2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m’., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs if be is yet in a position to reply to. my question regarding the case of the Pocahontas.
– I have made two or three inquiries, and each time have been informed that the matter is still beinginvestigated, as there is not yet sufficient information to enable a decision to be come to. The officers of both the Department of External Affairs and the Department of the Attorney-General are investigating the matter.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following paper: -
Public Service Commissioner’s Second Report.
.- With the permission of honorable senators, I desire to make the statement relating to Government business which I promised on Friday last.
– Does the honorable senator intend to move a motion to put himself in order, and to enable the subject to be debated?
– Senator Playford has asked the permission of the Senate, and we on this side do not wish to debate his statement.
– I propose to take the items on the notice-paper in order. It is, of course, intended to move the suspension of standing order 64 to enable new business to be commenced after halfpast 10 o’clock at night. Then the third reading of the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill will be moved ; I anticipate no trouble in regard to that matter. When it is disposed of, I shall move the second reading of the Appropriation Bill. The next item among the orders of the day is the consideration in Committee of the House of Representatives’ message in reference to our requests for amendments in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill. As in considering the House of Representatives’ message, in reference to our amendments in the Spirits Bill, we practically dealt with the question raised by this order of the day, it should not take long to dispose of. Order of the day No. 4, for the consideration in Committee of the House of Representatives’ amendments in the Constitution Alteration (States Debts) Bill, is a very important one. The Bill as originally sent to us permitted the Commonwealth to take over a portion of the debts of one State without, as is provided for in the Constitution, dealing in similar fashion proportionately to population with the debts of all the other States. We inserted this provision -
The powers of Parliament relating to the public debts of the States shall extend to debts incurred since the establishment of the Commonwealth.
The House of Representatives substituted for the word “since” the words “ at any time after,” and has added the words “ and to any part of the public debts of the States,” which brings us back to the original proposal. The Attorney -General has informed me, in reply to inquiries I have made, that if a division is taken, we must have the statutory majority to carry a motion agreeing to the amendments of the other Chamber, and as I am not able to say at the present moment whether that statutory majority is obtainable, I cannot say whether I shall proceed with the Bill.
– The honorable senator will go on with it if he can ?
– If the statutory majority of nineteen members is obtainable.
– How can the honorable senator find that out without taking a vote ?
– By making inquiries amongst honorable senators.
– Would it not be better to let the other House shelve the Bill ?
– If we cannot get the statutory majority, we must shelve it.
– Why not send it back to the House of Representatives ?
– Let the Minister say that the Senate will adhere to its original decision.
– If that is the wish of the Senate, I shall be only too pleased to deal with the measure this afternoon.
– If the Minister says that there will be no debate.
– I thought that honorable senators might be of opinion that I was wasting time if I brought a debatable Bill of this kind on, and then, after considerable discussion, found that I had not the necessary majority to carry my proposal. If honorable senators will consent to take a division verv quickly,I shall be only too pleased to bring the matter forward.
– A discussion seems inevitable unless the Minister states that the Senate will adhere to its previous decision.
– I cannot say that, because the amendments made in another place were made with the approval of the Ministry. I believe, too, in the principle there adopted.
– Then the honorable senator’s alternatives are to abandon the Bill, or to face a long discussion?
– In that case, I cannot say definitely at the present moment what I shall do in regard to the measure. The next order on the notice paper is for the second reading of the Excise Tariff (Sugar) Bill, in regard to which there should be no trouble. It was intended to provide that certain sugar cane should pay an Excise duty of only£3 per ton; but the Attorney-General says that, under the wording of the Act, it is liable to pay an Excise duty of The object of the Bill is merely to carry out the will of Parliament. Honorable senators know the purpose of the Pacific Island Labourers Bill, as they have had an opportunity of perusing the correspondence which I tabled. Under the present law, the islanders cannot be employed in Queensland after 31st December, and to keep them in depôts until the arrival of the ships would entail very great expense. The Bill provides that the kanakas shall be allowed to work until we are in a position to deport them, which will be in about five or six months. It is only fair, I think, to pass the measure, so that the men may not be kept in absolute idleness in depots, when we are not in a position to deport them, except at considerable expense. If we had to charter special vessels, the expense would be very great. It is proposed to utilize the steamers running to the Islands, and by that means to deport the kanakas gradually, and, of course, at very much less expense than would otherwise be the case. From the correspondence, honorable senators will have learned the extent to which the suggestions by the Premier of Queensland were adopted by the Prime Minister. It is a Bill which, I think, the Senate can fairly pass. The Patents Bill is a simple measure, which honorable senators can understand in a very short time. The Customs Tariff (South Africa) Preference Bill is an important one. It is a highly satisfactory measure so far as the Government is concerned. It did not meet with the slightest opposition in another place, and I do not anticipate that it will receive any opposition here. The object of the Commonwealth Electoral Bill is merely to correct a grammatical error in the Electoral Act. Honorable senators know the position in regard to theBounties Bill. When the second reading was moved, an amendment was submitted by Senator Dobson, and when a division was taken thereon the numbers were equal. If the amendment had been tarried, there would have been an end to the Bill ; but it was not carried, simply by reason of the fact that it was an affirmative proposition, which, when the numbers were equal, had to pass in the negative.
– It was, a very thin House when the division was taken.
– The motion for the second reading of the Bill was carried by a fair majority. Honorable senators know what occurred in the Committee when a division was taken on the first line in the schedule - cocoa - there was another tie, and on that occasion the Government won. My proposal to strike out the£1,000 as the annual sum to be spent was carried, but when a division was taken on the proposal to fix the amount at£2,000 there was another tie, and, unfortunately, on that occasion the Government were voting on the affirmative side, and, in accordance with the constitutional provision, we lost.
– But the Government had not their supporters here.
– So far as I could see, we had our supporters here. We are very sorry that we cannot carry the Bill.
– The Minister does not look very sorry.
– From the expressions of opinion I heard all round the chamber, all I can say is that, if the Government had gone on with the Bill, a prolonged debate would have ensued, and it would probably have come out of Committee in an emasculated form. I do not think there is much doubt about that.
– There is very great doubt.
– I asked honorable senators whether they would support this or that item, and I found that if we went on we could only carry a very few lines.
– There would have been nothing but the preamble left.
– Otherwise, I would have gone on with the consideration of the Bill. It is grossly unfair on the part of Senator Drake to say that we were not in earnest. I took every means in my power to get the Bill passed. I did what I had never done here before, and I certainly was not complimented by Senator Neild, but the reverse. I went round with a list of senators in my hand and ticked off their names as thev told me whether they were going to vote for or against the Bill. I saw .every one I possibly could.
– It is a pity that the Minister has not “ whipped “ the Senate more often.
– Honorable senators know very well that the chance of passing the Bill is very remote, and very reluctantly we say that we shall not be able to proceed with it.
– The Minister has been silent about the possibility of new measures coming up.
– I am informed that there are no new measures to come up.
– Does the Minister give us an assurance to that effect?
– I made inquiries, and was told that there are no other measures to be introduced. One question, perhaps, may interest honorable senators, and that is when, are we going to rise? I hope that we may rise by Thursday. If honorable senators want a longer time in which to. consider measures, we shall be only too pleased to give it to them, and then I hope that we shall rise on Friday. If, however, they want still further time in order to make up their minds on some of the measures, we can meet on Saturday ; but we ought to prorogue on that day under any circumstances.
– Does the Minister intend to go on with the Appropriation Bill to-day?
– Yes, after the notice of motion has been disposed of.
– I move -
That standing order 64 be suspended for the remainder of this session for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after 10.30 o’clock at night.
At this late period of the session a majority of honorable senators should not be debarred by a standing order from taking new business after 10.30 o’clock. At present, we can take no new business after that hour unless a motion to suspend the standing order is carried by an absolute majority. In the circumstances, it will be convenient to honorable senators on ‘all sides for us to have the power to take new business after that hour if we think fit.
– I hope that the Minister will not press the motion. We framed our standing order 64 upon the clear assumption that our sittings would begin at 2.30 p.m., and that if the Senate, sat until after 10.30 p.m. no further business would be taken after the latter hour. Except on Mondays our sittings now begin at 10.30 a.m., and we have thus added four hours to the time which we devote to business.
– It is only three and a half hours.
– Even admitting that we have added only three hours to the length of our sittings, we are extending our business over a term which would be equivalent to a sitting beginning at 2.30 p.m. and ending at 1.3,0 a.m. If, on ordinary occasions, the Senate met at 2.30 p.m., arid the Standing Orders provided that no new business should be taken after 1.30 a.m. - because that is what the position would be - Senator Playford would hesitate, under any conceivable circumstances, to say that it would be desirable to take new business after the latter hour
– I can conceive of some circumstances in which the Senate might be willing to take ‘new business even after 1.30 a.m.
– The Minister cannot claim that any such circumstances have arisen up to the present. During the last week or fortnight there has been no attempt on the part of the Opposition to interfere with the progress of business. Their efforts have been directed solely to securing sufficient time for reasonable debate, and they have given way on more than one occasion. A number of members of the Opposition refrained from speaking upon the motion for the- second reading of the Customs Tariff (British Preference) Bill in order to save time. I could mention halfadozen honorable senators who, interested as thev are, and ought to be. in such an important- subject, deliberately, refrained from saying one word, whilst others did not occupy more than a few minutes in addressing the Senate. I am .sure that the Minister will be unable to say that the Opposition have, during the last fortnight or ‘three weeks, done anything to delay business.. If whilst we are meeting at 10.30 a.m., we are asked to discus’s new business after 10.30 p.m., a most unreasonable demand will be made upon us - a demand which will, to a large extent, have the effect of disfranchising the electors. If the course indicated were adopted it would not be fair either to honorable senators or to the public.
– It would be sweating.
– The question is too serious to be dismissed even by making an accusation of that kind. We ought to recognise that we should not be adequately discharging our duties to the electors if we attempted to discuss fresh business after 10.30 p.m. Surely in view of the important measures which still demand our attention we should not be subjected to a trial of physical endurance in connexion with their consideration. I have endeavoured in every possible way to avoid sitting late - although 1 have had ample justification for joining in action, which might have resulted in all-night sittings. The object of this motion is to enable the Government to force the Senate to sit all night, after having worked all day.
– No, it is not.
– What then? The Minister may say that he has no intention to avail himself of the opportunity which, would be afforded by the suspension of the Standing Orders, but, if so, why does he desire to have such power as that now sought ?
– I shall take advantage of it only if I think the circumstances afford the fullest warrant for doing so - I shall not wantonly use it.
– I think that the Minister, before moving a motion of this kind, might wait until circumstances arose to justify the use of such power.
– I should have to give notice of motion, and the matter would have to be debated, and I might lose an opportunity to deal with some business which should be sent to the other Chamber without delay.
– The standing order was well considered, and should not be set aside without very good cause. If important business were being deliberately blocked by the Opposition, I could conceive a motion of this kind being submitted as a last resort.
– I can imagine a case in which, without any deliberate blocking of business by the Opposition, it might be very convenient to deal with important business after 10.30 p.m. in order that the House of Representatives might be afforded the earliest opportunity to discuss it.
– Only under such circumstances as I have indicated would there be the faintest justification for such a motion. If we were meeting at 2.30 p.m. instead of 10.30 a.m., there might be some excuse for the action taken by the Minister ; but he seems to ignore the fact that, by an alteration of the sessional orders, we have already added three and a-half hours to our sittings. There is nothing to warrant the Minister in suspecting - for that is what it amounts to - that the members of the Opposition desire to remain here much longer. We are as anxious as are members on the Government side to see the end of the session. We feel, however, that if standing order 64 is suspended, we shall run the risk of being compelled, for lack of the power of physical endurance, to allow some measures to pass without proper critiscism and proper discussion. Perhaps we should be unable to discuss them at all. The Opposition have shown their perfect readiness to curtail their remarks, and they should not be deprived of opportunities for fair discussion. If we had been debating an important Bill - -say the Appropriation Bill - from 10.30 in the morning till 10.30 at night, the Minister might, having a majority at his back, move that progress be reported, and take up another Bill. We should then be in this position - that, after we had been for twelve hours earnestly and sincerely discussing a most important measure, other business of importance might be brought forward. We cannot forget that the Minister is already able, under a contingent notice of motion standing upon the business-paper, to have Bills passed through all their stages without delay. I urge him to withdraw the motion. He knows, without my giving him an assurance, that the Opposition has but one object in view, namely to have liberty - curtailed liberty, probably - to address itself properly to business, but has not the slightest desire or intention to cause delay. I will not say that, if the motion is proceeded with, it will embitter our relations ; but the members of the Opposition would certainly feel that they had been treated unfairly.
– I do not think that Senator Playford has given sufficient consideration to the motion which he has submitted. After all, we are only made of flesh and blood ; and if we are asked to debate measures morning^ afternoon, and night, that should suffice for the most gluttonous of Ministers. The standing order to which reference has been made was, as Senator Clemons has pointed out, passed with the view of the sittings commencing at 2.30 every afternoon. Morning sittings have been added, and to take in the whole night as well would be so obviously a mistake that I cannot think that the Minister has given that consideration to the question which he should have done. The motion is so palpably out of all agreement with possibilities that it appears to me that the fact only needs to be pointed out to obtain an instant withdrawal of the motion.
– - I trust that the Minister, on reconsideration,, will adopt the course suggested by Senator Clemons. Only a few minutes ago the Minister himself pointed out that the Senate could conclude its business on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, just as it chose. But now he is endeavouring to obtain power to force business through in the early hours of the morning. It appears to me that that is not decent of him. I therefore hope that he will withdraw the motion.
-36]- - Honorable senators who have spoken from the Opposition side of. the Chamber seem to have assumed that the onus of showing that the motion should not be submitted rests on us. But the onus rests on the Government to show that the motion is necessary. The Minister has said nothing to show that it is either necessary or desirable. On the contrary, as Senator Macfar-, lane has just pointed out, when’ the Minister was enumerating the measures on the businesspaper, he himself gave the strongest possible argument against the motion now submitted. He ran through the measures in their order, and, generally speaking, dismissed them all as matters of no importance as to which the Senate has practically made up its mind.
– I picked out those which I considered to be non-contentious.
– The Minister dismissed all but two as non-contentious. The only two that he said might create discussion were the Appropriation Bill and the Constitution Amendment Bill ; and, with regard to the latter, he suggested the possibility that the Senate might not be required to proceed with it. That being so, what necessity is there for this motion ? What excuse is there for sitting longer hours than we have been doing? If it be found that the time afforded by the present sittings is not sufficient for the work to be done, the proper course is not to lengthen the hours, but to increase the number of days on which we sit. I defy Senator Playford to show that any individual can continue the strain - and there has been a strain upon every one engaged in this work - for more than twelve hours a day, without feeling the effects of it. It is impossible to do such work and give that close attention to it that the important questions coming before us undoubtedly demand for more hours per day than we have been devoting to them. I trust that the Minister will recognise that there is no necessity for the motion, and will see the wisdom of withdrawing it.
– The motion submitted by the Minister would not have been so objectionable if we had had an assurance from the Government that the business would always be proceeded with in the order in which it stands on the business-paper.
– It is very seldom that I depart from that order.
– It was departed from on Friday last in regard to the Spirits Bill.
– No; that Bill was dealt with in its order. I did not postpone any Bill.
– What occurred on that occasion illustrates that the Minister’s opinion regarding noncontentious measures may not coincide with the view of other honorable senators. The Minister was apparently under the impression that the message received from another place was of a non-contentious character, whereas it was found to involve the reversal of a decision arrived at by us, after a long discussion, on a matter of much importance.
– I did not use thf word non-contentious.
– Five minutes before, the usual dinner-hour adjournment the honorable, senator told> us that he simply wished to deal with ‘two little Bills, of which Senator Keating was in charge. I urged, however, that we should not deal with them until after dinner, and I was very much surprised later on to find that one of them was a highly contentious measure. The danger of passing a motion of this kind is that it would enable -a Minister having a majority behind him to bring on new business, without notice, in the middle of the night.
– I should not do that. The honorable senator does not think that I would do anything unfair?
– I hope not. I presume that most of us are willing to work long hours and, if necessary, to sit here all night doing actual business; but it is not fair that we should be compelled to remain here hour after hour simply because we fear that if we leave the Chamber for a little while something in which we take an interest may be dealt with during our absence.
– If an honorable senator wishes to leave, it is always open to him to inquire what business we propose to proceed with. I am always ready to apprise honorable senators of what I propose to do.
– I am glad to have that ‘statement, more especially as there are on the business-paper two matters to which [ specially desire to speak. As to the remaining business, I am quite willing to play the part of a listener, but I should feel aggrieved if the subjects in which I am particularly interested were, as the result of the passing of this motion, brought on suddenly late at night..
– I think that honorable senators opposite cannot accuse me of having treated them in any degree unfairly. I am always willing to give them all information at my disposal as to the order of business, and Senator Drake may rest assured that if, say, on any night at 10.30, he has to leave he will always be able to ascertain from me what business I intend to proceed with. That being so, he need have no fear of being taken by surprise. I doubt whether I shall have to avail myself of the morion, but at the same time I feel that the power is one that I ought to possess. Returned Bills requiring immediate attention may come from another place, a few minutes after 10.30 on any night, and I may wish to deal with such business as quickly as possible, so that I think in the circum stances it is only reasonable that the motion should be agreed to. I should have power, as a matter of course, tq deal with such business after 10.30 p.m., instead of being compelled to secure the consent of an absolute majority. As a matter of fact, the Opposition might be anxious to assist me in disposing immediately of such matters, but it might be found impossible to secure an absolute majority, and in the circumstances our hands would be tied. I therefore ask honorable senators to support the motion. Question put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford), proposed -
That the Bill tie now read a third time.
– I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering the schedule.
I need not tell honorable senators that this measure is one of very vital importance,, nor remind them of its origin and history. It is sufficient to say that the Senate ought to have some opportunity, which it has not yet had, of dealing with the schedule in Committee.
– The schedule must have been dealt with in Committee, or there would not be the certificate by the Chairman.
– The schedule has not been discussed, and it certainly needs discussing. The rate of duty placed on harvesters is so high, viewed as an ad valorem duty, that it behoves us to give it some further consideration. Having regard to the legislation which has been passed, and to what is due to our Courts of Law, to which appeal is now being made - having regard to the interests of those persons who are fighting before the Courts with thousands of pounds at stake, and whom it is sought to put in a wrong position by the action of the Government - we are called upon to give special consideration to the extravagant and extraordinary proposals of the Government.
Motion (Senator Pulsford’s) negatived.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time; - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time.
Second Reading. Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence) [3.58]. - I move - That the Bill be now read a second time.
It is not my intention to go very elaborately into questions affecting the ordinary finances of the Commonwealth ; nor is it my intention to deal in detail with the various Departments, and point out what increases or decreases there are in connexion therewith. When in Committee I hope to be able to give honorable senators every information in regard to the items in the schedule. At the same- time, it is only fair that I should make a short statement as to the total estimated revenue for 1906-7, as compared with the actual revenue for 1905-6. The penny postage proposal, not having been proceeded with, the estimated loss in that connexion has been added to the Treasurer’s estimate of revenue. From Customs and Excise in 1905-6, there was an actual revenue of .£8,999,485, and the estimated revenue for this year is £9,115,000, showing an increase on the previous year of £115,515- If honorable senators will look at the returns which have lately come in for the quarter just ended, they will notice that there already is a substantial increase over the corresponding quarter of the previous half-year; and I have no doubt that the Treasurer’s estimate will, if anything, be exceeded. The actual revenue from the Post and Telegraph Department last year was £2,824,182, and the estimated revenue for this year is £2,970,000, showing an increase over last year of £145,818. I am assured by the Postmaster-General that the estimate is a fair one, and that he has every hope that it will be exceeded rather than otherwise From miscellaneous receipts, the revenue received in 1905-6 was .£55,676. The estimate this year is ,£41,500, or a decrease of £14,176. So that the position is that the actual revenue received last year from all sources amounted to £11,879,343, and the estimated revenue for 1906-7 is £12,126,500, or an increase of £247,157. The increase would have been larger but for the following facts: - Last year we received some revenue from duties imposed on smoking opium, the imports of which are now prohibited. The amount thus received was ,£42,000, and that revenue will, of course, be lost this year. Last year we received a windfall of £^31,688, being sugar duties collected in the previous( years, and held in suspense pending a decision of the Privy Council. The decision was in favour of the Commonwealth, with the result that £^31,688 was added to the Consolidated Revenue for last year. Again, the Western Australian Tariff was in operation last year, and will cease to operate about this time. We shall get only £15,000 this year, and will get it only in the first quarter of the year, as compared with ,£77,666 last year, which is a reduction of £62,666. Adding these figures to the increase already referred to, namely, .£247,157, it will be seen that the Treasurer has estimated increase of revenue to the extent of £383,511. No allowance has been made for gain or loss on the operation of the Tariff alterations which have been made. So far as we can see, they are likely to result in a balancing of the accounts.
– We expect to make up that loss in other directions.
– Will the honorable senator state in what directions?
– So far as the Tariff alterations are concerned, we should get an increased revenue from harvesters, and on some other lines we have provided for in connexion with the proposal for preferential trade with Great Britain.
– What increase of revenue does the honorable senator anticipate from the British . preference proposals ?
– I do not anticipate any considerable amount, but I believe that we shall get something.
– Has the honorable senator no departmental estimate on the subject ?
– No ; I have not seen a departmental estimate on the subject.
– Does “the Minister say that he expects to derive more revenue from stripper-harvesters ?
– I do not know, but I fancy we may get an increased re-, venue. It might be mentioned that this estimate of revenue is ‘higher than the revenue obtained in any previous year. The highest revenue hitherto obtained was £12,105,937, which was collected in 1902-3. That was a drought year, in which we received no less than £597,000 from grain duties. But we expect this year to receive £10,563 in excess even of the revenue collected in that year. When we come to deal with the expenditure side, we find that the total Commonwealth expenditure of last year amounted to £4,494,841, being £111,432 less than the estimate. The amount which the Commonwealth might have spent, according to the Constitution, was £5^24,766, whilst the amount actually expended was, as I have said, £4,494,841.
– Do the Government wish to take credit for that ?
– Leaving the sum of £829,925 to be returned to the States over and above the amount which the Commonwealth was obliged to return under the Constitution.
– That is not the way to put it. The Commonwealth is obliged to return as much as it can, and not less than a certain amount.
– The Commonwealth, under the Braddon section of the Constitution, is at liberty to spend onefourth of the total revenue from Customs and Excise.
– Not exceeding onefourth.
– The Commonwealth can spend one-fourth.
– We are rapidly spending as near that amount as we can.
– It cannot be said that we are rapidly overtaking the limit of our expenditure when we return to the States nearly £1,000,000 that we might spend under the Braddon section. I am only stating facts. We have the power to spend one-fourth of the total revenue from Customs and Excise. We did nothing of the sort, and, on the contrary, returned £829,925 more than we were actually obliged to return if we had used all the power we possessed under the Braddon section.
– The Government are taking credit for bare honesty.
– This is an answer to the charge so frequently and also so recklessly made against the ‘Commonwealth by certain individuals. The amount to which I have referred as being returned to the States might have been spent amongst them by the Commonwealth to the credit of the Commonwealth. If we had chosen to spend a large portion of that money in building post-offices, establishing forts, and constructing other works in the different States, we might have received credit from them for the expenditure of the money.
– I should like to know how the expenditure of last year compared with that of the previous year?
– It is estimated that, during the current year, 1906-7, after making allowance for reductions in the Estimates during their passage through another place, the expenditure will amount to £5,007,715, being an increase over the total expenditure of last year of £512,874.
– What was the increase in the expenditure last year over that of the previous year? The Minister gave the information with respect to revenue; has he the corresponding figures with respect to expenditure ?
– I have not the corresponding figures for previous years. But if honorable senators will consult the Treasurer’s Budget speech, a copy of which was forwarded to each of them, they will find the whole of the particulars therein set out. I have not gone into the whole matter, and do not now propose to make a Budget speech. I have directed attention to a few important particulars relating to the financial operations of last year, and I intend to make a short statement of what we propose for this year. I have dealt with the Estimates of revenue, and I am dealing now with Estimates of expenditure. Honorable senators are aware that it is the practice of the Treasurer to estimate expenditure in such a way that, as a rule, a balance is left unexpended. The Minister of Defence, for example, has always so far had a balance unexpended at the close of the financial year. I think I had a balance last year of some £30,000, and it is very likely that there will be a balance at the close of the current financial year of £20,000 or £30,000. It is impossible to estimate the actual expenditure that will be required, and it would be a mistake to submit an estimate below our requirements. The chances are that in many Departments the estimate of expenditure is a. little above what we shall require to expend during the year. Unforeseen circumstances frequently arise which prevent the expenditure of the whole of the amounts voted. In connexion with public works expenditure, for instance, that is a very frequent occurrence. We estimate that a certain amount of money will be required for the building of a post-office, and, through unforeseen circumstances, such as delay in the acquisition of land, or the necessity for calling for fresh tenders, it is found impossible to spend during the year the money voted, and as a result, a balance remains unexpended.
– How is the £500,000 additional expenditure chiefly made up?
– I propose to tell honorable senators how it is made up. Under an Act of Parliament we have to pay this year in sugar bounties an additional amount of £1.30,394. That is the increase over the expenditure of last year. The increase over the estimated expenditure of last year totalled £404,000 odd, while the increase over the actual expenditure totals £543,000 odd. I referred in my Ministerial statement to the steps which are being taken in regard to the repatriation of kanakas. For that purpose £12,500 is asked, the £5 a head deposited by the employers of kanakas being insufficient to defray the cost of sending them back to their ‘islands, the expense being heavier now than it was formerly, because our law prohibiting the introduction of new kanakas causes the vessels engaged in the? .trade to return empty. Repairs and maintenance this year will cost £21,000 more than was spent last year; but the expenditure is absolutely necessary, in order to keep our public works and buildings in good repair. A proposed new expenditure will be covered bv the vote of £5,000 for advertising the Commonwealth. In regard to this item, I have been furnished with the following explanation : -
During ‘1905 the advice of the AgentsGeneral for Australia was sought as to the best methods of. creating a well-informed public opinion in Great Britain regarding Australia. Those gentlemen reviewed the matter at length, and concurred in recommending that a systematic advertising scheme be undertaken. They advised that the services of a press agency be secured through which advertisements might be published in the leading newspapers and periodicals, to be accompanied from time to time by news articles which would summarize and direct particular attention to the advertisements.
After considering this report the Prime Minister met the Premiers at the Conference in Sydney in April last. A report of his remarks will be found on pages 48 to 52 of the Proceedings of the Conference. Mr. Deakin then announced the intention of the Commonwealth to establish in London a Central Bureau to which inquirers concerning Australia might resort to obtain information.
The plan proposed is that there should be a small central ‘Commonwealth Staff, which would control the advertisement of Australia generally, and would be able to present to likely emigrants statements furnished bv representatives of the States setting out the attractions which the different parts of Australia afford.
In the Statistical Department the expenditure will be heavier this year than” last by about ,£7,000. That is due to the creation of hew offices, and the appointment of new officers. Then £55,900 is set down to defray the expense of the forthcoming general election-
– Did not the last election cost only £40,000?
– I cannot say. The sum I have named is the estimate of the responsible officials, and was voted’ in another place. There is an apparent increase of £72,000 in the Defence expenditure; but the real increase is only £49,020, and I shall give an explanation in regard to that later on. In the Department of the Postmaster-General the expenditure this year will be higher than last year by £[68,714, which includes £5,600 put down as the estimated cost to the Department of reducing the rates on messages despatched from the mainland to Tasmania. The increase is accounted for by the larger post and telegraph business, which demands proportionately larger expenditure. We have already voted j£i 60,000 for new works and special defence material, a Bill to authorize the expenditure having bee,n passed earlier in the session. The sum of £8,813 is Put down to defray the cost of pensions. The Commonwealth has no pension system of its own, but is responsible for the payment of part of the cost of giving pensions to officers transferred to nur service who, under the laws of the States, had pension rights.
– Officers in all the transferred Departments ?
– Yes. The increases for the year amount to £543j°46j from which must be deducted decreases, most of which are due to non-recurring expenditure, amounting to £[30,172. making the net increase £512,874. It will be recollected that last year I discussed the question of defence with considerable detail. In the first place, I mentioned what forces we took over from the States, and their strength at that time in comparison with their strength when I was speaking. I gave full details in regard to the volunteers, the militia, the permanent forces, the artillery, the cadets, and the rifle clubs. I also mentioned what war materiel we had taken over from the States in the shape of fixed defence, cannon, and war-ships, such as the Protector, the Cerberus, and a few others, and what we possessed at that time. I said that we intended to obtain 8,000 additional rifles, and to spend about £’160,000 upon field artillery, and in a variety of directions. I mentioned in detail what expenditure my military and naval officers considered was required in order to be able to say that we were properly prepared to defend ourselves. Perhaps it may be ,interesting to honorable senators if I read that part of my speech in which I summed up .the position -
Not long ago, I pointed out the number of rifles that we had in the Commonwealth. I now propose to tell honorable senators the number that we need, together with their cost. To arm the Military Forces of the Commonwealth to war strength - including those only who carry rifles - 32,000 are required. To arm those of the reserves not there provided for, 30,000 are required, of which number we anticipate that 11,000 at least would be needed by the permanent forces- in time of war. That would reduce the number to 19,000. If we add 50 per cent, in both instances, that gives us 25,500, and the total is 76,500. There are already available in the Commonwealth 35,900 rifles, and a further 8,000 are provided for on these Estimates. The balance which we require is 32,600. The cost, of these rifles, with bayonets and scabbards, is approximately £185,800. Owing to the increase in the number of rifles we should need to increase the quantity of ammunition held in reserve by some 16,300,000 rounds, which would cost £87,620.
– That is on the basis of a reserve of 250 or 300 rounds per rifle.
– It is on the basis of 500 rounds per rifle. I now come to a statement by my officers as to what is required to place our defences upon a satisfactory footing. Our naval defences, it is urged, demand an expenditure of £2,300,000 ; new guns for forts would cost £522,000; electric lights, £^,720; stores for submarine mines, £4,000 ; booms, £1,600; land installation of torpedoes, £20,000 ; rifles, £185,800 ; to complete the war establishment of the field and garrison forces, £726,182; new guns for artillery, £50,880; and rifle ammunition, when we purchase more rifles, £108,000 ; or a total of £3,933,802.
That is what I told honorable senators my officers estimated it would take to put the Forces in a thoroughly satisfactory condition all round, that is a force of 25,000 men on a peace footing, and a force of 32,000 men on a- war footing. Before describing the operations of the year, I wish to inform the Senate and the country that the Military Forces have never been in a better position than at the present time. AVe have never been in a better position to defend ourselves than we are in to-day, as regards both men and materiel. In connexion with their duties, the Forces have shown an enthusiasm which is most commendable.
-i think, sir, that there ought to be a quorum present to hear this speech. [Quorum formed.]
– There has never been more enthusiasm displayed amongst officers and rank and file, nor better attendances maintained at camps and drill. So far as I know, throughout the Forces there is really nothing causing trouble, and if somebody has said that the Forces are in a disorganized state, all I can say is that he has told that which is absolutely untrue.
– Then the paragraph in the Age to-day is incorrect?
– Taken as a whole, the Military Forces are not in a disorganized state, but just the reverse. 1 shall mention one incident, in passing, and one only, though 1 could cite a dozen if I liked. Take the camp which was held in New South Wales last Easter, and which, of course, was attended by volunteers, militia, permanent forces, and artillery. Over 90 per cent. of all the men enrolled attended. That shows most unmistakably the interest which the Forces take in the performance of their duty. The percentage could not be surpassed by a regular army. Whenwe recollect that, with the exception of a few permanent men, our men are citizen soldiers, we must recognise that it was a magnificent result. Although the percentages in the other States were not equal to the percentage in New South Wales, still they were highly satisfactory, so much so that Major-General Finn had to report that the total result was unmistakably satisfactory and highly to be commended.
– In view of that statement, may I ask the Minister whether the statement in the Age to-day is incorrect?
– I have not seen the statement in the Age, and I do not trouble about what newspapers say. In fact, I have not time to read them now. If the Age says that our Military Forces are in a disorganized state, then it says that which is not true.
– The paragraph relates to the heads of some of the Forces.
– I have nothing to do with the heads of sections of the Forces, but with the, Forces as a whole. I do not say that every one is satisfied with the men holding commands. There has never been a case in history where universal satisfaction has been given. I do not suppose that every one was satisfied with Major-General Hutton. In fact, I believe that there was a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with him. No doubt in the case of every State Commandant we may find persons saying that he is not fit for the position.
– I wish to give the Minister an opportunity to defend the heads of the Forces.
– We shall always find a certain number of persons grumbling.
– It would appear that the Government have allowed the best man we ever had - Brigadier-General Finn - to leave Australia.
– It is not for me to say; but if the honorable senator would spend about half-an-hour with me at the barracks I could give him some information upon that point. All I wish to say is that the forces are in a highly satisfactory state. I have particulars as to the strength of the forces in 1901 and in 1905-6, and 1906-7, but I propose to quote the figures for only the last two years. Upon the 30th June, 1906, our forces stood at a strength of 21,941, and this year at 23,933.
– What was the strength in 1901 ?
– Twenty-nine thousand. That was the strength at the time the Defence Department was transferred from the States, and we have never maintained the forces at the same strength under the Commonwealth. The statement supplied to me with regard to rifle clubs shows that in 1905, 30,621 members were enrolled. Upon the 30th, June, 1906, the numbers had increased to 37,082, and upon the 31st August last, the total was 37,962. Therefore, the figures show a satisfactory increase. It must be admitted that since the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth, the naval branch of the Defence Forces has been neglected, and that the strength has gone down very considerably. This year we provide for the same number of permanent men, namely, 171, as we had last year; whilst the Militia Forces number 907, as against 870 last year. I shall say later on what we propose to do with regard to the Naval Forces. I have had a statement prepared showing our position with regard to rifles. We have on hand 30,254 long rifles, and 5,839 short ones, or a total of about 36,000. We have on order 8,640 short rifles, and 10,000 others, making a total of 18,640. When the rifles on order, and those for which money is proposed to be voted are received, we shall have a total of 54,733 magazine rifles. We also have in store 26,945 MartiniEnfield rifles, for which the same ammunition is used, and which are unmistakably most excellent weapons. In fact, in certain cases in modern warfare, they are preferable to magazine rifles for the reason that when men are armed with the latter they are disposed to tire away their ammunition too quickly Colonel Rowell, of South Australia, told me that, in the course of an engagement in the late Boer war, when he had six of his men killed and a considerable number wounded, he would have much preferred that his force had been armed with ordinary weapons instead of magazine rifles.
– According to that argument, muzzle loaders would be the best of all.
– It is possible to push any argument to extremes. More than half of our riflemen have their own weapons which they have purchased from the Department. .We could, therefore, reckon upon having in the country 15,000 rifles in addition to those I have mentioned. In order to arm the whole of our forces - that is those branches of the service that would be using rifles - upon a war footing, and to provide for a reserve stock equal to 50 per cent, of the number first issued, we should require 87,000 rifles. The rule laid down is that sufficient rifles should be kept on hand to arm the forces upon a war footing, and to provide 50 per cent, more to be held in reserve. I think that that percentage of reserves is higher than is absolutely necessary, but that is the proportion recommended by the Imperial Defence Committee. When we have received the rifles already provided, we shall require only 32,000 more to enable us to meet all our requirements. If, however, we take into account the 27,000 Martini-Enfields, we shall have very little short of the number required to place in the field 60,000 men, and ann with a rifle every man requiring that class of weapon. Of course, it is understood that it is not necessary to arm artillerymen and some others with rifles. Under these circumstances, I do not think that it will be necessary next year to ask Parliament to vote additional money for the purchase of rifles. After spending the .£50,000 now proposed to be appropriated, I think that we may pause for a while before incurring any further outlay in that direction. Now, .with regard to ammunition, it is necessary to issue ammunition and to keep a stock in reserve. The estimated quantity of .303 ball ammunition for rifles anc! machine guns in the Commonwealth on 1st July, 1906, was 29,465,398 rounds. The principle observed in regard to a war reserve of ammunition for small arms is thai on 1st July of each year we shall have 500 rounds for each rifle required to arm the forces to war strength, plus one year’s practice expenditure. This year provision has been made to bring up the reserve of 303 ammunition to a total of 31,862,000 rounds, of which 2,516,000 rounds forms the reserve required for machine guns taking 303 ammunition, and the .remaining 29,346,000 the reserve required for rifles. It will be seen, therefore, that the present reserve for small arms would furnish 500 rounds for 58,692 rifles, or 813 -rounds for each magazine Lee-Enfield rifle, the property of the Government, or 465 rounds for every .303 rifle in the Commonwealth. Honorable senators will therefore see that we have a really good supply of ammunition. Although it is not quite up to our full requirements - 500 rounds - it is very near to it, and is considered by our officers to be sufficient. I think that in respect of ammunition there is nothing to complain about. I next come to field artillery. The number of serviceable field guns, with ammunition, including those on order on 1st July, 1906, was 24 18-pounders, 48 15-pounders - breech-loaders - 4 breechloader Howitzers, and 4 guns of position - making a total of 80. The .number of rounds of cordite in hand was 37,069. The number of rounds required to complete equipment was 2,931, or 37 rounds per gun. We therefore have a total of 463 rounds per gun, which is close up to the 500 rounds that is our limit. We have provided in this year’s Estimates for twelve new 18- pounder guns with ammunition and waggons complete. To meet the recommendations of the Imperial Defence Committee we should have eighteen more guns to bring our equipment up to a war Establishment. But I am inclined to think that we might with advantage “ bide a wee “ before buying those guns. We are well aware that as years go by improvements are made in* connexion with gunnery, and if we were to purchase now we might find that in a year or two the guns that we bought were not of the very best kind obtainable. It is not as though we had made no provision. Our present equipment is absolutely beyond our requirements for a peace footing. Although we are not quite up to a war footing, still, as I have said, we only require eighteen more guns. I do not propose to provide for them unless my officers say that it is absolutely necessary to do so. I shall look into the matter again, but personally I am inclined to think that we may with advantage wait a little.
– May I take it that there: is no amount on this year’s Estimates for the purchase of guns?
– Oh, yes.
– But did not the Minister just now say that he did not intend to purchase more?
– I intend to purchase those which have been ordered ; but, as at present advised, I do not intend to place a sum of. money for the purpose on next year’s Estimates. I do not absolutely bind myself.
– The Minister’s remarks just before my last interjection referred to next year?
– Yes. Matters relating to our fixed defences and our Naval Forces are very much as they were last year. We make no new important proposals whatever. We have been waiting for the reports to which I have referred, and which I will mention again later on. I now have a few remarks to make in regard to the paper which I have prepared and laid on the table of the Senate relating to the Defence Department and its Estimates for the present financial year. It shows the estimated increase of votes as compared with the previous year, and gives full details under each head. I do not propose to read it. The increases amount to altogether £49,020, divided as follows :- Central Administration, £2,077 > Naval Forces, £5,767 ; Military Forces, £41,176. There is also an increase of £15,617 on account of Cadets. Last year I gave the Senate a complete statement of the proposals of the Government relating to the cadet scheme. My proposals “have since been put into operation, to such an extent that my officers tell me that the whole thing is, to use. their language, “ booming.”
Everything in relation to the cadets is proceeding in the most satisfactory way.
– Does the Minister intend to increase their number?
– Of course we shall do so when it is -necessary.
– Has the Minister anything to say in regard to boys who leave school early ?
– I cannot satisfy my honorable friend whatever I do. All I have to say to him is that matters are going on satisfactorily, that the States and the teachers are taking up the question in a proper manner, and that no hitch of any account has occurred. That is all I have to say now. Of course our cadets are .not up to the full strength, but I am especially pleased to know that there is now a feeling, net merely amongst those who control our State schools, but also among those responsible for private schools - especially the high schools - that they should have a compulsory system of military training as part of their curriculum. We are very pleased that that is so. We have tried to stimulate the cadet movement, and are delighted that the States are taking it up. We hope that before long the boys who attend our schools will be compelled to attend drill, and to learn rifle shooting. We have been endeavouring te lead up ito that ideal, though we have not yet been able tn satisfy my honorable friend’, Senator Dobson, who says that we ought to have 200,000 cadets, ; whereas we have only provided for 23,000. Honorable senators will recollect that last year I made a statement on the question of defence policy, in the course of which I made certain promises which I will, recall to the recollection of the Senate. I said -
From what I have said, honorable senators will realize what a difficult task I have before me, and that it will be necessary for me to devote a great deal of time to the consideration of these questions.
Those questions related to the demand” for additional provision to be made for our defence forces -
They will recognise that it would be imprudent for me to arrive at a hurried decision, that it is necessary that I should carefully think the whole matter out before I submit a scheme to my colleagues. They will realize, too, that it is essential that I should secure the best possible advice on these questions.
I wished to pay particular attention to that point -
Having done that, it will be for me to bring my scheme before the Cabinet, and for the
Cabinet, having arrived at a decision, to submit it to the Parliament. As I have said, the task before me is a difficult one. I do not know whether I am capable of performing it, but I shall do my best. I hope that I shall be in a position before next session to bring a scheme of defence before my colleagues, and that we shall be able to ask Parliament next year to approve a system that will be more satisfactory than is the present one. I said a few minutes ago that we had no defence scheme. As a matter of fact, we have had far too many.
– Does the honorable senator think that we shall be able to make all these improvements in our defence system without Moating a loan ?
Senator- PLAYFORD.- If we decided to bring our forces up to date within a limited time, we certainly should, not be able to carry on without a loan ; but if we spread the expenditure over a series of years, I do not think that it would be necessary for us to go into the money market. 1 have not been able to carry out my promise altogether. I said that I hoped to be able to do it. But I have not been able at present to so push forward the defence scheme which the Government has under consideration as to enable me to bring it before Parliament. The authorities to whom we submitted the matter did not present their report until about the time of the opening of the session, and other information which had to be obtained’ was not forthcoming until shortly before the Prime Minister, made his speech on this question in another place, when we really came to a decision. Speaking on this subject last session, I said that honorable senators would recognise that it was essential that I should secure the best possible advice. During the recess, I had to make inquiries, and we sought the assistance of the Colo-‘ nial Committee of Defence. We had information on certain points from the Committee, but the question to consider was what was the best authority from which to seek information that would enable us to formulate something like a complete scheme relating to our naval, military, and fixed defences. It occurred to my colleagues and myself that it would be well to seek the assistance of the Imperial Committee of Defence, which consists not only of military and naval officers, but of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and other civilians. We despatched a cablegram inquiring whether they would be prepared to advise us in the matter, and they promptly expressed their willingness to do so. It was about this time that I had determined to send one of my ablest officers, Lt.-Col. Bridges, Chief of Intelligence, to England, to witness the mobilization of the forces in the autumn, and also to Switzerland to see the mobilization of the Swiss forces. It was considered that information so obtained would materially assist Lt.-Col. Bridges to work out a complete mobilization scheme for the Commonwealth. At present, we have no such scheme. Prior to Federation, if I recollect aright, New South Wales, and also another State, had local schemes, but we need one for the Commonwealth. In order that he might make the necessary plans, reports, and information required for the guidance of the Imperial Committee of Defence, we despatched Lt.-Col. Bridges to England earlier than otherwise would have been necessary. He laid the information before them, and the Committee presented a report consisting of two parts, one of which has been made public and distributed amongst honorable senators, whilst the other is confidential. I have before me a copy of the secret document.
– It is interesting to know that the honorable senator has it, and that we mav not have it.
– Honorable senators will have so much of it as is absolutely necessary for their guidance. They cannot expect to be told whether we intend to fix one gun here and four guns there, or where we are going to mount a particular gun. It is not considered advisable to make such information public. When I received this report, I called upon Captain Creswell to deal with it from the naval side of the question, and also asked for a report from Brigadier-General Hoad, Colonel Le Mesurier, and others, who were asked to deal with the questions affecting their own particular departments.
– Were they asked to report on the secret report?
– On the whole report. I was not satisfied, however, with the information so obtained, since it was not in such a form as enabled me to formulate a scheme for the consideration of my colleagues. I therefore thought it better to appoint a Committee of military officers to deal with the military part of the -programme outlined by the Imperial Committee of Defence, and a Committee of naval officers to deal with the naval branch. Committees were so appointed, and copies of their reports have been placed before honorable senators. The Military Committee was presided over by Brigadier- General Hoad, and a report which has been treated as confidential has also been received from a Committee of officers connected with the coastal defences who were appointed to deal with that phase of the question. Some parts of that report, however, may be referred to by me.
– May we see the report of the two or three officers who were asked to deal with this matter before the larger Committees were appointed?
– Yes. If honorable senators desire it, I shall lay the paper on the table. From the papers put before them, honorable senators ought to obtain a very good idea of the position and of the varying views taken bv the Imperial Committee of Defence and the local bodies. I thought it only fair that as I had obtained a report from the Imperial Committee dealing with the matter from the outside point of view, I should also obtain a report from officers whose local knowledge might be of assistance to us in arriving at a decision.
– How far does the honorable gentleman propose to carry out these recommendations ?
– I shall tell the honorable senator in due course. The first matter which the Imperial Committee, had to decide was the probable nature of the attack likely to be made upon us. Having settled that question, we can arrange to provide the necessary forces to meet such an attack. They reported that -
In order to arrive at just conclusions in regard to the standards of defence tq be adopted at Australian defended ports, it is necessary to form as clear an idea as possible of the character of the vessels which may reasonably be expected to engage in raiding attacks in Australian waters, and of the strength of the landing parties which might be disembarked…..
The number of vessels which may be expected to operate together must be small, since the main hope of success will lie in suddenness of execution and in ability to elude observation and avoid opposition by even an inferior naval force while the operations are in progress. The assumption on which Australian armaments have hitherto generally been based is that the number may be limited to a maximum of three or four, and nothing has occurred in recent naval warfare to give ground for supposing that this is other than a liberal estimate. <
I might state here that the Committee of Imperial Defence estimate that in time of war Australia will not be liable to attack from more than four unarmoured cruisers.
– From what is the honorable senator reading?
– I am reading paragraph 9 of the report of the Imperial Committee of Defence, and showing that the first point to be decided is the kind of force which we have to meet. The paragraph proceeds -
For purposes of calculation, therefore, it may be assumed that the landing parties disembarked for a raid on an Australian port might reach a total of 1,000 mcn at the outside. The strength and disposition of the force required to meet this attack will vary at different ports, according to the topographical conditions.
The Committee of Imperial Defence make a number of recommendations for the reorganization of the Military Forces, but these deal only with details with which I do not think it worth while troubling honorable senators. But the Committee recommend that a certain number of men shall be told off for the defence of each fort in the following proportions : - 1,000 at Fremantle, 1,000 at Port Adelaide, 1,000 at Port Phillip, 3,000 at Sydney, 1,000 at Newcastle, 1,000 at Brisbane, 400 at Normanby Sound, which we know as Thursday Island ; and 1,000 at Hobart. The next question is that of fixed defences, in regard to which we desired as much assistance as possible. On this question, the Imperial Committee of Defence say -
It follows from these considerations -
I take it that honorable senators have read the report - and from the nature of probable attack discussed in paragraph 9, that the type of gun selected for the defence of Australian ports should have great rapidity of fire and accuracy, with as large shell power as is obtainable without sacrifice of these essentials, but that it is unnecessary and inadvisable to seek after very long range and high power of penetrating armour protection. These latter qualities are not required, and could not be obtained without increasing calibre; and as calibre increases, handiness and speed of fire are lost, and. the cost of guns, mountings, and emplacements rises rapidly The chief defects of the armaments of Australian ports in the past have been want of homogeneity, and deficiencies in the accessories on which thevalue of modern guns is mainly dependent. By restricting the guns in future to a single and moderate calibre, and insuring the completeness of their equipment, the Commonwealth Government will secure economy, efficiency, and simplicity, both in armaments anc? in arrangements for ammunition supply. For the armaments of those of the Imperial defended ports, abroad as well as at home, where the attack to be provided against is of the same nature as that to which the ports of Australia are liable, the 6-inch gun of the latest pattern is accepted, with the approval of the Committee of Imperial Defence, as the weapon which best fulfils requirements. This gun has a rate of fire of six “rounds per minute, and a range at 10 deg. elevation of 9,050 yards, as compared with a rate of fire of only three rounds a minute and a range at 10 deg. elevation of 11,700 yards for the 7.5-inch gun, the next higher calibre. It has not been considered that the increase of range and armour penetration compensates for the great loss of rapidity, and this calibre has npt been introduced into the Imperial land service in which there is now no gun intermediate between the 9.2-inch, which is mounted where the power to attack armour is considered essential, and the 6-inch which is used where the most likely enemy will be unarmoured vessels.
The recommendation, it will be seen, is that all our forts shall be armed with 6-inch guns, although, of course, small guns will be required to repel any attack by landing parties, and so forth. Honorable senators will recollect the interesting discussion there was in the Senate when Senator Matheson raised the question whether the armament at Fremantle should be 9.2 guns or the 7.5 guns, which had then been ordered. I may inform honorable senators that I quickly countermanded the order for the 7-5 guns, when I found that they were not used in Great Britain, and had been used only to a partial extent in the Indian forces. On the occasion of which I speak, I went into the question of whether the guns for Fremantle should be 9.2 guns or 6-inch guns, and honorable senators will recollect that both Senator Matheson and myself took the same point. That honorable senator asked whether we were likely to have to meet thoroughly armoured cruisers, or only what are called protected cruisers, and pointed out that if the former were the case, then 9.2 guns would be required, but, if the latter, that then 6-inch guns would be ample. On that basis, Senator Matheson asked me to look very fully into the matter, and I did so; and now we have this report from the Imperial Committee of Defence, which shows that’ 6-inch guns have the advantage from the point of viewin economy, inasmuch as they cost only £4,000 each to mount, whereas Q.2 guns cost ,£15,000 each to mount. That, of course- is a verv great difference, and the adoption of 9.2 guns would mean an enormous increase in out expenditure.
– May I ask whether the Minister has any evidence which supports the assumption, which runs through both reports, that Australia is likely to be visited only by unarmoured cruisers?
– I have no other evidence beyond the statement of. the naval authorities in Great Britain. I have no. means of checking those statements, but Captain Creswell, who has made a study of the question, expresses the belief that the naval authorities are right in this respect.
– Do all experts come to the same conclusion?
– Of course a battle-ship might come here, but the probabilities are that we shall never be open to attack except by unarmoured, Or partly protected cruisers, with which 6-inch guns are quite adequate to deal.
– The Committee hardly put the matter in that way ; they say that most probably the raiders would be unarmoured cruisers.
– I think that the Imperial Committee of Defence, and also the ‘Colonial Committee of Defence, do take the view which I have just expressed. In any case, the recommendation is that we should arm our forts with 6-inch guns ; and I have pointed out what these guns mean in the way of economy. Later on, I shall deal with the important question of the cost of manning this type of gun.
– Are we right in assuming that when the Minister talks of the assignment of 1,000 men to one port, and 3,000 to another, that that is simply for the purpose of looking after the forts?
– These men are for the purpose of preventing any raid on the forts - to repel landing parties and so forth.
– This is the war strength.
– I now come to the question of the selection of the Australian ports in need of defence. Those ports are Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Port Phillip, Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Normanby Sound or Thursday Island, and Hobart.
– What about Albany?
– The Committee leave out of the list Albany, Townsville, and Woollongong. Then comes a very important recommendation, to which a very great deal of consideration has been given, namely, submarine mines. The States have spent very large sums of money in providing submarine mines, and the necessary appliances. The Imperial Defence Committee reports as follows with respect to submarine mining : -
Submarine mine-fields at present exist at some of the Australian ports, but this form of defence is being discontinued at all ports in Imperial charge as a result of the consideration by the Committee of Imperial Defence of the general policy of submarine mining in relation to coast defence. The adoption of the same course has recently been recommended to the Governments of Canada and New Zealand, and is now recommended in the case of Australian ports. The submarine mining service has always been a very technical one, and in the past it has been possible to draw on the experience of a numerous personnel employed at many defended ports for the highly qualified experimental and administrative staffs which have been indispensable for its direction. But even with the very complete system of instructional manuals and circulars issued from army headquarters, it has been found difficult to secure uniform efficiency at outlying ports to which the central inspection and control did not fully extend. It is scarcely necessary to point out the disastrous effect on maritime trade that would be produced in time of war by any untrustworthiness, or even suspicion of untrustworthiness, of the submarine mining defences of ports frequented by our shipping. Nothing but the highest degree of efficiency would suffice, and all experience goes to show that this could not be maintained at a small number of isolated ports, even with selected personnel of high individual capacity. It is therefore recommended that this form of defence should be discontinued in Australia. .
Then they recommend that all forts should lae supplied with electric and search lights. I shall refer to that matter later, and shall indicate what the expense involved would be. On the Naval question they are emphatic in their condemnation of Captain Creswell’s scheme. I had marked passages of their report on the subject, but I need not read them, as I have no doubt that honorable senators have read the report with considerable interest, and have formed their own opinions upon it.
– What is the Minister’s opinion?
– My opinion is unmistakably that of Captain Creswell. I think that he has given a most complete answer to all the statements put forward by the Imperial Committee, so far as the naval defence of our ports are concerned. These questions were referred to a Committee of officers, who brought up a report, which honorable senators have seen. I need only read what their recommendations are. They say -
Cost per annum of completing the pre-, sent organization of the Field Force 10 Peace Establishment … … ^22,230
Cost per annum of completing the Field Force, as recommended, to Peace Establishment … … ,£26,758
Increase on present Peace Establishment of … … … … ^4,528
These figures are all wrong, though I do not know how the error occurred. The real position is that the cost of converting the field force as recommended on a peace establishment, would be £26,000, and not an increase on the present peace establishment of £4,000. Then they say -
The annual increased cost of converting the existing Volunteer Infantry to Militia would be approximately… ,£38,000
They have recommended that we should do away with- our volunteer forces, and make all our volunteers militia. I .totally disagree with that recommendation. I should prefer to see our militia turned into volunteers. In the first place, the difference in expenditure would be very considerable. The militiaman costs us £16 a year, whilst the volunteer costs us only £6 a year. There is a difference of £10 per man straight away. We know also- that in England the authorities are disbanding the regular army and telling the people of England that they must have volunteer, militia, and citizen forces for the defence of their shores, and depend on the regular army for men who require to be sent abroad.
– What does the honorable senator mean by saying that England is disbanding her regular army?
– The authorities recommend that certain regiments should be disbanded, and look to make up the numbers in volunteers and militia. I disapprove of this recommendation of the officers, and therefore that £38,000 could be deducted from the estimate. They further state -
The cost of extending the period of training from sixteen to twenty-four days per annum is approximately … ^60,000
All I have to say on that point is that the Imperial Committee made the same recommendation, and I have no doubt they are quite right. If we wish to have a very efficient force, I suppose that the more training we give the men the better. But with us it is a question whether we can afford the expense, and whether the men can afford the additional time. We must recollect that we are ‘ dealing, with citizen soldiers, men in business, and working men, whose employers cannot spare their services beyond a limited time. If this proposal were adopted, and the additional training made compulsory, it is very likely that it would render the force unpopular, whilst adding £60,000 a year to the expense. I think we can very well go on as we are in this respect, and save that money. I may tell honorable senators that when I went through the report of the Committee of my own officers, it astonished me. They recommended an expenditure of some £[60,000 on saddles, and a number of other things about which there is not a word said in the report of the Imperial Committee, which they were asked to inquire into. They dealt with a lot of other’ things, and their recommendations in connexion with matters that have nothing to do with the fixed defences, but with ordinary military affairs, would involve a total additional expenditure of £[290,000, or nearly £[300,000. I mention that to show honorable senators the extent to which our military friends are prepared to go in the matter of expenditure. Any one of these things is, no doubt, highly desirable, if we could afford the money. If the recommendations could be adopted, there is no doubt that the force would be up to date, would be better drilled, and would possess beautiful military saddles. The men, no doubt, would experience some slight comfort from their use, but I do not think we can at present go to so much expense for such purposes. Our expenditure should be devoted to making the men of the Defence Force proficient fighting men, and supplying them with plenty of arms and ammunition. These are the most important considerations, though the men must, of course, have a sufficient amount of drill.
– How can you have an efficient cavalryman without a saddle?
– Every man supplies his own saddle, and that has been the practice all through.
– We are- loafing on him for it.
– The men have supplied their own saddles all through, and are willing to continue to do so. I have no doubt that they would be glad if we supplied them with the special make of saddles recommended, but I see no necessity for spending £[60,000 for such a pur pose. I could give honorable senators de. tails showing that 6,000 sets of saddlery would be required, and I have a statement here also of a number of horses required for the various regiments, although I need not trouble them with that information. I have already spoken of the recommendations of the Committee of Coastal Defence, which was appointed to examine the report of the Imperial Defence Committee generally, but especially in regard to coastal defence. The members of the Committee are unanimous that 6-inch guns should be adopted, though while the Imperial Defence Committee suggest the conversion of one or two guns, they think that’ it would be better to buy new guns. They do not believe in abandoning the fort at Albany, for reasons which they give, and they make no definite recommendation as to whether Thursday Island or Goode Island should be fortified as a harbor of refuge, pending the decision of the Naval authorities in regard to the establishment of a coaling station in the locality. I agree with them. I am of opinion that that is a wise stand to take. When at Thursday Island, not long ago, I came to the conclusion that it would be a waste of money to put a fort on Goode Island. In my opinion, at Thursday Island there should be provided both a coaling station and a harbor of refuge ‘in case of raids.
– We should have some of the Ministerial supporters here to listen to this address. [Quorum formed.^
– The Committee of Coastal Defence concurs in the recommendation of the Imperial Defence Committee that the forts at Townsville and Wollongong should be abandoned. Its members say that a saving of £[18,732 can be effected; in connexion with ,the Permanent Artillery, adding, “ less the cost of cadre, £[3,000.” The cadre, which I had not previously heard of, is a force of no men, costing some £13,000. Although section 31 of the Defence Act provides that no Permanent Military Forces shall be raised, maintained, or organized, except for Administrative and Instructional Staffs, including Army Service, Medical, and Ordnance Staffs, Garrison Artillery, Fortress Engineers, and Submarine Mining Engineers,
Major-General Hutton was so desirous of having a large number of permanently-paid men that he formed this cadre, or skeleton corps,’” consisting really of field artillery, but paid out of the garrison artillery vote.
From inquiries I have made, I find that they are used partly for the transport work, and in that connexion have saved about £50 in Victoria, and, perhaps a similar amount in New South Wales, and in Queensland ; none of the members of the cadre are to be found in the remaining three States. I intend to investigate the whole matter very closely, to see if the cadre cannot be disbanded. Although paid for as garrison artillery, they are not part of the garrison force, but are used in connexion with the field guns, doing a little instructional work and a little transport work.
– I should think that a skeleton corps of this kind is necessary in connexion with our field artillery.
– Major-General Hutton seems to have thought so, but I do not. In any case, why was the existence of the cadre concealed? The Minister of the day may have approved of it j but there is nothing in the Estimates to show that it exists. If my inquiries satisfy me that it should remain, I shall have it distinctly provided for in the Estimates. At the present time there appear to be 110 men employed in the manning of our forts who are really not so employed. To show the saving that could be made by mounting 6- inch guns, I would remind honorable senators that at Queenscliff there are now fifteen guns pointing seawards, which can fire 2, soo lbs. of metal within a minute, whereas seven 6-inch mark 7 guns, mounted in the same position, could throw over 4,000 lbs. pf metal in a minute, and would not require more than half the present number of men to man them. The recommendation of the Imperial Defence Committee has been indorsed by my officers. The adoption of these heavier guns will mean a great saving in the permanent artillery, which is the most expensive force that we have.
– How do 6-inch guns compare in range with those which a foreigner would be likely to use against us?
– Very favorably.’ There was another important point raised in connexion with our fixed defences, but it has escaped my recollection. I now come to the naval - which is undoubtedly the most important part of our defence, and the recommendations which were made by the committee of naval officers. I have said before that I look upon this report as the most complete answer to the statements contained in the report of the Im..perial Defence Committee with regard to naval affairs. On page 1, the naval officers state that they had unanimously arrived at the following resolutions: -
Although the Committee look upon an invasion as very improbable, still thev admit the possibility of a raid by cruisers.
Having in view our defence conditions and obligations to the Umpire, a destroyer and torpedo defence supplementary to the Royal Navy will best insure coast defence and continuance of trade.
In separate paragraphs, the naval officers deal with each statement contained in the report of the Imperial Defence Committee, and make the following recommendations -
We are strongly of opinion that, in order to be efficient, this patrol duty demands the employment of vessels capable of keeping the sea at all times and in all weathers, and consider that, to meet these conditions, there are required -
Three ocean-going destroyers - displacement 1,300 tons; speed, 33 knots; and One ocean-going destroyer - displacement, Soo tons; speed, ?o knots. These vessels should be fitted with wireless apparatus to enable them at all times to communicate with stations established on shore, and also with each other. This will aid rapid concentration.
We consider that, under these circumstances, a raiding cruiser could run past the fixed defences and take up a position of absolute command of these large and important cities.
This condition renders necessary a mobile torpedo defence, and the following are recommended : -
Sixteen coastal destroyers - ,550 tons displacement; 26 knots.
Four 1st class torpedo boats.
We consider that the provision of these vessels, with their suitable disposition, would also efficiently meet -
Defence of minor ports j
Defence against landing parties;
Defence of cables and communications ; and their rapid concentration and mutual support is easily attainable.
In June, j 905, the Naval Director proposed that the Commonwealth should have three cruiser destroyers, sixteen torpedo boat destroyers, five first-class torpedo boats, and eight second-class torpedo boats, or a total of thirty-two In August 1.906, he recommended that we should have three ocean-going destroyers, sixteen destroyers of the river class, and five first-class torpedo boats, or a total of twenty-four. In the interval, he had had the advantage of making special inquiries abroad. He had been away from Great Britain for a long time, and, in the circumstances, .1 thought it was only right that Tie should have an opportunity to visit the manufacturers of such vessels, ascertain the cost of construction, and see the boats in action. He went on board some destroyers and torpedo boats, during the manoeuvres off the Isle of Wight, thereby making himself well acquainted with all the facts. As the result of his inquiries and observations, he altered his previous recommendation a little, but not much. He recommended a fourth ocean-going destroyer, still adhered to his recommendation of sixteen destroyers, of .the river class, and recommended four, instead of five, first-class torpedo boats. I think that the next thing I ought to do is to explain our intentions, and perhaps I cannot do better than read what the Prime Minister has said on that point -
Looking at the proposal of the Naval ‘Committee, we shall commence, as appears judicious, with the most economic, the best known, and the best tried of the floating defences thev advise - that is to say, with torpedo boats, of which we propose to order four, and with coastal destroyers resembling the Teviot, of which we propose to order eight in three years. At the end of three years commencing with the next Parliament, we shall therefore have twelve boats, viz., four first-class torpedo destroyers and eight vessels of the Teviot class.
The cost of the four first-class torpedo destroyers would be £120,000, and that of the eight coastal destroyers £640,000, or a total of £760 ,000. This expenditure would require us to set apart £250,000 a year for three years. The proposal would be to obtain from Great Britain one or two of these torpedo boats as rapidly as possible, with a view to securing estimates of cost from Australian ship-builders, who might, and. it is believed, could, with very little, if any, addition, to their present machinery, undertake the construction of similar vessels. Of course, the question of extra cost could not be ignored, but, in balancing that, we should have to weigh very carefully the great value of encouraging the equipment locally, either of existing or of new dockyards, in which vessels of this type might be repaired. Without proper opportunities to repair them, and without the skilled artisans who are employed in their construction, these complicated pieces of machinery might prove unavailable in our hour of need. Under these circumstances, there is every reason, both upon defence and patriotic grounds, to encourage the building of these boats within our own harbors. Nor do we see any reason why the coastal destroyers of the teviot type should not also be built in Australia. With a view of preparing the way for this, we propose, so soon as the specifications are available, to throw them open to builders in all parts of the Commonwealth, in order that thev may consider their requirements, if any, in the way of fresh machinery or of expert labour. With these twelve boats we shall have gone a long way towards accomplishing what may be termed the complete harbor defence of Australia.
The larger class of vessel recommended by Captain ‘Creswell was intended not merely for harbor defence, but for coastal defence. Vessels such as I have described will be sufficient to supplement our forts and complete our harbor defences, and we shall be doing all that is necessary for the first three years. At the end of that time, we shall be able to take advantage of -any improvements that may have been made, and then, if Parliament thinks fit, we can order vessels of the larger type for the purpose of coastal defence. That is the position that the Government have taken up, and that is what they will undoubtedly ask the people to approve of at the next election.
– I do not quite understand whether the Government propose to provide destroyers, or merely torpedo boats.
– Our scheme provides for four first-class torpedo boats and eight coastal destroyers.
– What will be the total cost?
– About £750,000.
– What will be the cost of maintenance?
– The particulars are set out in Captain Creswell’s report.
-C’ol. Gould. - Do I understand that the Government have adopted the recommendations of the Committee?
– In part only. The complete scheme recommended by the Committee would have involved a total expenditure of £2,500,000, extending over a period of five years. I asked Captain Creswell to work out a scheme upon a live years, a seven years, and a ten years basis. The Government, after carefully considering . matters, concluded that they would not adopt either of the schemes submitted, but would partially adopt the five years scheme, providing for the smaller classes of vessels. We determined not to construct the more expensive vessels of the destroyer class with a tonnage of about 1,500. We think it will be sufficient for us to set aside £250,000 per annum for three years, and to do everything in our power to secure the construction of the vessels within the Commonwealth. Possibly we should have to obtain from England one boat of each type, to serve as a model.
– Is the £250,000 per annum to be provided out of revenue ?
– Yes- as far as I know, we provide for everything out of the revenue. Last year I promised to make further inquiries into the question of manufacturing cordite within the Commonwealth. I indicated how the position stood at that time, and promised to obtain further information. I also undertook to consider the suggestion that we should establish a small arms manufactory in Australia. I shall first deal with the question of the manufacture of small arms. Briefly the information I have obtained is as follows: -
Estimates have been received from Captain Collins, with the latest information obtainable in London, as to the cost of the necessary plant to manufacture magazine rifles complete, ‘ also rifle barrels only. Certain additional local information is, however, required from the Military Board, before a decision can be Arrived at, and when this information is obtained, it is expected that it will be possible for a practical proposal to be submitted.
We have not yet ascertained what would be the cost of the land and buildings ; this statement refers to the cost of the necessary machinery -
The information already obtained shows that the smallest plant that is recommended, which is capable of turning out fifty to sixty rifles per day, would cost ^66,000, exclusive of buildings and land. Such a factory would require a total staff of 484 men. With an output of 16,000 annually, our maximum requirements would be overtaken in two years.
If we establish a small arms factory - the smallest that could be profitably carried on - we should have to work it at its full capacity for as long as might be required, and then close the works and dismiss the men. The full capacity of the smallest factory is 16,000 rifles per annum, and in two years every rifle we required would be supplied. Then the question would arise, “What shall we do with the factory?” We should have to close it, because the machinery would be of no use for any other purpose than that for which it was laid down.
– Is 484 the minimum number of workmen that it would be necessary to employ?
– Yes. Senator ‘ Dobson. - Surely we could manufacture a smaller number of rifles?
– Not if we worked the machinery at its full capacity, and it would not be profitable to do otherwise. In view of the facts stated, this matter requires to be looked into very carefully, Now we come to another point, namely, the manufacture of rifle barrels. Our rifle barrels wear out, and we have to obtain new ones, and I do not see why we should not manufacture those we require.” We could keep a factory going bv manufacturing just sufficient rifle barrels to meet our requirements. The machinery necessary to equip- a factory capable of turning out 100 rifle barrels per week would cost £6,300, and we should require to employ a staff of 38 men. As we should annually require from 5,000 to 6,000 rifle barrels, we could just about manage to keep such a factory going, and thereby lay the foundation of a Commonwealth arsenal. After this, we could possibly embark upon the manufacture of shells. As our requirements grew year after year, we could add to the capacity of the factory, gradually enlarge our operations, and render ourselves self-sustaining in the matter of defence materiel. We shall require an arsenal, and this will be a very good commencement.
The manufacture of cordite is another subject into which I promised to look. There is in Victoria a well-known expert in explosives - Mr. Hake. He is the Victorian Inspector of Explosives. On one occasion I got him to come over to South Australia to report upon our magazines, and he is an acknowledged authority. I have obtained a report from him in regard to the manufacture of cordite. He points out that the smallest factory that we could establish would, if fully employed, manufacture in two months as much cordite as we should require in a year. It would be idle during the remaining ten months of the year. We do not require more than 25 or 30 tons a year. We asked the New Zealand Government to take its cordite from us, but it declined to do so. We also asked the Admiralty whether it would take cordite from us for use on the men-of-war on the Australian station. But the Admiralty has put us off - apparently it would rather not be bothered with such an arrangement. If we consumed a great deal more cordite than we do, it might be advantageous to have a factory of our own. But, under present circumstances, the establishment does not appear to be warranted. There is a factory in Victoria that is willing to make cordite for us, but its price is more than we feel justified in paying. If our cordite were made locally, it would cost us £2,000 per annum more than we are now paying. In other words, whereas we are at present paying about 2s. 8d. per lb., the local factory would charge us over 3s. per lb.
– What would it cost to establish cordite works?
– About , £80,000.
– How many hands would be employed?
– I do not know, but they would only be employed for two months in the year - unless, of course, we kept the factory at work for twelve months, and then shut it up until we had consumed the quantity manufactured. The question is evidently a troublesome one. I should be very glad to see a factory established, and, indeed, to have all that we require in the shape of war materiel manufactured locally. It is the only safeplan ; but, of course, we have to consider the cost. If Parliament is willing to go to the necessary expense, that, of course, is another matter.
– Does the Minister recommend it?
– I do not at present. But I do recommend the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of rifle barrels, which might gradually be extended into one for the manufacture of rifles and various other warlike stores, such as shells.
– Does the Minister recollect promising me to consider the question of naval cadets?
– The honorable senator will see on the Estimates a sum of money for that purpose. It is intended toprovide for the commencement of a scheme. I may explain that I was somewhat at a disadvantage in preparing the Estimates in this respect, on account of the absence of Captain Creswell. I put down a certain sum haphazard. Captain Creswell is working out the complete scheme now. The money that I have set down will be sufficient to carry us on for some time, and will enable cadet corps to be established in those parts of the Commonwealth where they can be formed with advantage.
Debate (on motion by Senator Clemons) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Senate’s Request. - Clause 2, at end of clause add- “ Provided further that if the distillers -
do not, after the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act, pay their employés a fair and reasonable rate of wages per week of forty-eight hours; or
employ more than a due proportion of boys to men engaged in the industry, the Governor-General may in pursuance of a joint address by the Senate and House of Representatives impose an additional Excise Duty of One shilling per gallon on each of the items mentioned in the Schedule.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Modify clause to read as follows : - “ Provided further that if any distiller -
does not, after the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act, pay his employés a fair and reasonable rate of wages per week of forty-eight hours; or
employs more than a due proportion of boys to men engaged in the industry, the Governor-General may in pursuance of a joint address by the Senate and House of Representatives impose tin additional Excise Duty of One shilling per gallon on each of the items mentioned in the Schedule as regards such distiller.”
– The House of Representatives has made the requested amendments Nos. 1, 3, 7, 8, and 9, and has made requested amendment No. 2, with modifications. The modifications are that the words “ any distiller “ are substituted for “the distiller” in the first line, the word “ does “ for the word “do,” and the word “his” for the word “ their “ in paragraph a, whilst the word “ employs “ has been substituted for the word “ employ ‘ ‘ in paragraph b, and the words “ as regards such distiller “ have been added. The effect of the modification made in our requested amendment is that instead of the whole trade being penalized because one distiller does not pay a fair wage, the additional Excise duty will be imposed only as against the offending distiller.
-Col. Gould. - So that it provides for differential treatment! The penalty is to be imposed only in the case of the offending distiller.
– That is so. I move -
That the modification of the Senate’s request be agreed to.
.- These amendments of requested amendments are- at times slightly confusing, and it is not clear to me whether the modification made by the House of Representatives is intended to follow the proviso which we asked should be inserted, Or whether it is to be in substitution of it.
-Col. Gould. - The amendment which we requested has simply been recast.
– It has been altered from the plural to the singular.
– If the modification is to take the place of the amendment which we inserted, the word “ substitute “ instead of the word “ add “ should have been used in the message.
– They have substituted the modification for the original amendment suggested bv us.
– My point is that the message does not show that they have done so. It suggests first of all that another place have agreed to insert the general proviso applying to distillers generally, and that they have added the further proviso that if any distiller does not comply with the conditions, then he shall pay the penalty of an increased Excise duty.
– Would there be any sense in doing what the honorable and learned senator suggests ?
– Certainly. lt would mean, first of all, that there would be imposed a general penalty, in the shape of an increased duty, supposing the whole trade did not comply with these conditions, and, secondly, that if only one distiller refused to comply with them, the duties would be increased as against him.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that the schedule to the message first of all shows the request made by. the Senate, and then proceeds to set out the modification of that request made by the House of Representatives. The modification has been inserted in the Bill.
.- I would point out that, according to the message, the House of Representatives has inserted our suggested amendment with a modification. In other words, it would appear, from the message, that first of all they have inserted the proviso which we suggested, and then modified it by inserting a further proviso.
– No. . We could. not make the amendment ourselves. The message shows what our request was, and how it has been treated by another place.
– I have always held that the latter part of the proviso suggested by us is not contrary’ to the Constitution, since it provides that the GovernorGeneral may, upon an address presented bv both Houses, raise the Excise throughout Australia by is. per gallon ; but the House of Representatives has inserted in this Bill a provision similar to that in the Excise (Agricultural Machinery) Bill..’ and very much on lines that I regard as unconstitutional. This is an Excise Bill, and another place has made it a Bill providing a penalty against an employer who does not comply with certain conditions. My opinion is that it is not constitutional.
– Constitutional autho”rities in another place say that it is.
– I think it unconstitutional to insert in a Money Bill a proviso that in certain circumstances the GovernorGeneral may increase the Excise duty - we have no right to provide in such a Bill that an employer who does not comply with these conditions shall be subject to a penalty.
– Is there any section in the Constitution that does not permit such condiions to be inserted ?
– Section 55 provides that laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation.
– In my view, this provision does not go outside that section.
– I consider that we have no right to describe as a Money Bill a measure which prescribes certain conditions of labour, and provides a penalty for non-compliance with them.
– We dealt with that question last week.
– Not on this Bill. The point is a most important one, and we should take an opportunity to reconsider it. The numbers may be against me, but that is no reason why I should refrain, from expressing mv views on the question. The Minister of Defence was the verv one who stood up and said that Senator Findley’s amendment was unconstitutional ; and it was myself who raised the question. It is quite right, seeing that on that occasion I told Senator Findley that he should not accept the dictum of the Minister, that I should express mv opinion in regard to the constitutionality of this proposal from the House of Representatives. Even if I stand alone, I shall certainly vote against the proviso.
– I think a little confusion has arisen, possibly because of the inclusion in the Bill of what was really a request on the part of the Senate. Clause 2 really ends with the first proviso, and the House of Representatives propose a modification of our requested amendment ; the amendment as modified has been added to the clause. It was simply for the convenience of honorable senators that the proposal by Senator Findley was inserted in the Bill. The House of Representatives, instead of accepting the proposal of Senator Findley, modified it, and added it to the clause, which makes this condition applicable to any single distiller rather than to all distillers, as originally proposed bv Senator Findley. The request, as proposed by Senator Findley, never was added to the clause, but it was only proposed that it should be; and the modification is what the House of Representatives propose shall be added.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [6.13,]. - No doubt the explanation by Senator Best is the true one. I feel no difficulty in my own mind in realizing that the modification is intended to be substituted for our requested amendment. I should like, however, to say a word or two in regard to the merits of the matter. In the first instance, we discussed whether we had ‘ a right to propose what was really a penalty on distillers who did not pay proper wages ; and as the clause was drafted it made it possible for a distiller who was paying fair rates pf wages to be penalized along with others who were not, whilst, on the other hand, it might be that a number of distillers, who were paying proper . rates, would be penalized because one was not doing so. I contend that we are going altogether beyond our powers in this proposal. I hope at a later date that it will be shown we cannot tack such conditions to any Bill, whether of Customs or Excise. If we were, in a specific Bill, to attempt to fix the rates of wages to be paid in any particular industry, we should be confronted with a different constitutional question, which would doubtless be tested ih the High Court - the question as to whether this Parliament has any power to pass legislation dictating to employers what rates shall be paid to persons in particular States.
– We are not dictating to employers.
.- Under the Commonwealth the control of the industries within the States is left entirely under the control of the States; and an attempt is now being made to introduce a, most dangerous, element. If the Commonwealth Parliament cannot interfere in these matters by means of a specific Bill, we cannot interfere by means of a Bill of the kind now before us. Whatever power we have must be exercised in a constitutional way, and if we have no power it does not matter what means we adopt. The further question arises as to how far Parliament is justified in discriminating between individuals. According to the Constitution, we cannot discriminate between State and State in the matter of taxation; and it is clear that we cannot provide that a distiller in Victoria shall pay a different rate of Excise from a distiller in another State. That is the whole spirit of the Constitution; we may not have differential rates of taxation as between individuals.
– There is nothing in the Constitution to say that we shall not discriminate between person and persons.
-Col. GOULD. - According to the Constitution, we cannot tax Jones to one extent and Smith to another extent. Any tax imposed must be applicable to all ; we cannot provide that Smith shall pay 6d. in the £1 income tax or land tax and that Jones shall pay 4d. in. the £1
– There is no analogy between the cases.
-Col. GOULD. - It is proposed to make one distiller pay an Excise of 12s., because he does not give his employes the same rates of wages and conditions of labour that are afforded by another distiller, who, therefore, is charged only j is. This is not a duty of Excise so much as a penalty on the distiller who does not pay a certain rate of wages.
– It is a condition - a distiller is allowed to clear his spirits at a certain rate if he pays fair wages.
-Col. GOULD.- We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the condition was introduced, in order to insure that manufacturers getting the benefit of the reduced rate of Excise should pay their employes a fair rate of wages. I entirely approve of that principle, but some honorable senators fail to realize that there is here proposed an unconstitutional distinction, dangerous to the integrity of the States, and to the administration of our Excise law. We are imposing the additional one shilling per gallon,, by way of penalty, and not for the purpose of obtaining revenue. We might just as well say that any distiller who does not pay his men a fair rate of wage shall be fined £10 per day during the time he fails to do so. It is merely a quibble to say that the Excise duty to be paid shall be us. or 12s. per gallon, according to the rate of wages.
– We say that the distiller can pay any rate of wages he pleases.
-Col. GOULD.- I have said that I agree with the principle that employers deriving benefit from our legislation should pass a portion of it on to their workmen; but what is being attempted in this Bill is unconstitutional, and is altogether against the recognised principles of taxation. We cannot constitutionally distinguish in taxation legislation between two individuals whose factories might be alongside of each other, and say that one shall pay a lower rate of Excise than another because he pays his employes a higher rate of wages. i ask honorable senators not to permit this principle to be introduced into this class of legislation.
– The High Court will settle it.
– It is not the duty of this Parliament, knowingly and wilfully, to prepare conundrums for the High Court.
– The honorable senator must1 admit that it is impossible for us to settle the question here.
.- We should apply our ordinary powers of reasoning to it, and should judge accordingly as to the right course to take. .1 think that what is proposed is not constitutional, and that it is an attempt to interfere with the whole internal trade of the States. If this can be done in connexion with Excise duties it can be done in connexion with legislation dealing with any trade matter. It would be much more fair if we were to say straight out, “ We require that in all the States a certain scale of wages shall be paid in every trade.” We might deal with all the trades - blacksmiths, wheelwrights, or whatever they might be, and proceed to regulate the wages to be paid to employes in them all. If the matter is viewed in that light, honorable senators must see te what an extraordinarily parlous state we might reduce the Federation.
– The House of Representatives proposes merely a verbal alteration in the clause,but it is sufficient to put. in a very clear light the kind of legislation aimed at. I welcome the proposed alteration, for the reason that, coming as it does from a Socialist like Senator. Findley, the clause is a very clear recognition that, under private enterprise, it is possible for Parliament to bring about a fair distribution of profits by remedial legislation, and. therefore, that it is not necessary to nationalize a.n industry of this kind in order to secure the immense benefits which our socialistic friends claim would result from nationalization, ^peaking constitutionally. I had some doubts as to the validity of the clause which Senator Findley was successful in introducing, but I have none whatever about it as amended by the House of
Representatives. I have no doubt that, if we accept the amendment, the first application to the High Court will be sufficient to have it set aside.
– The modification of the clause was proposed in another place by one of the framers of the Constitution.
– I am sorry to differ from one whom Senator Findley considers an eminent authority.
– I do. I consider Mr. Higgins an authority on the Constitution.
– He is an au:thority for whom I have the very greatest respect, but I still feel at liberty to differ from him. I approve of the intention of the clause, but I say there is a very sharp distinction between our request to the House of Representatives, and their modification of it. It -is impossible in these matters to constitutionally differentiate between individual and individual.
– Is it not possible in certain conditions ?
– Surely Senator Henderson does not require assuring that in matters of taxation it is impossible to differentiate between individuals?
– Then why make a difference between one who grows sugar with white labour, and one who grows it with black labour?
– It is a very different matter to give bounties to certain persons who carry on certain work under certain conditions, and to refuse them to others.
– The principle is the same.
– No: it is entirely different. Under the Sugar Bounties Act, we have said to the growers of sugar that if they employ only white labour we will give them a bonus, and that if they employ black labour it will be withheld from them. That is a fair and reasonable proposition, but in this case what is proposed is the imposition of a penalty upon persons who do not comply with certain conditions.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I am unwilling to continue my speech until there are at least twelve senators present. [Quorum formed^ I wish to point out to Senator Playford, in quite a friendly way, that if the Senate’s request is unconstitutional - and he has said that it is - the proposal of the House of Representatives is still more so.
– I had not consulted the legal advisers of the Government when I made that statement.
– It is just possible that the Senate’s request might be accepted by the High Court as constitutional, but the modification of the House of Representatives is in a far worse position. However, I shall not refer to that aspect of the matter further, because we have already debated the point at length. But I wish” to draw Senator Findley’s attention to the fact that this provision will have little or no effect if embodied in legislation. Let us assume that some distiller, whom we will call Jones, is not complying with the conditions as to rates of wages. Before he can be compelled to pay an additional Excise duty of is. per gallon, the Senate and the House of Representatives will have to go through the solemn form of voting a joint address. When that has been done, Jones may have no spirit on which to impose the Excise duty.
– It is not likely that a man will go out of business altogether.
– No, but we could not prevent such- a man from selling spirit which he had made under improper conditions, nor could we punish him for doing so. All we could say would be, “If you commence distilling again, you must comply with the conditions, or pay the higher rate of Excise.” He may comply with the conditions for a time, and break loose again when he knows that there is no watchful eye upon him.
– Then he will be punished.
– I do not think that he will be adequately punished. I should like to see such men suffer ; but, in my opinion, they will be able to evade with ease the provisions of legislation like this-
.- I am exceedingly gratified that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have affirmed a principle which for many years has been advocated by the new protectionist school and the Labour Party. With regard to what Senator Clemons ‘has said, I ask him, would not a distiller who was evading the conditions be better off, and his employes worse off, if no provision such as this were inserted in the measure ?
– He might be for a time. I think we should deal directly with such cases in a separate Bill.
– If the honorable senator or any one else can suggest a better method, I shall be willing to vote for it; but I am satisfied with this provision, in ihe absence of anything better. As soon as the provision is embodied in a law, all the workmen in the distilling industry will know of it. Only to-day I received from Bundaberg a letter in which the writer thanks me for what I have done in this matter, and informs me that there are men working in a distillery there for seventy hours a week at a very small rate of pay, that artisans are working fifty-eight hours a week, and that there are others whose hours run from sixty to seventy hours a week.
– Should not the States Parliaments deal with matters of this kind?
Sentor FINDLEY.- If the States Parliaments fail to do so, we should do what we can. I do not care who does it, so long as what is necessary is done. We have, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the power to impose any conditions we like in Bills of this kind.
– This provision is in defiance of the Constitution.
– No matter how closely the Constitution is perused, nothing can be found in it preventing us from imposing conditions of this kind.
– There is only one provision in the Constitution enabling us to interfere in industrial matters, and it is specific.
– This provision does not interfere in industrial matters in the sense referred to there. When the matter was under discussion before, nearly every speaker addressed himself to the question whether the provision was ultra vires in going beyond the Constitution. All those objections have been removed in another place.
– Not removed.
– In my opinion, the objections have been removed. All the members of the Cabinet, men who stand high in the legal world, and some of whom played a foremost part in the drafting of the Constitution, are agreed that the -provision is constitutional. Who are the constitutional authorities in another place? Surely Mr. Isaacs, Mr. Higgins, Mr. Croom, and Mr. Deakin, whose opinions are very valuable, would be no’ party to sending back the measure if they were not satisfied that the provision is absolutely correct and not in conflict with the Constitution !
– Does the honorable senator prefer the amendment of the other House to our original provision?
– Yes. Senator Drake pointed out to me and others that the provision would penalize all the distillers if one man were found not to be working his men in accordance with the prescribed conditions. But .that objection has been removed in another place, .so that only those who did not conform to the conditions would be in any way penalized. The Bill, if passed as amended by the other House,_ would deal fairly with just employers and certainly impose harder con, ditions on the others. I believe that in a short period it would do an immense amount of good throughout Australia. No one need have any apprehension that a distiller would be permitted to evade the conditions. The workers would be alive to’ their own interests, and complaints would be immediately brought under the notice of the Minister. Of course, as soon as the measure was passed, inquiries would be made in the various States as to the conditions which obtained in the distilling industry. The complaints which have reached me from Queensland would certainly be brought under the Minister’s notice. Unless the distillers ‘were operating in accordance with the prescribed conditions, then the Parliament, when it reassembled, would be moved to take action, and the offending distillers would be brought up “to scratch.”
– The pity of it is that for every ten men in the distilling industry there are thousands of men in other industries throughout the Commonwealth.
– By the adoption of the provision we should establish a principle; and if it can be applied to’ the distilling industry, I see no reason why it cannot be applied to every other protected industry.
-Col. Gould. - Would the honorable senator impose Excise duties upon the products of all industries?
– If I had no other way of accomplishing my object, I should be ready to apply the principle to all protected industries in that way.
– And get the whole of the industries into the hands of the Commonwealth ?
– -That is beside the question. The honorable senator must not pose as the only champion of States rights. In his speech, he enlarged upon the powers of taxation, but he must know that in New South Wales there is a differentiation in regard to the land tax as well as the income tax.
– Everybody is treated alike.
– No. Every one is not treated alike, because in the case of the land tax, there is an exemption up to £240.
– Exactly; and every* one gets that benefit.
– It is not enjoyed in the case of a graduated land tax, nor is there uniformity in the case of a progressive income tax. From my point of view the honorable senator’s line of reasoning in regard to the methods of taxation in the States or the Commonwealth is not a sound one.
-Col. Gould. - There is no progressive income or land tax in New South Wales.
– There is a progressive land tax in some States, and a progressive income tax in Victoria.
.- But no special classes are exempted from the application of the taxes. It is only in regard to the value of the property or the amount of the income that a change is made.
– Surely the honorable senator knows that in some States there is a graduated land tax, and in certain States a graduated and progressive income tax. The members of the Opposition who express their anxiety to secure for the working classes that measure of protection of which for many years they have been deprived, have not yet suggested a better method of accomplishing that object. But when we suggest a method they point out that it is unconstitutional.
– The States have Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts.
– In some States there are no Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts.
– And the Commonwealth cannot create them until the Constitution is altered in that regard.
– We can secure a measure of protection for the working classes without an alteration of the Con.titution ; and because it is impossible to make that alteration now we are prepared to adopt this provision as amended by the other House, feeling satisfied that it would confer a very great benefit on all sections of the community.
.- Quite apart from the constitutional point there is another consideration which perhaps may not be beneath the notice of the Government. The penalty provided for an offence against the labour conditions is the payment of an additional duty of is. per gallon ; but the rates of Excise duty vary very much. Suppose that a distiller were turning out whisky on which the duty payable was 13s. per gallon. If he offended against the labour conditions he would be called upon to pay a duty of 14s. per gallon. But take the case of a vigneron who is permitted to distil spirits for the purpose of fortifying wine; he would have to pay is. 6d. instead of 6d. per gallon if, for instance, he worked his employes for more than 48 hours per week?- It is laid down that he must not employ any person for more than 48 hours per week, must pay wages according to the prescribed conditions, and must not employ boys-
– He must not employ an undue proportion of toys.
– I do not know whether it is intended that the power to regulate wages and conditions of labour shall be brought into operation with regard to the ordinary employes in a vineyard.
– The Bill will not apply to the vineyard employes, but merely to those engaged in a distillery.
– But the vigneron may be a distiller.
– But the Bill would not apply to the men employed in pruning and cultivating the vines.
– I am not so sure of that.
– We have specially exempted men engaged in the agricultural industry from the operation of the Arbitration Act.
– It seems to me that the provision in the form in which it now stands is unconstitutional, because it would be unfair to impose such an absolutelyerratic and disproportionate fine upon one individual as compared with another. In the one case the amount is increased from 6d. to1s. 6d., and in the other from 13s. to 14s.
– The increase is1s. per gallon all the way through.
– Yes, but the fines are entirely out of proportion, because the offence would be the same in each case. We have fixed the Excise duty in many cases in proportion to the cost of production. In regard to brandy, for instance, we have made a large allowance on the ground of the higher cost of production, and the same remarks apply to the case of whisky distilled from malt barley, as distinguished from that distilled from other materials. The object held in view, namely, to secure good wages and labour conditions, is a very proper one, but provision should be made, by way of a Bill, providing for a penalty. The reason that course has not been adopted is that the Government know perfectly well that such a proceeding would be unconstitutional, and, therefore, they are endeavouring to attain their end by indirect methods.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [8.9]. - I would point out to Senator Findley, who has attempted to establish a parallel between a graduated land tax with exemptions and the provisions now under consideration, that there is a wide difference between the two cases. In the former instance, the amount of tax leviable depends entirely upon the value of the land. A man holding land worth £50,000 pays no more nor less than his neighbour who owns property of similar value. The same remark would apply to the income tax. The Bill draws a distinction between two distillers, not because of the difference in the value of their properties, but owing to the conditions under which they carry on their work. Two men carrying on operations upon premises adjoining might be placed in an entirely different position. One might have to pay11s. and the other 12s. Excise duty, simply because in the latter case it was considered that the wages paid were not fair. The extra impost is to be levied, not with the object of adding to the revenue, but in order to impose a penalty.
– But there is uniformity so far as the Excise duty is concerned.
.- But we impose certain conditions as to the wages to be paid, which affect the amount of Excise duty to be levied.
– That is beside the Constitution altogether.
.- It goes beyond the Constitution. I feel confident that if the case is ever tested in the High Court it will be found that we have no power to regulate the wages paid in certain industries.
– There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent us from imposing certain conditions in regard to Excise duties.
.- The Constitution confers upon us only limited powers, and we have no right to go beyond them. If we do so, we shall entrench upon the domain of the States, which will be justified in resenting our action.
Question - That the modification made by the House of Representatives in the Senate’s request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s Request. - In schedule, item 4 - “Whisky distilled wholly from barley malt by a pot still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent. over proof. . . “ leave out “4s” and insert “
House of Representatives’ Message. - Requested amendment not made.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the requestbe not pressed.
– It may serve as a guide to the Committee to know that . the three members of the Tariff Commission who are ‘senators are favorable to the request sent down to the House of Representatives. As those three senators differ in their fiscal views, and have had an opportunity to consider this matter fully, I urge the Committee to adhere to its request.
– I understood that all parties in the Senate were favorable to the request sent to the House of Representatives. Therefore I am rather surprised that the Minister should have moved that it be not pressed.
Senator DRAKE (Queensland) [8.18J.- This matter was fully discussed previously, and I understood that the request made by the Senate would not be disturbed. I hope that it will be pressed.
.- Personally, I am prepared to bow to the strong feeling expressed in this connexion, but my inquiries show me that the effect of adopting the request would be to destroy the advantage proposed to be granted to the distillers of pure malt whisky. Practical distillers - Mr. Preston, for instance - have stated that in order to make whisky of marketable value it must be kept for five or six years. No doubt that is a very desirable thing, but it puts the distiller at a disadvantage if he has to keep his spirit for so long a period. I understand that the members of the Tariff Commission in another place have gone back upon the 35 per cent, provision, and have agreed to the proposal of the Government to substitute 45 per cent.
– I am sure that two of them have not done so.
– I have nothing more to say if the Committee feels inclined to insist upon the 35 per cent, requirement, but I thought it advisable to state the result” of my inquiries.
– I am entirely against secondhand evidence being brought before the Committee. Every distiller had an opportunity to give evidence before the Tariff Commission ito enable that body to come to a definite conclusion, and I do not think that it is right that after the Commission has reported, distillers should endeavour to influence both Ministers and Members of Parliament, in a direction in. which they were not prepared to give evidence before the Commission. The Commission desired tlo promote the distillation of a pure malt whisky of the best quality, and a preference of 4s. per gallon is proposed to be allowed to distillers for that purpose. It was hoped in this way that a whisky might be distilled that would be equal to the best produced in the world. The Bill, asproposed to be amended, gives the distillers a sufficient preference, and, indeed, put% them in a very favorable position in regard to imported spirits. I trust that the Committee will adhere to its determination, and vote against any alteration.
Consequential request, as to item 5, pressed.
Senate’s Request. - In schedule, item 5,. “Blended whisky. . . . per proof gallon, us.,” leave out “ns.” and insert “12s.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Requested amendment not made.
– This request deals with a matter entirely different from that which we have just been discussing. Honorable senators will observe that in the Bill as sent to us a duty of 16s. per gallon was imposed on pure brandy; ns. per gallon on blended brandy ; 10s. per gallon on pure whisky; and ns. per gallon on blended whisky. The Senate requested that in the case of blended whisky the duty should be raised to 12s. per gallon. The House of Representatives have disagreed with that request, and I think that in the circumstances they have taken up a proper position. Blended whisky is in the same category as is blended wine brandy, and I think that the duty should be the same in each case. I therefore move -
That the request be not pressed.
– I trust that the Committee will adhere to its original decision. Blended whisky consists of 25 per cent, of spirit, on which we impose an Excise duty of 10s. per gallon, and the remaining 75 per cent, must consist of a spirit on which we have imposed a duty of 13s. per gallon. If any honorable senator takes the trouble to work out the average he will find that having regard to its component parts the duty on blended whisky ought really to be 12s. 3d. per gallon. We have agreed, however, to give the maker the advantage of the odd 3d. per gallon. Those who sup- ported the request for the raising of the dutv to 12s. per gallon did so on the ground that spirit duties were a legitimate source of revenue, and also on the ground that the Ministry joined with the Tariff Commission in its endeavour to insure the production of whisky of good quality. In other words a premium was offered for the production of whisky of the best quality, just as a premium is offered for the production of the best quality of brandy. If we allow the duty on blended whisky to remain at us. per gallon we shall go back upon that effort, since it will be a great temptation to local distillers to produce not whisky of the first grade, but that on which the lower duty is payable.
– And that will mean an enormous loss of revenue.
– It will mean a loss of revenue in respect of the product of an industry involving practically little labour, and which every Parliament has subjected to taxation. I believe that even in the event of our having, as some honorable senators desire, a system of direct taxation, we should continue to impose duties on brandy and whisky. Our decision represents an effort to obtain a little more revenue from a source from which it ought to come, and also an attempt to secure the production of a good whisky. I am surprised that Senator Playford, who agrees that we should endeavour to bring about ‘the production of a first-class article, has not urged the Committee to stand by its request. If the request be not pressed the output of this grade of whisky will be largely increased. I hope that the Committee will stand by its decision.
.- I trust that the Committee will not press the request. After lengthly consideration and a careful examination of the evidence, the Tariff .Commission ultimately recommended that this grade of whisky should bear an Excise duty of us. per gallon.
-But there were conditions imposed.
– All the conditions recommended by the Tariff Commission have been embodied in the Bill.
– No. The whole question of under proof has been set aside by the Ministry.
– J know of no important recommendation on this subject by the Tariff Commission that has not been embodied in the Bill.
– I have pointed out one.
– I scarcely regard that as important. We have to recollect that the public insist on being .supplied with blended whisky.
– We do not wish them to do so.
– We must have regard for the public taste. The greatest output of the largest distilleries in the world consists of blended grain whisky.
– Is the honorable and learned senator quoting from a pamphlet circulated by Joshua Brothers ?
– I believe that it was circulated by them, but the authority for the statement I have quoted appears in the margin. The D.C.L. Company, which is the largest distiller of whisky, has an annual output of 10,000,000 gallons-
– According to Joshua.
– According to sworn evidence given in the whisky case in December, 1905, and January, 1906. From that evidence, it appears that maize, oats, and malt - all or any of them - are used in producing whisky, both by the pot still and the patent still. A blend of pot still whisky and malt whisky produced by the patent still is no doubt an excellent one. I understand that the average proportion of malt whisky used in the production of Irish blended whisky is 33 per cent. Both Dunville1 s and the Dublin Distillery Company send out a blended’ whisky in accordance with the public taste.
– Is that the same sort of whisky as we understand is produced here - a whisky containing 75 per cent, of silent spirit ?
– I do not suppose that it is j but the public demand a blended whisky in preference to a pot still whisky. I do not bind myself to any particular percentage.
– But the Bill does.
– I am urging that blended whisky, as against pure malt whisky, is largely demanded by the public. My inquiries and those of the Commission show that it is desirable to establish “the manufacture of this class of whisky, and that if we impose an Excise duty of 12s. per gallon we cannot hope to .do so. The Tariff Commission considered 11s. per gallon was the maximum duty that should be imposed, and I wish to know why we should not regard with favour a recommendation made as the result of inquiries by that body. If this request be pressed the Committee will make a serious mistake. It will fail to give an opportunity to our local distillers to cater for the public taste, and will place them at a great disadvantage in competing with blended whiskies from abroad.
– The honorable senator will, if he does not stand by our decision.
– I am satisfied with my own inquiries and those of the Tariff Commission on the subject. Unless our own distillers are to be placed at a serious disadvantage, we must alter the duty from 12s. to ns. I urge on the Committee that this is a class of whisky of which there is a large output, which suits the public taste, and which can be manufactured successfully at an Excise duty of ns. It is made under our own supervision, and we shall not be placed at a disadvantage in competing with similar classes of blended whisky from abroad.
– The matter is a very simple one altogether outside any discussion of the mere fiscal question. Honorable senators will observe that the protection arising to distillers, under this proposal, is twice what it formerly was; that is, instead of is. protection as before, there is now a protection of 2s. Everybody, I think, is satisfied that the former protection was of a very handsome character, certainly more than sufficient to enable the distillers to win as much of the business as they liked. Honorable senators are bound to pay- some attention to the matter of revenue. Spirits form the most important line in the public revenue of Australia ; and we cannot let that revenue go in this haphazard, reckless fashion, after having satisfied the most gluttonous desire of the protectionists. Senator Best did not, in my opinion, make any reply to what Senator Clemons pointed out with regard to the fact that blended spirit is formed of two spirits, which, separately, would pay 12s. 3d. duty. When the Committee decided to agree to 12s., that was liberality. and, if we make a change, let it be to 12s. 3d. - certainly not below that figure.
– Threepence is a very awkward figure.
– I should be content with 12s. If any body quarrels with the Excise of 12s., let him explain if he can why the proportions agreed to in the other item should be quarrelled with when the two spirits are compounded in the blended spirit.
.; - It is proposed to levy an Excise of 12s. per gallon on pure malt whisky, and of 13s. on spirit n.e.i. On a blend consisting of 25 per cent, of the one and 75 per cent, of the other, the duty would be 12s. 3d., and the Committee may well ask why there should be an allowance for the mere act of blending. The allowance is made, not for the encouragement of the industry for manufacturing, but for blending, and I ask honorable senators just to observe how this works out in another way. A manufacturer of one gallon of pure malt whisky will pay an Excise of 10s., while a manufacturer of three gallons of spirit n.e.i. will pay 39s. If the spirit is made and sold separately it will pay 49s., but if it is made blended it will, under the Minister’s” proposal, pay 44s. Why should there be an allowance of 5s., or is. 3d. a gallon, for a mere blending ?
– It will encourage the local manufacturer to adulterate his whisky.
– I put aside the question whether the adulteration be good or bad, and merely point out that the mixing of inferior whisky with one gallon of superior whisky will entitle the maker to a preference of is. 3d. per gallon. Whatever may be said about the merits or demerits of blending, to allow is. 3d. per gallon as a State aid for mere blending is carrying protection to the extreme. I am not raising the question as to what measure of protection should be given to the work of distillation, but I ask the Senate to consider whether, if it- adopts the Minister’s proposal, we are not really granting, over and above the protection it has been decided to give the manufacturer, a bonus of is. 3d. for the mere mixing of the superior with the inferior article.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the megative Motion negatived.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The object of this measure is to make perfectly clear the intention of a provision inserted in the Excise Tariff Act of 1905. It was intended by that provision that sugar produced from cane delivered for manufacture before the 1st day of January, 1907, should pay an Excise duty of only 3s. per cwt. The Attorney-General has pointed out that in his opinion, although the intention was plain, the proviso inserted in the Act of 1905 does not give effect to it. This is his opinion: -
The intention of the Act, of which this is an amendment, was, while raising the excise on sugar from £3 to £4 per ton to allow sugar made from cane, delivered for manufacture before the 1st January, 1907, to be entered for home consumption at the lower rate, although not so entered until after the 1st January, 1907.
The honorable and learned gentleman expresses the opinion that the proviso in the Act of 1005 to give effect to that intention is insufficient for the purpose, and this amending Bill is introduced to place the matter beyond doubt. He is of opinion that under a strict interpretation of the proviso in the Act of 1905 sugar produced from cane delivered for manufacture before the 1st day of January, 1907, would have to pay the Excise duty of £4 per ton. This Bill of a single clause is introduced to give effect to- the intention of Parliament when it passed the proviso in the Act of 1905.
– It is scarcely fair of the Minister to spring this upon us. It was quite understood that the order of the businesspaper would be adhered to. Whilst honorable senators were no doubt prepared to go on with the Constitution Alteration (States Debts) Bill, which has been postponed, I am not sure that many of them have yet made themselves conversant with the details of this measure. So far as I can see from a cursory glance at it, the Minister is justified in saying that it is a simple one, and that the provisions embodied in the Bill will make more clear and definite the original intention of the Act of 1905. Believing that to be so, I offer no objection to the second reading.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment.
Second Reading. Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence) [8.55]. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will recollect that when we passed legislation dealing with the employment of Pacific Islanders in the sugar industry we made provision that, with the exception of persons exempted under special sections, they should all be deported at the end of this year. In the meantime the matter has been the subject of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland. That correspondence commences with a letter, in which the Premier of Queensland asked this Government to make arrangements for the deportation of the Polynesians for the following reasons : -
The compulsory deportation of the kanaka, and the fact that, after the end of the current year, it will be illegal to employ him, are due to ‘Commonwealth, and not to State legislation.
Some kanakas, though originally intro duced into Australia by Queensland, have drifted to other parts of the Commonwealth; and Queensland has ceased to have jurisdiction over them, and, I am disposed to think, responsibility in regard to them.
It is believed that great numbers of kanakas are unwilling to leave Australia; and only the Commonwealth Government has the right forcibly to deport even the kanakas who are still in Queensland.
The deportation of’ the kanaka involves relations with Governments external to the
Commonwealth ; and the Commonwealth is the proper authority to deal with such Governments.
The Commonwealth subsidizes, and controls the movements of, certain steamers which ply regularly between Australia and the islands to which the kanakas are to be returned ; and, unless other arrangements more satisfactory can be made, these vessels are the only ones that can be relied on to return the kanakas at a reasonable cost, and on the unprecedented scale which Commonwealth legislation has made necessary.
He said that the Queensland Government was prepared to co-operate in the work to the following extent: -
By maintaining and placing at the service of the Commonwealth the whole staff of the Pacific Island Department, and the offices and buildings now occupied bv that Department.
By handing to the Commonwealth the sum °f £5 Per head for every islander deported, the amount which was contributed by the employer for the repatriation of each islander, and which would have sufficed for the purpose but for Commonwealth legislation.
By placing the police force of the State at the disposal of the Commonwealth for the due execution of The Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901.
By exempting from port dues vessels employed in the work of repatriation.
By sanctioning no more agreements made with Pacific Islanders.
Then was given a list of officers of the Queensland Polynesian Department whose services he was ready to place at our command, while remaining responsible for their salaries. The Prime Minister concurred in those recommendations. In the’ first instance, it was thought that it would be well to place the kanakas to be deported in depots, until such time as ships would be ready to convey them to their islands. But, on tenders being invited from ship-owners for the performance of the work of repatriation, the prices asked were so high, owing to the fact that no back cargo would be available, that it was thought better to make an arrangement with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, whose steamers now carry the mails to a number of island groups, and to leave the kanakas where they are at present employed until such time as we are in a position to ship them away. To carry out this idea it is necessary to provide for the issue of exemption certificates, enabling them to continue in their present employment until vessels are ready to take them away.
– The time limit is six months, which is considered, long enough. There are at present some 3,000 kanakas in Queensland to be deported. There are some who are not to be deported in any case, and others whom we do not intend to deport. Those who are to be allowed to remain permanently are to receive certificates, which they can show at any time. The other certificates are to exempt those who are to be deported for a time from the provisions of the present law, preventing them from re-engaging. The general certificates are to be issued to kanakas who, because of long residence in Australia, or for other reasons, it is not considered desirable to deport. In determining who shall and who shall not be deported, the Government will be guided by the recommendations of a Royal Commission appointed by the Queensland Government to consider the whole question. There are certain classes whose deportation would be inconsistent with humanity and good faith. For these reasons, it is proposed not to deport kanakas who were brought into Australia prior to the ist September, 1879. It is also proposed not to deport kanakas of such extreme age, or suffering from such bodily infirmity, that they would be unable to obtain a livelihood if returned to their native islands ; kanakas who, having been married, or living as man and wife with natives of some island other than their own, cannot be deported without risk to the life oft either party ; kanakas who are married or are living as man and wife with females not natives of the Pacific Islands; and ‘kanakas who, on the ist July, 1906, were, and are still, registered as the beneficial owners of freeholds in Queensland.
– Do not the Government propose to extend the same exemption to the holders of unexpired leaseholds ?
– No. These are recommendations of the Royal Commission which we propose to adopt. Another ground of exemption is -
That he has been continuously resident in Australia for a period of not less than twenty years prior to the 31st December, ‘1906.
– Are those all the recommendations ?
– No ; but those are the recommendations which the Prime Minister intends to adopt. According to clause 2 -
The Minister may grant a certificate to any Pacific Island labourer exempting him from all or any of the provisions of this Act.
There are two other recommendations which the Prime Minister does not propose to adopt -
In addition to the above classes, the Commissioners recommend the exemption of persons -
who have off-spring who have been educated in State schools ;
– Why ?
– I do not know. Speaking on the spur of the moment, why should we adopt that recommendation ? Some of the children may have been in the State schools for only a month or a week, but even if they had been there for a considerable time, I do not see why that should make any difference.
– Does the honorable senator know how many would be affected by the two recommendations of which the Government do not approve?
– No; and the papers do not contain any information on the point. Perhaps some senator from Queensland will be able to say whether they are likely to be numerous or not.
– According to the information contained in the report, there are about 600.
– What is the other recommendation ?
– It has reference to the holders of unexpired leaseholds to whom no compensation has been paid. They were recommended to be exempted, but the Prime Minister does not consider that that is advisable. He says in regard to these recommendations -
It is submitted that it is not advisable to exempt persons falling within those classes, but that officers should be instructed that, where such persons do not come within any of the other classes before-mentioned, their cases should be specially submitted with recommendations.
I think that honorable senators now realize the means by which we propose to give effect to our object. There is anitem of £12,500 on the Estimates for the repatriation of the kanakas. That is what it is estimated to cost the Commonwealth, in addition, I understand, to a sum of £5 per head, which will have to be handed over by the Queensland Government under the understanding which has been arrived at. I have now dealt with the general certificates which are to be given to the Pacific Island labourers who are to be allowed to remain within The Commonwealth. With regard to those who are not to be allowed to remain, we propose to give -
special certificates (not to be issued or remain in force after the thirtieth clay of June, One thousand nine hundred and seven), to be issued to Pacific Island labourers whom in the opinion of the Minister it will not be convenient to return to their islands immediately after the thirtyfirst day of December, One thousand nine hundred and six.
– Asthey may be cancelled,I think that we had better extend the term.
– I do not pre- tend to know whether the term ought to be extended or not. I am guided by the opinion of the Prime Minister, who, after going carefully into the subject, has come to the conclusion that six months is sufficient. He knows exactly how many men the vessels can carry, and how many trips they can make. He knows the number of kanakas - it will not be more than 3,000 - who will have to be deported, and he considers that in six months they can all be taken back to their islands.
– But some of them cannot go back to their islands.
– It is proposed to give special exemption certificates to those who have to remain in the Commonwealth.
– Has the Minister any approximate information as to how many kanakas will remain, and how many will be deported under the scheme?
– I have been furnished with this statement-
The Department has not yet found itself in a position to give any guarantee of the numbers who will be returned. The following figures show the number of islanders liable to deportation : - Solomon Islands1,160, New Hebrides 765. In addition it is estimated that there are about 200 for each group who are unemployed or illegally employed, and liable to deportation, making a total of 3,530.
– What number will remain in the Commonwealth ?
– I do not know.
– According to that statement,1,512 will remain.
– I am not in a position to give the exact figures. We have to deport the kanakas, whether they number 3,000, or 5,000, or 10,000. The number is not of very great consequence, so long as we lay down the principle on which the deportation is to be carried out.
– How is it to be done ?
– lt is to be done by means of the regular steamers which are run by Burns, Philp, and Company to the islands. -The ‘Royal Commission from which I quoted proposed that depots should be established, but in view of the considerable expense which it would entail that idea has been abandoned by the Government. If we deported these men all at once, we should be involved in considerable outlay ; but if we send them away by the regular steamers trading to the islands, we can effect the transfer within six months at a reasonable cost. In the meantime, those who have to go will be permitted to remain here and earn their living until we are in a position to place them on board ship. To the others who are to be permitted to remain certificates of exemptions will be granted.
– I think that it is a matter for regret that this measure should have come before us at the very last moment, because further information is needed with regard to several matters of importance. I am not at all satisfied with the figures furnished by the Minister - I do not think he is satisfied himself. I have made inquiries with regard to the number of kanakas in Queensland, and I have ascertained from reliable sources that there are about 6,800 in that State. I have not the slightest doubt that there are still more, because a considerable number have found employment in the pastoral districts and elsewhere. The discrepancy between the number of kanakas who entered Queensland and those who are to be sent back to the islands is so enormous that it cannot be attributable entirely to deaths among the islanders. When I was at Thursday Island recently, I ascertained that 200 or 300 kanakas who had been imported to Queensland under a strict bond to work only upon the plantations had found their way to Thursday Island, and obtained employment on the pearling boats. This fact affords some indication of the large numbers that have drifted away from the sugar plantations. There is not the slightest doubt that at least 6,800 kanakas are actu ally indentured at present, or are engaged on the plantations, or in their immediate vicinity. The latter class of men are known as “ walkabouts.” It is proposed to arrange for the deportation of 3,530 men, or only one-half of the total number now on, or in the vicinity of, the sugar plantations. I quite agree with the Minister that we should endeavour to carry out the deportation scheme with humanity. We must avoid inflicting any hardships upon the natives who have been temporarily domiciled in Australia. At the same time, it is imperative that the islanders should be sent back to their homes. We should not allow any of them to remain here by a mere subterfuge. We may be sure that many of the employers will employ every means to retain their services. I understand that of the 6,800 kanakas now in Queensland 4,700 are actually under engagement, and that there are from 1,500 to 2,000 “ walkabouts.”
– The Royal. Commission stated that the number of Pacific Islanders liable to be deported at the end of the current year was about 4,500, and that it was probable that further repatriations during the next six months would reduce the number to 4,000. Our present information is that there are 3,500 kanakas still awaiting deportation.
– I can assure the Minister that my information was obtained from a most reliable source. It is proposed that those kanakas who have lived in Queensland for twenty years should not be compulsorily deported, and, seeing that comparatively few would come within this category, we may fairly allow them to remain there if thev choose. With regard to those who have married white women, or women coming from islands other than those to which they themselves belong, the position is undoubtedly a precarious one. Undoubtedly, if a kanaka returns to some of the islands - such as Malayta or the Solomon Islands, where the natives are cannibals - with a woman belonging to some other island, the unfortunate female will probably come to a sudden end. Exemption may very well be allowed iri such cases. Then, again, it would not be desirable to deport kanakas who are ill or infirm, under circumstances which will probably lead to their early death. It was not made clear to me whether kanaka children born in Australia would be forced to leave.
– They are British subjects.
– I agree with the Minister that children who have been attending State schools, or mission schools, would, if they were deported with their parents, probably disseminate light and learning among the inhabitants of the islands to which they were sent. I think that it was a mistake ever to allow kanakas to acquire freehold land.
– There are only thirteen who have done so.
– It seems to me that one proposal put forward by the planters is fraught with extreme danger. It is suggested that kanakas who, owing to their having committed tribal offences, or for other reasons, are afraid to return to their homes, should be exempted from deportation. There is not the slightest doubt that if that request were acceded to grave abuses would occur.
– We do not intend to adopt the proposal.
– I am very glad to hear it. If such an exemption were permitted, planters would undoubtedly induce the natives to say that they were frightened to go back, and would tempt them to stay by offers of higher wages. The number of islanders affected by all the exemptions would be very small, and I cannot understand whyonly 3,530 are to be deported. I trust that the Government will make a searching inquiry into’ the matter.
of time for certain classes of kanakas, and not to that which proposes to grant certificates. The Government has not completed its shipping arrangements for deporting these people, and therefore has to ask for an extension of time for six months. I admit that the Bill does not put it in that way. It adopts a much more euphemistic style. But what it amounts to is that time is required for the Government to complete arrangements, which, I do not hesitate to say, ought to have been completed long ago. The Act which this Bill amends was passed in 1 901. From that time until the present the Government was aware of what had to be done. It knew the duty which fell upon its shoulders, and it is to attempt to cloak the failure to discharge that duty that this Bill has been introduced. Despite the language in which it is framed, the fact remains that it is a Bill which has been necessitated, simply on account of the failure of the Government to take time by the forelock, and to make its arrangements long before the present juncture. It is also rather significant that the Government has adopted a six- months’ extension of time, without knowing exactly how many men have to be deported. How many does the Minister anticipate will be shipped per month or fortnight?
– It means between 500 and 600 per month.
– The Minister cannot answer that question, and yet he professes to know how many there are to be shipped. In this Bill, and in the Minister’s speech, it is assumed that, without employing any additional vessels, they, can be deported by the ordinary means’ of transit. As the Government only asks .for a six months’ extension of time, and as it is estimated that there are 3,000 or 4/000 kanakas tq be deported, it is a matter of simple arithmetic to ascertain how many will have to go by each ship. It is evident that the Government will hare to do one of two things - either to put on additional ships, or to come down to Parliament, and ask for a further extension of time. I do not remember the exact size of the boats travelling to the Islands, but it appears to me, knowing that the vessels are few in number and comparatively small, that the time asked for will not be sufficient to deport all the kanakas who, according to the Minister’s somewhat vague statement, are still in Australia. The Minister also pointed out, as if it were a kindly act towards the kanakas, that, seeing that the Government was not prepared to ship them, it proposed to allow them to remain at work during the additional six months that they remained in Australia. But, as a matter of fact, it is simply proposed that they shall be allowed to work rather than that the Government shall bear the cost of keeping them. That is putting it in an entirely different way, but it nevertheless is the exact truth. The Government says, “ Because we have blundered in not making arrangements beforehand, we will not maintain this large number of people, but will “ - in the name of humanity, if you please - “ permit them to earn their own living to save us the cost of supporting them.”
– We could not commence to deport them until immediately after the 31st December, according to the Act. The law says that they can stay until the 31st December.
– Exactly; but the Minister should have had all the shipping arrangements completed to deport them at that time.
– We called for tenders, but we considered that the price was in excess of what we ought to pay.
– The Government called for tenders only within the last six months. That action was in keeping with the general policy of this Government, to wait until the last moment - not until the eleventh hour, but actually until the clock is striking twelve - before doing what it is necessary to do. I also wish to draw attention to the wording of paragraphs a and b, of sub-clause 2. Under the former, it will be seen that the power to grant general certificates is left with the Minister, and that no indication is given as to the rules which are applied in the administration of the measure. It is merely stated that general certificates shall be issued to Pacific Island labourers -
Who, on account of long residence in Australia, or for other reasons, it is not deemed desirable to return to their islands.
I think it will be very much better if, instead of saying “ for other reasons,” we specify the reasons which the Minister himself says are those which will be effective in regard to the issue of the certificates. I quite accept the Minister’s statement that it is the intention of the Prime Minister to be guided by the recommendations of the Commission. But I wish to point out that Ministries do not live for ever, that an election is looming ahead, and it may be that the colleague of the Minister who at present has the administration of the Act in his Department will, after the elections, no longer be in a position to administer it. I think we should accept Senator Stewart’samendments as they stand, or some modification of them, thus calling upon the Minister and the Department to carry out the clearly-expressed will of the Legislature. Regarding the is.sue of the special certificates mentioned in paragraph b, there is a practical difficulty. I admit that the deportations may go on. with something like regularity for the whole of that period. The kanakas at present in Australia will receive certificates exempting them for six months. It is proposed that a certain number shall be deported after the first month, and so on. Considerable inconvenience will, therefore, arise; and the Minister will have to fall back upon sub-clause 3, which gives- him power to cancel certificates. But surely it is not desirable to give a kanaka, a certificate on the 1st January to enable him to stay, and then, on the 31st January, to cancel it. That, I think, would not be beneficial to the kanaka, nor would it be beneficial to the Commonwealth, because it may be assumed that those kanakas who are not able to obtain employment will have to be supported by the Government. A man granted a certificate which is liable to be withdrawn at any moment will be handicapped in securing employment. People would hesitate to employ for a few weeks a man who they knew was likely to have his certificate cancelled at any moment. Arrangements might be made for certain kanakas to be sent away bv the first steamer, and to receive an exemption certificate for one month, and for othersto be sent by the second steamer and to receive a certificate for three months, and so forth.
– I imagine that that course will be pursued. There is nothing in the Bill to show that it will not.
– But reading paragraph b of clause 2 with sub-clause 3 it would appear that the intention is to grant an exemption for six months and to claim the right of cancelling certificates whenever the Commonwealth has an opportunity to send men away.
– That would be unfair to the kanakas.
– It would. If, owing to the uncertainty as to the length of their stay in Australia any of them were unable to find employment, they would become a charge on the Commonwealth. I am sure the Minister does not wish to act harshly towards the kanakas, or to have to make a demand upon the Treasury in connexion with them. He might consult his colleagues on the point. I invite the Senate to consider whether the general certificate - the certificate permitting men to remain in Australia - ought not to be beyond cancellation. If, for instance a certificate were issued next year to a kanaka on the ground that he came to Australia prior to 1st September, 1879, why should the Government have the power ultimately to cancel it? The same remark will apply to the issue of a certificate to one who is of such extreme age or of such bodily infirmity as to be unable to obtain a livelihood in the event of his being returned to his native land. Running through the. recommendations of the Commission, it appears to me that if any of them justify the granting of exemption certificates they ought to justify the non-cancellation of those certificates.
– Everything would depend upon a certificate having been obtained bond fide.
– I am referring to certificates obtained in good faith. One that had been obtained by fraud could be cancelled in the ordinary way.
– Then the honorable senator would strike out sub-clause 3 of clause 2 ?
– The question is whether it is intended to control only paragraph b of clause 2, which deals with the grafting, of special .certificates. It may be that “the power of cancellation is sought in order that whilst granting a certificate of exemption for six months the Minister may be at liberty to cancel it - to fit in with shipping arrangements - when it still has, say, a month to run. That would be a clumsy and unfair way of dealing with the difficulty.
– It would not be so unfair in that case.
– Not so unfair as it would be if a general certificate were cancelled a month after its issue. The position would be far worse if, having granted a certificate for life, the Government for some reason or other cancelled it. I ask the Minister to consider whether subclause 3 is. necessary? If he says it is not intended to fit in only with paragraph b I shall propose to strike it out.
– It is necessary.
– I do not think it ought to cover the ordinary general certificates, but if it is required for a special certificate, it may be necessary to leave it in. Bearing upon that point, I would draw attention to the use of the word “ convenient “ in paragraph b. The more consideration I give to the matter, the more fully am I convinced that sub-clause 3 was inserted to control paragraph b. If it is not so inserted, I ask the Minister to consider the desirableness of moving its omission.
– I am pleased that the Government recognise the necessity of granting in some cases an extension of time. Senator Smith referred to the number of what he described as “ walk-about “ kanakas, and I would remind the Senate that, in the early days, not a few of the kanakas, on the termination of their agreement, went from Queensland to New South Wales. Some of them are still to be found in the Tweed and Richmond River districts. I presume that the kanakas in New South Wales as well as those in Queensland will be deported. I trust that the Minister will accept Senator Stewart’s amendment, which is in accordance with the recommendation of the Commission appointed by the Queensland Government to deal with this question. 1 cannot see why we should not include in the Bill the grounds on which certificates may be granted. I also agree with Senator Millen that a general certificate ought not to be cancellable. I notice that the word “ he “ is used in several cases, but I presume that the masculine includes the feminine.
– That is so.
– As the introduction of kanakas into Queensland was permissible up to 31st March, 1904, a great many of them could not possibly arrange to leave before the end of this year. I should have thought that they would not be asked to leave before 21st March, 1907. Coming to the question of deportation, I would suggest that the Government should arrange for a certain number to be sent away each month. They could then issue special exemption certificates for one month in certain cases, two months in others, and so on, so that every certificate issued would show when the holder had to report himself. Personally, I do not think that six months is sufficient to allow for their deportation. I take it that there is only one steamer per month sailing to the islands, and, assuming that only 3,600 have to be deported, 600 would have to be taken away each month. I doubt if the mail steamer is large enough to accommodate so many passengers. More vessels may be put on, but I understand from the Minister that the Government intend to economize and use the mail steamer.
– As far as possible.
– I trust that my suggestion as to the issue of certificates for i» 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 months, to fit in with the sailing arrangements, will be adopted. There would then be no difficulty in having the required number at the port when the steamer was timed to leave. It “is known to some of us, who have resided in Queensland, that many years ago certificates of exemption were given, and that those certificates were for all time. If I mistake not, there are still some 700 or 800 islanders who hold these old certificates. The first condition I see applies to islanders who were introduced prior to the ist March, 1879, which is twenty-seven years, and not merely twenty years, ago.
– Look at condition No. 8.
– Yes ; I had not noticed that condition, which applies to those who have resided in Australia for a period of not less than twenty years. This measure m’ay be made useful if we adopt some of the suggestions made by Senator Millen, and particularly if we adopt the amendment by Senator Stewart. The latter gentleman is well qualified to give us the benefit of his advice on the subject, seeing that he is not only thoroughly acquainted with the State itself, but with Queensland legislation for many years past.
– - The provisions of this measure run somewhat counter to the views I have always held on this subject, and I should therefore like to make a few remarks with regard to the way in which I think the difficulty should have been dealt with. It is rather unfortunate that this legislation comes before us so late in the session, and so near the end of the year, that it maybe absolutely necessary to do something in the way proposed T have taken an interest’ in this subject for twenty-three years, and my dominant desire has always been that these people should, as far as possible, be returned to their own islands, and that we should not seek reasons for allowing them to remain in Australia. My, objection, I may say, is mainly a racial one. I admit the force of the objection urged sometimes against the employment of these people, with regard to competition with white labour, and so forth; but while that objection has weight with me, I must say it is subordinate to racial considerations. We are here as an outpost’ of the Empire, and we are bound, as far as we can, to maintain British institutions, and, keeping the race pure, to improve, if possible, our Anglo-Saxon civilization. If we allow a number of people of diverse and alien races to come amongst us, they must either be allowed to die out in the course of time, or else be absorbed, and neither of these alternatives can be regarded with satisfaction. Of course, I desire, with every other honorable senator, that, in dealing with these people, every regard should be paid to the requirements of humanity. In 1902 I saw some of the kanakas who are camped - or settled, I might say - on the northern bank of the Fitzroy - those kanakas from whom, I believe, the petition emanated about that time - and I found that they were under a misapprehension. They thought that they were to be sent forcibly to some island where they would be strangers, and perhaps maltreated or killed; but when I explained to them what the proposals of the Government at that time were, and told them that if they wished to go to their own islands, they would be sent there, they appeared to be perfectly satisfied. But I also told them - expressing my own individual opinion, although I was then a member of the Government- - that while the Commonwealth would see that no injustice was done to them, and that their, lives and property were made secure, no hope could, be held out to them that they would be allowed to remain in Australia. I think that it is quite possible to return these people to their islands, or to some other islands in the South Seas, where their lives and their property will be just as secure as in Australia. There are quite a number of islands where the con,ditions of life are most favorable, with fertile soil, plenty of water, and genial climate, and bv having a resident magistrate and a few native constabulary, life could be made perfectly safe, and even enjoyable. With regard to the certificates that are to be granted, allowing these kanakas to remain in Australia for six months - and one or two honorable senators suggest that the time should be extended to twelve months - I cannot see any possible reason for the course proposed.
– Suppose one of the steamers was ship-wrecked or damaged - suppose a dozen emergencies - the time would have to be extended.
– I shall tell the honorable senator something on that point, and he will be able to do all his own supposing. In 1886 a Royal Commission having re-“ ported that a number of the kanakas had been brought to Queensland without knowing the nature of their agreements, the Government of the dax chartered a steamer, and took 1,200 of them to their own islands, so quietly, and with so little trouble, that all traces of the event seem to have been lost. I made inquiries when I was in Queensland lately, and I have searched in the Public Library in vain for some record. Those kanakas were shipped when the State Parliament, I believe, was sifting, and so little was thought of the matter that no notice seems to have been taken. The steamer Victoria, of the Australian Steam Navigation Company, which used to trade to the Gulf at that time, was chartered and provisioned, and sent up the coast to take the kanakas off at the various ports.
– That argument is hardly open to the honorable senator, because the kanakas are to be sent by mailboat every month.
– My point is that in 1886 some 1,200 kanakas were shipped away without any trouble, and that, therefore, there is no necessity for six months’ in which to transport 3,000.
– But the kanakas are going to be sent by mail boat month by month.
– That is not the only way in,’ which to ship the kanakas ; there is no law of man or nature that requires them to be sent by mail boat.
– The Government have entered into a contract.
– If the honorable senator had been listening he would have heard me express my regret that it was now so late in the year as to, perhaps, make it necessary to take some action of this kind. arrangements having to a certain extent been made.
– This was the cheapest tender.
– I do not know whether anything could be done now to alter the existing arrangement. I have been searching in order to find what was the cost of the repatriation on the occasion I speak of, but I have been unsuccessful.
– The cost would be paid out of the Pacific Islanders Fund, and. therefore, would not appear on the Estimates.
– I think that is so. It has been suggested that in returning a large number of kanakas there may arise some scarcity of food. It may, perhaps, seem quixotic to some honorable senators, but I think that if there was any fear of a scarcity of food it would only be a graceful and proper action to send food with them. We could easily put on board some flour, rice, and other foods, together with a few head of cattle, pigs and poultry, agricultural implements, and so forth, to supply the needs of islanders while they were making a start. We might do something for these people to atone for the wrong done them in the past, in the withdrawal of the young men, who formed the cream of their population. It would be a useful thing now for us to make what reparation is in our power by giving them a start in the arts of peace. If they have gained anything whatever from their residence in Australia, and have learned anything of agriculture, we have a good opportunity to establish them in their islands under conditions which would be a blessing to them, and from which there might be a reflex benefit to Australia. The case of the infirm and aged has been mentioned, and’ if they have become infirm through working in Australia, I do not see why we should not give them a maintenance for the rest of their days, but I would not give it to them in the Commonwealth. ‘ If these natives of the South Seas have become old and infirm, and we are going to undertake the care of them, why could we not do so in their own islands as well as in Australia? Why should we continue the presence of people of this race, who, from many points of view, we must regard as undesirable, when they would be just as happy, and it would cost just as little to keep them, in their own islands? There is a difficulty with regard to the children of these people^ and especially with regard to marriages. In connexion with the scheme of repatriation, I have had in mind for a long time the great difficulty that arises from marriages. I do not see why a white woman who has married a kanaka should object so strongly to go to the country of her husband. I cannot see that she would have any great grievance if, when she had married a kanaka, he should for any reason elect to live amongst his own people.
– Would it be safe for her to go to the islands?
– If the course I have suggested were adopted, there is no reason why life in the islands should not be made absolutely as safe as in the suburbs of Melbourne. Where marriages have taken place, the difficulty would arise from the fact that there is no doubt whatever that the woman would have an absolute right to refuse to go, and I do not suppose that in a case of that sort any one would desire that action should be taken which would involve a breach of the marriage relationship. I admit that in these cases the kanakas cannot be sent away. But there was no need for special legislation to deal with that matter, because it is all provided for in the Act of 1901. The deportation section of that Act is permissive. The section preventing kanakas entering into agreements after the 31st December is mandatory ; but sub-section 2 of section 8 reads as follows: -
The Minister may order a Pacific Islander found in Australia after thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and six, to be deported from Australia.
– Did not Parliament mean that* he should do so?.
– When the word “ may “ is used in connexion with action by the Minister, it is clearly permissive, and I think that, under that section, the Executive would be able to exempt in any case in which good reason was shown. I suppose it will be agreed that where a kanaka has married a white woman or an aboriginal woman, they must be allowed to remain, but I quite agree with Senator Stewart that in passing this Bill we should state clearly the reasons for which kanakas are to be allowed to remain. It should not be left entirely open as it is in the Bill. I think the object we should have in view should be, as far as possible, to encourage these people to go back to their islands, and we should not multiply the reasons for which they might claim the right to remain. If I had my way in the deportation of kanakas, I should like to make it an event in the history of the South Sea Islands. I am quite sure that if the matter were properly put to these “ boys “ the great majority, and practically the whole of them, would only be too glad to go back. If my idea were adopted, and they were sent away with food, clothing, seed, agricultural implements, and a few stock with which to begin agriculture on their own islands, we should be conferring upon them a great blessing; and the day on which they left Australia to go back to their islands, on those conditions, would be for them a red-letter day. Such a course would operate to a great extent to cleanse the Australian name from the stain that undoubtedly, at present attaches to it in connexion with by-gone events associated with this traffic. Senator Stewart was the other day asking questions with regard to the progress made in the affairs of the New Hebrides, and here,, it seems to me, is an opportunity which we might seize to improve our position in those islands. I believe we should do it by taking such action as would establish a sense of gratitude towards Australia in the minds of the native population of the islands. I shall, of course, vote for the second reading of the Bill, but I am disposed at the present time to support, in Committee, the amendment suggested by Senator Stewart to strike out the vague general words of some of its provisions, and give clearly the reasons for which islanders shall be entitled to claim that they should be allowed to remain in Australia.
.- The feeling predominant in my mind is that we should treat these men in as kindly and as brotherly a way as we can. I do not claim the knowledge of them that honorable senators representing Queensland have, but I have listened with great pleasure to Senator Drake’s speech, and I have gathered from what I have read of the evidence of men entitled to speak on the subject that the deportation ot these islanders will not be found to be quite so easy as the honorable senator seems to imagine. In the first place, he is not entitled to use as an argument the fact that some time ago 1.200 were deported in one vessel^ without trouble and with the greatest of ease, because Ministers, rightly or wrongly, have determined to carry out the deportation in as cheap a way as possible, and have arranged that the mail boats now plying between Queensland and the islands shall take these men at the rate of 500 or 600 per month. In the circumstances, it seems to me that we ought to extend the time to twelve months, because the slightest .mishap to one steamer will make it impossible for the work of deportation to be completed in the six months. If the Government are to retain the power of cancelling certificates, it appears to me to be most unwise not to make the time twelve months. I thoroughly approve of the policy I have just heard enunciated by Senator Drake. Can we not, in the deportation of these men, to some extent make up for the gross wrong they have suffered at the hands of Australia in the past? Can we not send them back to their islands with food, seed, plants, and agricultural implements, there to start on a better plan of life and on a higher plane of civilization ? I admit that to do so would involve enormous expense, and far more time than Ministers appear to be prepared to give to the work, but I have gathered from the information to which I have alluded that there will be considerable danger in sending men back to some of the islands. If they are sent to certain islands the probabilities are that they will be murdered, as some have already been murdered. I understand that on many of the islands they are likely to be robbed and plundered of their clothes and the implements they ma.y take back with them, and it is quite probable that there will be bloodshed over the matter before we entirely get rid of the kanakas.
– Persons who know all about the subject say that there is no truth in those statements.
– I shall be glad if that is so, though I have read the statements over and over again. Has not the Minister himself heard of returned islanders being tomahawked almost immediately on being landed? Have not the Government been trying to arrange with some of the mission stations to take a number of men who are afraid to return to their own islands, or is that arrangement suggested only in regard to men who do not know from what islands they came? If every-, thing is so simple, why has there been so long a delay in dealing with this matter? Is not the reason that danger is known to exist? It will be monstrous if, after having used the services of these men for years, we send them back to their islands regardless of the time of the year, whether there will be food enough for them there, and whether they will or will not be met with violence. I am afraid that blood will be shed, and that a number of those sent back will meet with very rough treatment. I understand that exceptions are to be made in the case of some who have married white women or women from islands other than their own, who would be sure to meet with rough treatment if returned to their own islands. Yet the Minister professes to be able to dispose of all objections bv a wave of his hand. Another point on which I should like information is whether those who are granted certificates enabling them to do work while waiting for vessels can do any work available, or whether they will be confined to the kinds of work prescribed in the original Act?
– The provisions of the original Act and of the Queensland Acts to which the honorable senator refers are not repealed.
– I understand that under the original agreements they were not permitted to do more than trash and cut cane, and cultivate the fields ; that they could not even drive water-carts or hoe vegetable gardens. We should therefore make it perfectly clear whether they are to be confined to their past occupations while waiting for vessels to take them away. I favour Senator Stewart’s proposed amendment, but I agree with Senator Millen that we should not leave out the words “or for any other reasons for which it maybe deemed desirable to return them.” As we have so very little time in which to discuss the matter, we might easily overlook cases of which exceptions should be made, and therefore it would be foolish not to give the Governor-General in Council a free hand in this matter. In my opinion, ‘a man whose children have been educated in the State schools to read and write, and have become capable of earning a living, should not be sent away. It would be a cruel thing to tear such a man from his children. It was a shock to the community when it was first proposed to deport all the kanakas, including those who had received a good schooling .and had become educated, sending them back from civilization to savagery.
– The honorable senator is altogether opposed to deportation, and should therefore vote against the Bill.
– It has always been my opinion that it would be better to allow the kanakas who are here to remain, if they choose to do so, prohibiting the introduction of others, because it would not be very long before those now here would die out. I must, however, accept the inevitable. It certainly is not right to send back those who have learned to read and to write, and who have accounts in the Savings Bank.
– It is quite right. They will be able to civilize the natives in the islands to which they return. It will be like sending missionaries to them.
– Possibly, if returned to their islands, they might do good to those amongst/ whom <they would in future live; but I should like evidence on the point. It is inhuman to banish educated men from civilization to savagery I have read that a large number of kanakas have attended night schools, and thus acquired a certain amount of education, fitting them to take positions requiring more intelligence than is required ‘ for mere manual labour, and therefore -I wish to know if there is to be any sorting out ; or are so many kanakas to be sent away every month regardless of their condition? Will the Government undertake that those who are educated, and who do not wish to go back to their own islands, may be sent where there are mission stations? The whole question is full of difficulty, and I should like information in regard’ to it, not from the Minister, who knows nothing about it, but from Senators Stewart, Drake, and Turley, who know a good deal about it. Newspaper writers, and the missionaries themselves, are responsible for the fears which I have expressed. I had an impression that the Government were making inquiries in order to see whether thev could not establish mission stations to send them to.
– We have made inquiries, as is stated in the report.
– Are some of the men to be sent to those stations?
– I do not know. We shall do the best we can.
– I have read all the papers. The Minister has said that, from inquiries he has made, there is no danger, and that everything will go on smoothly, but I am inclined to doubt that. I cannot see why the time should not be extended, because I feel certain that it will be needed.
– The honorable senator is only repeating himself now.
– The more gradually we deport the kanakas, the better shall we safeguard the great sugar industry. As they all have to go, what difference can it make if they are all out of Australia by the 30th June or the 31st December, 1907 ? We are faced with the problem of getting rid of 8,000 or 9,000 men and finding a sufficient number of white men to take their places. What need is there for haste in deporting the coloured men? It appears to me that very little trouble has been taken to see that the sugar planters will be supplied with white labour when the kanakas are gone. We all hope that white labour will be able to do the work of the sugar planter.
– The honorable senator is not discussing the Bill.
– I cannot see any objection to extending the time to twelve months, because it would enable the planter to get over the transition stage.
– The planters will never get rid of the kanakas while they are available.
– I agree with the honorable senator that that may be so, but that is no reason why we should limit the issue of certificates to six months, when in all probability next session we shall have to pass another Bill.
– Has not the honorable senator made that statement three or four times?
– I am not opposed to the Bill, as Senator Playford appears to think. I am very much iii favour of its enactment, with all the safeguards which we can make in the interests of humanity.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [10.19]. - The law provides that the kanakas shall be deported by the end of the current year. There is no proposal to repeal or amend the law, but there is a proposal to allow the Minister to exercise a discretion in certain cases. I take it that the object in taking power to issue a certificate for six months is not to enable the sugar planter to get over the transition stage, because I understand that the Act of 1 90 1 was passed to prepare him for that event, but to allow the Government sufficient time in which to carry out the intention of that Act. I am under the impression that six months is too short for the purpose. I would sooner see the Government fix the period at nine months or twelve months, so that, in the event of their being unable to arrange for the deportation to take place within six months, they should still have three months without being compelled to break the law or to ask Parliament to extend the time, I would impress upon the Government the desirability of extending the time. It would not necessarily follow that that would be taken advantage of, or be used for the purpose of providing additional labour. We have been apprised of the reasons which will guide the Minister in carrying out the law, but I think it is just as well that Parliament should enact the reasons which, in its opinion, should guide the Minister, because Ministers come and Ministers go. The Royal Commission which was appointed in Queensland recommended that certain other kanakas should be exempted, but the Minister does not propose, as at present advised, to adopt the recommendation. If we were to set out in black and white the cases which the Minister would be entitled to exempt, it would save all possibility of trouble and difficulty in the future. It would save the possibility of differences of opinion between a Minister and his successor. The law would be declared in specific terms, and the kanakas would know how they were to be dealt with. It is far better to have the law definite than vague. I shall support the amendment of Senator Stewart to include in the list of exempted persons those having offspring who have been educated in State schools, and the holders of unexpired leaseholds to whom no compensation has been paid. It must be borne in mind that we cannot legally deport the children who have been born of Pacific Islanders in Australia. The principal Act only applies to persons who have been born in those islands, and who are not of European parentage. Nor can such children be deported under this Bill. Do the Government intend to deport parents, and not their children, who may be of tender years, or, perhaps, fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen years of age, or do they hope that the parents, yielding to their natural instincts, will take their children with them? It would be cruel to separate parents from their children, and it would not redound to our reputation for humanity if we did so. It would be said that parents were being ruthlessly torn away from their children just as in the old slave days in America parents and children were separated and sent to different plantations. Suppose that an honorable senator had the misfortune to be located in a country where it was determined that he should be deported. Would he not consider it very cruel if he were deported and his children left in the country, or if he were sent to a country which, in point of civilization and comfort, was much inferior? Surely honorable senators must see that it would be cruel in the extreme to tear the kanakas from their children. Another question is whether the Government are prepared to pay the cost of deporting the children, whom they can only deport with their own consent or that of their parentis. The number of children concerned is not very large. According to a return which is contained in the report of the Royal Commission, there are as the offspring of the alliances mentioned - all of which were contracted in Queensland - 316 males and 325 females, of ages ranging from a few months to twenty-one years. All these persons would be entitled to remain here, because our law does not give us power to deport them. It is proposed to exempt all males married to or cohabiting with European women, Queensland female aboriginals or half-castes, women natives of islands other than those from which the men come, or women of any nationality other than those specified. The children of these couples would naturally remain with them. The islanders numbering eighty-nine, who are married to, or living with, women from the same islands are not exempt, and yet it seems to me that they are specially entitled to consideration.
– How many kanakas are married to, or cohabiting with, European women?
– The number given here is forty. Sixty are married to, or cohabiting with, female Queensland aboriginals or half-castes, eighty-one are married to kanaka women belonging to islands other than those of the men, whilst three are married to women of some other nationality. The eighty-nine kanakas who are married to women coming from the. islands to which they themselves belong, although they may have children attending
State schools, are to be deported. If we extend the exemptions to these eighty-nine married islanders, we shall not be called upon to make any great sacrifice.
– If the parents are deported will not the children go with them?
– They may go with them, but we cannot compulsorily deport them.
– Who is to prevent it?
.- They are British subjects.
– Children under twenty-one have no legal rights.
– Yes ; they have. No law of the Commonwealth will entitle the Minister to deport any one of these children against its consent, or, if it be very young, against the consent of its guardian. We could not deport a child of sixteen or seventeen years of age. In any case, a guardian could be appointed by the Courts to protect the rights of the child, and it would be monstrous if it were otherwise.
– A child under twenty-one has no rights.
.- It has rights which could be enforced in a Court of Equity. If there were no legal guardian in existence, the Court could appoint one. The report of the Royal Commission states, with regard to the offspring of such unions as I have mentioned -
A considerable proportion of those children have been educated in State schools, and they have acquired habits which, should they be compelled to submit to the life prevailing in the islands, may result in their suffering a certain amount of hardship. The evidence given before the Commission leads us to believe that a large proportion of these children would contract the island malarial fever. To compulsorily deport the parents alone would be inconsistent with the humane treatment of both parent and child.
– What is the use of arguing about something which is not going to be done?
– I am inferring that something is proposed to be done with regard to a limited number of natives. Speaking of islanders who have acquired freehold or leasehold lands, the Commission say -
There is settled at North Rockhampton a group of islanders, many of whom are married and have families, the children attending a State school. Some of these persons have acquired freeholds, held for them in trust by
Europeans; others are leaseholders - all are of reputable character, and earning a livelihood in legitimate fashion. In various other parts of the State, islanders have acquired freeholds and leaseholds in a similar manner, and are engaged in gardening, cane-growing, and general farming. The land occupied by many of these individuals was, when leased, virgin scrub, upon which much labour has been by them expended ; the islanders appear to have entertained an unfounded belief that, as leaseholders, they would not be compulsorily deported ; and it is certain that any action involvinga forfeiture of leaseholds without compensation, or a forced sale of freehold and personal property, would entail upon these persons the very greatest hardship.
They also mention the fact that many of these hard-working people do not desire to be deported, and I would urge the adoption in their entirety of the recommendations made by the Royal Commission, so that we may be credited with having exercised the utmost humanity and consideration consistent to the carrying out of the Act passed in 1901.
– I think it will be admitted that the Government are now charged with a very difficult and delicate task, and, judging from the manner in which the Minister introduced the Bill, they are ill-prepared to undertake it. I trust that proper arrangements will be made for the deportation of the kanakas, and that the good name of the Commonwealth will not be permitted to suffer. The work of deportation should be carried on in a business-like way, and I think that the suggestions made by Senator Drake are well worthy of consideration. No one will cavil at the cost incurred so long as the interests of the islanders are studied, and the work of returning them is carried on in a commonsense manner. We should not allow ourselves to be unduly influenced by consideration for the pockets of the taxpayers of Queensland or of the rich planters who have brought the kanakas into Australia. I am rather afraid that that is going to happen. In another direction I see that a large amount of money is being asked for what I think Parliament should not be expected to sanction ; but as the matter to which I refer can be dealt with on the Appropriation Bill, I need not allude to it further at this stage, except to say that if double the amount of money that it is proposed to spend were to be spent upon the kanakas in order to give them a start in life when they are sent back to their island, I do not think any one would have the slightest objection to it. There can be no doubt, from the way in which this matter has been dealt with up to the present time, that everything has been done in a haphazard fashion. Neither the Federal nor the State Government has taken any real steps. When I was in Queensland with the parliamentary party I was told of things of an outrageous nature that were being allowed. Kanakas would go to a port where they expected that ships would be awaiting them, so that they might return to their islands, but they would discover that, instead of arrangements having been made, they were kept hanging about the seaports until all their money was spent. When that happened they were obliged to seek re-engagement. Instead of the kanakas being gradually deported at the expiration of their engagement, the’ Government of Queensland, I believe, has actually connived with the rich planters to keep these unfortunate fellows in the country, and to prevent, their returning. Unless the ‘Government set about this matter in a business-like way, I believe we shall have grave reason to complain of the manner in which the work of deportation is carried out. It will be impossible to send 4,000 or 5,000 kanakas from Australia to the Pacific Islands unless there is proper organization. I am satisfied, from the meagre information in possession of the Minister, and from the way the work has been done up to the present that there is a danger of serious mistakes being made. It behoves the Government to give earnest attention to the subject. Unless that be done there will be a terrible “mess up,” and the good name of the Commonwealth will necessarily suffer from any blundering that occurs. There is a large and difficult task to discharge. ‘ I hope to see the work done in a business-like fashion. I find from a return furnished to the House of Representatives on a motion of Mr. Mahon, that on the 17 th December, 1901, the number of Pacific Islanders engaged in the sugar industry of Australia was 9,530. Between that date and the 31st March. 1904, after which no more kanakas could be introduced into Australia, 2,343 were imported. Between those dates also 917 died, and 5,396 left Australia. So that according to the most liberal estimate that can be made over 1,000 will be exempt, and 4.500 will have to be deported. That is a consider able number, and it will involve’ a great deal of work upon the Government and its officers. I trust that the work will be done in a creditable way.
.- - I wish to place on record the opinion that I do not like the way in which this Bill has been introduced or the composition of it. It has reached the Senate very late in the session, when we are not in a position to give the subject the consideration that it merits. The Bill is of such a wide character and the exemptions are to be so general that in my opinion the black labour party in Queensland will avail itself of its provisions to keep the kanakas there until they die. There is a limited number of kanakas who wish to stay in’ Queensland ; and there is a further limited number whom to send back would be an act of inhumanity. But there are thousands who desire to return to their islands. At the end of 1903 I was in Townsville. I arrived there just as the Coquette, one of the black-birders, had been burnt to the water’s edge. About 100 or more kanakas were in the immigration depot. These men were informed that there was no possible chance of their getting back to their islands. They were being misled by the black labour party’s recruiting agents.
– Did they want to go back?
– I was informed by one of them who could speak pidgin English that the whole of them wanted to go back; but such influences were used that, on the train from Gladstone to Townsville, there were fifteen- or twenty who had been re-engaged to go to the plantations at Bundaberg, because they had been told they could not return to the islands. We have been informed by a number of witnesses who gave evidence before the Royal Commission that many kanakas have been as long as ten and twenty years in Queensland.
– There are 1,500, I believe.
– If the honorable senator adds up the number of kanakas covered by the exemptions recommended by the Commission, he will find that ‘.only about 500 or 600 will be entitled to stay - that is, assuming that the table in appendix 17 of the report is correct.
– I think ‘there is some overlapping.
– Who will go to the trouble of ascertaining which kanakas come under the exemptions, even if those foreshadowed by Senator Stewart are put in the Bill ? Whose duty will it be to see whether a kanaka has been in Queensland ten or twenty years? The evidence contains a letter setting forth a kanaka’s case. It is couched in the very best English, and signed with a cross by the kanaka. These letters have been prepared by interested parties, who are seeking to keep in Queensland as many kanakas as possible. Unless some one is directly appointed by the Federal authorities to carefully inquire into these cases, I believe that hundreds, if not thousands, will be induced by false pretences to remain here. I do not think that the State Government is likely to bring itself into conflict with the black labour party in Queensland by assisting in the deportation of the islanders. The officials who are administering the Federal Act, and who will also administer this measure, are employed by the State, and they, too, are equally unlikely to do anything that will bring them into conflict with those whose interests are served by the retention of the kanakas in Queensland. I deeply regret that the Government have seen fit to introduce the Bill at this late hour of the session. They could have refrained, even in the absence of such a measure as this, from deporting kanakas where it would be inhumane to do so. No one would take exception to a kanaka who had been in the Commonwealth for twenty years, or had married an aboriginal woman, or had children living here, being permitted to remain. I feel convinced, however, that if the Bill be passed in its present form, or even if it be amended as proposed by Senator Stewart, hundreds of kanakas will remain here under false pretences.
– If it were not for the fact that we are now in the last hours of the session, I should vote against the second reading of this Bill, and ask honorable senators generally to do the same. I recognise, however, that some action must be taken, and that the Government have no right, without consulting Parliament, to do anything in regard to this matter. A Royal Commission was appointed by Queensland to inquire into this question, and it seems to me that such bodies are created merely to make re commendations of which Governments are not disposed to take much notice. We have had several exemplifications of that fact during the session. This Commission did not consist solely of politicians. It comprised an old police magistrate, accustomed to sift evidence; a Member of Parliament, who throughout his life has been in favour of coloured labour; and another who is opposed to it. The Commission collected evidence from all sorts of people along the coast, and made a number of recommendations. Had those recommendations been followed there would have been a chance of dealing with the question more satisfactorily than the Government propose.
– Could not the recommendations be incorporated in the Bill?
– I do not think they could. The Government have decided, from considerations of economy, to adopt a certain system of deportation, whereas it would cost something like£50,000 to carry out the recommendations of the Commission. At the same time, we should not play altogether into the hands of those who have been employing black labour in Queensland for many years, and who apparently have still sufficient influence to secure an extension of the stay of the kanakas for some time. Senator Dobson says that the extension is not half long enough, and that we ought to grant exemption certificates for another twelve months. The trouble in Queensland has been that we have seldom had in power a man with sufficient backbone to grapple with the question. Every Minister seems to have been prepared to yield to influence brought to bear by interested parties. The Commission which went thoroughly into the question, recommended that at the end of this year no extensions should be granted, but that as soon as the agreements expired the kanakas should be placed on reserves such as those provided for aboriginals in Queensland and Western Australia. It pointed out that they should be allowed to remain at the reserves until ships which had been chartered for the purpose were ready to take them away.I remember the deportation of a number of kanakas by the Victoria to which Senator Drake has referred. On that occasion, no trouble whatever was experienced. On the , score of economy, however, the Government propose to utilize the regular mail steamers for the deportation of these men. The reason why so many kanakas remain in Queensland at the present time is that the law has not been enforced. All sorts of things have been winked at. Agreements have been terminated during the last six months, and no attempt has been made to provide for the return of the men concerned. We are now face to face with the fact that all the agreements practically terminate at the end of this year. Senator Playford quoted largely from the letter written by the Premier of Queensland to the Prime Minister, but he forgot to quote what I regard as a very important feature of it. I refer to that part in which Mr. Kidston says -
My own opinion is that it would not only be cheaper, but better in every way, specially to charter a number ofsteamers, so that, say, two a week would leave Queensland ports for the Island each week in January next.
That would provide for the deportation of the lot.
– Does the honorable senator think that eight steamers would take the lot?
-The Victoria took only about three weeks or a month to make the round voyage, and she carried 1,200. There are between 4,000 and5,000 to be deported at the end of the year.
– Less than that.
– Mr. Kidston continued -
You will see that the Commission suggest an expensive system of depôts, clearly under the impression that the deportations must extend over many months. This, in my opinion, should be avoided, and can be avoided ; for it is easy for you to exercise the powers of deportation in the first or second week in January as in April or May.
That is a letter which was sent by the Premier of Queensland to the Prime Minister, and it says in effect that there is no necessity to extend the term, but that, with the expenditure of money, of course, the trouble may be got over once and for all. I do not know that there are many men who have registered, who will have anything to do with these kanakas, and even a great many who are not registered would not feel inclined to employ them for terms varying from three to six weeks. If these men could not get employment, then they would have to be looked after, because in centres of population they would be a. source of positive danger to the peace and lives of the people amongst whom they were scattered. The Commission say in their report -
Under a proper system of selection, it would be possible to embark for repatriation 2,000 islanders early in the month of January,1907.
– If we had the ships, we could repatriate 20,000 kanakas.
– There would be no difficulty, because there are enough idle vessels around Australia, the owners of which would be glad of the work. It would need only two or three ships to take thewhole of the kanakas in two or three months, at very little expense. I do not suppose that the Minister, if he were a sugar-grower in the northern district, would like to employ kanakas for a few weeks, under the circumstances, but would rather be inclined to look out for other labour. As a matter of fact, there are a number of growers who, if they could get rid of the kanakas, would be prepared on account of the bonus, to carry on with white labour. I, myself, know men in Queensland who now have kanakas in their employment, and who, a few months ago, told me that they wished they had none of them under agreement, because they would then be able to register their land. In many cases, the law is winked at, so fat as breaking agreements with the kanakas is concerned, and they are picked up by smart agents, and palmed off on to other men, who think they are getting labour on the cheap, but find that they have been deceived.
– Would there not be a difficulty in regard to food if a large number of kanakas was landed on an island at a time?
– All the kanakas would not be put on the one island. I dare say that 1,500 of them, at any rate, are Malavta men.
– Would there not be any difficulty in that case?
– It does not seem so to me. The Commission make the following recommendations: -
We recommend -
– I was thinking of, say, 2,000 kanakas being landed on one island.
– All those belonging to one island would not be taken there at once. There might be a question as to the scarcity of food.
– That is what I am thinking of.
– But Senator Drake has suggested that food might be sent to them to supply their wants until they could produce food for themselves. The
Royal Commission further say-
As regards the balance of the islanders, who will not thus leave Queensland in the month of January, 1907, we recommend -
At that rate, the whole of the kanakas could be transported by March at the outside The Royal Commission never made the recommendation that any kanakas should be allowed to enter into fresh agreements. It would have been far better had the Government made arrangements beforehand, which would have permitted of their carrying out the suggestion of the Premier of Queensland, whose letter, it should not be forgotten, isdated 23rd July, 1906. It will be seen that some considerable time has elapsed since attention was called to the matter.
– The Government have had since the passing of the Act of 1901 to make arrangements.
– But the Commonwealth Government allowed matters to go on until the State Government appointed a Royal Commission, and, as usual, while admitting that the recommendations of the Commission may be very good, the Government propose to do something else. We are now faced with a Bill to which I suppose we must agree, but, as Senator Higgs has pointed out, if all the exemptions are to take effect, there will be nearly half the kanakas left in Australia. A large number are engaged in industries, the conductors of which would go to any trouble, and be prepared to break any law, with the object of keeping black labour. Until these people realize that some action is being taken which will compel them to do without coloured labour, they will not. cease their efforts to retain these men. At the present time, I cannot help voting for the second reading of the Bill, because if nothing is done, the Government will be forced into the position that they will have to send away the whole of the kanakas at the end of the year, irrespective of the dictates of humanity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause1 agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 11 o’clock to-morrow.
Senate adjourned at 11. 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 October 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19061008_senate_2_35/>.