3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON presented a petition from the President, the Vice-President, and members of the Council of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, praying the Senate to lay aside the Australian Industries Preservation Bill.
Petition received, read, and ordered to be printed.
– I beg to askthe Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in view of the very interesting sworn information which is appearing in the daily press in connexion with the harvester Excise case, and which relates to the cost of living and the wages received, the Government will consider the advisability of making extracts from that evidence, with a view to publishing them’ in the Old Country, and so meeting the statements published or written by a certain Mr. Ben Tillett to the effectthat the people of Australia are grovelling in poverty ?
– I think that no good purpose would be served by doing so.
– Arising out of that question,I beg toask the VicePresident of the Executive Council, without notice, if he does not think it wise to refer to a statement in yesterday’s Age to the effect that there are 3,000 applicants for 200 blocks of land?.
– As an old Minister of Lands, I would point out that such a statement should not be taken literally. It does not mean that there are 3,000 applicants for the 200 blocks, because the practice is for an applicant to put in a number of claims. I have no doubt that if there is a genuine . demand for land the State will not be neglectful of its duty in that regard. But the Commonwealth Government have no control over the matter. p6s’T AND TELEGRAPH DEPARTMENT.
Sale of Stamps : office Hours.
– Before repeating the question which I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral yesterday, I wish to explain that on Monday morning, at about a quarter-past eight o’clock, I found myself at Gawler, 2.5 miles north-east of Adelaide, where there is a post and telegraph office. A fellow-member who was travelling with me had brought from Adelaide some letters to post at Gawler, but when he went to inquire for stamps at about a quarter-past eight - that would be a quarter to nine o’clock in Melbourne - he was told that although a person was in the post and telegraph office, yet, according to the regulations, he could notsupply any person with stamps until a quarterofanhour later. I ask the Minister if that is according to the regulations, and, if so, will he make some attempt to meet the convenience of the public in a different manner?
– At the request of the honorable senator I have made an inquiry with regard to the supplying of postage stamps at Gawler at a quarter-past eight o’clock in the morning. I am informed by the Department of the PostmasterGeneral that -
The office hours at Gawler on ordinary days are from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., and there is nothing in the regulations of this Department to prevent the officer who was on duty supplying stamps under the circumstances mentioned by Senator W. Russell. Inquiry will be made of the Deputy Postmaster-General, Adelaide, in connexion with this matter.
– It was past eight o’clock.
– I may add that, although an officer is not called upon, outside his official hours, to supplythe public with stamps and. other conveniences, yet, in very many instances, it is done. Every senator will agree, I think, that there should be a little give and take on the part of both the public and the officials.
– As a rule they are most’ obliging.
– As a rule they are, but I hope that the Departmental reply will not be taken to mean that officers with fixed hours may be called upon at any other time to discharge the ordinary duties of their office. My own experience is that the officers are very willing to meet the wishes of the public, whether it is , within or without official hours.
– Will the Minister inquire whether the postmaster at Gawler does not live on the premises, and whether if he began to serve the public at all times he would have any leisure?
– An inquiry to that effect will be made. The fact that officers live on the premises does not necessarily mean that they are to stay there all the time. They must have reasonable recreation and amusement, the same as other persons.
– Will the Minister also make inquiry into a case at Toowoomba, where an official, named Scott, was recently penalized because he made a mistake by obliging a person out of office hours ?
– I will take a note of that case.
– As I may not have been properly understood, let me repeat that on the morning of Mondav last there was an officer in the post and telegraph office at Gawler.
Report presented by Senator Henderson, read by the Acting Clerk, and adopted.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. - “ Provisional Regulation - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 103.
Public Service Act 1902. - Repeal of Regulation 142, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 108.
Public Service Act 1902. - Amendment of Regulation 104. - Statutory Rules 1907, No.. log.
– I find that I shall not be able to-day to give the notice referred to, but I propose to do so to-morrow. The Bill is in print, but I have not had an opportunity of going carefully into it.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow - 1 and 2. These questions cannot be answered until the Report of the Board which was recently appointed to consider the matter ‘ has been received and dealt with.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
Charge for Tents
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the teams of riflemen- from New Zealand and. other places beyond the Commonwealth, taking part in the rifle matches in Sydney, are being charged rent for the tents used by them?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question/. is as follows -
I am informed that the Department is not aware of any such charge being made for Government tents, but the Commandant has been requested by telegram to state what the facts are, and the honorable member will be duly informed when a reply has been received.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister whether he has seen the following letter from the Major in command of the New Zealand riflemen -
I was very much surprised when I found my men had to pay for their tent accommodation at this meeting’. In New Zealand the Defence Department provides tents, candles, soap, and everything except meals, and those are obtainable at the rate of 9s. for a dozen meals. The canteen at our meetings is also run by the Defence Department, and the profits from the canteen pay the whole of the staff mess, expenses. Also, we give free passes over our railways to all men entering for events at rifle meetings, and the Union Steam-ship Company gave us a 25 per cent, reduction between ports. When we arrived at Melbourne, I had a lot of difficulty in getting a pass over to here, but General Gordon smoothed the road for iis. It seems to me that the trouble lies in the Defence Department being a matter of Federal control, and the railways being a State matter. I understandthe visiting English team has passes over all Australian railroads, and as we are oversea visitors as well I consider we should have the ‘same courtesy extended to us. When the Australia rifle team went over to fire in the New Zealand Exhibition Tournament, they were given free passes over all our railways as soon as they landed.
I think it is well that the above statement should be on record. I hope that the Defence Department will lay it to heart.
– I have not seen the letter, but shall be very happy to draw the attention of the Minister of Defence to it.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answersto the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
The definite proposals of the Government appear in the agreement made with the Government of South Australia pending its approval by that State. It is unnecessary to anticipate any action that may be taken under it until after it has been assented to by both Parliaments.
Information of all kinds relating to the Territory is, however, being accumulated whenever opportunity offers, and the report of the deputation alluded to will be obtained.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 23 rd October, vide page 5046) :
Part II. of the Principal Act is amended by inserting therein after section fifteen the following sections : - 15B. (1.) If the Comptroller-General believes that an offence has been committed against this Part of this Act, he may by writing under his hand require any person whom he believes to be capable of giving any information in relation to the alleged offence to answer questions and to produce documents to him or to some person named by him. (2.) No person shall refuse or fail to answeri questions or produce documents when required to do so in pursuance ofthis section.
Penalty : Fifty pounds. (3.) The Comptroller-General or any person to whom any documents are produced in pursuance of this section may take copies of or extracts from those documents. (4.) No person shall be excused from answering any questions or producing any documents when required to do so under this section on the ground that the answer to the question or the production of the document might tend to criminate him; but his answer shall not be admissible in evidence against him in any civil or criminal proceeding other than a proceeding for an offence against this part of this Act.
– I move-
That the words “ by writing under his hand require,” lines 6 and 7, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “apply to a Judge in Chambers for leave to examine.”
I took strong exception, when Ispoke on the second reading, to this portion of the proposed new section, and claimed that it was one of the great blots on the Bill. It is an unheardof proceeding to give a . Government official the opportunity of harassing and injuring probably an innocent person by a secret chamber method of examination, simply on an ex forte statement by some one who may be a spy or an interested individual, who gives the information without any guarantee by way of affidavit, but has simply to say to the Comptroller-General, “I think so-and-so will be found to be the case.” The Comptroller-General may then call upon the supposed delinquent to hand over all his books and to be examined in secret as to the methods of his business.
– The honorable senator must have a very poor opinion of the Comptroller-General.
– The ComptrollerGeneral is not likely always to use this power himself, because he may appoint any person to do the work for him. There are other places than Melbourne, where the Comptroller-General has his office, and therefore it will be generally some one else who makes these secret inquiries. The Government and their followers want arbitrary powers of the. most extraordinary character. The amendment will not reduce those powers, unless the Government, after an impartial Judge has ruled that the reasons given by Government officials for harassing a particular industry do not justify the proposed action, desire to overrule the opinion of the Judge by their own StarChamber methods. Ifthe Government persist in this proposal, the great mass of the people in the Commonwealth will learn for the first time the difficulties and dangers of secret inquiries.
– The great mass of the people are going to be troubled a lot by it!
– One does not know. There may be other ComptrollersGeneral. We know that none of our officers are perfect. The public ought to have some protection by having the inquiries made by a trained Judge. It cannot be said that publicity will ensue, because neither publicity nor delay must necessarily follow an application to a Judge in Chambers. It was argued last night that if a delinquent were given notice he might destroy all his books and hide the information required.
– That has been done.
– Is it at all likely ? A mere suspicion that inquiry is to be made will not lead the supposed delinquent to destroy his business in that way. The large combines cannot afford to destroy all their books simply because some one else has a suspicion. This method of secret inquiry upon information given is a most unheardof deprivation of the liberty of our people. In Venice, not many years ago, I saw, in the Palace of the Doge, a hole in the door, which is called the Lion’s Mouth. Not many hundredyears ago it was the practice to put letters into that hole addressed to the Council of Ten. who governed Venice in those days, alleging grounds of suspicion against certain persons. The Council of Ten would then require those persons to be seized and brought before them, and in nine cases out of ten they did not go out of that chamber free, but crossed the Bridge of Sighs to execution. If we have a public inquiry by a Judge, or even an inquiry in chambers, all liability to error will be swept away, and it will not lessen the arbitrary power which the Government ask us to give to the Comptroller-General, unless it is alleged that the Judge would not give the same fair dealing as that official would. I hope the Committee will show their confidence
– In the ComptrollerGeneral.
– Yes ; but also in the impartiality of a Judge by giving him power to consider and determine whether the Comptroller-General has good reason for the action which he proposes to take. I should like to have some greater protection provided for the public at large, but my amendment would afford some protection from the Star-Chamber methods.
– The Minister might at least have had the courtesy to reply to Senator Macfarlane. He has once more suggested that we must put confidence in the Comptroller-General. Unless I am very much mistaken, the present ComptrollerGeneral is holding office only under sufferance. I understand that he reached the statutory age for. retirement some live or six months ago, and that the Ministry, in order to secure his valuable assistance in connexion with the Tariff, have given him an extra twelve months’ employment. So that when the VicePresident of the’ Executive Council says that we should have confidence in the ComptrollerGeneral he tries to induce the Committee to believe that honorable senators on this side are reflecting on Dr. Wollaston.
– I think the honorable senator’s information is incorrect.
– If it is, the persons to blame are those who inspired the newspaper paragraphs which have appeared on the subject. It has certainly appeared in the leading newspapers of the States, and has been telegraphed all over Australia, that the Government have made an arrangement to renew Dr. Wollaston’s engagement for twelve months.
– I think the retiring age was waived in hiscase.
– I do not know whether the retiring age is sixty years or sixty-five years; but the statement certainly was made that Dr. Wollaston had reached the retiring age, and that his appointment as Comptroller-General had been renewed for- another twelve months. Whether that) be so or not, Dr. Wollaston cannot be Comptroller-General in perpetuity.
– Does the honorable senator know qf any Judge who is employed in perpetuity? Honorablesenators opposite seem to prefer a Judge.
– I aim speaking of the Comptroller-General, and not of a Judge. And it must be admitted that the Comptroller-General might be removed from his office very much more easily than a Judge. What I am objecting to is the Minister’s repeated statement that we should have faith in the ComptrollerGeneral. Speaking of the office, and not of the present occupant of the office, if we can find a more’ suitable official to deal with, these matters than the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, why should we not appeal to him? The position of a Judge is far more independent than that of an ordinary civil servant. The Committee has decided that the ComptrollerGeneral may act upon a belief, whether it is founded on reasonable grounds or not, and, if he should desire to act, why should he not go before a Judge and obtain, an order to make the necessary examination ? We are asking very little indeed, and the Government should accept the amendment or give good reasons for refusing to do so.
– It is evident that the intention of the Government in drafting the proposed new section in the way in which it appears in the Bill is not apparent to Senator Chataway. Before the Vice-President of the Executive Council replies to honorable senators opposite-
– I do not know how frequently I am expected to reply. I have replied already half-a-dozen times.
– This amendment was not previously before the Committee.
– If there’ were anything in the contention of Senators Macfarlane and Chataway, the Government would have introduced the name of Dr. Wollaston into the clause instead of the Comptroller-General. I suppose the office of Comptroller-General will last as long as the Victorian Customs Department. I think the Government are right in placing the matters dealt with in the proposed section in the hands of a Government officer of some standing, and, in my opinion, the section as it stands would serve- the purposes of the principal Act, and of this Bill, more effectively than if it were amended as suggested by Senator Macfarlane.
– It does not matter what we put into the proposed new section, the same objection would be raised.
– That is so. The proposed new section is not right because it is as it is. In dealing with trusts and combines that are operating unfairly, their affairs can be more easily and effectively investigated by the Chief Officer of the Customs Department than by any Judge. A Judge would not examine the books of a combine; he would give authority to some one else to do it. The Government propose to give that authority in the Bill itself, in. order that those who may be doing wrong may be taken by surprise and caught in the guilty act. If in the first instance the Comptroller-General had to obtain an order from a Court, the persons concerned would be given an opportunity to take steps to prevent the intended inquiry being of any use.
– It would be much better if this matter were discussed regardless of the person who may happen to be Comptroller-General of Customs for the time being. I must confess . my surprise that the Government show no disposition to entertain any modification of the proposed new section, submitted from the other side, whether good, bad, or indifferent.
– The Government are seriously entertaining the proposition submitted by Senator Clemons from the other side.
– What is the proposition ?
– A most excellent proposition to strengthen the Bill.
– I regret that what seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable amendment has not been met even with courtesy by the Government. It has been admitted by honorable senators on both sides that it is necessary, in dealing with these trusts and combines, to extract information from people against whom it may be used in some way afterwards. Yet honorable senators on the Government side speak as if those who are trying to make the provisions of the Bill a “little more fair desire to defeat the object of the measure.
– What sort of Government would it be that would permit its measures to be weakened day after day ?
– It is a matter of opinion as to whether the amendments proposed would weaken this Bill.
– The amendment proposed would strengthen the Bill very much.
– The Government are proposing to give authority to a certain official to probe into the most secret recesses of a man’s business.It is well-known to every one who has had anything to do with the collection of an income tax that if there is one thing more repugnant than another, even to the most honest man, it is an inquisitorial investigation into the secrets of his business. A man cannot get out a search warrant against the most notorious thief without the authority of a magistrate, who is a judicial officer. With the exception of the four honorable senators who voted against the second reading of the Bill, honorable senators generally admitted that it is necessary to fortify the Government and Government officials with some extra authority in order to disclose certain transactions which may be suspected, but in the proposed new section we are being asked to give a Government official and his subordinates greater powers than I think have ever before been given to Government officials under any British Constitution. The worst feature of the matter is that the Comptroller-General is to be constituted prosecutor and Judge at the same time. We ask that before this extreme course is adopted the authority of a Supreme Court Judge should be obtained. That is a most reasonable request, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council has not so far treated it even with courtesy.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3. 11]. - It is an extraordinary thing that the remarks made by honorable senators opposite change their character at every fresh step taken in the criticism of this Bill. I did not understand Senator Chataway to take any exception whatever to the use of the term “ComptrollerGeneral” in theBill. There has been a kind of misrepresentation, unintentional, no doubt, proceeding from the other side, in the answer attempted to be given to the criticisms offered in respect of the proposed new section, that we should trust the Comptroller-General-
– Whoever the ComptrollerGeneral may be.
– That is not what has been said. The allusion has always been to the present occupant of the office.
– If that had been intended, his name would have been put in the Bill.
– Honorable senators on the other side have been arguing on the assumption that his name is in the Bill, and that honorable senators on this side were reflecting upon Dr. Wollaston, because we ventured to say that there should be some check upon the arbitrary decision of the Comptroller-General. Unfortunately the present occupant of the office is not likely to live for ever, and he may be succeeded by an officer whose judgment would be less sound. The contention of honorable senators on this side is simply that we should not intrust an executive officer with these very extensive and arbitrary powers. When we raise that objection, it is no answer to say that we have a very excellent man in the position of Comptroller-General at the present time. Senator Mulcahy. - The argument is frequently used that he is not likely to do any wrong under the proposed new section.
– That has been said over and over again. The amendment which I submitted yesterday would not have weakened the Bill in the slightest degree but would have strengthened it. As has been said just now, it is not because a person would not be likely to do something wrong that you are to intrust him with the widest of powers. What a silly thing that would be. In the ordinary affairs of life individuals, however humble the scope of their business may be, often give a letter of authority to an agent - it may be a power of attorney - under which there are limitations of powers. But by this Bill we are proposing to give unlimited authority to an Executive officer who may have to deal with matters hundreds of miles from his office where inquiries may have to be conducted. The Comptroller-General must necessarily act through his subordinates who may be under influences whichare not improper but which may tend toproceedings that ought not to be taken. The expression used in the Bill, “ If the Comptroller-General believes that an offence has been committed,” bears a meaning which reminds me of a little story. A gentleman in London was coming down stairs from his chambers in rather an obscure light when he met a man coming up who said to him, “ Mr. Jones, I believe.” “Well,” said the gentleman, “ifyou believe that, you will believe anything.” That is the kind of belief that is signified by the expression used in this Bill. If you had the Comptroller-General, whoever he might be, saying “Oh, I believe so and so” - something that no one else in his senses would believe - it would conduce to the machinery of this measure being put in motion before he had had time to investigate whether proceedings ought to be taken. Senator Best has very candidly said that the Government wish the powers under this Bill to be arbitrary and inquisitorial. But if we think that the principle of the measure is mischievous and opposed to every instinct of British fair play and justice, we have a right to show why we think that the object may be accomplished by a different method that will not be open to the criticism to which this Bill is liable. The attitude of some honorable senators suggests a great paucity of argument or of ability to criticise amendments that are offered. Those who submit these amendments have just as much right to be considered perfectly bond fide and honest in their desire to improve this Bill as have honorable sentators opposite. But we are told, “Oh, you are behind the trusts; you are seeking to defend the trusts.” I do not complain of honorable senators saying that the effect of a particular amendment would be so and so, or that it would weaken the Bill or lessen thepowers under it. That is legitimate argument. But the attitude of which I complain is that which exhibits itself in contemptible argument or no argument at all.
– That kind of remark was only made once, and it was instantly withdrawn.
– My honorable friend is referring to a remark which Senator Turley, whom I regard as a thoroughly straightforward and candid critic, made and instantly withdrew. That was an extravagant expression used in the course of a speech to which otherwise no exception could be taken. But it has been said again and again in answer to amendments which have been proposed, “ Oh, vou intend to defeat this Bill.”
– I have never said that.
– I am not alleging that the honorable senator did say it. But I entirely resent such, an attitude, and I repudiate in the most emphatic manner any such desire. Let us discuss amendments, and let arguments be answered. My honorable friends on this side do not for a moment desire that there shall be no criticism. Let amendments be defeated; but do not let them be defeated by objections cf that sort. I have made the declaration over and over again, and I repeat it now, that I am willing to intrust the Government with powers which, in my judgment, are ample for the purpose of making the principal Act thoroughly effective.
– What amount of publicity would be occasioned bv the course which the honorable senator now proposes?
– I hope to make it quite clear whyI think there would be no publicity and no delay.
– Would the honorable senator give us some idea of the modus operandi of giving effect to the amendment ?
– Certainly. Honorable senators may not accept my view of it, but I will say what I think. We have the great authority of Shakespeare for depreciating advice that is given for nothing. He speaks of the “breath of an unfee’d lawyer.” But, in spite of that, I will explain what I think would happen. I do not desire to weaken this Bill in any way, so far as regards getting at trusts that are considered or are proved to be mischievous. But it has not been sufficiently emphasized that this provision is not limited to inspecting books and inquiring into the private affairs of persons suspected. Some honorable senators who have spoken seem to think that the proposed new section would only apply to suspected persons. But, as a matter of fact, all that the ComptrollerGeneral has to do to set the law in motion is to believe that an offence has been committed. What may he do then? He may, in writing under his hand, require any person - not a person suspected ; it may be any person entirely innocent-
– A private and confidential clerk, for instance.
– Or somebody else’s confidential clerk. It may be that Jones has been suspected of committing an offence. That belief may lead the Comptroller-General to call upon Senator Best, or Senator Mulcahy, or Senator Cameron, or all of them, to bring up their books and submit themselves to crossexamination, although they may have had absolutely nothing whatever to do with the suspicion engendered in the ComptrollerGeneral’s mind.
– It means that any person capable of giving information .may be called upon. ‘
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- My honorable friend may be a person, capable of giving information, although the person suspected may be in South Australia. I think that my honorable friend would be the keenest of all objectors in such a case, judging from the way in which he is con.tinually interjecting here. Just. imagine his keeping quiet if called upon to produce his books because some friend of his in another State was suspected of having committed an offence !
– I should be ready to give the information.
– Oh, no : my honorable friend would not “ peach upon a pal.” If he were brought up by the Comptroller-General and asked to produce some documents which would bring a “ pal “ of his before the Court, and perhaps make him liable to a penalty, he would object. I want to protect him. I do not want anybody to suffer without having an opportunity of being heard in his own defence. It is a principle of British justice that the greatest malefactor shall not be condemned without an opportunity of being heard. -Why should we condemn any one who is not a malefactor at all - who is innocent - merely because of a suspicion by the Comptroller-General ? Why should such a person be liable to be brought before the Comptroller-General and made to reply to questions which in his conscience and judgment he believes should not be put? Senator Macfarlane proposes to insert words which will not on.lv be a relief to the Comptroller-General, but will also be an assurance to the public and to all who are interested in such_ cases. There need not be an hour’s ‘delay. There is only one suggestion that I would make to Senator Macfarlane, and probably, if he accepts it, his amendment may be more favorably regarded by the Government. That is that he should insert after the word “ apply “ the words “ ex parte.” I do not think it would weaken this provision if, on making an application to the Judge, the. Comptroller-General had to give notice to every person from whom he desired information.
– I should say that it would.
– I suggest to Senator Macfarlane -that he should put in his. amendment the words “ ex parte “ so that the Comptroller-General, when he has the information on which he believes he ought to take this step, can simply walk up or send some one up to ask the Judge for leave to bring the provision into operation. There will be no delay, no violation of secrecy, in regard to the application, because if it takes place before a Judge ex parte the order will be made. I do not think that this will lessen the benefit of the amendment, and it will certainly prevent the possibility of it being said that delay can occur and opportunity be given for books to be destroyed. As Senator Mulcahy has inquired, I may mention that the ex parte application will be heard and the order made with nobody present but the Comptroller-General or the Crown Solicitor. The Judge will look at the material, and the ComptrollerGeneral will have the benefit of a judicial opinion as to whether or not a case has been, made out for the exercise of what my honorable friend rightly calls “this arbitrary and inquisitorial power.” It is still arbitrary and still inquisitorial, but there will be the benefit of two heads, to put it on the lowest plane, rather than one. Before we enact the provision in its present shape we ought to realize that it is not limited in its operation to the person suspected, but applies to anybody. Now, under the Customs Act, you cannot put questions to, say, Jones, who has passed no entry and has had no dealings with the Customs, in order to take proceedings of to get evidence which may be used against a person, say Smith, who has passed an entry.
– I think that my honorable friend is not strictly accurate.
– I think I am.’ Under the Customs Act the Department can put, and properly put, any questions they like to any man who has made an entry, whether it was made to-day or ten years ago, and if he evades answering he is liable to a penalty, but they cannot question Jones in another State.
– Will the honorable senator bear in mind that these questions relate to matters about which the Collector of Customs is supposed to be cognisant ?
– I am obliged to my honorable friend for the reminder. A man who is making an entry in order to get goods’ from the Customs is initiating proceedings, so to speak. He is like a plaintiff in a cause. He is asking that his goods may be put through the Customs on his paying a certain sum, and he is thereby giving the Customs what may be called a jurisdiction, to examine and cross-examine him, and overhaul all his affairs. And that is not limited to the moment. Because, as we know, if doubts are cast upon the honesty of his entries years afterwards, they may all be brought up again, and he may have to go through the same process. But the Department cannot go into the counting-house of Smith and Co., who have passed no entries and had no dealings, with the Customs, and do as the Government propose to do under this provision - overhaul all their books and compel them to answer all sorts of questions.
– Whether they are suspected of smuggling or not?
– Or, worse still. My point is that the Government may suspect somebody else of smuggling. It is just as though the Customs Act contained a. provision that if the ComptrollerGeneral suspected Jones of passing a dishonest entry through the Customs he could go to Smith, Robinson, and anybody else in another State, and explore all their books and affairs. That cannot be done.
– If the Department suspected that some person who did not pass an entry had smuggled goods in his possession, would they not have the right to do what the honorable senator suggests?’
– No; they have the right to take proper proceedings under the Customs Act. They can get a search warrant,’ and do anything they like in that way. But they have no right to question a man except in regard to the passing of entries or transactions with the ‘Customs. They may, of course, take goods out of a man’s back yard.
– They inspect every sailor’s bag that comes ashore.
– Of course’ they do, and that is a sort of sight entry. But if a passenger presents his invoice and passes an entry they may or may not search his baggage, though of course they have a perfect right to .do so.
– Because he may .be breaking the law?
– No; it is because, as a rule, there is no .other means of getting an entry passed in regard to passengers’ luggage. The invoices go to the Customs, where they are overhauled, and entries are passed.
– And the goods are run into the King’s bond.
– One package out of, perhaps, every fifty is run into the King’s bond. I was led to make these remarks, because Senator Macfarlane, in commending his amendment, used the expression, “ the supposed delinquent,” as though it was only that person who was to be subjected to these rules. I do not complain of the zeal with which my honorable friends have advocated the provision. All I ask them to do is to consider carefully the amendments which are suggested. I would not say one word in advocacy of the amendment if I thought that it- was likely to weaken the beneficial effect of the Bill. It will not cause delay or violate secrecy. It simply rests on the principle that two heads are better than one, and certainly in a matter of this kind a judicial head is better than a purely executive head. It is on these grounds that I feel bound to support the amendment.
.- As a few days ago T thought with Senator Macfarlane that his amendment would improve the Bill by requiring the leave of a Judge to proceed to be obtained, I wish to explain why .1 have changed my mind. In his last sentence, Senator Symon said that he prefers a judicial head. So do we all in judicial matters, but this is a matter with which I think the ComptrollerGeneral or an Inter-State Commission would be able to deal quite as well as a Judge could.
– Then why put in the expression “he believes”? Why not simply provide that the ComptrollerGeneral may at any time do this thing? Why not make the provision purely arbitrary ?
– There is no reason why the honorable senator should make the Bill more drastic when his great complaint is that it is already too drastic. Let me refer to Senator Mulcahy ‘s very proper question which Senator Symon did not fully answer. It is just as well that Senator Macfarlane, who is a layman, should understand the meaning of the words “by leave of a Judge.” Senator Symon has certainly suggested an, improvement of the amendment by the introduction of the words “ ex parte.” But what do they mean? They mean that the ComptrollerGeneral may go before a Judge without giving notice to the other side, and the moment the Judge finds that there is the slightest complication in the case, he will say, “ Mr. Comptroller-General, will you be good enough to give the other side notice.”
– Nothing of the kind.
– My honorable friend knows perfectly well that he has the right to go ex parte, and in some cases he cannot go unless he gives the other side notice.
– Ex parte?
– He has the right to go into a Judge’s chambers and make an ex parte application, and the Judge has a perfect right to say, “ Summon the other side.”
– Nothing of the kind.
– I remind the honorable senator that we have applications for injunctions in regard to common law rights, and bills in equity. In some case’s we are fortunate enough to go with an ex parte application with our affidavits, and, on the faith of hearing the one side, the Judge grants an injunction if he thinks that it ought to be granted ‘because a wrong has been suffered by the plaintiff. But it is a most common thing for” a Judge not to be able to make up -his mind from an ex parte statement.
– Of course he does. But that is not where a Statute says that an order shall be made ex park
– The Statute says that he may apply ex parte. But does the honorable senator mean to say that a Judge will be debarred from asking that the other side be heard?
– Then, in almost every case of difficulty, the Judge will decline to make an order.
– If that is the honorable senator’s objection to the amendment, why not provide that the Judge shall not?
– My objection goes to the whole root of the matter. The honorable senator has said that under the amendment there will be no delay, that the Comptroller-General will simply have to walk to the Judge and ask for leave to proceed, and that, if he has the evidence to prove a good case, leave will be given. But the chief difficulty consists in getting evidence to prove a .’good ca-se. Senator Symon seems to me to absolutely misunderstand the. reason for the Bill. A few days ago we were all heckling Ministers because they would not -take proceedings under the existing Act to put down certain combines. I understand that the law officers of the Crown then reported - I had the privilege of unofficially reading the report - that without a measure of this sort, drastic in its character and getting a little out of the usual rut of judicial procedure, it would be almost impossible in most instances to make out a case. Senator Symon seems to suppose that the Comptroller-General will go to the Judge with a case made out, and then get the leave. It is because of the difficulty experienced in making out a prima facie case that we want this Bill. Some honorable senators, Senator Chataway amongst them, have made a great fuss about the .Comptroller-General being empowered to do these things. The ComptrollerGeneral is one of the highest and most responsible officers in the land, collecting a revenue of ^10,000,000 yearly, and always will be highly paid. He is an officer in whom everybody has the greatest confidence. He receives the salary of a County Court Judge, and probably will get more. He knows infinitely more about these matters than probably’ do all the Judges put together.
– Does the honorable senator think that the amount of his salary makes him judicial?
– I do not, but the amount of his salary, the importance of his position, and his enormous experience all go to show that he is an officer in whom we can and should place confidence. If this were a Bill to appoint the InterState Commission, Senator Symon would swallow it like a lamb and give the threeCommissioners, who . would be three Comptrollers-General, the same powers as are proposed here.
– They would be a judicial body, with an appeal to the High Court on questions of law.
– They would be railway, commercial, and business men, with probably not a lawyer amongst them. Some honorable senators imagine that under this Bill the Comptroller-General can delegate his authority. He can do nothing of the kind. Any person named by him may inspect books, just as a Court may appoint an accountant to make difficult inspections. The Judges do not do that work themselves. The ComptrollerGeneral, when he has got the books, can appoint a skilled accountant to inspect them with or without him.
– Does the honorable senator say that the ComptrollerGeneral must personally ask the questions ?
– The ComptrollerGeneral cannot delegate his . executive or quasi-judicial power. It is provided that he must have the belief before attempting to set the Act in motion.
– Must he ask the- questions himself ?
– In some of our Acts it is provided that the ComptrollerGeneral means “The Comptroller-General or his deputy,” but this Bill does not say so, and no one but that high and experienced officer could put the Act in motion.
– If the offence suspected was in Western Australia, would the Comptroller-General have to go there ?
– No, he would have, to write and ask the questions.
– If the matter was not satisfactory, I suppose that he would have to go there, or he might send an accountant there to inspect the books. Senator Symon- made a great point of the fact that the books, not only of the suspected person, but of anybody, may be inspected. The reason why the Bill does not confine the inspection to the books of the suspected person is this : If, for instance, the Tobacco Trust of America were carrying on business here, and 80 per cent, of the tobacconists of the States were mixed up with it, carrying on business and competing unfairly and1 in restraint of trade against the other 20 per cent., very likely the evidence which was required would be obtained, not from the Trust which was accused,, but from one of the 80 per cent, who were in league with the Trust. I cannot help thinking that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have strengthened the Bill if he had provided that every trust or combine - those terms would have to be defined - should register itself, and give a list of the documents under which it was carrying on. I quite admit that in the case of the “ gentlemanly agreement “ there would be no agreement to register, but if we found that they were carrying on without an agreement more oppressively and more in restraint of trade than were those who had an agreement, I presume that under a measure of this sort they would be liable’ to a very Heavy penalty. It is because they are carrying on without agreements, relying on the adage of “ Honour among thieves,”, that we must have a drastic Bill. I quite admit, with Senator Best, that we are going a little off’ the beaten track ; but, like the honorable senator, I am doing it advisedly, in order to put a stop to fearful injustice such as is going on in America. Although we may not have much evidence of that sort of thing happening here, I believe that if the trusts in America found that they could exploit Australia in the absence of legislation against them they would soon be here. I believe they are here already, and acting in that way. Therefore, if we desire to deal effectively with them, we must have a drastic measure. One great objection which I have to importing a Judge into it is that the first thing that would be done would be to ask the Judge to make rules. Honorable senators see what a formidable man Senator Symon is without a fee, and thev can imagine what he would be with a ‘fee. ‘ Some lawyers would take good care that those rules followed the usual red-tape lines.- The Judge would probably require the Comptroller-General to come before him ex -parte with an affidavit, which it would take some hours for the lawyers to argue over. Then the other side would demand the right to file an affidavit in reply, and afterwards the Comptroller-General would be allowed to file a further affidavit in answer to their allegations.
– Are the rules regarding applications in Chambers very rigid ?
– Very often they are not, as compared with rules regulating open Court procedure, but in a new departure of this kind the Attorney-General would probably think it his duty to make special rules, one of which might be that the Comptroller-General must furnish his evidence by’ affidavit.
– Surely the rules would provide for summary action?
– We are not accustomed to summary action in the Supreme Court.
– This is only to be the preliminary action.
– But the whole action would have to be started by leave of a Judge, who generally likes to have things in writing, and mostly insists on the evidence being on oath. Once you began to procure affidavits on a matter of this sort, the persons accused, if guilty, would have time to burn their books and prepare new’ ones.
– Does not the honorable senator think it would be a good thing to provide that the ComptrollerGeneral’s informant should state on oath that he believed a combine or firm were doing certain things?
– I am inclined to think that there is something in that point, and later onI propose to move the insertion of the words “ on oath “ in that connexion, but in the preliminary proceedings, in order to obtain the evidence which the law officers cannot get no.w. without this Bill, although Parliament desires them to get it, I think this provision ought to stand as printed, drastic thoughit may be.
.-The petition presented by the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce raises a very important question as to how far communications between client and solicitor in matters of trade and trade agreements are confidential and therefore privileged. Under the common law rules of evidence, a communication to a solicitor is absolutely sacred, and the solicitor cannot break the confidence, except with the leave of his client. I trust that some light will be thrown upon the effect on this measure of that most important relation between law and commerce as affecting Inter-State trade. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and other honorable senators opposite will not confine themselves to a mere sort of “ dumb stonewalling” of the criticism which has been offered on this provision. The main line of demarcation between the two. sides in this argument with regard to the effectiveness of the Bill, has been the question whether the Comptroller-General or a Judge of the High Court should be the person to have these powers. That is the piece de resistance of the measure. I am fairly entitled to ask that, when we on this side put our case strongly, although we would be inclined to give the Government increased powers-
– I have never seen any evidence of it.
– That may be the fault of the honorable senator’s understanding. The only questions are whythe Comptroller-General is to be preferred to a High Court Judge, and whether there is any reason for distrusting the High Court. One advantage of our proposal is that a Judge, by reason of his previous training and experience, possesses to a large degree the judicial faculty. His position makes him absolutely independent 01 anybody, even of Parliament. He exercises the judicial faculty of discriminating between right and wrong as between conflicting interests. We contend that the High Court is the proper tribunal to be resorted to in matters of this kind, but honorable senators opposite say, “ We want the Comptroller-General, and the ComptrollerGeneral absolutely unfettered, to decide.” We do not propose by any amendment to hamper or fetter in any way the Judge’s discretion. As legal opinions unfeed are floating about the chamber, I. may state that I agree with Senator Symon’s general contention that it would be easy to get an application heard and an order made by a Judge of the High Court in Chambers, especially if Senator Macfarlane would insert the words “ ex parte.” Probably all that a Judge would then require would be that the allegations should be submitted, and supported by” affidavit, without necessarily being substantiated in detail. Unless good grounds were shown why he should distrust the allegations, he would at once exercise the powers conferred upon him. It is quite possible that if an ex parte application were made, the person charged would have the right of appeal to the High Court against the Judge’s decision. But he would haveto show very good reasons, or it is almost certain that his application for leave to appeal would be refused once the Comptroller-General had made good his position. Under the proposed new section as it stands the Comptroller-Generalmay ask any question he pleases. It may be of the most dangerous character as affecting a man’s business, and of the most inquisitorial nature, and if the person of whom the question is asked be directly or indirectly connected with a trust or combine and refuses to answer, he may be haled before a Court, and fined£50. The Vice-President of the Executive Council will admit that that is what might happen. The proposed new section would be in no sense weakened if, under the amendment moved by Senator Macfarlane, the preliminary application to make the inquiries were heard ex forte before a Judge of the High Court.
– Is that the amendment - a Judge of the High Court?
– No, a Judge in Chambers.
– Which is it?
– I understand that the amendment which Senator Macfarlane has moved proposes that before these preliminary inquiries are made a prima facie case ex parte must be made out before a Judge of the High Court.
– Is that really the amendment? I’ wish to know definitely what I have to answer.
– -I may be allowed to explain that as I have moved my amendment it would include a Judge of the Supreme Court, and would riot be limited to a Judge of the High Court.
– Then the Opposition are at variance on the- subject ?
– If it is the wish of the majority of ‘honorable senators on this side, I am willing* that the amendment should refer to a Judge of the High Court, and I am willing also to insert the words “ ex parte “ if it will help the Ministry. The words to be inserted would then read - “ Apply ex parte to a Judge of the High Court in Chambers for leave to examine.”
Amendment amended, accordingly.
– I understood that the amendment referred to a Judge of the High Court, because I doubt whether a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State would have jurisdiction in matters of this kind, and the constitutional question as to the .jurisdiction of the Court might be. raised. There could be no doubt as to the jurisdiction of a Judge of the High Court. I have explained that under the Bill as it stands a gross injustice might very easily be perpetrated, and in the interests of fair play I ask whether it would not be better that these high powers should be exercised only on the authority of a Judge. I wish to point our further that the public would have .greater confidence in the decision of a Judge of the High Court than in that of -a subordinate Government official. If a good . case for these preliminary inquiries were made out before a Judge of the High Court, public opinion would quick.lv follow the decision of such a tribunal, and would support the Government in their efforts to check the operations of injurious trusts. I should like the VicePresident of .the Executive Council to give some strong reasons why the Government object to the exercise of these powers only on the order of a Judge of the High Court and are so determined to leave their exercise to the untrammelled discretion of the Comptroller-General. We have already intrusted the High Court with many important powers, and I should like to know why, in connexion with matters of this kind, the Government prefer to seek another tribunal.
– I must not be deemed to be discourteous because I did not rise earlier to reply to speeches made by honorable senators opposite. On two. or three occasions, I have already dealt with various features of the same question. It was prominent during the second-reading debate, it was discussed ad nauseam last night, and is now, on Senator Macfarlane’s amendment, being discussed again. In deference to the personal requests of one or two of my friends, I wish to place the matter in the simplest possible form before the Committee. When we heard some of our honorable friends on the other side protest their anxiety to strengthen- the Bill, that naturally aroused in our minds the first suspicion.
– That is very strong.
– The amendments which have been moved have justified that suspicion. I thought this matter was practically disposed of last night by the rejection of the amendment which was moved by Senator Symon, with the alleged object of strengthening the Bill-. However, we have it revived again in the form of the present amendment. The idea is that .before the . proposed new section can come into operation, there should be the intervention of a Judge of the High Court. Let me point out the object and scope of the proposed section. The ComptrollerGeneral is’ to be at liberty if. evidence comes before him which satisfies him that any of the serious offences described in sections 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 of the AntiTrust Act have been committed, to ask anybody whom he believes to be capable of giving evidence in regard to those offences any Questions he deems relevant. And yet we hear from our honorable friends opposite that that means that innocent persons are to be condemned unheard.
– Might be condemned.
– I did not hear anything of the kind said, but it has been said that people would be brought under suspicion.
-The honorable senator must have closed his ears to the discussion. We have heard it stated over and over again that innocent persons are to be condemned unheard, because they are to be asked certain questions in regard to serious offences against the Anti-Trust Act.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that a man should be quite pleased to be arrested on suspicion.
– The proposed new section says nothing in the world about arresting any one. I take the case of the innocent honest man whom our honorable friends opposite’ have paraded, because I assume that he is the only man whom they desire to protect. The solemn character of the duty cast upon the ComptrollerGeneral appears on the face of the Bill, and he may ask this innocent honest man a simple question confidentially. If the question he asks is bruited’ abroad, then we may take it for granted that the person to blame for its publication is the person who was asked the question.
– But his answer to the question may be used against him.
– It would not be used against’ him, until he was before a Court.
– He may be fined £50 if he does not answer the question.
– Exactly. This innocent honest person is asked confidentially a question in connexion with a criminal matter, and if he refuses to answer the question he becomes liable to a penalty in the way prescribed by the Bill.
– He has to be brought before a Court before he can be punished.
– Undoubtedly that is so. I am not going to neglect the honest and innocent person, and I ask how such a man could be injured because of an inquiry made of him in this confidential way? What do my honorable friends opposite propose? The honest and innocent person may well cry out in alarm, “ Save me from my friends.” Instead of a confidential request for information honorable friends opposite propose in the interest of the honest individual that the whole thing should be made -public. Senator Mulcahy. - No.
– Not necessarily. An inquiry before a Judge inChambers is not a public inquiry.
– Applications before a Judge in Chambers are open to the public unless in specific terms the public are excluded. My honorable friend dare not say that it should be in secret because he has been condemning in most violent language the idea of any proceedings being conducted in secret by the ComptrollerGeneral. He must therefore admit that what he desires is a public application. So that an innocent and honestman is to be subjected, because a suspicion exists, to a public application in chambers.
– If he is innocent he will wish for publicity.
– The most innocent man does not like to have mud thrown at him, as I can say personally. The way in which my honorable friend would have the innocent and honest man protected, is by means of an application in public.
- Ex parte.
– Let us see exactly what that means. It means first of all that there is to be an affidavit either by the Comptroller-General himself or by an officer. In that affidavit the ComptrollerGeneral has tosay that he has been informed by A B that such and such is the case and that a certain offence has been committed. The details of the offence have to be set out.
– Is that so?
– Undoubtedly. My honorable friend must have some practical experience in these matters arid should be aware of that.
– The amendment does not seem to require that.
– Let me remind my honorable friend of the rudimentary practice in these matters. An ex parte application is what is proposed. That means that before a Judge entertains any application of the kind he has to be furnished with evidence on affidavit. That affidavit must set forth the character of the offence and the name of the informer.
– That is quite right.
– We do not want informers.
– Honorable senators opposite would sooner have crime.
– They appear to prefer crime. In connexion with most serious cases of fraud under the Customs Act proceedings are taken. I do not say invariably, but for the most part as the result of information that has been secretly received. The Customs Department must necessarily encourage persons to let them know things that are going on. If this amendment were carried the proposed new section would be absolutely worthless. The difficulty is that many persons who could give information might be dependent for their livelihood or for their supplies of the goods in which they trade upon the trust or combine; and it might be a very serious matter to them to give information. It will be seen at once that the whole object of the Bill would be defeated if the amendment’ were agreed to. Next I come to’ the point as to delay. It is proposed that there shall be an application to a Judge of the High Court. A Judge may not be within a thousand miles of the place when the proceedings are taken.
– There are five of them.
– Suppose that the offence is committed in Queensland, and the High Court is sitting in Western Australia ?
– The application might be made to a Supreme Court Judge.
– It is enough for me to deal with the amendment as I find it. In these cases promptitude is required.
– Oh, no. .
– Oh, yes. Unless prompt action be taken it will be ineffective. The persons who manage these trusts or combines are much cleverer than the ComptrollerGeneral.
– They must be carrying on business in the Commonwealth.
– They are much cleverer than Senator Macfarlane. If we cannot act with the utmost promptitude, our procedure will be, if not nullified, seriously hindered. So that the proposal is utterly impracticable from the stand-point of delay. Now I’ come to another statement that has been dinned into our ears in connexion with this subject - that this is a novel proposal. Well, even if it were novel, and were put forward to meet a serious, alarming, and menacing evil, if would be justified. But why. the suggestion is made that this procedure is novel passes my comprehension.
– .It is very ancient.
– It is not. only ancient, but it is at present in practice throughout the Commonwealth. The Customs Act is founded upon this procedure. The suggestion that such a thing is unheard of is utterly without foundation. “ By a very ingenious argument it has been sought to make it appear that every offence against the Customs Act is founded upon an entry.
– Not every offence.
– There were two statements made - first, that nearly every offence against the Customs Act is founded upon an entry, and next that the balance of such cases are founded on a declaration or false statement. A substantial percentage of Customs cases arise in that way, but the large percentage are not covered by anything of the kind. An entry is most innocent in itself. If a man makes an honest entry it is an ordinary procedure of business that cannot be condemned or disputed.
– Honest entries are very often disputed.
– They are not disputed in a criminal way. Questions may arise as to the value of goods; but the point made by honorable senators opposite was that in .the cases which occur under the Customs Act the foundation is an entry. I dispute that statement utterly.
– I said “ in fraud of the revenue.”
– But Senator Symon’s argument was that the cases were founded on an entry.
– Senator St. Ledger made the same statement last night.
– Even if that were correct, my answer is, first, that an’ entry is an absolutely innocent matter. But any person making an entry must, if required by the Collector, answer questions relating to the goods referred to in the entry. That is the same sort of thing as is provided for in this Bill. Further, under the Customs Act, any person who is capable of giving evidence, is called upon to answer any questions in regard to the offences set out in the section. So that in regard to an entry the Comptroller-General of Customs is entitled to ask any questions ; there is no restriction whatever. According to. another section of the Customs Act, 234, no person is to refuse or fail to answer questions or to produce documents. The power is unlimited as to various offences which may be committed in regard, -not only to frauds on the revenue, but also to the forfeiture of goods, the- smuggling of goods, or it may be the forfeiture of ships.
There is unlimited discretion to ask questions in reference to each of those matters.
– Does not that mean the asking of questions as to matters as to which the Customs Department should be made cognisant from the first?
– It is the machinery of the Customs Act for getting at crime.
– The honorable senator is not answering my point. A man is supposed to make a full and complete entry showing the whole value. He may make no such entry, and then the Act requires him to give the ‘ information which he ought to have given in the first place. But in this case power is given to enter into a man’s private business.
– In this case a man is supposed not to commit a crime against the anti-trust law. But he does so, and this provision enables us to get the information to convict him for having done it. The provision is the same in regard to entry. If a person makes a false entry he has to supply the information asked for, whether it criminates him or not. The principle is precisely the same. What is more, where information is given to the Collector that goods have been unlawfully imported or illegally dealt with, the owner must immediately upon being required so to do by the Collector, produce1 and hand over to him all books and documents relating to the goods -so imported ; and if he does not he is liable to a fine of £100. There we have, precisely the same principle in our legislation. I ask honorable senators to apply Senator Macfarlane’s amendment to the Customs Act. Suppose that before any information of this kind could be procured the Collector of Customs had to go to- a High Court Judge, who might be a hundred miles away ?
– He could telegraph. .
– But you cannot make an cx parte application by telegraph. . That remark shows the utter folly of what is proposed. The Commissioner of Taxes has the right to make certain applications of a most inquisitorial and arbitrary character. But if the law provided that he must first obtain from a Judge of the Supreme Court leave to do so, what would be the result? The staff of judges would have to be increased abnormally ; publicity would .be given to the private business affairs of men ; and the law would be rendered more or less nugatory by reason of the cumbrous character of the machinery.
– But the honorable senator forgets that an income tax payer has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.
– I am talking about ex parte applications, and speaking to the amendment. Again, I ask honorable senators to apply the amendment to the arbitrary and inquisitorial powers of the Chief inspector Of Factories, who, compared with. the Comptroller-General, is .a subordinate officer. If they do, they will see that it would make the factories law ridiculous and unworkable.” Let me go one step further. We have heard a great deal about novel legislation. In the United States, the Inter-State Commission has, under the Act of 1906, access at all times to the accounts, records, and memoranda required to be kept by Inter-State carriers ; and it is unlawful for a carrier to keep any other accounts, records, or memoranda than those prescribed or approved by the Com-“ mission. It may, furthermore, employ special agents or examiners, who have authority under its order to inspect and examine any and all accounts, records, Stc, kept by any carrier. The penalty for refusing or- failing to keep such accounts, memoranda, &c, as are prescribed by the Commission, or to submit them to the inspection . of the Commission, or any of its authorized agents or examiners, is $500 for each offence, and for even’ day of the continuance of the offence. Any false entry in these accounts, any mutilation’ thereof, or any failure to make full, true, and correct entries of all facts and transactions appertaining to the carrier’s business, is a misdemeanour punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $5,000, or imprisonment for from one to three years, or both fine and imprisonment. Compliance with these request’s may be inforced by a writ of mandamus issued by a Circuit or District Court. My honorable friends will see that, in order, to make this legislation effective, the Government must have wide and comprehensive powers. It was only by reason of the powers given to the InterState Commission to procure information that the recent convictions in America -were obtained. Can my honorable friends now urge that the terms of the Bill are unfair or unreasonable, or that the amendment’ should be seriously entertained?
– We do.
– One or two honorable senators have referred to the possibility of an application for information being made to the solicitor of a combine, and asked me to state mv views of the law. The general principles are laid down in these terms -
No one can be. compelled to disclose to the Court any communication between himself and his legal adviser, which his legal adviser could not disclose without his permission, although it may have been made before any dispute arose as to the matter referred to ; but communications between a third party and a legal adviser are not protected unless the third party is acting as the agent of the person seeking advice, or the communications are made in contemplation of litigation, or for. the purpose of giving advice or obtaining evidence With reference to it.
In one or two cases these general principles have been dealt with, and to some extent a little departure may be made. This is a quotation from the head-note to the case of The Queen v. Cox and Railton, reported in Law Reports, Queen’s Bench Division, vol. 14 -
All communications between a solicitor and his client are not privileged from disclosure, but only those passing between them in professional confidence and in the legitimate course of professional employment of the solicitor. ‘ Communications made to a solicitor by his client before the commission of a crime for the purpose of being guided or helped in the commission of it are not privileged from disclosure.
If a combine consults its solicitor as to the commission of a crime, he will not be protected ; in other words, he would have to disclose evidence or answer the. questions submitted to him. But the ordinary rule of law is that all honest transactions and communications between solicitor and client are privileged, and are not liable to exposure.
-Colonel Gould. - Can the solicitor be compelled to disclose evidence if his principal is not? In other words, is his right any greater than that of his principal?
– If the consultation or communication relates to the commission of a crime, then, under the provisions of our. law, the solicitor has no right to refuse to answer any questions. If, on the other hand, it relates to a matter of honest professional dealing, he will have the right to refuse to answer any questions.
– Does not the proposed new section 15B assume a crime to have been committed?
– No; but even if it did, that does not make any act a crime. For instance, the solicitor may have prepared a contract which had for its object restraint of trade to the detriment of the public. That is an offence, and if it can be proved that the contract was made with intent to defeat the law the solicitor will be required to disclose the fact ; but if it is not injurious or detrimental to the public he will not be so required.
– Who will be the judge of that?
– When a solicitor is summoned, and an attempt is made to recover the penalty,he will plead privilege and will have to establish his right.
– By whom are the penalties for refusing to answer questions or todisclose information to be imposed - the Comptroller-General ?
– No. The ComptrollerGeneral, or an officer authorized by him, will have to proceed, as provided in the Interpretation Act, in a Court of summary jurisdiction for the purpose of recovering the penalty. In the case I mentioned, the solicitor may say “No, this is a question of privilege, and therefore I am not obliged to answer the inquiry.” So that it will be a matter for the Court to deal with. Now that I have shown the impracticable character of the amendment and indicated how it would defeat the very object of the Bill, I think that Senator Macfarlane may very well be asked to withdraw it.
. I have listened with very great interest to this debate.’ I supported the Bill on its second reading, but I stated then that I did not like that part of it which is under discussion. Even after all the explanations which have been made I do not like it’, because, to my mind, Senator Symon laid down a very clear line. Senator Dobson has differed from Senator Symon, while Senator Best has differed from them both.
– No, Senator Dobson most cordially supports me.
– I have not heard Senator Dobson say so. When he rose he made an attack on what Senator Symon had said.
– Surely the honorable senator gathered that I was opposed to the amendment and to the Bill as it stood.
– The honorable senator expounded what he regarded as the law on the subject after Senator Symon had done so, and now Senator Best has given us his view of the law. Some of the points which the last speaker made I clearly understood, and others I did not quite follow. For instance, he said that in certain circumstances, a solicitor will have to give the information if asked by the ComptrollerGeneral. I did nor clearly under- stand from him who was to be the judge in that case.
– Senator Best said that the solicitor would state his objection to the Court, and that it would be the judge.
– I suppose that any other person who may be brought before the Court will not have the same privilege as a solicitor?
– That is the pointI wanted to have cleared up. I understand now that every other person would have to give evidence and would be in no way privileged. There would appear to be, from what I have heard here, a vast amount of iniquity in the commercial life of Australia. I should be the last to cast my vote to allow commercial men to do what it has been said to-day that they do. But I trust that when this Bill does become law it will not be found that So much crime is being committed. The state of society must be very bad if we are to look upon every business man as a criminal. We might as well say to a man, “ You are accused of stealing a horse ; we have appointed an inquisitor before whom you may be brought, and who has a right to ask you whether you have stolen that horse. You must give him a true answer, or risk a penalty of £50.”
– That is done now.
– Under the law as it is now administered, a constable who arrests a man on warrant is not allowed to take any admissions from his prisoner unless he has first cautioned him. If the constable does get any admission from him by a promise or threat, the Judge will not allow it in evidence.
– That is right. We are altering the law.
– We are. In some countries, where there is a Czar, the Government can seize a man and cut his head off, or send him to a Siberia. I do not want to go that far. I do not wish to interfere with the liberty of the people any more than is shown to me to be necessary. Not many years ago we had a great strike in Queensland, and the Government took to themselves arbitrary powers. I believe that they did so under the law. but there was a great outcry against their action. If we go much further with this soft of legislation, we shall not only arrest people without trial, but imprison them for life without trial.
– That will be the time to object.
– I do not want to see things go so far. I desire the law to be administered fairly, and surely the Government can achieve their ends without . these most arbitrary powers. I know very well that this measure will be carried, and I am simply giving the reasons why I do not believe in the provision. I supported the Bill on the second reading, but stated then that I would vote for an amendment of this proposed new section in Committee. I intend to do so.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [4.48]. - I have had an opportunity of hearing a portion of the speeches of Senator Symon and the VicePresident of the Executive Council with regard to the question that has now arisen. I am pleased to recognise that, however feebly I may Have raised’ my voice against the principle that we are enacting in this provision, the opinion which I then expressed has been amply justified by that expressed by Senator Symon in very much stronger language than I can command, and in a very much clearer - and possibly to the outside public more convincing - way. The Vice-President of the Executive Council naturally fights hard for his Bill, but I cannot understand how any man who has had a legal training, and possesses a knowledge of the law, can believe that this is a right and proper measure to pass in existing circumstances. I . admitted, and still freely admit, that if you find yourself, with regard to certain offences that you believe are being committed, in such a position that you cannot as the law stands, obtain evidence which will enable you to obtain a conviction and maintain the law, you are justified in taking other steps than those which we have been used to in dealing with criminal offences. I do not wish honorable senators to imagine that I advocate the retention of a svstem which is ineffective. But if it is possible by making a reasonable and fair change in the law to achieve the desirable object of preventing the commission of crime, that course should first betaken. If arbitrary power is given to a public officer Ave should have some safeguard against its abuse.
– We propose to appoint one of our most trusted officers.
-Colonel GOULD. - I give the Government credit for selecting an officer who is deservedly trusted. At the same time, this is not aprinciple which could be advocated before the people of the country, or which would make them believe that the law is being properly and justly administered. No law can do much good unless the community believe that it is based upon fair and justprinciples. That is the objection which I have taken to this arbitrary proceeding. The Vice-President of the Executive Council wants these questions to be put by the Comptroller-General. He says, “ If you compel the Comptroller-General to go to a Judge of the High Court “-in fact, I believe the honorable senator goes to the extent of objecting to the introduction of any Judge whatever in this matter - “ before he can put the questions, you will be giving the man who is believed to have committed a crime an opportunity to escape from its consequences.” The honorable senator says, “ The accused persons will be given an opportunity of getting rid of or destroying their books, so that we shall have no evidence against them.” But it will not give them an opportunity to alter facts so far as their own statements are concerned. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council with regard to the books is correct, still, as regards evidence which the man has to give viva voce, it is immaterial whether he gets or does not get notice because he has either to tell the truth or a lie when the questions are put to him. If he is a man who would destroy his books the moment a breath of suspicion came to his ears, he would not’ give truthful answers to any such questions.
– Suppose he is a Rockefeller, who gets notice to clear out, as Rockefeller actually did?
-Colonel GOULD.- That is a very different case from any which we know of, or are likely to know of, in Australia. I am not going to be drawn away from my subject to state what, in my opinion, has caused the existence of those great trusts and combines in America. We all have our opinions on that point, but it is beside the present question. If the application is made in the way suggested by Senator Macfarlane, exparte to a Judge in Chambers, there will not be the exposure of a man’s business that the VicePresident of “the Executive Council’s speech would lead honorable senators to believe. Scores of ex parte applications are made to Judges in Chambers, when no one else is present. The man who makes the application in Chambers put his affi davit before the Judge, and makes his statement. The Judge, if he considers that it is a case inwhich he ought to act upon ex parte information, does so act. But he may say, “I am not satisfied as to the matter in dispute. The other party or parties ought to have notice in order that they may show cause why I should not issue an order.” But, in a case of this nature, has not a Judge as much common-sense, apart from his legal knowledge, as has any ordinary individual ? Would he not be the last to. say, “ I will give this man notice so that he may know what the application is about, and have an opportunity of concealing books or making away with evidence that would be very valuable, and perhaps help to carry a prosecution to a conviction “ ? The Judge would have quite as much sense as the Comptroller-General or any one of us has, because we do not put fools on the Bench. ‘ We put able men there.
– Nor do we ‘make fools Comptrollers-General.
– No; but the community know who our Judges are. They know that Judges are placed in such a position, and that their history, training, practice, and conduct in their judicial office are such as to make even a man who might feel inclined to be dishonest think twice before he would act dishonestly when he had judicial duties to perform. The Government would, therefore, be acting fairly and justly in the interests of the community in agreeing to attach certain safeguards to a provision of this kind. But the Minister does not wish to have those safeguards in the Bill. It is not proposed to provide them.
– Does the honorable senator think that to compel the ComptrollerGeneral to go before a Judge will make him any more cautious than he otherwise would be?
-The public, at least, would say, “ This is an order by a Judge, and we know that there is good ground for it, as it is made by a judicial officer, and not by an ordinary departmental officer.” The Comptroller-General does not stand in the same independent position as a Judge. He has his own Minister, with whom he is most intimately associated, and whom he has often to advise upon very important questions. By adopting the course proposed by Senator Macfarlane, the Government would be able to commend this law to the people of this country, and of other parts of the world.. It may be a foregone conclusion that the Bill will pass this Chamber, for I take it that the debate last night was, to a great extent, upon the same lines as those which we are following to-day. In that case, however, where it was proposed that there should be an. appeal to a Judge by a man who wished to prevent questions being put to him by the ComptrollerGeneral, or to ascertain thereasons why the Comptroller-General wished to put those questions, there might have been a greater opportunity of playing into the hands of a man who had committed an offence against the law. At the same time, I recognise that the Committee, by a very fair majority, decided against giving the protection which I think ought to be thrown round every individual in this community - that no man should be regarded as a criminal in the first instance. You maysuspect a man of committing crime, but you should not be allowed to assume straight away that he has committed crime. The public should be satisfied that innocent men engaged in every-day avocations are not tq be worried or harried or annoyed by improper and unnecessary interference willi them in connexion with their business, It is said that no honest man would object; but I think that many honest men would object. Any one of them would say, “ I am engaged in my business; I wish to give all my brains and attention to the work before me, and not to be diverted from it by being haled before a Comptroller-General and told that unless I answer certain questionsI shall be liable to a penalty.” Whatever some people may think about men in business, is not business the force that keeps every community going? We should not harry business men unnecessarily, or make men say, “ What is the good of going into business in a place where I may be worried out of my life? When I have difficult matters to look after in order to keep myself financially right, I may find myself haled before an officer who will put questions to me.” However private the inquiry may be made, somebody will know of it, and say, “ Jones went before the Comptroller-General the other day. who asked him questions. What has Jones been doing? “ Would that help a man in his business?
– A large firm was put upon the gridiron in Melbourne recently in much the same way.
– Probably, under this Bill, a great many more firms will be “ put upon the gridiron.”
– The Customs Department denied that that was true. The statement was a mistake.
.-Iam very glad to hear that the firm did not have to undergo that painful experience. Some time ago, complaints were made of unfair proceedings in connexion with Customs prosecutions, and I have ho wish that similar complaints should arise in connexion with the operation of this proposed new’ section. Reference has been made to the position in which a solicitor for a combine or trust might find himself under this provision. Unfortunately, I was called from the chamber before the VicePresident of the Executive Council had dealt with that matter, and, therefore, I do not know what view of it he put before the Committee. It is very important to consider what the position of a solicitor would be if he were questioned with regard to anything communicated to him by a client. It is strongly contended that a solicitor’s privilege is not his own, but his client’s; and it may fairly be argued that where the client himself cannot refuse to give certain information, his professional adviser could not refuse to give the same information, even if it had come to his knowledge in consultation with his client. If, for instance, in the course of consultation with his client, a solicitor had become aware that he had committed an offence against the Australian Industries Preservation Act, it might be argued that he could not claim a solicitor’s privilege in refusing to answer questions on the matter because his client, if asked the same questions, would have no right to refuse to answer them.
– In such a case the Comptroller-General could go to the client and not to the solicitor.
-It is probable that in such a case his professional adviser would be abput the only man with whom the client could have a confidential consultation, as, if he spoke to any one else on the matter, that person could not refuse to answer questions put to him by the Comptroller-General. It is for the Committee to say whether a solicitor or professional adviser should be entitled to decline to answer questions which his client would be obliged to answer. I ask honorable senators to carefully consider whether it is desirable that men should be placed in this position. We may not be personally concerned about the decision arrived at, but we are concerned as to the principles by which Parliament should be governed in enacting new laws. I intend to vote for the amendment, because I think it is founded on justice and right principle. It is possible that it might be better framed, but there would be no objection to the Government, if the principle were accepted, framing the proposed section in a way which, in their opinion,’ would best carry out the object which I think we all have in view. Whatever may be the decision of the Committee on the amendment, we have an opportunity to let the public at large know what opinions we hold with respect to it. We know that the force of public opinion has often induced men to change their minds. The House of Representatives will have an opportunity also to deal with the question. If members of the Committee possess the power to legislate in this extreme way, 1 would ask them whether it is wise to exercise that power until they are absolutely satisfied that the course proposed is the best to. adopt in the public interest? We know how the pendulum swings from side to side, and if our legislation is too extreme in a particular direction, we may have to retrace our steps to a greater extent than would be necessary if, ‘in , the first instance, we had been content with more moderate proposals. I have no doubt that wherever honorable senators may sit in this chamber, we are all prepared to pass necessary provisions to enable’ the law dealing with combines and trusts injurious to the public interest to be given effect. I have no desire to cast aspersions upon any honorable senators, but I hope that those who are not carried a.way by prejudice against combines and trusts will see that our legislation on this subject is founded on just principles, and is such as will commend it to public approbation.
– After the lengthy debate that has taken place, I feel disposed to apologize for again trespassing upon the attention of the Committee. I supported Senator Macfarlane’s amendment under the impression that he intended these applications to be made before an ordinary Supreme Court Judge. I would like to ask the honorable senator to revert to his original proposal in this respect. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has made a, comparison between the powers sought for under this Bill and those which are provided for under the Customs Act. I wish to point out that under the Customs Act every person importing goods is supposed to give information as to the character andvalue of those goods in order that duty may be collected upon them. There may be sins of commission and omission, but in every case the evidence which an accused person is required to disclose is evidence which should have been disclosed in the first instance when the goods were imported.
– That is what is proposed here. The evidence asked for should be given in the first instance.
– No. No man conducting business at the present time is supposed to supply the ComptrollerGeneral with evidence as to the nature of the business he is doing. The Government are asking for powers under this Bill far in excess of those which are given in the Customs Act. There is a very wide difference between the two, which the Vice-President of the Executive Council appears to me to be unable to grasp. Under the Customs Act there is an obligation on the part of every person importing goods to give full information in respect of them to the Customs Department. Failure to furnish that information renders an importer guilty of an offence, and the Government are at once justified in demanding evidence from him which may subsequently be used against him with the object of imposing a penalty. But under this Bill the Government ask for very much more extensive powers by which a person in business may be compelled to disclose the whole of his private affairs. I cannot understand the objection to an application to a Judge of the Supreme Court and the establishment of a prima facie case before putting a man into the witness box and compelling him to divulge his private affairs though the Government may find the evidence obtained of no use to them when they have it. I believe that the amendment might very easily be given effect to, but the Government do not appear to be inclined to accept any suggestion emanating from the other side.
– I think that the Minister might accept the amendment. It is a very moderate and reasonable one, and would assist the . Government very materially in administering the law.
– Not it.
- Senator Henderson seems to be of exactly the same opinion as the Government, and that evidently is that if these trusts and combines are to be caught this and no other is the net that will catch them. I have said before that there is no member of theCommittee who is more anxious than I am that combines and trusts injurious to the people as a whole should be restrained.
– But the honorable senator has such a peculiar way of showing it.
– I have no peculiar way of showing it. We have a law which is supposed to be equal’ to every emergency.
– It is not, or we should not be considering this Bill.
– The Government ask for extreme powers quite outside the ordinary law, and that being the case this proposal should be subjected . to the very closest scrutiny. That is the reason why I am trying to persuade the Government to accept the amendment. Although a number of honorable senators who are supporting the Bill, have spoken since I addressed the Committee yesterday, not one of them has attempted to answer the principal argument I adduced, which was that inquiries made in connexion with the purposes of this Bill ought to be conducted before, or by some independent person.
– Didthe honorable senator suggest where the independent person can be found?
– The honorable senator did not even sav what he meant by an independent person.
– Honorable senators know perfectly well what I said and what I meant. Thev recognised the force of the argument, and by their silence thev have admitted that they could not answer it. They talked all round the subject, and certain honorable senators went so far as to accuse honorable senators on this side of villainy, and of standing behind these trusts. That is what the tyrant invariably does.
– Who said that?
– If the honorable senator kept his ears open, he would know what is going on about him. It was said on more than one occasion. Instead of meeting our arguments, honorable senators have got up and accused us-
– Of trying to defeat the Bill.
-Of trying to defeat the Bill, and of being animated by the meanest possible motives.
– Is not that really what the honorable senator is trying to do- to defeat the Bill?
– Our contention is that the provisions of the Bill are so drastic that it should not be placed on the statute-book except in some great extremity. That extremity has not arisen. We have no evidence of it except the unsupported allegations of senators who are voting with the Government. We have not had a single word of evidence, or a document submitted in support of their contention. The circumstances which would justify the passing ot such legislation as this should be so extreme . as to be on the verge of revolution. But we have nothing of that character here in Australia at the present moment. There was an occasion in Queensland when the Government was seized by panic and proposed legislation of a similar character to this. Instead of members of the Labour Party supporting it as they are doing here, some half-dozen of them were named by the Speaker, and suspended from the service of the House for the way in which they opposed it.
– That is a different thing altogether.
– Senator McGregor tauntedme a few minutes ago with acting in opposition to the members of my party in connexion with this Bill. That is quite true. I believe thatI am right, and that the other members of my party are wrong. I believe that, just as the members of my party stood for right and justice in the administration of the law in Queensland in 1894, I am standing for exactly the same thing in the Commonwealth Parliament in 1907. I believe that my honorable friends are being led off the right track by the Government. Believing that, am I not justified in saying it ? Why can I not take up the position that I do, without being censured by the honorable senator? I am just as capable of coming to a conclusion on this or any other subject . as any member of my party can be, not excepting Senator McGregor himself. Irepeat that those who are supporting the Government in this matter are departing from the fundamental principles of justice, and when thev do that, thev never shall be supported by me. I do not care what Government is in power ; even if it were a Labour Government, I should take up exactly the same position as I do now.
– The honorable senator is a great man !
– Ido not make any pretensions to greatness. I am only trying to carry out my duties in a conscientious fashion. I am not in the habit of sneering at any senator when he rises to express his ideas, and I would advise my honorable friend to abandon his habit of doing so. It would be very much more in accordance with his dignity if he did. Senator Macfarlane’s amendment provides that the Comptroller-General shall make a motion before a Judge in Chambers with regard to the getting of evidence. I again say that that is a much fairer provision, and one much more in consonance with our law and practice, than that which has been placed in the Bill by the Government, and which gives the Comptroller-General power, so to speak, to make a domiciliary visit to the premises of any business man in Australia. The Comptroller-Genera, without notice and without warrant-
– Why should not he?
– Is that the honorable senator’s idea of how justice should be administered? Suppose that a murder were committed in Melbourne, and that a police officer tapped Senator Lynch on the shoulder and invited him to go to the police office and, when he was there, asked him to prove that he did not kill the man. What would Senator Lynch say to that ?
– A man might be asked to prove many things.
SenatorSTEWART.-The honorable senator will, of course, try to find arguments to bolster up his case. He will ransack heaven and earth - and the other place, for them; and it requires a good deal of ransacking to get arguments to support this provision.
– I would not ransack heavenand earth to find arguments to help these Frankenstein monsters, the trusts.
– I am trying to place before honorable senators my idea as to what the administration of justice ought to be. I ask again - what would Senator Lynch sayto a policeman who took him to prison and asked him to prove his innocence, because a murder had been committed?
– Does this Bill propose to do a thing like that?
– It proposes to do something similar. It gives the ComptrollerGeneral power to go into a man’s office without a warrant, and without authority, solely on the suspicion that ah offence has been committed, to seize that man’s books and business documents, and compel him to answer questions. If he refuses or obstructs the Comptroller-General or his deputy, he is subjected to a fine.
– How many men are arrested on suspicion?
– But in many cases they are known to the police as habitual criminals.
– The persons proceeded against under this Bill would be known to the Comptroller-General before he took action.
– I do not believe in a law of that kind, any more than I believe in this. I do not think that it is a proper thing to arrest a man, put him in gaol, and keep him there, without a trial, on suspicion. Such a practice is subversive of all our ideas of justice.
– Drastic cases need drastic remedies.
– It is the law in every State in the Commonwealth.
– It ought not to be the law.
– The honorable senator had an opportunity of altering the law for six years in Queensland, and did not exercise it.
– If I were to quote the speeches made by Senator Turley in Queensland in connexion with a certain Bill, honorable senators would come to the conclusion that he had changed his mind since then.
SenatorTurley. - Not a bit of it.
– No one was stronger against the law referred to than he was ; and there was no more reason for that law than there is for this. The ordinary laws of Queensland were quite sufficient to cope with any difficulties which had arisen up to that date, and my contention is that the ordinary law of the Commonwealth!, with slight additions or modifications to meet difficulties that arose in connexion with trusts, would be sufficient without these drastic provisions. The Bill gives the Comptroller-General, who is not an independent officer, but a man subject at any moment to suspension or dismissal at the hands of the Government
– The honorable senator repeats that statement, but it is not correct. The Government cannot dismiss an officer.
– Who can?
– The Public Service Commissioner.
– Has not the Government power to suspend him ?
– On a specific charge.
– Is it not easy to trump up a charge? If a Government wanted to get rid of an office, I have not the slightest doubt that it would find ways and means of doing so.
– The Government that did that would soon be disposed of by Parliament.
– We know how far-reaching the power of Parliament is, but it is not easily moved. We likewise know how difficult it is to kick a Government out of power. Although it is very easy in theory, when we come to put it into practice we find it to be one of the most difficult things imaginable. What party would demand that a Government should be expelled from office simply because it dismissed an officer? We never heard of such a thing.
– Because it dismissed him corruptly ?
– That would not be proved. Very good care would be taken, if there were corruption, that it should not leak out. The honorable senator has been quite long enough in politics to know that what I have said is absolutely correct.
– I have been quite long enough in politics to know that there is no instance of a Government having so acted.
– That may be; but why give such powers to an officer who is not independent? Let honorable senators show that the Comptroller-Generalis an independent officer.
– Would the honorable senator apply that line of reasoning to the Comptroller-General in respect of Customs prosecutions ?
– There is no analogy between what is proposed by this Bill and Customs prosecutions. Did the honorable senator listen to Senator Symon’s exposition on that point? If so, he ought to have been convinced. If he had listened to Senator Symon, and is not convinced,
I need not trouble my head about him any further.
– I am convinced that the Government have not been able to initiate prosecutions against these combines under the present Act.
- Senator Symon convinced me that there was no analogy between the power of the ComptrollerGeneral with regard to entries under the Customs Act and the powers contained in this Bill.
– All the prosecutions under the Customs Act do not relate to entries.
– That is how Senator Stewart is misled. Senator Symon could not mislead us in that way.
– Thehonorable senator knows top much, I suppose.
– I know that the Comptroller-General of Customs has more power under the Customs Act than Senator Symon made out.
– If a merchant does not make an entry can the ComptrollerGeneral take proceedings against him ?
– Yes; in a thousand cases. If the honorable senator had only remained in the chamber, he would have heard me deal with the matter most fully.
– I am sorry that I did not hear the explanation, but, really, I cannot see how . it is possible for the Comptroller-General to take any proceedings against a man who has had no dealings with the Customs.
– Suppose that he smuggles, and makes no entry?
- Senator Symon explained all that.
– If the honorable senator had heard the Minister’s explanation, would it ‘have altered his opinion ?
– I am not very sure that it would. 1 have heard a number of explanations from Senator Best,and each one has convinced me more and more of the wickedness of these provisions. Senator Henderson himself attempted to defend the Minister, and failed miserably. He, too, confirmed me more and more in my opinion. He argued for my particular side of the case rather than for his own. He admitted that the Bill is a drastic one, that the powers sought to be obtained by the Government are such as ought not to be conferred upon any one except in a very extraordinary case. What weare trying to arrive at now is a compromise between the extremely drastic provision of the Government and the amendment.
SenatorW. Russell. - There is no room for it.
– I am extremely sorry that the Government insist upon having the Bill, and nothing but the Bill. I think that the arguments which have been advanced by those who are opposed to this provision ought to have some weight with honorable senators.
– The trouble is that we have not heard any good ones.
– Last night the honorable senator got up, and, instead of treating the Committee to arguments, he adopted the well-worn method of the attorney who has no case. All that he did was to abuse the adversary.
– That is the only thing one can do, because the honorable senator will not listen to arguments.
– It is so difficult to defend the. case that really the only thing which honorable senators can do is to abuse the other side, but abuse is not argument. Not a speaker has dealt with the argument which I adduced, and that is, that these powers ought to be placed in the hands of some person independent of the Government.
– The Minister dealt with the whole thing this afternoon.
– I am very sorry I did not hear the speech.
– That is not his fault.
– I remained in the chamber for a certain time, and while I was here Senator Best did not touch that portion of the subject.
– Would the honorable senator like the Minister to go over it again?
– I shall be very glad indeed if the Minister will. Unless he adopts the arts of the sophists, it will be impossible for him to bring forward any substantial reasons against what I said.
– The honorable senator said just now that all the offences against the Customs Act are in regard to entries, and that that is what has convinced him. Would he like me to quote half-a-dozen cases for his edification?
– I shall be very glad if the Minister will. He was Minister of Trade and Customs in Victoria for a number of years, and therefore ought to know something.
– But would the honorable senator be convinced if I did?
– I am not quite sure that I would be convinced. From the beginning I have thought the powers taken in this provision too drastic. I have heard no arguments to convince me to the contrary, and I do not think that I am likely to hear any, because, so far as I can see, no reason can be adduced for straining the ordinary law of the country in such an extraordinary fashion. I have no intention of “stone-walling”’ the measure. The sooner it is done with the better I shall be pleased, but I hope that honorable senators will give the amendment some consideration.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Sub-clause 2of this proposed new section reads -
No person shall refuse or fail to answer questions or produce documents when required to do so in pursuance of this section.
Penalty, Fifty pounds.
After the Comptroller-General, acting on his own sweet will, has called upon a person to come forward and expose his most private affairs, he can under this provision say to the man, “You have a cupboard in your wife’s room. What is in the cupboard?” Apparently, if the man says, “ I think that is an irrelevant question, and I will not answer it,” he will have no chance of showing that he has the right to refuse to givean answer. He must answer the question, right or wrong, or be liable to a penalty - of course, on proof - of £50.
– My honorable friend is underan utter misapprehension.
-There is the simple wording of the provision.
– It does not say anything of the kind.
– It gives the Comptroller-General the power to ask any question he likes.
– No, only in relation to an offence under sections 4, 5, 7, 8, or 9 of the principal Act.
– Unless I misunderstand the position, it gives the ComptrollerGeneral the right to ask any question if he thinks or believes that it is pertinent to the issue, and nobody can say that it is not a proper thing for him to think or believe. However, if the sweet reasonableness which is supposed to pervade the Government and their supporters really exists, I suggest to them that they should accept a very slight amendment which will meet the case exactly, and that is to insert the words “ without just cause or excuse” after the word “ shall “ in the first line of sub-clause 2 of this proposed new section.
– That is the first amendment over again.
– The Government are taking up the same attitude as before. They will not allow a man to refuse to answer a question in any circumstances whatever. It is not the point to saythat the Comptroller-General will not ask questions of this kind. The point is that under the Bill, if the ComptrollerGeneral chooses to say that a certain question should be put - or if the officials appointed by him are of opinion that it should be put - the person who isquestioned cannot refuse to answer on the ground that it has nothing to do with the case or affects an absolutely private matter. If he does refuse, he is liable to a penalty of £50. Then if he is proceeded against for the recovery of the penalty, he is not entitled to set up any defence other than the defence that he did answer the question. He cannot plead, “To answer the question would involve me in a criminal action,” or, “ The question had nothing whatever to do with the case,” or, “ To answer the question would involve the exposure of my private affairs, which have nothing to do with the business.” He can make no excuse whatever.
– He can.
– According to this provision he cannot. It is laid down absolutely and clearly that a man must reply to any question which the Comptroller-General thinks it desirable to ask. If he lies in reply, he is liable to a heavy penalty. If he does not reply, he is also liable to a heavy penalty. When the Government proceed to recover the penalty for a refusal to answer, there is no provision to allow him to say, “ I refusedto answer the question for a reasonable cause. I have a just and lawful excuse for not answering,” and then to set forth to the Court what that just and reasonable excuse was. The Government should accept the amendment if they honestly wish to do what is fair and proper. We are not asking them now to introduce a Judge into the matter, although the Vice-President of the Executive Council just now interjected that this was the same amendment over again.
– I said that this was Senator Symon’s amendment over again.
– The amendments are not on all fours, because in the one case it restedwith the ComptrollerGeneral to prove the ‘ ‘ reasonable grounds,” while in this case the liability to prove “ reasonable excuse” is on the person refusing to answer the question. The Government have already given the ComptrollerGeneral carte blanche to ask practically any question he likes. It is, therefore, reasonable that the man who is called upon to answer the questions - he need not necessarily be the man concerned in the trust, for he may be a banker who is asked to expose his customers’ accounts, because it is supposed that they may have a bearing upon the question of the existence of a trust - should have a right to plead reasonable excuse.
– The Government do not wish to leave any loop-hole.
– The Government wish to hang people without trial. I am objecting to that principle. 1 am asking for the same right as is given to any ordinary individual, from the murderer downwards in the scale of crime. The amendment is not an exceptional one, and will not injure the Bill in any way.
– How would the honorable senator prove that the excuse was reasonable?
– Certain honorable senators would not allow any man to defend himself if they had their own way, so long as they were the top-dogs. If that is not the case, T am sure that they will support the amendment. I do not think that even the Vice-President of the Executive Council, with all his ability and ingenuity, can prove that the amendment would injure the general objects of the measure. I beg to move -
That after thu word “shall,” line 12, the following words be inserted - “ without just cause, or excuse.”
– If honorable senators would pay me the compliment of reading the Bill, some of these amendments would not be launched. I interjected that this was practically the same amendment as that submitted by Senator Symon, and defeated by a substantial majority. I pointed out that the result of Senator Symon’s amendment would be to enable the defendant or alleged delinquent to hang up the whole prosecution until his own . ulterior objects had been served, by going to the Court with the plea that certain questions were not asked “ on. reasonable grounds.” Let me now examine what Senator Chataway, under a complete misapprehension, submits to the Committee. What is the offence provided against in the Bill ? Clause 4, with which we are dealing, amends PartII. of the principal Act by inserting certain provisions. Part II. of the principal Act refers to the suppression of monopolies. The offences are specifically mentioned in sections 4t 5, 7, 8, and 9. The particular provision now before the Committee- proposed new section 15B - says that if the ComptrollerGeneral “ believes that an offence has been committed against this part of the Act,” he shall be at liberty to ask any questions. It must be distinctly understood that the only questions that he can ask are questions which relate to the particular offences to which I have referred.
– It says, “ if he believes.”
– I am pointing out the only circumstances in which a man is liable to a penalty under this provision. He must refuse to answer a question relating to any of those offences. If he is asked an irrelevant question,, he incurs no liability at all by refusing to answer.
– Who is to be the judge of that?
– The Court, undoubtedly.
– What Court?
– I am amazed that a lawyer should ask me such a question.
– Then accept the amendment.
– No ; because it is totally unnecessary. Does the honorable senator desire to allow a defendant or alleged delinquent to refuse to answer a question relating to the offences under Part II. of the principal Act?
– I do not, at any rate.
– Nor, do I think that Senator Chataway desires to do so. As a matter of law, as regards any questions outside of those relevant to the offences I have mentioned, when the person is summoned for the £50 penalty, all that he has to show is that the question did not relate to any trust or combine, or to any of the offences provided for in Part II. of the Act. He can therefore defend the action, and prove, to use Senator Chataway’s words, that he had “just cause and excuse” for not answering the question. If he proves, by way of just cause and excuse, that the question related only, in Senator Chataway’s language, to, “ What he had for dinner yesterday,’’ or “ What was in the cupboard,” he will certainly not be liable. He is, to be liable only in respect of the direct questions indicated in the clause. No words could be clearer, if my honorable friend would study them. In these circumstances, I ‘hope that he will withdraw the amendment, 01. at any rate, that we shall not have flutter discussion on it.
– Stronger reasons for accepting the amendment could not have been given than those offered by’ the Vice-President of the Executive Council in his explanation. He has shown that Senator Chataway is only trying to make it clear that the defence which a man may offer to the ComptrollerGeneral for refusing to answer his questions is a defence which he can offer in a Court of law. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has himself said that if the questions have no relation to the alleged offences the Comptroller-General cannot ask them. Then why, when the ComptrollerGeneral brings him before a Court, should he not have the privilege of raising the same defence there?
– He will have it.
– The person is allowed a defence before the ComptrollerGeneral, but the Vice-President of the Executive Council refuses to allow it to be expressed in the Bill, so that he may use it in a Court of law.
– Does the honorable senator want to word the Bill in such a way that even if legitimate questions are asked, the man cannot be compelled to answer them, and consequently the measure will be of no avail ?
– Stick to the point. The Minister only says that the amendment is unnecessary.
– I said more than that.
– If the man need not answer the question of the ComptrollerGeneral, then, when the ComptrollerGeneral seeks to recover a penalty, why should he not be allowed to give to the Court the reason which he had for refusing to give an answer to the ComptrollerGeneral? We have tried to have these matters dealt with by a Judge of the High Court, or even by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has explained that under this Bill the ComptrollerGeneral will be unable to ask a question that is not relevant to the offence charged, or that if he does the person interrogated need not answer the question. All that Senator Chataway asks by his amendment is that that defence against a charge of refusingto answer questions may be embodied in the Bill.
– The Opposition wish to give a guilty man an opportunity of escaping as well as the innocent man ?
– When honorable senators opposite are hard driven they impute motives.
– Hard driven ? The division was fourteen to seven.
– I am not talking of numbers, and as Senator Turley has again interjected let me remind him of the famous saying of a German poet -
Against stupidity even the gods war in, vain.
– We know it.
– I may answer Senator Turley by saying that we know that the numbers are up on the other side, and against numbers we war in vain.
– Numbers are not so bad as stupidity.
– That is so, but when they are combined they form a very strong force to tackle. I am very glad; that Senator Chataway has drawn from the Vice-President of the Executive Council the explanation that it is open to a person charged to refuse to answer a question put to him by the ComptrollerGeneral on the ground that it is not relevant to the offence with which he is charged. The honorable senator went to the trouble of explaining the offences upon which questions might be aske3. Senator Chataway sarcastically suggested certain questions which, it is reasonable to suppose, the Comptroller-General would not address himself to; and after the explanation given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council we need no longer concern ourselves with questions irrelevant to the offences charged. It is admitted that it would be a good defence to a refusal to answer such questions to claim that they did not relate to the offence, and Senator , Chataway’s amendment merely asks that a person charged with refusing to answer a question may submit the same defence when the ComptrollerGeneral brings him before a Court of law to recover the proposed penalty of £50.
– It is there already.
– Then why do honorable senators resist the amendment if it is provided for already? Why do they fear a harmless repetition of the same matter when, according to the VicePresident of the Executive Council’s own statement, it would give a man charged a fair opportunity of defence?
– The honorable senator is misrepresenting me, quite unconsciously no doubt. He might allow me to put what I did say in two or three words.
– Very well.
– I dealt with the amendment from two stand-points. First, from the stand-point of questions relevant to the offences dealt with in the AntiTrust Act, I said that the amendment ismost objectionable and, in fact, contains all the objectionable features which characterized Senator Symon’s amendment. I made that so perfectly clear that I do not think any Other honorable senator could have misunderstood it. But from the stand-point of questions irrelevant to the offences charged, I explained that the amendment is totally unnecessary, because, according to the terms of the Bill, that defence is open to a defendant.
– I am glad that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has again made the matter quite clear. We have surely been entitled to impress upon the honorable senator the force of what he has said himself. I submit that if from that point of view of irrelevant questions he considers the amendment unnecessary he might reasonably agree to accept it.
– But it is also objectionable; that is the point.
– I do not think that it is objectionable. On the contrary, I think that it would help to give effect to what the honorable senator desires. However, I shall not press the matter further. The Vice-President of the Executive Council no doubt believes that he is doing his duty in opposing the amendment, but I think that if it were accepted it would be found that it is neither unnecessary nor objectionable.
.- I move -
That after the word “ documents,” line 19, the following words be inserted : - “ and until such certified copy or copies shall be furnished such person or corporation shall be allowed full inspection of any such books and documents during all business hours and such other times as the Comptroller-General may in his discretion allow.”
I think it must be admitted that that is a fair amendment. I am asking only that these people shall have access to their documents, books and , papers during business hours and at the discretion of the Comptroller-General. I believe that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has admitted that some such amendment might reasonably be proposed. The books and documents will have been impounded and will be in the possession or under the control of the Comptroller-General, and I do not think that it can be said that it would unduly interfere with the administration of the law if the persons concerned were allowed access to them at the discretion of the Comptroller-General. They might be impounded for a month while a case was being prepared, and it would be a very great hardship if during the whole of that time business men were refused access to their books.
– I should like to see the wording of the amendment, but I think that all that the honorable senator suggests isprovided for in the Bill.
– I do not propose that the persons interested should be allowed to remove books or documents from the custody of the Comptroller-General, but merely that they should have access to them for business purposes at the ComptrollerGeneral’s discretion. I am as strongly opposed as is any member of the Committee to any combine, corporation, or individual doing anything inimical to the public interests.
– I have not seen the honorable senator vote in that way.
– I have felt that the provisions of this Bill are too drastic and that something should have been done to test the efficacy of the law which was passed last year. The Government are unable to say that the legislation we havepassed has not been effective, and they therefore require a more drastic law, because they have not put that legislation into operation. If they had been in a position to prove that they were unable to do what is right and necessary under the existing law, I should have been willing to help them to pass a more drastic measure.
– Why discuss the whole question again ?
– I have no wish to do so, and was only induced to do so by Senator W. Russell’s interjection. I am still prepared to assist the Government in dealing with trusts and combines injurious to the public, but I must be allowed to exercise my own discretion as to the right way in which to deal with them. I hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council will see his way to accept my amendment, which will give some security that, under the law, people will not be harassed unnecessarily.
– The books referred to are, according to the terms of the proposed new section, to be under the control of the ComptrollerGeneral.
– What I desire is that access to the books shall be had until such time as copies of them can be obtained.
– It will be seen that power is to be given to the ComptrollerGeneral, or any person named by him, to make copies or extracts from books or documents.
– I. do not object to that ; but it may take a month to make the copies.
– I do not think that this is the place to make the amendment.
– I will withdraw the amendment for the present, and submit another later.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council from what Act sub-clause 4 of this proposed new section has been taken? I believe I am correct in saying that it is practically a copy of a section of the Insolvency Law. It bears more or less directly on the question of communications between solicitors and clients. I understood the honorable senator to say that in the case of offenders against the measure the usual confidence would not be respected. I wish to know whether I am correct in my assumption that the provision is a copv of the Insolvency Law dealing with debtors who are suspected of fraudulent practices?
– The wording of the sub-clause is practically the same as section 11 of the Australian Industries, Preservation Act.
– Is it not taken from the Insolvency Law ?
– Practically, that is so.
– In that case the position of the solicitor towards his client becomes more intelligible. In insolvency proceedings, when a man is brought up under certain circumstances, he is bound to answer questions with regard to his affairs. I will take the Minister’s assurance that this is practically the same provision.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new section 15c-
I move -
That after the word “complaint,” line 1, the words “ on oath “ be added.
I think that if a person charges another with being guilty of an offence, the statement ought to be made on oath. As these words appear in the Customs Act, I think that the Minister might accept the amendment.
– As the proposed new section is largely founded on the Customs Act, I have no objection to the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the words “ named by him,” line 4, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ appointed by him in writing.”
I think that the word “ named “ is rather loose, and that the direction ought to be given in writing.
– I have no objection to the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section, as amended, agreed to.
Proposed new section 15D -
The Comptroller-General may impound or retain any book or document produced to him or to any person named by him in pursuance of the preceding section, but the person or corporation otherwise entitled to such book or document shall in lieu thereof be entitled to a copy certified as correct by the Comptroller-General, and such certified copy shall be receivable in all Courts as evidence and of equal validity with the original.
Amendment (by Senator St. Ledger) agreed to -
That the word “named,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ so appointed.”
Amendment (by Senator Sayers) proposed -
That the following words be added : - “And until such copy or copies shall be furnished such person or corporation shall be allowed full inspection of any such books and documents during all business hours and at such other times as the Comptroller-General in his discretion may allow.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment, with a view to move it with a slight alteration which has been suggested to me by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ And until such certified copy is supplied the ComptrollerGeneral may at such times and places as he shall think proper permit such person, or in the case of a corporation, any person appointed for the purpose by the corporation, to inspect and take extracts from the books and documents so impounded or retained.”
In that form the amendment will meet my views. The Minister thinks that it will not interfere with the Bill as a whole, and it will certainly give facilities to persons who may feel themselves aggrieved to inspect the books and documents. I have no wish that any person should do an act which would be against the public interest. I understand that the Minister will accept the amendment, and therefore I need not make any further remarks.
– I accept the amendment.
– I do not wish to offer any undue opposition to the amendment, but I think we could have saved the situation without allowing any person from or on behalf of a corporation to inspect the books or documents. We have proceeded on the supposition that the Comptroller-General will always be a man possessing keen business capacity. Therefore it is natural to suppose that if he exercises the power to impound books or documents he will take the earliest possible steps to have copies of them made and forwarded at once to those who are directly affected.
– Would he forward a copy of a whole ledger?
– I do not think that the amendment, if adopted, will meet that objection. In my opinion, every possible safeguard has been taken in the Bill, so far as the protection of a corporation or person may be concerned. It is provided in proposed section 15c that if the ComptrollerGeneral believes the complaint to be well founded he may do so-and-so, but I hold that, in order to insure that there shall be no undue delay in forwarding copies of any books or documents, we should insert after the word . “ be,” in line 8, certain words, and so maintain the position which we have taken up throughout the consideration of the Bill. Strenuous objections have been urged against the ComptrollerGeneral being invested with these large powers. But if we accept the amendment of Senator Savers we shall at once permit the officers of a corporation or person to come in and make extracts from the books and documents.
– The ComptrollerGeneral may be using all possible expedi tion, and yetthere maybe some special point in respect of which the parties cannot wait.
– I think that the Comptroller-General could deal with such an emergency without the assistance of any person acting on behalf of the corporation. If the amendment be negatived, I propose to move the insertion of the following words after the word “be,” “ without undue delay forwarded to such person or corporation who are the owners of the impounded book or document, and shall - “
If we insert that provision we shall maintain the entire supervision of the ComptrollerGeneral and the officers whom he may appoint, to carry out his instructions. It has been determined that the ComptrollerGeneral shalldo certain things, and that he may depute his authority to persons in different States, but we are now asked by Senator Sayers to recognise persons in connexion with a trust or corporation whom, in other parts of the Bill, we decline to countenance. If we accept the amendment, we shall, to a certain extent, stultify ourselves, because it will be equivalent to saying that the Comptroller-General and his officers are not fit to deal with the making of copies of impounded books or documents. If he is fit to conduct an inquiry and to ask certain questions, it must be taken for granted that he will understand the great inconvenience which would be caused to a corporation or person by unnecessary delay in the making copies and forwarding them to those concerned. I understand that the Minister has accepted the amendment.
– It is quite unobjectionable.
– I cannot perceive the relevancy of the amendment, when I recollect the position which we have taken up throughout the consideration, of the Bill, and therefore I intend to oppose it.
– My. honorable friend must be under a misapprehension. He will remember that, under the Bill, the Comptroller-General will have the power to require the production of- certain books and documents. Those books and documents remain in the possession of the owners, but now we have come to a provision in. which it is laid down that it shall be competent for the Comptroller-General to impound and detain certain books, in circumstances which may appear to him to. render that step justifiable. We have reached the stage that the books and documents belonging to a person or corporation are detained or impounded by the ComptrollerGeneral. The provision goes on to say that, in order that no undue disturbance of business shall take place, their owners shall be entitled to certified copies. The books or documents may be voluminous. It may take from one to fifteen days or more to make the copies, and the amendment provides that it shall be competent for the Comptroller-General at such times, and in such places as he shall think proper, to permit the owner or owner’s representative to inspect them, and, if necessary, to take extracts from them. That is carrying out the general principle of the B ill that, until a man is convicted of an offence, every facility shall be afforded to him to carry on his business. The ComptrollerGeneral has the books; but a man, in carrying on his business, may require to’see them for fifty different purposes. It will be necessary for a man to inspect the books for the purpose of enabling him to deal with- charges made against himself, and also to efficiently instruct his lawyers.
– Why not allow the Comptroller-General’s officers to do the work ?
– They are already engaged in making certified copies for the man; but, in the meantime, he must see the books for the purposes which I have suggested. It would be very harsh and unreasonable to deny him that opportunity. The amendment will not weaken the position of the Comptroller-General. Even if it were not made, in fairness and justice he would deem it his duty to produce the books to him at any time.
– Then, what is the use of the amendment?
– It is thought by a section of the Committee that it is a reasonable protection to give the ComptrollerGeneral.
– That is a change of front from the honorable senator’s attitude on another provision.
– The amendment will not weaken the provision in the slightest degree, nor, so far as I could avoid it, has any amendment which would weaken the Bill been permitted. The amendment will only operate in ‘the line of justice, and I can assure the honorable senator that he need not be at all apprehensive regarding it.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new section, as amended, agreed to.
Proposed new section 15E agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
– I move -
That the adoption of the report be made an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
Certain amendments were circulated by Senator McGregor. I discussed them with him, and, as I have already announced the intention of the Government to dealwith all or part of the subject-matter of them, Senator McGregor has agreed not to press them for the present. He did so principally on the representations which T have made as to our intentions, and, further, on my pointing out to him that this is a machinery Bill, the character of which Ido not wish to have interfered with.
– In what Bill will the Government deal with those amendments?
– In a new Bill which we shall introduce, as I promised when speaking on the Navigation Bill.
– I thoroughly understand the position taken up by the Government. I know that this is a Bill dealing with procedure, and that, if other matters were introduced into it, they might delay its passage. As I have been informed that the Government are anxious for this Bill to be passed, so that action may be possible in the near future, and having the promise of the Government to introduce another measure to deal specially with rebates and practices of that description, I do not intend to press the amendments which I have circulated. In other circumstances, I should have asked for the recommittal of the Bill at this stage.
– Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council bear in mind, in connexion with the Bill which it is proposed to introduce,the questions that I have asked here recently regarding the preferential charges which obtain in the north-west portions of Western Australia, and which are tantamount to the rebate system? Will he see, as the result of the inquiries which I know that he is now and has been for some time past making, whether a provision can be included in that measure to put a stop to the injustice which is going on at the present time, and which has the effect of preventing the producers of the northwest of Western Australia from taking full advantage of their natural port?
– Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council consider whether he can agree to recommit the Bill for the further consideration of the various provisions of clause 4? Our objection was that at some stage of the preliminary proceedings there should be the intervention of a Court of law, but as the Bill now stands there is to be no intervention by any Court between the Comptroller- General and all the machinery provisions of the clause.
– It will not be in order to discuss a question of that character at this stage. This discussion so far has been very irregular, but I am not objecting to any information being obtained.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I beg to move -
That this Bill be now read a second time
Since the Senate granted leave for the introduction of this Bill, about a fortnight ago, the Bill has been placed in honorable senators’ hands. They will have observed that in compass - so far as regards the number of clauses - it is very small, but those clauses in themselves are all important in connexion with the administration of the Excise Tariff Act. No. 1.6 of 1906, which was passed during the session before last, and is more frequently referred to as the Harvester Excise Act. Under that Act it was provided that certain agricultural machinery specified in the schedule should, when made in Australia, be subject to Excise duty, with an exemption applying to such machinery when made under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -
The measure was assented to on 12 th October, 1906. Its operative section provides that -
Duties of Excise shall on and from the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven, be imposed on the dutiable goods specifiedin the schedule at the rates specified in the said schedule.
At the time the Bill was before Parliament, and also on the 1st of January last, there were in various States manufacturers turning out the particular articles specified in the schedule. Many of them had been doing so for some time, and there was, and is, every reason to believe that they would continue to do so for many years to come. It was thought desirable that every opportunity should be given to the persons engaged in these industries to show that they were exempt from the Excise duty on the ground that the conditions under which the implements were produced in their factories were such as might be included in paragraphs a, b, c, and d of the proviso which I ‘ have already quoted. It was impossible during recess to obtain a declaration from both Houses of Parliament with respect to the conditions of any of those industries, and it was difficult to bring them under paragraphs b or c, because, so far as I know, no proceedings have been taken in relation to any of them under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The only other opportunity, therefore, that was afforded to those engaged in the industry to show that the conditions of labour were such as to exempt them from the Excise was afforded by paragraph d. Under that provision a number of employers engaged in manufacturing these articles made applications to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The first application was made by D. Sim and Sons, of Morpeth, New South Wales, and was dealt with by Mr. Justice O’Connor, the President of the Court, on 16th February of this year. After hearing the evidence His Honour granted the exemption. He also took the opportunity of laying down the procedure that should apply to all similar subsequent applications. A case in which the applicants were Messrs Bagshaw and Sons, of Adelaide, was dealt with in Melbourne on 28th March last, and adjourned from Melbourne to Ade- laide on 8th April. It was then further adjourned in order that the employers and employes might come to an agreement. They did so in June last. The Judge adoptedthe agreement, and, on 6th June, granted all the South Australian applications received up to that date. Since then, Mr. Justice Higgins, who succeeded Mr. Justice O’Connor in the presidency of the Court, has granted six additional South Australian applications, and referred one back for further particulars. That covers the whole of the applications received from South Australia up to date. From Western Australia ten applications , for exemption have been made to the President of the Court, and one from New South Wales has been part heard. On the 21st Maylast one application from Queensland from F. Richter was granted, and three more from that State remain to be dealt with at the present sittings of the Court. On the same day, 21st May, the President of the Court was proceeding to deal with 101 Victorian applications, but as it was brought under his notice that there was a Wages Board for fixing the wages of agricultural implement makers in Victoria, and a finding of that Board was expected to be arrived at in September, His Honor very properly - and I think honorable senators will agree with me when I say that-decided not to deal with those applications there and then, but to await the determination of the Wages Board specially constituted for dealing with that particular industry. He accordingly adjourned the hearing of the first of such applications until 24th September. When the 24th September, arrived there was still no finding from, the Wages Board in Victoria appointed to deal with this particular industry, and on that date Mr. Justice Higgins, the present President of the Court, finding that the Wages Board had not arrived at the finding which his predecessor had anticipated, and for which he had adjourned the hearing of the applications, decided to go on with them.
Those applications are now being dealt with.
– The finding of the Court in these cases will take the place of a decision of the Wages Board.
– Quite so, so far as the operation of the Excise Act is concerned.
– Would it not be bet- t er that the question should be settled by t he Wages Board, which, I presume, is c omposed of experienced men and ap- pointed for the special purpose of fixing fair wages?
– Probably the i dea in the mind of the President of the Court in adjourning the hearing of the applications was to ascertain what the finding of the Wages Board would be, and if he thought it satisfactory he might then declare that, provided the manufacturers adhered to the conditions laid down by the Wages Board, they should be entitled to exemption under this Act.
– It would not necessarily follow that if the Wages Board had come to a determination that would settle the matter, because many persons engaged in the industry would not be affected by a determination of the Wages Board in question.
– Quite so; the finding of the Wages Board of itself is of no value in relation to the Act, but Mr. Justice O’Connor decided that until the Wages Board finding was arrived at, as possibly a guide for himself, he would not determine the conditions with which the manufacturers must comply in order to entitle them to exemption under the Act.
– I thought that decisions of the Wages Board came within the purview of this Court.
– That is so where matters are referred by the Court to Wages Boards for their decision. I have already quoted paragraph d, of section 2, of the Excise Act, under which it is provided that the Excise shall not apply 1.0 goods manufactured under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -
Are on an application made for the purpose to the President of the Commonwealth Courtof Conciliation and Arbitration declared to be fail and reasonable by him or by a Judge of the Supreme Courtof a State or any person or persons who compose a State Industrial Authority to whom he may refer the matter.
– Is not the Victorian Wages Board a State industrial authority
– Yes, but these matters were not referred to the Victorian Wages Board.
– I have a great belief in Wages Boards, and I had no idea that we had left them with so little authority in these matters.
– The honorable senator must see that we could not have left these matters to the decision of a Wages Board in one State, and of a different industrial authority in another, when the object was to lay down conditions which had to be complied with in order that a manufacturer might obtain exemption under a’ Commonwealth Act applicable to the whole of Australia. But it is left to the President of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to refer, should he thinkfit, any particular matter to any State industrial authority, and, if he does so refer a matter, it is competent for that authority to declare the conditions which shall be fair and reasonable.
– But he might override the decision of a Wages Board.
– Of course he might.
– But could he override the terms of an award of a State Arbitration Court?
– He would have nothing whatever to do with the award as an award, but he might take the conditions laid down under a State Arbitration award, and say that so long as those conditionsare complied with the manufacturer’s of the State shall be exempt under this Act. ‘ Oh the other hand, he might disregard, such an award altogether. He is fulfilling one function and the State Arbitration Court fulfils another.
– I think that both should insist on fair and reasonable wages.
-But a State Arbitration Court, a Wages Board, or a State industrial authority of any other kind, is not incorporated in the Act, and given equal authority with the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
– I am inclined to think they ought to be.
– That is quite another matter, which should have been discussed last year. It is left to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to avail himself of the assistance or guidance of the decision of any of these State industrial authorities where he thinks it desirable to refer matters to such bodies.
– Suppose the New South Wales Parliamentrepeals the State Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and es tablishes Wages Boards, would such tribunals be recognised under the Excise Tariff Act?
– Our Act would discriminate in no way between the two. The reference in the section which I have quoted is to “ a State Industrial Authority,” and that phrase is expressly used to cover various tribunals dealing with such subjects in the different States.
– In some of the States they have neither Wages Boards nor Conciliation Courts..
– In such a case, a person engaged in the industry might apply through the -President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to a Judge of the Supreme Court of his State, or to any person or persons who compose a State Industrial Authority, to whom the President of the Commonwealth Court may refer the matter. Honorable senators will see that Mr. Justice O’Connor, in May last - although there was ho application made to him to do so - for his own better guidance and the assistance of the Court in arriving at a correct determination, decided not to proceed with the applications, but to await the decision of the Victorian Wages Board, which was expected in September. The adjournment was not for the convenience of applicants or objectors, but for the convenience of the President, and for the President’s guidance and assistance. These matters are now being determined. I may say that at the time the Government was given to understand that a number of applications which had been made as early as possible by different manufacturers for exemption under the Act,on the ground that the conditions attaching to the employment of labour were such as clearly justified the granting of exemptions. There was no delay whatever in passing a number of the applications for exemption. I have said that one was referred back to South Australia. A number are awaiting decision, and in the circumstances the Government decided not to collect the Excise after it had been represented to them by theCourt that where matters were left over the applicants should be in no way prejudiced because of the fact that no grant of exemption had been obtained, since they could not have been obtained up to that date.
– Can the honorable senator tell us how many applications have been received, and how many have been granted ?
– I have given that information. I do not know how .many applications were received in Adelaide, but Bagshaw’s was the first dealt with from, that State, and all the applications from South Australia, with one exception, have been granted.
– The decision in Bagshaw’s case covered a number of applications.
– Exactly ; it was a lest case. It was considered first in Melbourne, on the 28th March, and then remitted to Adelaide, where it was heard on the 8th April. It was adjourned for a time to enable employers and employes to come to an agreement, which they did, and on the 6th ‘June, the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration adopted the agreement, and on its terms granted all the South Australian applications received up to that date. Since then Mr. Justice Higgins has granted six other applications from South Australia, and has referred one back for further particulars. There are ten from Western Australia awaiting to be dealt with. One application from New South Wales has been part “heard, and one, that from ^Messrs. Sim and Sons, of Morpeth, was granted on 1 6th February last. One application from Queensland was granted on the 21st May, and three more from that State are to be dealt with at the present sittings. As many as 101 applications from Victoria came up for consideration on 21 st May, and, as I have already pointed out, the President of the Court decided to adjourn the hearing of them until a decision of- the Wages Board, expected in September, was available. The consideration of those applications was again resumed on the 24th September, when no decision of the Wages Board was available, and the present President of the Court is now hearing those applications. It was reported to the Government bv the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration that he had received a number of applications, and was dealing with them as expeditiously as he could, but that he intended to adjourn a certain number because he expected .1 decision of the Victorian Wages Board, and he suggested that in the circumstances the Government should not prejudice any of these applicants by any action taken in the meantime. Accordingly the duty was not imposed, because it would have had to be refunded in all the cases where exemptions have already been, or may be, granted. The Bill contains a number of clauses modelled upon similar provisions appearing in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration “Act. They are designed to give the President of the Arbitration Court when exercising his functions under the Excise Tariff Act of last year all the powers which he requires to effectively carry out. the law. In the first place, he is called upon to decide upon these matters, not strictly in accordance with strict rules of law, but in accordance with equity and good conscience. He is given power at any stage of an application to arrange for the appointment of assessors to advise him. in relation to the subject-matter of the application. Each of the parties to an application is entitled to nominate an assessor. But if they decline or neglect to do so the President may himself appoint an assessor or assessors without any nomination. When we come to the Committee stage on the Bill, I shall ask honorable senators to agree to a slight modification of the clause making provision, which would enable the President of the Court not only to appoint assessors in regard to the application, but in regard to any matter incidental to it. Another ‘ power proposed to be given to the President of the Court is analogous to the power which a Court holds of ordering evidence to be taken on commission. We propose to empower him to authorize any person whom he thinks fit to take evidence for him, and the person having that duty cast upon him under the President’s order will have all the powers and authority for the time being in relation to the taking of that evidence which the President himself would have. We also propose to empower the President to refer matters to experts where the evidence of experts is required ; that is to say, in technical matters or matters of account. We give him the ordinary powers of a. Court to summon persons as witnesses, and order them to produce documents, and power to administer the oath and take evidence on oath. Honorable senators will see that we provide for all these matters’ in clauses which are based upon legislation which has alreadyreceived the sanction of the Commonwealth Parliament. We propose also to empower the President, to punish persons for contempt of Court. That is a necessary power ; and we go beyond the ordinary case of contempt by an outside person, and enable the Judge to deal with witnesses guilty of contemptuous conduct - where, for instance, they refuse to answer questions, or answer them in a way not becoming the dignity of the Court or the importance of the investigation.
– I see that in the proceedings before Mr. Justice Higgins witnesses are being asked questions as to wages received. But why do not they put in the determinations of the Wages Boards?
– There has- been no determination in the industry mentioned.
– They are calling mechanical engineers as witnesses in halfadozen different branches.
– We .give the President of the Court the amplest power to compel the attendance of witnesses, and to compel them to answer questions relevant to the proceedings, and to give all the necessary evidence. We also provide the amplest ‘means of protection to those persons whose business is being inquired into. We make provision for absolute secrecy, both with regard to trade secrets and matters of, accounts and profits that may be disclosed in the ordinary course of the investigations. Under the concluding paragraph of clause 8 no person is to be compelled to give any evidence relating to any trade secret, or to the profits or financial position of any witness or party, except to the President, or to some person ordered by the President to take evidence on his behalf, and no such evidence is to be published in any way without the consent of the person entitled to the trade secret or non-disclosure.
– Why so jealously safeguard parties with regard to the profits which they make, when workmen are made to produce evidence with regard to wages ?
– I think that matters of this kind should, where desired, be kept as far as possible secret. ‘ We empower the President to prevent any evidence from being published. He may, if he sees fit, prohibit the publication of any evidence given in relation to any application, if he considers that it is not in the best interests of those concerned in the application, or of the public generally, that the information should be published. The only other clause of any importance is one usual to measures of this kind - providing, for regulations to be made. I think that honorable senators will see that die measure is, though- small in respect to the number of its clauses, of very great importance. It is intended to complete the powers possessed by the President of the Court of Conciliation- and Arbitration when he is sitting in relation to his duties under the. Act in question. Under ordinary circumstances, in discharging the duties that fall upon him under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, he would have each- and everyone of these powers, but when we passed our Excise Tariff Act of last year - number 1 6 - we simply provided that Excise duties should be imposable, and that, under certain circumstances, persons should be exempted, giving the President of the Court the power to determine whether or not circumstances had arisen to warrant an exemption being ordered. We took it for granted that he would exercise the powers that he has under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act in relation to .these applications. But there is no certainty that he enjoys those powers at all in respect to ‘ these particular functions. It is to make it abundantly certain that he has those powers, and may exercise them so as to discharge his duties as the Judge called upon to determine the applications, that we now submit this measure.. The provisions are in no sense novel, but have received the approval of both Houses of the Parliament in relation to a measure of a much wider scope. I therefore confidently ask honorable senators to join with us in passing this Bill through, in order that the applications may receive that judicial treatment which we expected when we made provision for them last year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses i to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
– I indicated on the second reading of the Bill that I intended to ask the Committee to amend this clause. I now move accordingly -
That after the word “ subject matter,” line 3, the following words be inserted, “ or any matter in connexion therewith.”
.- This appears to me to be a necessary Bill, but when my honorable friend the Minister of Home Affairs was moving the second reading I could not help thinking that we might have conflicting decisions and procedure through different bodies or Courts overlapping.It is worth while to consider whether we ought not, in amending the original Act, to insert a clause providing that persons shall’ be exempt from paying the Excise if they are working in accordance with the decisions of a Wages Board.
– In some instances Wages Boards apply only to certain portions of an industry. But under the Excise Tariff Act, which this Bill amends, every one engaged in an industry is entitled to the protection.
– But supposing that there is aWages Board in an industry, ought not the payment of wages fixed by it to be evidence of the fact that fair and reasonable wages are paid in the industry? It appears from this Bill That the Judge may appoint two assessors, to whom may be referred questions relating to fair and reasonable conditions of labour. This appears to be following the Wages Board system in relation to Commonwealth matters. “ I believe in the Wages Boards, because they are based on the principle of employers and employes sitting together to determine wages under the presidency of an independent person.
– They are practically Courts of Arbitration, composed of experts.
– Of course that is so.
– But while there are Wages Boards in Victoria, in two States there are neither Wages Boards nor Arbitration Courts.
– I understand that. But in those States there may be other means of accomplishing the same purpose. Ought we not to amend the original Act so as to enable the decision of a Wages Board, where it is applicable, to be accepted as evidence of fair and reasonable conditionsbeing observed ?
– This is merely a procedure Bill. I am inclined to think that Mr. Justice Higgins said during the pro ceedings now in progress that he would consider the decision of a Wages Board a very important guide.
– I could not understand the Judge saying anything else. I look upon the decision of a Wages Board as being quite as good an evidence of fairness as an award of the Arbitration Court in New South Wales. Indeed, I think I have read of an expression of opinion by the Premier of New South Wales to the effect that he thought it would be wise to drop the arbitration system of that State and adopt the Wages Board system of Victoria. But if that system is not so perfect as I thought it was, possibly there is not so much in my argument. I have no objection to the Bill-, or to the Minister’s amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted - “ 4a. No person appearing in an application shall be allowed to appear either directly or indirectly by barrister or solicitor, except with the consent of all persons appearing in the application.”
I need not attempt to hide the direct object of this proposed new clause. ‘ My idea is to exclude the members of the legalprofession from the hearing of these cases. If the policy of the new protection is to be saved it will be necessary to prevent lawyers from appearing in these cases. In Victoria we have not had any difficulty under the Wages Board system, because lawyers are not allowed to appear. Take the case which has been proceeding for a considerable time in the Excise Court, and which is likely to be protracted for a long while. It is a very serious matter, not only to employers but also to employes, who are compelled to engage counsel to state their cases. I think it is generally recognised that if the industrial laws are to be a success the cost of litigation must be minimized. At the very least the costs to the parties who are now appearing before Mr Justice Higgins amount to about £80 a day. That is a serious matter from the point of view of employers as well as employees. Under this measure the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, who is to be President of this Court, is to be guided by equity and good conscience, and is not bound to conform to ordinary rules of Court. The best men to appear before the
Court are those who have an intimate knowledge of the detailed workings of various trades. I have frequently watched barristers and solicitors ‘ appearing in Court, and I think I am not overstepping the mark when I say that owing to their lack of practical knowledge they have been a hindrance to securing a prompt decision.
– How is it that the parties employ them?
– In all cases the employers are very anxious to secure what they conceive to be the best advice, and to have their cases drawn up in the best manner. In such circumstances the employes cannot select representatives of their own, because they could not cope with the lawyers on the floor of the Court in matters of legal detail and overcome any obstruction which was placed in their way. Take, for instance, the case which is now being investigated. Mr. McKay has probably engaged the best counsel which he could procure in Victoria. Would Senator Dobson expect an ordinary artisan, with no knowledge of legal procedure or the conduct of cases, to meet practically the best counsel at the Bar here? When an artisan is opposed by a practical man who may be either an employer or a manager, he is quite able to hold his own on matters of fact. What question is the Excise Court to determine? So far as I can ascertain, it is only called upon to determine a matter of fact, and that is, what is a fair and reasonable rate of wages to be paid in each branch of the agricultural implement industry before a manufacturer is granted an exemption from the payment of the Excise duty? Are the services of barristers and solicitors required to present both sides of that question to the Court? If their services are necessary in that case, it may be urged that under the Wages Board system of Victoria it is equally necessary to have barristers and solicitors appearing on both sides. The object of this Federal legislation is to insure that the. employes shall receive a fair proportion, of the protection which the manufacturer derives from the protectionist policy of the Commonwealth. That object can only be achieved in one way, and that is by the men obtaining fair and reasonable remuneration for their services. But how are the employes in an industry to be represented’ in a case when the law costs on each side amount to no less than £4.0 a day? Are men to be denied justice because they have not the necessary funds with which to engage the best legal advice ; ox are we, in the interests of all parties, to simplify the hearing of these cases? In Victoria, with the exception of about four cases which were taken to the Appeal Court, not one penny has been spent on legal costs under the operation of the Wages Board system.
– Then lawyers are allowed to appear before the Appeal Court ?
– Yes ; and the Appeal Court has not been accepted by the workers of this or any other State. There1 has been only one failure under the Wages Board system, and. that was not attributable to the Wages Board, but to the fact that, as soon as the employes got” among lawyers at the Appeal Court, who did not understand the technicalities of the trade, and relied on mere legal technicalities, trouble arose. Even where the only dispute we have had took place, the original finding of the Wages Board was ultimately preferred to the decision of the Appeal Court. In New South Wales, with its Arbitration Court, the efforts of the workers to obtain reasonable conditions of labour have involved, an expenditure of no less” than ^6,000. That lias nearly absorbed the increased remuneration which the workers ‘have been able to secure. ‘ In nearly every instance, the benefit has gone to the lawyers and not to the workers, and the more the Arbitration Court is resorted to the more the lawyers seem to be getting into the cases. The only question which the President of the Conciliation, and Arbitration Court has to determine is a question of wages. Surely, with the assistance of competent practical men on each side, he will be able to arrive at a decision based upon equity and justice. I hope that honorable senators will be prepared to accept the amendment, and save, not only the workers, but also the employers, the legal expenses to which thev are now subjected. I trust that they will assist me to insure the success of the policy of new protection by reducing the costs of these legal proceedings to the lowest possible point.
– I had not seen a copy of this proposal until it was moved by the honorable senator.
– Virtually the same provision is in print.
– In another measure we passed a provision to that effect.
If this amendment were passed in its present form, it might bring about unsatisfactory, and, perhaps, even disastrous results. It says -
No person appearing on an application shall be allowed to appear either directly or indirectly by a barrister or solicitor except wilh the consent of all persons appearing on the application.
An application which came before the President of the Court might be one of a very complicated character, and, although the individuals who were directly concerned in the application might know more of the practical workings of the industry than did other persons, it might need another mind to get together all the details which were of importance to be presented to the consideration of the President, and to exclude other details which were of no importance, or had no relevancy or bearing on the issue to be determined. That kind of work might need an entirely different mind. In a peculiarly complicated case it might be necessary for the President, in order to arrive at a proper appreciation of the situation, to have the benefit of the assistance of counsel in the preparation and submission to him of all the relevant facts. Perhaps those interes:ed in the industry might not be able to, do that work. Perhaps, on one side of the application, it could be done with little difficulty, while on the other side it might be a matter of grave difficulty. It would enable one side to block the other from getting a complicated case prepared in proper form for presentation to the mind of the President. That would not only be unfair to the other party to the application, but it probably would not afford to the President the best opportunity of determining the issues submitted to him. In another measure, we did pass a provision of a somewhat similar character, but we took the precaution not to leave the matter of appearance by counsel or solicitor entirely to the common consent or will of both parties. It was left to the President of the Court to determine, in certain cases, whether or not he should be assisted by counsel or solicitor. Section 27 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 reads -
On Hie hearing or determination of any indus(rial dispute an organization mav be represented liv a member or officer of any organization, and any party not being an organization mav be represented bv an employe of that party: but no party shall (except bv consent of all’ the parties or by leave of the President) be represented bv counsel or solicitor.
Those who think that counsel or solicitors should not appear in these cases, should at least be guided by what was done on that occasion, and leave it to the President to determine whether or not a case was a fit one for “the employment of counsel or solicitor. He might consider it desirable that, in a particular case, counsel or solicitor should be employed in order that it might be presented effectively and dealt with expeditiously.
– That provision was made in the Act because it was thought that the Judge might want advice on a constitutional’ question.
– Yes, and on other matters.
– It was agreed to’ because trie Government could not help themselves.
– If we intrust that power to the President of the Court, we shall have counsel employed on each side in every case.
– Solicitors and counsel are not engaged simply and solely because of their knowledge of law, or the principles of law that may govern the sets of circumstances which give rise to a case. They are employed in very many instances, and sometimes specially because of the_ir faculty for preparing a case and presenting it in its best form - for getting all the material and relevant details, putting them in order, presenting them to the Court, and brushing away irrelevant matter, not only from their own case, but also “from the case presented from the other side In that respect various Courts, in many instances, find counsel of very great assistance in enabling them to come to a clear-cut issue, and dropping from their minds irrelevant matter which might otherwise be presented on both sides. It would be unjust to take from the President of the Court the right to determine whether or not. in a certain case, he should have the assistance of counsel or solicitor.
– Is it intended that the President should be a lawyer?
– He is a lawyer. He is the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. In any case, if the general principle were indorsed that counsel and solicitor should be employed as little as possible in industrial disputes, the ultimate option of deciding whether the assistance of counsel or solicitor would conduce to the effective determination of the case should be left to the President of the Court. I ask the honorable senator not to press the amendment, or, if he does, to give consideration to the aspect of the matter to which I have referred.
.- Senator E.. J. Russell is confusing the object and purport of this Bill with that of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, in which a similar provision was” inserted. I have been watching with great interest the progress made and the enormous good done by the joint Committees which in England and America settle almost all the disputes between employers and workers. When it comes to a question of settling industrial conditions as between those parties, there can be no better tribunal than a body composed of skilled employers and skilled workmen fighting their battles in a friendly way. I agree that there the legal element is not wanted. But this is not an Arbitration Bill, a Conciliation Bill, or” a Bill for the settlement of wages. Its object is to enable certain manufacturers toescape the payment of a heavy Excise duty if they can prove certain facts to the Court. We have no right to take from any factory owner, who has to prove to the satisfaction of a skilled Judge his title to escape the payment of Excise duty, the right possessed by every other citizen to employ counsel. We should not take away their liberty and cut down their freedom. In the recent bakers’ dispute the Judge warned the employes that he wanted certain evidence, but they did not produce it.
– Lawyers were admitted there.
– The evidence was not forthcoming, and therefore that side must have had a bad lawyer. I rather gathered that it was because they were not represented by a lawyer. That dispute attracted everybody’s attention, and ended in a disastrous strike, which I admit was soon settled by an unjust boycott. In that case justice miscarried, because the case was not put properly to the Court. . With that evidence before us we should not take from any employer who wants to escape the payment of Excise duty the ordinary privilege which every citizen has of placing his evidence before the Court in a skilled manner. Scores of employers and factoryowners who understand their business, and can make a good bargain, are utterly unable to speak or argue before a Court. They have not had many years’ experience of public speaking, and are not blessed with the “ gift of the gab “ like some of my labour friends. Numbers of factoryowners could not present their case half as well as some trade union secretaries could. It is a great mistake to be continually taking away liberties and restricting men in a way that they have not been used to. I am not interested’ personally in this” matter, because it is not likely that I shall ever be engaged to appear in a case of this kind. But as a legislator, whose duty is to do justice to all parties, I hold that it is not right to say that men shall not have legal assistance. I could understand a proposal to prevent the employment of lawyers in trumpery cases, but to a man with 600 or 700 employes the slightest increase or decrease of wages means a very large sum. If an employer does not get exemption from Excise duty because his case has not been properly presented, it will spell ruin to him. The duty would probably mean to him thousands of pounds a year. In cases of that moment it is a great mistake to prevent the man concerned from employing legal assistance. I hope the Minister will pause before he consents to an amendment of this description.
– I desire to withdraw my amendment for the purpose of substituting another framed in terms similar to the section in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Its distinct object is to exclude the whole lock, stock, and barrel of the legal profession from appearing before the Court in particular cases.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator E. J. Russell) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted - “4A. On the hearing of any applicationno party shall (except by consent of allthe parties, or by leave of the President), be represented by counsel or solicitor.”
– This question was considered when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was before the Chamber. On that occasion we were opposed to the legal fraternity coming in at all, but it was pointed out that there were cases which might involve the interpretation of the Constitution or the question of the jurisdiction of Courts. Even then we proposed a further amendment to the clause as then worded, to leave out the word “or” and substitute the word “and” with the object of insuring that ‘both the parties and also the
Judge would have, to agree before counsel could appear. Will the amendment as now proposed allow the President of the Court to order the presence of counsel, even if one of the parties objects?
– That would put the workers’ unions in a peculiar position. The Employers’ Federation- have always at their beck and call, chained up in their back yard, some prominent members of the legal profession, who are retained all the vear round to look after their interests. Those lawyers have gained great experience in dealing with questions of this kind, and so are able to put their case much better than could a layman who is a little afraid of legal procedure because he does not understand it. Consequently, one side in these questions will always be represented by counsel. That means that the other side will be absolutely compelled to employ counsel for their own protection. If they cannot afford to do so, their case will be prejudiced from the start, and they will not have a fair chance. I do not think that Senator Dobson wants to penalize the workers’ organizations to that extent. Although this Bill is somewhat different from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the basis of any decision under it must be the wages paid. The Judge must be satisfied that all the different classes of labour employed in the industry receive fair and reasonable wages. He cannot always get that information from the Wages Boards, because in numbers of instances those engaged in one part of the industry are working under Wages Boards’ decisions, whilst to those engaged in other parts of the industry the protection of the Wages Boards’ decisions does not extend. Consequently the Judge in those cases must decide for himself on the evidence submitted with regard to other occupations of a somewhat similar nature. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act enacts that a certain rate of wageshall be paid without any other element having to be considered, while this Bill provides that the employers cannot get exemption from the payment of Excise duty unless they can prove that they ‘ are paying fair and reasonable wages. Consequently the bases of the two measures ure the same, although their objects are slightly different. There is therefore in this case the same reason why the legal fraternity should not be allowed to appear except with the consent of all parties and also of the Judge. Senator Dobson has said that he has been very much impressed with the work of Wages Boards. It is true that they worked fairly well until the Employers’ Federation in Victoria became sufficiently strong to secure the appointment of an Appeal Court where the parties ‘ when before the Wages Boards did not agree. Then the members of the legal profession were brought into the matter, and there was trouble at once. Thb honorable senator has asked us to look at what the bakers did. But I suppose that the legal fraternity were responsible for that.
– Surely it was the Judge’s decision that was responsible.
– Of course I admit that; but until the establishment of the Appeal Court, which led to the introduction into these matters of the legal fraternity, there had been no trouble whatever. In the circumstances I am prepared to move an amendment similar to that which was moved when the matter was under consideration before. I move -
That the word “or,’J line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ and.”
.- When this legislation to give effect to the new protection principle was proposed, those who supported it did not anticipate that the persons whom they intended to protect would be involved in such heavy legal expenses as. are being incurred in connexion with cases now being heard in this State by Mr. Justice Higgins. It appears plain that unless some different course is adopted, the more the new protection principle is extended the heavier the expenses that will have to be borne by the workers. The result is very- likely to be such that some of the unions interested will be financially embarrassed for a considerable time, although they may be able to get some satisfaction from an industrial stand-point. ‘ I was one of those who were hopeful at the time the Excise Act was passed that the responsibility and the expense of administering this legislation would be undertaken by the Government of the day.
– The honorable senator wants to get his law for nothing.
– I would ask the honorable senator, Who provides factories inspectors in the State of Victoria to see that the Wages Boards provisions are carried out?
– The State does not provide lawyers for people.
– We do not want lawyers. I think we can get more satisfaction without them. I was going to suggest to the Minister the advisability of amending the Bill in such a way that the responsibility and expense of administering it should be thrown upon those who desire to secure exemption under the Act. The Excise Tariff Act provides that unless certain industrial conditions are, observed the manufacturers of certain agricultural implements shall be penalized by the imposition of an Excise duty. Those engaged in this particular line of industry have to make an application to the Court for exemption, and I say that in the meantime the Government should collect Excise from the date on which the law came into force.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument. It is not raised by the proposed new clause.
– I do not suppose that it is; but the expenditure involved in the hearing of applications for exemption has been raised, and that expenditure would not have been incurred if the amendment now proposed had been embodied in the original Act. The legal expenses incurred so far have been such that it will take the unions interested some considerable time to recover. In a recent case heard before the Appeal Court in this State the legal expenses amount to such a sum that the members of the small union interested will not ‘be free of the burden imposed upon them for a long time. Those anxious for the betterment of the working classes desire that they should not have to pay too dearly to have justice clone them. The cases now before the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration show that the greater the number of lawyers in them the longer the Court will sit, and the longer the Court sits the bigger the fees the lawyers will draw. I venture to say that if there had been no lawyers appearing in the cases at all they would have been settled in half the time. . A number of points raised in connexion with the matters in dispute have really no bearing whatever on the industrial aspect of the applications.
– Then the Judge would not have heard them.
– Sometimes” a Judge gives latitude to lawyers, just as the President of the Senate gives latitude to certain honorable senators when dealing with certain matters.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the state ment that the President gives latitude to certain honorable senators.
– Of course, I withdraw the statement. I did not mean to suggest any more than that if the Standing Orders were rigidly enforced by the President or Chairman of the Senate very many of us would be called- to order much more frequently than we are. The amendment commends itself to me. If the proposed new clause were allowed to pass in its original form power would be given to the President of the Court to permit the employment of lawyers in a case, but, if the amendment is carried, lawyers will not be permitted to appear unless the parties unanimously approve of their appearance.
– Would the honorable senator allow agents to appear?
– Whom does the honorable senator -mean by agents ?
– For instance, if the honorable senator were himself to appear on behalf of one of the parties, he would take up more time than a lawyer. Suppose Mr. Hughes, the honorable member for West Sydney, who is the secretary of one of the unions, were to appear as an agent ?
– Mr. Hughes is a member of the legal profession, and, under the amendment, he would not be permitted to appear without the consent of all the parties. In the interests of the persons for whose benefit this legislation was finally intended, I think it is better that lawyers should be excluded from cases dealt with by an Industrial Court.
– I hope that Senators Findley and Turley will realize that the object they seek may be attained by the new clause moved by Senator E. J. Russell. The provision of the Arbitration Act which I have already quoted is that no party to any application under that Act shall be represented by counsel or attorney, except with the consent of all the parties, or by leave of the President. It is obvious that the President of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, who is given authority to determine whether or not any person shall get an exemption, must have a better knowledge of the general nature of these proceedings than an applicant or objector in any particular case. The applicant and objector who come before the President in relation to a particular case may each of them be satu- rated with information as to the details of the particular industry in which they are engaged, and to which the case refers, but, as to the duty of determining whether or not there are grounds for an exemption under the Act, they may be as innocent as those who have never had to resort to a Court. The President, on the other hand, accustomed as he is constantly to determining matters of this kind, would know whether a particular case which comes before him was one which called for the assistance of counsel. Surely he should have some right to say whether he should be assisted in the determination of the issue in a particular case by the appearance of counsel. It may be assumed that his experience in relation to these cases will better fit him to determine that question than any applicant or objector can hope to be who’ may make only a solitary appearance in the Court. . Honorable senators, I think, will see that it would be, not only abridging the President’s authority, but’ putting him in a false position, if we were not to leave to him to determine, when applied to, whether . or not a particular case called for such assistance. That is the provision of the Arbitration Act, and we might very well introduce it here. If, on the other hand, we say that no counsel or solicitor shall appear in a case unless with the consent of all the parties and the consent of the President, of what avail would the consent of the President’ be if one of the parties, who may have little or nothing to do before the Court but to watch the proceedings in a passive kind of manner, should refuse to allow other parties, who might be very seriously interested in the case, to be represented by .counsel or solicitor? It might happen” that there would be not one or two, but a. number of parties to a case, and if one, possibly the least interested and having nothing whatever to present to the Court, but simply to watch a case as presented by the others, registered an objection to an appearance of counsel, the consent of all the other parties and the consent pf the President to the employment of counsel in the case would be of no avail. In the circumstances, I ask honorable senators to say whether the amendment does not involve a provision which might be abused. Much as I object to the proposal to place legal gentlemen outside this tribunal altogether, I do say that, at any rate, the President of the Court should be given this reserve power of deciding whether a case before him is one which calls for their assistance or not. I ask Senator Turley to view the matter in this light, and to agree that the word “or” shall still remain in preference to the word “ and.” Otherwise, we shall be handing over a dangerous power that may be used or abused on either side.
– I have the greatest sympathy with Senator Turley’s amendment, and intend to support it, but should like an answer to this question : Suppose both parties agree to have no legal representative. According to the proposed new clause, if either party objected, solicitors or barristers could not appear.. But if the word “or” where first occurring remains, the President of the Court could of his own volition permit them to appear.
– I think not, because the word “ leave “ is used.
– If the President gave leave for barristers or- solicitors to appear, for whom would they appear, and who would pay them? If they appeared. for the benefit of the Court, would the applicants be compelled to pay their fees? If the parties are to be burdened with the expense of employing barristers and solicitors against their will it will be most unjust. I hope that the amendment will be agreed to, because in my opinion the greatest satisfaction has always been given in Industrial Courts where there has been no legal haggling.
– I ‘ intend to support the amendment,, which has for its object the shutting out of legal gentlemen from our Industrial Courts. Notwithstanding what has been said by Senator Keating, I really cannot imagine a case where it would be necessary to call in the assistance of lawyers. One has only to read the reports of the harvester case to come to the conclusion that the lawyers know little or nothing of the industrial life’ of the people. Some of the questions put by the lawyers seem to me to have been, of the most useless and stupid character. They are simply stringing out the proceedings, I suppose, for the sake of building up big fees.
– Under clause 4 of the Bill the President of the Court will have the right to appoint two assessors representing, each side.
– They would not be legal gentlemen. Even if lawyers are employed by either party, or by both, some person with a knowledge of industrial affairs will have to be in Court instructing them continually.. Those persons are usually intelligent, and are just as capable of conducting the proceedings as the ordinary lawyer is. The more experience I have of lawyers, the more I have come into contact with them, the less I have been impressed by their knowledge. The only thing they do is to confuse judgment.
– The honorable senator was once in a lawyer’s office, I believe.
– That was my misfortune. I know more about lawyers to-day than I did when I became a memIser of the Senate, and have come to the conclusion that it would be an excellent thing if they were shut out of every Court in the country.
– Perhaps the honorable senator would like them to be shut out of the Senate?
– -No ; we occasionally get a free opinion from them, though I do not know that it is worth much. I have heard two or three lawyers speaking in the Senate on the same question, each one differing from the others. I have come to the conclusion that their services are of very little value indeed, and especially in a Court such as we are now considering, where no question of law is to be discussed, and only questions of facts are relevant, they are quite unnecessary. Trade union secretaries are most intelligent men, who are far more competent to produce evidence before a Court of this character than lawyers would be. Senator Keating’s objection to the amendment appears to be that an unskilled person would bring up too much evidence, or evidence of a kind that was not wanted by the Judge. But I think that one or two experiences would enable an intelligent man to judge very clearly as to- what kind of evidence it wa,s necessary to adduce in any particular case. The President of a Court would most undoubtedly direct persons appearing before him as to what evidence was wanted. Not’ only do lawyers unnecessarily drag out proceedings, but they are a terrible tax upon the resources qf the people. If we pay the President of the Court a salary of £3,000 per annum we are doing quite enough for the legal profession. By carrying the amendment we shall give an opportunity of showing how laymen can conduct industrial cases, and I feel certain that in the end it will be found that they can conduct them much better than lawyers can.
– It apears to me to be quite certain that the President of the Court will in most cases be asked by one or other of the parties to allow lawyers to appear. He will then exercise his judgment. If we do not permit (lawyers to be employed, it may conduce to ex-lawyers - men who have been ‘thrown out of “the profession for various causes, and some of whom are very clever as to legal points - being employed. We shall be offering a premium for the employment of ex-lawyers of the less honorable kind. I could name - though I do not intend to do so - two or three men who have been struck off the roils in New South Wales, but who are just as clever lawyers as are those who are still practising in the profession. “Under the amendment these persons would be eligible. I shall support the Government against their own supporters on this occasion.
– I must support the amendment, though T quite recognise the force of what Senator Walker has said. I have had some experience of that sort of thing in connexion with certain cases. I have had to conduct a case in an Industrial Court where I Had pitted against me a fully fledged lawyer who happened to be in the unfortunate position of not being able to register in the State in which he lived. Consequently he was permitted to practise in the Arbitration Court. Still, I do not think that there would be ,any great danger to be feared in that direction. If we make it as clear as we intend to do that a prohibition shall be placed upon the lawyers, the unqualified men and the disqualified men would not be .employed. I feel quite sure that neither the respectable employers nor workmen will prefer to engage men of dirty reputations in preference to reput-able agents engaged in the business in question. We have already passed a clause that almost compels us to accept the amendment. _We have re-enacted the clause providing that in all matters which come before the Arbitration Court the determination shall be arrived at, no6 strictly in accordance with the law of evidence, but in accordance with equity and good conscience. The moment a lawyer steps into a case, all sense of equity and good conscience disappears so soon as he lays his brief upon the table.
– That Is very strong.
– It is a positive fact that in industrial matters that is the case. If we prevent the lawyers from entering the Court, it will not only insure a much cheaper method, but will also hasten the determination of many disputes. I have known industrial disputes to be continued for eight or nine days, which, with a practical man on each side as an advocate, could easily have been finished in less than one half of that time. Invariably, if some members of the legal profession get into a case, particularly if it happens to be the case of a good fat union and a good fat lawyer, they will take every possible care not to hurry very much in getting to a determination. Therefore, in order to make the provision which has been passed thoroughly effective, and to insure industrial cases being dealt with on an equitable basis, we ought to exclude from the Court the two men who each argue that the other fellow is wrong. I contend that as a rule industrial disputes have been more harmoniously settled, and judicially determined, when the. cases have been handled entirely by representatives of employers and representatives of employes. It is only since the lawyers- have become part and parcel of our system that the friction between the contending parties in a dispute has increased. I intend to support the amendment.
– After the diatribe which we have lately heard against lawyers, it is rather surprising to find a senator c such as the last speaker supporting a Government which includes four lawyers. In my opinion, Senator Keating put the matter very fairly indeed when he pointed out that there might be a great many parties to a suit, and that if the amendment of Senator Turley were carried, a party who might have a very small interest in a dispute, might block the employment of ‘ counsel, who ought to assist the Judge in coming to a decision. It seems to me that the amendment implies very little faith in the Judge. If we are prepared to trust him1 to form a judgment, we should also trust him to determine whether or not lawyers should be employed. If it is decided to exclude lawyers, we ought to exclude agents too. If we wish to get as nearly as possible to the ideal system, and that is the Wages Board system, the matters in dispute should be left to the parties interested on each side and the Judge. It can be easily seen that, if we exclude lawyers and allow agents to appear, we may have men who really are not lawyers but possess legal faculties, appearing on one side or the other. Whether the amendment of Senator Turley is carried’ or not, I intend to move for the exclusion of agents.
– I can quite understand the sympathy of some senators with lawyers. In submitting this new clause I have not been actuated by a feeling of resentment against lawyers, whom, as a class, I do not wish to discuss. My aim is to reduce the legal costs of these cases to a minimum. I should have little or no objection to lawyers appearing- if they were willing to appear without a fee. But, of course, that is out of the question, and the next best thing we can do is to exclude them. This is not merely a matter affecting the workers, because the employers cannot like ‘being compelled to apply for an exemption in view of the high costs which they have to pay. I am sure that there is no one here who would like to pay the costs which Mr. McKay will have to pay. It was a rather strange plea which the Minister of Home Affairs urged on behalf of the legal profession, when we recollect that he has brought in an amending Bill which contains a provision empowering the President of the Court to- refer an application to a State industrial authority, which excludes lawyers.
– The principal Act gives that right, and the amending Bill only says that .where it is exercised the State industrial authority shall have all the powers of the President.
– Clause 10 of the amending Bill gives power to’ the President of the Court to refer an application to a State industrial authority.
– No. That power is given in paragraph d of the last section of the Act.
– I am referring to clause 10 of the amending Bill.
– It is not an amending Bill, it is a Procedure Bill.
– Clause jo says -
Where an application is referred by the President to a Judge .of the Supreme Court of a State or to any person or persons who compose a State industrial authority -
The power remains with the President to refer an application to a State industrial authority which excludes lawyers from the hearing of such cases. What is the object in leaving that power with the President while the Bill has practically the same effect? The only object of this Bill is to deal with questions of fact. The President already has power to appoint two assessors. When he requires information we do not ask him to go to two lawyers, but to two practical assessors who are competent to deal with the troubles affecting a particular industry. I hope that honorable senators will accept the amendment of Senator Turley, as I do. Otherwise I trust that they will do the next best thing, and that is to accept my amendment giving an option to the President.
– I intend to support the amendmentbecause I regard this as a piece of impracticable legislation. I want to exclude the lawyers, as far as I can, with a view to making the legislation more absurd than it is. The more absurd it is made the sooner it will break down by reason of its own weight. I should like to exclude lawyers and employers, and give my labour friends an opportunity to run the “ whole show.”
– The honorable senator thinks that it would be absurd, then?
– I do. We are supposed to be legislating with the idea of doing justice. What an example of justice we have had presented to us lately ! On one case the President of the Court has been engaged for four weeks, and he is not near the end of it yet.
– Because of the presence of the lawyers.
– No. It is because of the impracticability of that which my honorable friends are trying to do, however good it may be in theory.
Question - That the word “ or “ proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … .., 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
– We ought to leave the parties to these suits to fight their battles before the Court, and if counsel or solicitors are to be excluded, no other agent should be allowed to appear. Therefore, I move -
That the word “ agent “ be inserted after the word “by,” second occurring, line 3.
– In numbers of cases where the owner could not appear the manager would undoubtedly be the agent. Senator McColl’s amendment would prevent him from appearing. The secretary of a trade union might be a professional secretary not actually engaged in the industry at the time, and he alsowould be debarred. Therefore the two classes of men ‘ whom it is most desirable to have present would be prevented from appearing.
Question - That the word “ agent “ proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Proposed new clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to.
– I have four new clauses for the protection of witnesses to propose to follow clause 8. We have heard a great deal of the way in which witnesses who have appeared, not only before Courts, but before Select Committees and Royal Commissions, have been treated, and something should be done to protect them. I. move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 8a. No person shall use, cause, inflict or procure any violence, punishment’, damage, loss, or disadvantage to any person for or on account Of his having appeared as .1 witness on any application or for or on account of any evidence given by him on any application. Penalty- Fifty pounds.
– Will the Minister for Home Affairs explain the proposed new clause? It appears to be capable of a very wide interpretation.
– I think it is taken from the Parliamentary Evidence Bill.
– I am not prepared to object- to it, but it is very wide and Vague, and we do not know where it may lead us to.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “Sh. No employer shall dismiss any employee from his employment on account of the employee having appeared as a witness or for or on account of any evidence given bv him on any application or on account of any award or declaration made in respect of any application.
Penalty - Fifty pounds.
In any proceeding for any contravention of this section ‘it shall lie upon the employer to show that the dismissed employ^ was dismissed for some reason other than those’ mentioned in this section.”
New clause 8c is an equivalent clause, providing that employes shall not leave their employment because qf evidence given by their employers. In both this and the next clause I have proposed a penalty of .£50, but while £50 may be a reasonable fine for an employer to pay who has dismissed a witness on account of evidence which hp has given, it would be almost an impossible penalty against an employe. When new clause 8c is reached 1 shall ask leave to amend it.
– It would be advisable for progress to be reported at this stage: I do not make the suggestion with a view of opposing the proposed new clauses: I see that there is a strong element of justice in them, but there is a very scanty attendance, and no indication was given that they were to be proposed to-night.
.- Since I saw the clauses in print just recently I have compared the first with the clause in the Parliamentary Evidence Bill, and the others with the corresponding provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. They are based upon those sections, so that they cannot be regarded as novel-. Their principles have already received legislative expression, but as they have not been circulated, and we have arrived at about the usual hour for adjourning, I see a good deal of merit in Senator McColl’s suggestion.
Senate adjourned at 10.15 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19071024_senate_3_40/>.