2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
Punishment of a Witness.
Senator Col. NEILD.- I notice that it is reported in the Melbourne newspapers that the Attorney-General has prepared a lengthy minute with reference to the case of the witness Stone, who appeared before the Tobacco Commission. Will the Minister of Defence Jay that minute upon the table before the prorogation?
Senator PLAYFORD. - I have not read the statement to which the honorable senator refers, but I shall make inquiries, and endeavour to comply with his request.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER’S REPORT.
Senator CLEMONS.- I should like to know whether the Minister of Defence is prepared to furnish honorable senators with copies of the very important report recently presented by the Public Service Commissioner? I understand that the report is available, but, so far as I am aware, no copies have been circulated among honorable senators.
Senator KEATING. -I laid the report upon the table on Monday last, and I now find that, although it is in print, it has not yet been circulated amongst honorable senators. If I had moved that the paper be printed it would, as a matter of course, have been circulated.
Senator CLEMONS. - Do I understand the Minister to say that the report has not been printed?
Senator KEATING. - The paper is in print, and I understood that senators had received copies of it.
Senator CLEMONS.- Are sufficient copies available for circulation; if so, why has not the report been circulated?
The PRESIDENT. - The Senate did not order the report to be printed, and I know nothing about the matter, except that I have seen the printed copy laid upon the table.
Senator KEATING. - The report has not been printed and circulated, because no order was made that it should be printed.
If copies are available they will be circulated.
Senator Col. NEILD. - Some little time ago, we passed a resolution to the effect that all printed documents should be circulated amongst honorable senators.
Senator CLEMONS.- Will the Minister see that copies of the report are circulated?
Senator KEATING. - The Government will take all the steps necessary to have the report circulated amongst honorable senators as soon as possible. If it will be of any assistance, I shall take the earliest opportunity to move that the report be printed, and then, as a matter of course, it will be circulated as a Senate paper. When I laid the report upon the table I saw that it was in print, and I stated, that, in view of that fact, I would notmove that it be printed.
The PRESIDENT. - With reference to the statement of Senator Neild, I may mention that upon the 20th June, the following resolution was passed by the Senate upon his motion : -
That copies of all official publications of the Commonwealth, particularly regulations, actual or proposed, issued or proposed to be issued under or by virtue of any Statute, should, upon publication, be forwarded to Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. The circulation of such papers is a matter over which the Government have control. Unless papers laid upon the table are ordered to be printed, the officers of the Senate have no control over them, and I do not think that they are at all blamable.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Senator Keating. - Shall I be in order in moving now that the document be printed so that the officers of the Senate may be able to circulate it at once?
Senator Clemons. - I object to that.
The PRESIDENT. - A motion to that effect could be moved after questions have been answered.
Senator Clemons. - I should object to that being done in any case. It is shifting the duty of the Government on to the officers of the Senate.
FEDERAL CAPITAL SITE.
Senator HIGGS. - I wish to ask Senator Neild a question with reference to a notice of motion that he has on the business paper for to-morrow. The motion proposes that the Government should take immediate action to give effect to clause 2 of the Seat of Government Act of 1904, which decrees that the Federal Capital shall be within seventeen miles of Dalgety. I wish to know whether the honorable senator will endeavour to influence his supporters not to debate the question at length, so that we may take a vote upon it before the session closes?
Senator Col. NEILD. - The honorable senator would be in order in addressing to me a question in relation to business upon the paper of which I had charge, but his question relates to the fulfilment of some conditions of the Constitution Act, of which I am not in charge, and, therefore. I am not in a position to answer his question.
– I wish to .ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, whether it is true that the mail van running between Adelaide and Melbourne is deficient in the conveniences necessary for the officers employed therein, and whether he will see that immediate, steps are taken to make good any shortcomings ?
– I know nothing of the circumstances, but will bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral to-day.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether there is any probability of the return, ordered some time ago, with regard to the cost of transferring officers from place to place, being presented before the prorogation takes place?
– I shall make inquiries, and inform the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– I should like to know when the Minister of Defence will be able to comply with the terms of the motion agreed to last night for the production of all correspondence relating to the appointment of new Justices of the High Court ?
– I shall endeavour to lay the correspondence upon, the table either to-day or to-morrow. I have asked for it, and I presume that it will be furnished during the course of the day.
Senator GUTHRIE directed attention to the fact that the s.s. Pocahontas, a vessel manned by Chinese and Malays, had been engaged in the coastal trade in. Australian waters at rates of wages lower than the rates ruling in the Commonwealth, and asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
If the Minister- has approved of the terms of the contract under which such Chinese and Malays are employed, or is it a part of the Government policy to allow the employment of cheap coloured labour on the Australian coast to the detriment of Australian citizens?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
The Minister has not approved of the terms of the contract under which the Chinese and Malay crew of the s.s. Pocahontas are employed. No such contract has been submitted for his approval. Further inquiries are now being made for the purpose of ascertaining whether any breach of the Contract Immigrants Act 1905 has been committed in connexion with this vessel.
Senator PLAYFORD laid on the table the following paper: -
Defence Regulations, Amendment of paragraph 168 of Military Financial and Allowance regulations, Statutory Rules 1906 No. 82.
– I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering clause 2.
Honorable senators will recollect that I promised not to fake the Bill out of the Committee stage until the draftsman had gone carefully through it to see if any alterations were required. I find that only two or three verbal amendments are necessary. They occur in paragraph a, subclause 2. At present the paragraph reads -
General certificates to be issued only to Pacific Island labourers, who shall prove to the satisfaction of the Minister-
We desire to make the paragraph read in the singular, so that it may conform to the remainder of the clause. The paragraph will then read as follows : -
General certificate to be issued only to a Pacific Island labourer, who proves to the satisfaction of the Minister-
– I tate this opportunity to say a word or two in reference to a statement published in a certain newspaper this morning, alluding to this Bill.
– Does the honorable senator think it necessary to take notice of criticism appearing in a newspaper ?
– I do in this case. There is no necessity on my part to attribute motives to any member of the Senate. Members on this side of the Chamber did not wish to put the mark of bastardy on children who would not be bastards according to the law’ of their own nationality. That is surely a sufficient reason for our voting as we did. ‘
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 2 -
After section 8 of the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901, the following section is inserted : - 8a. . . . (2) Certificates under this section shall be of two classes, namely -
General certificates to be issued only to Pacific Island labourers, who . shall prove to the satisfaction of the Minister - (i.) That he was introduced into Australia prior to the first day of September, One thousand eight hundred and seventy-nine ; or (Ki.) That, being married to a native of some island other than his own, he cannot be deported without risk to the life of either himself or his family ; or (iv.) That he has been married hefore the ninth day .of October, One thousand nine hundred and six, to a female not a native of. the Pacific Islands; or
Amendment by Senator Playford proposed -
That paragraph (a) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ [a) General certificate to be issued only to a Pacific Island labourer, who proves to the satisfaction of the Minister - “
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [11. 17]. - We already have one Bill before the Senate to correct the phraseology of an Act of Parliament, and we shall require another if the Bill passes in its present form. In paragraph 1 the pronoun “ he “ follows the word “ Minister,” so that it would, as drawn, mean that the Minister was1 “ introduced into
Australia.” As we have the Government seriously bringing down a Bill to correct a blunder about “ a public meeting in a newspaper,” we might as well make our grammar correct in this instance. But, perhaps, the Minister will prefer to bring, down another amending Bill next session?
– The paragraph referred to by the honorable senator might be made to read, “ Who, to the satisfaction of the Minister, shall prove.”
– It appears to me to be clear enough.
Amendment agreed to.
– An amendment appears to be required in paragraph in. to bring it into accord with the next paragraph as to the marriage, of the applicant. At present the paragraph isnot altogether contradictory, but it is an anomaly that we should require the marriage to be before a certain date in the one case, and not in another. I move -
That the word “being,” line 14, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ having been.”
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [11.20]. - I think the clause is rather awkwardly expressed. As it stands it deals with the case of a married man. As proposed to be altered it will deal with a1 widower. I do not know whether Senator Drake desires to extend the scope of the Bill, but his amendment will certainly have that, effect.
– There is no necessity for it.
– I shall at ali events vote for the amendment.
– The amendment is important, because in the absence of it this provision will lead, towhat was so. strongly deprecated yesterday - to hasty marriages being patched up with a view to securing exemption from deportation. Provided that the other conditions be complied with those who married on or before the 9th inst. will be exempt, but no one will be able to secure exemption by marrying after that date.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to-
That after the word “ married,” line 14, the words “ before the 9th day of October, 1906,” be inserted.
Amendment (by Senator Col. Neild) put-
That the word “ October,” line 21, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ November.”
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following words be added to paragraph (a) : - “ (v.a) That he has offspring who have been or are being educated in State or other schools.”
This is the proposal which was submitted by Senator Stewart yesterday and rejected ; and I should like to know what the policy of the Government is in regard to the matter.
– The policy of the Government is in opposition to what the honorable senator is proposing. I voted against the insertion of this paragraph last night.
– The Minister need not tell me what I know as a patent fact. I ask the honorable gentleman what the policy of the Government is, in view of the fact that he declined to accept this paragraph when proposed yesterday. There are kanaka children who have been educated in the State schools, and are now sixteen or twenty-one years of age; and in regard to these I do not desire to say much. But there are also children of thirteen or fourteen years of age who have just left school.
– We had the whole of this question discussed yesterday.
– I desire to know the policy of the Minister in regard to these matters. What is to be done with those children who have just left school, and are residing with their parents? And still more important is the question what should be done in the case of the children from six to twelve years of age who are being educated at the present time in the State schools? Are these children to be taken from the State schools and shipped off with their parents? Does the Minister still refuse to allow a certificate of exemption to be given in such cases?
– I shall not have to administer the Act.
– But surely we ought to know what the policy of Ministers is.
– The policy of Ministers is that laid down in the Bill.
– The Minister cannot evade the question in that way. The Prime Minister has promised over and over again that the kanakas shall be treated with the utmost consideration and kindness.
– And so they will be.
– Then I ask the Minister what his idea of kindness is ; and I think I have some right to an answer. The new paragraph I propose is one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, which sat in Queensland, and had before it the whole history of the kanakas. What right has the Minister to object to a paragraph of this kind without indicating an alternativepolicy ?
– It is very unfair on the part of Senator Dobson to submit this amendment at the present stage. It will be remembered that last night I did not take the Bill beyond the report stage, in order to give an opportunity for my officers to see whether, in the state in which it had left the Committee, any amendment or amendments were required. The action I took last night was certainly on the understanding that we should not have these questions debated all over again. As I say, the action of Senator Dobson is very unfair.
– -There is nothing unfair about my action.
– - I could have gone right on with the Bill last night.
– The Minister could not have done so.
– I left the opportunity to recommit the Bill only for the purpose of making necessary drafting amendments.
– What is the policy of Ministers to be in this matter?
– I cannot tell, because I shall not have to administer the Act. The Government are opposed to this exemption in connexion with school children, and the Prime Minister has said so. I read the Prime Minister’s statement as to how the measure would be administered; but I cannot go into every detail, because the administration will depend on the Minister of the Department. .
– Do I correctly understand the Minister to say that the Prime Minister stated in another place that this paragraph could not be accepted by the Government?
– I did not say that; I said I had read a statement of the Prime Minister in which he said he could not accept this paragraph.
– If the Minister will not accept the proposal I now make, will he accept a provision giving the Minister power to act “for such other reasons” as he thinks fit?
– No. That- question was also fought out last night.
– That provision was in the original Bill.
– The original Bill rested wholly on the will of the Minister, acting judicially and with kindly regard for the kanakas, according to the circumstances ofl each case. The Minister now absolutely ignores the principle on which his own Bill was based. I shall not believe, unless he assures me to the contrary, that the Prime Minister approves of the Bill in its amended form - a form most rigid - before we can possibly know the facts. However the Prime Minister may desire to act on humanitarian principles, he will find himself bound down by the Bill. The Minister administering the Act may have brought under his notice cases of great hardship - a man and his family may be on their knees to him under circumstances which would bring the whole of Parliament behind the Minister in granting a certificate - and yet no such step could be taken, owing to the rigidity imposed by the Bill.
– The Minister would still have power under the original Act.
– I am now told by Senator Drake that under the original Act the Minister would have power to grant a certificate.
– I did not say that the Minister would have power to grant a certificate; but in such a case as has been cited, with the whole of the people and Parliament behind him, he would not order deportation.
– Of course, we know that in politics a Minister can do anything if the whole of Parliament and the people are behind him.
– I am using the honorable senator’s own expression.
– There might be a case of hardship in which the Minister would like to grant a certificate, but might find himself unable to do so.
– And if the Prime Minister, for1 the time being, is a man, he will take the responsibility on his shoulders, and ask Parliament to back him up.
– May I say that if the leader of the Senate were a man he would see that in making the Bill as humanitarian as possible, he would be only carrying out the suggestions and principles of the Prime Minister. I ask the Minister what he proposes to do in the case of a kanaka with two or three children under twelve years of age being educated at a State school.
– Wait until the cases arise.
– The cases have arisen - they must arise. Honorable senators seem to forget that the proposal I make is among the recommendations of the Queensland Royal Commission.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia) [11.40]. - I wish to say just one word in explanation of the vote 1 am about to give. I have voted consistently with the minority on all the details of this Bill; but at this period of the session I deprecate a renewal of discussion on matters which have previously been fully discussed and decided by enormous majorities. I shall feel it my duty in this instance and in similar instances, if they should arise, to act in accordance with what is generally understood to be one of the duties of a presiding officer - to uphold the former decision of the Committee.
– I do not understand the honorable senator’s allusion.
– I am sure that every member of the Committee is as anxious as is the Minister to bring our proceedings to a close, but I hardly think the honorable senator was justified in making his charge of unfairness.
SenatorPlayford. - I think the course adopted is unfair, because if I had chosen I might have gone right on last night, and got through with the business.
– I should like to show why I think there is no justification for this charge of unfairness. The Minister must recognise that Senator Dobson and other members of the Committee feel very strongly with respect to certain of these proposals, and the honorable senator himself has by the course he adopted yesterday offered a premium to Senator Dobson or any other member of the Committee who desires to do so to bring these matters under further review. I say that there is every justification for what Senator Dobson has done in the Minister’s own action. It was only yesterday morning that he launched an amendment, and then within halfanhour changed his attitude regarding it, because of the discussion which took place. If that be so, surely Senator Dobson is justified in nursing the hope that he might adduce some arguments which will persuade the Minister even at the eleventh hour.
– There is no hope, because they come from the wrong source.
– Not because they come from the wrong source, but because they have the wrong backing. Having said so much in justification of the action taken by Senator Dobson, I wish now to say that T am not prepared to support his amend ment. I am one of those who on frequent occasions have had very strong grounds for declining to place too large a measure of power in the hands of a Minister of the Crown. On more than one occasion I have been supported in that view by Senator Dobson. When this Bill was introduced it contained a proposal leaving to the Minister absolute discretion to determine the reasons which would induce him to issue a certificate of exemption. The Committee believed it to be desirable to lay down principles which should guide the Minister in the issue of these certificates. We had two alternatives before us - one to give him an absolutely free hand, an open cheque, so to speak, and the other to give him his sailing orders. ‘We adopted the latter alternative, and in the various paragraphs of clause 2 we have set out the principles which are to regulate and control the issue of certificates. Having done that, it appears to me to be unnecessary, undesirable, and somewhat inconsistent to propose now to give the Minister the blank cheque, in addition to all these directions.
– I propose to refer to the statement made by Senator Baker a few minutes ago, and I am sorry that he should have left the Chamber. That statement was that in consequence of the late period of the session at which we have arrived he intended to vote in Committee as Senator Baker in the way in which he thought he ought to vote as a presiding officer. I am sorry that he is not present, because I am reluctant to misquote the honorable senator. I wish to quote him as accurately as possible, if not quite verbatim. The effect of his statement certainlv was that he intended, as Senator Baker, to vote as he ought to do as a presiding officer. I do not think we have ever heard a more extraordinary statement, even from Senator Baker or from the President. We certainly have had some abnormal instances lately of Senator Baker in his dual capacity as an honorable senator and President of the Senate.
– The honorable senator should not discuss Senator Baker.
– I intend to offer a few remarks on the subject.
– The honorable senator has no right to do so.
– What does Senator Dobson mean by saying that I have no right to do so?
– The honorable senator is not in order.
– I do not propose to take my marching orders from Senator Dobson.
– I take my sense of fairness from myself. I rise to a point of order. I submit that Senator Clemons is out of order in discussing anything that Senator Baker or the President has said apart from the particular matter before the Chair.
– I have listened carefully to what Senator Clemons has been saying, and I do not think he was out of order in what he said.
– I- should think not. It will be a. sorry day for the Senate when an honorable senator will be regarded as being out of order when he is proceeding to discuss fairly some comment made by another member of the Senate in Committee or from the Chair. It is a lamentable thing that during the whole of the latter part of the session we have found Senator Baker deciding when in Committee to. say and do what he ought to say and do when in the Chair, and when in the Chair as President deciding to do and say what he ought to do and say as Senator Baker in Committee. A more complete reversal of form and misunderstanding of a senator’s duty as a senator and as President of the Senate I do not suppose one of us will ever see, however long he remains a member of the Senate.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted, be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause further amended consequentially, and agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill has been introduced to correct a verbal error in our electoral law. Senator Pearce wished to effect the same object in a Bill introduced earlier in the session, the main purpose of which was to provide for the use of voting machines. Section 180- of the Act of 1902, as amended by an Act of last session, deals with illegal electoral practices, that portion which it is now proposed to amend reading -
In addition to bribery and undue influence, the following shall be illegal practices : -
Any publication of any electoral advertisement other than an advertisement announcing the holding of a meeting in a newspaper, handbill, or pamphlet, or any issue of any electoral notice, without at the end thereof the name and address of the person authorizing the same, etc.
We propose to strike out the words “ other than an advertisement announcing the holding of a meeting in a newspaper,” and to insert in lieu thereof, between parentheses, the words ‘ ‘ other than an advertisement in a newspaper announcing the holding of a meeting.” Paragraph a will then read -
Any publication of any electoral advertisement (other than an advertisement in a newspaper announcing the holding of a meeting), handbill, or pamphlet.
This is merely a verbal or drafting alteration, designed to put the section into proper grammatical form. No question of principle is involved.
– If the intention is to put the section into proper grammatical form, and to get rid of some defects which have become apparent, the framers. of the Bill might have taken the trouble to see that their proposal would do what it is intended to do. To my mind, the amendment will not cure the defect pointed out by Senator Keating but, if adopted, will make the provision worse. A re-arrangement of words is proposed, which has been made without close refer- ence to the section in which these words are to be embodied. I think that there was no necessity for the amendment, because there is no ambiguity in the section as now worded. Apparently, the wits have been chaffing the Government about the expression “ holding of a meeting in a newspaper “ ; but the words which the Govern- . ment now wish to insert are faulty in grammatical construction,since they make it appear that it is a newspaper, or an advertisement in a newspaper, which announces the holding of a meeting, when it is the person authorizing the advertisement who does so. We must further consider the effect of inserting these words immediately before the. word “handbill.” The amendment, if made, would reduce the section to nonsense, because there would be no connexion remaining then between the latter and the first part of the paragraph. What I propose to do is to put the provision into grammatical form, as honorable senators may see, if they will refer to the amendment I have circulated. It avoids the errors which have been committed by the draftsman!. The matter hardly seems to be of sufficient importance to justify the bringing in of the Bill, but if we intend to correct the grammar of section 180, then we ought not to send down to the other House a provision which would invite criticism.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 180 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902 as amended by the ‘Commonwealth Electoral Act 1905, is amended by omitting from paragraph a the words “ other than an advertisement announcing the holding of a meeting in a newspaper” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ (other than an advertisement in a newspaper announcing the holding of a meeting)”
– I think that the wording of the proposed alteration is defective, because, strictly speaking, it would read that the newspaper announced the holding of the meeting, which, of course, is incorrect. Again, if we take in the words “ an advertisement in a newspaper “ that also is incorrect, because it is not the advertisement in the newspaper which announces the holding of the meeting. I submit that the proposed re-arrangement of the wording of section 180 is still faulty, because it does not exactly express the meaning of the Legislature. I move -
That all the words after the word “inserting,” in line 6, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ after the word ‘ notice,’ the words’ (other than the announcement by advertisement in a newspaper of the holding of a meeting).’ “
If my amendment were agreed to, paragraph a, of section 180, would then read -
Any publication of any electoral advertisement, handbill, or pamphlet, or any issue of any electoral notice (other than the announcement by advertisement in a newspaper of the holding of a meeting) without at the end thereof the name and address of the person authorizing the same, etc.
I think that if the Minister will look at my amendment he will see that it conveys the meaning of the draftsman.
– Perhaps the wording of. Senator Drake’s amendment is better than that of the proposed alteration. I have no objection to it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to. .
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
Debate resumed from 8th October (vide page 6226), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– At the outset I should like to remind honorable senators of the circumstances under which this Bill has come before us. I think that they are worthy of the consideration of honorable senators, particularly in their relation to future Appropriation Bills. We all understood that Parliament was to be prorogued on the 28th September, but this Bill was not read a first time in the Senate until the 1st inst. I do not think it is necessary for me to emphasize that position, but I should like tomake a few observations with regard to what I consider is the proper . procedure to be adopted by the Senate, no matter what Ministry may be in” power, with respect to Appropriation Bills. We have every right to’ demand and expect reasonable time for the consideration of an Appropriation Bill, and I consider that such a measure should come before us at least one month before the close of the session. I think, further, that we should defer the consideration of the general provisions of the Bill until after the schedule has been disposed of. If such a course were adopted honorable senators would have a full opportunity to carefully scrutinize all the details of the schedule, and we should have the power to withhold the Bill - a dangerous one, as every one will admit - until every other important measure had been disposed of. Whilst I have no particular reason to hope that this suggestion will be adopted, I would unge that it would be for the benefit of all parties in the House if it were followed. I can the more freely express myself, because there is some degree of uncertainty as to what Ministry will be in power next session, and as to which senators will be respectively supporting the Government and sitting in opposition. If the course suggested by me were adopted, it would conduce to a better recognition of the powers and privileges of the Senate, and would certainly enable us to give proper consideration to an important measure. I do not intend tq speak at any length upon the present occasion, because I recognise that much may be said and done in Committee. But there are certain matters of great public importance and interest with which it is- appropriate to deal at this stage. It is a singular coincidence that, when the Minister moved the second reading of the Bill, two important dates fixed upon by the framers of the Constitution should have -been reached. The Minister of Defence moved the second reading of the Bill upon the very day on which the arrangement with regard to the Western Australian Special Tariff terminated, and also upon the very day on which it came within the power of Parliament to put an end to the operation of section 93 of the Constitution, known as the bookkeeping section. I regret that during the whole course of the Minister’s interesting speech he did- not even mention the term “bookkeeping.” He made no reference, direct or indirect, to the provision to which I have directed attention. I venture to say that no provision in the Constitution, has been the subject of- more debate, and that there is no section to which we ought to devote more serious consideration.
– From a Tasmanian point of view.
– No, not from a Tasmanian point of view. I hate to hear that note struck in the course of our debates here.
– My statement is true.
– It is not true.
– The obligation to consider the section is surely general.
– I should think so, and I am astonished that Senator Walker cannot consider an important provision of the Constitution without making special reference to some particular State. I wish that he could follow the worthy example of one of the best representatives of his own State in another place. I refer to Mr. Dugald Thomson.
– Ask the representatives of Western Australia what they think about it.
– The honorable senator has an example in the gentleman referred to which he would do well to follow. I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators, and especially of those who believe in protectionist principles, to the provisions of section 93, and to ask them to consider what thev mean. The section provides -
The duties of Customs, chargeable on goods imported into a State, and afterwards passing into another State for consumption, and the duties of Excise paid on goods produced or manufactured in a State, and afterwards passing into another State for consumption, shall be taken to have been collected, not in the former, but in the latter State.
I wish to deal with the two sub-sections separately. The provision which I have quoted was inserted as a means of gently letting down those States whose finances might be disorganized bv the immediate taking over of the Customs duties by the Federal authorities.
– And in view of the inequality which was known to exist.
– Precisely, and, of course, in view of the diverse opinions held with regard to revenue or protective duties in the various States. I am dealing with Customs duties only, and I think that the meaning of the clause is perfectly clear. It means that any State which is a large consumer of imported articles shall, so far as the Customs revenue is concerned, obtain the benefit of such consumption. That is the full intent and purpose of .the clause, and that object has been carried out. There are some States in the Commonwealth - -certainly there is more than one - whose finances are, to say the least of it, disorganized, and whose financial position is one of very great difficulty. Let us assume, for a moment, that any member of this Parliament anxious to discharge his duties here, but, as he ought to be, also anxious, as a citizen of his State, to help its condition financially, were to address himself to the question on’ public platforms and elsewhere - giving publicity so far as he could to all his statements - to the following effect : - “ The finances of this State are in serious trouble. Local taxation is rendered day after day more necessary, and the incidence of it is pressing with still greater hardship on the citizens of this Slate. There is a right directly open to every one in the State, which may be asserted if the taxpayers choose. That is to say, that under the bookkeeping section of the Constitution this State mav derive a very large additional amount of revenue from the Commonwealth if its citizens will decide to buy and consume imported articles to the fullest extent of their power.” Such is the position, at the present time, and it will continue so long as the bookkeeping section remains.
– The honorable senator means oversea imports?
– Naturally. When referring to imports from other States I should allude to them as transfers. It is a convenient distinction. So long as this bookkeeping section remains, what I have pointed out must be obvious - that a tremendous difference might be made to the revenue of a State without increasing the cost to the consumer, by its citizens determining to take every advantage - I put it in no other way - of the bookkeeping section .
– They do it in Victoria by using sugar imported from abroad.
– I know that they do it, but I would rather not instance anyparticular State as an offender. I invite the Senate to consider the matter in a Federal way, and to look at what it really and truly means, and the uses to which the section might be put. I am perfectly certain that I shall find no member of the Senate, no matter what his views are either on the broad subject of taxation or on the more special subject of free-trade and protection, who will say for a moment that it would not be a disastrous and a bad thing that any State should be encouraged to put the bookkeeping section to such a use. Because when we have all done with talking about free-trade and protection, surely we can be unanimous as to this point - that the real way to help along industries is not so much by means of heavy protective duties as by encouraging our own people to give practical monetary support to them. That, after all, makes an industry, and in the absence of that support it will surely be marred. It is for that reason, amongst many others, that I most strongly object to the perpetuation of the bookkeeping section so far as it applies to duties of Customs. How easy would it be for any member of this Parliament to point out to the electors of his State that if they wish to escape serious local taxation, all that they have to do is to consume imported goods ! I am sorry to say that in many cases it is quite possible, at the present time, for such a member of Parliament to say, “ When you do consume imported goods you will not generally pay more for them;” because, in spite of protectionist statements, it is a fact that with regard to many goods, the consumer pays practically the same price whether they are locally made or imported. Under these circumstances honorable senators will realize the danger. Any one can say to the consumer, “ It is a matter of no importance to von whether you buy imported or Australian goods, provided you are able to buy them at the same price ;. but if you buy imported goods you will have a .reaction strongly in your favour when it comes to the imposition of taxation on incomes, or to a land tax, or an ability tax, or, it may be, a municipal tax.” If the possibility of such a thing be fairly pointed out the desirableness of doing away with the bookkeeping section, so far as Customs duties are concerned, is surely patent; and I do regret that the Minister of Defence, and the members of the Government in the other House, have shelved this question almost entirely. I find amongst the Budget papers circulated by the Treasurer a reference to it, which is much shorter than the references made by the Treasurer to any of the other financial questions that we have to deal with. He practically dismisses it with the assertion that it would be desirable to postpone an consideration of the matter until the year 1910. Why should we postpone its consideration? I think it is a matter of great regret that the present Parliament is going to end without the matter being, if not finally decided, at any rate, dealt with largely in the direction of a final decision. The operation of the section is continuing untouched, and so far as the Treasurer is concerned we have the indication from him that, in his opinion, it ought not even to be dealt with until the year 1910 - that it ought to remain precisely as it is now without any steps being taken to consider it. That is not a statement that reflects favorably on the Federal spirit either of the Treasurer or any one else concerned. The section is absolutely opposed to the whole doctrine of protection. It fights against it because it compels those people who wish to support Australian industries to put up with additional taxation on account of them. That is simply a statement of fact. Let me look at the question in the least important way, though it is a point of view which deserves the consideration of every one. It has been admitted on all sides, and by every Minister of Customs whom we have had, that the perpetuation of the bookkeeping section creates an infinity of difficulty. It creates almost unsurmountable obstacles in the way of proper administration. The additional expense that it entails on the Commonwealth is very large. If, then, the carrying out of the bookkeeping section in. a proper way is so difficult, if it involves so much expense, every Minister of Trade and Customs, and every Treasurer, will also readily admit that adequate justice is not secured under it.
– Does the honorable senator contend that if we abolished the bookkeeping section to-day we should therefore reduce the number of hands in the Public Service?
– I certainly think we should.
– The honorable senator is certainly optimistic !
– That may or may not be so. I assume, at any rate, that we should have more people to do the work that has to be done. The work entailed by the bookkeeping section is tremendous.
– By its abolition we might reduce the work without reducing the « expenditure.
– I should hope that ultimately we should reduce expenditure. It is admitted that the section cannot be carried out with anything more than approximate accuracy. At present States which consume goods previously imported into another State do not receive anything like the revenue they ought to obtain in respect of the duties imposed upon these goods. There is a considerable leakage. The amount returned, say to Queensland, the consuming State, in respect of Customs duties on goods previously imported into Victoria or New South Wales, is nothing like as large as rt would be if the transaction could be exhaustively inquired into. Every Minister has admitted that that is so, and I hold therefore that the question of what should take the place of section 93 should have been considered before this. With regard to duties of Excise, my first objection disappears, although in the case of Customs duties a difficulty of administration arises, and much trouble is experienced in tracing the amounts obtained from them to their proper sources. Still. I have not so much objection to the Excise as I have to the Customs duties, because the State which benefits bv the distribution of the revenue obtained from them under the bookkeeping system must be encouraging the manufacture and production of certain articles within the Commonwealth. If Queensland under the bookkeeping, section were receiving more than appeared to be her proper proportion of the revenue from Excise duties, it could be at once said that she was in one respect discharging a loyal duty to the whole Commonwealth - that she was endeavouring to support Australian industries. The larger the revenue obtained by her in respect of the Excise duties the more certain we should be that she was supporting Australian production.
– What do the imports show? Western Australia, which has the largest volume of imports from beyond the Commonwealth, is at the same time the greatest consumer of Australian-made articles. That being so, the honorable senator’s argument falls to the ground.
– It certainly does not. The honorable senator, no doubt, wishes to call attention to the fact that if a per capita distribution were substituted for the bookkeeping system, the revenue of Western Australia would suffer.
– It would make a difference of ,£300,000 per annum.
– The additional revenue which Western Australia secures under the bookkeeping system runs into many hundreds of thousands of pounds, and is by no means traceable to the fact thai she consumes a larger pproportion of excisable articles than do the other States. It does not show that she consumes more spirits or tobacco of local manufacture than does any other State. I have gone into the figures, and have no hesitation in inviting Senator de Largie to make a complete analysis of them. If he does he will find that the major part of the additional revenue which Western Australia derives under the bookkeeping ssystem is due to the fact that she imports a much larger proportion of articles subject to Customs duties than does any other State.
– Will the honorable senator deny my assertion that Western Australia also consumes a larger quantity of Australian products than does any other State?
– I accept the honorable senator’s statement with the greatest pleasure since it shows that if. a per capita distribution were substituted for the bookkeeping system Western Australia would not suffer a loss of one farthing of her revenue.
– She would.
– Surely the honorable senator must recognise that if Western Australia at the present time consumes absolutely nothing except Australian productions, the bookkeeping section cannot be of any benefit to her.
– But we know that she does consume imports from beyond the Commonwealth .
– - Precisely and I repeat that the benefit she derives from the continuation of the bookkeeping section must be in proportion to her consumption of goods that are subject to import duties. If there were no conflict of interests as between the various States, the abolition of the bookkeeping provisions would be unanimously desired by the States.
– It is a big “if.”
– Quite so; but, so far, I have endeavoured merely to point out the want of justification for continuing that provision. Any State which demands that it .shall be continued must do so on the ground that it is going to import from abroad more than some other States, and wishes to receive the benefit of such importations. On that .plea alone can the retention of the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution be supported. If any honorable senator urges that the continuation of this system can be justified on such a ground, I shall ask him not to indulge in what I am almost competed to describe as hypocrisy, by asserting that he is a protectionist. I would say to him, “ Do not urge that you aare anxious to impose protective duties when you are doing your best to encourage your own State to import from abroad.”
– But the bookkeeping system must be done away with at some time or other.
– That is so, and it should have ceased the day before yesterday. -But for this conflict of interest, every one would agree that the bookkeeping provisions are absolutely repugnant to the federal spirit, and ought not to be found in a Federal Constitution. I shall deal presently with the expenditure side of the question. Perhaps I may say shortly that, whereas the bookkeeping section provides for a distribution of revenue according to the consumption of the goods on which it is collected in each of the States, we have also in the Constitution a provision dealing with expenditure, and that it has been assumed that, whilst the new expenditure should be on a per capita basis, that incurred in connexion with the transferred properties should be limited, or hampered to a certain extent. I venture to assert, even if the accusation applies to every Commonwealth Ministry that has been in office, that the method of expenditure from time to time has been subject to the caprice of Ministers for the time being. It has never been systematically dealt with. This Appropriation Bill. like its predecessors, contains flagrant instances of the violation of every principle so far as expenditure is concerned. I intend in Committee to give honorable senators an opportunity to consider the total want of system with regard to expenditure.
– Is the honorable senator specially referring to Tasmania n cablegrams.
– I shall refer to that subject in Committee, and I do not wish to do so now. I intend to point out glaring anomalies and hopeless inconsistencies, which not even the ingenuity of Senator Millen would be able to reconcile.
– I have pointed out one which I do not seek to reconcile.
– I believe Senator Millen is with me in desiring to bring about some kind of uniformity. There is another financial question that is very much in evidence at the present time, when then is proceeding a Conference of the States Premiers in Melbourne. We have been inundated with papers from various, shall I say eminent, authorities on finance. At any rate, we have been inundated with papers from various authorities on finance who wish to be eminent. The question I refer to is that of the States debts. The discussions of the Conference, and the papers that have been circulated, seem to be centred, not on the point of whether much benefit is going ‘to accrue from taking over the States debts, but of what method should be adopted for bringing about the consolidation of the debts, having regard to the state qf the money market. In other words, . what is to be considered is not the desirability of the scheme itself, but the means and methods for best carrying out that scheme. We should, however, first of all satisfy ourselves that it is desirable to take over the States debts. That question has been almost entirely ignored, and all the talk is as to what would be the most practical method, having regard to the very intricate conditions of the moneymarket. I have the greatest doubt as to whether it is desirable for the Commonwealth to take over the States debts; indeed, I might go much further, and saythat, in my opinion, such a step is not desirable.
– That is, not at once.
– Not only not at once, but I cannot see that time will make the step any the more desirable. I cannot conceive anything that may transpire in the next ten or twenty years which would make it more desirable to take over the States debts.
– If the Commonwealth refused to give the States back a portion of the Customs and Excise revenue, the States would be in a difficulty. Faith should be kept.
– With all respect to Senator Fraser, I say that that is altogether a separate question from the one which I am now discussing. Even if there were some small financial gain to be secured by the Commonwealth taking over the debts of the States, there would be a tremendous “risk of our changing the Federation into a unification.
– It would be one step towards unification.
– If the Commonwealth takes over the debts, we shall necessarily have gone far towards unification. Any one who considers this question seriously for a moment is bound to realize the truth of that view.
– No doubt; there must be a re-adjustment.
– That is another question ; and, as soon as I hear “ no doubt,” I cannot but regard the taking over of the debts as a most dangerous step.
– lt was always supposed that the .Commonwealth credit would be better than the credit of the States.
– It was never supposed by those who had Federation at heart that the Federation would be permitted to degenerate - for that is what it means - into unification.
– Unification would not necessarily follow.
– There is the great danger. If we take over the whole of the debts in what position will the States be? We shall have to say to the States that, having taken over the debts, it is absolutely necessary that there should also be handed over some concrete security for the payment of the principal, as well as of the interest.
– We have the Customs and Excise revenue.
– The Customs and Excise revenue is not adequate.
– Not quite.
– But very nearly.
- Senator Fraser may speak for his own State ; but I can saythat in the case of Tasmania the Customs and Excise revenue is inadequate by £100,000 at least.
– And more in the case of Queensland.
– Precisely. -The Braddon section means that three-fourths of the net Customs and Excise revenue shall be handed over to the States; but I feel certain the day is coming when that three-fourths will be of very little importance to the States. What is there to prevent a reduction of the Customs and Excise revenue as a result of a policy of protection in Australia?
– Hear, hear !
– Senator Findley says “ Hear, hear ! “ I arn not welcoming such an event, but anticipating it. I recognise that the day may come when the three-fourths of the revenue under the Braddon section will be of very little value to the States.
– There will always be a large quantity of imports ; if there are exports there must be imports.
– I am afraid Senator Fraser cannot rely on that. If protection increases in the Commonwealth, and the tendency at present is in that direction, it will surely merge into prohibition. The three-fourths of the revenue handed over to the States under the Braddon section will then be a diminishing quantity.
– There is also the likelihood that the increase of local manufactures may tend to reduce the revenue.
– Precisely. That being so, the argument that if we take over the debts there will not be much interference with the States finances, because, after all, the Commonwealth will retain sufficient under the Braddon section to enable it to pay interest on the debts, is of no particular value.
– We can increase the Excise.
– It is no use talking of the Excise - the Excise will not supply anything like the requisite revenue. If the Treasurer gives serious consideration to the. amount involved in the States debts, and to the interest that has to be paid, he will see that the day may easily come - in fact, he ought to see that it is coming - when the three-fourths will be of little value as security for the interest.
– I do not see that.
– That is an assumption which I must make for the. sake of my argument; and in making the assumption I think I ami on perfectly safe ground. I remind honorable senators that the Braddon section is strictly limited to Customs and Excise - it does not touch any other form of taxation. If the Commonwealth chose to impose other forms of taxation, there would be no Braddon section to secure three-fourths of the revenue derived therefrom to the States. If, for instance, the Commonwealth chose to impose a heavy land or income tax, the States would have no revenue to offer from that source as a security to the Commonwealth for- the interest on the debts. Under the circumstances, what will be the inevitable result if the Commonwealth takes over the debts? Surely it will be seen now I am justified in the statement I made a little while ago that the inevitable tendency of such a step must be towards unification. If the Commonwealth takes over the States debts, it must, I repeat, take over some States assets as security. In other words, it would be necessary to divert from the exclusive control of the States some valuable assets and’ sources of revenue. The Commonwealth would have to be the supreme authority.
– The Commonwealth would be almost in the position of a mortgagee in possession.
– That is so; and just so far as the Commonwealth takes over from the States the power to raise revenue still, reserved to the States, so we shall be proceeding in the direction of unification. We have only to carry the argument a little further, step by step, as the years go on, and it will be found that if we take over the States debts the inevitable result will be that additional powers will have to be taken from the States, and the Commonwealth must become practically one great centralized authority. That cannot be brought about without destroying, to a great extent, the value of the Constitution by which we are now governed. Therefore, on the question of the transfer of the States debts, I take the very serious view that while there might be some financial benefit accruing from their being dealt with as a whole by the Commonwealth, the danger and menace to the States would be very serious. In the circumstances, I see no reason for attaching any special importance to the question as one for immediate consideration, and I should be inclined to do my utmost to prevent the Commonwealth having anything to do with the debts at the present time.
– We must have a readjustment of the existing financial position first.
– Undoubtedly, I should like the Senate to consider the course proposed with respect to the Braddon section in contrast with the silence maintained by the Government on the subject of the bookkeeping provisions. Within the last week or two a determined effort has been made, in the proposal to alter the Constitution to enable special duties to be levied, to- infringe the Braddon section, although under the Constitution it is provided that for ten years it was to be inviolate. That was certainly an attempt to interfere with the essential principle of the Braddon section, and to divert a part of the revenue derived from Customs and Excise taxation, to some purpose desired by the Commonwealth ; but, so far as we know, not desired by the States. In regard to the bookkeeping provisions, we are now told by the Treasurer not only that the Government do not propose to alter, interfere with, modify, or improve them, as we were, under the Constitution, deliberately invited to do on the 8th October, 1906, but that, in his opinion, they must remain as they are for five years more. That is a dangerous attitude for the Treasurer to take up so far as the weaker States, financially, are concerned.
– Those provisions will be changed in spite of the right honorable gentleman.
– I hope so. Certainly, so far as anything I can do will bring about the abolition of the bookkeeping provisions, it will be done if I am a member of the Senate in the next Parliament.
– I am afraid the honorable senator will be howling in a wilderness for many years to come.
– The wilderness will not be uninhabited
– I shall pass away from these financial questions, but I cannot help commenting upon a remark made by Senator Playford with respect to the revenue to be derived from Customs duties. I am sure the honorable senator must have recognised that he made a slip when he said that we were likely to get more revenue in the future because we had increased the duties.
– The Treasurer said that also.
– It must have hurt some of our (protectionist friends to have heard the Treasurer say so, because nothing could be more contrary to their reasonable anticipations.
– It was peculiar reasoning for a protectionist.
– It must be very cold comfort indeed for the protectionist supporters of the Government to be told that additional revenue is expected as the result of the increased duties on harvesters, or on anything else. The hope of every honest protectionist is that, by increasing duties, we shall decrease revenue, since their desire is to decrease importations.
– Every protectionist hopes that the Customs revenue will be decreased, whether the duties are increased or not, because increased Customs revenue must mean a* decrease in local manufacture.
– That is especially (the case, if he thinks it necessary to add something to existing Customs duties. Before I leave financial questions, I shouldlike to say that, if honorable senators will compare these Estimates with those for preceding years, they will certainly find evidence of the increase in expenditure, of which the Federal Parliament is always accused outside. Our hope is that we can. justify our expenditure, and that is why, I always invite the closest scrutiny of anAppropriation Bill. I do not say that the accusation to which I have referred is one which we need necessarily resent, unless we cannot justify our expenditure on economical and reasonable grounds. The accusationof extravagance is made everywhere, the States make it, and every State Premier is fond of making it, and, since it is made,, we should put ourselves in a position to> repel it. We should satisfy ourselves that there is no item of expenditure included in the enormous schedule to this Bill which has not a sound justification, and is not warranted by economical or other good reasons. I think the schedule requires careful scrutiny, as, in mv opinion, it contains items of expenditure which might be cut down as having no economical justification. From Senator PI ay ford’s summary of the position, it would appear that, during the current year, our expenditure is estimated to amount to £500,000 more than that for last .vear. With that additional expenditure, we have to face a decreasing revenue, because we are likely to get less from Customs and Excise duties. We know that the revenue from Customs and Excise duties has been decreasing. I venture to go further, and- assert that there is anundisguised desire bv a strong party in this Chamber, and in another place, to make it decrease. I recognise, however, that this is all the more reason why we should scrutinize every item of expenditure with the verv greatest care and attention. Senator Stewart, I know, would approve of a decrease of revenue from this source, and I can rely upon him to join with me and any other honorable senator in an honest effort to keep our expenditure within reasonable bounds. I shall reserve any further remarks I have to make on questions of finance to the Com- ‘mittee stage. The Bill contains many indications of policv. and feeling, strongly, as I do, on the question of Defence, I propose to say something on that subject, especial I v in view of the fact that the Minister of Defence has a seat in the Senate.
Silting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I think, sir, that there ought to be more senators here. [Quorum formed.’] This is not by any means the first time when I have attempted to advocate that more attention should be ‘ paid to naval defence. It may be of interest to contrast the expenditure on military defence during the last five years with thaton naval defence. I have read the report of the Committee of Naval Officers of the Commonwealth on the memorandum of the Imperial Defence Committee. I recognise that Senator Playford is, at any rate in spirit, very much with those who consider that more attention ought to be paid to the question of naval defence. On. more than one occasion he has expressed his willingness to do as much as could be reasonably expected of him to further that object. For that much I am grateful to him; but I am sorry that the time for action has still to be postponed.’ Perhaps it would not be fair for me to attempt to blame him for that position. I recognise that it is a difficult question with which he is confronted, especially in view of the financial position. While he may, quite as strongly as I or any one else, say_ that we ought to embark on a policy of naval defence, at the same time, inasmuch as the expenditure of a large sum would necessarily be involved in bringing such a scheme to anything approaching perfection, he is not perfectly free to come down, at any rate this session, with definite proposals. If he considers that any criticism I am offering may seem a little unfair. I hope he will understand that I do not mean to be unfair, but wish to recognise the limitations to which he is subject. I regret that the Estimates indicate no change in the policy” of the Government. We see very little difference between the expenditure proposed for this year on military and naval defence and that which we have sanctioned in previous years. I believe that what many of us think is adequately expressed in the following conclusion, arrived at by the Committee of Naval Officers : -
We consider that the present condition of the Naval Forces calls for immediate decision, either to abolish them and accept in toto the recommendations of the Committee of Imperial Defence, or to initiate a policy of advance.
In support of that conclusion the following comments are made in paragraph 32 : -
The condition of the Commonwealth Naval Forces was made the subject of special remarks in the Naval Director’s Report for 1905. It was there stated that the vessels were old and obsolete, and the officers’ list so attenuated as to be on the verge of collapse.
This state of affairs remains, and is being accentuated by increasing difficulty in getting ammunition ‘ that has gone out of manufacture owing to the out-of-date armament. The defence value of the Commonwealth Naval Forces, through no fault of their _own making, is approaching the vanishing point.
The condition of the Commonwealth Naval Service is one that calls for early attention. Unless it is intended to initiate at an early date a policy of development and’ advance, it will be better to abolish the service altogether. To continue as at present gives no adequate return for the cost of maintenance.
Those are very strong remarks, but I think that they are abundantly justified. What they practically say is that, not only now, but for some years, 1 the condition of naval defence has been such that the money spent has been wasted - that for some years the expenditure should have been discontinued, or a new policy adopted. I wonder when ihe Commonwealth will realize that the money has been wasted year by year. If we could point with any sense of satisfaction to the expenditure of a ridiculouslysmall sum on the Naval Forces, the position would be much better; but here we are told in unmistakable terms that even the annual expenditure of ,£50,000 or £60,000 has been largely wasted. That is a reflection on every one of us. I am prepared to take my share of the blame. The only amendment we can make is to decide at once that the waste shall be stopped. My alternative is a policy of development and advance in naval matters. I admit that the time is rapidly coming when the Commonwealth will have to decide what is the total sum which it can afford to spend on defence, and when that question has been settled, whether it will or will not be necessary to cut down the military expenditure. I believe that the Minister recognises that position too. I sympathize with him in his difficulty. So long as he maintains in regard to naval defence an attitude of which I can approve, I shall offer him all the help I can to cut down the expenditure on the military services. I come to that conclusion with some reluctance, because I recognise that at least 90 per cent, of our Military Forces derive practically no monetary benefit from serving the Commonwealth, but are merely reimbursed their actual expenses.
– It is quite enough.
– It may be quite enough.
– We cannot afford any more.
– The position I am forced to consider is that, though the men deserve to be reimbursed their expenses in showing their patriotism and loyalty to Australia, it is a little, if not very, hard to say to them, “ Although you are only getting recouped your bare expenses, although you are ‘not making any profit out of your military services to the Commonwealth, still we intend to cut down that which you do get.” That is a difficult position to face, and that is why I approach with great reluctance the question of cutting down the military expenditure. The difference in the expenditure on the Naval and Military Forces is simply ridiculous. On an average we spend on our Military Forces about £650,000 a year, while on our naval forces we waste between £50,000 and £60,000 a year, omitting, of course, our contribution of £200,000 to the Imperial Navy. If I were asked to-day to say whether, in my opinion, the defence of Australia could be more adequately secured by voting £650,000 for naval defence, and £50,000 for military defence, I should say “Yes.”
– It is very questionable.
– I am not trying to impose my views upon any ona.
– Does the honorable senator think that our £650,000 fleet would be able to cope with the fleet of a great power ?
– But I do not think that will ever be asked for; and that is why I shall always regard the Australian contribution to the Imperial Navy as being justified. Nothing will induce me to alter my opinion on that subject. If necessary, I would vote to increase our contribution, though I hope I shall not be asked to do so, owing to the financial exigencies of the Commonwealth. Senator Stewart asks me whether I consider that an expenditure of -£650,000 per annum on naval defence would enable Australia to cope with one of the great Powers of Europe? I reply that we are enabled to cope with that danger by the payment of the miserable sum of £200,000 a year. We have, by that means, a guarantee, such as has never been given to any country before in the history of the civilized world, that no hostile navy shall endanger- Australia. But I have never considered that that contribution ended the matter of naval defence. I have always thought that we should do more towards the creation of an Australian Navy, always having regard to our financial limitations.
– Does the honorable senator think that if we inaugurated a scheme of naval defence on the lines of Captain Creswell’s recommendation, Parliament would any longer vote the subsidy to the British Navy?
– I have not any doubt about it.
– The Bill for the payment of the subsidy was only carried by a very narrow majority.
– I do not think that that has anything to do with it. The objection to the payment of the contribution to the Imperial Navy was that it would be regarded as ending the question of naval defence. I should regard the contribution as being put in a safer position so far as the votes of honorable senators were concerned, if we were at the same time ourselves spending £600,000 or £700.000 a year on an Australian Navy.
– The honorable senator is sanguine.
– I do not know whether I am sanguine or not, but I think that there are honorable senators who will admit that their objection to a contribu-tion to the Imperial Navy would be weakened if they were sure that we were noi going to rely entirely upon the British Navy.
– The idea, was that we should provide our own naval defence.
– I say that we cannot. I cannot conceive it possible that for fifty or 100 years to come, Australia: can adequately provide for her own naval defence to meet all possible attacks by a big European, or even, in the light of recent developments, by a big Asiatic Power.
– Can we provide for our own land defence?
– I think that our land defence at the present time is costing us too much. I say so with all respect to those loyal men who are giving the Commonwealth their services in a military sense without fee or reward. I say advisedly, “ all honour to them.” It cannot, at any rate, be said that we in Australia have created a band of mercenaries to defend us. I do not wish to be misunderstood upon that point. I give our military men every credit for what they are doing, because I know that 90 per cent, of them are deriving no pecuniary advantage. But that is another question. So far as adequate defence is concerned, our Military Forces do not provide it.
-Can we provide it? An adequate land force is within our power.
– I reply at once that if we had 100,000 men we should not have taken the proper steps to defend Australia. Australia must be defended bv sea.
– But we cannot afford a fleet.
– I am unwilling to accept the position that we cannot afford it..
– Where should we get the sailors from?
– From Australia, I hope.
– We could not.
– Senator Zeal has touched upon a point that to my mind is the most attractive in connexion with the whole scheme. Suppose we were all heartily in accord as to the desirableness of doing something more in the matter of Australian defence. Suppose that we wished to play our proper part in the defence of the Empire. How, I ask, can we in the light of all that we know at present do better in that direction than we can by providing seamen?
– If we can get them.
– I should be very sorry to accept that position at once without making an effort. I hope we can get them. From my point of view the occupation of a seaman is a much finer one for anv man who desires to participate in the defence of the country than that of a. member of the Military Forces.
– Suppose we took an adequate number of sailors from the mercantile marine, how could it be carried on ?
– I do not think it necessary to take them away from other sources of supply. In establishing a Naval Force in the Commonwealth, I do not think that it would be necessary to denude our mercantile marine. I hope that we should be able to find men from other classes, and I think we could. At any rate, I am not prepared on that ground to abandon the hope. I shall avail myself of any opportunity that offers to cut down wherever I can in any reasonable way our present military expenditure. I shall try to avoid cutting down the bare allowance to a large proportion of our men. Subject only to that limitation, wherever I can see a way I will assist to reduce the military Estimates. But at the same time I am prepared to vote for a considerable increase for our Naval Forces. I will not dwell upon that subject any longer. I hope and believe that the time is coming, when the members of the Senate, at any rate, will recognise that we absolutely must prevent any more sheer waste, even to the extent of the , £50,000, on naval matters, but must provide for the more effectual defence of Australia even though it necessitates spending more. When we get into Committee I shall ask Senator Playford for information as to the position of Captain Collins, and as to the intentions of the Government in regard to him. I shall ask why the Secretary of our Defence Department is apparently doing totally different work in England, whether he is coming back to take up his duties as head of the Department, or what it is intended to do in regard to him. The present position seems to be very unsatisfactory.
– Not at all. He is doing excellent work, and I have an excellent under-secretary to carrv on in his absence. There is no trouble.
– But surely Captain Collins is not doing work solely for the Defence Department in London ?
– All our expenditure of money on stores goes through his hands.
– Surely the Minister will not tell me thatCaptain Collins is in London solely in the interests of the Defence Department?
– Not solely, but almost entirely.
– So far as I can understand, he is expected to render the Commonwealth other services, apart from those relating to the Defence Forces.
– I do not know what other services.
– If Senator Playford does not know, it will be strange if I have to tell him. I believe that the general impression is that Captain Collins is not in London because he is Secretary for Defence, but because he is wanted for some other reason.
– He is there because he is wanted for the purposes of the Defence Department, and on account of the unsatisfactory way in which we were getting our stores previously.
– I do not wish to say any more in regard to our Defence policy. There are other matters suggested by an Appropriation Bill which are of a far-reaching character - matters of policy relating to the intentions of the Government, and matters possibly embracing large national views with regard to Australian life and conditions. I do not wish to enlarge upon them, though the discussion of an Appropriation Bill affords an excellent opportunity. But I wish to say a few words that have been suggested to me by the course of legislation in this very Chamber. We know - and I do not mention it by way of reproach - that an important party in the Commonwealth, the Labour Party, is stronglv imbued with socialistic ideas. It believes in various forms of Socialism, which I suppose might be generally denned as being a form of collectivism. I wish to say a few words on that subject, because it is desirable to point to what is happening.
– Is there any item in the Bill with which Senator Clemons can connect his remarks about Socialism?
– I hope, sir, that you will not ask me to search through the schedule to find an item with which I can connect my remarks. If I had to do so I could find one. The objective of the Labour Partv - I hope I am treating them fairly - is to secure that there shall be a more equitable distribution of the profits of industry than is attained under our present conditions. Their contention is that wealth is at present unfairly distributed, and that the man who supplies the labour does not get anything like his fair share. Their open policy is, therefore, to arrive at a condition of Socialism whereby, all the profits which arise from the carrying on of any industry in the Commonwealth would be divided amongst all the people.
– Whoever put it in that form but the honorable senator himself?
– Is it unfair?
– Can the honorable senator mention one member of the Labour Partv who ever put its policy in that way ?
– I am prepared to listen to a correction from the honorable senator if I have not put the case fairly, because I do not want to start out on a false assumption.
– Unfortunately, that is what the honorable senator is doing.
– We are now dealing with the second reading, when a senator must confine himself to subjects relevant to the Bill. I cannot see that Socialism has anything to do with the appropriation of revenue.
– I think I can easilv connect my remarks with the Bill.
– Of course, if the Senate wishes to hear the honorable senator’s remarks, I shall not object
– These observations have been suggested to me by reason of the legislation of the Commonwealth within the last few months. I am going to assume that I have put the case of the Labour Party fairly. We have seen recently in connexion with various Bills that have come before us efforts - with which I am in entire sympathy - on the part df the Labour Party to secure that the distribution of wealth shall be, from their point of view, on fair lines. I refer to the provisions put in the various Excise Bills. The general statement of the Labour Party is that in the industries profits are not distributed fairly, and that to cure such a bad state of things’ it is necessary to have communistic ownership. But the. Labour Party have recognised the full possibility of bringing about the result they wish, and, at the same time, recognising individual enterprise . and individual ownership. The Labour Party have recognised that industries can be carried on by private individuals or private companies, if, in legislation affecting those industries, provision is made to secure the distribution of profit in a reasonable way, and fair wages and conditions for the employes - in other words, a fair share of profits for the workers. I welcome this legislation as a demonstration afforded to us by the Labour Party that our social conditions need not necessarily be subject to a species of revolution - that remedial legislation and not revolution can still bring about their chief desire. This seems to me to be a welcome solution of the difficulties which have been suggested to us, and which we have been earnestly asked to consider.
– The honorable senator can join the Labour Party now !
– So far as the legislation of which I have spoken of is concerned, I join the party heartily. Senator Stewart will, at any rate, do me the credit to admit that since I have been in the Senate I have never been afraid to vote against the Labour Party, nor have I ever been afraid to vote with it. That is the attitude I shall always adopt ; and the party have now given me abundant opportunity to join with them most heartily. In the ranks of the Labour Party there is no man more anxious than I am to see a fair distribution of wealth. For years past, however, there has been an attempt to solve the question by means of collective ownership and communistic principles ; and that attempt is utterly bad and hopeless. So long as I am a member of the Senate, I shall offer the strongest opposition to any attempt to secure a beneficial change by means which I- think so faulty
– I draw attention to the fact that there is no provision made in the Estimates for any payment for the properties to be transferred from the States. Senator Clemons referred to Mr. Dugald Thomson’s expression of his belief in the per capita distribution of the Customs and Excise revenue. It is quite true that Mr. Thomson did refer to the matter, but not exactly in the manner which Senator Clemons’ words might lead one to infer. Mr. Dugald Thomson suggested that for ten years Western Australia should be treated differently from the other States - that before a per capita distribution took place- Western Australia should, for the first year, receive £300,000, reducible each year of ten by £30,000. It will be noticed that, under Mr. Dugald Thomson’s suggestion. New South Wales would apparently lose £351,000 a year. Mr. Thomson has a perfect right, of course, to hold the view he expressed ; but I do not think that New South Wales would willingly consent to such a scheme. Mr. Dugald Thomson suggests that £6,783,950 should bedistributed as an equivalent for the threefourths of the net Customs and Excise revenue, and that the balance should then beat the disposal of the Commonwealth. If we subtracted from that sum ^300,000 for Western Australia in the first year, the distribution would amount to only 32s. per head for each State. I agree with Senator Clemons that we ought to continue our contribution to the British Navy, and also that an undue proportion of the defence expenditure is devoted to land forces instead of to coastal defence, as represented by torpedoboats, and so forth. I hope that next session we shall, have placed before us some scheme with reference to paying ‘for the transferred properties. In my opinion, thescheme of Mr. Dugald Thomson for that purpose is a very fair one, namely, that when we take over the properties we should take over an equivalent amount in value of the States debts. With reference fo thedistribution of losses and gains on a per capita principle, I should like to point out that, according to Mr. Thomson, New South Wales would lose £351,190; Victoria, £25,225; and Western Australia, evenafter receiving the £300,000, would lose £59>I36. The gains would be to Q’ueenslan<3, £103,582 ; to South Australia, £100,101; and Tasmania, £66,542. One would naturally suppose that the total losses would be the same as the total gains; but, somehow or other, there is a sum of £165,000 unaccounted for. I do not know how Mr. Dugald Thomson proposes to deal with that position ; but I should say that the amount would come in very handy to balance any loss there might be on the proposed system of penny postage. Mr. Dugald Thomson also believes in a per capita basis in connexion with the expenditure of providing postoffices, and so forth; and I hope we may hear something on this matter from the Minister.
.– I think the Senate may be congratulated on having asserted its position, and proved . itself the guardian of States rights. I allude to the fact~ that we have prevented the alteration of the Constitution in two most important particulars, each of which’ appeared to me to involve a breach of the Constitution.
– Does the honorable senator think that he is in order, on the Appropriation Bill, in reviewing the work of the session? I do not desire to stop the honorable senator, because I permitted Senator Clemons to make remarks which had nothing to do with the appropriation of revenue. I would point out to the Senate generally, however, that the latitude taken in this discussion shows the inadvisability of departing from the strict reading of the Standing Orders, which declare that the debate on a second reading shall be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. If Senator Dobson reviews the work of the session other honorable senators may do the same. They may talk on the land tax, or any question under the sun.
– And so we may, .1 think, 6n this Bill.
– To do so is not in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– We waived our right on the first reading.
– Honorable senators did not waive their right ; they did not exert it. As I say, T. am not going to stop Senator Dobson, but I point out to the Senate that we are not acting strictly in accordance with the Standing Orders. 1 find I get no support in trying to confine honorable senators to the Bill under discussion. Every one seems anxious that every honorable senator shall say what he likes, although his remarks may have nothing to do with the Bill now before us.
– I think that what the President says is correct, and that we ought not to be allowed to review the work of the session. If I am out of order, it is in trying to review what the Senate did in defeating two proposed amendments of the Constitution, which had regard to the financial problems, and to the Conference of State Premiers and Ministers now sitting. Senator Clemons occupied about halfanhour in discussing the bookkeeping section of the Constitution and the financial problem.
– I think that those subjects are relevant to this Bill.
– Then I think I may say that the Senate has done exceedingly good work in resisting the two proposed amendments of the Constitution. In my opinion, these two proposed amendments were the cause of the Conference of State Premiers now sitting, and to accen tuate my point I direct attention to the following resolution carried by the Conference last night: -
That before altering the Constitution so as to increase the powers of the Commonwealth in regard to States debts, it is desirable that the Commonwealth and the States should agree to a scheme which will secure the permanent settlement of the financial problems by providing for -
Giving financial security to the States.
Leaving each free and financially independent within its own sphere.
That each State Parliament be invited to adopt the above resolution at as early a date as may be convenient.
That attitude on the part of the Conference abundantly justifies the action of the Senate. We may congratulate ourselves on resisting the proposed amendments, and thereby insuring, as far as we can, that the financial problem shall be dealt with as one matter. It is no use advocating the taking over of the States debts if we leave out of account the bookkeeping section. It is of no use discussing any part of the financial problem unless we have made up our minds what we are going to do about the Braddon section, which is very rightly regarded as the guarantee of the States’ financial arrangements. I know that Western Australian representatives have a great objection to the abolition of the bookkeeping section, because they believe that without it their State would lose revenue. I say most emphatically that we shall never be a real Federation, but will continue bickering session after session, until the bookkeeping section is done away with on terms fair to all the States. We shall never be able to get on if on every big or small question which comes before us honorable senators vote or oppose it according to whether it would be disadvantageous or advantageous to their particular States. No one has ever suggested- doing away with the bookkeeping section without making special terms in regard to Western Australia. At the Premiers’ Conference last night a scheme for taking over the States debts was brought forward bv the Premier of Tasmania - a scheme prepared, no doubt, by that clever and experienced statistician, Mr. R. M. Johnstone. There is a great deal to be said for that scheme, which, however, shows that the loss which Western Australia would suffer would have to be met by a special contribution to that
State. I desire to point out to honorable senators from Western Australia that, while they object to the distribution of revenue per capita, Tasmania is helpless to object to a per capita distribution of expenditure, and thereby suffers an enormous loss. Where that loss is going to end 1 do not know.
– Tasmania has an absolute advantage.
– I do not think there is an advantage. On’ the item of defence alone !the expenditure of Tasmania has jumped from £20,000 to £40,000 a year.
– Tasmania was not defending herself previously. .
– That may be the opinion of Senator Pulsford; but we in Tasmania, as Senator Clemons said, were defending ourselves according to our ability, amd having regard to our financial position. Federation comprises two or three enormously wealthy States, and when we have a State like Western Australia, with a booming revenue and enormous possibilities in land production and mining, as contrasted with a poorer state - a State containing 16,000,000 of acres, of which only about 5,000,000 acres are fit for settlement - we must seriously consider the position of the poorer partners.
– We can contrast it with Queensland, where an area as large as twenty-eight Tasmanias still remains unalienated.
– Quite so; the two States can hardly be compared. In order to meet our financial requirements, it is proposed to cut down Captain Creswell’s scheme - in which, by the way, I do not believe. That in itself is sufficient to show that the proposed Australian Navy is allnonsense. We cannot afford it in this generation, and shall not be able to afford it for two or three generations to come. The cost is to be cut. down to £750,000, which is to be spent at the rate of £250,000 in each of three years, and that vill not accomplish one-half of what is required. It will provide for four first-class torpedo boats and eight destroyers. Of the amount involved, Tasmania’s share will be £34,000, and her proportion of the cost of the maintenance of the vessels for all time. I contend that Tasmania cannot afford the expenditure. If the Constitution Alteration (Special Duties) Bill had been passed, and effect had been given to that proposal, Tasmania would have had to find £60,000 a year for old-age pensions, and if that amount had been added to the £34,000 for naval defence, there is no doubt that the State I represent could not have found the money. We should not refuse to’ do anything we could to comply with our financial obligations, but if, in addition to those which already exist, we were called upon to meet an annual expenditure of £94,000, I believe that the State Parliament would have to say that Tasmania could not do it. It is the duty of every member of the Senate in the circumstances to try to discover, not what objections there are to the bookkeeping system, but how the numerous objections to it can be overcome by the adoption of an equitable and Federal scheme.
– We cannot overcome them by taking that which does not belong to us.
– We do not want to take what does not belong to us.
– Then the matter will be easily settled.
– What does the honorable senator want?
– I desire that honorable senators shall be reasonable, and endeavour to do away with the bookkeeping system by the adoption .of an equitable scheme which would give us a real Federation. Just as we have one purse for expenditure, we should have but one purse for revenue, and should be careful at the same time to ‘do only what is fair by Western Australia.
– If Tasmania gets nothing out of the transaction as a bargain, in what way will she be better off ?
– We should get something out of it.
– Then some other State must lose.
– The Joss might be made up to the other State. I think that it would be better for the people of Western Australia, instead of talking about secession and the injustices they have suffered, to endeavour to discover a way to abolish the bookkeeping system on terms that would be fair to all the States.
– It is such proposals as the honorable senator’s as to bookkeeping that will force secession.
– I have made no particular proposals ; I speak of a principle.
– We know what the honorable senator is aiming at.
– I am sorry that such a spirit of injustice should be abroad. The other day there was some dispute in the Senate as to the amount of direct taxation paid by the people of the different States. I am able to quote figures on the subject from a paper read at the Conference of States Ministers yesterday. I find that in direct taxation Queensland pays 17s. 3d., Victoria 16s. id., South Australia 23s. 8d., New South Wales 15s. 3d., Tasmania 27s., and Western Australia 18s. 2d. per head of population. Senator de Largie will be able to see from those figures the enormous amount of direct taxation which the people of Tasmania are paying. They pay a land tax, an income tax, an ability tax, and a dividend tax, and in the face of such taxation is it fair to add to their burdens? We must look at the financial problem as one, and deal with it by a scheme which will be fair to all the States. On the question of Federal extravagance, I listened with pleasure to what Senator Clemons has said. Charges of extravagance have been made against the Federal Parliament, and we should be prepared to justify our expenditure. 1 have always admitted that I think that to some extent these charges of extravagance can te justly made against the Commonwealth. I think, for instance, that we have been guilty of extravagance in setting up a Federal Department in London, and sending home our experienced Secretary for Defence to take charge of that Department. I have from the first objected to that, and I am unable to discover any reason why that officer should have been sent Home. It is simply idle to suggest that when the States have separate Agents-General Departments, under the control of experienced statesmen, it is necessary for the Commonwealth to send an officer to London to instruct some one else to buy armament and munitions of war. Only the other day I saw that Captain Collins had been doing something in connexion with the purchase, of 10,000 rifles. An officer was, appointed to approve of them, and found fault with them. We cannot expect the Secretary for Defence to buv munitions of war without getting an expert to pass them; but of what use is it to send Home such an officer to do that kind of work? We have set up a separate
Commonwealth Statistical Department, which, according to these Estimates, is to cost -^8,000 a year. I notice that £5,000 of the amount is set clown for contingencies, and may have something to do with the taking of the census, but I should like to ask the Minister of Defence whether, as the result of this Commonwealth expenditure, which the States will have to pay, they will be able to make any saving in connexion with their own Statistical Departments. I have understood that they were to continue their Statistical Departments, and we were to pay £500 a year to Mr. Coghlan to continue the publication of his book. We might have paid a handsome sum for the continuance of that publication, but we are being asked to vote £8,000 for a new Federal Department, and I hear that there is to be no saving to the States as the result of this additional expenditure. The Commonwealth should work hand in hand with the States, and when the Federal authorities take over a State Department that should lead to savings to the State, but the Government in these matters appear to be determined to “paddle their own canoe,” and every fresh power exercised by the Federal authorities is exercised at the cost of additional expenditure. We have had the same experience in connexion with the Public Works Department. We commenced by making use of States officers, and paying them for work done for the Federation, but Sir William Lyne would have none of that. He absolutely declined to have anything to do with an officer who was not his own servant. Only the other day, when the Bounties Bill and some other Bills were before us, we found that the honorable gentleman took an exactly opposite course. We were told by him then that we could rely with confidence on the States officers serving the federal Government in every way, and that it was his intention to administer those measures with the aid of the States officers. Ministers adopt one policy to-day and an absolutely contradictory policy to-morrow. They make no effort to prevent unnecessary expenditure in their desire to do anything which is calculated to make them popular. I ask honorable senators to say whether the proposal to expend £500,000 in connexion with the Bounties Bill was not an extravagant proposal? A reasonable expenditure in the way proposed might be justified, and I hope that some tropical industries, will be started in Queensland and in other States, but we should not be asked to spend £500,000 on . them. There has been unnecessary expenditure also in connexion with the Federal Capital. Instead of carrying out the Seat of Government Act the Government are doing nothing, and I suppose we shall have more pic-nics and further expenditure under this head for many years to come. On this question of Federal extravagance we have every reason to be warned. At the close of the financial year ending 30th June, 1903, the Commonwealth returned to the States the sum of £i,i45>234 out of the one-fourth it might have spent ; the amount returnable to the States has now dwindled down, and the Treasurer’s estimate of the amount to be returned on the 30th June next is only £311,228. If the schemes for ‘ the establishment of an Australian Navy and the payment of old-age pensions are carried out, the £311,228 will very quickly disappear, and the Federal Government will have no revenue with which to carry on. We shall then- have to ask ourselves what is to be done. Must we secure power to levy special duties, or must we rely upon direct taxation, and impose a Federal land tax in addition to the land taxation in force in Tasmania and some of the other States? It is in my opinion a serious mistake for the Federal Government, before we have settled our financial problem, to take over States Departments which under existing conditions are being managed very well. On the subject of the transfer of States debts I shall not say very much, because so many schemes are before . Parliament that it would puzzle a great financier to say which is the best. I hardly agree with Senator Clemons when he says that no benefit is likely to be derived from the transfer of the States debts to the Commonwealth. I see that Mr. Waddell, of New South Wales, is of the same opinion ; but I am inclined to think that as the (Commonwealth has taken over £9,000,000 of States revenue the best thing we can do is to take over the States debts, and pay the interest upon them from that revenue. I believe that Mr. R. M. Johnstone’s scheme and Sir John Forrest’s scheme will greatly help us in the settlement of the matter on a statesman-like basis. I do not agree with Senator Clemons that our Customs and Excise revenue will fall off very much. I understood the honorable senator to say that it had fallen off, but that statement is hardly borne out by the fact that last year we had an increased surplus of £413,745, and this year Sir John’ Forrest estimates an increase of £90,157. It has also to be borne in mind that just one-half of our revenue is derived from narcotics and stimulants. Therefore, it appears to me that there is not a large margin in which a reduction could, take place.” Although many honorable senators, certainly those representing Victoria, are in favour of more protection, they have not taken sufficiently into account the fact that, as the population increases, our wealth and the desire for luxuries will increase. I do not, I regret to say, anticipate that there /will be much falling off in the Customs revenue. I think that it is sufficiently permanent to justify the transfer of the Statesdebts. .1 shall read with great pleasure the many reports on the question of defence. I do not think that there are many honorable senators who believe with Senator Clemons that we can afford to spend ^2,000.000 or £3,000,000 on the provision of an Australian Navy, and defray the cost of maintenance and repairs, and the alteration of the ships, perhaps, every ten years, if not sooner, and at the same time make a liberal contribution to the Imperial Navy. I shall adhere to the Imperial Navy as our first line of defence, and I regard our annual subsidy of £200,000 as a paltry pittance - in fact, as a disgrace to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister has stated that, having regard to certain things - I suppose he meant* to population and revenue - our proper share should be between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000. How we are to do justice to thb Empire, and our first line of defence, maintain an Australian Navy, and spend £600.000 and £700,000 a year or* military defence, I do not know. There was one remark made by Senator Clemons which I regret. Some honorable senators are constantly makin!? remarks which tend to show that they think very little of our Military Forces. It is a mistake to say or do anything to dishearten the officers who are responsible for our defence. Two or three weeks ago Senator Clemons said that he would like to see the Military Estimates cut down by £250,000, and to-day he said that he would prefer to vote £50,000 for military defence, and £650,000 for naval defence. That appears to me to be absolutely out of the question. It is a great mistake to keep our military officers in a state of suspense. Three or four years ago the Labour Party reduced the Military Estimates by £100,000. A number of men were retrenched, and now we have got back to. a normal expenditure. The increased expenditure for this year amounts to £70,000 odd. When two or three honorable senators say that our policy of land defence is all a mistake, and that at least one-half of the expenditure could be saved, it suggests to our military officers that we ha,ve not much confidence in them, and do not think much of our land defence. The whole business will be thrown into a State of chaos again. In my opinion, it will be impossible to reduce the military expenditure below its present amount. If we have too much frill and pipe-clay, or too many officers, then retrench by all means. I am one of those who believe that we shall never be properly defended until we have a citizen army. We cannot possibly have a citizen army unless our men are trained. We cannot train our men unless we make every boy and youth submit to be trained. The more we develop the plan of a citizen army the more shall we want highly-trained and efficient officers.
– Practically, we have only a citizen .militia force.
– I am looking more and more to the establishment of a citizen soldiery.
– We have a citizen soldiery now.
– We need more riflemen, cadets, and volunteers. If we cannot get a citizen soldiery by the voluntary principle, we ought to adopt, the compulsory, or, as I prefer to say, the universal system. I hope that bur Citizen Forces will be extended, and that, to some extent, our Permanent Forces will be reduced. But we cannot cut down the annu.il vote much more than we have done. It is very lamentable that session after session honorable senators do nothing but dishearten the officers. I had several other points to bring before the Senate, but I desire to give other honorable senators an opportunity to speak at this stage. In Committee, I shall oppose the item of £5,000 for immigration, because in my opinion it is a gross case of extravagance. The correspondence shows that each State Premier, in reply to Mr. Deakin, prac tically said that his State was doing all it wanted to do. Two States are getting out immigrants every month. They ridicule the idea of sending to London a Federal officer to take charge of an immigration office, and of referring one man to the Agent-General for New South Wales, and another man to the Agent-General of Western Australia. The Premier of the latter State has declared that in London Mr. James is doing far better work for his State than could any Federal officer who might be sent home. No business man would dream of taking such a stupid course as to instal a Federal officer in an immigration office in London. Yet we are asked to vote a sum of £5,000 for advertising the resources of Australia, when every State in the Federation could do that work far better through its own Agent-General.
– I am very sorry that year after year I have to repeat my complaints against the Government as to the hurry and rush at the end of the session. The financial concerns of the Commonewalth are left to the very end of the session, and then there is so little time at our disposal that they are dealt with only in the most perfunctory fashion. I think every one will admit that the question of defence is probably as important as any other question which could be submitted. No matter how prosperous our people, how liberal our institutions, or how high the state of civilization to which we have reached may be, unless we are prepared to defend our lives and liberties against foreign aggression, then in the hour of extremity all those advantages would go for nothing. It is the paramount dutv of every citizen, more especially of every member of this Parliament, to try to evolve a proper scheme of defence. I think that every one will admit that the first essential is more population. If our population were 6,000,000 or 8,000,000 or 10,000,000, rather than 4,000,000, then our position from the defence stand-point would be most materially improved. We should have 10,000,000 persons from whom to draw an army, to contribute to the cost of a navy, to range themselves in battle array if we were ever attacked. It ought to be the desire of every citizen to evolve a policy which would directly tend to the increase of our population. I do not know, sir, whether I shall be in order in discussing the means whereby we might increase our population very largely.
– I shall not St(]Ir the honorable senator, as several honorable senators have digressed.
– If I am in order, sir, I would point out that one way of largely adding to our population would be by breaking up the land monopoly in each State. We find this young country in a most unfortunate, and I would say most invidious, position. The only other country with which I can compare parts of Australia is Ireland. In the latter country the population has been steadily dwindling until now it is only about onehalf of what it was fifty years ago. Everyone who has studied the Irish question dispassionately has come to the conclusion that Ireland’s depopulation is distinctly traceable to the land question. In Victoria - a young country with vast areas of unoccupied land, and with room, not for 1,000,000 persons, but for 10,000,000 persons, if we had proper settlement - -‘we find that it is exactly the same. Owing to the bad land system which prevails, owing to the monopoly in land which has been created by the laws:, we find that not only has the population not increased, but that during the last ten years Victoria has lost between 120,000 and -130,000 of the flower of her people. When we cross Bass Straits to the tight little island of Tasmania we find exactly the same conditions prevailing, and for the same reasons. The young Tasmanians do not stay there. They go to New Zealand or to Victoria, or to Western Australia. They try to find a resting place for the soles of their feet anywhere except in their own native country. Even in South Australia - a State with, an almost boundless territory - we find that the blight of land monopoly prevails, and is driving the people to other parts of the world. Even in Western Australia, which no doubt during the last few years has been the most prosperous State of the Commonwealth, and has attracted more population than any other portion of Australia, we find that land monopoly is doing an immense injury. Had it not been for the fortunate discovery of gold in large quantities, I am safe in saying that Western Australia even now would have occupied the same position as she did between twenty and thirty years ago, when she was the poorest State in Australia in every sense of the word. In New South Wales the same conditions pre vail. We find hundreds of applicants for almost every piece of land that it thrown open for selection. In my own State, I am sorry to say that conditions are probably . just as bad. The Government of Queensland has actually had to spend somewhere about £1,000,000 sterling in buying back land upon which to settle the people, though as a matter of fact there are millions and millions of acres of fertile land unoccupied, though not available for settlement. A very- large proportion of this land is in the hands of monopolists. In every portion of Queensland we find the monopolist holding up land against settlement. On the Darling Downs, between Toowoomba and Brisbane, between Brisbane and Maryborough, between Maryborough and Rockhampton, and all the way right up to Cairns, we find this blight of land monopoly impeding and obstructing the progress of the State. Such being the case, the Parliament of the Commonwealth, being primarily responsible for the defence of this country, and it being an axiom which cannot be neglected, that for defence purposes what we more especially need is a large population, it is the duty of this Parliament to pass such measures ‘ as will break up the land monopoly all over Australia. Not .only has this Parliament power to do that, but it is its absolute duty to do it; and if Parliament fails in its duty in- that respect I claim that it will fail in one of the most serious obligations which have been placed upon it. I do not wish to enter into particulars regarding the question of land value taxation except to say that, to my mind at any rate, a land values tax would afford means by which the Commonwealth Parliament and Government could break up the land monopoly which undoubtedly exists in every State, and so permit not only of a very much larger settlement of land, so far as our own people are concerned, but enable a much larger influx of people from other parts of the world. While I hold that more population is the first thing that ought to be looked to with regard to any system of defence, I yet claim that what it is in our power to do with the material at our hands ought to be done. I do not profess to be a military expert, or to have given veryclose attention to this subject. But I recently read in one of the newspapers that Australia has a coast line of 8,000 miles, and that every mile of it is vulnerable. I think that that was one of the wildest statements that was ever printed. No doubt Australia has a coast line of 8,000 miles, but that every mile of our coast line is vulnerable is a most extravagant statement to make. Just consider the kind of country that Australia is. Let every honorable senator think how many points there are around this Continent at which it would be possible for a hostile army to land. There are thousands of places where probably 20,000 or 50,000 men could be landed, but they would have to bring everything they required with them. They would have to bring their water, their provisions, fodder for their horses, and everything necessary for the upkeep of an army ; and when” the men were landed they would be hundreds of miles from the inhabited portions of the country. They would probably be in such a position that their first consideration would not be to advance and attack any other portion of the country, but how they might most easily get out of it. My own impression is that the desolate spots of Australia would be as deadly to an invading force as the snows sf Moscow were to the legions of Napoleon. But, while that is the case, it is also true that there is a number of vulnerable spots on the face of this Continent. There are our capital cities. There are, in addition, many towns of minor importance situated on or near the coast. So far as I can see all that is necessary is to provide, in as full a measure as our circumstances will permit, for the defence of those capital cities and towns. That, I think, could be done by such a system of coast defence as was outlined by Captain Creswell in the report which he published some time ago. Some people seem to think that Australia ought to own a large navy. Very well ; I should be extremely glad to see Australia with such a navy as would render her impregnable to any other country. But I again point out that the only way to get such a navy is to add largely to our population. When we have the population - when we have the men and the women here - we shall have the money ; and when we are able to afford the money we can establish such a fleet as will render us immune from assault from any quarter. But in the meantime, I am afraid that, with our limited resources, and the dislike that our people show to increased taxation, it is altogether out of the question to talk about establishing any effective marine defence. In any case, we know perfectly well that, however much we may strive to do it, we are not in a position to provide such a defence as would avail us against attack from some large naval power. We are being continually told that, so far as naval defence is concerned, we are under the shadow and protection of Great Britain. No doubt that is true. While the British Fleet and flag are paramount on the seas of the world, I take it that Australia is safe from invasion. But the day may come when Great Britain’s paramountcy will fall to the ground,- just as the paramountcy of every- other great Power has done in the past. Honorable senators may have read in history how the Dutch used to fly a besom on the top mast of their war-ships, emblematical of the fact that the Dutch Navy swept the ocean. The British Navy is in exactly the same position to-day. Yet it is not so very long since one of the Dutch Admirals succeeded in taking a hostile ship into the port of London.
– Is not the honorable senator travelling a little too far alva from the Bill?
– I am talking about naval defence, and trying to show that, while it is true that, so long as Great Britain maintains her supremacy at sea, Australia is safe from invasion, we may take it as not impossible that her paramountcy will pass from Great Britain just as it has passed from other Powers in the history of the world. I say, therefore, that unless Australia began in time to prepare for her defence she would be open to the attacks of any country that was sufficiently strong to send its fleet and itstroops here.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it would be advisable to have a few more senators present? [Quorum formed.]
– The teaching of history is that nations rise and fall - that their power ebbs and flows - that, like men, they have their youth, middle age and plenitude of power, and then their decay. From all this I argue that, while Great Britain may be the principal sea Power of to-day, it is quite within the bounds of possibility that in the nea.r future her might may pass from her. Having that event in view, it is our duty to provide for our sea defence to as great an extent as is possible with the resources at our com- mand. I shall say no more on this point, but leave its further elucidation to senators who are better acquainted with the subject than I am. There was one utterance of Senator Clemons which struck me as rather peculiar. The honorable senator said, “ We spend £650,000 per annum on a land force, and we waste £50,000 per annum on naval defence.” I would much rather, with Senator Clemons, that the position were reversed, and that we spent £650,000 on naval defence and , £50,000 on land defence. In all seriousness, I ask whether an annual expenditure of £650,000 on sea defence would be sufficient to preserve Australia from attack by any foreign Power? I go further, and ask. if it is not possible by any means within our reach to provide a fleet sufficient to prevent an enemy from landing, are we, for that reason, to abandon all attempts to deal with an enemy after he has landed ? ‘ I may be utterly wrong, but I claim that while we, with our present resources, are not in a position to prevent a sufficiently powerful enemy from landing 20,000 to 50,000 men, we are. or ought to be, ina position to cut them up when they do land. Of the 4.000.000 people on this continent, there are. I suppose. 1,000,000 able-bodied men. and I think that, with . 1 proper volunteer system, we should be able to call upon 250.000 men, instead of the paltry 23,000 now available. This could be done, T think, without the expenditure of a very great sum of money. And I am of opinion that if any foreign nation knew that we had 200.000 men. each armed with a rifle, and able to use it, there would be serious consideration before an attack was made.
– What would it cost to keen 200.000 men in the field for even a. fortnight?
– I do not think it would cost very much.
– Such a force would cost £2,000,000 a year if paid at the same rates as now prevail.
– But I propose that it should be a volunteer force pure and simple.
– But if men are called out to fight they must be fed.
– The honorable senator evidently has in view a. case of actual invasion. I know perfectly well that if an enemy landed on our shores it would cost a great deal of money to put 200,000 men in the field.
– They would be absolutely useless without artillery.
– Certainly ; but the fact that we had 200,000 men ready to put into the field would be a sufficient deterrent to an intending invader. Whereas if it be known that we are practically unprotected by both sea and land, a direct invitation is thrown out to an enemy to come here and occupy the premises. It is not within our power to provide ourselves with an effective fleet at present, but it is within our power to provide an effective land forceLet us do as much as we possibly can - let us have coast defences, and all that sort of thing; but this talk about a fleet, when we are unable to pay for one, is mere vapouring. I now only wish to refer to the much-vexed question of the States debts. This question is exercising the mind of the States Premiers and Treasurers, and also the Federal Treasurer; and, in addition, it is troubling several private members who conceive that they have a special mission to put the finances of Australia straight. I have no scheme to offer; I do not propose, by any species of financial legerdemain, to reduce the interest or the capital which we owe. In every one of the schemes for dealing with the debts there is the fundamental financial error that the interest ought to be paid out of the Customs revenue. That was a mistake inevitable in the early days of Australia, when there were few people, and comparatively little development, with no way of raising monev except through the Customs. To-day, however, such a means of paying the interest appears to me to be financial heresy of the worst order. The States have borrowed about £240,000,000 for the purpose of developing the resources of Australia, and on that object a very large proportion of the money has been spent. Why should we fall back on the Customs revenue for the interest on money which has been spent in developing the resources of the country - in building railways and bridges, making roads, and providing the hundred-and-one other works which make settlement possible and profitable? Why not pay the interest by means of taxation on the development works themselves? Why not apply the ordinary rules of business, instead of making the departure we have? If an honorable senator spent his money in developing a property he would expect a return from that property.
-Col. Gould. - Eventually.
– If a State puts its money into works of development, it ought to expect a return from those works eventually, as Senator Gould has interjected. But the period which is covered by the word “ eventually “ has now expired.
– Question !
– I knew the honorable senator would question that statement.
– We have only 4,000,000 people here altogether.
– The honorable senator will resist any departure from the old methods by every device possible, because it. is in his interest to continue the present system. But- the present system is wrong and unbusiness-like - it is a system which is not applied in any other relation of life. If, in consequence of. the expenditure of money in development, a mine owned by a company ultimately paid dividends, and those dividends, instead of being divided amongst the whole of the shareholders, were paid to a certain favoured few, while the current expenses were met by calls from the great body - who would continue a shareholder under such conditions? Yet that has been exactly the position of the States up to the present time. Money has been borrowed for the improvement of private lands by building railways and so forth, and the values of those lands may have been increased tenfold in. consequence; yet no portion whatever of that increased value has gone to the State which created, or helped to create it. The whole of the increased value has gone into the pockets of the private individuals who own the lands. Such a financial system is one which, if persisted in by any private individual or corporate company, would inevitably land him or it in the ‘Bankruptcy Court.’ The same thing is true of the States and of the Commonwealth, with this difference, that, being stronger and able to stand a great deal more, the inevitable end is but so much the longer delayed. But it is there waiting for us all the time unless we alter the financial system under which we now carry on our affairs. The error committed by every one of the men who have dealt with the States debts question is that they have assumed ‘that the interest on the debts is a fair charge on the Customs. I deny that utterly. I do not acknowledge responsibility to the Customs revenue for a single farthing of interest on the debts. By every means in my power, while I hold a seat here, and even after I cease to be a member of the Senate, I shall try to put the burden of interest on the shoulders of those who have benefited by the money spent in developing the resources of this Continent. The various States Treasurers -seem to be extremely desirous to secure financial separation from the Commonwealth. I agree with them that it is desirable that we should have no obligation so far as they are concerned, and that they should be entirely free to carry on their operations without being directly or indirectly affected by anything we can do. There is only one method by which States finance can be separated from Federal finance, and that is bv each authority raising sufficient money to carry on its own affairs.
– Who is to decide as to possession of the sources of revenue?
– The people will decide that. The same people rule the States as rule the Commonwealth.
– The people cannot decide so far as revenue from Customs and Excise is concerned, as the Commonwealth has possession of those sources of revenue.
– The people can decide that matter also. I have been sent here to endeavour to reduce the revenue through the Customs as much as I possibly can, and on every opportunity that presents itself.
– -Yet the honorable senator professes to be a protectionist !
– I do; and that is quite consistent with the policy ‘ I have adopted. If our protection were sufficiently high the revenue from the Customs would undoubtedly be reduced, as Senator Walker ought to know. There are two methods of reducing revenue from Customs. We could do it by adopting the free-trade policy and pulling down our Customs Houses, or by a policy of high protection which would encourage the products of manufacture within our own territory. I favour the latter method. My policy is to reduce the revenue from Customs and Excise, if possible, to an amount sufficient to meet our needs and to throw upon the States all responsibility for the obligations they have incurred. On the other hand, if the States persist that the Commonwealth shall take over their debts, and the Commonwealth concurs, then the States must be prepared for what will follow - unification. The very moment the Commonwealth begins to deal with the States debts the process of unification will have begun.
– We must stop that at all costs.
– It is inevitable and inescapable. If the Commonwealth becomes responsible for the debts of the States, we must have some control over the assets of the States. If each State is responsible not only for its own debts, but for the debts of every other State, then each State must have a voice in saying whether any other State shall be permitted to add to its indebtedness. If Queensland in common with the other States, hands her debts over to the Federation, she will then be unable to lx>rrow for development purposes without the consent of Victoria, New South Wales, and all the other States. So that her autonomy, so far as that matter is concerned, will have passed entirely out of her hands. I say that that position is inescapable. If the States will insist upon the Federation taking over their debts they must be prepared to be swallowed by the Federation. If they desire to retain the powers of self-government, which they at present possess, they will keep their debts, and provide for the interest upon them as they have been doing in the past.
– Then their separate sovereignty depends on their debts?
– Their separate sovereignty, as no one knows, or ought to know, better than Senator Pulsford, depends on their power to make their own financial arrangements. If in a man’s business some one else holds the cash-box, and pulls the strings, that person must be said to be master of the situation, and the man ceases to be master of his own business. If Senator Pulsford were engaged in a business, and assigned it to a trustee, or handed it over to a bank, he might be maintained in his position as manager, but he would be merely at the beck and call of his employer, and would no longer be the owner of the business. The principle that would apply in his individual case applies with equal force and power to the case of the States.
– The consolidation of the States debts would not necessarily have those consequences.
– I may be taking a wrong view, but I maintain that if the Commonwealth consolidates the States debts the circumstances I have outlined must inevitably follow. The Commonwealth, as a whole, would become responsible for the interest on the debts, and for the debts themselves. Each State would become responsible, not only for its own debts, but for the debts of every other State, and does Senator Pulsford not see that the position would then be that no individual State would be entitled to add to its indebtedness without the consent of its guarantors - the other States of the Commonwealth?
-I remind the honorable senator that he has repeated that argument three or four times.
– I wished to impress it upon Senator Pulsford, because I know the honorable senator has given a great deal of attention to the question, although this aspect of it appears to have escaped him.
– The honorable senator can consider his object accomplished.
– Then I am glad to have made. one convert.
– In any case we can borrow from ourselves now.
– It makes no difference whether we borrow from our brother in Australia or from our uncle in England.
– The Queensland Government can borrow now from the Queensland people.
– They would add to Queensland’s debt in exactlv the same way. If the Commonwealth1 takes over the debts of the State, it must insist upon the States refraining from further borrowing, unless with its consent.
– I ask the honorable senator not to repeat that argument anv more. I think that four times is sufficient.
– I did not take note of how often I was repeating a particular argument, but I do not intend to dwell any longer upon that point. Senator Clemons referred to another matter which I think is exceedingly important. The Commonwealth is being continually accused by the States authorities of extravagance. It is said that we are adding to our expenditure in every direction. If it were permissible, I think I could show how in dozens of ways the States might reduce their expenditure. I have no control over the States Governments, arid perhaps it would not be in order to discuss their financial affairs here, but I could mention dozens . of. instances in which they permit the overlapping of officials, and where, if they arranged their Departments in harmony with the Federal authority, they might cut down expenditure very largely. Mv own opinion is that whilst in some cases we may have been extravagant, on the whole we live here in an atmosphere of economy. One reason why our expenditure seems very much larger than was the expenditure of the States before Federation, is that when we erect a building, or carry out any public work, we pay for everything as we go out of revenue, whilst the States had a very convenient method of defraying a great proportion of their expenditure out of loans. If the whole position were made clear, as it might be. it would be found that the Federal authorities,’ to put it in the mildest way, have not been more extravagant than, the States were. As a matter of fact, the Public Service Commissioner in his report tells us that nearly all our Departments were very much overmanned at the time they were taken over by the Commonwealth.
– To what report is the honorable senator referring?
– I refer to a report, extracts from which I read in the newspapers yesterday, but which so far has not reached me. I may be permitted to ask how it happens that newspapers are provided with reports of this character before they Teach honorable senators? The report of the Commissioner has been prepared, has been submitted to Parliament, and is in print. Yet for some unexplained reason ‘or other/ its members have not been put in possession of a copy of it. Some person must be to blame for that, and I should like to know who is to blame. I have been waiting patiently for the report, but it has not yet reached me.
– It was admitted this morning that the Ministry are to blame. They tried to shift the blame on to the officers, but did not succeed.
– Reports of that character when printed should be immediately placed in the hands of Members of Parliament. It is treating them with very little courtesy to withhold reports. I desire to say a few words with regard to the scheme of immigration which has been, evolved by the Prime Minister. It appears to me that he felt that he must do something to try to attract population to Australia, or, if not, at least to appear to attract them. He proposes to establish in London a separate Commonwealth Immigration Office, while there are in that city six Agents-General, each of whom is also trying to attract people to his State.
– New South Wales is getting immigrants every month.
– It appears to me that there is bungling of the grossest kind somewhere. I think it must be admitted on all hands that the Federal authority is the one which ought to deal with immigration. It is empowered by the Constitution to deal with the subject, and, therefore the States ought to try to bring their Departments into harmony with the Federal Department. Instead of doing that, the States are resenting any attempt on- the part of the Commonwealth authority to institute an office of this kind in London. In 1901 the general impression was that after the Commonwealth was established the six Agents-General in London would be abolished, and one central office established there to represent the whole of Australia. Why has not that been done? If the States are really desirous of limiting expenditure, and having more efficient representation in London, thev ought to come to an arrangement whereby the whole power with regard to immigration and the other matters which .more properly come within the purview of the London office, should be placed in the hands of the Federation. One reason, I am sorry to say, for maintaining “the separate offices seems to be that each State Government looks upon the Agency-General as a nice convenient back door through which it may be possible to thrust a politician whom it is necessary or desirable to get rid of.
– Politically an ugly fellow.
– A dangerous or ugly fellow, as the honorable senator interjects.
– New South Wales is an exception to that rule, at present.
– I am very glad to hear that, on one point, New South Wales is an honorable exception. In any case it appears to me that there is an’ overlapping of effort, that the States and fEe Commonwealth authorities, instead of working hand in, hand, are at cross purposes with each other, and the net result is that Australia and her resources are not brought before the people of Great’ Britain as they ought to be. I have no more to say on the question. I regret very much that the time at our disposal is so limited that we cannot do sufficient justice to this great question.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [4.35]. - I also regret tEe late period of* the session at which we get an opportunity to deal with the Estimates of Expenditure. I feel that it is an almost hopeless task to attempt to speak on the Appropriation Bill now. One has only to look round the Chamber and observe the jaded appearance of honorable senators to realize that every one is anxious for the prorogation, and that it would be undesirable to speak at great length. Over and over again we have been promised ample time in which to consider the Estimates, but so far that opportunity has not yet been given. We all know that, by exercising our right of speech to the full, we should delay the closing of the session ; while little attention would be paid to our remarks, and the result would, therefore, be practically nil. In connexion with our financial position there are some questions which loom large in the public eye. One question to which a great deal of attention has been given to-day is that of the transfer pf the whole of the States debts. Recently the Senate expressed the opinion that if the States debts are to be taken over they must be taken over as a body, or pro rata, and must not be redeemed as they fall due. The great idea, we have been told, is that the Commonwealth, with its higher prestige and its greater power, would be able to borrow and consolidate the loan’s, and’ thereby effect a * considerable saving in interest. ‘ It is possible that eventually such may be the case. We have been told that Canada can borrow money at a very low rate of interest. But there is no parallel between Canada and Australia. In Canada the Provincial Governments are meTe subordinate authorities, and their powers are not at all commensurate with those which are reserved to the States in Australia. The powers of the States are more unlimited than are the powers of the Commonwealth.
Apart from Customs and Excise duties, they still have considerable powers of taxation. During the last five years our legislation has not been such, as to commend the Commonwealth to the outside money-lender. At the present time the States claim that they can borrow at quite as low a rate as could the Commonwealth, and I believe that some of them can. Whether that will last for ever or not is another question. We have to recognise that, beyond our Customs and Excise revenue, we have no power of taxation to which we could very well resort, unless we intend materially to trench upon the power of taxation which has been given entirely to the States. I can readily foresee that great friction and difficulty might arise between the Commonwealth and the States.
– What power of taxation has been given entirely to the States ?
– I should have said that the power to levy Customs and Excise duties has been given entirely to the Commonwealth. It was understood that the other powers of taxation should be left with the States.
– Not entirely.
.- And that we should only resort to them if it became absolutely necessary for the purpose of carrying on the government of the Commonwealth. Clearly that distinction was drawn. Senator Stewart has said that we should not regard the States as being entitled to the return of any portion of the Customs and Excise revenue. I entirely dissent from that proposition. It must be borne in mind that the Customs and Excise revenue is derived from the residents of each State, and that the money is only handed over to the Commonwealth as trustee for the States, to secure the financial stability, not only of the Commonwealth, but of the States. I do not see how we could at any time turn round and say to the States, “We intend to take the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue, and not to give you any consideration in return.” The consideration, I presume, which would have to be given would, probably be the transfer of all the States debts and the payment of the interest out of the Customs and Excise revenue, which would otherwise go to the States. I do not think that the time has yet arrived when we should take very urgent steps to get the States debts handed over to the Commonwealth ; but when the time is ripe they must be taken over with the full consent and concurrence of the States. It would be a lamentable thing if we were to turn round and say that we intended to take the debts over from the States willy-nilly, and make ourselves responsible for them. The States would resent our action as a great interference with their sovereign powers, and rightly so, too. What would be our position ? We should be responsible, not only for the payment of the interest, but also for the repayment of the principal, and at the same time the States would be placed in the position to borrow much more freely, and to* a much greater extent than at present. Thev would say, “ We have all our great public works, that stand as security for our debts. We have great powers of direct taxation - land and income taxes - and we can offer a first-class security for any debts which we may desire to incur.” It is ridiculous to talk of our absorption of States public works, which have been carried out with loan money, unless we intend to go in for unification. Before I make un my mind as to any course of action with regard to the States debts, I shall look for some light and guidance from the various States. I want the States to come into line, and be able to say. “We are agreed that the time is ripe to take over the debts, and we are willing that thev shall be taken over on certain terms ‘ and conditions.” That consideration must be arrived at between the States and the Commonwealth authorities, because both are interested in anything that is done in regard to the consolidation, of the debts. The crucial test from the point of view of the States will lie in respect to the provision made as to future borrowing. So far as I can judge from the temper of the various States, they are. determined to have as little interference as possible with their rights. They do not want to part with any of the sovereign rights which are secured to them under our Constitution, unless they can see that anything thev are asked to surrender will advantage them, and be in the interests of the people generally. If we are going to transfer the debts of the States to the Commonwealth as a body, it is most important to know what is to be the position of the States in the future. I do not regard the problem as one which is easy to solve. I do not believe that it will be solved without a good deal of heart-burning. But, nevertheless, we shall have to make an endeavour to solve it. Senator Stewart has said that the Commonwealth, in his opinion, ought to take the Customs and Excise revenue, leaving the States to derive their income from some other source. But he also said that he would go in for a policy of high protection by means of which he would prevent the importation of goods. I have no hesitation in saying that by that policy we should materially reduce our revenue. Senator Stewart should recollect that Australia is an exporting country to a great extent, and that no nation that exports can abstain from importing.
– Unless she gives her goods away.
– Exactly; and in that case her policy would conduce to her own impoverishment. Some people do not seem to be able to grasp the fact that if this country sends millions of pounds worth of wool, and other commodities, to Great Britain and to Europe, she must import an equivalent value of goods to pay for our exports,. We do not import cash tq pay for them. We are a gold-exporting country. I was looking at the figures with regard to the imports and exports of the United States a little while ago, and found that they very nearly balance each other.
– Oh, no.
– Well, I took the trouble to look the matter .up, and I think the honorable senator will find that I am right. In fact, if any one gives fair consideration to the matter he will realize that an exporting country must necessarilv be an importing country also. The goods that we export must be paid for, and they are paid for in the shape of other goods. I trust that whatever may be done we shall not, .in regard to the income we derive from Customs taxation, look about for means of spending it, irrespective of the needs of the State and of the Commonwealth, but shall insist that it be utilized economically in the interests of the country. I desire now to say a few words with reference to defence. That was the principal topic to which the Minister addressed himself - and very properly so. Whatever may be said to the contrary, the matter of defence is in a very unsatisfactory condition in Aus- tralia. About fifteen years ago, when Major-General Hutton was in command of the forces in New South Wales, a scheme was evolved for the consolidation of the whole of the Defence Forces of Australia, so that they might operate under one head in time of trouble. When Federation was brought about it was expected that defence would be one of the principal matters dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament. But what has happened? When Australia federated, we had something like 29,000 troops available for defence purposes. Today, after five or six years of Commonwealth control, this body has decreased to 23,000. That is to 9/. we have absolutely fewer troops than we had five years ago, although the number shows an increase of 2,000 as compared with the previous year. The Minister tells us. that the Department could put 60.000 men in the field if it were necessary. That is all very well ; but does he assure ‘us that he could mobilize those men within a reasonable time, and bring them together -in such a condition that they would be fit to be sent against an enemy, and be capable of doing the duty that 60,000 properly trained troops would be able to do? I have no desire to disparage- the rifle clubs. It is a good thing to teach men to shoot straight. But it is, an equally good thing to teach them to work together so that their services may be of value in time of war. We are often told that we have only to consider what took place in South Africa to realize how irregular troops can conduct themselves in war, but it is obvious that even irregular troops become much more valuable when they are trained to work together in the field than is the case when each man “ plays off his own bat.” I do not claim that members of rifle clubs should be compelled to be instructed in military affairs to a high degree, but I do urge that they should be induced to pay some attention to military training, and should be instructed to such an extent as would render their services more valuable if ever we had to call upon them. I can speak with knowledge with regard to the question of the comparative value of volunteer and militia forces, and I say unhesitatingly that there can be no comparison between the two bodies. Undoubtedly there are good and brave men in the volunteer forces-, but their system does not compel them to undergo the same training, and to be put under the same control, as does the system under which our partially -paid forces exist. A man in the militia . recognises that he is a paid man, and that lue has certain duties to perform. He resolves to do the duty that he is paid for. and recognises that he must obey authority. He has many more opportunities to make himself efficient than has the ordinary volunteer. Quite recently the Minister of Defence appointed a Committee of Officers to report on certain recommendations made by the Imperial Defence Committee. He has told us that his officers reported in such a way as to necessitate additional expenditure. Why did they so report? They reported, amongst other things, not that the militia should be put on one side, but that the period of training should be’ extended from nine days to twenty-four. I think the honorable senator said that it would cost another £60,000 to carry that proposal into effect. The men best qualified to give advice of that kind urge that the period of training should be” increased. A man who has been in camp for nine days realizes perfectly well the great value of the training, not only to himself individually, but to every one of his comradesAt the end of the period, though they may not have learned all there is to learn, they are much better equipped to receive the additional knowledge than they otherwise would be. While I sympathize with the Minister in his difficulty as to the extra expense, I urge him to consider the desirability of extending the period to eight or ten days, or, what would be much better, to twenty days.
– No doubt an extension of the period is desirable.
.- I do not ask the Minister to make all the Forces militia or partially-paid men.
– That was the proposal of the Committee - to do away with volunteers altogether.
.- I know that a great many of the volunteers would be very glad to be partially paid, and’ I think we could with great advantage increase the number who are thus paid. There arc only about 1,500 partially-paid infantry men provided for on the Estimates; but I would prefer to see provision made for 3,000 partially-paid men. and for as manyvolunteers as can be obtained. The volunteers are much more valuable than the members of rifle clubs, inasmuch as the former do get a certain amount of training, and their officers, who take a great deal of interest in their work are making themselves more efficient every day. The difficulty which always arises when war breaks out is to obtain officers of training and ability. Soldiers can be raised and trained much more readily than officers can be found to control them. An officer has not only to know his work, but must be capable of imparting that knowledge to others, and of leading large bodies of men.
– I think we are doing very well in the way of officers now; we are keeping the number up to war strength.
– I am glad to hear that statement, because it shows that ‘in this respect the arrangements are exactly as they should be. It is, gratifying to observe that it is proposed to establish a military college at the Sydney University, where young men may be trained in military science and tactics, and made fit to take positions as officers. Then I saw from a newspaper the other day that it is intended to establish a naval school at the Melbourne University, and the two institutions* ought to prove of incalculable benefit to the defences of the country. The question of naval versus military defence has been raised. I know that the report we have received from the authorities at Home strongly recommends that we should take every care of our military defences, and practically ignore local naval defence - that we should rely on Great Britain for the latter. We all recognise that the naval defence of Great Britain is of very great value to Australia - that if it were not for the British Navy Australia would be in a very different position to-day. We can never forget that our independence and freedom are due to the power of that great Navy, which is ever on the alert to protect the British dependencies and outlying portions of the Empire. That Navy enables us to send our commerce to all ends of the earth in perfect safety. While I recognise all these advantages, and while I would willingly agree to our contributing a much larger sum than we do to the naval defences of the Empire, I at the same time feel that it is desirable that we should have some coastal defences of our own, in addition to the fixed defences. I am glad to see that steps, though they may be small, are being taken to protect our coastal commerce, and to assist, by the provision of torpedo boats and destroyers, in the protection of our ports. But I join issue with those who suggest that we should cut down our military expenditure in order to provide these special forms of coastal defence. The Military Forces and Naval Forces ought to be mutually dependent and mutually helpful ; and I should regret very much to find the expenditure reduced in such a way as to interfere with the military defences, which, have been brought to a high degree of efficiency. As to expense, I think it probable that we may be called upon to provide more like £1,500,000 per annum than £750,000 per annum, for the purposes of defence. But I ask honorable senators whether Australia - whether our trade and commerce - is not worth the monetary sacrifice? Great Britain spends a very large sum per head of her population for the purpose of maintaining the independence and integrity of the Empire, the amount we spend being a mere bagatelle in comparison. With our wealth and population, and with the future prospects of this great country, we ought to be prepared to incur any expenditure within reason on our defences. If a man has a great house or property he is prepared to pay a reasonable rate for insurance; and how much more should we be prepared to find the requisite amount to protect the Commonwealth from attack? As matters are at present, it is extremely unlikely that any at; tempt will ever be made to obtain possession of Australia ; and our defences are intended rather to prevent interference with our trade and commerce, or the destruction of our cities.
– Is there no possibility of the invasion of the Northern Territory in the event of the British Navy being defeated?
– In such am event, our position would be very parlous. At the present time, however, we are principally concerned about protecting ourselves should the British Fleet have to leaveour waters, and be unable to render help for the time being. But for the power of Great Britain we should have great difficulty inmaintaining the integrity of the Empire. The weakest spot in the whole of Australia is Port Darwin, on the northwestcoast. At that point there is really no defence, while there is much valuable country at the back which might be developed by any nation which succeeded in taking it. In such an event, we should, no doubt, find that that territory would be developed by means of the coloured labour, against which Australia has set herself. My hope is to see our back country and our high country developed by means of white labour; and I respect and admire the determination of a large number of men to keep this country white. Passing away from these larger questions, I should like to say a word or two in regard to the administration of the Defence Department. A little while ago “we determined that, instead of a Commandant, we would have a Council of Defence, thus following the example of Great Britain. But in forming that Council of Defence, we forgot one very important fact. In Great Britain it is possible to obtain for such a Council men of great experience and ability, who are in no wise dependent on the Minister of the day. In the Commonwealth, however, we are in a peculiar position. The only men capable of acting on a Council of Defence are those who, while occupying high positions in the military service, are directly under the control of the Ministry. In this respect a very great mistake was made, and the Minister will pardon me for adding that another great mistake is now being made in discouraging the employment of Imperial officers. I say this without in any way deprecating the knowledge, ability, and skill of Australian officers, who, I am glad to recognise, have as much brains, intelligence, and application as those in the Imperial service.
– And some of the Australian officers, have had equal experience in actual warfare.
.- I am glad to recognise the fact that we have such men :in the Australian service; but for the position of Inspector-General we require an officer with extensive knowledge, gained in other parts of the world, and in connexion with other bodies of troops. The InspectorGeneral should be chosen, it may be from thousands, and the principal qualification should be that he has had great opportunities in a wide sphere to obtain experience and knowledge.
– And when an InspectorGeneral is brought from Home, our officers have very often to teach him his duties.
.- I have not known a case of that character. I should be very sorry to hear any Australian officers claim that they had taught an officer of this standing his military duties. They would no doubt have to impart local knowledge to him. I do not mean* to say that we should always import our militaryofficers, but we ought not to set our faces against their importation under any circumstances, and decide to rely solely upon our own men.
– No one has done so.
.- It would be a sorry business for ‘Australia if we were to shut out every man who has gained knowledge and experience of military matters at Home, because, in regard to such questions, we are only children. The one little ray of light that I discover in connexion with the administration of our Defence Force is that we have adopted a system of sending some of our men to the old country to obtain knowledge.
– We have three men serving in our. Forces now, one of whom is from India, another from Canada, and the third from Great Britain, and the military authorities in those countries take men from us.
– I am glad to know that the Minister recognises that it is wise to send some of our men abroad to be educated. It would be a good -thing if the exchange of officers were carried out to a greater extent, because it must be an advantage to officers from Great Britain, Canada, and India to know the character of the men we have in our Defence Force. To-day we have Brigadier-General Hoad acting as Inspector-General of the Forces. He is at the same time Deputy AdjutantGeneral and a member of the MilitaryBoard. If, in the course of his visits of inspection as Inspector-General of the Forces, he makes reports, they are sent in to himself and others, and he assists in determining whether his reports shall be acted upon or not. Does not Senator Playford think that that is getting back again to the former position of having a Commandant, with power to make his own inspections, and give directions in all military matters ?
– The honorable senator is arguing on the assumption that when
Major-General Finn’s time is up, BrigadierGeneral Hoad will remain a member of the Military Board. What right has he to argue on that assumption?
– I am arguing an the facts as thev exist at present.
– This is only an interregnum.
– That maybe so, but there can be no harm in informing the Minister of the views which honorable senators take of the position.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator’s views, but he has no right to say that the present position will be continued.
– I am pointing out the anomalies of the existing position. Whilst Major-General Finn was acting as Inspector-General of the Forces he had to travel from one end of Australia to the other.
– He travelled about a great deal too much. That is the unfortunate part of it.
– He certainly did not do so in order to indulge his desire to travel about too much.
– I do not know whether he did or did not.
– But, because the Minister of Defence did not give him the assistance which he needed for the work of inspection iti is absurd to say that an officer occupying the position of InspectorGeneral of the Forces should run about to inspect half-a-dozen troops in this or that little country town.
– I never ordered him to do so.
.- His time should be too valuable for that. He should have been able to obtain the services of Subordinate officers to make inspections in such places that he might be left free ‘to report on matters of more importance to the Minister or to the Council of Defence. How were Major-General Finn’s reports treated? Was he ever made aware that they were considered bv the Council of Defence or of the result of their consideration of them? So far as I can learn, this officer, who was paid a large salary for the performance of very important duties,1 sent in reports from time to time, and for aught he knew they were quietly pigeon-holed, and no notice taken of them.
– Did the Council of Defence ever meet?
– I believe they met twice, and the Minister can say whether they met more frequently. The very object of the appointment of the Council was that they should meet and consider these matters.
– No. The honorable senator is confusing the Military Board with the Council. The Council was appointed for the purpose of deciding upon schemes of defence. It consists of Ministers and a few others, and is like the Imperial Council of Defence, which only meets very occasionally.
.- Then how often does the Military Board meet?
– The Board meets every week, and sometimes two or three times a week.
– Do they consider and come to a- conclusion on every recommendation sent in to them?
– Yes, on every one.
.- The Deputy Adjutant-General is one of the principal officers of the Board at the present time.
– He has his particular department.
.- I was talking of the reports which Major-General Finn made from time to time, and I ask the Minister to say how many times that officer was made acquainted with the fact that any decision had been arrived at with regard to his recommendations.
– That was not necessary
– What happened if he made a report of which the Military Board approved?
– It went on to the Commandants of the States.
.- Should he not have been informed of the decisions arrived at by the Board?
– That was not necessary.
– It seems to me that our military affairs have been carried on under a most extraordinary system. I should like to know from the Minister whether all the reports which MajorGeneral Finn made on matters of any great importance have been laid on the table, or brought under the notice of honorable senators? I speak subject to correction in what I am about to say, but I believe that shortly before his departure from the Commonwealth, Major-General Finn sent in a report containing important information and suggestions, and referring to many matters connected with! our Military Forces. I understand that that report has never seen the light of day, and has certainly not been brought under the notice of members of the Federal Parliament.
– I never asked Major-General Finn to make the report. He chose to make it, and in it he disapproved of everything that had been done - the Council of Defence, the Act of Parliament we had passed, the objection to the appointment of Imperial Officers, and so on. I have not the slightest objection to laying the report on the table, if any honorable senator wishes to see it.
– Has it ever been laid on the table so far, or brought under the notice of honorable senators?
– Why should it be?
.- Does the honorable senator think that we. paid this officer a big salary that he might report only to the Minister?
– He marked his report “ confidential.”
– I really must ask Senator Gould if he thinks that what he is saying has anything to do with the Appropriation Bill ? The honorable senator will see that he is talking of what has been done. I have permitted the utmost latitude to honorable senators, but I think that the line should be drawn somewhere.
– I recognise your courtesy, as I am sure every member of the Senate does.
– I think it was verywrong of Major-General Finn, after sending me a confidential report, to tell honorable senators what it contained.
– He certainly never told me a word of what it contained. As the Defence Department is dealt with in the Appropriation Bill, I believe that I am at .liberty to criticise the whole administration of. its affairs during the past year.
– Why? The Appropriation Bill is like any other Bill. The subject-matter of the Bill is what ought to be debated. I admit that that principle has been departed from by every other honorable senator who has spoken this afternoon, and I shall not stop Senator Gould, but I ask him to confine his remarks as closely as possible to the subject-matter of the Bill.
.- I shall make my remarks as brief as I can while doing justice to the importance of the subject with which I am dealing. We are called upon in this Bill to vote the salaries of officers of the Defence- Force, and we should have the advantage of seeing the whole of the reports sent in by Major-General Finn, and every report submitted to the Minister in connexion with the administration of the Forces, with the exception of those that are really confidential, and which for high State reasons should not be made known.
– The report the honorable senator is talking about is marked “ confidential.”
– Let me .at once disabuse Senator Playford’s mind if he thinks that Major-General Finn ever said a single word to me about any report he sent in.
– Then how did the information leak out?
.- I do not know. I have heard of it, and that is why I speak of it.
– It is a confidential report.
– Such a report should not be kept secret.
– Senator Playford has said that in his last report Major-General Finn objects to the Council of Defence, the system under which the Forces are controlled, and to a very great deal of what has been done in the past ; and I say that we are entitled to know the objections he has made.
– If he had not marked his report “ confidential,” honorable senators would have seen it.
– He was recognised as the ablest military man in the Commonwealth.
– I do not know who recognised him as such.
.- We should have his report, and the advantage of knowing his reasons for objecting to any matter connected with the administration of the Defence Forces. It is not necessary that we should adopt all his conclusions, or condemn everything that he has condemned, but honorable senators should know the reasons he gives for his condemnation. I have no doubt that if we saw the report it would shed a flood of light on some matters to which I have referred this afternoon.
However much Senator Playford may take exception to what Major-General_ Finn has done, I agree with Senator Smith that that officer was recognised as one of the ablest military men we have had in the Commonwealth. He would never have attained the position he occupies to-day if he had not possessed grit, determination, ability, and backbone. It is greatly to his credit that he has risen from the ranks to the position he occupies to-day, and I believe that Senator Playford will live to find Major-General Finn occupying a still more prominent position in military affairs.
– I hope he will; but he did no good for us during the last three years.
.- I hope that when Parliament meets again we shall find that the Minister has developed a complete defence scheme for the Commonwealth, which we can look upon as his final determination on the subject. No doubt such a scheme will provoke much adverse criticism as well as approval, but that is inevitable in the consideration of any matter of importance by men of different minds.
– In common with preceding speakers, I deplore the fact that this Bill is being discussed on almost the last day of the session. Doubtless it is an advantage to Ministers who desire to get through the business of the session quickly to introduce the Appropriation Bill at a stage when the speeches made upon it must necessarily be brief. I should have liked the Bil! to be brought in some months ago, and advanced to the secondreading stage, so that we might have had ample time in which to deal with the items in Committee. I desire to elicit some information relative to the defence of Western Australia. In his second-reading speech the Minister touched upon a question of great importance to the defence of the Commonwealth. As Western Australia is the most directly affected. I should _ like to get from the Minister, when he replies, a little more information concerning the dismantling of the fort at Albany.
– We are not going to dismantle it.
– The honorable senator referred to the matter in _ a brief way. He said that it was mentioned in the report.’ but I could not gather whether he intended to act upon the report or not.
– We do intend to act upon the report, which says, “ Do not close the fort.”
– That is the opposite of what the honorable senator said’ here
– I did not say that we were going to close the fort.
– Perhaps when I quote the Minister’s remarks he will see the necessity of supplementing them when he speaks in reply -
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 Wollongong. Then comes a very important recommendation, to which a very great deal of consideration has been given, namely, submarine mines.
The honorable senator proceeds to deal with another subject.
– Yes ; but further on I dealt with the report of my own officerswho recommended that the fort at Albany should be retained, and said that we approved of that - at least, I. intended tosay so.
– I must have missed that part of the Minister’s speech. I am glad to hear his explanation. I could not understand how such an important strategic point as Albany could be left out of consideration in a scheme for the defence of the ports of Australia, because it has always been recognised by military and naval experts as being the most important point of all. Let me now deal with the question of our ‘defences generally. There is no doubt that there is great fault to be found with each political party, because not. one has a complete scheme to submit. Unfortunately, we are divided amongst ourselves. It is a very unfortunate thing for the complete defence of Australia that the Parliament .cannot arrive at a satisfactory scheme. I think I am justified in saying that anything short of the complete arming of the manhood of Australia!, and their conversion into an effective citizen army will not meet with the approval of the Senate. I believe that allpolitical parties in Australia are gradually coming round to that view. I am sorry that the Government have not led ‘the way in that regard. A year or two ago I thought that the Prime Minister would be likely to take a leap, and go to the country on that question at the next elections. 1 ani quite sure that the country is prepared to sanction the creation of a citizen army. ‘ 1 am also convinced that any of the expensive schemes which have been suggested for the defence of Australia by the establishment.of an Australian Navy will not meet with public approval. The idea is rather fascinating, and the phrase “ Australian Navy “ sounds very well until we come to consider the question of ways and means. If we ever established an Australian Navy, which would be up-to-date and equal to any emergency, we should have placed round the necks of the people a weight which would become a very great burden and grievance. I do not believe that Australia is prepared to adopt a scheme of that kind; but I feel quite satisfied that it is readyto institute a citizen army at a minimum of cost to the taxpayers,. But I recognise that even that method of defence would cost much money, and that we should have to consider the question of ways and means. In my opinion, there is only one possible source of taxation to which we could resort with anything like credit to ourselves. It would be unsatisfactory and unjust to fall back upon the Customs revenue for that purpose. We already have too much taxation of that kind. Senator Gould, I think, hit the nail on the head when he spoke of the Defence expenditure as a. matter of insurance. That is the standpoint from which any scheme ought to be regarded. I think that every one will admit that if a man has a fine house, almost a palace, his premium ought to be considerably more than that of a man who has a mere “humpy” to defend. We must be prepared to resort to special taxation for the defence of Australia, and, to my mind, there could be no better tax for the purpose than a progressive income tax. That is a question which we shall have to face in the near future if the scheme of any political party for the defence of Australia is to be launched. Senator Playford seems to think that naval defence is more important than land defence, in fact, he made that statement in his, speech. If I thought that we were in a position to have a navy able to withstand an enemy, I might be inclined to agree with him.
– I never said that T looked upon naval defence as trie most im portant. We are only proposing a harbor defence now, and it is a very small thing, too.
– I copied from the Minister’s speech the words, which he used.
– If I look at the question as a whole, undoubtedly the naval defence of Australia is, if anything, more important than the land defence.
– The question can only be looked at” from the standpoint’ of what is practicable. I agree with the Minister that if we could afford the expenditure, it would be much safer for Australia to have a navy of her own to meet a possible enemy on the sea, rather than wait until the enemy landed, and then fight him. We are not in a position, however, to stand the strain upon our resources ; consequently we shall have to consider what is, practicable. I hold that the establishment of a citizen army is practic-able. In my opinion, it is the only possible scheme. This talk of providing a navy at a cost of £2,500,000 reminds one of a navy of the comic-opera type. If the money were spent upon a citizen army, the manufacture of rifles,, and the provision of skilled officers for drilling our men, it would be well spent. I feel quite sure that if the money were spent in the waysuggested by the Minister - on a mosquito fleet-
– No, we only recommend £750,000 to be spent in the course of three years.
– I thought I heard the honorable senator refer to an expenditure of £2,500,000.
– That is the estimated cost of carrying out Captain Creswell ‘s, scheme, but it has not been adopted in its entirety.
– The navy which could be provided by the expenditure of that sum would be such an expensive luxury, and of so very little use, that we ought to consider whether the money could not be spent to much better advantage in arming our manhood, and thus constituting a citizen, army in accordance with, I believe, the wish of the people of Australia. Several honorable senators from Tasmania have referred to the financial aspect of the question, and I wish to refer to what has transpired in regard to the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution. I am quite sure that if they would look at the matter from the stand-point of Western Australia, as they ought to do at some time or other, they would come to a different conclusion.
– I desire, sir, to call your attention to the s,tate of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– So far as the bookkeeping question is concerned, we might reasonably have expected that we should be spared any remarks, at least for some period. After what transpired a few weeks ago in connexion with the Kalgoorlie ‘to I ort Augusta Railway Survey Bill, it would have been nothing but decent that a reasonable time should elapse before we had another exhibition of anti-Federalism such as has been given in this matter. I am sure that, even if the objection of Western Australia to the removal of the bookkeeping system were overcome, New South Wales would object to that being done.
– I doubt it.
– I do not think that the people of New South Wales are likely to agree to a proposal that would place them at a disadvantage, and would involve a great loss of revenue. That, however, is a matter for them to decide. It is no business of mine to interfere. But from the Western Australian point of view, I have no hesitation in saying that if the bookkeeping section were altered, so that our revenue was distributed on a per capita basis, it would practically mean driving Western Australia into insolvency. She could not possibly carry on the government of her enormous territory without her present sources of revenue. I cannot understand how the representatives of any other State can seek to take from Western Australia any of her revenue. She has to govern one-third of the great continent of Australia ; and is it reasonable to expect that a handful of people should be able to cope with such a vast undertaking if her revenue is seriously depleted ? If a proposition were made bv the other States to relieve Western Australia of some portion of the cost of governing her territory, it would be far more reasonable than is the request put forward by the Tasmanians for a per capita distribution of revenue. Senator Clemons put the position in rather a novel manner when he said that the bookkeeping section as it stands gives an advantage to a State that prefers to trade with the outside world rather than to give a preference to Australian-made goods. There might be something in that charge if the people of Western Australia were so unfriendly or unpatriotic in their commercial relations with the eastern States as. to prefer goods imported from abroad. But, as a matter of fact, Western Australia not only imports a larger quantity of goods per head of the population from the outside world than does any other State in Australia, but she also consumes a larger amount per head than the other States do. That fact alone shows that there is nothing unfriendly or unpatriotic in her attitude, if the trade relations of Western Australia are compared with those of Tasmania it will be found that she buys hundreds of pounds’ worth of Tasmanian goods for every single pound’s worth that Tasmania buys from her.
– Are not the Western Australian people going to boycott Tasmanian jams on account of the votes of the Tasmanian senators regarding the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill ?
– I am not prophesying what may happen. I am talking about what is now being done. I point to the enormous trade that Western Australia does with the eastern States as proving beyond all doubt that Senator Clemons’ contention is quite baseless. But the fact remains that Western Australia has a greater consuming power, through her population being made up so largely of male adults, than has any other State; and the articles consumed are largely those on which there is the Greatest amount of taxation. There is nothing more reasonable in these circumstances than that the revenue contributed by these people should be spent for the purposes of good government within their territory .
– Our grievance is that new expenditure is to be distributed per capita.
– I think that Tasmania has very little to complain of. The result works out very much to her advantage. Senator Clemons, at the close of his remarks, introduced what was, in my opinion, a rather novel subject into the discussion on the Appropriation Bill. He referred to the policy of the Labour Party, and its attitude towards collectivism, and went on to point out that recent measures which had been dealt with by the Senate proved that we could remove many of the grievances from which the workers of Aus- tralia suffer by other means than Socialism. I quite agree that many improvements can be attained by the kind of legislation that the honorable senator had in his mind. Arbitration Acts and Wages Boards have done a great deal of good, but they are very far from affording a complete cure for the evils with which we have to contend. At the same time, however, I for one am very thankful to know that Senator Clemons is disposed to help us in such directions. I should welcome all the help we are likely to get from him inthis regard. I am glad that he is disposed to look favorably upon legislation which is regarded by the Labour Party as being calculated to benefit the workers. If he gives us his assistance in this direction in the future, none will be more delighted than the members of the Labour Party.
– In addressing a few words to the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I should like to emphasize what has been said with regard to the way business has been crowded into the Senate towards the end of the session. To my . mind it would be far more in the interests of Parliament and of the Government - not to speak of the people - if a. system of introducing business were adopted that would prevent such an occurrence in the future. The difficulty could ‘be overcome to some extent by the Government stating in the GovernorGeneral’s speech at the opening of the session the business that Parliament was expected to carry through - always excepting, of course, any measures of an emergency character that might have to be introduced. When Bills are crowded before a Chamber like the Senate at a late period of the session, it is impossible for them to receive the consideration that they deserve. I wish to say a word or two with respect to a matter that has been referred to by nearly every senator who has spoken - namely, the apportionment of the revenue amongst the States. I differ to a considerable extent from the last speaker. I honestly believe that Tasmania has some reason to complain of the operation of the bookkeeping system. When Senator de Largie tell us that Western Australia is a greater consumer than any other State in the Commonwealth in proportion to population, I reply that that is not the fault of Tasmania. So far as development is concerned, Western Australia is, comparatively speaking, a new
State. But Tasmania is an old State, and, besides having overtaken to a considerable extent her own consumption, she does not need to import the same quantity of goods from abroad or from other States in proportion to population as Western Australia does. We ought to recognise that Tasmania, as well as Western Australia, undergoes disadvantages. But look at the difference in the position. When Western Australia entered the Federation she came in under conditions which, gave her control of her own revenue for five years. Tasmania had no such condition. Therefore, Western Australia, up to the present time, has had a considerable advantage over Tasmania ; and I think that it would” be graceful on the part of the representatives of Western Australia if. they would, to some extent, fall in with the views of their Tasmanian colleagues.
– It might be graceful, but could we afford it?
– I have heard a Western Australian senator declare that his State ought to depend a little more upon direct taxation than she does. So long as the representatives of Western Australia are prepared to pour Customs revenue into the Treasury of that State, there will be no necessity for direct taxation. There is some force in the. argument used by Senator Clemons that Tasmania has not had the necessity to largely import goods from abroad, that State being able to supply her wants within her own borders, or to obtain commodities from the other States of the Commonwealth.
– The main point urged was that Tasmania purchas.es from the mainland States, whereas Western Australia purchases from abroad.
– I do not quite agree with that view, because Western Australia purchases to a considerable extent from the other States of the Commonwealth.
– Western Australia purchases ten times more from the other States than does Tasmania.
– As I have already said, that is because Western Australia is a new State, and has not developed sufficiently to produce what she requires. I have no doubt that the States would be preparedto come to some arrangement whereby for a certain term of years Western Australia should be compensated for
– The Tasmanian representatives are quite satisfied that that would be a fair thing.
– As Western Australia develops, she may rise to the level of the other States, and possess the same class of population. In ten or twelve years, probably Tasmania and Western Australia will be very nearly in the same position; and then it would be quite legitimate to distribute the revenue on a per capita system.
– The results since Federation do not warrant that statement in regard to Western Australia.
– If the States federated only for the purpose of getting an advantage one over the other, there must have been a very poor Federal spirit abroad.
– That is not a reply to my remark. Manufacturing in Western Australia has decreased.
– We cannot suppose that Western Australia, under responsible government, will stand still any more than has any one of the other States ; and, if necessary, assistance ought to be rendered to one of the members of the Federation. I do not wish to labour the question, although many arguments might be advanced to show why the States ought to agree to a distribution of the revenue on a per capita basis. My idea is that the money for works and other expenses ought to be taken out of the purse into which we put the revenue; but a difficulty arises from the fact that, up to the present time, there appears to be a sort of distrust growing up between the different States, and also between the States and the Commonwealth. It is the duty of the representatives of the States to arrange amongst themselves, and then come to the Commonwealth with the agreement at which they have arrived. But the representatives of Tasmania, Western Australia, and the other States, when they meet in conference, are always on guard lest one should get the slightest advantage over the other. This indicates but little of the Federal spirit of which we heard so much” a few years ago. I shall .not detain the Senate at any great length at this stage of the session ; but I desire to refer to some remarks made bv Senator Dobson with reference to the cadet system. That honorable
– Every youth would be “a civilian with a little military training.
– I remind Senator Dobson that his policy has always, been to “ go slow ‘ ‘ in endeavouring to arrive at the perfection of any of our institutions. If we were in a position to give a training to 20,000 cadets in the States schools, what would be the effect? If each boy got two years’ training it would be of considerable a’dvantage to him, not only as a possible soldier, but as a citizen. I point out, however, that the life of a soldier is practically from the age of twenty to the age of forty, and 20,000 boys in training each two years would mean 10,000 a year, so that in twenty years we should have 200,000 trained men in Australia.
– But boys leave school at thirteen years of age. I do not want to train children, but youths. Is it not more important to train a youth between the age of fourteen and sixteen, than to train a boy between the age of twelve and fourteen ?
– Then that knocks the bottom out of the cadet scheme.
– It is probable that the boys would be trained from the age of fourteen to sixteen.
– Not under the scheme (proposed by the Government.
– Then the scheme can be altere’d to suit the honorable senator, and the majority of this Chamber. I shall not deal with the question of defences generally; but merely desire now to say a word or two in reference to Senator Clemons’ remark about -the socialistic tendencies of the Labour Party. The honorable senator may not have meant to be unfair, but, to my mind, his remarks will bear that description. The Labour Party, as a socialistic party, does not take into consideration only the welfare of the workers in any industry. . When we pro-
Dose to nationalize any industry which has become a monopoly, we do not do so in the interests entirely of the workers, but also in the interests of the producers of the raw material, arid also, ultimately, in the interest of the consumers of the manufactured article. It is because the whole community is affected that the Labour Tarty have determined, as soon as they have the power, to bring under State or Commonwealth control any industry which has even a tendency to become a monopoly. But, so far as the division of profits and all that sort of thing is concerned, such an idea never entered the head of any exponent of the platform of the Labour Party.
– The grave importance of the questions of finance which have to be faced within the Commonwealth at the present time, are, I think, the greatest condemnation possible of the Government’s action in placing this Bill before us at a time when it is impossible to discuss it in the way it deserves. I do not propose to inflict upon the Senate at this stage of the session any statement with regard to the finances, or the adjustment of the debts, and so forth, to which I am sure the Senate is not now prepared to listen. I should like to say, however, that, in my opinion, it will be only fair to Western Australia to recognise the financial position of that State. It is frequently asserted by honorable senators - it has bee.n asserted within the last few minutes by Senator McGregor - that it would be possible, by imposinig direct taxation in Western Australia, to* bring about forthwith a per capita distribution of income and expenditure. I should like to direct the attention of honorable senators to one or two facts in regard, to Western Australia.
– I did not make that inference.
– The fact is that, so far as regards actual realized wealth, the people of Western Australia are the poorest in the Commonwealth. No doubt they receive large wages ; but in view of the amount ner head .of actual realized taxable wealth, the position is verv remarkable. I have here the latest edition of The Seven Colonies of Australasia, published in 1903-4.
– There have been advances since then.
– The honorable senator can make what allowances he chooses for the interval ; but the significance of the figures will not be affected.
According to- this volume, the value of property per inhabitant in the various States is as follows: - New South. Wales, £258; Victoria, £256; Queensland, ^,229
– What is meant by ‘ property ‘ ‘ - land ?
– Every form of private wealth in the State. We must recollect that this division per inhabitant includes every man, woman, and child ; and there is a less proportion of women and children in Western Australia than in any other of the States. If we considered only the actual number of adult males in the respective States the figures would be most remarkable, and the difference shown very much greater. If the proportion of women and children were eliminated the wealth per head of adult workers would be shown to be very much less in Western Australia than in the other States. Honorable senators may take it for granted that the taxable wealth of Western Australia - that which could be made the subject of direct taxation - is very much lower than that of any other State of the Union. There is another point to which attention might be directed, and it is one to which Coghlan makes reference. I might state it in this way -. The wealth of a State, and the wealth in a State are two different things. I am inclined to think that the people of Victoria are the richest per .head of the people of Australia. I think if might be shown that per head they are richer than are the people of New South Wales, because they have large investments in the other States. Not only does a considerable proportion of the- actual wealth in Western Australia belong to people in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, but a proportion also belongs to people in Great Britain. A larger proportion of the wealth in that State is, I imagine, owned by outsiders than is the f-ase in any other State. If honorable senators bear these facts in. mind, thev will see that Western Australia is less able than are the other States to bear a system of direct taxation. In point of fact, while her potentialities and latent wealth are so great. her actual realized taxable wealth to-day is below that nt the other States, and therefore her position demands from us that special “treatment for whicli her representatives ask. I do not propose to der.l with any of the important problems concerning the Army and Navy, which really call for more attention than Parliament in its exhausted stages can give them, and to deal with which in a proper and businesslike way we require time. Australia is not a little colony, but a great continent, and for my part I do not tnink that, however much we may desire to curtail the military expenditure of Australia, it is possible to reduce it below the present figure. As for the Navy, I for one, strongly support a system of Commonwealth self-defence in addition to a reasonable contribution to the Imperial Navy. I think we should provide some system of defence of our ports, and I am with Ministers in arranging for a reasonable system of the kind. I desire to make a brief reference to the remarks which Senator Playford made last night, in reply to the speech I then made. I think I shall be justified in doing so in view of the connexion that exists between the subjects then dealt with, and the Customs expenditure provided for in this Bill.
– The honorable senator may speak on general lines, but he is not at liberty to refer to a. former debate.
– I wish to say that, according to the actual terms of the Customs Union Convention of South Africa, it is not limited to five States, but includes nine - Cape Colony, Natal, the Orange River Colony, the Transvaal, Southern Rhodesia, Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate, Swaziland, and NorthWestern Rhodesia.
– There is nothing about those States in this Bill.
– I connect the reference with the proposals in the Bill for Customs expenditure. I wish to direct attention to the fact that the Convention includes a statement of the Tariff in existence in South Africa.
– Is not the honorable senator endeavouring to go back and re-argue a question which was dealt with last night? Does he think that fair, or in accordance with the standing order?
– I think so. I might remind you, sir. that you have pointedly referred to the latitude you have already given.
– The more latitude I give the more honorable senators take.
– Relying upon that, I feel that I may ask to be allowed to refer to this matter for about a minute. I wish to draw attention to this reference to the duty on sugar which appears in the South African Customs Convention -
In the case of sugar upon which bounties are granted in the country of origin, an additional duty equal to the amount of such bounty is to be levied.
That is all I wish to say except to add that the document confirms all I stated last night with regard to the duties. On the subject of revenue generally, I would urge very strongly on the Senate that we must do everything we can to conserve public revenue,, and to avoid entering upon schemes on which the revenue which is so much needed for Commonwealth purposes will be more or Jess thrown away. I desire in the present circumstances to add nothing further to the remarks I have made.
– I have very little to say generally on the Bill before us, but I am very pleased to know that owing to action taken in another place we are not being asked to sanctipn a very important departure in the establishment of penny postage. I recognise that sooner or later there must be uniform postage charges throughout Australia, and that as Victoria has penny postage now, and the other States have not adopted that system, a great deal of confusion arid inconvenience is frequently caused to those who require to make use of the Post Office. Still, in the present financial position of some of the States I am satisfied that they could not afford such a luxury, for a luxury it certainly would be, at the present time. I am driven to that conclusion as regards my own State, because I know that many of the postal services there are starved in the endeavour to make ends meet.
– Is not the honorable senator discussing a proposition which is not before the Senate?
– We are being asked in this Bill to vote very large expenditure in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department.
– It contains no proposal for the establishment of penny postage.
– I think that I am entitled without any transgression of the Standing Orders to refer to the general question ofpost-office- expenditure in any State. I viewed the proposal for the establishment of penny postage with alarm, not because I would not welcome such a system as soon as we can afford it, but because in Tasmania at the present time the Post and Telegraph Department is unable to give small towns arid partially-settled districts the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities which the residents require. These services are at present being denied to a most deserving section of the people, because those who look for them are informed that it is expected that the revenue from the Department iri Tasmania shall as nearly as possible balance the expenditure. I direct the attention of Senator Keating, who represents the PostmasterGeneral in the Senate, to the fact that at many places in Tasmania those in charge of post-offices and in receipt of £10, £15, and £20 a year, are doing work which is certainly worth double that amount.
– Are not those contract offices, and is not the amount fixed as the result of tenders?
– It is quite true that I refer to contract post-offices, but after a contract has been let at, say, £15 a year a considerable increase in the work to be done has led to requests for an increase in the price paid, and these have always been met by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Tasmania with the reply that the Department cannot afford the expense.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Colonial Conference. - Subjects suggested for discussion.
Re James Stone. - Royal Commission on Tobacco Monopoly. - Memorandum by the AttorneyGeneral.
Correspondence re Naval Agreement.
Surplus Revenue returnable by the Commonwealth to Tasmania. - Correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Tasmania.
Federal Capital Site. - Further correspondence between the Prime Minister, and the Premier of New South Wales.
Ordered to be printed.
Sitting .suspended from 6.33 to 8 p.m.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill. Electoral Validating Bill.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message, stating that it had agreed to part of amendments Nos. 4 and 5, made and insisted upon by the Senate, still disagreed to part of the Senate’s amendments, and had made further amendments.
– Pursuant to my contingent notice, I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the message being at once considered, and all consequent action taken.
– I do not think that that motion ought to be interposed in a debate on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill.
– Then the messages from the Governor-General ought not to have been read. As the other House is to meet at 9 o’clock, I am anxious to deal with this message.
– Under ordinary circumstances the motion is that a message be printed, and taken into consideration at a future date. Therefore, I do not think that I was wrong in reading the message.
– As the message has been read, am I not entitled to move my contingent notice of motion ?
– The Senate is in (he middle of a debate on the Appropriation Bill, and the fact that a message has been received does not alter the position. The question is whether we can interrupt the debate in order to take other business.
– Of course, sir, I must bow to your ruling; but it is very inconvenient. There is nothing in the message except that the other House has offered to compromise.
– I shall not read any more messages until the debate on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill has been concluded.
– Cannot Senator O’Keefe move the adjournment of the debate, and ask leave to continue his remarks when it is resumed ?
– The position is that the Senate has received a message, and that no motion has been made in respect of it.
– Pursuant to my contingent notice, I have moved that the message be at once considered.
– Perhaps I was wrong in reading the message, but it was handed to me by the Clerk, and I did not know what it was about.
– May I point out to you, sir, that there might be a debate on any motion which Senator Playford moved, and that we should then have one debate intruded into another debate.
– That is the difficulty I feel. I think it would be better that I should report the message byandby.
– For the sake of meeting the general convenience, cannot Senator O’Keefe move the adjournment of the debate, and ask leave to continue his remarks when it is resumed?
- Senator O’Keefe cannot do that when he is in the middle of his speech.
– If it will meet the convenience of the Government, I am quite willing to waive my right of speech until the message has been considered.
– It is not a question of preserving the right of the honorable senator, but the rights of the Senate. I think that he had better continue his remarks’ on the Appropriation Bill. I shall regard the message as not having been reported.
Debate resumed (vide page 6361).
.- When my speech was interrupted I was pointing out that for a long time in Tasmania the Post and Telegraph Department has been practically starving its servants in many ways, and that when representations have been made for increased postal facilities, or for better services, or for more adequate payment to contract postmasters, the reply from the Deputy Postmaster-General has always been that there is no money available, as the revenue must cover all the expenditure. For that reason. I am very pleased that we are not asked to institute penny postage at this juncture. I understand, on very good authority, that in connexion with the administration of the Department a practice has grown up which is very reprehensible, and to which I now call attention, because I may not be present when the particular Estimates are brought under review. The
Public Service Regulations provide that in the event of an officer having worked his full time during the week, and being required to come back on the following Sunday, he shall be entitled to overtime. Both the intention and the spirit of the Act are being evaded by a very ingenious device on the part of postmasters where a telegraph officer is brought back to do Sunday work after having worked the regulation number of hours during the preceding week. Frequently a telegraph, operator is let off for a few hours during the week preceding a Sunday on which it it known that he will be required to do Sunday work. I am assured on good authority that the practice is rapidly growing.
– It is a most improper practice.
– It is.
– It is done all over the Commonwealth.
– Palpably this ingenious device is resorted to for the purpose of evading the provision in the Public Service Act that Sunday work shall be paid for at time and a half. I contend that the Department has no right to act in that very unfair way. I ask the Minister of Defence to call the attention of the Postmaster-General to the matter.
– Can the honorable senator trace the authority by which it is done ?
– I do not know by whose authority it is done ; but I suspect that the practice has resulted from the earnest desire of tlie Deputy Postmaster-General1 for each State to keep clown the expenditure. That laudable desire can be carriedtoo far, and it will be carried too far when the purpose is to defeat the declared intention of the Parliament. I know that the practice is existing in one State ; but to what extent it obtains in other States I do not know, though I have reason to think that it is rapidly growing there. Perhaps the matter has only to be mentioned here to cause the Postmaster-General or the Public Service Commissioner to institute an . inquiry and ‘provide a remedy.
– He is looking into it now.
– The grievance should be righted. I have a few general remarks to offer concerning the Approtpriation Bill. We have had an exhaustive speech from Senator Clemons, which was followed by speeches from other honorable senators, dealing with the financial aspects of Federation. The issues involved are so lange and so complex that it would be absolutely impossible for me to do justice to them in the few moments at my disposal. But I take this opportunity to* say that I am very sorry indeed that the Senate had not a chance of expressing an opinion by division on the motion brought forward by me a few weeks ago, to the effect that the revenue and expenditure of the Commonwealth should be distributed on a population basis, instead of as at present in accordance with the bookkeeping system. We were then within a few weeks of the date, 8th October, when the bookkeeping system might terminate, if Parliament so desired. At any time after that date we might substitute any other method of distribution that Parliament deemed advisable. Had there been a division upon my motion, I am not sure that either it or Senator Pulsford’s amendment would have been carried.
– I assure the honorable senator that so far as I know it would have been.
– I did not take such a sanguine view of the probabilities as Senator Clemons appears to have done. Of course, I do not claim originality for the motion. The proposal received prominence in Tasmania a considerable time ago, at the instance of Senator Clemons. It has been much’ discussed. But I am satisfied that, having been so far ventilated, the principle expressed in my motion now receives far more support in both Houses of this Parliament than it previously did; and I am satisfied that in the very near future, no matter who may be the representatives of the various States in this Parliament, a more equitable system of finance will be instituted. The more the question is studied the more it becomes patent to every member of this Parliament that it is impossible to continue the present un-Federal system without continuing to disturb the finances of the States. I believe that even the representatives of those States- which consider that they would lose money by the establishment of a proper .system of Federal finance are coming round to the view that thev must favorably consider a different method in the near future. I am given to understand that in another ;place that feeling is steadily growing, and Senator
Clemons assures me, by interjection, that in the Senate there is a majority in favour of a per capita distribution of revenue, or, at all events, in favour of altering the present system. It is recognised that one great bar to the immediate abolition of the bookkeeping system, and the introduction of the per capita system is the situation of Western Australia. New South Wales would also lose to some extent. There is no honorable senator who desires to do any injustice to Western Australia, and I can only add my assurance to those which have already been given, that the peculiar financial circumstances of that State will be fully considered when the question is dealt with. No honorable senator desires to enrich his own State at the expense of Western Australia. But there are two States, Queensland and Tasmania, which can hardly continue to carry on the functions of government under the present financial system. A great deal has been made of the fact that if the bookkeeping system were abolished, and a per capita system of distributing revenue substituted, Western Australia would lose £300,000 a year. But I invite those Western Australian senators who use that argument to recollect that the Treasurer of Tasmania is. now losing over ,£200,000 a year out of a much smaller revenue than Western Australia has; that is to say, that his Custom’s and Excise revenue is less by that amount today than it was before Federation.
– So is the Western Australian revenue.
– Western Australia is also receiving less, and we know that her finances would be disarranged. I should be the last to give a vote to benefit my own State at the expense of Western Australia. My opposition to a proposal which was before the Senate a few weeks ago relating to the’ making of a survey for a railway was based on the opinion” that before we enter into large items of new expenditure, we ought to provide a more Federal system of finance. Once we do adopt a truly Federal system, there will be much less opposition to such proposals. The Premiers and Treasurers of the States are at present manifesting a great deal of anxiety as to whether the Braddon section will be continued after 1910. The majority of them are in favour of that section being continued in perpetuity. I hopei before the question of its continuation comes up for review, this
Parliament will decide to substitute some provision for it which will be fair to the States, and will not put them in a difficulty regarding their finances. I believe that the desire of this Parliament will be to insure to the States Parliaments that they will not be unfairly handicapped in the matter of finance by the Federation. The present Treasurer of the Commonwealth proposes, after 1910, to substitute for the Braddon section a fixed payment, based upon the revenue collected in each State for the five years ending 1910. He proposes that that amount shall be guaranteed by the Commonwealth to the States. I am not much in love with that proposal, which would probably work out very unfairly. I think it would be very much fairer to base the average upon the revenue for the ten years preceding 1910 - that is from the commencement of Federation till that date. I also think that the payment to the States should not be on the basis of the amount of Customs revenue collected in each State, but that it should be a fixed payment to each State on a per capita basis on the average of the amount of Customs, revenue collected in the whole Federation for the ten years - with, of course, a special allowance for the peculiar circumstances of Western Australia, taking into account the fact that her population consumes more dutiable goods than does, the population of any other State. I am. aware that honorable senators are anxious to bring the debate to a conclusion, and therefore I do not intend to say more on a very large question of Federal finance, or upon the other questions opened up by the presentation of the Appropriation Bill. I shall conclude by expressing the hope that in the next session of the Federal Parliament some attempt of a genuine character will be made to deal with this very grave question of finance in a more equitable way than it is dealt with at present.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned until a later hour in the day.
Consideration of House of Representatives’ message.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the message being at once considered, and all consequent action taken.
Clause 3 (Interpretation) -
Senate’s Amendments. - “Australian standard malt whisky . . . forty-five per cent overproof “… “ Australian blended whisky forty-five per cent, over proof “… leave out “forty-five” and insert “thirty-five.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendments not made, but “forty-five” left out, and “ forty “ inserted.
.; - Another place disagreed with our amendment, which reduced the strength of whisky from. 45 per cent, over proof to 35 per cent., but now a compromise is offered, under which a strength of 40 per cent, over proof is proposed. Under the circumstances, I think
Ave may agree to what I regard as a very fair compromise. If honorable senators look through the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, they will see that a number of witnesses considered that 40 per cent, over proof was about the limit to which they should be allowed to go in the case of both brandy and whisky. I move - that the amendments be not insisted on.
– The Minister of Defence has described the proposal of another place as a “compromise,” but it is only a compromise arithmetically, in the sense that 40 per cent, over proof is half-way between 35 per cent, and 45 per cent. In no other sense can this be regarded as a compromise; and I would just as soon the Committee reverted to a strength of 45 per cent, as now make the strength 40 per cent., because then they would be honestly informed as to what they were doing. If we accept the proposal of 40 per cent, we shall be doing precisely what we would have done had we made the strength 45 per cent.
– Surely 5 per cent, is something ?
– Tt is nothing in this matter - it is merely illusory.
– If 5 per cent, is nothing, then accept this amendment.
– The 5 per cent, proposed is wholly illusory. The Tariff Commission decided on 35 per cent, because they regarded that strength as the full extent to which pot still distillation should go, each 1 per cent, above that carrying the process into the patent still. The Tariff Commission decided to do all they could to encourage the manufacture in Australia of the highest class whisky in the world, and we decided, on good grounds, that £He pot still must be used. We inquired as to what extent the pot still would carry the distillation, and we found that 35 per cent, was the utmost limit. The whole of this attempt to induce the Senate to reverse its two previous decisions may be traced to one man in the community, whom I shall not mention. Apart from that, the proposal to increase the strength is made because whisky distillers are reluctant, from the point of view of profit, to allow their whisky to be stored for one moment longer than they can prevent^ The Commission decided that the pot still must be used, with a limitation of 35 per cent. ; and we further recommended that all spirits should be kept in bond for at least two years. The argument has been used that, unless distillation is allowed to go to 40 per cent., distillers may possibly have to allow the whisky to mature for more than two years - that, with the use of the pot still, two years may not be sufficient to enable certain crudities, which really and truly are essences, to be removed from the whisky. Whether that be true or not I do not know ; but the two objects of the proposal, which is now made to us, are to allow the use of the patent still, and to make it unnecessary for distillers to mature their -whisky beyond the two years which has been prescribed as the minimum. If we accept the amendment of the House of Representatives, we shall go back on our previous decision, just as fully, so far as the merits of the case are concerned, as though we had originally decided to accept 45 per cent. Protectionists and free-traders alike on the Tariff Commission were in agreement in fixing 35 per cent., and the Senate, by a large majority, decided to adopt that strength. I urge the Committee to adhere to its original decision^
– I am opposed to the proposed compromise, and hope the Committee will adhere to its original decision. I do not believe there was a single industry to which the Tariff Commission gave more attention than the distilling industry, or in connexion with which we heard more witnesses, with the exception, perhaps, of the industries involving metals and machinery. The Tariff Commission furnished a report and outlined a scheme which, I believe as a protectionist, would, perhaps, in five years’ time, and, certainly within ten years, secure to
Australian distillers the production of the whole of the spirits consumed in Australia.
– Especially of the first class article.
– That is so. My own opinion is that within ten years, if the proposals of the Tariff Commission are adopted, there will not be much spirit imported from abroad. The Tariff Commission decided, in the case of pure grape brandy, to give a protection of 4s. per gallon, and a similar protection in the case of pure malt whisky. If, however, distillers wished to make a blend in the case of brandy, the protection had to be 3s., and the same in regard to blended whisky. Another place, however, has decided that the protection on blended spirits shall be only 2s. Both Houses have agreed that the local distillers shall have the protection of a Government certificate, which they may use if they desire, in regard to blended and pure malt whisky. The Tariff Commission had in view the protection of the health of the general community who are likely to use these blended whiskies, and we decided, on the evidence of impartial witnesses, that in the case of this whisky, at least 25 per cent, of it should be distilled at a strength not exceeding 35 degrees over proof. On this point members of the Tariff Commission of both fiscal faiths were unanimous. Who is responsible for the anxiety of the other House and the Ministry to have this compromise made? Senator Clemons said that he would not mention the name ; but I shall mention the name of the party who has been appearing in the lobbies of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Leave the name alone.
– I shall not; because I think it is a positive disgrace tthat any distiller should haunt the lobbies of this Parliament, as this gentleman has done, in the endeavour to secure an unfair advantage. In my opinion we should, at the very earliest date, pass a standing order similar to one which, I believe, is in force in the House of ‘Commons, that it is contrary to the rules of Parliament for any private persons to endeavour, in their own particular interests, to interview members within the precincts of the House. This distiller has positively haunted the place. I think he ought to have a better sense of what is due to Parliament.
– The honorable senator ought not to mention names.
– I shall mention the name because no other distiller to my knowledge has approached Parliament with a view to having his own case put forward in the way this gentleman has done.
– There might be justice in it, allthe same.
– I do not think there is justice in it. Senator Fraser ought to respect the decision of the Tariff Commission”, the eight members of which have unanimously agreed that 35 per cent, over proof is a proper strength at which these spirits should be distilled.
– I do respect their decision.
– When the honorable senator refers to lobbying, there is perhaps the justification in this particular case, that the Minister himself invited these people, after the Commission had completed their labours, to put their views before him.
– In that, I think that the Minister made a mistake, because the Commission, not once, but a dozen different times, invited people who considered they had grievances, to lay them before the Commission personally. These men have given evidence before the Commission, and they are now going behind its back in trying to get their way by approaching Ministers and asking them if they cannot succeed in getting the strength fixed at 45 per cent., and to have it fixed at 40 per cent, over proof.
– Mr. Preston gave evidence before the Commission to the effect that the strength should be 40 per cent, over proof.
– I am aware of that : but why was he not satisfied with that, and why has he been standing outside the door of this Chamber interviewing honorable senators, and bothering and worrying the lives out of them in trying to get his own way ? Seventy-five per cent, of the spirits which the distillers are allowed to put into the blended whisky may be any spirit they please. It may be a silent spirit which has been distilled to such an extent that it has become pure alcohol. They can mix this spirit with the spirit, which we say should not be distilled at a higher strength over proof than 35 per cent. If they are allowed to distil this spirit to a strength of 40 per cent., they might as well go the whole length and use nothing but silent -spirit.
– That is the whole point.
– That is the point, because all the experts have agreed that once spirits are distilled to a certain degree of strength over proof, they may be distilled from molasses, potatoes, or any other material, and it is impossible to distinguish the source of origin. I sincerely hope that no member of the Committee will be induced by the sympathetic appeals of anybody interested in this business to give way and vote for 40 per cent, instead of 35 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed to one of the Senate’s requests, and with modifications to the remaining requests.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the message being at once considered, and all consequent action taken.
Senate’s Request. - In the schedule, item 4, “Whisky, distilled wholly from barley malt at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, over proof . . . “ ; item 5.” Blended whisky, distilled … at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, over proof …” leave out “45” and insert “3.5.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not made, but “45” left out, and “40” inserted.
– The House of Representatives has accepted our request that the Excise duty on blended whisky should be raised from 11s. to 12s. per gallon, but in connexion with the strength over proof at which the spirit is to be distilled they have made precisely the same modification of our request as that with which we have dealt in the Spirits Bill. As the feeling of the Committee, as shown in the last division, is so unmistakable, I move -
That the requests be pressed.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed’ to the Senate’s amendment with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
Senate’s Amendment. - Insert new clause as follows : - “ No application shall be revived under this Act if the Commissioner is satisfied that the invention is already patented in Australia, or that another application for a patent for the same invention has been lodged, and will be unfairly prejudiced.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - After “ Commissioner “ insert “ or on appeal from him the Law Officer.”
– I move -
That the Committee concur in the House of Representatives1 amendment of the Senate’s amendment.
I think that honorable senators generally will recognise that it was simply through an oversight that the amendment was not made here.
– It is only following the phraseology of the Bill.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported ; report’ adopted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with’ a message stating that it had agreed to all the Senate’s amendments excepting one, to which it had agreed with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the message being at once considered, and all consequent action, taken.
Clause 2 -
After section eight of the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 the following section is inserted : - 8a. - (1) The Minister may grant a certificate to any Pacific Island labourer excepting him from all or any of the provisions of this Act.
Certificates under this section shall be of two classes, namely -
general certificates to be issued only toPacific Island labourers whom, on account of long residence in Australia or for other reasons, it is not deemed desirable to return to their islands, and
Senate’s Amendment. - Omit all words after “ labourers “ in paragraph a, and insert - “ whoshall prove to the satisfaction of the Minister - “ (vi) That he has been continuously resident in Australia for a period of not less than twenty years prior to the thirtyfirst day of December, One thousand nine hundred and six ; and “
House of Refreseniatives’ Message. - After “ six “ omit “and,” and insert “or whose name the Minister directs to be included in a list tobe laid before both Houses of the Parliament,, and “
– The object of the amendment is to meet a case which is not provided for by the Senate’s amendment. It would allow the Minister, if in his opinion sufficient cause were shown, to grant a certificate to any individual, and then place the name in a list to be laid before Parliament. I move -
That the Committee concur in the House of Representatives’ amendment of the Senate’s amendment.
– I desire to remind the Committee of the attitude of the Minister this morning, when Senator Dobson proposed to do exactly what he is now advocating. On that occasion I felt it incumbent upon me to administer a mild, and, I hope, a friendly rebuke to Senator Dobson for the course which he was proceeding to take, and I earned the very warm applause of the Minister. He seemed then to think that I stood on absolutely sound ground, and I gave a vote to help him to pass the
Bill in the form in which it left the Chamber. But within a few hours he comes here, and not only turns a somersault, to which I have no objection, and which comes as no shock to me, but apparently he invites me to do the same thing. I admit that in that particular form of exercise I cannot hope to imitate him. Whilst it may suit him. for reasons best known to himself, to change with this lightning-like rapidity. 1 am quite unable to follow him.
– The amendment of the other House, if agreed to, would set tlie whole Bill on one side.
– No; it would preserve the control to the Parliament.
– No; it would empower the Executive to issue general certificates to all the kanakas in Queensland. All the Minister would have to do would be to put the names on a list, and authorize the issue of certificates’. It would not be until Parliament met, perhaps six months later, that the list would be presented, and it would then be told that the Minister had chosen to do practically nothing. It would leave an opportunity - and probably that is the intention - for the whole business to be fought out on the floor of the Chamber. I suppose that, even though! it is late in the session, the Parliament is still competent to legislate. We carefully set out all the reasons which in our opinion should be good for the granting of a certificate.
– We may have omitted some good reasons.
– We have heard all about the specially hard cases, and so on, but that is no justification for empowering the Minister to issue certificates for any reason whatever. This is practically the amendment which was moved bv Senator Dobson. The Minister might issue a certificate for no reason. He might exempt any of the kanakas be pleased, or the whole of them. It would practically leave the question of deportation to be settled by the next Parliament. I think that we ought not to agree to the amendment, which I think has been rushed upon’ us rather unfairly at this late hour.
.- I propose to ask the Committee to insert after the word “ list “ in the amendment of the other House, the words “ with the reasons for such exemptions.”
– That would mean handing the business over to the next Parliament.
– If the honorable senator can propose a better amendment I am prepared to give way to him.
– No ; let us negative the amendment to our amendment.
– I shall follow the honorable senator, and vote against the addition to our amendment.
– This is a direct invitation from the other House to the Senate to stultify itself. When the Bill was received here the power to grant certificates, was left wholly in the hands of the Minister. We deliberately limited and defined his power, and now with one stroke of the pen, if we were to agree to the amendment to our amendment, all that would be swept away, and the only thing -we should get in return (would be the production of a- list of exempted kanakas when the Parliament next met. The Minister need not deport a single soul. So far as I understand the amendment to our amendment, it is proposed to override everything that we did.
.- I challenge Senator Drake to deny that in our amendment we may have omitted certain cases, and that hardship would be suffered unless we agreed to the amendment of the other House. I think he is quite wrong in saying that it would be left to the next Parliament to deal with the business. I have not the slightest doubt that without an amendment to that effect the list of exempted kanakas would contain the reasons for granting the exemptions, and then it would be open for Senator Drake or any one else to haul the- Minister “ over the coals “ if he had not properly administered the Act. I hope that in justice to these unfortunate blackfellows, whom we have made use of. and treated very badly. the amendment to our ‘amendment will be accepted.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [9.13]. - After all, the other House is only asking the Senate to assent to a compromise. Under the original proposal, the Minister could issue exemption certificates at his own discretion, ‘and was not required to lav a list of the names before both Houses.’ If we agreed to the compromise it would always be open to either House of the Parliament to express its opinion upon the action of the Minister. When a list of exempted kanakas was presented, either House could direct that the certificate of a particular man should be withdrawn. The matter would always be in the complete control of either House. Even if we agreed to the addition to our amendment, tine power of the Minister would be limited in contrast with the wholesale power with which he was vested when the Bill first came here. I assume that the certificate would be given subject to the approval of Parliament. It is all a question of compromise. The Government has given way to a great extent, and now asks ‘the Senate to give way a little so that while the Minister would not have the same power as he would have had originally, he would have some power. It is not a question of “stand and deliver,” but a fair compromise, which the Senate might accept.
– I think that the compromise is one which the Senate might very well” accept. In deporting the kanakas it must be remembered that we are undertaking a ‘ task of which we have had no practical experience. Some thousands of them have been brought to Australia. Certain eventualities will, in my opinion, arise, and we can hardly make provision for every possible case. Therefore there should be a clause in the Bill enabling exceptional cases to be dealt with in a humane manner. The amendment made by the House of Representatives gives the Minister power to make certain exemptions until Parliament meets. The next Parliament will meet before the middle of next year. Before the whole of the kanakas are deported the schedule of names of those to whom certificates have teen granted will be laid before both Houses. It is left entirely to Parliament to consider whether extraordinary cases have arisen which should receive humane treatment. Departing from that aspect of the question, I come to another, namely, that the Senate is not given power to legislate as a Parliament. We have to legislate in connexion with the other branch of the Legislature; and in matters where there is a difference of opinion on a point that is not vital, we must adopt some sort of compromise. I think that the House of Representatives has shown a spirit of compromise in accepting many of the Senate’s amendments. It has, however, asked for one other proviso, which is, I think, a humane one. I warn honorable senators that if we do not accept it, and if hardships do arise, the critics of the White Australia policy will be able to point to the cruelty of legislation passed by this Parliament, which has inflicted injustices on’ certain kanakas.
– Take the other side of the picture, and suppose that a Minister unsympathetic to the White Australia policy has the administration of this Bill.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There would be no opportunity for an unsympathetic Minister to do any harm, unless there was also an unsympathetic Parliament, which- it is impossible to conceive. The amendment of the House of Representatives simply gives power to issue a provisional certificate until Parliament meets and expresses its will.
– After listening to the remarks of Senator Gould and Senator Smith I am led to the conclusion that it is my duty to vote against the amendment of the House of Representatives. It is true that circumstances might arise under which something in the nature of injustice mi’ght be done, but under the amendment it appears to me that a thousand and one chances of error might arise. The restrictions inserted in the Bill by ‘the Senate indicate as far as we are able to do the conditions under which exemptions are to De granted. As suggested by Senator Findley, a Minister unsympathetic toward the White Australia policy might take advantage of every one of the exemption conditions provided by the Senate; and itf this amendment be inserted I see no reason why he could not grant exemption certificates to the whole of the kanakas to whom the other grounds of exemption did not apply. Believing that we have already done a fair thing in connexion with this legislation, I shall vote against the amendment.
– I wish to correct a statement made by Senator Smith - of course inadvertently - when he said that the certificates would be issued temporarily and might afterwards be withdrawn. Under an amendment made to-day a certificate when issued would be irrevocable. It could only be cancelled upon proof that it was obtained through fraud or misrepresentation. Therefore, if the amendment be agreed to, the Executive can grant certificates to all the kanakas, and can sweep away all the limitations upon the exempting power which we have so carefully imposed. Of what use would it be for the Ministry to lay upon the table of both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of the session a list of the kanakas to whom certificates had been granted? What remedy should we have? We should be in the position in which we are placed when we are asked to vote money which has already been spent. The mischief is done, and the Executive takes the responsibility, but, of course, if those who object are strong enough they can turn out the Government.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [9.24]. - It is perfectly true that when an exemption certificate is issued it is irrevocable unless obtained by fraudulent means, but it must be remembered that the certificate is only issued subject to the terms and conditions expressed in it. The Minister would know the policy of the law ; and any Minister, no matter what his views might be, who dealt with this mat-, ter, would make the certificate subject to the condition that it had to be approved by Parliament. If honorable senators think that it is well to embody in the amendment proposed by the House of Representatives the condition that the Minister shall only issue the certificate contingent upon Parliament approving of it there will be no harm in doing that.
Amendment (by Senator Walker) proposed -
That the following words be added to the House of Representatives’ amendment : - “ approved by Parliament and “
– Senator Walker’s amendment is about the worst provision we could make. How could Parliament decide? If any one has to decide it must be one man. It would be a great mistake to leave the decision to Parliament.
Question - That the Committee concur in the House of Representatives’ amendment of the Senate’s amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That Senator Keating, Senator Drake, and Senator Millen be a Committee to draw up reasons for disagreeing to the amendment made by the House of Representatives.
– I beg to bring up a report from the Committee appointed to draw up reasons for the Senate’s dissent in reference to the Pacific Island Labourers Bill. The reason proposed is as follows : -
That the specific ground for issuing certificates should in every case be embodied in the Bill.
I move -
That the report be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message, stating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate therein.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had made two of the requested amendments, but had not made the amendment in the heading to the third column of the schedule; but had amended the schedule by omitting in the headings of the third and fourth columns, all the words after “Kingdom.”
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
– I hope the Minister will not allow the setting or the non-sitting of the other House or even the existence of another place, to have any bearing upon the proceedings of the Senate - proceedings which are rapidly approaching a disgraceful condition. No one has made any objection to an honest attempt on the part of the Minister to facilitate business in connexion with messages from another place ; but when we are asked to deal with an important measure like this, we have every right to see the proposed amendments in print, in order that we may fairly understand them.
– The amendments could be understood in two minutes.
– They could not. We have condoned the suspension of the Standing Orders in other cases, simply to assist the Minister; but according to the ordinary procedure, all these proposed amendments should be put in print. I urge the Minister in a friendly way not to press this motion.
– The amendments are quite simple.
– That is not so. The measure is so important that every honorable senator has a right to know what he is asked to vote about. There can be no interference with business, seeing that we have before us the Appropriation Bill and the Estimates.
– This motion is submitted on the ground that the Minister desires to expedite public business ; and, if there were any substance in that contention, I should be inclined to support the proposal. The position is, however, that we have before us the Appropriation Bill, and, at a very modest estimate, it may be assumed that the Bill and the schedule will occupy all the time we are prepared to devote to them tonight. There will, therefore, be no delay in the public business if we refrain from suspending the Standing Orders as now proposed. The Minister has made some reference to the other Chamber ; but I would point out that even if we were to deal with this Bill, the other place would still have to meet to-morrow. Where is the advantage of asking the Senate to consider these proposed amendments before we have had a proper opportunity to see them in clear type ?
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [9.38]. - I shall not pretend that I do not understand the object of the. amendments. I also understand, however, that a most important constitutional question will arise in connexion with this Bill. What has been done is an outrage on precedent in regard to procedure between Houses of Parliament; and, under the circumstances, I shall not support the suspension of the Standing Orders. Honorable senators should have an opportunity to be seized with the extraordinary procedure which will be disclosed when the amendments are considered. If we suspend the Standing Orders, we may find that some proposal has been smuggled through contrary to the rights of the Senate and Parliament generally, and a precedent created which will be used in the future in the most extraordinary wav.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [9.40]. - As one sitting on this side of the Senate, for whom it has been assumed to speak, I beg to say that I consider the amendments of so transparently simple a character that I shall vote for the motion of the Minister.
– That is, the honorable senator will vote for the suspension of the Standing Orders in order to facilitate an assault on the privileges of the Senate.
– Nothing of the kind. I am taking up no different position now from that which I have hitherto taken. This does not seem to be a matter on which we need spend a great length of time; it is one which involves no sort of difficulty being merely a proposal to omit halfadozen words at the end of a small clause in a schedule.
– It has been dealt with bv both Houses.
– It has not been dealt with by the Senate, because the Bill has not been read a third time. Senator Gould referred to certain questions which he proposes to make the subject of points of order ; but the honorable senator will not find, in the records of any Parliament, a similar case, because this is the only Chamber in the world that proceeds bv request.
– The South Australian Legislative Council has proceeded by request or suggestion since 1857.
– At any rate, the procedure in the British Parliament does not apply to cases of this kind. The whole plea of delay is on the ground that honorable senators have not sufficient intellectual capacity to understand a proposal to omit half-a-dozen words from a brief clause; but I am not going to label myself as being mentally unable to grapple with so simple a problem.
[9. 44 J. - If there were involved any serious question requiring the exercise of much thought in order to thoroughly grasp the scope and meaning of the amendments, I could understand the objections which have been raised to the motion. If, after the explanation I have to give as to the message, any honorable senator asks for time in which to consider the matter and make up his mind, I mav consider his request. So far as I can see, however, the question is an exceedingly simple one, and I really cannot give way to the wishes of honorable senators who desire a postponement.
Question put. The Senate divided. Ayes … … … 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s Request. - In heading to third column, after “shins.” insert “until 3Ist day of August, 1907, inclusive, and thereafter on such imported goods in such ships.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Senate amendment not made, but all the words after “ United Kingdom “ in headings to third and fourth columns left out.
– As the schedule came down to us, these words appeared as the heading of the third column -
On dutiable goods the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, and imported direct in British ships, manned exclusively by white seamen.
The Senate requested the insertion of a date at which the provision should come into operation. The House of Representatives has not accepted that request, and has proposed the omission of all the words after the word “ Kingdom “ in the headings to the third and fourth columns.
– They cannot amend their own Bill in that way
– I think it is all right. The heading to the fourth column was -
On dutiable goods not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, or not imported direct in British ships.
The House of Representatives have left out the words, “ or not imported direct in British ships.” They have not agreed to the request we made, and have altered the headings of both the columns referred to. Honorable senators will probably ask why?
– We shall not ask why, but we shall question their right to make the amendment.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the amendment is one which cannot be considered by the Committee, inasmuch as it is not competent for the House of Representatives to make such an amendment. Honorable senators will find that under section 53 of the Constitution, it is provided that -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of .Representatives any proposed law which the Senate ma)’ not amend, requesting bymessage the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein.- And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments with or without modification.
The request we made was that there should be a certain date inserted to define the time at which a certain provision should begin to operate. The House of Representatives has not- accepted our request to insert the words, “until 31st August, 1907, inclusive, and thereafter on such imported goods in such ships,” and they have proceeded to make an amendment which is not a modification of the request of the Senate, and in a portion of the schedule which was not referred to them by the Senate for further consideration.
– Which had been agreed to by both Houses.
– Our standing order No. 232 reads -
No amendment can be proposed in any words of the Bill which, having received the concur- rence of the House of Representatives, have not been the subject of or immediately affected by some previous amendment, unless such proposed amendment be consequent upon an amendment already agreed to or made by the Senate.
And the other House has a reciprocal standing order. That is the rule laid down for our guidance in these matters. The rule laid down by May is very clear. Referring to amendments which have not been agreed to by the House of Commons, May says -
It is also a rule that neither House may at this time leave out or otherwise amend anything which they have already passed themselves; unless such amendment be immediately consequent upon the acceptance or the rejection of an amendment of the other House. In 167S it was stated by the Commons at a Conference “ That it is contrary to the constant method and proceedings in Parliament to strike out anything in a Bill which hath been fully agreed, and passed bv both Houses,” and in allowing consequential amendments either in the body of the Hill or in the amendments, the spirit of this rule is still maintained. So binding, indeed, has it been held that in 1S50 a serious oversight as to the commencement of the Act having been discovered in the Pirates Head Money Bill before the Lords’ amendments had been agreed to, no attempt was made to correct it by way of amendment, but a separate Act was passed for the purpose.
The question is whether both Houses had already agreed to the portion of the schedule which the House of Representatives now proposes to amend. We know that the Bill went through all its stages in the House of Representatives, and was then sent up to the Senate. The Senate, exercising its power under the Constitution, made a certain request, but before doing so, it had deliberately determined to leave in the words which would prevent the employment of coloured seamen. The only amendment it asked the House of Representatives to consider was one fixing the time at which that particular provision should have effect. The House of Representatives does not make a pretence of saying that this is a consequential amendment, or an amendment of a similar character, but they say, “ We have reconsidered the whole matter. We had already decided it, but since it has come back to us, we have had new light on the matter, and we shall leave out all the” words after the word ‘ Kingdom.’ “
– It is a new measure now.
– There is no doubt that it is a new measure. If what the House of Representatives has done in this instance is correct, it might just as easily have re-cast the whole Bill from beginning to end, and sent it back to the Senate with a message, “ We cannot agree to your requests, but we make these new proposals in lieu of them, and expect you to accept them.” That is absolutely contrary to every practice of Parliament that we know of, and it would lead to endless confusion and dissatisfaction. It is also a direct infringement of the rights of the Senate. The House of Representatives might have adopted another course if they had seen fit, and that was to abandon this Bill and introduce another. I submit that we cannot consider this amendment, inasmuch as the portion of the schedule proposed to be amended had been agreed to by both Houses, and was not dealt with in the requests which we sent to the other Chamber.
– I do not propose to refer to the action of the House of Representatives regarding the column in which we inserted a date, except to say that it has done what it ought not to have done. Our case need not rest on that. The other House has made an amendment in the fourth column which we did not touch. I draw particular attention to that fact, because it might be said that the action taken by the other House is in consequence of our requested amendment in the third column. But that argument cannot be urged if we base our case entirely upon its action with regard to the fourth column, which we passed exactly as it had been passed elsewhere. Inasmuch as both Houses had agreed to the fourth column, how can the other House claim the right to revise that matter? If its claim were admitted, then every provision or item to which both Houses had agreed would always be open to review by the other House. I desire to supplement the statement made by Senator Gould when he quoted from the ‘Constitution and the Standing Orders by reading standing order 226 -
If the House of Representatives shall return such Bill with any of the amendments made by the Senate disagreed to, or further amendments made thereon -
It will be seen that under our standing order the power of the other House is limited to a disagreement to our amendments or to h. further amendment made upon our amendments. What has been done by the other House in regard to the fourth column has certainly not been done to disagree to an amendment of ours, because we made none. Nor can it be said that it has made a further amendment on our requested amendment, because we offered no amendment to which it could disagree.
– I cannot conceive it possible, sir, that you will have any hesitation in ruling that the amendment of the other House in respect of the fourth column cannot be entertained. But in regard to its amendment in the third column, I would refer you to the three conditions which govern such a case, and which are contained in standing order 232 -
No amendment can be proposed in any words of the Bill, which, having received the concurrence of the House of Representatives, have not been tlie subject of 01 immediately affected by some previous amendment, unless such proposed amendment be consequent upon an amendment already agreed to or made by the Senate.
Our requested amendment had reference solely to a date. It in no waytouched the principle which is contained in the third column, and which undoubtedly is that the goods shall be imported direct in British ships manned exclusively bv white men. Nor can it be said that the amendment of the other House can be regarded as being in any way immediately affected by an amendment of ours. It is not conceivable that our amendment as to a date could deal with or touch the main principle of the third column, and by no stretch of imagination could it be regarded as a consequential amendment. I do not suppose that we could have more conclusive evidence of an attempt on the part of the other House to force upon us methods which, if we have any self-respect, we should resist.
– It seems to me that the amending power of the House of Representatives is exclusively confined to the amendments of the Senate. If the other House had suggested another date in the third column, the position would have been different. I cannot see that it would be safe for the Committee to accept the amendment. Otherwise, the other House might want to go back, and alter a vital principle to which both Houses had agreed.
– The standing orders which have been quoted have absolutely nothing to do with the case. The one which seems to be relied upon is No. 232, but that refers to Bills in respect of which the Senate has the right of amendment. I ask your attention, sir, to standing orders 240 to 246 inclusive, re gulating the proceedings on Bills which the Senate may not amend. In not one of those standing orders is there a single provision which sustains the point of order. Senator Gould .drew your attention, sir, to a passage in May. on page 478, but he might have read ‘another paragraph. I admit that as the procedure in
May is applicable only to Bills in respect of which there is the power of amendment, it does not apply to the case which we are discussing. Evidently Senator Gould overlooked the fact that in peculiar circumstances the amendment of amendments was permitted. On page 478 of May, I find this passage -
A departure from this rule was permitted, under peculiar circumstances -
I take it that in this case there are peculiar circumstances - in the case of the Bolton Police Bill, r839; but the Lords agreed to it with a special entry in the journal that it was not to be drawn into a precedent ; and a protest was signed by five very influential peers against agreeing to the amendment.
– That is very valuable.
– It must have been done unanimously.
– There is no absolute necessity for unanimity in parliamentary procedure. There is one other point to which I should like to direct attention. That is the allegedly strong argument adduced by Senator Millen in reference to the fourth column of the schedule, to the effect that the amendment made therein had no reference whatever to any amendment by the Senate. I submit that that amendment is merely consequential upon an amendment made by the Senate.
– Does the honorable senator contend that a condition applying to goods imported from foreign countries is’ consequential upon the treatment we meted out to goods imported from Great Britain ?
– I think it is sufficiently consequential to permit of its being regarded as consequential. Certainly I submit that if there was a right to amend the third column, necessarily the fourth column must have been amended to bring the two columns into line. To sum up, 1 say first of all that there i’s a case in the records of the House of Lords ‘ where what is sought to be done now was done under peculiar circumstances, with a pro- test - which was a proper thing, and to which I should have no objection in this case if it would make any one happy ; secondly, that the Standing Orders relied upon have no application at all to a Bill which the Senate cannot amend; and thirdly, that if there is a power of amendment in the third column there certainly may reasonably be alterations in the fourth column which may be regarded as consequential thereon.
– Your attention, sir, has been drawn to standing order 245, and I desi’re to see how far it supports’ the contention of Senator Neild, who has directed your attention to it. If honorable senators look at that standing order they will find that it reads -
If the Bill is returned to the Senate by the House of Representatives with any request not agreed to, or agreed to with modifications, any of the following motions may be moved.
I ask Senator Neild what request the Senate made in the fourth column that may be agreed to or not agreed to, or agreed to with modifications? We made no request. J. put it in another way : If the message sent up to us is in order, I invite your attention to the latter portion of standing order 245, where you will see the form in which we have to proceed set out. The first motion which may be moved is, “ That the request be pressed.” That cannot be submitted in this case, because the Senate made no request. The next is, ‘ ‘ That the request be not pressed.” That would be an absurdity, because there is no request before us. The next is, “ That the modification be agreed to.” There can be- no modification, because there was no request to be modified. I might go through the whole list of motions which might bc moved. In fact, the standing order to which Senator Neild has referred you is the strongest evidence yet brought forward in support of Senator’ Gould’s .contention.
– There are one or two points which have occurred to me in connexion with this matter, which I think I should submit to you, sir. First of all, I direct attention to section 53 of the Constitution, to which reference has been made -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation shall not originate in the Senate.
The section goes on to say -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein.
I draw attention to that -
And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without .modifications.
What I submit is that this provision of the Constitution has to be construed as a substantial, and not merely a literal, provision. If we are to fall, back upon the construction of the Constitution as something which typifies nothing substantial, but merely a form of words printed upon paper, we do not know into what confusion we shall land ourselves. I venture to suggest that some of the arguments that have been addressed to you were based upon a conception of a Constitution of that character. What we have to consider is the substantiality of the provision. What we returned to the other House was not the heading of a schedule, and it was not the schedule itself. We returned a “ proposed law,” and we requested an amendment in that “ proposed law.” What have we to go to? We have to go to the substance of the proposed law. and to the substance of our request in relation to it. The Bill which came up to us contained provisions for the differential treatment of certain goods. Looking at the headings of the first class of goods to which the differential treatment applied as the Bill came to us, we find that, first of all, it dealt with -
Dutiable goods, the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, and imported direct in British ships, manned exclusive] v by white seamen.
To that heading we attached a condition. The heading to the next column related to -
Dutiable goods not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, or not imported direct in British ships.
To those goods another rate of duty was attached. The whole essence of the proposed law is a differential rate between two classes of goods. The Senate made a request in the case of dutiable goods, the produce of manufacture, of the United Kingdom, imported direct in British ships, to insert the words “ until the 31st August, 1907, inclusive, and thereafter on such goods imported in such ships.”
– That was in the third column.
– The point to remember is that the whole essence and principle nf the proposed law was a differentiation.
We did not send back the heading of the schedule. Our request was with regard to the “. proposed law.” What was that request? It was that the House of Representatives should make the differentiation in favour of goods mentioned in the first column. What does the House of Representatives say of that? It says, “ Yes; we will not only do that, but will make a differentiation apply, not only to the date mentioned by you, but for ever.”
– I cannot believe that the honorable senator is serious.
– I assure the honorable senator that I am. I rest my argument upon the point that when we take the Constitution and start to interpret it, we have to interpret it as a working instrument of practical government. We have to deal, not with what are our powers with reference to a particular heading or a particular schedule, but with reference to the words used in the Constitution - a “ proposed’ law.” We have asked another place in relation to a Bill in which we cannot make amendments to extend the differentiation beyond the limits proposed in the Bill submitted to us to goods coming in any British ships to a certain date, and then on conditions thereafter. The other place goes further, and says, “ We will extend the differentiation, not only to that date, but altogether.”
– Does the honorable senator say that that is the point?
– I do. We asked another place to strike out the differentiation, so far as concerns ships manned exclusively by white labour. They have gone beyond what we requested. Now the question is - what is or what is not a modification? We have asked another place to modify its original proposal bv extending it. If another place chooses to extend it further than we asked them to do, is that or is it not a modification,? lt may be said in reply to me, “But this is something totally different ; it goes far beyond what the Senate requested.” If that argument is to be held good, we must lay it down as a matter of absolute principle, from which we cannot deviate hereafter, to what extent a request- of ours can be extended by the other House. In this case the other House has simply granted our request and extended it. If we can say that it cannot do that, let honorable senators consider what that interpretation means.
– Could another place strike out the whole Bill, and leave merely the title?
– I am not dealing with that; but if it is held that, because another place has not only acceded to our request, but has gone further, it has done what it ought not to do, I submit that that would land us in considerable difficulties hereafter.
– The other Chamber has simply given more than we asked for.
– These are the considerations which I feel it my duty to urge. I submit that the amendment in column 4 is of necessity consequential, and that, after all, what we have to consider is the substantial and actual proposition before us, and not the particular heading of a schedule in reference to which there maybe some verbal differences between the two Houses.
– I contend that the fourth paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution, on which Senator Keating relies, does not help the honorable gentleman in the least. The House of Representatives has not made “ any of such omissions or amendments with or without modification.” The other place has made no modification of any amendment sent up bv the Senate, but has sent to us an alteration in a portion of the Bill, which we did not amend, but to which we agreed.
– 1 think the interpretation put on the fourth paragraph of section 53 bv Senator Keating is far too general. The whole of our Standing Orders, referring to Bills which may be amended, are based on this fourth paragraph
The Senate mav at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate mav not amend, requesting, b>message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, wilh or without modification’.
If we were to construe the standing order, in the way suggested by Senator Keating, and if we made an amendment in one clause of a Bill - which is a proposed law - and the other House did not agree to that amendment, it might alter any clause to which thev had agreed, and in which we had concurred. Our Standing Orders would not then be what Senator Keating has described them, namely, a practical working instrument. 1 think we shall be able to form a judgment more accurately if we look at the heading of the column - which is made a heading purely for the purpose of convenience - and consider the vital provisions therein. Let us split up the heading into three parts. The first part provides that duties shall be imposed “on dutiable goods the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom.” If that were in the first part of the Bill, it would be in a clause ; and our amendment is really a proposed new clause, fixing the date of the commencement of the Act. Our proposal is “ until the 31st day of August, 1907, inclusive, and thereafter, on such goods imported in such ships.” The other part of the heading provides that these goods shall be “ imported in British ships manned exclusively by white labour.” These are vital principles - so vital that it has been claimed that if they are struck out the whole Bill will be abandoned. If they had appeared in a clause in the first part of the Bill, and we had proposed a new clause fixing the date for the commencement of the Act, would it be common-sense or a just interpretation of our Standing Orders to say that, because the House of Representatives declined to accept the duty or to modify it in any way. it should be permitted, perhaps, because they had forgotten to make some amendment in a clause to which they had agreed, and in which we had concurred, to return the Bill with a proposal to have that clause struck out? Therefore, I rule that the Minister is not in order in submitting his motion.
– Will the Chairman say what steps I have to take on behalf of the Government to get this Bill returned to the other House?
– I should say that the first thing would be to report progress.
– There is such a thing, as courtesy in the proceedings between two Houses of Parliament. If the other place ‘has sent this Bill under a misapprehension that they have power to do what they have done, it is only courteous to send the Bill back with a message to that effect.
– I only suggested that for the present it would be well to report progress.
– I think I can suggest a way. We ha.ve made a request which has not been agreed to by another place, and the Minister has submitted a motion in regard to the further amendment, and has been ruled out of order. I think that if the Minister moved that we either press, the request, or that we do not press the request we should have a clear procedure by which to get the Bill back to another place.
Senator. CLEMONS (Tasmania) [10.36]. - I think the suggestion of the Chairman is a very good one to get over the difficulty ; but it ought to be clearly understood that such a motion wuld be accepted pro forma. If the motion suggested were put on its merits in the ordinary way, there might be differences of opinion regarding it, and what we require is a unanimous vote, safeguarded by a statement that we take this action simply to get the Committee out of the difficulty, and to enable the Minister to send this Bill back to another place in a courteous manner. Otherwise some honorable senators might be placed in an unfair position.
– We cannot deal with a matter of. this kind pro forma. I understand that the records will show that a- point of order was taken and debated that the Chairman gave a decision which was not disputed by any one, and that I then moved that in the circumstances we should insist on our request. That will have . the effect of sending, the Bill back to another place. Honorable members in another place will know what has occurred, and that on a point of order we have decided that they had no right to do what they have done, and that the Bill is returned to them- on that account, and not on its merits in any sense.
. I suggest that the Bill be sent back to the other House with a message intimating that we do or do not press our request, as honorable senators please, and that the Senate is of opinion that the amendment made by the House of Representatives is not a modification of our request within the meaning of the Constitution.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South’ Australia) [10.44]. - Tire Committee has only a delegated power to consider the matter referred to it. If a message is to be sent as suggested it must be done by the Senate.
– We should report progress.
– I do not think it would be wise to report progress at this stage. We should first of all insist on our request, and, if we do not do that, we shall lose our hold of the Bill. Apart from the point of order, I should like to say why I think the Committee should insist upon the request. I was greatly impressed, by the position put in another place, and might have consented not to insist on the request, but if we insist on our request, and the Bill is sent back to another place, the House of Representatives can accept the request or shelve the Bill. If they accept the request it will be within the power of the British Government and the Government of the Commonwealth to arrange with respect to any treaty made with other countries that may stand as a bar to the operation of the Bill. When the Bill is again reported to the Senate, we could send a message to the House of Representatives that, in our opinion, it has been returned to the Senate in a manner that is not in accordance with the Constitution or with our Standing Orders.
– Might I” suggest on the point raised by Senator Clemons that honorable senators who take a certain view might safeguard themselves by making a statement in Committee that they are prepared to vote for a motion that the request be pressed, not because they agree with it, but in order to overcome the dim.culty.
– The position we are in now is that the Bill has, come back to us in such a form that we cannot entertain the amendments proposed, because we consider that they infringe the rights of the Senate. If we proceed to adopt a motion that the request be pressed or be not pressed that will be an admission that the Bill has1 come back in a form in which we can consider it. Suppose a motion that the request be pressed should be Jost, what would happen then? We should be informing another place that, although we consider that their message is one which we cannot entertain, we have determined not to press our request. Such a course of procedure would land us in an infinity of trouble.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South
Ministry do not want to have the Bill shelved and lost, but wish to acquaint the House of Representatives that in the opinion of the Senate, it has not made a proper amendment. If we press the request and the Chairman reports that fact, then the Senate can pass a resolution by way of a rider, informing the other House of its opinion.
– Suppose that the motion that the request be pressed be not carried, in what position shall we be?
– It is bound to be carried
– I must be excused for not accepting the Minister of Defence as an authority in any matter connected with this Bill. If the motion be not carried, shall we not have determined that the matter ought to have been placed before us?
– Presuming that the motion were negatived, the resolution would be reported to the Senate, and ordinary courtesy to the other House would suggest the addition of a rider that we could not agree to its modification of our amendment, because it was not in accordance with our Standing Orders.
.- I think that by way of a rider we could add to the motion these words, “ in consequence of the inability of the Committee to deal with the recommendation as submitted by the other House.”
– The procedure is clearly laid down in the Standing Orders. The Senate might be in a position to add a rider, but I do not think that it can be done in the Committee.
Motion (bv Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the request be pressed.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– There is a rule that a motion to adopt the report of the Committee is not open to amendment, but must be either negatived or passed. As this is a new procedure, I would suggest that an amendment might be moved to the motion and a message sent to the other House. If it were an ordinary case, I should rule that no addition could be moved to this motion, but we have to make new procedure as novel circumstances arise.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [10.54]. - I. do not know whether the Minister of Defence contemplates adding a rider to the motion.
– This means taking the business out of the hands of the Government.
– I do not want to do that.
.- May I suggest to Senator Playford that perhaps it would be well , to adjourn the debate and deal with the matter to-morrow ?
– I want the Bill to go back to the other House to-night.
– We are confronted with this position ; that when Senator Higgs, in all friendli- ness, suggests that the debate should be adjourned, the Ministry do nothing.
– I understand that Senator Keating is writing out a rider to the motion.
– Why did not Senator Playford indicate that his colleague was writing out a rider to the motion, instead of sitting there and saying nothing? I believe that unless some of . us had interposed, he would have allowed the Bill to go down to the other House without a communication. He is treating us disgracefully. The Ministry are practically inviting us to do their work.
– I would remind Senator Clemons that, on the spur of the moment, it is not easy for any one to draft words to meet a novel case.
– Senator Playford might have told us what was being done though.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the report be adopted, and that the House of Representatives be informed that the Senate considers that no amendment other than a consequential amendment may be made in a part of the Bill which has been agreed to by both Houses-
– That is not the thing.
-Will the honorable senator amend the motion, and make it read as he wishes?
– The point is that we are unable to deal with the amendment in consequence of its present form.
– I suggest that the motion should be amended to read as follows : -
The Senate considers that the amendment made by the House of Representatives is not a modification within the meaning of the Constitution.
– I will accept that and withdraw my own motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– Would it not bc better to say that the message cannot’ be considered bv the Senate?
– We do in fact saythat by sending it back.
– Would it not safeguard our position to say so?
– I do not know that it would. The very fact that we send the Bill back tells the House of Representatives that we do not consider the amendment that has been made to be a modification.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the report be adopted, and that the House of Representatives be informed that the Senate considers that the amendments made are not a modification of the request made by the Senate within the meaning of the Constitution.
Message received from the House of Representatives, stating that it did not insist upon disagreeing with the part of amendments 4 and 5 insisted upon by the Senate, and that the House did not insist upon its amendments in the Bill.
Message received from the House of Representatives, stating that it had now made the amendments 4 and 5, as originally requested by the Senate.
Motion (bv Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Bill be now read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 6364).
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [11. 6]. - I desire to ask a question arising in connexion with the military votes. It relates to the case of Captain Anderson, who was retired from the foxes some years ago, when retrenchment was the order of the day, and who, through illness as the result of wounds received in South Africa, failed to make a claim for compensation, such as was paid I believe in every other instance of the kind. Some£34,000 was paid by the vote of Parliament, and about £7,000 was paid out of the Treasurer’s advance account as retiring allowances. This is simply a claim for£285. That amount is due to a very much injured and crippled man. I am asking the Minister for this little sum to be paid to him just as £7,000 has been paid long ago in other cases. Certainly no more deserving claim upon the Treasurer’s advance account has ever been made. I beg that the Minister will give an assurance that this long-delayed payment of what is justly due will be made.
– I am happy to be able to inform Senator Neild that the sum of money to which he has referred was not placed on- the Estimates, simply because my attention was not drawn to the matter until after the Estimates had been framed. Since then I have gone carefully into the case, and have come to the conclusion that the man deserves the money. I believe that the amount is what the honorable senator has mentioned. I had to bring the subject before the Cabinet. The Cabinet has approved of the vote, and I believe that the gentleman in question will receive the money out of the Treasurer’s advance account.
– Hear, hear.
.- I desire to say a. few words in reference to the Sunday work performed by telegraphists in Victoria, especially in the central office, Melbourne. The Public Service Commissioner, in his annual report, indicates that there is a desire on the part of these officers and others in the Department in the various States to get as much Sunday work as possible, because of the additional payment given, or the time off allowed in return. I am of opinion, however, that, ‘ so far as the telegraphists are concerned, they are decidedly against Sunday work, whenever it can be dispensed with. At every one of their conferences the question has been lengthily discussed, ard resolutions carried, with a view to minimizing such work. The Commissioner, however, would make it appear that time and a half is paid for Sunday, in the event of the teleeraphists working for six continuous days, or there is time off allowed in lieu. In Melbourne, at any rate, these terms and conditions are not observed. On many occasions attention has been directed to the number of consecutive days telegraphists have been employed on Sunday work without receiving consideration which is extended in the other States. Up to two years ago, I believe, the telegraphists in Victoria were paid at the same rate as the telegraphists in the other States for Sunday work ; but since then the former have been treated differently. In the Victorian office some have worked twelve consecutive days, including Sunday, without any additional payment or time off being allowed, Further, there are some who work three Sundays out of four, while others are on duty nearly every Sunday. The regulations are specific on the point, and I think it only requires the attention of the Minister to be drawn to the fact to have the grievances remedied.
– I can only refer the matter to the Postmaster-General.
– I hope my representations will receive attention, or otherwise, ari invidious distinction will be made in the case of the Victorian officers. If that distinction is to be continued, and no satisfaction is given to the men, I shall take another opportunity to bring the matter forward.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 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. 18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 October 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19061010_senate_2_35/>.