3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in accordance with the usual practice, he intends to lay the Budget papers on the table of the Senate to-day, and also whether he is making arrangements for. honorable senators to be supplied with copies of them? It has been the invariable practice, I think, for the Budget Papers and the Estimates to be tabled in the Senate on the day following their submission to the other House.
– At the present moment I am not in possession of copies of the papers, but it is my intention during the day to lay them on the table of the Senate, and, of course, they will be distributed in the usual manner.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs, without notice, whether the statutory rules, as amended in the Senate recently, relative to Sunday work and overtime in the Public Service, particularly in the Post and Telegraph Department, will be printed, and if so, whether copies will be supplied to honorable senators?
– The rules referred to, as amended by the Senate, were laid upon the table by me last week and are in print.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in circulating the Tariff, it will not be possible to show in parallel columns the old duties and the new duties ? It will occasion a very large amount of work to honorable senators if they have to search out the old duties. It will simplify the consideration of the Tariff very much here if the honorable gentleman can accede to my request.
– I am quite alive to the importance of what my honorable friend has said; and, as a matter of fact, I have already discussed the point. I believe that before the Tariff comes on for consideration in another place, information of the kind, in fact more information than he has suggested, will be supplied.
– Will the ViceP resident of the Executive Council also see that the members of the Senate are supplied, as soon as it is conveniently possible, not merely with what Senator McColl has just asked for, but also with copies of the reports of the two sections of the Tariff Commission, so that honorable senators may have an opportunity of considering them before the Tariff proposals are brought on ? What I ask can easily be done. It is merely a question of the Government arranging to have the reports published in that form and distributed.
– I quite appreciate what my honorable friend has said, and certainly I shall use my best endeavours to have that done as quickly as possible.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following papers -
Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1908.
Estimates of expenditure for additions, new works, buildings, &c, for the year ending 30th June, 1908.
The Budget, 1907-8. - Papers prepared by the Honorable Sir Willi am Lyne, K.C.M.G., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of opening the Budget of 1907-8.
– I have received from Senator Sayers an intimation that he intends to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz. , “ The replies of the Minister of Home Affairs to question number 3 of the 2nd of August instant, regarding cypher messages.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their f laces,
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 6.30 p.m. on Monday next.
I have received letters and telegrams stating that in Queensland, especially in Charters Towers, certain charges have been made in respect of cypher messages, and asking me to find out why they were made, as the writers had learned that although similar charges were made in Melbourne on a certain date - I believe it was the 26th of July, but the Postmaster-General, through Senator Keating, has said it was the 27th - they were cancelled on the same day.
– Would the honorable senator mind reading his questions with the answers thereto?
– My questions were as follow -
To those questions I received the following replies from the Minister of Home Affairs -
After getting another telegram from Charters Towers, I received from the honorable” senator a memorandum, which I returned, but of which I retained the following copy : -
With reference to Mr. Brown’s inquiry by telephone I may explain that some members of the Melbourne Stock Exchange, having represented to the Minister that, from the 13th ultimo, the Melbourne office had been charging as “ code” words, words which had been previously allowed to pass as “ plain language,” enquiry was made, “ and it was found that an instruction of the 13th idem, enlarging and not restricting the privileges in connexion with code telegrams had been misinterpreted by our officers in Melbourne. The matter was immediately put right, and the Melbourne office instructed to refund any overcharges made.
The instruction of 27th ultimo, referred to in Mr. Sayers’ question in the Senate, set out in detail the regulations regarding the counting and charging of messages as amended by the instruction of the 13th idem, and was sent to all States.
It seems that the regulations have never been rescinded. Last night I received a telegram from Charters Towers, which I handed over to the Minister of Home Affairs, asking why the charges were still being made there. One would have thought that since my questions were asked on the 2nd August there had been ample time for the Department to act. The last telegram I received before I brought the matter before the Senate reached me on the 31st July. One would almost fancy that there is no telegraphic communication with Queensland, because, in the meantime, I have been able to send a letter to Charters Towers and get a reply, while the Department has not seen its way to do anything. It places me and also the Minister of Home Affairs in a very peculiar position. This is the only way in which I can make it known that I have done my duty. If I did not move the adjournment of the Senate I should have to write to every individual, and then my correspondents would probably say, “ We had his letters before, but there could have been no truth in them, because nothing was done.” 1 am now giving an opportunity to the Minister to explain matters. I contend that the answers to my questions were misleading. I was misled, and I believe that the honorable senator must have been misled. On the answers I acted, and later on, after I had received a second memorandum, I sent a telegram and then wrote a letter giving full particulars of what the Minister had told me. But my correspondents a week later wire that they are still being overcharged. The Minister has said that the regulations have not been cancelled, but, as a matter of fact, they were cancelled in Melbourne on the day of issue. Since the 26th of July the Department has had ample time to act. It has been open to the Department to send to the head of the Department in Queensland a telegram to this effect, “ These instructions have been cancelled here, cancel them in Queensland.” It is possible that these illegal charges are still being made in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– Move the Government out of Melbourne.
– I dare say the honorable senator would like to move it to Tasmania.
– Were only the States of Victoria and Queensland affected ?
– That is what I am not sure of. I was not aware until I received a communication from the Charters Towers Chamber of Commerce that any of these regulations were in force at all. They are fairly smart business men up there, and when they found that they were being overcharged they wired to me, and I interviewed certain gentlemen down here. I found that it was an overcharge, that the Department had been wrong, that they had cancelled the regulation the same evening in Melbourne, and had refunded the money. There seems to have been some lapse. In this Chamber, if we desire information from the Postmaster-General or any other member of the Government, we are in the position of having to put the question through the Minister representing him here. I simply want to know from the Government, in order to set myself right with the people for whom I am acting, what steps have actually been taken to right the wrong, or whether things are going to continue as thev have been.
– If the honorable senator’s motive in moving this motion is a desire to put himself right with those with whom he has been in communication in Queensland, I think he has succeeded. He really knows more about the subject than I do. Although the ques tion was asked me as representing the . Postmaster-General in this Chamber, the information I gave the honorable senator in reply was furnished direct by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. That Department is not wholly to blame. The first question was -
The reply was -
The second question was as follows -
The other questions, which were all answered by the answer to question No. 2, were -
After those replies had been given in the Senate the honorable senator informed me that they did not seem to accord with the facts as he knew, or was told, them. As I had not a very intimate acquaintance with the facts which caused him to ask the questions, I requested the Secretary to the Ministers in this Chamber to communicate at once with the Postal Department; and obtain a complete statement of the position. On the same afternoon as the questions (were asked - 2nd August - a memorandum came for me from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and I handed it over to the honorable senator. I think it was quite in conformity with the replies previously furnished to his questions. It was as follows -
With reference to Mr. Brown’s inquiry by telephone, I may explain that, some members of the Melbourne Stock Exchange having represented to the Minister that from the 13th ultimo the Melbourne office had been charging as “ code “ words words which had been previously allowed to pass as “ plain language,” enquiry was made,
It will be noted that the complaint was to the Postmaster- General’s Department from members of the Melbourne Stock Exchange, and inquiry was made with regard to that specific complaint - and it was found that an instruction of the 13th idem, enlarging and not restricting the privileges in connexion with code telegrams, had been misinterpreted by our officers in Melbourne.
That was what the inquiry revealed.
The matter was immediately put right, and the Melbourne office instructed to refund any overcharges made. The instruction of the 27th ultimo, referred to in Mr. Sayers’ question in the Senate, set out in detail the regulations regarding the counting and charging of messages, as amended by the instruction of the 13th idem, and was sent to all States.
Evidently, if the original instruction of the 13th July was misinterpreted in Queensland - in spite of the fact that on the 27 th a further instruction was given to prevent misinterpretation - that misinterpretation has still continued ; but so far as the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is concerned, there had been no specific complaint until yesterday that Che further instructions of the 27 th had not prevented the continuance of the misinterpretation. The honorable senator brought to me yesterday afternoon a telegram which he had received from Charters Towers, stating that there had been no alteration in the charges in connexion with cypher messages. All I can say is that the original complaint to the Postal Department came from Melbourne. The matter was immediately rectified, and it was ordered that those who had been- overcharged should be refunded the amount of the overcharge. Correspondingly with that, as stated in this memorandum, “ the instruction of the 27th ultimo was sent to all the States.” If it had been discovered that even after the instruction of the 27th had gone to Queensland, and to all the other States, the original instruction was still being misinterpreted, further steps would immediately have been taken by the Postal Department to rectify the errors that were occurring. I draw the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that his questions do not indicate that there is any differential treatment of Queensland as’ compared with Victoria. As the answer showed, the only complaint made to the Postal Department was that the instructions of the 13th were misinterpreted in Melbourne to the prejudice of certain persons using the Post-office, and immediate steps were taken to issue further instructions to prevent misinterpretation here, and concurrently with that the Department set out those further instructions on the 27th to all the States. Apparently, in spite of that action, the errors in charging have still been continued in the part of Queensland mentioned by the honorable senator, although they do not appear to have occurred elsewhere. But in all the circumstances the
Postmaster-General’s Department in Melbourne is not so much to blame as the honorable senator appears to imagine. I told him last night after the Senate adjourned, that a further communication had been sent to Queensland since he showed me his telegram yesterday, and the honorable senator then courteously informed me that he would take an opportunity during to-day’s sitting to bring the matter forward, in order that those who were interested in Queensland, and who were moving him in the matter, should see that he had not been neglectful of his duty. I think the honorable senator has now achieved what he desired, and it will be clear that whatever has occurred has been through a misinterpretation of the instructions of the 13th July, for which certain officers of the Postal Department are responsible, and which has still continued, notwithstanding the attempt made on the 27th July to prevent the continuance of that misinterpretation.
– Will the money be refunded ?
– I understand so. I believe that whatever was done in Melbourne will be done elsewhere, wherever the like circumstances have occurred.
– The matter does not seem quite clear now, except that the instructions sent by the Government were so vague that their officers did not understand them, or that those officers were so obtuse that they could not do so. Does the Minister intend to have clear instructions sent out, so that his officers may understand and act on them? It seems very necessary to do so.
– I have never seen the instructions referred to at all.
– I hope the Minister will see that any overcharge made is returned at once, as has been done in Melbourne, with an apology for the occurrence.
– I trust that Senator Sayers will now withdraw his motion.
– I ask leave to withdraw the motion. I am very pleased with the Minister’s explanation, which will show the people concerned that neither myself nor the Minister in charge in Melbourne has misled them wilfully.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Minister representating the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable senator’s questions, the Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, has furnished the following information, namely : - .
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– This matter has been referred to the Postmaster-General’s Department, and the Acting Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Melbourne reports as follows, regarding questions 1 to 4 : -
The answer to question No. 5 is as follows : -
The Government will consider the matter in connexion with the Postal Rates Bill now beforeParliament.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
– Arising out of the answer, I should like to ask the Minister whether the Government depend for linguists employed in connexion with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act upon persons engaged in business ; and, whether it would not be better to appoint some person as linguist at a salary which such a person might reasonably expect to receive ?
– The arrangement set forth in the answers given to the honorable senator’s question seems to me to be eminently satisfactory from the departmental stand-point. .
– Arising out of the last answer given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I should like to ask whether the Minister can tell the Senate the nationality of the linguist referred to?
– I am sorry to say that I cannot supply that information.
– May I ask the Minister whether he has any information to put before the Senate with regard to the linguistic tests used by the person referred to. Are the tests limited to the languages which it is stated that this man knows ? I should like to ask the honorable senator, also, whether he does not think that a public statement of the limits of this man’s linguistic attainments may not materially affect the value of the tests he applies ?
– I have no personal knowledge of the subject, and must ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– I am not in a position to answer the question to-day, but probably I shall be able to do so on Wednesday next if Senator Lynch will be good enough to postpone it, and . in the meantime supply information as to where the public opinion of Captain Douglas can be seen.
– I shall fall in with the Minister’s views. The opinion referred to appeared in the West Australian of 19th July of this year, and also in the Sydney press at the end of July.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in debating the matter.
– I am answering the question put to me by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– It is somewhat irregular, but the honorable senator may give the information asked for very briefly.
– According to Captain Douglas, the Queensland immigrants introduced-
– I cannot allow the honorable senator to make any statement at the present stage. The Minister asked for information as to dates which might be supplied, but it would be better that such information should be given privately and not in the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That this Bill, be now read a third time.
– - Before this Bill becomes an Act I should like to make a few remarks upon it. Although this is the fourth time the measure has been before the Senate, I am to-day addressing myself to it in the Senate for the first time. I should like to clear up a few misapprehensions that have arisen before we see the end of it. When I say that there have been misapprehensions connected with the Bill, I am referring particularly to the attitude of the two Ministers representing the Government in the Senate, both of whom I am very glad to see are at present in the Chamber, because I propose to make some remarks concerning their action. I do not care which of them I take first in order, whether Senator Best or Senator Keating; but I shall, I hope, deal perfectly fairly with them. Senator Best is the latest convert.
– I hope the honorable senator will include Senator McColl.
– I am at present dealing only with Ministers. Senator Best is the latest convert, and a very sudden and abrupt convert he was.
– And like all converts is more fanatical than the old supporters of the measure.
– The honorable senator asked us to believe him when he told the Senate solemnly that his conversion from an attitude of the most virulent hostility to the measure to that of an active and extreme supporter occurring at such a time, was merely the result of a coincidence, and that there was no relation whatever between his position as a Minister and his present attitude in connexion with this Bill. I suppose we have got to believe the honorable senator.
– Thank you so much.
– As the VicePresident of the Executive Council interjects in that way, I tell him that I suppose we have got to believe him just as honorable senators had to believe him when he came at the beginning of the session hot and breathless from his efforts to outbid Senator Gould for the President’s chair, and asked every member of the Senate, with a full assemblage in the galleries-
– Order. The honorable senator is not in order in referring to a matter of that kind on the third reading of the Bill. It is not relevant to the question under consideration, and I ask him not to proceed with that line of argument.
– I feel sure, sir, that you cannot have quite understood what I was saying or you would not have called me to order.
– I remind the honorable senator that the question before the Senate is : That the Bill be now read a third time. I do not wish him to depart from that question. Anything pertinent to the issue may, of course, be said.
– I would like to submit, if I am given time to do so, that what I was going to say is perfectly pertinent to the question now before the Senate. I was merely referring to Senator Best’s attitude. It is well within the competency of any member of the Senate to criticise “the attitude of any other honorable senator in regard to a certain Bill, and it is especially within the competence of honorable senators to criticise the attitude of Ministers.
– I am not attempting to prevent the honorable senator from criticising the attitude of the VicePresident of the Executive Council in regard to the Bill, but he should not, at thistime, criticise the attitude of the Minister with regard to other matters.
– I shall put my point a little more fully in order that you, sir, may understand me as well as the members of the Senate. I am dealing in a certain way with the question of the credibility of Senator Best. When he makesa statement in the Senate, we are bound by our rules to believe him. But I say for myself, and for every other member of the Senate, that in expressing our belief that what the honorable senator said is literally true, we are at liberty to make use of proper illustrations referring to the way in which we have to believe other statements. I am merely stating for myself that when Senator Best tells the Senate solemnly that his change of attitude with regard to this Bill, at such a time, was a mere coincidence, and had no relation whatever to the fact that he had accepted office, I, and I hope every other member of the Senate, believe the ‘honorable senator just as fully as we did believe him when, on the occasion to which I referred-
– Order. Will the honorable senator please take his seat. I have already . ruled that the honorable senator is not in order in alluding to the matter to which he is now alluding.
– I have not alluded toany matter.
– The honorable senator cannot say that, because he made a distinct allusion to another matter, and it was for that that I called him to order. The honorable senator is now trying to’ evade my ruling, and to allude to a matter which in no way bears upon the question before the Senate, which is the third reading of the Bill. I must ask the honorable senator, as I would ask any other member of the Senate, to comply with the ruling of the
Chair - unless he is prepared to take another step - and not to refer to any other question.
– I am quite prepared to accept the ruling of the Chair or to take the proper method of disputing it, but, sir, before you give an order which might compel me to dispute your ruling, perhaps you will allow me respectfully to put this question to you: Is it or is it not in order for me or for any other honorable senator to give an illustration, without, if you like, referring to any particular incident, but as showing the extent to which I believe a statement? We are compelled by our parliamentary forms to believe the statement of any member of the Senate, and I should like to know if I am forbidden to say this : “ I believe that honorable senator just as I did on such-and-such an occasion, and just as the parliamentary forms compel me to believe him?” If you, sir, could rule in that way, I think you would yourself be surprised if I did not feel bound to dispute your ruling.
– The honorable senator ought not to be forbidden to do that.
-All I say now is that I attach the same credibility to the statement made by Senator Best as I did on such an occasion, and before I go further I would like to know if that is in order ?
– The honorable senator is aware of the parliamentary rule under which, when an honorable senator makes a statement, every member of the Senate must accept that statement as correct.
– I have just said so.
-It is not in order for the honorable senator to evade that rule by saying that he believes the statement made by Senator Best just as he believed a statement made by that honorable senator on another occasion, and because he is compelled by parliamentary usage to accept the statement as true. That is. an evasion of the standing order, and if allowed would permit an honorable senator to make most offensive remarks respecting another honorable senator. I do not consider that. Senator Clemons is justified in referring to a matter which is not relevant to the question before the Senate
– Not by way of illustration ?
– Perhaps the honorable senator will permit me to finish what I wish to say. A reference to anirrelevant matter made for the purpose of illustrating an argument with regard to the merits or demerits of the Bill would be perfectly in order, but Senator Clemons was not in order in attacking the truthfulness of another member of the Senate in the way in which he did.
– I do not think, sir, that you are justified in saying that I was attacking the truthfulness of Senator Best. Why is it necessarily assumed that I was attacking the veracity of the honorable senator when I said that I believed him just as I believed him on another occasion ? I can say, if I like, that I accept the truth of what he says, just as I accepted it then. But does that necessarily imply that I mean to say that he did not tell the truth on either occasion ?
– I will accept the honorable senator’s explanation that his remark is not to be taken in that way. He may proceed, but he must not deal with any matter not connected with the Bill.
– Then, sir, you will please withdraw your acceptance of any explanation which I have made.
– If the honorable senator intends to pursue the subject in the way that I have asked him not to do, I must ask him to discontinue his remarks. I shall expect him to comply with the request made from the Chair.
– Of course, Mr. President, as I have intimated, I am not going to dispute your ruling. If I intended to do so, I should dispute it in the ordinary way. I am now passing from the subject
– Then the incident is closed.
– It is, but I have made no explanation. I do not wish to refer further to Senator Best’s attitude, except to say that he expects a great deal from us if he expects us to believe that his change of attitude with regard to this Bill, at such a time, was merely a matter of coincidence. Nor can he cover up the ground by saying that his change of attitude was similar to that of his colleague, Senator Trenwith. I venture to give any such explanation an absolute denial. The great difference between Senator Best and Senator Trenwith is this.
– I never said anything of the kind. I said that it was the result of mutual consultation.
– I say this openly, in the presence of every senator present - that between Senator Trenwith’s change of attitude and Senator Best’s, there is an enormous difference. Senator Trenwith told us distinctly when the Bill was before us last session that, while he was going to vote against it on that occasion, that was the last time when he would vote against it. -He said that openly in his speech in the Senate. Between the making of such a statement by Senator Trenwith and the complete silence of Senator Best in the last Parliament, the difference is tremendous - so tremendous that any assertion from Senator Best that he is on the same footing as Senator Trenwith cannot be accepted without very great doubt.
– Up to the last moment last session, Senator Best was one of the strongest opponents of the measure.
– Of course.
– That is not correct, either.
– I will leave the matter to’ Senator Best’s own conscience. I now desire to deal with the attitude of Senator Keating. He will correct me if I make a misstatement. Recently, I think, he said in the Senate that he was always in favour of this Bill. If I am mistaken, let him correct me.
– He said that .he had never spoken against it.
– He said on the platform in Tasmania that he was always in favour of this survey.
– Oh !
– But he said so. It was his main point throughout Tasmania at the last election, when he spoke with regard to this question, that the one and only occasion on which he had directly or indirectly referred to it, was in the Address-in-Reply debate at the opening of the first Parliament. He invited the members of the public of Tasmania to look up Hansard for 1901, where they would find that he then said that he was not opposed to this Bill, and that if there was anything in his speech on the AddressinReply that could be taken as showing an inclination one way or the other, it was an inclination in favour of the measure. He went on to say, as he had said before in the Senate, that his then attitude represented no change of front with regard to it - that he had always been in favour of it, in fact. Now,_ I have to ask Senator Keating whether he will answer one ques tion. This Bill has been before the Senate four times. On the last occasion it was introduced by Senator Symon as AttorneyGeneral in the Reid-McLean Ministry. As every honorable senator present knows perfectly well, Senator Keating was then as determined in his opposition to it as myself, or Senator Mulcahy, or any other senator.
– That is not so.
– Why, he sat up with us all night fighting it ! Every one knows that he was as keen to beat it as was any member of .the Senate. Does Senator Keating deny that?
– I do.
– Will he say that on that occasion he was going to vote for the Bill ?
– I do not say that.
– We all know perfectly well that he was working side by side with us. There was not a single member of the Senate who’ was working with us who was keener to see the Bill defeated than Senator Keating was.
– I assure the honorable senator that that was not so. I was not going to vote against the Bill.
– What was the honorable senator going to do, then? Washe going to vote for it?
– That was my business.
– Let him make a statement on the floor of this Senate, and tell us whether he was going to vote for the Bill or against it.
– I was not going to vote against it.
– His statement is that he has always been in favour of the Bill. When the Bill was introduced for the second time - and so far as he was concerned for the first time by a Ministry of which he was a member - why did he refrain from voting? That is the second question that I want to ask him.
– Did he not vote for it as an honorary Minister ?
- Senator Keating asks us to believe that he has always been in favour of this Bill. Now, if he was always in favour of the Bill, why, when his own Ministry first introduced it: did he refrain from voting for it? Because that is what he did. Let honorable senators search the pages of Hansard, and they will find that that is so. But we all know what his attitude was. It was commonly said at the time that he was very reluctant to vote against the senators from his own State, and was at the same time reluctant to vote against his own Ministry. Therefore, . he chose the middle course, and walked out of the chamber when the division took place. We all knew at the time why he did that. It was said as an excuse for him that he wasout in an awkward position.
– That was not said by me.
– No, the honorable senator took care to say very little. There is no doubt about that.
– I offered no excuse whatever.
– There is no doubt that the honorable senator endeavoured to hide his tracks. He said nothing. But there are the facts. Senator Keating then in his effort to go as far as he could to supporthis own side - to support those who had been working with him - decided that he would not vote for the proposal introduced by his own Ministry,’ but walked out of the chamber. He chose that as a middle course. Yet, having done that, he told the electors of Tasmania - and told this Senate also - that he had always been in favour of the Bill. Of course, he has a perfect right to vote as he likes. But, sir, I have nothing but contempt for a man who has not the pluck to say decisively one way or the other, “ I have changed my opinion “ - by Ministerial obligation or anything else - who is not man enough to acknowledge why he has alteredhis attitude in regard to a question of this kind. I object to the man who would endeavour to induce the electors of his State, and his fellow-members, to believe that, in such circumstances, his action represents no change of front whatever. It is a shock to every honorable senator to hear such explanations as we have had put forward as having some pretence to truth.
– What was the honorable senator’s own leader’s attitude?
– I am not defending my leader’s conduct or any one else’s. It takes me all my time to defend my own. Let every man look after himself.
– The honorable senator has a guilty conscience.
– I am told by a new senator that I have a guilty conscience. Surely he does not think that my conscience is guilty with regard to this Bill ? I will tell him what my conscience is. The Bill was introduced for the first time in the Senate by a Ministry which I was supporting. Not only was I supporting that Government, but I was its official whip. Yet, being its official whip, I worked my hardest against the measure, and did my best to kill it.
– That is not so.
– What does the honorable senator mean?
– I mean that the honorable senator did not work against the Bill when Senator Symon introduced it.
– Did not work against it? Senator Pearce is stating what he ought to know to be absolutely untrue.
– I recollect a conversation between Senator Clemons and myself.
– The honorable senator is stating what he absolutely knows to be untrue.
– Mr. President, Senator Clemons has stated that I have said what I absolutely know to be untrue. I ask that he be made to withdraw that observation.
The PRES IDENT. - The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– What I meant to say was that Senator Pearce has made a statement that he ought to know - certainly ought to know - to be untrue. In fact every senator who was then present knows that it is not a fact.
– I have a distinct recollection of a conversation with the honorable senator on the subject.
– No account of any alleged conversation between Senator Pearce and myself is going to be believed, if it is intended to show a change of attitude on my part withregard to this Bill. My attitude was made known on the floor of the Senate when my leader, Senator Symon, introduced it. I told him, and I told the head of the Ministry, Mr. Reid, that in no circumstances would I support the Bill. I told them that, rather than cease my opposition to it, I would throw up the whipship and resign my connexion with the Ministry. Indeed, I offered to resign. I said, “ I am going to oppose this Bill, and if my position as whip would prevent me from doing so, I will resign.”
– I was not referring to what the honorable senator told them, but to what he told me.
– What I have stated is a sufficient answer to Senator Pearce’s insinuation, which does not do him much credit, and which I do not think that he believes himself. Now, if Senator Keating -has any answer to make to what I have stated, I should like him to make it on the floor of the Senate. When he was before the electors of Tasmania he stated distinctly that he was always in favour of this Survey Bill.
– Then what is the honorable senator growling about?
– I am not growling at all ; though if I were growling about anything I might growl about Senator Lynch ‘s lack of understanding. But, really, whether he understands my point or not is a matter of so little importance that it is not worth while to trouble about, it. If Senator Keating desires to make any answer to what I have said, I hope he will explain why, when the Ministry of which he was a member introduced this Bill, he himself declined to vote for it. If he can explain that away I shall be glad to hear him. With regard to the Bill itself, I have this to say: It represents, I am perfectly certain, the opinion of merely a minority of the Senate. I say that for this reason : I have no doubt that the ^20,000 will be spent upon the survey, but if ever a. proposition for the construction of the railway is brought forward, and the Senate is constituted as it is now, I do not believe that a single senator has the faintest hope that it will be carried. I said in Committee the other day that the position in regard to South Australia and Western Australia is practically this - that no matter what the survey may disclose, the senators from Western Australia will vote for the construction of the railway, and that those from South Australia will not do so. I do not blame either of them. No matter how good the survey may be, two at least of the senators from South Australia, and probably more, will undoubtedly vote against the railway in all circumstances.
– The honorable senator can only speak for himself.
– I think Senator McGregor knows perfectly well that what I am saying is true. The only re-, g ret that I have in connexion .with the Bill is that the Commonwealth will waste the 620,000 that it is proposed to spend. I have no fear about the railway. There is not the slightest reason for believing that it will ever be constructed within the life of any man now sitting in this Chamber.
– Like the last speaker, I can say that, although this Bill has been before the Senate on several occasions, I have never spoken with, regard to it. That honorable senator has maintained a silence in reference to the measure that has been equalled only by my own. As he has stated, I have said in the Senate and elsewhere that I have always supported this Bill.
– “ Been in favour of it,” I said.
– That is hardly correct. At the recent elections I reminded the electors of the attitude I took up when I first asked for their suffrages. One of the principal planks in my platform, in which I believed, and have ever since believed, and which no other Tasmanian candidate for a seat in either House of this Parliament has advocated, was that the perfecting of the means of communication between the outlying States and what might be called the more popular and central States, was a matter of Federal concern. I stated from every platform in Tasmania, and in an address which was republished from a hostile newspaper - the Launceston Examiner - and circulated to the extent of 10,000 or 12,000 copies among the electors, that I, if returned, would endeavour to give effect to that principle by asking the Federal Government to take up the question of communication between Tasmania and the mainland. I said that that was a matter of Federal concern, because Tasmania was isolated and could not participate to the fullest extent in the benefits of union unless the Federal Government took a step of that kind. Quite recently, when Senator Millen said that I had spoken against this Bill, I interjected that I had never spoken on this Bill, but that whenever I had spoken on the subject in the Senate I had expressed myself as in favour of it. He asked me if 1” had advocated this measure when I was before the electors in Tasmania. I said that such a concrete proposal was not before the electors, but I certainly claimed, and I think I can claim honestly and successfully, that I made the question of the perfecting of the means of communication with outlying States- a matter of Federal concern. The first opportunity I had of speaking here with’ regard to Western Australia’s request for better communication with the other States, was in the debate on the first Address-in-Reply. My speech was delivered, I think I may be pardoned for saying, in somewhat signal circumstances. It was the first debate in the Senate, and I had the honour and privilege of seconding the motion of Senator Fraser for the adoption of the AddressinReply. The Governor-General’s Speech contained a reference to this matter, and I shirked no responsibility in that regard. The speech I delivered was republished in full in several Tasmanian newspapers, and a considerably greater amount of interest was then devoted to the utterances of Federal members than has been devoted to them since, because the Federal Parliament was novel then. I shall now read what I said when I was breaking ground ; when I had come, so to speak, fresh and hot from the first elections. On page 47 of the first volume of Hansard I am reported to have spoken, on the 21st May,1901, as follows: -
– . . . There are two or three other matters to which I wish to refer before sitting down, and one of them is the contemplated - I can scarcely call it contemplated - Tailway to Western Australia. It does not appear, from His Excellency’s remarks, whether Ministers intend to submit that with any great degree of confidence to the Legislature. The speech says : - “ The question of the construction of a railway connecting with these eastern communities the vast and hitherto isolated State of Western Australia has been under consideration. Examinations of the country intervening between the railways systems of South and Western Australia are now in progress, together with other inquiries. It is hoped that they may result in showing that the undertaking is justifiable.”
If the undertaking is found to be justifiable, I shall be prepared to offer no opposition to it.
– Who is making the examinations?
– The States of South Australia and Western Australia are making inquiries.
Here I want to draw attention to the fact that then told the representatives of Western Australia in this Parliament that I looked to them for information on certain important features in connexion with the project.
– There is one remark of His Excellency dealing incidentally with this particular matter with which I do not find myself inaccord, but upon which senators from Western Australia will be able to speak with greater authority. We are assured that - “Isolation was the chief obstacle to the early adoption of the Constitution by Western Australia, until the hope of closer connexion ‘ influenced the people of the West to risk the threatened perils of that political union of the Continent which their vote at the referendum did much to complete.”
Perhaps some of the senators from Western Australia will be able to say whether that is a fact.
– Sir John Forrest said so.
– I do not know, but, perhaps, there is another name for isolation. The question of the construction of a railway to the Northern Territory also appears to be under consideration. Other things being equal, Mr. President, I should be inclined to prefer the construction of that line to the building of a railway to Western Australia, because it would shorten the route to the old country. It would bring us into closer communication with the other nations of the world than we could hope to expect from the construction of a railway along the southern coast to Western Australia.
– It would complete the work already started.
– So far as Western Australia is concerned, the railway from Melbourne to Adelaide, and beyond Adelaide, is part of the line to Western Australia, which must eventually come.
On the26th July, 1901, in pursuance of the promise I made to the electors in Tasmania, I moved -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, it is desirable that a Royal Commission be forthwith appointed for the purpose of inquiring into and reporting to Parliament upon -
In addressing myself to the motion, I said -
What is this union ? It is, as has been expressed in this chamber and elsewhere, nothing more nor less ‘than a partnership - a partnership for business purposes. While each of the States preserves its identity and its individuality in general, all have combined for certain common purposes, which are laid down in specific terms in the Constitution. Among those common purposes are three of very great importance. One is the all-important subject of defence, another is the matter of postal and telegraphic communication, and another we are having due regard to, is the possibility of the Commonwealth taking over, subject to certain conditions, the railways of the various States. So far as we in Tasmania are concerned, owing to circumstances to which I have already referred, we feel that unless a motion of this character is given effect to we cannot participate to the fullest extent, or to the extent we consider we are entitled to participate, in the advantages which will accrue from the amalgamation of the State Departments of communication. We cannot fully participate unless something is done of a practical character to draw the State of Tasmania into closer communication with the mainland States.
Later on I said -
I claim as part of the benefits that we are entitled to participate in, that the perfecting of the means of communication between the mainland States and Tasmania should be ‘taken in hand by the Commonwealth Government.
To show that this was not a principle peculiarly applicable to Tasmania, but was applicable elsewhere, I said in the same speech -
The representatives of Western Australia on previous occasions made reference to the isolation of that State, and have urged the necessity of communication being established between it and the eastern States by means of a railway; and I sincerely sympathize with the representatives of the western State.
Further on I said -
I ask the Government to appoint a Royal Commission to make inquiries and to report the result to Parliament. So far as the transcontinental railway inquiry is concerned, I do nol. care whether those who are making the inquiry were appointed by the Commonwealth or not, and if Western Australians have not thought it desirable to ask Parliament to institute an inquiry, I presume they are satisfied that those who are investigating the matter are competent lo do so, and that the result of their labours will be of some value in the future. I think I can fairly claim the sympathy of the representatives of Western Australia in this matter. I am not asking Parliament to commit itself to anything beyond having the matter fully inquired into.
On that occasion the whole of the representatives of Western Australia supported what was asked for, and the majority of them agreed with, me that this question of bringing the isolated States into closer communication with the other States was a matter of Federal concern.
– Is it log-rolling which the honorable senator is talking about ?
– No; I stated publicly, before I came into the Senate, that I considered, that the perfecting of the means of communication was a Federal concern.
– The honorable senator was asking for improved sea communication! with Tasmania. Western Australia has sea communication.
– In the. hostile press of Tasmania, I was derided and attempted to be belittled, and the public were told that those were only “childish vapourings,” that they had nothing to do with the practical issues which would be submitted. Although Parliament only met in May, 1901, yet on the 26th July, 1901, the Senate agreed to the inquiry I had asked for.
– What has that to do with the railway to Western Australia?
– I have pointed out here that in asking for that inquiry I laid it down as a principle that the drawing together of isolated States with other States was a matter of Federal obligation.
– Then why did not the honorable senator support the Survey Bill when his first colleague introduced it?
– I am coming to that. As the result of that speech, a Select Committee was appointed, of whom I was Chairman, and the Government of the day acted- upon its report, and improved communication was established. After that improved communication had been established, and the first Government of which I was a member, came into power, one of the first acts 1 did was ,to endeavour to get the cost of that communication charged, not to Tasmania, but to the Commonwealth.
– I do not want to interrupt Senator Keating, sir, but wish to know if he is making a personal explanation or a speech to the motion before the Senate. I submit, that if he is speaking to the ‘third reading of the Bill, he is entirely out of order. If he is making a personal explanation, then, of course, it is for you, sir, to say to what extent he shall be allowed to go. But his remarks have nothing to do with the Bill.
– Senator Keating was attacked with regard to his action in connexion with his support of the Bill. He is endeavouring, I take it, to reply to that attack, and to point out that his conduct is not open to the aspersions which have been cast upon it, but has been quite consistent with the opinions which he has held all through on questions of this character. That being the case, I consider that he is in order in replying to the attack as he is doing, and that his speech is in order in connexion with the third reading of the Bill.
– I have no objection to Senator Keating making a personal explanation.
– When I was interrupted I was proceeding to say what I stated, I think, on every platform in Tasmania during the last elections, not in reply to a question, but in case a question might be put similar to that which has been put to-day by Senator Clemons. When the
Deakin Government came’ into power, I endeavoured, as a first act, to induce my colleagues to complete that work of closer communication between Tasmania and the mainland by throwing upon the Commonwealth the obligation of bearing the expenditure.
– And the honorable senator voted against Senator O’Keefe’s motion.
– I am coming to that.
– Is the honorable senator going to drag in all those things?
– I do not thinkthat I interrupted the honorable senator when he was attacking me.
– I never mentioned a word about those things. I only dealt with the question of the railway.
– The honorable senator-
– Order. Will the Minister kindly pursue the subject, and not speak across the chamber?
– There were reasons why the Government could not immediately give effect to my request. The matter had to be deferred for some time. I had stated publicly in Tasmania, as a principle, that the question of communication between the outer States and the central States was a matter of Federal concern. I had stated it in this Senate, and I was prepared to see that principle applied properly all round. When this Bil’ first came into the Senate, when I was a member of the Government - and this is what I told the electors of Tasmaniawhat I had contended for in respect of Tasmania had not been achieved. I wanted to see the two things brought about together, so that the principle would be applied correctly, not in regard to one particular State, but concurrently in regard to all those States that were in the same position.
– That was no fault of the Western Australian members. They gave the honorable senator every support.
– I do not blame them. But the Government were not in a position! to give effect to what I desired. I refrained from voting on that occasion, because I wanted the two matters to Le dealt with on the same common principle. That may not appeal to Senator Clemons, but I stated it from every platform in Tasmania when I addressed the -electors on the last occasion. Then the Bill came up again last year, on the eve of the elections. The Government had come down with a proposal, which was set out in connexion with the Budget, that the .£7,000 of the Tasmanian subsidy should be debited to the Commonwealth, and had also made provision for the other principle, for which I had repeatedly contended on the floor of this Chamber and iri correspondence with the Department - the removal of any anomaly in telegraphic communication between Tasmania and the mainland. Those things were carried out together, so far as the Government were concerned, and, on the second occasion of the introduction of the Bill, seeing that the Government were giving effect to the principle I had advocated with regard to Tasmania at. a cost to the Commonwealth of £12,600 a year, I voted here last year for the survey. I ask honorable senators, in face of the imputation that Senator Clemons would level at me when he speaks of having contempt for those who have not the pluck to do so-and-so, which was the more plucky thing lo do - to vote for this survey, which my colleagues from Tasmania told me was most unpopular, on the eve of an election, or to vote for it the year before? I went straight to the electors, and told them iwy position, saying, “ I am representing you there as your business representative. I went in determined to do the best I could for you consistently with the interests of the Common wealth. I am not .there to represent you and you alone. I have to represent you and the Commonwealth, and in doing so I endeavoured to get and succeeded in getting what I consider to be a very good thing for Tasmania.” That seemed to satisfy the electors.
– Did it? The Labour Party put the honorable senator in, and that satisfied him. The honorable senator is the representative in the Senate of the Labour Party.
– I am very proud to have received the votes I did in Tasmania from all classes of the community, both in the last election and the one before. After telling the electors of Tasmania from various platforms what I had said here on the Address-in-Reply, after reading to them what I had said at Launceston and every other centre in Tasmania in 1901 - I had had those speeches circulated amongst the electors - and after reading to them what I had said in the Senate when moving for the Select Committee, I asked them at every centre I addressed, “ What would you have had me do in the circumstance’s? Would you have had me go back on those words ?” I never intended at any time to vote against what Western Australia desired in the same direction as 1 desired for Tasmania, even if I did not vote for it. I selected my time to vote for it in connexion! with what I considered to be the best interests of Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Commonwealth. In these circumstances, I am very glad to have had this opportunity of replying to some of the aspersions that have been cast at me. It may be said that I preserved a silence on the subject. Senator Clemons has said so before. Quite so, but why should we conceal from ourselves, or endeavour to conceal from the public, the fact that there was an attempt, on each occasion on which the Bill has been before the Senate, to draw different senators to their feet for the purpose of prolonging the debate? Often and often I have had to sit here, when I should have liked to speak. But that was what the very opponents of the Government wanted. They wanted the debate carried on to a period when they thought it would be more advantageous to them to go to a division.
– Was that the reason the honorable senator did not speak when Senator Symon introduced the Bill? Who were the opponents of the Government then ?
– I did not speak at all then. I was not opposing the Bill. .
– The honorable senator was an opponent of the Government then. He was in the same position as we are in now.
– I do not know about that, but the honorable senator’s leader told me at one period during the tenure of office of that Government that they were very much indebted to me for the assistance I gave them.
– Assistance in what?
– Assistance in this . Chamber. I have now said what I desired to say about this matter, I ask honorable senators whether it would have been consistent for me at any stage to have voted against the Bill after the declaration I had made to the electors in Tasmania in 1 90 1, to this Senate on 21st May, 1901, and also to the Senate on 26th July, 1901 ?
– Mr. President-
– Let the Bill go.
– I do not know why there should toe any objection to my speaking now. I am one of the very few senators who did not get an opportunity of speaking on the second reading. On that occasion, I adhered to the compact entered into, that the division should betaken last Friday afternoon at a certain, hour, and, therefore, refrained from speaking. When! Senator Clemons rosethis morning, and referred to making explanations, I expected him to give much fuller explanations than he did give. We know that there are many things that have not yet been even touched upon, in the way of explanation, and I certainly expected’ the honorable senator to deal with them. He briefly referred to one matter, but left a great many others untouched. He made some reference fo Senator Best. I wonder why he stopped there. Why did he not go on to deal with Senator Symon’s attitude on the same question? If it is necessary to offer explanations, there is plenty of opportunity quite apart from that incident.. I thought we might hear some reference to the pairing incidents that have taken place from time to time, but not a word came from Senator Clemons. I thought when dirty linen was introduced, knowing; the enormous bundle of it that there wasover here, that we were going to have a. nice treat this morning, but that bundle isstill carefully concealed. I have a duty to perform here this morning. Statements have been made during the debate on thisBill, as to which I feel that I should not be doing my duty to the electors of Western Australia if I did not give them a contradiction before the Bill passes its final stage. I recognise that I am one of the very few in this Chamber, if not the only one, directly in a position to give those statements a flat contradiction. If thatflat contradiction is not given to them now, harm may eventuate to my State in regard? to this railway construction later on,’ because I am satisfied that we are far from the end in connexion with this matter. I am sorry Senator Symon is not in his place this morning. I should have preferred that he should be present to hear what I ann about to say, but if he chooses to be out of the Chamber when business is beingdone, that is his look out.
– He has gone out of the State, so as to show his love for the Bill.
– I do not know whether he has gone from the State or not, but he has made statements on this question that I feel impelled to contradict. He has stated that Western Australia did not come into the Federation on any promise whatever in connexion with this railway, and his statement has been bandied about by the opponents of the, measure time and again. In order to substantiate it, he said that he was intimately acquainted with the movement on the gold-fields prior to Federation j that he was consulted by the Separation Committee on the gold-fields, and knew exactly what the intentions and wishes of the gold-fields men were at that time. I myself took a very prominent part in affairs on the gold-fields on that occasion. I must qualify the statement that I am the only man in this Chamber who knows these facts intimately, because Senator Lynch was also on the gold-fields at the time, although, perhaps, he was not so prominently identified with the movement as I was. I was a member of the Separation League Committee, and also at the head of the largest organization of men on the gold-fields, occupying at the time perhaps the most representative position of any single individual there. Therefore, when I am contradicting Senator Symon’s statements, I wish it to be understood that I know what I am speaking of, and the exact position of affairs on the gold-fields in those days. As a matter of fact, not only did the people of the gold-fields come into the Federation with the true Federal spirit, in order that Australia might be a united country, recognising that if onethird of the Continent stood out of the Federation it would be a very one-sided and far from complete union, but, whilst they were imbued with that true Federal spirit, they also had regard to the material advantages that they hoped to get from Federation. I remember that Senator Walker came to Kalgoorlie at that time and addressed us in the Wesley an Church. I heard him speak then, and I also heard Senator Symon speak on another occasion. This particular railway was promised to the men of the gold-fields so clearly and explicitly by Senator Symon that I am astonished that at this date, some seven or eight years afterwards, he should have the audacity to rise in his place in this Chamber and say that the men of the goldfields had nothing of the kind in their minds.
– What power had he to promise it?
– He promised it as a prominent Federalist at the time, and as an individual he is responsible for that promise.
– He could not bind six Governments.
– I am not speaking of those whom he could bind. He certainly bound himself if he is a man of his word.
– Did he promise a railway to Perth and Fremantle?
– We had a railway to Perth and Fremantle.
– Did Senator Symon ever say anything as to the possibility of a railway, not to Perth and Fremantle, but to Esperance?
- Senator Symon has said that the only railway that the men on the gold-fields desired at that time was the Esperance railway. I give that statement also a flat contradiction. How could the honorable senator believe that the men on the gold-fields were such blockheads as to imagine that they could get a railway to Esperance by coming into the Federation when they knew that that would be a railway within the State, and not ah InterState railway, such as that now under consideration ?
– It was largely’ bound up with this.
– It was bound up with this railway in no way whatever, but it was very much bound up with the question of separation which. was distinct altogether from the question of Federation.
– This is the first time I have ever heard that the possibility of the construction of the Esperance railway was one of the reasons for Western Australia entering the Federation.
– It was quite foreign to the question of Federation in Western Australia. It was a railway which only Western Australia could build, and the Federation could have nothing whatever to do with it.
– The Federal Government could build it .now, with consent.
– The Federal Government could have nothing whatever to do with it ; it is purely a State matter.
– It would be a formidable competitor of this line if it were built.
– It would be a feeder, and not a competitor, of this line.
– The engineers’ report is to the effect that it would take away half the traffic from this line.
– It would run at right angles to the transcontinental line. I am afraid Senator Dobson has not looked at the position of Esperance on the map.
– I have read the engineers’ report.
– I am unable to understand how a line running at right angles to the transcontinental line could be a competitor of that line.
– Why is the honorable senator “ stone-walling “ the Bill ?
– I have risen to contradict certain statements made by Senator Symon, and I shall be as brief as possible. That honorable and learned senator has said that this is “ a railway in the clouds,” but he did not say that in 1899. He did not say it when he went to Western Australia to offer every inducement to the people of that State to join the Federation. He dwelt then upon the material advantages which the people of Western Australia would gain from the construction of the line if they entered the Federation, and he pointed out the risk they would run of losing those advantages if they did not join the Federation. The honorable senator not only said that there was a possibility of the construction of the line, but that if was certain to be constructed in the near future. ‘ Here we are seven or eight years afterwards fighting for a mere survey of the line, and we are now told by Senator Symon that it is a “railway in the clouds.” I wish again to place on record the statement made by the honorable and. learned senator in his letter to Sir Walter James -
There are immense material advantages to Western Australia in coming into the Union now which will be imperilled should she postpone the auspicious day. Amongst these advantages you should not overlook the following : - First, Federation must inevitably give to Western Australia at an early date a transcontinental railway - not a railway in the clouds. that will be one outward and visible link to join Western Australia with the rest of the federating Colonies. In my belief, the acceptance of the Commonwealth Bill by Western Australia will mean the speedy acceptance of that work by the Commonwealth.
That apparently was a case of “ Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly,” because eight years after he wrote that statement we have Senator Symon declaring on the floor of this chamber that there is no need to bother about the railway at present because it is a matter that is still in the clouds. If the honorable and learned senator had made that statement to the people of Western Australia eight years ago they would have been able to appreciate it better than they can do to-day. As the honorable senator has made these statements over and over again, I am satisfied that I have done my duty in giving them a flat contradiction, knowing, as I do, the position of affairs in the gold-fields in those days.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [12.7].- The honorable senator who has just addressed the Senate has, perhaps, hardly dealt fairly with Senator Symon. I do not know that Senator Symon would thank me for saying anything on his behalf, but in the interest of fair play, and in the absence of that honorable and learned senator, I feel that I am justified in pointing out that the attitude assumed by him has been one of favour to the railway survey, with the condition precedent of the consent of the South Australian Parliament being obtained. Whatever value may attach to the speeches of Senator Symon, the honorable senator’s vote hascertainly gone in the direction I have indicated - approval of the Bill, coupled with the consent of the South Australian Parliament. I do not know enough of South Australian politics to be able to say what value the people of that State would attach to the amendment carried in Committee, but as honorably safeguarding the funds at the disposal of the Commonwealth Parliament it meets my view of what is a fair and square deal. If, as has been suggested, the amendment will result in delay, it must be patent that it will be due to the fact that the conditions are not equal. The Parliament of South Australia is in session at the present time, and if it represents public opinion in the State on this question there should be no difficulty whatever in carrying the legal provision . which the amendment indicates as necessary.
– Has the honorable senator contemplated the possibility of the House of Assembly, which represents the popular will, passing a Bill, and the Legislative Council, which represents only oneseventh’ of the voters, rejecting it?
– I have said that I do not know enough of the details of South Australian politics to enable me to adequately gauge the importance, or otherwise, of the amendment, from the South Australian point of view, but if, as suggested by Senator Pearce’ s question, there is a difference of opinion in the South Australian Parliament as to the propriety of the survey, is it not very likely that there would be a still more serious difference of opinion with respect to the construction of the line ?
– There is the danger of this being made a party question in South Australia.
– I do not know that there need be much fear of that. It has undoubtedly been a party question here.
– lt has never been a party question.
– Senator Needham may be referring to the State from which he comes, because his remark is certainly not apposite to what has transpired in the Senate in connexion with this Bill.
– It has always been a Government question.
– It has been a Government question every time, and with every Government, and it goes without saying that when a Government makes a question a Government question, it becomes a party question. I have been in Western Australia a couple’ of times within the last twel ve or fourteen months, and while there I endeavoured to obtain as much information about the line as I possibly could, because I wished to get the “hang” of the thing. I was assured over and over again that the supporters of the line were merely “ a John Forrest cult.” I do not think I shall be doing any harm in repeating the representations made to me in different parts of the State. It is well known that the people of the gold-fields desire a line to Esperance Bay, and do not want this line. When that statement was made to me I said, “If the people of the gold-fields do not want the line how is it that the representatives of Western Australia, who all belong to the Labour party, are supporting it?” This was the answer I got in more places than one, and f rom more than one person : “ You see, the Labour members have the full support of the gold-fields vote, and what they want to get is the vote of the metropolitan area first, and the adjoining area of Fremantle. They have already booked the gold-fields vote; they want the coastal vote, which is now a conservative vote, and they think they can get that by supporting the railway.” It appeared that they thought that by making friends of the mammon of unrighteousness they could obtain the coastal vote.
– They were pulling the honorable senator’s leg.
– Such an exceedingly innocent and unsophisticated person as myself was very likely to be “ had “ over a thing of that kind.
– Is it not a fact that all the time the honorable senator was in Western Australia the Morning Herald newspaper man had a grip of each of his legs, and was pulling them all the time?
– If the President thinks that it is in order for an honorable senator to interrupt the proceedings of the Senate with such irrelevant rubbish as that his view must be very different from my own.
– The honorable senator was not in order in interrupting for that purpose.
– I am not aware that I am in the habit of being misled. I have lived for a few years now, and I have been in public life longer, I think, than any other member of the Senate, with the exception of the President.
– How long?
– Twenty-five years; and, therefore, I am not a spring chicken to be led astray by a few grains of intellectual barley. I ami not aware that I have been misled in these matters. As Senator de Largie has’ observed that there is no possible connexion between this overland line and the Esperance Bay line, may I point out in reply that either Senator de Largie was presuming upon the lack of knowledge of the honorable senator whom he contradicted, or else he was playing that gentle game of bluff of which he is so accomplished an exponent.
– Does the honorable senator say that he ascertained the feeling of the gold-fields people when he .was over in Western Australia ?
– I never went to the gold-fields. I was quite satisfied with the fine panoramic photographs of them which I obtained. If the honorable senator wants to know my experience, I shall be delighted to tell him how I fared in what was called a dining-car, but which I regarded as the most efficient churn that human ingenuity ever designed. Now the line from Coolgardie to Esperance Bay - which is a very decent natural harbor - will cover a little over 100 miles. From Esperance Bay to Adelaide, by water, the distance is 800 miles. Therefore the whole distance by water and rail from Adelaide to the gold-fields is less than 1,000 miles. The distance by the proposed railway from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie would be 1,500 miles by land, as against 800 miles of sea carriage - practically a two and a half days’ trip on steamers which are quickening their rates of transit every day. Now, let me ask my honorable friend whether there is any railway line in the world that does not pay on its goods traffic rather than on its passenger traffic? Every one knows that that rule applies not only to railways, but also lo shipping. It is the goods that the mail steamers carry which enable them to pay their way. The money paid by passengers merely represents the occupancy of the upper portions of the ship where cargo cannot be stored. I am in a position to state positively, because the. information was given to me very recently, that the cost of running a mail steamer between England and Australia is not less than £40,000 per round trip.
– What is the profit?
– My authority for that statement is the Superintendent of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, who gave it to me from his own note-book. The profit is made out of goods, not out of passenger fares. Now, is it to be contended that a line 1,500 miles in length from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie will be likely to carry goods at a profit, as against a journey of 800 miles by sea, and a run by rail of about 100 miles from Esperance Bay ? It stands to reason that the goods must always go by water rather than by the overland route.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish, to know whether the honorable senator is in order in discussing, not a Bill involving the expenditure of .£20,000 for a railway survey, but the construction of a line?
– The question before us is undoubtedly that of the survey of a line between certain points. But, during the whole of the debate, the question has arisen whether the survey is desirable in view of the fact that in the opinion of some honorable senators it is not wise to construct such a railway, in any event. That being the case, I consider that Senator Neild is in order in pointing out the difficulties that will probably occur should the railway be built.
– I am afraid that Senator Findley has not understood my point. What I desire to make clear is that in addition to the 1,100 miles of railway between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta, there is the distance between Port Augusta and Adelaide that has to be considered; and that the question of water carriage and railway carriage inevitably arises. I have been endeavouring to show that from the point of view of goods traffic, a journey of 1,500 miles cannot compare with a sea journey to Esperance Bay, and a short railway run from Esperance to Coolgardie. My whole object is to show that if the proposed line were built, it “would never be used for goods. For instance, it would be impossible to send butter by the line, because, for every pound of butter sent 1 cwt. of ice would be required to keep it sweet in going through a heated country, where the rainfall, according to official publications, is only 5 inches per annum. The evaporation would be phenomenal - far greater than even on the west coast of Western Australia, where the evaporation is so great that, on Sir John Forrest’s splendid water scheme from Mandeering weir to the gold-fields, absolutely less water is supplied to the people than’ is lost by evaporation en route. That fact is shown by official publications handed to me a few weeks ago by the U0vernment of Western Australia. When even in the Perth district, where the evaporation is nothing like so great as it is over the route of the railway, and where the rainfall is 36 inches per annum, the evaporation is so great, what must it be in a district where the rainfall is only 5 inches per annum? On the great water scheme, it is positively a fact that a larger number of gallons of water evaporate than are pumped for the service of the people.
– Prove that statement.
– I will prove it from Government publications, or resign my seat in the Senate. If there be such a gigantic evaporation in a district which has vast agricultural areas, and a large rainfall, what will the evaporation be where there is an exceedingly small rainfall ? In the circumstances, it is evident that if the railway were built, it would Le the most costly to run and maintain of any railway, certainly in Australia, perhaps in the world. I have now said what I have to say in opposition to the Bill. I do not, however, wish to delay the final stages of it. I shall vote against the third reading without offering any factious opposition^ merely discharging what I believe. to be my duty to those who have sent me here, and to the taxpayers of Australia.
– I propose to’ say a few words, lest my silence should be misunderstood. I very much regret the personal recriminations which have taken place this morning, and cannot help feeling conscientiously that so far as the attack which Senator Clemons has made applies to myself it is unwarranted. The honorable senator went so far as to doubt my veracity. He would not, I think, attempt to do so in private life, and why he should do so in connexion with political matters is more than I can understand. Let rae point out what has happened in connexion with this matter. Ora the several occasions on which this Bill lias been introduced in the Senate, it has been in charge of senators who have distinctly and firmly stated that they were not in favour of the construction of the line, at least until they got further information. On the first occasion, when it was introduced by Senator Symon, it is perfectly true that I offered strenuous opposition to the measure. But there are many honorable senators present who know why I was incensed. They know that it was really because of the procedure adopted, and the introduction of the Bill in the very expiring moments of the session.
– I know that the honorable senator’s opposition was as strenuous last session as ever it had been - behind the scenes*
– I challenge my honorable friend to prove that statement. I absolutely deny it. I am sure that Senator Clemons, and certainly many honorable senators ‘ present will admit that on that occasion I said most distinctly, “ I will be no party whatever to blocking the measure.”
– The honorable senator said that to me.
– I told several honorable senators that I would be no party whatever to blocking the measure. I said, “ I will pair “ - which I did, if I remember rightly, with Senator Drake - and I took no further part in the proceedings. It was while that was going on that Senator Trenwith and I had the conversation to which I have recently referred. My honorable friend happened to be sitting in the Senate when I was making the statement at the outset. He has verified what I said, although I feel that it is most humiliating to have to ‘ask for any such verification from another honorable senator. If it were necessary, it could be verified from several sources. Senator Trenwith has told the Senate that he has a perfect recollection of the conversation which occurred. Then it was that, after consulting together, we recognised that the Bill had been passed by the other House on several occasions, and by large majorities. We recognised that, after all, it was but a Survey Bill, and we both stated that it was not our intention on any other occasion to vote against it. Senator Trenwith,- I am given to understand, spoke on that occasion, and he told what we two had decided to do.
– I did not speak.
– Senator Trenwith did not tell what the honorable senator and he had decided to do.
– No; he mentioned what he had decided to do.
– The Minister said just now that Senator Trenwith “ told what we two had decided to. do.”
– Senator Trenwith spoke so far as he was personally concerned.
– He simply . announced on the floor of the Senate that that was the last time on which he would vote against the Bill.
– I had already intimated that it was not my intention to speak. Undoubtedly, if I had spoken, I should have followed the same course as Senator Trenwith did. But if honorable senators cast any doubt or reflection on my statement, 1” fear that I have lived eighteen years in public life utterly in vain. I cannot understand why, at this period, any statements I’ have made, which happen by accident to be verified, should be doubted. I regret what has taken place. I am in the same position as is Senator Symon. He frankly told the Senate, as I did, that he was not in favour of the construction of the line until he had obtained further information. Senator Playford said so also. I have honestly and frankly told the Senate the same thing.
– What 1 The Minister has told the Senate that he was not in any way committed to the railway ?
– That I am not committed to the construction of the railway.
– Is that the Minister’s attitude now?
– Undoubtedly that is my attitude. I am prepared to be guided by the result of the survey. I am seeking information. I am anxious that the best information should be obtained. I look upon the proposed survey as a means of obtaining such information. Moreover, I feel that it is necessary that it should be obtained in order to enable the Parliament to decide when the line should beconstructed. That it will be constructed at some time I have not the slightest doubt.
– But surely the honorable senator said the other day that the railway must be built, and that he was in favour of its construction?
– It is inevitable, I repeat, that the railway must be built.
– At the Commonwealth’s expense?
– It is only a matter of time.
– Is it to be built by the Commonwealth?
– Yes. If my honorable friend would prefer me to quote the exact words I used, I shall gladly do so, but I can assure him that what I said then is that which I have repeated - it is inevitable that the railway must be built.
– I have said that, but’ by whom is it to be built?
– Order ! Will the honorable senator allow the Minister to proceed ?
– I was desirous that the information should be obtained in order that Parliament should be able to decide as to when the line should be constructed. I have made this explanation, because I thought that silence on my part might have been misunderstood. I regret that heat has been introduced in the debate. I hope that after my statement honorable senators will see that I have acted bond fide. Even if I had not been called upon incidentally to make the explanation, honorable senators with great parliamentary experience know that on many matters, particularly such a small matter as this, involving a very limited sum, a Minister, when he takes office, is bound to yield to the general policy of the Government. So Tar, every Government of the Commonwealth have made the survey of a route for this line part and parcel of their policy.
Question - That this Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I desire, sir, to be permitted to make a personal explanation regarding the vote which has just been taken. When Senator Clemons was speaking, a reference was made to Senator Symon, and I interjected that he had shown his friendship for the Bill by leaving Melbourne without pairing. I have since been informed that he had paired. I had not been made acquainted with that fact, as I think I might have been.
– Why should that have been done?
– I regret that I made the statement, andask the Senate to accept my explanation!
– That is not the only thing which the honorable senator ought to withdraw.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the report be adopted.
– It will facilitate business if the Standing Orders can be suspended to enable the third reading of the Bill to be taken to-day. It is a complementary measure to the Judiciary Bill, which has been forwarded to the other’ House. It has beendiscussed exhaustively, and I do not think that there can be anyserious objection to its being read a third time to-day, and transmitted to the other House. I shall be very glad if my honorable friends on the other side will give the necessary consent.
– We do not think that it is necessarily a complementary measure to the Judiciary Bill, and I am sorry to say that I shall have to object to the suspension of the Standing Orders. There is no urgency, and I hope that my objection will not embarrass the Government.
– The Senate will not meet until Wednesday next, and unless the Bill is forwarded to-day, it will delay business in another place to some extent. If it could be forwarded to-day, it could be in that House on Tuesday next. I would suggest to my honorable friend that his opposition should be withdrawn.
– I am very sorry that I must object. The Minister understands the reasons for my objection, and I do not wish to mention them.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th Augus, vide page 1594):
Clause 7 -
The State Acts set out in the First Schedule shall, to the extent specified in that schedule, cease to apply to bills of exchange, cheques, and promissory notes drawn or made after the commencement of this Act.
Bills of exchange, cheques, and promissory notes drawn or made after the commencement of this Act shall not be’ subject to stamp duty under the laws of any State other than -
in the case of a bill of exchange (not being a cheque) - the State in which the bill is drawn;
in the case of a cheque - the State in which the cheque is payable ;
in the case of a promissory note - the State in which the note is made.
Upon which Senator Stewart had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after the word “State,” line9. be left out.
– I again ask Senator Stewart not to persist with the amendment, which, if carried, would involve the loss of a considerable amount of revenue to each and every one of the States, without the existence of any provision for making up that revenue by any other method. Senator Givens sug-. gested that the Commonwealth might step in and impose stamp duties on these instruments, use the resultant revenue, either for distribution amongst the States, or directly for its own purposes, and so relieve the. States of certain obligations which they are now meeting. There is no provision at present for the Commonwealth to do anything of the kind.
– Could not provision easily be made? Nothing is ever done until it is done.
– Exactly ; but I am sure the honorable senator will agree with me that if anything of that kind, were done, it would have to be done completely.
– What I am complaining of is that we are not dealing with this matter completely now.
– The Commonwealth undoubtedly has the power of imposing taxation by way of revenue-stamp duties. It has never exercised such a power, and, when it does, I hope it will only do it in a general and comprehensive way, and not in a piecemeal manner.
– Then why do the Government deal with the subject piecemeal in this Bill?
– We are dealing with the subject as it has been dealt with in every one of the States and the United Kingdom. No provision is made for the imposition of taxation in the Acts of the States, or of the United Kingdom, corresponding to this Bill. Senator Clemons asked me specifically, last night, whether if we negatived sub-clause 2 of this clause we should also have to negative sub-clause 1. I replied that sub-clause 1 had reference only to Acts dealing with bills of exchange and corresponding Acts similar to this Bill, which made provision with regard to the general features of bills of exchange, but imposed no taxation on them. The taxation imposable on bills of exchange in the United Kingdom and the Australian States is the subject-matter of separate legislation. Until we are prepared, like the States and the United Kingdom, to bring down a comprehensive Stamp Duties Bill, we should not consider any proposition to take away from the States revenue which they at present enjoy. The amendment, if carried, would mean very serious financial loss to the States. Why should we do that, I might almost say, wantonly ?
– That is a good argument from the anti-Federal point of view.
– Not at all. I do not think that Federation was ever established for the purpose of depriving the States of revenue unless it was absolutely obligatory on the Commonwealth in the fulfilment of its functions to do so. I have already pointed out that our information shows that to carry the amendment would mean an annual loss to Tasmania alone of £10,600 a year. I assume that there would be a corresponding, if not a greater, loss to each of the other States.
– Who would lose it?
– The States Treasuries.
– The people would still have it.
– If it was proposed to remit taxation to persons who could only bear it with difficulty, I could understand Senator Given’s attitude, but the bulk of this taxation is paid by men who may be called the merchant princes of the Commonwealth.
– I have no intention to argue this question from its constitutional aspect. I quite agree with Senator Stewart that we have the power to do what he proposes, and I know he is actuated by the very best motives, but I also agree with Senator Lynch that the time is not yet ripe for us to exercise our power. We ought to be very careful in exercising all the powers we have under the Constitution. We are essentially a States’ House, and, although I do not desire to carry that idea to any extreme length, still this is one of the instances where we might very well take a stand to protect the States revenues. I shall vote against the amendment, because, if carried, it would rob Western Australia of, or, rather, reduce the revenue of Western Australia by, £20,000. When I see a State endeavouring to meet its liabilities by imposing certain taxation, I do not like to interfere to deprive it of the right to do so. The taxation in the various States on these instruments has been imposed by men elected to the popular Houses on as broad a franchise as we ourselves have been elected on, with the exception, perhaps, of Victoria.
– It was imposed by a Government elected on a very limited fran chise in the days gone by, and has simply been continued ever since.
– I cannot help the retrogressive tendencies of the State which the honorable senator represents.. This tax was imposed- in Western Australia by a Legislative Assembly elected on a popular franchise. Senator St. Ledger has stated that he will oppose the imposition of land taxation by this Parliament, but I am prepared to exercise all the powers the Constitution gives us to impose a tax on land values, because all the States are not doing their duty in that direction. Western Australia has made an honest attempt to impose a tax ‘on land values, and is about to make another. It will not be wise at this juncture to exercise the exclusive powers which the Constitution has given us in the subject now under discussion. In view of the fact that it would cripple Western Australia at the present time, to lose £20,000 of revenue, I could not honestly, Federalist though I am, and desirous as I am of voting on all occasions for. the exercise of all our powers, vote for this amendment in justice to my State at the present juncture. I urge the honorable senator to withdraw the amendment, because it would, if carried, vitally affect the revenue of all the States. If he presses the amendment to a vote, as he has the right to do, I shall certainly resist it to the last.
– I join with other honorable senators in urging Senator Stewart to withdraw the amendment. Queensland would lose very heavily in revenue by it. One of the honorable senator’s arguments was that it would be better to have taxation imposed on some other basis, but a provision to alter the basis of taxation does not come within the scope of a Bill of this sort, which is merely a code law. It will always be possible later on to deal with this matter, when the whole question of the imposition of taxation is brought before us. This does not seem to be the place to discuss it, as it involves a big principle in the method of taxation. I ask Senator Stewart not to force us to vote against him, as. we shall be compelled to do if the amendment goes to a division.
– I listened with much interest to Senator Chataway, who said that it was very undesirable for us, when dealing with a Bill intended to codify other legislation, to interfere with the powers of taxation of any State, or with the revenue derived by any State. But the clause as it stands will, if passed, do that, and so I hope that Senator Chataway will be with me in opposing sub-clause 2. It will affect to a considerable extent the revenues of the various States. It is a great mistake, in a Bill of this sort, to interfere with the taxation schemes of the States. To do so will not help to promote that harmonious feeling which we are all desirous of maintaining. It is a kind of capricious interference, without much to warrant it. The only justification it can have is the desire for uniformity which Senator Keating has advocated.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill has been in the possession of honorable senators since the 7 th August, when it was received from another place. I think I am fairly correct in assuming that the materials of the Bill are not in any sense of the word novel to honorable senators. During the last session of the last Parliament a somewhat similar Bill was submitted, and after passing another place, was received in the Senate. If my recollection serves me rightly, that Bill passed its second reading in the Senate, but there was a considerable amount of disfavour shown by individual members of the Senate to certain proposals contained in it. It was then, I think, suggested that the Government might have taken an opportunity to consult experts from the different States with a view to ascertaining what particular industries could best be assisted by means of the bounty system. The Government had not taken that .course previously to the introduction of the Bill of 1906, but a Committee of the Cabinet had gone as carefully as possible into the whole question, and a” report by the Committee had been circulated amongst members of both Houses. During the recess that has intervened, the Government, acting upon the suggestion put forward in the Senate,, asked the States Governments to nominate certain representatives to sit together, and in consultation and conference consider the whole scheme of assisting new industries into being in the Commonwealth, and of stimulating already established industries by means of bounties. That Conference met in Melbourne in April last. All the States were represented with the exception of Queensland and Tasmania. However, the Government of Queensland subsequently furnished, through one of their expert officers, very valuable information in the nature of a report and suggestion on the proposals contained in the Bill.
– Different Queensland officers reported.
– Different officers, attended to different details, but the information was received through the one channel. For all diplomatic purposes, if I may so call them, we can regard the Queensland information as coming from one officer, although I understand that the State Government called to their aid the experience and advice of officers engaged in different parts of Queensland in connexion with various industries. So far as Parliament is concerned it has to be remembered that we have under the Constitution the exclusive legislative jurisdiction in relation to bounties. After the imposition of uniform duties of Customs and Excise, which has already taken place, as honorable senators are aware, the Constitution provides that the Commonwealth Parliament shall .have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to. the granting of bounties upon the production and export of goods. In these circumstances the Government necessarily had to consider whether it was a correct time to call upon Parliament to exercise its legislative powers in this regard, and to what extent. As to whether this is a correct time, first of all, I should like to point out to honorable senators that I believe there is a general consensus of opinion amongst all parties that it is desirable that Australia should, as soon as possible, be more extensively populated by a thriving and industrious people, preferably of our own race; at any rate, of our own colour, who will work in harmony with those already in the Commonwealth, not merely in developing the resources of the continent, but also in defending these fair States against any foreign aggression. It is necessary, therefore, for the Parliament, in order to secure an increased population of a desirable character, to find so far as it can legitimately, in the exercise of its ordinary legislative functions, as many avenues for profitable occupation as possible. We have already a very extensive territory. It is not necessary for me to enter into details with which honorable senators are acquainted as to the area, bounddaries, length, or breadth of that territory, lt is sufficient to say that it embraces a number of diverse climates, and that it is constituted of areas and of soils very diverse in their capabilities for production. It has been said more than once, and in many places, that there is hardly a human requirement that some part or other of the Commonwealth is not capable of producing. I do not think that a proposition of that kind would be seriously disputed by anybody. But it might be argued that in the instance of some forms of production the conditions usually applicable to the work involved are such as would not favorably appeal to the people of this community. In the circumstances it has been necessary for the Government to make their inquiries as exhaustive as possible ; to see . what industries that do not already exist in the Commonwealth might be brought into being by the stimulus of bounties, and what industries that are already established, and give no hope of permanent expansion, without assistance, might by such means be encouraged. The Conference of State officers that was called together during the present year had submitted to it the principles upon which the Government wished to proceed in their desire to increase the productivity ofthe Commonwealth, and to open further avenues of profitable employment to people here, or to the people of our own colour who might be induced to settle here.
– How would a land tax do?
– I am not dealing with a land tax now, but with the principles submitted to the Conference.
– I was asking how a land tax would do. It would be much better than the proposed bounties.
– The matters to which I have referred were submitted to the Conference. There was the general principle that it was desirable, in the view of the Government, that further opportunities or inducements should be given to persons to embark in the cultivation of products that have not yet found a place among our primary industries, whilst we also desired the encouragement of industries already entered upon with practically only a small measure of success, owing to the competition of better, because longer established, production in other countries. The members of the Conference were also supplied with the Bounties Bill, introduced in the last session of the last Parliament. Their report has been circulated, and honorable senators will have observed that in dealing with many of the items to which they specifically refer, mention is made of the proposals contained in that Bill. Speaking generally, most of the items contained in this Bill were contained in the former Bill. Some of the items in the latter measure were, however, struck out.
– Some were struck out of this Bill in another place.
SenatorKEATING.- That is so.
– Do the Government propose in the Senate to re-insert peanuts and sunflowers, and other things of that description ?
– There were items contained in the previous Bill which the experts do not think need encouragement of this kind. In addition, there have been some additional items inserted in this Bill, and as I have been reminded, some of the proposals it contained, as originally submitted to Parliament, have in another place failed to meet with the acceptance of the majority of honorable members there. The general principle of this Bill is this : - That a sum of £412,500, as a maximum, shall be expended under a system of bounties for the promotipn and encouragement of industries in Australia.
– The amount is rather a large one.
– Its expenditure is to be spread over a period of fifteen years, commencing from the 1st July last. The Bill sets out in a schedule the goods in respect of which the bounties will be payable, and specifies the period during which the bounties will be claimable in respect thereof. It also sets out the rates at which the bounties will be payable, and the annual maximum, which must in no case be exceeded. Honorable senators will find that in the second schedule there appears a table setting forth the maximum amounts which may be expended for the whole purposes of the Bill up to certain dates. For instance, it is shown that up to the 30th June, 1908, the total amount which may’ be expended is £60,000. Up to the 30th June, 1909, no more than £118,000 may be expended, and so on up to the 30th June, 1922, the total amount that may be expended being given. In the first schedule there is a provision as to the maximum amount which may be paid in any one year. Provision is also made in a clause, to which I shall hereafter refer, for regulations to prescribe the method of distributing the bounties where the goods, in respect of which they are claimed are of such value that, if bounties were paid in respect of them all, the maximum amount prescribed for the year would be exceeded. Meanwhile, as far as the text of the Bill is concerned, apart from the schedules, the conditions under which the bounties may be claimed and become payable are specified. The first essential to the establishment of a claim is that the goods must be the product of the Commonwealth. To that general principle there is one exception, to which I invite the attention of honorable senators. I refer to fish. It is provided that, inasmuch as the bounty is to be given for the preserving of fish as prescribed, the fish itself need not necessarily be the product of Commonwealth waters in the generally accepted meaning of “the term.
– That is to say the fish may be caught beyond three miles off the coast ?
– Exactly ; the fish may be caught in waters which, territorially speaking, are not the waters of the Commonwealth so long as the preserving operations upon which the claim for a bounty is grounded take place within Australia, and under the conditions prescribed. Another condition is that in regard to goods which are manufactured from raw materials in respect of which bounties may be claimed, the materials themselves must be Australian. Those conditions, in themselves, would be insufficient, and it is therefore further provided that the goods in respect of which the bounties are claimed must be of a merchantable quality in the ordinary sense of the term. It is also provided, in respect of food products that they must be of a prescribed quality. Another condition is that the goods must be produced, not in infinitesimal quantities, but in reasonable quantities. Regulations may be made prescribing the minimum quantities in respect of the several classes of goods, in order to enable claims for the bounties to be sustained. The next condition to which I will refer is that the goods must be produced by white labour only, except in circumstances such as those that apply to the sugar bounty. That is to say, where an aboriginal native of Australia is employed in connexion with the production of any of them, it will not’ disqualify a claimant for. the bounty. Further, if a person has been born in Australia, and one of his parents is a coloured person, his or her employment will not disqualify a claimant for a bounty. It is also provided that it shall be a condition to the granting of a bounty that the standard rate of wages in the district have been paid to the labour employed. That condition applies, of course, only to the payment for labour outside the family of the person engaged in the producing of the goods. It will be seen, I trust, that the conditions attached to the granting of these bounties are reasonable, and in accordance with the declared policy of the Commonwealth.
– What is the definition of fish ? Does it include pearl-shell ?
– There is no definition in the Bill as to fish, which merely applies to preserved fish.
– Will Papua be considered as within the Commonwealth?
– I donot think so.
– Why is pearl-shell omitted ?
– I am not in a position to answer that question now, but hope to be able to give adequate reasons for the omission of pearl-shell during the passage of the Bill through Committee. I did not intend, in introducing the measure, to enter into details as to particular items contained in the schedule. It was rather my purpose to indicate the general scope of the Bill. There are honorable senators who are far better qualified than I can claim to be to give reasons for the granting of a bounty for the production of any particular article.
– How is it proposed to arrive at a standard rate of wages for an industry which does not exist?
– The industry may not exist, but there may be a similar industry in the district. Some special product may not yet be grown in Australia, but in the district where it is proposed to cultivate it agricultural or other labour will be employed. Then the standard rate of wages paid to corresponding labour in the district will be applicable.
– The purpose of this Bill is to grant bounties for the encouragement of industries which do not exist in Australia.
– And also to stimulate industries already in existence. When we deal with the items in the schedule in Committee, no doubt honorable senators will be able to furnish information to show the extent to which particular industries ar: carried on. For instance, the first item pf the schedule relates to cotton ginned. That is not an entirely new industry in Australia. The cotton industry was established as far back as the time of the American Civil War, and bounties were paid for its encouragement. After the termination of the war - -probably owing to that and other causes - the industry practically went out of existence. Subsequently it was revived on a comparatively small scale, and during the last six or eight years it has had a variety of ups and downs. Coffee growing, also, is established to a small extent in at least one State.
– Near Cairns.
– Yes. Dates and dried fruits are likewise produced in Australia, .but ‘the discussion of the position of such industries is rather a matter for Committee than for the present stage of the Bill. Another point to which I wish to draw attention is that generally speaking the bounties are to be payable to the growers or the producers of the articles in question. But there are some exceptions. Such an exception applies to fish. The bounty is not to be paid to the fishermen who catch the. fish, but to the persons responsible for its preserving and canning.
– What a position the poor fishermen will be landed in if there is a monopoly in that line ! They will have to take what the monopolists choose to give them.
– We could not very well pay the bounty in respect of the fish caught. It is to be paid for the purpose of encouraging the preserving industry. If if were to be paid for the catching of the fish it might have no effect whatever from the point of view of the industry which we desire to promote, because the fish might be thrown into the water as soon as the bounty was paid.
– It is impossible to establish the industry unless the fish are caught. Surely the men who catch the fish should get the bounty.
– We have a similar position in regard to fruits dried or candied. It is not proposed that the bounty shall be paid to the grower of the fruit, but in respect of what may be called the manufacturing industry that will spring up in association with the growing. The ‘bounty is to be paid to the manufacturer - that is, the person who carries on the process of drying or candying. In some instances, I understand, the manufacturer is hardly a middleman, because the persons who grow the fruit: carry on drying and preserving operations for themselves. The same principle applies to combed wool or tops. The bounty in that case is to operate from the ist July next. It is at the rate of 1½d. per lb., and is to be paid not to the grower of the wool, but to the manufacturer, who, bv putting up his plant, and establishing the process in Australia, combs the wool, and makes the tops for export. Very little work of this kind is done at present in Australia, but we are assured that the conditions are such that if the combing of wool were carried out extensively in Australia, Australian wool in that form would occupy an even higher position than it does under present circumstances.
– We shall never be able to compete with Bradford.
– I do not know whether we shall be able to compete with’ Bradford or any other centre, but when we get into Committee I shall be able to give honorable senators some information which I think will be of great interest to them in regard to this industry. Although we have produced tops only to a small extent in the past, it is considered that in the interests of our own- wool industry, it will be advisable to increase their manufacture, in order that our wool in that form may command even a higher respect in the world’s market than it does, to-day. I feel sure that the interjection of my honorable friend is not intended to convey the impression that he is not prepared to endeavour- to assist in bringing about that result.
– For local consumption, yes.
– This Bill provides for a bounty on . the production of these articles for export. The only other features to which I wish to draw attention are features which are common to Bills of a like character, and to very many measures which we have passed. In clause 7 the Bill provides for the punishment of persons who, by false or fraudulent means, endeavour to obtain the benefit of its provisions. In clause 8, it makes adequate provision for the punishment of persons who aid and abet the commission of offences. Some features of the administration of the Bill will have to find their place in regulations, and clause 9 enables the Governor-General to make regulations in respect of various matters which are therein set out. I do not think that there is anything else of a general character which I need now indicate or invite attention to.
– There is something in the Tariff, though. Men will want machinery in order to earn the bounties, and yet the Government have put on enormous duties.
– I do not think that we are taking any course which will prevent the erection of machinery for the purpose of carrying on any of the industries it is proposed to encourage or stimulate by the Bill.
– Except that the Government propose to pay the manufacturer with one hand, and to take the money out of his pocket for the revenue with the other.
– That, I think, is a view on which my honorable friend will lay due’ stress at the proper time. In the Tariff the duty on some of the items contained in the schedule has been increased. For instance, the duty on tobacco leaf for the manufacture of cigars has been raised. The duty on preserved fish has been increased from id. to ijd. per lb. And the duty on dates has been increased from icl. to 2d. per lb.
– Why has that been done?
– Because dates are already grown in the Commonwealth. A good many dates are being imported. It would be very advantageous if much of the central lands of Australia were planted with date trees. Although it takes a considerable time - from five to eight years, I. think - for date trees to come into bearing, yet once, they do bear they last for a very long time. I believe it is on record that date trees have been yielding fruit for 1 80 years.
– In what part of Australia are they growing?
– At Barcaldine, and in other parts of Queensland. I have mentioned those three items in -the schedule because they are related to certain proposals in the Tariff.
– The Minister will get the opposition of the Queensland free-‘ traders to that.
– I do not expect the Queenslanders to oppose the proposal. I hope that honorable senators will recognise that no particular State can claim a monopoly of the supply of any number of these products. The schedule includes many items which each State may be said to be equally adapted to produce. I hope that honorable senators will consider that the Bill is designed to meet the . requirements, not of a particular State, but of the Commonwealth as a whole. If it is thought by honorable senators that some of the industries which it is proposed to stimulate or encourage would better find a habitation in the north of Australia than in the south, I hope that they will also remember that it is eminently desirable that much’ of the northern lands . of Australia should, as early as possible, be effectively occupied by people who will work harmoniously with us in developing the resources of the Commonwealth and defending it against aggression.
– Ought not the Ministry to propose one or two bounties on behalf of the Northern Territory?
– I believe that several of the proposed industries could be very profitably carried on there.
– I think so, too; but we shall have no settlement until it is known who is going to own the country.
– At this stage, I do not intend to enter into a discussion of the details of the Bill, because I feel sure that later on a great deal of interesting information will be furnished by honorable senators who are more familiar than I am with the capabilities and resources of their own States, and what has already been done in that direction.
– Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that £10,000 has left Victoria for the purpose of growing rubber ‘ in Papua ? Would it not be better for us to await the result of that experiment before we grant a bounty on the production of rubber in the Commonwealth ?
– My attention has been drawn to the fact, because I have received a circular asking me to go into an enterprise of that kind. Hie rubber plant may be grown in Papua under conditions which we should not like to be associated with an industry in the Commonwealth. I am not familiar with the conditions, but it is known that rubber trees have to be planted for a considerable time before one can expect to get any return from them. My honorable friend will probably remember that Tasmania brought into existence the woollen industry - one of the best industries, I think, in the Commonwealth - by the stimulus of a bounty. I believe it was Mr. Peter Bulman, who successfully claimed the bounty offered years previously by the Tasmanian Parliament. In every other State, no doubt, bounties have been offered, at some time, for the purpose of promoting new industries. Certainly a similar plan has been followed, and followed with signal success, in other countries.
– Has not the Minister any figures to show us that most of the bounties offered by the States have absolutely failed to achieve their object?
– I feel certain that if such figures are available my honorable friend will produce them in respect of any items which do not meet with his approval. I believe that the schedule is as comprehensive as it can be made from a thoroughly Australian stand-point. It will promote the encouragement of industries for which the country is suited, and be one further means of effectively increasing the population, the productiveness, and the defence strength of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Senator Clemons) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I desire to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council if he can give an assurance that the Senate will be supplied with business during the next four weeks. I am under the impression that, owing to certain business in another place, it is just possible that we may have to take a holiday.
– Finish up the business quickly and we may.
– I do not see any reason why that should eventuate. I object to continual adjournments of the Senate.
– We have not yet decided to adjourn.
– I fancy that there is a tendency to treat the Senate as if it were merely a State Legislative Council. As the members of both Houses are elected on the same franchise, I see no reason why the Senate should always be kept waiting for business to come from another place. The Government programme contains one or two measures which might very well be introduced here at the earliest possible moment, so as to keep us occupied for the next few weeks, until we get the Tariff and other business from the other House.
; - I think it would be rather a large order for Senator Best to undertake to say what business we are likely to do in four weeks, but I hope that he will endeavour to answer the inquiry. What I specially desire to know is what will be the order of business on Wednesday next?
– I am not. such a glutton for work as is Senator Needham. As the Senate contains only thirty-six members, and has to deal with exactly the same business as another place, which has the initiation of the greater number of the measures, why should we occupy the same time as they do?
– Whyshould not more measures be introduced here?
– I did not interrupt the honorable senator, and I hope that he will not interrupt me. A number of measures have been introduced here. What I object to is an adjournment for a day or for several days. When it is intended to have an adjournment, let us do the business which has been initiated here and received from another place, and then adjourn long enough to enable the senators from Queensland and Western Australia, if they wish, to visit their States. There are several honorable senators who remind me of sailors. If they are not kept with their noses to the grindstone all the time they will do nothing but growl.
– I have always objected to finnicky adjournments. I think that when we are sitting we should be kept fully supplied with business, and that when there is a probability of business becoming slack we should get an adjournment long enough to enable honorable senators who live far away to visit their constituents. Anything less than a month’s adjournment is useless to me; it only compels me to walk about the streets of Melbourne with practically nothing to do. It takes me eight days to get to my home, and eight days to return. In order to do that, I must leave Melbourne on a particular day in the week, and at the other end I must do just the same.
– The honorable senator could spend a month in reading the Tariff Commission’s reports.
– I am not going to waste a month in that way. 1 can form an opinion ‘just as well as can the members of the Tariff Commission. I do not think that their reports will influence me very much. Honorable senators who come to Melbourne from distant States should, while they are here, be kept as fully supplied with business as possible, and when there is no prospect of a sufficient supply of work to keep them fully occupied, the Vice-President of the Executive Council should consent to a reasonable adjournment which will give them an opportunity of visiting their homes.
.- I indorse Senator. Givens’ statement that under present arrangements, we, w.ho come from distant States, only sit two and a half or three days a week, and have to hang round Melbourne for the remainder of that time. Honorable senators from States other than Queensland and Western Australia can go home every week end. We cannot afford lo visit the nearer States at week ends, as has been suggested, as we receive only a certain allowance, and, being poor, re compelled to remain in Melbourne, because it is cheaper to do so. Several honorable senators have been suffering from severe colds and influenza, and we might recover if we could only get away to a more genial climate for a few weeks. - I have been very unwell myself for the last ten days; and if I could have a little time to get properly warmed through, I should become convalescent much more quickly. I know half-a-dozen other honorable senators who are in poor health at the present time.
– If the honorable senator wants an adjournment for three weeks or a month, let him move for it, and he will meet with a lot of support.
– I ask the VicePresident of’ the Executive Council to take these matters into consideration, and to give us a reasonable adjournment as soon as ever the business of the country will allow it. This is the worst time of the year to be in Mel- bourne. Later on, I shall be willing to sit four days a week. If we are to have an adjournment at all, let us have one that will enable us lo return to our homes for a week or two.
– I am not sure whether the Senate jj fishing for a holiday or for work. If the former, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be doing justice to us and to the country by refusing to listen to the request made. It is quite easy for the Government to arrange for us to have business to do, so inaugurating a system by which the Senate will have an increasingly larger and stronger hand in the initiation of legislation. That would be not only good for the Senate, but beneficial to the whole of Australia. If much of the legislation now on the Statute Book’ had been initiated in the Senate, there would have been a greater completeness and thought about it than has .been achieved by the reverse process. Before I became a senator I held, and I intend to hold it still more strongly here, that this Senate should be in Australia what the Senate is in America. It will not.be my fault if it is not. The American Senate is the strongest Upper Chamber in the world.
– It is the most corrupt.
– Let us get all its strength without any of its corruption. I shall do what I can to increase its strength and usefulness, and to make it a still more important factor in the legislation of the Commonwealth. It will be to the advantage- of this Parliament if the Senate is given, or takes a much larger share in initiating, moulding, and directing legislation. I am not one of those who are fishing for a holiday. Like the sailor referred to by Senator McGregor, I want work,- and always feel best when I am at work. I hope’ the work will be continuous, so that, later on, we may be able to claim that, as we have done excellent service to the country, it is time to adjourn. I trust that the Government will so arrange the business as to keep us continuously employed even long after the Tariff, and that honorable senators will assist the Government to assert the dignity of the Senate, both . by the quality and quantity of its work, and by the initiation of legislation in this Chamber.
– I. have not at all overlooked the representations which have been made by honorable senators. We have been able, since the 3rd July, to keep hard at work without a solitary request for an adjournment. My anxiety has been to introduce the Navigation Bill very soon. Senator Guthrie tells me that the final report of the Navigation Commission will probably reach the Government on Wednesday or Thursday next. After that, the Bill, of course, must be prepared. It is in course of preparation now, but we found, as in the case of the Tariff, that we were not in a position to complete it until the final report of the Commission came to hand. From the very beginning of the session it has been my desire that we should get through as much legislative work as we could. We have had some high-class measures before us, which have been carefully analyzed and discussed. I am anxious that, if possible, we shall deal speedily with the Bounties Bill, the Quarantine Bill, and the Navigation Bill, and then adjourn for three weeks or a month, as honorable senators have suggested. That adjournment could take place between the conclusion of a part of our legislative work and the commencement of our Tariff work. That is what I have been aiming at all along, and I have been a little disappointed at not having been able to make progress with the Navigation Bill. That has not been through want of effort on my part, because I have been pushing it on as far as I could. Next week we shall go on with the Bounties’ Bill. In fact, I gave honorable senators who were eager for work theopportunity if they had so desired to discuss it this afternoon.
– Surely the honorable gentleman did not expect that ?
– Of course I did not. It would have been most unreasonable to have expected honorable senators to do it. The proper course was for my colleague to move the second reading, and then to adjourn the debate. His speech will be circulated, and the consideration of the Bill will be proceeded with in the usual way.
– Is it proposed to Irtish the Bounties Bill before the Bills of Exchange Bill is taken up again ?
– No. The first business next week will be the further consideration of the Commonwealth Salaries Bill, and afterwards of the Bills of Exchange Bill.
– Does the honorable senator propose to pass the Bounties Bill through the Senate before we get the Tariff? I understand that some promise was made that the Bounties Bill would not be dealt with until after the Tariff.
– The promise made was that the Bounties Bill would not be completed before the Budget was launched. The Budget and the Tariff proposals have now been tabled. After the completion of the business I have outlined, I hope we shall receive the Quarantine Bill. If, then, there is an opportunity of going on with the Navigation Bill, I am anxious to do so. I desire to get through the work to which I have referred, and then it will be my duty, as well as my pleasure,to agree to the substantial adjournment which has been asked for.
– Will the Minister’s speech on the Bounties Bill be circulated?
.I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council why the Budget-papers, which were promised, have been distributed only to the fortunate members of the Senate who sit on the other side, while every one of us on this side is without them? I have just been commiserating with Senator de Largie on the fact that he is sitting on the wrong side of the Senate, and so has not received copies ; although he, of all senators, might really claim the right to have them.
– I must askthe honorable senator to give notice of his question. 1 am informed that the papers are being sent up now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 2.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070809_senate_3_37/>.