it should be given a fair trial. ‘Provision is made in the Act to bring the elective principle into operation when the white population increases. I am informed that an election of members to the Legislative Council of Papua would involve very considerable expense, owing to the scattered nature of the population, and to the fact that there may be only two or three people living in certain localities. The Papua Act has had no trial so far. I understand that provision is now being made for the nomination of persons to fill these positions.
– And nice nominations they are, too.
– I do not know what they are. I think that the present is too early a stage in the history of the Territory at which to ask’ us to alter the law which has been passed, and which received consideration at the hands of three Federal Governments. Practically, the proposal which Senator Stewart has brought before us was debated and rejected in another place. It was not debated in the Senate, though some allusions to the principle were made. In the circumstances, I think I am justified in asking the Senate not to pass this Bill at the present time.
– Can the Minister say how many children are included in the total of 642 white people ?
– I have not that information. I have here the following memorandum on the subject which I have received from the External Affairs Department -
The provisions of section 29 of the Papua Act were only inserted in the original Bill after much consideration. It was the desire of the three Governments who had- the matter in hand to provide for. elective representation, if possible; but consideration of local conditions, particularly the small number of white inhabitants, and the fact that thev were scattered over a very considerable aTea of- the Possession, induced Ministers to put aside the idea as premature. The matter was referred to on many occasions in the debates on the Bill, and was dealt with at length in the House of Representatives on the 3rd November, 1904 (see Hansard, pages 6506, 6ji6). In that debate honorable members from all parts of the House took part, and a considerable difference of opinion was expressed, but it was eventually decided to allow the clause to remain as printed. The matter of course came before the Senate, but it appears to have been allowed to pass without discussion in Committee on 2nd December, 1904, although several references were made to the principle of elective representation on the second-reading debate. The measure has only now come into operation, and it is submitted that it would be unwise to proceed to amend it until experience has shown whether its working is beneficial or otherwise.
I think the Bill ought not to be agreed to, on the ground that the existing white population is very small, that the cost of an election would be very great, and that we have had no experience of the working of the existing Act. I have said that provision is made in the Act bv which, when the white resident population reaches 2,000 or more, an additional non-official member shall be elected for each 1,000 of the population in excess of 1,000. It would be unwise to alter the existing Act until we have seen how it will work. I am satisfied that the time will come, and, perhaps, speedily, when it will be necessary to adopt the elective principle in connexion with the Legislative Council in Papua, but at present it would be very costly to do so, as it would require provision to be made to enable a few persons scattered in different localities to record their votes. In all the circumstances, I ask Senator Stewart not to press his motion to a division.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia) f8.io]. - I was surprised to hear the leader of the Senate state, in his opening remarks, and repeat at the conclusion of his speech, that when the population of Papua attains certain proportions, the existing Act makes provision for the adoption of the elective principle.
– T was astonished to hear the statement made, because no such provision is made in the Act. Section ‘ 29 of the Papua Act deals with the Legislative Council, and provides that -
Lieutenant-Governor, in pursuance of instructions from the Governor-General, appoints under the public seal of the territory.
Under the latter sub-section all the nonofficial members are to be purely nominees. Then sub-section, 3 provides -
So long as the white resident population is less than two thousand, the number of nonofficial members shall be three ; but when the white resident population istwo thousand or more, an additional non-official member shall be appointed
No- shall be appointed for each one thousand of such population in excess of one thousand.
There is, therefore, no provision in the Papua Act for the election of any nonofficial member of the Legislative Council.
– I had not the Act before me, and was under the impression that non-official members were to be elected.
– I am certain that, while the Bill was going through, a majority in the Senate was in favour of having a certain proportion - a minority of the Legislative Council - elected by the white residents of New Guinea. As a result of my visit to New Guinea, in 1902, I advocated that the white population should have the right to have what I called an advisory representation in the Legislative Council. When the Bill was introduced by the Government, I had an amendment printed to the effect that nonofficial members of the Legislative Council should be elected by the white population. But the Bill was not passed until the 16th November, just before the end of the session - it had been amended, and had to be further considered in another place - the Government stated that if there were to be a long discussion on the measure it would be impossible to pass it in that session, and as I then thought that it was a matter of urgency that the measure should be passed - although it has only been brought into operation within the last few days - I withdrew my amendment, and stated that I would take an early opportunity to introduce an amending Bill, giving the white population of the Territory the right to elect the three non-official members of the Legislative Council. I hope that honorable senators do not think that this is a novel proposal, or that it is one which has not been well tried or commended by the best constitutional authorities in Great Britain. In Tropical Colonisation, which is a standard work, Mr.
Alleyne Ireland points out that the Legislative Council of British Guiana includes elective non-official members. In one half of the British Crown Colonies that system is in operation to-day. This writer says -
British Guiana is an example of a Colony which possesses representative institutions, but not responsible government. The legislature consists of two Houses - the Court of Policy and the Combined Court. The executive functions of the Government are exercised by the Governor of the Colony and an Executive Council, nominated by the Crown. The Court of Policy consists of sixteen members, eight elected by the people, and eight nominated by the Crown.
– Does the honorable senator! know the population of British Guiana ?
– In British Guiana the white population is comparatively small, and the work is done principally by American negroes, Hindus, and the native population. We therefore find that the whole system of British Crown Colony Government is administratively divided into two divisions. One is the Crown Colony pure and simple, and the other is a Crown Colony having representative institutions, but not responsible government. It is my desire to place Papua in the latter category. British Guiana is not the only Colony with a Legislative Council so constituted, because Mr. Alleyne Ireland says -
The following Colonies have Constitutions differing to some extent, but substantially the same as that of British Guiana : - Mauritius, Barbadoes, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands; but it is to be noted in regard to the three lastnamed, that the Crown has not reserved the power of legislating by Order-in-Council, but has the right of veto over all Acts of the local legislatures.
That constitutes the! only difference between the system in those Colonies and the system in British Guiana. This is a most reasonable Bill. It does not by any means propose to hand over the Government of Papua to 600 or 700 white residents. It should be remembered that we have to govern about 400,000 coloured persons in the Territory, and that at the present time we are contributing more than one-half of the cost of government. So that the idea of, either now or in the immediate future, theirhaving what we call full representative government, is absurd. Let me show the advantage of having advisory representation, that is, that the three unofficial members should be elected by the white population.Rightly orwrongly, they have complained that the ordinances have not been framed with that intimate knowledge of the conditions applying to the various industries with which they should have been. It is stated that, while the members of the Legislative Council have no doubt been actuated by the best motives and the fullest desire to legislate in the interests of the country, yet a practical intimate knowledge of its industries and conditions has not shown itself in their legislative enactments. If the miners were allowed to elect two members, and the traders, shop-keepers, and the commercial class generally were allowed to elect one member, the Legislative Council would contain three members who would be able to advise as to the actual conditions and the actual requirements. I believe that, so far the Legislative Council has not comprised a member who has ever had a practical knowledge of mining. The conditions in regard to mining in the Territory are very difficult and intricate. The problems to be overcome are very great, and it would be of immense service to the Legislative Council if it included two miners who could advise its members with regard to difficult problems. The Government have endeavoured” to meet the views I have previously expressed, to this extent, that they have nominated a representative of the Gira field and the Yodda field, and a representative of the Woodlark Island, that is the great mining centre, and a representative of Samarai, which is the commercial capital. All that this Bill provides is that those three representative members, instead of being nominated as provided, shall be elected by the white population. As the Legislative Council consists of nine members, it can readily be seen by honorable senators that the three representatives of the white population could not dominate the legislation, but would be able to give useful advice as to the form which it should take. I hope that the Senate will take the view that, in the best interests of Papua, the advisory representation of the white population shall be of an elective nature. It has been thought, I believe, by some honorable senators, that the miners and the people in the Territory are rather a rowdy lot. I spent some months there, and I can honestly say that I have never seen a more law-abiding body of men’ than they are, and if any confirmation of my remarks is required, honorable senators can turn to the annual report and notice the wonder fully few offences which are committed by the white population, and under circumstances which would lead one to suppose that there was greater opportunity for wrong-doing there than there might be in a more settled and civilized community. I feel convinced that if the white population were given the boon for which they unanimously ask, it would conduce to a more harmonious feeling between the Government and the governed. Senator Playford has mentioned what he considers to be a difficulty in regard to granting electoral representation which cannot be overcome, and that is the question of voting. I can assure the Senate that there is not the slightest difficulty to be feared in that regard. I inquired into this matter when I was on the gold-fields, and I may say that I visited them all. Under the system of postal voting, which was in operation in some of the States prior to Federation, and which is now in operation throughout the Commonwealth, an election could take place in Papua at the mere cost of printing, say, 1,000 voting-papers. If these were given to the Resident Magistrate or the Warden, or the assistant Resident Magistrate, or to the storekeeper, the white people who go to the stores at least once a week would each get a voting-paper, and either post it. or’ hand it in to a central place - one at, say, Aikora field, another at Gira field, another at Yodda field, another at Milne Bay field, another at Cloudy Bay, and another at Woodlark Island for the miners, and they could vote without the slightest trouble to any one, and with a proper check no fraud could take place. Every miner on the fields is known personally, and there could be no roguery in connexion with the voting; If that system were adopted, the three official members of the Legislative Council could be elected instead of being nominated. The Government, I understand from a speech by the Prime Minister, have gone so far as to endeavour to consult the miners as to the representative whom they would like to be appointed. I also understand from the speech that the Government have made appointments from the miners, and that the Prime Minister believes that ‘.they have given satisfaction. If, instead of acting in that .roundabout way, the Government would “ allow the miners to have a direct representation, I am sure that it would give the greatest satisfaction to the white population, and lead to better legislation.
There is nothing novel, I repeat, in this system, because it has been well tried, and approved of throughout the British Empire for tens or scores of years, and it is in force in at least five Crown Colonies.
– Is it in force in any Crown Colony with such a small population as Papua?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Certainly. It is in force, as I stated, in British Guiana, Mauritius, Barbadoes, Jamaica, and the Leeward Islands.
– Each of those Colonies contains more than 642 white men, women, and children.
– I do not think that the Leeward Islands do.
– I want to ascertain the population of those Crown Colonies.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The information can be obtained in five minutes by referring to the Statesman’ s Year-Book. It is not a question of the number of the white population, but merely a question of providing advisory representation of their” interests in the Legislative Council, which, of course, would always be free to approve or modify such advice, because the non-official members would at all times constitute a majority. It would, however, secure to that body the advantage of being able to get the advice of representatives of the white population who would know the conditions of an industry under discussion, and, therefore, would be able to assist materiallyin the work of legislation.
– What is the proportion of miners?
– I think that, roughly speaking, the mining population would be a little over 300 out of 500 males. There are 670 white people in Papua altogether. What the Government have done is this : They have practically made three electorates. Woodlark Island, with 120 miners, together with storekeepers, and other whites catering for them, is to have one non-official member of the Legislative Council, the miners on the Gira and Yodda fields are to have another, and the planters and storekeepers at Samarai, which is the commercial capital of Papua, are to have a third. What I hold is that, if these people were given votes, and allowed to elect their ownrepresentatives, exercising their choice by voting by post, there would be no trouble whatever with regard to the election. The number of non-official members of the Legislative Council would be exactly the same as at present, but instead of being nominated by the LieutenantGovernor they would be elected, and would be able to give effect to the wishes of those whom they represented. I trust that the Senate will give favorable consideration to this proposal which, if agreed to, will be in the best interests of the people of Papua.
– Recognising as I do the great difficulty in the way of a private senator getting a Bill through in the very brief time available. I will make my remarks as short as possible. If it were not for my strong desire not to stand in the way of the Bill becoming law, I should like to have a great deal to say upon it. I do not think that any one at this time of day will advance any arguments detrimental to such an elementary democratic principle as elective representation’ in any country by the people of that country. We are all agreed that elective representation is good, and that it is impossible to secure anything like satisfactory government for a people unless they have a voice in the making of their own laws, and the management of their own affairs.
– It is not proposed to apply that principle in Papua, except to a section of the people.
– That remark opens up a very large question into which I cannot enter at present, except to say that no one would propose to give a vote to. children who would not understand what it meant or its effectiveness. It would be like putting a sword into the hands of an idiot, and would be more likely to do him harm than good, and with regard to the franchise, the natives of Papua are in a somewhat analagous position. The Minister of Defence, in speaking upon the Bill, read from a memorandum to the effect that the Papua Act was before the Senate last year, and that no serious attempt was made to insert in it such a provision as is now proposed. Now, there was a reason for that, and it is as well that the Senate should recall what it was. We were then assured that if we attempted to meddle with the Bill to any serious extent we should be likely to lose it, with the consequence that the people of Papua would be for so much the longer time without a Constitution. It was said, “Let us pass the Bill, and once the Constitution is placed upon the statute-book, honorable senators can proceed to amend it in any directum they desire.” That is the course that Senator Stewart has very properly taken. Now that we have an opportunity we should proceed’ to amend the Constitution in a direction in which it is at present very defective. The first point which I desire honorable senators to consider is that we should endeavour to give effect to the wishes of the white people m this outlying Territory of the Commonwealth. They are people who have gone to Papua with their lives in their hands, they have braved all the dangers incidental to the occupation of a mew country, they have endured all the hardships, pertaining to a severe climate, they have risked all the illnesses incidental to life in such a land, they have foregone most of the comforts and many of the necessaries of life, and they have undertaken a most valuable work in opening up the Territory, not only for the benefit of themselves, and of this Commonwealth, but of the whole Empire. They are men’ of the class who have added country after country, island after island to the British Empire. They merit the greatest respect for what they have undertaken, and their wishes should receive the utmost attention from a Parliament constituted as this is. I propose to read a petition which I recently had the honour to hand to the Prime Minister on behalf of’ the white residents of Papua. The signatures’ to it, though numbering only forty-four, are, I should explain, merely supplementary to a large number qf signatures attached to similar petitions. It is addressed to “ The Minister of External Affairs, Melbourne,” and reads as follows: -
We, the undersigned miners, traders, and business people of British New Guinea, respectfully request that there be embodied in the Papua Bill provision for the exercise by the people of adult suffrage, without class or divisional embargo, one adult one vote, one vote one value, of the principles and privileges of (1) elective representation ; and (2) trial by jury ; (3) elective representatives - four non-official members elected by the residents of the Territory, of European lineage, to be elected for a term of six years, two retiring in rotation alternately every three years.
I direct the attention of the Minister of Defence to the next part of the petition, because he has referred to the cost of holding an election. These petitioners ask for-
That would enable the elected representatives to be chosen without great expense.
– That is a dangerous system of voting.
– We have adopted it in the Commonwealth to a large extent.
Payment of non-official elective representatives of the people should be made from the Papuan Treasury. In conclusion, we need not point out to you, sir, that trial by jury needs no argument to support it, and that for various reasons too numerous to mention, elective representation is Absolutely necessary. Therefore, we sincerely trust that you will accede to our request. And your humble petitioners will ever pray.
Then follow the signatures. That petition embodies the wish of the white people of the Territory. Unless there are elected representatives, it is impossible to ascertain the wants, wishes, and aspirations of the people. They can never be voiced by representatives chosen by officials. The Minister has stated that it is not desirable that there should be elective representation at the present time, for the reason that the white population is small, whereas the black population is large; that the whites and blacks are likely to be brought in contact with each other; and that friction might arise, which might induce the whites to pass repressive laws unjust to the coloured people..
– That is an argument of Mr. Reid, which I quoted.
– The Minister put it forward as a good argument.
– I did not put it forward as my view.
– The Minister read it as a justification of his attitude in regard to this Bill.
– Unless it be a justification, no justification has been put forward.
– Quite so. That argument, however, can easily be demolished. The non-official representation on the Legislative Council is to be only one-third of the whole number of members. That is all the representation that the petition from the white people asks for. Would it be possible for one-third of the members of the Council to dominate the whole? Could they compel the Council to pass repressive and unjust measures? Undoubtedly not. But they would be able to impress upon the other members of the Council the views and feelings of the people whom they represented. Whatever proposals they brought forward, they would have to prove to their colleagues the justice and reasonableness of their demand. But there is a further safeguard which entirely disposes of the Minister’s contention. Every law and ordinance of the Legislative Council of Papua is subject to veto by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth. Is not that an absolute safeguard? It effectively disposes of the Minister’s argument against the Bill. Further, is it- to be presumed that the white race in Papua, members of our own community who have gone there to open up the country, are so saturated with selfishness, and with the spirit .of injustice,, that they are likely to desire to inflict hardships on the coloured population. Is there anything in their past conduct to warrant such an assumption? I do not think that any man would- hold for a moment that’ the white people are likely to be guilty of any conduct of the kind. Then we are told that we should give the present Act a fair trial. But last year we were urged to pass the measure in a hurry, on the understanding that we could amend it afterwards. That is why we refrained from taking any action which would have delayed the Bill. That fact is known to the Minister, and, therefore, we are seeking now to give effect to what we believe to be a proper reform in an entirely legitimate and constitutional fashion. As to the question of cost, the whole election could be conducted on the postal system, with practically no expense whatever. In the Commonwealth, distant and scattered populations are enabled to. avail themselves of the postal voting, and I do not see why the same privilege should not be extended to the people of Papua. We were asked by the Minister to give th-e present Act a fair trial, and to judge by results ; and I mav say that we already have an instance as to how the law works. Certain non-official members have been appointed to the Legislative Council as representatives of the white people, and it is within mv knowledge that one of these representative members in no way represents the ideas or opinions of the miners and others in his district - indeed, he is entirely repudiated by those whom he is supposed to represent. The reason that this nonofficial member was appointed was because he acted as the apologist of the Adminis- tration in a case which occupied the attention of this Chamber for some time. In that he acted entirely contrary to the wishes of the white people of his district, and, indeed, I may go so far as to say that the only reason for his appointment was that he acted as a toady to the Administration. It is desirable that such causes of dissatisfaction should be removed, but they are always possible under the present Act. The people of New Guinea are undergoing untold hardships in opening up and developing the country, and we should accede to their wishes, and give them that electoral representation which they believe to be their due. We shall accomplish something if we .make those people content, and cause them to realize that we are inclined to give them what they regard as “ a fair deal.” To that end, I hope the Senate will assist, but I can assure honorable senators that anything short of elective representation to the extent proposed will not suffice.
– I always listen with, great respect to anything that Senator Smith has to say in regard to Papua, but I do not think that the honorable senator is right in supporting this Bill. I doubt whether there is any country in the world where electoral representation can be found in conjunction with a population of 642 whites, of whom only about 350 are males. Senator Smith quoted figures, which did not give all the information we desire, but showed, at any rate, that in British Guiana there are 16,724 Europeans; in Barbadoes, 199,154 black and white population together ; in Jamaica, 14,6.92 Europeans; and in the Leeward Islands, 5,670 Europeans. In Papua, on the other hand, there are only 642 men, women, and children, and, as we have been told, there are 150 women, we may take it that there are 150 children, which means that there are only 342 males. 302 of whom are miners. We all approve of democracy, or, if we do not, we pretend to. The democratic movement is one which catches hold of everybody ; but it would be democracy run mad to apply the representative principle to Papua under the present circumstances. It had struck me that if the authorities had the slightest gumption they would take care to nominate for the Legislative Council one or two miners, storekeepers, or others in whom the public had confidence; and I now find from Senator Smith that that is exactly what has been done. -That honorable senator informed us that a couple of miners at the head of their business, and thoroughly representative of the other miners-
– I said nothing about .their qualifications. I know nothing beyond their names.
– I understood Senator Smith to say that the nominations had given satisfaction.
– I was then quoting certain remarks by Mr. Deakin.
– Then we have it from the Prime Minister that those nominations have given satisfaction. I can hardly imagine the Administrator appointing members without taking care that they are men who stand at the head of the class they represent. This is the first Territory which has fallen to our care, and, judging from the number of miners, it is one that will require the greatest care and skill in developing. I have always understood that the representative principle was not applied in any country until there was a settled population with settled industries ; and we know that a mining population is anything but settled. Let us suppose for one moment that some fifty lawyers, who could not make a living in> Sydney and the other capitals, packed themselves off to New Guinea to take up land, and so forth. Under such circumstances, where would be the sense in applying the representative principle? We might depend upon it that the lawyerswould unconsciously perhaps, make laws to suit themselves. I have no doubt that the miners in Papua are just as honest as are miners elsewhere ; but it mav well be supposed that, either consciously or unconsciously, thev would shape the mining laws to suit their own interests. I cannot see any good in applying democratic principles when practically there is no democracy to which to apply them. It is of vast importance that the Government of this country should be on. a sound and proper basis. I am intensely interested in the question of the liquor traffic, and if I had my way, in spite of the missionaries, I should have prohibition and ask the 300 male whites to sacrifice their drink for the sake of the half million blacks. I know that miners work hard and live hard, and they have a right on that ground to every consideration. But I do not contemplate with satisfaction or confidence the idea of 300 miners practically influencing the Administration of Papua in regard to the liquor traffic.
– Do I understand that the three non-official members are to be non-representative of the white population ?
– They are representative now, although they are nominated. What I mean is that there are not enough classes and industries to warrant the application of the elective principle. I see a danger that the miners may regard the liquor traffic, and gambling, and horseracing, it mav be, from their own particular point qf view, and that they will not represent the views of the people whom we hope to see in Papua.
– Have they not the same right to a “ Tattersall “ as Tasmania?
– Yes, if the honorable senator believes in “ Tattersall.”
– I do not.
- Senator Millen has supplied me with a good argument. As the honorable senator seems to be “a Tattersall “ man, I ask him whether he would like to see the population of Melbourne governed by Mr. Judkins, Mr. Worrall, and men of that sort ? I do not say that these gentlemen have not done a great amount of good. I admire their work, and hope they will not cease from it until they have secured some amendment of our wretched gambling and licensing laws. What I ask Senator Millen is whether he would like to see a city like Melbourne represented by one or two classes ? We desire to lay the foundation of good laws for Papua and the population we hope to see there in the future. In the circumstances of a new Territory like this, even more attention has to be given to the laws than in a settled country, because the laws in such a place as. Papua can do more good, and may do more harm. The Constitution is a very fair one, and I do not see how we can accord representative .government now without doing more harm than good.
– I had expected that Senator Dobson and the Minister would have advanced some reasons against the representative principle itself. I understand, however, that those gentlemen accept the principle as beneficial, but are afraid to apply it in this particular case. Senator Dobson has contended that if the elective principle were applied to the non-official members cf the Legislative Council, those elected would, in some way or other, favour a course of legislation other than that approved by the nominee members. If that be so, it is tantamount to admitting that the nominee members are misrepresenting the non-official population of Papua, and it is quite clear that they are not only not representative, but misrepresentative of those whose interests are entrusted to their keeping. There are three non-official members and six official members, and it is clear that the former, if elected, could not do anything to the detriment of the Territory. They would be in a hopeless minority if left to themselves, and the only time they could give effect to any course of action would be when they were joined bysome of the official members. It does not appear conceivable that it would be possible to get five members as against four to carry an absolutely wrong or iniquitous proposal. The fears expressed by Senator Dobson are due to the fact that he has not looked closely into what underlies .the representative principle. The three non-official members will, in theory, be selected to some extent as representative men. If they are so selected and are fairly representative of the white population of the Territory, we may assume that they will entertain prac.tically the same sentiments as the rest of the population from which they are drawn, and will seek, by their legislative acts, to give effect to the wishes of that population. If they are to do that, it makes no difference whether they are elected or nominated. But there would be a very big difference if the Lieutenant-Governor should nominate as non-official members of the Legislative Council persons whose sentiments were entirely opposed to those of the rest of the white population. The question is : Is it desirable that these non-official members of the Legislative Council should be representative of the white population? If those who oppose the Bill affirm that they desire the nomination of persons who will not be representative of the community, I shall be able to understand their position. But they frankly say that these non-official members are to be so selected that they shall be representative of the white population. If that be so, what is wrong with the principle of election? If it is desired that they should be representative of the white population, in what better method can we determine that they shall possess a representative character than by the method of election? It is because I believe that the representative system of government is not only the most equitable, but is also the soundest, and the one which, in spite of temporary defects, experience has proved to work out best for the good of those governed, and because also of the absence of any sound objection to the proposal, that I intend to support the Bill brought forward by Senator Stewart.
– I did not intend to speak on the second reading of this Bill, until I heard Senator Millen in support of the measure. I feel that the time is not ripe for public election in Papua, because the white population is so small. I believe that there are only some 200 or 300 men there, and they are widely separated in districts, between which the means of communication are very imperfect. As the Minister has said, the expense involved in conducting an election under such circumstances would be very considerable. Whilst I should be willing to support the representative system when circumstances permit its being successfully carried out, I think we should wait until the population and circumstances of Papua warrant the adoption of the system there with a reasonable expectation of successful results. I do not feel that we should be justified at present in altering the arrangements which have been made. I think it would be wiser for us to permit them to be continued for a time, and later on, if the population increases, and it is possible to successfully adopt the representative system, I shall have no objection to its adoption. At present I think the proposal decidedly premature.
– All I ask for in this Bill is that the very principle which has been laid down in the Act passed last year shall be carried out to its fullest extent. The leader of the Senate recognises that the white population of New Guinea ought to be represented in the Legislative Council. To that end, under the Constitution we -have framed for Papua, power is given to- the LieutenantGovernor, on his own motion, or in pursuance of instructions from the GovernorGeneral to appoint three non-official members of the Legislative Council - that is to say, three men from outside the official circle, and drawn from the general population of the Territory. What reason can there be for this provision except that it is desired to call to the councils of the LieutenantGovernor members of the general body of the white residents in Papua.
Under the existing Act, these three nonofficial members of the Legislative Council are to be nominees of the LieutenantGovernor, or appointed by him in pursuance of instructions from the Governor-General. That means that only men with whom the Lieutenant-Governor becomes acquainted will have the faintest chance of being appointed to these positions - men who are members of what might be described as the limited circle of society in the Territory. I think it would be much tetter if we at once recognised the desirability of placing the appointment of these three non-official members of the Legislative Council directly in the hands of the white people resident in Papua. Some honorable senators have doubted whether it is safe to give the men who have gone to New Guinea any voice in the government of that Territory. But our experience of the pioneers of civilization in every country has been not that thev are the worst specimens of society, but that they are the best, the most energetic, the bravest, and that, in many cases, they are .men of high intelligence. They are the men who, as Senator Givens has said, have widened the bounds of our Empire, and who, indeed, have done very much more, since they have widened the domain of civilization itself. It is to men of that character that some honorable senators would refuse the privilege of partial self-government, because, no matter how democratic, or even revolutionary, the elected members of the Legislative Council might be, the probability is that they would be overborne bv the official members of the Council. Our experience of all Crown Colonies, governed under the nominee system, has been of a most unfortunate character. That form of government has rarely, if ever, been satisfactory to British people, for the simple reason that they have felt that, under such a system, they are unable to bring any influence to bear upon the Government, and are denied a voice in their own government. It is superfluous to remind honorable senators that if there is one feeling which more than another is dear to the heart of every Britisher, it is that he should have a voice in the government of the country in which he lives, and that if he is deprived of that voice a gross injustice is done him.
– The desire to be a citizen as well as a subject.
– Just so. Senator Playford has pleaded that the present Con stitution should be given a trial, but I think there is nothing like beginning in the right way. If it is right and proper that the white people of Papua should be represented in the Legislative Council ot the Territory in an indirect way, it is surely very much better that thev should be represented there directly, and that instead of the men who are supposed to represent them being nominated by the LieutenantGovernor, they should be elected by the body of the people. With regard to the expense of conducting an election, I notice that in the petition which Senator Givens read it is suggested that the system of postal voting might be adopted. Senator Playford has said that that is a bad system.
– I said that it is a dangerous system. There would be a danger of personation under that system.
– I may tell the honorable senator that in our local government in Queensland we have adopted the system of voting bv post, and under that system, although living in Melbourne, I am able to vote at local government elections held in Rockhampton. If the system of voting by post were not in operation, in nine out of ten elections I should be precluded from having any voice in the government of the district in which I live, merely because, owing to mv duties here, it is impossible for me to be there at election time. Nothing dreadful has happened, and no corruption has been laid bare as the result of the system of voting by post adopted in Queensland, and I do not see what objection there can be to the inauguration of a similar system in Papua. No doubt the population of the Territory is sparse and widely scattered, and under such a system of election as we have adopted for Commonwealth elections the cost of an election would pro.bably . be out of all proportion to the number of electors. But by the adoption of the system of voting by post it would be possible to reduce the cost very considerably. What evils could arise under such a system in a place like Papua, where there are only some 500 white adults, and there cannot possibly be the slightest reason for any one to commit an illegal act ? I ask honorable senators to vote for the second reading of the Bill, and, at least, give the brave pioneers who have gone over to develop Papua some voice in the government of the Territory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The notice-paper contains two Bills - the Excise Tariff Bill and the Spirits Billwhich deal with the same subject, and which would have been embodied in one Bill but for a provision in the Constitution that the Senate cannot amend a Bill relating to the imposition of duties. As a standing order provides that in such a case the two Bills can be discussed conjointly
– No ; I ruled that it may be done.
– It is a very convenient ruling, because it will enable me to deal with the two Bills in one speech. It will be recollected that the Reid Government appointed a Royal Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the working of the Tariff. I had the honour to be a member of the Commission until I became a Minister of the Crown. It includes three members of the Senate, namely, Senators McGregor, Clemons, and Higgs. From the intimate acquaintance with the whole subject which thev have gained during the examination of witnesses in all parts of the Commonwealth, they are perhaps better informed than 1 am, and no doubt will supplement to a considerable extent my remarks on the Spirits Bill. Although the Commission included three protectionists and three freetrade members of the Parliament, yet on the subject of the spirit duties their report was unanimous- There must have been a good reason for making the report when it was agreed to by both free-traders and protectionists. The first report of the Commission was merely a progress report which stated that they had held so many meetings, and examined so many witnesses ; but it contained no recommendations. The second report which the Government divided into two parts - I call them No. 2 a and No. 2b - dealt with the whole question of the spirit duties, and made certain recommendations. One part of the report was given to the public, because the recommendations therein contained did not affect the re venue, but the other part which proposed the imposition of certain Excise duties was not made public when it was received. In those reports honorable senators will find, as no doubt most of them have done, a most complete epitome of the whole subject. The third report dealt with the wine-growing industry in Australia, while the fourth report dealt with the question of industrial alcohol. The second part of the second report contains the Commission’s recommendations in regard to the Excise duty on spirits. Practically these have all been embodied in the Bill. I shall point out by-and-by where one or two additions have been made. The report on the winegrowing industry contains a mass of useful information, showing the diverse laws of the States relating to the fortification of” wine. In Victoria no duty was charged in that connexion. In New South Wales no duty was charged, but the vigneron had to pay a licence- fee of 20s., and a stamp duty of 20s. In South Australia there was a duty of 6d. per gallon. In Western Australia the duty was 6d. per gallon on local spirits, and 2s. 6d. per gallon on imported spirits. In its Tariff the Commonwealth fixed the duty at is. per gallon, but the Tariff Commission recommended that it should be reduced to 6d., because that would yield sufficient to cover the cost of inspection, and in the Excise Bill it has been reduced accordingly. When the Right Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston introduced the Tariff Bill in. 1901 he fixed the dutv at is. per gallon, because he thought that the revenue it would yield would be required to pay the cost of inspection, in order to see that the vigneron did not use more than a certain quantity of spirits. Up to the end of the last financial year the Commonwealth had collected £45,470 from the dutv of is. per .gallon ; but the cost of inspection had amounted- to only ^20,000. Therefore, with a view to encouraging the. wine industry, the Tariff Commission very properly recommended that the duty should be reduced to 6d. per gallon, and that is the’ rate provided for. The limit of the fortification of wine was fixed at 35 per cent, of spirit. It is raised in this Bill to 40 per cent., owing to representations made to the Commission that ordinary ports and sherries were being imported fortified up to 40 per cent., while a number of our sweet wines had to be fortified at from 35 to 40 per cent. At page n of the report on the wine-growing industry honorable senators will find the reasons why it was proposed that the limit of fortification should be raised from 35 to 40 per cent. Personally, I would like our people to drink light wines in preference to heavily-fortified wines. I do not like the idea of agreeing to this high fortification, but our wine-growers point out that they have to cater for the taste of the public, which demands highly fortified strong wines.
– I am glad to hear that the honorable senator does not approve of it.
– That is my personal opinion, but, at the same time, I must point out that the wine-growers insist that they have to cater for the public taste. When I was in London as AgentGeneral for South Australia, I started a wine depot. I obtained a quantity of wine from South Australia. I knew the manager very well, and was frequently present. I. went into the whole subject myself. I found out that the light wines that were sent to London were practically unsaleable. The wines that we could sell were strong Burgundies and wines with a fuller body. As is pointed out in the Tariff Commission’s third progress report on wine-growing (page11) -
The Wine Growers Club of Victoria, through Mr. Henry M. Gooch, suggested that the regulations regarding the alcoholic strength of Australian wines be similar to those applied to imported wines. It was urged that the standard might be increased from 35 per cent. to 40 per cent. ; but it was not suggested that all wine would be fortified up to 40 per cent. It would not be necessary to do that for the purpose of the Australian market, but it might be necessary in the case of wine for export.
– Does that mean 40 per cent. of proof spirit?
– I should think that such wine is as strong as some whisky.
– But that is’ the general strength of the sherries and ports that are imported from abroad. The representative of the vignerons of Rutherglen said that -
If Australian growers wished to manufacture wines of the same type as that produced in Spain and Portugal, they must be allowed to fortify to a higher degree than allowed at present. He suggested that the standards for the fortification of wines should be that of ordinary ports and sherries, namely, 40 per cent. They would produce a high class of ports if they were allowed to fortify them up to 40 per cent., but there might be a proviso (if it could be worked) that such wines were not to be sold at over 35 per cent.
That is to say, it was suggested that there might be such a proviso with regard to wines sold in Australia. Personally, I do not think that there is any necessity to sell wines so highly fortified in the Commonwealth -
It was for the higher grade wines, not for the cheaper wines, that the extra strength would be required.
Mr. David Banks Smith, vigneron, of Melbourne and Sydney, in his evidence, said -
It was believed by the majority of vignerons that they should be permitted to fortify their wines up to 40 per cent. if they so desired.
Honorable senators will find more information On this subject on page 11 of the third report of the Commission.
– We should adhere to the lower percentage.
– I do not think so under the circumstances. When our vignerons say that it is necessary that they should be allowed to fortify up to 40 per cent. they should be permitted to do so for the foreign market, though, whether they should do so for our local market is another question. If they are going to make and export ports and sherries for the London market, they must be able to fortify them up to the usual degree of fortification that foreign producers adopt.
– The honorable senator would divert the trade into the wrong channel.
– I do not think so. The man who plants a vineyard and makes wine does it for the purpose of selling at a profit. Although he may think that it would be a good deal better for the people if they would drink wines of a lower alcoholic strength, he has to think of his own pocket first. If he finds he can sell wines that are highly fortified better than lighter wines he must do it.
– That is a very fallacious doctrine.
– It is not a fallacious doctrine for the man who has a vineyard, and has to cater for the public taste. I do not think we should interfere in the case of wine intended for export; but, so far as concerns wine for local sale, I am of opinion that it should not be fortified to a higher extent than 30 per cent. Now I come to the question of spirits and the distillation of spirits. The information contained in the report of the Tariff
Commission, which I call No. 2a, will give honorable senators an idea why the recommendations of the Commission were made. I shall not quote from it to a great extent, because honorable senators will be able to read it for themselves. But I will point out, in the first place, the duties of Customs and the Excise that prevailed in the States before the Commonwealth took over this matter. In Victoria the amount of protection, which the distillers of brandy enjoyed was 4s. per galJon, and the difference between the Excise and the import duty on other spirits was 2s. The Commonwealth, however, made the difference between the Excise and the import duty 3s. on brandies, reducing the protection by is., whilst the protection on other spirits was reduced to is. What was the result of that? It was to shut up all the distilleries in Victoria, with the exception of those distilling brandy.
– But what was the result in’ New South Wales?
– Of course previous to Federation there was no protection to distillers in New South Wales. The Excise and the import duties were the same, and the foreigner knocked the local distiller out of the market completely. But when the Commonwealth imposed uniform duties throughout Australia, the result in New South Wales was that distilleries were started, and in 1904 nearly 700,000 gallons were distilled. Before that time thousands of tons of molasses had been simply thrown away. In 1901, 88,680 gallons of spirits, were distilled in. New South Wales. In 1902, 479,559 gallons were distilled.
– The Tariff had nothing to do with it.
– The Tariff did it all. In 1905 the distillation of spirits in New South Wales had increased to 655,531 gallons. The Commonwealth import duty was 14s., and the Excise was 13s., making the protection is., and it was under the cover of that protection that the New South Wales manufacturers commenced to distil spirits. Now I come to Queensland. The imposition of the Commonwealth Customs and Excise rates had the effect of closing down most of the distillleries there.
– I think that is not correct.
– Queensland is producing more spirits under the Common wealth. The production has increased from i72»737 gallons in 1901, to 390.654 gallons in 1905.
– My note says that the Queensland Excise gave a protection of 2s. ; whereas the Commonwealthreduced it to is. ; and that, as the result, a number of the distilleries were closed.
– There are fewer distilleries, but more spirits are ‘produced.
– That refers to molasses spirits I think.
-Col. Gould. - The same spirit as before.
– If I have made a mistake with regard to Queensland, honorable senators will be able to correct it from the report before them. In South Australia, before Federation, the Customs duty on brandy was 14s., arid the Excise was 9s. 4d., giving a protection of 4s. 8d. That protection was reduced in the case of brandy to 3s., and is. in the case of other spirits. It closed down the distillers of ordinary spirits - whiskies, and so on; but brandy continued to be distilled, because South Australia is a considerable wineproducing country. Brandy, in fact, was produced even to a greater extent than previously. Now I return to the Bill itself. The- recommendations of the Tariff Commission were -
Honorable senators, on turning to the. Bill, will see that alterations have been made in those recommendations. The first is that the recommendation with reference to distillation at a strength not exceeding 35 degrees has been increased to 40 per cent, in the case of brandy . There is a great deal of evidence in favour of that increase in the percentage. With regard to the distillation of spirits, the position is this : If distillers distil spirits at 35 or 40 per cent, - not higher - the result is that there passes into the still, and into the spirit, a quantity of ingredients which are sometimes designated as injurious. They are the elements which give bouquet and flavour to the spirits. They consist of such ingredients as fusel oil, aldehvdes, ascetals, and other elements. There has been a con- siderable amount of discussion as to what is good and what is bad in those ingredients. Some years ago I read that fusel oil, which is an ingredient in giving flavour to spirit, is a most deadly poison, and ought to be altogether eliminated ; but subsequently, I read an article by a physician who stated that fusel oil is! one of the best properties that can be found in spirits, and recommended that it should be used not only to give flavour, but to make the spirit more beneficial to the consumer. If spirits are distilled 40 per cent, overproof, those volatile essences disperse, and when the percentage reaches 65 overproof, there is practically a pure spirit without any flavour. It does not matter whether the spirit is made from wine, barley, malt, grain, sugar, potatoes, or, it may be, refuse of any sort, so long as there is starch to form the sugar and ultimately the alcohol. When the spirit is distilled up to a particular strength, the impurities disappear, and .there is a silent spirit which can be mixed with other spirits and flavouring. I should now like to deal with the question of the pot-still and the patent still. Mr. Fowler, who was a member of the Royal Commission, took a great interest in this matter, and considered that the pot-still was the only one which should be employed. The difference between a potstill and a patent still is that in the case of the former there is a pot into which the material is placed, and distilled in the usual way. That still cannot rectify to any great extent, but with the patent still the spirit may be rectified up to any strength, until it even becomes perfect ether, and will evaporate in the air. There is also a combination of the pot-still and the rectifier, which is used to a large extent in certain parts of France for the making of brandy. The Government follow the recommendation of the Commission, so far as regards brandy, only increasing the strength of the brandy that may be distilled up to 40 per cent., and I think that is a very wise course. Another point on which great stress is laid is the maturing of spirit in wood for a given period. It is admitted on all hands by experts that spirits improve according to the length of time thev are stored in wood.
– That does not refer to white spirits.
– I am assured by Mr. Wilkinson, the analyst, that it applies to all spirits. [t5«]-2
– The Minister will find that it does not apply to gin and other white spirits
– All spirits are white originally, and my information is that all spirits improve with age. This is well recognised in Canada, where, for a great many years, there has been a law in force that no spirits there distilled shall be sold until, they have been kept in bond for two years.
– What kind of spirits ?
– Mostly rye and grain whisky. The Royal Commission very wisely recommend that all spirits distilled in Australia shall be kept in bond for two years before going into consumption, the effect of this storing being to mellow the spirit, and get rid of a considerable quantity of impurities. By this keeping the spirit becomes more wholesome, and, of course, if it can be kept for ten years so much the better. It will be found that the same provision runs right through all the recommendations in regard to spirits.
– Does the Minister know from what spirit gin is made ?
– It is made from a very highly rectified spirit.
– From which all impurities are cleared, and, therefore, there is no advantage in keeping it.
– I know that gin is flavoured with juniper berries, and that it is so difficult to deal with, that Sykes’ hydrometer does not disclose its strength. The recommendation of the Commission is -
Blended brandy distillled partly from grape wine and partly from other materials containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure grape wine spirit (which shall have been separately distilled by the pot still or a similar process at a strength not exceeding 35 per cent, over proof), the whole being matured by storage in wood for a period not less than two years, and certified by a Commonwealth analyst to be brandy so blended and matured - per gallon, ns. (3s. less than import).
The Government have agreed to that recommendation, but they have inserted another condition at the recommendation, principally, of those interested in the industry in South Australia. First, . we have brandy, and then we have blended wine brandy, and we provide that this blended wine brandy shall not be blended with any spirit except wine spirit. The
Commission recommended that this blended wine brandy might be blended with any spirit, no matter from what material it was made, so long as it contained 25 per cent, of pot stilled brand v spirit. The Government do not believe in calling a spirit of that sort brand v in any sense. There is a kind of brandy made in South Australia from grape wine, and which, though not . so strong in essential oils and flavour as other brandies, suits the taste of certain people; and therefore there is the following item in the schedule to the Excise Bill-
Blended wine brandy, distilled from grape wine, and containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure grape wine spirit (which has been separately distilled by a pot still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 40 per cent, over proof! , the whole being matured by storage in wood for a period not less than two years, and certified by an officer to be brandy so -blended and matured, per proof gallon, 11s.
It is provided that in the mixing, a wine spirit must be used, and not a spirit blended from other material. Spirits distilled from cheap products must not be used. If there is blending, it must be with some of the best spirits obtained, and not with inferior spirits made from potatoes, and so forth. Now I come to deal with whisky, which is given a protective duty ‘ of 4s. on account of the expense of the materials used. Whisky properly so called, is distilled wholly from barley malt, and nothing else; if the spirit be distilled from any other material, it is not whisky. I know that in various parts of the world whiskies are distilled in all sorts of ways, and generally contain 25 per cent., and sometimes as low as 17 and 18 per cent., of malt. If ordinary grain is crushed, it cannot be fermented, but if there be mixed a certain percentage of barley malt, the starch of the grain is converted into sugar, and the alcohol obtained. With a view to letting^ honorable senators know how the spirit which we call whisky is made, I may say that in both the Irish and Scotch distilleries, it is the practice to put into the mash tub 42 bushels of malt, 25 bushels .of oats, 25 bushels of rye, and 158 bushels of ordinary crushed barley. That gives about 250 bushels ; and only 42 bushels of malt are required to turn the whole of the starch in the grain into sugar; and the result is that 14 gallons of spirit is obtained for every six bushels. Then there are blended spirits of various kinds, with a small foundation of pure malt whisky, and the balance is made up of all sorts of spirits, according to the conscience of the blender. It is possible, on the Continent of Europe, to buy spirits for 6d., ad., or is. per gallon, according to the character of the spirit one desires to buy. A man can buy these spirits, which are highly rectified, and blend them in the proportion of 75 per cent, to 25 per cent, of malt whisky, and with a- little flavouring and colouring he can ship them all over the world as whiskies. They are not whiskies in the true sense of the word, and, in the same way, many so-called brandies are not brandy. Brandy can be bought at 2s. 6d., and at even a lower price, per gallon. But such a brandy was never made from wine. It could not be made at the price. Whiskies can be bought at even lower prices, but they cannot have been made from barley malt. The evidence of experts plainly shows that it is impossible to make whisky from barley malt, for less than 4s. 6d. per gallon. The Commission have recommended that the highest protective duty should be given in respect of the spirit manufactured from the. most expensive, and that’ is from the best material. There can be no doubt that wine spirit is the best spirit that can be produced. I have referred to the recommendation with respect to brandy, and the Commission recommend a similar duty in the case of whisky made from barley malt. The proposal is made in respect of whisky distilled wholly from barley malt by a pot still or similar process, at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, overproof. There is here a rise of 5 per cent, in the strength at which the spirit is to be distilled, because if distilled at that strength” there will be less impurities in it. Such a spirit matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years, and certified by an officer to be pure malt whisky, is to bear an Excise duty of 10s. per proof gallon. On this question I may say that the evidence is that, while spirits can be improved by maturing in wood, they cannot be improved if matured in glass. Spirits may be kept in glass for twenty or thirty years, and will then be the same as when they were bottled. I have never been able to ascertain exactly why spirits undergo a change if matured in wood, and not in glass, but there is no doubt that they do. We, therefore, make provision for the maturing of spirits in wood, and not in bottles or in iron tanks.
– In the old country gin is matured in iron tanks.
– I was not aware of that. Then we deal with blended whisky, and the only alteration we have made in that case is that we have not allowed the use of any material other than grain. We deal with -
Blended whisky distilled partly from barley malt and partly from other grain.
We have not included in this item whisky distilled from materials other than grain, such as molasses, spirits, or spirits produced from materials other than grain. In this case the Excise duty fixed is11s. per proof gallon, and the difference between that and the Customs duty of 14s. per gallon gives a protective duty of 3s. per gallon. In the case of rum, we provide for a protection of 2s. per gallon. Previously, the protection given to locally-distilled rum was only1s. per gallon. In the case of gin, we provide that it shall be -
Distilled from barley malt, grain, or grape wine, matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years, and certified by an officer to be pure gin. and in that case the Excise duty fixed is 12s. per gallon, and the protection afforded to the local article is 2s. per gallon. It has been said that a mistake has been made in providing that gin shall be matured in wood for two years, because if it is kept in wood it becomes discoloured. I have a sample here of Bol’s gin, the best on the market. It has been matured in wood for two years and over, and honorable senators will be able to see that no discoloration of the spirit has taken place. We contend that the keeping of gin will tend to improve the quality of the spirit just as it improves the quality of brandy, whisky, and rum.
– The Minister will find that scientific evidence is against that.
– I do not know what better evidence honorable senators can have than the samples which I produce. This is a sample of the best gin in the market, and it is marked at 8s. 6d. per gallon, which, I suppose, is the wholesale price. It is known to the Customs Department to have been kept in wood for two years, and there is no discolouration of the spirit. I have another sample here of bulk gin, which was produced in New South Wales. It is a good spirit; it has been kept in wood for over two years, and the discolouration is of the slightest character, possibly due to the fact that the wood in which it has been matured was different to that in which the previous sample was matured.
– Both are slightly discoloured.
– We contend that gin can be kept as long as any other spirit, and is improved by maturing. Honorable senators will agree that the gin, samples of which I have shown them, would not have been kept all the time it has been if it was not believed that the spirit was improved by being matured. Customs officers and an analyst have told me that gin improves by keeping.
– That statement is not borne out by the scientific evidence which was given before a House of Commons Committee.
– Some evidence on the subject may have been given after I left the Tariff Commission, and honorable senators who are members of the Commission, may have something to say about it.
– Were the samples exhibited by the Minister kept in wood by the Customs Department, or by the agents ?
– They were kept in bond, no doubt in a bonded warehouse. The casks of spirits have remained in the bond for over two years, and officers of the Customs Department took the samples I have exhibited from them. On spirits n.e.i. the Excise duty proposed is 13s. per gallon, which gives a protection of1s. per gallon. The dutyproposed on spirit for scientific purposes, subject to regulations, is 13s. per gallon. That duty gives a protection of1s. per gallon. There is not very much of that spirit required, but a little is used for scientific purposes. Some of our universities require it to preserve beetles, lizards, snakes, and other specimens. A highly-rectified spirit is required for this purpose, and it must contain no impurities or flavouring. I come now to deal with the question of methylated spirits. This is a very important question, and I have a great deal of information on the subject with which I do not propose to trouble honorable senators to-night. Methylated spirits are used for a variety of purposes, and are to some extent displacing kerosene gas, and petroleum for lighting purposes, and they are also used for generating power for motors. Germany ‘ was the first country to give facilities to people to obtain methylated spirits as cheaply as possible for use for all sorts of purposes. We are quite willing to do all that we possibly can to encourage the use of methylated spirits, but the trouble the Customs have had in the past and that was experienced in Germany for a long time, and to a certain extent even now, is that the material which is put into spirits to methylate them, and render them unfit for human consumption can be got out again. Wood naphtha is the principal material used to methylate spirits, and such spirits can be refined, and then used for the manufacture of essences, scents, and even for drinking purposes. That, of course, is against the law. The Tariff Commission took a great deal of evidence on this point, and I remember that in Sydney valuable evidence was given by a gentleman who gave an exhibition of lights that could be produced by the use of methylated spirits. In the spirits Bill honorable senators will find that provisions are included relating to the methylation of spirits, the method to be adopted for the purpose, and so on. If they will turn to clause 13 they will find that it is provided that there shall be four classes of methylated spirits, first of all, industrial spirits for use in the arts and manufactures, then mineralized spirits for lighting, heating, and power purposes ; spirits for special manufactures ; and spirits to be used for purposes of scientific investigation in connexion with universities or public institutions. Spirits for use in scientific investigation are to be treated and dealt with in a manner to be prescribed. . That is to say, we shall take all sorts of precautions to see that they are used for the purposes for which they are intended. Then provision is made to the effect that -
No methylated spirits’ shall be used in the manufacture or preparation of any articles of food or drink, or of any scents, essences, tinctures, or medicines.
A penalty is provided for refining methylated spirits, and for selling illicit methylated spirits. Provision is made for the forfeiture of illicit methylated spirits, and there are other provisions dealing with spirits containing methylated substances; spirits methylated before the passing of the Bill, and also provisions under which the mode of methylating is prescribed. The Commission recommend, not only treatment by wood naphtha, but also treatment by pyridine liquid and colouring matter, so as to discolour the spirit, as this sample has been treated. I have more information on the question of methylated spirits; but, as the hour is getting late, I shall refer honorable senators to the report of the Commission, where it is most exhaustively dealt with. The Bill adopts its recommendation that methylated spirits shall be admitted free, instead of being dutiable at 6d. per gallon. The duty on spirit for fortifying Australian wine, subject to regulations, has been is. per gallon, but, in accordance with the recommendation of the Commission, it is reduced in the Excise Bill to 6d. per gallon.
-Col. Gould. - Has the honorable senator any idea what the reduction in the revenue will be?
– I am very sorry to say that it will be pretty heavy. When the report of the Commission was received, the Government obtained from their officers a report as to the extent to which the revenue would be affected by the adoption of its recommendations. The Commission did not recommend an increase in the import duties, and, therefore, we had to ascertain what the probable loss would be, and our officers estimated it at from £60,000 to £80,000 per annum.
-Col. Gould. - Does that contemplate an increased consumption of locally-made spirit and a proportionate reduction in the consumption of imported spirit ?
– Yes. Of course, the increased consumption of locally-made spirit will reduce the importation of foreign spirit, because, while the latter is dutiable at 14s. per gallon, the Excise duties on locally-made spirit range from 4s. to 6d. per gallon. As the adoption of the Commission’s recommendations was estimated by our officers to involve an annual loss of from £60,000 to £80,000, the Government recommended the other House to increase the Customs duty to 15s. per gallon, and the Excise duty by is. per gallon all round, which would have given the same amount” of protection as the vignerons had enjoyed before, and which would have caused, if anything, an addition to the revenue, instead of the loss which we shall now have to sustain in consequence of the House having disapproved of our proposal.
– Can the Minister say what is estimated as the proportion of increase and decrease respectively?
– No ; I could only make a pure guess. If honorable sena- tors will turn now to the Spirits Bill, which is practically a machinery measure, they will see that clause 3 contains definitions of “medicines,” “methylated spirits,” “ illicit methylated spirits,” and “ Australian standard brandy.” For years there was sold in Great Britain, and in the Colonies, a so-called brandy. It contained so small a proportion of brandy that it was a misnomer to so call it. At last it was given a name, and called “ brandy of commerce.” It is made up of partly wine spirit - that is, real brandy - and partly spirit derived from we do not know what source. We can guess that it comes from the cheapest possible source, but we do not know. It is a highly rectified spirit, and, therefore, flavourless. It is mixed with a certain proportion of brandy, and flavoured with a certain quantity of fusel oil, and other aldehydes which are the product of real wine brandy, and which are manufactured for the purpose of flavouring and so on. In England, steps have been taken to prevent the sale of that kind of brandy, and the authorities have insisted that brandy shall consist practically of pure wine spirit. A law on the subject has been passed, and chemists have been appointed who have examined brandies. There have been a great many prosecutions in consequence of persons having sold as brandy that which was not brandy. The Imperial Government are now working in conjunction with the French Government, who give to the manufacturers of brandies a white label on which they certify that they are manufactured from the juice of the grape, and the certificates are accepted by the Customs in England as a sign that it is pure brandy. The same thing has prevailed in Australia. Brandies have been made up in all sorts of ways, and the result has been that there has been hardly anything like a pure brandy to be found in the market. One may get something in the shape of pure brandy in Martell’s, and, possibly, in Hennessy’s, though I could not swear to that. The Commission recommended, I think very wisely, the enactment of legislation to the effect that a man shall be allowed to sell spirit no matter how it may have been derived, under all sorts of noms de plume, if he likes, but that he shall not be allowed to call it brandy unless it is brandy. The wine growers and distillers of brandy had complained to the Commission that thev were hampered, and that their business had been taken away to a large extent through the Commonwealth allowing brandies to be placed on the market with which they could not compete, which were not brandies at all, but perfect frauds. Therefore, the Commission recommended that it should be enacted that if a person sells in the Commonwealth a spirit which he calls brandy, and which is proved not to be brandy, he shall be prosecuted. It recommended that the Australian manufacturer be allowed to distil his brandy under the supervision of Customs’ officers, and that after it has been kept for two years, he shall be allowed to sell it with a brand which will be certified by the Government, and which will comprise the words “Australian Standard Brandy,” so that the public mav know exactly what they are getting. The definition also provides that “ Australian Standard Brandy “ shall be distilled wholly from grape wine and under Government supervision, that the spirit, when distilled, shall be put into wood, and stored in a bond, the keys of which will be kept, of course, by the Customs officer, and that, after being stored for two years, it shall be allowed to come out with a certificate that it is “ Australian Standard Brandy.” There is a like provision in regard to “Australian Blended Wine Brandy.” Of course, the Bill contains a provision to prevent importers from bringing in spirits under the denomination of brandy when there is proof that it is not brandy. In the case of the definition of “Australian Standard Malt Whisky.” we have the same provision as is applied to wine spirit. It must be made wholly from barley malt. It is not to be called whisky when it is not. If a man distils whisky wholly from malt, he can then place on his casks and bottles the brand “ Australian Standard Malt Whisky.” Of course, it will have to be kept in wood for a certain time. The definition of “Australian Blended Whisky” is drawn on similar lines, and if any one turns to the brand he will learn that it is a spirit consisting of not less than 25 per cent, of pure malt whisky and 75 per cent, of pure grain whisky. Then we come to the definition of “Australian Standard Rum,” and we learn that it is a rum which complies with certain requisites which are therein stated.
– Is it usual to distil rum by a pot still ?
– Yes, because if it were distilled at a higher percentage than 45 per cent, over proof the flavour would be lost. The clause contains no provision about gin, which is dealt with in the Excise Bill. It can be distilled from any spirit. It is usually distilled at a very high percentage of spirit - up to 60, and in certain cases to 65 per cent., when it is practically a pure spirit. It will then take any flavour which may be desired. It has no flavour of its own. After the sugar is put in, juniper berries and certain other flavouring matters are added, which obscure the spirit to a certain extent. As gin is always sold white, certain importers have stated that they do not want to have the spirit matured in bond for two years. It will be observed that clause 5 repeals sections 90 and 91, and paragraph s of section 229 of the Customs Act. That refers to the methylation of spirits, which the Minister is given power in the Excise Tariff Bill to deal with. By clause 6 the Distillation Act is amended by omitting from section 58 certain words in reference to the fortification of wine, which can be dealt with under the Excise Tariff Bill. The Bill contains provisions in regard to certificates and marking in relation to spirits, forging of falsely applying spirit marks, penalty for describing spirits wrongfully, and imported spirits being matured. If the Bill were applied immediately to imported spirits, or even to spirits which are in bond or which’ have been distilled locally, it might create a short supply of spirits in the market. Clause ro, having reference to the maturing of imported spirits, is to apply generally after the 28th “February, 1907, but it contains this proviso -
This section shall not, until the ist day of January, 1908, apply to gin, Geneva, Hollands, schnapps, or liqueurs.
After which date they will have to be matured in the same way as other spirits, by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years. If a man has had spirits in bond for two years, whether imported or locally distilled, of course he will be able to take them out at any time. Clause 11, which provides for the maturing in wood for two years of Australian spirit, is not to be operative until the ist January. 1908.
-Col. Gould. - Why make a difference of one year between locally-made and imported spirit?
– There seems to be no necessity for a difference - and there is no difference - in the case of gin, Geneva, and Hollands. There will be no trouble about them; there are large quantities in bond.
– There will be seme trouble in getting certificates.
– The Customs officers will be especially careful not to put the importers to unnecessary trouble. Of course, I can imagine cases where the importers will be in a difficulty about producing proof.
– There is always a great deal of difficulty in complying with the requirements of the Customs, because of the difficulty of getting certificates.
– I. have heard of no complaints up to the present. The Bill also contains provisions regarding inferior spirits unsuitable for human consumption, which are to be destroyed. I may remark that we are going to be more particular in the future than we have been in the past as to the quality of the spirits imported into Australia. There are provisions with regard to methylated spirits and their use, and severe penalties are imposed on persons who put methylated spirits in articles of food, drink, essences, or medicines. There are also the usual provisions, to which I presume some honorable senators will take exception, giving the Min.ister power to make regulations. But I think it will be generally admitted that such a power is necessary in regard to a Bill like this. I have pointed out instances where the recommendations of the Tariff Commission have not been adhered to. for reasons which appear to the Government to be good and sufficient. But I must say that the value of the reports of the Commission cannot be over-estimated. I must pay my tribute of admiration to the elaborate manner in which the Commission collected evidence, and to the exhaustive, though not teo detailed, character of its reports. They supply honorable senators with a mass of most valuable information, excellently compiled, and well worthy of careful perusal. I now submit the Bill for the consideration of the Senate, and thinK that I may safely say that I shall not have much trouble in securing its passage.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pulsford) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 September 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060913_senate_2_34/>.