14 August 1907

3rd Parliament · 2nd Session

The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 1813



Senator NEEDHAM:

– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, without notice, the following questions :.-

  1. Has hereceived a reply from Commander Colquhoun to the cable forwarded to that officer, on Monday 12th inst. in reference to the paragraph appearing in the morning paper of that date, saying that tenders had been invited for the construction of torpedo boats in Britain, for the purposes of Australian defence?
  2. If so, what is the nature of the reply?
  3. Does the Minister think that if we can build some of the torpedo boats in Australia, it is not also possible to build the whole of them? 1814 Torpedo Boats. [SENATE.] . Duty on Wire Netting.
Senator KEATING:
Minister for Home Affairs · TASMANIA · Protectionist

– In reply to the first part of the question, I may say that a cablegram has been received from Captain Collins to the effect that no public tenders of the kind referred to had been invited, but that a number of firms had been asked by letter to submit quotations. That course was deemed desirable for the purpose of getting the most accurate and full information on the point ; but the action which has been taken in no way commits the Government to any expenditure. Inquires were only made to those firms for the purpose of getting information in as accurate and complete a form as possible. I did not quite catch the tenor of the third question.

Senator Needham:

– Does not the Minister think we can build all the torpedo boats in Australia ?

Senator KEATING. That is a matter of opinion. I believe that we can; at any rate, we can, I hope, do the bulk of the work in connexion with the boats.

Senator NEEDHAM:

– Arising out of the answer, ‘ I desire to ask the Minister if any Australian firms have been asked to quote prices for the construction of the torpedo boats in Australia?

Senator KEATING:

– I cannot say; but if the honorable senator will give notice of the question I shall be very glad to get all the information I can for him.

page 1814



Senator CLEMONS:

– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs if he can tell me how long the appointment of Captain Collins has yet to run ?

Senator KEATING:

– I cannot say. I do not think that there is any definite term.

page 1814


Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Dobson), read a first time.

page 1814




– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, if any copies of the Tariff have been sent to the officers of the Department in Tasmania ? I understood the Government to say that a telegraphic communication had been sent to the officers; but I have been informed that consignees’ entries have been refused at the Customs House because the officers did not know what the duties were.

Senator BEST:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · VICTORIA · Protectionist

– I think that my honorable friend must be misinformed. Copies of the printed items, without the duties, were forwarded to all the ports of the Commonwealth, and immediately the Tariff was laid upon the table of the other House the duties were telegraphed. If my honorable friend will give notice of the question I shall get definite information for him.


– I may say for the information of the Minister, that consignees have telegraphed to me that their entries of tea were refused on Friday laston the ground that the officers did not know what the duties were.

page 1814



Senator W RUSSELL:

– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Trades and Customs whether his attention has been called to the following paragraph in the South Australian Advertiser of Saturday last -

The new Tariff states that wire netting manufactured in the United Kingdom and imported into the Commonwealth will in future carry a duty of 25 per cent., and foreign-made netting 30 per cent: In. the past the Government of South Australia have supplied a large quantity of netting to vermin boards, agriculturalists, pastoralists, and district councils, chiefly from f oreign sources. Since January, they have ordered or supplied 730 miles of netting, and there are now 641 miles of it due in Adelaide before the end of the year. During the last three years an average of 1,900 miles per year of wire netting has been supplied to different persons and bodies by the Government. The price charged by the State for 36-in. wire last year was £18 19s. ad. per mile, and for 42-in. £21 18s. 4d. Under the new duties, the 36-in. will cost about £4 15s. more per mile, and the 42-in. £5 10s. per mile. That applies to British manufactured material, and for foreign netting an additional 5 per cent. will be levied. and to ask whether there are any manufacturers of wire netting in the Commonwealth, and, if so, how many? .

Senator Sir Josiah Symon:

– There is the gaol at Pentridge, in Victoria.

Senator W RUSSELL:

– The honorable and learned senator is not on the Treasury bench just now, and I want to get the information from the Minister.

Senator BEST:

– I ask . my honorable friend to give notice of the questions.


– Will the Minister, when he answers the questionsof Senator W. Russell, kindly inform the Senate whether he considers that that method of taxation is calculated to encourage the great pastoral industry of the continent ?

*Supply Bill(No.* 2.). [14 August, 1907.] *Cable to Tasmania.* 1815 {: .page-start } page 1815 {:#debate-5} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-5-0} #### MAILS TO TASMANIA {: #subdebate-5-0-s0 .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, if he can give the Senate any report on the bungling of the Post Office in putting mails on a boat to go to Tasmania, with the result that the delivery of the letters was delayed at least two daysbeyond the time when they could have been delivered if better precautions had been taken? I may explainto the honorable senator, if he does not know the instances to which I refer, that twice recently letters have been put on a. boat 'called the *Glaucus.* I shall be glad if he can give me any information or a report about the matter. {: #subdebate-5-0-s1 .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING:
Protectionist -- I have no information on the subject. This is the first time that it has been brought to my attention, but I shall have an inquiry made and the honorable senator furnished with the (result.- {: .page-start } page 1815 {:#debate-6} ### SUPPLY BILL (No 2) {: #debate-6-s0 .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST:
VicePresident of the Executive Council · Victoria · Protectionist -- I beg to give notice that, contingent upon Supply Bill (No. 2) being reported from a Committee of the Whole, I shall move tomorrow - >That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill passing through all its stages without delay. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- Is that a notice of motion ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Yes. It would be a great convenience if honorable senators would permit me to move the motion at once, so that I could bring on the Supply Bill at a quarter to eight o'clock. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- I think that we will have the Bill to-morrow, if it is all the same to the Minister; that is, unless he will limit the grant of Supply to one month. {: .page-start } page 1815 {:#debate-7} ### PAPERS **Senator KEATING** laid upon the table the following papers - Public Service Act 1902 - {: .page-start } page 1815 {:#debate-8} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-8-0} #### CABLE TO TASMANIA {: #subdebate-8-0-s0 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE:
WESTERN AUSTRALIA asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact, as reported in the Melbourne *Age* and *Argus* of 8th August, that, as the contract between the Commonwealth Government and the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, in respect to the. cable service between Tasmania and Victoria, will expire in March,1909, the Government have decided to lay a cable of its own ? 1. Is it a fact that the Government have decided to have a survey for such proposed cable at a cost of£1,000? 2. Will such sum of£1,000 be treated as "other" expenditure, or as a charge on the States chiefly concerned, *i.e.,* Victoria and Tasmania ? 3. From what vote of the Estimates passed by Parliament does the Government propose to take the amount of£1,000? 4. Has Parliament sanctioned such expenditure? 5. Have the States of Victoria and Tasmania consented to the survey of their coasts for a suitable landing place for the cable? 6. In view of the expressed opinions of **Senator Dobson** and other legal authorities, will it not be necessary for such consent to be formally given by an Act of Parliament of the States of Victoria and Tasmania? 7. Before committing Parliament to any expenditure, will the Government give the Parliament an opportunity of expressing its opinion whether, in view of the success of wireless telegraphy, it is advisable to spend money on cables, where wireless telegraphy can be successfully installed? {: #subdebate-8-0-s1 .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING:
Protectionist -- The answers to the honorable senator's questions are as follow - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Consideration is Being given to the desirability of laying a cable or cables, to be owned and worked by the Government, between Victoria and Tasmania. 1. The preliminary action has been taken to make a survey, but the cost cannot be definitely stated;£1,000 has, however, been provided in the Estimates for the current year for this purpose. 2. It will be treated as " other " expenditure. 3. Additions, new works, buildings, *&c.,* Division No. 5, Sub-division No. 8. 4. This expenditure has not yet been sanctioned by Parliament. 5. No; such consent is not considered to be necessary. 6. See reply to question No. 6. 7. As provision will not be made on the Estimates for this year for making and laying the cable or cables in question, ample time and opportunity will be afforded to Parliament of expressing its opinion on the subject; it may, however, be stated that the report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons, Great Britain, on the Radio-telegraphic Convention, dated 8th July, 1907, says " In the absence of other invention, there is at present 1816 *Immigrants;* [SENATE.] *Sugar Industry.* small likelihood of wireless telegraphy competing commercially with ordinary telegraphy over land lines, or superseding the use of cables." {: .page-start } page 1816 {:#debate-9} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-9-0} #### IMMIGRANTS: SUGAR INDUSTRY {: #subdebate-9-0-s0 .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH:
WESTERN AUSTRALIA asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Whether the attention of the Minister of External Affairs has been drawn to the published opinion of Captain Douglas on the character of the immigrants introduced for the Queensland sugar industry ? {: type="1" start="2"} 0. Whether, if the captain's statement be veri fied, the Government will take such precautions as will insure the selection of immigrants of a better class? {: #subdebate-9-0-s1 .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST:
Protectionist -- The answers to the honorable senator's questions are as follow - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes, the statement in the *West Australian* on the19th July has been read. 1. The men having now landed and dispersed, and the vessel left, it would be difficult to verify the statements, but every effort will be made to see that immigrants for whose introduction the Government are responsible are of suitable class. {: .page-start } page 1816 {:#debate-10} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-10-0} #### QUARANTINE: STATES {: #subdebate-10-0-s0 .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER:
QUEENSLAND asked the Minister of Home Affairs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What is the total expenditure in each of the respective States on quarantine, including under that term the cost of administration of Boards or Health, Health Trusts, and the inspection and isolation of diseased plants and animals? 1. What is the approximate cost of (a) the plant, (4) the buildings used in connexion with the same? {: #subdebate-10-0-s1 .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST:
Protectionist -- My honorable friend will be aware that the. information which he asks for is not within our immediate disposition, but I will see that the necessary application is made, and when I secure the information I shall be glad to hand it to the honorable senator. {: .page-start } page 1816 {:#debate-11} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-11-0} #### EXPORTS: STATISTICAL TABLES {: #subdebate-11-0-s0 .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER: asked the Minister of Home Affairs, *upon notice -* >Will he instruct the Government Statistician to complete his statistical tables of the Commonwealth's trade by tables showing the amount and value of goods exported from each State of origin? {: #subdebate-11-0-s1 .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator KEATING:
Protectionist -- The answer to the honorable senator's question is as follows - >The Commonwealth Statistician has already ascertained the quantities and values of goods exported over-sea from each State, both directly and by transhipment through other States; and has already published tables showing the values of same. This is the first time that such tables have been published. > >The tabulation of information as supplied to the Commonwealth Statistician by the Department of Trade and Customs does not admit of a complete statement being made, inasmuch a the records of the exports of each State include only goods passing out of other States by way of transhipment. The records of Inter-State trade, as supplied by the Department of Trade and Customs to the Commonwealth Statistician do not connect goods with the States of origin; they are simply described as of Australian origin. The statistical tabulation by the Trade and Customs Department is not under the control of the Commonwealth Statistician. I shall bring under the notice of my honorable colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, the question of the honorable senator. {: .page-start } page 1816 {:#debate-12} ### COMMONWEALTH SALARIES BILL {:#subdebate-12-0} #### Third Reading Motion (by **Senator Best)** proposed - >That this Bill be now read a third time. **Senator Sir JOSIAH** SYMON (South Australia) [3.18]. - I cannot conceal my regret that this Bill should be sent from the Senate to another place as if it were a measure having the slightest value whatever in the direction intended. I think that we ought, even at this stage, to have clearly presented to our minds the futility of the Bill, and the position it will occupy in relation to the subject-matter with which it proposes to deal. What we desire to do, I take it, is to make liable to State income tax the salariesof the public officers of the Commonwealth which, so far as the judgment of the High Court is concerned, are at present immune from that fax. Without inquiring into questions of legality or illegality, or into any question as to which pronouncement is right and which is wrong, this Parliament desires that liability shall rest upon the public officers of the Commonwealth in respect of State income tax upon their salaries. To that we add that a similar or corresponding liability should rest upon the allowances paid to Members of Parliament, whether in the Senate or in the House of Representatives, and also upon the emoluments of Ministers of the Crown, and of the high officers of Parliament, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. That, I think, is the object which we have in view, and to which we seemto be under the pleasing delusion that we have given effect by virtue of the second part of clause 2. Bill aims at, at any rate. The honorable senator's subtlety is such that he ought to have been a metaphysician of the middle ages - one of those gentlemen who could argue as to how many devils or angels could dance on the point of a needle. That is not the kind of casuistry with which we are concerned. The High Court stand above us on this question, and it is for them, and not for us, to say whether income taxation by the States is an Interference or not. But, says my honorable and metaphysically learned friend, " Oh, this is a waiver." It does not profess to be a waiver of anything. If it is to be a waiver, then, arising out of what **Senator O'Loghlin** very pertinently observed, there is a third party - the party whose pocket has to suffer. He is not consulted. He does not give his consent, and therefore it may be open to him, whether the Commonwealth took advantage of the position or not, to take exactly the same attitude as he took before. All of these cases have arisen by the resistance of individual members of the Public Service to the imposition of the tax, and so they will again. That is the only way in which they can arise. Supposing another attempt is made by any of the States to impose taxation in respect of their salaries up to date during the five or six years that they have been received from the Commonwealth *Commonwealth* [14 August, 1907.] *Salaries Bill.* 1821 Melbourne, do their work here, and what they do earn of their salaries is earned here. I did not intend to say as much as I have said, but I wish to put on record a view which I commend to honorable senators and to honorable members in another place when the matter comes before them for discussion. {: #debate-12-s0 .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS:
Tasmania .- I do not believe that there is any member of the Senate who will more readily agree that my amendment was appropriate to the Bill than **Senator Symon** himself. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- I agree that it was appropriate. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- Because I think with the honorable senator that not only the amendment, but the Bill itself, is of no value whatever. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- Then why did the honorable senator go to the trouble of amending it. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I think this value may be attached to my amendment, that it clearly represents what the desire of the Senate is with regard to our taxation. I have not, in discussing this Bill, at any time said that the amendment inserted at my suggestion will be effective, or will necessarily be binding upon the States Courts, which alone will have to decide what amount of taxation honorable senators will have to pay in their own States. {: .speaker-KLS} ##### Senator Givens: -- The honorable senator believes that the only value the Bill has is the value which a straw has in showing the way the wind blows. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I do. I am glad to have an opportunity to say what I think of the Bill. It represents neither more nor less than a perfectly futile effort to amendthe Constitution by a mere Act of this Parliament. If **Senator Best** is inclined to doubt that, let him consider what might happen under it. Suppose a member of this Parliament, being taxed by the State in which he is elected after this Bill becomes law, goes, to the High Court to protest, what will happen? The High Court has already said that the Constitution prevents it from allowing any member of the Parliament to be taxed in respect of his allowance. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator St Ledger: -- I do not think that the High Court did say that. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I think it did. Surely that is a fair epitome of the de,cision of the High Court? {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator St Ledger: -- No, I do .not think so. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- If it did not say so, why was the Bill introduced? The (High Court has decided that it cannot and will not permit the allowance of a member of this Parliament, or the salary of a Federal officer to be taxed by any State. What are we doing by the Bill ? Although the High Court has given that decision, still we are asked to enact that such allowances and salaries may be taxed. Practically we are asked to say to the High Court, " You need no longer find an impediment in the Constitution if you wish to uphold the right of the States to tax Federal allowances or salaries." This, I repeat, is neither more nor less than an attempt by Bill to amend the Constitution. Therefore my amendment was very appropriate. It will have no binding effect upon a State Court. A State Court may say, " We do not pay any attention to the Act. The question of the imposition and the collection of income tax is entirely within the jurisdiction of the State, and so long as it imposes an income tax upon persons, there is an end to the matter." Every provision in the Bill may be read as a pious expression of opinion, and that is why I proposed my amendment. It makes it perfectly clear that the desire of the Senate is that every farthing's worth of income tax which is collected under the measure from a member of this Parliament shall go to the State which he represents. **Senator Symon** has described the amendment as unjust. That' is where I differ entirely from him. He said that it is unjust that Victoria should be prohibited from levying income tax upon a member of the Senate who resides most of his time in that State. I do not think it is just that Victoria should be prohibited from taking that step. In my opinion, it would be very unjust if it did collect the tax. My honorable and learned friend went on to say, as if it were a self-evident truth, that the allowance will be earned here. That is giving to the word " earned " a meaning which I cannot attribute to it. I do not think -that the allowance which is paid to members of Parliament under the Constitution is necessarily earned in Victoria because the Parliament sits in Melbourne. For that reason, I asked for the amendment to be inserted. {: .speaker-K6L} ##### Senator Chataway: -- Where does a commercial traveller earn his income? {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- That is an excellent illustration. I can quite understand that a commercial traveller who is employed and paid by a large firm in Melbourne may spend eleven months of every year outside Victoria, as I suppose many commercial travellers do'. Who would say that in such a case income tax should not be payable entirely to Victoria? {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Why should it if he does not earn the income in Victoria ? {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- But he does earn it here. What constitutes earning? {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- My honorable friend will have to apply to the Court for .an answer. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I think that my honorable friend is confusing residence with earning. I believe that a man earns his salary in the place where he received his appointment. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Then, if a man gets an appointment in Queensland to do work in Western Australia, my honorable friend thinks that he earns his salary in Queensland? {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- If the man is appointed in Queensland, and paid there, undoubtedly he earns his salary in that State. I see nothing to prevent a man from being paid by a person in Queensland to do work in any other part of the world. It is quite as fair to interpret " earning " in that way as by a main's domicile or residence. Only a few days ago, I happened to read in a newspaper a statement by **Sir John** Forrest, which I think it is well to mention in order that Victoria may not make further attempts to collect income tax from the members of this Parliament. He complained that he had received a bill for arrears of taxation to the amount of *£90* odd. He said that he did not mind paying income tax to Victoria - I think he was very foolish there - but he- objected to paying *£20* for accumulated interest. He was willing to pay the principal arid interest thereon at the rate of 5 per cent., but he objected to pay interest at the rate of 8 per cent. That, I think, is a sufficient reply to the statement of **Senator Best,** that Victoria has not tried 10 collect income tax from the members of this Parliament. I know that **Senator Dobson** has paid to Victoria income tax in respect of his allowance as a senator, but he will not get. a refund of the money. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- I paid income tax. and when I applied for a refund of it, .1 was met with a polite refusal. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I do not think that the honorable senator has much chance of getting the money refunded to him. I believe that there is a. slight chance of my amendment, if enacted, acting as a kind of deterrent. I hope that it will deter the Victorian Commissioner of Taxes from attempting to collect income tax from any member of this Parliament. I trust that it will not be removed from the Bill, either here or elsewhere. {: #debate-12-s1 .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER:
Queensland -- It is evident from the discussion which has proceeded from this side of the Chamber that the Bill, in all its aspects, should be carefully examined by the other House, and brought under the review of that public opinion which we desire to educate. I find myself at difference with **Senator Symon.** I am generally prepared to defer to any opinion which he expresses on the constitutional aspects of a Bill, because he was one. of the architects of the Constitution, and is thoroughly familiar with their intentions; but I feel it my duty to differ from him on this occasion. In view of the judgment of the Privy Council, I think that the Government acted quite rightly in giving the High Court an opportunity to reconsider its opinion on the income tax cases. {: .speaker-KLS} ##### Senator Givens: -- Since the judgment of the Privy Council was given, has not the High Court had an opportunity of reconsidering its own decision? {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER: -- Yes. {: .speaker-KLS} ##### Senator Givens: -- What the honorable senator wants to do now is to give the High Court an opportunity to climb down. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER: -- No; as the honorable . senator will discover if he will only be patient. I think that the Government did not display proper tactics or proper decorum in retransferring the difficulty to the High Court. When they found that a difference of opinion existed between the Privy Council and the High Court, they ought, I think, to have taken the bull by the horns, and brought down a Bill declaring what in their opinion was the best course to be taken in the circumstances. I think that it is no reflection for a private individual or a Government to go to the High Court, or any other Court of competent jurisdiction, in order to have rights defined. Every experienced lawyer knows that frequently a Government, through its Attorney-General or the Crown Law Officers, or a private individual applies to a Court for an interpretation on a point of law involving a matter of public or private interest. In my opinion, the Commonwealth Government did neither more nor less than that when they applied to the High Court. I do not propose to discuss the dry question of the constitutionality of the Bill. With some diffidence, I venture to think that the Government are acting within the Constitution in trying to enact these provisions. But I agree entirely with **Senator Symon** in his exception to the form which the Bill has taken. I believe that it would have been more straightforward if the Government had submitted the Bill in an affirmative, instead of in a negative form. In my view, almost every line of the Bill is open to exception, and I shall not be surprised if it should be hel'd to be unconstitutional. So long as the High Court stands for the purposes for which it was created, it will be resorted to by the Crown Law Officers of the Commonwealth, as well as private individuals, in order to find out what is the legal interpretation of many of the Statutes which we pass, and it will give its opinion in a form which will be highly beneficial to legislators as well as litigants. I strongly differ from all those expressions of opinion which seem to convey that it is a reflection on the High Court, to make a law which runs, so to speak, in the teeth of their decision. We have ample precedents in what has happened in similar cases in England. In the case of *Allen* v. *Flood,* the rights of trade unionists to strike and to use their powers of organization to support a strike were decided. The case went to the Court of Appeal, and subsequently to the House of Lords, which ultimately determined what were the rights of corporations, of employers of labour, and of employes combined as trade unionists. The case was so important that, if I remember rightly, the Law Lords called to their assistance on the Bench the Justices of the Appeal Court, and the two Courts sat together. They considered the case for a very long time, after one of the most elaborate arguments and one of the closest analyses of the common law ever made before a court of law. But it was not considered to be a reflection upon the House of Lords when subsequently the Government moved Parliament to _ legislate in regard to the matter. Neither the trade unionists, nor employers, nor the people of England generally, regarded the action of the Government as other than a proper course to pursue. The highest legal tribunal in the land had said, "There is the law; it was doubtful before, but we have now clearly enunciated what it is." lt was desired that the Legislature should know what the law was, and, if it thought desirable, legislate accordingly. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- But that Legislature is not controlled by a written Constitution. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER: -- Our written Constitution is not, in my opinion, to be like leaden shoes upon our feet. We are not to be bound down by every syllable in determining what are the rights of the Commonwealth, of the States, and of individual citizens. After the judgment in *Allen* v. *Flood,* the Imperial Parliament passed a law to protect the property of trade unions. It was legislation directly based upon the decision df the Law Lords. But was it any reflection upon the House of Lords in its judicial capacity that both the House of Commons and the House .of Lords in its legislative capacity passed legislation to remedy what was considered to be a defect in the existing law? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- It is the most ordinary thing to do. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER: -- It is no reflection upon Parliament to amend the law in consequence of the High Court's judgments. It is essential to the proper working of our system of government that when a defect in the law is indicated in consequence of the judgment of a Court, the Legislature should take steps to amend the law ; and it is no reflection upon the Court for Parliament to pass such an Act. Neither is it a reflection upon the Legislature for a Court to point out where the law needs to be remedied if it be expedient to remedy that defect, and if a .certain object is to be achieved. But as I have said before, I consider that this Bill is defective in form. It is in fact rather dangerous, and may be ineffective for that reason. Assuming, however, that the form is correct, I quite agree that the proper course is being taken. Certainly I do not think that the High Court has gone one step beyond its duty as the final interpreter of the Constitution in pointing out where the law might be amended if we think it desirable to do so. In its long and elaborate judgment, the High Court pointed out incidentally how the difficulty might be overcome. Judges have frequently done so in other cases. They have done it, of course, with all respect to the Legislature. I cannot discover in the judgment of the High Court any indication that it has not thoroughly respected and preserved its own powers, and, at the same time, thoroughly respected and understood the powers of this Parliament under the Constitution. But, while I agree that the Bill should be passed, I also think that careful attention should be given by the Government to its form. I hope likewise that when the measure reaches the House of Representatives it will receive the same careful consideration as it has met with in the Senate. The question of constitutionality we cannot decide. , There is another point to which I wish to direct the attention of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I am inclined to agree with **Senator Symon's** point in regard to the exemption from income tax of the allowances of members of Parliament and the emoluments of Ministers. I suggested an amendment while the Bill was in Committee, but **Senator Clemons** proposed an amendment which was intended to attain the same object, and out of deference to him I did not press my own. I hope that I shall not be thought too egotistical when I say that I think that my own would have been more effective for the purpose in view. I take this opportunity of expressing the opinion that the purpose aimed at by **Senator Clemons** will not be achieved. I should be sorry if that point were not carefully considered by the Government when the Bill is before the other Chamber. As to whether the Bill itself will be effective or not I have this to say. It appears to me that the Commonwealth Parliament has the same power over its servants as any other Parliament has. I therefore hold that on broad grounds the Bill is constitutional. Just. as Parliament can determine what the salaries of its servants shall be; quite apart from the Constitution, so it has the inherent right which every Parliament possesses to control them. That is, I believe, exactly the principle to which the Government is seeking to give effect. Having control over its servants, Parliament can say what are the conditions under which they shall receive their salaries. In this Bill the Government, instead of stating those conditions in an affirmative and clear way, have contented themselves with expressing the intention in a negative form. **Senator MILLEN** (New South Wales) [4.26I. - I do not desire to. add anything to what has been said as to whether this Bill is or is not constitutional. I hold - and I will state my view directly - that if the High Court, which is the only interpreter of the Constitution which we can recognise, has determined that certain individuals are exempt from taxation, we cannot make them liable by any Act of this Parliament. Dissent has been expressed from the statement of **Senator Clemons** that this Bill is an attempt to amend the Constitution! by Act of Parliament. It is that, or it is nothing. Let me put a case by applying the argument to the man. If the Constitution declares that I am exempt from taxation and this Parliament passes a law which attempts to make me liable, that is, to all intents and purposes, an amendment of the Constitution!. The only way to determine whether it is so is this. The High Court says that I. arn not liable. But what does this Bill say? That I am. The Constitution throws over me its protection and keeps the tax gatherer off me, but this Bill says that the tax gatherer may come and levy contributions upon me. Whether the Constitution is wise or foolish in that regard the High Court has affirmed distinctly, not that we have no right over our employes - that is another matter - but that the Constitution itself has conferred a privilege upon certain individuals. I say that that being so, we have no power and no right to take that privilege away from them' by Act of Parliament. The object of this Bill, and of all those who support its underlying principles, is that there shall be no class in the community exempt from its fair share of taxation. But I say that this Bill will make some people liable to double taxation. There is absolutely nothing in this Bill to prevent the State of Victoria from continuing to levy income tax upon Federal members, as it has endeavoured to do in the past. And, further, this Bill is a direct invitation to the States from which members come to also claim income tax from them. Victoria has always sought to collect income tax from the members of this Parliament, and she will continue to do so. There is nothing in this Bill to restrain her.. {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- Will not the High Court restrain her ? {: #debate-12-s2 .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator MILLEN: -- The High Court did so before, but the State appealed to the Privy Council on the ground that the tax was collected under a State law, and it will do so again. Victoria will continue to claim income tax under her State law. Suppose that my own State also comes along and says, "We see that under a Federal law we are entitled to collect income tax from you " ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- I will show my honorable friend directly that he is under * misapprehension. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator MILLEN: -- I will put thesespecific questions to the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The matter iseasily determinable. Will he show me any power in this Bill which can restrain theGovernment of Victoria from proceeding in accordance with its State laws? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- I hope that I shall bcable to convince my honorable friend. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator MILLEN: -- I hope that theVicePresident of the Executive Councils will not only convince me but will show me a way of escape from this threatened! double taxation. 1 am sure that he does not wish to see the insufficient allowance paid to members of this Parliament further reduced by their having to pay double income tax. But I repeat that I can see nothing in this measure to restrain Victoria, from levying income tax. I presume Victoria, has only held her hand of late months onthe assurance that the Federal Parliament was to remove all obstacles in the way of the amicable collection of the tax. That being so, if Victoria is not satisfied with; this Bill, she will be entitled - I do not know whether she will do it or not, but: it is very probable that she will - to continue to exercise the rights she possesses under her own Constitution. If there isany demur to her action, she will avoid! the High Court, and go direct to the Privy Council. In that way she can immediately collect income tax from every member of the Federal Parliament. At the same time, each State which sends a. member here - although those other States have exempted us in the past - will, after the passage of this Bill, say, " Under thisAct, passed by the Federal Parliament, we are entitled to collect income tax from -you.. It will be no sufficient excuse to say that you have paid it to Victoria. You should! not have done so. This Federal Act declares that we are entitled to it and we demand payment.''' {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- They cannot go past the High Court in the future according to the Judiciary Bill. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator MILLEN: -- That point was argued on the Judiciary Bill. But how can we transfer these cases from the States Courts to the High Court unless we are prepared to send down an armed force to lake them away bodily? The whole question was threshed out as to who was to determine, whether the point was a constitutional one or not. **Mr. Justice** < Hodges, of the Victorian Bench, and the Privy Council have declared that this is not a constitutional matter, and the same thing can go on again. The moment this question arises Victoria, by the procedure she followed before, can avoid the High Court altogether. It might happen that the High Court would send down a message to transfer the case to its own jurisdiction. I assume that the Victorian Court would decline to do so, saying, " Our own opinion is that it is not a constitutional matter. The Privy Council has confirmed our opinion, and we propose now to take no notice of the intimation from the High Court, but to let the matter proceed along the ordinary channels which legislation under State laws usually pursues." We should then still be liable under the State laws of Victoria to income tax. We shall also be liable if this Bill passes to income taxation in our own States, so that the Bill instead of removing the anomaly of an untaxed class will create the still more objectionable anomaly of a class which is doubly taxed. {: #debate-12-s3 .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON:
Tasmania -- I feel jealous of the intelligence and ability of the Senate, as I do of its honour, and I am afraid that this Bill, when it goes to another place, may be put in the waste-paper basket. When the VicePresident of the Executive Council is replying, I shall be very glad if for our information he will direct attention to two points in particular. I am aware that in his opening remarks on the second reading he laid stress upon the point that the Chief Justice of the High Court had himself suggested this way out of the difficulty. It is quite likely that no one saw better than the Chief Justice the difficulty that the judgment of the High Court would create^ and it is quite possible - in fact, it is human nature - that he went out of his way to suggest the only possible escape which then presented itself to his mind. But T do not think we ought to lay too much stress upon that, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to have some better arguments to justify the passage of this Bill from the Senate in its present shape. Will he tell me whether any remarks of any one of the Judges can be taken to upset the clear, distinct judgment of the High Court, that freedom from State income tax is a privilege - or whatever name the honorable senator likes to give it - embedded in the Constitution, which every Federal officer possesses? I cannot see How any Judge of the High Court could suggest a course for us to follow, which appeared to him - I say it in all deference - to be absolutely inconsistent with the judgment of the High Court itself. {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- The High Court did not deal in any way with the rights of individuals. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- Hear, hear ; it dealt with principles. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- It held that every Federal officer and Member of Parliament was immune from State taxation in respect of what he earned. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Surely that was dealing with individuals and their rights. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- I should think so. The second point to which I wish the VicePresident of the Executive Council to devote special attention is this : He has quoted a number of authorities to show that when a privilege or power is conferred upon a person or body, that person or body can waive it. After reading the authorities and studying the case of *McCulloch* v. *Maryland,* the honorable senator will recollect that I put the position in this way : There is, in that case, the Federal Bank or Federal institution, there is the property of that institution, the land on which it stands, the bricks and mortar of which it is built, and then there is the further factor of the salaries and emoluments of the officers employed in that institution. I cannot see that any authority quoted at the end of my honorable friend's very full and ample speech on the second reading touches that point. Does he say that we. as the Federal Parliament, can waive a right conferred by the Constitution upon what **Senator Symon** calls a third party? Unless my honorable friend can show' that we can, I do not see that the Bill can be anything but waste paper. It may possibly be argued that the Federal Parliament consists of representatives of the people, and that those representatives in Parliament assembled have the power, if they like, to waive this privilege. But I do not think the cases quoted by my honorable friend quite apply to the present position, on account of the distinctions I have laid down. It is quite possible, however, that there .may be other authorities. But if the Constitution gives each Federal officer the right to be immune from State income tax, and the Federal Parliament, under the authorities which my honorable friend has quoted, waives that right of a third party, will not those officers be justified in saying "to us, " We sent you as representatives into the Federal Parliament to make laws to enlarge our privileges if you like, but certainly not to pass Acts to give up a privilege or waive a right which the High Court says we had " ? All these points ought to be fully dealt with, because the Bill will be very much discussed and criticised in another place, and I should like it to be on record that we had fully considered them. {: #debate-12-s4 .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · Victoria · Protectionist -- I very gladly accept the suggestion of honorable senators that I should deal with the various points that have been brought under notice. I arn most anxious that honorable senators should follow the trend of my argument, and the justification that I have for submitting this measure to the Senate. The first point that I propose to deal with is that raised by **Senator Millen,** that Federal members may be taxed in the State they represent and also in Victoria. According, however, to the judgment of the High Court, and that is what we start from, Federal Ministers, members, and public servants, are not liable to income taxation by any State. This Bill provides that infuture it will be competent for each State to tax the members elected in that State on their allowances or salaries, as the case may be, earned within the State. I wish honorable members, therefore, to realize the restrictions imposed - first that the income is to be earned in the State, and secondly that the taxation is only to be on Members of Parliament elected in the State. **Senator Millen** says that the State of Victoria will, as in the past, attempt to tax Ministers and members of this Parliament, and also Federal officers. If that attempt is made, then, by the Judiciary Bill, and also, of course, by this measure, this is what would take place- {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- What the Government hope will take place. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- This is what must take place : The Commissioner of Taxes of Victoria takes proceedings against a Federal officer. The case comes before one of the inferior State Courts, which follows the Privy Council's decision. Thereupon the officer appeals' ro the High Court. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Not necessarily. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Surely the officer will ' appeal to the High Court if he wants to be immune. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Supposing he appeals to the State Supreme Court? * {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Then the State Supreme Court will, of course, follow the Privy Council. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Then he would be liable to the Victorian tax. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Will the honorable senator follow the practical operation of the law? The officer would at once go to the High Court, relying upon its original judgment. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- What will happen if he goes to the State Full Court instead of to the High Court? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- If he is prepared to accept the judgment of the State Court, he will be made liable provided that that Court follows tha Privy Council. Of course, it is quite competent for the State Court to say, " We will follow not the Privy Council, but the High Court." But I am assuming that the State Court follows the Privy Council. In that event, the Federal servant goes to the High Court. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- From the State Full Court ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Undoubtedly ; he can appeal to the High Court from the Full Court of the State, or from am inferior Court of the State, as the case may be. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Has he a double appeal ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Undoubtedly; he has the right to go to either. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Can he go both to the Privy Council and to the High Court? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- No; but he can go to the Full Court of the State, and from there he can, of course, appeal to the High Court, but, as- a matter of fact, he would naturally go' direct from the inferior State Court to the High Court. When his case reaches that tribunal, the result will foe that he gets judgment in his favour, -with; costs. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Supposing the lower Court does not follow the Privy Council's decision, and the State appeals to the Privy Council ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- If the lower Court of the State followed the High Court, it would hold the Federal officer to be immune from such taxation. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Suppose the Full Court also follows the High Court, and the State takes the case to the Privy Council, what will happen? I want to make the State the appellant. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- If the inferior Court followed the High Court, the Federal servant would be immune. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- But suppose the State appeals to the Privy Council ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- The State could not appeal to the Privy Council. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Why not? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- By reason of the fact that under the Judiciary Bill when this question arises *ipso facto,* the case must go to the High Court. That is so also by reason of section 77 of the Constitution. My honorable friend, in putting his proposition, assumes that the State Court would refuse to recognise the High Court. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- No, to recognise that a constitutional question was involved. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Besides it is not involved. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I will take that case. Suppose the State Court decides that the question raised is not a constitutional question. Even then it will be competent for the defendant,, the Federal servant, to appeal to the High Court. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- I wish the honorable senator to confine himself to the one case, in which the State is the appellant. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- When the State is the appellant, if at any particular stage the State Court decides that a constitutional question is involved, then by reason of the terms of the Constitution, the case will be *if so facto* transferred to the High Court. We have already discussed three contingencies. First of all, we considered the case of a State Judge saying, " As the constitutional question is not *bond fide* raised, I shall take no notice of it," and then ignoring also the terms of the Judiciary Bill, which says that the case shall *ipso facto* be transferred to the High Court. I point out that even if it is decided against the Federal servant that no constitutional point is .involved, the case must necessarily go to the High Court on appeal. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- There again the public servant would be the appellant, and not the State. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- There certainly would not be any further appeal on the part of the public servant if the case were remitted to the High Court. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- The honorable senator is taking it for granted chat the State Court would obey the High Court on the question as to what is or is not a constitutional question. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- That is only a supposititious case. My honorable friend must know that as a matter of practice the State Court would follow the Privy Council in its decision. When once a decision on the appeal was given by the State Court, the Federal servant would immediately proceed to the High Court, and would be declared immune. In regard to that point, the honorable senator has also raised on several occasions the question of who is to decide what are constitutional questions *inter se.* I say that as soon as the State Court decides against the Federal servant upon that point there is an appeal, apart even from the terms of the Bill, which provides that such a case shall *ipso facto* be transferred to the High Court. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- The honorable senator ignores the case I put that when the public servant appeals to the High Court the State at once appeals to the Privy Council, and wins all along the line. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- My honorable friend ignores the fact that first of all the State Courts will follow the Privy Council. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Who says that? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I say it, because the State Courts have already held that the Privy Council is superior to the High Court.- {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- **Senator Millen** asks the honorable senator to assume a certain position for the purpose of testing the value of the Bill. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I assume that position, and I say that by the terms of the Judiciary Bill such an appeal to the Privy Council could not take place. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Why not? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Because the Constitu-tion provides for the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court- {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- The honorable senator is immediately faced with a difficulty which he solves by a reference to automatic action. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- It is an automatic action. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- The honorable senator admitted the other day that if the question as to the jurisdiction *inter se* were not *bond fide* raised, the case would go to the Privy Council. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I could not consciously have made such an admission. What 1830 *Commonwelth* [SENATE.] *Salaries Bill.* I say is that when a case is before a State Court, and a question of constitutional powers *inter se* is raised, no doubt the State Judge may have to decide as to whether the question is *bona fide* raised. But even if the Judge thought that the question was not *bond fide* raised, the case would automatically have to be transferred to the High Court. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- Why automatically? It is not the same as the difference between black and white. It is a matter allowing for considerable doubt. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- If **Senator Clemons** has any doubt upon thatpoint, I will go further and suppose that the State Judge decides against the Federal servant. Suppose he says, "I do not believe that any constitutional point is involved." My honorable friend must see that an appeal would in the ordinary way at once lie to the High Court. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- I see that. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Suppose that in order to let the matter be further decided by the Privy Council, the Judge gives a decision in favour of the defendant, and the State then appeals? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I say that the State could not appeal, because in the terms of the Constitution we have said that the High Court is the Court which alone can deal with questions of the kind. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Even in the face of a declarationboth by a State Court and the Privy Council that the question is not a constitutional question, the honorable senator says that the. State cannot appeal to the Privy Council? SenatorBEST. - I say that the State cannot do so, because necessarily, in the terms of the Constitution, the case must go to the High Court. I therefore urge that in all the circumstances there could not possibly arise such a case as **Senator Millen** supposes, where, for instance, the State of Victoria could successfully recover income tax from a Federal Minister, member of Parliament, or public servant, except under this Bill. **Senator Symon** objected to the Bill because, as he said, it does not deal with taxation levied in the past by the States. It is quite true that it is in no sense retrospective, but I wish to show that it can be in no way harmful so far as the public servants who have not paid the tax in the past are concerned. In the future they will be liable. When we bear in mind- how pernicious the principle of retrospective legislation is, I do not think it would be wise for us to attempt it in this case. The public servant will not, if this Bill is passed, be placed in the uncertain position to which **Senator Sympn** has referred, but, on the contrary, he will know that he is not liable to retrospective taxation. There are a limited number of cases in which proceedings have been instituted against Federal servants. If I refer to Victoria alone, I believe that there are some fifteen or twenty . such cases. In passing, I may remark that, to the best of my belief, those cases have been abandoned. But if the States sought to proceed with them by appeal to the High Court, the public servants would be held immune. If they took up new cases precisely the same result would follow. I say, therefore, that Federal servants would not be left in any position of uncertainty. There is one aspect of the judgment of the High Court which I should like to placebefore honorable senators. It affirmed great constitutional principles. It practically affirmed, quite irrespective of individuals, although individuals were necessarily involved, the general principle that the imposition of income tax by the several States was a tax on Federal instrumentalities. The High Court, holding that Federal servants, Ministers, and members of Parliament were Federal instrumentalities, decided that they were not liable to the tax, as its imposition was an interference with the exercise of the powers of the Commonwealth. It is here that I wish' my honorable friends to draw a distinction when they say that this measure practically means an alteration of the Constitution. I submit that it does not mean anything of the kind, nor does it necessitate an alteration of the Constitution. The High Court has simply held that these Federal servants are Federal instrumentalities, and, as such, must not be interfered with. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Was not that an interpretation of the Constitution? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- No; the High Court went on the broad, general principle that Commonwealth instrumentalities must not be interfered with. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Because that would be a violation of the Constitution. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- No. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Then it is not a constitutional question, *inter se.* *Commonwealth* [14 August, 1907.] *Salaries Bill.* 1831 {: #debate-12-s5 .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST:
Protectionist -- This is the general principle on which the High Court proceeded - >That when a State attempts to give to its legislative or executive authority an operation which, if valid, would fetter, control or interfere with, the free exercise of the legislative or executive power of the Commonwealth, the attempt unless expressly authorized by the Constitution, is to that extent invalid and inoperative. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Invalid under the Constitution. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Not at all. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- The honorable senator has just read it - "unless expressly authorized by the Constitution." {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- No; I submit that what it means is that any effort on the part of the various States, by their legislative or Executive authority, to interfere with any instrumentalities of the Commonwealth, must be invalid. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Why? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Because it would be an interference. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- An infringement of our constitutional powers. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- No. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- The judgment says so in so many words. It says, " unless expressly authorized by the Constitution." {: #debate-12-s6 .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST:
VICTORIA · PROT -- Exactly. The principle was enunciated in *D'Emden* v. *Pedder -* >That when a State attempts to give to its legislative or executive authority an operation which, if valid, would fetter, control or interfere with, the free exercise of the legislative or executive power of the Commonwealth, the attempt unless expressly authorized by the Constitution, is to that extent invalid and inoperative. That is all the High Court held. This action on the part of the States had, or might have had, the effect of interfering with and fettering the Commonwealth instrumentalities. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Does my honorable friend think that that is a constitutional question? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I certainly do not think that it is any interference with the Constitution. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Does my honorable friend think that it is a constitutional question ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- It is an interference with the carrying out of the Constitution by its agents. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Exactly. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- In various cases to which I have referred, the general principle on which we have proceeded has been well established, and that is that under such circumstances it is. competent for the Federation to waive any right it may possess, and to declare, as in this Bill we do, that similar action on the part of a State in future shall not be regarded by the Federation as an interference with its instrumentalities. I have already pointed out that in a like condition of affairs, the American Congress enacted similar legislation, and that its constitutionality was doubted, but that one case after another only resulted in establishing its complete validity. I propose to make a reference to the case of *Austin* v. *The Aldermen,* which is reported in Vol. 74 of the *United States Reports,* known as *W allace 7,* and in which certain principles are declared - >The right of taxation, where it exists, is necessarily unlimited in its nature. It carries with it inherently the power to embarrass and destroy. > >It is well settled that the States cannot exercise this authority in respect to any of the instrumentalities which the general government may create for the performance of its constitutional functions. It is equally well settled that this exemption may be waived wholly, or with such limitations and qualifications as may be deemed proper, by the law-making power of the nation ; but the waiver must be clear, and every well-grounded doubt upon the subject should be resolved in favour of the exemption. All that we are attempting to do in this Bill is to waive what is practically an exemption, and we propose to make that waiver precisely as was done in America, and under similar conditions, the legislation passed there having been held by the Courts to be sound and valid. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- Was that the case of a Federal officer who was taxed ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- In 1864, Congress passed a measure which was worded similarly to this Bill, and which practically had the effect of waiving a right of the United States. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- But that was in regard to a question of property - bank shares, I think. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- It related to personal property. It was the outcome of the case of *McCulloch* v. *Maryland.* {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- Can the Minister find a case affecting the question of where a Federal officer, in the United States, had been taxed by a State? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- No. I think that in principle there is absolutely no difference, 1832 *Commonwealth* [SENATE.] *Salaries Bill.* because in each case it was held that it was a taxation of Federal instrumentalities. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Yes; but the taxation of, for instance, the Treasury, is different from the taxation of Federal salaries. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- The shares were held to be Federal instrumentalities. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- It is like taxing the Army. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- It was a case of taxing bank shares and notes. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Just as Federal servants were held to be Federal instrumentalities, so in the same way it was held to be an interference with Federal instrumentalities when a State sought to tax the shares of a Federal bank. **Senator Symon** has again challenged the position inregard to the High Court, and said that the Bill is a flat contradiction of the judgment of, and a reflection on, that body. It is *not in* the remotest degree a reflection on the High Court. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- It only says that they were wrong. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- It does not attempt to say that. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- It says that we are right. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- While admitting that the law is sound, we say that the effect of their judgment is the creation of a privileged class. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- Does the Minister mean to say that the law of the High Court is sound ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Yes. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- Then I shall have to vote against the third reading of the Bill, {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- It is because the law of the High Court is sound and creates a privileged class that we ask the Senate to pass the Bill. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- To reverse it. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- No, to say that in the future the taxation of Federal officers will not be an interference with Commonwealth instrumentalities, and thus it will prevent the creation of a privileged class. The very basis of the Bill is that the law of the High Court is sound. I do not take the sarnie view of **Senator Clemons'** amendment as does **Senator Symon.** I think that the electing States have a right to whatever income tax on their allowances is collected from honorable senators. They are sent by their States to Melbourne for the purpose of discharging their parliamentary duties. In practice, it involves simply a temporary residence here. Their power to earn this particular class of income is by reason of their election by their States, consequently any income tax levied upon income so earned should in all justice be payable to the electing State? {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- Suppose that the Full Court of Victoria take the view of **Mr. Justice** Hodges, and the view of the Privy Council, and say that this is not a constitutional question, and that an appeal goes to the Privy Council before the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth can get his case argued, what is to happen? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- A case of that kind cannot happen if the Judiciary Bill is passed. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- What **Senator Dobson** means, I think, is, would the Judges of the Supreme Court of Victoria in that case be liable to attachment and to be sent to gaol for doing it. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I do not think that **Senator Dobson** means that. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- Suppose that the Full Court of Victoria insist on their view, and give leave to appeal to the Privy Council, what will happen? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- In that case, the person aggrieved - the Federal servant - would simply have to appeal to the High Court. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- There would be two appeals going on at the same time - that is all. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Yes, but I feel almost certain that the Privy Council will not again attempt to interfere, because, acting within the terms of the Constitution Act, we shall have passed a provision which was not in force when it gave its decision in the case of *Webb* v. *Outtrim.* {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- Does the Minister hold that if this Bill hadbeen law before the case of *Deakin* v.Webb occurred the decision of the High Court would have been a different one? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- In my judgment, it would have been, and I make that remark without reservation or Qualification, because, under section 77 of the Constitution, we are exercising an exclusive power in favour of the High Court. {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- Would not the action of a Commissioner of Taxes in a State have been an infringement of constitutional rights just the same? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- No, because of the waiver contained in the Bill. **Senator Symon** has again urged that the Bill will be completely futile. When it was mentioned that it was framed on a suggestion of the High Court, he urged that this Parliament had no right to listen to what I understood him to say was the dictation of the High Court. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- I did not say that. I said that an intimation of that kind was not binding upon those who made it, and that it ought not to be binding in any way upon Parliament. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- It is quite true that the suggestion is not absolutely binding upon the High Court, as a judgment is. But when this Parliament is looking for guidance in regard to complex constitutional matters, where would it sooner go than to the *obiter dictum* of an eminent Judge such as the Chief Justice of the High Court, with the sanction of three Justices of that Court ? I am quite sure that nothing in the suggestion of the Chief Justice can be construed as a dictation to Parliament. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- But surely the Chief Justice was not asked to give an indication even of his views on the subject ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Yes. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- Who asked him to do so? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- In the case of *Flint* v. *Webb,* he was asked by one of the" counsel. In his judgment, he says - >I will only say a word with reference* to the argument used by **Mr. Irvine** as to what he called the " intolerable position " existing because of there being conflicting judgments of this Court and the Privy Council on the same subject. I do not think the position is intolerable. I do not think that is the correct epithet. It may be called an inconvenient position. But, is called, he says the strong reason why a certificate should be granted is that there is no other way of escape from that position. If it were true that there is no way of escape from that position unless we give a certificate, still, in the public interest and for the future welfare of the Commonwealth, I think it would be better that the position should continue, however inconvenient, than that escape should be made from it in that manner. > >But it is not correct to say that there is no other way of escape. There are two ways of escape, quite easy, and both open. One way of escape we are asking honorable senators to sanction by passing the Judiciary Bill and this Bill. We are following the valuable suggestion made by the High 'Court. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time. {: .page-start } page 1833 {:#debate-13} ### QUARANTINE BILL Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by **Senator Keating)** read a first time. {: .page-start } page 1833 {:#debate-14} ### SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) Term of Grant of Supply : Privileges of Senate - 'Commonwealth Expenditure - Old-Age Pensions - High Commissioner- Northern Territory Agreement - The Tariff : Refunds of Duty - Cable to Tasmania - Distribution of Revenue : Bookkeeping Section - Post and Telegraph Department : Grievances of Sorters andLetterCarriers : Telephone Line Construction: Receipts for Telegraph Messages : Cypher Messages : Departmental Administration - Electoral Law - Naval Subsidy - Construction of War Vessels. Bill received from the House of Representatives. Motion (by **Senator Best)** proposed - >That this Bill be now read a first time. {: #debate-14-s0 .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON:
Tasmania .- If the Parliament as a whole is in favour of granting three months'" Supply, I suppose it will have to be granted. If the present demand is affected by the fact that it is proposed that the Senate shall adjourn for a month or six weeks while the House of Representatives is dealing with the Tariff, it might be convenient to grant two months' Supply!, but I am opposed' to granting as much as three months' Supply at one time. Many assertions have been made, and we have heard many discussions, with regard to the extravagance of particular Federal Governments and the excessive expenditure authorized by the Commonwealth Parliament. Those assertions have been as frequently contradicted. I have heard it contended again and again that there is no truth in them, and that Federal Ministers have administered the affairs of the Commonwealth with a due regard to economy. I must admit that it is sometimes difficult to place one's finger on figures, and point out where extravagance has occurred. But, in my opinion, the affairs of the Commonwealth have been administered . in anything but an economical manner. I consider it necessary to make the strongest protest possible against the way in which expenditure is creeping up. During the present financial year it is being increased by close upon 000,000. We cannot go on at this rate. 1834 *Supply* [SENATE.] *Bill (No. 2).* {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator Stewart: -- The honorable senator ought to give us details of the extravagance of which he complains. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- It is perfectly certain that this state of things cannot continue. But side by side with it, we have foreshadowed the very grossest extravagance in expenditure, which I do not hesitate to say the taxpayers of the Commonwealth cannot afford to maintain. I allude to the various schemes and public works, which are, so to speak, in the air, and in regard to which Ministers have expressed a favorable opinion. Ministers are dangling these schemes before the electors of the Commonwealth, and making them believe there is an early probability of effect being given to them. I am quite sure that my honorable friend, **Senator Stewart,** will agree with me that a great many of the schemes foreshadowed, and which would cost an enormous amount of money, have no immediate chance of being given effect to. Take the subject of old-age pensions. I ask my honorable friends of the Labour Party whether it is right for the Government to, continue expressing their sympathy with every single scheme that is promulgated, no matter whether it means £6, 000,000 for a railway or £3,000,000 for an Australian Navy, or £20,000 a year for the maintenance of a High Commissioner's office in London, and at the same time express their anxiety and intention to give effect to an old-age pensions scheme? Everything goes to show that they cannot find the money for the purpose. Indeed, they will not be able to find the money for one-halfof these things. Therefore, we have a right to question their sincerity. My honorable friend, **Senator Stewart,** has asked me for details. I will allude to the question of the High Commissionership, which was mentioned in the GovernorGeneral's Speech as an item of policy to be carried out immediately. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator Stewart: -- Does not the honorable senator think that the Commonwealth ought to be represented in London? {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- I do not think that any candidate who stood for election to the Federal Convention failed to impress upon the electors that one way in which the Commonwealth would save money would be by doing away with the Agent-Generalships of the States, and merging them into a High Commissionership. It was reported that -we should have one London office instead of seven. But we still have the six States offices " going strong." I am not as much convinced as some people profess to be of the importance of the appointment of a High Commissioner, because if the six Agents-General, with their offices and their knowledge of Australian requirements, cannot worthily represent this country, I should like to know what is the good of them. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator Stewart: -- They are doing nothing. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- Does my honorable friend mean to say that any High Commissioner whom we could possibly appoint, commencing with my honorable friend himself, and working downwards to **Sir John** Forrest, could do more to advertise the Commonwealth than the six Agents-General and their staffs at present do? I have no objection to the appointment of a High Commissioner, if at the same time we act in conjunction with the States in such a way as will enable them to get rid of their Agents-General. Butit will be a disgrace to us if we keep up permanently in London six Departments, and add a seventh to them. A great deal is said in this country about the farce of Australia being governed by six Parliaments. Although we may not be altogether in favour of' unification, and although there is a great deal to be said in favour of each State maintaining its Legislature, it must be admitted that it is a very extravagant form of Government for 4,000,000 of people, But if we are going to duplicate this extravagance by adding a High Commissioner to the six Agents-General whom we now have in London, it will be a scandalous proceeding, especially in view of the fact that a High Commissioner could not do half as much for Australia as these six officers with their experienced staffs are able to do. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- The trouble is that the Commonwealth cannot abolish the AgentsGeneral. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- If we cannot induce the States to abolish their offices in London, it will prove that they are in favour of maintaining their Agents-General and their skilled staffs, which have been acting for them in some cases for thirty years. I know that in the office of the Agent-General for Tasmania we have a most important and valued officer, who has been there ever since the commencement, and who is invaluable in reference to the State's affairs which have to be transacted in London. The High Commissioner ought not to be appointed in defiance of the wishes of the States, but in absolute harmony with them. "Unless that is done the appointment cannot lead to economy, but will simply add to the expenditure of the country. In view of the enormous expenditure which has been foreshadowed in the Budget speech, it seems to me to be certain that the important matters of policy which the Government foreshadowed when the Governor- General's Speech was laid before Parliament,' will have to wait. Of course, I do not intend to anticipate debate on my own motion with respect to old-age pensions. But I wish to say that I should join in most heartily with any party in the Senate which would endeavour to bring about such a system as soon as possible, providing that it was based upon economic laws, upon common-sense, and upon those business principles which we should all be careful to embody in any scheme if we had to pay the money out of our own pocket. I find that there is an inclination on the part of legislators, not only, in the Federal Parliament, but elsewhere, to ignore principles which they certainly would not' lose sight, of in transacting their own affairs. That is not the way to be a true and faithful trustee for the public whom we represent. I am thoroughly in earnest about making proper provision for the aged poor of the Commonwealth. Some of them are not being well treated at present, and I do not think that it redounds to our credit as a Christian democracy - if that is what we call ourselves - to continue that state of things. I desire to have a system adopted under which those who can help themselves shall be made to do so, while those who may think they cannot help themselves, and who require encouragement, shall be encouraged to do the little they can to make provision for their old age, and those who may be considered too poor to make any such provision shall be assisted by the Government. At the . same time those aged and indigent persons who are at present in receipt of old-age pensions from the States should be brought in under one Federal scheme of relief. But unless we can find the money, we cannot institute any such scheme. Certainly the money is not available at present, nor will it be available so long as Ministers launch forth most extravagant schemes which, sooner or later, will bring disaster upon the Commonwealth. I read in this morning's newspapers some words spoken by . the Premier of New South Wales, **Mr. Carruthers,** in which he stated that he is going to wait a little while longer, and that, after a display of exemplary patience, he intends to take steps which will at once bring about the establishment of a permanent Seat of Government for the Commonwealth. Is provision being made for that contingency by the Government? Do they realize that they may have to spend £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 for the purposes of the Federal Capital in the near future? **Senator Trenwith.** - The only way to do that is to get rid of the present Premier of New South Wales. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- I do not think that that would alter the position of the Federal Capital question. {: .speaker-K8T} ##### Senator Trenwith: -- Yes, because we have selected the site, but cannot get there because of him. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- The people of New South Wales think that it is high time the Seat of Government was removed- from Melbourne, and that we commenced 'building the Federal Capital at Dalgety or elsewhere. It is a question which may be delayed for a year or two, but which may also be forced to the front within the next few months. Every representative of New South Wales will do his best to see that it is forced on and settled as soon as possible. We are expected to consider the agreement to take over the Northern Territory. I have suggested to the VicePresident of the Executive Council that if there is any possible way of bringing the Bill dealing with that agreement before the Senate first, it will be a subject that will take up considerable time, and we may want business to go on with while the Tariff is being discussed in another place. In f framing their Estimates, have the Government considered the enormous Bounties Bill which is now before the Senate, or the fact that the taking over of the Northern Territory may cost us ,£3,500,000? Have they considered the interest upon that sum, and the fact that the Northern Territoryis now losing £100,000 odd per year? Have they considered what they wi]l have to pay if they have to take over the 480 odd miles of railway which the agreement says the Commonwealth shall take over? I may say at once that I shall 'be no party to the transfer to the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory on the terms of that agreement. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator O'loghlin: -- I thought there was no difference of opinion about that. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator DOBSON: -- I do not know whether there is or mot, but I was told on my arrival at Port Darwin that the two members who represent the Territory in the South Australian Parliament were not in favour of transferring it to the Commonwealth, even on the terms of the agreement. It is a most one-sided document, and I can be no party to it. I quite realize the great danger' of leaving that enormous territory unoccupied, but that danger alone is the only justification for the Federal Parliament considering the matter. But if that is, as I believe it is, the only argument in favour of our taking over the Territory, it will be for the Federal Parliament to fix the terms. . Although we may consider the claims of South Australia in a fair and reasonable manner, we certainly cannot - with 1,100 miles of new railway staring us in the face, in what I may call the "Desert Railway " to distinguish it - t>e saddled with the taking over of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I mention these matters in order to try to bring the debate, so far as I can, to the question of whether we are not proceeding altogether too far. Do we or Ministers understand the value of money ? "We have started well. We have been building all our post offices and other public works, forts and other defences, out of revenue, but how long shall we be able to continue that policy if we spend money at the rate we have been doing, and pass the extravagant Estimates which have been placed before us? I am quite willing to admit that it is rather difficult to say that our expenditure can be very much reduced if we carry out in its entirety for years to come the policy which has been laid down. If we add every year to the bounty which we have to pay on sugar, and intend to put on the enormous duties now proposed, which I believe have shocked the electors from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, in order to try indirectly to raise the wages of the workers in our factories, we are bound to come to financial disaster sooner or later. I have every sympathy with the contention that if we benefit the capitalists or owners of factories, we should take every care that the labourers in those factories are fairly treated. I should have thought, however, that Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts were the best means of seeing that sweating was done away with, and that fair and sometimes generous living wages were paid. If, however, we are going to have all those things in addition to imposing an enormous prohibitive Tariff on the community, with the idea of increasing the wages of the workmen, we shall be making a most atrocious blunder, which will end sooner or later in trouble and difficulty. I prefer to give the workmen what is just and right in a fair and open manner, and not in an indirect way, which -may not benefit them as much as the Government expect, and which at the same time will be a gross injustice to every taxpayer who has to pay these enormous duties. The sole grievance which I desired to mention on the first reading of this Bill, and which I have adduced some arguments to try to give point to, is that financially we are going ahead too fast, that we are very extravagant, that some of these schemes will have to be given up, that we shall have to do our best to cut down the Estimates, and should demand that a very good case is made out before we vote for any extra expenditure whatever. **Senator Sir JOSIAH** SYMON (South Australia) [5.38]. - It would be a distinct improvement upon our procedure if, when a Supply Bill is brought to us from the other place, copies' of it were circulated before the message is read, and the first reading moved. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- The schedule was circulated some days ago. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- I have a" copy in mv hand now. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- Then the honorable senator is favored. They have not been circulated in this chamber. I am talking about the Bill, and not the schedule. {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- The schedule was available yesterday. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- The Bill ought to be on our files. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- The Bill certainly should be. I can recollect no previous occasion of the kind when the Bill has not been circulated first amongst honorable senators. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- We are following what has been done in the past. The Bill has only, just come up and cannot be circulated yet. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- There is no necessity to bring the message down, or move the first reading, until the Bill is ready for circulation. The only opportunity honorable senators have of dealing with grievances is the first reading of Supply and similar 'Bills, and we ought to be in possession of copies, considering that the first-reading debate is practically an enlarged kind of second-reading debate in the case of measures of this kind. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- I have no control over it whatever. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- I am not suggesting that the honorable senator should be impeached because copies of the Bill are not circulated. I am drawing attention to something which perhaps he might be able to give a hint about, in order to secure that honorable senators may be in possession of the entire Bill at the important time - the first reading of the measure - when we are entitled to debate grievances. We have fought in this Senate for an opportunity similar to that which prevails in the other House of ventilating grievances on going into Committee of Supply. We have a very large control over financial matters. We saw that there was *a* difficulty in securing the same opportunity for dealing with the Ministry, for criticising their actions, and for debating grievances, as members of the other House have. There, on going into Committee of Supply, all questions affecting legislation and administration, and relating to the welfare of the Commonwealth, are open to debate. We found that we were handicapped in that respect, and in order to avail ourselves of our enlarged power and better status in these respects under the Constitution, provision was made in our Standing "Orders that the first reading of a Supply Bill, for example, should be placed upon the same footing in that regard as was the going into Committee of Supply in the other House. It is a strong position that we are placed in, and we are entitled to the fullest possible benefit from it. It is for that reason that we are enabled now to debate this Supply Bill on its first reading, and. to make use of the opportunity to criticise everything connected with the Government or affecting the welfare of the people. I draw especial attention to that aspect, because I agree with **Senator Dobson** that we ought not lightly to grant three months' Supply at this moment. What necessity is there for it? I see it is stated in the press to-day that the object is to " clear the decks " for the carnage that is likely to proceed in connexion with the black list of oppression which the Government call the Tariff, and which they have pitched before Parliament. But surely that is no reason why we should be asked to relinquish two of the few opportunities we have in this Chamber of ventilating grievances. We ought not to give up one atom of our privileges. The Supply Bills in themselves are usually ' taken so far as the details are concerned as a matter of course. Their real value to us is that thev give us opportunities, which members of the other branch of the' Legislature enjoy more freely and more easily, of keeping the Government in check, and looking after the administration of affairs. We are asked now, without rhyme or reason, to give the Government immunity from this criticism for three months. This Bill will carry us on till about November - the usual time of. prorogation. The position is not so much that we are asked to vote this Supply, which in some aspects is more or less a minor matter, but that we are called upon to relinquish two out of three of our .opportunities during the next three months of criticising the actions of the Government. It is the coolest request that has ever been made to the Senate. If some sound reason were advanced, why we should give up that precious privilege I could understand it, but no such reason has been given, and certainly we have not been told why we should give the Government three months' Supply. We might give one month's Supply without the slightest trouble. I do not know of any instance in which a Supply Bill has been altered. Its value really is to enable us to keep a check upon the actions of the Government. If we pass Supply for three months, we shall be surrendering the privilege we enjoy for no reason at all. If a Supply Bill for a month is passed, when further Supply is required, we should preserve our privilege, and grant it; If that Supply is exhausted in again granting further Supply, we should still maintain our right of control. I should like to have some reason from the Government why it should be imperative upon the Senate to surrender its privileges, and grant three months' Supply now. I, for one, am not prepared to do so, and on the ground that the status and power of the Senate in regard to these matters should be preserved in every respect. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator O'loghlin: -- No time is stated in the Bill. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- That is so. The Bill does not say that it is for three months' Supply, but the purse is opened, and the Government are given the privilege of withdrawing from it sufficient money to carry them on for three months. That is what is understood, and in fact the Bill was announced in another place as a _ Supply Bill for three months, with a view, judging by what is reported in the newspapers, of " clearing the decks," and getting it out of the way, a reason which affects the Senate in no way whatever. In this connexion there is one other matter I should like to mention. We know that a new Tariff has been introduced. The man must be extremely dull who does not know that. Some reference has been made to the multitudinous anomalies that exist in connexion with it. There is one on which I should like to say a word. Some inquiries have been made, and an alleged grievance has been pointed out in connexion with goods arriving in a ship which touches, say, at Fremantle, to discharge a portion of her cargo, then proceeds to Adelaide, where more cargo is discharged, and thence to Melbourne or Sydney, where the balance is discharged. Goods landed from such a ship at Fremantle before the new Tariff came into actual operation!, of course, pay duty under the old Tariff. But it is suggested that when the ship proceeds to other ports, an exception should be made in regard to the operation of the new Tariff, and the goods landed from that vessel at the other ports, although after the new Tariff is in operation, should also pay duty under the old Tariff. I find that the Minister who dislikes to be told that he is " wobbling " has said that he is going to consider whether an exception of that character should be made. I wish to point out how absolutely unfair that would be. Why should there be these confusions and exceptions? I do not now propose to criticise the Tariff, but to discuss this matter from the point of view of what is fair administration. The Tariff which is in operation at each port at the time that a particular lot of goods is landed should be the Tariff applied to those goods. {: .speaker-K8T} ##### Senator Trenwith: -- Not when the goods are landed, but when they are taken out of bond. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- The duties are payable for the most part when the goods are landed. {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- Has the honorable senator considered the matter in the light of section 99 of the Constitution, which provides that - >The Commonwealth shall not. by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or any part therof over another State or any part thereof. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- In what way does the honorable senator suggest that that section applies? {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- The importer at Fremantle, Adelaide, or Melbourne would get an advantage over the importer at Sydney or Brisbane. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- He would get no advantage whatever. The question is simply as to what is the law. at the time the goods are landed at Fremantle, or at any other port. The law might be different at the time goods are landed at Fremantle from the law at the time goods are landed at another port, so that under the law, there would be no preference. I do not assent to the suggestion that there is any infringement of the section of the Constitution to which the honorable senator has referred. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- The merchants will charge the same prices no matter what the duties were at the time the goods were landed. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- No doubt that is so. I wish to take a practical view of the matter. Suppose a ship that has discharged part of her cargo at Fremantle arrives at Adelaide at the same time as another ship that has not touched at Fremantle, the suggestion is that the goods *ex* the ship that has called at Fremantle shall be dutiable under the old Tariff, and the goods discharged from the other ship shall be dutiable under the new Tariff. Would that be fair ? Those goods are landed in the same market, whilst goods landed at Fremantle would not be on the same market as goods landed at Adelaide. {: .speaker-K8T} ##### Senator Trenwith: -- The Treasurer is doing what **Senator Symon** is doing. He is considering the matter. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- The fact is that the Treasurer does not know anything about the subject, otherwise a great many of these anomalies would never have existed. What I object to is that the honorable gentleman should say that he is going to consider the matter, and should hold these things in suspense over importers, so that from one day to another they do not know what is going to happen, or what duties they will have to pay. There is. one matter to which **Senator Dobson** alluded, and on which I wish to say a word or two. I refer to the Northern Territory agreement. In common with the people of South Australia, I am most anxious that the taking over of the Northern Territory should be dealt with speedily, not from the point of view of the interests of the State alone, but from the national stand-point, and in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole. I understand that the agreement is first of all to be dealt with by the State Parliament of South Australia before we shall be called upon to deal with it here. When it comes before the Senate, I hope it will be seen that the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole are more concerned in it than are the interests of South Australia. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator Sayers: -- Another instance of the Federal spirit. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- It will be of no use for the Commonwealth to take over the Northern Territory and undertake the obligation of developing and peopling it unless we are prepared - apart from any question of route, as to which I say nothing at this stage - to connect that Territory with the south by means of a railway line. Unless **Senator Dobson** and other honorable senators are prepared to deal with the matter as a whole-- {: .speaker-K8W} ##### Senator Turley: -- Generously? {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- I do not say generously, but in accordance with what national considerations will demand, it will be absolutely vain to take the matter into consideration at all. Of what value will the Territory be unless we connect it with the south, and put an end to its isolation and defencelessness ? {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator Sayers: -- We could reach it from the north. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- I do not propose now to enter into any details as to the route of the railway, but unless the connexion suggested is considered as a part of the arrangement, we shall not be assuming the obligation which I venture to say rests absolutely on the Commonwealth *to* do our best for every part of the country. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- I think that the Northern Territory will have to be connected with the south, but we can leave the question of the route of the railway aside for the moment. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON: -- I am glad to have that admission from the honorable senator. I agree with him as to one part of the document, to which he will find me in unalterable opposition, and that is the condition that the Northern Territory shall not be taken over by the Commonwealth until South Australia gives her consent to the construction of the Western Australian railway. That condition should not find a place in the agreement. I do not desire to say anything further on this occasion. I do hope that in the case of further Supply Bills a message will not be brought clown which entails the immediate moving of the first reading, before the Bill is circulated. In the next place' I hope that honorable senators will see the propriety of not surrendering their privileges and their right to discuss grievances by consenting, as they are asked to do in this Bill, to grant three months' Supply to the Government. {: #debate-14-s1 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE:
Western Australia -- I agree that the Government have no right to ask the Senate to surrender the right to express their opinions on the Administration and on questions of finance, which they are enabled to exercise when monthly Supply Bills are submitted. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- There are special reasons in this case. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- There may be, but I am not aware of them. I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Bill contains any items which are not based on the Estimates of last year. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator Sayers: -- There is £1,000 for the Women's Work Exhibition. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I think there is more than that. If we were assured that the items contained in this Bill were based upon last year's Estimates, and that it proposed no new expenditure, that would do away with one of the arguments against the granting of three months' Supply, but it would not answer **Senator Symon's** contention that we should be giving up" the right of criticism of the Government except upon motions for the adjournment of the Senate, in connexion with which honorable senators are disinclined to inflict speeches upon their fellow senators. I believe that in this Bill we are being asked to commit ourselves to an expenditure which is not sanctioned by last year's Estimates. It has been the practice, not only of the present, but of past, Governments very often to get Parliament to commit itself to expenditure by submitting a small, vote, which is merely the beginning of expenditure for a particular purpose, and afterwards to repeat the dose in larger quantities, the argument used being that as we have spent so much money we must spend whatever further amount is necessary to complete the work. On the last page of the Bill I find an item, " Subdivision 4, cables 'other,' £4>585-" I venture to say that that item never appeared in last year's Estimates. There is another item on the preceding page, in division No. 191, " Sub-division No. 4, cables, £132." One can only surmise what these votes are for, because the Minister gave no information concerning them. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- I propose to do so on the second reading. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- These questions can be debated on the first reading of the Bill, but apparently the Minister expected the question to go without debate. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- That would not relieve me of the duty of making an explanation on the second reading. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- It is not the duty of a Minister to submit a Bill of this kind as a formal matter, but to draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that new expenditure is proposed, in order that they may have an opportunity to consider whether it should be passed or not. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator Sayers: -- Especially in the case of new senators. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Exactly. Do honorable senators realize what the passing of this item may commit them to? This afternoon I asked certain questions on the subject of laying a new cable between Tasmania and Victoria. Are we in a position at the present moment to discuss the merits of that proposition? The. Bill was only distributed in the chamber five minutes ago, but I had obtained a copy from the other House, and therefore have had a better opportunity to examine its items than have other honorable senators. Such an item as I refer to should not be contained in 'the Bill. Hitherto a Supply Bill has been based on the appropriations for a corresponding period in the previous year, and only in exceptional cases have we been asked to sanction new items of expenditure. In the case of Tasmania, we are asked to vote £4,858 as " other " expenditure on cables, while in the case of Victoria we are asked to vote £132 as " transferred " expenditure on cables. I hold that a very great principle is involved in those items. My questions to-day suggested whether it would not be cheaper, more uptodate, and safer for the Commonwealth to adopt a system of wireless telegraphy. Are we in a position now to decide that question? In replying to my questions, **Senator Best'** referred the Senate to a report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons for information. I venture to say that not one honorable senator has seen the report, and yet, without having been given an opportunity to study its contents, and to make up our minds, we are asked to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of nearly £5,000 on a cable to Tasmania. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- There is certainly nothing in this Bill which will commit the Senate to that. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Between Tasmania and Victoria there is a cable which is the property of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and can any one imagine that " other " expenditure on that cable will be necessary to the extent of .£4,585? I feel confident that that item involves the commencement of expenditure on the cable which the Government have indicated that they are going to lay down. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- I deny it. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- I am afraid that the Minister does not know what is going on. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- This is the usual payment to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- On previous occasions that Has appeared in . the Supply Bill as " transferred " expenditure. Suppose, however, that it is the usual payment tothat company, there is another principle involved, and that is that in a Supply Bill the Government propose to alter the method/ of payment from " transferred" to "other " expenditure. The preceding item of £1,900 as " transferred " expenditure for cablesseems to bear out the suggestion of **.Senator Clemons** that the item of £4,585 is required for laying a new cable. Why should we have the two items? I canquite understand that the former item . would apply to the existing cable; but the latter item is debited to " other " expenditure. The Bill as it stands conveys to my mind the impression that the Government, are endeavouring to commit honorable senators to the project of laying a cable betweenTasmania and the mainland. I do not propose, at this stage, to discuss whether such an expenditure is justified or otherwise, because the merits of the question do not enter into the present case. If **Senator Best** says that the item of £4,585 does relate to a new cable, then I submit that it will be the duty of the Senate te* *Supply* [14 August, 1907.] *Bill (No. 2).* 1841 adjourn the debate in order that honorable senators can inform their minds as to the merits of the case. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- The item is not for a new cable. That will come under consideration when "the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill is submitted. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Is there no itemin the Bill relating to a new cable to Tasmania? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- No. {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- There are several items. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The Minister says that there is no item in the Bill relating to that cable. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- I inquired specially, and that is what I was advised. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- Can the honorable senator give the Senate an assurance that the Bill is based on the appropriations for the previous year, and contains no items which were not included in the last Appropriation Act? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- Yes. I asked a direct question, and the answer was that no expenditure will be made on the authority of this Bill except such as is required for the ordinary or recurring payments. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- If **Senator Pearce** will look on page 6, under the head of " Works and Buildings," he will get a complete answer to what the Minister has said. I firmly believe that the item of £1,000 for Tasmania under that heading is intended for a new cable, but, of course, the honorable senator can put a question to the Minister. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator Sayers: -- It was so. stated in another place. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- The Minister has made a general statement which would indicate that it is not as **Senator Clemons** believes. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- I shall ask the question if the honorable senator does not. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE: -- I am prepared to accept the Minister's assurance. But I think that the Senate will be unwise if it grants three months' Supply. Unless the Government can assign very good reasons to the contrary, I am prepared to support a proposal to limit the grant to one month's Supply. I have a decided objection to Supply Bills. Since the establishment of the Senate it has been the practice of the Government to keep the Estimates of Expenditure in the other House until near the end of the session. Then they have been sent up to the Senate, and we have been asked either to sit all night or to rush them through as quickly as possible, practically without discussion, on the ground that it was urgent that the Appropriation Bill should be passed in order to close the session. We have lent ourselves to that practice by so readily passing Supply Bills, frequently under a suspension of the Standing Orders. In regard to public expenditure, every Government of the Commonwealth has treated the Senate as if it were a Legislative Council, and asked us to close our mouths, and to refrain from criticism of administrative acts in order to meet the convenience of another place. We should require very strong proof that such a course is necessary before we agree to it. **Senator CLEMONS** (Tasmania) [6.10). - I do not want to overlook the fact that we are debating the first reading of the Bill. While I cordially agree with the observations of Senators Symon and Pearce with regard to limiting the grant of Supply, still I do not think it is desirable to move an amendment at this stage, which, as every one knows, is designed to afford most extreme latitude to honorable senators not only to debate matters of public interest, but also to criticise acts of omission on the part of the Ministry. It is most undesirable that we should deliberately deprive ourselves of opportunities which do not come too often, and for which we have had to fight very hard. I admit that so far the Minister has had no opportunity to give any reasons ; but possibly at the next stage we may hear what has induced the Government to ask for three months' Supply. This is, . I think, the first departure from a custom which has obtained here for, I think, six years. I do not believe that we have ever been asked before to vote three months' Supply in one Bill. I hope that every honorable senator will recognise that in refusing to vote three months Supply he will be merely guarding the rights which belong to him as an individual senator, quite apart from party divisions. I shall support, or, if necessary, move a proposal to limit the amount of the Supply, but I do not thinkthat it should be moved at this stage.I am glad to take advantage of this opportunity to address a few remarks, on a matter of considerable importance to the Commonwealth, to **Senator Best,** because he is an ardent protectionist. I ask him to consider with me the effect of section 93 of the Constitution, which, as he knows, deals with the bookkeeping period. At the end of five years it was open to the Parliament to alter or to rescind the provision ; in other words, to substitute any other method for the distribution of the revenue. I ask the honorable senator, as a protectionist, to consider what is the essence and value of the section as it is. Surely he will agree with me that unless each State consumes goods which have been manufactured abroad and imported, the provision is of no effect or value with regard to import duties? It operates entirely on goods which have been imported and have paid Customs duties. If a State desires to take advantage of the section, especially in view of the Tariff as it is framed now, what can it do? It c:m say at once, " If we want to relieve our local taxation or to save ourselves from fresh taxation, there is a right course open to us so long as the bookkeeping section remains in the Constitution." It would operate in this way. The more imported goods any State consumed the larger would be the revenue it derived from the Commonwealth. A State which consumed a larger proportion of imported articles would to that extent save itself from State taxation. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- That does not follow. In Western Australia we have the largest revenue in proportion to population derived from Customs and Excise, and yet we require more local taxation. {: #debate-14-s2 .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- It is a standing disgrace to Western Australia that she has neither a Land Tax nor an Income Tax, nor practically any form of direct taxation. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- What I have stated is a disproof of the honorable senator's contention. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- It disproves nothing of the sort. Western Australia objects to the abolition of the bookkeeping section, because as she consumes a larger proportion of goods imported from abroad than does any other State, she adds proportionately more to her own revenue. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- And she also consumes more Australian goods than any other State in the Union. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- Let me answer that remark. If Western Australia consumed more goods manufactured within the Commonwealth, the bookkeeping section might be abolished to-morrow. So far as import duties are concerned the section would cease to operate. When we talk about free-trade and protection, what. is it that every one of us wants? What is the object of the protectionist? It is this - to induce the people of this country to consume goods made in' Australia. So long as the bookkeeping section of the Constitution continues, we hold out to every State the strongest temptation not to 'consume goods produced or manufactured in the Commonwealth. I appeal to **Senator Best,** who is a protectionist. I hope he sees clearly what the section amounts to. Let me put a strong case. Suppose that 1, or any other member of the Federal Parliament representing Tasmania, thinking perhaps that the finances of my State were involved, and that its Parliament was in difficulties about raising revenue, started a crusade, the object of which was to induce the people to consume imported goods. We should say to them-, " Do you want to save yourselves from additional taxation? If sp, take our advice and whenever you buy anything whatever insist that it shall be imported." {: .speaker-K7L} ##### Senator Story: -- Even if the price were higher ? {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- There is very little difference between the prices of imported and locally manufactured goods. {: .speaker-K7L} ##### Senator Story: -- If the price were higher it would spoil the whole " show." {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- But the price is about the same whether goods are imported or manufactured in the Commonwealth. To confine the illustration to the case of Tasmania, I say without hesitation that if the people of that State could be persuaded or induced to buy goods imported from abroad the -finances of Tasmania would be immensely benefited. {: .speaker-K8T} ##### Senator Trenwith: -But would they do it? {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I am assuming an extreme case to show how the section works out. I do not want to persuade the people of Tasmania to buy imported goods, but am showing what would happen if they did. I can assure the Senate that if they bought nothing but imported goods, they could without taking a penny out of their own pockets add £.100,000 per annum to the revenue of the State. {: .speaker-KLS} ##### Senator Givens: -- But they would thereby deprive themselves of the excellent goods manufactured at cheap prices in Australia. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- Who desires to deny that? Not I. As far as I am concerned both in public life and privately, if an article made in Australia of anything like equal value to the same article imported from abroad can be obtained, I say, as a matter of principle, buy the local article. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- Does the consumer in Tasmania when he buys goods ask himself whether they are imported or Australian ? {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- There is no State in the Commonwealth the citizens of which give more practical support by their purchases to goods made in the Commonwealth than the Tasmanians do. I venture to say that if **Senator de.** Largie examines the figures he will find that that is so. {: .speaker-KVD} ##### Senator Mulcahy: -- The Tasmanians are the largest customers that Victoria has. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- Undoubtedly. The trouble about the bookkeeping section is that it penalizes the Tasmanians for buying Australian goods. Why should they be penalized ? I know that the answer is that Western Australia is a State that consumes more imported goods per head than any other State. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- She also consumes more Australian products than any other State. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- The geographical position of Western Australia has something to do with her consumption of imported .goods. I have not the slightest doubt that, Fremantle being so much nearer to the markets of' Europe than any other port in Australia, the tendency is for imported goods to get into Western Australia, and consequently to shut out goods produced in Melbourne or Sydney. But is it desirable to continue that state of things? Does **Senator de** Largie himself think it desirable? I cannot understand any Western Australian senator, if he will face this question fairly, thinking that it is desirable to continue the bookkeeping section. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- The honorable senator has been doing his best for weeks past to continue the isolation of Western Australia from the eastern States. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- If the railway were constructed to-morrow, does **Senator De** Largie think that it would cheapen freights between the eastern States and Western Australia? {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- There is no question about that. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- Does he think that railway freights would be cheaper than sea freights ? If so, it would be the most marvellous railway I ever heard of. But as we all know, such would not be the result. This is a very large question, to my mind. Indeed, it is the largest question that can be brought before the Federal Parliament. Yet we find that the Ministry refuses to face it. Why is that ? I know no answer except that Ministers are afraid of dislocating the revenues at present received by the various States. It seems to be quite useless to point out to them that the bookkeeping section is utterly and entirely unsatisfactory. There is no reason whatever, if we feel impelled to pay attention to what we often hear about the Federal spirit, why we should maintain such a blot on the Constitution as this is. There is no reason why we should differentiate between the people of the various States. There is no reason why Commonwealth expenditure and Commonwealth income should be treated on a different basis. At present, when we are dealing with the expenditure on account of any Commonwealth service, it is distributed *per capita.* That, of course, is the right principle. But when it comes to be a matter of receipts, the principle of distribution *per capita,* is set at defiance by this bookkeeping method. It is impossible to reconcile the system of dealing with receipts and expenditure at the present time. My argument should appeal especially strongly to the protectionists, because, so long as we retain the bookkeeping section, we are inviting people not to support Australian industries, but to buy goods from abroad. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- If we are not inviting them to do that we are penalizing them if they buy Australian goods. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- Precisely. What is the converse? That if we find any State that buys Australian articles more largely ' than any other State, we immediately impose a direct penalty upon it, in the shape of a large loss of revenue. That penalty arises in this way - that the State has to provide revenue by means of direct taxation to take the place of revenue that might otherwise be derived from the consumption of goods imported from abroad. That remark applies especially to Queensland and Tasmania. To show how some people recognise the truth of this remark, may I recall to the memory of honorable senators a little incident that occurred at Perth, Western Australia. There was a .large function there some time ago, at which, amongst other .people present, was the Mayor of Perth. He was 1814 *Supply* [SENATE.] *Bill (No. 2).* discussing the position of Western Australia, her isolation, and her financial position. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- Did he allude to the railway ? {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- Of course; he could not avoid mentioning that. But after finishing with the railway, he discussed the financial position of Western Australia, and mentioned that the people of that State were such fools that they did not recognise what was the best thing to do from the revenue point of view. " For instance," he said, " look at what we did the other day. We imported into Perth some hundreds of tons of railway material from Sydney. The consequence was that the State of Western Australia did not get a pennyworth of revenue out of it. If, however, that material had been imported from Europe, it would have meant the adilitionof a large amount of revenue to this State. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- He was alluding to dog spikes of which he was an importer. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I do not know whether that is so. The point he was making was that some one in Western Australia had been so foolish as to purchase Australian goods. His grievance was the loss of revenue because the people of Western Australia had not taken advantage of that section of the Constitution known as the bookkeeping section. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- And he lost the job of importing the goods. {: .speaker-K8T} ##### Senator Trenwith: -- And Western Australia got better dog spikes. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I have never heard any good reason why we should not repeal the bookkeeping section. I shall be glad if **Senator Best** will look into this matter, because I cannot allow this session to end without making an effort to induce the Government to devote serious attention to it. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- It has not been overlooked. The honorable senator knows that it has been the subject of Conference. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I am glad it has not been overlooked, but I see no reason why it should be relegated to a Conference. {: .speaker-KLS} ##### Senator Givens: -- Why should the States Governments be consulted at all ? {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator CLEMONS: -- I do not care for Conferences. I am tired of them. I want the Federal Government to deal with the matter itself. {: #debate-14-s3 .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART:
QUEENSLAND · ALP -- I admit that in ordinary circumstances it would be exceedingly undesirable to grant three months' Supply instead of one, but the present occasion is unique. The Tariff will shortly be considered in another place, and probably the Senate will before long adjourn for a month. In these circumstances, no very forcible argument can be advanced against the action of the. Government in asking for three months' Supply. We had this afternoon the usual jeremiad from **Senator Dobson** about Commonwealth extravagance. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- Does not the honorable senator agree with me? {: #debate-14-s4 .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I agree with a good deal of what the (honorable senator advanced, but, on more than one occasion, I have invited him into the halls of economy, and he has stayed outside. He Was not taking any economy of my particular brand. If we both live long enough, I shall probably give him another opportunity, and put his patriotism to the test. While some State Governments are complaining very strongly of Commonwealth extravagance, a number of Federal employes are objecting forcibly to being overworked. They say that their offices are undermanned. In Queensland, at any rate - and I believe the same obtains more or less in the other States - boys are acting as letter-carriers, and juniors are working as sorters. In this way, the Government are saving some money at the cost, it is alleged, of efficiency. The system is causing a great deal of dissatisfaction throughout the service in all the States. I propose to read to the Senate a communication which I have recently received on the subject from the representative of an association connected with the Post and Telegraph Department. It does not emanate from one individual, but has been authorized by a body of men who are deeply concerned in the matter, and who take a strong interest in the efficient conduct of the Department. A great deal of dissatisfaction exists about the arrangement as to working hours. We hear a great deal about an eight-hours' day in Australia. In fact, I believe some of our people have gone a little further, and advocated a six-hours' day. In one branch of the service, I believe the working day is limited to six hours, but in the general division, I find that the men work comparatively long *Supply* [14 August, 1907.] *Bill (No.* 2).. 1845 hours. This is what is stated on the question of the working hours - What is required is a definite ruling as to the relative value of early morning, late night, and all night hours. Some Post Office officials go to work at 5 o'clock in the morning, work till 7 or 8, then go off, go on again for a couple of hours in the afternoon, say, from 3 till 5, go off again, and go on from 9 to 12 at night. Any man who has to put in a working day which is spread over such a length of time ought to receive some consideration. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- It is nineteen hours a day. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- Honorable senators, of course, will understand that the men are not workingduring the whole of the time, but their services are really at the disposal of the Government during all those hours. {: .speaker-KMT} ##### Senator Gray: -- Is not (hat an exceptional state of affairs? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- It is not at all exceptional. They must be ready to take up work when their hour comes. {: .speaker-KAH} ##### Senator Walker: -- How many hours of actual work does that arrangement mean per day? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- It means about an eight-hours' day spread over nineteen hours. I quote further fromthis document - >Suggested that as the Public Service Commissioner has laid down (Public Service Regulation No. 4) from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. as the working day of the general division, all hours worked between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and between 6.30 p.m. and 10 p.m. should be reckoned as time and a quarter, andall time worked between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. as time and a half. All time on Saturdays after 12 noon as time and a quarter, and all hours worked between midnight on Saturday and midnight on Sunday to be paid at time and a half rate. Fractions of hours to be reckoned as follows : - Ten to twenty minutes as a quarter, 25 to 35 minutes as half, 40 to 50 minutes as three-quarters, 55 to 65 minutes as one hour. > >Suggested that all-night duty should not exceed six hours. > >Honorable senators will admit that six hours' work during the night is equivalent to at least eight during the day - > >Outside the Government service the hours of mechanics and labourers are, generally speaking, five clays of eight hours and four hours on Saturdays. Those hours have been recognised by the State and Federal Governments, and provision made in Government contracts to insure the protection of workmen. The Public > >Service Commissioner has ruled that letter carriers' hours are to be five days of eight hours and one of four hours, and ordered those hours to be adopted from 1st February, 1907, throughout the Commonwealth. Sunday pay. - Both Houses of the Federal Parliament passed a resolution that time and a half shall be paid for Sunday work, yet in Queenslandno more than a day and a half's pay is given, although the hours worked often amount to nine hours, and these are after midnight on Saturday. Days in lieu. - This is a one-sided arrangement. A day in lieu of a public holiday, given when it suits the Department, whether the officer concerned wants it or not, is not fair compensation for all the advantages he loses, and which are enjoyed by the' rest of the community. {: .speaker-JYX} ##### Senator Findley: -- The statutory rules, as amended by the Senate recently, provide that a man must have a day off after working six consecutive days. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I am not sure whether this was written before those rules were amended or not. In any case, I thought it desirable to let the Senate know what the men who are deeply interested think about the matter - Married men especiallyfeel this, as they are deprived of the pleasure of spending a day with their families. Time actually worked. - A definite regulation should be issued making it the duty of officers in charge to see that hours actually worked are credited to their subordinates. At present letter carriers, and assistants doing letter carriers' work, are made to work between and after deliveries, while no entry is made in the timebook of the time so worked. It appears, therefore, that while the lettercarrier's day is fixed at eight hours, when he is supposed to be at work delivering letters, during the interval between deliveries he is asked to work inside the office, but the time *he* is so employed is not counted, If that is true, it is not fair. {: .speaker-KMT} ##### Senator Gray: -- Is any definite charge of that nature made ? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- What I have quoted is stated in this document. I cannot vouch for the correctness of any statement made in it, but it has been prepared by a responsible official of one of the Post and Telegraph associations - Overtime. - We do not advocate a system of paying overtime; but we are convinced that the payment of overtime will be the first and surest way of establishing fair hours, and securing the appointment of a sufficient staff to cope with the work of the Department. Then this is a subject which will appeal to South Australian senators - Disproportion of sorters' staff in Brisbane and. Adelaide - Notwithstanding the report of the Sorting Committee appointed by the Public Service Commissioner, which showed the immense disproportion between the work done in Brisbane and Adelaide General Post Offices, Brisbane is still working with only one-half of the sorting staff allowed in Adelaide. This is most unfair to Brisbane letter carriers and sorters, whose prospects of promotion are very slender compared with those of their comrades in Adelaide. Many sorters of grade I. have been in receipt of' the highest salary of their grade for years, and have every prospect of being superannuated before their turn for promotion to grade II. comes round. A number (about twenty) letter carriers and sorters are employed in doing sorters' work, which shows that the staff of sorters is insufficient to cope with the work, which is constantly increasing. In order to cope with' the work officers of the night staff frequently, "and some of them regularly, come on duty one, two, or even three hours before the proper time. This again is not shown in the attendance book, and leads to the belief that the staff is sufficient. It also shows that the attendance books are a sham. I submit that this is a most serious charge. A number of these men find it necessary to come on duty one, two, or even three hours before the regular time, so as to keep upwith their work. This shows either that the men are incompetent, or that the staff is undermanned. I think that what I have read previously proves that the men are not incompetent, and/ that the office is seriously undermanned. I believe it is a fact, as stated in this document, that the sorting staff at Adelaide is twice as large as that employed at Brisbane. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- Has the honorable senator any record of the business done at the two- places? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I believe that the volume of business done in Brisbane is greater than that done at Adelaide. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- What about the . sorting of the English mails at Adelaide? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I do not know anything about that, but I believe, apart from the work in connexion with the English mails, the business done in Brisbane is larger than that done at Adelaide. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- The" honorable senator is not sure on the point. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I am not but when it is remembered that Queensland has a population of from .540,000 to 550,006, whilst the population of South Australia is 370,000 or 380,000, it will be admitted that the business of the Post Office at Brisbane must of necessity be greater than'' that of Adelaide. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- Not necessarily. The people of South Australia are more intelligent than are those of Queensland, and write more. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- I suppose that is why they require extra hands to do the work. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- The South Australian officers appear to be too intelligent to submit sweated in the fashion in which the Brisbane officers are sweated. I-' find this statement made with regard to teamoney - >The allowance called tea money is another one-sided arrangement so far as the general- division is concerned. Until a few months aga not even this miserable allowance was paid to the men in the receiving room staff, who had to> go often after a full days' work to Pinkenba to await the arrival of the Vancouver mail.' Tide and weather often kept them waiting for hours. The nearest place where refreshmentscould be obtained. was two miles off. I haveknown men leave the General Post Office at 4 p.m. and return at 4 a.m. the next morning. That is to say, that after working a full day in the General Post Office, these menwere sent, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, to Pinkenba, and did not get back to the Post Office until 4 o'clock in the morning, twelve hours afterwards. Some of them have walked back to Brisbane,, yet the supervisor in charge has bluntly refused to put their vouchers in for the pittance of is. 6d. tea money. At the same time, men of the despatch branch who went down to Pinkenba with the outward mails were also refused thisallowance until recently. : I do not think that this can be considered fair treatment for these men. [ {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- It appears to be remedied now. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- It had not beenremedied very recently. I received thisdocument at the end of July, and I do not think I have had it in my possession for more than a fortnight. It is evident that the grievance had not been removed when it was written. The document continues - >We have often had to put in three or four hours on English mail morning - from 5 a.m.. to 8 and 9 a.m. for the same sum, and do a full day's work after. Unless two hours are put in in this way nothing is paid. Fourpencehalfpenny an hour is considered sufficient pay for overtime by the Commissioner, yet this gentleman has valued the time of the officersconcerned at from gd. to is. 3d. per hour. > >Telegraph Messengers doing Letter-Carriers', duties. - Notwithstanding the promise of thePostmasterGeneral that the employment of boyson such important and responsible work would! not be allowed, and notwithstanding the disclaimer by the Deputy Postmaster-General iri. the Brisbane press, last year several of the ladswere employed as letter-carriers. One is even now employed at 12s. 6d. per week. While allowances of *£13* per annum are made to these boys when appointed as telephone attendantsuntil their salaries reach ^52 per year, any allowance to them when doing men's work was bluntly refused by the Commissioner, although) several had- salaries of only *£26* or ^30 pei annum. *Supply* [14 August, 1907.] *Bill(No.* 2). 1847 Honorable senatorswill remember that a few days ago I asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question on this subject, and his reply was that there were only nine lads so employed throughout the whole of Queensland, and that they were paid at the rate of 5s. 6d. per day. That statement is in direct contradiction of the statement I have just read. I have no reason to imagine that the person who wrote the document from which I quote deliberately tells lies about the matter. Whether the abuse of employing young lads as letter-carriers has been removed I do not know, but it must be evident that at one time it existed. Indeed, I have myself seen young lads under twenty years of age going about with their bags on their backs delivering letters. There is another matter in this connexion which I think ought to be submitted to the Senate. At one time letter-carriers were allowed to remain upon their beats for a period of twelve months. The result was that they became familiar with every one living on their rounds, and letters were delivered with the utmost promptitude and despatch. Recently, how- ever, a system has been inaugurated of changing the rounds every week or two, with the result that the deliveries are not only delayed, but. are inefficient. Indeed, from all I can gather, the administration of our Post Office, so far as this particular branch is concerned, requires complete reformation. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Is any reason assigned for changing the letter-carriers' beats? {: #debate-14-s5 .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- The only reason I have been able to discover is that the Commissioner has issued the order " Econorny is to be the Watchword of the service." {: .speaker-K8T} ##### Senator Trenwith: -- That is no reason for shifting men about. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I cannot explain it. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Such a practice does not make for economy. {: .speaker-KMT} ##### Senator Gray: -- It is meanness. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- **Senator Gray** has applied the proper term to it. My own opinion is that the delivery of letters is work which lads under twenty-one years of age ought not to be put to. It is most responsible work. Perhaps it does not demand very great mental ability, but the men engaged in it must be sober, trustworthy and responsible persons, who have a full sense of the importance of their occupation, and of the necessity for the prompt and accurate delivery of letters. I read of one young lad in Queensland who, getting tired of his round, took the letters out of his bag, buried them, and went back to the office and reported that he had delivered them all. Complaints poured into the post-office from people who had not received letters that they expected. Inquiries were made, with the result that this " pocket " of letters was ultimately found. {: .speaker-KAH} ##### Senator Walker: -- Was the lad dismissed ? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I do not know what happened to him. If he was not dismissed he ought to have been; but really he should never have been placed in such a position. {: .speaker-K8T} ##### Senator Trenwith: -- How old was he? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- Under twentyyears of age. He clearly had. no sense of the responsible nature of his work. ' To return to the document from which I have quoted - >From the Deputy Postmaster-General's reply to " Temporary," in the *Brisbane Courier* of 29th June, it is glaringly evident that sweating is the proved active principle of the Postal Department. The staffs of sorters and letter carriers are inadequate. Letter carriers and assistants and often temporary men have been doing sorters work since Federation - {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- Cannot the honorable senator induce **Mr. Mauger** to go up there ? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I am hopeful that **Mr. Mauger** will make a very good PostmasterGeneral. If the honorable gentleman keeps going as he began, I think he will prove to be something like a new broom. At any rate, there appears to be plenty of scope for his energy. The first step in the Post Office used to be letter-carrying. After a man had served in that capacity for a certain period he was taken into the office and put to sorting letters, and that was looked upon as promotion. It appears that since Federation ordinary letter-carriers - that is, men without much experience - and even temporary men have been doing sorters' work. That, I think, accounts very largely for the fact that in some cases boys have been put to the work of letter-carriers. The report continues - while boys and temporary men have been employed as letter carriers. The boys are encouraged to make themselves efficient by the almost certainty of being turned adrift when they reach the age of eighteen years - The clear statement is made there that boys under the age of 18 years have been put to letter-carrying - while the temporary men are informed that they have no claim to permanent appointment, and the more there are of them the less work each will get. The result to the public is freely expressed in the daily press. The surprising thing about it is that their complaints are quite unheeded. Queensland appears to be the only State in which assistants and letter carriers are continuously employed as sorters. The result is that in Queensland the staff of sorters is about twenty-five below its number. Letter carriers in Brisbane have been kept at sorters' work for periods ranging from two years and ten months downwards. This system is absurd, as assistants must go out as letter carriers before they are eligible for appointment as sorters. They are keeping out the senior letter carriers who should be given opportunity of becoming acquainted with the higher duties of sorters by relieving sorters on sick or annual leave. It is also directly opposed to the classification scheme of the Commissioner. Why is this prohibited in other States and regularly done for years in Queensland in spite of protests from sorters and letter carriers? That closes the communication. {: .speaker-KAH} ##### Senator Walker: -- Perhaps the honorable senator will mention the name of the association. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- It is. an association which is recognised by the Commissioner and by the Government. I believe that it is the Sorters and Letter-carriers' Association. I do not vouch for the truth of any of the statements made in the document, but I think I have made out at least a case for inquiry. I submit that the Government ought to lose no time in probing the matters to the bottom, and, if the abuses complained of do exist, remedying them. I have every confidence that the new PostmasterGeneral will take action. I believe that he is honestly anxious to do his best for the country, the Department, and its officers. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- The honorable senator has certainly made out a case for inquiry. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- That is all I claim. I think that after what I have read it is incumbent upon the. Department to make an inquiry. I believe that the statements in the communication are true. I was very glad to hear **Senator Dobson,** who, I perceive, is again absent from the chamber, advocate ' the establishment of a system of old-age pensions. {: .speaker-K8W} ##### Senator Turley: -- With a limitation. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- Exactly. At one time I suppose that **Senator Dobson,** like a great many other persons, would have scouted the idea of giving to our aged people a pension. But, by degrees, even the most .conservative of our friends are coming round - unwillingly, I admit - to our view. **Senator Dobson** thinks that upon each person ought to be thrown some responsibility in this regard. It is no doubt very easy for a professional man like **Senator Dobson,** who is in the enjoyment probably of a very large income, to provide for his old age, but I would ask him how it is possible for an agricultural labourer in Tasmania to make such provision. {: #debate-14-s6 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- I must ask the honorable senator not to pursue that topic. It will come before the Senate for discussion at a later date, and that discussion cannot be anticipated, even at this time. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I thought that as **Senator Dobson** had been permitted to dilate upon it I might also be allowed to do so. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- The honorable senator is in error. **Senator Dobson** did not dilate upon the subject. He expressly said that he presumed that he could not do so, because there was ' a motion on the notice-paper. I allowed him to allude to the subject only incidentally, just as I allowed the honorable senator to do until I stopped him. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: **- Senator Dobson** said a great deal about economy, and complained that Federation was costing far too much. He also seemed to be opposed to the idea of appointing a High Commissioner to represent the Commonwealth in London, and his ground for that opposition was that each State is represented there bv an Agent-General. We know that the position of Agent-General is looked upon as a sort of safety valve for the States Governments. When it becomes convenient for a State Government to get rid of a man, it provides him with the billet of AgentGeneral. When a man becomes dangerous to the Government, then, for one reason or other, he is sent away to London. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Is the honorable senator trying to teach the Commonwealth Government the value of such an appointment ? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- A vacancy in the position of High Commissioner would not occur very often. I believe that if we searched the history of each Agent-General we should find that he was exiled for party political reasons. If there is any reason for a single State to be represented in London, surely there is much more reason *Supply* [14 August, 1907.] *Bill (No.* 2). 1849 for the Commonwealth to have a representative there. At the present time, the Commonwealth has no representative in London. {: .speaker-KNB} ##### Senator Guthrie: -- We have Captain Collins. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- He is only a twopenny-halfpenny representative. I do not mean any disrespect to the gentleman. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Unfortunately he costs a great deal more than that. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- Yes ; but whether he is worth more than that I do not know. **Senator Dobson** seemed to assume that even if we appointed a High Commissioner, the States would still continue their Agents-General. That would be purely a matter for the States Parliaments. If they chose to indulge in extravagance, the electors could bring them to book. I think it is ridiculous that a Commonwealth like Australia should be without a representative in London. I am not very fond of parading Canada as an example for Australia to follow on all matters. But' there we have a Federation with 50 per cent. more population than has Australia, and composed of a number of Provinces. It is represented in London, and I believe very efficiently represented, by one man and one office. If that is done in the case of Canada, I do not see any reason why it cannot be done in the case of Australia. I consider that the time has arrived when we ought to appoint a High Commissioner. I believe that the office would have been created and filled years ago, but for the difficulty in naming the occupant of it. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- The honorable senator could fill the bill himself right enough. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I have not the slightest doubt that either the honorable senator or myself would make a fairly good High Commissioner. At any rate, I can assure honorable senators that I should : draw the salary faithfully, and spendas little of it as I possibly could. With regard to the other duties of the position, I am not going to be too modest ; I should do my best to fulfil them efficiently. I do not know whether I should succeed or not. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- Would the hon orable senator wear the kilts? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- If it came to a matter of wearing the kilts and flying the tartan, my honorable friend would make a much better representative Highlander than I should. I am not going to indulge in any observations with regard to the personwho should be appointed when the position of High Commissioner is created by Act of Parliament. I believe that any one of the gentlemen whose names have been before the public would fill the position well, but we ought to make a beginning. In the interests of Australia, it is absolutely necessary that the appointment should be made, and if the States will not fall in line with the Commonwealth, and abolish their Agents-General, that will be their look-out. Canada, I repeat, does the whole of her business through one office. She does it very effectively. If Canada can do that, I see no reason why Australia should not follow suit. I also wish to refer to the Northern Territory question. I heard it stated on one occasion that the South Australians were the Scotchmen of Australia;. I believe it. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator St Ledger: -- That is rough onScotchmen ! {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I am trying to compliment the South Australians on invariably trying to drive the hardest possible bargain. I may state at once that I am in favour of the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory. I do not believe that it is a very rich Territory, or one that will bring great profit to Australia. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Oh, yes it will. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- But, whatever its resources may be, I believe it to be the duty of the Commonwealth to take it over. But I am utterly opposed to taking it over on the terms laid down by South Australia. If we take over the Northern Territory, with its debt, we shall be doing all that can be reasonably expected of us. We ought not to permit South Australia to laydown conditions as to how we shall develop the Territory, or what railways we shall build. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- All that she says is that the Commonwealth shall build a railway. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- That ought to be left to the Commonwealth itself to decide. South Australia ought to be satisfied if the Commonwealth takes over the Territory, and the debt attached to it, without laying down additional conditions. {: .speaker-KNB} ##### Senator Guthrie: -- The Commonwealth will never get it on such terms. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I am not so sure about that. The power of the Commonwealth is very much greater than the.power of South Australia. 1850 *Supply* [SENATE.] *Bill (No. 2).* {: .speaker-KNB} ##### Senator Guthrie: -- There is no power to take the Territory without the consent of South Australia. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- South Australia is only a trustee for the British Government. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- The honorable senator is entirely mistaken. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I am not sure that my statement is technically correct, but my impression is that South Australia holds a sort of trusteeship for the Territory. It is not an integral part of the State. {: .speaker-KNB} ##### Senator Guthrie: -- I do not say that it is. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- South Australia merely administers the Territory for the British Government. {: .speaker-KNB} ##### Senator Guthrie: -- She occupies the same position with regard to the Territory as the Commonwealth does with respect to Papua. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- If the Commonwealth wants the Northern Territory, I suppose it is possible to get it. Whatever power South Australia has in connexion with it, must have been derived from the British Government. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Does the honorable senator mean that the Commonwealth can take over the Territory in spite of South Australia? {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I do not say anything of the kind; but if the Commonwealth were to approach the British Government with a request that it should be placed in charge of the Territory, and South Australia relieved of its charge, I have no doubt that the British Government would comply. {: .speaker-KNB} ##### Senator Guthrie: -- The British Government would say, " Make your terms with South Australia." {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- The honorable senator means that the Commonwealth and the British Government together could rob South Australia? There is no chance of the Imperial Government joining in any nefarious project like that. {: #debate-14-s7 .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- If South Australia will not agree to hand over the Northern Territory upon the terms I have indicated she can keep it. {: .speaker-K8T} ##### Senator Trenwith: -- That is the trouble - she cannot keep it! {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I do not believe that South Australia is particularly anxious to retainher hold on country that is costing her around sum of money every year.I do not believe that she will cling to the Territory at any cost. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- The honorable senator should remember that there may be a land grant railway there. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: **- Senator Symn** need not try to frighten me. But I do not believe that any syndicate in its senses would tackle the business. I have not the slightest fear that any capitalists would' be so foolish as to spend millions of money on such an enterprise. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator St Ledger: -- The Commonwealth appears to be the only syndicate foolish enough to do such things. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- The Commonwealth is in an entirely different position. I do not say that I favour the construction of a railway to the Northern Territory. But the Commonwealth has a national duty to perform. If such a railway is necessary, whatever the cost it must bebuilt. {: .speaker-JU7} ##### Senator de Largie: -- The honorable senator is changing his view. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- I am doing nothing of the kind. **Senator de** Largie does not see my point. The NorthernTerritory will be under the direct control' of the Commonwealth. It will be Commonwealth property. There is an essential difference between the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Western Australia is a sovereign State. I would say to the Western Australians and South Australians,. " Build your own railways, as the other States have done." But I cannot say that with regard to the Northern Territory. If South Australia hands it over to the Commonwealth, and a railway is required for. its development, it certainly ought to be, built. But I may add, to relieve the minds of honorable senators who imagine that I. am likely to assist in plunging the Federation into millions of expenditure, for the building of a railway from Pine Creek southward, that I see no particular reason to build such a line at the present moment. {: .speaker-JYX} ##### Senator Findley: -- It is not suggested that it should be built now. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- South Australia has laid down certain conditions upon which she will hand over the Territory. {: .speaker-JYX} ##### Senator Findley: -- There is no time specified for the building of a railway. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator STEWART: -- If no time: is specified the line can be built during the next century. The prdbability is that if the Commonwealth and South Australia come to terms the railway will be entered! *Supply* [14 August, 1907.] *Bill(No.* 2). 1851 upon some time in the distant future. What I wish to insist upon is, that I am in favour of taking over the Northern Territory, but that if the transfer is loaded with any other conditions 1 shall oppose it. {: #debate-14-s8 .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS:
Queensland -- I have listened to a great deal which has been said in the course of the present debate. It has been urged that it would be wrong to grant Supply for three months. But, although that point was made vigorously at the commencement of the debate, it seems to 'have been lost sight of more recently. It certainly is not in accord with the usual rule to grant Supply for three months. But the circumstances are, we are told, somewhat exceptional. If that be so, I shall not oppose the Bill, but I wish it to be understood that my vote is not to be taken to mean that if some other Government, or the present Government at some other time, asks for Supply for three months I shall consent. The debate on the first reading of the Bill affords an opportunity to those honorable senators who have grievances to mention them. There is one part of the work of this Chamber that appears to me to. be badly done. If inquiries are made by a senator concerning the business of a Department, he has to be content with second-hand information!. I am not blaming the Minister of Home Affairs, because he has always done his best to give me the information I require. But I must say that the information I have obtained bore the appearance of having come through the circumlocution office. A senator who asks a question must not, according to the rules of the Senate, make a speech in explaining what he wants to know. Then he has to be content with the information that is supplied. I am going to take the present opportunity of speaking my mind about things. I wish to say frankly that, in my view, some of the offices in connexion with the Federal Government ought to be wiped out altogether. I shall not mince matters, but shall say what I believe to be plain truth in plain language. If what I say is not liked I cannot help it. In justice to the people whom I represent, I must insist that senators do not get the replies that they ought to receive. Honorable senators will be aware of the matter which I intend to bring under their notice, as I have referred to it before. I also read the Minister's replies, and so I shall not weary the Senate with them again,but the following correspondence has passed since - >Charters Towers, 1 st August, 1907. > > **Senator R.** J. Sayers, Commonwealth Parliament House, Melbourne. > >Dear **Sir, -** I beg to confirm my telegram of the 31st ultimo reading as follows - "Please interview Postmaster-General our behalf protest against new telegraphic regulations regarding cypher messages." These regulations, which look very much like an imposition, came into force on the 17th July, The latest wire I have received says that the mistake has not been rectified yet. Later on I shall read the Department's reply, and ask whether senators are to be the servants of the Department or whether the Department is to be the servant of senators. and as the effect of them will mean a very greatly increased cost to the business men here using code words, a special meeting of my Chamber was called, when I was directed to wire you as above. The effect of the regulations is that if any message contains one or more code words (that is, any word which is not contained in the English Dictionary), then every word in the message will be charged1d., with a minimum charge for any such message of1s.; so that if a message contains but four words, one of which is a code word, the charge will be 1s., instead of9d. as heretofore. Again, if a telegram contains sixteen words, one of which is a code word, the charge will be1s. 4d. instead of10d. as formerly, as under the old regulations only1d. extra was charged for each code word in a message. As you are aware, sharebroking business here and in other places is done mostly by code messages, and in busy times most of the telegrams are sent at urgent rates. With these new regulations in force, you will readily perceive that in busy times, each firm of sharebrokers here would have to pay an increased cost of several hundred pounds per annum. I am not speaking on behalf of the sharebroker, because he passes the charge on to his clients, so that it is the general public who have to pay the increased rates. I also received the following letter dated 3rd August - > **Senator R.** J. Sayers, Commonwealth Parliament House, Melbourne. > > *Telegraph Regulations re Cypher Messages.* > >Dear Sir; - I beg to acknowledge your telegrams of the 1st and 2nd instant, reading as follows: - "Believe regulations cypher messages withdrawn same day as issued. Minister will give reply Friday " ; and " Minister informs me instructions issued withdrawing charges from thirteenth ultimo Melbourne office instructed refund overcharges made." From these wires I understand that the old regulations are to be reverted to by the Telegraph Department. This is what my chamber hoped you would be able to do for them, and they desire me to thank you accordingly. I received the following wire yesterday - >Waited until arrival to-day's mail. Postmaster has no instructions whatsoever regarding regulations or making refunds. How does that compare with the replies I received from the Minister of Home Affairs? I have no charge to make against him, for I believe- he did all that lay in his power for me, but I do make a charge against the Postmaster-General .and his Department: This is the reply I received to-day from the Department - **Sir,** With reference to the question asked by you in Parliament recently relative to the overcharge made by this Department in Queensland in connexion with certain telegrams, I have the honour, by direction, to inform you inquiry has been made, and the following is copy of a telegram received from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, in regard to the matter : - Postmaster, Charters Towers, cannot give particulars of messages containing words in plain language which were charged as code. Kindly advise' if this information can be furnished so that refunds may be made. The Deputy Postmaster-General, therefore, seems to be in some doubt about it. At the foot of this communication, signed by the Secretary himself, appears the following I shall be glad if you can kindly favour me wilh particulars of the telegrams referred to. Am I their servant that I should go and hunt these particulars up for them? I made a charge about three weeks ago, and what position did the Department take up? I scorn the answer that is given to me now. I have made the charge, and it is for them to refute it. I am not supposed to go round the Department or to wait three months for a reply to come from Brisbane or Charters' Towers at the convenience of the Department. A communication of that sort simply means that we' are to be sat upon. The gentlemen in the Post Office say, " Bother them, let them bring their information here, and give us specific details of each individual telegram that has been overcharged." What right has the Secretary to the Department to send me a message? I have proved the charge I made against the Department. I have read the communications I have had, not from irresponsible people, but from the Chamber of Commerce and Mines, and I take it that thev know what they are -referring to. How is it possible for me to furnish the details asked for in any reasonable time? I distinctly stated in the Senate that -the Postmaster-General's Department had issued instructions which, as **Senator Macfarlane** said recently, must have been muddled, and the men that issued them could not have been competentThen they turn round and ask me to bring each telegram as a specific charge. That is not my duty. When I receive a complaint of this nature my duty is to bring it before the Department, and it is for them to make inquiries, and find out what is wrong. The Department had to acknowledge that they were wrong. They acknowledged it in Brisbane. In Melbourne, where pressure can be brought to bear upon them in a few hours, everything was put right at once. I was told that by one of the gentlemen who interviewed the Department. They send muddled instructions, which even their own officers cannot understand, to the north of Queensland, and then do nothing to rectify the mistake. The answers I received from the Department through the Minister of Home Affairs when I first raised the question were most misleading, though I wilt not say that they were deliberately untrue. ' I accepted the 'assurancesgiven to me by the Minister and telegraphed accordingly to the people for whom I am acting, but now I find that they can get no satisfaction. The letters I have received are from the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and Mines of Charters Towers - an authority whom nc* honorable senator would doubt. If anybody in a similar position in Melbourne went to the Minister to-morrow he would not be put off in this manner, because pressure could be brought to bear on the Minister. We, however, who are a couple of thousand miles away from Melbourne are "shuffled off by the Department in this unsatisfactory way. If this is the sort of justice that is to be meted out to us it will be our duty to protest in this Chamber, and move the adjournment of the Senate time after time until we get satisfaction. That is what I intend to do. No matter how inconvenient it may be, I shall seek- to delay the passing of any measure like this until satisfaction is given. If honorable senators from other States were in the same position they would probably take even stronger steps than I am taking to-night. I admit that we in Charters Towers are a long way from the Seat of Government. That is one of the evils of the' centralization of Government in a country like Australia. We had to put up with similar inconvenience before in Queensland, with the capital in the- south of the State. The people in the north could get very little satisfaction. We have had a repetition of that sort of thing to-day with the Capital in Melbourne. I am quite in accord with **Senator Stewart's** remarks about the officials in the Post and Telegraph Department in Queensland. During our tour in that State we found offices, especially one at Cairns, undermanned. There was not one man where there should have been three. If that sort of thing happened, even in the more genial climate of the south, instead of in a little iron shanty which is almost boiling hot, it would not be tolerated for twenty-four hours, but we cannot get any remedy, because we are too far away, and also because I believe we are too modest. We do not ask for enough, nor do we raise our voices often enough in protest or in attempts to obstruct a Government. We recognise that we are not sent here to do that, but to get fair play, and I hope the Government will give it to us. I admit that the responsible Minister in this Chamber has done all he could for me. The state of affairs brought up by **Senator Stewart** applies also to other States, as I know from information I have received. I know a man in another State who has been for nineteen years a letter-carrier. He is called in as a sorter when there is any particular work to be done, but he still has -to go out as a letter-carrier. Numbers of others have come into the service since he entered, and have been promoted. As in every other organization, public or private, unless you have some one to forward your interests you are left in the lurch. Men have been dismissed from the service in Queensland, and although a Judge of the Supreme Court has said that they should be reinstated, they have not been reinstated to this day , because 'they have no influence behind them. One man was dismissed simply because the doctor told him when he was on sick leave that to go back to work would mean death to him. The officials above him ordered him to return, and when he refused he vas suspended, and then ousted from the service simply because he was obnoxious to the powers that be. **Senator Stewart** knows all about those cases. Those who have been unjustly treated in this way can get no satisfaction whatever. We are asked to vote a large sum of money to the Post and Telegraph Department to-night, but none of these evils are to be remedied. One of them has been going on, as I have shown, for three or four weeks. It will be the duty of myself and every other Queensland senator to stop up in this Chamber to-night, and prevent the passage of this Bill, unless we get a promise from the Minister that something definite will be done. That is the only way to bring the Government to their senses. We must let them see that we are really in earnest. We do not intend to stand up and say- that a proceeding is unconstitutional, and question whether we should give the Government three months' Supply instead of one month's, and then walk out of the Chamber without troubling any more about it. If honorable senators made up their minds to give the Government only one month's Supply, that would"" be all they could get. But I admit that there are exceptional reasons for asking for three months' Supply on this occasion, and so I do not want to be unreasonable. But I can assure the Government that when the next Supply Bill comes down, if I can get two or three others to support me, J shall keep them here until some of these grievances are rectified, lt is no use for us to come nearly 2,000 miles, and be mealy-mouthed. We want nothing more than fair play and justice. The barest justice will satisfy us, but we will not submit to be sat upon and snubbed. We shall be satisfied with the same justice as is given to the people down here. We do not come to the- Government- begging for favours. We ask only for fair play. We pay as large a proportion of revenue to the Commonwealth per head as the people of any other State, and therefore we have a right to demand justice. I shall take the course I have indicated when the next Supply Bill comes on, unless before then I can secure better treatment for the people I represent. If any other Queensland senator were in my position I should support him- with my voice and vote. No honorable senator can say that I put my case one whit too strongly. I hope that before many days I shall receive a little more courtesy and satisfaction at the hands of the Department. We have heard a great deal about the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth. **Senator Stewart,** who. I believe, is a Scotchman, has said that the South Australians are the Scotchmen of Australia, and are trying to drive a hard bargain. 1854 *Supply* [SENATE.] *Bill (No. 2).* {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- The honorable senator was only joking. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- I think he was in solid earnest, and I am, if **Senator Stewart** was not. We are often told that a Scotchman is unable to see the point of a joke until it is all over. I suppose that **Senator McGregor** says that **Senator Stewart** was joking because he has not seen the point yet. I shall try to drive it in a little further. South Australia desires to make a bargain with the Commonwealth for the transfer of the Northern Territory. The South Australian Premier has come to a sort of bargain with the Prime Minister, but it is not to be binding on the Commonwealth until both Houses of the Federal Parliament have ratified it. That is a very good job. I am reminded of the fact that High Commissioner Collins, if he had not been checked by some one else, would have saddledus with a whole fleet of torpedo boats by this time. {: .speaker-K6M} ##### Senator Clemons: -- What did the honorable senator call him? {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- I understand that he is filling the position of High Commissioner, although we have not given him the title. The people of South Australia wish us to take over the Northern Territory, pay them £3,500,000, and build a railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta. Unless we are willing to agree to these terms, they are unwilling to hand over the Territory. I say to them, " In God's name, keep the Territory. We are not prepared to accept those terms." If we take over the Northern Territory, we must have the right, if we think a railway there is necessary, to build it where we please. We are not, I hope, going to build a railway to suit South Australia to or from any particular point. The Government of Queensland are ready tomorrow to commence the construction of a railway to the borders of the Northern Territory, and then let the Commonwealth, after having taken over the Territory, link that line up with Pine Creek. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Is the honorable senator aware that the people of South Australia have already, out of their own pockets, built the railway to within 100 miles from the 26th parallel? {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- The people of Queensland are prepared to build a railway right up to the border, and will not ask the Commonwealth to pay a penny for it. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- I suppose the honorable senator would not object to the Commonwealth building a railway within the Northern Territory after we had taken it over? {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- Not at all. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- That is all that is being asked - that after the Territory is transferred to the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth shall build a line from the 26th parallel to Pine Creek. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- With all due deference to the honorable senator, as I read the proposed agreement, we are asked to take over the Territory, to pay for the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek, and to refund the money that South Australia has expended in the Territory, no matter how injudiciously it has been expended, and despite the fact that if we had had the spending of the money we should not have spent it in the same way. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Does the honorable senator know how many million acres of land the Commonwealth will be getting for the £3,000,000? {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- So far as Queens land is concerned, I can tell the honorable senator that we have more minions of acres of land at present unsettled. {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- The honorable senator's State is not being asked to pay. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- Under the agreement Queensland will be asked to pay her proportion *per capita.* {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- Why should she not? {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- Why should she? When the people of South Australia took over the Territory, they thought they would make a great deal out of it, but they made a bad bargain. They had not sufficient brains to do anything with the country, and made, a failure of their task. They now come to the Commonwealth and say, " We thought we were going to make a lot of money when we took this Territory over from the Home Government, but we have made a hash of the business. We have been out of pocket every year. We have built a railway, on which we are losing £80,000 a year. You take it over and refund all we have spent upon it." {: .speaker-K7V} ##### Senator Sir Josiah Symon: -- If Queensland would onlygiveus her sugar bonus, we could manage it. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- I should be prepared to give the people of South Australia their share of the sugar bonus, but, as **Senator Chataway** understands that question better than I do, I shall leave him to deal *Supply* [14 August, 1907.] *Bill (No. 2).* 1855 with it. I agree with **Senator Stewart** that unless the people of South Australia hand over the Northern Territory at a fair price, and without any reservations as to railway construction, I shall fight the proposed transfer as long as I am a member of the Senate. I do not believe that the people of any other State would be willing that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory on the terms agreed to between the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia. The people of that State are good hands at driving a hard bargain, but they will find that there are others who, in the interests of the States they represent, will be prepared to drive just as hard a bargain. I do not blame the Premier of South Australia for trying to get all he can for his State. Honorable senators representing South Australia in the Senate are entitled to credit for trying to make a good deal on behalf of their State, but I should be very sorry' if those who represent the other States should have to go back to their constituents and say, " South Australia has hoodwinked us into (riving her something to which she is not entitled." {: .speaker-KNB} ##### Senator Guthrie: -- This is the honorable senator's parochialism. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- There is no member of the Senate who is more parochial than is **Senator Guthrie.** The honorable senator cannot see anything outside of the little place he comes from. Even **Senator Symon** is bound to stick up for his colleagues from South Australia, and I give him credit for doing so. The honorable senator must stand by his own State, and that is why he is exhibiting the parochial spirit. I invite the honorable senator to look at the question from the broader Federal stand-point, from which honorable senators from other States view it. I havegiven the Senate my ideas on one or two subjects. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- And we are very little better off. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: **- Senator McGregor** would be no better off if every member of the Senate gave him his ideas for twentyfour hours, because his skull is nearly impenetrable. I believe it is that thick- {: #debate-14-s9 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- Order ! {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- I do not wish to attack the honorable senator, but if he attacks me with an interjection of that kind he must expect a reply. Another question that has cropped up has reference to the salaries paid to certain officers of the Post and Telegraph Department. I admit that there is a great deal of truth in what **Senator Stewart** has had to say upon this subject, but the honorable senator will find in private employment that men working at night often receive only the same wages as those who work in the daytime. Night-work, however, is not, I think, continuous in private employment, and I hope that men are not kept continuously at night-work in the Post and Telegraph Department. If they are, they should receive some extra pay, or should be required to work a fewer number of hours. A reference has been made to the fact that when letter-carriers have no letters to deliver they are asked to do other work in the post-office. 1 think there is no great hardship in that if they are not required to do more than eight hours' work per day. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator Stewart: -- It is extra work. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- I understand that the position is that if a letter-carrier's delivery occupies two hours, and he has some time to wait before he must take up another round, he is required to do other work in the office. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator Stewart: -- His delivery is supposed to take eight hours. {: .speaker-K5F} ##### Senator SAYERS: -- The honorable senator must admit that mails differ. While one delivery might occupy the full time another might not take more than two hours. I think there is not much in that grievance, but the honorable senator made out a good case when he argued that men called upon to work two or three hours extra should be allowed overtime pay. I should not consider that I had worked overtime if I commenced work at 8 o'clock in the morning, and knocked off at the usual time, although I might be called upon to do different kinds of work. No letter-carrier I have ever met would object to do other work if he had no letters to deliver. He could not expect the tax- ' payers to pay him if there were no work for him to do as a letter-carrier. Where a wrong is being inflicted upon any one I shall always make one to remedy it if I can. I hope the Government will be prepared to do the same. I am pleased to think that the present Postmasrer.General, like a new broom, is sweeping clean. I hope the honorable gentleman will continue to do so, and will be successful in doing away with anomalies and injustices. I have nothing further to say at present, but I repeat that I hope the Minister in charge of the Department I have mentioned will, if possible, try to give me a better reply than that which I have already received from the Department. {: #debate-14-s10 .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia -- I have no desire in addressing the Senate on this occasion' to harass or embarrass the honorable senator leading the Senate, or any member of the Ministry. I am actuated by a desire to take advantage of my position as a member of the Senate, and to assert the privilege which, in common with other honorable senators, I possess. I shall refer to the matters on which I intend to touch as briefly as I can, and when I have finished I do not think it will be said that my remarks have been of a parochial character. [ desire to refer to one or two matters which vitally affect all the States. I have not the slightest wish to prevent the granting of Supply. I recognise the urgent necessity for the passing of the Bill, because I hold that every possible facility should be given to the Government to get the Tariff settled once and for all, so that a sense of security may be present to the commercial, as well as to the artisan, community. On another occasion I shall have an opportunity to discuss the merits or demerits of the Tariff. I am anxious to vote Supply to the Government, but I should not be true to my trust if I did not avail myself of this opportunity to refer to several questions. We are asked to vote a certain sum for the Electoral Department. I should like the Minister of Home Affairs to tell us what the Department has been doing since the opening of the session. It must be patent to every honorable senator that the electoral laws and their administration have been a disgrace to the Government. At the opening of this Parliament we were informed by the Governor-General that a measure wouldshortly be brought down with a view to amend the electoral law. It is a considerable time since that statement was made. In view of the fact that shortly the other House will be engaged on the Tariff, and that, from want of Bills to go on with, the Senate will have to adjourn, could not an effort have been made to originate in the Senate an Electoral Bill, and thereby have reduced the period of the proposed adjournment ? {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- Is an adjournment an evil to the honorable senator? {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- I do not want to pose as one who is more anxious for work than is any other honorable senator. It will be remembered that last Friday I said that there was a tendency to treat the Senate as Legislative Councils are treated in the States, and I think that the honorable senator will agree with me that that is a state of things .which he would not like to see brought about. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- I should be more inclined to agree with the honorable sen ato when I see him attempt to alter it. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- We are elected on the same franchise as are the members of the other House, and whilst I recognise that we cannot initiate all kinds of legislation, I hold that we ought to initiate more legislation than we do. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- But even if we did we could not occupy the same time as does the other House.. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- I quite agree with the interjection, but I think that an adjournment for a fortnight would be far better than an adjournment for a month. In February of this year the heads of the Electoral Departments of the States held a Conference with a view to finding out the weak spots in the administration of the electoral law, and I presume that they have made a report. I think that it was expected by honorable senators that within a short period from the beginning of the session an Electoral Bill would be submitted to the Senate. I cannot understand why it has not been introduced. I believe that Western Australia is about the only. State in which the Federal elections were conducted without errors. I know that South Australia and Victoria have not been free from glaring errors. Under those circumstances, I consider that no time should have been wasted by the Government in framing a Bill to amend the electoral law, and to improve its administration. I am sorry to say that the gentleman who was responsible for the efficient administration of the electoral law, bad as it was, in Western Australia, has received a very short shrift. {: .speaker-K7D} ##### Senator Stewart: -- Has he been "sacked"? {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- He has been "sacked," I think, for being too good an officer. I desire now to refer briefly to the attitude of the Government on the question of Australian defence. A week or two ago I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council to acquaint the Senate with the intentions of the Government in connexion with the Naval Agreement, and the abolition of the naval subsidy. . He gave me what I took to- be an earnest reply. He said that owing to the unfortunate illness of the Prime Minister, that question had not come up for discussion in the Cabinet, but that as soon as he was restored to health, it would te considered. There is no member of this Parliament who regrets more sincerely than I do the unfortunate illness of **Mr. Deakin.** I earnestly hope that he will soon be restored to sound health and active service. But I do not think that his absence from the Cabinet is a sufficient ground for withholding any longer an explicit statement of their position. The question of the construction of torpedo boats has cropped up. In my opinion, there is just a possibility of as great a muddle taking place in regard to the construction of those boats as there has been about the mail contract. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will see his way to acquaint the Senate at the earliest possible moment with the intentions of the Government in this regard. As ..I expect to receive from him an answer to-morrow to a question that I have put on the noticepaper, I shall not attempt to discuss now the practicability of building those vessels in Australian ports. We have both the facilities for constructing the vessels, and also the men, and I do not see any reason why any one of the vessels should be imported either complete or in sections. They should all be made in the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator St Ledger: -- Let us start with a battle-ship. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator NEEDHAM: -- Let us start with a torpedo boat. I believe that we can build both torpedo boats and a firstclass line of battle-ship. I think that the two principal matters to which I have drawn the attention of the Government are of importance, not only to the State that I represent, but to every State in the Federal Union. {: #debate-14-s11 .speaker-K6L} ##### Senator CHATAWAY:
Queensland -- In his ' speech, **Senator Symon** drew my attention - because I was a new senator, I suppose - to a standing order which, I must admit, that I had read once with some surprise, but without any understanding. It reads as follows - >In Bills which the Senate may not amend the question " That this Bill be now read a first time "may be debated, and the debate need not be relevant to the subject-matter of such Bill. When I first read the standing order, it occurred to me that possibly there might be a misprint. But I now understand that if we agree to the first reading of the Bill -without comment, at the next stage we shall not be entitled to discuss any grievances in connexion with the Departments. I shall avail myself of the opportunity to refer to a few matters which are of considerable importance to some of the people I have the honour to represent. It is somewhat remarkable that nearly all the criticisms which have been levelled at departmental administration this evening have been aimed at the Department of the PostmasterGeneral. On a previous occasion, I referred to one or two matters in connexion with the Department, and I regret tb say that my remarks do not appear to have secured a redress of the shortcomings to which I alluded. For instance, I mentioned that in the Nanango district, there had been a delay of two or three years in connexion with the construction of a telephone line. It may be only a coincidence. that within a week or ten days after I had made my speech, an officer turned up, took the measurements, and generally laid out the work of constructing the telephone line, leaving the inhabitants to clearly understand that the work was going to be proceeded with forthwith. That his visit allayed the local agitation, is evidenced by the fact that I received from the locality a telegram, saying, "Don't worry; telephone line is being built." After allaying the local agitation, the officer was moved to another place, and, although it is about a month since he laid out the work, no workmen have yet appeared in the district, and the construction of the long delayed telephone line seems to be as far off as ever it was. I hope that **Senator Keating** will direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the fact that the work is not being proceeded with. When I am asked to grant Supply to the Government, I am entitled to inquire the reason for that continual delay on the part of the Construction Branch. Of course, one may ask a question on the subject, but we know what that means. It means that the Minister rises, and gives, as little informa-tion as he possibly can, usually holding out a hope that more will be heard about the matter later on. **Senator Sayers** has mentioned that there is a new Minister at the head of the Post and Telegraph * Department, and expressed the belief . that, like a new broom, he will sweep the Department clean. Many matters such as those that have been referred to by Senators Stewart, and Sayers, and myself, call for very serious attention. I hope .that the "new broom" will set to 1858 *Supply* [SENATE.] *Bill (No.* 2). work as soon as possible. There is a matter in connexion with the Telegraph Department about whichI think no blame attaches to any particular Minister. Previous to Federation the custom in Queensland was that, on the delivery of a telegram the person receiving it signed a book specifying the time when he received the message. The Department consequently had a receipt for the telegram, and in the event of any delay occurring it was easy to attach blame to the responsible person. But since the Commonwealth took over the Post and Telegraph Department, that system has been abolished. 1 have heard no argument in favour of its abolition, and it certainly appears to me that the present system leads to loss and injustice to the commercial community. I will give a concrete instance. I was told the other day that a firm in Mackay - a large wholesale grocery establishment - telegraphed to a house in Tasmania for certain goods. When the time arrived for the goods to be received they had not arrived. The Mackay firm wrote to the Tasmanian firm, asking why the goods had not been received. The reply was that they had not been ordered. Now, here was a reputable firm of considerable standing communicating with another reputable firm in another State by telegram, and the second firm stating that it had not received the message. When an inquiry was made, the Department said that the message was duly delivered. It was delivered, it is alleged, by a boy - a mere nipper of thirteen or fourteen years of age - and we are expected to take his word against that of commercial men of good standing. That is not a position in which business people should be placed. I believe that the old system of compelling people to sign for telegrams received was a good one. Without it all sorts of difficulties may arise. The instance I have given is one in point. It shows the danger of delivering messages without taking receipts for them. In this Bill several amounts are set down relating to postal services. I wish to refer to the Vancouver mail service. I have spoken upon the subject more than once; and I ask my honorable friend, **Senator Best,** when he addresses the Senate, to give me some assurance that advantage will not be taken of the arrangement mentioned in the GovernorGeneral's Speech that the Vancouver service can be cancelled by giving four months' notice, and a new arrangement made, without the people of Queensland receiving an inkling as to what it is proposed to do.. I spoke to the ex-Postmaster-General on this subject some time ago, and he admitted to me that a certain amount of discussion had taken place as to whether the service - should be diverted from Brisbane, and taken round, *via* New Zealand, to Sydney. I hope, however, that before the present service is discontinued, the people of Queensland will be afforded an opportunity of making their voices heard. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- The honorable senator is not complaining, I understand, of the extension of the service. SenatorCHAT AWAY. - The Governor- General's Speech mentioned that the contract can be terminated by giving fourmonths' notice. I merely ask for an assurance that we shall have due warning before a change is made. I believe that efforts are on foot to make a change which will be detrimental to Queensland interests. **Senator Sayers** has referred to cypher telegrams, and in doing so he alluded to the influence that Melbourne people have in matters of administration, as compared with the very diminished influence which can be exerted by people living hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of miles away from the Seat of Government. He reminded me of an incident which will illustrate the point. In the early part of the present year I attended a Conference of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, held in Tasmania. A proposal was initiated that there should be a sort of committee of independent experts to interpret various matters in connexion with Customs laws and regulations. The argument used was that it was impossible to get Customs questions settled in places distant from Melbourne, and that what we ought to have was a committee competent to interpret regulations which had been formulated by the Minister. It was not proposed to take the matter out; of the hands of the Minister, but to have aboard of trading and manufacturing experts sitting in conjunction with experts nominated by the Minister. A gentleman who represented the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce - I should not like to say whether he was the President of the Chamber, but certainly he was a. leading member of it - got up and said, " What on earth is wrong with the Customs Department? Its administration is excellent. If we do not understand anything about the Customs rergulations or administration, all that we have to do is to ring up the Department on the telephone, and the matter is fixed up in no time." But people in Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia are not able to communicate with the Department by telephone. They cannot ring up the Minister and get an appointment made -for an interview with him. That is one instance which illustrates **Senator Sayers'** point about centralization, and the influence exerted upon Federal Departments by persons in Melbourne. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- All Customs decisions are at once circulated throughout the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-K6L} ##### Senator CHATAWAY: -- Why was not the decision given bv the Post and Telegraph Department on the 27th July circulated? Why is it not known to-day at Charters Towers ? That question is a complete answer to the statement of the Minister. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- I was referring to Customs decisions. {: .speaker-K6L} ##### Senator CHATAWAY: -- Apparently the same rule does not apply to the Post and Telegraph Department. The Departments should be so administered that people living in distant parts of Australia will be on a level with those residing in Melbourne. {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator Keating: -- - All the States will be on a level when we get to the Federal Capital. {: .speaker-K6L} ##### Senator CHATAWAY: -- But they are not on a level now. It takes three or four weeks for people in some of the distant parts of Australia to get anomalies rectified, whilst people in Melbourne can get them rectified in twenty-four hours or less. I do no*, desire to detain the Senate, but I again express the hope that as we have a " new broom " at the head of the Post and Telegraph Department, he will prove himself to be a good Minister, and that there will not in the future be so many causes for complaint as there have been hitherto. {: #debate-14-s12 .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER:
Queensland -- The Bill before us is for the granting of Supply to the amount of over £1,000,000. The situation reminds me very much of a comic opera which I witnessed some years ago. It was entitled *Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.* I remember that one of the characters was a Prince Fortunatus, who, whenever he saw one of his friends who was looking rather down in the mouth, would say, " Jack, old man, what is wrong with you ? Are you suffering from tightness of the chest? Old boy, take a million !" And in this light and airy fashion the Government come down and ask us, without a word of explanation, to give them a million. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator Best: -- The honorable senator is under, a complete misapprehension. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER: -- I am pleased to know that the Minister is prepared to give us reasons why the Government ask for a million on this occasion, and that they do not treat so large a sum so airily as did Prince Fortunatus in the comic opera. If strong reasons are given for granting three months' Supply, I shall feel more satisfied than I am at present. I do not suppose that Ministers care very much about the hostility of honorable senators on this side of the Chamber. Whether they do or not is a matter of indifference to me. The only thing I care about' is that in consenting to vote a million to the Government, I shall be satisfied as to what they intend to do with it. I should not mind voting so large a sum to a Government ruled by a **Dr. Jekyl,** nor should I care if the Government were ruled by a **Mr. Hyde.** But when we have in power a Government which seems at one time to be under the domination of **Dr. Jekyl,** and at another time under that of **Mr. Hyde,** whilst at another time they are controlled by either, neither, or both at once, it becomes our duty carefully to scrutinize the Supply proposed to be granted. I have no doubt that if we comply with the wishes of the Ministry on this occasion, they will, in similar circumstances, when some of us may be sitting on the Ministerial benches, be prepared to treat us as we are treating them. I shall be prepared to consent to this Bill being passed for very much the same reason as Bismarck gave for prolonging the siege of Paris. He said of the French that it was a good thing to leave them- there in order that they might " stew in their own gravy." I am not quite sure that when the bombardment begins upon the Budget and the Tariff a very nice little dish will not be prepared at the expense of the Ministry. Giving a more serious turn to the discussion, T trust that the Senate will take a strong stand and exert a firm hand over Supply. When the Bill reaches its second-reading stage, I hope the strongest- reasons will be given for granting three months' Supply at once. T do not- believe in making the Senate subordinate to the other Chamber, because the terms of the Constitution give us a welldefined authority in regard to the grant of Supply. It seems to me that if we pass the Bill, the probable course of business will be that the Government will find an opportunity for adjourning the Senate for some weeks. That course may be expedient from the Ministerial point of view, but I doubt whether it is wise from the point of view of public business. It appears to me that such a course has a tendency to lower the Senate to a position of dependence upon . the House of Representatives. If the object of the Government in asking for three months' Supply is that the Senate shall somewhat hurriedly clear up its business and then adjourn for a holiday until' another place has concluded its deliberations on the Tariff, I hope the Senate will not write itself down to that level. I am strongly against any adjournment by reason of any dependence on the business that is being done in the other place. The importance of a complete overhaul of the Tariff, in the light of the discussions in the other House, may be a justification for some delay before the S*late undertakes the consideration of that and other important financial measures, but beyond that there is no reason for an adjournment of this Chamber. I speak strongly, because it seems that' one of the objects of asking for three months' Supply is to tempt the Senate to clear off its business. It is practically an offer on the part of the Government to the following effect : - " Give us three months' Supply and you boys can have a holiday." If there is the- slightest suspicion of that kind as to the treatment of the Senate I shall resist it. I see no reason for asking for three months' Supply, especially when I remember the temptation that was held out to us. It is customary on occasions of this kind to refer to grievances. I do not think I have very many. The only one I may have against the Government is its existence. But that will not avail me very much now, nor do I suppose that it will particularly terrify the Government. There are, however, some little matters that we may not have another opportunity of discussing. One is the legitimate grievance brought forward by **Senator Sayers.** I wish to draw the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to the letter which was addressed to an honorable senator, and also to an honorable member of the other House, by an official of the Postal Department. It concludes with the following words - >I shall be glad if you can kindly favour me wilh particulars of the telegrams referred to. It is fortunate that such a letter 'was not addressed to me: because I do not 'think that any public official has a right to use such terms to a member of either House. It is the duty of the officials to find out these particulars. I believe the letter is very well intentioned, the whole object being to get at the bottom of any grievance the people of Charters Towers may have, but at' the same time I wish to put it on record that that is scarcely the tone to be used by a public officer in addressing senators when they bring up grievances with regard to their constituents. I wish, also to emphasize what **Senator Sayers** said about some parts of the administration of the Postal Department in Queensland. Immediately after the last election I was waited upon privately by a small deputation of letter-sorters. I am not one of those who like to monger the grievances of various Departments around this Chamber. I am very loth to encourage any official to do so, but after talking to the three gentlemen who interviewed me, I advised them that the best thing for them to do was to reduce their complaints to writing,but to be very , careful about what they, were complaining of, and possibly their grievances would be attended to. The administration of the Department in Queensland is causing grave dissatisfaction in many places that I visited on my campaign. I have noticed that while there are some offices where the men seem to have ample time for their work, there are' others where the hardest worked person in the whole State is the Post Office official. I do not wish to be regarded as encourag-ing imaginary grievances or complaints which proceed from irritated- or disappointed persons. We have to guard ourselves against that sort of thing because there is no Department in the whole Commonwealth so difficult to administer, or with such diverse interests to be looked after, as the Postal Department. I can' sympathize with the Postmaster-General sometimes ' with regard to his officials, because it seems that it is far easier to dismiss the Minister or to control a member of either House than to dismiss an official in the Postal Service. I believe that one or two who had to be dismissed went to law and landed the Commonwealth in an expenditure of £6,000 or £7,000. It seemed to be almost impossible to remove them. {: .speaker-KPE} ##### Senator Keating: -- Were thev in Queensland? {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER: -- I believe they were. I therefore strongly sympathize with' the Postmaster-General in the difficulties' of his position, and I do not want to increase them. I know how hard it was, and is, for him to administer that vast Department, and how much it has cost in the past, but I wish to join my colleagues in drawing attention to the weakness of the administration of the Department in Queensland. It certainly requires some revision. We were met with complaints everywhere, and the instances which we are getting down here seem to justify a good deal of that complaint. I wish to refer to the question ofl the Northern Territory, although I should not have done so had it not been drawn into the discussion by senators from other States. It has not yet assumed the dimensions of a grievance except that it may be a grievance for the State of South Australia. The only relation which it has to a Bill for Supply is the fact that when the Territory is taken over by the Commonwealth, if it ever is, it will cost an immense amount of money. I wish to draw the attention of the Government to what the financial position of the Federation will be in the next five or six months if the Government carry out even a tithe of their financial proposals. Either the financial policy of the Government is framed with a total disregard of section 87 of the Constitution - the Braddon section - or they intend to administer the Commonwealth finances very much upon the principle of the hero of the comic opera - Prince Fortunatus. If there ever was a time in the history of the Federation, bearing especially in mind its financial relations with the States, when the Senate should keep a watchful eye on the financial arrangements -of the Commonwealth, it is now. It is with the utmost difficulty that I can get the slightest glimmering of what is the drift, and what, will be the result of the Government's financial policy. I wish to warn the Government on that, as well as other grounds, that while they may be encouraged to administer the affairs of the Commonwealth with no niggard, hand, and to be as liberal as they' can be within their means and their financial powers, there is none the less a necessity for this Senate, in view of the gigantic State interests involved - in- fact it is the absolute duty of the States to see to this - to watch the expenditure in every direction. ' Every indication from every, quarter shows that that 87th section is to be demolished, if not directly, then indirectly. We are speaking in millions to-night, and' according to the financial programme of the Government, as indicated in this Chamber, we are to be confronted with the subsequent expenditure of more millions. I wish to sound an alarm upon that point. I am glad in one sense that the question of the Northern Territory has come up, because it shows us the shadow of other millions looming directly ahead of us. {: .speaker-KOS} ##### Senator Henderson: -- We are just busy on the first million. {: .speaker-K78} ##### Senator ST LEDGER: -- Then it is as well for the Government to meet this criticism when we are dealing with only one' million. If you say "a million" rapidly enough, and with the proper Oxford or Cambridge accent, it does not sound much. But, as we are beginning to deal in millions, and the Government invite us to do so in rather an easy fashion, and when behind those millions we see other millions in the distance, we have to be very careful where we are going, and to inquire what our position and that of the States is to be. For these reasons the Senate will be justified in watching very closely the steps the Government- take, and in questioning very keenly why three months' Supply should be granted. {: #debate-14-s13 .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST:
Vice-President of .'the Executive Council · Victoria · Protectionist -- The extraordinary storm that followed immediately on the introduction of this measure was a source of very much surpriseto the older members of the Senate. No' doubt it was intended to create quite an impression so far as the newer senators were concerned. The first charge that was made against me was that the message from the other House went to the President, and that I did not delay it. As a .matter of fart I had nothing to do with it at all. The Standing Orders provide that the message shall be presented to the President as soon as it is brought here, and that he shall take an early and convenient opportunity of bringing it before the Senate. Thereupon, of course, it was my duty iri the usual way to move the first reading of* the Bill. A second protest was that I said nothing when introducing it. **Senator St.** Ledger evidently fell right into the trap. He must know that according to the Standing Orders the object of the debate on the first reading of a Bill which we cannot amend is to ventilate grievances. The invariable practice since the initiation of the Commonwealth has been for the Minister simply to introduce the Bill. I have no recollection of 1862 *Supply* [SENATE.] *Bill(No. 2).* one word being said by the Minister in support of it on any occasion of the introduction of a Bill of this kind. The Minister simply launches it, and then honorable senators take advantage of the opportunity to ventilate their grievances. Two instances immediately to my hand are these: On 24th August, 1904, the introduction of a Supply Bill (No. 3) by **Senator Symon** is recorded thus - >Motion (by **Senator Sir Josiah** Symon) proposed - > >That this Bill be now read a first time. Then **Senator Pearce** rose, and other senators followed him. On 26th October, 1904, the introduction by **Senator Symon** of a Supply Bill (No. 5) for two months, is recorded as follows : - >Motion (by **Senator Sir Josiah** Symon) agreed to- > >That the Standing Orders be. suspended to enable the Supply Bill to pass through all its stages without delay. Motion (by **Senator Sir Josiah** Symon) pro posed - >That this Bill be now read a first time. That has been the invariable practice, but any one would have thought to-day that I was seeking in some way to take advantage of the Senate and trying by some means to circumvent honorable senators. The next objection taken was to the request for three months' Supply. I am aware that last year a Bill was introduced on the 28th June for one month's Supply, and another on the 29th August for two months' Supply, and that the practice no doubt has been to make provision in these Bills for one or for two months' Supply. But several honorable senators who have preceded me have pointed out, what must be obvious, that there are special circumstances associated with the introduction of this measure. First of all, it is the desire of the Treasurer, as far as possible, to "clear the decks" for the purpose of enabling the House of Representatives to consistently, and without any unnecessary interruption, devote its attention to the consideration of the Tariff. There' is another reason which I am sure will appeal to the Senate. Ihave been asked on two or three occasions what business we expect to get through beforeadjourning. I am unable to say positively that there will be an adjournment, but I do know that there is certain work which I shall ask honorable senators to do. There is the Navigation Bill, an Electoral Bill, an Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill- {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- The Quarantine Bill. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- In all probability that may not be absolutely necessary, as the Bill has been passed by another place. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- The Bills of Exchange Bill. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- The Bounties Bill. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I should, perhaps, have referred to the Bills already on the paper. I wish to get these measures out of the way, and sent on to the other Chamber, so that as soon as the House of Representatives has dealt with the Tariff they will have other work to go on with. Honorable senators are well aware that under the bicameral system the two Houses must wait one upon the other, and must accommodate each other so far as business is concerned. Later on, whilst we are considering the Tariff, there is little doubt that from time to time the House of Representatives may find it convenient to adjourn. The point I make is that we must, if possible, get through the important legislative work to which I have already referred. It will be a magnificent record for the Senate if we do, and when the work is got through, honorable senators may rely upon it that I shall not desire to detain them unnecessarily. If, having due regard to our business, and the advance of the Tariff in another place, I should find it possible to arrange for a substantial recess, it will be my duty to study the convenience of honorable senators from Western Australia and Queensland in that respect. I propose to make some reply to the remarks which have fallen from honorable senators. It will be unusual, because I shall be anticipating the remarks which I should make on the second reading of the Bill, but it is my duty to clear up any misapprehension with regard to the items contained in the Bill. **Senator Pearce** directed my attention to two items appearing on the last page, " Cables, transferred, £1,900 " ; and " Cables, other, £4,585." He also referred to an item of £1,000 for Tasmania on page 6. The mistake the honorable senator made was that he was under the impression that the vote of £1,000 for Tasmania was for the commencement of certain cable survey work, but I can assure the honorable senator that it is for ordinary maintenance of and repairs to works in the State. Honorable senators will find in the estimatesof expenditure for additions, new works, buildings, &c., which have already been circulated, the *Suupply* [14 August, 1907.] *Bill (No.* 2). 1865 item, " No.I survey of route of proposed telegraph cable between Tasmania and the mainland, £1,000," but no portion of that vote appears in this Bill. With regard to the other item, the position is that prior to Federation, Tasmania was under certain obligations to the Eastern Extension Company. In 1902 a Postal Rates Bill was passed providing, as honorable senators are aware, for a uniform rate so far as the mainland of Australia was concerned, of 1s. for sixteen words, and as regards Tasmania, to the best of my recollection, the provision was that there should be an additional charge of½d. per word. The Tasmanian Government were under an obligation to the Eastern Extension Company, first of all as. regards a sum of £4,200 representing interest on capital expended in the construction of the cable, and secondly, they guaranteed in regard to cable messages a sum of something like £5,600 annually. The charge of½d. per word referred to has been abolished, and the Commonwealth has taken over the responsibility for the guarantee of £5,600. This operates as . from the 1st October last. It was suggested by **Senator Pearce,** under a misapprehension, that the vote of £4,585 appears here for the first time as " other " expenditure, but the fact that the Commonwealth took over the charge necessarily made it *per capita* expenditure, and as a matter of fact the £5,600 appeared in the Appropriation Bill passed last year. {: .speaker-KTF} ##### Senator McGregor: -- And honorable senators from Tasmania never thought of that while the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill was under consideration. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- As a matter of fact, for reasons into which I need not enter, none of this £5,600 was expended, but there is a sum for arrears from last year, amounting to £3,181, which forms part of the vote for £4,585 to which **Senator Pearce** referred. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- The actual loss was not as great as was anticipated. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- Of course, that would only be from the1st October last, and I believe certain adjustments have yet to take place. There is' no doubt that the Commonwealth is liable for £5,600, and we assume that liability. The sum of £3,181 comes out of the vote of £5,600 which was charged to " other " expenditure last year, but which was not expended. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- Is there an annual liability of the Commonwealth? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- We have an annual liability for the £5,600. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- It is a guarantee, and decreasing every year. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I do not know that the amount is decreasing. I wish to inform honorable senators - and I have made careful inquiries on the subject - that this Supply Billdoes not contain any new items. It provides merely for the payment of ordinary and recurring expenditure. I judged that that was so on looking through the Bill as carefully as 1 could, and I also made definite inquiries on the subject yesterday, when I knew that the measure would shortly be before the Senate, and I received that assurance. So that my honorable friends will see that there is little or no risk involved in passing the measure. Further, I would be the very last to be a. party to the exhaustion of any vote whatever, as that would preclude discussion so far as that vote was concerned. Again, in introducing a measure containing items involving any new departure or new work, I should deem it my duty, as my predecessors have done, to direct the attention of honorable senators to such items on the second reading of the Bill. Senators Stewart, Chataway, St Ledger, and Sayers made certain references to the Post and Telegraph Department. I may say that honorable senators will be invited in due; time to make very substantial increases in the Post Office expenditure, with the object of employing additional assistance. I know that in the north of Queensland there is excuse for many grievances regarding matters which were brought under my personal notice, and I have great sympathy with the representations then made to me. I think that the Post and Telegraph Department is fairly alive to the complaints that have been made. I can only inform my honorable friends that I shall bring their remarks under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and will ask that everything that can reasonably be done to remedy the grievances complained of shall be done. **Senator Sayers** saw fit to make a somewhat serious complaint in regard to certain telegrams. The honorable senator appeared to find reason for considerable offence in a request made to him to supply certain particulars. It is stated that overcharges. 1864 *Supply Bill (No.* 2). [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Tariff.* have been made in connexion with a few telegrams. I believe that so much is admitted by the Department, but the officials do not know the telegrams in connexion with which the overcharge has been made, nor are they in a position to obtain the information. {: .speaker-KUL} ##### Senator Millen: -- How can the Depart ment admit an overcharge unless the officers can identify the telegrams on which it has been made? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I am informed that they cannot be identified. If the information is in the possession of **Senator Sayers,** I feel sure that a courteous request that it should be supplied with a view to removing the cause of his complaint is not one which could be reasonably objected to **Senator Needham** made a complaint with respect to the Electoral Act, and I can inform the honorable senator that it is our full intention to introduce an Electoral Bill. It is already in rough draft, and I hope that notice of it will be given to-morrow, or the next day, and certainly not later than next week. {: .speaker-JVC} ##### Senator Dobson: -- Does the honorable senator expect to get the Bill through this session ? {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Senator BEST: -- I know that **Senator Dobson** is anxious for work, andI propose to give him as much as I can. I hope that I have cleared up some misunderstandings which have existed in regard to the matters to which reference has been made by honorable senators. My honorable friends will admit that it was not owing to any discourtesy to the Senate that I did not make an explanation on the first reading of the Bill. I merely followed the usual practice, and on the second reading I shall be able to make some explanation. I shall probably not have much to say, because I have now anticipated my second-reading speech to some extent, but I shall be glad to give honorable senators any information they require. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a first time. Senate adjourned at 10.17p.m

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.