3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday I indicated to the Senate that there was every probability that I would be able this afternoon to make an announcement concerning the new mail contract. The unforeseen has happened, and I regret very much that I am unable to carry out my expressed wish. As there is only a very small matter intervening, I have reason to hope that I shall be able to make a statement tomorrow. It will not be owing to the fault of the Government if it cannot be made then.
– In view of the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that only a very small matter now precludes him from making a -definite statement as to the new European mail contract, can the honorable senator answer the important’ question of whether Brisbane is to be included as a port of call?
– It is completely out of the question to attempt to discuss any of the features of an uncompleted contract at this stage.
– In order to make clear a question I desire to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council, without notice, I shall read a short statement which appeared in the Adelaide Evening Journal of last Saturday. It reads as follows : -
Following on the proposed new Tariff of£5 on every bicycle imported into the Commonwealth, the biggest manufacturers of cycle parts in the world, the B.S.A. and Eadie Company, (England), have’ intimated thatthey propose to* raise the price of their popular cycle sets to an amount equal to 16, per cent, more than was previously charged. No reason is given for. the increase. The new Tariff plays into the hands of these makers, for the tax of £t per complete machine practically means prohibition for the finished English or foreign-made cycle, which will not be able to compete, with the locallymade machine assembled from imported parts. Hence an increased sale of parts; yet, in the face of extra business, the price is jumped up iej per cent., for no apparent reason, except filling the pockets of the big importers in Australia, for the English company does not propose to take the increased profits. The strange part of the business is that the price is not to be increased to their leading agents in the Commonwealth ; in fact, a slight reduction is offered ; but these agents are instructed to charge small builders the increased price, under threat of non-supply of future orders. If the present monopolistic action of the English, company is persisted in, it will be inimical to the small cycle builder. To the credit of the leading importers of. bicycle parts in Australia-, it must be pointed out that the action of the English concern is not at their bidding or desire, and several of the largest importers have refused to sign the declaration asked for by the B.S.A. and Eadie Company.
I desire to know whether the Government will cause inquiries to be made as to the truth of those statements, and, if they are true, whether they will take steps, if they have the power under the Australian Industries Preservation Act, to protect the interests of the smaller manufacturers of cycles ?
– All that I can promise my honorable friend is to bring the matter under the notice of the Treasurer and also the Minister of Trade and Customs, who is charged with the administration of the Act. There is no doubt that it demands inquiry, and I can . assure my honorable friend that it will be fully inquired into.
– I desire to ask the Minister, of Home Affairs, without nctioe, whether there is any likelihood of finality being reached- within the next few days in regard to the selection of a suitable site for the Berringa Rifle Club? I . am informed that if they cannot get a site they intend to disband immediately, as the Department has had the matter under its consideration for, a long time.
– I have not before me the papers on this subject. It is some time since I saw them, but so far as my recollection goes it was during last year that the question of the’ selection of a site -was taken in hand. The rifle club picked out one or two sites, and these -were reported upon. Some time ago, when a question was asked by an honorable senator, I said that steps were being taken to expedite a final settlement in regard to one of the sites, but that the papers were with the State Lands Department. We expedited, as ‘I promised, the return: of the papers from that Department by verbal and unofficial communications. The only . obstacle. then in the way was possibly the interest of a private individual over whose land it would be necessary to shoot. In order that there should be no misunderstanding or misidentification of the particular site, as three sites were referred to on the papers, I made a special arrangement, in the absence of the Inspector- of Rifle Ranges, for another officer of the Defence Department to go up and identify the site for which the club was asking. It was found that the use of the most suitable site, and the one agreed upon by the club and the Department, would involve shooting over seme land held by a private individual under a licence from the State Government. Every endeavour has been made to set that person to grant his consent, but, so far as I know, those endeavours have been unsuccessful. I shall look into the matter during the afternoon or evening. If the honorable senator will repeat his question I may be able to give him more exact information.
– Is there any hope of finality being reached in the matter? If there is no such hope let the rifle club be made aware of the fact, and then they will disband.
– I think I have stated that there is no obligation thrown upon the Defence or Home Affairs Departments to select, find, or provide rifle ranges. The first obligation is thrown on the club, and I think it has understood that. I have used every endeavour to expedite this matter since it was first brought under my notice, even going to the length of expediting the return of the papers from the State Lands Department by means of verbal and unofficial communications, rather than going through the ordinary routine of communicating through the Prime Minister with the Premier of the State. The only difficulty which stood in the way was the fact that the licensee of some, land in the locality had refused either to assent to or dissent from the proposal that the club should be allowed when practising to shoot over his ground. I shall look into the matter again, and I think that those honorable senators who know what has been done understand that I have been dealing with it as sympathetically as I possibly could.
– I believe that on the notice-paper of the other House there is a measure dealing with this subject, but it is certainly not the intention of the Government to introduce the matter this side of Christmas.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, what statutory rule or regulation empowers the postal authorities to demand an “advice” wire when money is sent by telegraphic order?
– Some time ago the honorable senator referred to this matter during a debate in this chamber. I then -made inquiries from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, from which I have received the following statement: -
With reference to the discussion which took place in the Senate (vide Hansard of the 3rd ultimo) respecting a new departure in regard to telegraphic money orders, whereby this Department retains the private telegraphic advice from the remitter to the payee, I have the honour, by direction, to inform you the practice referred to (which is authorized by a provisional regulation contained in Statutory Rules recently approved by the Governor-General in Council) was decided upon in conjunction with other alterations, in order to provide as effective a check as possible on the system of payment of telegraph money orders. The private message of advice is the main acknowledged evidence of the genuineness of an application for payment of a telegraph money order, and its retention by the Paying Teller prevents the possibility of any double pavment, besides being a check on dishonest officials.
– I am not aware what procedure is being adopted to give effect to the proposal. ‘ If it is to be done by way of regulation, the regulation will have to be tabled here as well as in another place in the ordinary course, and it will then be open to any honorable senator under the Acts Interpretation Act, within the proper time, to table a motion to dissent from or negative it. The fact that the Senate might rise before the motion was disposed of would not prejudice the honorable senator or the Senate in their right to discuss, or, as he suggests, to dispose of such regulation. If some other course is tobe followed to give effect to the proposal, then it will be open for any honorable senator to take such course as to him may seem best by giving notice of motion.
– With regard to a paragraph in the Argus in relation to the importation of a traction agricultural implement upon which the duty is so heavy that the importer is said to be unable to pay it, I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if it would not be possible for the Government to devise some scheme whereby the excess of. duty might be refunded if the Parliament eventually decided to fix a lower duty than that now being collected.
– If the honorable senator desires an individual expression of opinion, I am againsT refunds of duty every time, for very obvious reasons, founded upon experience. I know nothing of the particular matter to which he has referred, nor do I think that any arrangement such as he has suggested is likely to. be made.
Deportation of Alleged Moslem Priest
Is it true, as stated in the press, that a Moslem priest, Syed Kamal Shah, to whom an exemption certificate for six months had been granted, has been arrested, removed from Western Australia prior to the expiration of the said exemption, and immediately upon the occurrence of the chief holiday for the Moslem religion?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Syed Kamal Shah was a camel-driver, permitted to land in Western Australia on an exemption certificate for one month.
As he was ill, he was taken to the Perth Hospital, and his certificate renewed from month to month till the igth -October, when the last extension expired.
He did not leave the Commonwealth, and as he was reported to be travelling about begging, his deportation was recommended. Medical advice having been obtained that he was fit to travel, he was accordingly sent away by steamer on the nth inst.
No representations have been made to the effect that he was a priest.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask, with reference to the very sensible ruling which you, Mr. President, recently gave, that honorable senators when asking a question based upon a newspaper statement should satisfy themselves as to the correctness of the statement before they asked the question
– That is hardly, a question which would obtain a further elucidation of the answer given by the Minister.
– I was anxious to know whether your recent ruling would not apply to the question asked by Senator Neild.
– That question does not arise out of the answer given by the Minister, nor is it one that the honorable senator is at this stage in order in asking the Chair.
Regulation of Wages and Prices
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Has the Government taken the opinion of the Crown Law advisers on the following matters; and, if so, will he inform the Senate of the opinion thereon, namely : -
In cases where the State Parliaments have provided or may provide for the settlement of industrial disputes, or for fixing rates of wages, is the jurisdiction conferred on the President of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration under the Excise Tariff Act of 1906 exclusive of the State jurisdiction in the matters mentioned in the schedule to that Act?
lias the President of the Court of Con ciliation and Arbitration exercising jurisdiction under the said Act, the power to fix varying rates of wages in the respective States or parts of the States in matters set forth in the schedule of the Act?
In cases where the rate of wages so fixed or the standard local rate is higher in one State or part of a State than in another State, or part of that State, what provision, and under what Act do the Government propose to equalize the selling price of the articles referred to in the schedule of the Excise Tariff Act of 1906, so that sellers and purchasers in a State or paft of a State shall have no advantage over those in another State or part of that State?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows: -
No. The Government have not taken the opinion suggested by the honorable senator.
asked the’ Min ister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
If he will communicate with the Argentine authorities applying for the removal of the embargo on Australian cattle entering Argentina?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Yes. The Colonial Office was asked on’ iSth May last to communicate with the Argentine Government for the purpose ‘of procuring the removal of the prohibition.
The Argentine Government have intimated its preparedness to consider the question, if it is officially notified that Australia is free from cattle disease.
Replies of a satisfactory character have now been received from the several State Governments to my inquiry. The Government will at once tender the assurance desired by the Government of the Argentine.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Whether,- on the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Bill passing the Senate, that measure will take precedence over all Government business in the House of Representatives?
– I am hopeful that the measure will be passed by this Chamber with the least possible delay. When itis sent to the other place, it will be taken into consideration without delay, and certainl) dealt with before the Senate adjourns over Christmas.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to-
That the Government prepare and lay on the table of the Senate a statement showing - (1) The annual cost of providing a cadet with uniform, drill instruction, camp, travelling, &c.
The cost without uniform. (3) The probable cost to drill and instruct all physically fit boys in the Commonwealth between the ages of 12 and 20 in the use of the rifle. ‘ (4) The probable annual cost to arm with rifles and instruct all physically fit young men reaching the age of 21.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 2 -
On the hearing of the petition the state ments therein shall be taken to be proved or admitted, and the Journals, papers, and documents, except the report of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications, shall be admitted upon the certificate of the Clerk of the Senate.
Upon which Senator Best had moved, by way of amendment -
That sub-clause 7 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new subclause : - “ 7. On the hearing of the petition the facts stated and the documents referred to therein shall be taken to be proved or admitted, unless as to any particular fact or document the Court shall otherwise direct.”
– The new sub-clause which I have proposed is much more elastic than is sub-clause 7, which was somewhat roughly drawn up at the table, and inserted tomeet the express wish of honorable senators. Under the new sub-clause it will be quite open to the Court to take the facts stated in the petition as prima facie correct, as was admitted before the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications; but if the Court desire further evidence in connexion with the statements in the petition it will be competent for them to seek it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Part XVI. of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following heading and sections -
Division 2. - Qualifications and Vacancies. 206AA. Any question respecting the qualifica tion of a- Senator or of a Member of the House of Representatives or respecting a vacancy in either House of the Parliament shall be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns by the House in which the question arises and the Court of Disputed Returns shall thereupon have jurisdiction to hear and determine’ the question.
– There was a somewhat lengthy debate on this provision, and a strongly expressed wish on the part of an almost overwhelming . majority of honorable senators that when any question arose as to qualifications or vacancies it should automatically be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns. Senator Lynch moved the omission of certain words with that object in view. Personally, I felt that there was much to recommend the amendment, although it was not consistent with the terms of the Bill, which had in view another method altogether. But I promised when the amendment was agreed to to give it consideration, and ultimately *to recommit the clause. I have carried out that promise in both respects. The idea in my mind at the time - and it was concurred in by Senator Symon, who had supported Senator Lynch’s proposal - was that it might be possible to re-cast the clause by substituting a petition for a resolution. The scheme of the Bill was that, in the event of any question arising respecting the qualifications of a senator or a vacancy, it should be competent for the Senate to pass a resolution, and, thereupon, the matter would go on to the High Court as the Court of Disputed Returns.
– Any matter that was not obvious going by petition.
– So far as this portion of the Bill is concerned a petition is not contemplated at all. I admit that it would be quite competent, although it is not obligatory, for any one to petition the Senate in connexion with a question of the kind, and then the Senate, in dealing with the matter, would by resolution refer the petition to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– But the Senate could not deal with it itself.
– Yes, the Senate could. The scheme of the Bill is to leave a discretion with the Senate, for obvious reasons which I shall explain, as to whether it will deal with the question itself or send it to the Court of Disputed Returns. What suggested itself to me was the substitution of a petition for a resolution, but on full consideration of the matter I do not think it is possible to adopt that method. The clause as drawn is of a most elastic character, as has been pointed out. Cases of insolvency, of a senator having committed a crime, or corruptly taken money in the discharge of his duty, and similar simple cases which would probably constitute ninety per cent, of the cases which would come before us, could be so easily settled that it would be absurd fo.send them to’ the Court of Disputed Returns. To provide cumbrous machinery for the settlement of such obvious cases would be a mistake. Therefore discretion was left with the Senate to deal with such simple cases, and when it appeared that a question of law was involved, to remit them to the Court of Disputed Returns for consideration.
– What amendment does the honorable senator propose? o Senator BEST. - The clause was altered to provide that the question should, in any case be automatically remitted to the Court of Disputed Returns. The idea was that we should provide for a petition instead of a resolution of the Senate. I say that that would be impracticable, and I” am consequently advising the Committee to return to the terms of the Bill as first submitted. If, as Senator Lynch would suggest, a petition were substituted for a resolution of the Senate, certain initiatory proceedings would be necessary: The petition would have to be prepared and sent to the Senate, and would then be automatically re~ mitred to the Court of Disputed Returns. Honorable senators might at once ask why that round-about process should be followed, when the Senate would occupy the position merely of a conduit pipe in the matter. It would be contended that the proper course would be to send the petition direct to the Court of Disputed Returns, and if that course were followed, the result would be that, whether a case involved a point of law or was of an absolutely simple and obvious nature, in order to have it settled the cumbrous machinery of the Court of Disputed Returns would have to be resorted to. But that would not be . all. Who would be the petitioner if he was to be called upon to deposit £50? As it would be nobody’s duty to undertake that responsibility, default might take place. It would be unreasonable to expect a senator, or any other person, to voluntarily constitute himself a petitioner, and it would be absurd to provide for a petition being presented by some one whose dutv it might not be to undertake an obligation of the kind.
– Could not a simple case be dealt with in the Senate without requiring a deposit?
– Yes. Under the Bill, as submitted, no deposit would be necessary at all.
– The honorable senator’s object is to leave the matter in the discretion of the Senate, and I think that is the best thing to do.
– Undoubtedly. But the honorable senator will recollect the amendment which was carried against my. wish making it imperative to remit all these cases to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– The honorable senator believes that, on the whole, it would be better to go back to the permissive character of the clause.
– Exactly. I believe it would be impracticable to make it imperative, and it would be much better if the Committee would accept the clause as originally proposed.
– What about the introduction of partv spirit?
– I am afraid that party spirit cannot be eliminated unless honorable senators are prepared to adopt new and cumbrous machinery, similar to that which applies to disputed elections, and that, in the circumstances, would be impracticable.
– Hence this Bill is a failure, so far as the attainment of its principal object is concerned.
– Not at all. I move-
That the word “ shall,” line S be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ may.”
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated the position very clearly, but I still fear the possibility of the element of party strife being introduced to the debates in this chamber in the settlement of cases of this kind in future. It is the intention of the honorable senator that cases of a simple character should be dealt with by the Senate, but why should not such cases lie referred to the Court of Disputed Returns? If the object is to reach finality and deal expeditiously with cases where the title of a senator to his seat is questioned, why should not the Court settle the matter? If it is a simple matter, the Court would occupy no more time in dealing with it than would the Senate, whilst if it be left to the Senate the possibility of the introduction of political strife and rancour will remain. It is our duty to do what we can to prevent questions of this kind being decided bv men looking through party political spectacles. I fail to see why we should not follow the course adopted by some of the States Parliaments, who, on the experience of the past, have recognised that it is unwise to refer such matters to an Elections and Qualifications Committee, composed of active politicians. They have departed frontthe previous practice in that respect for very good reasons. The Vice-President of the Executive Council seeks to establish a middle course between the old and unsatisfactory method adopted for the settlement of such questions, and the new and improved method, which is found to give complete satisfaction. I recognise that there is much force in what the honorable senator has said, but I repeat that, under the method he proposes-, it will still be possible for questions of this kind to be decided in accordance with the political leanings of honorable senators. The strong point the honorable senator made was that in simple cases the facts would be so obvious that any display of party feling would be glaringly inexcusable, but I cannot understand why cases should not be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns on the ground that they are simple and obvious.
– Because of the expense that would be involved.
– I do not see where the expense would come in. The Court would take no longer to decide such simple cases than would the Seriate. I do notsee why we should adopt the middle course proposed, betweenthe bad old method of the past and the new and improved one, of removing all questions of this kind to a tribunal uninfluenced by political considerations. I adhere to my previously expressed belief, that to remit all these cases to the Court of Disputed Returns would be the best way to settle them.
– My honorable friend, Senator Lynch, desires to have every dispute with regard to questions of this kind decided, not by the Senate, but by the Court of Disputed Returns. I wish to make it plain to him that the sub-clause, as amended on his motion, would render it necessary that a question arising in connexion, with a disputed election should be debated in the Senate. It provides that any question respecting the qualification of a senator or of a member of the House of Representatives shall be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns. Before the case could be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns a resolution of the Senate would have to be passed. It is only by that means that the Senate could express its wish.
– That debate could not affect the finding of the Court.
– It could not affect the finding of the Court, but my honorable friend would not eliminate discussion by the Senate.
– If the Senate declined to pass a resolution, would application have to be made to the Court?
– It would only be possible to get to the Court by means of a resolution of the Senate.
– Of course that would be the only way of doing it. If the object of Senator Lynch be to prevent discussion in the Senate his amendment, if retained, will not achieve what he desires. I have given reasons of a practical character as to why I am opposed to it. I think that it would be a very unwise thing for the Senate to attempt to load up this Bill with cumbrous and expensive machinery, especially as this sub-clause as it stands would not attain the object which my honorable friend has in view.
– I desire to point out to Senator Lynch and to Senator Symon - because there was a coalition between them when this matter was last under discussion - difficulties that would arise under my honorable friend’s proposal.
– There was no coalition at all.
– There was a kind of understanding or agreement.
– A natural co-operation of intelligence.
– Under the Bill as it stands, such cases as have made this measure necessary would not be determined by the Senate. That has been already provided for. But this Bill embodies another principle in connexion with the qualification of senators. Suppose some one declared in the Senate that Senator W. Russell is not 21 years of age. A discussion would arise and a difference of opinion would exist. According to the position which Senator Lynch wishes to maintain, the issue would immediately have to go to the Court of Disputed Returns. Suppose the case of the insolvency of a senator or of some irregularity under section 44 of the
Constitution. I could get up and state that a senator was insolvent or was attainted of treason. There would at once involve a difference of opinion, and the case would have to go to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– Where is that provided for?
– In section 197 of the Electoral Act a question- affecting the qualification of a senator might arise. It might be discussed. The senator concerned might admit the allegations made respecting him. In that case, under this Bill as Senator Best desires to have it framed, the matter would not go to the Court of Disputed Returns. But if the senator concerned denied the allegations, and there was a difference of opinion, then, by resolution, the case would go to the Court of Disputed Returns. That is the principle embodied in the Bill. I think that it is a correct principle. If a difference of opinion with respect to the qualifications of a senator is raised in the Senate the best way of having it determined is by resolution to send it to the Court of Disputed Returns.- Two principles are involved. First there is a petition to the High Court in connexion with the disputed election. Secondly there is the principle of the qualifications of a senator, a question concerning which may be raised in the Senate whether Senator Lynch’s amendment be retained or not. I think (hat question affecting the qualifications of senators can best be dealt with by resolution, so that if the senator affected admits the allegation there will be no necessity to send the case to the Court. Suppose I were accused of an offence which would disqualify me under sections 44 or 45 of the Constitution, and I admitted the charge. Why should I be put to any expense in sending the case to the .Court? The matter could be decided in the Senate. That is all that is implied in the Bill. I think that it would be better in the interests of the Senate itself and of individual senators that the original provision of the Bill should be re-inserted. I am satisfied that no such difficulty as the present one could arise under it.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.24]. - Senator McGregor has referred to the origin of this Bill as it now stands with the imperative word “shall” instead of “may” in it, as due to a coalition between Senator Lynch and myself. There is nothing in the world of which I should be more proud than a coalition with that honorable senator, for the purpose of securing good and efficient legislation. Certainly, when we discussed this matter the other day, I expressed very strongly the opinion that Senator Lynch was on the right track. We desired to avoid the possibility of party feeling entering into the settlement of any question. of this character. At that time, I admit that I suggested, by way of modification . of the absolute imperative form which would involve every question of qualification being sent to the High Court as the Court of Disputed Returns, that the provision should be amended by inserting the -words “ in case of dispute.” On consideration, however, and even at the risk of dissolving that coalition - which I hope will not result in anything like estrangement - I feel that it would be better to leave the sub-clause as it originally stood. I confess that in my desire to free these questions from anything like party feeling, I supported an amendment which might have gone a little too far. One reason- is, as pointed out by the Minister, that the Senare would have to pass a resolution in every case. In the second place, as Senator McGregor has pointed out, the Senate might have before it a certificate of insolvency, or of a conviction, affecting a senator, and the person accused might admit the allegation. In that case it would be rather absurd that the question should have to go to the Court of Disputed Returns. It is quite true, as Senator Lynch points out, that it might be disposed of briefly but, on the other hand, for the protection of the Senate, and for the protection of the State concerned, it might necessitate the gentleman whose title to the seat was questioned, being represented by counsel - I happen to know how these things are done - when expense would be incurred which ought to be avoided.
– That might be accentuated by the High Court being in remote parts.
– That might happen. In such a case as that, the Senate itself should pass the necessary resolution bringing the Constitution into automatic effect. The sections of the Constitution which affect a seat operate as soon as the fact is ascertained. Thereupon the seat is vacated. Where the facts are admitted there is no neces sity for the case to go to the Court of Disputed Returns at all. It could be dealt with at once by the Senate. The other class of cases which may arise are those which might be met by the amendment indicated, or the insertion of the words “in case of dispute.” But to retain Senator Lynch’s amendment merely to deal with them would ‘involve separating cases of this description into two categories. That seems inadvisable. Therefore, although I thoroughly assent to what Senator Lynch wishes, and what I think we all wish - to free everything of this kind from party feeling and discussion - I do not think that we can better accomplish our desire than by making this provision permissive instead of imperative.
– The fear that Senator Lynch has in his mind is not, I think, one that is capable of being realized. . The passage of this Bill will, in itself, be a declaration by Parliament that it desires, and intends to be absolved from the consideration of any issue affecting an election which is in dispute. Therefore there will be no fear at any time of the Senate, or the House of Representatives, dealing with any issue that may arise on party lines, because Parliament exists continually in the full blaze of public opinion. The public are looking on, and any House of Parliament that proceeded on party lines to deal with an issue of this character would be condemned in their mind. Over and over again Parliaments have proved that they are loyal, and if they were not in spirit loyal the necessities of their existence would compel’ them to be loyal to the intention and the spirit of a measure of this character. If they were to dare to flout the intention and spirit of the law, to resort to party tactics in order to gain a party victory, they would be discounted and discredited even by their own party in the country. Therefore, I think that there is no danger to be apprehended. It would be extremely inconvenient if the amendment which was made in this sub-clause were retained. Many instances would arise where it would be a mere absurdity to submit the question to the High Court as the Court of Disputed Returns.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Best) agreed to-
That after the word “referred,” line 8, the words “by resolution” be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments; report adopted.
– I am only acceding to the wishes of honorable senators in desiring to dispose of th« remaining business on the notice-paper with the greatest rapidity, and as we have discussed this measure for a very long time, and come to an understanding, I move -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to be passed through its remaining str.ges without delay.
– There is an absolute majority of the members of the Senate present.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 7th November, vide page 5673) :
Clause 13 -
The Governor-General may bv proclamation - .
declare that any persons, animals, plants, or goods in any quarantine area, or in any State or part of the Commonwealth in which any quarantinable disease, or any disease or pest affecting plants or animals, exists, shall be subject to quarantine.
Upon which Senator St. Ledger had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to paragraphi.” Provided that the powers contained in the last three preceding paragraphs so far as their operation applies within the boundaries of the respective States shall be and shall be construed to be in aid of the State laws and administration relating thereto.”
. -With the consent of the mover of the amendment, I propose to ask the Committee to insert after paragraph i as it stands a new paragraph to prohibit the landing of consumptives in Australia.
– Should not that be dealt with in the definition of diseases in clause 5 ?
– The honorable senator cannot deal with that question on the amendment of Senator St. Ledger.
– I was about to ask Senator St. Ledger to withdraw his amendment temporarily, and allow me to move the insertion of a paragraph to enable the Governor-General, by proclamation, to prohibit any person in an advanced stage of consumption from landing in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator cannot discuss his proposal until the amendment is withdrawn.
– I ask Senator St. Ledger, through you, sir/ to afford me an opportunity now to move my amendment.
– When Senator Lynch spoke to me privately about his. proposal, I told him that, in my opinion, it ought to be raised when we are discussing the question of quarantinable diseases. I do not wish to embarrass the honorable senator, but I think it is desirable for my amendment to be inserted exactly where I have proposed, especially as the question of consumption can be dealt with on the definition clause.
– I do not see how it can possibly inconvenience Senator St. Ledger if his amendment is withdrawn now to enable my proposal to be submitted. It has been suggested to me that the question of consumption should be dealt with in the definition of quarantinable diseases. If it were declared to be a quarantinable disease, that would mean that any ship that arrived with a consumptive passenger would be ordered into quarantine, which would be a ridiculous thing.
– I cannot allow the honorable senator to discuss the question. If Senator St. Ledger will not ask leave to withdraw his amendment, it must be discussed in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– If I were to accede to the honorable senator’s request, I might not get another opportunity to submit my amendment, whereas he can submit his proposal at any time. The vote on my amendment will finish the discussion with regard to State and Federal jurisdiction in quarantine matters.
.- I suggest to Senator St. Ledger that if his new paragraph is inserted it with completely knock the bottom out of the Bill as regards internal quarantine. It will bring about endless confusion. It presupposes that the Commonwealth shall not step in until the State has exhausted all its efforts, while it does not compel the State to use all its efforts straight away. We do not want the Commonwealth to get into any. conflict with the State, nor do we want the State to be predominant in any shape or form. The Commonwealth should retain the predominant position, and, at the same time, work in with the State so far as it possibly can. I suggest that instead of the words “ aid of “ in the amendment of Senator St. Ledger, we should use the words “co-operation with.”
– I do not think that we should even be ‘bound to do that.
– The alteration which I suggest would put the amendment into accord with the whole tenor of the Bill. Otherwise, the amendment would, if accepted, simply have the effect of stultifying all that we have already done.
– Senator McColl touched the weak spot of Senator St. Ledger’s amendment in pointing out that it would throw no obligation upon the States to carry out their legitimate responsibilities in regard to local sanitation and health. Regarding the wording of the amendment, if we provide that the powers “ shall be in aid of the State laws,” there is no necessity to add that they shall also be “ deemed to be in aid of the State laws.” The proposal is of the very vaguest character. For instance, it says “relating thereto.” Relating to what ?
– To quarantine. I have followed Chief Justice Marshall’s words.
– “ Thereto “ must have relation. to something that precedes.
– Relating to the powers of the States.
– But there are no State powers of that kind. What State laws or administration can there be relating to powers with, which we are for the first time investing a new authority? I pointed out on the second reading that the quarantine provisions of the Bill wouldbe administered, so far as the internal affairs of the States were concerned, in aid of and in conjunction and co-operation with the States’ administration of their own local sanitation and health laws. In those matters we have no constitutional power to interfere. Our right to administer quarantine arises in relation only to our responsibility to the whole Commonwealth. When any disease breaks out which threatens to extend beyond the borders of a State, and affect other States, our quarantine powers are exercisable. We propose to make provision to give the quarantine authority in that case power to step in and protect the rest of the Commonwealth. Senator St. Ledger knows that every legal work dealing with the rights and powers of Federal and State authorities in Federations teems with illustrations of- cases which go to show where the dividing line lies between Federal and State authority and responsibility. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in dealing with what are commonly called in all the text-books the police powers of the State - the powers inherent in every sovereign community to protect the life, health, and property of its inhabitants against the introduction from outside its borders of anything dangerous. The cases that I quoted on the second reading dealt very fully with the difficulty that has been experienced in other countries of separating the exercise of police powers on the part of a State from the attempted exercise of powers reposed in the central authority. In some instances it has been held that laws passed by a State with the bend fide intention of exercising its police powers trenched upon the rights of the Federal authority, and, correspondingly, that laws passed by the central authority relating to matters supposedly within the exercise of its powers entered into the field of the State police powers. But we cannot by a simple statement in a measure of this kind put the matter any further forward or any further back. If the amendment, or anything with the same purport, were inserted, and were absolutely in harmony with all the other provisions of the Bill, it would be nothing more nor less than the declaration of a pious wish. But as it stands at present it is not in harmony with the rest -of the Bill. If it were put into conformity, it would still be absolutely superfluous. It , would simply be’ the expression of a wish as to our action, without throwing upon the States, or indeed upon the Federation itself, any obligation whatever. As Senator McColl pointed out, there would be no obligation upon a State lo exercise all its powers, but the Federation would be in this position : that Parliament had expressed a wish that it should not exercise any of its powers within a State until the State had exhausted all the powers that it retained. We do not take, nor do we desire or profess to take, nor, indeed, could we take if we wished, from a State any of its police powers in relation to local sanitation and health. We look confidently to the State in the future to exercise its powers in this regard to the fullest extent, and to realize its responsibilities, not only to itself, as it primarily and naturally would, but to the whole of the Commonwealth. As I stated previously, the powers that we call for in this Bill are only powers that we hold in reserve, to be exercised in such a grave emergency- as when a State was unwilling to carry out, or incapable for some reason of carrying out, its own internal administration efficiently and with safety to other States, apart from safety to itself.
– What is the meaning of sub-clause 3 of clause 1 3 ?
– That is a declaration that these powers are never to be exercised within the boundaries of a State unless the responsible Federal authority is satisfied that they must be so exercised for the safety of others outside the borders of that State. That is an ample safeguard.
– It will be necessary to make a change in that sub-clause to correspond with what has already been . done.
– All that will be necessary is a verbal change consequential on what has been in’serted above. I appeal to Senator St. Ledger -. consider that, after all, his amendment would only be the expression of a pious aspiration on our part, and that such things do not properly find a place in a Statute. It is hardly a form of legislation that any Legislature has found commendable. In any case, the effect of the amendment, if it had any effect, would be rather detrimental than advantageous to the central authority in the exercise of those powers which I think that the majority of honorable senators, as well as of the members of another place, consider should be intrusted to it.
– - I hope that Senator St. Ledger will have the good sense to withdraw the amendment, and allow us to complete the consideration of a Bill that will be really of some use to the Commonwealth. I should like to point out the position that the Commonwealth is now in. Senator W. Russell yesterday called attention to a communication received bv him from the Pastoralists’ Association of South Australia, as to the quarantining of Australian stock in the Argentine. Why is Australian stock so treated there, and how can that be avoided? It can be avoided by the passage of this Bill, without the ridiculous amendment that has been proposed by Senator St. Ledger. All cattle coming from Australia have been quarantined in the Argentine because there is tick in a certain portion .of Queensland. Negotiations have been proceeding between the Queensland Government and the Prime Minister, and Senator Story and myself have just interviewed the Prime Minister in connexion with that very subject. He tells us that the matter is practically settled, because he has received an assurance from every State that the necessary conditions will be complied with, but he points out that if only one State was not prepared to give that assurance, cattle from every part of Australia would be quarantined in the Argentine. This .Bill transfers the power of quarantine from the States to the Commonwealth, and, when passed, will make the law on the subject uniform throughout Australia, no matter who administers it. One valuable effect of it will be that, instead of the whole Commonwealth being quarantined because a’ disease exists in one part of it, that part only will be quarantined, and consequently cattle and goods from all the rest of the Commonwealth will be allowed free entry to other parts of the world. Honorable senators, when they realize the position in which they are putting the Commonwealth by objecting to this legislation, should withdraw their opposition to it, and give Australian stock and goods a fair chance in the markets of the world.
– - It is evident that I have no possibility of carrying the amendment, as the Government and their supporters are against this last attempt to give, legislative expression to a desire for co-operation between the Federation and the States. But the Government are at the present time cooperating with the States in the very direction in which I have asked them to go. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that the Government under this Bill expect to achieve what I think ought to be achieved. I hope they will be able to do so, but I contend that my amendment would not interfere with what the Government desires. I direct the attention of the Committee to the’ fact that the Queensland Parliament passed a Dairy and Produce Act, including provisions relating to the grading of goods, and especially of butter for export. The Federal Parliament passed a Commerce Act dealing with exports from all the States. On the subject of the export of butter, there was some conflict between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Queensland. If the Minister will look up the report of the Live Stock and Agricultural Department of Queensland for 1906 he will find a reference to the matter, and that it was decided that the arrangements of the Federal authority might be fitted in with the arrangements made by the State authority under the Dairy and Produce Act. The report concludes with the statement that a most harmonious system of working had been set up.
– Because the conditions laid down by the Queensland Government under the local Act were more strict than those laid down by the Commonwealth Government under the Commerce Act. They more than complied with the conditions of the Commerce Act.
– Exactly ; and that is just the point I wish to make. There is not in any State in Australia a more effective law for the control of public health, and the quarantine of plants and animals, than that which is in force in Queensland. It is not too much to say ihat the people of Queensland are equally anxious for the effective quarantine of plants and animals throughout the Commonwealth. When I have pointed out that harmonious working between the two authorities followed as a result of the action taken by the State authorities of Queensland, I am entitled to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council to seriously consider my amendment, and to say whether we are not justified in expecting similar results in the application of the quarantine law to those which have been shown to follow from the application of the Commerce Act.
– The good results to which the honorable senator has referred followed without the operation of such a provision as the honorable senator has suggested. They followed from the common sense of the persons intrusted with the administration of the law, and the same thing would happen under the quarantine law.
– If my amendment be founded on the supposition that both Commonwealth and State authorities would be guided by common sense in the administration of the law, why should it be resisted? If the objection to the amendment is that it is superfluous, or is merely the expression of a pious aspiration, it is sufficient to say that it could in neither case injuriously affect quarantine administration by the Federal authority. However, I have done my duty, as I understand it, and I shall not further press the amendment. I will only say that if’.there should be friction between the Commonwealth and States authorities in connexion with this matter - and cases of the kind have occurred in the United States and in Canada, which have led to appeals to the United States Supreme Court in the one case, and “to the Privy Council in the other - the responsibility must rest with those who reject the amendment, and not with myself or with other honorable senators on this side.
Amendment negatived. .
– I should like at this stage to get an expression of opinion from the Minister on the suggestion I made for the introduction of a provision to prevent the admission of consumptives into Australia. I think that it should be inserted after this clause which deals with the matters in connexion with which the Governor-General is to be authorized to issue proclamations. Perhaps the Minister would suggest the most appropriate place for the introduction of such a provision?
– The honorable senator might move the insertion of a new paragraph to this clause when the matter can be discussed.
– I move- .
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - “ (7) Prohibit the landing of any person suffering from tuberculosis, leprosy, or other incurable disease.”
I may say that ‘ I should be quite willing to permit the landing of a person suffering from such a disease, provided he declared his intention to proceed to a sanatorium or some retreat to obtain special attention under some kind of bond. But I object to the indiscriminate introduction of consumptives, and their mixing with the population, when that involves the spread of a disease which has played so much havoc with human life in other lands.
– I think the honorable senator might leave out the words “ or other incurable disease.’”’
– I have included leprosy, because I see no reason why persons afflicted with that disease should be allowed to land in Australia when the taxpayers of the Commonwealth would be called upon to support them for the remainder of their days. In the case of persons afflicted with leprosy, I should be inclined to make it obligatory on shipmasters bringing them to the Commonwealth to return them to the place whence they came. As showing the great loss of- human life which has resulted from the spread of this moloch of disease in other lands, I find from the figures for three or four leading countries, quoted in Dr. Vincent’s work on the subject, that on the basis of the number of persons who die annually in Prussia from consumption in proportion to the total population, the number that would be lost through the disease in Australia would be 12,000 per annum. France, with a population of 40,000,000, loses 170,000 people every year by consumption, and that, in proportion to population, would represent a loss of 15*000 a year in Australia. According to the same authority, in London 8,000 persons die of consumption every year, and in England, with, a population of 40,000,000, 70,000 persons die of consumption in each year.
– In England the loss is less than in France.
– Yes. In view of the great destruction of human life resulting from consumption in other lands,_I think that if we are to be careful of the health of our own ‘population we should take steps to prevent the introduction of consumptives to Australia. We can only do so effectively under a quarantine law. I believe tha’t, as a means of preventing the introduction of consumptives, the Immigration Restriction Act has proved to be ineffective. On this account,” I think it should be expressly stated in this Bill that no person suffering from consumption shall be allowed to land in Australia. Such a provision has been enacted in the United States by an Act of Congress, passed in February of this year, which prohibits the landing in the Republic of any person suffering from tuberculosis. Furthermore, it is one of the diseases in connexion with which the public officials are given no discretion. The fact that a- person is suffering from this dread disease absolutely debars him from landing in the United States, and those charged with the administration of the law can exercise no discretion in the matter.
– Could thev not wink the other eye?
– They could not do so without being guilty of gross disloyally and neglect of duty. We have been governed by American precedents in other matters, and in this matter the Congress of the United States has shown itself to be so jealous of the health of the 80,000,000 of people in that country as to prohibit the introduction of persons afflicted with this dis ease. I am aware that unfortunate people afflicted with consumption seek sunnier climes in the hope that they will recover, and, although they might be permitted todo so, we should take steps to prevent them: mixing indiscriminately with the population,, travelling in trams and trains, and living at hotels and places of public resort, asthey do at present, to the great danger of the health of the community.
– Why do we not quarantine the consumptives who are here?
– Because the task would be too great.
– In Queensland, we have the most stringent health laws dealing with tuberculosis.’
– In these days, the segregation of consumptives is considered the best means of preventing the spread of the disease. I am afraid that it would be too large an order to attempt to deal with the consumptives who are already here, but we could take steps to prevent the introduction of consumptives.
– We cannot stamp out the disease by trying to prevent the landing of persons afflicted with it, whilst we allow it to spread from consumptives who are ir> our midst.
– If Senator Givens, objects to the proposal on that score, I remind him of the action we have taken in dealing with aliens. We prevent the introduction of aliens from other lands, but we have not attempted to deal with the aliens who are already here.
– A black-fellow is not a contagious disease.
– I meet the honorable senator’s objection by referring him to the action we have taken with respect to aliens. The Commonwealth Parliament has decided that we shall not admit these people in the future unless under certain expressed conditions, but we do not propose to deal with the aliens who are within our gates.
– The cases are not parallel at all. The microbes of disease are here in both sexes in unlimited quantities, whilst there are not in our midst unlimited numbers of aliens of both sexes.
– If the alien is such an evil and a nuisance that he should not be permitted to land in Australia, we should, in accordance with Senator Givens* argument, deport those who are here. I do not propose to go so far as that in dealing with consumptives, but I believe that we should be. as jealous of the health of our small population in Australia as the authorities of the United States are of the health of the 80,000,000 people in that country. There is also the humanitarian aspect - to prevent the spread of disease amongst our citizens. It is particularly necessary to do that in the case of a disease which operates so disastrously as does consumption. I therefore propose that this shall be one of the matters about which the GovernorGeneral shall have power to issue a proclamation. No person should be admitted into Australia who is suffering from consumption, except under one express condition, which I shall move to insert later on. The condition would be that if a person suffering from the disease proposed to go immediately to a sanatorium, he might be allowed to land, provided he entered into a bond.
– I do not think that this is an amendment which I can accept. The Bill is one relating to quarantine. The proposed new paragraph does not relate to the quarantining of persons suffering from a particular disease; but to the prohibition of their landing. The quarantining provisions of this Bill do not absolutely prohibit the landing of persons. This appears to me to be a provision which would be quite within the scope and purpose of a Bill dealing with the restriction of immigration, or with undesirable aliens. But it does not seem to me to” be within the scope of a Quarantine Bill which does not in its other provisions prohibit the landing of persons.
– Oh, yes.
– I wish to point out to you, sir, that clause 4 df the Bill distinctly states that quarantine has relation to measures -
For the exclusion, detention, segregation, isolation, protection and disinfection of vessels, persons, goods, animals or plants.
Therefore “exclusion” is within the scope of the Bill. I take it that that clause gives power to the Commonwealth authorities to exclude persons suffering from disease.
– Certainly that interpretation might be put upon the word “exclusion” as used in clause 4. The interpretation which I put upon it may be too narrow. I think it means exclusion from one part of the Commonwealth as against another part, and relates to quarantine purposes only. I take it that the amendment now proposed has not that meaning. It means exclusion, not for a term of quarantine - which is usually taken to be forty days - but exclusion for all time and from all parts of the Commonwealth.
– I think that Senator Lynch would not have proposed the amendment under consideration in the form in which he has submitted it if he had a closer and more intimate knowledge of the subject with which he proposes to deal. It is well known to medical authorities that tuberculosis is one of the most insidious of diseases. There is scarcely a person who has not at some time and in some manner been affected by tuberculosis.
– If the honorable senator does not desire to speak to the point of order, it will be my duty, holding the view that I do, to rule that Senator. Lynch’s proposed new paragraph is not in order. I admit that I do not feel quite certain on the point, but if no other honorable senator wishes to address mie upon it I shall have to rule that it. is not within the scope of a Quarantine Bill.
– With all due respect to your view, sir, I cannot agree that the word “ exclusion” is intended to mean simply exclusion from one State as compared with another. The word used over and over again in this Bill when that is meant is “ removal.” The general principle of this Bill is that the Commonwealth is to be treated as one. The measure applies to all Australia. The word “exclusion,” therefore, relates to exclusion from Australia. I think that there is not tha slightest doubt that the word gives power to keep out persons, plants,- or animals from Australia as a whole, and not. to exclude them temporarily from a part of Australia.
– I rather incline to the view expressed by yourself, sir, with respect to the meaning of the word “exclusion ‘ ‘ as used in clause 4. I think that that view is in harmony with the Bill itself. The Bill appears to me to have one focus. It deals solely with quarantine. An attempt made to introduce a restrictive provision would clearly constitute a departure from the intention of the measure.
– Would there not be power under this Bill to exclude’ a leper?
– I do not think that the Bill gives power to exclude anybody. It- is intended to deal solely with quarantine. Senator Lynch’s proposal appears to me to be in direct apposition to the title, purposes, and intentions of the Bill.
– I must confess that I was giving more attention to the merits of Senator Lynch’s amendment, than to its relevancy to the scope and purposes of the Bill. But since you, sir, have drawn attention to that point, I have given it all the consideration I could. I think that it must be well understood by honorable senators that quarantine, as applied to persons, means the dealing with them for a certain period in suspected cases or cases where persons are diseased in’ such a way that there is danger of disease being introduced into the country. As regards the other subjects dealt with in the measure - that is, the quarantining of other than persons - it’ was explained by me when the second reading was moved that the powers which we exercise in relation to animals and plants are more than quarantine powers. We can exercise under the Constitution, with regard to animals and plants, our powers, not merely in relation to quarantine, but also in relation to trade and commerce. We have, therefore, with regard to animals and plants, gone outside what is generally understood to be the scope and intention’ of quarantine in its narrow sense. We have gone to the extent of prohibiting importation. We can do that under our trade and commerce powers. We have even gone beyond the power prohibiting ‘ importation. We give the power of destruction. No one will contend that, because in the exercise of our trade and commerce (powers and our. quarantine powers in conjunction with regard to animals and plants, we have given the power of destruction, the same powers would- apply to humans. Quarantine in itself is not a power exercised for the exclusion of persons, but rather for their inspection, disinfection, and treatment, to prevent them from being the vehicles of contagion and infection.
– What is the difference between prohibiting the importation of animals and persons?
– We exercise under this measure our quarantine powers, as well as our trade and commerce (powers. Parliament has legislated with regard to the exclusion of persons under certain circumstances in other measures. We have on our statute-book two Acts of Parliament dealing with the prohibition of immigration. . Power is given in those Acts to exclude undesirables of different classes - amongst others undesirables by reason of the fact that they are afflicted by disease, and might be a source of public danger or expense if they were allowed to enter the country. I think, sir, that your reading of the measure as to the quarantining of’ persons is quite correct, and that this Bill in no regard ?oes beyond what is ordinarily and strictly understood as quarantine with respect topersons. It provides as to them only such measures as have been enforced in the different States in the past. It does not go to the extent of excluding persons. I think, therefore, that your view as to the inadmissibility of Senator’ Lynch’s proposed new paragraph is correct.
– I am rather surprised at the position which has been -taken up by the Minister, because quarantine, as it is generallyunderstood, is not limited to any particular period. It lasts while there is a possibility of contagion spreading from any one on the vessel quarantined, no matter whether that period may extend to forty days or forty years. At “their Conference the quarantine officers made, as regards lepers, a recommendation in the very* direction in which Senator Lynch is moving. They recommended that lepers should not be allowed to land, but should be returned. The Government have not seen fit to include a provision for that purpose in the Bill.
– We have that power in the Immigration Restriction ‘Act.
– For what period are incurables tobe kept in quarantine?
– We oould not very well quarantine persons if incurable, because that would mean perpetual quarantine.
– How is it proposed to meet those cases ?
– Under the Immigration Restriction Act such a. person may be treated as a prohibited immigrant, and forbidden to land.
– Suppose that a ship arrives with a leper or other diseased per- . son on board, and is quarantined ; she is guarded night and day. The police have no power to go on board to remove him and send him back to the place from which he came.The medical officer who is administering this measure will alone be entitled to preventhim from landing, and to send him back to the place from which he came.. This, I think, is the proper place in. which to insert the amendment.
– I am prepared to give a ruling without hearing further argument. At first I entertained some doubts, but the discussion has quite removed them.. It seems to me that’ under the Bill the Committee can only deal with quarantine. The Constitution has recognised a difference between persons, animals and plants. Under our trade and commerce powers we can deal with products, and under our immigration power we can deal with persons. If it is desired to prohibit a person from landing, on the ground that he is diseased, under our immigration power we can take that step, but not in this Hill, which is limited in its scope to quarantine, and does not deal with immigration. I point out that, in’ ruling the amendment out- of order in its present form, it will not deprive Senator Lynch of the opportunity of achieving what he desires, because, on clause 5, which has been postponed, he can test the Committee on the question of making consumption a quarantinable disease.
Sub-clauses 2 and 3 verbally amended.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 14 -
The Governor-General may exempt, for such time and subject to such conditions as he thinks litj from all or any of the provisions of this Act - (a) any ship of war ;
any vessels trading exclusively between Australia and New Zealand or Fiji, or other places adjacent to Australia ;
any particular vessel or class of vessels, and
any persons, animals, plants, or goods.
– I move-
That after the word “exclusively,” line 5, the words “ between Australian ports or “ be inserted.
The Minister will see that in this clause a preference is given to vessels trading between Australia and New Zealand or Fiji, or other places.’ The exemption is not to apply to vessels trading on the Australian coast, and I submit my amendment in order to meet that case.
.- It seems to me that the amendment only carries out what is intended, viz., to enable such vessels from time to time to be exempted. We propose to exempt vessels trading exclusively between Australia and New Zea land or’ Fiji, or other adjacent places, and it will make the clause clearer if we insert the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed, to.
Clause 15 -
The owner of any Australian vessel going from one State or part of the Commonwealth to another State or part of the Commonwealth, or of any vessel carrying passengers and trading regularly with the Commonwealth, shall, if required by the Minister by order in writing so to do, cause to be carried on the vessel an efficient disinfecting apparatus or apuliance approved bv him.
Penalty : Fifty pounds.
Amendment (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That after the word “ owner,” line 1, the words “ or master “ be inserted.
– - I desire to know why the Government propose that only Australian’ vessels trading between one State or part of the’ Commonwealth and another State should be compelled to carry disinfecting- apparatus, and that British, German, or French vessels which are engaged in the same trade should be . exempted from that re-‘ quirement? I move -
That the word “ Australian “ be left out.
In- my opinion it is very desirable that allships carrying passengers should carry- disinfecting apparatus. It must be apparent to the Committee that it is not fair to ask’ Australian ships to do what it is not proposed to ask other ships engaged in the same trade to do.
– If Senator Guthrie will read the clause through he will see that it does not apply to Australian vessels only.
– To Australian vessels that do not carry passengers.
– What the honorable senator means is that it applies to Australian vessels of all kinds, whereas, so far as other vessels are concerned, they must be - passenger-carrying vessels trading with Australia?
– One of the reasons for making that distinction is that Australian vessels which are in our ports are not subjected nearly so frequently to inspection as are vessels trading to Australia from different parts of the world. We take it for granted, in many instances, that vessels trading between our own ports are all right, and do not need to be inspected. Any vessel which came from Europe would touch at various ports, and on her first arrival she would be subject to quarantine. Our own vessels which never get outside Australia are not subjected tothat inspection, and for that reason we ask that all vessels trading in Australia shall be subject to the provision. With regard to other vessels which may come in and may not carry passengers, on arrival they are subjected to quarantine and to tests to which our own vessels are not subjected.
– The position put by the Minister is right from one stand-point, and one stand-point only. He has pointed out that a vessel which comes here and merely makes a trip between two Australian ports has already been subjected to quarantine. But what is the position of British ships which come here and run for three years on our coast without leaving it? The ships which are competing for the trade against the local ship-owners are to be saved the expense ©f carrying disinfecting apparatus. An Australian ship-owner, who is carrying coal from Newcastle to Melbourne or Adelaide has in competition with him vessels which are registered in London, and which trade on our coast for twelve months or two or three years. Under this clause the latter vessels will be exempt. I think that the Minister will be acting wisely and justly in compelling every ship that is trading along our coast, no matter where she may be registered, to carry this apparatus.
– - Probably the honorable senator knows better than any one else in the chamber whether there are very many ships which come from abroad and for two or three years trade between Australian ports. I do not think that there are very many of those vessels engaged in our coastal trade.
– There are.
– If that be so, I think that they would be brought into exactly the same position as our own vessels by the definition clause, under which - “Australian vessel “ means a vessel which does not voyage or ply to or from any place outside Australia. . “
That means that so long as vessels were plying between ports in Australia they would be Australian vessels, and come under this clause. I do not know that it matters very much whether the amendment is ‘made or not, because, after all, this is a power which is to be given to the Minister at his discretion to exercise.
Amendment agreed to
– The shipping companies point out that this clause may require them to carryvery expensive disinfecting appa’ratus as a permanent portion of the equipment of a vessel. Clayton’s machine costs .£400. It seems unnecessary to compel every vessel that, comes here to carry ari apparatus costing ^400, on the chance that it may be used once in several years. The companies, ask for the insertion of the words “ for such time as may be prescribed.” That would not take away from the Minister’spowers, or relieve the companies from the requirements of the clause. I move -
That after the word “ vessel,” line 7, the words “ for such a time as may be prescribed “ be inserted.
.– I can confirm what has been said by Senator Macfarlane. I understand that the shipping companies have no objection to provide disinfecting apparatus in cases of emergency, or when required. What they fear is that the clause may be used as a lever to make them carry this expensive apparatus as portion of the permanent equipment of the ship. I do not think that the Minister or Senator Guthrie wants that.
– Some of the shipswant a very efficient disinfecting apparatus.
– I hope that our quarantine laws will be so perfect, and sowell administered, that very few, if any, vessels will want it. If the owners of some vessels are- so negligent that they do want it, the amendment will not prevent the Minister from ordering it to be provided for as long as he thinks necessary. Expertsgive themselves the benefit of every doubt, and as they .do not have to bear the cost of providing what they demand, they are often most generous and lavish in dealing with other persons’ money. The amendment would still leave the Minister the sole judge as to the necessity of requiring such apparatus. .
-‘ - All that the clause does is to empower the Minister to require the master or owner of a vessel, in certain circumstances to equip it with an efficient disinfecting apparatus or appliance approved of by him. The same power is held by Governments of other countries, more particularly in some of the South American Republics and other parts of the world, which have commerce with places, whence dangerous diseases are likely to be introduced. It may be necessary in some instances for the Minister to require a vessel trading between Australia, and a particular part of the world to be efficiently equipped with disinfecting apparatus, while, on the other hand, it may not be necessary at all times to require any vessel to be permanently so equipped. I do not see any great objection to the amendment, as the Minister would still have power, in the case of an outbreak of dangerous disease in any country with which we had commerce, to require all vessels trading with that place to be properly so equipped for an indefinite period, or until further orders. He could, if necessary, require only certain vessels to be so equipped, and so it might be that apparatus required for certain vessels on one trade route at one time would come in advantageously for the same owners for other vessels on other routes at other times. I do not think that it was intended to make it obligatory on all vessels at all times to carry apparatus of this kind: The Minister has very extensive and elastic powers, which will not be curtailed by the amendment. At the same time, the provision will give shipping companies and others interested to understand that when required under any circumstances to provide apparatus approved by the Minister, they will be bound by the law to do so.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) J4.52]. - Even at present, when the provision of apparatus of this kind is quite a voluntary matter, some of the shipping companies have already installed it on their vessels. If a disease breaks out during the trip they are able to show the quarantine officer when they reach port that thev have isolated the patient and disinfected the ship. In that way they save the first cost of .£300 or ,£400 for the apparatus several times over, in avoiding the detention of the ship and lessening the quarantine expenses. The instalment of the apparatus on board is therefore an economy to the ship-owner. Honorable senators opposite are looking only at the first cost, but I am certain that once passenger ships get into the habit of carrying these machines they will carry them voluntarily, and make them a permanent portion of their equipment. I hope that honorable senators will let the clause go as it stands. It merely gives the Minister power to make the necessary order. It does not say that the apparatus shall remain permanently on the ship. In the case of vessels trading, for instance, from Fiji or New Zealand, one never knows when an outbreak of disease may take place. In that case, the ship could be entirely disinfected by the time she reached Australia if there was an apparatus on board, and instead of the whole ship’s company and all the passengers being sent into quarantine, only one man would be isolated, and the ship would have been already disinfected.
– The amendment will not lessen the Minister’s powers.
– It will, in that it provides that the order shall have effect only for a time.
– The Minister can say that it shall be operative indefinitely or until further orders.
– I do not object very strongly to the amendment, but I point out that it is in the interests of the ships themselves that they should carry the apparatus.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 19 agreed to.
Clause 20 -
The master of an oversea vessel arriving in Australia shall not, unless from stress of weather or other reasonable cause, suffer the vessel te enter any port other than a port declared to be a first port’ of entry.
Penalty : Five hundred pounds.
– - The penalty on the master for infringing this provision is .£500, but in clause 77 a pilot who does exactly the same thing is liable to a penalty of only ,£50. The pilot has full local knowledge, and should know the quarantine law ; but the master of an oversea vessel may be coming to Australia for the first time, and be absolutely ignorant of the law and of the names of the first ports of entry. His sailing directions may not give him that information, because those ports have yet to be proclaimed. Yet if the pilot takes the ship into a port other than a first port of entry, he can only foe fined .£50, whilst the master, if he gets into some port which is not declared to be a first port of entry, is liable to a penalty of .£500. I think, that the £500 penalty was meant for the pilot and the .£50 penalty for the master. Will the Minister allow the penalty in this clause to be reduced, or postpone the clause for further consideration?
– The honorable senator has drawn attention to two penalties which are seemingly for the same offence, but in this clause we propose to impose a penalty upon the master, who will be absolutely and wholly responsible if he brings his vessel into the wrong port. In an earlier clause we gave power to declare first ports of entry for oversea vessels. That is the first effective step that we can take to prevent the introduction of diseases from abroad. If the master of a vessel disregards the law and goes to another port where we have no effective quarantine administration, it is quite possible that before we could do anything the very danger to avert which quarantine is intended would have been introduced. In that case the master is made responsible. Clause 77 refers to the pilot; but 1 take it that the pilot is responsible only for the navigation and not for determining the destination of the vessel. The master does not lose his responsibility to give instructions to the pilot as to where the vessel is to be taken. In clause 78 we provide that the master of an oversea vessel who, knowing that any quarantinable disease exists on his vessel, allows it to enter a port other than a first port of entryA shall be guilty of an indictable offence, unless he proves that it was necessary for the vessel to enter the port’ for the purpose of saving human life. The supposed disparity between the two penalties mentioned by Senator Guthrie does not exist, because the conditions are not as similar as they seem. No good purpose would be served . by delaying the clause, however much clause 77 may be discussed afterwards in the light of this clause.
– I do not Feel inclined to allow the clause to pass in its present form. We are making two different provisions for punishing the master. Under clause 20 he may be fined . £500, whilst under clause 78 he may be sent to gaol for three years for the very same offence. With respect to the position of the pilot, let me say that when he goes on board a ship he does not assume control of the vessel. The master still retains the control, but the pilot is not bound at the request of the master to take the vessel to a place to which he is not allowed to go under the Act. A fine of £S° ‘s quite sufficient for taking a ship to a port to which it should not go. If the Committee intend to retain clause 78, this clause should be struck out, or the penalty upon the master reduced.
– Clause 78 refers to a case in which the master of a vessel knows that a quarantinable disease exists on the vessel.
– Under this clause, even though he should not be aware that a quarantinable disease exists on board his vessel the master is liable to a penalty of . £500 if he enters any port other than a first port of entry under the Act. But under clause 78 he is liable, in addition to a fine of , £500, to three years’’ imprisonment if he does so with the knowledge that a quarantinable disease exists on board the vessel.
– Is the honorable senator objecting to that?
– No, but I think that the penalty provided in clause 20 is too severe, when a pilot is to be subject to a penalty of only £50 for doing the same thing.
– The pilot is under the command of the master.
– That is not so. The master may have no local knowledge arid-no knowledge of the laws- of the placeto which he brings his vessel. The vessel may be chartered in a port in South America, where he could get no copies of the laws of the Commonwealth, and, might not be able even to get a chart of the Australian coast. He might call into a port here merely to get information or to obtain a chart.
– The master of a ship does not start on a voyage without some knowledge of the place for which he is bound.
– Masters often have very little knowledge of the places to which they are bound. I have started with a master who had no chart of the place to which he was bound. He had to pick up a fisherman on the coast to give us the information he required.
– The honorable senator is talking of the dark ages.
– No, I am speaking of the present day. A ship may be chartered in London for Sydney, and from Sydney to any port or ports in the known world, the voyage not to exceed three years. When the ship gets to Sydney the brokers set to work to secure a second charter, and she may be chartered for some place in Siberia, and later on from there to some port in the Mediterranean. It would be impossible for the master of . the ship to obtain in the Siberian port charts of the ports of the Mediterranean. Honorable members should recollect that a ship does not carry, a library and a set of charts for the wholeworld. My difficulty, is, that if, under this clause, the master of a vessel who may have no chart of the coast, puts into a port, which is not a first port of entry under the Bill, he is liable to a fine of £500..
– Not if he can show reasonable cause.
– No, only stress of weather.
– Or other reasonable cause.”
– Want of knowledge of the law. would not be considered reasonable cause. I think the penalty provided should be reduced to £50.
– The penalty provided in the clause is the maximum.
– I think the maximum penalty should be . £50. I move -
That the words “ Five hundred “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the woTd “ fifty.”
Clause agreed to.
The master of every vessel subject to quarantine shall -
hoist the quarantine signal at the maintop of his vessel before she comes within one league of any port, and
keep the quarantine signal hoisted at the main-top of his vessel while entering or being in any port or quarantine station.
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
– There is a penalty of , £100 attached to a breach of this clause, and I wish to ask whether any member of the Committee thinks it is possible to, hoist the quarantine signal at the “maintop”? Under this clause, every master of a ship that goes into quarantine will be liable to a penalty. Two-thirds of the ships now sailing the salt water have no maintop at all.
– The honorable member is speaking of steam-ships.
– I am referring chieflv to steam-ships. I do not know how the Minister is going to get over the difficulty. It would be impossible for masters of vessels to avoid the penalty provided in this clause. Then I should like to know what is the quarantine signal. There is no definition of it.
– That is provided for in clause 23.
– I object to that clause also. We should be very careful about the signals for which we provide. I can tell the Minister that at the port of Adelaide the use of misleading signals resulted in the loss of three ships. A quarantine signal is being proposed under this Bill which is not known in any other part of the world. The intention in hoisting the quarantine signal is to warn people off the vessel. If any one goes on board a quarantined vessel he is liable to a penalty as well as to be detained in quarantine. I directed attention to the matter before, and I hoped that the Government would be able to propose something feasible. I think that an error has been made in the drafting of the clause, and that “maintop” must have been inadvertently or ignorantly used instead of “ mainmast.”
– Why not move an amendment ?
– I wish to know what the Government propose to do.
– It is so long since I was before the mast, or behind it, that I must admit ignorance of the technical matters to which Senator Guthrie has drawn attention. But if the honorable senator’s statement is correct, and it has not been answered so far, it would appear that, as a result of the modern developments of ship-building, the maintop has ceased to exist in many vessels, and the Government should cheerfully recognise that a mistake has been made, possibly as the result of following the wording of existing Acts. If, as Senator Guthrie says, the maintop is to-day conspicuous by its absence in most vessels, we should indicate in this clause something else on which the quarantine signal may be hoisted. I do not know what term should be employed, but it must be obvious to the Minister that if there is no such thing as the maintop, it is absurd to say that the quarantine signal shall be hoisted there.
– If Senator Guthrie assures me that “mainmast head “ is a more correct expression to use, I see no objection to his moving the amendment, or to moving it myself.
– It should be “ mainmast head.”
– I move-
That the word “ top,” line 4, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “masthead.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 22 -
When the master of any vessel becomes aware that-
any eruptive disease; or
any disease attended with fever and glandular swellings; or
any disease which he believes or suspects, or has reason to believe or suspect, to be a quarantinable disease - has broken out on board his vessel, he shall forthwith (unless the vessel is actually performing quarantine under” the supervision of a’ quarantine officer) -
notify a quarantine officer of the breaking out of the disease, and
hoist the quarantine signal at the main top of his vessel, and keep it so hoisted until he is authorized by a quarantine officer to take it down or until the vessel is released from quarantine.
Penalty : Fifty pounds.
– Under the clause we have passed we say that when the master of a vessel comes within certain distance of the shore he shall hoist the quarantine signal and keep it flying. In Melbourne, and in other ports I know of, the yellow flag, which is the quarantine flag, is kept hoisted night and day, but in this clause there is an entirely new departure so far as my knowledge goes, provision being made for the use of a lantern at night.
– That is provided for in Nesv South Wales.
– It is, but nowhere else that I know of. In Melbourne the custom is to have the yellow flag as the only signal. It is flown from the time aship is put into quarantine until she is. granted pratique. In clause 23, provision is made for the hoisting of a large signal lantern, but we do not know what kind of lantern is to be used.
Clause consequentially amended and igreed to.
Clause 23 -
The quarantine signal shall, in the day-time, be a large yellow flag of six breadth’s of bunting, and in the night-time a large signal lantern.
– Under the international code of’ signals, the flying of a yellow flag means, “ I am liable to quarantine.” A new flag has been introduced in the new code, which has been adopted by all the countries in the world that have any mercantile marine. The “L” flag of the new code is the quarantine flag. It is a yellow flag with yellow and black squares upon it, and the flying of it means that there. is cholera, small-pox, or yellow fever on board. As soon as a ship is quarantined, up “oes the quarantine flag. What has been done in drafting this clause is to copy a provision that was in existence prior to the adoption of the new international code of signals. It would be” better to say that the signals both for night and day shall be “ as prescribed,” and then a regulation could be framed in accordance with the international code. A great deal of consideration is required as to the night signal. Coloured lamps and bright’ lamps are used at present for a variety of purposes. To get a night signal which will be absolutely distinct, and will indicate that a vessel is in quarantine, may be a matter . of some difficulty. It will certainly require close study. I have thought a good deal about it, having gone into the whole question of “signals as far as I could with the aid of the Board of Trade regulations. The only signal that I can think of that would indicate what we mean, and would not clash, would be two green lamps with a bright light between them, hung on the foretopmast stay. If, instead of prescribing the flag and the signal definitely in this Bill, we provided that they shall be- “as prescribed,” it would give the Government an opportunity of framing a suitable regulation. I suggest that the Minister should agree to strike the clause out altogether.
– I admit that, on a cursory view, there is much to be said for Senator Guthrie’s argument. But, recalling an argument which ‘he addressed to the Committee a little while ago as to the difficulty of foreign shipmasters becoming familiar with our regulations, it seems to be desirable to state in the Bill itself the conditions which are to be observed by those who wish to trade with our ports. Senator Guthrie has pointed out the difficulty some shipmasters may have in making themselves acquainted with our legislation. We shall add to the difficulties if we compel them to be familiar, not only with our Acts of Parliament, but also with regulations which may be changed from time to time. While I think that something should be set out to indicate the signal more clearly. I still express a preference for having the provision in the Bill itself rather than in a regulation.
– What Senator Millen has said as to the desirableness of prescribing the signals in the Bill itself rather than by regulation appeals to me. But I desire to consider Senator Guthrie’s suggestions, and to bring the clause into harmony with what is done elsewhere. I therefore ask the Committee to agree to postpone the clause.
Clauses 24 to 26 agreed to.
Clause 27 (Master to deliver health report).
– I wish to draw attention to the necessity of vessels coming to Australia knowing exactly the conditions to which they have to be subjected with regard to inspection. In some cases the information which masters of vessels give may be misleading. I know of a case that happened not long ago with regard to a vessel which came down from Shanghai and Hong Kong. It traversed the Queensland coast, and its certificate showed that it was a clean ship. But it was stopped at Thursday Island, and again at Cairns, where it was found that it had smallpox on board. Clause 27 seems to be hardly stringent enough. It may be that the administration under it will be quite sufficient, but we cannot be too careful.
– This Is one of a series of provisions. Under the next clausethere may be a demand upon both the master and the officers to answer questions, arid if they refuse they are subjected to penalties.
– The virtue of this Bill will depend upon its administration. In view of our large trade with the East, we cannot be too careful with regard to the certificates delivered to masters of vessels in outside ports. I hope that care will be taken to see that the regulations are sufficiently stringent.
.- This clause is inserted, not only to help the administration, but also to enable masters of vessels to have an idea as to what they are to do when coming to our ports. The quarantine officer is given power to require the health report of the ship to be supplied. In the next clause the officer is empowered to ask questions either in writing or orally, and to require a reply to be given either in writing or orally. In case of failure to answer those questions a penalty supervenes. This is only a step in the process of inspection. We must give the fullest powers in this regard.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 28 -
– I move -
That after the word “ with,” line 7, the following words be ‘inserted : - “ or touching the existence on his vessel of any rags or secondhand clothing or other prescribed articles, and the ports or places at which they were put on board the vessel.”
The object of- this amendment is obvious. It makes the clause more ample.
– I presume that the rags referred to are intended to be cargo, and not the property of passengers. Otherwise I do not see how the information can be obtained.
– Under a high Tariff, such as is now operating in Australia, it may be found desirable to import rags to be used in the woollen industry. Indeed, the importation of rags may be necessary if high duties are maintained. If there is likely to be a large importation of rags the amendment is a wise one. But when does an old garment become a rag? A man may have a shirt which is not quite up to the Mayf air standard. Is it to be regarded as a rag within the meaning of this clause ?
– When does an old shirt become a rag?
– I should not like to submit that question to honorable senators with any personal application. I am inclined to think that the clause would be better without the amendment. What is a rag? So far, we have not received much enlightenment from Senator Guthrie or the Minister on the question of rags. I think that in this case the first thought of the Minister was the better, and that the clause as it stands is a very good one. Suppose that a poor man arrives in a ragged state, or with rags in his portmanteau : he maybe perfectly clean, even though he is wearing or carrying rags. What, to my mind, may seem a decent form of attire may appear to Senator Guthrie as rags, and vice versa. I am inclined to support the clause as it stands, because, in my opinion, the inspection by the quarantine and medical officers is quite sufficient.
– - Since the Bill was drafted information has been supplied to the Government by responsible medical officers in Australia to the effect that on more than one occasion vessels coming from the East have brought with them old and disused clothes. In one instance disused clothes were sent back to Australia, and the fact was discovered accidentally by a quarantine officer. On inquiry, he learned that the clothes had been used by a person who had recently died of smallpox at Hong Kong. It is thought desirable that this power should be given to the quarantine officer to ascertain from the master or medical officer whether any disused rags or clothes have been conveyed by the vessel. In my opinion, only one construction can be put on ‘the word “ rags” used as it is in the clause in conjunction with other words,, and that is that, it refers to disused or second-hand clothing which may be regarded, not as personal attire or apparel which can- be dealt with under the Bill,” but as something separate’ and distinct from ordinary apparel. We have been strongly, urged to give express power to the quarantine officers to make inquiry concerning rags and disused clothes as well as the other things mentioned in the clause.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 29 -
Penalty : One hundred’ pounds.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia)
C’5-34]- - I” Australian ports it has been the custom for mails to be landed from mail ships, even though pratique has not been granted, for the purpose of being fumigated and distributed. So far as i can see no provision is made in this Bill for landing mails until the ship has been granted pratique. The absence of such a provision might cause very considerable inconvenience and delay, in fact, upset business. Suppose that a mail steamer arrived at Albany, or at Largs Bay, and was put in quarantine: the mails would have to go into quarantine with the steamer. At the present time the mails are landed, and together with those by whom they have been handled are taken to the quarantine station and, after fumigation, distributed throughout the Commonwealth. This clause, however, . will allow no person to leave a ship after it has. been put in quarantine. Therefore, I move -
That the following words be added to subclause 1 : - “ Notwithstanding anything in this Act all mails and letters except loose letters may be landed from a vessel before pratique is granted subject to disinfection or other special treatment by direction of the quarantine officer -.incl under regulations made for this .purpose.”
That provision, if inserted, would be of great public benefit, especially to the commercial class.
.- Senator Guthrie will observe that the provision in subclause 1 is governed by the introductory words, “except as prescribed.” Those words empower the Governor-General to prescribe the conditions under which mails may be taken from a vessel. It is still doubtful to my mind whether the clause would cover the case of postal officers going on board a vessel which was afterwards quarantined and leaving her. Because it. is questionable whether they would, be under the jurisdiction or authority of the master of the vessel, and it could not be said that he had knowingly or negligently suffered any person to quit his vessel.
– Does not clause 30 have a -bearing on that?
– Clause 30 readsNo person (other than- a quarantine officer) who is on board a vessel subject to quarantine shall (unless authorized by a quarantine officer to do so) quit the vessel.
I am not in a position to say how mail matter is dealt with in a vessel after she is quarantined. But the Government has had under its notice what seemed farreaching, comprehensive and excellent suggestions for dealing with the matter from the Chief Officer of Health in Tasmania. Some time ago he went into the question thoroughly, and submitted some* practical suggestions. I know. that some time back they -were under the consideration of the’ Postal Department with a view to having something of that kind formulated, and supplied to every officer of that Department who was likely to be brought into relation with a vessel going into quarantine. Probably before anything could be finally done in that regard, it would be necessary to get the result of the combined wisdom and learning of the different quarantine officers. But there will have to be a uniform plan adopted for the purpose of dealing with the mail matter that comes in vessels which, on arrival, become subject to quarantine, so that without affecting the safety of the people, especially those to whom they are addressed, the letters, may be delivered with the leas’t possible delay. I do not know, however, that it is touched exactly by this clause, which throws upon the master the obligation not to quit the vessel, or knowingly or negligently suffer any person to quit his vessel, or knowingly or negligently permit any goods to be removed from his vessel “ except as prescribed.”
– The amendment of Senator Guthrie appears to be surplusage. What the clause provides is that certain things shall not be- done “except as prescribed.” The honorable senator proposes to express the same thing in a different form, that is, to say that those things may be done if prescribed, which is exactly what the clause provides.
– If my honorable friend’s difficulty is the fact that the clause does not specially refer to mails as distinct from goods, I suggest to him that a simpler form of amendment would be to insert after the word “goods” the words “or mails.” I am not prepared to say whether the word “ goods “ would cover mails. . If my suggestion were adopted, we should get in a much shorter form exactly what Senator Guthrie is aiming at, because the Minister has pointed out that in the first three words of the clause we have all that the former is seeking to provide for, and that is power by regulation to define the terms and conditions under which the provision may apparently be broken. Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) [5.42]. - So far as I can see, there is no power given to the Governor-General to make regulations regarding mails.
– Yes, in clause 87.
– Under that clause, the. Governor-General is empowered to make regulations -
The object of my amendment is to regulate the getting out of quarantine.
– Under clause 87, the Governor-General mav make regulations for- ‘ prescribing all matters which, by th!s Act are required or permitted to be prescribed.
– Unless there is a special provision in the Bill to bring mails within the matters to be prescribed, the Governor-General would have no power to make regulations in that direction.
– The last paragraph of clause 87 gives the Governor-General a general power to make regulations.
– That is a power to make regulations to give effect to the Act, and that is to detain matters in quarantine.
– But this clause says “ except as prescribed.”
– If the Minister will assure me that my object is covered by those words, I shall accept his assurance, because my only anxiety is to see that power is taken to enable the mails to be removed from a quarantined vessel, and, after fumigation at the quarantine station, to be delivered.
– I think that we are all with Senator Guthrie in the object at which he aims. I suggest that he should withdraw his’ amendment to enable me to propose, or, if he wishes, himself to move the insertion of the words “ mails or loose letters “ after the word “ good;.”
– Except loose letters.
– Loose letters could only be landed under regulation. Surely the honorable senator does not object to that?
– I do, in any circumstances. Letters may be taken from a cabin after contact with a small-pox patient.
– They can only be taken under regulation. Quarantined people are allowed under regulation to post letters to their friends on the mainland. Those letters are all scientifically disinfected first.
– I accept the honorable senator’s suggestion, and ask leave to withdraw my. amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That after the word “ goods,” line 5, the words “mails or loose letters” be inserted.
– It would make the clause more uniform to insert the same words after the word “goods” in sub-clause 2. There is a difference between the two sub-clauses. Sub-clause 1 says that certain things shall not be done, and penalizes the master of a vessel if he allows them to be done. Sub-clause 2 practically gives him power to carry out the provisions of sub-clause 1.
– To insert the same amendment in sub-clause 2 may make it very awkward as regards the responsibility for the mails.
– It will simply throw upon the master the obligation of seeing that the regulations are complied with. Otherwise, some irresponsible person who went on board, and told the captain that he was entitled to take the mails ashore, could take them. If the amendment is made, the obligation will be thrown upon the captain to see that that person is properly authorized to take the mails ashore in compliance with the regulations. If we do not desire to throw that obligation upon the captain, the sub-clause had better stand as printed. I assume that all through we have sought to make the master of the vessel responsible for what transpires on his vessel. I move -
That after the word “ goods,” line 9, the words “mails or loose letters” be inserted.
– The sub-clause, if so amended,would probably be construed by the master as meaning that he was responsible for the mails, and, allowing him to defy the authorities to take them ashore, no matter what regulations might be in force. If the amendment is made, the master will have absolute power to refuse to give up the mails, even if the Postmaster-General himself or some one with the authority of the Postmaster-General demanded them. No penalty is attached to this sub-clause. The penalty applies only to sub-clause 1.
– This is not a Bill to secure the delivery of mails. It is a Bill for quarantine, which permits the delivery of mails under regulation.
– The master does not know the Postmaster-General in this matter. While he is in quarantine, he is under the jurisdiction of the quarantine officer only. *
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to’.
Clause 30 -
No person (other than a quarantine officer) who is on board a vessel subject to quarantine shall (unless authorized by a quarantine officer to do so) quit the vessel.
Penalty : : One hundred pounds.
– It has always puzzled me why a quarantine officer should be at liberty to leave a ship which has contagious disease on board. Why should he not be kept on beard? Does it not leave a loophole for the spread of disease? No chain is stronger than its weakest link, and what guarantee is there that a quarantine officer will not bring infection ashore from a vessel with small-pox aboard ? _
– If the quarantine officer could not leave the vessel it would be absolutely isolated. The officer occupies a position analogous to that of a medical officer. In the ordinary fulfilment of their functions these officers take precautions which the ordinary individual would not take, because they recognise the peculiar danger to which they themselves are exposed. It is absolutely essential, if the quarantine officer is to fulfil his duties, that he should not be confined entirely to the quarantine vessel or quarantine area. We can generally rely on his taking abundant precautions against becoming a vehicle of infection.
– Surely there is some departmental rule about the precautions to be taken ? Are they left to the individual officers to determine?
– Regular precautions have to be taken in all these instances, and any officer who neglected them would very soon be discovered, and would not hold his position very long. Precautions against the spread of infection are now highly scientific. Recently I noticed in an operating theatre just opened in a Tasmanian hospital that the medical man, after performing an operation, would not even, touch the taps to turn on the water to wash his hands. He turned on the water by pressing down a pedal with his foot so as to avoid the danger of spreading con’tagion from his hands. Sometimes quarantine officers in dangerous cases of smallpox have become isolated with the patients. In other instances it is impossible for that to be clone, but then the utmost precautions are taken, and the public are not jeopardized.
– - On one occasion, when entering New York on one of the large vessels,, which had hundreds of passengers aboard, I noticed that the quarantine officer had to go amongst all classes of passengers, and it struck me that he stood a much greaterchance of infection than most of the DaSsengers did. There must be considerable danger of his taking and spreading the infection if there is any infectious disease on board.
– The clause, as it stands, is right. If an emergency arises on the vessel, and medical or other assistance is required for the patients, somebody must leave the ship. Who better than the quarantine officer should have the power to go ashore ? There is no more reason to fear that that power will be abused under proper administration than there is to imagine that a doctor attending a case of typhoid fever will neglect the necessary precautions so as not to spread the infection to the next patient that he visits on his round. We must trust a great deal to administration and to the quarantine officer. It might be cruel to prevent a quarantine officer, who would take all the necessary scientific precautions against infection, from going ashore in cases of necessity. It is absolutely impossible to achieve perfection.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 31 to 33 agreed to.
Clause 34 (Quarantine surveillance).
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) £5.58]. - On one occasion, when I was coming from the Northern Territory to Queensland ports, the- vessel and passengers were subjected to frequent and close inspections at the various ports. Cannot some provision be made whereby, if the passengers are inspected at one port of the Commonwealth, and the medical officer there, who will be a Commonwealth officer under this Bill, gives them a clean bill of health, they may enter all subsequent ports without being subject to further inspection ?
– The honorable senator forgets that the period of incubation of the disease must be provided for. A disease which is not developed at the first port of call might be fully developed when the vessel reached the second port.
– I admit that the honorable senator has probably answered my question. That is probably the reason why the Queensland authorities -were so careful to have the passengers and goods inspected, as we occupied nearly a week in coming down the coast. It was, however, ‘ very inconvenient for the passengers, and in some cases prevented them catching a particular train or steamer. The authorities would not relax the regulations, and though that may have been entirely satisfactory in the interests of the public health, it was very inconvenient for those who were subjected to the regulations. There were persons on board from ports outside Australia who were anxious to see the country, and pass through it rapidly, and they felt the inconvenience very much. I admit that it is possible that a vessel that was clean at Port Darwin might be found to have a quarantinable disease on board by the time she reached Brisbane. In the circumstances, I am not disposed to press my objections to the clause, but the Minister might say whether it is not possible to make its provisions less rigid, having at the same time due regard to the necessity of preserving the public health of the Commonwealth.
– In moving the second reading of the Bill, I explained that one of its objects was to insure the safety of the people of the Commonwealth against the introduction of quarantinable diseases, whilst at the same time harassing vessels and their passengers as little as possible. As an illustration, I referred to the case of a vessel from oversea arriving in the first instance at Fremantle, and being subjected under the existing law to quarantine inspection at that port, and later on, if she made the round voyage at Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. I explained that under the Bill that will be avoided in the future to a very great extent, except where the circumstances warrant a suspicion that, at any stage of the voyage between Fremantle and another port, a disease may have developed on board, the period of incubation of which has not expired from the time the vessel left the oversea port to the time of her inspection at Fremantle. The same thing would apply to a vessel coming across the Pacific or from the East, and touching first at a Queensland port, and later at ports in New South Wales or Victoria. In trying to make the restrictions as little harassing as possible, whilst .making the protection at the same time as effective as we can, we propose in this clause to enable a vessel without being passed out of quarantine to land either passengers or goods at a port, and we further provide that passengers or goods so landed shall continue to be subject to what is known as quarantine surveillance. We say that where a vessel has arrived at any port from a proclaimed place, which is a place proclaimed as a source of infection, and the quarantine officer is satisfied that no person on board is actually suffering from a quarantinable disease, but is not satisfied that the vessel is free from infection, he may do one or other of four things - “ refrain from giving a certificate of pratique ; permit the vessel to proceed on her voyage without performing quarantine at a quarantine station ; permit any passengers for that port and their effects to be landed; permit anv cargo on the vessel for that port to be landed.”
We provide also that the vessel shall continue to be subject to quarantine until pratique is granted, and further, that - “All persons landed in pursuance of this section shall continue subject to quarantine until such period as is prescribed and while so subject shall be under quarantine surveillance and shall comply with the regulations relating to quarantine surveillance.”
And also that - “All cargo and passengers’ effects landed under this section shall be subject to treatment and disinfection as prescribed.”
This clause affords an illustration of the attempt made to convenience the travelling community and vessels, while at the same time effectively protecting the public from the introduction of infectious diseases from abroad. It would be impossible to lay down as a general principle that in all cases the least possible inconvenience should be given to vessels, that they should only be inspected once, or something of that kind. We intrust to our officers the widest powers, and this and other . clauses in the Bill illustrate the spirit with which it is intended the law shall be administered. The honorable senator will understand that in certain circumstances it might not only be desirable, But absolutely the bounden duty of the Government to carry out an inspection of some particular vessel coming from the East of from the Northern Territory and around the Queensland coast at every port at which it calls. We do not, therefore, lay down a hard and fast rule, but leave our officers a wide discretion to enable them to make the necessary ins.pec- Ition as little harassing as possible, whilst securing effective quarantine. I think honorable senators will find that the administration of the law will be such as in a large measure to meet the objections to which Senator St. Ledger has referred.
– I quite admit the force of what the Minister has said. On the journey from the Northern Territory, to which I have referred,”! think we were delayed for inspection no less than five times. The captain of the vessel and some of the passengers lost valuable time, and some rather sulphurous language was used to describe the situation. I quite agree, from what the Minister has said, that in certain circumstances it might be very necessary to rigidly enforce the regulations at the risk of inconvenience to travellers. I shall not press for any limitation of the powers conferred under the clause, and I am glad to hear from Senator Keating that the administration of the law is likely to be such as will meet the objections which have been raised.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 35 to 42 agreed to.
Clause 43 (Cleansing and disinfecting vessel).
– I suggest that some provision should be made for the protection of valuable cargo. In carrying out the disinfection of ships, it is possible that the quarantine officers may not pay as much attention to that matter as its importance deserves unless they are specially instructed to do so. Some disinfectants are of such a nature that their use might result in injury to valuable cargo, and yet, under the clause, it is left entirely to the discretion of the quarantine officer to say how the disinfection of a vessel is to be carried out. I do not know whether the Minister is able to suggest any rule for the guidance of the quarantine officers in this matter.
– The vessel must be disinfected, and if it is possible to use’ a disinfectant which will not injure cargo, we have a right to assume that it will be used.
– Has the honorable senator any suggestion to make?
– No, I am unable to offer any suggestion.
– The matter is one which can hardly be provided for in the Bill, but it might be dealt with by instructions in connexion with the administrationof the law.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 44 (Goods not to be removed).
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania [6.12]. - I find that in this clause the onus of proving want of knowledge is thrown onthe defendant. That would be a very difficult thing to prove, and I think it is: a harsh provision to introduce into a Bill of this character.
– How are we to prove knowledge on ‘the part of the defendant? Clause agreed to.
Clause 45 (Performance of quarantine by persons).
– I move -
That the following new sub-clauses be added : - “ (3) Where a person ordered’ into quarantine is not,in the opinion of a quarantine officer, actually suffering from a quarantinable disease, the quarantine officer may, subject to the regulations, permit the person to leave the ship or quarantine siation under quarantine surveillance.
Any person under quarantine surveillance shall continue subject to quarantine for such period as is prescribed, and, while so subject, shall be under quarantine surveillance and shall comply with the regulations relating, to quarantine surveillance.
Penalty : One hundred pounds.”
This amendment ‘has been printed and circulated, and the object is to give an opportunity for quarantine to be carried out in Australia wherever the circumstances, in the opinion of the quarantine officer, warrant the adoption of that course, in a way somewhat similar to the way in which quarantine is carried out in the city of London, for instance. In moving the second reading of the Bill, I pointed out that there were two systems of quarantine : One, the extremely harsh and almost barbarous system under which a community desiring to protect itself against the introduction of disease from abroad absolutely excluded outsiders from any commerce or intercourse with them. That was the system of quarantine first adopted, and gradually, in the course of years, it was modified to something more like the quarantine system of the present day. On the other hand, there is a system of quarantine, such as that’ in force in London, under which persons are allowed to land from a vessel carrying a quarantinable disease, and are kept under surveillance for a certain period. They have to report themselves daily or more often to a quarantine officer, and are subjected to certain regular examinations for a time until they are declared to be free from quarantine, That has been found to be an effective system, even in so densely populated a centre as the city of London ; whilst it results in the minimum of inconvenience and interference with intercourse and trade with other countries. In the clause to which Senator St. Ledger referred in speaking of his experiences on the. Queensland coast, we have given the quarantine officer - where he is not satisfied that an oversea vessel- on arrival is free from infection, but is satisfied that no persons on board have contracted a quarantinable. disease - great latitude and discretion to permit of the landing of passengers and goods under a system of quar- . antine surveillance for a certain period. Now we propose to have the provisions of clause 45, which will enable a quarantine officer to carry out a system of quarantine surveillance in cases where the circumstances seem to him to warrant him in so doing. It will leave us with the two systems, and we shall be able, according to the circumstances of ‘ time or place, or else to exercise quarantine powers in accordance with the older systemwhich, to a large extent, will militate against the convenience of individuals or of the vessel - or to carry out a quarantine system on principles such as I have described as . pertaining year in and year out in the port of London. Having these two strings to our bow, we shall be in a position to use quarantine surveillance where that’ can be carried out as effectively in Australia as it is in other parts of the world, and we shall, -at the same time, have the old system. For both we “have ample justification in the experience of other countries. The new system is one which some of the highest medical authorities in Australia tell us works well in practice.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 46 -
When quarantine has been performed by any vessel or persons in accordance with this Act and the regulations, she and they shall forthwith be released from quarantine. .
– I wish to ask the Minister whether it is correct in an Act of Parliament to speak of a vessel as “she”? I imagine that the neuter gender should be used.
– I have been looking into the matter mentioned by Senator Walker. Possibly, it would be betfer to strike out “ she “ and substitute “ such vessel.” I move -
That the word “she,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ such vessel “ ; and that the word “ they,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ persons.”
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 47 (Performance of quarantine by goods).
– I think that a verbal amendment is required in this clause. It says that goods “shall perform’ quarantine.” It means that they shall be subject to quarantine. The term “shall perform” might lead to discussion in the Law Courts. Goods cannot perform quarantine.
– I am not sure ; I have seen cheese perform !
– I heard of a case where a parcel of cheese was left at a railway station, and the stationmaster wrote to the consignee stating that if it was not taken away he would shoot it.
– It is difficult to get a substitute for the term “ shall perform;” If we say that all goods shall be “ subject to quarantine,” the meaning is rather less than the original statement. “What we mean by “ perform quarantine “ is that the goods shall fulfil all the obligations under the regulations as to quarantine - that they shall be disinfected, and so -forth.
– It is impossible to make a direction that goods “ shall perform.
– It is not sufficient to say that the goods shall be subject to quarantine. We want to convey how long they are to be subject to quarantine. If any honorable senator has a suggestion to make, I shall be glad to consider it.
– I think we might accomplish what we desire by leaving out the words “ perform quarantine, and for that purpose may.” The clause would then read that the goods ordered into quarantine “ shall be detained on board.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45p.m.
Debate resumed from 3rd October (vide page 4199), on motion by Senator Dobson -
That, while it is desirable to provide old-age pensions for the present generation as soon as the funds can be provided, the Senate is of opinion that any permanent scheme applying to persons under 30 years of age and to future generations should be framed, as far as possible, on the principles of thrift and self-help, and that the Government should, as soon as convenient, introduce a Bill providing for a compulsory scheme of life insurance, old-age pensions, and sick allowance, based upon contributions from bolh employers and workers, with such subsidies from the Commonwealth as will make the scheme financially sound. And it is suggested to the Government that they might offer a substantial prize to the person furnishing the details of a scheme best suited to carry out this resolution, having regard to’ the conditions of Australian industrial life.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [7.45]. - When I addressed myself to this subject in. a very hurried manner a few weeks ago, I spoke with so much absence of preparation that I propose to-nieht to address the Senate entirely irrespective of what I then said. It is possible that 1 may wish to repeat some of my arguments, and even some of the quotations I then made, butI hope that that will not be regarded as tedious repetition, because, having had a little opportunity to consider what I should say to-night, I have been able, I hope, to bring the subject-matter into a concise form. I have no intention to make a long speech. I think I can say what I desire to sav with sufficient brevity to obviate the necessity of wearying any honorable genflemair, though I hope that the members of the Senate are, as I believe, sufficiently interested in the great national subject of old-age provision to even bear with a little prolixity on the part of one who, in years gone by, has taken an interest in it at least as keen as that which he feels to-night. I can honestly promise that in demolishing the propositions of Senator Dobson, I shall not attempt to occupy anything like as much time as he took to enunciate them. I hope that I shall be sufficiently incisive to be able to “ cut it short.” The honorable and learned senator moved his motion - in respect of which, by the way, I shall conclude with an important amendment - on the 3rd October, and in the course of his speech, he said -
Senator Neild, who got an idea of old-age pensions into his head a few years a-go, and paid an historic visit to Europe in connexion with the matter, cannot have watched the progress of modern events. He has not recognised the necessity of proceeding on economic lines, and, guite unintentionally no doubt, is misfeading the Senate by trying to ram down our throats a very rotten scheme.
He said this merely because I, asI thought innocently, had interjected that some British official quoted by him “ had not grasped the initial conditions of an old-age pensions scheme.” In view of his denunciation, it appears to me appropriate that I should state precisely my connexion with the early history of the movement in Australia. The earliest advocacy of old-age pensions recorded in the daily press of New South Wales is to be found in the Sydney Morning Herald of 18th July, 1895, in the report of an election meeting held by me.
He advocated the giving of old-age pensions in place of providing semi-penal asylums.
Two days later the same newspaper wrote -
He also strongly advocated old-age pensions.
A similar report appeared on the 23rd July. Perhaps I may explain that at the election I was a free-lance opposing the candidate of the Government party, led by1 Mr. Reid; and necessarily I did not get very much reporting at the hands of the newspapers supporting that party.
That, in the opinion of this House, asylums for the aged and infirm should be superseded by a system of old-age pensions.
T.hat this House requests the Government to introduce, during the present session, a Bill lo give effect to the foregoing resolution.
That motion was moved on the 17th September, 1895, but the orders relating to the conduct of parliamentary business curtailed the_ debate, and prevented its resumption durihg that session. A week before I moved the motion, the Rev. F. B. Boyce, now Canon Boyce, called a meeting by advertisement one afternoon to promote the cause of old-age pensions. Wondering whether he proposed, to quote Dr. Johnson, to “ encumber me with his help,” I, out of curiosity, decided to attend the gathering. At the top of three or four flights of stairs I found an assembly of fifteen] persons, myself making the sixteenth. The outcome of the gathering was that some months afterwards there was held a public meeting attended, as Canon Boyce subsequently wrote, by about ninety persons. I spoke at the meeting, but nothing came of it, and extra-parliamentary advocacy was abandoned. With the commencement of the new session, on the 12th May, 1896, I gave notice of this motion -
That motion was submitted on 16th June, 7896, and, by way of amendment, Mr. E. W. O’Sullivan moved a reference to a Select Committee. The Committee, being appointed, sat nineteen times, and eventually produced a very) brief report, advocating the payment of old-age pensions from a fund which was to be chiefly provided by totalisator betting under Government auspices. I did not attend many of the meetings of the Committee, . because within . a few days of its appointment the Premier, Mr. G. H. Reid, sent for me, and offered me an honorary commission under the Great Seal to proceed to Europe and investigate the question of old-age pensions, and certain cognate subjects. I sailed for Europe in Julv, 1896, and returned the following year, and, on the 4th May, Mr. O’Sullivan moved the adoption of the report of the Select Committee. After debate, he withdrew his motion, and a motion moved by myself and requesting “ the Government to give early consideration to the granting of old-age pensions,” was unanimously adopted.
Reid was dismissed from office, ostensibly because he paid J. C. Neild some£300 on account of his full and valuable report on old-age pensions-, but really because he did not attempt to pass several long-wanted Labour- measures.
That is the first time that the words “ oldage pensions” occurin Black’s history. Unfortunately, Mr. Black forgot to mention that the- money he referred to, repre-‘ senting a small part of my out-of-pocket expenses in connexion with my travels and researches, was repaid into the Treasury when I learned, to my surprise and regret, that the Lyne Party and the Labour Party, then in power, would refuse to vote the money, and that it would have to come out of the pocket of Mr. Reid, who “had paid it to me in a public manner. This happened” in 1899, but it was not until towards the end of 1900 that the Lyne Government took steps to give effect to the recommendations in my report, and the New South Wales Old-age Pensions Bill eventually passed in December of that year, about four weeks before the inauguration of the Commonwealth. Two years later the Senate carried a motion unanimously, at my instance, requesting action by the Government in the direction of Federal old-age pensions, and three years later Mr. Austin Chapman, in another place, secured the appointment of a Select Committee, afterwards made a Royal Commission, to report upon the same question. . That Commission reported upon the lines laid down in my report. I do not think that I am committing any breach of propriety in saying that Mr. Chapman and other members of that Commission told me that they deliberately reported upon those lines because they could not depart from them. The Victorian and New Zealand Old-age Pensions Acts are on the same lines, and were, I believe, passed before my report was published. It might therefore be assumed that I was influenced in my report by the passing of legislation in those two Colonies, but that is not the fact, because in some of the earliest paragraphs of my report, which were written in May, 1.897, I laid down the lines which I subsequently followed in the body of the report, and the same propositions as I shall strongly urge upon the Senate to-night. Ten- and a half years ago I laid down most emphatically propositions diametrically opposed to those contained in Senator Dobson ‘s motion.
It is not only a very valuable compilation of all that has’ been written on the subject, but the original matter, based upon your own observation and research, will prove of great benefit when our Legislature can find lime to devote itself to domestic legislation.
Chief Justice Way, of South Australia, expressed himself thus -
Your able report is, in my opinion, the most exhaustive treatise on the subjects with which it deals which has yet appeared, and it must always be recognised as a masterly * exposition of some of the most important problems of modern life.
I think that I am fairly justified in making those quotations with reference to my “ rotten scheme.” The Sydney Daily Telegraph, of the 9th November, 1900, just when the New South Wales Bill was being put through the local Parliament, wrote -
Mr. Neild is the legislative pioneer of the movement in this Colony. Years ago, when the question had only an academic interest for the mass of men, when it was gibed at as Utopian and criticised as impossible, Mr.. Neild kept steadily on, never losing an opportunity to bring it before Parliament or to speak upon it on the public platform. Mr. Neild went abroad and made an investigation that gathered from even the remote parts of the earth all that had been accomplished, and all that was proposed by the most modern of statesmen. The men who are coming in now and who assist to propose and to pass the measure into law are merely reaping the harvest whose seeds Mr. Neild had sown.
As a final refutation, let me make this quotation’ from the- Sydney Morning Herald of last December - ‘
Early in the nineties he alone advocated oldage pensions, and later on brought the matter prominently before Parliament. He also spent time and money in procuring world-wide evidence and information on the subject. In season and out,, he was almost singly fighting for the pension, when it had not then quite caught .on. One of the most eminent statisticians of the present day -
And I ask Senator Dobson’s forgiveness for submitting this quotation - the Superintendent of the . Bureau . of Statistics in the United ‘States; pays the highest tribute to the honorable senator. “It is a matter on which we’ should congratulate ourselves,” he says, “that, the honorable gentleman should have devoted so much valuable time, not only in- collecting but also in condensing the whole law and history of what I regard as oric ‘of the most embarrassing and perplexing problems of modern times.”
I hope that I shall not be’ deemed egotistic in making these quotations, but it seemsonly proper that I should do so to show that I have the best warranty for taking up a position which, while it is one of antagonism to Senator Dobson’s proposal, is also, as I shall make plain in a few moments, a very strong and emphatic attitude with reference to a subject to which, according to the authorities I have, named, I have devoted some time, some consideration, and have been of some little public service. My researches regarding penury in England, as evidenced in my report, go back to the year 1348 ; regarding workmen’s sickness and accident societies in Germany, to the year 1524; and regarding workmen’s accidents in France, to the year 1604; and no Act passed, Bill introduced’, or legislative proposal made in any country of Europe from then to the date of my report, but has been amply described, whether it deals with penury, old-age provision, sickness, or industrial accidents., I am justified in stating that as a positive fact, because I exhausted both diplomatic and private sources to obtain the information embodied in this volume. The translations of foreign documents from sixteen languages into English for the first time, for the purposes of that volume, cost, at the low charge of 2s. 6d. an hour, over £180. Therefore, I have the most absolute right to state that between the covers of no other book in the world can be found an immense deal of the information that is contained in my report, because it has never beentranslated before. If Senator Dobson still thinks fit utterly to ignore this work - the $hief source of information now existing in respect of old-age pensions - but thinks proper to denounce it as “ rotten,” and to quote to the Senate a considerable number of letters written by more or less unknown writers, evidently because those expressions of their personal views fitted in with his preconceived notions, then I regret that he has introduced a large subject to the Senate without having given it that full consideration for which I should have looked at the hands of a gentleman whom we all thoroughly and entirely respect as a most conscientious and valuable member of the Senate. This is about the first time that I ever knew him to have looked at a question from one aspect only.
SenatorColonel NEILD. - I am quite at a loss to understand how my report can be an admirable report if the conclusion to which it leads is a “rotten” conclusion. The honorable senator would not speak of a crop of Tasmanian apples as an admirable crop if the outcome were so many cases of rottenness.
It has been generally agreed by the witnesses who have spoken on the subject that deferred annuities are at present unpopular not only with the working classes, but with every section of the community. Mr. Bartley’s evidence was particularly instructive on this point. The fact is illustrated’by the very limited success by either the friendly societies or the post-office in spite of the effort which the latter in particular has made in inducing persons to provide in this way for their old age. It is only when the deferred, annuity is an integral part of some more widespread benefit, as in the case of the trades union superannuation fund, that which, or such societies as, Mr. Hart has described, that it is used to any wide extent.
I may point out that Mr. Bartley has been one of the foremost advocates of old-age pensions schemes in England.
– I ask Senator Dobson not to interject so frequently.
– The German contribution is 15s. od. per annum to the three funds I have referred to.
– Well, any one can calculate five times 15s. od., and then we have to consider the State contribution. Senator Dobson was under the impression that in Germany the contribution by the State was £2 10s. only, instead of £2 ros. per annum, and he will agree that if the pension were increased from ^5 to £25 the State contribution would have to be £12 10s. a year instead of £2 10s.
– Under Senator Neild’s proposal the contribution from the State would be at least £26 a year.
Senator Dobson. Would it not be tetter that the State should contribute £12 10s. a year than £26 a year?
– It certainly would from one stand-point, but if the honorable senator will allow me to pursue ray remarks without so many interjections, ray speech will be less disjointed. Another very important point is that the German system only confers pensions on persons who have entered into their seventy-first year. It is one of the grievances against the German system that so immensely large a proportion of the people who have been paying into the pension fund all their lives never receive a pension because they die before thev have reached the age at which they would be entitled to receive one. I shall quote from various German authorities to show how the German system is denounced and hated by German people. I may just add that when a woman, who may have been contributing to the pensions fund for a number of years, marries, she may, under the German system, get half of what she paid in returned to her. but the State fund retains the other half of her payments, and “that is a proposition which I think will not commend itself to people who call themselves Britishers, no matter where they live. If Senator Dobson had perused the fifth chapter of my report he would have been less enthusiastic in recommending the Germanic system to the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator has left out the most important factor with respect to .age. He has omitted to mention that in Germany people may obtain pensions long before they reach fifty years of age if they are unable to earn a living.
– The honorable senator is now dealing with other matters, andi I cannot follow him into them.
– The honorable senator omitted to mention a most important factor.
– I again ask the honorable senator not to interject. Senator Neild in replying to the interjections is really inviting them, but I still ask Senator Dobson not to interject, as he will have an ample opportunity in replying to the debate to refer to any statements which he thinks require explanation.
– I interjected only because Senator Neild said he did not want to be unfair, and only when I thought he was grossly unfair.
– I ask the honorable senator not to continue his interjections.
– There is one other point which I wish to mention in this connexion. I have not the figures of the Germanic system by any means up to date, but during my inquiry I found this : In four years of the working of the old-age pensions and invalidity scheme - which has nothing to do with accidents and nothing to do with sickness; those are dealt with under different laws passed at widely different dates - no less than £19,250,000 sterling was expended in the purchase of the stamps that indicate on the workman’s card his contributions to the old-age pensions scheme, and £2,000,000 of State subsidy in addition was paid within the four years. T shall point out further on how utterly impossible it is for such sums in a community like ours to be properly invested so as to remain interest earning.
– What would be the corresponding amount in Australia, allowing for the difference in population ?
– For the moment I cannot say ; but I shall presently give some figures which will show what would be the application to Australian conditions of such a contributory scheme. I said, that I would give some indication of the hostility in Germany to the German system. Here let me say that no one has more completely condemned the German scheme from an actuarial point of view than the man who, I suppose, stands at the head of the statistical world of England - Mr. Ralph Hardy, the actuary of one of the greatest of British Friendly Societies, and President of the Institute of Actuaries. He occupies a position of undoubted authority in the world of finance and figures. I should like to quote from his testimony at some little length, but I must cut dow,n most of my references. Mr. Hardy says of the Germanic scheme -
The scheme would leave untouched a vast area of distress which was to a large extent untouchable except by private charity. . . . They knew that it was terror, and political terror alone, that had induced the Government to put forward this sop, for it was that and nothing more. The people had been demoralized by an outrageous conscription.
By the way, Senator Dobson wants conscription in Australia. He wants a policy “made in Germany,”- both for defence and for old-age pensions.
Endeavours had been made to conciliate small interests either by bounties on exports or protected Tariffs, but at last they were faced with the red spectre, and this was one effort, and it would be an ineffectual effort, to put that down.
Mr. Hardy goes on to say, speaking of the utterly unsatisfactory character, from an actuarial stand-point, of the German scheme -
The tables that were put forward were evolved from the German inner consciousness.They must do justice to their actuarial friends in Germany ; those actuaries were extremely thorough men. They had done their best with the scanty material at their command, but the scheme had been ordered by the German Pal. liament, and it had been their duty to find some means of starting it. He did not quarrel with them, but let no gentleman imagine that the tables in question were any contribution to knowledge^ in fact, they darkened knowledge. The allowances were utterly insufficient for the real needs of the people, and he doubted if they would do much more than pay rent; they certainly would not present a man with any moderate living of a substantial character.
I may say that that is an extract from an address delivered by Mr. Ralph Price Hardy to the Institute of Actuaries, of which he was President. I might make a useful quotation in condemnation of’ the German scheme from a one-time well-known Australasian Premier, Sir Julius Vogel, but
I must pass him by’. I might make a quotation from the writings of Mr. M. N. Adler, Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, England, but I must even skip that. I will come to some German authorities. It is sometimes supposed that the principal opposition to the Germanic system comes from the Radical Party of Germany. I am going, to “quote .passages which will show that that is not so. I shall first quote from a deliverance by Herr Echinger, of the Central Conservative Party in the Chamber of Deputies in Bavaria, who has denounced the law in severe phraseology. He appeared to voice the feeling of the majority when he said -
No- law has. ever caused such dissatisfaction, and hatred in the rural population as the OldAge and Invalidity law. No one is content with it, neither employer nor employed, nor the claimant of the pensions.
– What is the date of that?
– I regret that I cannot tell my honorable friend.
– Was it a political speech in opposition to the Government scheme ?
– It was a speech delivered in the Chamber of Deputies.
– ‘ 1 It is the duty of the Opposition to oppose.”
– I am not at all sure that the Conservative Party, of which Herr Echinger was a member, was not in power at the time.
– I cannot swallow that.
– I do not suppose my honorable friend is swallowing very much of what I am saying. Herr Echinger went on to complain of the administration of the law ; its needlessly elaborate mechanism, its red-tape, rough treatment by officials, unjust decisions by doctors, and swindling in connexion with the cards and stamps -
He declared that lazy people, who failed to do twenty weeks1 work “per annum, easily procured the requisite stamps to imply their having worked the stipulated 47. Herr Zott, a farmer, and also of the Central Conservative Party, supported all these charges, and maintained that general dissatisfaction existed.
What follows is remarkable by the absence of action rather than by the taking of action. Paragraph 467 of my report reads as follows -
The seriousness of these charges might naturally have called forth a valid rejoinder from the Government, but the Minister contented himself with the expression of a hope that the difficulties alleged to exist would disappear with time. This view, however, does not seem to have met with realization, for a year later exactly the same complaints were put forward in the Bavarian Chamber. Bavaria appears to absolutely resent the imposition of the law, which has extended and aggravated the feeling in favour of secession from the Empire, due to the existence of a deep-seated objection to the extension of Imperialism.
– It is a pity that the honorable senator cannot give us dates.
– Did any one ever attempt to compile some hundreds - perhaps thousands - of expressions of views in this fashion, put them into one book, and attach a date to every one of them? The thing is unheard of. I am sure that my honorable friend does not intend his observations to be a reflection, but I cannot help regarding them as an imputation that a man in the position of a Royal Commissioner would use his position to misrepresent in any shape the facts set down by him.
– Has not the honorable senator seen what the German Consul says about the German system?
– We heard, only the other day, in this place, that certain authorities at the other end of the world were making most undesirable representations with reference to Australian matters. Let us see what the workmen themselves think of this Germanic law. Paragraph 468 of my report is as follows -
Workmen gave personal and doubtless sound reasons for objecting to the law, alleging that they are no longer able to set aside small sums for the purchase of tools and for similar purposes, the insurance payments absorbing monies formerly devoted to such ends. Others complain that though afflicted with disease which forbids the possibility of long life, they are compelled to contribute from their small earnings to support those whose superior constitutions promise probability of pension.
Does not that appeal to every one’s mind and every one’s heart ? Here is a system which compels a dying man - at least a man with the seeds of death in his constitution - to provide for a pension that he will never draw, but the benefit of which will go to men with sounder constitutions and larger incomes.
– Does my honorable friend believe that statement?
– I wrote it.
– Is that an answer to the question ?
– It is; because I do not think that even Senator
Dobson would intentionally charge me with occupying the high position of a Royal Commissioner, and using my opportunities,, to pen unwarrantable statements. Those statements have never been challenged until to-day.
– I challenge that last statement.
– Let us see what the records of the German Parliament have to say on this question, I quote from paragraph 470 of my report -
The various complaints and grievances respecting the insurance laws were embodied in petitions addressed to the Federal Council and to the Reichstag, demanding, not a mere amendment, but the actual repeal of the law ; and proof was given that the complaints were advanced by all classes of the community, and were not confined to any party or trade. The petitions came from city and country ; from employer and employe^ arid it alleged that the law “ corresponds neither to the wishes of factory owners, nor of the workmen, nor of the farmers, since in all these circles there is no- such suffering from want in old age as to justify such measures.”
– Whose statements are those ?
– They are contained in petitions presented to the German Reichstag - .
A special complaint was also put forward on behalf of women workers, few of whom, it was argued, were ever likely to reach the pension age. One somewhat striking proposition was advanced, viz., “ the very poorest do not live to be seventy, and the higher class workmen are continually passing out of that wage class with which the insurance ends.
They become employers. I have prettywell exhausted this question, and I shall be very glad indeed to finish with it ; but there are one or two more paragraphs that I desire to submit. Paragraph 471 reads -
The petitions from Bavaria alone totalled over a quarter of a million signatures, and included those of men representing every class, from the social democrats to those of prominence in every political party. In Pomerania also the objections are so numerous and strong that the State Insurance Committee have more recently appointed sixteen controlling officers, to as many special districts, ‘’ to watch over the punctual obedience to the law in every legal prescription, especially as to the stamps, their erasure and use.” These officers are instructed to investigate the management of industrial offices and homes, and “to visit from house to house, to give advice to employers and employed who do not understand their obligations.”
But the very father of this insurance systemof Germany has denounced it, and that is no less a man than Prince Bismarck. There are German newspapers which honorable senators can read for themselves.
I cannot take up the time of the Senate with too many quotations, but I must quote Prince Bismarck.
– Are there any modern German newspapers against it?
– What does my honorable friend call modern?
– Not the ancient history of the honorable senator’s report.
– As the Germanic law was only passed in 1889 - that is nineteen years ago - it is not very ancient history.
– It is too ancient for me.
– That was the start.
– And the law has been amended.
– There has been an amendment of the law recently.
– Tiwo or three amendments.
– The amendments have related merely to matters of administration, and not to questions of principle. What did Prince Bismarck say ? I quote paragraph 473 of my report -
Even Prince Bismarck to whose influence, with that of his Imperial master, the passage of the law is unquestionably due, ‘has, since his retirement from office, joined in the condemnation of the measure, saying, “ The thing cannot be maintained - the makers of this law have acted without psychological knowledge of humanity,”
What has Senator Dobson to say to that?
– It is all in my favour.
– and when challenged throughout the German press that the law was his own production, his special organ, the Hamburg News, replied “ that the law had had its character determined independent of him - that it was the work of Minister von Botticher, and the Reichstag - that he only gave his adherence in its last stages in order to help out his colleague in a difficult position.
-And yet the honorable senator has just told us that no amendment of the law has altered the principle. I ami much obliged to him.
– I am glad that my honorable and learned friend is obliged to me -
It is, perhaps, impossible to explain Bismarck’s change of attitude, except on the hypothesis that the great unpopularity of the law has induced the aged statesman to disclaim his connexion with its authorship.
One other reference, and I think I will have said all that it is necessary to say in opposition to a law of insurance based on conscription and compulsion.
– The honorable senator means, I suppose, contribution and compulsion ?
– Paragraph 474 of my report reads-
It might reasonably have been expected that the distribution of many thousands of pensions, viz., 193,114 old-age and 34,746 invalidity pensions up to 1st July, 1893, would have induced a more favorable view of the law, but this does not appear to have been the case, for, in September of that year the same chorus of complaint and denunciation still went up from the press in every quarter of the German Empire. Nor is this surprising, seeing that, while so many pensions had been granted, no less than 58,922 applications had been refused.
In four years, as nearly as possible 59,000 applications were refused.
– And fhis, is about fourteen years old? I am much obliged to the honorable senator.
– The honorable gentleman’s observation hardly does credit ‘ to his admirable sense, because, some weeks ago, he gave us here by the hour quotations from British reports infinitely more antiquated, and reports which never came to anything, even in the estimation of those who signed them, because they could not agree, and seventeen men wrote fifteen different reports.
– And which I said were most disappointing?
– No doubt it was disappointing.
– The honorable senator misquotes me every time he uses an argument. .
– Mr. President, any one who studies the workings of the. German system is driven to the conclusion that it is only in the case of people steeped in militarism, and accustomed, to its discipline and restraints, that such a system can possibly obtain, and though in Germany the conditions are, perhaps, more completely fulfilled than in any other country, it is plainly evident to those who have inquired into the matter that the people rebel against the obligations of laws which, while productive of much usefulness, shackle individual initiative and limit human freedom.
– Has the honorable senator the figures relative to the cost of administration in Germany ?
– My report contains the figures, which I cannot quote to-night, as I did not propose to refer to those details.
– The later figures may be found in the report of the Old-age Pensions Commission which was presented to the Senate?
– Yes. It is not possible for any writer on these subjects to go back farther than I have gone; it is for others to continue the explorations. I do not pretend to be in a position to translate all the documents, that are necessary if I were to keep the whole subject up-to-date; it is not possible for any one to do so. I will close this part of. my speech by reading two paragraphs from mv report, namely, paragraphs 482 and 483-
It will be observed that these laws, while granting large aid to the well-to-do workers, fail of provision for those whose environment is less happy. How far, in the course of time, the (successful) operation of the Stale Insurance Law pf Germany may suffice to eradicate the “submerged tenth,” the most prophetic mind cannot affirm. It may be that the State provision may, at some distant date, banish the lower stratum of human distress and suffering, and that there will remain only those for whom the State has happily provided; but this blessed result must continue to be rather the vision o.f the dreamer, than the well-grounded belief of the philosopher and statesman:
One result, however, is certain. The German example has largely influenced Continental nations, and is being followed with more or less faithfulness of effort in many directions, but it is yet too early to prophesy of eventual success in regard to the adoption of legislation. It has been shown that Denmark has chosen a widely different path, and that the ambitious effort of France has so far fallen short of achievement, while Great Britain frowns upon the Germanic system. And I venture respectfully, to submit that in our new land we shall be slow to adopt methods, the existence of which serves rather to teach what to avoid than to encourage to embrace.
I shall make my concluding remarks on . some British proposals, and some of the difficulties which surround anything in the direction of a contributory system. In the first instance, I wish to refer to the enormous size that contributory funds must attain in the course of years, and the hopelessness of people usefully investing them. There is in the chamber to-night a gentleman who occupies a distinguished position in the financial world of New South Wales, and, I think- 1 may add, in Commonwealth finance. I refer, of course, to Senator Walker. He, as a director of two of the greatest financial institutions in Aus tralasia, knows perfectly well, and will substantiate, either by open agreement or by silence, what I assert - that one of the great difficulties that beset life assurance offices in Australia, and elsewhere, is the profitable and safe investment of their funds. I shall now quote from my report a- paragraph which was written in the earliest days of its drawing-up. Paragraph. 34 reads - ‘
I have discussed this question at some length, for the reason that the remarks made apply, more or less, to all schemes based- upon contributions and the accumulation of funds, thus including the schemes of Canon Blackley, Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Bartley, Dr. Alexander, &c. It may be as well to point out that Mr. Chamberlain’s second scheme, applied to the 7,000,000 male wage-earners of the United Kingdom, andto 4,000,000 female contributors, would eventually accumulate .£528,000,000, without interest -
That would be’ in the course of about forty years, and the interest would be three or four times the amount of the principal in that time. Therefore, without interest, it would be a sum approximating to the size “of the British national debt - the necessary addition of which would bring the total up to gigantic proportions, wholly beyond the .possibility of remunerative investment, and yet this vast accumulation would yield but the paltry pensions of 5s. for men, and 3s. for women, per week’. lt does not require that I should elaborate the matter, lt must stand to reason that such sums would be incapable of useful investment, and, being at the control of -the -Ministry of the day, they would be a source of great public danger rather than of security. If I remember aright, Senator Dobson made some reference to the absence of correspondence, on the subject of old-age pensions in the London Times. When I was Commissioner in the Old Country a scheme was launched, through the columns of the Times, by the Secretary to the Royal Exchange, Mr. Burnett. The Times gave him, not columns, but pages to publish his scheme in detail. He gave it so elaborately that with a little calculation it was easy to put it together. I found that to provide for the people that he desired to apply old-age’ pensions to in the United Kingdom, the pensions fund, including interest of course, would eventually reach the Brobdingnagian total of £2,215,750,000 ! There is a proposition applied to the workers of England ! I take this from paragraph 32 of my report -
Applying the same proportional calculation to the present population (1,300,000) .of New South
Wales, i.e., assuming the same proportion of workers and married couples, the same contributions, endowments, and interest, such a pension fund would in this Colony reach the vast sum of nearly ^114,000,000.
Apply that to the Commonwealth, of which the population would be nearly four times as great. For the present population of the Commonwealth, without providing for the destitute or for the welltodo, such a pensions fund, when it reached its apex - for the population would be growing, arid the fund would be growing, too - would represent ^600,000,000, or more than the national debt of England !
– A very much better way of spending it.
– It is not a question of spending, but of investing it. A scheme of contribution, to be any good, must be based upon actuarial figures and have a sound basis in interest earning. The moment that any material portion of it ceases to earn interest there is a leak in the dyke, and the waters of misery flow in.
– The German people have at present considerably over a billion pounds invested abroad.
– The population of ‘Germany approximates sixty millions. I wish to draw attention to the failure of . some voluntary schemes. I have already referred to the failure of the two great friendly societies and of the British Post Office annuities. I wish now to make a reference to and a quotation from paragraph 189 of my report. This is a matter that comes home, of course, in a very much more interesting form than does any theorising upon foreign actions or ‘debts. I state -
The extent to which the workers are able to make provision for sickness and old age through the medium of friendly societies appears somewhat in dispute. Mr. Watson - one of the actuaries of British Friendly Societies - thinks rural labourers have difficulty in meeting the necessary subscriptions. Mr. Stead - another friendly society authority - expresses exactly the opposite view. Mr. R. P. Hardy, actuary of the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society, is of opinion that only one-fourth, or at most one-third, of- the workers belong to friendly societies, and further says “ nothing that the friendly, societies could do, even if their finances permitted it, would touch the mass of the population.”
If Mr. Ralph Hardy is an authority, that is a conclusive assertion that contributory schemes do not cope with the very classes of misery, destitution, and old-age penury in connexion with which old-age pensions are desirable.
– No one can join a friendly society without passing a certain standard.
– They have no hope of doing it. I hope no one will think that in making those quotations I am making remarks condemnatory of friendly societies. My object is to show that, excellent as those societies are, they do not achieve the object for which old-age pensionsare wanted. In paragraphs 164 and j 65 of my report, I state -
Turning to the provision made by the workers themselves, through the medium of friendly societies, trade unions, and other benefit societies, the figures available are startling. Mr. E. W. Brabrook, Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies, states that the funds of these bodies amount to over twenty-three millions sterling (,£23,700,421), while the total sum invested in industrial institutions of all kinds (including building societies and savings banks) with which the friendly societies’ office deals, exceeds two hundred and eighteen millions sterling (£218,374,000).
The utter hopelessness of coping with the necessities of the aged poor by any scheme involving voluntary or compulsory contributions, and subsequent investment, is strikingly shown by these figures, for even with the accumulation of these vast funds merely the better class of the aged secure help - merely the fringe of the great army of the needy obtain succour - arid the overwhelmingly large number of the toilers, the unfortunate, and the decrepit, derive no comfort, no benefit from this Pactolian wealth.
Another point must be taken into consideration - that, with al) your thrift, there are casualties in life in respect of which no provision can be made. A man can insure his house against fire, but, as I state in paragraph 28 of my report, referring to some scheme with which I was dealing -
But this scheme, like many others, ignores the ordinary casualties of life, and is entirely dependent upon (1) ability to obtain and retain uninterrupted, remunerative employment for- fortyfive years; (2) continuous health for the same period; (3) total exemption from accidents, physical, mental, and financial, including war, riot, strikes, flood, droughts, fires, shipwrecks, and . all the other risks of life, affecting, not only the contributor, but his or her employer, and also the medium of contributive investment; and (4) -uninterrupted* interest-earning by the contribution or pension fund.
– That has no application to the German system, in which all those defects are provided for.
– What a beautiful system it must be ! Mr. Ralph Hardy says upon this question -
I have known a man actually in receipt of sickness allowance too poor to pay the customary contribution, and it went; the whole of that man’s provision went because he could not pay that contribution.
It must appeal to any one that the vicissitudes of life are so great that to expect a man with small means and dependent on a weekly wage to have continually at command the wherewithal to pay a contribution for something that he may live to re- ‘ceive in forty years’ time, is asking that which is beyond the means of a large majority of the poorer paid workers of the community, to say nothing of those who are too feeble, too decrepit, too unhappy to obtain work at all.
– Are the great bulk of our population decrepit, poor, and miserable?
– We have no Poor Law, and therefore I cannot give the figures for Australia, but the statistics of England and Wales show that there is always a great army, half -a-mill ion strong, of persons over sixty years of age who are classified as paupers. What system of contribution can be applied to the half-million paupers of England that have not a shilling a month amongst them ? Where would the contributions come from of the men who have been sacked from McKay’s factory this week? I will quote paragraphs 24 and 25 of my report -
The inherent weakness of all schemes based upon personal periodical contributions is, that while they may suffice to meet the eventual necessities of the life-long thrifty, they entirely fail to meet the case of those most certain to need consideration in old age - the thriftless and the unfortunate.
And there is still another and very numerous class for whom personal contribution schemes are not only impossible, but a mockery ; and yet this class is the most self-denying and thrifty in the community. I refer to married women. from what source is the wife and mother to derive an income sufficient to meet the personal contribution requisite to enable her to claim an old-age pension? In the vast majority of cases she possesses no income apart from her husband’s earnings, and, taking Mr. Burnett’s proposals by way of example, how is it possible to devote 2s. out of the husband’s weekly wage of 16s. to 203. or is. 6d. out of the husband’s weekly wage of 15s. or less, to secure pensions for both? A selfish husband might, under such conditions, “ thriftily “ pay for his own pension, and leave his wife “to the mercy of the world, and yet her whole life may have been one long struggle of thrift and self-denial.
No class in the whole community is so much in need of old-age help, and so much entitled to receive it, as the old mothers of our sons, and Senator Dobson wants a Government scheme that would compel them to pay what they do not possess. The honorable senator is enamoured of the German scheme. He can have a policy made in Germany, like so many of the Germansilver forks, but that is not a system that commends itself to British hearts and British hands. As Senator Dobson made some reference, to the British Royal Commission’s report, I should like to read paragraph 190 of my report as to what the Commission said on this point -
One of the conclusions arrived at by the Royal Commission is of particular value in regarding the question from a colonial stand-point : - “ The migratory population of large towns is, we fear, very difficult to reach.” Substitute the words “these Colonies” for “large towns” and the whole sentence expresses a truism with respect to local conditions.
They said further that -
The migratory populations of the large towns of the United Kingdom having only irregular employment are unable to maintain the periodic contribution that contributory schemes, whether voluntary or compulsory, necessarily involve.
In the next paragraph of my report, I say -
The absence of any useful method by which women may provide for sickness and old age has already been commented upon in this report. It is true ‘that the Great Orders have recently been making some move in this direction. But the Royal Commission accurately say “ there is unfortunately’ no doubt that women have at present very little opportunity for making similar provision “ to men. Even supposing that opportunities were provided, the fact remains as . i have already pointed out, that the great majority of married women have not such control of money as would enable them to contribute regularly for any system of future benefits based upon subscriptions; and if this be true of wives, it is equally true of widows.
It will therefore be plainly seen that old age provision of a contributory character is admittedly well-nigh impossible, for - 1st. Workmen not in regular employ ; 2nd. Married women and widows; 3rd. Persons in ill-health or of bad health record.
When all these large sections of the community are taken into consideration it will be readily seen that neither friendly societies . nor any contributory method can provide for the greater proportion of the working classes in old age.
I have been much longer than I hoped to have been, and there are still some remarks which I should have liked to make on the subject of thrift. From the index to my report honorable senators may easily find the paragraphs in which I refer to this aspect of the question, and I should be glad to have them read, because I point out that thrift is not a cultivated virtue. It is an hereditary virtue. A man is born to habits of thrift, and we cannot make unthrifty men thrifty by legislative methods. Thriftiness in the case of the great friendly societies in England no doubt exists, but it should not be forgotten that the members of those societies would have been thrifty in some other way if the societies had never existed. This does not apply to every one, of course, but it is largely true, and after all when people go out of their way to eulogize the virtue of thrift -it should not be forgotten that it finds its apex in penuriousness, and in worse vices even than that; whilst the thriftless man is too often the generous soul who to save another will back a bill or give a bail bond, and find, himself in the Bankruptcy Court as the result of his indulgence in decent human feeling. It is impossible in this matter to lay down any hard and fast line. A man by stinting and skinflirting all his life may ‘accumulate a certain sum of money in the Savings Bank, but you cannot tell me that he is on that account a better citizen than another who with the ‘help of a good wife spends his earnings in bringing up a family of good citizens and rearing the wives of good citizens and the future mothers of the community. The man who has spent his wages as he has earned them is -very often a far better citizen than the man who has penuriously hoarded them. I hope I have made it reasonably clear that there are unquestionable difficulties in the way of the adoption of any contributory scheme; and I venture to submit that no contributory scheme based upon compulsion can be otherwise than repulsive to British people. An honorable senator interjected that British people had steered clear of old-age pensions, but let it not be forgotten that the present House of Commons, only a few months ago, by an overwhelming majority, affirmed .the principle of old-age pensions, not on the Germanic, but on the Colonial system. I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following : - “ this Senate affirms the urgent desirability of the establishment of a system of Commonwealth old-age pensions independent of personal contributions as recommended by New South Wales Commissioner Neild in 1898, and by the Commonwealth Commission in 1906, and as now existing in the States of New South Wales and Victoria.”
I have perhaps .said enough, if not more than enough, to commend the amendment to a majority of the Senate, but I cannot resume my seat without thanking honorable senators for bearing with me in the delivery of a speech which has been so much longer than I promised.
– After the very full introductory speech with which this motion was launched, and the equally full speech just delivered by Senator Neild, who is so well equipped for the task, I feel some diffidence in rising to address the Senate on this occasion. At the same time, while I admit that I am ill equipped to deal with the details of the matter, I have, in common with every other member of the Senate, and almost every other man in public life, formed a fixed idea regarding the central feature of the proposal. To that I should like to address myself very briefly. First of all, may I be permitted to explain an interjection of which I was guilty during Senator Neild’ s speech. I make the explanation because I think it is probable that the honorable senator and, it may be, honorable senators generally, misunderstood its purport. Senator Neild had been reading from the opinions expressed by German public men and German journals, and, at the conclusion of a paragraph which I did not at the time understand that he had written himself, Senator Dobson interjected “Do you believe that?” to which Senator Neild’s answer was, “ I wrote it.” .1 then interjected, “ Is that an answer to the question? “ I do not wish Senator Neild to think that I in any way doubted his veracity.
– I did not think so.
– What I was questioning was whether the last paragraph or two which the honorable senator read was merely a summary of the German evidence from which he was quoting, or his own independent opinion. I make the explanation because I should be the last person in the world to express a doubt as to the veracity of Senator Neild or any other member of the Senate. Coming to the subject before us, I wish to express some surprise and regret that the debate so far has given evidence of a little personal warmth. It does appear to me that if there is one subject within the range of public matters demanding attention, to which we may turn almost philosophically, it is this question of old-age pensions. I take it that there is hardly a man in public- life to-day whodoes not believe in the underlying principle. The only matter we have to determine is the method by which we can best hope to achieve the object which we all have in view. It seems to me that if any honorable senator comes forward with a proposal to carry out that object, even though we should not agree with him, or should think that he is hopelessly wrong, we should at least credit him with a sincere desire to achieve the goal we have all set before us. It appeared to me that Senator Neild, unintentionally, I am sure, has, by some of his remarks, placed Senator Dobson in a somewhat unfair light. So far as I was able to follow his speech, and from a subsequent perusal of the address in Hansard, Senator Dobson, in advocating the adoption of the German system, confined himself to an advocacy of the main outlines of the system.
– Hear, hear.
– And to the prin ciples upon which it is founded - contribution by the workman, contribution by the employer, and contribution by the State. Having read the honorable senator’s speech, I must say that I could find nothing in it which would justify any other statement than that.
– The honorable senator also advocated compulsion.
– That, of course, followed. This being so, I do not think it is at all relevant to Senator Dobson’s advocacy of the German scheme to assume that anything he said was to be interpreted in any way as in advocacy of the details of the German scheme, either with respect to the contributions to be paid by the men or the annual amount they receive as pensions.
These details, in my opinion, have nothing to do with the principles of the scheme.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad that I interpreted my honorable friend aright. I do not believe that Senator Neild intentionally or by design spoke as he did with a view to place Senator Dobson in a false position. I can quiteundertand anv one advocating the principle of the German system without approving of a single detail of it. The German system stands condemned quite apart from its underlying principles by the way in which it is administered. It was bound to break down, though it had been- the ‘best system in the world, and Senator Neild gave the reason.
– It is not breaking down.
– Let me assume for the moment that it has broken down. I ask whether any system could survive when, on the evidence given’ by Senator Neild, it has been worked by swindling, which is one of the terms that the honorable senator used in describing its administration.
– That was not my assertion. That was a quotation from a German authority.
– That was one of the authorities which the honorable senator brought forward to show that the system was a bad one. The system might be the best in the world, but no svstem could long survive if its administration was founded upon injustice, and carried out’ by swindling. We have had the assurance that in connexion with the administration of the German system there have been such things as fraudulent doctors’ certificates, and men who have only worked half -a- year have managed by some manipulation of the scheme to commit a fraud upon the nation by making it appear that they had worked double the time they actually did work. Could any system like that be called a success ? But it does not show that the underlying principles of it are wrong. I admit that I come to the consideration of this question rather badly equipped. I acknowledge that I have not given it so much attention as has my honorable friend Senator Neild, who stands here as the foremost authority on the subject. Perhaps I should not have had the ability to master it as he has done, even if I had had the time. But there are certain features connected with the German system which appear to me to have been unnecessarily obtruded if we wish to form a fair view ot what that system really means. I cannot share the apprehensions expressed by Senator Neild as to the trouble about the investment of funds. I am not certain that the investments are a matter of consequence whether you have a voluntary or a compulsory system. If you were going to work a national scheme, founded upon the princiole of a mutual life insurance office, it would, of course, be necessary to be careful about investments.
SenatorTrenwith. - Even if it were necessary,£600,000,000 is not a great deal to invest properly for a nation with a population of 60,000,000.
– But investment does not seem to me to be essential to the German or any other similar scheme. The amount that has to be paid in annual contributions has to come in some form from the wealth produced in the country during the year. Whether you take a share of that wealth by way of contributions towards a scheme of this kind, or whether you take it in the form of direct or indirect taxation, it is equally extracted from the volume of wealth which the country has produced.
– The honorable senator must not forget the fact that the funds are accumulating year by year, and that they must be invested in some way.
– I do not think so. I think that my honorable friend has allowed his usually sound judgment to be warped by following the course which has to be followed by mutual life assurance companies. But a scheme of compulsory insurance can be worked on different principles ; that is to say, there simply has to be a contribution from the revenue to meet the demands upon the system for the year. On that subject of investments may I also say that my honorable friend is quite right in asserting that there is at present great difficulty in finding profitable investments for accumulated capital in Australia. I hope that that is not going to be cabled to England, because it seems to me to be one of the greatest reflections that it is possible to cast upon this country to tell the people of England that our own capitalists are afraid to invest their capital here.
– It is not a question of fear.
– Then it is one of opportunity.
– Then are we to tell the capitalists of England that there is no opportunity for the investment of capital in Australia, and that it is, therefore, useless for them to send their capital here for investment ?
– Does not the honorable senator .know that already interest has fallen to 3 per cent. ?
– I know that it has fallen to 3 per cent, until you want to borrow. But let my honorable friend try whether he can borrow a substantial sum at that rate of interest for investment in one of the ordinary industries of this ‘ country.
– We are talking about investments, not about industries.
– My honorable friend means that those responsible for investments have got into the habit of limiting themselves to certain forms of investment.
– The law limits them.
– It does not limit many of them. The same thing applies to private capitalists. They have hitherto shown a disinclination to invest their money in the primary industries of this country. They limit their investments to bricks and mortar in the cities and to other gilt-edged securities.
– Broad acres.
– There is a strong disinclination to invest capital in the broad acres of this country. I venture to say that if my honorable friend Senator Walker were called upon to make an investment of the funds of an estate in .which he was interested, he would be looking for something more than an advance upon country lands. I am merely saying that a certain system has grown up. As capital accumulates here this system will break down, and there will be a greater tendency to invest capital in channels which to-day capitalists decline to touch. At the same time, whatever may be the reason, it does not seem to me to display a healthy condition of affairs to affirm that there is no opening in Australia for the capital that is already here. I cannot share that view.
– While my honorable friend wishes to defend Senator Dobson from misrepresentation by me, he is outrageously misrepresenting what I said.
– I do not know that in my later remarks I was referring to anything which the honorable senator said except this - that he pointed out, and I agreed with him, the difficulty of finding investment for capital in this country. If I have outraged anything that he said by agreeing with him, it is probably my misfortune. ‘He .said that there was arrowing difficulty on the part of those who administer our financial institutions in finding investments. I agree with him. There is a difficulty in the form in which they have been in the habit of looking for investments. But as their capital accumulates, and there is a block in the channels which they have hitherto used, they will have to look for other channels of investment.
There is only one other channel which they can open, and that is the primary industries of the country.
– Then the law must be altered.
– There are many financial institutions as to which no amendment of the law is required to enable them to widen their field of investment. It is not long since one of our leading banks made the declaration that it was going to limit its liabilities in certain districts. That declaration may have been the result of sound policy. . But I can affirm from long experience that many banks of late years have shown a disinclination to investment in districts where a few years ago they invested freely. I am not prepared to say that I blame them. Probably if I were in their position I should do very much the same. But what I do say is that I do not like the statement, and it is a reflection on Australia to affirm that there are no opportunities in this country for the absorption and utilization of every pound of capital that is available.
– Who said there was nol?
– I am only denying the inference which may be made from my honorable friend’s statement. He is not alone in making it, and it appears to rest on the difficulty of finding investments for capital in this country. Let me now state the reasons why I am not able to vote in favour of Senator Dobson’s system. It is not because it seeks to encourage thrift - which is a laudable object in itself - but because the scheme is one which is utterly unsuited to the peculiar conditions of Australia. It appears to me that one of the first essentials of a system of compulsory contribution must be some fixity in regard to both the workman and his employment. Now that is the very quality which we lack in Australia. A very large percentage of our workmen are nomadic. Our bush labour is distinctly so. Our workmen are here to-day and gone to-morrow. They are employed by an employer for a week or two, or perhaps for a month, or three months, but rarely in the bush is one man engaged in the same place for a considerable period and with one employer. This continual movement on the part of our population and the intermittent character of the employment of large numbers of our workmen prevent the German scheme from squaring with our conditions. If it did, it might be possible by some modification of its details and its administration to adopt it here. But I cannot conceive that, however’ admirable the features of. that system may be- and I do’ not profess to have examined’, them minutely - we can do anything which’ would make it apply to those peculiar conditions which are characteristic of the wholeof Australia. Thai’ being so, I am forced’ to cast a vote against Senator Dobson’s proposal. I see no possible chance by which such a system can be shaped or modified in any way to suit our peculiar conditions. But there is another reason why I am unable to support it. It is this. I view the policy of old-age pensions as one that involves the principle of a civic right, not as Senator Dobson would have us accept it, as an advantage which the individual must purchase.
– A civic penalty.
– No; that is an. interjection which does not reflect the real view of the honorable senator who makes it. As Senator Dobson advocates a compulsory system of old-age pensions, he goes upon the assumption that the individual pays for the advantage which he will get. But as I have said, I view old-age pensions in quite a different light. I view the policy as one of civic right which the community as a whole recognises that it owes to those of its members who have reached an age when they are no longer able to work for themselves.
– That is Socialism.
– My honorable friend seems to brand everything as Socialism which he likes and favours, and everything as Conservatism which he does not favour. He will not frighten me if he does call it Socialism. All that I say is that I hope that every form of Socialism which he advocates will be as deserving of success as this is. When I entered the Federal Parliament six years ago, I hoped - and I was justified in hoping, in view of the strong contingent of the Labour Party returned to both Houses, and the strong attitude of that party with regard to the question of old-age pensions - that’ long ere this that policy would have been embodied upon the statute-book of the Commonwealth.
– We have not had the numbers.
– There has never been a time in the history of Federation, when the Labour Party has not dominated
Parliament. It has held every Government in the hollow of its hand. Yet, while the Labour Party has exercised its power in securing such measures as the Bill providing for the railway survey, and -other matters of far less importance than this, they’ have never shown the same energy and determination with regard, to the great question of old-age pensions. I am saying that rather by way of regret than of complaint. That party, of course, shapes its own policy, and takes the course which seems good to it. But I say again that those who believe in the policy of oldage pensions, and who have never had the power to give effect to it, might reasonably have looked for a little more energy oh the part of those who, whilst they believed init, .had also the power to give effect to their wishes. I have only to say, in conclusion, that, if, at any time, a scheme .of old-age pensions is brought forward in the Senate, I shall’ not quarrel with ‘ it because of ‘the quarter from which it comes. If my honorable friends are as sincere in their support of this policy as I believe they are, I think it is only necessary for them to recognise the opportunities they have missed to induce them to arrive at a determination to avail themselves of the opportunity which awaits them now.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19071114_senate_3_41/>.